Asked if there is extra motivation playing the Sun Devils on Nov. 9, Erickson quipped, “Do I have to tell the truth?” [Via.]
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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.
• You a Terp? Maryland has announced walk-on football tryouts for Wednesday, January 30. You must be a full-time, currently enrolled student to be eligible for consideration.
This is also your reminder that heading into Maryland’s last regular-season football game of 2012, this is what Maryland’s injury report looked like. So if you’re an aspiring quarterback, we’re honestly not sure whether to tell you to show up or stay away.
• Meanwhile, while the internet was caving in on itself … Lost yesterday in the avalanche of news shocks was the announcement that the Mountain West has retaken San Diego State. (We’re choosing to picture this as a giant Risk board in action. The Big 12 is clearly Australia.) We have an MWC source who’s promised to tell us the second the conference poaches UCLA, and y’all will be the first to know after that.
• Coach-hirin’ follies! Go right on ahead and apply for Chip Kelly’s old job, and be sure and let us know how that works out … here is a magnificent lead followed by Rob Mullens’ insistence that he has no clubhouse leaders in mind for Kelly’s vacant seat … John-El lands at DII Fort Lewis College … Utah passing coordinator Aaron Roderick will take the OC slot at BYU [UPDATE: No he won't!] … Louisiana Tech won’t have to re-glaze any of its “I <3 OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR TONY” mugs … Tim Rosenbach joins the UNLV staff as OC.
The Switzies are named for former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, patron saint of football frolicking. Ten imaginary trophies — and the coveted Grape Job! plaque — honor our on- and off-field favorites at the close of the season.
• Special Achievement in Spectacle by a Heisman Winner. Johnny Manziel made more spectacular plays this season, in front of bigger crowds than the one that showed up in Shreveport when the Aggies faced Louisiana Tech in mid-October. But we got to see this one with our own eyes, giving it a special place in the shining black pits where our hearts should be.
Just a madcap sequence of events on a night that saw more than its share of them.
• GameDay Moment of the Year. Someday eons into the future, when as-yet unimagined civilizations discover Earth and piece together the history of college football, it is our fervent and enduring hope that a being fancying itself a prophet uncovers this photo of South Carolina’s live mascot being fed Steve Spurrier-branded wine, and builds a religion around it.
Did Sir Big Spur sample the Steve Spurrier wine? twitter.com/gogamecocks/st…
— GoGamecocks.com (@gogamecocks) October 6, 2012
• By the time you see this post, all of this information will be out of date. Just keep this soothing mantra in your minds, and we’ll all get through this together:
When it all boils down, we’re all members of the Human Race Conference. #footballhugs
— Good Bull Hunting (@GBHunting) November 28, 2012
Change begets stress, and even good stress is stress, our mama has always said, so continue those deep, cleansing breaths while you read these releases from Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic announcing their intent to join Conference USA in 2014. Karl Benson is making solar puns in all caps, so give him a little hug if you see him. And our pal Steven Godfrey finally realizes why Rutgers cut him off for a story a couple weeks back.
• Bowltyme! Our postseason schedule is up and running, with new bowl teams added as they’re announced. It’s also in a font large enough for you to read first thing in the morning without your glasses a couple weeks from now, when you sit upright in bed and are terrified you have overslept into the New Mexico Bowl.
• No. 17 Nebraska 13, Iowa 7. Bo Pelini was asked in his postgame on-field interview whose decision it was to insert the oft-injured Rex Burkhead into the Huskers’ final regular-season game. He laughed. “His!” The senior standout, absent for much of this season while nursing a knee injury, made the most of his time on the turf, leading Nebraska’s ground attack (69 yards on 16 carries) and scoring the Huskers’ only touchdown of the contest on a three-yard run in the third quarter.
Those of you who find our occasional gleeful odes to MACtion tacky are in for a real treat with today’s box score, where you will find just one player with an individual stat line totaling more than 100 yards. (The lucky lad: Taylor Martinez, who completed 9 of 14 passes for 63 yards and rushed for an additional 41.) Burkhead was trailed by Ameer Abdullah (50 rushing yards on 14 carries) and Braylon Heard (46 yards on four carries). For the Hawkeyes, James Vandenberg completed 11 of 24 pass attempts for 92 yards and threw two interceptions. Mark Weisman led Iowa in rushing with 91 yards on 29 attempts.
Vandenberg also gave the Hawkeyes their only lead of the game, with a one-yard rushing touchdown late in the first quarter, a lead Iowa hung onto until Burkhead’s run. And for a moment there, late in the fourth quarter, it looked as though we might have a ballgame on our hands again. Given the ball on a Nebraska punt at their own 27 with about three and a half minutes to play, the Hawkeyes executed two consecutive six-yard plays before Vandenberg threw his second interception with just 2:11 remaining on the clock. And practically before time had expired in the stadium, we had that all-important BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME TICKETS: ON SALE NOW email land in our inbox. The Huskers have earned at least a share of the division title and will play Wisconsin in Indianapolis on Saturday, December 1. Nebraska won their first meeting in September, 30-27. [BOX | RECAP]
• Northern Illinois 31, Toledo 24. We do so love what’s become an annual late-season scramble for division supremacy between the Huskies and Rockets, and last night’s contest did not disappoint. The Huskies, who have won 10 games for the third straight year, will represent the MAC West in Detroit for the third consecutive season, and will face either Kent State or Bowling Green once they get there. Quarterback Jordan Lynch threw for 407 yards (a career best) and rushed for 162 more. No, by himself. No, seriously. Lynch was sent here by the football gods to make sure we all properly appreciate MACtion for the weeknight blessing it is. Message received. [BOX | RECAP]
• Ball State 52, Ohio 27. The Bobcats trailed by four points heading into halftime and were nearly doubled up by the end of the game, thanks mostly to a 21-point fourth-quarter scoring barrage from the Cardinals. Ball State scored three touchdowns in less than nine minutes on a Horactio Banks run, a Kelly Page pass and a Jahwan Edwards run. Page replaced starter Keith Wenning, who left the game in the second quarter with an Achilles injury. Also, this happened. [BOX | RECAP]
Your oddly specific Saturday viewing guide. For more football-centric preview content, check out Andy Staples’ Walkthrough.
• Most locally sourced farm-to-fan football. In-state rivalries abound in Week 8, for those of you keeping vigilant watches on your carbon footprints. Saturday’s sustainably-grown grudge matches include No. 22 Stanford at Cal (3 p.m. ET), Michigan State at No. 23 Michigan (3:30 p.m.) and No. 12 Florida State at Miami (8 p.m.).
• Worst idea for a noon kickoff in recorded human history. Or maybe “best idea in terms of public safety,” but we’re still calling an 11 a.m. CT kickoff for LSU at Texas A&M the worst kind of cowardice. Who wants to live forever?
• Saddest ball of football sadness. Army (1-5) at Eastern Michigan (0-6), the latter of which we really did call “the country’s best winless team” on the Mandel Initiative podcast earlier this week. We meant every word of that. (HONORABLE MENTIONS: Boston College, already with a loss to this Army team, has to play a Georgia Tech team that’s already lost to Middle Tennessee State; and FAU-South Alabama, which will play in the One Of You is Getting Off The Floor Of The Sun Belt Whether You Want To Or Not Classic.)
Our 10 imaginary trophies celebrating on- and off-field favorites at the season’s midpoint. The Switzies are named for former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, patron saint of college football frolicking. For more midseason content, check out our Crystal Ball staff predictions, midseason All-America Team, podcast roundtable and Halfway Heisman.
• Best new toy. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M. He arrived on the national scene in a shirtless mugshot in the 2012 preseason, won the starting job for the Aggies as a redshirt freshman and then, wonder of wonders, turned out to be really good at football things. He stars in our Midseason Play of the Year, Defense (And Offense) (At The Same Damn Time), along with Christine Michael and Louisiana Tech’s Chip Hester and Mike Schrang:
• Midseason Play of the Year, Just Offense. This Bryan Bennett and Colt Lyerla touchdown raised a crucial question: Can scoring stats be split like sacks?
Sing to us, O Muse, of a Thursday night with three college football games, all conference matchups and one even featuring a ranked team:
Arkansas State @ Florida International
• What information do I, the discerning consumer, require in order to consume this game? The Red Wolves and Golden Panthers kick off in Miami at 7:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPNU and streamed on WatchESPN.
• What’s at stake here? The chance to scrabble for glory in the presumptive top half of the surprisingly deep Sun Belt lobster pot, with the likes of Louisiana, Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Monroe and Middle Tennessee. On the flip side, the loser could be cast down with the likes of Florida Atlantic. Each squad already has one conference loss and a losing record overall.
• Who should we be watching? For the Red Wolves, Tennessee transplant David Oku at running back and latest Gus Malzahn project, Ryan Aplin, at quarterback. For the Panthers, keep an eye on tackling enthusiasts Tourek Williams at defensive end and Jonathan Cyprien at safety.
• These are very colorful mascots, not unlike the fall foliage showing its petticoats around our great nation. They are indeed, although we will still never forgive Arkansas State for not taking our kind suggestion of “The Arkansas State Vine-Ripe Pink Tomatoes” more seriously when selecting its new mascot a few years back.