Tagged with "NCAA Football"
LSU-Arkansas Rivalry-Week Series Ends
Category: NCAA
Tags: Arkansas Auburn NCAA Football Florida Kentucky Louisville LSU Mississippi St. Missouri Ole Miss Tennessee Texas A&M Tulane Vandy
LSU players with the Golden Boot, I believe after last year's game.

LSU players with the Golden Boot, I believe after last year’s game.

I updated the records in my LSU/Arkansas blog and added a brief game summary for the game yesterday (this was originally published on 11/30).

I didn’t realize it until after the game was played (although I knew changes were coming), but this was sort of a bittersweet ending for the LSU-Arkansas “black Friday” tradition. Granted, it’s not much of a tradition as compared to Ohio St.-Michigan and so forth, but with LSU playing Arkansas at the end of the year (the day after Thanksgiving the vast majority of the time) the last 2/3 of my life is meaningful to me. I remember LSU playing Tulane annually, but I don’t remember that game being one to get excited about. (I was a toddler the last time Tulane beat LSU and barely a teenager when the annual series was canceled.)

Of course, I’m glad LSU won this last game, but I’m also glad Arkansas represented themselves well. It wasn’t good for my nerves, but it just wouldn’t have felt proper for this to be an easy win. I mention in my blog how often in the last 13 years it’s been a close game, so this was fitting. I wouldn’t mind if Arkansas got a good team again, but sometimes there are too many good teams in the SEC, especially as long as LSU has to play Florida every year along with the SEC West slate. The Gators will be back too.

I also liked that LSU usually played Arkansas in Little Rock since the campus was less lively with it being Thanksgiving weekend. I imagine LSU people who traveled to the games liked them being closer as well. The late great George Carlin did a bit about football vocabulary versus baseball. Baseball is played at a park. Football is played on the gridiron in places like Soldier Field and War Memorial Stadium (which is what they call the one in Little Rock). I went to my first game at the L.A. Colliseum last year. There is just something special about stadiums like that. “War”, as I understand the locals call it, was built around 20 years later, but it’s a similar type of severe concrete architecture. I think the Arkansas fans treated it as something special as well.

If I had my druthers, the last four SEC opponents would be Ole Miss (on or around Halloween), Alabama, Mississippi St., and Arkansas, but no such luck. Whether I like it or not (it has its good points, to be honest), Texas A&M and Missouri have joined the SEC, so now there is that to contend with. Before last year, when LSU played Texas A&M (back in the mid-1990s and before), it was in early September; but that doesn’t work now, especially now that we’ve often been playing one of the neutral-site kickoff games. (Next year, LSU will start the season against Wisconsin in Houston.)

I can understand it, and it will probably work out though. We’ve played Auburn (often in September, but Mississippi St. and the non-conference slate will bump them to the first week of October next season) and Florida (usually in the second week of October) early on in recent years, and we don’t need another big game so early in the year. Also, Texas A&M lost their traditional Thanksgiving game with Texas, so they have to play somebody. Missouri should be a good game today; but it’s not a bordering state, and there isn’t a meaningful history between the two schools.

As for Missouri, they’re really out of place being forced into the same division with Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in particular, so giving them and Arkansas a close geographic annual rival makes a good bit of sense. Arkansas isn’t the most natural fit in the SEC West either. Their closest divisional opponent is Ole Miss, a six-hour drive away from the Arkansas campus. (Not that LSU is situated that much better in reference to other schools.) Also, interestingly enough, Tom Dienhart, who wrote to argue for Arkansas to join the Big XII seven years ago (he wanted them to kick out Baylor), got one of the match-ups he wanted after all.

Sometimes when I talk about realignment, I’m an advocate for disturbing certain traditions; but I don’t deny that it doesn’t always feel right immediately afterward even if the changes eventually work and the new reality can become an improvement. I mentioned Auburn, for instance. They didn’t have a rivalry with LSU to speak of before 1992 either, but it’s been a fun series too, and it will continue as far as I can tell. (Although to be honest, they might make more sense in the East.)

Arkansas was sort of a replacement for Tulane (even though they overlapped a few years) anyway, and LSU wouldn’t have been playing the Razorbacks every year if it weren’t for the previous SEC expansion. It became a fun, back-and-forth, competitive series like many of the more long-term and consistent rivalries seem to be. I’ll miss that, along with the other quirks I mentioned.

Maybe something similar will develop from the Texas A&M series. The one this year was better as an LSU fan, but maybe there will be some more like last year to entertain the more neutral fans. I hope they make it at night after all the NFL games end. One thing I didn’t like about the Arkansas series was when it was played at home for LSU, it was often one fewer night game. I also wasn’t thrilled that this season’s game against Texas A&M was during the day, not that I wasn’t satisfied with how that one went.

Also, it’s not like LSU will stop playing Arkansas. That game is set for November 15 next year, apparently in Fayetteville. It could still be an important part of the schedule for either team. Not really relevant to LSU, but I also thought it was interesting that the Hogs will play the Aggies in Jerry World in late September.

So I guess this will be the new Thanksgiving week alignment for the SEC teams; I hope it will stick:
LSU-Texas A&M (Thanksgiving Day)
Arkansas-Missouri
Mississippi St.-Ole Miss
Alabama-Auburn
Tennessee-Vanderbilt
Kentucky-Louisville*
Georgia-Georgia Tech*
Florida-Florida St.*
Clemson-South Carolina*
(* = non-conference game)

Many of you probably know where to find my other blogs (such as more detailed rankings discussion) by now, but if you need specific directions, let me know.   Everything is published there first.

Time to Talk Turkey
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA ARKANSAS AUBURN BAYLOR BCS CLEMSON FRESNO ST. LSU MICHIGAN ST. MISSOURI N. ILLINOIS OKLAHOMA ST. S. CAROLINA STANFORD NCAA Football

By turkey, of course I mean football and the coming bowl season. The bird isn’t anything to get excited about really, but it can make an excellent sandwich to accompany football-watching.

LSU-Arkansas (Friday on CBS) will be an afterthought among all the interesting games in the next few days, but I originally wrote this blog back in 2006, and it’s what touched off my successful (for me, anyway) Rivalry Series. So if you have any interest at all, please check it out.

Sometimes I wonder if articles are written for Bleacher Report just to annoy me. I used to suspect the same thing of Sporting News. Not me in particular, but they want to get under fans’ skin to get more hits. Brian Pedersen is a “Featured Columnist” on the site, and based on the way his “Which Teams Got Screwed in Week 14 Standings?” column is written, he doesn’t understand how the BCS rankings work after 15 years. The rankings will cease to exist in a couple of weeks. Have some respect.

• explain why Clemson (10-1) got passed by Missouri in the latest standings, despite both teams winning? Yes, Clemson moved up from seventh to sixth

> So let me get this straight. Getting “screwed” means not moving up ENOUGH after beating an FCS opponent? Does it not occur to him that Missouri beat a ranked Ole Miss team. Maybe there are times when beating a ranked team should move you ahead of someone even if that other team doesn’t lose. Is that so hard to imagine? I know a few other teams beat Ole Miss, but let’s review who they were: Alabama, Auburn, and Texas A&M. Ole Miss has beaten LSU, Texas, and Vanderbilt. Even if you’re not convinced Ole Miss is a good win, let me float this idea: Maybe Clemson shouldn’t have been ahead of Missouri in the first place. This doesn’t convey a highly fundamental misconception of the BCS. Maybe he figured the pollsters would penalize Missouri for what they knew would be a boost in the computers, I don’t know. But wait for it.

> He then mentions South Carolina didn’t lose ground after a similar game. NEITHER DID CLEMSON! He also mentions LSU climbed after beating an FCS opponent “and not just because teams above it lost”. Staying at 13th isn’t climbing. Missouri lost to a team called South Carolina. Guess what Clemson can do if they belong ahead of Missouri?

• But did the (Baylor) Bears‘ loss to Oklahoma State—arguably the hottest team in college football right now and currently ranked seventh—justify dropping from fourth to ninth?

>> Falling 5 spots after being blown out seems reasonable to me. LSU was in the Alabama game until the fourth quarter, and they fell 8 spots. This is the same guy who tries to argue there is a double standard in favor of the SEC. If anything, if you’re further down to begin with, losing to a top team shouldn’t hurt you as much.

>> Another big complaint seems to be that Stanford—which beat Arizona St., Washington, UCLA, and Oregon—passed up the Bears. Let’s review Baylor’s best four wins: Oklahoma… Texas Tech, Buffalo, Kansas St. Utah went downhill since beating Stanford, but they’ve played all the best teams of both divisions (not to mention BYU and Utah St., both of whom they beat) and some of the losses were very close. Stanford just happened to be their lucky game. South Carolina might pass Baylor if they beat Clemson (which would at worst be their second win over a 2-loss team). I think that MAYBE trumps Oklahoma and Texas Tech perhaps?

Michigan State (10-1) is locked into the Big Ten title game, where it will have a chance to earn an automatic BCS bid if it were to beat Ohio State in Indianapolis in two weeks.

>>> And best of luck to them. What’s the problem? Oh, they DIDN’T pass up the likes of Clemson and Baylor. So, the team that stays behind Clemson and Baylor got screwed. Clemson and Baylor also got screwed by not staying ahead of all the teams they had been ahead of. Wow. South Carolina is also ahead. He then mentions how Michigan St. should get more credit for winning its division. Baylor isn’t in a division. Michigan St., unlike Clemson, isn’t in a division with Florida St. Maybe he has a point with South Carolina (which won’t win its division unless Missouri loses to Texas A&M), but not if South Carolina beats Clemson.

Fresno State (10-0) gave its home crowd a powerful sendoff by putting up 69 points against New Mexico on Saturday, getting 820 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns from superstar QB Derek Carr [but fell behind Northern Illinois]… You can probably chalk that up to NIU getting ESPN exposure on weeknights the past two weeks, while FSU was on the lesser-watched CBS Sports Network.

>>>> This is that one shining moment you’ve been waiting for. I seriously doubt a whole lot of voters dropped Fresno St. In fact, their points in both of the BCS polls went UP (maybe a little less than Northern Illinois’); but you know those computers? They don’t get impressed by scores, because the NCAA mandated that the computers couldn’t factor that in. They also don’t care what channel the games were played on. They care that Northern Illinois beat a team with only one other loss (Ball St.) and then another (Toledo) who had been 7-3. Before beating New Mexico (3-8), Fresno St. had a bye week. Those mean computers want you to prevail over actual competition. For shame!

There was some griping about Central Florida and Duke, not completely without merit. But it’s just reality that when it’s 2/3 human polls, they’re not going to start supporting teams that have been out of the spotlight as quickly as you might like.Central Florida wasn’t realistically going to go ahead of undefeated Northern Illinois and Fresno St., but they don’t have to worry about that since all they have to do is win their conference anyway. Duke (with two losses) is behind a few teams with three losses. Maybe they have an argument to be ahead of USC, UCLA, or both; but do we have to pretend the SEC West is roughly equivalent to the ACC Coastal?

Finally, he complains about Cincinnati, with the worst schedule in college football other than possibly Old Dominion, which played mostly FCS schools. Cincinnati was absolutely destroyed by Illinois. The Illini have three other wins, but none of those victories were against teams with a single FBS win of their own. The Bearcats also lost to South Florida, whose one other FBS win was over Connecticut. Cincinnati did beat SMU, Rutgers, and Houston in consecutive weeks, but that doesn’t make up for those losses. The best win before those? 3-7 Memphis.

The same guy also did the bowl projections for this week. I know this will come as a shock to fans of the Stanford Cardinal, but even if they beat Notre Dame, the chances of playing for a national championship are approximately 0. He also assumes Texas will beat that great Baylor team he complains about and play Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl since LSU has three losses. Uhhh, Texas A&M does too; and furthermore, he projects Missouri to beat the Aggies! I had been wondering who to cheer for in this game since I think I might like to see South Carolina play Auburn or Alabama more than Missouri, but it’s clear now. The thought of LSU getting passed up for the Cotton Bowlagain despite beating A&M again is a bit frustrating for me, so I’ll be cheering for all three SEC Tiger teams.

Many of you probably know where to find my other blogs (such as more detailed rankings discussion) by now, but if you need specific directions, let me know.   Everything is published there first.

Thoughts on Pac-12 expansion
Category: NCAA
Tags: COLORADO FRESNO ST. HAWAII NEBRASKA PAC-12 SAN DIEGO ST. SAN JOSE ST. UNLV USC UTAH Boise St. BYU Air Force NCAA Football

]Logos in white boxes represent potential additions.  The red areas are the current South Division, and the blue areas are the current North Division.

[Logos in white boxes represent potential additions.  The red areas are the current South Division, and the blue areas are the current North Division.]

With BYU's success as an independent team (despite losses to Virginia and Utah, the latter a recent Pac-12 addition), I still think the Cougars would be a good fit for the Pac-12.  That's the real rival for Utah--not Colorado, who doesn't have a real rival in the Pac-12.

I know the conference is expressing reluctance to expand, but it wasn’t too long ago that it was talking about 16 teams.  Also, it doesn't seem like that long ago that the Pac-10 and Big Ten didn't want to expand, didn't want a championship game, and didn't even want to be involved in the BCS.  Both wanted their champion to play in the Rose Bowl and for that to be the end of it.  A few conferences seemed happy at 12 but have expanded/are expanding anyway. 

I still don’t understand why public “research universities” is such a priority for Pac-12 admission, but people always bring it up.   I had never heard much about Utah or Arizona St. (or a couple of the more long-standing Pac-8/10/12 schools) being academic powerhouses.  Anyway, I do know BYU is a good school (without so much research maybe), and since they’re unaffiliated and there are two schools in the Rockies unconnected with the rest of the conference, it seems it would fit.  

Although I don’t know anything about its standing among other schools academically (promotional materials seem to make their research sound impressive: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/vpr/), Texas Tech would be a good way to expand into the pool of Texas talent since it is in Western Texas, actually not very far to the East (although significantly to the South) of Boulder, Colorado.  It was one of those potential additions to the Pac-12 when the Big XII nearly fell into pieces.

How to align the divisions would be a challenge, although I do have an idea of how that could be done.  Basically, take the 7 rivalry pairs and put all the more sophisticated schools in one division and the other schools in another.  Washington St. and Oregon St. seem a little grittier than Washington and Oregon, the latter two being rivals of one other anyway.  Stanford/Cal, USC/UCLA, and BYU/Utah are fairly obvious since the first one of each pair is private and the second public.  I don’t think I have to elaborate on why Texas Tech is more rough-around-the-edges than Colorado. Just imagine Boulder, then imagine Lubbock.  By reputation, Arizona seems a little more buttoned-down than Arizona St., but I’m not sure that matters either way.

Colorado could have an even better rival in Air Force, although that doesn’t really expand the recruiting base.  It may add to fan interest though.  The service academies have fans scattered all over. Of course, Air Force also regularly played BYU and Utah when all three were in the Mountain West and WAC.  The team right now is pretty bad though.  You don't always want to focus on the short term, but I think that would be a meaningful concern.  The Pac-12 doesn't want another doormat.  

Boise St. doesn’t have much of an academic profile, but that would seem to make for an easy transition.  The Broncos already have the talent and interest to compete, and it would be natural to add them to the Pac-12 North and BYU to the Pac-12 South.  I still think teams in Colorado and Utah being in the South seems a little off, but my understanding is everyone not in California wants to play in California at least once a year.

Fresno St., UNLV, San Diego St., and San Jose St. could be other possibilities if academics aren’t a priority.  UNLV and San Diego are big unexploited media markets for major college football (and in the case of UNLV, there are no major professional sports in the area either).  I'm not sure how much San Jose St. and Fresno St. would add, so they're probably least likely, but they make obvious geographical sense.  There are half a million people in Fresno and no major sports in the surrounding area, where arguably another half a million people or more live.  San Jose St. isn't very far from Stanford, but not everyone is a Stanford person.  

Another possibility I thought of was Hawaii, which apparently does have some research credentials, but that program has crashed and burned since June Jones and Colt Brennan left the islands, so it has some of the same problems as Air Force, except I think Air Force has better road fans.  Logistics aren’t very favorable for Hawaii either, of course.

Nebraska is a long-shot, but I thought it worth mentioning.  I don't think the Big Ten is quite what the Huskers signed up for. If they have to play a 9-game conference schedule and travel to one of the coasts, why not the Pacific Coast instead?  With Colorado, at least they would get one of their traditional rivals back.  Maybe if they joined along with Texas Tech, that would be the best way of including new teams in a more logical way.  

As to how the divisional alignment would work, Utah could just be switched to the North and keep playing Colorado as a permanent opponent (or "protected series", as the Big Ten calls it).  Berkeley is about the same distance away as Tempe (Arizona St. is the second-closest Pac-12 South opponent for the Utes) is anyway.  Nebraska would also help out the competitive balance in the long-run.  I'm sure that would be a really expensive proposition though.

All-Blogger Poll Week 9
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA BYU NCAA FOOTBALL FLORIDA ST. LOUISVILLE MIAMI MICHIGAN sparty NIU OHIO ST. OKLAHOMA OREGON S Carolina Stanford

rank/team(first place votes)/total points[last week's rank]
1 Alabama (4) 146 [ 1 ]
2 Florida St. (2) 140 [ 2 ]
3 Oregon 139 [ 3 ]
4 Ohio St. 134 [ 5 ]
5 Stanford 120 [ 7 ]
6 Miami 115 [ 9 ]
7 Baylor 111 [ 6 ]
8 Missouri 106 [ 4 ]
t9 Oklahoma 95 [ 15 ]
t9 Auburn 95 [ 8 ]
11 LSU 84 [ 12 ]
12 Clemson 82 [ 11 ]
13 S Carolina 74 [ 19 ]
14 Texas Tech 62 [ 10 ]
15 N. Illinois 58 [ 20 ]
16 Fresno St. 52 [ 17 ]
17 TX A&M 46 [ 16 ]
t18 UCF 45 [ 18 ]
t18 Michigan 45 [ 24 ]
20 Okie St. 43 [ 21 ]
21 Mich. St. 36 [ ]
22 Louisville 21 [ ]
t23 Texas 18 [ 25 ]
t23 Va. Tech 18 [ 13 ]
t25 UCLA 14 [ 14 ]
t25 Wisconsin 14 [ ]

Others receiving votes: BYU 10 [ ], Houston 10 [ ], Notre Dame 10 [ ]. Arizona St. 3 [ ], Duke 2 [ ], Texas St. 1 [ ], Oregon St. 1 [ 23 ]

No longer receiving votes: Georgia, Nebraska [22], Florida

Many of you probably know where to find my other blogs (such as more detailed rankings discussion) by now, but if you need specific directions, let me know. 

College Football Top 25 Week 7
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA AUBURN BAYLOR CLEMSON FLORIDA FLORIDA ST. GEORGIA HOUSTON LSU MICHIGAN ST. MISSOURI NCAA FOOTBALL OLE MISS STANFORD

Top 25

rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 Missouri 22
3 LSU 9
4 Clemson 3
5 Florida St. 6
6 Ohio St. 4
7 Stanford 2
8 Oregon 7
9 Va. Tech 14
10 Miami 10
11 Baylor 21
12 Georgia 5
13 UCLA 17
14 Oklahoma 11
15 Auburn 20
16 Louisville 18
17 Texas Tech 13
18 S Carolina 15
19 Fresno St. 19
20 Houston –
21 TX A&M 16
22 N. Illinois 24
23 Michigan 12
24 Mich. St. –
25 Utah –

Out of rankings: (8) Washington, (23) Florida, (25) N’western

Many of you probably know where to find my other blogs (such as more detailed rankings discussion) by now, but if you need specific directions, let me know.  The above is my first purely mathematical ranking.

Also, feel free to submit your top 25 rankings for my All-Blogger Poll.

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