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Posts Tagged ‘texas longhorns’

Unlike many of the expected big college football matchups in 2010, the Alabama-Arkansas game lived up to the hype.  The Razorbacks played quite well in the first half, but a very determined Crimson Tide came out after halftime ready to win.  They gave the ball to Mark Ingram and let him do work.  Meanwhile the defense stepped up and made the plays they needed to win the game.

As we enter the portion of the season where conference play is now the rule instead of the exception, the games become bigger and wins and losses mean more.  The neat thing is that the five games I chose to focus on in week five represent five different conferences.  Here are the five questions I’m looking forward to getting the answers to on Saturday:

Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio

Will Mark Dantonio lead the Spartans to a victory over the Badgers?

5.  Will the return of coach Mark Dantonio inspire Michigan State to beat Wisconsin at home?

Michigan State is 4-0 after four home games with one good win over Notre Dame.  Less than two weeks after a heart attack, their head coach Mark Dantonio will return, likely coaching from the Spartan Stadium coaching box against Wisconsin.  The Badgers are also 4-0 against a pretty weak slate.  This is an important game for the Spartans if they are going to have a successful season, as they will play Michigan, Iowa and Penn State all on the road.

4.  Is North Carolina State for real?

The Wolfpack looks like they may be the cream of the crop in the ACC.  But that may just mean they are the least rotten egg in the carton.  They have a 4-0 record and are 19th in the nation in passing yardage and scoring.  There’s even been whispers about quarterback Russell Wilson joining the Heisman race.  We’ll have a much better idea of how good N.C. State is when they take on Virginia Tech on Saturday.  Although the Hokies suffered a terrible loss to James Madison, they still may be the most talented program in the conference.

3.  Will Texas make up for last week’s loss by beating Oklahoma?

 Texas football suffered a major reality check last weekend, playing very poorly in losing to UCLA at home.  Now they have to get ready for the Red River Rivalry game with Oklahoma before heading to Nebraska the following week.  The Longhorns should have no trouble getting up for this big rivalry game against the Sooners.  Texas can pay the favor of having their national championship hopes ruined forward by doing the same to Oklahoma.  The Sooners are coming off a way to close two point win over Cincinnati that was proceeded by a three point win over Air Force.  Oklahoma was considered a sleeper national championship contender before the season but they will clearly have to pick their game up to get there.

2.  Can Stanford take control of the Pac-10 by beating the Ducks at Autzen Stadium?

The Cardinal have come out of nowhere and look like a very serious challenger for the Pac-10 crown.  Potential #1 NFL draft pick Andrew Luck has orchestrated the Stanford offense brilliantly, they are fourth in the country in scoring.  On the other side of the ball the defense has been much better than expected and is 12th in points allowed.  But the road to the Pac-10 title goes through Oregon and Stanford will visit Autzen Stadium on Saturday night.  The Ducks have been just as impressive as the Cardinal, leading the nation in scoring and ranking third in points allowed.  Stanford beat Oregon at home last year behind a 223-yard, three touchdown effort by Toby Gerhart.  This could be the game of the year.

1.  Is Florida capable of taking down Alabama?

The Gators started the season on questionable ground but have seemed to settle down over the last two weeks, scoring SEC wins over Tennessee and Kentucky.  Neither of those contests can really be counted as big tests, certainly not to the level of Alabama.  The Crimson Tide have picked up right where they left off last year and are coming off a strong win over Arkansas.  Mark Ingram was back in Heisman form racking up 157 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries against the Razorbacks.  Florida and Alabama have met in the last two SEC Championship Games, with each school getting a win and then going on to win the National Championship.

What matchup are you most looking forward to this weekend?  Who do you like to win the big games?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo source: avinashkunnath

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The past few days have been crazy with the rumor mill churning out a new scenario about conference expansion every five minutes. After being on life support, the Big 12 was resuscitated at the very last minute and it appears that it will now live on as a 10 school conference. While we won’t ultimately know the ramifications of this development for a few years, there are some clear short-term winners and losers.

Winners

Texas

Ultimately this decision is what’s best for the Longhorns at this moment. Reports claim Texas will bring in between $22-25 million per year from the conference in the new configuration. The Big 12 will continue to distribute its revenue on a graduated scale and the Longhorns will also be able to establish their own television network and keep the proceeds. From a competition standpoint, the loss of the Big 12 championship game and a rising challenger in Nebraska will give Texas an easier route to the BCS championship game.

Kansas, Kansas St., Missouri, Baylor and Iowa St.

Staring down the prospect of being hung out to dry without a conference, the decision to keep the band together certainly stabilizes the fortunes of these five schools. The Big 12 also claims that it will be able to roughly double the revenue it gives to each of these schools. Only Missouri could have hoped to bring in more revenue than that; the hope being contingent on an invitation to join the Big Ten. I’m still not completely writing that possibility off.

Dan Beebe

Facing the prospects of losing his conference and his job, Beebe was able to present a compelling case to the school that clearly calls all the shots, Texas. Whatever he did over the weekend worked and he deserves a lot of credit. Of course, now comes the hard part – delivering what he has promised.

Utah

It now looks like a safe bet that the Utes will be invited to join the Pac-10. This will be a really nice upgrade for Utah. It also makes me excited to say that I did predict that the Pac-10 would add Colorado and Utah to grow to 12 teams back in May.

Losers

Texas A&M

– This is assuming there was some commitment by the SEC that they would invite the Aggies to join their conference. If Texas A&M turned down that opportunity to stay in the Big 12 than they are a big loser. Joining the SEC would have given the Aggies a chance to step out of the Longhorns’ shadow, earn more revenue than they will in the Big 12 and be affiliated with the premier conference in college football. Of course, politics may have been at play here. Like Virginia when it came time to voting Virginia Tech into the ACC, Texas A&M may have been forced to do something that worked to the detriment of their university by state politicians.

Colorado

– The Buffaloes lost on two fronts. One, because they are being painted as panicking that the Big 12 was going to dissolve and moving too quickly. I don’t think this is fair but it can be filed under “perception is reality.” Two, because with the Big 12 staying together they are now responsible for what’s being estimated as a $6-8 million exit payment to the conference. Ultimately I think the Pac-10 move is a good one for Colorado.

Larry Scott

– He deserves a lot of credit for swinging for the fences but ultimately he got a single. Adding Colorado and Utah will be nice and the Pac-10 will now be able to host an annual football championship game. But it’s nowhere near the visions of grandeur that were being imagined.

Mountain West

– With the bold attempts by the Pac-10 to raid the Big 12, the Mountain West was starting to picture a scenario where they could add Kansas, Kansas St., Missouri and Iowa St. and become a bigger player in football and basketball. Now that the possibility has collapsed the conference is likely to lose Utah to the Pac-10. Even with the addition of Boise St., that is a big loss.

Who do you think the biggest winners and losers were? Please post your thoughts in the comments.

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The biggest thing that came out of the Big Ten meetings today was the reference by conference commissioner Jim Delany to the shifting U.S. population. 

“As far as the shifting population, that is reason, by itself, enough, to look at the concept of expansion,” Delany said. “In the last 20, 30 years, there’s been a clear shift in movement into the Sun Belt. The rates of growth in the Sun Belt are four times the rates they are in the East or the Midwest.”  What does this statement that seems to have come from left field mean?  Here are four possibilities:

  1. The Big Ten is going to make a huge push for Texas.  Many folks, including me, have discussed the fact that their are two potentially huge prizes to be won in expansion, Notre Dame and Texas.  While Texas was mentioned briefly as a Big Ten target, most of the speculation is that the conference will push Notre Dame to move.  Maybe their main target is Texas.
  2. ACC schools like Maryland and Virginia may be expansion candidates.  On May 13 Tom Dienhart of Rivals tweeted that those two programs were included in the latest buzz he was hearing.  First of all, based on the ridiculous happenings in the state of Virginia during the ACC expansion earlier this decade I don’t see UVA going anywhere.  Secondly, the ACC is on the cusp of signing an impressive deal with ESPN that will significantly increase the revenue each member will receive.  A week ago this may have been a much greater possibility.  The Big Ten may grab Maryland but I’d expect it to take a lot of hard work to do so.
  3. Delany is simply firing a shot across the bow of the SEC and their commissioner Mike Slive.  It seems clear that the major battle for supremacy that awaits college football will feature the Big Ten versus the SEC.  Delany is trying to make the SEC a little less comfortable.
  4. It’s a complete smokescreen.  All of the talk about the South is simply to open up the possibilities and take some of the pressure off the Big East schools they are likely to invite along with Notre Dame.

In my mind the most likely option is the fourth one.  However, if there is any reciprocal interest from Texas (and I have to believe somebody somewhere in the Big Ten knows if there is) then the first option is a no brainer. 

Please, share your thoughts.  What other options do you see?

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It’s always fun to look back on predictions and see how they compared to the final results…especially if you were not the one that made the predictions.  I did not put any preseason college basketball predictions in print so instead of looking back at my predictions I will look at the predictions of the Sports Illustrated team.  First, I’ll give credit where it’s due:

Hit the Bullseye

  1. Kansas – SI picked the Jayhawks at #1 and although they did not achieve their ultimate goal they did have a wonderful season that was worthy of the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
  2. Michigan St. – Chosen by SI at #2 the Spartans rallied from a challenging season to make the Final Four and had a solid chance to beat Butler.
  3. Kentucky – Maybe dead on, SI picked the Wildcats in the #5 slot. 
  4. Washington – While the Huskies did not have the best regular season, they made a nice mini-run to get to the Sweet Sixteen.  SI picked them at #9.

Hit Below the Bullseye

  1. Butler – SI wasn’t way off on this one – they picked Butler at #14.  Doubtful that anybody would have picked the Bulldogs at #2.  Although they should be picking them there for next season.
  2. Syracuse – The #1 seed and Big East regular season champions were picked at #35 by SI before the season.
  3. Kansas St. – Right below the Orange SI picked the Wildcats at #36.  Kansas St. played their way to a #2 seed in the big dance.
  4. Baylor – The Bears’ excellent season was a surprise to many, including the writers of SI who did not pick them to make the tournament in their college basketball preview.

Overthrew the Target

  1. Texas – Picked #4 by SI the Longhorns were never able to pull all their talent together in a way that resulted in a lot of wins.
  2. North Carolina – Many were surprised by the poor performance of the Tar Heels this season.  SI picked them at #7.
  3. Connecticut – The Huskies played like a group of individuals instead of a team throughout most of the season.  They did not live up to expectations, including those of SI who picked them at #10.
  4. Michigan – I personally expected a lot out of this team coming into the season and so did SI who picked them at #15. 

The team that most outperformed my expectations was Pittsburgh.  I did not expect anything from them but they really had an excellent season built on the foundation of high effort and defense that they’ve been exhibiting for quite some time.  Michigan is the program that most underachieved when compared to my expectations.  With the return of Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims along with the three other starters from the previous season I thought the Wolverines would be really good – they certainly were not.

What teams surprised you most, both positively and negatively?

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