What to watch, Week 5

There’s some interesting stuff happening on the weeknight games, so I have to get this out a day early.

(All times ET)

Thursday

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech – 7:30 – ESPN

Frank Beamer vs. Paul Johnson? The dean of cut block complainers vs. a man who cut blocked his own mother as he was being born? No I certainly do not have anything better to do on a Thursday night.

Friday

Utah State at San Jose State – 9:00 – ESPN

This game should feature enough offense that it won’t end until sometime around around 6. Chuckie Keeton vs. David Fales? That will be a lot of fun, at least until sometime in the second quarter when you realize that the Mids have to play the latter at the end of the season.

Saturday

South Alabama at Tennessee – Noonish – SEC Network/ESPN3

The appetizer for the Navy game will be another look at future opponent South Alabama. It’s not necessarily weird that the Jaguars are 2-1. It is a bit weird that the wins came over Tulane and Western Kentucky while the loss came against Southern Utah.

Virginia at Pittsburgh – 12:30 – FSN affiliates

I need this game to determine whether Duke has a good offense or Pitt has a bad defense.

Army vs. Louisiana Tech – 4:00 – FS1

Another winnable game for Army. Joined in progress after the end of the Navy game. Toledo and Duke are also playing in 3:00 games on ESPN3, but I don’t know if I’ll get to those since there probably won’t be much left by the time the Mids are done playing.

Air Force at Nevada – 8:00 – CBS Sports Network

This game just got a lot more interesting now that Jaleel Awini has been suspended.

Game Week: Penn State

The last time Navy started 0-2 was in 2005. The Mids opened with a heartbreaker in Baltimore against Maryland, then fell just short in a back-and-forth shootout with Stanford at home. The team rebounded to win the next four in a row before finishing at 8-4, blasting Colorado State in the Poinsettia Bowl. Happy times.

When the 2012 schedule was released showing the Mids leading off against Notre Dame and Penn State, a lot of people probably penciled Navy in for another 0-2 start this year. I’m not so sure they can afford one.

Continue reading

The New Big East Power Rankings – Week 1

While Navy’s move to the Big East might not be happening for another 3 years, it’s never too early to take a look at what our future conference looks like. Taking the 13 teams that are slated to be in the Big East in 2015, we’ll be ranking them against each other based on their current performance on the field.

1. Louisville – W 32-14 vs. Kentucky – Starting your season off with a win over your in-state, in-the-SEC rival has got to feel good. The final score doesn’t tell you that their starting quarterback, Bridgewater, was 19 for 21 passing (a school record for completion percentage) before heading for the bench in the 3rd quarter and getting the backup QB some serious reps. Louisville also had 2 running backs over 100 yards rushing while Kentucky couldn’t break the century mark as a team.

2. Boise State – L 13-17 @ Michigan State – This was Boise’s 4th consecutive season that started on the road against a ranked opponent. This was also the first time Boise lost that game. Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell turned out to be just too much for the Broncos to handle, rushing for 210 yards and 2 TDs. But even with an offense that sputtered most of the game, Boise was in it right to the end. Give credit to Chris Peterson – Boise lost a lot of talent last year to graduation and the NFL, but they were in the lead until the final 8 minutes of the game.

3. UCF – W 56-14 @ Akron – George O’Leary’s team had a lot of preseason hype that was dinged by an NCAA investigation and postseason ban. While they are appealing the ban, it’s unlikely UCF has anything more to play for than the regular season. The team got off on the right foot, beating the Fighting Chuck Amatos of Akron. Really, these guys were a toss-up with USF for the #3/4 spots. UCF beat a “1-A” team, so they get #3.

4. USF – W 34-13 vs. Chattanooga – What can I say about this game? Nothing really. Didn’t see it. It’s a 1-AA team. BJ Daniels (a candidate for the All-”Wait, what? he’s still in college” team) tossed 3 TDs while Chattanooga was held to just 151 yards. Well get to know a little more about the team when they head to Nevada next week. Maybe?

5. UConn – W 37-0 vs. Massachusetts – UConn won. And they shut them out. And this was UMass’ first game as a FBS team. The fact they held UMass to 59 total yards gets them the #5 spot.

6. Rutgers – W 24-12 vs. Tulane – Greg Schiano, the man who gave Rutgers something other than “we were in the first football game” to talk about, is gone. Tulane lost 10 consecutive games to end the season. But hey, a win is a win.

7. Cincinnati – Idle – The good news is you didn’t lose. The bad news is you didn’t win. You get Pitt on Thursday night coming off that embarrassing loss. Do us proud, Bearcats.

8. Temple – W 41-10 vs. Villanova – Congrats to Temple on winning their first game back from Big East exile. You did get out-gained by Villanova, but who cares. Steve Addazio has kept Temple on the upward trend established by Al Golden, delivering the 3rd Mayor’s Cup in this rivalry. Upcoming games vs. Maryland and at Penn State look to be winnable.

9. San Diego State – L 12-21 @ Washington – OK, if there is a team I underrated here, it’s SDSU. They put up yards on Washington. They had a turned it over on downs inside the Washington 10. But when you only score once in the first 47+ minutes, it’s hard to get too psyched up about a close loss on the road.

10. SMU – L 24-59 @ Baylor – You got your doors blown off, but you managed to score a couple of TD in garbage time to make it more respectable than the #11 team on the list. 501 yards of offense is no joke, but you know what June Jones teams do, so it’s not amazing either.

11. Navy – L 10-50 vs. Notre Dame – Hey, Ireland is pretty. Navy’s defense? Not so much. Trey Miller passed pretty damn well. But anyone who woke up early knows it was a beatemdown.

12. Houston – L 13-30 vs. Texas State – Look, your loss was so bad your offensive coordinator resigned after just one week of the season. But hey, at least you’re not Memphis.

13. Memphis – L 17-20 vs. Tennessee-Martin – What more can we say. At least you have very low expectations right now. But losing to a team from the OVC who had a losing record last year? You gotta do better than that.

Links 6/7

- CBS has announced a partial 2012 TV schedule for football. We’ve known for a while now that Navy’s match-ups against Notre Dame and Air Force are going to be on CBS with morning kick-off times. The big news here for Navy fans is that the Army-Navy game will kick-off at 3pm EST.

I have to disagree with Sal here. It’s not a weird time. It puts kickoff at noon PST, making it that much more attractive to viewers west of the Mississippi. We all know the game got a bump by shifting to the weekend after conference championships. Perhaps we can get a few more viewers with this slight adjustment (last year the kickoff was at 2:30pm EST). With the Big East TV deal looming, any boost in Army-Navy ratings now will deliver more TV dollars later.

- Navy Baseball had two players drafted in this year’s MLB draft. The Blue Jays selected outfielder Alex Azor in the 10th round – putting him as the highest drafted Navy player of all time – while the Brewers took pitcher Preston Gainey in the 11th round.

- Navy’s Zack Duncavage, a Youngster, placed 16th in the discus at the NCAA track and field championships this week. His finish nets him 2nd team All-American honors.

- Finally, this one slipped through the cracks at the beginning of the week, but bears mention. The Navy Men’s Lightweight Four won the IRA National Championship this past weekend in Camden, NJ. This was the final feather in the cap of Coach Rick Clothier, who has retired after leading the crew program for 38 years.

Links 6/6

- The Annapolis Capital is reporting that three members of the Navy football team have left the school. They are Center Dale Howard, Fullback Mike Patrick, and linebacker Jarvis Cummings. All three were back-ups on the depth chart, with Howard and Cummings listed as #2 at their positions, while Patrick was 3rd string. While this doesn’t hit the top-line, it certainly undermines depth at those positions.

- Navy Women’s Lacrosse team captain Kierstin King has been selected to play in the IWLCA Senior All-Star Game on June 16th. She joins two other players from the Patriot League, Lehigh’s Leigh Ann Torcivia and Colgate’s Courtney Miller.

- The Big East is looking towards the Poinsettia Bowl for possible western expansion of their bowl game tie-ins starting in 2014. Their current bowl inventory does not reach the Mississippi River, with the westernmost bowl game being the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama. The MWC has an agreement with the Poinsettia Bowl that expires in 2013. With Navy scheduled to play in the bowl game in 2014 (if bowl eligible), such a match-up could give us a preview of league play in 2015.

- The demo for NCAA Football 13 has hit the PS3 and Xbox 360. While this normally wouldn’t be huge news for our blog, there’s a hook. Users who share the demo with friends will unlock Nike Pro Combat uniforms for five teams: Ohio Shate, LSU, Boise State, Stanford and…wait for it…Navy. That’s not bad company to keep.

No word yet if there is a combat coaching mode for Air Force fans.

Playoff Thoughts

I’m pretty sure I’m the only person left that doesn’t want a college football playoff, but it appears I’ll be out of luck once the current BCS contract ends and a four-team playoff is implemented. At this point it seems like the only thing left to decide is the format, a question that’s been creating all kinds of hate and discontent lately. Nick Saban accusing others of being self-serving while making his own self-serving argument? It must be Wednesday.

The two most popular ideas being tossed around are the “four best teams” plan favored by the SEC, and the “conference champion” plan that was offered by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney. The way the latter would work is that the top four conference champions would be selected out of a pool of the top six teams. If there aren’t four conference champions within the top six, the remaining spots would be filled by at-large teams within that group. This is the plan supported by the Big East.

It seems like picking the four best teams is the obvious answer, but it really isn’t. Think about it for a second. The rallying cry of playoff supporters has always been that the national champion should be “determined on the field.” Relying on some BCS ranking system to pick who gets to participate wouldn’t serve that purpose any more with four teams than it does with two. Deciding the “best” is subjective. Deciding conference champions is not. There is going to be a subjective element in the selection process because of who gets ranked in the top six, but the best way to minimize it and have the national champion truly decided on the field is to give selection priority to conference champions.

SOME CHATTER

A few things to discuss:

– The conference expansion gong show continues. Moving on from its failed merger with the Mountain West, Conference USA is adding five teams: North Texas, FIU, Louisiana Tech, UTSA, and UNC-Charlotte. Old Dominion also reportedly has an invite, but is mulling things over. The Sun Belt added Texas State and Georgia State to make up for its losses. In a move that was long anticipated, San Jose State and Utah State made their way to the Mountain West.

The departure of Louisiana Tech, UTSA, Texas State, SJSU, and Utah State on top of those that have already left means that the WAC is pretty much dead as a football conference. Only Idaho and New Mexico State remain, and the future looks pretty bleak for them as those two might be the first casualties of the haves-have nots divide. Even if they intend to find a way to survive in I-A, how on earth will these guys be able to recruit? Who’s going to want to sign on for four years when they can’t be sure that there will even be a program in four years? Expect a lot of JUCO transfers for the Aggies and Vandals in the near future.

Paul Meyerberg sums it up:

As someone who grew up watching Hawaii and epic BYU-San Diego State shootouts, seeing the WAC go is a sad thing, even if those days were already long gone. There was a lot of innovation in that league, from Air Coryell, to the spread option, to the 3-3-5 defense. Even the modern WAC was fun to watch, with Pat Hill’s take-on-all-comers Fresno State teams, Boise State’s rise to the national spotlight, and Hawaii’s run & shoot for those of us who wanted our college football Saturdays to stretch into Sunday morning. Those programs are still around, but having them all in one crazy package made for a good time. Of course, the Mountain West is basically the nuWAC now, so maybe some sense of the spirit of the WAC will live on for a little while longer, just with a stupider logo.

For those of us who have been stationed in Norfolk or have been long-time residents… ODU MIGHT BE PLAYING FOOTBALL IN C-USA. How bonkers is that?

– Speaking of the Mountain West, they released their hodgepodge national television schedule yesterday. Of note is that Navy will be playing Air Force on CBS again (cool), but at 9:30 a.m. local time (lollerskates). Crazy early start times and midweek games were a driving factor for the MWC in leaving ESPN and starting their own network, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers at this point. CBS Sports Network owns the conference’s rights, but “will sub-license games to NBC Sports Network and ESPN” according to the release. Judging by television appearances, the Mountain West is made up of Boise State and the nine dwarves, with the Broncos getting 10 of their games picked up under this arrangement. The announcement includes games like Boise State at Michigan State and Air Force at Army that aren’t part of the Mountain West package, but rather the respective home teams’ TV deal. Not on the list is Air Force’s game at Michigan on Sept. 8, which will definitely be televised. It might end up on ESPN, although looking at the Big Ten schedule that week there’s a chance it’ll be on the Big Ten Network instead. Teams will be forced to look for local TV coverage for the rest of the conference’s games.

– Don’t forget the women’s lax game vs. Oregon on Saturday, which will be streamed live online for free.

STOCK MARKET: WEEK ELEVEN

Mike

STOCK UP: Navy. I love the Gansz Trophy. I want to take it to the club, drink champagne out of it, show it off to chicks, and tell them it’s the Stanley Cup.  The Mids put on their best defensive performance of the season on Saturday, holding SMU’s run & shoot offense to 249 passing yards while grabbing two interceptions and allowing the Mustangs to convert only 4 of 12 3rd-down attempts. Navy’s defense played great against SMU last year too. I don’t know what it is about this game, but I’ll take it.

STOCK DOWN: Air Force. Air Force had a lot of the same hype this year that Navy had going into 2010. The results, however, have been a lot worse. The Falcons fell back to .500 after losing to Wyoming on Saturday, 25-17. Two of their wins have come against I-AA teams, which means that Air Force will not be bowl eligible if they lose either of their last two games. Fortunately for them, those two games are against UNLV and Colorado State, both of which are horrible (this is the Mountain West, after all). Still, things might get a little hairy if Air Force has to go without Tim Jefferson, who left the Wyoming game with an apparent concussion.

STOCK DOWN: Boise State. By losing to TCU, the Broncos will not only likely miss out on a BCS bowl, but they probably won’t even win the Mountain West. TCU is undefeated in the conference and will most likely stay that way with only Colorado State and UNLV left to play. Bonus stock down to the referee who called pass interference on Boise’s last drive. That was almost as corrupt as Pacquiao-Marquez. Almost.

STOCK UP: Houston. Boise’s loss opens the door for the undefeated Cougars to make a BCS bowl game if they win out. The highest-ranked champion of a non-AQ conference can earn an automatic berth if they are either in the top 12 of the BCS standings, or in the top 16 and ranked ahead of the champion of an AQ conference. Houston is already ranked in the top 12 and is on a collision course with Southern Miss in Conference USA. The Eagles might have an outside shot at a BCS bowl if they win C-USA instead, but they would need a lot of help getting into the top 16.

STOCK UP: Oklahoma State. A ho-hum 60-point conference road win helped to solidify the Cowboys as the #2 team in the country. And who doesn’t want to see the Oklahoma State offense take on the LSU defense?

STOCK UP: Georgia. South Carolina kept the pressure on Georgia in the race for the SEC East crown by beating Florida. After the game, Steve Spurrier said, “We’ll see how Georgia plays when they know they have to win.” Apparently they play pretty well, if their 45-7 thrashing of Auburn is any indication. After an 0-2 start that had some predicting Mark Richt’s demise, Georgia has won 8 straight and has only Kentucky standing between them and a spot in the SEC championship game. Kentucky was just blown out by Vanderbilt; we’ve been told they supposed to be SEC, but this year it’s been in name only. Everything’s coming up Bulldogs.

STOCK DOWN: Tim DeRuyter. The former Air Force (and Navy) defensive coordinator left his alma mater to take the same job at Texas A&M because, he said, it would help him prepare to eventually return to Air Force as head coach. Let’s all hope so. Texas A&M is the most underachieving team in the country; they were a preseason top 10 in both polls, but fell to 5-5 with Saturday’s overtime loss to Kansas State. Considering that the Aggies have scored no fewer than 29 points in any game this year, and coupled with the fact that 4 of A&M’s 5 losses have come as a result of blowing double-digit leads, DeRuyter might be available to go back to Colorado Springs sooner rather than later.

STOCK DOWN: Florida State-Miami. There was a time when people used to rank this rivalry up with the best in college football. I actually live in Florida, and this year I forgot this game was even being played. This is fine example of the difference between a great game and a great rivalry. One doesn’t make the other. Now that neither has been much of a national player for a while, the nobody seems to talk about the rivalry anymore.

Adam

STOCK UP: Brett Smith. A week after getting knocked out of an upset bid against TCU with a concussion, the Wyoming freshman led the Pokes to a win at Air Force, accounting for all three of his team’s touchdowns (1 passing, 2 rushing) while all but securing Wyoming’s status as the third best team in the MWC. Wiry but athletic, Smith has impressed me with both his poise away from Cowboy Stadium this year, as well as his progression in what can be a complicated Dave Christensen offense. The Cowboys still need one more win to get bowl eligible, but with a home date against New Mexico next week, something tells me that win will come real soon.

STOCK DOWN: Arizona State. It hardly seems like it was this season, but I’m fairly sure I watched the Sun Devils beat then 23rd-ranked USC in late September while asking myself, “is Dennis Erickson’s team good enough to win the PAC-12?” It looked like it at the time, but with three losses in the last four games, QB Brock Osweiler and company have come back down to earth. Granted, all three of those losses have been on the road, but the last two – to average UCLA and Washington State teams – have taken Arizona State out of contention for the league title. If nothing else, Saturday’s 37-27 loss at the hands of a backup quarterback shows that Arizona State is not, in fact, ready for the national spotlight.

STOCK UP: Kleining. Ok, it’s official; I’m starting the next viral posing movement. After two weeks of Tebowing in all public places to the looks of bewildered old people, I’ve decided to set up a tackling dummy and proceed to run over it. Again. And again. And again. I call it “Kleining,” – after the Kansas State quarterback, whose five rushing touchdowns lifted the Wildcats to victory in a wild three-overtime thriller against Texas A&M. Klein’s 24 rushing touchdowns this year are approaching (dare I say) Ricky Dobbs like numbers, and the junior quarterback’s passing prowess hasn’t exactly been suspect to boot. If the Wildcats finish out the season 10-2, Klein deserves to be invited to the Heisman ceremony.

STOCK DOWN: Cincinnati. Losing 24-21 to West Virginia doesn’t doom the first-place Bearcats, but losing quarterback Zach Collaros to a broken right ankle just might. Collaros ranked third in total offense in the Big East before the injury, and with back-to-back road games against Rutgers and Syracuse, his experience and knowledge of the offense will be missed as the Bearcats try to claw their way towards a BCS bowl.

STOCK UP: Utah State. For the first time this season Utah State won back-to-back games, keeping my postseason travel hopes alive with their second improbable fourth-quarter comeback in as many weeks. Once again, backup quarterback Adam Kennedy overcame a barrage of turnovers and miscues by the offense to rally the team, which trailed 33-21 with just over five minutes left in the game. With two wins in three tries my Aggies can get bowl eligible, but with a conference that is about as predictable as Logan’s weather, I’m not booking my plane ticket just yet.

STOCK DOWN: Others Receiving Votes. I’m not saying Georgia Southern (9-1) is not deserving of a spot in the FBS poll, but when even the AP voters take note of an FCS team, it’s not the greatest indicator of how strong the bottom half of the Top 25 is. Hats off to Coach Monk and Jaybo Shaw, however, who will get a chance to prove to the country how good they really are when they travel to face Alabama this weekend.

STOCK MARKET: WEEK TEN

Mike

STOCK DOWN: WordPress. This would have been posted yesterday, but when I hit “Publish” I got an error message and everything was erased. Not that you’re missing much.

STOCK UP: IT’S GANSZ TROPHY WEEK ERRBODY GET CRAZY WOOOOOOOOOO. Such a storied rivalry. I remember my first Gansz Trophy game like it was just two years ago. What memories.

STOCK UP: Aaron Santiago’s return. I was sure that we had seen the last of Aaron Santiago after he broke his arm at Western Kentucky. I mean, there are broken arms, and there are broken AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Aaron’s injury was most definitely the latter, which you might have noticed since CBS decided to show a replay of it for reasons known only to God. The hope at the time of the injury was that Aaron might be able to dress for Army-Navy. It’s a small miracle that not only was he back in time for Senior Day, but he ran for 80 yards in one half of play. With the Mids needing to win out to go to their ninth consecutive bowl game, any help they can get is good news.

STOCK DOWN: Big East defectors. It wasn’t a good week for those moving on to greener pastures, as all three teams leaving the Big East lost to teams staying put. Louisville beat West Virginia, UConn topped Syracuse, and Pitt fell to Cincinnati. Is this where I let out a cheer for conference solidarity? Someone needs to fill me in on how this whole conference thing works. Speaking of which…

STOCK UP: Missouri. I don’t care what conference they’re in. I’m just glad that there is actual news in the conference realignment shuffle as opposed to more rumors from questionable sources. Maybe this will finally get the dominoes falling so we can get all of this over with, whatever is going to happen.

STOCK UP: A bird’s eye view. Buddy Green called the game from upstairs on Saturday. Do I think that’s the reason why the defense looked better? Meh, not really. Am I superstitious enough that I want him in the box anyway from here on out? ABSOLUTELY.

THIS WEEK IN SEASON TURNAROUND GOOD VIBES: Last week we talked about WKU, who kept the ball rolling on Saturday by beating FIU to pull over .500 on the season. This week’s good vibes story is UCLA. As we watched the Bruins get dismantled by a pretty bad Arizona team, did anyone think that they would be in control of their own destiny in the Pac-12 South at this point in the season? Hell no. But after beating Arizona State on Saturday, that’s exactly where they are with three games to play. Two of those three (Utah and Colorado) are very winnable, making the season finale with USC even bigger than usual. Happy thoughts, Navy.

ENRON: Penn State. I questioned whether or not to even mention this mess, given the usual lighthearted nature of this post. You can’t really get around it, though. I haven’t been able to finish a single article I’ve read on the whole affair because I get too disgusted. The best coverage of the story is at pennlive.com, or you can read the grand jury findings of fact for yourself here. I doubt you’ll be able to finish it either.

Adam

STOCK UP: Mike London. I live and work in Cavs country, and let me tell you, this guy actually has people in central Virginia excited for football on Saturdays. It’s not just that the former Richmond Head Coach has gotten Virginia bowl eligible for the first time since 2007, it’s that he is doing it the right way and engaging the community. Virginia is in the hunt for a conference crown for the first time in years, and could be on track to make the ACC title game when they host Virginia Tech on November 26th.

STOCK DOWN: Rex Burkhead’s Heisman campaign (formerly sponsored by yours truly). I’ve been an admirer of the legend of Rex ever since watching the former Plano (TX) prep star tear it up on a Rivals scouting video, and coming into last Saturday’s game, the All-American I-back looked like he might just make a surge for a late-season Heisman run. We knew Northwestern might score on the Black Shirts, but c’mon, who among us saw the Wildcat defense holding Burkhead in check? A costly fumble in the redzone not only kills whatever outside chance Burkhead had at making that run, but it might have killed Nebraska’s BCS bowl hopes.

STOCK UP: MACTION. Tuesday night used to have the distinction of being THE WORST night for television watching. This is not an opinion, but a legitimate fact. However, after last Tuesday night’s 123-point smörgåsbord of offense in Northern Illinois’ 63-60 win over Toledo, we all have reason to reevaluate our troubled relationship with Tuesday evenings. And with two key conference games coming up this Tuesday (Western Michigan @ Toledo and Northern Illinois @ Bowling Green) the fun isn’t likely to stop.

STOCK DOWN: Washington State. Have things really changed in Pullman? After starting 3-1, the Cougars have lost five consecutive games, including Saturday’s 30-7 loss to Cal. I thought Paul Wolff would be able to get this team to a bowl after a hot start, but asking Washington State to win its final three games looks like too much considering Arizona State and Washington loom ahead.

STOCK UP: The Conference-USA title race. Houston and Southern Miss are two of the hottest teams in the country, and if both can win their remaining three games, they will meet in what just might be the most high-profile Conference-USA Championship ever. Considering how many teams ranked 10-20 have been losing as of late, I’m guessing both head into the game ranked in the Top 20 of the AP Poll – a distinction, I should add, that gives the eventual champion a legitimate case at playing in a BCS Bowl.

STOCK DOWN: Penn State. Really, if the allegations are true, all I can say is this situation is beyond joking about. Sad is an understatement here.

STOCK MARKET: WEEK NINE

STOCK DOWN: The state of Maryland. Both of the Old Line State’s I-A schools were 9-4 a year ago. Both of them are 2-6 now. Navy, you might have heard, had a mudhole stomped in them by Notre Dame. As for the Terps, they lost 28-17 to a Boston College team whose only other win this year was against UMass. BC running back Rolandan Finch got the start after Montel Harris’ season-ending injury and ran for 243 yards, nearly doubling his total yardage for the season. This might be Randy Edsall’s dream, but it’s Maryland fans’ nightmare. Somewhere, Mike Leach is pouring lighter fluid on Ralph Friedgen’s burning diploma.

STOCK UP: Turning your season around. Well at least we know it’s possible. WKU, who followed up their loss to Navy with a 44-16 loss to I-AA Indiana State, has won four in a row. Their winning streak includes a shutout of Florida Atlantic, a 42-23 win over conference front-runner Louisiana-Lafayette, and Saturday’s overtime win over the team formerly known as the Fighting Weatherbies. WKU is now 4-1 in the Sun Belt and in the running for the conference championship. GUIDE US TO THE LAND OF MILK AND HONEY, HILLTOPPERS.

STOCK DOWN: Sportsmanship.

Uh, yeah.

STOCK DOWN: SMU. Since going on a 5-game winning streak that included victories over UCF and TCU, SMU has lost two straight. Now there’s no shame in losing to Southern Miss and Tulsa. Both are good football teams and could very well meet in the Conference-USA title game. The problem is in how SMU lost. June Jones’ run & shoot offense has been held to 10 combined points over this losing streak (LOL YOU CALL THAT A LOSING STREAK?), and against Tulsa the Mustangs gave up 3 sacks, threw 4 interceptions, and were held to 180 yards passing. Fortunately for SMU, the cure for what ails most football teams is a game against Tulane, and the Green Wave head to Dallas next week. That’ll be a good tuneup for the all-important Gansz Trophy showdown with future Big East rival Navy. THROW OUT THE RECORDS WHEN THOSE TWO STORIED RIVALS MEET.

(Please?)

STOCK UP: Case Keenum. Of course, Tulsa probably won’t win their division unless Case Keenum is injured. Keenum threw for 534 yards and NINE TOUCHDOWNS against Rice. NINE.

NINE.

IX.

(9)

He set the record for most career TD passes in I-A history after he threw his fifth, but what kind of slacker stops at 5 TD passes?

STOCK UP: Georgia Tech. Paul Johnson’s team had a losing streak of their own cooking before unscrewing themselves in a 31-17 thumping of previously unbeaten Clemson. The Jackets just steamrolled the #5 team in the BCS while running for 383 yards, but I guarantee the next time they lose someone will say that the spread option offense has been “solved.” Whatever.

STOCK DOWN: Football games being 60 minutes long. There’s been a lot of talk lately about the welfare of NCAA student-athletes, from protecting their health by eliminating dangerous hits, to approving a $2,000 stipend for football and basketball players to cover the “full cost of attendance.” I fully support these measures. In fact, I would do more. We need to consider the long-term effects of playing football on athlete health. If we shortened the length of the game from 60 minutes to 58 minutes, we could save 24 minutes a year in a 12-game season. That’s a solid hour and a half over the course of a 4-year career, saving players’ bodies from additional wear and tear and reducing the chance of a serious injury that might have occurred in all of that extra time. We’ve taken great steps toward taking care of our players, and when the rules committee looks at changes for next year, I hope they go one step further and consider 58-minute games. For the players.

(This post written by special guest commentator Bret Bielema.)

STOCK UP. WAY, WAY UP: This.

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