Winners & Losers: A 'No. 1' Hindenburg'd again

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WINNERS

Auburn football: it’s Cam-tastic!We pretty much summed up our feelings on Auburn’s win over LSU right Eric LeGrand.jpg Pitt & their fansThe fact that Pittsburgh nearly doubled-up on Rutgers 41-21 is of no import whatsoever.  How the Panthers went above and beyond the call of
duty in the class department in a show of solidarity for paralyzed Scarlet Knight player Eric LeGrand is something that should be acknowledged and roundly applauded.  It was the first game Rutgers has played since an injury left LeGrand with no movement from the neck down, and the show of support via buttons and banners and all other manner of empathy was certainly appreciated by all those involved in the football program.  And something that was very, very good to see from the outside looking in.

Doug MarroneWhile we take a shot at his conference a little further down, there’s no denying that the Syracuse coach deserves plaudits for what he’s doing with the Orange.  With five games left in 2010, the ‘Cuse sits at 5-2; just once in the last six years has the football program hit the mark for an entire season.  Yes, it’s just the Big East, but for all the suffering Syracuse fans have gone through of late, they deserve to feel good about their football program.

LOSERS

Iowa guilty of clock-icide; charges pendingApparently, Kirk Ferentz graduated summa cum laude from the Les Miles School of Clock Management at some point this past offseason.  How else do you explain his heinous butchering of a poor, defenseless game clock at the end of the Wisconsin-Iowa game?  Down by what would be the final of 31-30 and sitting at the Badgers’ 39-yard line with a fresh set of downs, the Hawkeyes could’ve stopped the clock at around :12 by spiking the ball.  Instead, Ferentz inexplicably blew Iowa’s final timeout.  The next play after the timeout was a completed pass, but the receiver failed to get out of bounds and the final seconds ticked off the clock as the Hawkeyes were helpless to stop it.  Iowa may or may not have made what would have been a lengthy field goal, but it was ridiculous that the kicker was never given the opportunity.  And, no offense, but it was just as ridiculous that Ferentz downplayed the final sequence in the postgame.

Losing to UCLA and Iowa State in the same season?

clapclapclapclap…deep in the heart of Texas…

The Big EastAfter knocking off West Virginia — the conference’s only ranked team coming into this weekend — Syracuse is now a half-game behind league-leader Pittsburgh, which has lost to Miami by four touchdowns and Notre Dame for the love of God.  Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 Big East football leaders!

(Writer’s note: the above was not meant to disparage Marrone and the turnaround he’s in the midst of at Syracuse.  Rather, it was meant to disparage the conference as a whole and further cement the fact that it’s an embarrassment the Big East gets an automatic bid and the Mountain West does not.)

The Blighting IrishI was debating amongst myself whether to put the Navy win in the winners or the Notre Dame loss in the losers.  With all due respect for what the Midshipmen do for our country, it feels so much better to go with the latter.  After dominating the series for 43 consecutive games, the Irish have now been pwned by the Middies three of the last four years, with this year’s being the worst of the trio.  The previous two losses came by a total of four points; today’s loss was an embarrassing 18-point beatdown that was actually worse than the final score indicated.  Navy absolutely pounded the Irish defense into submission, not only rushing for 367 yards but averaging 6.1 yards every time they ran it.  Certainly Brian Kelly has a lot residual ineptness left over from the Charlie Weis era to slog through and will enjoy a significant honeymoon, but losing by nearly three touchdowns to a military academy will significantly cut into the goodwill he’s garnered despite what’s now a 4-4 start.

Yeah, good luck filling that vacancyIf Minnesota is going to find an experienced, quality replacement for Tim Brewster, it’s patently obvious that they’re going to have to open the checkbook and pay above whatever number it is they have in their minds right now.  Not only did the Gophers hand a rebuilding and struggling Penn State team their first Big Ten win of the season, they allowed the Nittany Lions to do it with a former walk-on replacing their injured starting quarterback.  Cha-ching, Gophers.  Cha-ching.

Jane, stop this crazy thing!In addition to today’s 50-17 win over Arizona State, Cal has won games by scores of 52-3, 52-7 and 35-7.  Their two losses have come by the score of 52-31 and 48-14.  The Bears’ only sane game was a 10-9 loss to Arizona.  What do all of these numbers mean?  I have no freaking clue.  And, I’m betting, neither does Jeff Tedford.

Mississippi State Bull…What, you thought we were going to let this slide even though they won?  You trail UA-freaking-B in the fourth quarter, and you’re a ranked team this late in the season, you deserve a spot down here amongst the dregs.  29-23 at home against an under-.500 Conference USA school?  That’s not gonna cut it in the big boy leagues, Dan Mullen.

Bowling Green might wanna try a new sportLike, well, kegling.  The Falcons of the MAC were held to -10 yards rushing in their 30-6 loss to this past week’s Lotto winners, Kent State.  BGSU is now 1-7 on the season, with their lone win coming against Marshall by 18 points.  Shame on you, Herd.  Shame on you.

Gary DanielsonI understand you were just mentioning something that you have heard people discuss, but Cam Newton, as brilliant as he’s been in eight games, has a long, long, long way to go before he should even be mentioned in the same book, let alone the same sentence, as Bo Jackson.  Please don’t contribute to the dumbing down of this country, Mr. Danielson.  Thanks in advance.  (Man, I hate it when people go overboard in praising these players…)

GUESS WHAT?  IT’S BONUS TIME!!!While we won’t even hazard a guess as to how the BcS will shake out, we will take a stab at how we think the coaches’ Top Ten will look when USA Today releases their poll Sunday afternoon.  And, after you read our piece, go state yours by voting on who you think should be the No. 1 team in the country by clicking HERE.

(Again, this is how we think the coaches’ poll will look, and is not a reflection on our own personal opinion as to how it should look.)

1.) Oregon2.) Boise State3.) Auburn4.) TCU5.) Michigan State6.) Alabama7.) Missouri8.) Oklahoma9.) Utah10.) Wisconsin

LOOK: Jim Harbaugh hooks Pope Francis up with Michigan helmet, pair of Jordans

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There’s a series of words I’d never imagined I’d string together in a headline.

As you may have heard, Jim Harbaugh has taken his Michigan football team to Italy for an offseason European vacation.  As part of the trip, the team is in the Vatican City today and took in the Pope’s Wednesday address to the masses in St. Peter’s Square — the players and athletic director Warde Manuel sat amongst the crowd while the head coach and his wife were seated on the same stage as Pope Francis.

Following the address, and after a wait of nearly a half-hour, Harbaugh was able to meet with and speak to His Holiness.  The coach didn’t come empty-handed, either, as Pope Francis was gifted with a Michigan football helmet and a pair of Air Jordans.  Michigan-themed, of course.

“This is as good as it gets,” Harbaugh said according to mlive.com after his meeting with the pope. “This has been the experience of my lifetime.”

Tulane turns to Jonathan Banks as starter at QB

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Last season, there was just one FBS team — Army and its triple-option (967) — that passed for fewer yards than Tulane’s 1,360.  Tulane’s team passing efficiency rating of 93.12 was 128th of the 128 teams at this level of football.  Their completion percentage of 42.2 was, again, 128th in the FBS.  Their 5.3 yards per attempt was… 127th.

This season, the Green Wave’s passing hopes in a run-heavy offense will likely land on the shoulders of a junior college transfer.

Throughout the spring, Jonathan Banks had taken the majority of reps with the first-team offense.  Tuesday, Willie Fritz confirmed that Banks will be his starter under center heading into summer camp and, presumably, for the program’s season opener against Grambling at home Sept. 2.

At least for now, Banks has staked his claim to the job after a competition that included Glen Cuiellette and Jonathan Brantley, the starter and backup, respectively, last season.

“He did a good job this spring picking things up,” the head coach said according to nola.com. “We evaluated practices 1 through 15 and I thought, for a guy coming into a new situation, he did a very good job. He provides us with both a passing and a running threat, which in our offense you need to have.

“We’re excited about his development.”

Drew O’Bryan leaves Western Kentucky, drops down to FCS level

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Another day, another FBS player has transitioned away from his first college football home.

On his personal Twitter account recently, Drew O’Bryan acknowledged his decision to transfer from Western Kentucky. Additionally, he announced his next destination for good measure — Eastern Kentucky.

The linebacker said he made the decision “[a]fter talking with my family and many prayers.”

As EKU plays at the Football Championship Subdivision level, O’Bryan will be eligible to play immediately for the Colonels in 2017.

O’Bryan was a two-star member of WKU’s 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 18 player at any position in the state of Kentucky. He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

Pair of Alabama defenders undergo surgery after Tide’s spring game

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Alabama’s spring game wrapped up on Saturday and with it, the last of the Crimson Tide’s spring practices. While that means the coaching staff is free to fly across the country to visit recruits during the evaluation period, it also results in several players going under the knife to correct injuries in order to be back by fall camp.

Two of those players are starting cornerback Anthony Averett and (likely starting) linebacker Christian Miller, both of whom underwent sports hernia surgery this week according to AL.com.

The report states that Averett played with the hernia most of last season while the Tide marched their way to the national title game. Miller was one of the stars of the show on Saturday during Alabama’s spring game, recording two sacks while dealing with the injury.

Both are expected to be fully healthy for camp in August as Nick Saban and company vie for yet another conference title and berth in the College Football Playoff.