Michael Crabtree

The Fifth Quarter: Week 9 Rewind

23 Comments

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

CALM(ISH) BEFORE THE STORM
After a few weeks worth of utter tumult, we were due.

Entering Week 9, we were looking at a slate of games heavy on the mundane and light on intrigue.  Exiting it, the landscape is essentially the same as it began — with one very large exception.

No. 3 Ole Miss’ loss to No. 24 LSU was easily the most high-profile upset of the day, even as it probably shouldn’t be referred to as an upset.  Playing in Death Valley, at night no less, is no easy task for any squad regardless of how highly-ranked they are, especially facing a Tiger team riding an emotional roller coaster after the death of their head coach’s mother Friday night.

Certainly there were, in the weekend before Halloween, some scares for the Top 25.  No. 5 Auburn was able to survive an upset bid by South Carolina, exiting Jordan-Hare with a seven-point win.  No. 13 Ohio State and No. 25 UCLA were even more fortunate, getting taken to double-overtime by Penn State and Colorado, respectively, before scrambling back to Columbus and Los Angeles, respectively, with their closer-than-expected wins.  Even No. 1 Mississippi State had its “lemon-booty” moments in a 14-point win over Kentucky on the road.

That, though, was essentially the gist of the Week 9 tumult, as it were.

Of the 16 teams that played an unranked team this week, exactly none went down in defeat.  The average margin of victory in those games was 17.6.  A whopping 13 of the 16 were decided by at least 10 points, with five of them coming by 20 or more.  Of course, there was also that 55-point shellacking that we mention below.

The four remaining Top 25 teams that hit the field this weekend played each other, with the lower-ranked team winning one (the previously referenced Ole Miss-LSU game) and the higher-ranked team winning the other (No. 19 Utah over No. 20 USC).

In other words, expect very little change in the Top 25 when the polls are released Sunday afternoon, the last polls, incidentally, before the first release of the newly-minted College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday night.

(more…)

Under Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech is relevant again

11 Comments

The stars were easy to name five years ago, when Graham Harrell linked up with Michael Crabtree. Harrell’s game-winning touchdown to Crabtree against Texas was one of the highlights of 2008, with the win one of, if not the, best in school history.

Since that season, things have gone downhill in Lubbock. There was the controversial, ugly split between the university and Mike Leach. Tommy Tuberville followed with two uninspiring seasons.

But at 7-0 and No. 10 in the BCS, Texas Tech is back on the national stage. The Red Raiders’ date with Oklahoma in Norman on Saturday is one of this weekend’s more intriguing games, sort of a bellwether game for Texas Tech’s legitimacy as a BCS contender.

A large part of the success to date, though, can be traced back to bringing in Kliff Kingsbury.

SI’s Stewart Mandel looked at how Kingsbury vaulted his alma mater back into relevancy, and how his players would “literally run in front of an 18-wheeler for him.”

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Jimmy Burch wrote how Texas Tech is motivated by its critics — those who didn’t think much of prior to the season and still don’t think much of them now.

Kingsbury specifically mentioned how Texas Tech was put on “upset alert” by College GameDay for the game last weekend against West Virginia, driving home the “prove these people wrong” point before kickoff.

While Texas Tech hasn’t played a difficult schedule — their best win is a 20-10 victory over TCU — they get Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas in four of their final five games. If their run of success continues (and there’s some more attrition around the top of the BCS standings), a Texas Tech-Baylor game in Lubbock could have championship implications next month.

Not bad for a first-year coach.

“It doesn’t matter what people are saying now, jumping on board,” Kingsbury said, via the Star-Telegram. “What matters is what we believed in this team room from Day One. The rest of it really doesn’t matter.”

Manziel leads FWAA Freshman All-American Team

3 Comments

A selection for the Football Writer’s Association of America All-American team, Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel has now done what only three* other players have done before: be selected for two FWAA All-American teams.

The FWAA released its Freshman All-American team Monday with the redshirt freshman leading the team.  Manziel has also been selected as an Associated Press All-American.

The SEC and Big Ten lead the group with four selections each while the Pac-12, ACC and Mountain West each have three. Fourteen of the selections are true freshman.

First-year Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was selected as the FWAA coach of the year for the team.

(*Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Missouri wide receiver/return specialist Jeremy Maclin have also been selected to both teams) 

fwaa freshman all-american team