Posted on: November 15, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 4:07 pm
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The Tuesday Top 10: Best Freshmen


1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson, WR/KR: There was hype around the five-star recruit, but no one could've imagined Watkins would be quite this much of a difference-maker this soon. He's been everything for Clemson. "He is a true freshman who plays like a senior," says Tiger OC Chad Morris. "He is such a student of the game." Watkins is fourth in the nation in all-purpose yards and tied for fifth in receiving touchdowns.

2. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina, DE: The biggest freak in the class, the former No. 1 overall recruit has been a force for a nasty Gamecock D-line, racking up five forced fumbles, five sacks and eight TFLs. Two of those FFs directly led to Melvin Ingram touchdowns. Hard to imagine Clowney being anything other than a three-and-out guy.

3. DeAnthony Thomas, Oregon, WR/KR/RB: After an up-and-down debut against LSU where the LA youth football legend had two fumbles but also flashed his blazing speed, the 5-9, 173-pound x-factor has quickly proven to be a great fit for the Ducks offense. Thomas is 16th in the country in all-purpose yards, averaging 150 per game to go with his 12 TDs.

4. Marqise Lee, USC, WR: Most people expected his old HS teammate George Farmer to be the rookie that generated the buzz among the newcomers this year for the Trojans. Instead, it's been Lee, a guy many figured would get switched to safety. The explosive 6-1, 190-pound Inglewood native has emerged as quite the weapon opposite another former Serra High star, Robert Woods, catching 25 passes for almost 300 yards and four TDs in the past three games for USC. I really try to avoid having two players from the same school on the Top 10s or else LB Dion Bailey, the team's leading tackler would be on here too.

5. Gio Bernard, UNC, RB: Only UCONN's Lyle McCombs has run for more yards among freshmen this season and Bernard (1,012 yards, 11 TDs) is averaging over than a yard more per carry than the Husky RB and has twice as many rushing TDs.

6. Isaiah Crowell, Georgia, RB: I was tempted to pick Malcolm Mitchell as the top Dawg freshman, but for as dynamic as he's been he's missed a bunch of games with a hamstring injury, while Crowell continues to pile up yards and give QB Aaron Murray a lot of support. Best thing about Crowell's impact: he's played in seven SEC games and gone over 100 yards in four of them.

7. Anthony Chickillo, Miami, DE: The Canes defense has struggled mightily after having been rocked by injuries and the NCAA suspension. Chickillo, a third-generation UM player, has been one of the biggest bright spots and is going to be a cornerstone for the rebuilding effort in Miami. He has started seven games, has made 34 tackles to go with 5.5 TFLs and four sacks.

8. Aaron Lynch, Notre Dame, DE: Notre Dame has been lacking impact D-linemen for a while, but they have a couple of young studs in South Bend now. Stephon Tuitt, who has started three games is another one, but for this list Lynch gets the nod. The guy is relentless and has lived up to his spring hype, notching four sacks and a team-best 11 QB hurries.

9. Brett Smith, Wyoming, QB: Going into this season it was fellow freshman Adam Pittser, a former Elite 11 QB that was the one people figured would take over the offense. Smith wasn't even ranked among the top 100 QB recruits, but the Oregon native has been very impressive for the Cowboys who are quietly having a nice season at 6-3. They've won three of their past four and Smith's thrown seven TDs and zero INTs to go with four more rushing TD and more than 200 yards on the ground.

10. (tie) Malcolm Brown, Texas, RB: UT is loaded with first-year studs and if WR Jaxon Shipley hadn't been banged up he probably gets a spot on here too. Like Crowell, you have a former blue-chip back who has made an impact early at a program that really needed a RB to step up. The bad news is he's battled turf toe problems that have limited him and Texas really missed him last week against Mizzou. Still, you had to be impressed with him running for over 100 yards in three of his previous five games before being sidelined.

10. (tie) Timmy Jernigan, FSU, DT: The Noles have a strong group of first-year players with TE Nick O'Leary, RB Devonta Freeman, WR Rashad Green and 17-year-old OT Bobby Hart, but I'll go with Jernigan who has really come on as FSU's gotten on a roll. Jernigan has 6 TFLs to go with 2.5 sacks and 3 QB hurries.


Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:37 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Is the competition for Keenum really that soft?

The question was aimed at the notion that Houston's prolific Case Keenum's staggering stats should not vault him over other top players in Heisman consideration. I have Keenum fourth, but things have bunched up considerably in the top six in the past two weeks with Trent Richardson and Andrew Luck both not producing grand performances on their big stages of the season. Meanwhile, the Cougars QB keeps producing jaw-dropping statlines, as does fast-rising Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden.

So I decided to do a little number-crunching in hopes of better sorting things out by seeing who is playing the weakest competition and who isn't. As expected, the Cougars' slate is quite tasty. They're averaging a nation's-best 55 ppg, but what is holding Keenum's Heisman candidacy back some is this: UH has played 10 games. The toughest defense they've faced was La. Tech, which is ranked 57th in scoring D. Seven of the 10 defenses were ranked 90th or worse. Yikes.

However, when you look at the other elite QBs it doesn't get much better. Boise State's Kellen Moore, whose Heisman hopes took a hit when BSU lost at home last weekend to TCU, has faced one defense in the top 40. That would be Georgia, which is 12th in the country. Six of the nine defenses Moore has faced are 70th or worse. Again, that sounds bad, but just how bad is it really?

Going up to the bigger school QBs, it actually doesn't get that much better. In fact, Weeden's competition, at least defensively, appears softer than what Moore has dealt with. Oklahoma State has only faced one defense in the top 40 (No. 28 Texas). Seven of the 10 defenses Weeden has faced are 70th or worse. Of course, you could argue, as I'm sure fans of from the bigger programs would, that since the teams in the Big 12 are facing better talent on a regular basis, their numbers would and do suffer since it's relative.

Andrew Luck also has only been up against one top-40 defense, and that just came last Saturday when his team got beat by Oregon (No. 33 in scoring defense). Eight of Stanford's 10 opponents are 83rd or worse statistically.

Despite the fact that he plays in the same conference, and has been lost a little in the shadow of Luck and NCAA sanctions, USC's Matt Barkley, whose numbers rival the Cardinal star, actually stacks up pretty well statswise: he's played four top-40 defenses (No. 17 Utah; No. 39 Cal; No. 27 Notre Dame and No. 25 Stanford). Barkley, though, has also had the luxury of facing four defenses ranked 102nd or worse.

Similarly, another QB of a two-loss team who seems to have drifted off the radar some is Wisconsin's Russell Wilson. Two recent losses by his team are the reason for that. Still, Wilson is on pace to shatter the NCAA record for passing efficiency at 201.6. (The record is by Hawaii's Colt Brennan at 186.0.) Wilson has faced three top 40 defenses, including two in the top 20. He's faced four defenses ranked 100th or worse, although let's say it's really five since he also beat South Dakota, a 6-4 FCS team.

Overall, I'm not sure any of this should torpedo Keenum's chances. As I said the other day, I think he at the very least deserves to be in New York for the Heisman ceremony. He and Moore have always seemed like default candidates: great college players, who will put up the big numbers but get pushed aside when the more high-profile players get their chances on the bigger stages. Usually, those big stars shine and make the decision easier for Heisman voters but in the past two weeks that hasn't happened.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: November 11, 2011 12:33 pm
 

Friday Mailbag: On the Penn State scandal

Here is this week's mailbag. As always, if you have questions, send them to me on Twitter at BFeldmanCBS:



From @ajohnymous  Is the PSU thing the biggest CFB scandal of all time? Biggest sports scandal?


Yes, I can't think of a bigger college scandal. As I wrote earlier this week, we in sports throw around the term "scandal" for things like the free tattoos mess at Ohio State or Reggie Bush and his family getting taken care of, those things are nothing compared to the damage that has allegedly been done by Jerry Sandusky to so many children. SMU got the NCAA's death penalty and even the circumstances around that and the shocking nature of it all pale in comparison to this.

 

In Sandusky, you had a guy who had meant so much to the Penn State program and then you start reading about what he has allegedly done for years and years, turning so many children into victims, it's disgraceful. But there were also so many people in positions of leadership there that buried their heads in the sand. This is one of those situations where there really is so much blame to go around. It is so tragic.



Adding to that, is you have this iconic figure in Joe Paterno. For all of the wonderful things Paterno did for Penn State and that community--raising millions for the school library, graduating such a high percentage of his players, he always seemed to epitomize doing things "the right way" yet people will never forget this week. That he was fired for his role in not doing enough. That when he first learned that Sandusky, this monster was such a danger to little boys, he did not do enough. 

  There has been a lot of debate about exactly what Paterno was told and when about his former long-time assistant. But what I can't get beyond is, as soon as the 28-year-old graduate assistant, Mike McQueary comes to Paterno's home that Saturday morning in 2002, and even if he only says these words: "Sandusky... 10-year old boy... showers... Friday night... Penn State football offices..."  you have to be so disturbed and outraged that you have to press for more details.
 
And, no one ever looked for that 10-year old boy?

Remember Paterno testified that he did receive "the graduate assistant's report at his home on a Saturday morning. Paterno testified that the graduate assistant was very upset" and reported to his AD that his assistant had witnessed "Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy." Remember Paterno is the most powerful man at that school and yet Sandusky, almost a decade later, was still allowed to be around the Penn State football complex as recently as this month? How was that possible?

The school's handling of the situation only seemed to stoke the volatility of the whole thing this week.  You had Penn State president Graham Spanier's statement of "unconditional support" for AD Tim Curley and the other top school official after they'd been charged with perjury and failure to report suspected sexual abuse of a minor.  You had the school issuing its statement that, while Paterno would have his regularly scheduled Tuesday press conference, questions about anything other than the weekend's game were off-limits, which indicated how little Penn State PR grasped the magnitude of the story around them. Even in the wake of the Board of Trustees announcement that Paterno was out immediately as the school's head coach, when word got out that McQueary was still going to be allowed to coach in this weekend's game, it only fed into more outrage because people couldn't grasp how the guy who had actually witnessed the heinous act and ran and called his father was allowed to coach, yet Paterno wasn't. 

We are talking about such a proud fanbase and a school whose identity is so tied into one man in Paterno that has only added more fuel to this story on top of all that.
 
Earlier Friday morning after I re-tweeted a link to an interview on Good Morning America with one of the victim's parents, the link was titled "PSU victim's mother speaks" a Penn State grad asked me: 

"Why does it say "PSU victim's" Shouldn't it say Jerry Sandusky's victim?"

I didn't label the initial tweet, but while Sandusky is at the root of all of this, given how Penn State mishandled this for so long after there was an eye witness a decade ago, this is more than just Sandusky that victimized people there.



From @michaelgraham  How is Gene Smith still the AD at Ohio State?

  Gordon Gee and Ohio State have stood by Smith as he's botched almost every aspect of that investigation for the past 11 months. Both of them have really stumbled all over the place. Remember that "poster child for compliance" comment from Gee? Smith's close connection to power brokers at the NCAA, though, seems to help Ohio State in getting a favorable verdict down the line.

  Despite all of the school's public proclamations, OSU did get hit with the dreaded Failure to Monitor charge by the NCAA Thursday and Gee, the school president, did chastise Smith for failing to ensure that its now-banished booster Bobby DiGeronimo didn't keep his distance from the Buckeye players and the program. But Gee seems adamant about keeping Smith in spite of his handling of things in the past year.

 
From @NAFOOM  pecking order for open HC jobs? PSU, Ole Miss, FAU, tOSU, Zona all I can think of right now.


You left out Tulane and New Mexico. The merits of coaching jobs will vary depending on which coach and his background is doing the gauging because familiarity is a big key often in a guy's success at a program. 


I'll rank the current vacancies this way: Ohio State, Penn State, Arizona, Ole Miss, FAU, Tulane, New Mexico.

Ohio State - Yes, it has the ongoing NCAA investigation but still has top-notch facilities and history.

Penn State - The cloud of what has happened around this program will linger for a very long time.

Arizona - Improving facilities, solid but not great football history, close to fertile SoCal recruiting base.

Ole Miss - In a big league with some solid JC recruiting talent nearby but still in a conference where you're far from the legion of heavyweights in the SEC fighting the uphill battle. And it'd be easier to win the Pac-12 at Arizona than it would win the SEC at Ole Miss.

FAU - Nice new stadium in a small league but surroundied by lots of talent.

Tulane - Shaky support where you wonder how committed the school is to football but there is some good recruiting in the area.

New Mexico - In a better league than FAU but doesn't have the recruiting base near by.
 
    From @VLOHokie how come VT's David Wilson, the Nation's leading rusher isn't getting any Heisman talk? 


Wilson is terrific. I mentioned this Thursday night on our Inside College Football show on CBS Sports Network: Wilson won't win the Heisman this year but he is deserving of consideration to get to NYC for the ceremony. He's been consistently outstanding. The biggest thing working against him is he's done it a bit off the radar. Va. Tech's really not been able to get people's attention nationally this year. The Hokies have only played one ranked team all season, No. 13 Clemson and they lost 23-3 at home. Wilson did put up nice numbers (123 yards) but he had a fumble that set up the Tigers first score. If they'd won that game, things for Wilson might be a little different but it didn't happen.


From @ TimValenzuela  Bruce, will USC be a contender for the Pac 12 South title next year when they get off their postseason ban? Enjoy your work.


Even if Matt Barkley and Matt Kilil both leave early for the NFL, USC has the personnel in place to be a favorite in the South in 2012. I suspect Kalil is gone. I think with Barkley it's 50-50 right now. He's going to school with his siblings. He's close to home and it seems like he loves being a college kid. Plus, the appeal of getting to take USC back from the NCAA sanctions after having been one of the faces of the program as it deals with all of that stuff in the rebuilding effort would be tempting I imagine.
 

With Barkley, this would be a BCS title contender considering the bulk of the young O-line returns, and Robert Woods and an impressive group of young receivers comes back. The defense should continue to improve as well. They're basically starting all freshmen linebackers now. The best DB, Nickell Robey, is just a sophomore and they're redshirting a bunch of blue-chip D-linemen.
 

Without Barkley, it'll be an interesting battle between Jesse Scroggins, Cody Kessler and Max Wittek. All three came to USC as big-name recruits but the drop-off from the three-year starter running the show would be significant. My hunch is it'd be the difference between a BCS title contender and a borderline top 20 team.


From @chucktodd actual football? How is Miami 10 point dogs?


FSU is home and has been more consistent over the past month. Miami's defense has been very shaky. The Canes do have two wins over teams that were ranked when UM faced them (No. 17 Ohio State and No. 22 Ga. Tech) and that's two more ranked wins than FSU has this season. Then again, those two games were at home. The Canes also have lost two of their three road games this year.

 
From @KBourgeois43  RichRod to Tulane, any chance?


I doubt it. Just of the jobs that are already open (Arizona and Ole Miss) Rodriguez may be able to get a better job than Tulane. And, even if he doesn't get one of those two, many other better jobs will come open soon. I also wouldn't be surprised if UCF comes open at the end of the year and if Rodriguez can't get Zona or Ole Miss, I could see him being a good fit there in Orlando.


From @BruningCollin   Due to PSU, My cynicism is at an all time high. Longer tenure in the SEC? Mike Sherman at a&m, or Gary Pinkel at Mizzou?


Pinkel. He's done a lot more with Mizzou than Sherman has at A&M. Sherman's going to have to really step things up to ensure that he's at A&M beyond 2012.
Posted on: November 4, 2011 6:13 pm
 

Another huge game Saturday for an Alabama school

A few years ago I met Will Hall at a coaching clinic in Arizona. Most of the guys there coached at big-time programs. The baby-faced Hall had to be the most unassuming guy in the room. He's about 5-8, 160 pounds. We ended up talking about Mississippi high school football for about an hour. Later that night I found out that Hall was actually a great college player. He'd even won the Harlon Hill Trophy, which is the Heisman for D2 football in 2004 while he was a QB at North Alabama.


Lost in all of the craziness of the game of the year down here in Alabama, Hall's team, West Alabama, is primed for a huge Saturday themselves. Hall, the first-year head coach at the D2 program, has his team playing for its first Gulf South Conference title in 40 years against the No. 2 team at that level, Delta State.


When I called Hall Friday afternoon, he was riding the team bus to Mississippi. The bus had stopped around the midway point of the four-hour trip to conduct its Friday walkthrough at Madison Central High School. It may sound kinda bizarre, but that is life in small-college football. It helped that Hall's dad coaches at Madison Central.


The former great player is proving to be quite the coach. Three years ago he arrived at West Alabama as offensive coordinator of a program that has just two winning seasons since 1975. Hall, a protege of UL-Lafayette head coach Mark Hudspeth, overhauled the system, putting in a no-huddle shotgun, spread option attack that incorporates a lot of formations and personnel groupings. The results have been head-turning.


West Alabama is 7-2. UWA just beat Terry Bowden's North Alabama team that is loaded with D1 transfers. More impressively is that UWA is on this run despite having lost their starting QB to a torn ACL in Week 3. Hall turned the offense over to a 5-7, 149-pound freshman named Kyle Caldwell, who the coach maintained was the best high school quarterback in the state of Alabama last year. "He's very fast," says Hall. "He's a 4.5 guy and he's got a great arm and is a coach's son. He's just very short. But he's about 5-9 in tennis shoes."


Caldwell has thrown 11 TDs and just four INTs and leads the conference in passing. Not bad for a guy who was supposed to redshirt and is looking a lot like the way his coach used to play.


UWA's star on offense is Matt Willis, arguably the top JC running back in the Mississippi junior college ranks in 2010, who didn't qualify for Division I football. The 5-9, 210-pound Willis, the state Player of the Year last season, has already run for over 1100 yards. "He is an SEC guy," said Hall.


Not only is a conference title hanging in the balance, but so is a bye week in the first-round of the D2 playoffs.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 4, 2011 12:01 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Friday Mailbag: Most intriguing BCS matchup?


Here is this week's mailbag. As always, if you have questions, send them to me via Twitter @BFeldmanCBS.

From @PaulPabst
Which would get a better TV rating...Boise State in BCS title game vs Bama/LSU or Stanford vs. Bama/LSU?


Both would be huge ratings hits because there'd be a David vs. Goliath quality yet would still have the credibility factor and lots more intrigue than your typical huge underdog or "little guy" program.  People have seen Boise knock off brand name "powerhouse" programs in recent years. Even those who don't buy that the Broncos play a tough enough schedule to merit being in the BCS title game (and there are many), they still have some fear that, in a one-game setting, Chris Petersen is such a good coach and Moore is so effective that they might pull some big upset.

I'd be very intrigued to see either of these match-ups because you have elite college QBs trying to solve dominant defenses with better athletes. My hunch is the best TV rating would come with Stanford against the unbeaten SEC champ because there is so much buzz surrounding Andrew Luck as the best pro QB prospect in years that NFL fans who might not care about college at all will be curious.

As curious as I'd be to see Luck try and attack the SEC talent, watching Boise finally get a chance to play for everything would be fascinating. For years now this same debate keeps bubbling to the surface, to have an actual answer and see what would happen would be a lot of fun. Then again, I guess you could accomplish something similar if Boise ended up facing the loser of LSU-Bama, but even if the Broncos won that game, you'd still hear people lament that they didn't beat the SEC's best.


From @LoqueBSU
45-2, losses by total 4 points. Does Kellen Moore's legacy serve any purpose in Heisman or BCS consideration?


It may help get him to New York for the award ceremony because people are so familiar with him, but he is still fighting such an uphill battle because voters don't take Boise's schedule very seriously. They expect him to put up gaudy stats because he's playing, at best, two top 50 teams, much less top 20 caliber teams. The second-best team he'll face this season, is TCU, and to a large extent the Horned Frogs got exposed this season in Week 1 when they gave up 50 to a Baylor team that hasn't proven to be one worthy of a national ranking either. Then TCU lost to SMU a few weeks later. That hinders Moore--and Boise's--cause.

I don't think Moore can ever "win" the Heisman in a manner than Andrew Luck or Trent Richardson can if they have great performances because they'd come against teams people pay attention to. But if they really struggle or get injured, he and Case Keenum would become much more viable candidates. Still, I just don't see another QB overtaking Luck.

From @HoyaEagle
Will BC LB Luke Kuechly get overlooked for awards b/c he's on a sub-par team?

I don't think so but playing on such a bad team certainly won't help his cause. Kuechly, who has been a tackling machine from the moment he arrived at BC, is a pretty well-known talent and it's not like there are so many other high-profile linebackers thriving on top 10 teams. Yeah, you do have a Courtney Upshaw at Alabama piling up TFL numbers, same for Stanford's Chase Thomas but there will be a lot of support for Kuechly. The guy leads the nation in tackles and it's become almost routine to see him up around 20 tackles for a game. That is special.

The people who vote on the non-Heisman individual college awards is a much smaller group and is usually compromised of folks with more connections to covering the sport on a daily basis. Not all the other awards are set up like that, but many are. The upshot: great performances and eye-catching individual numbers usually don't get lost.


From @racefortheprize
Could you see UW's Keith Price becoming a Heisman contender by his Sr Year in 2 years, behind a likely improved Husky squad?

Yeah, Price is definitely someone to keep an eye on especially as Steve Sarkisian keeps upgrading the talent around the program. In fact, I'd be surprised if he wasn't a contender in 2012.

He has started to show some signs that he may be losing some focus or wearing down. He wasn't sharp at Stanford two weeks again and really struggled against Arizona last week (three INTs). Price can give his cause a real boost heading into next season if he can get back to playing how he did in the first half of the season.


From @jonajoyce
Is Matt Barkley not on the (Heisman) list becuz of the sanctions? His #'s say he should be. What's the deal- in your opinion?


He's been very good, but also has been shaky at times. He wasn't good in their loss at ASU and he wasn't that sharp in their Thursday night win at Cal. Obviously, the sanctions don't help, but it's more than that. There is still a gap between him and Andrew Luck, who is generating most of the buzz on the West Coast. USC has had a decent year and much of that vibe comes from the way they handled Notre Dame in South Bend. Barkley would've had to outplay Luck significantly and lead USC to a win over Stanford to even get strong consideration to get to NYC this year. I do think if Barkley stays for his senior year, he'd be a frontrunner for the Heisman given the fact that USC is allowed back in the bowl race in 2012 and he'll have an even better group of receivers considering that Robert Woods and Marqise Lee will only be one year more mature and that much more polished.


From @
diegoterpflyer
Any chance MD fires Edsall and the AD after the season? That would be fantastic!

No, I think there's essentially no shot of that happening. While this has been a nightmarish first season for Edsall at Maryland, you can't fire a guy after one year unless there is some off-field scandal attached. I could see Edsall making some big changes on his staff, but beyond that, he deserves more time to figure things out.

Obviously, no one expected the Terps to be this awful. The only FBS team they've beaten all season was a Miami one that was a shell of itself because it got decimated by NCAA player suspensions. The Terps have been crushed by Temple at home and lost by double-digits to BC, who hadn't beaten anyone at the FBS level before. It's been all bad. Expecting more than a 3-9 finish from a team that figured to win at least six or seven, at worst, seems bizarre. Now, if he follows up a 3-9 with another dismal year, then things could get sticky but this team will have a lot of experience coming back for 2012 and seemingly should be better for it.

From @abellwillring
Is there any D-Line unit playing better than FSU's in the past month?

I'll say that Penn State's is. This is a defense that actually did a solid job containing Trent Richardson earlier this season, where he had to work very hard just to get 100 yards. Devon Still is having an All-American season inside and PSU actually has a couple of guys playing at a very high level up front now. The guy next to Still, Jordan Hill may be the most underrated player in the Big Ten. Hill is second on the team in tackles with 51 and also has eight TFLs. Just ask Northwestern about how well Hill is playing. Last week, he had two sacks and deflected a pass that got intercepted and returned for 63 yards to set up a TD. Not bad for just a "two-star" recruit.


Posted on: November 4, 2011 12:00 pm
 

Friday Mailbag: Most intriguing BCS match-up?


Here is this week's mailbag. As always, if you have questions, send them to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.





From @PaulPabst   Which would get a better TV rating...Boise State in BCS title game vs Bama/LSU or Stanford vs. Bama/LSU?
 
Both would be huge ratings hits because there'd be a David vs. Goliath quality yet would still have the credibility factor and lots more intrigue than your typical huge underdog or "little guy" program.  People have seen Boise knock off brand name "powerhouse" programs in recent years. Even those who don't buy that the Broncos play a tough enough schedule to merit being in the BCS title game (and there are many), they still have some fear that, in a one-game setting, Chris Petersen is such a good coach and Moore is so effective that they might pull some big upset.

I'd be very intrigued to see either of these match-ups because you have elite college QBs trying to solve dominant defenses with better athletes. My hunch is the best TV rating would come with Stanford against the unbeaten SEC champ because there is so much buzz surrounding Andrew Luck as the best pro QB prospect in years that NFL fans who might not care about college at all will be curious. 

As curious as I'd be to see Luck try and attack the SEC talent, watching Boise finally get a chance to play for everything would be fascinating. For years now this same debate keeps bubbling to the surface, to have an actual answer and see what would happen would be a lot of fun. Then again, I guess you could accomplish something similar if Boise ended up facing the loser of LSU-Bama, but even if the Broncos won that game, you'd still hear people lament that they didn't beat the SEC's best.

  From @LoqueBSU  45-2, losses by total 4 points. Does Kellen Moore's legacy serve any purpose in Heisman or BCS consideration? <s class="hash">



</s>
It may help get him to New York for the award ceremony because people are so familiar with him, but he is still fighting such an uphill battle because voters don't take Boise's schedule very seriously. They expect him to put up gaudy stats because he's playing, at best, two top 50 teams, much less top 20 caliber teams. The second-best team he'll face this season, is TCU, and to a large extent the Horned Frogs got exposed this season in Week 1 when they gave up 50 to a Baylor team that hasn't proven to be one worthy of a national ranking either. Then TCU lost to SMU a few weeks later. That hinders Moore--and Boise's--cause. I don't think Moore can ever "win" the Heisman in a manner than Andrew Luck or Trent Richardson can if they have great performances because they'd come against teams people pay attention to. But if they really struggle or get injured, he and Case Keenum would become much more viable candidates. Still, I just don't see another QB overtaking Luck. 


From @HoyaEagle   Will BC LB Luke Kuechly get overlooked for awards b/c he's on a sub-par team?
 


I don't think so but playing on such a bad team certainly won't help his cause. Kuechly, who has been a tackling machine from the moment he arrived at BC, is a pretty well-known talent and it's not like there are so many other high-profile linebackers thriving on top 10 teams. Yeah, you do have a Courtney Upshaw at Alabama piling up TFL numbers, same for Stanford's Chase Thomas but there will be a lot of support for Kuechly. The guy leads the nation in tackles and it's become almost routine to see him up around 20 tackles for a game. That is special. 

The people who vote on the non-Heisman individual college awards is a much smaller group and is usually compromised of folks with more connections to covering the sport on a daily basis. Not all the other awards are set up like that, but many are. The upshot: great performances and eye-catching individual numbers usually don't get lost.

From @racefortheprize  Could you see UW's Keith Price becoming a Heisman contender by his Sr Year in 2 years, behind a likely improved Husky squad? 

Yeah, Price is definitely someone to keep an eye on especially as Steve Sarkisian keeps upgrading the talent around the program. In fact, I'd be surprised if he wasn't a contender in 2012.

He has started to show some signs that he may be losing some focus or wearing down. He wasn't sharp at Stanford two weeks again and really struggled against Arizona last week (three INTs). Price can give his cause a real boost heading into next season if he can get back to playing how he did in the first half of the season.


From @jonajoyce   is Matt Barkley not on the (Heisman) list becuz of the sanctions? His #'s say he should be. What's the deal- in your opinion? 


He's been very good, but also has been shaky at times. He wasn't good in their loss at ASU and he wasn't that sharp in their Thursday night win at Cal. Obviously, the sanctions don't help, but it's more than that. There is still a gap between him and Andrew Luck, who is generating most of the buzz on the West Coast. USC has had a decent year and much of that vibe comes from the way they handled Notre Dame in South Bend. Barkley would've had to outplay Luck significantly and lead USC to a win over Stanford to even get strong consideration to get to NYC this year. I do think if Barkley stays for his senior year, he'd be a frontrunner for the Heisman given the fact that USC is allowed back in the bowl race in 2012 and he'll have an even better group of receivers considering that Robert Woods and Marqise Lee will only be one year more mature and that much more polished.



From @diegoterpflyer  Any chance MD fires Edsall and the AD after the season? That would be fantastic! 

 
No, I think there's essentially no shot of that happening. While this has been a nightmarish first season for Edsall at Maryland, you can't fire a guy after one year unless there is some off-field scandal attached. I could see Edsall making some big changes on his staff, but beyond that, he deserves more time to figure things out.  Obviously, no one expected the Terps to be this awful. The only FBS team they've beaten all season was a Miami one that was a shell of itself because it got decimated by NCAA player suspensions. The Terps have been crushed by Temple at home and lost by double-digits to BC, who hadn't beaten anyone at the FBS level before. It's been all bad. Expecting more than a 3-9 finish from a team that figured to win at least six or seven, at worst, seems bizarre. Now, if he follows up a 3-9 with another dismal year, then things could get sticky but this team will have a lot of experience coming back for 2012 and seemingly should be better for it.

From @abellwillring  Is there any D-Line unit playing better than FSU's in the past month?


I'll say that Penn State's is. This is a defense that actually did a solid job containing Trent Richardson earlier this season, where he had to work very hard just to get 100 yards.  Devon Still is having an All-American season inside and PSU actually has a couple of guys playing at a very high level up front now. The guy next to Still, Jordan Hill may be the most underrated player in the Big Ten. Hill is second on the team in tackles with 51 and also has eight TFLs. Just ask Northwestern about how well Hill is playing. Last week, he had two sacks and deflected a pass that got intercepted and returned for 63 yards to set up a TD. Not bad for just a "two-star" recruit.
Posted on: November 4, 2011 11:59 am
 

Friday Mailbag: Most intriguing BCS match-up?


Here is this week's mailbag. As always, if you have questions, send them to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.





From @PaulPabst   Which would get a better TV rating...Boise State in BCS title game vs Bama/LSU or Stanford vs. Bama/LSU?
 
Both would be huge ratings hits because there'd be a David vs. Goliath quality yet would still have the credibility factor and lots more intrigue than your typical huge underdog or "little guy" program.  People have seen Boise knock off brand name "powerhouse" programs in recent years. Even those who don't buy that the Broncos play a tough enough schedule to merit being in the BCS title game (and there are many), they still have some fear that, in a one-game setting, Chris Petersen is such a good coach and Moore is so effective that they might pull some big upset.

I'd be very intrigued to see either of these match-ups because you have elite college QBs trying to solve dominant defenses with better athletes. My hunch is the best TV rating would come with Stanford against the unbeaten SEC champ because there is so much buzz surrounding Andrew Luck as the best pro QB prospect in years that NFL fans who might not care about college at all will be curious. 

As curious as I'd be to see Luck try and attack the SEC talent, watching Boise finally get a chance to play for everything would be fascinating. For years now this same debate keeps bubbling to the surface, to have an actual answer and see what would happen would be a lot of fun. Then again, I guess you could accomplish something similar if Boise ended up facing the loser of LSU-Bama, but even if the Broncos won that game, you'd still hear people lament that they didn't beat the SEC's best.

  From @LoqueBSU  45-2, losses by total 4 points. Does Kellen Moore's legacy serve any purpose in Heisman or BCS consideration? <s class="hash">

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It may help get him to New York for the award ceremony because people are so familiar with him, but he is still fighting such an uphill battle because voters don't take Boise's schedule very seriously. They expect him to put up gaudy stats because he's playing, at best, two top 50 teams, much less top 20 caliber teams. The second-best team he'll face this season, is TCU, and to a large extent the Horned Frogs got exposed this season in Week 1 when they gave up 50 to a Baylor team that hasn't proven to be one worthy of a national ranking either. Then TCU lost to SMU a few weeks later. That hinders Moore--and Boise's--cause. I don't think Moore can ever "win" the Heisman in a manner than Andrew Luck or Trent Richardson can if they have great performances because they'd come against teams people pay attention to. But if they really struggle or get injured, he and Case Keenum would become much more viable candidates. Still, I just don't see another QB overtaking Luck. 


From @HoyaEagle   Will BC LB Luke Kuechly get overlooked for awards b/c he's on a sub-par team?
 


I don't think so but playing on such a bad team certainly won't help his cause. Kuechly, who has been a tackling machine from the moment he arrived at BC, is a pretty well-known talent and it's not like there are so many other high-profile linebackers thriving on top 10 teams. Yeah, you do have a Courtney Upshaw at Alabama piling up TFL numbers, same for Stanford's Chase Thomas but there will be a lot of support for Kuechly. The guy leads the nation in tackles and it's become almost routine to see him up around 20 tackles for a game. That is special. 

The people who vote on the non-Heisman individual college awards is a much smaller group and is usually compromised of folks with more connections to covering the sport on a daily basis. Not all the other awards are set up like that, but many are. The upshot: great performances and eye-catching individual numbers usually don't get lost.

From @racefortheprize  Could you see UW's Keith Price becoming a Heisman contender by his Sr Year in 2 years, behind a likely improved Husky squad? 

Yeah, Price is definitely someone to keep an eye on especially as Steve Sarkisian keeps upgrading the talent around the program. In fact, I'd be surprised if he wasn't a contender in 2012.

He has started to show some signs that he may be losing some focus or wearing down. He wasn't sharp at Stanford two weeks again and really struggled against Arizona last week (three INTs). Price can give his cause a real boost heading into next season if he can get back to playing how he did in the first half of the season.


From @jonajoyce   is Matt Barkley not on the (Heisman) list becuz of the sanctions? His #'s say he should be. What's the deal- in your opinion? 


He's been very good, but also has been shaky at times. He wasn't good in their loss at ASU and he wasn't that sharp in their Thursday night win at Cal. Obviously, the sanctions don't help, but it's more than that. There is still a gap between him and Andrew Luck, who is generating most of the buzz on the West Coast. USC has had a decent year and much of that vibe comes from the way they handled Notre Dame in South Bend. Barkley would've had to outplay Luck significantly and lead USC to a win over Stanford to even get strong consideration to get to NYC this year. I do think if Barkley stays for his senior year, he'd be a frontrunner for the Heisman given the fact that USC is allowed back in the bowl race in 2012 and he'll have an even better group of receivers considering that Robert Woods and Marqise Lee will only be one year more mature and that much more polished.



From @diegoterpflyer  Any chance MD fires Edsall and the AD after the season? That would be fantastic! 
 
No, I think there's essentially no shot of that happening. While this has been a nightmarish first season for Edsall at Maryland, you can't fire a guy after one year unless there is some off-field scandal attached. I could see Edsall making some big changes on his staff, but beyond that, he deserves more time to figure things out.  Obviously, no one expected the Terps to be this awful. The only FBS team they've beaten all season was a Miami one that was a shell of itself because it got decimated by NCAA player suspensions. The Terps have been crushed by Temple at home and lost by double-digits to BC, who hadn't beaten anyone at the FBS level before. It's been all bad. Expecting more than a 3-9 finish from a team that figured to win at least six or seven, at worst, seems bizarre. Now, if he follows up a 3-9 with another dismal year, then things could get sticky but this team will have a lot of experience coming back for 2012 and seemingly should be better for it.

From @abellwillring  Is there any D-Line unit playing better than FSU's in the past month?


I'll say that Penn State's is. This is a defense that actually did a solid job containing Trent Richardson earlier this season, where he had to work very hard just to get 100 yards.  Devon Still is having an All-American season inside and PSU actually has a couple of guys playing at a very high level up front now. The guy next to Still, Jordan Hill may be the most underrated player in the Big Ten. Hill is second on the team in tackles with 51 and also has eight TFLs. Just ask Northwestern about how well Hill is playing. Last week, he had two sacks and deflected a pass that got intercepted and returned for 63 yards to set up a TD. Not bad for just a "two-star" recruit.
Posted on: October 28, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Friday Mailbag: WVU's transition to Big 12

Here is this week's mailbag. As always, you can send me questions via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.


From @JoeStier How well does WVU do in the Big12, when they're 4 Freshmen R/B's are going to be Juniors / Seniors?


The school announced it is joining the Big 12 in 2012, which means they should have a good transition since Geno Smith, unless he opts to bolt for the NFL, will be a four-year starter and have great grasp of this system. That'd be huge for them. This will be a dangerous team right away because of the firepower. Smith is one of the better QBs in the country and he'll have great skill guys around him. Tavon Austin, Steadman Bailey and Ivan McCarthy will all be back along with freshman RB Dustin Garrison. Most of the O-line returns as well, and keep in mind Josh Jenkins, a three-year starter on the line who has had to redshirt this season because of injury, also will return. With Landry Jones and Brandon Weeden moving on, WVU may come into the Big 12 with the best offense in the league.
 

The big concerns will be on D, where they'll have to replace CB Keith Tandy, LB Najee Goode and DE Bruce Irvin. The other challenge will be ramping up their depth. In terms of front-line talent, WVU will be more than adequate, but it's the depth where they'll need help. They've been able to get away with it in the Big East because it's not a strong conference, but upping the competition on a weekly basis, especially when facing more physically talented teams such as OU, Texas and Oklahoma State will take a toll.


Going forward, WVU is set up well to take advantage of the Big 12 connection since this staff has a lot of guys with Southwest roots. Not only did Dana Holgorsen spend a lot of time in Texas, but so did O-line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and WR coach Shannon Dawson. WR/ST coach Daron Roberts is a Texas native. RB coach Robert Gillespie coached at Oklahoma State and QB coach Jake Spavital is the son of a prominent Oklahoma high school coach. The school, though, must upgrade its commitment to football when it comes to its indoor practice facility, practice field and getting private planes for recruiting as well as the signage stuff of making the place look more like a big-time program. What they had was fine for the Big East, but it'll fall short by Big 12 standards.


WVU won't beat OU or UT for prime Texas kids, but they'll have a better shot against the Baylors, Kansas schools and teams from the Big Ten that go in there. This news also should help in the Eastern Seaboard against Va. Tech, Maryland and other locals schools since they're no longer in an inferior league to the ACC. They're in a better one. And getting off to a good start in 2012 will help preceptions that they can hang in that bigger league.


Beyond the 2012 season, much of this is going to depend on the development freshman QB Paul Millard and commit Ford Childress. Even more than most teams, Holgorsen's system is so dependent on the quarterback's play. I know the staff is really high on Millard and Childress, who'll arrive at mid-year, has a big rep in recruiting circles. McCartney and Bailey are just sophomores. They are redshirting three O-linemen and their best young CB Terrell Chestnut, a former four-star recruit. The biggest priority for WVU in recruiting is on both lines. Now it's only that much more crucial.


  From @mutigerfan5   How will MIZZOU do in recruiting in the SEC?

At first glance, the Tigers figure to only do better now that they're attached to the best conference in college football. They've always recruited well in Texas (Chase Daniel, James Franklin among other) and should continue to do so, especially since there's a Texas connection with the SEC via Texas A&M. The one thing where it could negatively affect the program is they're also stepping up in competition. They join a league where there's twice as many strong teams that have football factory sensibilities. If Gary Pinkel's staff can't ramp up, this long run of eight-to-10 win seasons (he's had three double-digit win seasons in the past four years) will end fast. And it's a lot easier to recruit when your team is a Top 20 team than a 6-6, just scrambling to get bowl eligible team.

It's a little different dynamic than what WVU faces even though both are going into tougher leagues, the Mountaineers are set up better to make a faster start.


From @flickster  What do you think are the chances Urban Meyer is coaching at Ohio State next year?


I'd put the percentage at 75 percent. I expect Meyer to come back to coaching. I'm sure it's been great for him to recharge his batteries and spend more time with his family, but for many guys who are wired the way he is, the temptation to coach and be competitive on the highest level is too great. Ohio State is one of the few elite jobs out there that figure to come open in the next 18 months, and I think he realizes that.


Penn State may be an option, but why be the guy replacing a legend there, especially if JoePa himself, much less the aura of him, still is around State College? Texas, potentially, could come open in a year or so if Mack Brown's team doesn't make bigger strides, but that's no sure thing.


At OSU, a school he once coached at, there is the change to be a savior and lead the Buckeyes back to the top and end the SEC's dominance. That last part figures to be intriguing for a guy as competitive and driven as the Ohio native after just having won two BCS titles in the SEC.

From @MikePesesky  Despite the easiest imaginable schedule, and potential 10-2 record, is Mark Richt off the hot seat at Georgia?



Not yet he's not. This weekend against UF is a Must-Win game as my colleague Tony Barnhart wrote earlier this week. Georgia fans will look at this Gator team that has been blown out by LSU and Bama and lost by double-digits to Auburn and say 'if not now, when?' Richt's record against UF is terrible: He is  0-1 against Steve Spurrier; 1-2 against Ron Zook and was 1-5 against Meyer. If he goes 0-1 against Will Muschamp he probably won't get a chance to even his record.


From @abellwillring 
Obvious one but do you think Keenum enters Heisman race with his huge night? Or is he still seen as too much of a system QB?


As I pointed out on Twitter earlier today, Keenum's nine TD passes in about three quarters in the rain and slop against Rice is actually more than 31 teams have throw all of this season. It doesn't hurt than he's leading a team that has a good shot of being undefeated and he's breaking all kinds of national records.



The downside for him is people will dismiss his exploits to a large extent because of the competition he faces more than him being a "system" guy. I don't see that holding Brandon Weeden back in people's eyes. When UCLA, 88th in pass defense, is one of the better defenses you face, it's going to drum up some skeptics.



The other big factor working against him is that Andrew Luck is seen by most as the best QB out there and his team is in the top 10 and that is taking away a lot of the thunder from Keenum and Kellen Moore especially.




From @Philly_Sak I know Wis, MSU, NEB, and OSU are mentioned a lot but what are PSUs chances of making the B1G title game in your opinion?


I give the Nittany Lions an outside shot. They have a terrific defense and Silas Redd has really come on to spark the offense. The QB play is holding them back and will have to get much better as the schedule heats up over the final month with Illinois, Nebraska and then at both OSU and Wisconsin. Expecting anything better than 2-2 seems too optimistic given what we've seen so far from both QBs.

Obviously it would also help PSU a lot of Ohio State can beat Wisconsin this weekend. I don't like the Nittany Lions shot of winning in Madison in the final week of the regular season.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com