How much can we say about the year that Notre Dame has had?
- a. The upset win over Oklahoma
- b. The OT win over Pitt, thanks in large part to a ref's failure to notice two #2s on the field on a Pitt missed field goal in 2nd OT
- c. The goal line stand against USC
- d. Manti Te'o
- e. Senior leaders
- f. Theo Riddick
There is so much to love about this team that even those that hate Notre Dame can find something to appreciate. Okay, maybe not, but a man can dream, right? The 22-13 win over USC wasn't pretty but it was enough to send the Irish to Miami where they'll be an underdog, yet again.
I'm sure they don't mind at all.
Penn State, the Seniors and Bill O'Brien
Y'all know my connection to Bill and how I feel about him. In short, he's a friend and former teammate of mine from Brown University, so I've found myself cheering a lot more for Penn State this year than ever before.
Now, that being said, I can also call a spade a spade. Meaning? Meaning that if I felt he didn't do the job, I'd tell you... and there isn't anything I'd tell him to change from this past season. There couldn't have been a better man to handle that Penn State debacle than O'Brien. But, he had help…
- a. QB Matt McGloin bought into the "system"
- b. WR Allen Robinson worked his tail off to be the go-to WR McGloin needed
- c. The senior class was filled with a-- kicking leaders
- d. DT Jordan Hill might be the best defensive tackle in the nation
- e. LB Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti set the tone for this team each and every week.
- f. K Sam Ficken gained O'Brien's trust, which isn't the easiest thing in the world to do.
The next three years will be tough, tougher than any of us could imagine at Penn State, especially because O'Brien will go forth sans some of the most mentally tough seniors in the history of the program. But, that said, winning eight games in a year in which some thought PSU was good for only three or four wins is victory itself.
The Bell Dozer came through in the nick of time in an overtime win in the latest version of Bedlam, the best game of the weekend, a 51-48 win for the Sooners over Oklahoma State in Norman. With that scintillating win, the Sooners are in position to play in a BCS bowl with a win over TCU this weekend…that is if Kent State doesn't ruin the party. Regardless, it was a wonderful win for the Sooners.
Florida's 2nd half Gators
The tide almost turned on Florida to start the second half against FSU, but the tendency still held true -- if you don't get in position to knock out Florida early, the Gators will get you in the second half. After spotting FSU 17 unanswered third quarter points, the Gators answered with 24 fourth quarter points and an administered an SEC style beatdown in the fourth quarter.
Then again, just ask head coach Will Muschamp…his Gators know how to overcome the adversity on the field
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
You can have your Johnny Footballs and your Marqise Lees, give me this guy and I'll whip your backside on a consistent basis. The true sophomore set a Memorial Stadium record with 4.5 sacks in a 27-17 win over hated Clemson. There's not a more disruptive player in the country than #7 at South Carolina and he proved it against the Tigers explosive offense.
San Jose State and head coach Mike MacIntyre
The San Jose State Spartans finished the regular season with 10 wins. Yes, that's right, San Jose State finished 10-2. That isn't SUPPOSED to happen, yet Mike MacIntyre and his Spartans did just that, including a 52-43 win over 2012 non-BCS darling Louisiana Tech in the 2012 season finale.
SJSU's only losses this year are to Stanford (by 3) and Utah State (the WAC champions). If you watched this team at any point over the past five years, you absolutely know that ten wins is a dadgum miracle. Undaunted, QB David Fales, DE Travis Johnson and LB Keith Smith led this team to an incredible 2012 campaign.
Kent State and Northern Illinois
Just can't wait to see these two in the MAC Championship game on Friday night. #DriArcher #JordanLynch.
Three of the conference's top teams had the opportunity to make some kind of statement on ACC conference pride on Saturday. All three failed. Badly.
Sure, Georgia Tech had little chance of supplanting Georgia in Athens, but the Yellow Jackets were outclassed in a "Georgia just beat a D1AA team" sort of way. That said, Florida State and Clemson had home games against their respective rivals, Florida and South Carolina…and lost. They lost the physical battle. They lost the game. That simple.
The ACC didn't have a ton to lose, I guess, as most pundits don't look at the conference, as a whole, with a ton of respect, but the results on Saturday eroded any shred of dignity we could possibly bestow on this conference.
The Ducks won the Civil War and yet lost…sort of. Watching Stanford "win" over UCLA and seeing Notre Dame beat USC, the Ducks outside shot at a national championship opportunity evaporated along with the opportunity to play for the Pac 12 championship.
The good news is that the Ducks will be, more than likely, on its way to the Fiesta Bowl, presumably to play Kansas State. But this team had grand designs on more than just a BCS exhibition game. Injuries and Stanford caught up to them on the wrong night and it cost the Ducks dearly.
The Big East
Louisville lost in triple OT to U Conn. Rutgers lost to Pitt. Well, let me be clear about that, Pitt kicked Rutgers a-- 27-6 and it probably wasn't even that close. Talk about stubbing its toe. The MAC champion has a chance to finish with a higher ranking than the Big East champion. Ouch.
Jim Tressel, Ohio State's athletic hierarchy and OSU "fans"
My anger at Tressel has long since passed, but because of his inability to tell the truth back in 2010, the 12-0 2012 squad suffered its only loss of the season. This team should be playing this weekend in Indy against Nebraska for a shot to win the B1G and play Notre Dame for a championship down in Miami.
But, okay, so Tressel screwed up and has paid dearly for his transgressions. But, the Ohio State athletic hierarchy made the decision to go to the Gator Bowl last year with an average 6-6 team, when it could've instituted a bowl ban in 2011 that may have placated the NCAA. The ban last year could've allowed this year's team the opportunity it so richly deserved to play for a championship, B1G or national in nature.
So, what does Ohio State do for its finale, the Game v. Michigan? It brings Tressel back to fete him and the 2002 championship team during the first half of the game?!?! And, the fans give him a rousing standing ovation?!?!
First of all, how and why did Ohio State think it was a good thing to bring him back to campus in the first place? And, then to essentially flaunt him in front of the 2012 team that lost its opportunity to play for a championship as the fans in the stands cheered wildly?
Stop me when I get to the point when it was a good decision to do all of this. Then again, Gordon Gee and Gene Smith are still in charge so go figure. Head coach Urban Meyer and his staff did a great job with a team that could be top three to start next year, but with some forethought, it could've finished #1 this year.
But, beyond that, why bring…okay, I'll stop.
…mainly those that got cocky (you know who you are)...
This summer, I was part of a panel at a Texas Tech alumni function, which I love being a part of, for the second consecutive year. The last thing we were asked to do was give a prediction for the season, which I started off by saying that 6-6 was realistic and 7-5 could happen, but nothing more than that. Each panelist then followed with 7-5 and former star QB BJ Symons followed with 6-6.
So, after Texas Tech beat West Virginia in October, I got a few tweets from Texas Tech fans asking "what I thought about Texas Tech now". The implication wasn't lost on me: You missed on this one, dumb a--.
My response was something along the lines of "great win, long season". And, of course, one of them was from our friend Will who was instrumental in putting together that summer function. I'll admit that other team's fan bases would've been more obnoxious and maybe the Tech fans knew down deep not to truly buy in until all 12 were in the books.
With five losses over the last six games, including an overtime loss to Baylor in Jerry World last Saturday, the Red Raiders finished, well, 7-5. And, the only win over the past six weeks was an overtime win over Kansas at home. I don't point this out to poke any fun at anyone, but we've all been around this game long enough to see teams start fast and fade even faster. Or, the other way around (Rice for one), start slow and finish with a flourish.
This one, unfortunately, finished just as we expected. The problem is that it finished the same way as 2011 (lost seven of the last eight games) and that can't sit well at all for those in red and black.
But, I'll come back next year if you want me to…please?!?
- So T.J. Simers of the LA Times accused UCLA head coach Jim Mora of "throwing" last week's game to Stanford so as to avoid Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game?? That'll be a great relationship going forward.
- It's one thing to lead the SEC in passing, but Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel led the SEC in rushing with 1,181 yards.
- Is it clear that Texas will never get out of the 8 to 9 win rut until it finds a QB that it can trust wholeheartedly and that guy is NOT David Ash?
- Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze got the Rebels to a bowl eligibile sixth win with a beatdown of Mississippi State. As such, I couldn't help but snicker as I drove through Mississippi this weekend and saw MSU billboards claiming that "this was our state". Uh, not so much anymore.
- Saw this on Sunday somewhere on Twitter: Notre Dame has faced and beaten nine bowl teams, while Alabama has faced six (seven will be Georgia on Saturday) and Georgia has faced five (six will be Alabama on Saturday).
- When considering the coaching career of Gene Chizik at Auburn, the reference to Cam Newton is fair, but if you haven't considered the defensive season Nick Fairley had that year as well, you missed the boat.
- Vanderbilt will need to open its wallet and pay head coach James Franklin after an eight win season for the Commodores, the first since 1982.
- Penn State DT Jordan Hill was as dominant in his last game against Wisconsin as any defensive tackle I've seen play this season. Unreal performance.
- LSU WR Jarvis Landry had the catch of the year…wow.
- Hearing Todd Graham's name mentioned in the Tennessee coaching search made me chuckle just a bit given the complete and total resistance from ASU fans that Graham would flirt again. IT'S IN HIS NATURE, HE CAN'T CHANGE!
- Former LB turned QB Phil Petty completed 16 of 25 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown against North Carolina, helping Maryland to 38 points against the UNC defense. A guy who was playing LB to start the season, moved over to QB three weeks ago, shouldn't throw for 100 yards, much less 200, on any team. Then again, this was a UNC defense that gave up 68 to Georgia Tech two weeks ago, so there's that.
- Trying to figure out which team was more disappointing this year: Michigan State or Virginia Tech. MSU lost a number of close games, while VT was embarrassed throughout the season. So, I'll say Hokies…for now.
- Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said on Monday morning that the ref that threw a flag and then picked it up on Jalen Saunders punt return TD told him "he changed his mind" when he picked up the flag and allowed the OU TD. Not that he "thought it was a legit block" or the "other ref had a better view of it", he said "I changed my mind"?? WTF?? As Gundy pointed out, it was the first time he'd ever heard that one. Me too.
- Rice is bowl eligible. That makes me happy for David Bailiff and his staff.
- So Mike Leach gets a $25k bonus for winning an Apple Cup (beating Washington), so how did he celebrate? Drinks on him to the tune of $3k on Saturday night.
- Northwestern beat Illinois 50-14 which gave the Illini the same number of wins over D1A opponents as Penn State "transfers" Tim Beckman procured. One. He sent six coaches to PSU and got one. Karma's a Bieber, huh, Timmy?
- The B1G finished the season 1-13 in the aggregate against the two teams that were ineligible for the B1G title, Penn State and Ohio State. Nebraska beat Penn State in Lincoln, while all other opponents were vanquished by the ineligible duo.
- Coaching names that I expect to hear over the next few weeks for job openings, in no particular order: Charlie Strong (Louisville HBC), Art Briles (Baylor HBC), Paul Rhoads (Iowa State HBC), Mark Stoops (FSU DC -- already gone and hired as Kentucky's coach), Kliff Kingsbury (Texas A&M OC), Bob Diaco (Notre Dame DC), Willie Taggart (WKU head coach), Darrell Hazell (Kent State HBC), Todd Graham (head D-bag), Dave Doeren (NIU HBC), Kirby Smart (Alabama DC), Mike MacIntyre (SJSU HBC), Gary Andersen (Utah State HBC), Dan Quinn (Florida DC), Greg Roman (San Francisco 49ers OC), James Franklin (Vanderbilt HBC), Mark Hudspeth (ULL HBC), Todd Monken (Oklahoma State OC), Chad Morris (Clemson OC), Mike Pettine (New York Jets DC), Mike Bobo (Georgia OC), Butch Jones (Cincinnati HBC), David Cutcliffe (Duke HBC), Sonny Dykes (La. Tech HBC), Sean Ryan (New York Giants QB)…that's just a start, of course.