Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Catching up is fine or done for the year

How is this possible? Braxton Miller had his head/neck forcefully detached from his body Saturday, went limp for an extended period of time, was ambulanced to the hospital, recovered miraculously and is now good to go, according to Urban Meyer:
All test results on Braxton Miller came back negative. Said he's very sore, but expects him to practice tomorrow.

Meyer said Braxton suffered from whiplash and was rattled.
Oh ... OK. I don't doubt that he checked out with no structural damage but question the thought process that leads to a guy who's still "very sore" after being diagnosed with whiplash practicing three days after the event that lead to said soreness. I mean, from an observer's standpoint, I'd prefer an Ohio State-Penn State game featuring Braxton Miller to one not featuring Braxton Miller, but I dunno.

Anyway, Penn State is 21st in the country in rushing defense despite playing three teams in the top 25 in rushing offense, although of those three teams, only Northwestern runs a system that even vaguely resembles Ohio State's. It'll be interesting to see whether Penn State can follow the Purdue blueprint and keep Miller from going off like he has against pretty much everybody else. I think Penn State can score some points based on a passing game that's at least as good as Indiana's, which put up 49 points against a meh Ohio State defense that's 52nd in pass efficiency and 102nd in passing yards allowed. The question is whether those points will be enough; Miller's presence makes it somewhat less likely.

Man down at Florida State: Chris Thompson is done for the year; I covered this in my Week 8 thingy but figured I'd repost the analysis given the newsiness:
Chris Thompson tore his ACL, which is unfortunate for him and similarly unfortunate for a Florida State offense that finally had been generating a running game this year (15th nationally at about 231 yards a game). The good news: (a) James Wilder Jr. is a man-child who can easily take on another seven or eight carries a game and (b) Thompson clone Devonta Freeman has been getting about seven carries a game already and averaging about 7.1 yards a pop. So the replacements aren't terrible; they just aren't (yet) All-ACC dudes putting up 7.6 yards a carry on 15 attempts a game. Expect a little more of those guys, maybe a little more E.J. Manuel and probably only a marginal drop-off offensively.
It's worth mentioning that Thompson was on pace to be Florida State's first 1,000-yard back since Warrick Dunn (!) but only had about 46 percent of FSU's running-back rushing yards, with Wilder Jr. having about 400 and Freeman having about 300. BTW, Freeman led the team in rushing last year while Thompson missed most of the season with a broken back (yeesh).

Hey, has anybody noticed that Florida State plays Florida (in Tallahassee) in the last game of the year? I'm intrigued by that game and would like to subscribe to its newsletter.

Maryland is cursed: Redshirt freshman quarterback Peyton Hills is done for the year with a torn ACL, which means Maryland has lost Danny O'Brien, returning starter (kind of) C.J. Brown and now Hillis in the last eight months.

Here's a quote from Brown this week:
“We’re down to our third or fourth-string quarterbacks already and we’re going to Week 8 or whatever it is,” Brown said. “It’s just unfortunate. I don’t think anyone would see this happening."
True. Accordingly, freshman Caleb Rowe (a two-star recruit with zero other FBS offers) is now the only scholaship quarterback on the roster and threw the first two passes of his career against NC State; sophomore Devin Burns, who moved over from receiver, actually took more of the snaps after Hills went down and did a lot of Wildcat-type stuff while throwing four passes. Upshot: Don't expect much from the Maryland passing game.

Hills had been surprisingly decent this year -- he'd completed about 56 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and seven picks -- but had relatively little to do with Maryland's 4-3 start seeing as how Maryland is 116th in total offense and averaging about 21 points a game. The credit goes to the defense, which is 11th in yards allowed and 31st in points allowed and was almost solely responsible for the 7-6 win over William & Mary (lol) and the 19-14 win over Wake Forest. That said, the schedule's about to get a lot tougher (at Boston College, Georgia Tech, at Clemson, Florida State, at North Carolina), so I won't be totally surprised if the defense turns out to be somewhat of a mirage and the offense turns out to be as awful as it appears to be, which case 4-8 and more Randy Edsall hot-seat rabble become legitimate possibilities.

The timing seems suboptimal: Georgia defensive end Abry Jones has missed the past couple games with an ankle injury and apparently will miss several more games -- like, all of them -- with the same injury:
Tweets from several current and former teammates indicated that Georgia Bulldogs defensive end Abry Jones could be out for the season. The team has not yet confirmed these rumors. Still, tweets like the one below seem to express that Jones is done:

Big S/o to my homie my brother my dawg @justab3 he had surgerytoday and is done for the season... Stay up fool I'm here we here #salute — Derrick Lott (@Dlott_UTC91) October 23, 2012 
Jones wasn't expected back this week for the Cocktail Party thing but definitely would've been of same value seeing as how Georgia's allowed an average of 34.3 points over the past three weeks, with two of those games against teams ranked below 90th in total offense. He's a multiyear starter, and while he only had one tackle for loss in the first six games, last year he was third on the team with four sacks and tied for fourth with seven tackles for loss.

One possible replacement: Ray Drew, an uber recruit two years ago who's played pretty sparingly thus far (12 total tackles in his career) but might be able to provide a little bit of pass rush given his alleged athleticism. Then again, the pass rush will be less of a concern against Florida than not getting trucked, so I won't be surprised if Georgia just goes heavy up front in an effort not to give up a gajillion rushing yards. We'll see.

IT'S SO HORRIFYING: There might be something wrong with this guy (click for the video, which is so much worse):

Srsly. WTF.

Settle down, Ohio State: On a tangentially related note, Ohio State and Oregon have agreed to a home-and-home series in 2020-21. That's, like, a long time from now; the second of those two games will take place on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I know.

Regardless, Ohio State has now scheduled home-and-home series for the not-too-distant future with Oregon, TCU (2018-19) and Texas (2022-23) and adjusted its overall scheduling philosophy as follows:
Beginning in 2018, athletic director Gene Smith said he wants OSU to play all four nonconference games against schools from the six power conferences.

“Hopefully we’re going to schedule one team in the top 10, two other teams we hope are going to be in the top 30 or 40, and then someone else from a (major conference),” Smith said of his new philosophy in a phone interview with The Blade.
That's ... impressive? Stupid? I'm not sure. There's definitely something to be said for playing real games on a somewhat-regular basis. There's also something to be said for not losing a nonconference game; I really don't think strength of schedule is gonna have the overall impact some people tend to think it will have, at least not relative to the potential damage (in the polls) inflicted by a loss. That's probably worth a separate post. Just know that Ohio State will have a bunch of interesting games on the schedule when my kids are in high school.

Random stat of note: Oklahoma is 1-8 against Notre Dame. That's a .111 winning percentage, Oklahoma's lowest against any opponent (minimum five games). Come Saturday night, that'll be either a much-more-satisfying 2-8 or 1-9, in which case Notre Dame will not only own Oklahoma but also have a legitimate shot at the national title.

Just kidding: There probably won't be a seventh BCS bowl come playoff time:
A proposed seventh access bowl is becoming less likely, and the commissioners of the BCS might stick with their original plan of only having six in the new playoff format, sources told ESPN.

After the commissioners met in Rosemont, Ill., in September, The Associated Press reported that they had discussed the possibility of creating a seventh access bowl. The game would give smaller conferences guaranteed access, pitting the top-ranked champion from the five non-power conferences (Big East, Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt) annually against a team from either the Big 12 or Pac-12.

However, this is becoming more unlikely because of a myriad of concerns and obstacles involved for a seventh access bowl. Among them: The bowl's lesser worth compared to the other access bowls, the difficulty of selling tickets for an annual bowl featuring a non-power conference team and finding a bowl that wants to host the game that also meets the stadium capacity requirements for an access bowl and the national semifinals, sources said.
The last graf pretty much says it all: There's little interest among either bowl games or networks in paying a ginormous chunk of money for a BCS game that's not really a BCS game. Surprise!

That story also includes some clarification/confirmation on the playoff-affiliated bowls: As expected, the six games in the rotation will be the Rose Bowl, Champions Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Chick-fil-A Bowl. No surprises there, either; please note that the Champions Bowl is expected to rotate between the Cotton Bowl and Sugar Bowl, so the assumption is that both games will be included in some capacity.

This is very important: Central Florida's NCAA appeal has gotten pushed back to January, which means the one-year bowl ban won't be decided until after bowl season and thus:
Central Florida will be eligible to compete for both the Conference USA championship and a bowl game this season with its appeal of a one-year football postseason ban not scheduled to be heard until next year.
The Liberty Bowl rejoices (or does nothing; whatever).


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