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Heisman Squabble 2007

What happens when you let two senior editors go at it over a simple little disagreement like who should win this year’s Heisman Trophy?  RealFootball365 decided to lock our resident wordsmiths in a room together with their laptops to see if the proverbial pen is truly mightier than the sword.

View from the East: In Praise of Tebow

Darrell Laurent, Sr. Editor, RealFootball365.com

For those whose argument for picking University of Arkansas running back Darren McFadden over University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in this year’s Heisman Trophy voting is “Hey, Tebow still has two years to win it,” consider the cautionary tale of Adrian Peterson.

Peterson burst upon the college football world like a comet in 2004, finishing second to Southern Cal QB Matt Leinart as a Heisman finalist. More Heismans were certainly in his future, everyone thought, but it was not to be. Injuries waylaid the University of Oklahoma running back in 2005 and 2006, costing him large chunks of both seasons.

Based on his rookie pro season, Peterson should be a force in the NFL for years to come. His college career, however, peaked in Year One.

It could be the same with Tebow, whose rough-and-tumble style leaves him vulnerable to far more punishment than the average quarterback. The sophomore from St. Augustine is only one badly torn ACL away from losing his iconic freak of nature status and becoming an average pocket passer with reduced mobility.

Moreover, while current rules bar Tebow from turning pro before his senior year, that could change at any time.

Yet there’s a better reason for picking Tebow over McFadden, as good a season as “Run-DMc” had: Touchdowns. The primary goal of football is to score more than the other team, and Tebow scored like no one else in Southeastern Conference history — 22 rushing touchdowns (an SEC record), 29 through the air. In all, Tebow accounted for 3,970 yards and 51 touchdowns. Mind boggling.

McFadden was hands down the best running back in the country this season, and his 321 rushing yards against South Carolina was a performance for the ages. But touchdowns? He scored 15 — and since both he and Tebow played in the same conference against many of the same teams, the comparison is valid.

The numbers speak for themselves. And like the Gator-chomping faithful in Gainesville, they shout: “Tebow!”

The West knows best: The sweetest music on the gridiron is Run-DMc

Todd Erickson, Sr. Editor, RealFootball365.com

“Not so fast, my friend!”  (Geez, I can just hear Lee Corso whispering in my ear right now…).

Listen, you know we wouldn’t even be debating this year’s Heisman if Dennis Dixon’s knee remained intact against Arizona four weeks ago.  The Quacks would be Pac-10 Champs instead of chumps.  Yes, they would be ranked Numero Uno in the nation right now and packing their bags for the national title game in New Orleans.

Instead, without their fallen leader, they’re a sorry flock of lame (as in unranked) Ducks, staring at their fourth loss in a row against a bullish group from South Florida in the Sun Bowl.  Yee-ha, look out El Paso, here we come!

So, let’s talk turkey here.  The true heir to this year’s Heisman is, sadly, out of the picture.  I agree that Tebow had a monster year.  He deserves every award he has already won, but not the Heisman.  I’d like to see what the kid does next year.  If he delivers a repeat performance, then I’m on his bandwagon faster than Les Miles can change his mind about going to Michigan. Or, faster than Kirk Herbstreit can apologize to Les Miles about going to Michigan.  Faster than—aw, forget it.  I just want to see that this kid isn’t a one trick pony.  That’s not asking too much, is it?

My man, #5 Darren McFadden, is not an overnight sensation.  He had another monster season in 2007.  Note the emphasis on the word “another.”

Unlike Tebow, who was cutting his teeth as a situational signal caller last year in the Swamp, Mc5 was busily working on rewriting the Arkansas and SEC record books.  He didn’t finish second in the Heisman voting last year for nothing.  But let’s talk about his accomplishments this year, when everyone has been designing their defenses to stop him.

McFadden rushed for 1,725 yards this year.  Do you have any idea where that ranks in the hallowed halls of SEC single season rushing accomplishments?  Only Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson rushed for more yards in a single season.  In Walker’s 1982 Heisman season, he rushed for 27 more yards than Darren did this year.  In Bo Jackson’s Heisman season, he rushed for 61 more yards.  2007 was clearly a Heisman caliber season for McFadden.

Granted, Tebow is an iron man, and I sympathize with you wanting to hand him the hardware while he’s healthy, but if you want to play the sympathy card, then give it to Dixon.

As for Tebow, there’s a reason for his pay dirt rhyme.  Sure, he accounted for a load of Gator touchdowns this year, but did you realize he was involved in 65 percent of their offensive plays?  McFadden was involved in less than 37 percent of Arkansas’ offensive plays.  Let him lug the rock that same percentage of touches in the Razorback offense this year and you’d see some off-the-chart TD figures from this Little Rock native, too.

But, you gotta give a guy like Darren a rest every once in a while.  Because when he scores on the ground, it’s from an average of 18 yards out.  Mr. Tebow cashed in all those six-pointers from an average of just over 4 yards from the goal line.  Big difference.

I could go on and on with the stats to prove D-Mac’s the most outstanding player in college football this season, but I’ll leave you with one more accomplishment to consider.

The best players respond accordingly in the big games.  Against five ranked opponents this season, Darren averaged 172 yards on the ground.  He broke the SEC’s single game rushing record against South Carolina with 321 yards, and in the Razorback’s stunning upset of #1 ranked LSU, he rushed for 206 yards.

My friend, I suggest you Tebow your selection and play it back at this time next year because the 2007 Heisman Trophy belongs on Darren McFadden’s mantle.

Utah and Navy Kick Off Bowl Season in a Barnburner

Utah’s Joe Dale intercepted a Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada pass with 37 seconds left to seal a thrilling 35-32 win over Navy in the San Diego Poinsettia Bowl on Thursday night.

It was Utah’s seventh consecutive bowl game victory, tying the Utes with Boston College for the lead among all Division I programs.

The first bowl of the 2007 postseason was a tale of two halves. The Midshipmen led 10-7 at halftime, with defense dominating on both sides of the ball.

Navy built its lead by another touchdown just three minutes into the third quarter, but the Utes roared back with two scores within four minutes of each other to take a 21-17 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

The game snowballed throughout the final frame when Utah QB Brian Johnson scored on a 19-yard scramble at the 12:47 mark to stretch his team’s lead to 28-17. Navy would not back down and Kaheaku-Enhada promptly connected with Shun White on a 10-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-23. Kaheaku-Enhada then busted through the Utah line for a two-point conversion, bringing Navy within a field goal.

Utah then mounted a 68-yard drive that chewed up five minutes, but running back Darrell Mack was stopped on fourth and goal on the Navy 1-yard line. The Midshipmen could only punch the ball out to their 9-yard line and failed on fourth and 2 with 2:17 remaining. Mack got the call three times in a row before he hit paydirt, giving Utah a commanding 35-23 lead with only 1:20 remaining on the clock.

The Naval Academy refused to surrender and 15 ticks off the clock later, Kaheaku-Enhada hit Zerbin Singleton deep for a 58-yard scoring strike, making it 35-32 Utah.

Navy then executed a textbook onside kick and with momentum on itsside, 55 seconds on the clock, and favorable field position at its own 42-yard line, fans braced for a miracle finish.

Instead, Singleton slipped on the turf while making a quick cut on his route and Kaheaku-Enhada’s pass sailed right into Dale’s waiting arms.

College football fans can only hope the rest of this season’s bowl games will be as exciting as the second half of the Poinsettia Bowl.

LSU Claims National Title Over Buckeyes

Ohio State experienced a fatal dose of deja vu Monday night in the Big Easy.

Just as they did in last year’s national title game against another Southeastern Conference opponent, the Buckeyes raced off to a quick 10-0 advantage against LSU.

And just as Florida rebounded quickly in last year’s contest, converting several Ohio State turnovers into an insurmountable lead, so did LSU.

In fact, the Buckeyes’ loss to LSU was their ninth in a row to an SEC opponent in a bowl game. That’s deja vu on the intensity level of what Bill Murray experienced in the movie “Groundhog Day” when he kept waking up to the same circumstances day after day after day after day…You get the picture.

After Chris Wells’ 65-yard touchdown gallop on the fourth play of the game, Ohio State forced the Tigers to punt on their first possession of the night. QB Todd Boeckman connected with Brandon Saine on a 44-yard pass and four plays later, Ryan Pretorius banged in a 25-yard field goal to give the crimson and silver their largest — and only — lead of the game.

Colt David booted a 32-yard three-pointer before the first quarter wound down and then it was all Tiger tracks the remainder of the half as Louisiana State sent its fans into a tizzy with three unanswered touchdowns.

The Tigers began the second half with possession of the ball and aided by 28 yards in penalties against the Buckeyes, it only took six plays to knot the game at 10, thanks to a Matt Flynn to Richard Dickson 13-yard scoring toss.

Wells ripped off a 29-yard gain and Boeckman followed with a 19-yard strike to Brian Robiskie. Suddenly, Ohio State was sitting on the LSU 28 and there was a distinct feeling that the game could end up being a seesaw battle.

Instead, the Buckeye drive stalled, thanks to another 15-yard penalty, and Pretorius’ 37-yard field goal was blocked by Ricky Jean-Francois and recovered by the Bayou Bengals.

Flynn engineered a masterful three-minute, 23-second drive in response, mixing six rushes with two pass completions in four attempts. The second completion was a 10-yard score to Brandon LaFell that gave LSU the lead for good at 17-10 at the 7:30 mark of the second quarter.

Chevis Jackson intercepted Boeckman on the Buckeyes’ ensuing possession and five plays later, Jacob Hester plowed into the end zone from a yard out to put the Tigers up 24-10.

If there was any hope in Buckeye Nation that Jim Tressel’s troops would make a fight of it in the second half, the first LSU possession quickly dispelled that notion.

Aided again by 30 yards in penalties by Ohio State, the Tigers put together a five-plus-minute, 14-play drive that was capped off by Flynn’s third TD pass of the night, this time a 4-yarder to Early Doucet. The scoreboard read 31-10, and LSU’s faithful began partying inside the Dome.

Flynn would find Dickson in the end zone again late in the game for his fourth TD toss of the night, while Boeckman connected with Robiskie and Brian Hartline for the Buckeyes’ two other meaningless scores to reach the final of LSU 38, Ohio State 24.

Flynn (19 of 27 for 174 yards, four TDs and one pick) was selected the offensive player of the game. Chris Wells paced the Buckeyes with 146 yards rushing and a touchdown on 20 carries.

Ohio State actually outgained LSU in total yards, 353 to 326. However, 89 yards in penalties, a minus-2 turnover margin, and a woeful 3 for 13 in third-down conversions weighed heavily in the Buckeyes’ defeat.

Who’s Afraid of the BCS?

Fresno State began the 2001 college football season with three straight wins over BCS opponents Colorado, Oregon State, and Wisconsin. Ever since that impressive triple play, college football fans have been fed a steady mantra by ESPN and other gullible sports media outlets that the Bulldogs are the only non-BCS team willing to take on BCS opponents “anytime, anywhere.”

While Fresno State has certainly been one of the most visible teams when it comes to scheduling BCS opponents thanks to the media outlets perpetuating the myth, the truth is that BYU ranks number one as the most aggressive non-BCS program in filling its nonconference schedule with BCS foes over the past 25 years.

Since 1984, BYU has racked up a 27-36 record playing 63 regular-season games against 25 different BCS teams (including original Bowl Coalition/Bowl Alliance programs). During that same span, Fresno State has logged a record of 18-34 in 52 regular-season games against 21 different BCS opponents.

Utah ranks right behind Fresno State with 46 regular-season BCS games against 21 different foes. In those 46 games, the Utes have amassed an even 23-23 record, and they have a game coming up against Oregon State next week. Factoring in its bowl game record against BCS teams, Utah has a 27-26 record versus BCS opponents since 1984.

Since 1984, BYU has scheduled at least two BCS teams 14 times, while Fresno State has done so on 11 occasions. The Bulldogs have scheduled three BCS teams in a season nine times to eight for BYU, and twice the Cougars have scheduled four BCS teams in a season — something Fresno State has never done.

Following are the year-by-year comparisons for BYU and Fresno State and the BCS opponents they scheduled during the past 25 years. For good measure, I have also included the records for Boise State and Utah during this same time period to illustrate the contrast between all four programs.

BYU vs BCS opponents since 1984

1984: Pitt, Baylor 2-0
1985: Boston College, UCLA, Washington 2-1
1986: Washington, Oregon State 0-2
1987: Pitt, Texas, TCU* 1-2
1988: Texas, TCU, Miami 2-1
1989: Oregon, Washington State 1-1
1990: Miami, Washington State, Oregon 2-1
1991: Florida State, UCLA, Penn State 0-3
1992: UCLA, Notre Dame, Penn State 1-2
1993: UCLA, Notre Dame 0-2
1994: Notre Dame, Arizona State 1-1
1995: UCLA, Arizona State 1-1
1996: Texas A&M, Washington, 1-1
1997: Washington, Arizona State 1-1
1998: Alabama, Arizona State, Washington 1-2
1999: Virginia, Washington, Cal 2-1
2000: Florida State, Virginia, Mississippi State, Syracuse 1-3
2001: Cal, Mississippi State 2-0
2002: Syracuse, Georgia Tech 1-1
2003: Georgia Tech, USC, Stanford, Notre Dame 1-3
2004: Notre Dame, Stanford, USC 1-2
2005: Boston College, Notre Dame 0-2
2006: Arizona, Boston College 0-2
2007: Arizona, UCLA 1-1
2008: Washington, UCLA 2-0

*TCU was a member of the Southwest Conference until 1996 and an original member of the Bowl Coalition.

63 regular season games against 25 different BCS opponents: 27-36 record
6-8-1 in bowl games against BCS teams since 1984
Overall: 33-44-1 in 78 games vs BCS teams since 1984
Number of regular seasons playing two BCS teams: 14
Number of regular seasons playing three BCS teams: eight
Number of regular seasons playing four BCS teams: two

Fresno State versus BCS opponents since 1984

1984: Arizona 1-0
1985: Oregon State 1-0
1986: Oregon State 1-0
1987: Washington State, UCLA 0-2
1988: Colorado, Oregon State 0-2
1989: Oregon State 1-0
1990: —
1991: Washington State, Oregon State 2-0
1992: Oregon State, Washington State 0-2
1993: Baylor, Oregon State 1-1
1994: Ohio State, Washington State, Oregon State 1-2
1995: Cal, UCLA 1-1
1996: Oregon, Auburn 0-2
1997: Baylor, Oklahoma State, Oregon 0-3
1998: Colorado, Texas Tech 0-2
1999: Oregon State, UCLA 0-2
2000: Ohio State, UCLA, Cal 1-2
2001: Colorado, Oregon State, Wisconsin, 3-0
2002: Wisconsin, Oregon, Oregon State 0-3
2003: Tennessee, Oregon State, Oklahoma 1-2
2004: Washington, Kansas State 2-0
2005: Oregon, USC 0-2
2006: Oregon State, Washington, LSU 0-3
2007: Texas A&M, Oregon, Kansas State 1-2
2008: Rutgers, Wisconsin, UCLA 1-1

52 regular season games against 21 different BCS opponents 18-34 record (UCLA this Sat)
5-2 in bowl games against BCS teams since 1984
Overall: 23-36 in 59 games vs BCS teams since 1984
Number of regular seasons playing 2 BCS teams: 11
Number of regular seasons playing 3 BCS teams: nine

Boise State vs BCS opponents since 1984

1984: —
1985: —
1986: Oregon State 0-1
1987: —
1988: —
1989: Oregon State 0-1
1990: —
1991: —
1992: —
1993: —
1994: —
1995: —
1996: Arizona State 0-1
1997: Wisconsin, Washington State 0-2
1998: Washington State 0-1
1999: UCLA 0-1
2000: Arkansas, Washington State 0-2
2001: South Carolina, Washington State 0-2
2002: Arkansas 0-1
2003: Oregon State 0-1
2004: Oregon State 1-0
2005: Georgia, Oregon State 0-2
2006: Oregon State 1-0
2007: Washington 0-1
2008: Oregon 1-0

19 regular-season games against 10 different BCS opponents: 3-16 record
2-1 against BSC teams in bowl games since 1984
Overall: 5-17 record vs BCS teams since 1984
Number of regular seasons playing two BCS teams: four
Number of regular seasons playing three BCS teams: zero

Utah vs BCS opponents since 1984

1984: Washington State, Tennessee 0-2
1985: Washington State, Arizona State 1-1
1986: Ohio State, Arizona State 0-2
1987: Wisconsin 1-0
1988: Illinois 0-1
1989: Nebraska, Stanford 1-1
1990: Minnesota 1-0
1991: Oregon State, Oregon, Arizona State 2-1
1992: Nebraska, Oregon State 1-1
1993: Arizona State, Kansas 1-1
1994: Oregon 1-0
1995: Oregon, Stanford 0-2
1996: Stanford, Kansas 2-0
1997: Oregon 0-1
1998: —
1999: Washington State 1-0
2000: Arizona, Cal, Washington State 0-3
2001: Oregon, Indiana 1-1
2002: Indiana, Arizona, Michigan 1-2
2003: Texas A&M, Cal, Oregon 2-1
2004: Texas A&M, Arizona, North Carolina 3-0
2005: Arizona, North Carolina 1-1
2006: UCLA 0-1
2007: Oregon State, UCLA, Louisville 2-1
2008: Michigan, Oregon State 1-0 (Oregon State game on 10/4)

47 regular season games against 21 different BCS opponents: 23-23 record (OSU 10/4)
4-3 against BSC teams in bowl games since 1984
Overall: 27-26 record vs BCS teams since 1984
Number of regular seasons playing two BCS teams: 11
Number of regular seasons playing three BCS teams: six

Note: East Carolina was not included in this comparison because the Pirates were an independent program and not affiliated with a conference until 1997. As an independent, it was not uncommon for the Pirates to schedule five or more BCS opponents each year to fill out their schedule.

Top 10 Playoff Scenario

This playoff scenario was originally published in my Fourth and inches … column in 2007.  It was reposted in my November 8, 2008 column.

If a playoff is ever going to happen…it will have to maintain conference affiliations with the big four traditional bowl game partners…I came up with a 10-team playoff system a couple years ago that would utilize the major bowls and keep their traditional conference affiliations intact…here’s how it would work:

The Cotton Bowl and Holiday Bowl host play-in games to reach the final eight…the four teams playing in these two qualifier bowls would have to be ranked in the top 16 final BCS standings and be a conference champion from the MAC, WAC, MWC, C-USA or Sun Belt. Historically, you will note that there usually wouldn’t be more than one team from this pool. However, this year could be different. The other slots are filled by the highest ranking teams remaining in the top 16 BCS standings.

In a season like this year, you could conceivably end up with this type of play-in scenario:

Dec. 25
Holiday BowlTexas versus WAC champion Boise State: Winner goes to Sugar Bowl
Dec. 26
Cotton BowlFlorida versus MWC champion Utah: Winner goes to Fiesta Bowl

The final eight matchups:

Jan. 1
Rose Bowl: Big Ten champion Penn State versus Pac-10 champion USC
Orange Bowl: ACC champion North Carolina versus Big East champion Cincinnati

Jan. 2
Sugar Bowl: SEC champion Alabama versus Holiday Bowl winner, Texas
Fiesta Bowl: Big XII champion Texas Tech versus Cotton Bowl winner, Florida

Final four matchups:

Jan. 8
Rose Bowl winner USC versus Fiesta Bowl winner Florida (with Rose and Fiesta alternating each year as host for the semifinal)
Jan. 9
Orange Bowl winner North Carolina versus Sugar Bowl winner Texas (with Orange and Sugar alternating each year as host for the semifinal)

The host site for the national championship game would alternate between the four sites each year…this means that each major bowl site would host a final four game two of every four years, a national title game once every four years, and have the extra game week off once every four years…

National championship game:

Jan. 16
Winners of the Jan. 8 and 9 games
Florida versus Texas

This only adds a week to the season, and it allows for all the other bowl games to be played…it assures tradition of the bowl games can accommodate a playoff.

Poinsettia Bowl Live Blog: TCU vs. Boise State

This is a special bowl game season live game blog featuring TCU vs. Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl.

First Quarter

15:00

Well, Boise State starts the game off pulling a return play out of its bag of tricks. Ian Johnson fakes falling down and Vinny Perratta takes the kick about 7 yards before passing across the field to Johnson, who gains another 26 yards on the return.

14:50

BSU begins its first possession of the game at the 49-yard line. Nice 8-yard pickup on a pass from Kellen Moore to Jeremy Childs. Not a good start for the TCU defense.

12:51

The Broncos are moving down the field methodically, dinking and dunking their way toward a score. They’re now at the TCU 34 facing a second-and-15.

12:08

Horrible call by the officials — Moore threw way over his receiver and the refs called pass interference on nothing more than incidental contact. That’s a 15-yard gimme for the Broncos.
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