Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The BCS System Proves Yet Again To Be Fundamentally Flawed

Posted by HD Handshoe

If you paid any attention to college football last weekend then you’re aware that Iowa won at Penn State and Oregon humiliated Cal, 42-3.

These weren’t obscure events.

The voters who participate in the Harris Interactive and USA Today Coaches polls apparently did not pay any attention. Hey, why would they? These are only the people whom the empty suits of the Bowl Championship Series have empowered to determine how the sport’s champion is crowned.

So it made perfect sense that in the polls that make up two-thirds of the BCS formula Penn State is still ahead of Iowa and Cal is still ahead of Oregon. These are among a half-dozen rankings based more on reputation and preseason hype than results. There will be more as the year goes on.

This is the BCS. It’s not a one-time mistake. It’s the all-the-time plan. Ridiculous votes happen when you conduct ridiculous elections.

The suits want something that provides convenient cover for them (hey, don’t blame us, it’s the voters!) while being so flawed it draws attention away from what’s really going on – the operation of a system designed to protect their power and allow their cronies who run bowl games to fleece the sport for tens of millions a year.

Forget what they say. Forget the supposed excuses. That’s all there is here. Protect their power and the bowl games’ money.

If the people who ran the BCS wanted to implement a good way to determine the best teams at the end of the year – even if they stuck with the archaic bowl system – they would have done so years ago.

Instead they continue to prop up a formula where two-thirds is determined by a popularity vote from people who, in many cases, are either incapable or unmotivated to take the job seriously.

There’s decades of evidence and testimony from the 59 head coaches that they 1) don’t have the time to research their ballots and 2) often hand over the duties to administrative staffers, who also have no time.

There’s half a decade of evidence that the commitment of the 114 Harris Poll voters fluctuates wildly. Most of these guys are retired administrators, coaches or players. Some are media.

They’ve proven good for two things, voting based on marketing and reputation, and subscribing to a groupthink mentality that assures their ballot doesn’t stand out and they get criticized for thinking for themselves.

Some voters take their responsibility seriously and in their defense, the two polls purposefully offer no criteria for them to consider. Should they slot teams based on overall record, strength of schedule, who they beat, who they lost to, how they won, how they lost, where the games took place, conference strength or so on?

Last year a number of Harris Poll voters admitted to Yahoo! Sports that they have never bothered to watch Utah play before deciding the postseason fate of 12-0 Utes. This isn’t to say Utah should’ve been ranked No. 1 or No. 25, only that any reputable system would, at the very least, require the voters to at least watch an unbeaten team before dismissing them.

It’s moronic enough to use a beauty contest system to determine athletic competition. It’s even worse when the voters don’t have to watch all the contestants. No one disqualifies Miss Mississippi because she isn’t from California.

They do in the BCS.

What happened to the voters who admitted they didn’t think it was necessary to watch Utah play? Naturally, most of them are back again this year.

The folks who run Harris Interactive were concerned enough about this abomination they recommended that a protective mechanism be established to root out “instability, error or bias associated with unusual ranking patterns.”

Naturally the BCS suits rejected it. They love instability, error and bias.

Of course the suits also employ the final one-third of the system as a safety check – the computers. Six mathematical formulas crank out rankings to supposedly make up for human prejudice.

The problem with the computer formulas is twofold. One, the lack of comparative data makes this exercise impossible, which is why actual mathematicians operate a movement that denounces the BCS and any of their peers who participate.

Second, as baseball numbers whiz Bill James points out, the three times the computers have disagreed with the final human vote, the BCS suits immediately re-rigged the formulas in an effort to prevent it from happening again.

The computers aren’t there to counter the polls. They exist to offer credibility through pre-calculated agreement.

“Computers, like automobiles and airplanes, do only what people tell them to do,” James wrote for Slate.

Absent blowing this atrocity up and going with a 16-team playoff, if the BCS wanted a better system to choose the teams for their antiquated bowl games, they would go with a NCAA men’s basketball tournament-style committee.

That’s a group of about 10 people who spend the season scouting teams, meeting to discuss various scenarios and then eventually getting together to go through a vast checklist of predetermined criteria to select the field.

While not devoid of controversy, it’s orderly and transparent.

That would require courage and accountability though, actual faces to answer for the decision to select team X over team Y. The current system allows the blame to be spread out, even to faceless machines.

While a couple dozen conference commissioners and bowl executives sure do love to count the money, they don’t want to claim ownership of the BCS. In fact, Mountain West Conference attorneys claim that there’s no proof the BCS exists as a legal entity. Six conference commissioners take turns serving as “BCS coordinator” for a two-year term. Then they eagerly pass it off, like it’s a disease.

In the meantime, a nonsense system rolls on. Don’t be shocked by the controversy, the foolishness or the corruption.

That isn’t a flaw in the system.

It is the system.

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Written by Dan Wetzel—Yahoo Sports
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Monday, September 28, 2009

BlockO Asks, You Answer: Is Terrelle Pryor Afraid to Run?

By HD Handshoe

Sure, sometimes he runs, and he makes a lot of big plays when doing so.

But then there are other times, more often than not recently, when it seems that Terrelle just doesn't want to run—Almost as if he is afraid to get hit.

If so, he needs to go the the school of taking hits, Craig Krenzel style. If Krenzel had the athleticism of Pryor, he would have been one of the greatest QB in college football.

How many times did we see Krenzel sacrifice his body for a pass, run or score. That guy took some of the worst hits in OSU football history.

Pryor needs to play with this same attitude, and heart. He also needs to make his on-the-field decisions much more quickly, instead of dancing around with happy feet, before eventually getting sacked.

We've all seen him stiff-arm defenders to the ground, so, why doesn't TP run more?

Is he afraid of taking a hit?

Or does he want to become an NFL-prototype pocket passing QB so he refuses to run until it's too late?

Now, please post a comment, or comments, and tell us what you think!

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Ohio State-Indiana Week Five Preview: Free History Lesson Included

Final Score of the game was Ohio State 33, Indiana 14.

OSU missed two FG's, and IU scored a touchdown on the last play of the game after calling a timeout with seconds left, so it realistically should have been 39-7.

By HD Handshoe

In the words of Eminem's song Slim Shady, "Will the real Indiana (and Michigan for that matter) please stand up?

The untested Michigan Wolverines are now 4-0 while the surprising Indiana Hoosiers are 3-1, their only loss coming to the Wolverines, but more on that in a bit.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are 3-1, and probably should be 4-0, but we won't dwell on the past mistakes that led to the loss against USC, but rather, we will look ahead.

Ohio State won easily vs. Illinois as I predicted. I specifically said I was not expecting another shutout, but definitely a win. My prediction was 38-13. The actual final score was 30-0.

Meh, close enough.

This Buckeye "D" is much better than I imagined, and I already thought they were very good.

This week, Ohio State will play their first true road game of the season (the Toledo Rockets were the home team in Cleveland two weeks ago) as they will travel to Bloomington, Indiana, to take on the Hoosiers.

Last week, Indiana nearly pulled out a win vs. Michigan in the Big House.

Unfortunately for them, the officials gave the game away on a terrible call when there clearly appeared to be a simultaneous catch and possession by an IU receiver and a UM defensive back, but the officials ruled it an interception.

After a home cooked booth review, the call was upheld (how convenient) and UM escaped with a shady 36-33 "win".

IU coach Bill Lynch was livid, and rightfully so.

While I don't mean to totally disrespect Indiana, they really aren't a good football program (their three wins were all pretty close over FCS or small FBS foes Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan, and Akron), the closeness of this game shows me the Wolverines are vastly overrated, and that Ohio State "should" win over IU by a minimum of three to four scores this week.

10/03/2009—Game Five—7PM
TV: Big Ten Network


Here is the recent and all-time history between OSU and IU.

• Ohio State leads the all-time head-to-head series (65-12-5)

• Ohio State is 17-2-1 vs. IU last 20 meetings (dating back to 1985).

• Last Ohio State loss at IU was in 1988 by a score of 41-7 (That year, IU was 8-3-1 and OSU was 4-6-1).

• Since 1991, Ohio State is 16-0 vs. IU.

• Tressel is 6-0 vs. IU, outscoring them 222-57, or an average game score of 37-10.

A third straight shutout win could become a reality, but either way, I fully expect the Buckeyes to win, and win big.

Maybe Indiana will prove me wrong.

Maybe they are far better than I believe they are, and they actually keep it close against the Bucks—Or even pull off the huge upset win...?

NAH...I'm not a crackhead.

Final score prediction:

Ohio State 44
Indiana 16

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

With Four Games In The Books, Just How Good Is This Ohio State Defense?

Written by Michael Periatt
B/R Ohio State Featured Columnist—BlockONation Contributor

Ever since Matt Barkley's heartbreaking drive, the Ohio State defense hasn't allowed a single point.

Not one.

I don't know if they're carrying a chip on their shoulder or just hitting their stride, but the two game shut-out streak is the first in thirteen years.

I can't attest for a long Buckeye history (I'm 17 years old), but when I think of classic Buckeye defenses, I think of the 2002 championship team and the 2005 defense.

Amazingly, neither of these legendary defenses ever recorded a shut-out.

Now, both of those defenses were stacked with talent. The 2002 team had Chris Gamble, Mike Doss, Matt Wilhelm, and Will Smith just off the top of my head and the 2005 team had one of the best line backing cores in Ohio State history (Hawk, Carpenter, Schlegel.)

But the current defense really has no identifiable player. Brian Rolle seems to have emerged as a clutch play maker, Coleman seems to have established himself as the leader, and Cameron Heyward seems to be a super-stud. But there are no preseason All-Americans and no upperclassmen predicted to go in the first round of the draft (possibly Heyward).

It's really unbelievable they have been this solid.

So how have they done it?

I think it all goes back to the defensive line. The unit is clearly the strong point of the team and is arguably the best in the nation.

USC might have a stable of running backs, but Ohio State has a stable of defensive lineman. And unlike running backs, you can play more than one at a time.

Thaddeus Gibson, Cameron Heyward, Dexter Larimore, and Doug Worthington are the starters, but to have quality replacements like Nathan Williams, Soloman Thomas, Lawrence Wilson, Todd Denlinger, John Simon, and Garret Goebel is something that you just don't normally see.

Chances are, many of these guys would be starting on any other team in the nation. These guys are not just big "space fillers," but athletes ready to make plays.

By getting pressure on the quarterback without having to constantly blitz (a luxury OSU hasn't had in forever), it automatically takes a load of pressure off the rest of the defense.

Even against USC, the Buck's defense was only really responsible for one touchdown (the other was on TP for throwing an INT that USC returned inside the five yard line).

The lone sub-par performance was against Navy which is really baffling. It could have been the first game jitters, the corky triple-option offense, or a case of the look-aheads, but the fact remains they gave up 27 points to a service academy.

Following the USC game, the Bucks shut out a Toledo team that has put up at least 31 against every other team they played (including Colorado and Purdue).

They then replicated the feat against a supposed high powered Illinois offense that could very well turn out to be a joke.

So three excellent performances and one semi-flop.

The verdict?

I think this defense is really, really good, but I'm not ready to anoint them as a legendary defense just yet. A legendary defense finds a way to make that stop against USC and they sure as hell shouldn't give up 27 point to a service academy.

One thing that seems very promising is that, with the exception of the USC game, the defense made big plays when they had to. They were bent, but didn't break.

In the Navy game, Rolle got the pick-two to save the game.

Against Toledo, they stripped the ball inside the ten yard line to secure the shutout.

And against Illinois they got a clutch interception when the Illini were driving and a sack at the end of the game to push them out of field goal range.

I need to apologize to Jim Heacock. For a while there, I, like many others, was calling for his head, but he seems to have gotten it all together.

Then again, maybe the defense is more stable now that Luke Fickell is in charge of it more than we know...

As a fan, you can really see the development of the young guys and their readiness to replace their NFL predecessors.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Tressel Epiphany? Assistant Coach Darrell Hazell Called "Some" Offensive Plays Last Week

Posted by HD Handshoe

It turns out that assistant head coach Darrell Hazell did call some plays for Ohio State last week in a 38-0 win over Toledo.

"Oh, sure," coach Jim Tressel said yesterday.

When asked if that was out of the ordinary, he said, "Not at all," which means it could continue Saturday when Ohio State plays Illinois in Ohio Stadium.

Maybe it was more noticeable against Toledo because quarterback Terrelle Pryor turned to Hazell when he had a question about a play.

Earlier this week, Hazell had replied, "I don't know; I'm not sure," when asked whether he was calling some of the plays. Tressel drew criticism for his playcalling in an 18-15 loss to Southern California the week before, yet he has defended his right to make the call.

But as Tressel has often explained, he sees himself as the triggerman in a process that includes input from all offensive assistant coaches.

"When things work, we're all part of the wonderment," Tressel said, "and when things don't work we're probably all part of the disappointment."

Let's hope this is a sign of Tressel loosening his death-grip on calling the plays (something he has proven is not his strong suit) and shifting the responsibility to Hazell full-time, or at least most of the time...

Hazell played it aloof when asked if he had called any plays on offense vs. Toledo. It's actually kind of funny, and you pretty much can tell from his reaction to the question that the answer was yes.

Hazell could be the answer, but either way, maybe Tressel needs to watch film from this game, the 1987 Cotton Bowl, and the playcalling. Nothing personal against Jim Karsatos, but if he was able to become a Buckeye Legend and do everything he did in that game, and his career, so too can uber-athlete Terrelle Pryor--and then some.

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Original article written by Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch. Final three paragraphs written by HD Handshoe of BlockONation.

An Oklahoma Fan on Debunking the Oklahoma-Ohio State "Double Standard"

By Allen Kenney -- www.BlatantHomerism.com

As an Oklahoma fan, it's tough to think of the Sooners as one of the national media's golden boys. For every article out there praising OU's recent dominance of the Big 12, you're just as likely to find another biting "Big Game Bob" story about the Sooners' struggles on the big stage.

In a way, you would think that would make Sooner Nation and Ohio State fans something of kindred spirits in the college football landscape.

If rabble rouser and Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com is to be believed, however, the media handles OU with kid gloves relative to Ohio State, creating an egregious double standard. "It's ridiculous. And it needs to stop," according to Rittenberg.

The latest outrage, which apparently pushed Rittenberg over the edge, occurred on Monday. After crushing Tulsa, Oklahoma moved up two spots to No. 10 in the latest AP Poll; meanwhile, the Buckeyes whipped Toledo and fell two slots to No. 13.

Rittenberg surmises that Buckeye beater USC's loss over the weekend precipitated OSU's drop in the poll. He notes, however, that Brigham Young was spanked by Florida State, but OU moved up.

Add this new slap in the face to the long string of pro-OU, anti-OSU actions by the national media that Rittenberg sees no need to detail. (By the way, agree with him or not, Rittenberg should be commended for bringing the injustice of a completely meaningless poll to light.)

But to put an end to this discrimination, don't we need to understand the "why" behind all the hate for the Buckeyes and not the Sooners? Rittenberg himself is silent on this matter.

EDSBS poses one theory: geography; to which the folks at Burnt Orange Nation offer a compelling rebuttal, but no alternative theory.

If we are to assume that this phenomenon does, in fact, exist, I'd say the reason lies in an extension of the ESDBS argument. It's not that OSU is located in closer proximity to more people and larger media markets. It's that more people care about Ohio State than OU.

OSU is one of the largest schools in the country. It draws more media coverage than OU, because there's a higher level of interest in the Buckeyes. With greater media coverage, the Buckeyes' struggles appear to be magnified relative to those of OU.

Allow me to offer a more straightforward explanation, though: this supposed double standard doesn't exist.

Regarding Rittenberg's AP Poll travesty, in his mind there appears to be no way to legitimate the voters' decisions. Yet, I could offer up a number of possible reasons why a voter would be inclined to rank OU ahead of OSU, as well as to move the Sooners up and the Buckeyes down this week.

Maybe some voters think OU is a better team than OSU.

Maybe some voters think OU is improving, while the Buckeyes have hit a ceiling.

Maybe some voters are penalizing OSU for losing in Columbus to a USC team they no longer consider to be the juggernaut it once was.

Maybe some voters are cutting OU some slack for losing on a neutral field after Sam Bradford went down in the Sooners' first game of the year.

Maybe some voters are projecting how they think the season will play out.

Take your pick of potential justifications, all of which seem reasonable, even if you don't agree with them.

(For the record, I wouldn't have Oklahoma or Ohio State anywhere near the top 25 at this point. Neither has compiled a good enough body of work to merit inclusion.)

From a more "meta" standpoint, I have no idea how to even begin addressing Rittenberg's issues with the alleged discrepancies in national perception.

Outside of this one supposed instance of bias in favor of OU, what are some other examples? So far as I can tell, this week's poll is it.

If that's it, let's save the outrage.

For the record, I agree with Rittenberg, but in the interest of objectivity, I decided to post this article and see what my fellow Buckeye fans have to say, if anything--HD

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

How a Soft October Schedule Will Ultimately Help the Buckeyes

by Tim Bielik
BlockONation Analyst
OSU Featured Columnist

Many people still aren't sure what to make of the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2009, after falling just short of beating USC, then shutting out Toledo.

What confuses so many others is how, or why, Ohio State actually dropped in the AP poll after the 38-0 shutout win over the Rockets.

I was recently approached by FC Coordinator Trey Bradley who gave me a great thought and theme for the next few weeks: "If you don't hear from the Buckeyes for awhile, it's a good thing."

I looked at the upcoming schedule for the Buckeyes, and anything less than a 5-0 October would be considered disastrous in Columbus.

When the toughest game in the next few weeks is at home against Wisconsin, that is something the Buckeyes can build off of.

And this young team still needs to get some seasoning. The defense is one of the better units in the nation, but the offense still needs work.

And only one thing can fix what ails this offense: reps. For these next six weeks, that will be exactly what the OSU offense will get.

Terrelle Pryor has shown great improvements as a passer, though his decision-making needs some serious work.

Running back has become a serious problem, as Dan Herron has struggled to be effective, and Brandon Saine has inconsistencies of his own as a runner.

If the Buckeyes offense wants to be successful this season, it will have to become an air attack squad, anchored by stud wideouts Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey. Both receivers have shown tremendous big play ability and separation speed.

Saine and true freshman Duron Carter have also become solid targets in the passing attack. Not to mention that this type of attack will play towards the strength of the offensive line, which is better as a pass blocking unit.

Defensively, this might be the most athletic group in recent years, anchored by a great defensive line with Thaddeus Gibson and Cameron Heyward as superstar bookends. One surprise this season, freshman DT John Simon, has played tremendously and been a force in his short time.

As for the schedule, Ohio State has two road games in October, both against Indiana and Purdue, which on paper should be big wins for the Buckeyes.

The two conference home games might be closer, with the Badgers and Minnesota Gophers coming to town. They end the month with a home OOC game against New Mexico State, a team considered by most to be one of the worst teams in the country.

A perfect 5-0 in the month of October is easily attainable, but Buckeye fans will want more in the coming weeks. They will want to see a more efficient offense and the defense continuing to play outstandingly.

They want to see these improvements happen because November is not a kind month for the Buckeyes, with road games at Penn State and Michigan, and their only home game that month against the Hawkeyes.

If Ohio State looks great and shows more improvement throughout October, people will be looking at them as potentially running the table in the Big Ten and possibly a trip to Pasadena.

Regardless of how they are ranked, they are still in a position to make some noise in the BCS and hopefully end their three-game bowl losing streak.

If they win in October, OSU can quietly sneak up on teams in the polls as other teams should get knocked off in a similar pattern to the previous three weeks.

If that happens, don't be surprised to see the Buckeyes playing in a big bowl game once again in January. For this young brand of Buckeyes, a "Red October" could be the start of turning fortunes around in Columbus.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2009 Heisman Watch Redux—Ten Names To Know: Part I

by HD Handshoe

This two-part series was originally published on BlockONation May 3, 2009

Now that we're almost four weeks into the 2009 season, I wanted to rehash my Spring Heisman names to know series just to see how good I did four months ago—See what you think and let me know below by adding a comment!

The following are the first five of ten players I feel have the most legitimate chance to win the 2009 Heisman Trophy if they each meet expectations and live up to their full potential in the coming season!

Jevan Snead, QB, Ole Miss

Ole Miss should win a lot of games and will likely be high in the rankings all year long. Snead emerged out of nowhere after leading the Rebels to their huge upset win over the Florida Gators in the swamp.

He threw 13 interceptions a year ago, but with a favorable 2009 schedule (Memphis, SE Louisiana, at South Carolina, at Vanderbilt, Alabama, UAB, Arkansas, at Auburn (who’s still reloading), Northern Arizona, Tennessee, LSU, and Mississippi State), Snead's stats should resemble those of the top three vote-getters of last year's Heisman voting.

Almost all of Mississippi's tough games are at home, and there will be just enough nationally televised moments for Snead to shine.

Todd Reesing, QB, Kansas

The Big 12 North division’s spotlight game will be Nebraska at Kansas on Nov. 14. By then, Todd Reesing and the Jayhawks will have already played Oklahoma at home and will have gone on the road to face Texas Tech, and there will still be games against Texas and Missouri to follow.

There won't be a shortage of moments where Reesing will have the opportunity to make a Heisman statement and put up the big numbers needed to get in the race.

With Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier returning after combining for 189 catches for 2,452 yards and 23 touchdowns, this should be a huge year for the KU passing game.

They have a killer schedule and I'm not sure they'll win enough of those games for Reesing to be a serious contender, but that's probably why he's going to put up the big numbers in the first place—by playing catch-up!

Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

Clausen will have the Notre Dame spotlight and a decent receiving corps to put up the numbers and the wins to be in the hunt for the big prize.

He ended the 2008 season on a high note with his 22-of-26, 401-yard, five-touchdown performance in the win over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.

To have a real chance of being in the Heisman hunt, he must become the leader and Notre Dame will need a big day at Michigan, a home victory over Michigan State, and most importantly, a tremendous performance against USC on Oct. 17.

Last year, Clausen completed just 11-of-22 passes for 41 yards with two interceptions in the embarrassing loss to the Trojans.

In addition to making the early Heisman contender list, Clausen is the key to the immediate future of Notre Dame football and the job security of Charlie Weis.

Tim Tebow, QB, Florida

Tebow, by many accounts might be the odds on favorite to give his 2007 Heisman a 2009 twin, but he's not the only one who might accomplish that feat.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Tebow's, but I'll give him his due. His stats over the past two seasons have been downright amazing and ridiculous. Maybe it's the system, but stats are stats.

With Florida's cupcake 2009 schedule, UF will almost undoubtedly go undefeated in the regular season and Tebow should once again be the media darling and put up more outrageous numbers.

I have no doubt in my mind, barring injury, that he will be in New York as a finalist, come December.

Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

Speaking of ridiculous stats, Bradford, the 2008 Heisman winner, set the bar extremely high for himself, as he threw for over 4,700 yards and 50 touchdowns to only eight interceptions, and rushed for five more scores while posting a QB Rating of nearly 181.

With Chris Brown and Demarco Murray, each 1000+ yard rushers a year ago, who combined for 34 touchdowns, both returning, and with the loss of top receiver Juaquin Iglesias and even with the surprising return of star tight end Jermaine Gresham, Bradford will be hard-pressed to duplicate the numbers he put up a year ago.

Then again, if he could get close to two-thirds of that production, he's a no-brainer to be invited to New York for a chance at his second Heisman.

As a Buckeye fan, it's hard to accept that both Tebow and Bradford could definitely win the 2009 Heisman because as of right now, there is only one two-time winner and I'd prefer it remain as such.

Archie Griffin won the Heisman while playing at Ohio State in 1974 and 1975 and even if Tebow or Bradford should win a second Heisman, Archie will always be the first to have done it, and I bet Archie can live with that, so I can too!

9/23/2009 UPDATE: Bradford's Heisman campaign for 2009 is all but over, so if I were to add a replacement for him, it would have to be Miami Hurricanes QB Jacory Harris, who has been lights out in his first two games.

As for Tebow, he has not blown anyone away so far, especially since UF has not played anybody, and the best team they have play, Tennessee, held him in check. His Heisman hopes are still alive, but may need life support soon.

I think it is safe to say that you're two-time-winner status is pretty safe Arch!

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2009 Heisman Watch Redux—Ten Names To Know: Part II

by HD Handshoe

This two-part series was originally published on BlockONation May 3, 2009

The following are the second five of ten players I feel have the most legitimate chance to contend for and possibly win the 2009 Heisman Trophy if they each meet their full potential and stay healthy in the coming season!

I've also added a special bonus for you all at the end—They don't call me sneaky for nothing!

JacQuizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State

Oregon State should once again challenge USC for the Pac-10 title and a healthy Rodgers will go a long way to helping the Beavers overtake the Trojans. (Pun not intended, but I couldn't help but laugh a little after I typed that!)

Rodgers gained 186 yards and scored 2 touchdowns while almost single-handedly blowing up the USC defense last year—The same defense that just sent nine of it's eleven players to the NFL.

He missed the final two games of the season due to injury nut in the 11 games he played in, JacQuizz rushed for 1253 yards and 11 touchdowns on 259 carries and added 29 receptions for 247 yards and a touchdown.

Oregon State is a program on the rise and Rodgers made a name for himself last season, so if he can stay healthy this season and duplicate his 2008 performance, especially against USC, there's no doubt he will be garner serious attention from the Heisman committee come December.

Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

Bryant missed Spring football in Stillwater after having minor knee surgery to repair a small ligament tear, but should be ready to go this fall!

The Cowboys will need him to be their go to guy even more with the loss of their second leading receiver, tight end Brandon Pettigrew to the NFL.

A year ago, Bryant was easily one of the best receivers in the Big 12, if not the entire nation. He made 87 receptions for 1480 yards (123.3 per game) and scored 19 touchdowns.

Running back Kendall Hunter (1555 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns in 2008), should command enough respect coming out the backfield to open up the passing lanes to allow Bryant and veteran quarterback Zac Robinson to hook up for some big plays again this year.

Oklahoma State could be this years Texas Tech, but even better with a legitimate threat at running back in Hunter, in addition to their high-powered passing game.

Bryant will have plenty of opportunities to be noticed with OSU's schedule. They open at home vs. Georgia, then Houston in week two will not be a pushover. In October, they play at Baylor, then the following week host Texas and finish the season with a visit from the Sooners.

I don't doubt that Bryant will have a solid season, but will the Cowboys win enough of games to keep him in the Heisman race?

Zac Robinson, QB, Oklahoma State

Basically, everything I said above about Bryant goes for Robinson as well. Robinson should have a very productive year, but can he lead the Cowboys to enough wins?

In 2008, Robinson was unknown to most of the country at the start of the season, but that wouldn't last. He posted a QB rating of 166.8 while throwing for just over 3000 yards and 25 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions and rushing for another 562 yards and 8 scores.

Robinson led Oklahoma State to what was considered a huge upset win at then No. 3 Missouri on October 11th.

One week later on Espn's game of the week, the Cowboys barely lost to then No. 1 Texas in Austin, 28-24.

Okie State did however suffer two lopsided losses in national spotlight games late in the season vs. Texas Tech (56-20) and Oklahoma (61-41).

If they can avoid those kinds of letdowns in 2009, Robinson, Bryant and even the less-hyped Hunter may all receive attention from the Heisman voters.

Jahvid Best, RB, California

Many would consider Best the nation’s most exciting running back heading into the 2009 season. Rightfully so when you consider what he did in 2008.

He rushed for 1580 yards (131.7 per game) on 194 carries for an impressive 8.1 yards per carry, and added 15 touchdowns

It's extremely likely that he’ll put up highlight run after highlight run. Much like Ohio State's Beanie Wells a year ago, if he stays healthy, (a big if), a 2,000-yard could be on the horizon.

Just as I said with JacQuizz Rodgers, the key for Best in the eyes of the Heisman voters will be the same: How he does against USC.

Last season, he had his worst game of the year as the USC defense held him to just 30 yards on 13 carries.

I have very little doubt that Best will redeem himself vs. the Trojans in 2009 and catapult himself near the top of the Heisman finalists list.

Colt McCoy, QB, Texas

McCoy and the Longhorns felt slighted in 2008 after losing only to Texas Tech, on an almost fluke-like touchdown by Michael Crabtree, on the last play of game.

That one play cost the Horns a shot at Florida in the BCS title game, where instead, Oklahoma, who Texas had beaten 45-35 on a neutral field earlier in the year, got the nod and then proceeded to lose their fifth straight BCS bowl game.

If Colt McCoy has anything to say about it this year, that will not happen again!

McCoy, who posted a 173.8 QB rating, threw for 3,859 passing yards, 34 touchdowns to only 8 interceptions and also ran for 561 yards and found the endzone with his legs 11 times. 173.8 QB Rating. He finished second in the Heisman trophy voting behind Sam Bradford and ahead of Tim Tebow.

Texas has a tough schedule but they have a great team and if any team is going to go unbeaten in the Big 12 in 2009, they are the the pick.

With his roommate and top receiver Jordan Shipley returning for a sixth season and without a true standout running back in the mix, McCoy should once again put up great passing and rushing numbers, and solidify his status as one of, if not the No. 1 Heisman contender for 2009 and increase his stock as a potential top NFL pick for 2010.

Now, I'm sure I'm not alone with most or all of the top ten that I chose, so I also wanted to pick five guys who may not be on the 2009 Heisman radar yet. These are the players I see as potential dark horse candidates. Some are longshots—some are more legit than others.

Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State

QB Zac Robinson and WR Dez Bryant overshadowed a great year by Hunter in 2008. Will they do it again in 2009?

Chris Brown/DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma

Both backs rushed for over 100 yards but Murray was the No. 1 guy before he was injured. Who will emerge as No. 1 this season or will Oklahoma play the running back by committee game since they both appear to be qualified?

Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia

Now a junior and out of the shadow of Pat White, this is Devine's team. He quietly rushed for nearly 1300 yards a year ago, but only 4 touchdowns. Can he shine is the spotlight and lead WVU to a Big East Championship on his own merit?

Case Keenum, QB, Houston

Keenum has to be the least known player to make this list and therefore is the biggest dark horse of them all. Not to mention, players from non-BCS conferences are almost guaranteed to not get the recognition they deserve because of the perception of their SOS. That being said, Keenum threw for over 5000 yards and tossed 44 touchdowns and also ran for 7 scores. He threw for 300+ yards in every game last season and only failed to throw for 350+ once! Will his real-life EA Sports NCAA Football-level stats be enough to get him noticed by the voters in 2009?

Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor

Last, but certainly not least, in a word, Griffin was AMAZING in 2008. All he did as a true freshman in 2008 was pass for 2,091 yards, 15 touchdowns to only three interceptions, and run for another 843 yards and 13 touchdowns, all while posting a QB rating of 142.0 for the Bears. Unfortunately, Griffin's incredible stats didn't translate into much, as Baylor finished the year 4-8. While those gaudy stats could prove hard to duplicate, I expect that Griffin will be able to put up similar numbers, and with any help from his defense at all, the Bears could become bowl eligible in 2009. I hope they do because it's a shame that most of the nation has never seen Griffin play, and without a bowl game for Baylor, it will probably remain that way.

I hope you will let me know what you think of my entire top ten and sleepers in contention for the 2009 Heisman trophy!

9/23/2009 UPDATE: It's probably safe to say that Quizz Rodgers, Robert Griffin, and Kendall Hunter are no longer Heisman worthy. One name that I could throw out there would be that of Cincinnati QB Tony Pike.

The Bearcats are 3-0 and Pike has nearly 1000 passing yards to go along with 10 touchdowns. Cincy hasn't really been tested however, and they have a fairly easy schedule, so he's likely to continue putting up big numbers. I'm just not sure how legit they will be.

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Cleveland.com Buckeye Blogger / Beat Writer Doug Lesmerises Unconventional AP Ballot

Unconventional may be an understatement. Here's Doug's Top 25 ballot for week three, in case you missed it.

1. Alabama
2. Miami
3. Houston
4. Cincinnati
5. Florida
6. Boise State
7. Texas
8. LSU
9. Cal
10. Michigan
11. Auburn
12. UCLA
13. Virginia Tech
14. Florida State
15. Penn State
16. Missouri
17. North Carolina
18. TCU
19. Oklahoma State
20. BYU
21. Oklahoma
22. Ohio State
23. Iowa
24. Mississippi
25. USC

While I do applaud the concept of not just voting the top 25 based on name and tradition alone, this ballot makes about as much sense as Calculus does to a two-year old.

Not that it really matters all that much since the AP poll has no bearing on the BCS, but if this is how DL plans on voting going forward, I wonder if the AP should take away his voting privileges?

You can read Doug's explanation of his ballot here.

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Image Copyright Doug Lesmerises / Cleveland.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week Four Preview: Ohio State—Illinois to Face Off in Big Ten Opener

By HD Handshoe

Last week, Ohio State traveled to Cleveland to take on the Toledo Rockets and there were concerns the Buckeyes may suffer from a hangover, due to their close heartbreaking loss in week two vs. USC.

No such luck for Toledo, as the Buckeyes came out firing en route to a 38-0 thrashing.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor had a career day, passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns, as well as rushing for 110 yards and a score.

Wideout Dane Sanzenbacher also had a career day, catching five balls for 125 yards and two scores.

Toledo, and QB Aaron Opelt, who had individually led the nation in total yardage, could never get in rhythm against an overbearing Buckeye defense that continues to gel and improve week to week.

That was then—This is now.


The Buckeyes (2-1) are set to open Big Ten Conference play this week as they play host to the Fighting Illini (1-1) from Illinois. The game is on ABC at 3:30 EST.

Starting at 3:00PM, there will be a LIVE, in-game chat right here on BlockONation, so come join us, just before and during the game!

Illinois began the season losing in an unexpected blowout to rebuilding Missouri, before bouncing back vs. FCS foe Illinois State.

Star QB Juice Williams has zero touchdown passes, an interception, and only 179 yards thus far and star receiver Arrelious Benn has been injured and only has one catch for nine yards. To say the least, Illinois has been a major dissapointment so far.

That being said, the Buckeye know they cannot take any conference opponent for granted (see USC vs. Washington last week), especially Illinois in Columbus. Under Tressel, the Buckeyes have averaged 25.5 points per game and given up 18.3 points per game in the series.

Since Tressel took over in 2001, Ohio State is 4-2 vs. the Illini, but only 1-2 in games played in Ohio Stadium. In 2007, Illinois defeated the Buckeyes 28-21 in Columbus, nearly derailing then No. 1 Ohio State's BCS title game hopes.

Ultimately, a series of late-season upsets allowed the Buckeyes to move back up to No. 1 in the final BCS standings, only to lose in New Orleans (a "neutral" site) to LSU anyway.

Overall, Ohio State leads the all-time head-to-head series 61-30-4, and since 1967, OSU is 13-7 vs. Illinois at home.

I expect the Buckeyes to play much like they did last week against Toledo on both sides of the ball vs. Ron Zook and his Illini team. I am not expecting a shutout, but I am going to call for a Buckeye victory.

My final score prediction:

Ohio State 38
Illinois 13

On a side note, I just have to ask—Is it just me or does anyone else think Ron Zook is really Ricky Bobby's Dad, Reece, from Talladega Nights?

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Terrelle Pryor / Illinois photo Copyright Dan Harker - www.TheOzone.net

Sunday, September 20, 2009

TBDPITL BlockONation Week Three Top 25

by HD Handshoe

I am a voter in TBDPITL weekly poll.

Here is my official week three ballot.

No. 1--Texas

I finally dropped UF from No. 1 after their not-so-great performance vs. Tennessee. They finally played a BCS team, and not a very good one, and I was not impressed. Texas gets the slight nod over the Gators this week after mostly containing a highly explosive Texas Tech offense.

No. 2--Florida

See Texas above. Pounding cupcakes, then barely beating an average BCS team will bite you in the ass every time.

No. 3--California

Jahvid Best is absolutely my Heisman front-runner until further notice. The Gophers have a decent team, but Best carried the Bears to the road win with 100+ and five touchdowns, and carried his team to the top three of my ballot.

No. 4--Alabama

Running back Mark Ingram and quarterback Greg McElroy have Tide fans sold, that once again, this is their year. I know they beat Va Tech in week one, but these last two pushover games have shown me very little. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now, but I'm still not 100% sold on these elephants.

No. 5--Penn State

Ho hum, the Nits won their third game of the year vs. their third high school caliber opponent. I really feel when Penn State plays a real team, they are going to crash and burn, but I'll keep them here for now so I can laugh harder when it happens.

No. 6--LSU

The Tigers went out and beat the Washington Huskies in week one, something USC failed to do, so I moved them up three spots this week even though their last two wins were over Vandy and A directional Louisiana team. I still don't know who to truly believe in from the SEC West...

No. 7--Boise State

The Broncos are 3-0 and look to be the new flavor of the week for the mid-majors after BYU's blowout loss to unranked Florida State. Quarterback Kellen Moore and running backs Jeremy Avery and DJ Harper could all start for many BCS schools. Other than maybe at Tulsa on October 14, Boise State's remaining games are all pretty much guaranteed wins. I don't see them going anywhere from here, but up.

No. 8--Mississippi

The Rebels are 2-0 after drilling Southeastern Louisiana 52-6. Their other win was over Memphis, so this ranking is somewhat a leap of faith at this point, mainly because I'm on the Jevan Snead bandwagon. This Thursday, they play at South Carolina, then at Vanderbilt the following week, and on October 10, they will host No. 3 Alabama. The next two games are very winnable, likely setting up a potential top five showdown with the Tide in three weeks.

No. 9--Ohio State

What a difference a week, and more aggressive play-calling, makes. Albeit it, Tressel wasn't as afraid of making costly mistakes vs. the Rockets as he was against the Trojans. Terrelle Pryor wasn't perfect, but he was very good overall, accounting for over 300 totals yards and four touchdowns in just over three quarters. Unless I'm on crack, look for more of the same next week as the Buckeyes open Big Ten play when they will host what seems to be a previously over-valued Illinois team.

No. 10--Cincinnati

After starting outside of the top 25 this preseason, the Bearcats have steadily clawed their way into my top 10. They traveled to Corvalis and came away with a 28-18 victory. That is no easy task to win there. Just ask USC. Brian Kelly can coach, and Tony Pike can play quarterback. In fact, Pike is absolutely a (darkhorse) Heisman candidate as of right now. If Cincy keeps winning, and if Pike keeps playing this way, the Bearcats and Pike may once again find themselves in a BCS bowl, and Pike could be in New York at the Downtown Athletic Club come December.

No. 11--Miami (Fl.)

Hurricane quarterback Jacory Harris just might be better than Robert Griffin and Terrelle Pryor. He hasn't gotten the hype and the headlines until now, but that hasn't stopped him from leading the Canes to two huge wins over then No. 25 FSU, and of then No. 8 Georgia Tech. The Canes might be back, or at least close to being back. Their games the next two weeks will be tell-tell as they travel to No. 13 Va Tech before hosting No. 12 Oklahoma. Before the season, the experts thought "The "U would be 0-4 to start the season. As it looks right now, 4-0 is a definite possibility.

No. 12--Oklahoma

Freshman QB Landry Jones has made leaps and bounds in his first two career starts. Jones set a Sooners record by tossing six touchdowns in the 45-0 rout of Tulsa on Saturday. OU now has a bye week and an extra week to prepare for their now bigtime showdown in Miami vs. the No. 11 Canes in two weeks. This game sure isn't going to be the easy win many thought it would be just a few short weeks ago. It could end up being one of the best games of the year.

No.13--Virginia Tech

The Hokies have bounced back from their week one loss to Alabama and have found another star running back in Ryan Williams. Nebraska, then No. 15, came to Blacksburg with plans to upset the Hokies, but Va Tech came from behind and held on for a 16-15 win. Next week, surprising No. 11 Miami and rising-star Jacory Harris come to town in what could be the game of the week. Don't miss it.

No. 14--Houston

The Cougars had a week three bye, but will get back at it this week as they host Taylor Potts, and the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Texas Tech hung in for a while vs. Texas Saturday night in Austin, but in the end, Colt McCoy and the Texas "D" were too much. Houston has already pulled the upset of the year over the Oklahoma State Cowboys in week two and quarterback Case Keenum is a big reason why Houston is ranked where they are. If they win over the Red Raiders this week, they are almost a lock to go undefeated and sould have a great shot at a BCS bowl.

No. 15--Southern California

A lot of people want to make excuses for USC when they lose a game they aren't supposed to, to an inferior Pac-10 opponent. I'm not one of those people. Who cares that Barkley didn't play? Corp was already the starter for USC until he was injured just before the start of the season. Others say you can't drop USC below a team they already beat (i.e. Ohio State) to which that I say, tOSU looks to have learned from their mistakes vs. USC and improved over the past week, while USC regressed and looked like they didn't belong on the field vs. Washington. BYU beat Oklahoma head to head, but you'll notice they aren't in the top 25 this week, while OU is. USC may have been questionably better than the Buckeyes last week in the Shoe, but this week, most definitely not.

No. 16--Oklahoma State

Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant showed this week that the Cowboys do belong, and that their loss to Houston may have been the result of a letdown and a fluke after their big week one win over Georgia. Their next two games are against Grambling State and Texas A&M. The Cowboys should win each of those games before a somewhat brutal stretch to close out October when they host Missouri, travel to Waco to face the Baylor Bears, then host the Longhorns on October 31. If their defense plays like it did against Houston, October won't be kind to the Cowpokes, and my rankings will ultimately reflect that.

No. 17--TCU

The Frogs jumped a few spots this week after a few upsets but they still need a signature win to solidify their ranking. That could come this week as they will travel to South Carolina to take on the (2-1) Clemson Tigers. Clemson running back CJ Spiller has been great out of the backfield and as a return man, so for TCU to have a chance to win and hold onto their top 15 ranking, they must contain Spiller and move the ball offensively against a Tiger defense which last week, held Boston College to just seven points.

No. 18--Kansas

The good news for the Jayhawks (3-0) is they are averaging 42 points per game on offense, led by QB Todd Reesing and running backs Jake Sharp and Toben Opurum. The bad news is, we still don't know if they're really any good or not. Nor will be know before October 24 when they host Oklahoma. Their next three games are all extremely winnable, meaning Kansas will likely start (6-0). In their final six, at least five are possible losses. I guess all I can say to Kansas fans is enjoy it while you can.

No. 19--Nebraska

Nebraska led at halftime, and practically the entire second half of the game at Va Tech, until when it mattered most. Tyrod Taylor threw the game winning TD with just 21 seconds left on the clock to shock the Huskers. Nebraska had not one, but two touchdowns taken off the board, one by penalty, and one because the receiver fumbled the ball when he hit the ground. It was a valiant effort and Nebraska still hangs in the top 20 on my ballot this week.

No. 20--Michigan

I guess I really can't justify putting UM lower than 20 for now, so by default, the Wolverines crack the top 20, even though they still have not beaten anyone good. The lucky win over Notre Dame looks much less impressive when you consider that MSU, who lost to Central Michigan of the MAC last week, gave the game away to Notre Dame in the final minutes over the weekend in South Bend. Michigan fans are getting way carried away and even touting Tater as a Heisman candidate, in 2012 in small print, but still. Right now, he's their hero and savior, and at least 1000 times better than Pryor, McCoy, or Tebow among others—but he will choke when UM finally plays a good team, and when he does, then we'll see just how much UM fans really love him.

No. 21--Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech has really disappointed the last two weeks. A close win, barely holding on at home vs. Clemson a week ago, and now a blowout loss to Miami has the Yellow Jackets out of the top 20 on my ballot. Jonathan Dwyer has underperformed in the last two games and if he and Josh Nesbitt can't get back on track, GT won't be in my top 25 much longer.

No. 22--Missouri

Take away QB Chase Daniel, TE Chase Coffman, and WR Jeremy Maclin and what do you have? A Missouri Tigers team that looks almost as good as when those three were still suiting up. This years Tigers (3-0) are led by QB Blaine Gabbert. Sure, they've beaten up on two weak teams the last two weeks, but they did open the year with a 37-9 beatdown of Illinois on a neutral site. The next four games (at Nevada, vs. Nebraska, at Oklahoma State, vs. Texas) will truly measure how good these 2009 Tigers are.

No. 23--Pittsburgh

Pitt was my pick to win the Big East, followed by West Virginia, then Cincy. RB Dion Lewis has been outstanding taking over at RB for Shady McCoy. I still believe Pitt could challenge the Bearcats for the conference crown, and fittingly, they play each other in the final game of the season. The Panthers handled the Navy Triple option much better than the Buckeyes did, but that was week one when OSU opened with the Midshipmen, and to be fair, Pitt plays NC State next week, not USC, so really no reason for them to look ahead.

No. 24--Florida State

I suppose they could prove me wrong, but I still do not like this Seminoles team, and I don't think FSU will win more than seven or eight games this year. That being said, they just whipped BYU in Provo, and everyone remembers that BYU beat Oklahoma on a "neutral" site, so I have no choice but to move them back onto my ballot, but I trust it won't be for long. (Sorry FSUTampaGuy).

No. 25--Iowa 25

Iowa dropped out of my top 25 after the miracle win when they blocked two FG's vs. Northern Iowa in week one. The Hawkeyes (3-0), are now back after two wins over BCS teams. Now, Iowa State is a Big 12 doormat so that win did not sway me and Iowa did not move up last week, but Arizona is a pretty decent team from the Pac-10 so I do now believe Iowa is worthy of of the No. 25 slot. This coming Saturday, the Hawkeyes travel to Happy Valley for a game I am greatly anticipating. Penn State has yet to be tested and I'd love nothing more than to see an instant classic, and an Iowa victory. The game is the 8PM Saturday night ABC game—Don't miss it!

Dropped out:

BYU, Oregon State, Texas Tech, Utah


Missouri, Pitt, Florida State, Iowa

Almost in:

Washington, UCLA, Auburn, North Carolina, BYU, South Florida, Georgia

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