USC travels to Boulder, Colo., for its final road game of the season against the Colorado Buffaloes. The Trojans look to continue the Coach Orgeron Victory Tour, and another conference victory would just add more to the discussion surrounding his future with USC.
As strong as newly-ranked No. 23 USC has looked, this game does have the makings of a trap: It's going to be bitterly cold in Boulder, and the Trojans don't have an impressive record in such conditions. The Buffs would love to derail USC's newfound success, and though it's not particularly likely, anything can happen.
While the Trojans slowly come down off an emotional high after beating the then-No. 4 Stanford Cardinal last week for the first time in five seasons, Colorado is experiencing one of its own. Under new head coach Mike MacIntyre, the Buffs, too, are coming off a big victory; they beat California last week and snapped a 14-game Pac-12 losing streak in the process.
Then again, USC and Colorado have only clashed seven times, and the Trojans have easily won all of them. This week looks to be no different.
Before we look at the match up, here are the vitals:
KICKOFF: 6:30 p.m. PT
PLACE: Folsom Field
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: ESPN 710 (it will also be carried by USCTrojans.com)
Spread: USC (-22) according to VegasInsider.com
Football is a team sport. Though, every team has one player who steps up and rises as the program's MVP.
For South Carolina, the season started off with all of the hype surrounding Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney has not disappointed his team in 2013 as he is continuing to be a disruptive, defensive force, yet he is not the Gamecocks' MVP.
Quarterback Connor Shaw has battled injuries throughout the season and is the heart and soul of the offense with his leadership and ability to win football games. Shaw's presence on the field arguably salvaged the season with the comeback victory against Missouri. But, even Shaw is not South Carolina's MVP.
One player stands out from the rest, and his name is Mike Davis.
Running back Mike Davis started the offseason with the potential to ascend to feature back duties, but nothing was handed to him on a silver platter. Teammate Brandon Wilds provided worthy competition at the position, though Davis blew the coaches away with his all-around style of play.
Davis had the power, speed, vision and receiving abilities to be the workhorse of an offense and could also add a change of pace to the offense with his catching skills.
By the end of the spring, Davis emerged as the starter, and since then, he hasn't looked back. Davis has stampeded all over opposing defenses, racking up the statistics and helping in every way to lead his team to victories.
Davis has managed to rush for more than 100 yards in seven of the 10 games this season. Davis also scored at least one touchdown in each of the first seven games, including three touchdowns against Central Florida and two against Kentucky.
All of those big games add up to 10-game totals of 1,112 yards on just 179 carries and 10 touchdowns for Davis. He has had a couple of costly fumbles, but there is no denying Davis' offensive impact with his ground game. Davis also has 30 catches for 332 yards, a good amount for a running back.
South Carolina has seen Davis develop into a focal point of the offense and a player who the offense can trust to get the job done. He averages 6.2 yards per carry, which shows how effective he is.
Davis may not be on Boston College's Andre Williams' level when it comes to yardage, but the running back has nearly 100 fewer rushing attempts. He is used sparingly while still maintaining his status as the feature back, and he makes every touch count.
South Carolina's star running back also possesses another invaluable attribute: adaptability. Davis fumbled twice against Missouri, crippling his team in the first half. However, the sophomore remained resilient.
When Missouri slowed down Davis' running game and tried to discourage the back, the Gamecocks knew that he could get involved in the passing game, as he went on to have 10 catches for 99 yards. It's that type of versatility that brings Davis to a whole new level of play.
Another impressive quality of Davis that doesn't contribute to his status as the Gamecocks' MVP of 2013 is the fact that running back is just a sophomore. The future is bright because this elite running back will only improve and become even more of an offensive weapon.
Davis is the MVP of 2013, and he could be South Carolina's MVP of the next two years.
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Michigan was seconds away from a three-game losing streak last week, but Brendan Gibbons' 26-yard field goal with two seconds left in regulation extended the game to overtime against Northwestern. It took three overtimes, but Michigan came away with a 27-19 victory.
On Saturday, Iowa (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) hosts Michigan (7-3, 3-3) on Senior Day after a bye last week. Iowa’s last game was a 38-14 victory over Purdue.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 23
Time: 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT
Place: Kinnick Stadium (70,585), Iowa City, Iowa
Series vs. Iowa: U-M leads, 41-13-4
Radio: Michigan IMG Sports Network
Spread: Iowa by 6.5, via TheSpread.com
Live Stats: MGoBlue.com
Last Meeting vs. Iowa: Michigan 42, Iowa 17 (Nov. 17, 2012)
Behind a six-touchdown performance (three pass, three rush) from junior quarterback Devin Gardner, U-M defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes, 42-17, on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, in front of 113,016 fans on Senior Day at Michigan Stadium. Gardner threw for a career-high 314 yards and three scores while also adding 37 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He became the first Michigan quarterback to account for six touchdowns in a game since Steve Smith accomplished the feat in 1983.
*Information according to University of Michigan Wolverines game notes.
For Nebraska football fans, the loss to Michigan State on Saturday may have felt like the end of the season. Sure, there are still two games to go plus a bowl game, but losing to the Spartans meant that Nebraska could not win the Legends Division and was guaranteed to extend its conference championship drought to 14 years.
So, in theory, it should be premature to declare an MVP for a team with two games left to play (three if you count the bowl game). But I-back Ameer Abdullah's performance this year has been so remarkable that it's safe to call this vote early even though all the precincts have yet to report.
Abdullah's raw numbers are good enough to make a case for MVP on their own.
Take a look at his production in 2013:
Abdullah is No. 6 nationally in rushing and leads the Big Ten in that category. He has been Nebraska's most dynamic and most dependable offensive weapon throughout the 2013 season.
And this year, Nebraska has needed that kind of a reliable weapon.
At the beginning of the campaign, most Nebraska fans were looking to senior quarterback Taylor Martinez to finish his career in style, but a toe injury hampered and eventually sidelined Martinez, forcing Nebraska to tap redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. to lead the offense.
Armstrong showed flashes of his ability, of course, but it is a lot to ask a redshirt freshman to come in midseason and take over the team. So it has been Abdullah who has carried the load, providing production and leadership for the Nebraska offense.
And boy, has Abdullah delivered.
Last week, he faced the nation's top-ranked rushing defense in Michigan State. Many national analysts (looking right at you, Desmond Howard) thought there was no way Abdullah would be able to crack the Spartans defense.
22 carries. 123 yards. 5.59 yards per carry. Crack.
Yes, Michigan State won the game on the back of five Nebraska turnovers, but that shouldn't conceal a stellar (and, to at least one former Heisman Trophy winner, surprising) performance by Abdullah against a salty defense.
Abdullah is also responsible for what was arguably the most important play of Nebraska's 2013 season.
On November 2, Nebraska was coming off the heels of an upset loss to Minnesota and had fallen behind Northwestern 21-7 at home. The wheels well and truly felt like they were falling off the Nebraska season, and Bo Pelini's position as head Husker had never looked more precarious.
Nebraska righted the ship, tying the game and looking for all the world like it would grind out a victory. But a late Armstrong interception gave the Purples incredible field position, which they converted to a field goal, giving them a 24-21 lead with 1:20 left in the game.
Of course, the Hail Mary from Ron Kellogg III to Jordan Westerkamp (for which I hope the nickname "RKIII to 1" sticks) won the game for Nebraska and will long be remembered as one of the most exciting plays in the history of Memorial Stadium.
But that play doesn't happen without one of the most remarkable plays authored by Abdullah.
After Northwestern took the lead, Nebraska started with the ball at its own 17. After getting one first down, Nebraska faced a fourth-and-15 at its own 24. Kellogg was forced to throw a checkdown pass to Abdullah, leaving him eight yards short of the line to gain with three Northwestern defenders to navigate.
Somehow, Abdullah managed to twist, squeeze and worm his way through those defenders for 16 yards, getting the first down and keeping Nebraska's hope for a miracle alive. Yes, the Westerkamp catch was amazing, but it doesn't happen without Abdullah's magic to keep that drive alive.
And the consequences of that drive failing would have been monumental for Nebraska. A loss to Northwestern would have put Nebraska at 5-3 and 2-2 in conference. Would Nebraska have had the confidence to go to Michigan the next week and hand head Wolverine Brady Hoke his first loss at home in 19 attempts?
We'll never know, but it's safe to say that it would have been far more difficult had Abdullah not gotten that amazing first down. And if Nebraska had lost at Michigan, coming home at 5-4 and 2-3 in conference to face Michigan State, this season (and Pelini's career path) would look a lot different.
There are two weeks left in Nebraska's regular season as NU plays for pride and the chance to play in a top-tier bowl. But there is very little that could happen in those two games to alter the perception that Abdullah has been Nebraska's MVP for 2013.
Stats courtesy of cfbstats.com.
If you'd like to contact Patrick, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, you could always use the Twitter machine to follow @patrickrunge.
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Stakes are especially high Saturday when Oregon State and Washington meet in Corvallis, Ore.
Neither is playing for bowl eligibility like Washington State and Utah. The Beavers and Huskies already hit the necessary benchmark. The divisional crown is not at stake, as both have been eliminated from contention. Nevertheless, this is a win both teams need in order to salvage a trying season.
Oregon State and Washington are two quality Pac-12 teams lacking much in the way of quality Pac-12 wins. Washington's most noteworthy victory is 6-4 Arizona. For Oregon State, it's a rout of 5-5 Washington State. Both enter Reser Stadium stuck in a rut, losing a combined seven conference games of their last nine.
Both Oregon State and Washington have had their recent brushes with greatness. Each broke into the Top 25. The Beavers only had a cup of coffee in the polls, but Washington spent six weeks ranked.
The challenge for these coaches—who once led flourishing teams in rough patches like that which Oregon State and Washington face—is preventing losing from becoming self-perpetuating.
"You can lose...and lose hope and play worse, or you can continue to grow," Oregon State head coach Mike Riley said on Tuesday's Pac-12 coaches teleconference call.
Riley said that he has emphasized the improvements amid Oregon State's struggles to keep the team moving forward.
"They’re not quitting or anything like that. They’re competing hard, we just haven’t played well enough all the way around to win," Riley said of his team's current three-game losing skid.
The Beavers were winners of six straight before running into the three-game buzz saw of Stanford, USC and Arizona State. They were rolling along with one of the nation's most prolific passing offenses, featuring two Heisman Trophy contenders.
Oregon State has since failed to reach 20 points in three straight outings and has been plagued by an issue that killed the Beavers' North Division aspirations in 2012.
"We’ve turned it the wrong way as far as turnovers," Riley said, referring to Oregon State's nine turnovers in the last three games.
It's difficult for Heisman hopefuls to put up numbers if they don't have the ball. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks is still producing. He scored a touchdown in the Stanford and USC losses and caught for 99 yards against Arizona State's stingy secondary.
However, his partner and junior quarterback Sean Mannion has hit a rough patch since starting the season with 29 touchdown passes and just three interceptions. During the losing skid, Mannion's thrown four touchdowns and seven interceptions—all of which came in the last two outings.
That's an especially worrisome trend for the Beavers given their next opponent. Oregon State suffered its first loss of 2012 against this Washington team, a game in which Mannion threw four interceptions.
Of course, Washington has its own unfortunate trend that it is trying to reverse this week. After dropping a 41-31 decision at UCLA last Friday, the Huskies are winless in Pac-12 games away from home and 7-20 in head coach Steve Sarkisian's tenure.
"I made the comparison to our team about Washington," Riley said. "[It was] doing great, then hit a lot of tough games. They kind of had a murderer’s row in there."
Washington had its own three-game losing streak last month, falling to Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State in succession. It rebounded with routs of Cal and Colorado but dropped its fourth conference decision last week at UCLA.
Washington's suffered unfortunate breaks along the way to that 0-3 record in road, conference contests. At Stanford, the Huskies were driving for the tie or win late in the fourth quarter, but they lost the ball on downs after a controversial video review.
Controversy struck again last week at UCLA. A Keith Price touchdown pass to Damore'ea Stringfellow was reversed by an illegal hands to the face penalty that the conference has since recognized as incorrect.
Whatever the reason, Washington faces its final road game desperately needing the win. The Huskies are stuck on six wins. They will need two victories in their final three to surpass the seven-win hump that they've been stuck on for the past three seasons.
They must do so with Price nursing the shoulder injury that sidelined him in the second half last week. According to Gregg Bell of GoHuskies.com, Price will not throw until Thursday in an effort to speed along his recovery. In the meantime, redshirt freshman Cyler Miles is practicing as the No. 1 quarterback.
It's no wonder Sarkisian is frustrated, a point he made very clear in his weekly press conference on Monday, as reported by Gregg Bell, Washington's athletics department's director of writing, on Twitter.
Saturday is a chance for the winner to erase some of the frustration. That, in and of itself, is meaningful. And as Riley points out, there's more than that on the line.
"Both teams are fighting hard now for lots of stuff," he said. "Saving what they had is a good season, playing in a better bowl game…you can come up with a lot."
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Every week brings new challenges for each team in the Big Ten, and it's up to the coaches to keep things running smoothly—or make the necessary changes to get to that point. With 10 games in the books for every Big Ten team, it's time to hand out some semester grades before every team heads into final exams.
How are the Big Ten's head coaches going to impress us in order to earn high marks? It can't all be about wins and losses—although we admit a team's record will be a significant portion of a coach's final grade. There are often more subtle points on which to focus outside of the record books, though, and there may even be a few opportunities for coaches to earn some extra credit.
And, no, we're not grading on a curve. Each coach is going to get exactly the grade he earned.
This week in the SEC, Johnny Manziel will look to help the Aggies' BCS hopes as well as his Heisman chances down on the Bayou while a healthy James Franklin will try and maintain Mizzou's razor thin lead in the SEC East as the Tigers take on Ole Miss.
In a battle of college football's best independents up in South Bend, BYU will try and avenge last season's heartbreaking loss to the Irish.
The Pac-12 game of the week pits the Bruins against a resurgent Arizona State team with Pac-12 Title hopes on the line.
This week's prime-time showdown features upstart Baylor traveling to Stillwater to take on Mike Gundy and his Oklahoma State Cowboys.
All picks made straight up, spread is not a factor. All games take place Saturday.
Expert Picks for CFB Week 13 Games of the WeekGames
Texas A&M vs. LSU
3:30 PM ET: CBS
BYU vs. Notre Dame
3:30 PM ET: NBC
Arizona State vs. UCLA
7 PM ET: FOX
Missouri vs. Ole Miss
7:45 PM ET: ESPN
Baylor vs. Oklahoma State
8 PM ET: ABC
Record 38-22 39-21 38-22 43-17 39-21 35-25
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Week 13 of the 2013 college football season features a monster slate of high-stakes matchups, with five contests among ranked teams. And while there isn't a moment you'll want to miss, catching Arizona State-UCLA (7 p.m. ET on FOX) should be a high priority.
To begin, the two teams have been on a collision course since the beginning of the season, and the fact that a lot is at stake isn't something new. The winner of this contest, in all likelihood, will be the winner of the Pac-12 South and the team that gets to represent the division in the conference championship game.
The scenarios are as follows: If Arizona State wins, the debate will be over, and the Sun Devils will automatically become champions of the South division, regardless of what occurs in their season-finale against Arizona. If UCLA wins, it'll create a three-way tie between the Bruins, Sun Devils and Trojans. Because Jim Mora's team would own the head-to-head tie-breaker over Arizona State, it would only need to beat USC to win the division.
A third scenario exists in which UCLA beats Arizona State but drops its final game of the season to USC. In that case, Arizona State would win the division if it beats Arizona by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker over USC. Should Arizona State also lose to the Wildcats, USC would emerge from the mess.
There's nothing quite like seeing two teams do battle with everything on the line. After suffering an early loss in the season, you'll often find optimism seeping out of locker rooms because of the number of games left on the schedule.
That won't be the case Saturday, when a loss could spell doom for either team.
But beyond the conference title implications, this game features two very good teams playing their best football of the season.
Let's start with Arizona State, where head coach Todd Graham's team is sitting at 8-2 with a 6-1 record in conference play. The two losses came at Stanford and in a neutral-site matchup with Notre Dame. The loss to the Cardinal can be excused because, well, Stanford is a darn good team. A little less forgivable is the loss to the Fighting Irish, but the Sun Devils have since responded with five straight victories, four of them in blowout fashion.
The quarterback of Arizona State's potent offense is Taylor Kelly, who's thrown for over 2,800 yards and 24 touchdowns this season. Kelly also has 312 yards on the ground to go along with another seven scores, and he's completing over 62 percent of his throws.
In 2012, the offense was largely run-based, and between Kelly and his backfield-mates Marion Grice and D.J. Foster, the three terrorized opponents on the ground. Now with wide receiver Jaelen Strong in the picture (59 catches, 834 yards, 5 TDs), defenses are forced to account for both an experienced rushing attack and a capable passing offense.
Switching over to UCLA, you'll find a team with the same overall record at 8-2, but after starting the year 5-0, the Bruins lost two straight at Stanford and Oregon. Since then, the offense has begun to find a bit of a rhythm, with the biggest adjustment being putting linebacker Myles Jack in at running back on occasion.
The versatile Jack has five touchdowns in two games, and his combination of speed and strength makes him a matchup nightmare for any opposing defense. His emergence makes you wonder how UCLA might have fared against the Cardinal and Ducks if Jack were in the backfield. In those losses, the Bruins were held to a total of just 24 points.
Brett Hundley is the quarterback of the team, and while still a bit raw, both his talent and potential are enormous. He has a huge arm and can make any throw on the field, but his size and speed also allows him to shrug off defenders and run for first downs.
In an era with a myriad of dual-threat stars, this contest has two. It also has some notable defensive standouts, like defensive tackle Will Sutton on Arizona State and linebacker Anthony Barr on UCLA. Both could be starring on Sundays in the near future.
Both squads are averaging more than 37 points per game, so there are bound to be a few fireworks.
One factor that could sway this thing is the home-field advantage for UCLA. The Bruins have yet to lose at home in 2013, and the Sun Devils are just 2-2 outside of Tempe, which includes a come-from-behind 20-19 win over Utah.
If Stanford-Oregon was the game of the year, Arizona State-UCLA isn't far behind. And while the former matchup only produced drama late in the fourth quarter, this one is likely to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire game.
Bleacher Report's Robby Baker has your complete preview of the matchup, which breaks down some of the game's finer points and reaffirms what we've been saying: This is one you don't want to miss.
You're a college football fan, so you're well aware of the other big games taking place on Saturday, and you probably already have a schedule for making sure you don't miss any of them. But if you're looking for a game that has major implications in a conference race, has a bevy of future NFL talent and, in all likelihood, will come down to the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, don't miss out on the Sun Devils clash with the Bruins in Pasadena.
All stats via ESPN
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Quin Blanding is an outstanding 5-star safety who is one of the headliners for Virginia's class. He is the type of player head coach Mike London should build around, as Blanding is a special talent.
Not only does he have great physical tools, but the talented safety also has leadership qualities. With his talent and work ethic, the sky is the limit for Blanding in Charlottesville.
He clearly deserves a more in-depth look.
After Team 134 got off to a promising 5-0 start, Brady Hoke's Wolverines have now suffered three losses in their last five games. Their conference losses to Penn State, Michigan State and Nebraska have them in a tie for fourth in the Big Ten's Legends division, and they're well behind where many experts expected them to be heading into the season's final two regular-season games.
The Wolverines' offensive line has struggled mightily, their passing game has been inconsistent and they've had a pension for giving up big plays on defense.
However, even after all of their struggles, a dramatic win against Northwestern has kept Michigan fans' hopes alive for a 10-win season. While winning out would likely just result in a trip to either the Outback Bowl or the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, it would provide a huge boost to a program that's been recruiting well and showing signs that it may soon be considered elite once again.
Of course, winning out would also mean beating Ohio State in "The Game," which looms just around the corner.
Let's look at five things that Michigan needs to do to finish strong.
Can you name the last player from a non-power conference to win the Heisman Trophy?
Beyond that, can you think of the last small-school guy that finished in the top three of the Heisman voting?
The fact that these questions are difficult to answer makes a clear case that the Heisman overlooks athletes from smaller schools.
In case you were wondering, here are the answers:
- The last non-power winner was BYU quarterback Ty Detmer in 1990. The Cougars won the WAC.
- The last small-school guy to finish in the top three was Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, who came in third in the voting in 2007. The Warriors went 12-1 that year and—like BYU in ‘90—won the WAC.
To paint a clearer picture, here is a list of the top-five Heisman finishers from non-power conference programs since Detmer won in 1990.
It’s interesting to note that, since the BCS came to power in 1998, only one small-school guy has finished in the top three. Beyond that, only five have finished in the top five.
There have been 15 Heisman ballots since 1998, or 45 top-three and 75 top-five finishers in the BCS era.
Of these, only 2.2 percent of the top-three finishers and 6.7 percent of the top-five finishers have hailed from non-BCS conferences.
This means that a non-BCS Heisman candidate has a 2 percent chance of finishing in the top three and less than 7 percent odds of finishing in the top five.
Furthermore, non-BCS stars have a 0 percent chance of winning the Heisman trophy.
What is the Heisman?
Here’s how the Heisman is defined in the Heisman Trust Mission Statement:
The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.
Though it has long been argued as to whether the Heisman should go to the best player on the best team, the most valuable player on a high-achieving team or the best overall individual player in the game, the actual definition of the award gives little concrete direction.
Subjective terms such as “outstanding”, “excellence”, “great ability” and “perseverance” give Heisman voters little objective criteria to go on.
In reality, a wide throng of football players could be considered “the outstanding college football player” based on a number of standards—statistical and otherwise.
Think about it this way: Should it be the top rusher, the top passer, the top rusher who is also the top student or the top passer who plays for a conference champion?
What has happened over time is that the lack of clear benchmarks in defining the Heisman have led to an unwritten voting culture that excludes smaller-school athletes.
This is less a conspiracy by “the man” to disrespect the “little guy” than a natural process.
Though you could make a case that the big-school guys deserve the tag “most outstanding” because they are playing the stiffest competition—or the best of the best—the FBS division consists of 125 teams, not just the 62 teams in the top-five conferences.
Is There One Top Division or Two?
Perhaps the most compelling big-picture question in college football—one that touches controversies ranging from the BCS, the playoff, the Heisman, additional scholarship stipends and paying players—is: Should the FBS be split into two divisions?
Think about it this way: Are the University of Houston and the University of Texas playing for the same thing?
While the Longhorns have a legitimate shot at the BCS trophy (or the playoff moving forward), the Cougars, well, not so much.
On one hand, you’ve got Texas that—according to USA Today—pulled in $163,295,115 in athletic department revenue in 2012. And, on the other, you’ve got Houston, which reported $36,652,492 in 2012.
The additional $126,642,623 goes a long way in fielding a national championship contender, and it makes paying players a stipend or a salary far more realistic.
And if the two programs aren’t on an even playing field, playing for the same title, why would they share similar odds in the race for the top individual award in the game?
The same reason that Houston’s schedule won’t qualify as “difficult enough” to make a national championship is precisely why it won’t send a guy to the Heisman podium either.
It’s not that the Cougars aren’t as good or aren’t as worthy…it’s that the system is set up in a way that doesn’t give them the same chance as Texas or even Baylor.
The Heisman and the BCS: Equally Elitist?
In the same way that the BCS has benevolently tendered small schools a BCS bowl bid from time to time, the Heisman voters have given a gracious nod to the small-school star athlete.
The mentality and approach is eerily similar between the two. Yes, wasn’t Northern Illinois (12-1, ranked No. 16 in the nation) lucky to get that BCS Orange Bowl bid in 2012?
Think about it, it’s the best they could have ever hoped for because, you know, a MAC team isn’t going any further, right?
In the same way, wasn’t Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore fortunate to have received enough votes to be No. 4 in the 2010 Heisman voting?
Sure, that guy was good, but wasn’t it such an honor to be mentioned in the same breath (well, almost) as studs like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and LaMichael James?
The truth is, in the same way that the BCS lets small schools show up to the dance but not win homecoming queen, the Heisman voters let the little guy show up in New York City but not win the trophy.
The number one argument as to why non-BCS-school guys deserve a legitimate shot at the Heisman trophy is that—as athletes—they are just as good.
While this could be proven by stacking up Heisman candidate stats from small-schools versus winners from larger schools, this approach has a flaw.
Yes, again, it’s like the BCS: The small-school stats (yards, touchdowns, wins, losses) were earned against “easier” opponents, while the big-school stats were ground out against the dreaded “big boys.”
To make the point that these little-school guys—the ones who didn’t, don’t and won’t win the Heisman—are as good as the big winners, take a look at this.
Despite the drop off since 2008, not only have the small-school guys done remarkably well overall in the NFL draft, they’ve also done well in their pro careers.
Here are some stats to chew on: The big-school guys hold only a 3-2 advantage in No. 1 overall picks since 1998 and they have had only one less guy go undrafted.
What’s most impressive is that, where the Heisman-BCS guys have had eight first-round draft picks, the top-finishers from small schools have had, well, eight.
And remember, the BCS guys have all been Heisman winners, while the guys on the other list didn’t have bronze trophies on their resumes and were from schools like Central Florida, Marshall and Miami…of Ohio, not the one in Florida.
Beyond this, look through the list and consider how each of these guys fared in the pros. Heisman winners like Dayne, Crouch, White and Tebow bombed out while Tomlinson, Roethlisberger and Culpepper soared.
And then, there is the case of Case Keenum, who has risen from the ranks of the undrafted to a starting job in the NFL.
If the true test of ability for football players is success at the “next” level, the small-school Heisman candidates have fared just as well, if not better, than the Heisman winners from big schools.
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Neither Notre Dame nor BYU faced much resistance last week. The Irish spent an off week licking their wounds and wondering how they let their BCS hopes slip away against Pittsburgh. BYU coasted past Idaho State 59-13 on Senior Day at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Both teams enter Notre Dame Stadium with something to prove. For the Cougars, it'll be exacting revenge after nearly ending the Irish's undefeated 2012 in mid-October. For Notre Dame, it'll be sending the senior class out on a high note, with Senior Day festivities set for pre-game.
Each team has three losses this season, with BYU already accepting a bowl invitation to the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco at AT&T Park. While the Irish will need to wait for the dust to settle before finding out where they'll spend this postseason, a victory will go a long way toward quieting the critics that came calling after the disappointing 28-21 loss to Pitt.
Here's everything you need to know before the Irish and the Cougars face off.
Time: 3:42 p.m. ET
Place: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Ind.
Radio: IMG College Sports, SiriusXM Channel 129
Spread: Notre Dame -1
*Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand. Follow @KeithArnold on Twitter.