Monthly Archives: November 2011

5 Things I Learned About College Football – Week 13 Review

Calling for five upsets (well, picking the underdogs) in my Top Five Picks probably wasn’t the safest thing to do…but, as they say, no guts, no glory. What we all should have learned about college football this weekend was this: during rivalry weeks, forget about picking games and just enjoy them.

Here are the 5 Things I Learned About College Football This Weekend:

LSU and Alabama wil more than likely meet in a rematch for the BCS Championship on January 9 in New Orleans

1. Unfortunately, this coming weekend’s SEC Championship game and the Big 12’s Bedlam game won’t count for a thing in determining the BCS Championship game. It’s about as official as you can get, we’re getting a rematch between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama…this time in the Superdome in New Orleans. While LSU and Georgia will be playing in Atlanta this weekend for the SEC title, even if the Bulldogs pull an upset, LSU is very, very likely to return to the BCS title game. Alabama is off…and therefore will not drop below the No. 2 slot it occupies. Georgia, if they win, will get to the Sugar Bowl, and the SEC would get three BCS teams. Georgia is playing well (they thrashed Georgia Tech Saturday), but I don’t see them winning.

Southern California head coach Lane Kiffin, left, shakes hands with UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel after USC posted a 50-0 win over the Bruins

2. UCLA is a joke. A 50-0 loss in your rivalry game against a VERY GOOD USC team…disgraceful. It will probably cost Rick Neuheisel his job. Oregon will ROMP over the Bruins Friday night in Eugene (they opened as 31-point favorites) and will be the Pac 12’s representative in the Rose Bowl. USC is ineligible, which is too bad, because they have gotten much better as the year has progressed. I have been impressed with them over the past month and would have really liked to see them play Oregon again. But, to have a team like UCLA representing the South Division of the Pac 12 speaks for the poor quality of those teams. There’s only one decent team in that division…that’s Southern Cal.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is wrapped up and tackled by South Carolina defenders Shaq Wilson, back, and Antonio Allen (26)...a scene repeated all too often in the Gamecocks victory over the Tigers

3. Same Old Clemson. There…I said it. Once again, the Tigers fell FLAT ON THEIR FACES in a game with meaning…their annual rivalry game in Columbia against South Carolina. They were hideous…and if they play this way in Saturday’s ACC Championship game in Charlotte against Virginia Tech, the Hokies will run them out of the park. Va. Tech has opened as just 7-point favorites in this one. I don’t see this happening…but I see Va. Tech looking at this one as a revenge game for the beating they took in Blacksburg earlier this year. Mark it down…Va. Tech will, once again, be heading to the Orange Bowl as the ACC Champions.

Wisconsin's Montee Ball (28) runs into the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown run against Penn State on Saturday

4. Wisconsin could beat anyone at home…and would give LSU and Alabama a tough time in Madison. Too bad they had to go on the road this year. Saturday, as 15 – 17 point FAVORITES, not only did they cover against Penn State, but they made the Nittany Lions look like a high school team. I seriously wondered if PSU could keep up their fine play following the distractions they have been through. But, I really thought their defense could contain the Badgers…and boy, was I ever wrong! For two weeks they did play well…but not against the Badgers. Russell Wilson and Montee Ball were outstanding. Wisconsin’s offensive line just kept pushing and pushing…and PSU could not push back. They clearly were sending a message to Michigan State…THIS is the team you will see in the Big Ten title match in Indianapolis on Saturday (Wisconsin has opened as 10 point favorites). Despite the fact that MSU beat Wisconsin with a last-second Hail Mary pass in East Lansing earlier this season, I think Wisconsin comes into the dome and blows MSU away. Then again, it is a neutral site game…if it was in Madison, I’d bet the farm (small as it is) on the Badgers.

And speaking of the Big Ten, how about that GREAT Michigan – Ohio State game? Finally…The Game is back and is relevant. A 40-34 win over the Buckeyes…it had been since 2003 since Michigan beat “Ohio”…plenty of action and drama…And we now have a 10-win Michigan team that will go to a major bowl…not a BCS bowl, but a nice way to end the season for Brady Hoke and his Wolverines!  And breaking news – Urban Meyer is the new OSU head coach…what a shocker…

According to reports, former Florida coach Urban Meyer will return to his Ohio roots as he will be the Ohio State University's new head football coach in 2012.

5. The BCS is flawed…and hopefully, sometime in my lifetime, there will be a tournament to determine the best college football team. Clearly, LSU and Alabama are the top teams this year…or are they? Let’s compare Alabama to Oklahoma State, whose one loss in overtime to Iowa State on a devastating day for OSU‘s athletic program has led to the probable SEC rematch in the BCS Championship Game on January 9. These numbers are what the NCAA Basketball Tournament Committee would be looking at, for instance:

  • Wins over current BCS Top 25 teams: Oklahoma State: 5, Alabama: 2.
  • Wins over current BCS Top 50 teams: Oklahoma State: 7, Alabama: 5.
  • Wins over FBS teams with winning records: Oklahoma State: 6, Alabama: 3.
  • Conference titles: Oklahoma State: 1, Alabama: 0.
  • Losses to Iowa State: Oklahoma State: 1, Alabama: 0.

Wow…on paper it certainly looks like Oklahoma State has the better team…but we’ll never know. Alabama has legions of followers, and as well as the Cowboys‘ fans think they travel…the truth is SEC teams travel better and maybe that’s something to consider. But the truth is this…SEC teams win national championships, the Big 12 teams do not.

And undefeated Houston will have ABSOLUTELY NO SHOT at the BCS title game either. They were very convincing in their win over Tulsa on Saturday, and now will face Southern Mississippi for the C-USA title on Saturday (Houston is a 13-1/2-point favorite, by the way).

There are MILLIONS ($$$) of reasons to have a playoff…Let’s not talk about the relevance of the minor bowl games…I know they provide money for the communities in which they are located, but, I said it last year and I’ll say it again, I just don’t care about a game between the sixth choice from the Big 10 and the 5th choice from the ACC. Seriously…won’t pick these games either. There are the big bowl games that will have some great match-ups…and I will watch casually. But there’s only one game everyone will watch…the Championship game in New Orleans…a short drive from both participants’ fan bases. That will be a fun time!

I’ll be back with a look at next weekend’s action later this week!

UNC Asheville Crushes Utah in Battle 4 Atlantis

J.P. Primm scored 20 points and earned his 500th career assist leading UNC Asheville to a 87-65 win over Utah in the seventh-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas Saturday night.

The Bulldogs (3-4) had lost close games to Connecticut and the College of Charleston the two previous evenings.

Jeremy Atkinson boosted the Bulldogs with 16 points, Matt Dickey added 15 and Chris Stephenson had 14 points.  Jaron Lane made his first appearance in the tournament coming off an ankle injury and added eight points.

“This is a great win for UNC Asheville.  To lose two tough games like we did back-to-back and to come out and play as well as we did is very encouraging,” stated Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach.  “We grew up a little bit tonight.  I thought we had a tremendous team effort as everyone who played contrinbuted and made plays for us this evening.

“We battled hard tonight for 40 minutes and cut down on some of the mistakes we made the past two nights,” the coach said.  “Utah is going to be a good team and is well-coached.  Josh Watkins (21 points) and Jason Washburn (21 points) were very tough for us to stop, but we were able to slow them down in the second half.”

Asheville raced off to an early first half lead, then trailed 15-14 before going on a run to get the score to 28-17.  They pushed that lead to 14 points with 6:30 remaining in the half before the Utes rallied behind Watkins and Washburn.  Those two led Utah on a 14-5 run and help cut into Asheville’s lead, getting the Utes to within five with two minutes left in the half.  At that point, the teams settled down, and Asheville took a 41-34 lead into halftime.

Utah was able to get within five with 15:36 remaining in the game, but Asheville countered with a 12-0 run, scoring on five straight possessions.  Dickey, who had been held in check all night finally came alive, scoring eight of those 12 points.  He and Primm helped build the lead to 76-53 with just 7:40 remaining.

J.P. Primm now has 503 career assists, which is second in team history.

Utah could get no closer than 17 points the rest of the way as Asheville moved its all-time record to 2-1 against Pac-12 teams.

The Bulldogs returned home Sunday evening and will spend this week getting ready to open Big South Conference play Thursday night when they play at Gardner-Webb at 5:30 p.m.

UNC Asheville Falls to College of Charleston, 68-66

Once again, UNC Asheville was involved in a close game, and they were unable to come up with a last second shot to tie or win, as the College of Charleston held off the Bulldogs, 68-66 in the consolation round of the Battle 4 Atlantis Friday night.

Asheville (2-4) had a chance to tie with seconds remaining, but senior J.P. Primm was unable to get a shot off as the buzzer sounded.

“We played pretty well tonight against a really good College of Charleston team but in the end we came up one play short,” stated Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach.  “It was a great basketball game but this is a tough one to lose.  Hopefully, the experience makes us a little better as the season goes on.”

Chris Stephenson (4) in action

The Bulldogs once again were led by senior Matt Dickey’s 20 points and by senior Chris Stephenson’s 19 points and eight rebounds.  Stephenson was a force in the game Friday night, taking over in the early minutes of the contest.

“What an entertaining game.  They (UNC Asheville) are tough to guard and are relentless,” said College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins.  “It went back and forth and back and forth.  It was a great win and a very difficult game for us.  It was very difficult to defend them.  We were trying to get the ball inside and take advantage of the height.  Anthony Stitt made a gutty jump shot from the corner.  I feel very fortunate to win.  I’m very proud of our team and how we fought tonight.  They are a nightmare to defend.”

Charleston’s Antwaine Wiggins scored eight straight points late in the contest to help clinch the victory for the Cougars.  “Wiggans is a great player and we guarded him pretty good for most of the night but we let him get going offensively with those eight straight points,” Biedenbach commented.  “I thought that was the real difference in the game.”

The Bulldogs’ junior Jeremy Atkinson did not score in the game, but grabbed a career-high nine rebounds, and Stephenson’s 19 points and eight rebounds were season-highs in both categories.

Asheville will play the Utah Utes in a scheduled 9:30 p.m. tip-off Saturday night on HD Net, and they will return home on Sunday.

UNC Asheville Falls to No. 4 UConn in Battle 4 Atlantis Opener

On paper, of course it was a mismatch. But if I told you the UNC Asheville Bulldogs outscored the nation’s number four team for 35 out of 40 minutes you would be impressed, right? Well, that’s exactly what they did…it was the first five minutes that ended their chances at a major upset.

The unbeaten Connecticut Huskies (5-0) led 16-3 after five minutes, but the Bulldogs kept coming and never made things easy for the defending national champions.  UConn escaped with a 73-63 victory – their 16th in a row.

“We battled hard tonight and did a lot of good things but not enough against a team like Connecticut,” stated Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach. “I think once we got the jitters out early then we settled down and played some good basketball. We’re a resilient team and that showed tonight. However, while I am pleased about a lot of things, I’m disappointed we didn’t win tonight.”

Senior Matt Dickey (above) led the Bulldogs (2-3) with 18 points and, starting for the injured Jaron Lane, junior Jeremy Atkinson had 14 points and nine rebounds. Senior J.P. Primm finished with 10 points and seven assists.

Even Huskies coach Jim Calhoun was impressed with the Dogs. “They played 100 percent against the way we want to play and if we stopped doing things the right way for a minute, they came right back at us. I wouldn’t want to play them every single day. Give them the utmost respect. Overall, a win is a win, but no one’s played us even near that hard since we played Butler last year.”

Senior Chris Stephenson added a spark to the offense and his three-pointer cut the UConn lead to just seven with 17:12 remaining in the game.

“We’ve played in games where we had to fight back, ” Dickey said. “When we cut it to seven, we definitely had a feeling we could make a comeback.”

UNC Asheville will now face the College of Charleston in the consolation round tonight at 7:00 p.m. Both coaches(Biedenbach and Bobby Cremins) know each other well, having played and coached against each other.

As Dickey stated, the Bulldogs have played in (a lot of) games where they have to fight back. This is not a good situation to find yourselves down by double digits early in the game. It takes a lot of energy just to get back into the game, and to continue on and surpass your opponent is a major accomplishment. It is my hope that Asheville comes out stronger in their remaining games. If they can do that, this team has a real shot at surprising people. Yes, they are favored in the Big South Conference, but there are teams in the league that have already posted big victories over major colleges. It’s time for Asheville to do the same and I predict the Bulldogs will get off to a much better start tonight and will upset C of C by five points.

5 Top College Football Games to Watch – Week 13 Preview

There are plenty of huge games this weekend, starting on Friday for your enjoyment.  It’s Rivalry Weekend, so let’s start with Missouri and Kansas meeting in the Border War, the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi, (and maybe for the last time) in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.  In bowl implication games, Pitt is at West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl; Penn State is visiting Wisconsin in the third unbelievably tough game for the Nittany Lions in a row; Tennessee travels to Lexington to play Kentucky – and if you think the Vols have had a bad year, win this game and they are bowl eligible – and Clemson and South Carolina meet in a game full of hatred (more below).

There are lots of other great traditional rivalry games like Michigan at Ohio State, Georgia at Georgia Tech, Oregon State at Oregon in the Uncivil War, Duke and North Carolina (better in basketball), Washington at Washington State for the Apple Cup and a really big one for the Bruins in Los AngelesUCLA at USC (If UCLA wins, they win the Pac-12 South).

I like rivalry games, but I can only pick 5 top games to watchso , for this short week, I present five short reviews because, by now, you know about these teams.  These picks were made on Tuesday due to personal obligations, so please consult the latest odds, if you plan to partake…

Here are my 5 Top College Football Games to Watch in Week 13:


Houston quarterback Case Keenum (7) reacts after 16-yard touchdown run during the fourth quarter against SMU last week

1.  Houston at Tulsa (Noon) – The Cougars are undefeated…Tulsa has lost three games.  This game could take Houston from a BCS bowl game (Sugar) to nowhere, if they lose.  The winner of this game wins the C-USA West and will play Southern Mississippi for the league title.  Houston you know about…Case Keenum is a terrific quarterback who has set several major NCAA passing records.  Their defense is also good.  But, I think Tulsa is the best team they have faced this year…and that could mean trouble.  Tulsa has G.J. Kinne as their quarterback, and he is a good leader and they score points.   I will call for a major upset.  MY PICK IS: TULSA +3-1/2 

LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson (9) prepares to pass in last year's game against Arkansas

2. Arkansas at LSU (2:30 p.m., CBS) – LSU…the nation’s number one team…and ONLY major conference undefeated team (sorry, HoustonC-USA is NOT a major conference) AT HOME…and they are a HUGE favorite (12 to 13 points).  They should be…they have a great defense (second only to Alabama‘s) and a serviceable offense.  The Hogs, on the other hand, have been under the radar (except mine) all season…and “all of a sudden”, they are the No. 3 team in the BCS standings behind fellow SEC West members LSU and Alabama.  Even if they beat LSU, I don’t know if that will be enough to allow them to jump over one of those teams.  And does it seem strange to you that IF LSU wins this game, wins the West Division of the SEC, they get to play a red-hot Georgia team IN ATLANTA, for the SEC title.  If they lose that one, ALABAMA would slide right into the BCS title game without going through the gauntlet that faces the Bayou Bengals.  Stranger things have happened.  Nevertheless, I promised shorter reviews, so while LSU should win this game, MY PICK IS ARKANSAS +13

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith throws against Cincinnati during the Mountaineers' win last week

3. Pitt at West Virginia (7:00 p.m.) – The Big East will once again have a representative in the BCS, as called for by contract.  Whether or not they deserve it (and certainly, again this year, they do not), someone is going to the Orange Bowl (probably), so why not West Virginia?  Their annual game against Pitt has been, up until last year, a four-point game or less for three years.  This game will feature two good quarterbacks, WVU’s Geno Smith and Pitt’s Tino Sunseri.  West Virginia is giving 8 points away in this one and I think that might be too much. I think West Virginia will win.  However, MY PICK IS: PITT +8


Wisconsin running back Montee Ball (28) runs with the ball through the Illinois defense during the Badgers' win last week

4. Penn State at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m.) – It’s obvious Wisconsin is a much better team at Camp Randall Stadium than on the road.  This is Penn State’s third tough game in a row…and even if nothing “unusual” had happened three weeks ago in Happy Valley, running this kind of gauntlet would have been really difficult.  They split their first two games…losing to Nebraska at home but coming back to beat Ohio State in The Horseshoe last week.  This one is for all the marbles in the Leaders Division of the Big TenPSU has not seen a two-headed offensive monster like quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Montee Ball.  Their defense will be tested as it never has been tested before.  I think the emotions of the past three weeks start to get the best of the Nittany Lions…and, while I like their talk of putting Joe Paterno’s name back on the Big Ten championship trophy (even if it is taped on it), the Badgers are going to prove too much.  Also going for the home team is the fact they want a rematch with Michigan State to prove to Sparty that their Hail Mary victory was a fluke.  I’ve been saying all season that Wisconsin was the best team in the Big Ten, and they will prove it over the next two weeks to grab the Rose Bowl berth as Big Ten champs.  I like the Badgers of Wisconsin to win this game…but, MY PICK IS: PENN STATE +15

Clemson's Brandon Ford breaks a tackle by North Carolina State's C.J. Wilson (20) in last week's loss to State

5. Clemson at South Carolina (7:45 p.m.) – This is an in-state rivalry that, if I didn’t live two hours from both schools, I would not believe how much hatred there is between these two teams.  Maybe not Alabama-Auburn hatred, but serious enough.  Enough that a few years ago, both teams brawled on the field and both schools administrations said “No bowl games this year.”  That much hatred.  For the Clemson people, you must be getting tired of hearing, ” Yep, same old Clemson” after both of your losses.  As for the South Carolina folk, the Ol’ Ball Coach promised more than he has delivered this year…although there are PLENTY of teams wishing they were 9-2 this year.  There will be NO SEC East title for the Gamecocks again this year.

Clemson, winners of the ACC Atlantic Division, will play either Virginia Tech or Virginia next week in Charlotte for the ACC title.  They have already beaten the Hokies in Blacksburg, which was the game that made a believer out of me.  But now, they have lost two out of their last three…to Georgia Tech and inexplicitly to N. C. State (“Yep, same old Clemson…”) and NEED to beat USC for many reasons…mostly to right the ship.  Nationally, they are 17th and 56th in offense and defense; 21st and 64th in points per game and PPG allowed.  Not the same old Clemson.  The University of South Carolina (and yes, not only are they referred to as “USC” here in the South, but also “Carolina” – except for those of us from NORTH Carolina, since there can only be ONE Carolina and that one is located in Chapel Hill) is 80th and 5th (offense and defense) nationally and 47th and 15th in the PPG categories.

In this game we will see a good Clemson offense, led by QB Tajh Boyd and running back sensation Sammy Watkins, going up against a really good South Carolina defense (it’s an SEC team…they have to be good…).

Here is what it comes down to: two 9-2 teams that will go to really nice bowl destinations this year and, will be even better in 2012, and just plain don’t like each other, playing for pride (and bragging rights) in beautiful Brice-Williams Stadium on Saturday night.

MY PICK IS: CLEMSON +4-1/2 (and I don’t know why).

I will be back Monday with my 5 Things I Learned About College Football – Week 13 Review.  Until then, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

UNC Asheville Routs Brevard; Heads to Atlantis and UConn Match-Up

Senior guard Matt Dickey’s 19 first-half points helped jump-start the UNC Asheville Bulldogs Monday night, and the rest of the team followed his lead.  Asheville beat Brevard College, 89-48 at Kimmel Arena in a tune-up for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament beginning Thursday.

Senior guard Matt Dickey is off to a great start to the season

The Dogs (2-2) received balanced scoring, getting 12 points from freshman Keith Hornsby and 10 points from junior Jon Nwannunu.  The team shot a season-high .623 from the field (33-of-53) and led from the opening tip.

“We played much better defense tonight,” Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach said after the game.  “Our guys played from start to finish and it was good to get a lot of guys in the game.  Tonight we got a chance to see a lot of different combinations which will help us down the road.”

Coach Eddie Biedenbach sharing some words of wisdom to the Bulldogs

Asheville held the Tornados to just .370 shooting from the field (20-of-54) and had eight blocked shots with seven different players recording a block.

The Blue and White also had 10 steals and forced 22 Brevard turnovers.

Coach Biedenbach rested his starters, playing them only about five minutes in the second half when the Dogs led by as many as 45 points before closing with a 41-point victory.

The team next will play in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Nassau, Bahamas, where they will play defending national champion Connecticut Thursday night at 7:00 p.m.  They also will play Friday and Saturday before returning home on Sunday.

5 Things I Learned About College Football – Week 12 Review

Chaos reigns!  Two really-not-so-surprising upsets highlighted the weekend.  In Ames, IA (Iowa State beating then-No. 2 Oklahoma State) and in Eugene, OR (USC stomping Oregon) has put three SEC teams in the top slots in the BCS pollLSU, Alabama and, yes, friends…like I’ve been saying since pre-season, Arkansas.  What a weekend…

Here are the 5 Things I Learned About College Football This Weekend – Week 12 Review:

Oklahoma State kicker Quinn Sharp reacts after missing a field goal during the final minutes of the game against Iowa State. This summed up the day for the Pokes.

1. Tragedy at Oklahoma State and Arkansas.  Friday morning we learned of the tragic plane crash that took the lives of OSU women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and his assistant, Miranda Serna.  It seems unreal that these two people (plus two others) were lost the same way that program lost ten members of their men’s basketball program in 2001 when a plane crashed leaving Boulder, CO on the way back to Stillwater, OK in a snowstorm.  Absolutely unreal.  The event, in my opinion, took a lot of life out of the Cowboys football team Friday night.  Not surprising, but it was a shame that the Pokes had to play a fired-up Iowa State team that night.

Unfortunately, it seems like the college sports world has become a darker place, where we used to look for brightness.  On Sunday, Arkansas redshirt tight end Garrett Uekman was found dead in his dorm room.  He was 19.  Meanwhile, at Saturday’s Harvard-Yale game, 30-year-old Nancy Barry of Salem, MA, was killed at a tailgate when the driver of a U-Haul carrying beer kegs accelerated after turning into the area.

All this coming after two weeks of us hearing the ugly news about Jerry Sandusky and how Penn State‘s reputation, and Joe Paterno‘s, has been forever linked.  Wouldn’t it be nice if sports was immune to the ugliness the world presents?

2. The U is a joke.  That’s right, I’ll say it, if no one else will.  They have announced a self-imposed ban on playing in a bowl game this year.  Their sterling record – 6-5 following an ugly 6-3 win at South Florida on Saturday – would probably get them into a “terrific” bowl game…Music City, Independence or Military.  My thought is if the Canes were 8-3 or 9-2 and looking at a bigger bowl, this would not have happened.  C’mon Man…we’re NOT STUPID.

Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg (80) makes a 12-yard gain against Mississippi State defensive backs Wade Bonner (7) and Johnthan Banks during the second quarter of the Hogs' game against Mississippi State

3. Arkansas could end up in the BCS National Championship game.  After nearly a full season, the Hogs are hitting on all cycles.  Despite the loss of their best player, Knile Davis, before the season even started, the Razorbacks have been peaking, and yes, probably looking ahead to Friday afternoon when they travel to Baton Rouge to play No. 1 LSU.  In their last three games, Arkansas has throttled South Carolina (44-28), Tennessee (49-7) and on Saturday, Mississippi State (44-17).  I would feel very strongly in my opinion that if the LSU game was being played in the NFL-like stadium in Fayetteville, LSU would be upset.  However, the Hogs will be on the road where they were routed by Alabama and struggled to beat Ole Miss (29-24) and Vanderbilt (31-28).  Who will I pick?  Find out on Wednesday.

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III reacts to a Terrance Ganaway touchodwn over Oklahoma. Not quite a Heisman pose...but close!

4.  The Heisman race is heating up.  Robert Griffin III, Baylor‘s outstanding quarterback, has put up ridiculous numbers all season.  The problem is, Baylor is not on the national radar, so you haven’t really been thinking about him.  Last week, playing the then-No. 5 ranked Oklahoma Sooners, who were maybe looking ahead to Bedlam, he was spectacular.  With 51 seconds left and the game tied at 38, he led his team down the field with runs of 22 and eight yards to keep the drive alive before throwing a game-winning 34-yard pass to Terrence Williams in the far corner of the end zone with just eight seconds left in the game.  He finished with 562 yards of offense.  Only one team (Texas Tech earlier this year) has gained more than that against the Sooners during Bob Stoops’ tenure.  Griffin (21-for-34 for 479 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions) had a fantastic game.

On the season, Griffin has now completed 72.9 percent of his passes for 3,572 yards, 33 touchdowns and only five interceptions, while rushing for 550 yards and five scores.  His 191.7 efficiency rating would shatter Colt Brennan‘s FBS season record (186.0) though he’s second now behind Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson (199.3).  Wilson has attempted 105 fewer passes.

Wilson is another candidate, and I have written about him before.  In fact, if not for a Hail Mary pass by Michigan State, the Badgers might very well be in the BCS title talks.

And don’t forget Matt Barkley of USC, who led his Trojans to a signature win over Oregon Saturday night.  He was 26-of-34 for 323 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.  On the season, he has thrown for 3,105 yards, 33 TD’s and seven interceptions.

Also, Houston’s Case Keenum, yes, I know, they have not faced a tough opponent yet…and I was less-than-impressed with their win over SMU on Saturday, has broken the NCAA career completions record (1,427), and usually passes for a ton of yardage every game.

SO, there are lots of candidates who throw the ball…but what about a runner who has had a great season?  Wisconsin’s Montee Ball ran 38 times for 214 yards and two touchdowns plus he had a touchdown reception against the Illinois (ninth-ranked) defense.  On the season, Ball has 30 rushing/receiving touchdowns, becoming just the fifth player in FBS history to hit that mark.

And, is anyone giving any love to Oregon’s LaMichael James, who averages more yards per game than anyone?  Or Trent Richardson of Alabama, who has more national games to go.

I know they only invite five players to New York for the presentation, but they could invite any of the above.  And, I would also like to see the Heisman voting done at the end of the season…Bowl games count!

Georgia linebacker Corey Campbell (42) celebrates winning the SEC East by way of a 19-10 victory over Kentucky

5. Congratulations are in order for the following teams: Georgia (9-2) who scratched out a 19-10 victory over Kentucky, which allowed them to secure the SEC East title, and a date with a team from the West in the SEC title game in Atlanta.  Next week, they play Georgia Tech (also in Atlanta), then the title game.  Now, look at this: IF Georgia manages to upset the SEC West champ, it will earn an automatic bid to the Sugar Bowl.  If two out of LSU/Alabama/Arkansas still finish 1-2, the league would get a third BCS berth.  Wow!

Congrats to Michigan State.  They won the Legends Division of the Big Ten and will face the winner of this week’s Penn State – Wisconsin game (in Madison) for the Rose Bowl berthSparty routed Indiana 55-3 and are 9-2 on the season with just Northwestern remaining in the regular season.  If they do lose in the title game, it could be that they watch their arch-rival Michigan go to a BCS Bowl instead.

Congrats to Virginia.  With an upset win in Tallahassee (14-13), they now get to face their arch-rival, Virginia Tech, for the right to get to the ACC title game.  Amazing.

With games spread all across the weekend, I will be back Wednesday with thoughts on my Top Five Games to Watch – Week 13.

UNC Asheville Posts First Victory in Kimmel Arena

UNC Asheville had 38 assists, breaking the old mark of 31 assists set in the 1987-88 season against Vorhees, as the Bulldogs easily beat Mars Hill, 126-75 Wednesday night at Kimmel Arena.  It was the first win for the home team in their new gym.

The 126 points was the second highest in school history by Asheville as they faced a short-handed Lions team that had five players out with injuries.

UNC Asheville sophomore forward Trent Meyer had a career-high 13 points Wednesday night as the Bulldogs defeated Mars Hill, 126-75, for their first victory in Kimmel Arena

Freshman guard Keith Hornsby led Asheville with 21 points while senior guard J.P. Primm had 19 points and nine assists.  Freshman guard Corey Littlejohn showed flashes of brilliance while getting 15 points.  Senior guard Matt Dickey and sophomore forward Trent Meyer each added a career-high 13 points, and Dickey also had nine assists.  Freshman center Jaleel Roberts played well, shot 6-for-6 from the field (12 points) and blocked four shots.  Senior forward Chris Stephenson scored 12 points as well.

“We played very well in the first half both on offense and defense,” coach Eddie Biedenbach stated.  “It’s good to get that first win and get last weekend behind us.  However, we gave up way too many points (46) in the second half.  We needed to play better defense than we did tonight but overall, our effort was excellent from everyone.”

The Bulldogs out-rebounded Mars Hill 55-35 and out-scored the visitors in the paint by a 80-25 margin.  Asheville’s bench contributed 76 points and the team had 16 steals, with Primm and Dickey getting four each.

UNC Asheville’s next game is Monday night when they host Brevard College at Kimmel Arena at 7:00 p.m.

Top Five College Football Games to Watch – Week 12 Preview

While this week’s offerings are not as exciting as the past two weeks’ worth, there are nearly a dozen pretty good games out there.  My Top Five Games To Watch list begins on Friday night with the Tar Heels of UNC playing at Virginia Tech.  Yes, it’s an ACC game which means most of you are not interested, but at least tune in to see and hear “Enter Sandman” as the Hokies come onto the field to open the game!

Here are my Top Five College Football Games To Watch – Week 12 Preview:

Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas (3) struggles for a first down as Georgia Tech safety Isaiah Johnson (1) hangs on

1. UNC at Virginia Tech (Friday, 8:00 p.m., ESPN) – I love night games at Lane Stadium…the crowd going crazy as Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” (gotta watch this!) plays and the Hokies enter the arena!  That being said, Va Tech is ready to play for the ACC championship against Clemson…if they win this game and the regular season finale against Virginia (currently a game behind them in the standings).  Frank Beamer and his team love playing at night on ESPN…they used to be on a couple of times a year on Thursdays, it seemed.  Behind Logan Thomas’s passing and David Wilson’s rushing, the Hokies have had just one bad game (a loss to Clemson…in Blacksburg).  UNC  has struggled in the league (2-4) but this is their bowl game…at least as far as crowd noise and excitement goes.  Yes, they are 6-4 and are bowl eligible, but this atmosphere will be better than wherever they end up.  10-1/2 is a lot of points to lay…but not for the Hokies at home, at night.  Hokie Hokie Hey…VA TECH -10-1/2 is the play.

The rest of the games are the usual Saturday games:

Wisconsin running back Montee Ball (28) runs for 15 yards as Minnesota defensive back Michael Carter (6) goes in for the tackle

2. Wisconsin at Illinois (Noon, ESPN2) – Wisconsin has been one of my favorite teams for a couple of years…and this year’s version is suddenly back in the driver’s seat in the Leaders division of the Big Ten.  I say this because even if Penn State can regroup (and they did pretty well last week in spite of all the goings-on in State College) and beat Ohio State Saturday (don’t count on it), the Nittany Lions STILL would have to travel to Madison to play the Badgers for the right to go to the Big Ten title game.  I think Wisconsin would be favored in that one by 10 points…so, the Badgers need to get by Illinois on Saturday to make that come true.  The Illini have lost four consecutive games and I don’t think they will win this one.  Wisconsin has so much going for them…Russell Wilson, Montee Ball…momentum…Wisconsin -14 is the pick.

Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne (4) dives for a first down past Central Florida defensive end LeBranden Richardson (59)

3. Tulsa at UTEP (3:00 p.m.) – Seriously…This is the Conference USA match-up you’ve not been waiting for…but I have to throw it in because of what it means this week.  We all know Houston is the “best” team in the league.  They are undefeated…they lead the nation in points scored and in total offense (sorry, Oklahoma State, but it’s true).  They are in line for a BCS Bowl bid.  But wait…here’s the catch.  They might not only not go undefeated, they might not win their division of  C-USA.  Because of Tulsa.  The Golden Hurricane is 6-0 in the league, same as Houston.  They are 19th and 28th in the nation offensively…so they are no slouches.  Quarterback G.J. Kinne has thrown for 2,400 yards and 21 TD’s.  Tulsa has lost to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State.  Pretty good trio if you have to lose three games.  In C-USA, only once (to UCF) have they not won by more than 14 points.  They are very aware of the fact that if they win this game, and beat Houston, they go to the league championship game (more likely to play Southern Mississippi) and possibly a nice bowl game.  It’s early, but I really think this could happen.  Tulsa -13-1/2 is the play.

Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy (2) runs between Kentucky defenders Danny Trevathan (22) and Cartier Rice (35), right, on his way to an 18-yard touchdown run last week

4. Vanderbilt at Tennessee (7:00 p.m., ESPNU) – I had to put this game in because most of us have NEVER seen this before…Vanderbilt University, the Stanford of the Mid-South, is FAVORED by 1-1/2 points over the flagship university of the state of Tennessee.  I have written about the new attitude coach James Franklin has brought to Nashville…and Vandy has played as well as they can…and sometimes better (see University of Florida game).  In fact, they has lost to the following SEC teams…but note how close these games have been: Georgia (5 points), Arkansas (3) and Florida (5).  Last week, they spanked Kentucky, 38-8, so maybe these Commodores are believing in themselves.  Tennessee has a young coach, who really is a lawyer, and, in the opinion of Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel, “is just a weird dude”.  He took over a program that was really hurt by Lane Kiffin’s departure to USC, and add in the injuries they have suffered plus the usual SEC schedule, and you get the Vols in an 0-6 position in the league.  Thankfully for UT, they get the Kentucky Wildcats next week, so maybe they can get a win out of the SEC.  Because they won’t this week.  Vanderbilt -1-1/2 is the pick.

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein (7) celebrates as he scores a touchdown during overtime against Texas A&M last week

5. Kansas State at Texas (8:00 p.m.) – In their last four games, K-State has either scored or given up over 50 points…sometimes, both.  They beat Kansas 59-21, lost to Oklahoma 58-17, lost to Oklahoma State 52-45 and beat Texas A&M 53-50.  That’s a lot of points any way you look at it.  Is KSU a great team?  No.  But, because they have quarterback Collin Klein (1504 passing yards, 21 TD’s and 1,009 rushing yards and 24 rushing TD’s) HE is a great team.  Not too many people have slowed him down, except for Oklahoma and they DO have a good defense, so what will Texas be able to do?  They didn’t do well against Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden (then again, who has?)…but Texas’ defense is the best K-State has seen since the Oklahoma game.  Texas, does rank first in the Big 12 in total defense, by the way, and that’s one big reason the Wildcats are getting 9-1/2 points in this game.  Coach Bill Snyder is a genius, and going up against Texas is a real challenge for him.  I’m sure he was watching lots of film from Texas’ game against Mizzou last week to see how the Tigers bottled up the Longhorns‘ running attack.  If he can do the same, K-State will be in good shape.  Snyder’s been to a rodeo or two in his time, and I think Kansas State can cover the points…so I am taking K-State and 9-1/2 in this game.

Other games worth watching:

Penn State at Ohio State (OSU is playing much better than a few weeks ago…PSU could be emotionally drained…OSU -6.5 would be my lean.)

Nebraska at Michigan (I’m leaning Nebraska +4)

USC at Oregon (The Ducks are 15 point favorites, and that’s a lot to give USC)

Cal at Stanford (The Cardinal, favored by 19 in The Big Game, need to make a statement after last week’s loss to Oregon…so they can get to the Fiesta Bowl.)

I’ll be back Monday with the Top Five Things I Learned About College Football This Week – Week 12 Review.

UNC Asheville Drops Pair to ACC Foes to Open Season

UNC Asheville's Jeremy Atkinson dunks over UNC's John Henson (left) and Reggie Bullock in Sunday's inaugural game in the Kimmel Arena. The nation's number one team, UNC, defeated Asheville, 91-75.

They may be favored to win the Big South Conference, but the UNC Asheville Bulldogs didn’t open the season with Gardner-Webb and Liberty.  Instead, coach Eddie Biedenbach’s veteran team opened Friday night on the road at N.C. State followed by the Kimmel Arena inaugural game against the nation’s top-ranked team, the UNC Tar Heels.

Friday night, the Bulldogs travelled to Raleigh to play Coach Biedenbach’s Alma Mater in the RBC Center.  As happened so many times last season, the Dogs got off to a slow start and fell behind by 17 at halftime, 44-27.  Nine Bulldogs turnovers (nine steals for the Wolfpack, with Lorenzo Brown getting eight of those) made it tough on the Blue and White.

The Bulldogs (0-1) were led by Big South Preseason Player of the Year, senior guard Matt Dickey’s 17 points and junior forward Jaron Lane’s 13.  Junior forward Jeremy Atkinson and senior forward Chris Stephenson added 11 each.

“It’s hard to come back when you’re down 17 points at the half,” coach Biedenbach said.  “We just weren’t mentally ready to play a team like N.C. State tonight.  Our guys needed to play hard for 40 minutes and didn’t do that this evening.  We made some runs in the second half but missed some shots that could have made the game closer.”

In the second half, Asheville made it a much more competitive game.  Going on an early 9-2 run, with Lane scoring five of those nine, the Dogs closed the gap to 46-36.  They continued to rally, and cut the Pack lead to seven (48-41) on senior forward Quinard Jackson’s first career three-pointer.

But it was not enough as N.C. State continued to press and got the lead back to 15.  the Bulldogs came within nine points four times in the second half, but could not get closer.

“We beat a good team in UNC Asheville,” explained first-year N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried.  “Eddie has a good club that’s scrappy and made some good runs on us in the second half.  We played very well on defense in the first half that allowed us to build a lead.”

A sold-out Kimmel Arena on the UNC Asheville campus was rocking as the No. 1 UNC Tar Heels beat the hometown Bulldogs, 91-75 in the first official men's basketball game on Nov. 13, 2011.

On Sunday afternoon, the Bulldogs returned home to play their first regular season contest in the beautiful 3,280 seat Kimmel Arena, and hosted the nation’s top team, the UNC Tar Heels.  Led by Asheville-native coach Roy Williams, the Heels are favored my many to win the NCAA championship, and have the horses to do so.

Led by Tyler Zeller’s 27 points, the Heels won a hard-fought 91-75 game.  Countering for the Bulldogs (0-2), senior guard J.P. Primm scored 23 points, Jaron Lane added a career-best 21 points,  Matt Dickey finished with 14 points and Chris Stephenson chipped in 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

UNC (2-0) was coming off a victory against Michigan State on Friday night on the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, and flew all night, arriving in Asheville at 5:00 a.m. Saturday.  The team came out for a short shoot-around during halftime of the UNC Asheville women’s game on Saturday afternoon to the delight of the crowd.

While undersized, the Bulldogs battled hard, and led for a while in the first half before a late Tar Heels run gave them some breathing room.

UNC built a 20-point lead midway through the second half, only to see Primm and Lane bring the Dogs back.  The sold-out arena was rocking when a lay-up from Stephenson narrowed the lead to 85-73 with just 3:05 to go in the game.

But the Heels showed why they are so highly-ranked, taking over the game at that point scoring five straight to push the lead to 90-73.

UNC Tar Heels coach Roy Williams (left) and UNC Asheville Bulldogs coach Eddie Biedenbach after the game

“We battled hard today and our crowd was terrific,” Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach said.  “North Carolina is a great basketball team and their inside game was terrific.  We just let them score too earily all day.  I really appreciated Coach Williams coming here to open our arena.  This was a great day for our basketball program and our school.  We competed and just wish we could have made a few more shots and a couple of more plays.”

Kendall Marshall led UNC with 15 assists.  The “Big Three”, John Henson (20 points, 12 rebounds), Harrison Barnes (17 points) and Zeller (27 points) were just too much for the Bulldogs to handle.  They combined to go 22-for-34 from the field, and also got to the charity stripe a lot.  Zeller was 11-13 from the free throw line.

Asheville’s Primm was 7-of-12 from the field and 6-of-6 from the free throw line, and Lane, who shook off a first-half knee injury, went 8-of-12 from the field.

Primm averaged 22 points against the Tar Heels for the past two seasons.

The Bulldogs face Division II and local rival Mars Hill on Wednesday evening at Kimmel Arena.