NCAA : Saturday Football
NCAA : Saturday Football
Miami-Ohio (6-6) vs. Central Michigan (7-5)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Field (65,000) -- Detroit, Michigan. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Miami-Ohio 4-1, CMU 3-2. Away Record: Miami-Ohio 2-5, CMU 4-3. Neutral Record: Miami-Ohio 0-0, CMU 0-0. Conference Record: Miami-Ohio 5-2, CMU 6-1. Series Record: Miami-Ohio leads, 11-9-1.
GAME NOTES: The Central Michigan Chippewas will try to repeat as Mid-American Conference champions, but to do so the team must get past the Miami-Ohio RedHawks this Saturday afternoon at Ford Field. For the first time since the 2004 season, the RedHawks will finally have a chance to capture the MAC title. Miami's run to the championship contest was not an easy one, as the team suffered through plenty of peaks and valleys. The RedHawks opened the year with a win over Ball State (14-13), but quickly followed with three straight losses. The team was able to regroup, posting three consecutive wins, including a convincing, 47-14 victory over Bowling Green. Down the stretch however, the team began to slide again, losing three of its last five games, including a tough, 38-29 loss to Ohio last weekend. As for the Chippewas, they are ironically the first team since Miami-Ohio to make consecutive appearances in the MAC title game. Just like their counterpart, the Chippewas opened the year with a 1-3 mark, with the lone victory coming against Toledo, 52-31. The slow start did not keep the Chippewas down however, as the team posted five wins in its next six games. After a shocking three-point loss to Eastern Michigan two weeks ago, the Chippewas managed to slip past Akron last week to finish the year with a 6-1 conference ledger and earn the West Division title. If the Chippewas are victorious on Saturday, they will be the first team since Marshall to win the MAC Championship game in consecutive seasons. It will also be the first time since 1979-1980 that CMU has collected back-to-back MAC championships. The RedHawks have a slim, 11-9-1 edge over CMU in the all-time series. However, the last time these two schools collided on the gridiron, Ontario Sneed scored in the final minutes of the contest to give the Chippewas a slim, 38-37 win.
The RedHawks were not overwhelming in any stretch of the imagination on offense, as the team only produced 20.0 ppg during the regular season. Dan Raudabaugh has been the signal-caller for the majority of the season, but he has been extremely inconsistent throughout the year. Raudabaugh only completed 54.2 percent of his passes up to this point, while throwing for just 2,177 yards. In 10 contests, the quarterback has tossed only 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The ground game has also had its troubles this season, but that is due to the revolving door of players in the backfield. Cory Jones and Austin Sykes have been the top two options out of the backfield for Miami, as Jones is leading the squad with 464 yards to go along with two touchdowns, while Sykes is right behind him with 460 yards and three scores. In the regular-season finale, the RedHawks suffered a tough loss to Ohio, 38-29. Raudabaugh's inconsistent ways continued in the loss, as the QB completed just 21-of-44 passes for just 223 yards and one score. Raudabaugh also tossed two interceptions and was sacked twice. As for the rushing attack, Miami tallied 132 yards on 3.2 ypc. With Sykes dealing with an ankle injury, Jones got the majority of the carries, finishing the game with 103 yards.
For the majority of the season the RedHawks were led by their defensive unit, which after 12 games is surrendering 369.0 total ypg, leading to 24.8 ppg. The unit has done a solid job against the pass, holding teams to just 208.7 ypg through the air. However, where the team has struggled is against the run, as opponents are gashing Miami for 160.3 ypg. Allowing 38 points in the recent setback to Ohio gives the wrong impression on how well the RedHawks played in that contest, as Miami held the Bobcats to just 199 total yards, including an outstanding 81 yards on 38 carries (2.1 ypc). The defense only forced one turnover in the game, but did finish with three sacks. On the year Miami has recorded just 23 takeaways, but has done a great job at pressuring the quarterback, collecting 30 sacks The main spark plug to this unit is linebacker Clayton Mullins, who was tabbed the MAC Defensive Player of the Year. Mullins finished the regular season with a conference best 129 tackles. The junior also recorded 13.5 TFLs, four sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced.
Throughout the season the Chippewas have relied heavily on the play of quarterback Dan LeFevour, who could be considered the Tim Tebow of the MAC. LeFevour who was recently named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year, completed 66.1 percent of his throws for 3,175 yards and tossed 22 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. On top of that, LeFevour is pacing the team on the ground, rushing for 838 yards and 15 touchdowns on 6.2 ypc. LeFevour has also received help from Justin Hoskins in the backfield, as the running back has contributed 649 yards and 10 scores on the year. The top two targets down field for LeFevour has been Bryan Anderson and Antonio Brown. Anderson, who has 78 receptions for 969 yards and seven scores, broke the record last year at CMU for most catches in the season with 73, but that accolade was quickly taken by Brown, who in his first season, has grabbed 92 balls for 879 yards and five scores. Brown, who started the season as a walk-on and finished the regular season as the MAC Freshman of the Year, is also a dangerous return specialist. Brown, who is averaging 27.7 yards on kick off returns, has accumulated 2,009 total yards this year, which is the most by any freshman in MAC history.
The defensive play has been the Achilles' heel for Central Michigan throughout the season, as the team was been hammered for a whopping 38.0 ppg. The unit has struggled against the pass, as well as the run, surrendering 287.4 ypg through the air, while being pounded for 174.8 ypg on the ground. Over the last two games alone, the Chippewas allowed 80 total points against Eastern Michigan and Akron, two schools that rank near the bottom of the conference in points scored. In the come-from-behind victory over Akron this past weekend, the defense surrendered 32 points, but held the Zips to just 323 total yards. Central Michigan limited the Zips to just 113 yards on 32 carries, but did surrender three rushing touchdowns. The team also did a commendable job against the pass, allowing just 210 yards while collecting one interception. In the contest, the team finished with two turnovers, giving the unit 25 takeaways on the year. Red Keith was the motor of this defense all year and heads into this title game tied for the conference lead in tackles with 129.
The Chippewas' offensive unit could be one of the best ever in the history of the Mid-American Conference. While the team's defensive play is suspect, the Chippewas should have no trouble racking up points against Miami en route to their second consecutive MAC title.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Central Michigan 38, Miami-Ohio 27
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
Navy (7-4) vs. Army (3-8)
FACTS & STATS: Site: M&T Bank Stadium (70,008) -- Baltimore, Maryland. Television: CBS. Home Record: Navy 3-3, Army 3-2. Away Record: Navy 4-1, Army 0-6. Neutral Record: Navy 0-0, Army 0-0. Conference Record: Navy 0-0, Army 0-0. Series Record: Navy leads, 51-49-7.
GAME NOTES: For the 108th time our nation's finest will take the field, as the Navy Midshipmen and the Army Black Knights get set to collide at M&T Bank Stadium this Saturday afternoon in a college football tradition. This rivalry dates back to 1890 and since then this game has been played in 15 different venues, but this will only be the fourth time the two teams will meet in Baltimore. Navy heads into this contest riding a three-game winning streak, with the most recent win coming at home against Northern Illinois, 35-24. It was the seventh victory of the season for the Middies, who have been invited to take part in the Poinsettia Bowl which will be played on December 20th. With a victory, Navy would capture the Commander-in-Chief Trophy for the fifth consecutive season. The trophy is give to the winner of the matchups between the three major service schools (Army, Navy and Air Force). As for the Black Knights, they have not had much success this year, winning just three of their 11 games. In fact, since the team opened the new campaign with a 3-3 mark, Army has dropped five consecutive games, including a 49-39 setback at home to Tulsa back on November 17th. Navy has currently won five consecutive meetings against Army, which ties the longest winning streak in the history of this series. Last season the Middies posted a 26-14 win over Army, pushing their overall lead in the series to 51-49-7.
It is no secret what the Middies plan to do offensively. The team comes into every matchup looking to run the ball through each and every team and for the most part Navy has found success with that scheme. The Middies currently lead the nation with 357.4 ypg on the ground and out of the 54 touchdowns scored by the Middies, 47 have come via the run. The team's leading rusher and quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada has done a tremendous job this season, rushing for 755 yards and 11 touchdowns. Kaheaku-Enhada, who has also tossed six touchdowns. Although he missed the team's last game with a bruised knee, he should be healthy for the team's most important contest of the season. Eric Kettani and Shun White have also done a terrific job with the rushing attack, as Kettani heads into this game with 710 yards and nine scores, while White has rushed for 558 yards and six TDs. Zerbin Singleton has a knack for finding the end zone, as the running back has eight touchdowns and 423 yards on just 59 carries. In the recent win over Northern Illinois, the Middies' success on the ground continued, as the team rumbled for 359 yards. Jarod Bryant, who was in for Kaheake-Enhada, paced the team with 139 yards and also scored once. However, the main threat in this game was Singleton, who scampered for 101 yards and three TDs on just 11 carries.
Despite all of Navy's success offensively, the team still has to fight for most of its victories and that is because the defense has played so poorly throughout the year. Navy is currently allowing 39.5 ppg, behind 458.3 total ypg. Opponents are producing 279.0 ypg through the air, while also rushing for another 179.3 ypg. The team has not been able to make many big plays, as the unit has forced just 12 turnovers, while collecting only 11 sacks. In the 11- point win over Northern Illinois two weeks ago, the defense put forth one of its best performances, holding the Huskies to just 355 total yards. Navy held NIU to just 149 yards on 3.4 ypc and also surrendered just 206 yards through the air. Ross Pospisil had a career-game for the Middies, as the linebacker recorded an outstanding 20 tackles in the win. The outstanding showing leaves Pospisil with 50 stops on the year, while the leader for Navy, Wyatt Middleton has tallied 79.
The Black Knights are coming off their best offensive performance of the season, racking up 491 total yards of production en route to a 39-point showing. However, despite the impressive play, Army still fell by a 10-point margin to Tulsa. In the losing effort, Carson Williams completed 26-of-38 passes for 328 yards and three scores. The quarterback was also sacked twice and intercepted once. The main target for Williams was Jeremy Trimble, who grabbed 11 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Despite the solid performance, Williams has struggled for the most part this season, completing just 52.3 percent of his passes for just 1,664 yards. In 10 games, the signal- caller has thrown for just 11 touchdowns along with 12 interceptions. As for Trimble, he has been the only real threat for Army, as the wideout is leading the squad with 61 receptions, 907 yards and seven touchdowns. As for the ground game, there is not much to be talked about as the team ranks near the bottom of the nation with just 85.4 ypg, averaging a mere 2.6 ypc.
The loss to Tulsa can be attributed to the team's horrendous play on defense, as the Black Knights were dismantled for an astonishing 622 total yards. Army surrendered 197 yards on the ground, and an even worse 425 yards through the air. Army has not had much success defensively all year, as the team is currently allowing 29.6 ppg. The team is yielding 206.6 ypg against the pass, but the main source of problems has come against the run, as teams are currently pounding Army for 228.6 ypg. Out of the 37 touchdowns allowed by this defense, 25 have come via the run. The team has also struggled with forcing turnovers, and collecting sacks, as the Black Knights come into this matchup with only 21 takeaways, and 14 sacks. Caleb Campbell has been the only real consistent player on this defense, as the defensive back is pacing the team with an impressive 94 tackles.
In the 107-year history of this rivalry no team has ever won six consecutive meetings. However, that will change this Saturday at the Middies are the much better team offensively, and should have no trouble against the weak rushing defense of the Black Knights.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Navy 35, Army 14
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
Tulsa (9-3) at U-C-F (9-3)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bright House Networks Stadium (45,301) -- Orlando, Florida. Television:ESPN. Home Record: Tulsa 5-1, UCF 5-1. Away Record: Tulsa 4-2, UCF 4-2. Neutral Record: Tulsa 0-0, UCF 0-0. Conference Record: Tulsa 6-2, UCF 7-1. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Tulsa Golden Hurricane and the UCF Knights meet in the Conference USA title game for the second time in three years, as they collide at Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando this weekend. Tulsa, much like UCF, needed to win its regular season finale to reach this title game and it did so by outlasting Rice, 48-43, this past weekend. It was the fifth straight victory for the Hurricane, which finished 6-2 in league play to capture the West Division title. Tulsa actually finished in a first place tie in the division with Houston, but its 56-7 triumph over the Cougars during the season gave it the tie-breaker. The Hurricane boasts a solid 9-3 record on the year and it is just one victory shy of posting its highest win total since 1982. As for UCF, it finished the regular season with a league-best 7-1 mark en route to the East Division title. The Knights ripped off six straight wins to end the regular season and that includes a 36-20 victory over Texas-El Paso last weekend to clinch the division crown. Much like its opponent, UCF stands at 9-3 overall and it is one triumph short of tying the school record for wins in a season set in 1990. The Knights and Hurricane met in the inaugural 2005 C- USA title game, with Tulsa posting a 44-27 victory for its first league title since 1985. Much like this game, UCF hosted the title contest in 2005, although it is sporting a new arena this time around. The Knights now play their games at Bright House Networks Stadium, where they are 4-0 versus C-USA foes this season, and that includes a 44-23 triumph over Tulsa on October 20th. That was the Hurricane's last loss and it was the start of the Knights' current win steak.
Tulsa enters the game with one of the top offensive units in the country, as it ranks first in the nation in total yards (548.6 ypg), third in passing (369.3 ypg) and ninth in scoring (40.7 ppg). Quarterback Paul Smith has broke countless school and conference records this season, as he has thrown for 4,327 yards and 39 touchdowns. He has completed 61.3 percent of his throws and if that wasn't enough, he has also scored 12 touchdowns on the ground. In last weekend's division-clinching win over Rice, Smith threw for 441 yards and five scores, and he also ran for a touchdown. It was the third time Smith has thrown for five touchdowns in a game this season and the 12th straight time he has eclipsed 300 passing yards. Brennan Marion was his favorite target with seven catches for 244 yards and two touchdowns, while true freshman Trae Johnson added five receptions for 85 yards and two scores as well. For the season, Johnson leads the team with 61 catches and he ranks second to Marion with 940 receiving yards and 10 scores. Marion, a big time playmaker, has 32 receptions for a team-high 1,148 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he is averaging an eye-popping 35.9 yards per catch. As for the overlooked ground game, it is paced by Tarrion Adams, who has rushed for 1,072 yards and seven scores behind a 5.8 yard per carry average. Adams was also a factor in last weekend's win, toting the ball 24 times for 146 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball is where Tulsa has shown considerable weakness this season, allowing its opponents to score 34.7 ppg and gain a whopping 471.8 total ypg. The unit has struggled against both the run (186.6 ypg) and pass (285.2 ypg), and it has forced a modest 19 turnovers. In a big game last weekend, the Hurricane was burnt by Rice for a ridiculous 700 yards of total offense and that includes 541 via the pass. The unit gave up 38 first downs in the win and that helps explain why it spent over 34 minutes of the game on the field. Nelson Coleman headed the charge for Tulsa with 14 tackles, while Chris Chamberlain finished with 13. The duo have been rather outstanding considering the unit's struggles, and they have combined for an impressive 268 tackles.
The Knights have also been successful on offense this season, but they have taken a different approach. Unlike Tulsa, UCF relies heavily on its ground attack, which is accounting for 237.3 of the squad's 425.7 total ypg. Heading the charge for the Knights is Kevin Smith, who is just one of 13 players in FBS history to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season. The speedy back has amassed an incredible 2,164 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground to not only lead the conference in both departments, but the entire nation. Last weekend, Smith carried the ball a school-record 46 times for 219 yards and a touchdown in leading UCF to a division-clinching win over UTEP. It was the fourth 200- yard rushing performance of the season for Smith. Quarterback Kyle Israel also turned in a solid performance last weekend, completing 18-of-26 pass attempts for 261 yards and three touchdowns. It was one of the better efforts for the season by Israel, who has now thrown for 1,957 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has also rushed for 131 yards and five more scores.
On defense, UCF has done a decent job for most of the season, but the unit is by no means stingy. The Knights are currently allowing 28.1 ppg and 371.8 total ypg on the season, but they have allowed over 20 points just once in their last five outings. The defense has also benefited from some big plays, as it has picked off 20 pass, in addition to recording 32 sacks. Last weekend, UCF generated two turnovers and a pair of sacks as it defeated UTEP. The unit also limited UTEP to only 320 yards of total offense in the win. Sha'reff Rashad posted eight stops and an interception in the game, and he leads the club with 90 tackles and four picks for the year.
This should be a classic, as Tulsa's passing game goes against UCF's dominant ground attack. The Knights have the edge playing at home and they should be able to keep the Hurricane's offense off the field with their running game, as they get their revenge with a win this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 42, Tulsa 31
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
(6) Virginia Tech (10-2) vs. (12) Boston College (10-2)
GAME NOTES: The ACC Championship game pits the sixth-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies against the 12th-ranked Boston College Eagles in Jacksonville with a trip to the Orange Bowl on the line. Virginia Tech won the ACC Coastal Division with a 33-21 triumph over Virginia last Saturday. The Hokies are 10-2 overall and 7-1 against league competition, and they have won 10 games in four consecutive seasons. They are also 15-1 in ACC road bouts since joining the conference four years ago, a tremendously impressive feat. Boston College opened the season with eight straight victories and appeared to be a legitimate contender for the national championship, but back-to-back losses to Florida State and Maryland crushed that dream. Fortunately, the Eagles have rallied for back-to-back victories, including a 28-14 decision over Miami last week, ending a 15-game losing streak against the Hurricanes. Boston College is the ACC Atlantic Division champ and is attempting to win its 11th game for just the second time in school history. The Eagles hope to secure their first-ever BCS bowl berth. Virginia Tech owns a 9-5 lead in the all-time series with Boston College, but the Eagles beat the Hokies in dramatic fashion on October 25th in Blacksburg.
Typically, a two-quarterback system is frowned upon, but Virginia Tech has found a way to make it work. Sean Glennon is a pocket passer who has completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 1,462 yards and eight touchdowns against only two interceptions. As for the other signal caller, freshman Tyrod Taylor, he has completed 54.4 percent of his attempts for 888 yards with five scores and two interceptions. Taylor adds an additional threat as a runner, as he has rushed for 395 yards and six touchdowns. Expect both players to see action against BC this weekend. The top tailback for the Hokies is Branden Ore, who has rushed for 821 yards and eight touchdowns despite a lackluster average of 3.6 yards per carry. As for the receivers, Justin Harper and Josh Morgan have both made 35 catches and scored four touchdowns apiece. Tech is averaging 29.2 ppg despite a modest mark of 335.1 total ypg. In the thrilling victory over Virginia last time out, Ore rushed for 147 yards on 31 carries, and Taylor had a pair of rushing touchdowns. Glennon threw for 260 yards and one touchdown, and Eddie Royal had six catches for 147 yards and a score.
It comes as absolutely no surprise that Virginia Tech once again possesses one of the nation's premier defensive units. The Hokies are allowing only 15.4 ppg and 285.3 total ypg. They have been tremendous against the run, yielding a mere 86.2 ypg on 2.7 ypc. The pass defense has been equally strong, as opposing quarterbacks have only nine passing touchdowns against the Hokies with 19 interceptions. The fact that foes are only making good on 28 percent of their third down conversion attempts is yet another outstanding statistic for the defense. Keep an eye on Xavier Adibi, as he leads Tech with 99 total tackles, including 11 TFLs. Chris Ellis is tops with 8.5 sacks, while Brandon Flowers has five interceptions. The Hokies were not dominant against Virginia last weekend, but the fact that they were able to limit the Cavaliers to 21 points proved to be good enough to earn a victory. Virginia Tech allowed only 241 yards in the contest and came up with a pair of takeaways.
It is certainly no secret to fans of college football that Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan has been the key to his team's success this season. In 12 regular season games, Ryan completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,953 yards and 28 touchdowns against 16 interceptions. He certainly benefits from the presence of Andre Callender, who leads the team in both rushing and receiving. Callender has run for 885 yards and nine touchdowns while hauling in 59 receptions for 613 yards and four scores. There are five players with at least four receiving touchdowns, proof that Ryan has done an outstanding job of spreading the ball around. In the win over Miami last weekend, Boston College racked up 462 total yards, including 369 passing yards from Ryan. The standout signal caller was intercepted twice, but he did manage to throw three touchdown passes. Rich Gunnell had nine catches for 135 yards, and Callender ran for 96 yards and a touchdown.
The fact that Boston College is allowing only 19.5 ppg this season and 331.6 ypg is impressive, especially considering the quality of opposition that the Eagles face in the ACC. They have been tremendous against the run, yielding only 65.7 ypg on 2.2 yards per attempt. While opponents are racking up 265.9 passing ypg against Boston College, the team has come up with 20 interceptions and has avoided big plays for the most part. With 30 sacks to their credit, the Eagles have done a good job of pressuring the quarterback. Jamie Silva, a Thorpe Award finalist, has been an absolute force for BC, as he has registered a team-high 110 tackles to go along with five interceptions. As for Alex Albright, he has 10 TFLs, including 8.5 sacks. Give the Eagles plenty of credit for limiting Miami to 14 points last weekend. They came up with a pair of takeaways and held the Hurricanes to 281 total yards, including only 83 yards on the ground.
This game reeks of revenge, as Virginia Tech let a victory slip away late against Boston College during the regular season. Expect a tight contest from start to finish, and don't be surprised if a big special teams play proves to be the difference for the Hokies.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Tech 24, Boston College 21
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
Florida Atlantic (6-5) at Troy (8-3)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium (30,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: Local. Home Record: FAU 3-2, Troy 4-0. Away Record: FAU 3-3, Troy 4-3. Neutral Record: FAU 0-0, Troy 0-0. Conference Record: FAU 5-1, Troy 6-0. Series Record: Troy leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: The Sun Belt Conference title is on the line Saturday afternoon, as the Troy Trojans get set to the host the Florida Atlantic Owls at Movie Gallery Stadium. The winner of this meeting will move on to face Memphis in the R+L Carries New Orleans Bowl. The Owls have posted wins in three of their last five games and are coming off an impressive, 55-23 victory over Florida International this past weekend. FAU is only 6-5 on the season, but inside conference play the team is an impressive 5-1. As for the Trojans, they opened their season with two straight losses, but since then the team has won eight of their last nine contests, including two straight victories over Western Kentucky (21-17) and Middle Tennessee (45-7). The Trojans are strong on their homefield, posting a 20-3 ledger at Movie Gallery Stadium since the beginning of the 2003 season. In regard to the all-time series between the two schools, the Trojans have defeated Florida Atlantic in all four meetings.
The Owls have been a one-dimensional offense throughout the season, as the team has relied heavily on the pass. FAU heads into this contest averaging a solid 285.7 ypg with the pass, and along with the team's 125.6 ypg on the ground, the Owls are posting 29.4 ppg. Rusty Smith has been one of the top quarterbacks in the Sun Belt, completing 56.4 percent of his throws for 3,061 yards. In 11 games, the signal-caller has tossed 25 touchdowns against only eight interceptions. Cortez Gent and Jason Harmon have been the top two receivers for FAU, as Gent comes into this game with 53 receptions, 875 yards and eight touchdowns. As for Harmon, he has hauled in 50 passes for 676 yards and three scores. In the recent 32-point victory over FIU, Smith was at it again, as the quarterback threw for 330 yards and four scores on 20-of-30 passing. Gent was outstanding in the win, grabbing four balls for 145 yards and two touchdowns. The ground game even put forth a surprising effort, as the team rumbled for 228 yards on 30 carries. Charles Pierre led the way with 86 yards and now has a team-best 666 yards and six touchdowns on the year.
On the defensive side of the ball, the team has not enjoyed much success. In fact, the Owls are being abused for 414.5 total ypg, and that has led to 33.9 ppg. Against the run, the Owls are being gashed for 179.9 ypg, and against the pass the team is allowing another 234.5 ypg. Teams have been able to find the end zone with the pass or run, as opponents have scored 21 times on the ground, and 22 times through the air. In the recent win over FIU, the defense surrendered 377 yards, but did a solid job against the run, holding the Golden Panthers to just 113 yards on 34 carries (3.3 ypc). The defense only forced one turnover, but was able to collect four sacks in the win. On the year, FAU has done a terrific job in forcing mistakes, as the team has recorded 30 takeaways. However, despite the four-sack performance against FIU, pressuring the quarterback has been tough, as the team currently has just 13 sacks on the year. Frantz Joseph has clearly been the best player on this unit, as the linebacker is leading the team with 110 stops and 10 TFLs.
The Trojans have been one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the Sun Belt, averaging a whopping 453.5 total ypg, which has led to 34.2 ppg. The team has done a terrific job with the pass, averaging 270.2 ypg through the air. Not to be overlooked is the rushing attack for Troy, which is churning out 183.3 ypg. Quarterback Omar Haugabook has been sensational this year, throwing for 2,710 yards and 16 scores against 15 interceptions. Haugabook has also rushed for 545 yards and a team-high 11 rushing scores. However, the main tailback for Troy has been Kenny Cattouse, who is leading the squad with 787 yards and seven TDs. Haugabook continued his dominance in the recent win over Middle Tennessee, as the quarterback threw for 194 yards and one touchdown, while also rushing for 64 yards and two scores. As a whole, Troy racked up and amazing 37 first downs and 551 total yards of production.
The Trojans have been silently one of the top defensive units in the Sun Belt. Troy is only surrendering 23.4 ppg behind 373.4 total ypg. The one area that team has had trouble with is against the run, as the Trojans are being pounded for 200.1 ypg. Out of the 31 touchdowns surrendered by this defense, 18 have come via the run. In the recent win over Middle Tennessee, the Trojans put forth a tremendous effort, holding the Blue Raiders to just 209 total yards of offense and only seven points. The most surprising aspect of the win was the team's performance against the run, as Troy held MTU to 93 rushing yards on 28 carries (3.3 ypc). The defense forced two turnovers and now has an impressive 30 takeaways on the year. Kenny Mainor is currently leading the team with nine TFLs and five sacks.
The Owls have had an outstanding season, but the Trojans are more balanced offensively and play much tougher defense. Look for the Trojans to finish with a flawless league slate en route to a bowl matchup in New Orleans.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Troy 38, Florida Atlantic 24
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
(14) Tennessee (9-3) vs. (5) L-S-U (10-2)
GAME NOTES: The fifth-ranked LSU Tigers and the 14th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers will do battle this weekend for the SEC championship. This game will take place at the Georgia Dome, and a berth in the Sugar Bowl is on the line. Tennessee is the Eastern Division champion, a title the team secured with a 52-50 victory over Kentucky in a four-overtime marathon. The Vols, who are 9-3 overall and 6-2 in league play, actually tied with Georgia for division supremacy, but a 35-14 romp over the Bulldogs on October 6th served as the tie- breaker. Tennessee has now won five straight games and returns to the SEC title contest for the first time since 2004. LSU is 10-2 overall, and the team finished 6-2 in conference to win the SEC Western Division outright for the first time in program history. The Tigers have now won at least 10 games in three straight seasons, and their only two losses this year have both come in triple overtime. LSU owned the top spot in the AP poll heading into last weekend's clash with Arkansas, but the 50-48 setback seemingly cost Les Miles' club a shot at the national title. The Tigers are making their fourth all-time SEC Championship Game appearance, and the club has twice captured the title. The Vols own a 20-6-3 series lead over LSU, but the Tigers have won two of the last three meetings. Last season, LSU beat Tennessee by a 28-24 final in a tremendously competitive contest.
Tennessee scored 14 points in the first quarter against Kentucky, then another 10 points in the second quarter. The production continued to gradually increase over the next two quarters, as the Vols managed just seven points in the third frame before being blanked in the fourth. Fortunately, Erik Ainge remained poised at the quarterback position and led his squad to a memorable victory. Ainge threw a record seven touchdown passes and finished with 397 yards through the air. Arian Foster, who rushed for 118 yards, also caught nine passes for 98 yards and one touchdown. As for Lucas Taylor, he made six grabs for 103 yards and a score. Tennessee is scoring 35.0 ppg while gaining 403.9 total ypg, and the team can move the ball both on the ground and through the air. Foster has 208 carries for 1,107 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he has scored twice as a receiver as well. Ainge has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,908 yards and 27 touchdowns against only eight interceptions. As for Taylor, he has recorded 71 catches for 975 yards and five scores.
After a tremendous start against the explosive Kentucky offense last weekend, the Vols had a hard time slowing down the Wildcats late in that contest. It's hard to give the defense much credit for the victory, as Tennessee allowed 31 points in regulation and another 19 in the extra session. Kentucky racked up 37 first downs and 564 total yards, and most of the damage was done through the air. Opponents are posting only 28.7 ppg against Tennessee, which is allowing 402.9 total ypg to the opposition. The Vols have yielded 37 total touchdowns, 23 of which have been passing scores. There is room for improvement against both the run and the pass, but with the exception of last weekend's clash, Tennessee has played strong defense during the current winning streak. Jerod Mayo leads the Vols with 112 total tackles, and Eric Berry has recorded four interceptions.
LSU is averaging 40.2 ppg and 446.8 total ypg this season, as the team can move the ball effectively both on the ground and through the air. The Tigers have scored 58 offensive touchdowns in 12 games, including 34 scores on the ground. The most productive back has been Jacob Hester, as he has rushed for 897 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 5.0 ypc. Keiland Williams checks in with 424 yards and six scores, while Charles Scott has tallied five rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Matt Flynn, who has run for four touchdowns, has completed 55.1 percent of his passes for 2,233 yards and 17 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. Brandon LaFell has made 45 catches for 576 yards and three scores for LSU, which has a few solid receivers in the mix. The Tigers did not commit a single turnover against Arkansas last weekend and finished with 413 total yards. Flynn passed for 209 yards and three touchdowns, while Hester posted 126 rushing yards and two scores.
Early on this season, the LSU defense was spectacular, limiting the first three opponents to a total of seven points, including a pair of shutouts. Unfortunately, as the season has carried on, the Tigers have been exposed at times. They have allowed 24 or more points in six of the last seven games, and the lone exception during that span was a non-conference game against a weak Louisiana Tech club. Overall, LSU is surrendering 20.1 ppg and 278.9 total ypg. Craig Steltz leads the Tigers with 89 total tackles, and he has registered six interceptions to go along with three forced fumbles. Glenn Dorsey has made 61 stops from his defensive tackle position, and he has posted 11.5 TFLs, including six sacks. LSU surrendered 50 points and 513 total yards in the loss to Arkansas last weekend. The Tigers, who were once considered the top run- stopping squad in the nation, permitted 385 rushing yards to the Razorbacks.
Go with LSU in this contest, as the Tigers have yet to be beaten in regulation this season. The Vols will keep it close, however, as they enter with a wealth of confidence.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 30, Tennessee 23
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
Louisiana Tech (5-6) at Nevada (5-6)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mackay Stadium (31,900) -- Reno, Nevada. Television: None. Home Record: LaTech 3-2, Nevada 3-2. Away Record: LaTech 2-4, Nevada 2-4. Neutral Record: LaTech 0-0, Nevada 0-0. Conference Record: LaTech 4-3, Nevada 3-4. Series Record: Louisiana Tech leads, 4-3.
GAME NOTES: Bowl eligibility is up for grabs this weekend in the Western Athletic Conference as the Nevada Wolf Pack and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs go after each other in the regular-season finale at Mackay Stadium in Reno. Nevada appeared to be in prime position to make it to the postseason a few weeks ago, but back-to-back losses have taken some of the wind out of its sails. Following a crushing 28-26 setback versus Hawaii a couple weeks ago, the Wolf Pack made the trip to San Jose State this past Saturday and fell in a 27-24 decision, marking the first win for the Spartans over Nevada in six years. The loss dropped the Pack to just 5-6 on the season, which is where LaTech currently stands as well. With only two wins through the first seven games of 2007, the Bulldogs were almost left for dead, but the squad has since won three of four contests to get to within a game of .500. The most recent outing for the Bulldogs took place on November 17, with the squad taking out San Jose State by a score of 27-23. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series by a slim 4-3 margin, but Nevada has been the victor in each of the last two meetings. A season ago the team's met in Ruston where the Wolf Pack crushed LaTech in a 42-0 decision.
For most of the season, LaTech quarterback Zac Champion played nothing like his name would indicate, but he's bounced back as of late. In 11 games the signal- caller has thrown for 191.5 ypg and has recorded 13 touchdowns through the air, but has also been tagged with 10 interceptions. In the last five games Champion has tossed a total of eight picks, and yet he's still looked better during that stretch for the most part. Anthony Harrison is the leading receiver for the squad with his 32 grabs, but they've resulted in just 289 yards and not a single touchdown. The running back combination of Patrick Jackson and Daniel Porter has made up more than 1,400 yards and accounted for 14 of the team's 16 rushing scores. Unfortunately, as hard as the key offensive performers have worked in 2007, the squad is still sixth in the WAC and 94th in the nation in scoring with a mere 21.7 ppg.
Except for a handful of games this season, the LaTech defense has been beaten and bruised at almost every turn. The squad has permitted at least 42 points on four separate occasions, but there was a moment that the group shined as it fell to undefeated Hawaii by just a single point in the second game of the season. The pass defense has been especially suspect, allowing 276.5 ypg to rank last in the conference and 108th in the nation this week. However, as bad as that might sound, the fact is the secondary has made quite a bit of noise as well with 19 interceptions to slow down opponents. Weldon Brown and Tony Moss are tied for the team lead with four picks apiece, while Antonio Baker and Deon Young check in with three INTs each as well. Baker also leads the unit with a total of 113 tackles and is first with two recovered fumbles. In terms of quality tackles, Chris Pugh checks in with 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks, both of which pace the group.
Nevada was supposed to be one of the teams competing for the WAC title this season, but injuries and hard-luck losses have almost pushed the Pack completely out of the postseason picture at this point. Luke Lippincott was limited to a mere 74 yards on 16 carries last weekend, which is one of the reasons Nevada was unable to escape SJSU on the road. Colin Kaepernick continued to show outstanding play with his 12-of-22 passing for 252 yards and two touchdowns, adding 72 yards rushing on nine attempts, but it simply couldn't do it all alone. Marko Mitchell captured four passes for 144 yards and both scores. Lippincott is still listed as the leading rusher in the WAC and 20th in the nation this week with his 115.3 ypg, but since coming in for the injured Nick Graziano this team has belonged to Kaepernick. The young signal-caller is not only second on the team with 488 yards and six touchdowns on the ground, he's managed to connected on 54.5 percent of his pass attempts for 14 touchdowns and a mere three INTs, which says a lot about how quickly he has grown up. Thanks to matchups against Nicholls State and Boise State, this group has risen to 10th in the nation in total offense with 475.1 ypg and is 21st in scoring with 35.1 ppg as well.
Even though San Jose State managed just 86 yards rushing on Saturday, the home team still kept the Nevada defense on the field for far too long. The Pack defense, which spent more than 36 minutes on the field, had an especially tough time getting to the bench in the fourth quarter when the Spartans held onto the ball for more than 11 minutes, essentially killing any chances the Pack had at making it into the win column. Four players finished with double- digit tackles for Nevada, led by Paul Pratt with his 12 stops. Ezra Butler checked win with 11 tackles, 1.5 behind the line of scrimmage and an interception in the setback as well. In addition to the blowout loss to Nebraska in the first game of the season, the Pack has been involved in a couple of other nasty contests in which the opposition has trampled the defense, namely the meetings with Fresno State and Boise State in back-to-back contests. Because of those outcomes, the Pack's scoring defense has been beaten up rather harshly, permitting 35 ppg to rank not only seventh in the conference but also 104th in the nation this week. A lack of pressure up front, just 1.9 sacks and 6.1 TFLs per game, means that the opposition is getting far too much time to search for outlets down the field.
With so much on the line in this final game, Kaepernick and Lippincott will not go away quietly. In fact, expect the duo to do a number of the LaTech defense and run away with the victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nevada 41, Louisiana Tech 30
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
Oregon State (7-4) at (18) Oregon (8-3)
GAME NOTES: The 18th-ranked Oregon Ducks have seemingly fallen apart, and they will try to get back on track against the Oregon State Beavers in the annual rivalry game known as the "Civil War". Oregon State owns a 7-4 overall record heading into this regular-season finale, and the squad has a 5-3 mark against Pac-10 opposition. The Beavers have played outstanding football in recent weeks, as they have won two straight games and five of their last six after a slow start. They have been idle for two weeks, as the most recent outing took place on November 17th and resulted in a 52-17 blowout victory over Washington State. As for Oregon, it was dealt a shutout loss for the first time in more than 22 years last Saturday, dropping a 16-0 decision to UCLA. With that loss, the Ducks had their hopes of reaching the Rose Bowl crushed. They have lost their last two games to fall to 8-3 overall, including 5-3 in league play. The "Civil War" dates back to 1894, and 110 games have been played between the Ducks and the Beavers. Oregon owns a 55-45-10 series lead over Oregon State, but the Beavers posted a 30-28 victory in Corvallis last season. The road team has not won a game in this series since 1996.
Oregon State is scoring 27.5 ppg this season while gaining 362.6 total ypg, and of the 31 offensive touchdowns the team has posted, 21 have come on the ground. Yvenson Bernard is the workhorse in the Beaver backfield, as he has carried the football 237 times for 1,095 yards and 12 touchdowns in the 10 games he has played. A versatile performer, Bernard has also caught 36 passes, the second- highest total on the roster, and the hope is that he can overcome a knee injury and play this week. Lyle Moevao has been inconsistent at quarterback, as he has only completed 51.5 percent of his passes in his limited time under center. In the recent romp over Washington State, Oregon State posted 218 rushing yards and 213 yards through the air. The Beavers did not commit a single turnover in the clash and scored seven offensive touchdowns, six of which came on the ground. Bernard found paydirt twice, and Moevao came through with 202 passing yards and one touchdown. He was starting in place of Sean Canfield, and the team's other quarterback is listed as questionable this week with a shoulder injury.
Clearly, the strength of the Oregon State defense is its play against the run, as the Beavers are surrendering only 64.0 rushing ypg on 1.9 ypc. Opponents have been forced to rely heavily on the pass to move the ball, and while Oregon State is yielding 246.6 ypg through the air, the Beavers have recorded 19 interceptions and 41 sacks. It is also worth noting that foes have only made good on 29 percent of their third down conversion attempts against Oregon State. There are a number of standout performers on the defensive side of the ball for the Beavers, and Derrick Doggett is certainly a player worthy of mention. Doggett is second on the team with 67 tackles, and he has registered 12 TFLs to go along with three interceptions. Victor Butler has registered 11 TFLs, including nine sacks. Give the Beavers plenty of credit for their strong defensive showing in the victory over Washington State. Sure, Oregon State yielded nearly 400 yards, but it came up with a staggering total of seven interceptions.
Before an ACL injury ended his season, Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon was considered by some to be the Heisman favorite. Brady Leaf took over under center for the Ducks, but he injured his knee in the first quarter against UCLA and did not return. That left the quarterbacking duties to a pair of rookies, Cody Kempt and Justin Roper. Neither of the two proved capable of moving the ball, and if Leaf can not play this weekend, this offense could struggle once again. Star tailback Jonathan Stewart was limited with a foot injury against UCLA, and although he is expected to be on the field this week, it remains to be seen if he is able to run with the same power and burst that we have come to expect of him. Oregon finished with 148 total yards in the loss to the Bruins. Overall this season, the Ducks are averaging 37.2 ppg and 473.3 total ypg, but the offense is completely different with Dixon out of the lineup. A great deal of pressure falls on a hobbled Stewart, who has run for 1,306 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging an even six yards per carry. Keep an eye on Jaison Williams, as he has seven receiving touchdowns and an average of 16.1 yards per catch.
It is hard to fault the Oregon defense for the loss to UCLA last week. Of the four scoring drives that the Bruins had, including two that resulted in field goals, none spanned more than 31 yards, and three of the drives covered 15 or fewer yards. UCLA finished the game with 10 first downs and 220 yards, a credit to Oregon. The Ducks posted two interceptions and limited the Bruins to 4-of-17 passing. Opponents are scoring just 22.5 ppg against Oregon, which is allowing 380.3 total ypg. Of the 27 touchdowns that the Ducks have given up, 18 have been passing scores. Nick Reed has been outstanding for Oregon, as he has registered 20.5 TFLs, including 11 sacks. Jairus Byrd paces the squad with five interceptions, and Patrick Chung is tops with 102 total tackles.
Oregon State enters this contest with significantly more momentum and confidence than does Oregon. Still, playing at home is a huge advantage in this series, and Stewart will salvage some pride for his Ducks.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon 24, Oregon State 20
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
U-C-L-A (6-5) at (8) U-S-C (9-2)
GAME NOTES: The eighth-ranked USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins meet in one of college football's greatest rivalries, as the two teams close out their regular seasons against one another in the Coliseum this weekend. The Trojans are seeking their unprecedented sixth-consecutive Pac-10 title and will clinch at least a share of it, along with a Rose Bowl berth with a win over the Bruins. Pete Carroll's team is 9-2 on the season and has moved into a tie with Arizona State atop the conference standings thanks to three straight wins, including a 44-24 pasting of Sun Devils in Tempe on Thanksgiving. The Bruins had dropped three straight games from October 27th to November 10th, but a win last week against Oregon (16-0) surprisingly leaves UCLA with a chance to win a share of the Pac-10 crown as well. Karl Dorrell's squad can finish in a tie for first in the conference and pick up the Rose Bowl berth with a win over USC coupled with an Arizona State loss to Arizona. It will be the 36th time in the history of this series that a Rose Bowl berth is on the line. The Trojans lead the all-time series with their crosstown rivals by a count of 41-28-7. USC had won seven straight meetings until UCLA finally ended that last season with a 13-9 decision in Pasadena.
The Bruins are not an overly explosive offensive unit, due in large part to the team's revolving door under center. Due to injuries this year, a number of QBs have taken their turn running the show. TGhe best of the bunch has been junior Ben Olson, who has completed 50 percent of his passes, for 1,040 yards, with seven TDs and six interceptions. Fellow junior Patrick Cowan (530 yards, three TDs), sophomore Osaar Rasshan (259 yards) and freshman McLeod Bethel- Thompson (139 yards) have also had their chances. Regardless of who is under center, the top target downfield is always Brandon Breazell, who leads the team in receptions (43) and receiving yards (713). The passing attack, which generates 187.6 yards per game is aided by a solid ground assault (162.6 ypg). An injury to leading rusher Kahlil Bell (99.4 ypg) has limited him to just eight games this year, allowing Chris Markey (549 yards, three TDs) to take a more prominent role in the backfield.
The Bruins have done a nice job on the defensive side of the ball, but really too it to another level last week in shutting out the explosive Ducks. This is a unit that has made its fair share of big plays, recording 23 takeaways and an impressive 35 sacks. Senior rush end Bruce Davis has been one of the Pac-10's top linemen this season and has been a disruptive force in opposing backfields. Of his 33 total tackles, 10.5 have come behind the line of scrimmage, including a team-high 9.5 sacks. Senior free safety Dennis Keyes highlights the play in a very active secondary. Keyes currently leads the team in tackle (87), with 2.0 TFLs and three INTs. Cornerbacks Al Verner (63 tackles, four INTs) and Trey Brown (53 tackles, four INTs, two fumble recoveries) have been productive as well.
QB John David Booty came up huge in the biggest game of the season, as he threw four TD passes and ran four another score, leading the Trojans to a lopsided win over Arizona State last week and putting the team in a position to capture yet another conference crown. Booty had not lived up to the preseason Heisman hype thrust on him, but he hasn't been bad either, completing just over 63 percent of his passes, for 1,900 yards with 19 TDs. The team lacks star power in the receiving corps, but TE Fred Davis (team-high 49 receptions, for 753 yards and six TDs) may be the best at his position in the country. The ground game has been steady all year, accounting for 180.8 yards per game. Senior RB Chauncey Washington (4.9 ypc, eight TDs), sophomore RB Stafon Johnson (6.7 ypc, five TDs) and freshman Joe McKnight (4.6 ypc, one TD) have all been productive.
A great deal of USC's success this year can be attributed to the play of the defense. The Trojans have one of the top defensive squads in the country, ranking fourth in rush defense (85.3 ypg), sixth in scoring defense (16.7 ppg) and second in total defense (267.1 ypg). With 36 sacks on the season, this team likes to get upfield and make plays as well. With four sacks in the win over Arizona State last week, rush end Lawrence Jackson now leads the team in sacks (9.5), as well as TFLs (13.0). All-American candidate Sedrick Ellis is not far behind in either category, posting 12.5 TFLs and 8.5 sacks from his tackle position. Other playmakers of note on the defense include LBs Keith Rivers (team-high 70 tackles) and Rey Maualuga (67 tackles, three sacks) and DBs Taylor Mays (59 tackles, one INT), Kevin Ellison (50 tackles, two sacks, two INTs) and Terrell Thomas (37 tackles, three INTs).
The Bruins won a big game last week against Oregon, but they will get a USC squad at full strength and a conference crown within grasp. The Trojans are the more experienced team in critical games and that, along with a deep talent pool should sway the outcome in their favor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: USC 31, UCLA 17
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
(21) B-Y-U (9-2) at San Diego State (4-7)
GAME NOTES: With the Mountain West Conference title already securely in-house, the 21st-ranked BYU Cougars will travel to southern California to take on the San Diego State Aztecs in the regular-season finale for both squads. Winners of eight straight games, the Cougars are now 9-2 on the season and a perfect 7-0 in MWC action. Although the team has already won the conference crown, there is still plenty to play for. Ranked 19th in the last BCS standings, a win this week along with some outside help, could land Bronco Mendenhall's team in the top-12 in the BCS, giving the Cougars a shot at one of the five BCS Bowl games. The Aztecs have no postseason in their immediate future, as they have struggled to a 4-7 record thus far, including a mere 3-4 record in-conference. The team has played a bit better in the month of November, splitting four games. However, Chuck Long's squad has dropped its last two, including a 45-33 decision to TCU last weekend. BYU leads the all-time series with SDSU, 23-7-1 and has won five of the last six meetings.
Behind one of the nation's best passing attacks, the Cougars have been able to win nine of their first 11 games this season. The team is averaging a healthy 450.3 yards of total offense this year, with 311.0 of that coming via the pass, to rank 11th nationally. The offensive line has done a solid job in protecting QB Max Hall, allowing just 17 sacks thus far. The protection has given Hall the time to complete almost 60 percent of his passes this year, for 3,390 yards, with 21 TDs. Hall enjoys spreading the ball around, with as many as four different receivers hauling in 35 balls or more. Leading the way is sophomore tight end Dennis Pitta, who has 50 receptions, for 728 yards and four TDs. Sophomore WR Austin Collie is another top producer in the vertical game, with 47 receptions, for 804 yards and five scores. The ground game, which generates 139.3 yards per game, is highlighted by freshman RB Harvey Unga, who has rushed for 1,050 yards and 10 TDs. Junior RB Manase Tonga has a quarter of Unga's yards (248), but has scored an additional eight rushing TDs.
BYU has certainly been one of the top defensive squads in not only the Mountain West this year, but the entire nation for that matter. The team is ninth in the nation in scoring defense (18.0 ppg), rush defense (94.3 ypg) and total defense (302.7 ypg). In addition, the team is limiting foes to just a 32 percent success rate on third down, while recording 27 sacks and 14 interceptions. Sophomore Jan Jorgensen (6-3, 260) has been a one-man wrecking crew on the defensive line. He has 66 total tackles (third on the team) and paces the Cougars in TFLs (17.0) and sacks (11). Senior LB Kelly Poppinga leads the team in tackles with 94 stops, with 7.0 TFLs and one INT. Fellow senior LB Bryan Kehl has been unstoppable as well, with 78 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, 4.0 sacks and three interceptions.
Much like the Cougars, the Aztecs rely heavily on a dangerous passing attack to move the chains. The team is averaging 378.5 yards of total offense and of that, 271.3 yards come courtesy of the vertical game. Senior QB Kevin O'Connell has taken the majority of the snaps under center in 2007 and has played well for the most part, completing 58.3 percent of his passes, for 2,775 yards, with 14 TDs and seven INTs. Senior WR Brett Swain has clearly been the top target downfield, leading the team in receptions (48), receiving yards (875) and TD catches (5). The ground game doesn't provide much balance at just 107.2 yards per game. The problem is that there is no real workhorse in the backfield. Senior RB Brandon Bornes currently leads the team in rushing, but with just 348 yards. O'Connell is just one yard behind Bornes in rushing, but has been much more dangerous, accounting for nine of the team's 17 rushing scored to date.
Defensively is where the Aztecs have come up way short this season. The team is allowing a generous 33.2 ppg in 2007 and has not found a way to stop the run (235.2 ypg) or the pass (259.4 ypg) with any consistency. Getting off the field has been problematic as well, with opponents converting nearly half of their third down opportunities (46 percent). Junior LB Russell Allen has been the most active defender on the roster and is among the league leaders in terms of tackles with 110 stops. Senior safety Ray Bass is also closing in on the century mark, with 93 total tackles, followed by sophomore LB Luke Laolagi (89 tackles, 6.0 TFLs, 1.5 sacks).
The Cougars still have something to play for, as going perfect in the MWC is certainly a worthy accomplishment. Although the chances of earning a BCS Bowl bid are slim, there is still that added incentive as well. SDSU has struggled in stopping anyone this year and that trend will likely continue in the season-finale.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: BYU 33, San Diego State 16
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
North Texas (2-9) at Florida International (0-11)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Orange Bowl Stadium (72,319) -- Miami, Florida. Television: None. Home Record: North Texas 2-3, FIU 0-4. Away Record: North Texas 0-6, FIU 0-7. Neutral Record: North Texas 0-0, FIU 0-0. Conference Record: North Texas 1-5, FIU 0-6. Series Record: North Texas leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Florida International Golden Panthers will have one last chance this season to snap the nation's longest losing streak when they host the North Texas Mean Green Saturday evening at the Orange Bowl. The Mean Green are coming off only their second victory of the season, as the team collected a slim, 27-26 win over Western Kentucky this past weekend. The win snapped a four-game losing skid for North Texas, which came into last weekend with nine losses in its first 10 matchups. Since the beginning of last season, the Mean Green have struggled away from home, posting a mere 1-12 ledger outside of Denton. As for the Golden Panthers, they are coming off a rough, 55-23 setback to Florida Atlantic this past weekend. The loss dropped FIU to 0-11 on the year and extended the team's losing streak to a nation's worst 23 straight games. The last time Florida International tasted victory was back in December of 2005 when the team slipped past Middle Tennessee, 35-31. The Mean Green hold a slim 2-0 lead in the all-time series against FIU. Last season these two schools endured an astonishing seven overtime battle, which finished with a North Texas 25-22 victory.
There has not been much offensive success for North Texas through this year, and if there was one area the team could deem a bright spot, it would be the passing attack. The Mean Green are currently averaging 293.0 ypg through the air, and that along with 121.2 ypg on the ground, has led to 25.4 ppg. However, the offensive unit has committed 32 turnovers this year, and 26 have been interceptions. Surprisingly in the recent victory over Western Kentucky, the Mean Green leaned more on the ground attack, as the squad rumbled for 195 yards on 5.7 yards per clip. Jamario Thomas, who has a team-best 618 yards and seven scores on the season, led the way for North Texas, rushing for 147 yards and three TDs. Quarterback Giovanni Vizza had a poor outing, completing just 20- of-42 passes for only 202 yards, while also tossing three interceptions. The signal caller has been inconsistent on the season, completing 58.4 percent of his passes for just 2,135 yards. In nine games Vizza has thrown 16 touchdowns, but that goes along with his 18 interceptions. The only real threat Vizza has had down field is Casey Fitzgerald, who is leading the Mean Green with 104 receptions, 1,264 yards and 12 touchdowns.
There is not an adjective in the English dictionary that can describe how poorly the Mean Green have played on defense. The team is currently last in the nation in points allowed (45.7 ppg) and also ranks near the bottom in total defense, surrendering 499.4 ypg. North Texas has been gashed for a whopping 240.0 ypg on the ground, while also being torched for another 259.4 ypg through the air. In the recent win over Western Kentucky, the Mean Green's struggles against the run continued, as the team was pounded for 226 yards on 46 carries. The team was able to force two turnovers in the contest, but finished the game with zero sacks. The team has done a poor job in both areas all season, collecting just 23 takeaways, while recording only 12 sacks. Jeremiah Chapman has been the best player for this unit, as the lineman is leading the squad with 70 tackles, 14.5 TFLs and 4.5 sacks.
For the third consecutive contest the Golden Panthers scored over 20 points, but just like the previous two games, FIU still suffered a loss. In the 32- point setback to rival Florida Atlantic the offense for FIU collected 377 yards, including 264 yards through the air. Four different players threw at least one pass in the contest, but the signal-caller who had the most success was Paul McCall, who threw for 181 yards and two scores. McCall entered the game in relief for Wayne Younger, who suffered a shoulder injury early in the second quarter. Younger should be back under center, however, for the finale against North Texas. In 11 games this season Younger has not had much success, completing less than 50.0 percent of his passes for only 1,357 yards. He has thrown nine scores, but has nearly doubled that total with 17 interceptions. Sadly enough Younger has been the main threat for the team's rushing attack as well, as the quarterback is leading the team with 536 yards and two touchdowns. The Golden Panthers are last in the nation with 13.0 ppg and one of the worst offensive units in the nation, averaging just 262.9 total ypg.
The defense unit has been just as bad for the Golden Panthers, as the squad is being abused for 40.9 ppg, while surrendering a whopping 456.0 total ypg. The unit has been pounded by the rushing attack for 213.3 ypg, while also being torched for 242.7 ypg through the air. The defensive woes continued this past weekend for FIU, as the team was hammered by the Owls, 55-23. In the loss, FIU was gashed for 228 yards on the ground, and suffered an equally rough outing against the pass, yielding 343 yards through the air. The defense was able to force one turnover in the game, but finished with zero sacks. The team has done a terrible job in both areas this season, collecting just 17 turnovers, while recording only 20 sacks. Scott Bryant has clearly been the best player for this defense, as the linebacker has recorded a team-best 81 tackles to go along with six TFLs.
Both teams have played poorly defensively, but the Golden Panthers have been dreadful in nearly every aspect of the game and it is unlikely the team will be able to snap its losing streak against North Texas.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Texas 45, Florida International 37
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
California (6-5) at Stanford (3-8)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stanford Stadium (85,500) -- Stanford, California. Television: Versus. Home Record: California 4-2, Stanford 1-6. Away Record: California 2-3, Stanford 2-2. Neutral Record: California 0-0, Stanford 0-0. Conference Record: California 3-5, Stanford 2-6. Series Record: Stanford leads, 54-44-11.
GAME NOTES: The Stanford Cardinal and the California Golden Bears face off in one of the oldest college football rivalries, as the teams take the field at Stanford Stadium on Saturday. Heading into the 110th meeting between the programs, Stanford holds a 54-44-11 advantage, although California has won five in a row over the Cardinal, including a 26-17 verdict last season at home. As far as the 2007 campaign is concerned, Cal raced out to a 5-0 start before the wheels began to fall off. The Bears first lost to Oregon State by a score of 31-28 when they were ranked second in the nation, back on October 13th and the hits just kept on coming. Since then, Cal has lost five of the last six, including two in a row, with the most recent setback coming in a 37-23 contest against Washington back on November 17th. Meanwhile, Stanford wasn't supposed to be that great this year and the team has certainly lived up to those expectations. Although, the team did upset USC on the road the first week of October to give itself some relief, but with only one win since then there's been little to cheer about. Last weekend, the Cardinal dropped its fourth in a row in a 21-14 outing versus lowly Notre Dame.
A quick-starting unit, the Golden Bears have scored a combined 198 points in the first half this season, but that really hasn't done much for the bottom line. Quarterback Nate Longshore has completed 61.7 percent of his pass attempts for 229.2 ypg and 15 touchdowns, but mistakes in the pocket have resulted ion 11 interceptions as well. In an attempt to fortify the offense, Justin Forsett has been a horse for the Bears coming out of the backfield with his 263 carries, leading to 1,310 yards and 13 touchdowns, but even with Forsett leading the Pac-10 with his 118.8 ypg, the team as a whole is just fourth in the conference and 43rd in the nation with 167.4 ypg. Although it may not show in the team's record at the moment, the offensive line has proven to be one of the best in the nation at protecting their quarterback, allowing just 0.8 sacks per game to rank not only first in the league but also third in the country.
While the offensive line for California has been one of the best in the business, the defensive line and the rest of the players on that side of the ball have been anything but. Last in the Pac-10 in both sacks and tackles for loss per game, Cal is producing a mere 1.9 sacks per outing and 4.9 TFLs, ranking it 74th and 109th in the country, respectively. With as many as three players with at least 95 tackles this season, there are certainly enough tackles to go around for everyone on California, with Anthony Felder leading the charge with his 99 stops. Much further down the list is Zack Follett (52 tackles) who leads the group with 9.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks, and he's done that in just nine of the team's 11 games. As far as turnovers are concerned, the team as a whole just breaks even and that has the Golden Bears rated sixth in the conference and 62nd in the nation heading into the final week of regular-season action.
Anthony Kimble posted a pair of touchdown runs in the first half for the Cardinal, but other than that the offense for the home team didn't make much noise against a woeful Notre Dame unit that struggled to three wins. Kimble finished with 80 yards on 20 carries, while the passing combination of Tavita Pritchard and T.C. Ostrander converted 15-of-33 for 152 yards and two interceptions, while surviving five sacks. Receiver Mark Bradford was the only player to catch more than a single pass, resulting in 111 yards in the setback as well. A starter in seven games, Kimble now leads the program with his 509 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, while Pritchard and Ostrander go back and forth with a combined 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as they try to make something happen through the air. As hard as they might try, the Cardinal are last in the Pac-10 and 107th in the nation in both total offense (323.1 ypg) and scoring (19.6 ppg). Giving up 4.3 sacks per game (116th nationally) is certainly no way to protect your signal-caller either.
Against one of the weakest offenses in all of college football, Stanford found a way to give up 117 yards on the ground and another 196 yards through the air. However, the defense didn't exactly lie down and roll over because the Cardinal came up with an interception and recovered three fumbles, which should have worked in the team's favor, but it didn't. Clinton Snyder came up with five tackles, of which three were behind the line, logged one sack and a forced fumble, while Pannel Egboh posted a pair of sacks and a forced fumble of his own. Snyder is second on the team with his 89 tackles and is first with seven sacks for Stanford, which is currently second in the Pac-10 and tied for ninth in the country with 3.3 sacks per outing. The team is also big on taking down ball carriers in the backfield, resulting in 8.4 TFLs per game to rank third in the conference and sixth in the nation entering this week. However, the pass defense tends to give a lot of that back with 267.5 ypg allowed.
With so many issues affecting the offense, the chances of Stanford putting together a tight game in this matchup doesn't seem likely.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: California 31, Stanford 17
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
Pittsburgh (4-7) at (2) West Virginia (10-1)
GAME NOTES: With the Big East title already wrapped up, the second-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers will now attempt to punch their ticket to the national title game, as they take on the Pittsburgh Panthers in the 100th edition of the Backyard Brawl this Saturday. The Big East crown was on the line in Morgantown last weekend and the Mountaineers punished then 20th-ranked Connecticut, 66-21, to snatch their fourth title in the past five years. The win, coupled with a Kansas loss on the same day, propelled WVU to the second ranking in the Bowl Championship Series standings and that has the program on the verge of earning a spot in the national title game. The team is already guaranteed a place in a BCS bowl courtesy of its Big East title, but with a win this weekend, there is a very good chance WVU would be headed to New Orleans to compete for the national championship. The Mountaineers come into this contest with a full head of steam, as they have won their last six outings. The team has won 10 of its 11 games this season, including all five at home. As for Pittsburgh, its has little to play for in the regular season finale, but don't expect it to go quietly against its long time rival. The Panthers sit at just 4-7 overall and they would need a win in this game to avoid their first eight-loss campaign since the 1998 season. Pittsburgh, which is coming off a 48-37 loss to South Florida last weekend, hasn't won on the road (0-4) all season and it has dropped six straight games on foreign soil dating back to a year ago. The Panthers however, do own a 59-37-3 advantage in the all-time "Backyard Brawl" series with WVU, although the Mountaineers have taken four of the past five meetings, including a 45-27 triumph in Pittsburgh last season.
The Panthers haven't been all too productive on offense this season and they rank in the bottom part of the Big East in scoring (23.7 ppg) as well as total yards (328.1 total ypg). The team though, has found some success on the ground, where it is gaining 139.9 ppg thanks to the stellar play of freshman LeSean McCoy. The talented back has rushed for 1,180 yards and 14 touchdowns, in addition to catching 32 passes for 234 yards and another score. His 14 rushing touchdowns are a school-record for a freshman, surpassing Tony Dorsett's mark of 13 set in 1973. McCoy went past Dorsett last weekend, when he rushed for 55 yards and three touchdowns in a losing cause to USF. While it wasn't his best game of the season, McCoy did move closer to breaking Terrell Willis' (1,261 yards, Rutgers) Big East record for the most rushing yards in a single season by a freshman set in 1993. Pat Bostick is another freshman at a key position for Pittsburgh, but the rookie quarterback hasn't had the same kind off success as McCoy. For the season, Bostick has completed a solid 62.2 percent of his pass attempts, but for just 159.2 ypg. He has also thrown 11 interceptions against just eight touchdowns, clearly a negative ratio. Last weekend, Bostick completed 24-of-37 tosses for 298 yards and two touchdowns, but he was picked off three times. Two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns by USF, and that simply can't happen if Pittsburgh hopes to spring an upset of WVU.
Defensively, the Panthers have done a pretty good job this season and they even rank third in the league in total yards (308.1 ypg). The unit has fared well against both the run (132.8 ypg) and pass (175.3 ypg), but it has forced a mere 16 turnovers. Getting to opposing quarterbacks though, hasn't been an issue for Pittsburgh, which has recorded 33 sacks. Last weekend, the defense did all that it could to slow down USF, as it gave up only 352 yards in the loss. Pittsburgh forced a pair of turnovers in the game, while posting five sacks. Scott McKillop, as usual, led the way with 18 tackles and a forced fumble, while Joe Clermond notched two sacks. For the season, McKillop leads the entire Big East with 142 stops and Clermond ranks third in the conference with 9.5 sacks.
Behind their explosive ground attack, the Mountaineers are leading the Big East in scoring with an average of 41.6 ppg. The team is rushing for 310.1 ypg to rank second nationally and it has scored 44 of its 58 offensive touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback Patrick White has thrust his name into the Heisman Trophy race with his tremendous play down the stretch and he leads this dynamic ground attack with 1,144 yards behind a 7.0 yard per carry clip. He has thrown for another 1,498 yards, while totaling 26 touchdowns (14 rushing). White has been extremely accurate as well, completing 69.0 percent of his pass attempts with only four interceptions. In what could be considered the team's biggest game of the season, White ran for 186 yards and two scores and he threw for 107 yards and another touchdown in a rout of UConn last weekend. Noel Devine added 118 yards and a score on the ground for WVU, which rolled up 517 rushing yards against one of the better defensive unit's in the Big East. Steve Slaton, who finished fourth in the Heisman race last season, posted 54 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries last weekend. The speedy and talented back has now rushed for 1,042 yards and team-high 17 touchdowns this season, and he has also caught 25 passes for 347 yards and another score. With all the attention paid to the ground game, it is easy to overlook wideout Darius Reynaud, who has had a solid campaign of his own. Reynaud hauled in five balls for 76 yards and a score last weekend, and he leads the team in catches (55), receiving yards (637) and receiving touchdowns (11) for the season.
There is no drop off when it comes to the WVU defense, as the unit ranks first in the Big East in scoring (17.6 ppg) as well as total yards (298.0 ypg). The defense is holding opponents to a league-low 103.0 ypg on the ground, and it has also forced 31 turnovers. The team has even had success getting into the backfield, ranking second in the conference with 36 sacks. Last weekend, the Mountaineers forced three turnovers and logged five sacks in blowout of UConn. The defense did give up 392 total yards in the game, but many of those yards came after the contest had been already decided. Mortty Ivy headed the charge, as he registered 11 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. He now ranks second on the team with 76 tackles to go along with six sacks. Marc Magro and Johnny Dingle are two players that have really had a big impact on this unit and they have combined for 16 sacks and 29 TFLs on the year.
It all comes down to this for WVU, which showed it can win a big game by pounding UConn last weekend. The Mountaineers are now facing a lesser opponent, but in a year of consistent upsets, they must not overlook their long time rival. Still, WVU is just too talented for the Panthers to handle, so expect them to run away with this one behind the duo of White and Slaton.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: West Virginia 44, Pittsburgh 21
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
Arizona (5-6) at (13) Arizona State (9-2)
GAME NOTES: A pair of intrastate foes with a lot to play for collide in Tempe this Saturday, as the Arizona State Sun Devils host the Arizona Wildcats in Pac-10 play. The Sun Devils' aspirations of winning the Pac-10 title took a giant hit on Thanksgiving, as they were thwarted by nationally-ranked USC 44-24. It was the second loss in the last three outings by ASU, which fell into a tie with USC for first place in the Pac-10 standings at 6-2. If USC defeats UCLA this weekend, it would earn the league's automatic berth to a BCS Bowl game, as the Trojans defeated the Sun Devils last week for the tie- breaker. Still, ASU has already surpassed expectations this season and it currently sits at a solid 9-2 overall. As for Arizona, it was last in play on November 15th, when it upset than second-ranked Oregon 34-24. It was the third win in a row for the Wildcats, who improved to 5-6 overall and an even 4-4 in league play. With a win in this game, Arizona would become bowl eligible and that would be quite a feat for a team that won just two of its first eight games. This game will mark the 81st meeting between Arizona and ASU, whom are doing battle for the annual Territorial Championship Cup. The 108-year-old Territorial Cup is nation's oldest major-college rivalry trophy. The Wildcats lead the all-time series with the Sun Devils, 44-35-1, but ASU has won the past two meetings, including 28-14 triumph in Tucson last season.
The Wildcats have been able to score a solid 29.0 ppg this season primarily because of their passing game, which is producing 311.8 ypg. Quarterback Willie Tuitama has done a tremendous job for Arizona this season, completing 63.2 percent of his pass attempts for 301.1 ypg, with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In the team's last game, Tuitama threw for 266 yards and a pair of scores to lead the Wildcats to the upset of Oregon. His main target was Mike Thomas, who hauled in six balls for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Thomas has clearly been Tuitama's favorite target this season, as he leads the club in catches (73), receiving yards (929) and touchdowns (11). In the backfield, Nicolas Grigsby leads the team with 682 yards in nine games, but he has just two rushing touchdowns on the season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcats have lacked some consistency this season, but they haven't been all that bad overall, giving up 27.5 ppg and 374.7 total ypg. The unit has struggled a bit against the pass (233.0 ypg), but it has been able to compensate for the yards surrendered through the air by recording 15 interceptions. The team has also had some success getting into the backfield, registering 25 sacks. In the squad's prior outing, Arizona allowed 463 total yards to Oregon, but it countered that by forcing four turnovers and posting the same amount of sacks. The defense even scored a touchdown, as Antoine Cason returned an interception 42 yards to the end zone. Nate Ness picked off two passes in the game and he is tied with Cason for the team-lead with five interceptions for the year. Spencer Larsen logged 16 tackles and three TFLs in the win, giving him team highs of 116 stops and 12.5 TFLs for the season.
The Sun Devils have had no trouble moving the ball this season, as they are putting forth 33.3 ppg and 411.3 total ypg. The team has shown it can be effective with its ground attack (151.1 ypg), but it has thrived through the air, passing for 260.2 ypg. ASU though, is coming off a simply dreadful performance, as it was limited to a mere 259 total yards, including only 16 yards rushing, in a lopsided loss to USC last week. Quarterback Rudy Carpenter was sacked six times in the loss, but he still converted 21-of-30 pass attempts for 240 yards and a touchdown. Protecting the quarterback has been an issue all season long for the Sun Devils, who have now allowed 49 sacks. Despite the consistent pressure, Carpenter has had a solid campaign, completing 64.0 percent of his throws for 251.6 ypg, with 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Chris McGaha and Michael Jones have formed a sold one-two punch in the passing game and they have combined for 82 catches and 1,297 receiving yards. Jones though, leads the team with seven touchdown catches, while McGaha has yet to grab a score via the pass.
ASU's defense has played at a high level this season and it is allowing opposing teams to score just 20.4 ppg and gain only 336.1 total ypg. The unit, which is holding its foes to only 106.1 rushing ypg, has forced 22 turnovers, including 15 on interceptions. Last game however, the Sun Devils were torched by USC for 508 total yards, including 375 through the air. ASU didn't force a single turnover in the game and it also allowed USC to convert on 8-of-16 third down attempts. Robert James paced the defense with 11 stops and he is the team's top tackler on the season with 94 to his credit. He also ranks second the team in TFLs (eight) as well as interceptions (four).
Arizona needs this game to become bowl eligible, so expect it to come out fired up. ASU though, is the more balanced team here and it should be able to wear down the Wildcats and outlast them for the victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona State 31, Arizona 28
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
(9) Oklahoma (10-2) vs. (1) Missouri (11-1)
GAME NOTES: The Missouri Tigers are the nation's top-ranked team for just the second time in program history, and they will earn the right to play for the national title if they can knock off the ninth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the Big 12 Championship Game. This game is being played at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Missouri and Oklahoma met in Norman during the regular season, and the Sooners won that game, 41-31. Since that setback, the Tigers have won six straight decisions to move to 11-1 overall, and they are ranked first nationally for the first time in 47 years. Last Saturday night, they put forth a tremendous effort in a 36-28 victory over previously unbeaten Kansas to earn a spot in this weekend's contest. Oklahoma sealed its berth in the Big 12 title tilt for the fifth time in the last six years with a 49-17 thrashing of rival Oklahoma State last weekend. The Sooners are 10-2 overall, as they suffered narrow road losses to both Colorado and Texas Tech during the regular season. Still, with a victory this weekend, the Sooners could still find themselves playing for the national championship depending on what happens in some other big games around the nation. Oklahoma owns a 64-25-3 advantage in the all-time series with Missouri.
With DeMarco Murray out with a knee injury, Oklahoma leaned heavily on its other talented tailback, Patrick Allen, in last week's matchup with Oklahoma State. Allen came through in a big way, as he rushed for a career-high 202 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. Freshman quarterback Sam Bradford only attempted 15 passes, but he completed 11 of them for 150 yards with four touchdowns. Joe Jon Finley made just three catches in the tilt, but he reached the end zone on twice. Oklahoma is scoring 43.8 ppg this season to go along with 457.6 total ypg. The Sooners have racked up 65 offensive touchdowns, including 30 on the ground. Allen leads the team with 839 yards, while Murray, who is tops with 13 touchdowns, has 764 rushing yards. Murray's status remains questionable for this contest. Bradford has completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 2,670 yards and 32 touchdowns against only seven interceptions, and he has a wealth of outstanding receivers to throw to. Juaquin Iglesias is tops with 57 catches and 822 yards, while Jermaine Gresham has scored 10 touchdowns.
Oklahoma limited Oklahoma State to 17 points in the rivalry game last week, a strong showing by the defense. While the Sooners did struggle a bit against the run, yielding 195 yards on 39 attempts, they limited the Cowboys to 104 passing yards on nine completions. There wasn't a high number of big plays made by the defense, as only one takeaway and one sack were registered, but the overall effort was impressive. Opponents are posting 18.2 ppg and 324.6 total ypg against Oklahoma, which is only allowing 91.4 rushing ypg on 2.8 yards per attempt. So although the Sooners struggled against the run last week, that performance was not indicative of the team's season play. Curtis Lofton has been a force for Oklahoma, as he has made 132 total tackles, 55 more than his closest teammate. Austin English is still nursing an ankle injury, and the defensive end has registered 9.5 sacks in the nine games he has played. It remains to be seen if English is healthy enough to play this weekend.
Heading into this season, Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel was not even on the Heisman radar. Now, after completing a dream regular season, Daniel is in great position to be named a finalist for the award. Although he is generously listed at 6-0, Daniel overcomes a lack of ideal height with toughness, arm strength and tremendous accuracy. He has completed 70.5 percent of his passes this season for 3,951 yards and 33 touchdowns against only nine interceptions, and Daniel has also scored three rushing touchdowns. Jeremy Maclin is just a freshman, but he has proven to be one of the nation's most dangerous all- purpose threats. Maclin has caught 69 passes for 954 yards and nine touchdowns, and he also has 309 rushing yards and four more scores to his credit. A dangerous punt returner as well, Maclin has taken two of his 22 returns to the house. Martin Rucker has 75 catches for 739 yards and eight touchdowns for Missouri, and Tony Temple has run for 739 yards and eight scores. Daniel was brilliant against Kansas last week, as he completed 40-of-49 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Temple ran for 98 yards, and Maclin finished with 10 grabs for 69 yards.
Missouri has not been a dominant defensive team this season, as the club is surrendering 23.4 ppg and 380.8 total ypg. Fortunately, Daniel and the offense puts up such outstanding numbers that the defense simply has to be adequate. The Tigers are allowing 3.6 rushing ypc and 10.3 yards per pass completion, satisfactory averages by most standards. The first time Missouri played Oklahoma this season, the Tigers yielded 41 points, and a much better effort will be needed this time. Sean Weatherspoon leads the team with 109 total tackles, including eight TFLs. As for William Moore, who is second on the squad in tackles, he has registered seven interceptions. The Missouri defense managed to hold Kansas scoreless in the first half of last weekend's showdown, an outstanding effort against an explosive offense. Unfortunately, the Tigers allowed four touchdowns to the Jayhawks in the second half, including three in the fourth quarter, making the game close.
With so much on the line, Missouri has to keep its emotions in check and focus on beating the Sooners. That will not be easy, however, as Oklahoma remains one of the nation's most talented teams. Give the edge to Daniel and company, although a win by Bradford and his teammates would not be surprising.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 34, Oklahoma 31
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
Washington (4-8) at (11) Hawaii (11-0)
GAME NOTES: The last of the college unbeatens will try to run the regular- season table this weekend as the 11th-ranked Hawaii Warriors defend their unblemished record versus Washington in a non-conference battle at Aloha Stadium. In 2006 it was the Western Athletic Conference's Boise State that threw a wrench into the ill-conceived BCS model by going undefeated and this year it's Hawaii's turn. Sure, the team has played some weak competition (see Northern Colorado and Charleston Southern) but that's partly because other power conference programs were wary about making the trip to the South Pacific and facing June Jones and his bunch. Last week the Warriors put an end to Boise State's dominance in the WAC by capturing the league title outright with a 39-27 victory at home. The win was the team's 12th straight (a school record) and the 15th in a row in WAC competition, consequently moving the Warriors to 12th in the BCS standings which is exactly where the squad needs to be in order to be picked to go to one of the BCS bowl games. As for the Huskies, they've gone from winning back-to-back games to start 2007 to a mere two wins in the last 10 outings. Last weekend the squad lost out on the prestigious Apple Cup with a 42-35 setback versus Washington State in Seattle. With a record of 4-8 and just 2-7 in Pac-10 Conference play, this is the Huskies' swan song to the campaign. The teams have played twice before, with each squad claiming one victory. Washington captured the 1938 Pineapple Bowl over the Warriors and Hawaii returned the favor with an early-season victory over the Huskies during the 1973 campaign.
With an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the meeting with Washington State, the Huskies probably thought they were in a good position to pick up the win on Saturday, but it just wasn't meant to be. Jake Locker tried everything to get Washington over the hump, hitting 12-of-35 for 224 yards and a score, but he was also sacked once and picked off two times. The signal- caller also rallied for 103 yards and a pair of TDs on the ground on 14 carries, still not enough to stem the tide. Locker was supposed to be the savior for the Huskies this season, but somewhere along the way he hit the wall and is now completing just 46.9 percent of his attempts for 174.5 ypg. He has 14 touchdowns through the air, but has also forced the ball far too many times, resulting in just as many picks. As a team the Huskies have a pass efficiency rating of 107.98, which heading into this week has the squad ranked seventh in the conference and 107th in the nation. On the ground he's second behind Louis Rankin (1,149 yards, six TDs) in terms of yardage with 910, but he has often called his own number to get the squad into the end zone, a total of 12 times on the ground.
The pass defense for the Huskies did little to help out Locker and the offense last weekend, permitting Washington State to generate 399 yards and five touchdowns through the air in the close call. While the Huskies were coming up with just 464 yards on 87 offensive plays, WSU was posting 509 yards on 21 fewer snaps, mainly because the secondary was surrendering close to 15 yards per completion. E.J. Savannah led the attack with his 11 tackles, two of which were behind the line of scrimmage, while Daniel Te'o-Nesheim tacked on nine tackles, of which four were for loss and two came against the quarterback. Te'o-Nesheim is one of the conference leaders in terms of sacks and tackles for loss with 7.5 and 14.0, respectively, while Greyson Gunheim supplies plenty of support with his 6.5 sacks and 11.0 TFLs. Savannah checks in with a team-best 103 tackles and another 12.0 TFLs, and yet the team as a whole is still just sixth in the league and 30th in the nation with 6.9 TFLs per contest. As a result, the Huskies have a scoring defense that is second-to- last in the league and 94th nationally with a hefty 31.3 ppg allowed.
He may not have been saying it to everyone on the outside, but you could tell that Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan was excited about registering a few NCAA records last week versus Boise State. Sure, the eight-point win in front of a sell-out crowd was great because it kept the Warriors in the hunt for a BCS berth but for Brennan, who finished with 495 yards passing and five touchdowns through the air (another on the ground), surpassing former Heisman winner Ty Detmer for the major college record for most career touchdowns, most TDs responsible for and most points responsible for, he also converted some non- believers. Hitting on almost 70 percent of his pass attempts, Brennan is averaging 373.2 ypg through the air and has 33 touchdowns, even though he's missed the better part of two games. The receiving corps for the Warriors never ceases to amaze as Davone Bess comes in four catches shy of 100 for the season and already has 12 TDs, followed by Ryan Grice-Mullen (90 rec, 1,214 yards, 11 TDs) and Jason Rivers (68 rec, 902 yards, nine TDs), the former combining with Brennan to tie the record for the most passing scores between two players with 39.
Getting into the win column was one thing for the Warriors, but doing so by limiting Boise State to just a single offensive touchdown in the final 38 minutes was quite an impressive feat. The Broncos tested Hawaii several times, specifically when they bucked the trends and went on fourth down four times, converting three opportunities, and still the home team did not back down. Solomon Elimimian led all tacklers with 14 stops, while Blaze Soares scorched the visitors for three stops behind the line of scrimmage and a sack. Jacob Patek logged two of his four tackles behind the line, had a sack and an interception for the Warriors. Maybe the Warriors didn't completely shut down Boise State, but compared to how poorly the defense has performed for the team in past seasons it is still a huge step in the right direction. The squad is first in the WAC in both sacks and tackles for loss per game with 3.45 and 8.64, respectively. The pressure up front has helped the secondary as well, resulting in the team posting a pass efficiency defense rating of 111.63, which happens to be best in the WAC and 19th in the country heading into action this weekend.
Facing off against Boise State last week was more pressure than the Warriors had ever imagined, yet their still fought through it and came out on top. A healthy Brennan still has an outside chance at being invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation, but he'll need to be at the top of his game this weekend to earn the trip to the mainland.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hawaii 49, Washington 27
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
What bettors need to know: Army-Navy
Army and Navy have never been mentioned in BCS discussions. Additionally, more bets are likely to arrive on Saturday’s various conference championship games.
However, when the Army Black Knights suit up Saturday in Baltimore against the Navy Midshipmen, most football fans will tune in to the CBS broadcast.
The uniforms in the stands underline why the Army-Navy rivalry means more than any other. The SEC championship game in Atlanta will feature loads of players who will someday reach the NFL. Army-Navy features players who will go on to less lucrative, but far more important callings.
And that’s why I want to give the game the Covers.com spotlight for a couple of days, even though it won’t attract as much betting action as the conference championships.
The setting and the possible line
As usual, Army-Navy is taking place at a neutral site. However, this year’s game at M&T Stadium marks just the fourth time the teams have met in Baltimore.
Navy is favored to win for the sixth straight season. The Middies are 7-4 and bowl-bound again, having already accepted an invitation to the Poinsetta Bowl. The Black Knights are 3-8, doomed for yet another losing season.
The Midshipmen sit as a 14-point favorite. The total sits at 65½ points.
Since both service academies are coming off a bye week, they will each have ample time to prepare for the season finale.
The recent history
The series all-time record was knotted at 49-49-7 after 2005, with Navy taking a one-game lead after last year’s 26-14 win in Philadelphia. The historically close record doesn’t reflect the lopsided nature of this series in recent years.
Navy has won five straight games by a combined score of 202-68. The Midshipmen covered the spread as a favorite in four of those five meetings, only failing to do so as a 19-point favorite last year.
Mother of all mismatches
Navy boasts the nation’s top ground attack, while Army ranks 118th out of 119 schools in defending the run. The turf between the tackles will be chewed up after 60 minutes.
The Middies’ ground attack will be boosted even more by the return of quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who missed Navy’s last outing. Though he’s listed as day-to-day, Annapolis newspapers suggest he’ll line up under center.
Kaheaku-Enhada is an experienced hand at running Navy’s triple-option attack and has almost as many rushing yards (755) this season as he has passing yards (823).
The Black Knights have been particularly horrid against the run during their current five-game losing streak, allowing an average of 301 yards and 3.6 touchdowns. That includes back-to-back games against Air Force and Rutgers where Army conceded more than 400 rushing yards.
They can defend freedom, but not the pass
Though Navy will participate in a bowl game for the fifth straight season, it hasn’t played in the postseason with such a porous defense as its current version.
The Middies are allowing 39.5 points per game and have coughed up some unbelievable totals to non-powerhouse schools. Football Championship Subdivision’s Delaware, for example, racked up 581 yards and 59 points against Navy not long ago. More recently, North Texas (1-9) gained 635 total yards of offense and scored 62 against the Middies.
That’s encouraging for an Army team that just posted a season-high 39 points against Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane’s fast-paced attack let the Black Knights run 81 offensive plays, easily their highest total of the year. Army should be able to run as many plays on Saturday, as Navy’s defense has been on the field for at least 72 plays in each of the last seven games.
The key player
Army quarterback Carson Williams had a career game against Tulsa, connecting for 328 yards and three touchdowns through the air one week after being benched twice against Rutgers.
"He made some clutch plays when he needed to," Army head coach Stan Brock told reporters after the Tulsa game. "He was probably seeing the field better and he was making some good plays. He had some really super throws and not much pressure on him. He made smart decisions today. He's getting better."
Army may not have much of a chance to defeat Navy. However, if Williams sees the field Saturday as well as he did against Tulsa, the Black Knights definitely have an opportunity to cover the spread.
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
Big XII Championship Preview
Congratulations, Missouri (11-1 straight up, 8-2-1 against the spread)…you’re the next No. 1 destined to fall during the college football season.
No offense to Gary Pinkel, Chase Daniel and Martin Rucker, but your Tigers are about to find themselves as just another team with unfulfilled dreams in a season full of them. This will be extra painful because winning the Big XII title game would clinch their spot in New Orleans for the BCS national championship game.
Oddly enough though, you won’t hear the people in Columbus, Ohio feeling bad for Mizzou when they lose.
I understand that you need proof before buying what I’m selling…so here we go.
We’ll start with Oklahoma’s (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS) 41-31 win over the Tigers as a 12½-point home favorite.
Sam Bradford was effective in reading Mizzou’s defense, completing 70 percent (24 of 34) of his passes for 266 yards and a pair of scores. The Sooners’ offensive line was strong, allowing just one sack and giving the running backs ample time to rack up 118 yards.
In fact, Bradford has had only one really bad outing in his freshman campaign under center. And that was in Week 5 at Colorado, where he tossed a pair of interceptions that lead to 14 points in the Buffs’ 27-24 upset of OU.
I don’t count his three pass attempt showing against Texas Tech because he got his clock cleaned in the first quarter, sitting out the remainder of the game with a concussion. If anything, it showed how important he was to the Sooners’ offensive gameplan.
The oddsmakers are siding with Oklahoma, installing them as a three-point favorite with a total of 67. Both numbers have remained sessile since being made on Nov. 25. What makes it surprising to me is that Mizzou is the top ranked team in the land, but posted as a ‘dog.
How rare is it for a top team not to be favored? In the BCS era, there are only two times that a No. 1 squad was listed as a dog. The top ranked Seminoles fell to No. 3 Florida as three-point pups, 52-20, in the 1997 Sugar Bowl. The Buckeyes were in a similar situation last year at No. 2 Texas, but won as three-point road 'dogs, 24-7.
Ken White, chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sports Consultants, figures home field helped out when making the line for the first game. “At the time the first game was played, we felt Oklahoma was 3½-points better than Missouri and the market felt they were 7½-points better.” White adds, “I have a plus-six for their (the Sooners’) home field.”
It turns out that the spread could have been a bit bigger if one player was going to be on the field for the Crimson and Cream, DeMarco Murray. “Murray by himself,” White concludes “is worth one point to the line.”
Murray, a true freshman from Las Vegas, went down with a dislocated kneecap in the loss to Texas Tech. And while the Sooners will miss his speed, they didn’t need him the last time against Mizzou. Instead, Oklahoma installed a platoon of Chris Brown (13 carries, 67 yards, three touchdowns) and Allen Patrick (11 rushes, 44 yards).
Recent history is also on Oklahoma’s side for this tilt, going 9-1 SU and 5-4-1 ATS in its last 10 meetings with the Tigers.
Another thing the Sooners have on Missouri in this matchup is familiarity with the stage at which they’re playing. OU will be playing in its sixth Big XII title game, the Tigers are making their first appearance. Oklahoma’s record so far in the conference final is a stellar 4-1 SU and 3-1-1 ATS.
If you need another trend, think about rematches that have occurred in the Big XII championship game. Teams that lost the first game posted a 1-3 SU and 0-3-1 ATS in the four instances that it has happened. And Oklahoma was involved in two of those meetings. Texas was the only team to fall after beating their title game foe during the regular season, losing 22-6 to Nebraska back in 1999.
Kick-off is set for 8:00 pm EDT with ABC broadcasting the contest nationally.
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
College football Top 25 betting cheat sheet
Virginia Tech vs. Boston College (+4½)
Why Hokies cover: Virginia Tech has won and covered in four straight games and six of its last seven. The Hokies allow the second-fewest points per game in the nation (15.4) and the fourth-fewest yards (285.3).
Why Eagles cover: Boston College is averaging over 100 yards more per game than the Hokies. Earlier this season, the Eagles recorded a 14-10 come-from-behind win at Virginia Tech. They are 7-1 ATS in their last eight against the Hokies.
Total (46½): The over is 4-1 in the Hokies’ last five games as a favorite.
Tennessee vs. Louisiana State (-7½)
Why Volunteers cover: Tennessee has covered in four of its last five games. Quarterback Erik Ainge threw for a career-high 397 yards and a school-record seven TDs in last week’s 52-50 win over Kentucky.
Why Tigers cover: LSU covered in two of its last three meetings with Tennessee. The Tigers rank third in the nation in total defense (280.1 yards per game), while their offense is scoring 40.2 points per contest behind QB Matt Flynn.
Total (60½): The over is 7-0 in the Tigers’ last seven games overall.
Oregon State at Oregon (N/A)
Why Beavers cover: Oregon will be without star quarterback Dennis Dixon, who suffered a season-ending injury in the loss to Arizona. Backup Brady Leaf is injured too and the Ducks will likely have to go with a fourth or fifth-string quarterback. The Beavers have covered in five of their last six games.
Why Ducks cover: Oregon is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games overall. Has covered the spread in three of its last four against Oregon State. The home team is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings between these teams.
Total (N/A): The over is 5-0 in the last five games between Oregon and Oregon State.
UCLA at Southern California (-20½)
Why Bruins cover: UCLA has covered the spread in two of its last three games against USC and in two straight games overall. Quarterback Ben Olsen, who has 1,040 yards and seven TDs this season, returned from injury in last week’s win over Oregon.
Why Trojans cover: USC is sixth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 16.7 points per game. The Bruins, meanwhile, are second-last in the Pac-10 in scoring (24.4) and scored just one touchdown last week.
Total (46½): The under is 8-1 in the Trojans’ last nine games overall.
Brigham Young at San Diego State (+15)
Why Cougars cover: Brigham Young has won 16 straight conference games, including five of its last six against San Diego State. It also covered the spread in five of those six games.
Why Aztecs cover: San Diego State has covered in four of its last five. The last time the Cougars traveled to San Diego (2005), the Aztecs recorded an impressive 31-10 home win to cover a 3-point spread.
Total (55½): The over is 4-0 in the Aztecs last five conference games and last five overall.
Pittsburgh at West Virginia (-28)
Why Panthers cover: Freshman running back LeSean McCoy ran for three TDs last week and is one short of the single-season record for a freshman. The Panthers have covered the spread in their last two road games.
Why Mountaineers cover: Quarterback Pat White had one of the best games of his career against the Panthers last season, running for 220 yards and two touchdowns and passing for 204 yards and another two scores. The Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS in their last five against Pittsburgh.
Total (58½): The over is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these teams in Virginia.
Oklahoma vs. Missouri (+3)
Why Sooners cover: Oklahoma recorded a 41-31 win over Missouri on Oct. 13, the Tigers’ only loss of the season. Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford has thrown for an NCAA freshman-record 32 touchdowns this season.
Why Tigers cover: Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, a serious contender for the Heisman Trophy, has thrown for a career-best 3,951 yards and 33 touchdowns. The Tigers are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 games overall.
Total (67): The under is 13-3-1 in Oklahoma’s last 17 conference games.
Arizona at Arizona State (-7)
Why Wildcats cover: Arizona has won three in a row and covered the spread each time. QB Willie Tuitama threw for 1,117 yards and 10 TDs during this streak.
Why Sun Devils cover: Arizona State is second in the conference with 33.3 points per game. QB Rudy Carpenter is third in the Pac-10 in yards (2,768) and touchdowns (21). The Sun Devils are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games against teams with a losing record.
Total (57½): The under is 5-1 in the last six meetings between these teams.
Washington at Hawaii (-14)
Why Huskies cover: Starting quarterback Jake Locker returned from injury to throw 224 yards and a touchdown last week. Locker has thrown for 1,920 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.
Why Warriors cover: Hawaii is the only unbeaten team left in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Warriors rank third in the nation in total offense (528.5 yards per game) and are outscoring opponents by an average of 23.4 points.
Total (74): The under is 5-1 in Hawaii’s last six home games.
Re: NCAA : Saturday Football
LSU will have to try and put its triple-OT loss to Arkansas in the past as the Tigers face Tennessee for the SEC title. The Vols, winners of five straight games, fared better last week, beating Kentucky in 4 OTs. The winner likely plays in the Sugar
A spot in the BCS, a trip to the Superdome in New Orleans and a potential national championship were all right there for LSU. After losing its regular-season finale, two of those three are still there for the taking, but the big prize may be unreachable.
The fifth-ranked Tigers will try to rebound from a devastating loss when they meet No. 14 Tennessee on Saturday in the SEC championship game in Atlanta.
Ranked No. 1 again after having given up that spot following a triple-overtime defeat at Kentucky on Oct. 13, LSU had only Arkansas standing in its way before the SEC title game and then, assuming all went well, a trip to the BCS championship game on Jan. 7.
But something about triple overtime and the Tigers (10-2, 6-2) just hasn't meshed this season.
Darren McFadden had 206 yards rushing and Arkansas ran right through LSU's SEC-best rush defense, totaling 385 yards on the ground on its way to a 50-48 victory in three overtimes last Friday.
"Right now, there's a goal of our football team taken off the board and it's sad," LSU coach Les Miles said. "(After this), we'll be sick."
As the Tigers look ahead to Tennessee (9-3, 6-2), a victory over the Volunteers would clinch the SEC's automatic BCS bid and likely place LSU in New Orleans -- but it would be playing in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 rather than for the national championship six days later.
Should current BCS Nos. 1 and 2 Missouri and West Virginia both lose this weekend, the possibility exists that the Tigers, currently seventh in the BCS, could move up. They might be able to jump ahead of idle Georgia, which didn't win its division in the SEC, idle Kansas, which didn't win its division in the Big 12, and a Virginia Tech team they beat by 41 in September. Ohio State would figure to have a spot sewn up should that scenario unfold, leaving No. 2 up for grabs.
But Miles insists he isn't thinking ahead -- particularly coming off a loss.
"Beyond this weekend's games, the opportunity for the champion should be a tremendous opportunity," Miles said. "If you win the conference, that conference championship should carry a lot of weight with a lot of people."
Miles spent a good portion of the week leading up to the Arkansas game trying to silence rumors that he would leave LSU for Michigan, his alma mater. With the firing of Bill Callahan at Nebraska last Saturday, talks of Tigers defensive coordinator Bo Pelini returning to Lincoln -- where he once held the same position -- have heated up.
"Bo Pelini has not traveled to any place," Miles said. "He is focused on the task at hand and I don't think he would have it any other way."
Buried somewhat because of the poor defensive play against Arkansas was the running of LSU's Jacob Hester. The senior fullback, who leads the team with 897 yards, had his best game of the season, carrying 28 times for 126 yards and two scores.
Matt Flynn has had an up-and-down season, throwing 10 interceptions, and particularly struggled in the Kentucky loss. Though he wasn't accurate against Arkansas, completing just 22 of 47 passes, he threw three touchdowns and ran for another -- without turning the ball over.
Tennessee is coming off a wild overtime finish as well. The Volunteers blew a 31-14 third-quarter lead, but outlasted Kentucky 52-50 in four overtimes on the road to clinch a spot in Atlanta.
"To win that game under such circumstances, we were very fortunate," said Tennessee's Erik Ainge, who threw for a career-high 397 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns. "We somehow got it done. It wasn't perfect on either side but we find a way to get it done."
The Volunteers began the season ranked No. 15, but were out of the polls completely following two blowout losses in their first three games. They won their next three to climb back to No. 20, but a 24-point loss at Alabama dropped them out again.
Fans were calling for coach Phillip Fulmer's job after the loss to the Crimson Tide. His players responded by winning their next five games.
"We were 1-2 and everyone had given us up for dead," Fulmer said. "We had one of those Sunday night player meetings, where you pound on the podium and tell them what they need to do to be a better football team, and to their credit, they have listened."
Ainge has been the catalyst, completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,908 yards with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions. With decent numbers against LSU and in the Volunteers' bowl game, the senior will be second on the school's all-time yardage list for a season, behind only Peyton Manning.
He's been helped by having Arian Foster in the backfield. The junior tailback's 1,107 yards rushing are tied for the 11th-most in school history for a single season. He had 118 against Kentucky along with 98 receiving yards.
"No one has really given us a shot all season," Foster said. "We play with heart, and we take our wins however we can get them."
These teams met in the 2001 SEC championship game. Tennessee was ranked No. 2 and was set to play for the BCS title with a win, but No. 21 LSU upset the Volunteers 31-20.
Tennessee leads the all-time series 20-6-3. The teams split their meetings in 2005 and 2006, with each winning on the road.
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