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Everything posted by stormstopper

  1. [2020] Bowl Betting Bonanza

    $750 - National Championship Game: Penn State (-3)
  2. It's rare that a fanbase looks back on a loss with fondness and reverence. It's rarer still that a loss feels like the moment that a program's rise to prominence began. But it's with good reason that TCU's 27-24 loss to Georgia back in the 2016 season fits both of those descriptors: it was much closer than the 58-7 beatdown the Horned Frogs suffered the year before, and they used the momentum from the season-opening near-miss to catapult themselves to an 8-game winning streak, a bowl bid, and success year after year. Now, these two teams face each other again, and TCU wants to upgrade that moral victory to an actual victory. If you're a fan of classic, hard-nosed, defensive football, this is the game for you. Both teams are led by the strength of their respective defenses. TCU allows a bit under 25.5 points per game in the high-scoring Big XII; when adjusting for their schedule, they're top-30 at holding opponents below their season averages. Georgia does them a bit better: they rank 12th in the country in raw points allowed per game at 18.3, though that dips to "only" 17th when adjusting for their opponents. The two defenses ooze with talent, particularly in the secondary--where they combine for perhaps 9 players who will play on Sundays eventually. Let's break them down. We'll start with the less familiar Georgia Bulldogs. Throwing on the Dawgs has generally been a mistake this year: they give up just 180.9 yards per game through the air, allowing opponents to complete 60.7% of their passes and giving up just 13 touchdown passes against 9 interceptions. Adrian Goldson (308 yards) is the only quarterback to get past 250 yards against this defense. Sophomore Dominique Dawkins (6 INT) is a stud at cornerback, and avoiding him to throw at any of the other defensive backs won't help you out at all. Even Marcus Black, Tucker Dowden, and Elias Allen-Hollis managed 229, 190, and 200, respectively. But the defense can be cracked on the ground--which makes sense, given that their defensive front is not nearly as ruthlessly loaded. Don't underestimate mike linebacker Alex Felder (85 tackles, 2.0 sacks), and be aware of Lese Mauiliu (9.5 sacks, 34 tackles) coming off the edge, but a good offensive line can poke holes in the Georgia defense and open up running lanes. Georgia's 4.2 yards allowed per carry is somewhat misleading--they massacred the worst rushing attacks they faced, but teams like Auburn, Mississippi State, Florida, Missouri, and even South Carolina ran the ball successfully. Whether TCU can match that success on the ground or not is an important question. Unless Sam Milner (15 TD to 14 INT, 54.9% passing, 159.6 yards per game) has a revelation during bowl practice, the TCU offense is going to depend on the ability of Milner and Shamar Burroughs to earn their yardage the hard way. Burroughs has shown some sparks at times, but ultimately has averaged 95.2 yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry. Milner's mostly been a nonfactor on the ground (and has in fact lost net yards in each of his past two games), but he can't be discounted as a goal line threat. But again, Burroughs is the man to watch here. If Plan B doesn't work out for TCU, they can always go back to Plan A: whack the opponent with their defense and take as much of the load off of the offense as possible. TCU's been successful at just about everything on that side of the ball efficiency-wise: they give up under 7 yards per pass attempt and under 4.2 yards per carry--and they lead the Big XII in both categories. They don't force a ton of turnovers, though their 12 picks is more than Georgia's defense had. They do excel, though, at getting after quarterbacks. Their 25 sacks led the Big XII entering bowl season, and they can bring pressure from just about anywhere--they had seven different players record a sack this season. Elliot McElmore (51 tackles, 3 INT, 1.0 sack, 1 FF) has been the focal point of the defense, but there isn't really a weak spot in it. Safeties Matthew Dyson and Christopher Malone are not going to let much past them. Corners Roman Blackmon and William Cooper are young studs. And again, the defensive front is fierce. But we'll see just how fierce it is, because Georgia's best weapon on offense is its run game. The powerful Isaac Wilson rushed for 1475 yards and 22 touchdowns on nearly 5.3 yards per carry, including a red-hot finish to the regular season: 166 yards and 3 touchdowns against Missouri, followed by 176 yards and 2 touchdowns against rival Georgia Tech. He is priority number one for the TCU defense to stop, and given the prowess of the Georgia line that won't be an easy task. However, succeeding there puts a lot more pressure on quarterback Salvatore Tanner, who's never really wowed audiences this season. The senior completed 61.4% of his passes, throwing for 17 touchdowns and 6 interceptions and maintaining a 135.2 passer rating. In SEC play, he throw just 8 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. He did score 6 touchdowns as a secondary running threat, but his passing leaves much to be desired. He relied heavily on #1 receiver Ja'Wuan Howard, who comes into the Sugar Bowl with an impressive 75 receptions for 1152 yards and 13 touchdowns. He'll be the only priority for the TCU secondary, but the shallowness of the Georgia receiving corps means that TCU can focus on stopping him without really diverting from their primary goal of stopping the run. TCU's defense will give them a fighting chance in this one. If they can limit Wilson and Tanner on the ground, then all that needs to happen for TCU to win is for the offense to find just one player to step up and make plays down the stretch. That kinda sorta has to be Shamar Burroughs, but unfortunately for the Frogs it's been hard to predict which games he'd be able to make an impact in. Sure, Georgia's defense is vulnerable on the ground--but is TCU the team that can take advantage of it? I think it's possible. But I don't think it's likely. I'll take Georgia in a closely fought, low-scoring rockfight. #14 Georgia 16, TCU 13
  3. [2020] Bowl Games - Day #12

    Final season stats for selected players: Christian Graham, Kansas: 228-369 for 2,828 yards, 24 TD, 16 INT (61.79%, 7.66 YPA, 138.96 passer rating) Graham set the Big XII freshman record with 24 touchdown passes, and moved to second place on the Kansas career passing touchdowns list His 2,828 yards are the 2nd-most by a Big XII freshman quarterback, trailing Mohammed Foster's 2,868 in 2018. His 16 interceptions, however, tied the Big XII record set this season by Rahim Murrell and Chester Brenner. His 138.96 passer rating ranked 4th among full seasons by Kansas quarterbacks--Eric Jennings's sophomore and senior seasons and Christopher Brooks's senior seasons outranked it, though he beat both seasons of DeAndre Jackson and Eric Jennings's junior year. Rod Fulton, Kansas: 268 carries for 1214 yards, 11 TD Only note here is that this is the most rushing yards by a Kansas player in a single season since James Otero in 2014, which is more of a commentary on Paul Gibbs and Jalen Clayton than anything else. Eric Pope, Oklahoma: 150-246 for 1829 yards, 13 TD, 7 INT (60.98%, 7.43 YPA, 135.18 passer rating); 67 for 409 yards, 5 TD, 2/2 F/L Eric Pope tied the Oklahoma freshman record for passing touchdowns with 13 (with Graham Burnett) and broke the school record for total touchdowns accounted for by a freshman quarterback with 18. Maurice White, Oklahoma: 338 carries for 1638 yards, 17 TD, 2/2 F/L White's 1638 yards rank 2nd in a single season in Oklahoma history, trailing Greg Hadnot in the national championship season. Hadnot had three extra games to get the last 45 yards. White set a school record with 129.46 rushing yards per game, beating out 2018 Sean Egloff by more than 7 yards per game. His 338 carries also set a school record, but he did so while averaging 4.98 yards per carry--the highest by any Big XII runningback this season. Jamari Callahan, Kansas: 48 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 FR, 1 safety Callahan set a Kansas single-season record for sacks--by any player, not just by a freshman. He also finishes his true freshman leader in second place on the Kansas career sack list. (Amir Ransom leads with 14.) Callahan's 11.5 single-season sacks are the fifth-most by any player in Big XII history. It is a conference freshman record, and the most by an underclassman since sophomore Anthony Ortiz recorded 12 in 2015. Final career stats for selected players: Malcolm Davis, Kansas: 297 receptions for 4316 yards, 37 TD Davis finished his Kansas career with the school record in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. He was the second 4000-yard receiver in Big XII history, finishing second in yardage to Raheem Robinson. He also finished second in receiving touchdowns to Robinson. Davis finished 3rd in receptions, trailing both Raheem Robinson and Todd Sykes. He appeared on 50 statsheets, which is second in Big XII history to...actually, not Raheem Robinson. It was Texas's Jacky Walters, who had 51. He is one of 8 Big XII receivers to average at least 14.5 yards per reception (min. 100 career receptions). Noah Hills, Kansas: 134 receptions for 1906 yards, 21 TD The early declaree finished third in Kansas history in receptions and receiving yardage (10 behind senior Timmy Sutton in both categories) and second in touchdown receptions. He is second to Steven Maloney in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns by a tight end in Big XII history. He and Hastin Rider finish tied for second in Big XII history for receptions by a tight end, also behind Maloney.
  4. It's tricky to stop a guy (or slow a guy) who throws on time like Trickett. The redshirt junior signal-caller for USC has put together an incredible season that's flown under the radar thanks in part to three upset losses and a number of games taking place after east coasters had turned off their TVs for the night. In 13 games for the Trojans, Luke Trickett has gone 340-488 for 4200 yards, 41 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions through the air, and he's added 471 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground (albeit with 2 fumbles lost). From an efficiency standpoint, that's a completion percentage of 69.7%, a passer rating of 167.2, and nearly 6.4 yards per carry. All that's to say that Trickett is one of the two best quarterbacks Kansas will have seen this year, and the other one's team scored 51 on them. And that's just the introduction. USC's had a strange season. When they're on, they're on; when they're off, they are perplexing. They finished 4th in the country with 37.0 points per game, and their 19.4 points allowed ranked 17th. Their 10 wins came by an average of 25.5 points. They routed Wisconsin on the road, knocked off Washington State at home, and won the Pac-12 South by four full games. But they also lost to a mercurial Notre Dame in week 2, blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead at home in a loss to Stanford, and no-showed the Pac-12 Championship Game against Oregon. This would seem like a prime opportunity for Kansas if not for the fact that the Jayhawks have been even less consistent this season. The route to 7-5 was marked by peaks and valleys and a whole bunch of Houdini acts. After starting 2-3, the Jayhawks scored 16 defensive points to upset Oklahoma State. After falling to 4-5, they rallied from 31-20 down to stun Oklahoma in Norman, followed it up by rallying from 34-14 down at the half to shock Texas, and closed the regular season by winning without scoring a touchdown against Kansas State. The decidedly rollercoaster-like nature of the Kansas season can be attributed to a whole bunch of different things, but it boils down to a high-risk high-reward defense and a redshirt freshman quarterback. Let's start with the defense, and how it matches up with USC's offense. Kansas has relied on outsized contributions from three players: Bradley Spurlock (6 INT, 3 TD), Kameron Reaves (45 tackles, 1 sack), and true freshman Jamari Callahan--who won Big XII Defensive Player of the Year with 44 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 2 fumbles forced, 1 fumble recovered, and a safety forced. As a whole, the unit struggled. Kansas has given up a school-record 29.3 points per game, including five different 40-point efforts. But the defense also makes big plays. They've recorded 22 quarterback sacks, forced 17 turnovers, and scored 37 points on defense. Against a USC offense that absolutely oozes talent, though, relying on the big play is extremely risky. If they can't stop Samuel Gulla (1235 yards, 13 TD) and Sean Waller (989 yards, 15 TD) from doing whatever they want, whenever they want, then the mere idea of holding USC under 40 is a lost cause. The Jayhawks will be looking at the Oregon blueprint--the Ducks sacked Trickett three times and intercepted him twice in the conference championship game--but there's a stark difference between using a blueprint and replicating what made it successful. The other small matter is that USC's defense is an elite unit in its own right. But this is an area where Kansas feels like they're on somewhat less disadvantageous footing. The Jayhawks score 28.1 points per game, and they've cracked 40 points four times. As you recall from earlier, that offense has bailed Kansas out from significant deficits. The Jayhawks in fact have a winning record (3-2) when their defense allows 40 points or more. In order to get any kind of offense going, Kansas needs balance--and it has to be earned balance. Christian Graham's going to get his reps, but Kansas is at its best when Rod Fulton's a running threat that takes some of the heat off of Graham. The junior college transfer at tailback finished the year with 1150 yards and 11 touchdowns, but four of his five 100-yard efforts came in games where Kansas scored 40 or more points. He's been a complement to redshirt freshman quarterback Christian Graham, who cooled down against Kansas State after a scintillating two-game stretch against Oklahoma and Texas. For the season, Graham is a 61.8% passer with 23 touchdown throws to 15 interceptions; he has thrown for 2658 yards and maintains a 139.7 passer rating. With receivers like Malcolm Davis (912 yards, 14 TD) and tight end Noah Hills (609 yards, 5 TD), Graham has help. But USC's pass defense is a bunch of man-eaters. They've allowed opponents to complete just 56.9% of their attempts, allowed 194.5 yards per game, and intercepted 20 passes while allowing just 17 touchdowns through the air. Until the Pac-12 title game, they'd picked off at least one pass in each game this season. In more than half of their games, they've picked off two. That means that Kansas absolutely has to run the ball successfully if they want to have a chance. The Trojans have had surprisingly mixed results against the run: opponents earn close to 4.6 yards per carry against them despite the fact that USC didn't really face a great set of runningbacks. Kalei Keil and Owen Sorenson of Notre Dame combined for 211 yards in their upset win; Trevon Yeldon and Jason Baum put up 159 in their title win. Even Noel Mason and Parker Townsend of Arizona State ran for 131 yards on 27 carries in a loss. To USC's credit, they bottled up Jamal Trufant; however, that merely serves to underscore why it's so important that Kansas can't let Fulton suffer the same fate. It'll be a matter of whether the Jayhawk tackles can keep Ilan Kuhn and Nasir Womack--human pincers with 21 combined sacks masquerading as defensive ends--from crashing in and blowing up the run before it can get started. It'll depend on whether Fulton can beat Louis Landry (57 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 3 INT) to the edge. It'll be a matter of whether Graham can take care of the ball against a ferocious defensive backfield. It'll depend on a lot of things, but pretty much everything has to go right in order for Kansas to win. USC's inconsistencies have been more high-profile, but that's only because they're the better team. Kansas has had a great relationship with the Alamo Bowl with two wins here, but a third one here does not seem to be on the horizon. Give me USC--by a lot. #13 USC 42, Kansas 27
  5. Neither of these teams was supposed to be here. And yet, here they are. Oklahoma's been on this stage before, but after Graham Burnett's early departure their chances of returning were in doubt. When a brutal early schedule knocked them back time and time again en route to a school-worst 0-5 start, the season looked over. Things changed in the Red River Shootout: Oklahoma changed up their defensive philosophy, upset the Longhorns, and springboarded to a rip-roaring 6-1 finish capped off by a stunning 31-26 win over Oklahoma State with their backs against the wall to finish 6-6. Sure they've been here before, but this one's special. Duke's story is pretty much the exact opposite. After years of alternating between close and not-so-close calls, the Blue Devils blazed through the 2020 season. They signaled their arrival with a 34-31 upset of Florida State--though, in retrospect, their week 2 double-overtime win over eventual MAC champion and playoff representative Western Michigan ended up being their best win of the year. Duke started 5-0, bounced back from a loss to Virginia to earn bowl eligibility against Miami, and still found time to win three more games for a school-record 9-3 season. But why stop there? A matchup with a former national champion with a 10th win on the line is an opportunity to plant a flag on their turf in the college football world. In Orlando, you have two teams with two different types of styles on hand. Oklahoma has been a primarily run-first team, with Maurice White steaming his way to 1554 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. Eric Pope hasn't been shy about calling his own number, rushing for 334 yards and 4 scores of his own and averaging nearly 6.2 yards per carry. While Oklahoma State might object to the characterization (Pope attempted a career-high 39 passes against them), this is a running team. That creates an interesting matchup against Duke, who runs something between a 4-3 and a 4-2-5 by dropping safety Jordan Reeves down to the linebacker level. Reeves has excelled in the "strike" role, leading the team with 4 interceptions and finishing 2nd on the team with 42 tackles. However, that tackling ability is going to be what matters in this one. He and Ahmed Mark (49 tackles) have to be responsible for keeping the explosive White contained, or it'll be a long day. For the most part, Duke's defense has done so this season: they give up fewer than 4.1 yards per carry and just 93.0 yards per game, but the only above-average rushing offense they've faced all season was Western Michigan's. That's probably a tradeoff Duke is fine with: the pass-heavy offenses have been the ones to gain the most on them and score the most on them. Passing plays have accounted for 68.2% of the yards Duke has allowed despite accounting for less than 55.5% of the plays run against them. The Duke defensive line can get enough pressure to give their playmakers some opportunities, but those playmakers will have to make plays. Oklahoma's defense, meanwhile, faces off against a familiarly vexing foe: a mobile quarterback. Bryce Thompson has been one of the best freshman quarterbacks in the country, throwing for 2704 yards and 21 touchdowns against 9 interceptions on 61.4% passing, and rushing for another 9 touchdowns. There are a lot of times when he'll look like a freshman. There are other times when he looks like an absolute stud. Sometimes, those happen back-to-back: he obliterated Georgia Tech to the tune of 400 yards and 6 touchdowns, then followed it up by getting picked off twice in a loss to North Carolina. The offense lives and dies with the passing game because Christian Collins (4.1 YPC) was at most a complementary threat, but Thompson doesn't lack for options. Junior Sean Spaczek leads the team with 846 yards and 9 touchdowns, senior tight end Owen Workman's next with 768 and 7, and you'll see a bit of Kaden Lloyd and Amari Nicholson in the mix too. That essentially means that a lot of this game is going to come down to Oklahoma's pass defense. Their season-long numbers quite frankly don't look good. But a large part of that was due to an historically bad start, and their past seven games have brought them somewhere between average and somewhat above-average. Starting with that Texas win, they've given up 221.7 yards per game through the air on 61.6% passing, along with 11 touchdowns to 6 interceptions and a passer rating of 132.3. That's been enough to get the job done, and it's also reasonably close to Thompson's own average statline. As important as the matchup between Maurice White and the Duke linebackers is on one end, the matchup between the Devils' receivers and the Sooner's defensive backs might be even more crucial. Sean Spaczek is a dangerous receiver. Whoever covers him has to be aware of where he is, and in any zone coverage they'll need to be just as cognizant. I tend to think Oklahoma has the advantage on offense, but Duke has the advantage on defense. I think Duke's advantage on defense is bigger, though. The one time their run defense was truly tested, they kept DeSean Madison in check. Oklahoma was tested a lot through the air, and they gave up yards in bundles against both Christian Graham and Chester Brenner during their final two true tests. I think the Devils bounce back from the Carolina loss and close their season out on the right note. #22 Duke 37, Oklahoma 28
  6. [2020] Bowl Games - Day #9

    Luke Cobb, talk about going out with a bang
  7. [2020] Bowl Games - Day #8

    Chester Brenner's college career comes to an end on a strange note from the department of obscure statistics: he became the first Big XII quarterback to throw for 300 yards in two bowl games without winning either. But on a more positive note: Brenner also became the first Big XII quarterback to throw 4 touchdown passes in multiple bowl games. His 2020 statline: 311-469 for 3753 yards, 38 TD, 16 INT, 66.3% completion percentage, 8.0 yards per attempt, 153.4 passer rating His 38 touchdowns would have broken Christian Barkley's single-season Big XII record if Mohammed Foster (41) hadn't already broken it. It is a school record. On the flipside, his 16 interceptions would have broken the record shared by multiple quarterbacks if Rahim Murrell (also 16) hadn't already broken it. It is also a school record. His 3,753 passing yards is the 2nd-highest total in Oklahoma State single-season history, after his own school record of 4,132 yards set last year. His career statline: 662-1066 for 7885 yards, 69 TD (nice), 29 INT, 62.1% completion percentage, 7.4 YPA, and a 140.2 passer rating The previous school record for career passing yards belonged to Wayne Schmidt at 7873. Chester Brenner now holds the record by just 12 yards. (Schmidt played in 37 games to Brenner's 26.) Brenner finishes 10th on the Big XII career passing yardage list. Brenner also set the Oklahoma State record for career touchdown passes with 69, tied with Brad Davis for 6th in Big XII history Last but not least, Brenner (69 TD) beats out Graham Burnett (62 TD) for the most touchdown passes by a quarterback that ChicagoTed1 recruited to Oklahoma.
  8. The midpoint of the Big XII bowl season looks to be one of the highlights of the year for the nation's most exciting conference. Oklahoma State takes on Missouri in a battle of teams that have had ups and downs and fits and starts, but throughout the season they've both had one thing stay mostly consistent: offense. The Tigers rank 13th in the country in scoring offense at 32.8 points per game; the Cowboys are one of the few teams to top them, ranking 10th with 34.5 per game. What's more is that neither team's been great on defense. Missouri gives up 26.4 (66th) and the Cowboys give up 28.3 (83rd). What happens when two unstoppable forces meet two very movable objects? You get a game between a team that's ranked 7th in over-under (the Tigers) and a team that's ranked 4th (guess who)--a formula for a shootout. Both teams are heavily reliant on elite quarterback play. Missouri is led by Tucker Dowden, the next in a line of quarterbacks that includes Indianapolis Colts regular-season star Aaron Shea. Dowden demonstrated two things above all else this season that make him a great candidate for this year's draft should he declare early: pinpoint accuracy with his arm and breakaway speed with his legs. Let him sit in the pocket and he'll find one of his four main targets downfield. He completes 71.1% of his passes, he's thrown 31 touchdowns to 5 interceptions, and he's completed 70% of his passes or more in 10 of his 12 games. He's got guys like wideouts Daniel Hobbs (63 for 943 yards, 10 TD) and K.J. Strauss (46 for 627 yards, 5 TD), as well as tight ends Justin Burris (43 for 699 yards, 8 TD) and Walt Bauer (36 for 457 yards, 6 TD). But flush him out of the pocket, and he's got the ability to run. In fact, he put up 558 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground this season to complement Nathan Coleman's 1227 and 9. As a team, Missouri rushes for a full 5.5 yards per carry and 148.8 yards per game. Combine that with the fact that you just plain can't leave your DBs on an island and you understand why Missouri can score in bunches. Oklahoma State doesn't force you to pick between stacking the box or getting extra DBs on the field. They're unsubtle, and they actually got worse when they tried to achieve more balance. But it works because very few teams can actually handle the offense they put forth. Even though Chester Brenner's thrown 15 interceptions, he's been effective. He's completed 65.9% of his passes for 3425 yards and 34 touchdowns, putting up a passer rating of 151.7 despite his high volume. The Cowboys succeed because of Brenner's high-risk high-reward approach--and because his wide receivers mitigate the high risk. Jay Dunn (64 for 903 yards, 10 TD) and Xavier Gant (64 for 890 yards, 13 TD) lead the team, but freshman Jeremy Bridges (50 for 635 yards, 6 TD) and tight end Christopher Vinson (22 for 330 yards, 2 TD) provide complementary threats. This is important against a thin Missouri secondary. Only one Tiger has intercepted more than one pass this season. However, that one Tiger was David Triplett, and he had 8 picks. They have a few different players who can generate pressure--four of them have between 4.0 and 5.0 sacks--but that's not often enough to threaten quarterbacks protected by some of the better offensive lines they face. Senior tackle Beckett Miller will be critical to buying time, as will interior linemen Edward Meyer and Jay Sotelo. The good news for fans of defense is that both teams are better against the pass than against the run, and Oklahoma State's better against the run than Missouri is. The Tigers give up nearly 5.0 yards per carry, but that won't matter all that much unless this game gets close. (More on that later.) Oklahoma State gives up 4.5 yards per carry, in comparison, though they've allowed 19 touchdowns on the ground. The Cowboys have had a lot of success slowing down the pass: they've picked off 17 passes to 19 touchdowns allowed, and they allow a 59.2% completion percentage. Where they're less successful is preventing home-run passes, as they allow a full 12.1 yards per completion. Missouri, though, would consider those numbers an improvement. They've given up 20 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, allowed opposing passers to complete 60.1% of their passes, and allowed nearly 13.0 yards per completion. That said, they haven't given up any phenomenal passing games--it's just that they also don't really break anybody that way. The offensive advantage belongs to Missouri, but the defensive advantage belongs to Oklahoma State. The X-factor is that both of these teams have had a ton of experience in close games: out of the 24 they've played, just 7 have been decided by more than one possession. Missouri is 4-5 in one-possession games, whereas Oklahoma State is 4-4. They've both won and lost heartbreakers, and are both a few breaks away from being conference champions or bowl-ineligible. It might come down to the little things--like the fact that Oklahoma State's Ralph Hinson is 26-27 on field goals whereas Kai Ragsdale is "only" 22-25. It might come down to Missouri's third-down defense getting itself off the field 73.3% of the time to Oklahoma State's 67.4%. If Brenner avoids a turnover, Oklahoma State is more likely than not to win, but even one free possession might tip the scales in favor of Missouri--after all, it might come down to who can get the last defensive stop when it counts the most. Despite every fiber in my being warning me not to, though, I'm taking the Tigers. Seeing what Maurice White and Eric Pope did to this Cowboy defense shows that there's a template Missouri can follow--while Coleman is no Mo White, Pope is no Tucker Dowden. And that, too, could be the difference. Missouri 45, Oklahoma State 42
  9. [2020] Bowl Betting Bonanza

    $50 - Heart of Dallas Bowl: BYU (-4) $20 - Music City Bowl: Louisville (+5) $100 - Texas Bowl: Oklahoma State (+4.5)
  10. [2020] Bowl Betting Bonanza

    $20 - Armed Forces Bowl: Texas (+2.5) $50 - Gator Bowl: Mississippi State (E) $50 - Military Bowl: USF (-13.5)
  11. Get yourselves ready for a Texan civil war, as Texas makes the trip up from Austin to Fort Worth to take on SMU, who's in turn making the short hop over from Dallas. Regional rivalries aside, we're in for another good game involving the nation's most exciting conference. Texas is playing in a bowl game for the eighth consecutive season, and the Big XII's second-winningest program is seeking to ensure that they finish an eighth consecutive year with a winning record. Further on the line are in-state bragging rights, the attention of in-state recruits, and more in-state bragging rights. A year after putting up a stunning 172.7 passer rating with 29 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, Andre Webb has had more difficulty in year 1 after Kevin Muse. The Azle native started the year with scorching efforts against TCU (309 yards, 3 TD) and Cincinnati (333 yards, 3 TD) before coming back down to earth. He threw at least one interception in six games out of seven, threw two picks each in losses to UCF and Navy, and didn't put up a single game with a 150 passer rating in that span. He seemingly recovered after that, torching Tulane and Memphis (who are, of course, Tulane and Memphis) before once again putting up so-so numbers against Houston and UCF. The end result: 63.9% passing for 3718 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions--that's on 37.3 attempts per game and with a 141.9 passer rating. Webb largely looks for two receivers when he drops back: junior Dean Burkhart (82 for 1045 yards, 8 TD) and senior Sebastian Hatcher (66 for 959 yards, 10 TD). Aidan Blount and tight end Greg Mattingly can't be ignored, but they're not Webb's go-to guys. SMU has leaned on the passing game despite merely okay results, and a large part of that was an inability to get Terrell Holland going early. The senior tailback needed 5 games to reach 80 yards even once, and he was held to double digits in each of his first nine. The question SMU has to ask is whether Holland hit his stride in the final four games. He rushed for 135 yards against Tulane, just 67 yards but two touchdowns against Memphis, and put up 125 on Houston, and finished with 109 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 14 carries against UCF. Because of tat late burst, Holland actually averages just a hair shy of 5.0 yards per carry for the season. Catch that lightning in a bottle, and a more balanced attack can relieve some of the pressure from the SMU passing game. But if they can't, Texas's defense can pounce. Entering bowl season, Texas had the best passer rating allowed of any Big XII team, at 126.8. They allow just 190.3 passing yards per game, they've given up 15 touchdowns through the air, and they've intercepted 13 passes. It's particularly important for Texas to shut down the run game because their secondary isn't responsible for a lot of their interceptions. In fact, the linebacker unit is responsible for nearly half: Jabari Fletcher has 3, Axel Lozano has 2, and Thomas Eason has 1. This is a team that loves to drop back into coverage, which shows in their nearly 4.5 yards allowed per carry. It's incumbent upon the defensive line to gum up the works at the line of scrimmage, and either make the tackle themselves or force the runner to move laterally until help can arrive. They haven't done that very well this season, but if SMU doesn't take advantage then it won't matter. The Longhorns face a similar task on their own possessions. They're a heck of a lot more balanced than SMU: instead of 485 passes to 222 runs, they've been at 324 passes and 300 runs. Simeon Wells is important to this offense, and they're at their best when he can get going. He found the endzone in 11 of 12 games this season, hit the century mark for yardage 8 times out of 12 (including each of Texas's final 5 games), and averaged 4.75 yards per carry. SMU's defensive front is solid for sure, particularly with Jaden Westbrook (36 tackles, 8 sacks) lining up at right end against redshirt freshman left tackle Bobby Drake. But they've also given up good chunks of yardage on the ground against teams with mobile quarterbacks (TCU, Houston) and teams with DeNorris Jackson (UCF twice). Simeon Wells isn't a DNJ yet, but that's film the coaching staff will have been breaking down for weeks in advance of this game. This is probably advantage Wells. But even when Wells plays well, Texas needs to get a good game out of Kyler Tackett in order to win. The sophomore Collin College product put up numbers that qualified him as "not Sam Light" and "definitely not Dante Fraley." On an efficiency basis, he actually put up reasonably similar numbers to Brad Davis. He completed 65.4% of his passes for 2644 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions--that's on an even 27.0 passes per game and with a 150.8 passer rating. He's nominally a running threat, but more in terms of his ability to move within the pocket or roll out and throw on the run rather than his ability to take off downfield. The big thing is that he's a steady player who hasn't really had any "wow" moments. His career high for passing yards is 290, but he's completed 70% of his passes or more in half of his games. Part of that's his lack of downfield threats: if Abdoul Causey is your WR1, you don't have a WR1. Tight end Steven Maloney leads the team in all receiving categories with 50 receptions for 700 yards and 9 touchdowns. Outside of Maloney, Causey, Rory Stevens, and occasionally Shaun Lyles there isn't anyone else who Tackett looks to throw to. SMU's secondary is a tough one to challenge with that makeup. Sam Milner's the only quarterback to throw 2 touchdown passes against them in the same game. They've allowed just 11 touchdown passes all year--against 12 interceptions. Their opponents complete just 58.1% of their passes. Adam Young (4 INT) is a dangerous corner, and safeties Sergio Munoz (2 INT) and Blake Goodwin can hold their own. Tackett also has to be on the lookout for middle linebacker William Battle, who's tied for the team lead with 4 interceptions and whose team-best 65 tackles have routinely prevented yards after the catch. These teams have similar profiles, from up-and-down quarterback play to good coverage from the linebacker corps. But while SMU got away with some skating on thin ice early in the season (until the UCF and Navy games), they eventually got it mostly together and finished the season with their best football of the year. Texas doesn't have momentum on their side. They lost back-to-back games, five out of seven, and six out of nine to close the regular season after a 3-0 start. When their offense has been on, their defense hasn't--and vice versa. They are certainly capable of beating SMU if they put it all together, but they just haven't put it all together this year. The 'Stangs gallop to victory. SMU 30, Texas 23
  12. [2020] Bowl Games - Day #5

    Mohammed Foster's final season statline: 340-472 for 4697 yards, 41 TD, 6 INT; 84 carries for 698 yards, 10 TD His 72.03% completion percentage is a conference record (beating Norris Brooksheer, 69.61% in 2016) His 41 passing touchdowns are a conference record (beating Christian Barkley, 37 in 2018) His 181.75 passer rating is a conference record (beating Norris Brooksheer, 180.93 in 2016) His 9.95 YPA is second in conference history (Norris Brooksheer's 10.17 in 2016 is first) His 4697 yards are 3rd in Big XII history (Brad Davis's 4852 in 2017 is second, Brad Davis's 4942 in 2018 is first) His 698 rushing yards are the second-most by a quarterback in conference history (DeAndre Jackson's 794 in 2015 is first) His 5395 total yards are a conference record Foster is now up to 11,169 career passing yards, which is second in Big XII history (Eric Jennings's 11,709 is first) His 78 career passing touchdowns rank third (Nathan Burden's 80 is second, Jennings's 91 is first). If he stays, he will break both of those career records. J.C. Weldon finished the season with 109 receptions for 1776 yards and 17 TD His 1776 yards are a conference record (beating Tai Miller, 1724 yards in 2015) His 17 touchdowns tie Miller's record in 2015 His 109 receptions are tied for third in Big XII history (Raheem Robinson's 117 in 2019 is second, Roy Davis's 118 in 2018 is first) Weldon finished his West Virginia career with 3069 career receiving yards, which is 7th in Big XII history and does not include his Marshall numbers Other notes West Virginia finished the season with 573 total points scored, which is 3 points shy of 2015 Oklahoma's record. However, they destroyed 2015 Oklahoma's record of 36.0 points per game. West Virginia averaged a full 40.9 per game. Mohamed Mustafa's 1278 rushing yards are a school record, beating Nick Sandoval's 1136 in 2015 Mustafa's 17 rushing touchdowns ties his own school record, set last year. Jason Dupree (899 yards) and Elias Langston (885 yards) had the most single-season receiving yards by a West Virginia player NOT named Weldon or Sykes. Lamont Carson's 8 interceptions is tied for third in a single season in Big XII history (Lee Davis's 9 in 2015 was second, Troy Marshall's 10 in 2018 was first) #HesAFreshman
  13. By now, it's fairly obvious that this network considers Mohammed Foster of West Virginia to be the single best quarterback in the country. After all, the electric junior has now accounted for 5,063 yards and 49 touchdowns this season while completing nearly 72.5% of his passes, averaging 10.1 yards per pass attempt and 8.4 yards per rush attempt, and turning the ball over just 5 times en route to a ridiculous 184.4 passer rating. However, the quarterback on the other sideline has been nothing short of elite this season himself. Elias Allen-Hollis might have the name of an accounting firm, but he has the game of a young Alexander Williams and the results to prove it. Allen-Hollis is pinpoint precise. He's completed 69.9% of his passes for 3414 yards, 28 touchdowns, and just 5 interceptions. His own passer rating is at 168.3, and he's stared down some of the best defenses in the country--and beaten them. He spreads the ball mostly to three senior receivers: wideouts Dwayne Maddox (62 for 885 yards, 11 TD) and Adam Vann (62 for 881 yards, 8 TD) along with tight end Corey Garvin (51 receptions for 697 yards, just 4 TD). He's rushed for 6 touchdowns and 376 yards on 55 carries. Allen-Hollis is dangerous on his own. But in combination with runningback Jayden Huff, that offense gets downright unstoppable. The senior tailback's numbers are eye-popping: 1523 yards, 21 touchdowns, more than 5.4 yards per carry. Some of his individual games are mind-boggling: he's been at 100 yards or more eight times this season, recorded six multi-touchdown games, three 3-touchdown games, and just one touchdown-free game. When he's on, he's a human torch. The big question is whether he'll sustain it against elite competition, and that's not a given. Sometimes he does--just ask Mississippi State (127 yards, 1 TD on 22 carries). Sometimes he doesn't--just ask Georgia (86 yards on 23 carries). Huff has been held under 4.1 yards per carry four times this season, all in SEC play. It's hard to do that, but West Virginia's not a defense that gives up a ton of yards on the ground. At 88.7 rushing yards per game allowed, they in fact lead the Big XII. They've faced the fewest rushing attempts (despite the extra game), but their 4.33 yards allowed per carry indicate that it's not purely a volume issue. With Hudson Adam and Messiah Bernard up front and Nathan Wilks on patrol at the mike, West Virginia's good at cleaning up anything on the ground. They've also been formidable against the pass, and in a way that somewhat counters what Allen-Hollis does best. The junior out of Donaldsonville, LA isn't shy about stretching the defense vertically, but accuracy's still his calling card. West Virginia is good at limiting accuracy--their 58.6% completion percentage allowed leads the Big XII. They're also good at making quarterbacks pay for anything less than perfect decision-making, tying the Big XII lead with 17 passes intercepted. What they're closer to average at is preventing the deep ball. They give up 11.9 yards per completion and 1.8 passing touchdowns per game. Neither of those numbers are bad, but in the playoffs even average is a weakness. Freshman cornerback Lamont Carson will be incredibly important, but don't understate the importance of the matchup between Maddox and West Virginia's Mahamadou Moore. If there's any place where LSU can break the WVU defense outright, that's it. On the other hand, West Virginia is very, very good at making all kinds of defenses break. You saw Foster's stats above. You know all about J.C. Weldon, the best receiver in the country. He's up to 1676 yards and 16 receiving touchdowns, for anyone keeping track. Throw in Jason Dupree's 899 yards and 13 touchdowns, or Elias Langston's 811 yards and 8 touchdowns, or even runningback Mohamed Mustafa's 1233 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns and you get an idea of how many different ways this offense can score. You don't average a nation-best 42.3 points per game by accident, after all. But LSU's defense is up there with the best in the country. Led primarily by ballhawking free safety Jeremy Whitehead (5 INT) and all-around terror Alexander "The Reaper" Burton (6.5 sacks, 3 INT, 48 tackles), LSU's been limiting foes to 14.5 points per game this season. Something's gotta give. The Tigers have given up just 13 touchdowns to 19 interceptions. Even in SEC play, they've been level at 10 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. One does not run on this LSU defense: they give up fewer than 4.0 yards per carry for the full season, and Auburn's offense was the only one to even beat 4.5 for a full game. (Auburn lost that game.) The one template that's been given to beat LSU this season, courtesy of the Alabama Crimson Tide, included a commitment to the ground game but mostly found its success through the air. Antonio Pugh finished that game 16-21 for 211 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions--that 173.3 passer rating is the highest LSU's allowed all season. It's 11 points below Foster's average. However, Pugh and Ryder Shipman are the only quarterbacks to even reach a 150 rating against LSU, so it'll be uphill sledding. The key to this one will be the West Virginia receivers against the whole of the young LSU secondary. It would be suicide to leave redshirt freshman Clay Vereen in single coverage on J.C. Weldon. Jeremy Whitehead will be in a lot of help situations on that side of the field, so it'll be up to Langston and Dupree to take advantage of the attention paid to Weldon and exploit the Tigers' lack of secondary depth. Number two corner Eddie Quarless hasn't recorded an interception this season; any time he's lined up against Weldon, the ball's going to come that way. Strong safety Emmanuel Hooker can get drawn out of position, so expect Dupree to be used to free up space for the other receivers. West Virginia has to use any mismatch they can create to their advantage, and I firmly believe they can do so. This game ought to be fiercely contested, with both teams claiming the role of the scrappy upstarts (West Virginia as the 7-seed, LSU as the 4.5-point betting underdog). But I like the Mountaineers' chances, and it's been a long time since picking them has let me down. #7 West Virginia 45, #2 LSU 40
  14. Abandon all hope, ye who expect points. The Liberty Bowl begins the Big XII bowl season, with Texas Tech making the trip to play a semi-road game in Memphis against the Vanderbilt Commodores. And if you've watched either one of these teams this season, you know that they're a pair of defense-first, offense-sometimes, grind-it-out, wear-you-down teams. In other words, be ready for the kind of football they played way back in the good ole days. Let's start with our friends from the Southeastern Conference. The Commodores run a tight ship on defense, and it's been nearly impossible to run that blockade without taking a few broadside shots. They give up precious little through the air. Opposing quarterbacks complete just 58.1% of their passes for 202.5 yards per game, and the Vanderbilt defense has given up just 12 touchdown passes against 15 interceptions. Christian Graham, Tucker Dowden, and Adrian Goldson are the only players to throw two touchdown passes against this defense; all were intercepted once in the process. This defense is led by an aggressive linebacker corps. Most notably, right outside linebacker Damian Dailey is the team's leading tackler (52), is tied for the team sack lead (5.5), and has a pick as well. Next to him is Adam Lovelace (50 tackles, 2 INT) with Samuel Sands joining him on the inside, and on the left side is Caleb McNamara (24 tackles, 3.5 sacks) who excels in coverage. Try to go deep, and you either give the linebackers enough time to sack you or throw it at an elite pair of safeties. Try to go wide and Jordan Tucker (5 INT) or Ibrahim Prince (3 INT) is there. The strength everywhere else on the defense hides the fact that the defensive line isn't great, which is the ray of hope for Texas Tech's run-heavy offense. The Commodores average nearly 4.6 yards allowed per carry. That's actually a tick worse than the Big XII's median, though it's still below Solomon McLaughlin's average. What it means is that Texas Tech has a bit of room to breathe. They have a strong offensive line, and generating any kind of push up front will at least help McLaughlin get a few yards downfield time in and time out instead of getting swallowed up at the line. Surely the Commodores will stack the box, but Texas Tech is used to seeing those looks. In this case, it'll be even harder for Texas Tech, knowing that passing the ball is so dangerous. Chase Shapiro's taken care of the ball (10 total TD to 1 total turnover), but against a Vanderbilt secondary that's this good it's hard to see him staying clean if his pass attempt count rises. So it really does fall to McLaughlin and the legs of Shapiro to shoulder the offensive load. The good news for the Red Raiders is that they might not need a ton of points. Over the course of the season, they've held five opponents to 10 points or fewer. When they fail to score 20, they're still 2-3. They know what it takes to win a rock fight. Vanderbilt's offense scores 25.1 points per game, which is 54th in the country. (Texas Tech scores 26.8, good for 44th.) It's not just the average-ish number of points Vanderbilt scores that makes this game look like a low over/under; it's how they get there. Vanderbilt's elite defense gives up a 116.6 passer rating. Vanderbilt quarterback Justin Malloy's passer rating is 115.7. He has thrown 16 touchdown passes to 16 interceptions, completed 55.3% of his passes, and thrown an interception in 11 of his 12 games. He has reached 200 yards in a game twice, he's had one game above a 62% completion percentage, and been at or below 50% in five of twelve games. Sophomore tight end Messiah Gresham has been the team's leading receiver with 691 yards and 7 touchdowns on 44 catches; top wideout DeAndre Felder had a comparable 42 receptions and 7 touchdowns, but a less comparable 498 yards. The ground game is effective more often than not. Kareem McGee rushed for 1198 yards and 16 touchdowns this year, averaging just under 4.5 yards per carry. McGee's absolutely the kind of guy who can get you 110 yards and a touchdown or two on 23-25 carries. He started the season with 7 straight 100-yard games; he closed it by reaching the century mark once in the final 5 attempts. Texas Tech's defense doesn't just have to slow down that attack; it has to shut it down. That's not just because there's a real possibility that they score 10 points or fewer; it's because Texas Tech's defense doesn't really have an in-between mode. They've given up 10 points or fewer 5 times (as mentioned earlier), and they've given up 27 points or more 5 times. Vanderbilt's offense is capable of running through that 27 mark, as they've done more often than not this season. Texas Tech's defense is built to bend without breaking. They've only intercepted 8 passes. They've allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 61.8% of their passes. But they also allow a Big XII-best 11.3 yards per completion, and they only give up 4.3 yards per carry. That's a situation Vanderbilt's happy to take: Malloy simply isn't going to beat anyone deep, but giving him room to operate is dangerous. McGee's not going to bust off a lot of home-run carries, but letting him chip away and create third-and-short situations is dangerous. This pick comes down to which defense I think is more likely to impose its will on the other offense. I think that's Vanderbilt. They have the middle of the field where McLaughlin likes to operate locked up, and they're absolutely going to be walking down a safety into the box, or bringing in an extra lineman or linebacker whenever possible. They can afford to leave the pass defense on an island because Texas Tech hasn't made anyone pay for doing so. Neither defense is perfectly matched up for the other offense, but Vanderbilt's can more easily be adapted to take away the one thing Texas Tech loves to do on offense. That's a potential difference-maker, so I'm going with the Commodores. Vanderbilt 14, Texas Tech 7
  15. [2020] Bowl Betting Bonanza

    $100 - Heisman: QB Mohammed Foster, West Virginia, +400
  16. [2020] Bowl Betting Bonanza

    $20 - CFP Quarterfinal: Penn State (-4.5) $20 - Birmingham Bowl: Ole Miss (-3.5) $40 - Liberty Bowl: Vanderbilt (-4.5)
  17. Coordinator expiring contracts [GMs ONLY]

    OC Jay Gruden +2% QB skill +14% QB/WR chemistry +5% OT/OG/C fitness -11% QB versatility Under Contract through the 2021 season DC Mike Tomlin +4% CB skill +9% CB/FS/SS aggressiveness +7% defensive adjustments Under Contract through the 2023 season
  18. [2021] Virginia Special Conference

    Storm Stopper, Chicago Tribune. No question to ask, but congratulations on an incredible run at Virginia and we all wish you the best of luck at Ball State. Welcome home.
  19. [2020] Bowl Betting Bonanza

    Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 $30 - CFP Quarterfinal: Virginia (+9) $20 - Bahamas Bowl: Toledo (-6) $50 - Independence Bowl: Miami (OH) (-8.5) Thursday, October 12th, 2017 $50 - CFP Quarterfinal: Pittsburgh (-11.5) $10 - Bay Area Bowl: Washington State (-4) $50 - New Mexico Bowl: Fresno State (+3.5)
  20. [Survey] Alumni Network

    Duke, class of 2015
  21. [2020] Bowl Betting Bonanza

    San Jose State replaced Boston College in the Sun Bowl. The line for that game is San Jose State vs. California (-16.5)
  22. West Virginia's mantra on Friday night was "leave no doubt." Leave no doubt, as if there was any, that West Virginia was the best team in the conference. Leave no doubt that the Mountaineer offense was a force to be reckoned with against all opponents. Leave no doubt that the defense was not just good, but elite. Leave no doubt that West Virginia was one of the 8 best football teams in the country and fully deserving of a playoff bid. West Virginia left no doubt whatsoever. The Mountaineers are Big XII champions for the first time in school history, climbing the mountain that Richmond King, Todd Sykes, and Rob Evans couldn't quite summit. They didn't do this to exorcise ghosts of the past, but those ghosts are certainly more at rest knowing that their legacy was partially responsible for the greatness of this year's team. The final score was 49-3, the third-largest margin in a game between current members of the Big XII. It was also a sustained blowout and not just a microburst: West Virginia didn't score more than 14 points in a quarter, but they scored at least a touchdown in every quarter. It was a battle won on just about every front. Big XII Championship Game MVP Mohammed Foster led the way with 350 yards on 28 of 35 passing and 4 touchdowns through the air. Mohammed Foster and Mohamed Mustafa combined for 146 yards on the ground, with Mustafa scoring the sole rushing touchdown of the game. Foster spread the ball out: J.C. Weldon led the team with 125 yards receiving, but it was Elias Langston, Abdoulaye Bowser, and twice Jason Dupree who were the recipients of the team's touchdown passes. But what turned this from a comfortable win to an historic blowout was the defense. They dogged Sam Milner all day long, harrying the redshirt freshman into the worst game of his life. They sacked him twice and both times knocked the ball free--one of those was a sack-strip-recovery by star defensive tackle Hudson Adam; the other was recovered by TCU lineman Mason Rider. Other times, they pressured him into bad throws. Most of them had the good fortune of falling incomplete. Three of them found their way into West Virginia possession. Two of those three interceptions--one apiece by cornerbacks Lamont Carson and Mahamadou Moore--were returned for touchdowns. Milner finished 7 of 22 for 81 passing yards, lost 5 yards on the ground, and turned the ball over 4 times. But in all fairness to the freshman, he wasn't the only one who had a miserable day. Shamar Burroughs ran for 59 yards on 17 carries. Finn Nielsen and Griffin McHanna had no impact on the offense; McHanna's biggest boon was his 106 kick return yards. (He had a lot of kicks to return.) The Horned Frogs finished with a big oh-fer on 13 third-down attempts and 3 fourth-down attempts. Oh, and William Finn missed a 45-yard field goal. This was West Virginia at its best, its season-defining game. It's been well-known for a long time that its offense can score on anybody, and TCU came in as the only Big XII defense to even put a dent in that. They couldn't replicate the feat. West Virginia's defense probably isn't going to shake a reputation of being up-and-down due to the Baylor and Oklahoma State games, but it showed that it takes a good enough offense to be able to crack this nut, and an offense that doesn't bring its A-game isn't going to get anywhere on the Mountaineers. This is a dangerous, dangerous team. They won't come in as the national championship favorite, but they've earned more than dark horse status by now. They are a bona fide contender. So what happens next? First, TCU will go to the Sugar Bowl, where they will play Georgia. After a year out of postseason contention, this is a huge bounceback for the Frogs. Despite the loss, they navigated the minefield and made it to their second Big XII Championship Game in three years. Not only that, but this Sugar Bowl is easily the most prestigious bowl bid the program's earned. It's the third time that TCU will have played Georgia. The first time was in 2015, when the Dawgs demolished the Frogs by a 58-7 margin. TCU finished that year 3-9. The second time was the season opener of the 2016 season, and TCU made it a ballgame in a 27-24 loss. But that close loss against a good team was the darkness before the dawn of the modern TCU program, the last loss before an 8-game winning streak that launched them into contention for the first time under Nathan Burden. This is a chance to bring that legacy full-circle as TCU looks to finish the first year of the Sam Milner era on a high note. West Virginia, meanwhile, is playoff-bound. The win coupled with championship game losses by Air Force and Purdue made it inevitable, and the selection committee made it official. They will be the 7th seed, squaring off against SEC champion LSU. The Tigers had a lot of warm-up games to start the year, but when the going got tough the tough got going. They are on an active 9-game winning streak, and their last four games have been wins over Auburn, Mississippi State, Florida, and Georgia--all very dangerous teams. Led by Elias Allen-Hollis and Jayden Huff on offense, led by do-everything linebacker Alexander "Reaper" Burton and safeties Jeremy Whitehead and Emmanuel Hooker on defense, this LSU team is dangerous. The Tigers memorably survived a shootout with Raheem Robinson and Chester Brenner's Oklahoma State in last year's Sugar Bowl, lost both corners from that team--and finished 4th in the country in scoring defense anyway. But West Virginia proved on Friday that they're ready for any challenge and willing to take on all comers. They left no doubt at all.
  23. They're normally included. I looked it up and the IRL NCAA made that the policy in 2002 (but didn't apply it retroactively). I'm generally in favor of that, though, since postseason bids are earned based on standard criteria and we already count bowl games toward a team's win-loss record.
  24. Mohammed Foster has set a new Big XII single-season record with 39 passing touchdowns. His 4398 passing yards rank third behind Brad Davis in 2017 (4852) and Brad Davis in 2018 (4942). He can break the record with 272.0 yards per game for two playoff games. Foster has now had four games with a passer rating of 200 or greater, all this season. He's now had six career games of 4+ passing touchdowns, 5 of which came this season. Foster's 201.7 passer rating was the third-highest in Big XII Championship Game history, and his 4 passing touchdowns set a Big XII Championship Game record. Sam Milner became the first quarterback to turn the ball over 4 times in a Big XII Championship Game since Joshua Andrews in 2014. His 35.47 passer rating is a record low for the Big XII CG to break Andrews's record. J.C. Weldon is now up to 1676 receiving yards this season (and remains at 16 touchdowns). He is 48 yards and 1 touchdown behind Tai Miller's single-season conference records. This was the fifth-largest win by a Big XII team over another Big XII team, the third-largest if you only include current members of the conference, and the largest win by a Big XII team over a bowl-eligible Big XII team. (By extension, it was the largest win in Big XII Championship Game history). Since third downs started being reported, this is the first time that a Big XII team converted 0 third downs in a game *or* allowed 0 third down conversions in a game.
  25. West Virginia left no doubt. Looking forward to seeing how well this team does in the playoffs. Congratulations to @smckenz3 on the championship!