Mac and the Mean Green are soaring11/13/2013
And goal to go …
1. Oh, sure, last week got more national love — Baylor-Oklahoma, Stanford-Oregon and LSU-Alabama all rocked the BCS standings in one way or another — but if you’re looking for a no-holds-barred, shakedown weekend in the Big 12 and Big Ten, Nov. 16 holds all the cards. Oklahoma State (8-1, 5-1 conference) visits Texas (7-2, 6-0) in what’s effectively a league semifinal, given that both schools have yet to meet Baylor (8-0, 5-0). In the Big Ten, you’ve got the Legends division hanging in the balance when Michigan State (8-1, 5-0 in the B1G) visits Nebraska (7-2, 4-1). The winner in Lincoln gets the inside track to lose in ignominious fashion to Urban Meyer and Ohio State at the league’s title game the first weekend of December.
2. At 1-8, the Cyclones have problems, stem to stern. But Paul Rhoads? Paul Rhoads isn’t one of them.
3. Speaking of Iowa State, how about a “huzzah” to Dan McCarney? Or seven? The former Cyclones coach isn’t just flying under the radar these days — he’s absolutely soaring. Mac has the Mean Green of North Texas off to a 7-3 start, having already clinched the program’s first winning season since 2004 and the first winning season for McCarney as a head coach since 2005 in Ames. The Mean Green are unbeaten at home for the first time in a decade and currently riding a five-game winning streak after stomping Texas-El Paso, 41-7. On Sept. 21, they’d even raised eyebrows nationally by going toe-to-toe with Georgia for a half (and change) in Athens before falling, 45-21. Iowa State may not be bowling this fall, but Mac’s team sure as heck will be. And, if nothing else, it’s a cause — and a coach — worth rooting for.
THE BIG EIGHT
Ranking the best eight teams in the Big 12 and Big Ten, one through eight…
TEAM (RECORD) / UP NEXT
1. Ohio State (9-0) / at Illinois
2. Baylor (8-0) / vs. Texas Tech (Arlington, Tex.)
3. Wisconsin (7-2) / vs. Indiana
4. Michigan State (8-1) / at Nebraska
5. Oklahoma State (8-1) / at Texas
6. Texas (7-2) / vs. Oklahoma State
7. Oklahoma (7-2) / vs. Iowa State
8. Nebraska (8-2) / vs. Michigan State
ONE MAN’S RUNNING HEISMAN BALLOT:
1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: Stanford not only did the Seminoles a solid by knocking Oregon off the rails again — they did Winston’s Heisman chase a solid, too, by grabbing mainstream media darling Marcus Mariota, Richie Incognito style, and giving him a great big wedgie again on national television. As long as the ’Noles keep cruising toward a BCS title-game date with ’Bama, the trophy might very well be Winston’s to lose.
2. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor: Well, unless Petty keeps putting up week after week of bonkers numbers. And here’s craziest stat of all: His passer rating of 210.64 for the season — thanks to 21 TDs and just one pick — is on a pace to set a new NCAA record.
3. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama: Never gets the love — or the ink — because of that defense and because of Saban-Mania, but he threw for three TDs against LSU in a 38-17 rout of the Tigers, giving him 19 scores against only three interceptions on the year.
SET YOUR TIVO:
The games you won’t want to miss…
1.Oklahoma State at Texas, FOX, 2:30 p.m.: In 27 meetings with the Cowboys, the ’Horns have won 23 and have only come into the matchup as the lower-ranked team twice before this year — in 2010 and 2011. Okie State won both of those meetings. The way Team Gundy is playing right now, don’t be shocked if that streak gets extended to three.
2. Michigan State at Nebraska, ABC, 2:30 p.m.: In a universe of spread offenses and finesse football, Sparty is old-fashioned, physical, defensive and brutal, leading the Big Ten in average time of possession in regulation (33.57 per game) and in time of possession percentage (56.7 percent of the time, they’ve got the ball, and you don’t.)
3. Baylor vs. Texas Tech, FOX, 6 p.m.: Sure, with all the balls flying through the air, this puppy could take five hours to finish. But that’ll still make it shorter than most of the Division I men’s basketball games you’ll watch this winter.
THE HOT SEAT: DANA HOLGORSEN, WEST VIRGINIA
If you thought the Tommie Frazier-Bo Pelini relationship was odd and frosty, check out what former West Virginia great Pat White has tweeted this fall about the current football coach at his 4-6 alma mater:
He is not a leader. Players don’t believe or trust. #LaneKiffin #PullThePlug
9 wins in each season and an Orange Bowl win with his recruits… Don’t think we’ve ever been the most talented, just more pride… #LetsGo
Um, yeah. So when one of the best quarterbacks ever to play at your school is not only calling you out on social media but then going so far as to suggest LANE EXPLETIVE KIFFIN AS YOUR REPLACEMENT, it’s safe to say there are… problems. Big, big, big, big, BIG problems. Godzilla problems. Fortunately for Holgorsen, he’s got two saving graces left: A visit to 2-7 Kansas this weekend, and a date with Iowa State in Morgantown on Nov. 30. If the Mountaineers would somehow drop one of those bad boys and miss a bowl, Holgorsen will be able to count his friends in West Virginia on one hand. And he’ll be using the other to try and thumb a ride home. CV
Sean Keeler is a columnist/blogger with FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports. In 2011, the Iowa native was named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors. You can read him at www.FoxSportsKansasCity.com and at www.FoxSportsMidwest.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@seankeeler) and through his Tumblr blog: seankeeler.tumblr.com.