Posts Tagged football

NCAA Football playoffs start this Saturday (in my dreams)

This Saturday could be the first weekend of Division-I college football playoff.  This Saturday could play host to numerous epic, win or go home match-ups.  College football could be the talk of the sports nation, just like basketball is every March. We could all be readying ourselves for match-ups between Arkansas and Michigan State, or Oklahoma and LSU, in which the winner would survive only long enough for a road-trip to Auburn, Ala. or Eugene, Ore.  Teams like Stanford and Wisconsin could be licking their chops at a possible second round match-up for the right to advance closer to a National Championship.

We could be in the early stages of a month-long drama that would have seen a true National Champion crowned on New Years Day.

Of course we can only dream.

Instead we are mired in the grasp of archaic bowl games and a BCS championship system that does nothing but create fan apathy toward 95% of the now 37 bowl-games. Even in the BCS — which is supposed to pit the creme-de-la creme against one another —  we wind up with match-ups like a meaningless Fiesta Bowl featuring #7 Oklahoma and a Connecticut team that, well, had to be placed somewhere.

“But what about the tradition!?”

Can this excuse get any more tired?  Tradition?  This year the BCS is sending #4 Stanford, the Pac 10 runner-up (Oregon will be in the BCS title game), to Miami to play in the Orange Bowl,  while Texas Christian heads to Pasadena to smell the roses.  Bowl tradition has been all-but-gone for some time. It’s time to put the old dog down.

It’s time for a playoff, and if people still want to put on bowl games for the teams that don’t make it, great.  With a 16 team playoff there would still be enough teams (58) left for 29 bowls.  Which could still take place right alongside the playoff tournament with little or no interference.

Anyway, enough with the ranting, let’s get back to that dream scenario.

College system needs a playoff, and not a plus-one game,  and not even an 8 team tournament.  Division I football needs a 16 team, four round, elimination tournament to crown it’s champion.  It is the best for the fans, the television ratings, and for the schools involved.

Of the 16 teams selected 11 would be “automatic” qualifiers, and would earn that distinction by winning their conference championship.  The remaining 5 teams would be chosen “at-large” either by a committee or by a predetermined system similar to the BCS or some other computer ranking.

Under this system every school in the country would have a tangible chance to win the national championship at the beginning of the regular season, and the best teams that fail to win their conference title would still have a shot to make the playoffs.  This would differ from the current situation where a team like TCU squad literally no shot to win it all, even if they go undefeated.

Once the 16 teams are chosen then the committee or the predetermined system would seed them 1 to 16.  Higher seeded teams would then have “home-field advantage,” up until the championship game, which would be held at a predetermined neutral site.

The whole tournament would have a total of 15 games and last four weeks.  It would start the week after the conference championship games.

So how would it look?

If held this year the playoffs would begin this Saturday, Dec. 11., the second round on the 18th, the semi-finals — think Final Four — on Christmas Day.  The Championship game could then be played on either New Years Day or it could be pushed back a week to allow to ease travel arrangements of teams, fans, and media.

A set-up like this would instantly transform December from one of the slower times in the sports world into a NCAA football bonanza.

But of Course this is only a dream.

Edit:  Independent teams would qualify the same as At-Large teams.

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Big 12 Power Rankings: 11/11/2010

Week 10 saw former number ones — Oklahoma and Missouri — both suffer their second Big 12 loss of the season.  Baylor failed in its attempt to solidify itself as a Big 12 power-player, losing big to Oklahoma State.  Texas looks to have gone completely into the tank, after getting drubbed by Kansas State. But it might have been Kansas who provided the most excitement of anyone during week ten, in a dramatic comeback win over Colorado.  When the dust settled, Nebraska took its place atop the Big 12 mountain.

1. Nebraska – The Cornhuskers were the only Big 12 team able to pull off a road win during week 10 and they did so with QBs Taylor Martinez and Zac Lee watching from the sidelines.  Though the Husker offense was limited to just over 300 yards of total offense but the defense held Iowa St. in check long enough for a dramatic 31-30 overtime win.  NU faithful must really be shaking their heads at the Huskers loss to Texas earlier in the season.  That loss, to a Longhorn team that is now just 4-5 (2-4), is all that is separating Bo Pelini’s squad from a possible BCS title berth.

2. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys took a previously red-hot Baylor team behind the woodshed during week 10.  OSU amassed 725 yards of total offense in the 55-28 rout of the then BCS No. 21 Bears.  Head Coach Mike Gundy has had success at OSU but he has yet to beat either Oklahoma or Texas, and the Cowboys have yet to appear in the Big 12 title game.  It looks like the stars are aligning for that all to go down if the Cowboys can take care of business.

4a. Oklahoma – The Sooners fell to a resurgent Texas A&M team 33-18 in College station during week ten.  OU was held scoreless by the Aggies during the first half before coming back to cut the defecit to 19-17 late in the 3rd quarter.  they never managed to get over the hump though as A&M fulled away in the fourth quarter.  The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the BCS No. 16 Sooners.  Texas Tech team fresh off of an upset win over Missouri heads to Norman in week 11, before OU head to both Baylor and BCS No. 10 Oklahoma State for what is sure to be a raucous crowd in Stillwater to finish the regular season.

4b. Missouri – It seemed as though the Tigers had finally gotten over the hump.  Gary Pinkel’s team was fresh off of a win over then BCS No. 1 Oklahoma, and it looked like this might be the year for Mizzou to make it to the BCS, there was even talks of a title appearance.  MU couldn’t sustain the momentum though and the Tigers have now lost two in a row following a surprising 24-17 loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock.  The Tigers seemed to have the game in control, leading 17-10 at halftime but they were shut-out by the Red Raiders in the second half.  QB Blaine Gabbert completed just 12 of 30 passes in the loss.

5. Texas A&M – It has been better late than never for the Aggies as they have now reeled off three straight victories following an impressive 33-18 win over then BCS No. 8 Oklahoma.  Mike Sherman and Co. were much maligned after three straight earlier losses against tough opponents Oklahoma State, Arkansas, and Missouri, but the negativity looks to have been unwarranted two of those games were very close and the Aggies have bounced back nicely.  The Aggies finish the season with another tough three game stretch heading to Baylor, then back home against Nebraska, and the season finale in Austin against the hated Longhorns.

6. ≡ Kansas State – Maybe Kansas State really does “own Texas?”  Or maybe the Longhorns just aren’t a very good football team.  It is probably a bit of both.  Still the Wildcats ran out to a 31-0 lead against UT before the Wildcats even completed a pass.  They extended that lead to 39-0 before Texas scored two   late in the game.  Bill Snyder’s squad is now looking 8-4 (4-4) squarely in the face.  If they can upset a reeling Mizzou team this week in Columbia KSU could have its first 9 win season in 7 years.

7. Baylor – The Bears were blown out by a quality opponent for the second time in week 10.  The 55-28 defeat at the hands of Oklahoma State showed that while vastly improved the Bears still haven’t quite reached that next level, especially on defense.  The Bears gave up 435 yards passing, and 290 yards rushing against the BCS No. 10 Cowboys.  The schedule doesn’t get any easier as Baylor hosts the resurgent, BCS No. 25 Texas A&M Aggies, before ending the season with a road-trip to BCS No. 16 Oklahoma.

8. Iowa State – The Cyclones lost a heart-breaker to BCS No. 8 Nebraska in week 10, but Paul Rhoads’ squad played with their characteristic heart and toughness in the 31-30 overtime defeat.  The Cyclones went for the win on a fake extra point, but the pass from holder Daniel Kuehl was intercepted by the Huskers to secure the NU win.  The Cyclones hope to earn bowl eligibility this week at Colorado, before hosting Missouri in the regular season finale.

9. Texas Tech – The Red Raiders pulled of an impressive come-from-behind upset over Missouri in week ten, shutting out the then BCS No. 12 Tigers in the second half of the 24-17 win.  First year head Coach Tommy Tuberville looks to have the Red Raiders 5-5 (3-4) going bowling with remaining games against Furman and Houston, but a win at BCS No. 16 Oklahoma will be required to avoid a losing Big 12 record.

10. ≡ Texas – The Longhorns have mailed it in.  Mack Brown would probably tell you otherwise but how else can you explain the absolute collapse of the UT football team this year.  We all know the Longhorns now 4-5 (2-4) are loaded with talent, and they did beat BCS No. 8 Nebraska in Lincoln earlier this year, home-losses to the likes of UCLA and Iowa State along with a 39-14 drubbing at the hands of Kansas State has the Longhorns on the outside looking in at bowl eligibility.  UT rounds out the season with BCS No. 10 Oklahoma State, Florida Atlantic and the finale against BCS No. 25 Texas A&M.

11. Kansas – Who would have thought Kansas would move out of the Big 12 cellar, especially when the Jayhawks trailed Colorado 45-17 early in the fourth quarter Saturday in Lawrence.  It looked like another blowout loss to the few fans remaining in Memorial Stadium, but Turner Gill’s team came back for an improbable 52-45 win.  The loss broke an 11 game Big 12 winless streak for the Jayhawks and led to the firing of former CU head coach Dan Hawkins.

12. Colorado – CU head coach was fired this week after the Buffaloes 52-45 loss at Kansas.  It doesn’t get any easier for the Buffaloes 3-6 (0-5) who host a tough Iowa State team, and BCS No. 25 Kansas State before ending a long-standing rivalry with BCS No. 8 Nebraska in Lincoln.

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Big 12 Power Rankings: 3rd Edition 11/3/2010

Missouri’s perch atop of the Big 12 mountain was short-lived as the Tigers spotted Nebraska a 24 point lead before falling to the Huskers 31-17 in Lincoln; Baylor dismissed more doubters, beating Texas (whose critics are getting louder) for the first time in 13 years; Oklahoma State managed to top Kansas State in Manhattan despite being without  WR Justin Blackmon.  Amidst it all OU cruised to an easy 43-10 home-win over Colorado, landing them back atop the rankings after a short hiatus.

1. Oklahoma – The Sooners are back on top, and in a league without a truly dominant team OU has posted the best resume to date.  It would be hard to pick any Big 12 team over the Sooners on a neutral field.  Their week nine win over Colorado wasn’t noteworthy, but their passing performance was.  The Sooners passed for 488 yards as a team, QB Landry Jones was 32-46 for 453 yards and 4 TDs.  His top target was WR Ryan Broyles who hauled in 9 passes for 208 yards and 3 TDs.  Broyles performance broke the OU school-record for most receiving yards in a game; Jones passed for the second most yards in a single game by an OU QB.

2. Nebraska – The Cornhuskers can’t beat Texas, but they are really, really good against everybody else.  After bouncing back from their loss to the Longhorns with a 51-41 road win against Oklahoma State, NU handled formerly unbeaten, then BCS No. 6, Missouri 31-17 in Lincoln.  The Huskers jumped out to a 24-0 first quarter lead and rode RB Roy Helu’s 307 rushing yards the rest of the way to put themselves in position to win the North and play for the Big 12 title in their final year in the league before jumping to the Big Ten next season.

3. Missouri – In typical Missouri fashion, just when the Tigers sniff success it all comes tumbling down.  Well, it isn’t that bad the MU is still a really good team and their defense is improved but true top ten teams do not give up 328 yards to anyone.  Mizzou competed gallantly after the first quarter debacle gutting the Nebraska lead to 24-14 with 7:30 remaining in the 3rd quarter, and the Tigers are still a dangerous team with an improved defense but they failed to take that next step with the loss in Lincoln.

4. ≡ Oklahoma State – Cowboys coach Mike Gundy is still a man and he expects his players to be men as well.  Accordingly Gundy decided to sit high-profile WR Justin Blackmon for OSU’s week 9 road trip to Kansas State after Blackmon spent the previous Monday in Dallas attending the Dallas Cowboy’s Monday night game and getting a DUI.  OSU relied heavily on it’s running game, chewing up clock and amassing 213 yards rushing in their 24-14 win over K-State.  OSU’s lone loss on the season was a 51-41 shootout against Nebraska in Stillwater. Blackmon will be back Saturday, and the Cowboys will need him as Robert Griffin and Baylor’s high-powered offense invade Still water in week 10.

5. ≡ Baylor – The Bears pulled of another banner win by beating Texas 30-22 in Austin and Art Briles has his team positioned to make a serious run at the south title.  Robert Griffin leads the Bears into a probable shootout against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, win that one and the could be playing for a shot at the Big 12 title game when they host Oklahoma on November 20.  That would be a monumental accomplishment for a program that hasn’t been to a bowl game in 16 years. Interesting side note: If BU can manage to make it to and/or win the Big 12 title game this year it could be a huge boon to TCU’s national title hopes.

6. ≡ Texas – Mack Brown’s team has lost more home-games this year (3) as Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops has lost in his entire career (2), that is the kind of thing that will make the folks in Texas stir in their spurs.  The Longhorns travel to Manhattan to face a Kansas State team who always seems to find a way to give UT fits, and at 2-3 in the Big 12 the Longhorns can’t afford many more losses if they hope to achieve a winning conference record.  Though K-State has beaten UCLA and ISU, two teams that UT has lost to it is tough to put the Wildcats above the Longhorns with UT’s win over Nebraska a team that KSU is completely incapable of playing with.

7. = Kansas State – The Wildcats are still sitting on 5 wins and still on the outside looking in at bowl eligibility for the first time since 2006.  KSU was unable to take advantage of a defensive effort that held high-powered Oklahoma State to 17 offensive points as in turnovers and miscues in the kicking game cost the Wildcats a chance at a readily winnable game last week in Manhattan.  A snake-bitten Texas team comes to town this week as both teams hope to rebound in what some have dubbed the “Chisholm Trail Rivalry.”

8.  Texas A&M – Maybe it was just the quality of their opponents.  Mike Sherman’s Aggies handled Texas Tech 45-27 in College Station.  A&M, who lead by as many as 25 points in the contest rode former back-up QB Ryan Tannahill’s school-record 449 passing yards to the blowout victory.  The Aggies have now won two in a row to improve their record to 5-3 (2-2), but see their schedule become very difficult once again as they finish out the season with BCS No. 8 Oklahoma, @ BCS No. 21 Baylor, BCS No. 7 Nebraska, and the season finale at Texas in Austin.

9.  Iowa State – The Cyclones looked to be on the brink of disaster as they trailed Kansas 9-7 heading into halftime last week in Ames.  Paul Rhoads’ team regrouped and outscored the hapless Jayhawks 21-7 in the second half to claim the 28-16 win.  The Cyclones now sit at 5-4 (3-2) and can claim bowl eligibility with just one more win.  Their most likely opportunity will be a road trip to Boulder to face a reeling Colorado team.  That game is sandwiched in between two home games against BCS No. 7 Nebraska this week and the finally against BCS No. 12 Missouri.

10. ≡ Texas Tech – Year one has not gone as planned for Tommy Tuberville and the Red Raiders.  Tech was trounced by Texas A&M 45-27 in College Station and is looking squarely at finishing with a 2-6 Big 12 record.  The Raiders host BCS No. 12 Missouri in week 10 before traveling to Norman for a date with BCS No. 8 Oklahoma.  Fortunately for Tech’s bowl hopes the Raiders scheduled two non-conference home-dates against Weber State and Houston to close out the season.  The seat could be getting hot for Tuberville even if TT is able to finish the regular season at 6-6.

11. ≡ Colorado – The Buffaloes are bad.  They are really bad.  Fortunately, their schedule is about to get a lot easier.  CU heads to Lawrence for a match-up with the equally horrid Jayhawks, before hosting Kansas State and Iowa State.  It is unlikely that the Buffs will find their sixth win but Coach Dan Hawkins’ boys might be able to muster out a win or two in their final season in the Big 12.

12. ≡ Kansas – Turner Gill’s squad showed fight in a 28-16 loss at Iowa State in week 9, but it wasn’t enough as KU had to rely on 3rd string QB Quinn Mecham. It was the Jayhawks 11th straight conference loss dating back to last year.  If they are unable to beat Colorado in Lawrence on Saturday the streak will likely balloon to 15 games and carry over to next season.

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Jayhawk QB takes a dip: Literally

When Kansas QB Jordan Webb left the field with a shoulder-injury late in the Jayhawks’ 45-10 home-loss to Texas A&M Saturday he did what many God-fearing Midwesterners do after a hard days work: He put in a chaw.

Webb enjoys a lipper

Now this might come as a surprise to many that a University of Kansas student athlete is representing his school and in effect the residents of the Great state of Kansas by succumbing to his nicotine addiction while still in uniform, on the sidelines and while the game is still being played.  The news is especially shocking on a Turner Gill coached team.

Gill, is known for his strict disciplinarianism.  The coach has banned both women and the use of cell-phones at times during the 2010 season.  He has also banned the use of swear-words by both players and coaches, and had them sign pledges (sort of like this) stating that they will abide by such stipulations.

Then again maybe Gill didn’t feel like he should have to add the use of chewing-tobacco to his laundry-list of team bannings.  After all the NCAA strictly prohibits tobacco use in its bylaws.

NCAA Rules Related to Tobacco

11.17 Use of Tobacco Products.  The use of Tobacco products is prohibited by all game personnel (e.g., coaches, trainers, managers and game officials) in all sports during practice and competition.

Tobacco: The use of tobacco products by a student-athlete is prohibited during practice and competition.  A student-athlete who uses tobacco products during a practice or competition shall be disqualified for the remainder of the practice or competition.  The use of tobacco products by coaches and game officials also is prohibited.  At NCAA championships, tobacco use by any individual on the field of play – as well as during other championship activities such as banquets, autograph sessions, press conferences and post-game interviews is prohibited.  Violations of this policy shall be dealt with by the appropriate sports committee in accordance with the misconduct provisions of NCAA

Bylaw 31.1.8.  Further, in the sport of baseball, dugouts are considered to be on the “field of play.”

Whether Webb was unaware of the rule or not he doesn’t seem to be to discreet as he pops in a dip in plain sight of fans and media. A Jayhawk staff-member looks on approvingly. <— video link, got to 1:24 in the video.

Webb is listed as questionable for Saturdays game at Iowa State.  It remains to be seen whether corrective action will be taken in regards to the apparent tobacco usage during the Texas A&M game.

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Big 12 Power Rankings: 2nd Edition 10/24/2010

Missouri didn’t fizzle under the national spotlight, taking down BCS No. 1 Oklahoma in Columbia;  Nebraska bounced from last weeks loss to Texas with a big win in Stillwater;  Baylor became bowl eligible for the first time in 16 years by outlasting K-State; and Iowa State give coach Paul Rhoads another chance for youtube stardom with an upset win over Texas in Austin.

1. Missouri – The Tigers still had a lot to prove heading into Saturday’s match-up with BCS No. 1 Oklahoma, and Gary Pinkel’s squad didn’t disappoint, handing the Sooners their first loss of the season.  Mizzou is now 7-0 (3-0), the lone remaining undefeated team in the Big 12 and one of only 7 remaining unbeatens in the country.  The Tigers defense stepped up holding Oklahoma to just 99 yards rushing and forced three OU turnovers in the 36-27 victory.  It’s tough at the top and the Tigers become the hunted with a trip to Nebraska looming next week that should decide the Big 12 North champion.

2. Oklahoma – Mistakes cost the Sooners dearly in a 27-36 loss to the then BCS No. 11 Missouri Tigers, but has shown enough on the season including wins over Florida St., Air Force and Texas to warrant the second slot in this weeks power rankings.  The Sooners now 6-1 (2-1) should cruise to three easy victories over Colorado, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech before a bout against upstart Baylor in Waco and then finishing off the regular season in Stillwater against rival Oklahoma St. in a game that should decide the Big 12 South.

3. Nebraska – It was road-sweet-road for the Cornhuskers as Bo Pelini’s team bounced back from last weeks home loss to Texas and outlasted high-powered Oklahoma St. (then BCS No. 14) in a 51-41 shootout with the Cowboys in Stillwater. QB Taylor Martinez had his best passing day of the season (23-35 323 yds, 5 tds) and WR Niles Paul regained his hands (9 rec, 131 yds) in the win. Nebraska now 6-1 (2-1) hosts Missouri in what looks to be the deciding game in the Big 12 North on Saturday.

4. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys move up this week despite the home-loss to then BCS No. 16 Nebraska.  OSU’s offense was solid against the Blackshirts but the Cowboys were unable to corral QB Taylor Martinez and the Cornhusker passing game in the 41-51 home-loss to NU.  The Cowboys should be favored in every game leading up to the season finally with former BCS No. 1 Oklahoma in Stillwater.

5. Baylor – The Bears offense was nearly unstoppable in a 47-42 home-win over former BCS No. 22 Kansas St. on Saturday.  With the win Art Briles has lead Baylor into bowl-eligiblity for the first time since 1994.  QB Robert Griffin III threw for 404 yards and 4 scores, but if the Bears hope to break into the top four their defense will have to stiffen up as the BU has games with Oklahoma St., Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma remaining on the schedule.

6. Texas – Mack Brown’s Longhorns have been an enigma in 2010, losing to at home to UCLA and Iowa St. but beating then BCS No. 5 in Nebraska in Lincoln.  UT’s offense has been stagnant all season and it bit them again in the 21-28 loss to the Cyclones on Saturday.  They will have to improve to keep pace as the high-octane Baylor Bears come to Austin next week.

7. Kansas State – The Wildcats defense failed them once again as K-State fell to 42-47 to Baylor in Waco Saturday.  Kansas St. now 5-2 (2-2) will need improved defense to slow-down Oklahoma St. this Saturday in Manhattan.  That game is followed by a visit from Texas and then rough trip to Missouri.  Bill Snyder could still be looking to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2003 when he takes his Wildcats to road games at Colorado and North Texas to finish out the season.

8. Iowa State – The Cyclones, who now faced five top 25 teams finally came out on top Saturday with a tough 28-21 win over Texas in Austin.  Iowa State 4-4 (2-2) forced four Longhorn turnovers en route to the victory.  Paul Rhoads’ team should be able to post a win over hapless Kansas on Saturday to move within one game of bowl eligibility.  With home dates with Nebraska and Missouri bookending a road trip to Colorado the Cyclones have limited opportunities to find their sixth win.

9. Texas A&M – The Aggies get jumped this week despite their 45-10 drubbing of Kansas in Lawrence.  A&M 4-4 (1-3) broke a three game skid with the win over the Jayhawks but wins should be hard to come by the rest of the way for Mike Sherman’s squad.  Texas Tech comes to town Saturday but after that the Aggies face a gauntlet featuring former BCS No. 1 Oklahoma, a tough road trip to Baylor, Nebraska and a trip to Austin to face the Longhorns to round out the season.

10.  Texas Tech – New head-coach Tommy Tuberville’s debut season in Lubbock has left many Raider fans yearning for the Pirate’s return.  With a 27-24 road win over Colorado the Aggies are now 4-3 (2-3) and with remaining games featuring opponents Texas A&M, Weber State and Houston sprinkled around tough dates with Missouri and Oklahoma the raiders could likely be bowl eligible this year. That doesn’t mean that folks in Lubbock aren’t wishing that Craig James’ son Adam, hadn’t opened hi big mouth.

11. ≡ Colorado – The Buffs kept it close again this week in a home-loss to Texas Tech, but Coach Dan Hawkins’ club still hasn’t managed to post a conference win.  A road trip to Kansas could be the cure for Colorado now 3-4 (0-3).  After that the Buffs host Iowa St. and Kansas St. before facing Nebraska in perhaps the final game in a long-standing rivalry.  Bowl chances look slim and even winning two of the remaining games will be a tough challenge for CU

12. ≡ Kansas – Few, if any bright spots remain for the Jayhawks in new head-coach Turner Gill’s first season in Lawrence.  After Texas A&M handed KU it’s third straight loss (all by at least 35 points) even tilts against Iowa State (especially with their win over Texas) and Colorado look near impossible.  Lose those and Kansas should see it’s conference losses streak run to 15 games by season’s end as the Jayhawks finish off the season at Nebraska, home against Oklahoma State and in Kansas City against rival Missouri.

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Big 12 Power Rankings: 1st Edition 10/19/2010

This is my first sports related post.  It will be a weekly ranking of Big 12 Conference football teams.

The week of October 16, 2010 saw some definite surprises and the cream is beginning to rise to the top in the Big 12.  Nebraska was exposed as one dimensional in yet another loss to Texas.  Most Big 12 fans must have found this at least mildly amusing as NU is leaving for the Big 10 almost entirely out of jealousy toward Texas.

Read the rest of this entry »

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