Chicago Colleges: Auburn Tigers

All six finalists have made Heisman case

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
10:31
AM CT

Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsFlorida State fans have made their pick, but Jameis Winston is just one of six Heisman finalists.
Six Heisman Award finalists will head to New York for Saturday’s ceremony, the most that have received invites to the ceremony since 1994, when there were also six. The last time there were more was in 1988, with eight.

Although the favorite entering the ceremony is Florida State QB Jameis Winston, all six have made a solid case of why they are the best player in the country this season.

QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Although Northern Illinois' bid to be a BCS buster was ended in the MAC Championship Game, Lynch’s dual-threat ability kept the Huskies in it all season. He had 321 rushing yards against Western Michigan, the most by a quarterback in FBS history, breaking his own record of 316 set earlier in the year against Central Michigan.

Lynch ended the season with 1,881 rush yards, also an FBS record for a quarterback.

QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Manziel’s bid to join Archie Griffin as the only multiple Heisman winners saw a transformation of his game. While his 2012 season was built more on his legs, his 2013 campaign saw him develop as a passer.

Manziel added a yard to his yards per attempt (from 8.5 in 2012 to 9.5 in 2013). His touchdown percentage also increased from 6.0% in 2012 to 8.4% this year. Also in 2013, 63 percent of his completions this season have gone for a first down or a touchdown, compared to 57.6 percent last year.

RB Tre Mason, Auburn
Even after a 1,000-yard rushing season last year, Mason wasn't on the short list of Heisman contenders until he finished the season with five straight 100-yard rushing games, including 304 against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game, the fifth-highest total all-time in an SEC game.

Mason’s 2,137 all-purpose yards this season broke the Auburn school record, previously held by Bo Jackson. Mason’s 22 rushing TD this season also set a school record.

QB AJ McCarron, Alabama
This is McCarron’s third season as Alabama’s starting quarterback, and he’s improved every season. His opponent-adjusted QBR was 76.7 in 2011, 81.5 in 2012 and 83.5 this season.

He was even better against the tough SEC competition. In SEC games, McCarron had an 86.4 opponent-adjusted QBR, tied for the best in the conference. Fellow Heisman candidate Manziel was third (85.5).

RB Andre Williams, Boston College
This season, Williams became just the 16th player in FBS history to run for at least 2,000 yards in a season, and the first since Donald Brown did so for Connecticut in 2008.

Williams also showed big-play ability. He had 26 runs of at least 20 yards, the most by an FBS player since Kevin Smith had 26 in 2007. His 11 touchdowns on such runs are the most for any player in the last 10 seasons.

QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
Winston is the clubhouse leader for the Heisman, and as the FBS leader in opponent-adjusted QBR (90.9), he has good reason to be. The leader in opponent-adjusted QBR in three of the last six seasons went on to win the Heisman, including Manziel last year.

Winston has also showed a clutch presence on the field throughout the year. On third downs, Winston has a 98.9 Total QBR, leading all FBS quarterbacks. Over the last 10 seasons, the highest third-down Total QBR in a completed season was also 98.9, by Andrew Luck in 2010.

Rapid Reaction: Illinois 81, Auburn 79

December, 29, 2012
12/29/12
3:38
PM CT
CHICAGO -- A quick look at No. 12 Illinois’ 81-79 win over Auburn at the United Center on Saturday.

Overview: Playing in Chicago hadn’t been kind to Illinois in recent years. The Illini had been knocked off the last three times they held their annual game in Chicago.

Although it wasn’t as easy as the Illini hoped, they did finally reverse their fortune in the Windy City on Saturday.

Illinois looked as if it might put Auburn away when it extended its lead to double digits in the second half, but the Tigers continued to hang around and pulled within a point with 4:25 left.

The Illini have often relied on the 3-pointer this season, but they moved away from that on Saturday. They hit just four 3-pointers in the win and did most of their damage getting to the rim and with mid-range jumpers. Nine players scored for the Illini.

Auburn kept itself in the game with the 3-pointer. The Tigers were 11-of-23 from 3-point range. Frankie Sullivan scored a team-high 21 points.

Turning point: Illinois allowed Auburn to get within 68-67 with just over four minutes remaining. From there, Illinois surged forward again. The Illini closed out the game on a 13-9 run, but a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Auburn made the score appear closer.

Key player: Illinois sophomore point guard Tracy Abrams didn’t score in last year’s game at the United Center. He made up for it against Auburn. He scored a career-high 27 points and added eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Key stat: Illinois was 27 of 40 from the free-throw line. Auburn was 10 of 16.

Next game: Illinois finished its non-conference schedule with a 13-1 mark. The Illini open the Big Ten season by traveling to Purdue on Wednesday. Auburn still has one more non-conference game remaining and will host Florida State on Wednesday.

Notre Dame among most overrated in '11

January, 19, 2012
1/19/12
9:15
AM CT
Notre Dame entered 2011 as the Associated Press' preseason No. 16 team, expectations high and a BCS-bowl berth in sight.

Things didn't go according to plan. But were the Irish the biggest disappointment of this past college football season?

Turns out they'll have to settle for No. 2 in that category.

CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy broke down the preseason AP poll, using it as a measuring stick to see whom the voters were right (or close to being right) about while acknowledging those they whiffed on. McMurphy listed the 48 schools that received a vote in the preseason poll and calculated the difference from where they finished in the final poll.

The numbers showed that preseason No. 8 Texas A&M, at minus-41, was the biggest disappointment of 2011, with Notre Dame right behind the Aggies at minus-33. Ohio State (minus-31), Mississippi State (minus-29) and Florida (minus-27) rounded out the top five disappointments. Those five, plus Missouri (preseason No. 21, minus-8) and Auburn (preseason No. 23, minus-4) made up the seven schools that were not ranked in the final poll after being ranked in the preseason.

Preseason unranked Baylor (plus-36) finished as the biggest surprise.

And, in a reassuring sign for sportswriters everywhere, No. 7 Stanford, No. 14 TCU and No. 19 Georgia finished in the exact same spots as their preseason rankings.

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