NCF Nation: Army Black Knights

Watch: Football 'LeBroning' attempt fails

September, 20, 2014
9/20/14
7:20
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Remember that viral phenomenon called "LeBroning" that took over the Internet for a few days this summer?

Apparently Stephen Ricciardi does. Check out his hilarious attempt at drawing a flag during Saturday's Army-Wake Forest game.

ACC viewer's guide: Week 4

September, 20, 2014
9/20/14
8:00
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The best day of the week is finally here. Is the best league game of the year here as well? Probably. Here's a primer on all of the action throughout the day. Be sure to follow along on Twitter with all of the hashtags below.

Noon

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, ESPN, #GTvsVT: The Yellow Jackets have gotten to 3-0 in the most wayward of fashions. The Hokies are coming off a home loss to East Carolina, one week after upsetting a top-10 Ohio State team on the road. Could their trouble be on defense? Brandon Facyson has been playing hurt all season, sure, but Virginia Tech has surrendered 22 plays of 20 yards or more this season, fourth-most in the nation and half its total from last season (44). The big-play threat might not exactly be there with Georgia Tech, but as Jared Shanker noted this week, the visitors do bring with them a knack for converting third downs. Virginia Tech has won the past four games in this matchup.

Iowa at Pittsburgh, ESPNU, #IOWAvsPITT: Third-year Panthers coach Paul Chryst hosts a familiar foe this weekend, as he faced the Hawkeyes six times while he was offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, going 3-3. Pitt is looking for its first 4-0 start since 2000, and it will likely turn to the nation's leading rusher, James Conner, to try to get there, despite Iowa's stingy run defense (No. 7 nationally). Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, by the way, will experience a homecoming of sorts, as he went to Upper St. Clair High in Pittsburgh.

12:30 p.m.

Maryland at Syracuse, 12:30, ESPN3, #MDvsCUSE: The Terrapins are in their first year away from the "basketball" conference that is the ACC, as coach Randy Edsall said this summer, and the Big Ten newcomers will look to avenge last year's 20-3 home loss to the Orange, which came without receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. Syracuse, meanwhile, looked like a new team in last week's 40-3 win at Central Michigan, as it came off a bye and had quarterback Terrel Hunt back running the show on offense. Syracuse is looking to get to 3-0 for the first time since 1991, which would provide a big boost to a team that will embark on a difficult three-week stretch against Notre Dame, Louisville and Florida State.

Tulane at Duke, ESPN3, #TULNvsDUKE: Has there been a more overlooked team than Duke recently? All the Blue Devils have done is take care of business, coming off a 10-win, division-title season and starting 3-0 this season in methodical fashion (albeit against bad competition). In any event, the unranked Blue Devils close their nonconference slate against American Athletic Conference newcomer Tulane, which is no stranger to the ACC this season, having lost to Georgia Tech two weeks ago. Here's one interesting stat surrounding Duke quarterback Anthony Boone, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information: The Blue Devils have lost yardage on just three percent of Boone's snaps, the lowest percentage of any Power Five quarterback with at least 150 plays.

[+] EnlargeTyler Murphy
Winslow Townson/Getty ImagesTyler Murphy and Boston College hope to avoid a letdown after their upset of USC when they face FCS Maine on Saturday.
1 p.m.

Maine at Boston College, ESPN3, #MEvsBC: It's all about avoiding a letdown this week in Chestnut Hill, where the Eagles produced one of the young season's greatest upsets last weekend against USC. The Black Bears should hardly pose a huge challenge to BC, which, with Tyler Murphy under center, has been able to stretch the field much more than last season, even if the run game is still its bread and butter. Murphy leads all quarterbacks in rushing yards this season with 401, 40 more yards than he has tallied passing the ball (361).

3:30 p.m.

Louisville at FIU, Fox Sports 1: The Cardinals are looking to rebound from their first defeat of the second Bobby Petrino era, while the Golden Panthers welcome their second straight ACC foe to Miami. FIU gave Pitt a handful last week before the Panthers pulled away, but Louisville will probably not be so kind coming off the loss at Virginia. Louisville beat FIU 72-0 a year ago, and while there are plenty of new faces, quarterback Will Gardner will try to bounce back after getting pulled a week ago. His offensive line will look to get its act together as well.

Virginia at No. 21 BYU, ESPN, #UVAvsBYU: Speaking of the Cavaliers, they should serve as one of the toughest tests the Cougars face all season, as the home team has the best chance of anyone in the nation at running the regular-season table (21.7 percent, per ESPN's FPI). We'll see just how good this Virginia defense really is after strong showings through the first three weeks, as BYU quarterback Taysom Hill and his home field will be a handful to handle. Virginia beat BYU last year in the season opener, one of just two games it won all season.

Army at Wake Forest, ESPN3, #ARMYvsWAKE: The Demon Deacons' defense has actually been pretty good through three games despite a 1-2 record. And while the offense showed signs of life late in last week's loss at Utah State, it cannot afford to give away points, and it would help to develop some form of a ground game. The Black Knights were shut out last week at Stanford. They also boast, at this point, the nation's slowest offense at 31.1 seconds per play, according to data from ESPN Stats & Info.

North Carolina at East Carolina, ESPNU, #UNCvsECU: The Pirates came awfully close to beating a South Carolina team that is probably better than we initially gave it credit for, and they went into Blacksburg, Virginia, last week and took down the Hokies. Now they get the Tar Heels in a rematch of last year's 55-31 ECU rout in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have looked underwhelming through two games, and they will be without starting guard Landon Turner. But their offense is still capable of putting plenty of points on the board, and this is a team that certainly has not forgotten about the way it was embarrassed by the Pirates last season. A shootout between Marquise Williams and Shane Carden could be on the horizon. And given UNC's upcoming slate -- at Clemson, Virginia Tech, at Notre Dame -- it better hope it can keep up this time around before league play starts. One thing to keep in mind: With Brian Walker's 100-yard interception return for a touchdown two weeks ago at San Diego State, UNC now has 10 non-offensive touchdowns since last season, according to ESPN Stats & Info. That is tied with North Texas for the second-best mark in the nation during that span, trailing only Florida State's 11.

6 p.m.

Presbyterian at NC State, ESPN3, #PREvsNCSU: The Wolfpack's laughable nonconference slate concludes, and a win here would make them 4-0 after a disappointing 3-9 mark last season. Still, it should do wonders for a young team looking to go bowling in Dave Doeren's second year at the helm, especially if it can replicate its dominant performance from last week at USF. Like its rival in Chapel Hill, NC State needs to do itself a favor, with back-to-back games against FSU and Clemson awaiting in the next two weeks to open conference play. As David Hale notes, quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been invaluable so far for the Pack, leading the ACC in touchdowns and yards and second only to Georgia Tech's Justin Thomas in passer rating.

8 p.m.

Miami at No. 24 Nebraska, ESPN2, #MIAvsNEB: Andrea Adelson and Mitch Sherman did a wonderful job recapping some of the great matchups between these old rivals. What might be the difference at Memorial Stadium, however, is the ground game. Duke Johnson has rushed for at least 90 yards in each of his past five games dating back to last season, while Ameer Abdullah has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in 12 of his past 14 games and has tallied more than 100 yards from scrimmage in 16 straight games, the longest active streak in the nation. The ACC is 6-3 against the Cornhuskers in the past nine meetings, though the Hurricanes are just 1-6 in their past seven games against AP-ranked teams, with an average point margin of minus-22.4.

8 p.m.

No. 22 Clemson at No. 1 Florida State, ABC, #CLEMvsFSU: Here's the matchup we've all been waiting for, but it won't include Jameis Winston. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner will sit out the entire game, the school announced late Friday, after reportedly making profane remarks in public. It will be Sean Maguire's turn to run the show. Maguire has not started a game since Nov. 12, 2011, his senior year at Seton Hall Prep (New Jersey). Coach Jimbo Fisher is 3-1 against Clemson since arriving in Tallahassee, but the lower-ranked team has won two of the past three meetings. The Tigers, meanwhile, are 0-4 all time against AP No. 1 teams, with the last such game coming in the 1999 "Bowden Bowl I" against FSU, a 17-14 Seminoles win. Coming into this contest, ESPN's FPI ranks Clemson 19th, FSU 2nd, and it gives the Seminoles a 77 percent chance to win.

Pac-12 predictions: Week 3

September, 12, 2013
9/12/13
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Both Ted and Kevin went 9-1 last week, both missing on picking USC to beat Washington State.

For the year, Kevin is 18-2 and Ted is a miserable 17-3.

STANFORD at ARMY

Kevin Gemmell: The Cardinal thrive on efficiency, and they were very efficient in their season opener. Army is hardly the test San Jose State was. It makes its living by running the ball, averaging 329 yards on the ground through the first two weeks. Guess which team loves for teams to run at them? … Stanford 38, Army 7.

Ted Miller: Army is not going to win this football game, but on a week when we remember 9/11, let's tip our cap to those guys. I'm sure they'll compete hard and make sure Stanford comes back west knowing it played a football game. … Stanford 35, Army 10.

FRESNO STATE at COLORADO

Gemmell: The Buffs probably lose this one. It was a nice couple of games. They got a little momentum, doubled their win total from last season and generated a little excitement early in the rebuilding process. Fresno State has some weapons. Then again, as Ben Bradlee famously said during the Watergate investigation: “[Bleep] it, let’s stand by the boys.” … Colorado 31, Fresno State 28.

Miller: Colorado has already shown it's a better football team than it was in 2012. Better will make this one closer than last season -- way closer. But Fresno State might be the nation's best non-AQ team. … Fresno State 38, Colorado 30.

TENNESSEE at OREGON

Gemmell: Had he taken the Colorado job, Butch Jones would have had to wait two more weeks to get blown out by the Ducks. At least now he gets it out of the way sooner. Look for those little mistakes Oregon had last week to disappear as the Ducks return home. … Oregon 48, Tennessee 17.

Miller: There is a level of intrigue for this game based on the Volunteers having a great offensive line and the Ducks being somewhat questionable at linebacker. Is that enough to keep it close? Probably not. … Oregon 44, Tennessee 20.

OHIO STATE at CALIFORNIA

Gemmell: The Buckeyes showed some depth against San Diego State last week when Braxton Miller went down. That doesn’t bode well for a Cal defense that is rife with injuries right now. The Bears can put up points. No one is disputing that. Stopping people is the bigger priority right now. … Ohio State 38, Cal 27.

Miller: The Buckeyes are going to pile up rushing yards, whether Miller plays or not. So can the Bears pile up passing yards to match them, score for score? Maybe for a little while, but not for four quarters. … Ohio State 40, California 21.

WISCONSIN at ARIZONA STATE

Gemmell: Welcome to the desert, where the temperature at kickoff is expected to be a toasty 102 degrees. But it won’t be the heat that burns the Badgers. It will be ASU’s precision efficiency, which is amplified when Taylor Kelly plays at home. In eight career home games, he has 19 TDs to three INTs and is completing 74.2 percent of his throws. … Arizona State 35, Wisconsin 24.

Miller: But it's a dry heat! My question is whether the Sun Devils defense will be able to stand up to the relentless power-rushing attack of the Badgers. My guess is both teams will be pretty darn worn out by the end of the game. Kevin thinks the UCLA-Nebraska game was the toughest pick this week. This was it for me. … Arizona State 24, Wisconsin 23.

OREGON STATE at UTAH

Gemmell: Two weeks ago, I said I would pencil this in as an Oregon State win. Pencils have erasers. The Beavers have all sorts of issues on defense, and the Utes are playing with a confidence we’ve rarely seen since they joined the league. I think Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks have a big day, but I think Travis Wilson & Co. have a bigger day. … Utah 31, Oregon State 27.

Miller: This feels like a HUGE game for both teams. As in, neither will accomplish its goals this season if it loses. I like the matchup with a more mature Travis Wilson against the injury-riddled Beavers defense, but I also think Mannion and Cooks have an edge versus the Utes' questionable secondary. The edge for the Utes is playing at home. … Utah 38, Oregon State 35.

UTSA at ARIZONA

Gemmell: The Wildcats still haven’t put it all together. But, once again, their schedule allows for tweaking and growing. Ka'Deem Carey's return was as spectacular as expected, and the defense continues to show signs of improvement. I suspect we’ll learn more about the Wildcats when they open league play on Sept. 28 against Washington. For now, they’ll continue to tweak their way to another win. … Arizona 42, UTSA 21.

Miller: I'm with Kevin. I'm ready to see Arizona get tested. The Wildcats' big goal in this game is fleshing out a passing attack that has been poor to middling in the first two games. … Arizona 48, UTSA 17.

BOSTON COLLEGE at USC

Gemmell: A whole week for Cody Kessler to take the first-team snaps might do wonders. But, for now, if the Trojans do win, it will continue to be on the coattails of the defense, which has been outstanding, and that’s getting lost in all of this quarterback mess. … USC 31, Boston College 17.

Miller: Forget Lane Kiffin for a moment. What about the players? Do they have pride? Or are they ready to wave a white flag on their season and their head coach? I think we'll see USC bounce back, but I'm far from certain of it. … USC 24, Boston College 17.

SOUTHERN UTAH at WASHINGTON STATE

Gemmell: The worst thing in the world would be an emotional letdown. Don’t see it happening. The offense gets back on track this week and the defense continues to improve in Year 2 under Mike Breske. The Air Raid should be in full effect this week. … Washington State 48, Utah State 10.

Miller: Washington State is going to win this game, but the Cougars need to get their offense back in sync. That means enough running game to keep a defense honest and more than 300 passing yards. We'll see both on Saturday. … Washington State 51, Utah State 13.

UCLA at NEBRASKA

Gemmell: By far the toughest game to pick this week. It all comes down to which defense can better contain the other’s quarterback. I think the bye week was a good thing for the Bruins, though this week will certainly be emotionally trying with the death of receiver Nick Pasquale. They have on film what they did right and wrong versus a mobile quarterback from the Nevada game. I think they put that film to good use. …UCLA 36, Nebraska 31.

Miller: Both teams have good offenses, but I think the UCLA defense is better. Further, I like Brett Hundley to take control in the fourth quarter and Anthony Barr to make some game-changing plays against Taylor Martinez. … UCLA 40, Nebraska 31.

WASHINGTON at ILLINOIS (in Chicago)

Gemmell: This is the next big test for the Huskies: Can they be as productive on the road? They come off the bye week healthy and rested, and the return of Austin Seferian-Jenkins gives Keith Price another outstanding weapon. Looking for the Huskies to take a big step forward. … Washington 35, Illinois 24.

Miller: If the Huskies play like they did against Boise State, they will roll. I expect them to. I also expect Seferian-Jenkins to have a big game, both catching the ball and blocking for Bishop Sankey against a middling defense. … Washington 41, Illinois 20.



The Pac-12 will establish its national identity on Saturday. Simple as that.

Every Pac-12 team plays. No byes this week, my friends. There's one conference game, Oregon State at Utah, that is critical to both teams. Eight of the nonconference foes are unbeaten at 2-0. Six of those teams are from AQ conferences, including four matchups with the Big Ten. Three are against ranked teams. Fresno State, which is visiting Colorado, is the equivalent of 28th in the AP poll. Three Pac-12 teams are underdogs.

Three teams are traveling across multiple times zones. Six teams will be televised on either ABC, ESPN, Fox or Fox Sports 1.

It's a big weekend, folks. It's "measuring stick"weekend.

[+] EnlargeJim Mora
William Mancebo/Getty ImagesJim Mora Jr. leads the Bruins into Lincoln, Neb., in a big game for the Pac-12 and the Big Ten.
Sure, Stanford (Army), Washington State (Southern Utah) and Arizona (UTSA) aren't playing marquee matchups. But nine other Pac-12 teams can make a resonating, national statements about the trajectory of their seasons if they win on Saturday.

The underdogs are Colorado, California, which plays host to No. 4 Ohio State, and UCLA, which visits No. 23 Nebraska.

Colorado is looking to redeem itself for a white-flag performance at Fresno in 2012, a humiliating 69-14 defeat that wasn't even as close as the final score indicates, seeing that it was 35-0 after one quarter. If the Buffs pull the upset, it would establish the Pac-12 as a patsy-less conference with no easy outs.

Cal nearly won at Ohio State a year ago, more than physically matching the Buckeyes, who would go undefeated. That game, in fact, is probably why there's a lot of skepticism -- cough, cough -- about how good the Buckeyes actually are. The good news is Cal is at home. The bad news is the Bears nearly lost there a week ago to Portland State, an FCS team.

Perhaps the most meaningful game for the conference is the Bruins-Cornhuskers matchup, mostly because both teams are ranked. Last year, UCLA prevailed as an underdog, 36-30, in Week 2, and that victory immediately gave the Bruins and new coach Jim Mora national legitimacy and presaged a turnaround season in Westwood. The Bruins also are dealing with the shocking death of receiver Nick Pasquale, who was hit by a car over the weekend.

A victory by the 16th-ranked Bruins could push them close to the nation's top 10 and set them up for a 5-0 start before getting the most arduous road double in the country this fall: at Stanford, at Oregon on back-to-back weekends starting Oct. 19.

UCLA's South Division rival, unranked Arizona State, is favored by 5 points over No. 20 Wisconsin, which is interesting. While many still seem to question second-year coach Todd Graham's crew, Vegas apparently does not. But lines only mean so much. The one thing missing from the Sun Devils strong 2012 campaign was a victory over an A-list foe. The burly Badgers are an A-list foe.

Speaking of favorites, Oregon is giving 27 points to an SEC team, Tennessee. That's a pretty substantial sign of respect. But, of course, it also establishes an expectation. If the Ducks win, say, 28-17, there will be more than a few smirks in SEC country and among some media folks who fawn on the conference. Style, which Oregon typically has in abundance, matters in this one.

Washington has struggled on the road of late, going 3-10 away from Seattle the past two seasons. Further, Illinois (2-0) might be better than expected; so it's not about style points for the Huskies. It's just about winning and maintaining the positive momentum the program ignited with the opening win over Boise State. Of course, an impressive victory could push the Huskies into the nation's top 15.

USC could use some style -- any at all on offense. The visit from Boston College looked like a walk-over for the Trojans in the preseason, but now it feels like a must-win for coach Lane Kiffin. It's difficult to imagine USC's season turning around after a 1-2 start, which could doom Kiffin.

Then there's Oregon State's visit to Utah. In the preseason, the Beavers looked like a decided favorite for this one, but then they lost their opener to Eastern Washington. Meanwhile, the Utes have surged, getting surprisingly good play from true sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson. An Oregon State win likely would restore confidence and make the Eastern Washington loss look more flukish. A Utah victory would make the Utes look like a bowl team and inspire an edit of preseason expectations.

Finally, there's the three teams playing lesser foes. We have three words for each of you: Don't blow it.

If the Pac-12 wins eight of these 10 nonconference games, it would substantially boost the major preseason storyline for the conference: The Pac-12 is as deep in quality as it has been in years and is in the running for the mythical title of nation's best conference.

But if it wins just five or six games, the measuring stick would be broken in half. The perception of the conference would sink, and there would be little chance to salvage it. At least until the bowl season.
1. On the day before every game, Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien had his starters go through a script of plays, mostly 2-minute possibilities and unusual special-team situations. O’Brien said he had learned that from Bill Belichick, for whom O’Brien worked at New England. I thought of that Sunday night as the Ravens flawlessly took 7 seconds off the clock as their punt team took a safety in their own end zone. I saw Penn State walk through that play on the day before its 2012 season opener. There are a lot of ways that play -- or any play -- can screw up if a team hasn’t practiced it.

2. When Kansas State announced last Thursday that it had agreed with head coach Bill Snyder on a five-year, $14.75 million extension through the 2017 season, the first question I thought of was, he’ll be how old? Snyder is 73, and a young 73. But I find it hard to believe that he will coach through the end of his deal. Given the lack of grace in the exits of Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden, here’s hoping that Snyder figures out how to leave every Wildcat wanting more.

3. When Army defeated Notre Dame, 59-0, in 1944, the score was so lopsided that U.S. soldiers fighting in Italy believed the news to be German propaganda. Cadet quarterback Doug Kenna, a three-sport star, became an All-American. As an Army assistant coach five years later, he showed around the new guy, a fellow assistant hired from Fordham named Vince Lombardi. Kenna, elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984, died last week at age 88.

Montel Harris runs wild in Temple win

November, 17, 2012
11/17/12
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Back on Monday, Temple coach Steve Addazio was asked about the health of injured tailback Montel Harris.

Addazio said, "I feel good about Montel."

You don't say!

Harris gave Addazio and Owls fans plenty to feel good about Saturday, with a historic performance in a 63-32 win against Army. No hint of the sprained ankle he suffered last week against Cincinnati, either. Harris set school and Big East records with 351 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns -- a one-man force of destruction against a team known for its ability to run the ball.

But Harris stole all the headlines -- and had the most yards rushing ever against an Army opponent. The record he broke belonged to Tony Dorsett (268). That huge performance overshadowed two other major developments: Matt Brown actually had the first two rushing touchdowns on the day before leaving with a strained left hamstring early in the second quarter. The Owls were clearly all right without him.

Plus, Juice Granger made his first career start and played extremely well -- finishing with 85 yards of his own. With the way Harris played, the passing game was totally irrelevant -- he had four pass attempts all day. Incredibly enough, Army had more -- with seven attempts from Trent Steelman.

Army had Steelman and Larry Dixon finish with more than 100 yards, but the story of the day was the way Temple absolutely manhandled Army on the offensive line. Temple finished with 534 yards rushing and averaged 9.4 yards per attempt. It was simply a dominating -- and historic day -- at West Point.

Setting up Saturday's Big East slate

November, 17, 2012
11/17/12
8:00
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Mornin', gang. Week 12 is upon us, with four games featuring five Big East teams on deck.

We get a double dose of early action in a couple of hours, with Temple trying to snap a four-game losing streak as it heads to Army, and with Rutgers and Cincinnati slugging it out in Nippert Stadium in a game with plenty of conference title implications.

Before those contests get started, I'll be chatting on CoverItLive from 11:30 a.m. to noon ET, so be sure to get in any last-minute questions you have then. Andrea Adelson will be hosting our "Game of the Week" chat tonight from 8 p.m. until the end of the Stanford-Oregon game, so she'll wrap things up for you there.

As always, the two of us will be tweeting throughout the day, so be sure to follow along. Breaking news and injury updates, along with postgame recaps, will be posted here in the blog.

After picking the same teams last week, Andrea and I mixed things up a bit, so plenty of bragging rights are on the line. Here is what to keep an eye on, too.

One final look at today's lineup is below, with some material from earlier in the week to get you caught up:

Temple dealing with growing pains

November, 16, 2012
11/16/12
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Temple has a four-game losing streak. On Tuesday, the Owls found out that their season will all but end in less than two weeks, as a possible 12th game at Hawaii fell through -- something that also costs them a chance at bowl eligibility.

And, to complicate matters, the Owls have a three-man quarterback battle brewing heading into Saturday's game at Army.

"I just think that the bottom line is I feel like we need a spark," coach Steve Addazio said. "I feel like I want to see some energy at that position right now, and I'm just a big believer that no one could ever feel that secure, per se. And I just think that we've got guys waiting in that position that want reps, I'm going to give them reps out here and let's see who has the best week of all and I'll go from there."

Chris Coyer has started all nine games for the Owls, but Clinton Granger has appeared in the past four games, with Kevin Newsome appearing in the last two.

All three signal-callers are juniors, but Addazio isn't looking at this week's decision as one with future implications.

"One guy might play and if that's not happening, well, I'll pull him and put the next guy in," the second-year Owls coach said. "My goal right now is I want to see guys performing under the bright lights, because that's really where you measure things. It's hard to measure it in spring ball and preseason camp; it's all part of it, but at this point we've got guys, I need to see them with the bright lights on. I want to see who's got that 'it' factor, if you will."

The growing pains have showed recently for a young team in its first year in a new conference, as the Owls have just 13 seniors and have played 23 freshman.

This is the natural cycle of things, Addazio said, and with a surprising 2-0 Big East start giving way to reality of this past month, he is challenging his upperclassmen to make the most of their final days as college football players.

"We've got to play a great game on Saturday," Addazio said. "We need to do that, so here it is. It's your opportunity. What do you want to get done here? So it'll be interesting to see those dynamics play out."

What to watch in the Big East: Week 12

November, 15, 2012
11/15/12
10:15
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Here's what to keep an eye on Saturday.

1) Temple's QB. It is a three-man race to take the first snap under center for the Owls, with Chris Coyer, Clinton Granger and Kevin Newsome vying for the spot. One will be tasked with getting the Owls out of their four-game funk, with Army awaiting.

[+] EnlargeSavon Huggins
Joe Camporeale/US PresswireRutgers may need Savon Huggins to carry the offensive load at Cincinnati if Jawan Jamison is out.
2) Can Rutgers' offense keep up? The Scarlet Knights have been underwhelming on offense of late, to say the least. They had seven turnovers against Kent State and needed a very late run to pull away from Army, and now, heading to Cincinnati, are facing their biggest Big East test to date, possibly without star running back Jawan Jamison, too.

3) Brendon Kay goes for Round 2. The fifth-year senior's starting debut last week against Temple couldn't have gone much better. Now he has to do it against Rutgers' defense, with conference title implications on the line.

4) South Florida's QB. Skip Holtz, like Temple's Steve Addazio, has not announced a starter. Matt Floyd or Bobby Eveld will get the call against Miami -- a team Eveld beat two years ago. How the Bulls respond without B.J. Daniels the rest of the way -- and after finally snapping their losing streak … and after a bye, too -- is worth watching for a team that still has a chance at bowl eligibility.

5) Syracuse goes for bowl eligibility. Frankly, it would typify the Orange's past two seasons to follow up a masterpiece against Louisville with a letdown at Missouri. Winners of three of its past four, Syracuse instead hopes to build off a big win this time, with its offense clicking on all cylinders as it readies for a Tigers team that also is going for win No. 6.

Rutgers pulls away late vs. Army

November, 10, 2012
11/10/12
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What for three quarters looked to be a letdown following loss No. 1 ended up being a back-to-basics performance for Rutgers.


  • Timely defensive plays -- led by Khaseem Greene's monster 22-tackle effort.
  • Stout running.
  • And, of course, game-changing special teams plays.

It all added up to a 28-7 win against Army, as the Scarlet Knights improved to 8-1 and recovered from their loss to Kent State two weeks earlier.

Rutgers was as conservative as ever offensively, but Gary Nova bounced back very nicely from his six-pick performance against the Golden Flashes. He completed 14 of 17 passes Saturday for 123 yards with a touchdown and a pick, though the interception came off a dropped ball from Miles Shuler.

Jawan Jamison threw a touchdown pass himself in the first quarter, hitting Brandon Coleman for a 16-yard strike in the second quarter to tie the game at 7.

That score held until the 8:49 mark of the fourth quarter, when Coleman caught a 31-yard strike from Nova to give Rutgers its first lead of the game. That came four plays after Army's Chris Boldt shanked a punt nine yards, giving the Scarlet Knights possession at the Black Knights' 45.

Army's next drive ended with a high snap on a punt, with Rutgers recovering the ball at the 1. Savon Huggins punched it in two plays later to give the Scarlet Knights enough breathing room, and Duron Harmon added a 73-yard fumble return for a touchdown with 40 seconds left to account for the final margin.

Army looked ready to break the 7-7 tie several times, most notably when it drove down to the Rutgers 15 late int he third quarter. But Greene forced a Larry Dixon fumble, which Marvin Booker recovered.

Rutgers blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt late in the first half, too, after a controversial non-touchdown call following a pass to the end zone that was dropped late.

Jamison left the game in the third quarter with a lower leg injury but returned in the fourth, finishing with 90 yards on 22 carries, plus that touchdown pass.

No, it wasn't pretty, but Rutgers football rarely is. The Scarlet Knights did Saturday what they usually do, making more than enough game-changing plays and pulling away from a tied contest by scoring the final 21 points of the game.

Next week's contest at Cincinnati should be a good one.

Setting up Saturday's Big East slate

November, 10, 2012
11/10/12
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Rise and shine, as they say. (Or is it #RiseAndGrind?)

One Big East game is in the books, and we've got three at once to keep us all busy early today during Week 11.

No. 9 undefeated Louisville headlines the early action, and Andrea Adelson will be on the scene at Syracuse to have you covered with all things from that game. Andrea will also be chatting here on CoveritLive from 10:30 a.m. to 11, and I'll be on it from 11:30 a.m. to noon, so you can sneak any last-minute questions in there.

The two of us will be tweeting the day's action throughout, so be sure to follow. Breaking news and developments, along with post-game recaps, will be here in the blog.

Adelson and I picked the same teams this week, so you can make fun of us both later instead of one of us making fun of the other. Here's what to keep an eye on, too.

We also looked at what each team is playing for during this final stretch.

Here is one final look at today's slate, with some items from the week to get you ready:
Here is the player I think has the best chance to transform tomorrow with a big performance in Week 11: Rutgers running back Jawan Jamison.

I am going with Jamison for a number of reasons. First, we all know that Rutgers will try as hard as it can to establish the run -- maybe even moreso against Army on Saturday. With quarterback Gary Nova coming off six interceptions against Kent State, perhaps the coaching staff will turn to the running game even more than it has to help take pressure off Nova. Hard to imagine Rutgers going more conservative, but anything is possible.

Second, being able to hold onto the ball and chew up chunks of clock will keep the nation's No. 1 rushing offense off the field. I do not anticipate a heavy number of plays being run in this game simply because of the style these two teams prefer. In their meeting last season, Rutgers only ran 53 total plays, while Army controlled the clock by 11 more minutes.

Third, Army has not exactly played well against the run this year. The Black Knights are giving up an average of 219.3 yards per game on the ground, to rank No. 111 in the nation, along with a whopping 23 rushing touchdowns. Only 10 teams have given up more touchdowns on the ground.

Consider poor rushing teams like Wake Forest (No. 107 rushing offense in the nation) and Boston College (No. 118) have had great success running the ball in their respective games against Army this year. Jamison has six 100-yard rushing games, and needs 137 yards to get to his first 1,000-yard season.

I like his chances of having a big day.

What to watch in the Big East: Week 11

November, 8, 2012
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Here's what to keep an eye on this weekend in the conference.

1) Can Pitt bounce back? The Panthers have been erratic this season, to say the least. They blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in losing a triple-overtime contest to the then-No. 3 team in the country. Logic says UConn should be a cakewalk for Pitt, but things are never that easy for the Panthers. Another good rushing defense awaits, but Ray Graham had a field day last week at Notre Dame, which has been tougher against the run than UConn.

[+] EnlargeTeddy Bridgewater
Jamie Rhodes/US PresswireLouisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has become a fringe Heisman candidate.
2) UConn's ground game. Speaking of ground attacks, what about the Huskies'? Lyle McCombs has not rushed for more than 47 yards in a game since September and the rushing game currently ranks 116th nationally. Can UConn finally break through, snap a four-game losing streak and win a Big East game?

3) Teddy Bridgewater. Louisville's QB has been a great flag-carrier for the Big East, giving many a reason to watch on Saturdays. Syracuse coach Doug Marrone this week called the fringe Heisman candidate the best quarterback his team will face this season -- and they faced USC's Matt Barkley in Week 2. Can Bridgewater do enough in these final few weeks to steal an invite to the Big Apple?

4) Does Jerome Smith keep it up? The Syracuse running back has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in three straight games and is making a late push for a 1,000-yard season. The Orange have a chance to knock off the unbeaten Cardinals, and Smith, at 731 yards, is looking to give his school a 1,000-yard back for the fifth straight season.

5) How does Gary Nova bounce back? Rutgers coach Kyle Flood has not wavered in support of his starting quarterback after a six-pick showing two weeks ago left the Scarlet Knights with their first defeat of the season. A bye week gave Nova extra time to recover and he is looking to get back on track against an Army team coming off a big win over Air Force.

6) Cincinnati's QB … whoever it is. Coach Butch Jones said his signal caller will be a game-time decision. Munchie Legaux was pulled last weekend for Brendon Kay, who put up modest numbers but led the Bearcats on consecutive scoring drives in their win over Syracuse.

7) Does Kevin Newsome see more action for Temple? The highly touted prep prospect and PSU transfer got in the action late last week in a loss to Louisville and has been seeing some first-team reps this week in place of Juice Granger (ankle). Chris Coyer has been relieved in each of the past three games.

Eric LeGrand to take in Rutgers-Army

November, 6, 2012
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Eric LeGrand will be at Rutgers on Saturday when the Scarlet Knights host Army, the programs' second meeting since that fateful day he was injured more than two years ago at MetLife Stadium.

The Black Knights' overwhelming response to LeGrand's spinal injury struck a cord with Rutgers ever since.

"Certainly because of the way Coach [Rich] Ellerson and their staff handed the situation, there will always be a very special tie and connection between Army football and Rutgers football," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said.

Last year's meeting took place at Yankee Stadium, with LeGrand taking part in the pregame coin toss with Malcolm Brown, the player LeGrand tackled on his last college play.

That play occurred at the Army 25-yard line with 5:10 left of Rutgers' Oct. 16, 2010, win.

LeGrand is determined that that will not be his last appearance at the 25-yard line of MetLife Stadium.

"He's doing better," Flood said. "What does that mean from a tangible standpoint? I think that means he's getting a little bit better every day. We know this process for Eric is going to be a long process, but he'll be the first one to tell you that at the end of it he's going to come through.

"He's going to go back to Giants Stadium and lay down in that spot where it happened, and he's going to get up and he's going to walk off the field. Eric LeGrand is always going to be a tremendous part of our program at Rutgers."
1. The release Thursday of the Penn State special report on the Jerry Sandusky scandal will be the first step down the long, painful road to reconciliation. The university has acknowledged that its liability is significant. Those lawsuits are to come. The NCAA wants answers. But no matter how many questions the report will address, what I want to see is the number of questions it can’t answer. Given that Joe Paterno is dead and didn’t use email, there are going to be gaps. Will the investigation acknowledge them? Close them? Or paper over them?

2.The NCAA decision to give quarterback Phillip Sims immediate eligibility after he transferred from Alabama in May is a good example of how NCAA president Mark Emmert is trying to introduce common sense into the way that intercollegiate athletics is conducted. The old hard-and-fast rule to deny immediate eligibility no matter the circumstance lacked common sense. Sims needed to be closer to home. Alabama agreed to his departure. Why not let him go?

3. Do yourself a favor and catch Beano Cook on the ESPNU College Football Podcast this week. In a discussion of the death in Afghanistan of former Army quarterback and free safety Chase Pasnicki, Beano gave a history lesson on Army players who have died in previous wars. Pasnicki, a first lieutenant, died two weeks ago on a patrol he volunteered to conduct. He had been in Afghanistan for three days. He was buried Tuesday in Lexington, Va.

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