SEC: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Position U: Kicker

June, 18, 2014
Jun 18
10:30
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Who really deserves to claim the title of “Kicker U” for the 2000s?

1. Ohio State (80 points): The Buckeyes placed first among place-kickers and tied for ninth at punter thanks to an award winner in each category. The high-point man who helped Ohio State win the “Kicker U” label was Mike Nugent, who won the Lou Groza Award, was a two-time All-American and All-Big Ten pick and was picked in the second round of the 2005 draft. Punter B.J. Sander won the Ray Guy Award and was drafted in the third round before enjoying a short career with the Green Bay Packers.

Award winners: B.J. Sander, Guy (2003); Mike Nugent, Groza (2004).
Consensus All-Americans: Mike Nugent (2002, 2004).
First-team all-conference: Dan Stultz (2000), Adam Groom (2002), Mike Nugent (2002, 2004), B.J. Sander (2003), Josh Huston (2005).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: B.J. Sander (Round 3, 2004), Mike Nugent (Round 2, 2005).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: None.

2. UCLA (72 points): A pair of consensus All-Americans (Justin Medlock and Kai Forbath) and a Lou Groza Award (which Forbath won in 2009) helped UCLA push toward the top of the rankings. Medlock was also drafted in 2007 and has spent portions of several seasons on NFL rosters, while also kicking at times in the CFL.

Award winners: Kai Forbath, Groza (2009).
Consensus All-Americans: Justin Medlock (2006), Kai Forbath (2009).
First-team all-conference: Nate Fikse (2001, 2002), Justin Medlock (2004, 2006), Aaron Perez (2008), Kai Forbath (2009), Jeff Locke (2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Justin Medlock (Round 5, 2007), Jeff Locke (Round 5, 2013).

3. Colorado (64 points): Three-time all-conference pick Mason Crosby -- also a consensus All-American in 2005 -- accounted for nearly all of Colorado’s point production at place-kicker. He went on to become a sixth-round draft pick and has set several franchise records as a member of the Green Bay Packers. Mark Mariscal also added some points by winning the Ray Guy Award and becoming an All-American and all-conference selection in 2002.

Award winners: Mark Mariscal, Guy (2002).
Consensus All-Americans: Mark Mariscal (2002), Mason Crosby (2005).
First-team all-conference: Jeremy Flores (2001), Mark Mariscal (2002), Mason Crosby (2004, 2005, 2006), John Torp (2005).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Mason Crosby (Round 6, 2007).

4. Michigan State (62 points): With six first-team All-Big Ten selections -- including three-time honoree Brandon Fields, who was also a consensus All-American in 2004 -- Michigan State takes the No. 3 spot. The Spartans have also had two punters drafted since 2001, which is a rare feat for a college program, as well as kickers Dave Rayner and Craig Jarrett.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Brandon Fields (2004).
First-team all-conference: Brandon Fields (2003, 2004, 2006), Brett Swenson (2009), Aaron Bates (2010), Dan Conroy (2010), Mike Sadler (2012, 2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Craig Jarrett (Round 6, 2002), Dave Rayner (Round 6, 2005), Brandon Fields (Round 7, 2007).

T-5. Baylor (56 points): Baylor places almost solely because of one player: mid-2000s standout Daniel Sepulveda. The two-time Ray Guy Award winner scored 44 points by himself, which is greater than the score for every other program in the punter rankings except one (No. 2 Michigan State, which had 48).

Award winners: Daniel Sepulveda, Guy (2004, 2006).
Consensus All-Americans: Daniel Sepulveda (2006).
First-team all-conference: Daniel Sepulveda (2004, 2006), Derek Epperson (2009), Spencer Roth (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Daniel Sepulveda (Round 3, 2007).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: None.

T-5. Oklahoma State (56 points): Between Quinn Sharp’s three all-conference selections at punter and two at place-kicker, Dan Bailey's 2010 Groza Award and Matt Fodge’s 2008 Guy Award, Oklahoma State fared well at both kicking positions.

Award winners: Matt Fodge, Guy (2008); Dan Bailey, Groza (2010).
Consensus All-Americans: None.
First-team all-conference: Dan Bailey (2010), Quinn Sharp (2010, 2011, 2012 at punter; 2011, 2012 at place-kicker).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: None.

7. Florida State (54 points): A pair of Groza Award wins (by Graham Gano and last season by Roberto Aguayo) helped Florida State place third solely among place-kickers and sixth overall. Aguayo helped extend the Seminoles’ streak of first-team All-ACC place-kickers to three consecutive years after Dustin Hopkins earned the honor in 2011 and 2012. Since Aguayo was only a redshirt freshman last fall, there is a good chance the streak will continue. Punter Shawn Powell was the Seminoles' only All-American during this stretch.

Award winners: Graham Gano, Groza (2008); Roberto Aguayo, Groza (2013).
Consensus All-Americans: Shawn Powell (2011).
First-team all-conference: Dustin Hopkins (2011, 2012), Shawn Powell (2011), Roberto Aguayo (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Dustin Hopkins (Round 6, 2013).

8. Georgia (52 points): Give Mark Richt credit: In his 13-plus seasons as Georgia’s coach, he has rarely been without a consistent place-kicker. Players like Blair Walsh, Brandon Coutu, Billy Bennett and most recently Marshall Morgan have given Georgia a consistent scoring threat in the kicking game. And Drew Butler had one of the best seasons by any punter in SEC history when he won the Ray Guy Award in 2009.

Award winners: Drew Butler, Guy (2009).
Consensus All-Americans: Drew Butler (2009).
First-team all-conference: Billy Bennett (2002), Brandon Coutu (2005), Drew Butler (2009), Blair Walsh (2010), Marshall Morgan (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Brandon Coutu (Round 7, 2008), Blair Walsh (Round 6, 2012).

8. Miami (52 points): Another program with two punters who were drafted (Matt Bosher and Pat O’Donnell, both in the sixth round), Miami hasn’t had a punter win the Ray Guy Award or earn an All-America nod, but the Hurricanes do boast four all-conference punters since the turn of the century. Bosher was also an all-conference place-kicker in 2010.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: None.
First-team all-conference: Freddie Capshaw (2000, 2001), Todd Sievers (2001, 2002), Jon Peattie (2003), Matt Bosher (2009 at place-kicker, 2010 at punter), Pat O’Donnell (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Matt Bosher (Round 6, 2011), Pat O’Donnell (Round 6, 2014).

10. Florida (48 points): Chas Henry, who won the Ray Guy Award and was a consensus All-American and first-team All-SEC pick in 2010, accounted for 24 of Florida’s 30 points at punter. The Gators also had a pair of place-kickers (Jeff Chandler and Caleb Sturgis, a two-time all-conference pick) drafted.

Award winners: Chas Henry, Guy (2010).
Consensus All-Americans: Chas Henry (2010).
First-team all-conference: Chas Henry (2010), Caleb Sturgis (2011, 2012), Kyle Christy (2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Jeff Chandler (Round 4, 2002).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Caleb Sturgis (Round 5, 2013).

REST OF “KICKER U” RANKINGS
46 – California; 44 – Auburn, Nebraska, Utah, Wake Forest; 42 – Georgia Tech; 40 – Purdue; 38 – Pittsburgh, Tennessee; 34 – Iowa, Louisville, Maryland; 32 – BYU, Texas A&M, TCU, Wisconsin; 28 – LSU, Michigan, Oregon State; 26 – USC, Virginia Tech; 22 – Arizona State; 16 – Ole Miss; 14 – Arizona, Penn State, Texas; 12 – Alabama, Duke, Illinois, Kansas State, Kentucky, Missouri, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Washington State; 8 – Virginia, West Virginia, Boston College; 6 – Indiana, Oregon, Rutgers, Stanford; 2 – Arkansas, South Carolina, Vanderbilt; 0 – Clemson, Iowa State, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi State, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Texas Tech, Washington.

Ranking the SEC and Big 12

May, 8, 2013
5/08/13
3:15
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Most of those in SEC land are well aware of Bob Stoops' "propaganda" comments concerning the SEC by now.

For the record, what he said was, "You can look at the top two, three, four, five, six teams, and you can look at the bottom six, seven, eight, whatever they are. How well are they all doing? What'd we [the Big 12] have, eight of 10 teams in bowl games this year?"

With those comments in mind, how would you rank the SEC and Big 12 teams heading into the 2013 season if you were doing a combined poll from those two leagues?

You get a chance to do just that in our SportsNation poll by clicking here.

This ought to be interesting.

The only Big 12 teams I would for sure have in my top 10 would be Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State. TCU would be a maybe.

The good thing is that we'll get to see this whole debate play out on the field in a couple of 2013 season openers. LSU and TCU will square off in Cowboys Stadium to kick off the season, while Mississippi State and Oklahoma State will meet in Houston's Reliant Stadium.

For perspective, my ESPN colleague, David Ubben, had Oklahoma State No. 1 in his Big 12 post-spring power rankings and TCU No. 2.

In our SEC post-spring power rankings, we had LSU No. 6 and Mississippi State No. 10.
NEW ORLEANS -- The only drama in what remains of the 2011 college football season won’t be saved for just Monday night’s Allstate BCS National Championship Game.

If Alabama should beat LSU, particularly in a close game, then the vote in the final Associated Press poll in the hours following the game could get really interesting.

Can you say split national championship?

Nobody has really wanted to talk about the possibility this past week in New Orleans, and that includes both sides.

“The only thing on our minds is this game,” LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson said. “This is the BCS championship game. It’s not about what we’ve done this season or anything that’s happened in the past. This is the game that counts.”

One by one, the Alabama players have also shrugged off the possibility that they might have to share the national championship if they win on Monday night.

The only time that has happened in the BCS era, ironically, was in 2003, when LSU beat Oklahoma in New Orleans to win the BCS national championship and USC was voted No. 1 in The Associated Press poll after beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

“All we can do is play this game,” Alabama running back Trent Richardson said. “They’re going to remember who wins this ballgame, nothing else. It’s just like a lot of people saying we didn’t deserve to be in the game. Well, we are, and we plan on proving to everybody that they got it right by putting us here.”

The winner Monday night is automatically crowned the BCS national champion, but the AP poll is no longer part of the BCS equation.

And already, a sampling of AP voters have said they would seriously consider keeping LSU No. 1 even if the Tigers lose to the Crimson Tide in a close game.

Oklahoma State (12-1) is also sitting there and would warrant some consideration, especially if it’s a sloppy game and Alabama barely squeaks by. The Cowboys were just 18 points behind the Crimson Tide in the final AP regular-season poll.

LSU’s overall body of work is what’s so impressive, and the thinking among some AP voters is that the Tigers would be as deserving as anybody at 13-1 when you consider that they’ve already beaten eight nationally ranked teams, including three top-5 teams, and took down Alabama the first time in Tuscaloosa.

If Alabama were to win handily on Monday night, the talk of a split national title would die down considerably.

Either way, the Crimson Tide’s Outland Trophy winner, offensive tackle Barrett Jones, said nobody on the team has spent any time worrying about having to share the championship with anybody.

“Whoever wins the national championship game is the national champion,” Jones said. “I understand how a lot of people are saying that they’ve already beaten us once, and they have.

“But this is the game for the national championship. They know that, and we know that. No matter what side you’re on, this is the game you wanted to be in when the season began.”

The LSU players didn’t even want to broach the subject of what happens if they come up short on Monday night.

Rather, their focus is on making history. They could become the first unbeaten national champion since the advent of the AP Top 25 poll in 1937 to beat four top-5 teams on their way to the title.

“We want to be remembered as the best team ever,” LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “When you mention LSU, we want people to remember this team.”
Has something seemed odd to you about the BCS bowls this year? Does it seem like ... oh wait, West Virginia just scored again.

Does it seem like ... wait, there goes De'Anthony Thomas. Don't think he'll get caught from behind.

Does it seem like ... wait, would somebody please tackle Justin Blackmon?

Does it seem like there have been a lot of points this bowl season?

It's not just you. There have been a lot of points. More points than ever before. And by huge quantities.

So far, BCS bowl teams have averaged a total of 77 points in the Rose, Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls. That, folks, is nearly 26 points more than last year (51.6). And it's nearly 11 points better than the previous high of 66.3 from 2001-02.

Perhaps pairing two SEC teams in the title game has created a black hole sucking all defensive stinginess into the LSU-Alabama rematch, which you might recall went 9-6 with no touchdowns in their first meeting. West Virginia scored 10 touchdowns -- 10! -- against Clemson. Alabama gave up 12 TDs all season.

Speaking of Clemson: ACC. Well, well, well.

After the Tigers ingloriously fell 70-33 to the Mountaineers, we got our second story from the BCS bowl season: The ACC's insistence on throwing up on itself in BCS bowl games.

The conference that was once expected to challenge the SEC is now 2-13 in BCS bowl games. That's hard to do. You'd think in 15 BCS bowls the conference could get lucky at least five or six times. But no, it insists on making ACC blogger Heather Dinich, a genuinely nice person, into some sort of Grim Reaper every bowl season.

Heck, the Big East has won seven BCS bowls -- second fewest among AQ conferences -- but it's 7-7.

Of course, this all ties together, and we're here to bring out a bow, but first a warning: If you don't want to read about how good the SEC is for the 56,314th time this year, then stop reading. I'd recommend an episode of "South Park" or perhaps a John le Carré thriller as an alternative for passing the time.

We can all agree the SEC plays great defense right? Alabama and LSU will play for the title Monday with the nation's top-two defenses. Do you think perhaps that it's not a coincidence that the conference that is 16-7 in BCS bowl games plays great defense?

The only other AQ conference with a winning record in BCS bowl games is the Pac-12, which is 11-7. The Pac-12 isn't known for defense, either, but USC was when it won the conference's last national title in 2004.

The only team to win a BCS national title without an elite defense was Auburn in 2010, but the Tigers' defense seemed to find itself late in the season. Since 1999, eight national champions had a top-10 defense. Other than Auburn, the lowest-rated defense to win a BCS national title was Ohio State in 2002. It ranked 23rd in the nation in total defense.

Three of the four BCS bowl games have been thrillers. Two went to overtime. We've seen big plays all over the field in the passing game and running game. Yet, if things go according to script in the title game, we'll see none of that. We might not see more than a couple of plays that go for more than 20 yards. We might not see any.

Some might call that boring. It might seem that both offenses are so paranoid of making a mistake that they are stuck in mud, both in game plan and execution.

But, snoozefest or not, when the clock strikes zero a team from the SEC will hoist the crystal football for a sixth consecutive time.

That might say something about playing better defense.

The two best teams are playing for title

December, 5, 2011
12/05/11
3:10
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Now that it’s a done deal that Alabama and LSU will meet in a rematch in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game, the uproar around the country has been predictable.

[+] EnlargeAlabama vs. LSU
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireAlabama and LSU will butt heads for the national championship, even if a rematch isn't popular around the country.
A snapshot of some of what’s being said:

  • Nobody wants a rematch.
  • The BCS system stinks.
  • The media have ruined college football.
  • The SEC is overrated.
  • It’s unfair that LSU has to play Alabama again.
  • Oklahoma State deserves a chance at the title.

We could sit here for weeks, even months, and debate all of these things.

But in short …

  • Rematches aren’t ideal.
  • Yes, the BCS is a flawed system for determining the national champion.
  • It’s always the media’s fault.
  • The SEC is so overrated that it’s won five straight national championships (soon to be six straight) and had four of the top 9 and five of the top 16 teams in the final BCS standings this season.
  • It’s absolutely unfair that LSU would have to beat Alabama twice to win the national title, especially with the Tigers winning in Tuscaloosa the first time.
  • And as Clint Eastwood so famously said in “Unforgiven,” the greatest Western ever made, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

A lot of teams probably think they deserve to play for the national championship.

Clearly, Oklahoma State is one of those and makes a strong case, especially with the way the Cowboys beat up on Oklahoma last Saturday night.

But it’s also the same Oklahoma State team that lost to Iowa State a few weeks ago when the door was wide open for the Cowboys to move into one of those top two spots in the BCS standings.

Alabama’s only blemish was to No. 1 LSU … by three points in overtime.

I understand the argument that Alabama has already had its shot at LSU and that it would be more compelling to see somebody else get a shot.

But the BCS system isn’t set up to give us the matchup everybody thinks will be the most compelling or most entertaining. That’s what is being lost in all this uproar.

It’s set up to give us the two best teams in college football, and just as LSU coach Les Miles stated on Sunday night, the two best teams this season were LSU and Alabama.

Sure, it would be fun to see how Oklahoma State’s offense would do against that LSU defense or how Stanford’s Andrew Luck would fare against Alabama’s defense.

If we had a playoff, we’d probably get to find out. Of course, if we had a playoff, something tells me we’d also see Alabama vs. LSU again somewhere along the way, probably in the championship game.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy challenged the voters right after the Cowboys’ 44-10 romp against the Sooners.

“I think people have to decide whether they want to see a 9-6 game or 39-36 game,” Gundy said. “I think this is an opportunity for people to find out how good the defense is in the SEC. We’d like to have that challenge.”

Gundy was politicking for his team, and kudos to him for doing so. That’s what he should have been doing.

But he was a little off on his score predictions.

Here’s betting the Alabama-LSU rematch features more than just field goals the second time around, but it’s not going to be a shootout, either. Not with those two defenses and not with that many future NFL draft picks lining up on defense for the Tigers and Tide.

And I’ll give Gundy this: Oklahoma State probably is explosive enough to score in the high 30s against Alabama or LSU.

That is, as long they play about eight extra quarters.

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