theknightswhosay

Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

Pre-Bowl Top 25 and Other Thoughts

In College Football, Rankings on December 5, 2010 at 10:19 PM

Full rankings

rank team prev.
1 Auburn 1
2 Oregon 3
3 Oklahoma 5
4 TCU 2
5 Ohio St. 4
6 Mich. St. 6
7 Boise St. 11
8 Arkansas 7
9 Stanford 9
10 LSU 10
11 Missouri 8
12 Wisconsin 12
13 Okie St. 13
14 Nevada 16
15 Texas A&M 15
16 Nebraska 14
17 Utah 17
18 Alabama 18
19 Va. Tech 21
20 S.Carolina 19
21 Florida St. 20
22 WVU 22
23 Hawaii 24
24 Miss St. 25
25 Tulsa —

Out of top 25: (23) Northern Illinois

No surprises with the BCS bowls. I still don’t think TCU should be in the Rose Bowl. I understand the Rose Bowl should have to have non-AQ-conference teams from time to time, but not when the potential replacement team is #4.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m also annoyed that Connecticut wins the three-way Big East tie-breaker.

LSU is the best non-BCS SEC team, it is beyond annoying to hear suggestions otherwise. It’s a close call between Arkansas and LSU for second in the SEC, looking at the whole season (and fair to put Arkansas ahead based on their winning streak, which of course included the win over LSU), but Alabama has an extra loss and lacks even a moderately impressive out-of-conference win. That said, I understand not sending LSU back to Orlando. I felt that we took a big step forward this season, and even though the CapitalOne is supposedly better and pays more money, it feels like less of a step forward than the Cotton, which had traditionally one of the more high-caliber bowls. But I still think Alabama-Texas A&M and LSU-Michigan St. would have been a more evenly-matched combination of games. Maybe a fourth-best SEC team is better than a tied-for-first Big Ten team; but I think, like LSU-Penn St. last year, it will come down to motivation.

LSU needed to play Texas A&M again though, so that’s not a bad setting for it. Also, Arkansas barely beat Texas A&M (in the same stadium, incidentally), so maybe that will be some motivation. Anyway, I look forward to adding to my rivalry series once again. This will actually be a new one, although I did touch on Texas A&M in other blogs based on coaches who faced LSU there and at another major historical rival (Bear Bryant {actually two rivals for him}, Gene Stallings, and Jackie Sherrill).

The Sugar Bowl will also be an interesting SEC-Big Ten match-up. I think Arkansas is a similar team to Wisconsin, so Ohio St.’s defense will be tested. Of course, Ohio St. would argue that they have a similar quarterback to Auburn’s.

New Year’s Day is remarkably uninteresting. The Rose and CapitalOne should be all right, but these are the other games that day: Northwestern-Texas Tech, Florida-Penn St., Mississippi St.-Michigan, Connecticut-Oklahoma. But since all the non-BCS games are on at basically the same time, I guess it will be easy to avoid the bad ones.

In a way, the Cotton has more prominence now, and not just because of the House that Jerry Built. It’s the only big bowl game between the Sugar Bowl (the last actual BCS bowl) and the National Championship Game. It will be played on the night of Friday, January 7. The ridiculously early New Year’s Day slot would not have been as exciting. Nevada is a good team, but they’re only playing Boston College, and that game will be on the following Sunday. The Cotton will also be one of only three games to be played on network television, the others being the Sun Bowl (Miami-Notre Dame) and the Outback Bowl (Florida-Penn St.). All the other bowl games will be carried by one of the ESPN channels.

I’m glad Boise St. got a somewhat respectable opponent in Utah, even though TCU roughed up the Utes pretty badly. That’s still a 10-2 team. Las Vegas is a good place to play as well. It’s not as traditional of a location, but it’s not a whole lot different in profile from New Orleans or Miami, and it’s also a good time of year to be in such a place. Those aren’t attractive teams for their fans, but I’m sure distance from most bowl locations has at least something to do with that. That’s the first game that really interests me. Being that it will be played in 17 days, I guess that’s not so bad.

I have Hawaii and Tulsa ranked, so I’ll be interested to see that game on Dec. 24. I don’t think either is really one of the 25 best, but this should put it into perspective. These are Tulsa’s three losses: by a Hail Mary @ East Carolina, on the road against Oklahoma St., and by a field goal @ SMU (the last loss, Oct. 9). Hawaii’s only loss since Sept. 18 was to Boise St. Things don’t really get interesting until Dec. 28, but I’m sure you’ll hear from me before then.

My next regularly-planned blog is the final pre-bowl conference report. I’m not sure when that will be, but I’ve been having trouble posting during the week, and I’ll probably won’t know what to do with myself next Saturday, so that will be my guess.

Rivalry Series: LSU-Arkansas

In College Football, Rankings Commentary, Rivalry on December 4, 2010 at 10:24 PM

Updated records (now includes 2016 game)
LSU leads series, 38-22-2
LSU leads SEC series, 15-10
LSU leads 16-9 in Shreveport, 11-3-1 in Baton Rouge, 8-7 in Little Rock, and 1-0-1 in Dallas.
Arkansas is 1-0 in Memphis.
The two programs are tied at 2 in Fayetteville.
Before 2015, Arkansas’s only previous wins in Baton Rouge were 1993 and 2007 (3OT).

ALSO OF NOTE:

Largest Margins of Victory:
1910—Arkansas 51, LSU 0
1922—Arkansas 40, LSU 6
1929—Arkansas 32, LSU 0
1908—LSU 36, Arkansas 4
2003—LSU 55, Arkansas 24
2016—LSU 38, Arkansas 10
1995—LSU 28, Arkansas 0
1927—Arkansas 28, LSU 0

Longest Series winning streak—LSU, 7 games, 1930-1936

Longest unbeaten streak—LSU, 13 games, 1930-1966

Longest Arkansas winning streak—4 games, 1922-1925

Longest home winning streak—LSU, 6 games, 1995-2005

The first thing I wanted to mention is how the series is changing going forward. This is a detailed discussion written after the 2013 game.

In SEC play, LSU had two four-game winning streaks, 1994-1997 and 2003-2006. Arkansas has won back-to-back twice, 1992&1993 and 2007&2008. The home team won every game from 1997 to 2003.

LSU played Arkansas 30 consecutive seasons from 1906-1936 (LSU did not play in 1918 due to World War I), the seventh-longest streak for any LSU opponent. Arkansas is LSU’s eighth most-common opponent overall, while LSU is Arkansas’ ninth most-common opponent.

Intro to Arkansas-LSU and 2006 to present

You might wonder why I seem so interested in this rivalry series thing.

The first seeds of thought about this were planted by these comments by a former SportingNews columnist:

I believe Arkansas fans would be more fired up about playing schools like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Kansas. They could drive to those venues with their hot hats on. And how cool would it be if the Razorbacks could renew their old SWC hate-fest with Texas?

Go ahead, call the Hogs.

Instead, Hogs fans have been force-fed a “rivalry” with LSU.

–Tom Dienhart, 2/23/2006

My first blog in defense of the LSU/Arkansas rivalry was written on November 23, 2006, just hours before the game the next day. That was the first blog of mine that generated any significant number of responses (I got 22 comments in all). 2006 was my first college football season of blogging. My first blog on the SportingNews had been a re-post of my final rankings for the 2005 season.

I didn’t think people would be that interested in historical facts and figures about college football rivalries, but since that interests me and it interested my readers then, I started doing them for all the teams. One benefit of the SportingNews closing its community has been my opportunity to revisit these.

In Deinhart’s defense, the rivalry has gotten a lot more interesting since his blog. LSU knocked off Arkansas in Little Rock that year, 31-26, putting any thoughts of the Hogs playing for the national championship to rest (they had had a 10-game winning streak going into the game). LSU made the Sugar Bowl as a result of that win.

In 2007, Arkansas apparently returned the favor, handing the Tigers their second loss with a 50-48 3-overtime win in Baton Rouge. LSU of course would win the BCS and AP national titles anyway after a series of losses by higher-ranked teams and the Tigers’ SEC championship win over Tennessee pur LSU in the BCS championship game.

The two teams exchanged home wins in 2008 and 2009…

2008 was just a bad year for LSU. It was a worse year for Arkansas, which finished with a losing record, but knowing they couldn’t go to a bowl game, the Hogs grabbed the Golden Boot instead after a 1-point win.

2009 POST-GAME: The last 5 games (2005-09) were decided by a total of 13 points, and two of those games were in overtime. 6 of the last 9 games were decided by three points or less, and a 7th was decided by 5 points. If Arkansas had won this game, it would have been the first time Arkansas beat LSU three games in a row in 80 years. 1929 had been Arkansas’s last win over LSU before Arkansas joined the SEC. The Hogs beat the Tigers 7 times in the 1920s. The decades since then depend on what you count. In the numerical ’90s, Arkansas won three times, but if count the ’90s as 1991-2000, Arkansas won four times. If you count 2000 as part of the ’00s, Arkansas won three times in the ’00s. If not, Arkansas has won twice with a chance to make it three.

I gave my reactions to 2010’s game here.

2011 and 2012 Notes: In 2011, LSU won by 24 points, the largest margin of victory in the series since Les Miles became the head coach at LSU. The previous largest-margin was Arkansas’s 8-point win in 2010. The largest margin in an LSU win had been 5 points in 2006.

2012 was a more typical LSU-Arkansas game. LSU led by only 4 going into the last two minutes before kicking a field goal. Then Arkansas had a 60-yard drive, giving the Hogs a chance to tie with a touchdown on the final play from the LSU 20. But Tyler Wilson’s pass to the end zone fell incomplete. This broke a streak of four consecutive games in the series in which the home team won.

2013 was yet another close one. After an Arkansas 3-and-out and an LSU scoring drive, it looked like it might be a somewhat easy win for LSU against the Arkansas team that entered the game 3-8 (0-7 in SEC play), but it didn’t happen that way. The Tigers and the Razorbacks exchanged touchdowns, and then Arkansas outscored LSU 20-7 in the second and third quarters combined.

Shortly before the field goal that brought the Tigers back to within 3 points, Zach Mettenberger, LSU’s starter for two seasons, aggravated his injured knee. After an LSU defensive stop, the Tigers were pinned back inside the one yard line by a well-executed Arkansas punt. Freshman Anthony Jennings then led the Tigers all the way down the field with four completions and two crucial runs. The touchdown was for 49 yards to Travin Dural, who was left open when the corner was caught flat-footed apparently anticipating a throw to Jarvis Landry. This marked the eighth time in nine games (and tenth time in thirteen games) that the margin of victory in this series was 8 points or fewer.

The post-game blog about the 2014 game can be accessed shortly.

The games since Arkansas joined the SEC (also the Golden Boot contests) are somewhat easily summarized: Arkansas won 2 in a row, LSU won 4 in a row, Arkansas won 3 of 5, LSU won 4 in a row, Arkansas won 3 of 4, and LSU won 3 in a row. Now Arkansas has reclaimed the boot and will try to retain it in Baton Rouge in 2015.

DATE AND LOCATION

I also wanted to comment on what has become a tradition of the game being played the day after Thanksgiving. This was first done in 1992, the first year Arkansas played in the SEC. That 1992 game was also LSU’s only trip to Fayetteville until 2012. The series wasn’t interesting enough to be a premier game the next few seasons, so it was not chosen again until 1996, but it seemed like something clicked (although only one of the two teams was strong for the next few years) and it became a fixture, being renewed every year until 2008. After a two-year hiatus (two great Auburn-Alabama games were played on that date instead in the intervening years), it went back to that Friday in 2011.

The typical location for LSU visits to Arkansas has been Little Rock. After the first three games between the schools were played in Baton Rouge, LSU played four games in Little Rock (and one in Memphis) from 1908 to 1912. The games between 1913 and 1936 were all played in Shreveport, and then the resumption of the series in the 1950s alternated between Shreveport and Little Rock. With the two exceptions noted, the SEC series has alternated between Baton Rouge and Little Rock.

I think these little quirks help make the series more interesting and gives it a unique feel.

Anyway, here is the blog in the state it was after I updated it last year, except for the fact that I changed the records and put that part first:

Original blog

A few years ago, Arkansas was playing Texas. They should still be playing Texas instead of playing Utah St., Southeast Missouri, and Louisiana-Monroe, while Texas played North Texas, Sam Houston St., and Rice. I realize almost everybody schedules a couple cream puffs, but a couple is enough.

Likewise, LSU should still be playing Texas A&M, as they had to open the season (or at least in the first half of September) for decades.

But Dienhart is completely off-base and short-sighted as usual. There are two major fallacies at work here: (1) that you need to be in the same conference to maintain a rivalry, and (2) that there isn’t any history between the teams and that this rivalry was invented after Arkansas joined the SEC.

#1 is plainly idiotic. Even if you don’t know much about football, if you’re reading this, you likely have some sense that Florida plays FSU, Clemson plays South Carolina, Georgia plays Georgia Tech, or Notre Dame plays USC every year. I need not elaborate. And Ole Miss and Mississippi St., not to mention Tennessee, have probably each had more good seasons than Missouri has since they joined the SEC. Mississippi St. was good back then, and Ole Miss did all right during the Tuberville and Eli years, respectively.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

It is true that when Arkansas entered the SEC in 1992, they had not played LSU since the 1965 Cotton Bowl. But watch the game tomorrow (1:30 CST on CBS)and pay attention to any grainy footage with teams with numbers on the helmet, and you can see why there’s some lasting hostility about that one, even up until today. OK, I admit it, my uncle played QB for LSU in that game, but it was still important or they wouldn’t show it every year.

Arkansas had won 22 games in a row and was hoping for their first and only national championship (I don’t count the Football Writers Association of America). Plus Dallas is a lot closer to Fayetteville than it is to Baton Rouge, and the SWC champion was the traditional host. So 3-loss LSU walks in and beats them by a touchdown. Arkansas has not had an undefeated season since. Trust me, fans haven’t forgotten. I went to an LSU-Arkansas game (I’ll put an asterisk next to that particular game when I get to the specifics), I should know. Arkansas fans aren’t exactly shy and demure.

I’m not justifying an entire rivalry on the basis of that one game, either. The teams played from 1953-56, played a 0-0 Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1947, and played every year from 1906-36, with only the exception of 1918, when LSU didn’t play and Arkansas only played 5 games, probably as a result of WWI. The first game between the teams was in 1901.

They even had a special stadium they played in from 1913-36: Independence Stadium in Shreveport, LA, which unlike the aptly-named Gator Bowl, was basically in between the two campuses. That would be too biased toward LSU now, but then not as many people went to college, and those that did didn’t want to stray as far as people do now. In the second major installment of the rivalry in the ’50s, LSU played their home games in Shreveport. The two teams have only played once (1992) in Fayetteville, and once in Memphis, probably because it was accessible by rail for both teams.

Another exciting thing about the rivalry is that the team that is favored or stands to gain the most, like in 1965, often loses.

Arkansas was ranked 9th in the country in 1954, when LSU won 7-6.

RECENT GAMES

In 1993, LSU, with a recent upset over defending national champions Alabama, had a chance to qualify for its first bowl game in five years, but Arkansas (at 4-5-1, ineligible for a bowl) came into Baton Rouge and won there for the first time, 42-24.

Bowl-less for an additional two seasons, LSU had another chance in 1995* and welcomed the 14th-ranked Hogs back to Baton Rouge with a 28-0 wallop, scoring all points in the first half.

From 1999 to 2002, the teams went back and forth as to who was ranked going into the game, with the ranked team losing all four. The 21-20 win in 2002, combined with a one-point Ole Miss win over the Tigers, knocked LSU out of what had looked like a sure SEC championship game (which, looking back, would have given LSU the opportunity for 3 SEC championships in a row). Not to make this partisan, but it looked like Arkansas missed the winning extra point in that game too.

LSU had an absolutely atrocious year in 1999, having beaten only San Jose St. and North Texas, and had already fired its head coach, but they beat then-8-3 Arkansas 35-10.

The Golden Boot (the awkward and heavy trophy awarded to the winner) is admittedly a tad artificial, not introduced until 1996, but it has only been successfully defended 3 times (it has now been successfully defended 5 times, 1997 and 2004-06 by LSU and once by Arkansas in 2008). That’s what I call a competitive rivalry, not the Little Brown Jug (which isn’t brown, by the way).

As for the last two years, in 2004, the Independence Bowl sponsors were hoping the Hogs would spring the upset against the 12th-ranked Tigers to qualify for a bowl (and win their fourth in a row at home in the series), but LSU returned the favor from 1993, winning, 43-14.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only LSU fan to have flashbacks to previous years when 4-win (3 over I-A teams) Arkansas took #3 LSU to the limit in Baton Rouge last year, with LSU winning, 19-17.

There have been 17 games between the two teams decided by a touchdown or less. LSU has won 14 of those games (including that last Cotton Bowl).

It might not be Michigan/Ohio St., but it is a lot of fun, and I don’t think it’s being force-fed to anyone.

Other Rivalry Entries
Team List:
Alabama (Pregames: 2011, 2013)
Arkansas
Auburn (2010 post-game)
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
Mississippi St.
Ole Miss
(Steve Spurrier and) South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas A&M

Special editions:
Pac-12