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  • Oklahoma awaits Iowa State or Colorado

    By Jacob Brown Daily Texan
    Austin, TX (U-WIRE) -- It's not surprising the Big 12 North Championship depends on what happens in this weekend's games. What is surprising, though, are the two teams who still have a chance to win the division.

    Either Colorado or Iowa State, both picked to finish near the bottom of the North, will play No. 2 Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game on Dec. 4.

    The Cyclones are in if they beat Missouri Saturday or if Colorado loses Friday at Nebraska. The Buffaloes are in if they win and Iowa State loses.

    "I've got to get those Tigers fired up," Colorado head coach Gary Barnett said, referring to Missouri.

    While they were eliminated from the division title picture Saturday, the Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-5, 3-4 Big 12) still have a lot to play for. They need a win to become bowl-eligible and extend their streak of consecutive years with a postseason appearance to 36. They have also finished with a winning regular-season record every year since 1962.

    "I think it's really important," Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan said of the streak. "It's significant in every respect, from morale, to spirit, to tradition, to recruiting. It all ties in, so we're going to do our best to keep that streak alive."

    While the Cornhuskers hold a 44-16-2 overall edge in the rivalry, the Buffaloes (6-3, 3-4) have won two of the last three meetings, including a win at Nebraska in 2002. Barnett knows it won't take much to get his team riled up for Friday's contest.

    "It's one of those games that I think the only thing I have to do is tell our players what time the bus leaves," he said. "Not much more has to be said."

    Considering what the Colorado football team went through in its offseason, it was unexpected the team would be this position. But it might be even more astonishing if Iowa State (6-4, 4-3) makes the turnaround from a two-win season last year to a possible division championship this year.

    The Cyclones' impressive play led Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel to praise the work of Dan McCarney, Iowa State's head coach.

    "Dan has done a great job this year with the Iowa State football team. They really started off slow," Pinkel said, "[but now they are] just really playing well."

    Iowa State lost its first three conference games but is currently on a four-game winning streak, with its last two wins coming against Nebraska and at Kansas State.

    While the Cyclones have exceeded expectations this season, Missouri (4-6, 2-5) has been the most disappointing team in the Big 12. The Tigers opened conference play with a win over Colorado, but they have lost their past five games. Junior quarterback Brad Smith, a pre-season Heisman Trophy candidate, has had his worst season with the Tigers. After rushing for over 1,000 in both his freshman and sophomore campaigns, Smith has only 452 yards rushing this season. He has also thrown a career-high 10 interceptions, and he has totaled nine fewer touchdowns than he did last season.

    Because the Colorado-Nebraska game is played the day before Iowa State takes on Missouri, the Cyclones will know whether or not they need to win the game before taking the field Saturday. McCarney said he will have his team focused on beating Missouri regardless of the outcome.

    "It all comes down to our preparation and the leadership we have on this team," McCarney said. "We know we have a hard and physical game. Whatever happens on Friday, our preparation and everything will go into the game with Missouri Saturday."

    (C) 2004 Daily Texan via U-WIRE

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  • DJRamFan
    Iowa State coach certain Cyclones will be contenders
    by DJRamFan
    By Daniel Berk University Daily Kansan
    Lawrence, KS (U-WIRE) -- Iowa State was the surprise of the Big 12 Conference last year, taking advantage of a weak division to earn a piece of the Big 12 North crown.

    Last season, the Cyclones were picked to finish near the bottom of the conference. They hadn't captured a football trophy since 1912.

    This season, Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said he was hopeful the Cyclones would continue to improve and contend for the Big 12 Championship again.

    "We have rewritten the history books at Iowa State," McCarney said. "We have done things the school and program has never done in football, and yet we have lots and lots of room to improve. I am proud of what we have done."

    Iowa State finished the season winning five of its last six games, including a victory against Miami of Ohio in the Independence Bowl. The only game the Cyclones dropped during that stretch was a 17-14 match against the Missouri Tigers in the final regular season game of the year.

    A victory in that game would have given the Cyclones sole possession of the Big 12 North division, and would have sent them into the Big 12 Championship game against the Oklahoma Sooners.

    Leading the charge for the Cyclones this season will be sophomore quarterback Bret Meyer. Meyer started all 12 games for Iowa State last season, and accumulated 122 rushing yards in the Independence Bowl.

    McCarney said in order for the Cyclones to have another successful season, Meyer would have to continue to improve.

    "There is a tremendous upside to Bret Meyer," McCarney said. "It is just a matter of improving, doing the little things right, and picking up where he left off last year."

    Meyer will be joined in the backfield by junior running back Stevie Hicks. Hicks ran for more than 1,000 yards last season and will take the pressure off Meyer on offense.





    Also important on offense will be sophomore wide receiver Todd Blythe. Blythe was named to the Big 12 Media Preseason Football Team after wowing opponents by catching nine touchdowns and leading the conference last year with 21.4 yards per catch.

    Another target for Meyer will be junior wide receiver Austin Flynn. Flynn saw time at quarterback last year, but was moved to wide receiver in the off season to make room for Meyer.

    On defense, the Cyclones will have to replace first-team All-Big 12 cornerback Ellis Hobbs. Hobbs was the only Cyclone chosen in the NFL draft. Senior safety Nik Moser will be expected to replace Hobbs as the leader in the secondary.

    Another stand-out on defense will be senior defensive tackle Nick Leaders. Leaders is a four-year starter who coaches named second-team All-Big 12. Last season, Leaders racked up 50 tackles and led...
    -08-29-2005, 05:11 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Big 12 preview: No end in sight for North's woes
    by DJRamFan
    By Dennis Dodd
    CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
    Tell Dennis your opinion!





    The Big 12 North isn't a division, it's a kennel.

    You know, a place where all the mutts go.

    The division's six teams fell just short of making it into Letterman's monologue last year. Colorado was the "champion" and lost by 39 points to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. In inter-divisional play, the North won only three of 19 games against the loaded South. Conference officials are still determining whether those even count. All three were against Baylor.

    Big 12
    Predicted Finish
    North
    1. Colorado
    2. Iowa State
    3. Nebraska
    4. Kansas State
    5. Missouri
    6. Kansas
    South
    1. Texas
    2. Oklahoma
    3. Texas A&M
    4. Texas Tech
    5. Oklahoma State
    6. Baylor
    Off. player of year:
    Vince Young, Texas
    Def. player of year:
    Rodrique Wright, Texas
    Coach of the year:
    Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M
    Once again, the conference's title game (Dec. 3 in Houston), is expected to be a formality. Texas or Oklahoma will wipe the floor with the North's Last Comic Standing.

    It wasn't always this way. The league debuted 10 years ago with most of the power concentrated in the North. Nebraska was in the midst of winning three national championships in four years. Kansas won 10 games in 1995. Kansas State was an emerging national power. But while you were in the kitchen getting a sandwich, Big 12 North football became the island of misfit boys.

    Actually, it took a little longer than that. In the pillow fight that was the Big 12 North race last year, all Iowa State had to do was beat floundering Missouri -- which had lost to Troy -- to win its first race of any kind since tying for the Missouri Valley in 1912. After 92 years, a tap-in right?

    No, just another case of the yips. Missouri won in overtime, leaving the field feeling somewhat better about a 5-6 train wreck of a season in which its hothead coach needed some anger management and a new offensive coordinator. How dare media ask why Gary Pinkel's offense was able to turn Brad Smith from brilliant scrambling Heisman contender to pocket piņata?

    Once again, all six teams in the North have a chance to win the division going into 2005. That's kind of the problem. Colorado won it last year as much as the other five didn't.


    Gary Barnett and the Buffs are the best team in a bad Big 12 North division. (Getty Images)
    Can the Big 12 North bounce back? The short answer is "no" which, for now, is also the long-term answer. Blame it on Tom Osborne. When T.O. hung it up in December 1997, in retrospect, that sent Nebraska and the North...
    -08-18-2005, 07:49 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Michigan determined to not let Ohio State spoil its season
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 15, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Hate.

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    That's the word Chad Henne used to describe the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, and it's a description his coach probably wishes his freshman quarterback had avoided.

    "It's the biggest tradition in college football," Henne said. "They hate us and we hate them."

    Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said because Henne hasn't played the Buckeyes yet, he doesn't really understand.

    "Hate, I guarantee is not part of this rivalry," Carr said Monday. "And I think when he's through he would not characterize it that way. They probably have guys that say the same thing.

    "I think if you're at Michigan, you hate to lose to Ohio State. And I think if you're at Ohio State, you hate to lose to Michigan. I think that's what Chad Henne meant, so print it that way."

    Carr then smiled and laughed in a rare moment of levity during a week when a lot is at stake for No. 7 Michigan.

    If the Wolverines (9-1, 7-0 Big Ten) win at Ohio State on Saturday, they will repeat as outright conference champions and will play in a second straight Rose Bowl.

    If the Buckeyes (6-4, 3-4) win, they'll end a disappointing season with a satisfying victory.

    "For them to spoil the season for us, it has to be a big motivator for them," senior running back Kevin Dudley said.

    An Ohio State win would also drop Michigan into a first-place tie and possibly a second-tier bowl in Florida.

    Unless the postseason game is a part of the Bowl Championship Series, namely the Rose Bowl in California, the Wolverines want no part of it.

    "We don't want to go back down to Florida," Marlin Jackson said. "We want to go to Pasadena."

    Advertisement


    Michigan controls its postseason fate because it got the help it needed when previously unbeaten Wisconsin lost at Michigan State on Saturday.

    After the Wolverines beat Northwestern 42-20 - their seventh straight win this season and 13th Big Ten victory in a row - many of them huddled around televisions to root for their instate rivals.

    "I was going crazy," linebacker Roy Manning said. "It's probably one of the only times I was rooting for Michigan State."

    At least one former Buckeye - Jim Massey - will be pulling against his school because he has two younger brothers - Patrick and Mike - on Michigan's team.

    "He definitely roots for us," said defensive tackle Patrick Massey, a Brecksville, Ohio, native. "He's a family guy. He's got a lot of pride in his school; he loves Ohio State; loves the program; he's a huge fan of coach (Jim Tressel). But he...
    -11-16-2004, 07:48 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Utah trying for first 9-0 start in school history
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 5, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    SALT LAKE CITY -- Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick is impressed with what former Rams assistant Urban Meyer has done in just two years at Utah.

    Advertisement


    The No. 7 Utes are one win away from the best start in school history and three victories away from a perfect regular season. Next up are Lubick's Rams on Saturday.

    "Since I've been here, I think this Utah team probably is as good as any of them," Lubick said of the conference teams he's seen in 11-plus years at Colorado State.

    Utah (8-0, 4-0 Mountain West) is trying for the first 9-0 start in school history. The Utes have opened the season with eight consecutive wins twice, most recently 10 years ago. And if that isn't distracting enough, there is also the rampant speculation that Florida may be interested in hiring Meyer, Utah's Bowl Championship Series standing and quarterback Alex Smith's Heisman Trophy candidacy.

    Yet none of it seems to faze the Utes.

    "I'm glad to say this. There's nothing phony about (Smith), me, the staff, the team. It's one of the most unselfish programs I've ever been around," said Meyer, who has refused to comment on the Florida job since Ron Zook's firing was announced last Monday.

    The Utes have maintained they don't closely follow the BCS list, which could put them in one of the top four bowls when the season ends. Utah has been at No. 6 the last two weeks, although No. 4 California and No. 5 Wisconsin both jumped ahead of the Utes, who beat San Diego State 51-28 last week.

    It was a reminder that teams from larger conferences have a chance to pass up the lesser-known Utes, even if they keep winning.

    "We could care less about the BCS. We have no control over it. All we have control over is winning games. That's all coach Meyer expresses to us," defensive back Eric Weddle said. "If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."

    Smith learned this week that he officially is a semifinalist for the Heisman, which has never gone to a Ute. Smith is third nationally in passing, completing 131 of 203 passes for 1,905 yards and 20 touchdowns. He has also run for eight touchdowns.

    "What makes them so good is their quarterback (Alex Smith) is very fluid and just very composed. Not only can he run the ball, he is very smooth in running it and makes people miss," Lubick said. "He reminds you of a nice sleek halfback. But then he also has the real poise to sit back there and is a very accurate thrower."

    Smith shrugs off Heisman questions. He's still a little bit baffled by all the attention he's been getting and tries not to focus on the early Heisman lists.

    "If I'm out there thinking about the Heisman on Saturday, that's going to be...
    -11-06-2004, 01:13 PM
  • RamsFan16
    Iowa, we're on to you
    by RamsFan16
    Iowa, we're on to you
    Hawkeyes too good to hoodwink nation once again
    Posted: Wednesday August 3, 2005 10:26AM; Updated: Wednesday August 3, 2005 12:40PM

    CHICAGO -- For three straight seasons, the Iowa Hawkeyes have won at least 10 games and finished in the top 10 of the final polls, each time after the preseason pollsters declared, in a nutshell, "There's no way can they do it again."

    No more.

    Various preview magazines and Web sites (including this one), apparently tired of being duped, have definitively declared the 2005 Hawkeyes to be a preseason top 10 team, in many cases ranking them ahead of Big Ten stalwarts Ohio State and/or Michigan (against whom Iowa has gone 3-2 and shared two of the past three league titles). Hawkeyes receiver Ed Hinkel is a tad perplexed about the timing of such predictions. "If anything, we should probably be lower than we have been in the past," the fifth-year senior said Tuesday at Big Ten media days. "I don't think we're as far ahead now as we've been in the past."

    Nice try, Ed, but you're not going to be pulling another fast one on us this year. Four new starters on the defensive line, two of whom have to replace All-Americans Matt Roth and Jonathan Babineaux? No proven running back? Injuries and inexperience at safety? Boo hoo. After watching Iowa go 10-2 last season despite losing two of its first four games, including an embarrassing 44-7 blowout at Arizona State, and despite losing a staggering four running backs to season-ending injuries and finishing 116th (out of 117) in the country in rushing offense, it's clear by now that no hurdle is too great for a Kirk Ferentz-coached team to overcome.

    In fact, each of the past three years has followed virtually the same script in Iowa City. Following a breakthrough, 11-2 season in 2002, the Hawkeyes had to replace Heisman runner-up quarterback Brad Banks, All-America tight end Dallas Clark and four starters off a powerful offensive line. What did they do in 2003? Go conservative on offense, make big plays on defense and special teams and beat Florida in the Outback Bowl to complete a 10-3 season.

    Last year, same story. Seven new starters on offense, no more Robert Gallery pancaking helpless defensive linemen, no more Bob Sanders making big plays in the secondary. And that was before all the running back injuries. Yet after struggling early, Iowa managed to finish the season on an eight-game winning streak, as first-year QB Drew Tate capped an All-Big Ten season with a game-winning, 56-yard touchdown pass to beat LSU as time expired in the Capital One Bowl.

    "I really don't know how we did it," Hinkel said of last year's improbable season. "One of our mottos we have posted all over our [football] complex is 'Find A Way.' That's what we did. It wasn't pretty; we weren't really a stats team. The only stat that...
    -08-10-2005, 05:49 PM
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