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NCAA Proposes to Slow Down College Football Offenses

By Nick Vespasiano

The NCAA has proposed a new rule that would prevent the offense from snapping the ball for the first 10 seconds of the play clock. With offenses running more plays than ever before, the NCAA Football Rules Committee believes giving defensive players time to substitute would improve player safety.

A February 12th press release on NCAA.org, “The committee believes that 10 seconds provides sufficient time for defensive player substitutions without inhibiting the ability of an offense to play at a fast pace…This rules proposal also aligns with a request from the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports that sport rules committees review substitution rules in regards to player safety.”

If the offense snaps the ball before the 10 seconds they receive a five-yard delay-of-game penalty. The rule would not be in effect the last two minutes of each half. Some head coaches have voiced their opinions.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy expressed his opinion February 13th on twitter, “The no huddle, fast tempo style has changed the game of CFB. Our sport has exploded in popularity with high scoring games & packed stadiums.” A relevant point when college football attendance is on the decline. A recent article on ESPN.com by Darren Rovell reported “attendance for FBS schools dropping below 46,000 per game for the past five seasons.” (http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/10458047/next-generation-ticket-holder-concern-students-show-college-football-games). These fast offenses are fun to watch but this rule change could hurt the already dropping attendance numbers.

Alabama coach Nick Saban was present at the Rules Committee meeting where this rule was introduced. Saban sounded off two seasons ago  about a need for a rules change in an October 3rd , 2012 teleconference: “I think that the way people are going no-huddle right now, that at some point in time, we should look at how fast we allow the game to go in terms of player safety. The team gets in the same formation group, you can’t substitute defensive players…That’s when guys have a much greater chance of getting hurt when they’re not ready to play.”

Alabama's Nick Saban is one coach who would not like to see the new rule put into place (Via AP)

Alabama’s Nick Saban is one coach who would not like to see the new rule put into place (Via AP)

Alabama’s only losses in the regular season came against Texas A&M and Auburn, two of the country’s best up-tempo offenses. Oklahoma also used some no-huddle offense to their advantage in their 45-31 defeat of the Tide in the Sugar Bowl. The no-huddle can clearly work against Alabama. Many people, myself included, think Saban wants this rule change so his defenses can continue dominate.

Some Saban-style teams, however, have managed success in stopping face paced offenses. Stanford, a team known for its slow, ground-and-pound offense held Oregon and UCLA to 20 and 10 points respectively. They also beat Arizona State twice, another team with a solid no-huddle attack. Michigan State, for example, held Ohio State’s fast paced offense to its lowest point total of the season in the Big 10 Championship Game.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has been outspoken against the rule change, stating in a press conference,“there’s absolutely zero evidence, documented evidence, that is hazardous on the pace of play, only opinions.” He also pointed out the rule change would make it more difficult for a team to come back late in the game.

NCAA national coordinator of officiating, Rogers Redding told CBSsports.com on February 13th, “I think it’s fair to say there’s not really much hard data on this.”

A website cfbmatrix.com has been putting together data on pace of play and its effect on injuries. His data reflected the Big 12 conference ran the most plays of the five BCS conferences between 2009-12 and had the fewest “starts lost to injury” of the five conferences. Alabama lost 30 starts to injury from 2010-12 despite being in the bottom 10 of plays run per game. Compare that with Oregon which lost only 18 starts between 2009-10. The most glaring stat of all though was in 2012, the top 15 teams in plays-per-game had eight less “starts lost to injury” than the 15 slowest teams.

To become official, this rule will have to pass the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on March 6. Hopefully the panel makes their decision based on the evidence.

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Nick Vespasiano is a senior English major at St. Olaf College and aspiring sports writer. He was raised in Minnesota, favorite teams are the Vikings, Wild, and Twins. Favorite athletes are Randy Moss and Jaromír Jágr.

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Mariota Will Return to Oregon, 2014 Heisman Impact

By Nick Vespasiano

Yesterday, Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota elected to return to Eugene next season. The redshirt sophomore was considered one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2014 NFL draft. He entered the 2013 season a Heisman hopeful but saw it slip away with losses to Stanford and Arizona.

Despite being out of the Heisman race for 2013, Mariota has completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 3,412 yards, 30 touchdowns and four picks. He also has 582 yards on the ground and nine scores. Those are Heisman numbers but his team’s two losses are keeping him out of contention.

Marcus Mariota will return next season to the Oregon Ducks (Via ESPN)

Marcus Mariota will return next season to the Oregon Ducks (Via ESPN)

This decision comes as a surprise to me. Running back De’Anthony Thomas is likely entering the draft, number one receiver Josh Huff is a senior, and last season Chip Kelly abruptly bolted for the Philadelphia Eagles. Mariota could be vying for a better draft position. The upcoming NFL draft will feature quarterbacks like Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Alabama’s A.J, McCarron, and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. Despite the competition he would have faced in the next draft, he was widely considered a potential first round pick. Perhaps he’s just loyal to his Ducks.

Mariota should be an early Heisman favorite yet again heading into the 2014 season. Other players who are ineligible for the 2013 draft with legitimate 2014 Heisman ambitions include Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Georgia running back Todd Gurley, Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon, and my favorite, UCLA linebacker/running back Myles Jack.

Draft eligible but returning next season is Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty who should be on the short pre-season Heisman list. UCLA’s star quarterback Brett Hundley and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller have yet to make decisions on next year’s draft.

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Nick Vespasiano is a senior English major at St. Olaf College and aspiring sports writer. He was raised in Minnesota, favorite teams are the Vikings, Wild, and Twins. Favorite athletes are Randy Moss and Jaromír Jágr.

Baylor and Ohio State: Who Deserves Third Place?

By Nick Vespasiano

Every year, as the college football season enters its final weeks, I’ll catch myself hoping that any there are no undefeated teams outside of the top two. It’s like I want the BCS rankings to make sense rather than be forced to trust that the right two teams are playing for the National Championship. Then I remember, as frustrating as it is to see an undefeated team not get the chance they deserve, it’s situations like these that forced college football to change its current format. If the rankings end up with  “too many” undefeated teams this year, I will be thankful that starting next season the BCS will be replaced with the College Football Playoff, where the nation’s top four teams will get their chance.

With Louisville, Missouri, Oregon, Stanford all managing to slip up after high pre-season rankings and undefeated starts, only two undefeated teams remain on the outside looking in. At this point in the season, at 10-0 and 9-0 respectively, Ohio State and Baylor are both in the ambiguous situation where winning out is their only option but it might not matter in the end. Alabama could lose its 11/30 game at sixth-ranked Auburn and FSU quarterback Jameis Winston’s season (and freedom) could be in jeopardy. Which one deserves to move up if Alabama or Florida State goes down? Right now the BCS rankings say Ohio State but that hasn’t hindered any national debate.

Braxton Miler has led the Buckeyes to a 10-0 start (Via Queen City Sports)

Braxton Miler has led the Buckeyes to a 10-0 start (Via Queen City Sports)

Both of these teams have elite offenses. Led by quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde, the Buckeyes rank fourth nationally in points per game. Miller, Hyde, and senior Jordan Hall have combined for over 2,000 rushing yards this season. Miller, however, has passed for an underwhelming 1,466 yards. As for Baylor’s offense, it’s averaging 61.2 points per game and 684.9 yards per game, both best in the country. Quarterback Bryce Petty is having a Heisman caliber season, completing 65 percent of his passes for 2,992 yards, 24 touchdowns and still just one interception. Running backs Lache Seastrunk and Shock Linwood have amassed 1,700 yards together this season and Linwood has really stepped up in relief of the still injured Seastrunk. I have to give the edge on offense to Baylor because of their more balanced attack. Any defense would be more confident loading the box and challenging Ohio State to pass than doing so against Baylor. Petty will beat you with his arm and when he can’t, he has a talented backfield to pick up the slack. Ohio State’s offense is much more one-dimensional than Baylor’s.

Ohio State ranks thirteenth in the country in points allowed per game while Baylor sits at seventh. Both teams have decent defenses, but the lack of points against speaks to how dominating the offense is when on the field. Neither defense is very consistent but Ohio State’s is the least consistent of the two. After shutting out Purdue on November 2, they gave up 35 points to a 3-7 Illinois. They allowed 34 points to a 1-10 Cal, and then two weeks later, held a great Wisconsin offense to its second lowest points of the season with 24. Baylor’s defense not only has the edge in consistency but also the luxury of the best offense in the country (and possibly of all time) to take off some of the pressure. Baylor’s defense also plays against Big 12 offenses the likes of which Ohio State does not. Baylor’s defense wins this one too.

When looking at each team’s schedule, they appear even for the most part. Ohio State’s best game was a 31-24 win against now 19th ranked Wisconsin on September 28. Baylor’s came later against the 10th ranked (now 20th) Oklahoma Sooners by a lopsided score of 41-12. Both teams played the University of Buffalo early this season at their respective home fields. Baylor won 70-13 and OSU won 40-20, but we already knew Baylor’s offense was better. Ohio State’s opponents’ combined record is 46-56; Baylor’s is 46-46. The remaining opponents records, provided OSU plays Michigan State for the Big Ten title, are 20-10 for The Buckeyes, 19-11 for Baylor’s. With such equal schedules, the edge goes to Ohio State with the better signature win over Wisconsin.

Baylor deserves to take on Alabama or Florida State should one of them lose. The Bears have done more with a resume that is on par with Ohio State’s. This could all be for nothing if ‘Bama and FSU win out. That will all change next season with the new format where both Baylor and OSU would control their own destinies.

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Nick Vespasiano is a senior English major at St. Olaf College and aspiring sports writer. He was raised in Minnesota, favorite teams are the Vikings, Wild, and Twins. Favorite athletes are Randy Moss and Jaromír Jágr.

Three Intriguing Match-Ups for College Football’s Week 11

By Nick Vespasiano

(19) Wisconsin vs (25) Minnesota

As a native Minnesotan, it’s hard to feel anything but apathetic about Gophers football. So far this season they have exceeded everyone’s expectations but their own. Jerry Kill and this coaching staff have turned this team around, especially by playing to the strengths of the running game. Junior running back David Cobb has burst onto the Big 10 this season, rushing for 942 yards thus far and averaging 142 yards in Minnesota’s last four games. The key matchup will be this heavy run attack going up against a Wisconsin defense that has impressed all season. New defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s switch to a 3-4 scheme has worked wonders for the run defense, which ranks fifth in the country with 4.3 yards per carry for opponents. Last week the Badgers’ defense held an Indiana offense that is averaging 40-plus points per game, to just a field goal. The Gophers have their hands full on defense, with Heisman Trophy sleeper, sophomore running back Melvin Gordon and dynamic playmaker Jared Abbrederis highlighting Wisconsin’s offense. The main storyline here is the renewed rivalry. Wisconsin has won the last nine meetings but both teams go into the game at 8-2, making this matchup relevant for the first time since 2002. This Saturday will also mark my first Gophers game at TCF Bank Stadium, which should be cool.

Jerry Kill has done a fantastic job in the Twin Cities (Via AP)

Jerry Kill has done a fantastic job in the Twin Cities (Via AP)

(4) Baylor vs (10) Oklahoma State

Those poor Baylor Bears, they have to win out the rest of the season with no guarantee that it will even matter (sound familiar Ohio State?). This is arguably the hardest opponent on their remainder of their schedule and all signs point to a shootout. Baylor and Oklahoma State rank first and fourteenth respectively in points scored per game. I was surprised to see they both rank in the top-fifteen in points allowed per game but both defenses are inconsistent. For example, Oklahoma State held Mississippi state to three points and gave up 35 the next week to UT-San Antonio. However, OSU had a nice 52-34  win week 8 over Texas Tech, a team with a potent offense like Baylor’s. Both teams feature great passing offenses. Clint Chelf has impressed replacing JW Walsh at quarterback for OSU. While Baylor’s Bryce Petty sits third on most hypothetical Heisman ballots (including mine). The edge on offense here goes to Baylor because of their running attack. Star junior Lache Seastrunk is still injured but freshman Shock Linwood has replaced him effortlessly and has 812 yards on the season. Add Petty’s 10 rushing touchdowns and the ground as dangerous as the air against Baylor. Both teams rank higher than I would have expected. There are Big 12 title (and possible National Title in Baylor’s case) implications. The last 10th ranked team Baylor played was the Oklahoma Sooners on week 9, and they won by four touchdowns.

(12) Texas A&M vs (22) LSU

In last season’s matchup on 10/20, LSU defeated Texas A&M 24-19. Johnny Manziel played probably his worst game of the season finishing 29-59, 276 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT, and just 27 yards rushing. That was in College Station. This year the Aggies travel to Death Valley for the first time in the careers of head coach Kevin Sumlin and repeat-Heisman hopeful Johnny Manziel. For LSU to earn a second straight win against A&M, they’ll have to keep the ball out of Manziel’s hands and that means running the football. Sophomore running back Jeremy Hill is averaging 6.8 yards per carry, totaling 964 yards and 13 touchdowns through week 10. He had 127 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in last season’s game and can expect to see a lot of action for LSU to keep the clock moving. Senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger and junior wide receiver Odell Beckham are one of the deadliest QB/WR duos in the SEC. In the midst of a breakout year, senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger will at least have to play the “game manager” role well and above all, not turn over the ball. That was the key last season where LSU won the turnover battle with zero to A&M’s five. How well Manziel and A&M’s offense plays depends on LSU’s defense which has been inconsistent this season. Head coach Les Miles plans to regularly rotate two to three players at every position on defense to limit fatigue versus an athletic no-huddle offense. We’ll see if they’re up for the challenge, Manziel, Malena, Evans, and the top offense in the SEC have a tendency to tire out a defense.

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is a senior English major at St. Olaf College and aspiring sports writer. He was raised in Minnesota, favorite teams are the Vikings, Wild, and Twins. Favorite athletes are Randy Moss and Jaromír Jágr.

Stay Tuned: Week of November 4th

By Brett Malamud

This is the first of a weekly article that will provide you with the most intriguing games in sports for the upcoming week. If yesterday’s football games proved anything, it was that this is going to be an exciting week in sports. So let’s get to it! Here is the first installment of Stay Tuned:  

NBA:

With the first week in the books, the second week of the NBA season looks to be just as exciting.

Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers, Wednesday November 6th 7:00 PM EST, ESPN

Two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference square off in a showdown in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Derek Rose goes head to head against Paul George and the undefeated Indiana Pacers. This one is a must watch.

LA Clippers vs. Miami Heat, Thursday November 7th 7:00 PM EST, TNT and TSN

The Clippers head into South Beach after the Heat’s rough week last week. The Heat opened up the season going 2-2, and they’ll try to pick up the pace moving forward.

The Heat will try to stop Blake Griffin and the Clippers on Thursday (Via The Smoking Section)

The Heat will try to stop Blake Griffin and the Clippers on Thursday (Via The Smoking Section) 

NHL:

Division standings are starting to take form, as we are now one month into the season. 

NY Islanders vs. Washington Capitals Tuesday November 5th 7:00 PM EST, MSG+ and CSN-DC

Two of the brightest stars in the NHL will face off in this epic battle at the Verizon Center. John Tavares leads the Islanders into Washington, where Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals sit at .500 on the season. Only one point separates the teams in the standings, so it should be a good battle.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. NY Rangers, Wednesday November 6th 7:30 PM EST, NBCSN, TSN2, and RDS2

The Rangers and the Penguins have had bad blood for a while now, and Wednesday night should be no different. Watch these division rivals square off and Madison Square Garden come alive in this week’s Wednesday Night Rivalry.

Evgeni Malkin hopes to put the puck past Henrik Lundqvist in a battle at the Garden on Wednesday (Via Last Word On Sports)

Evgeni Malkin hopes to put the puck past Henrik Lundqvist in a battle at the Garden on Wednesday (Via Last Word On Sports)

Montreal Canadians vs. Ottawa Senators, Thursday November 7th 7:00 PM EST, CBC and RDS

There’s nothing as wild as a Canadian clash. The Habs head to the capital city to take on Erik Karlsson and the Senators. A must watch game in Canada. 

NCAA Basketball:

This Friday marks the start of the college basketball season and there are a few games to stay updated on.

(18) UConn vs. Maryland, Friday November 8th 6:30 PM EST, ESPN2

This is sure to be a good game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. A small Maryland team took a hit, losing 7’1” center Alex Len. The Phoenix Suns selected Len fifth overall in this year’s NBA draft. Maryland will face a tough test though, going up against a much bigger UConn Huskies team.

Barclays Center will be the site for this Friday's showdown between Maryland and UConn. (Via AP)

Barclays Center will be the site for this Friday’s showdown between Maryland and UConn. (Via AP)

Georgetown vs. (19) Oregon, Friday November 8th 8:00 PM EST, ESPN

Coming off a first round loss to Cinderella story Florida Gulf Coast in last season’s NCAA tournament, it’ll be interesting to see Georgetown without Otto Porter, who was selected by the Washington Wizards as the third overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. They face number 19 ranked Oregon in the Armed Forces Classic in South Korea

NCAA Football:

(3) Oregon vs. (5) Stanford, Thursday November 7th 9:00 PM EST, ESPN

Not much needs to be said here. The Ducks take on the Cardinal in a heated rivalry matchup.

No Chip Kelly for the Ducks here, but they'll still step up and try to take down Stanford (Via AP)

No Chip Kelly for the Ducks here, but they’ll still step up and try to take down Stanford (Via AP)

(13) LSU vs. (1) Alabama, Saturday November 9th 8:00 PM EST, CBS

The Tigers head into Tuscaloosa to go up against the Crimson Tide what should be the college football game of the week

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Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

 

 

Jameis Winston: The Next Heisman Winner?

By: Matt Federbusch

It may be too early for Heisman talks but Florida State QB Jameis Winston seems like a good candidate. The true freshman from Bessemer, Alabama has been putting up videogame numbers for the Seminoles as of late and it doesn’t look like he’s going to cool down anytime soon. In every game so far, the Seminoles have scored more than 40 points and they practically routed every opponent. Winston is responsible for putting up most of these points and leading the Noles to 1st place in the ACC. Jameis already has 23 touchdowns and an unbelievable passer rating of 207.0.

Florida State Spring Game

FSU’s Jameis Winston will try to join Johnny Manziel as the second ever freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. (Via Getty Images)

He is not a guy that shies away from a challenge either. Just ask the Clemson Tigers. Against #3 Clemson on October 19, the Seminoles destroyed the Tigers, winning 51-14. Winston had 444 yards (Yes, you read that correctly), 3 passing touchdowns, and 1 rushing touchdown. This is an unbelievably talented athlete and the scary thing is that he is only a freshman. Will he be the Heisman winner? I’m not sure, Mariota and Manziel look pretty good too. All I know is you should fear the spear because this guy is for real.