August 12, 2008

2008: Grading the non-conference schedules


We've created a vicious cycle in college football. Sure we all love the fact that just about every game is on TV nowadays. And because coaches and athletic directors want their teams to look good on TV, so they schedule a lot of limp fish opponents. Because wins beget bowl games. Bowl games begets job security. Job security begets more money. Thus, more money is insured by wins. You spin me right round baby right round, like a record.

No longer do college football teams across the country take chances. Or, well, rarely do they. Have you noticed how boring Septembers have become, except for the occasional Appy State upset of Michigan or Ohio State showdown with Texas?

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December 31, 2007

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Auburn Wins 23-20

ATLANTA -- In overtime, the Auburn Tigers defeated Clemson 23-20 after quarterback Kodi Burns ran the ball into the end zone from five yards out to win the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

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Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Free Football

ATLANTA -- As the clock ticks down to zero in regulation, the score is tied at 17. Both Clemson and Auburn had chances to win the game in regulation. However, neither offense was able to put themselves in field goal range. In fact, each defense narrowly missed picked off interceptions.

This is the first overtime game in the history of the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. So one thing is for certain, the "Tigers" will be making history, one way or another.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Auburn has the Last Chance

ATLANTA -- With 1:32 to go in the game, Auburn has the ball at their own 36 yard line with a chance to win the game in regulation after Clemson went three and out. More to come soon...

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Kodi Burns Brings Auburn Back

ATLANTA -- The majority of the drive saw backup quarterback Kodi Burns in the game, and his quickness helped revitalize the Auburn running game. With 8:27 to go in the fourth quarter, his 15 yard run set up a 1 yard touchdown run by Ben Tate to tie the game up at 17.

The key play on the drive came from Brandon Cox though. On a 3rd and 5 from the Auburn 47, he completed an 18 yard pass to Robert Dunn to the Clemson 35 giving Auburn the key first down.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Critical Mistake by Auburn Leads to Clemson Touchdown

ATLANTA -- Quarterback Brandon Cox threw his first interception of the game and allowed the game's first turnover. The play occurred after Brandon Cox was forced out of the pocket by Clemson defensive end Ricky Sapp. His throw was intended for tight end Cole Bennett, but was deflected by Clemson cornerback Crezden Butler, and then he caught his own tipped ball.

Clemson was able to take ball down the field and punch the ball into the end zone on 4th and goal from the 1 to retake the lead 17-10. With 11:24 to go in the 4th quarter, the game has taken on a much different look than it had in the middle of third quarter.

Clemson's offense has been able to mix the run with the pass effectively, and has stopped Auburn's rushing attack. With Auburn playing from behind now, the game may now be placed on quarterback Brandon Cox's shoulders for Auburn.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Clemson Ties Game

ATLANTA -- At the start of the fourth quarter, Clemson place kicker Mark Buchholz hit a 22 yard field goal after Clemson's Cullen Harper was stopped at the five yard line on a third and goal play from the two yard line.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Defensive Struggle Through Second Half

ATLANTA -- Auburn is controlling the tempo of the second half. The Tigers have failed to pick up a first down in five straight possessions. In the third quarter, Auburn has outgained Clemson 121-9 in total yardage.

Both teams have turned back to their strengths on offense to move the ball. While Auburn's rushing attack has been effective in the early going in the second half, Clemson's passing attack has not done much as quarterback Cullen Harper has been under pressure for much of the half and his receivers are just not getting open.

Even with Clemson's inability to move the ball, the score is still just 10-7 in Auburn's favor, and they have been able to gain the field position advantage via special teams after a 59 yard punt by Jimmy Maners put Auburn inside of their own 5 yard line.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Auburn Strikes First in 2nd Half

ATLANTA -- On the first drive of the second half, the Tigers drove the ball down the field and scored on a 22 yard pass from backup quarterback Kodi Burns to freshman running back Mario Fannin.

Burns rolled to his right on the play hitting Fannin in stride on a crossing route over the middle, and ran untouched into the far corner of the end zone to give Auburn a 10-7 lead early in the second half.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Half Time

ATLANTA -- Clemson leads at the end of the first half 7-3. The difference in this ball game was one play. C.J. Spiller's 83 yard touchdown early in the second quarter is the only offensive spurt that this game has seen.

While both teams have been able to drive the ball into the opponent's territory, neither side has been able to turn those drives into points. Clemson place kicker Mark Buchholz is 0-2 missing field goals from 45 and 53 yards each.

Auburn place kicker Wes Byrum is 1-2 with made field goal attempt from 38 yards out, and a miss from 45 yards out.

Clemson's offense has turned a complete 180 from their play calling during the season. After relying so heavily on the pass during the season, Clemson's offense has made every effort to move the ball down the field on the ground. Clemson has a much more balanced attack as they have run the ball 15 times for 141 yards, while passing the ball 16 times for just 37 yards.

Auburn has also had opportunities to score as their passing game has been effective. Quarterback Brandon Cox is 13-22 on the game for 111 yards. On the ground, Auburn has been somewhat less effective as they have only 36 yards on the ground.

Neither team has been able to play to their strength in the first half, which is the most likely reason for the 7-3 score. It will be interesting to see what each team does to make adjustments. Will each offense continue with what plays are working best for them right now, or will they try to go back to their strengths?

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Auburn Stumbles

ATLANTA -- After Clemson was able to score their first touchdown of the game, Auburn responded by driving the ball to the 28 yard line in Clemson territory.

On a key 3rd and 3 at the 28, Auburn running back Ben Tate had a hold up the middle on a dive play, but stumbled on his own falling short of the first down.

On the next play, place kicker Wes Byrum missed a 45 yard field goal wide right in essentially the same location that Clemson place kicker Mak Buchholz did. The score is still Clemson 7-3.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Clemson Growls Back

ATLANTA -- After both offenses stalled for the majority of the first quarter, Clemson hit a home run on a 2nd and 5 play from their own 17 yard line.

On a delayed draw play up the middle, running back C.J. Spiller ran straight into the line, but was not taken down. After bouncing back to the outside, Spiller sprinted down the near sideline past the Auburn defense to give Clemson their first lead of the game 7-3.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Buchholz Wide Right

ATLANTA -- After Clemson drove the ball inside the Auburn 30 yard line, they were unable to put points on the board as placekicker Mark Buchholz's kick missed wide right. The score is still Auburn 3-0.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: More On Scott

ATLANTA -- Clemson defensive tackle Dorrell Scott has a high right ankle sprain and he is listed as questionable to return to the game.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Auburn Pounces First, Clemson DT Scott Injured

ATLANTA - After a key 28 yard pass from Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox, the Navy blue clad Tigers were able to push the ball inside the Clemson 20 yard line. However, they were able to go no further and ended up kicking a 38 yard field goal to take the early 3-0 lead.

To add injury to insult, Clemson just suffered a major blow as defensive tackle Dorrell Scott was cut down to the ground by an illegal chop block from behind. He walked off of the field, favoring his right knee, with the help of two Clemson trainers.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Tiger Brawl

ATLANTA - The ACC and SEC are getting together once again on New Year's Eve in Atlanta as the 9-3 Clemson Tigers face off against the 8-4 Auburn Tigers.

Clemson comes into tonight's contest winning five of their last six contests including a win over their in-state rival South Carolina 23-21 on a late field goal.

While Auburn struggled early on in the season with a 1-2 record in their first three games. However, Auburn finished strong in SEC play with key wins at Florida and at home against their in-state rival Alabama.

For Auburn, this game comes down to stopping the ACC leading passing attack that Clemson will throw at them. Defensive end Quentin Groves will be the key to putting pressure on Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper.

On the offensive side off the ball, Auburn will most likely keep the ball on the ground to keep Clemson's offense on the sidelines. Look for tailback Brad Lester to get many touches in this game.

For Clemson, the offense will need to keep the pressure off of Cullen Harper by allowing their stellar running back tandem of James Davis and C.J. Spiller to get going.

On defense, Clemson's front seven is the key to their success. Clemson will be without the services of their two star linebackers in Tremaine Billie and Nick Watkins. Replacements Scotty Cooper and Kavell Conner will be tested early and often during the course of this game.


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