Tag Archives: New Mexico State Aggies

The Preseason Slate of Games Made Only for True College Football Fans

College football season doesn’t truly begin until that first full Saturday of games.  This year, that’s September 1.  Some of us refuse to wait that long, though.  The good news for us is that we don’t have to wait.  It doesn’t matter that it’s Wyoming battling New Mexico State.  College football is college football (at least when it’s still August and we’re starved for it.)

So, I’m here with some reasons to dig into the seemingly unappealing and unimportant, appetite-whetting menu of taste-tester games taking place a week ahead of that most glorious of Saturdays.  While there’s not much to get overly excited about on August 25, when you’re this hungry, you’ll make do with just about anything.  At some point, you’re sure to be asking yourself, “What the hell am I watching right now?”  Well, here’s what: Continue reading The Preseason Slate of Games Made Only for True College Football Fans

The Real Madness of March

Every year, I spend far more time and energy than I should filling out my NCAA Tournament March Madness bracket.  I debate whether chalk or Cinderella’s will prevail.  I agonize over which 12-5 upsets are ripe for the picking.  I look at strength of schedule and see who beat who, as if that matters.  Then, I spend the entire tournament second guessing myself.

Inevitably, I get caught in between rooting for my bracket and cheering for those Cinderella’s that capture our hearts.  It ends up being a very stressful month and at the end, I never feel like I have fully enjoyed what is truly an amazing sporting event.

I like to act as if I know what I’m talking about when predicting these games.  Really, I don’t.  None of us do.  Why bother pretending?  It’s not like I’m a big college basketball fan anyway.  I mean, sure, I watch the tournament religiously.  The first Thursday and Friday of games are days that I believe should be national holidays.  Why play the charade of going to work and acting like I’m not watching online?  I am.  #SorryNotSorry (I am, however, sorry I just used that expression. #NeverAgain)

Anyway, when it comes to regular season college basketball, I never watch many games.  This season though, that’s never been truer.  Confession: I watched a grand total of three full college basketball games this winter.  The complete list: Mt. St. Mary’s vs. Michigan (I was actually in attendance), Xavier vs. Cincinnati (Go Bearcats! #BeatX), and Tulsa vs. Cincinnati (Again, I was in attendance).

So, yeah, I don’t really have any idea what went on this college basketball season.  (Though, I hear tripping people has become a hot button issue.)  What I do know, from hardly following along, is that there was a lot of movement in the Top 25.  It seems to me that this is one of those years where there are a ton of good teams in the field, but not many great ones.  Is that a fair assessment?  Honestly, I’m asking.

Let’s highlight some things as I take my first look at the bracket.  (That’s right; I didn’t watch the selection show either.)


Hey!  Mt. St. Mary’s made the field… sorta.  The only first round upsets I have here are Marquette over South Carolina and New Mexico State over that Baptist school in Waco, Texas.  Give me Virginia over Florida in the second round.  Other than that, there’s nothing too exciting.  Looks like an easy path to the Final Four for defending champion Villanova.


Woo, lots going on here.  First, Michigan State got lucky.  The Spartans are bad but the Hurricanes sound beatable.  The rest of the first round seems pedestrian but man, look at these possible second round matchups.  Kansas vs. Michigan State is enough said.  Iowa State meets Purdue in a battle of teams with high hopes.  Creighton vs. Oregon will be fun.  And Michigan gets a shot at revenge against Louisville.  I’m still upset about 2013 and, as a result, I’m going into full homer mode.  The Wolverines beat the Cardinals, the Ducks, and the Jayhawks on their way to Phoenix.  (#SorryNotSorry… Damnit, that didn’t last long.)


Smart guy alert in the 8-9 matchup as Northwestern and Vanderbilt get together.  Wait, the Northwestern Wildcats made the NCAA Tournament!  Congrats to them.  I’ll even pencil in an opening round win for them before getting smacked by Gonzaga.  Give me the other smart guys at Princeton to pull the upset on Notre Dame.  On the bottom half, I’m going a little upset crazy.  Florida Gulf Coast makes another run to the second weekend with wins over Florida State and Maryland.  And St. Mary’s finds its way to the Elite Eight for a fourth try at besting West Coast Conference rival Gonzaga.  You know what they say, “it’s tough to beat a team twice, thrice, four times in the same season.”  Well, Gonzaga will.


I’ve got Seton Hall beating Arkansas for the same reasons I have Marquette beating South Carolina.  I’m Catholic and the SEC is still a terrible basketball conference, until proven otherwise.  Middle Tennessee State earns its second tourney win over a Big Ten opponent in as many years, my second 12 over 5.  Cincinnati will beat UCLA with a superior defense the likes of which the Bruins have never come up against.  Unfortunately for my adopted school, the Kentucky Wildcats will be waiting in the Sweet Sixteen.  North Carolina will be able to handle Coach Cal’s bunch en route to yet another Final Four.

Final Four

Last year’s championship game was so phenomenal, why not have a rematch?  Michigan and Gonzaga fall victim to destiny.  This time around, Villanova won’t need a buzzer beater.  The Wildcats will repeat, beating North Carolina quite easily.

There you have it.  Now all that’s left to do is wait until Thursday so I can hide my internet browser behind some important-looking work stuff and enjoy this damn thing for once.

I recommend you do the same, but don’t expect many of you to.  That chance at glory is too tantalizing to pass up, isn’t it?  Yes, you’d rather drive yourself crazy trying to arrive at the perfect bracket that you’ll literally never achieve.

And to you all I say have fun losing your group for the umpteenth time to your aunt who bases her picks on the team mascots.  After all, this is the real madness of March.

E-mail me at [email protected] and I’ll send you back an invite to my bracket group.  Should be easy to beat me since I’m not trying, right?

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

WAC Implosion?

The Western Athletic Conference was once a proud and feared conference who could boast of Boise State, San Diego State and TCU, among a long list of other great schools. The current state of the WAC is a lot less exciting when you just looking at the names that is mainly because these schools aren’t household names but a couple of these NCAA Division II call ups like Cal State-Bakersfield and Grand Canyon University have had more than their fair share of success at the lower levels.

But if this conference can’t fix or help lessen the blow of a few issues they will not be able to boast that this conference has some really nice basketball programs that are going to do some great things going forward.

First off is what is going on with Chicago State University. They are the current laughing stalk of the WAC, but once you find out as to why they aren’t doing so well in most sports sponsored that you will feel so bad you will want to dig in your own pockets and help this school as a whole; not just its athletic department.

The state of Illinois is in the middle of higher education budget crisis and there are only a few options that will happen. Plan A is that the state of Illinois will pass a budget that will help all public universities and colleges and give them all a budget to work with that they can be more competitive, and everyone would be happy.

Plan B is some type of budget passes but the smaller public universities and colleges that are sponsoring major NCAA division I sports who were struggling before the budget passes will have to agree to either drop down to division II or III sponsored athletics to a more regional smaller conference or drop athletics all together.

Plan C is the worst of them all. Chicago State would be looking at shutting their doors for good and this would be the worst option, obviously. If Plan B or C happens to Chicago State it would mean the WAC, that’s at eight schools right now, would drop down to seven, which is the least amount of full member schools to get auto-bids for NCAA sponsored events. As scary as this possible scenario could be for the seven other members of the WAC there are a couple more things in play that could kill the WAC for good.

New Mexico State has its football program in the FBS Sun Belt Conference and that southern-based conference voted to not have NMSU’s football program be a part of their football conference. This, on top of the Chicago State situation, has a lot of people on pins and needles. NMSU is known for wanting all sports to be in one conference. So they are looking at a handful of options but as it stands now the Big Sky Conference looks to be the best available but they play a lower level of football than NMSU currently plays now. So it is really up to NMSU and what that value more playing FBS level college football or all athletics being under on conference.

Then there is UMKC, who were in the Summit League but were told by the WAC commissioner if they left the Summit League and join the WAC they would be able to host the conference basketball tournament for a few years. It has been three years and UMKC has yet to play host for the WAC basketball tournament for both men and women. On top of this there rumblings the they are eying a switch back to the Summit League because there is less travel and more regional teams that make up the league.

The vultures are lurking and they are looking at programs like GCU and NMSU. Some of these vultures like WCC, Big Sky, and Big West are keeping an eye out to see if the WAC will be able to fix  these 3 real issues, the WAC is one wrong move away from having something in common with dinosaurs, VHS, and the Ford Pinto.

I for one really hope this does not happen and would like to see the WAC flourish and grow up into a nice strong mid-major power when it comes to basketball. But with all these obstacles that they face it might be too much for them to overcome.

WAC Tournament Preview and Prediction

This year’s tournament (full schedule; streaming information) should be one of the most competitive since the WAC transformed into its current state. The WAC has a couple of strong teams this year which will make for some exciting basketball later this week. The New Mexico State Aggies come into this year’s edition of the Western Athletic Conference fresh off a WAC regular season championship, where they had to fight off the likes of Grand Canyon University and Cal State-Bakersfield. With both of these schools making it interesting during conference play, this conference tournament should be one of the more underrated in the nation.

This conference, more so than any other, is all about the match-ups. Some of the individual players you should keep an eye in this WAC tournament consist of a mixture of some great post play on both sides of the ball with the like of Pascal Siakam (NMSU), Aly Ahmed (CSUB), Jack Crook (Seattle) along with some really impressive guard play from Ian Baker (NMSU), Marcel Davis (Utah Valley), and Martez Harrison (UMKC).

New Mexico State Aggies (22-9, 13-1)

Aggies are the number one seed in the tournament. They will play the winner of Utah Valley and UMKC on Friday March 11th at 6pm on the WAC Digital Network. The Aggies are the favorites to win the WAC tournament. Based on their 13-1 record in conference play with their only loss coming to Grand Canyon in Phoenix by 4 points.

Besides that one blemish it was another year of what Aggie fans expect when it comes to their basketball team. Players to watch from this team would be Siakam, who is probably the best mid-major post player in the nation. He is averaging 20.7 ppg and 11.7 rpg to go with the skill Siakam has the basketball IQ to cause opposing defenses fits.

The other Aggie people should get to know before the WAC tournament would be Ian Baker. He has a knack for hitting big time shots in his career at NMSU. Baker is a nice guard who compliments Pascal Siakam very well and when both of these guys are in the zone it is hard to slow them down. Ian Baker this season is averaging 13.8 ppg and 3.7 apg while being a team leader on the court. For this squad anything less then another WAC tournament basketball championship will be viewed as disappointment.

Cal State-Bakersfield Roadrunners (21-8, 11-3)

The Roadrunners are the number two seed in this year’s WAC tournament. They played probably the most consistent of all the WAC schools this year. They are matched up with Chicago State at 4:30pm on the WAC Digital Network on Thursday March 10th. Bakersfield has a great defensive team. Aly Ahmed is one of the better post players in the WAC. He wears he passion on his sleeves and that really rallies his teammates. He is solid on both ends of the court. Ahmed is averaging 13.5 ppg and 6.4 rpg while being a vocal leader on and off the court. Bakersfield is a team that has what it takes to win this tournament. They play a great team defense and can score enough points to win games.

Seattle U Redhawks (13-15, 7-7)

The Redhawks are a team that comes into the WAC tournament as the third seed. Seattle U is the true wild card in this tournament, there were times where they looked like they belonged as a WAC favorite and a formidable challenger to win the WAC regular season championship and then there were times where they didn’t look like they belonged on the same court as some of these teams in the WAC. For the Redhawks to have a chance at winning the WAC tournament and participating in March Madness they will need Brendon Westendorf and Jack Crook to raise their games. Both are talented enough to help Seattle U reach the finals for the second time in two years. But a lot has to fall into place for this to happen.

Utah Valley University Wolverines (12-17, 6-8)

UVU is the fourth seed and to be honest have looked good in their last two WAC conference games but they did lose both of them, one by a buzzer beater from Seattle U and a six point loss at home to GCU. This squad is a team in transition and some interesting talent. They have had spurts where they can put on some runs on teams but have been inconsistent for most of the year. The player on this team you should watch out for would be Marcel Davis. He is a guard that can do just about everything. The only issue is that he doesn’t have enough talent around him to elevate this team into a top tier squad in the WAC. The Wolverines are going to be a good team going forward but as it goes for this tournament they will be lucky to get more than one win.

University of Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos (11-18, 4-10)

UMKC comes in as the five seed. The Roo’s have to be the biggest disappointment in the WAC this year. Voted as one of the teams in the preseason that would be able to win the WAC has had nothing but trouble on and off the court. This team has a Allen Iverson type guard in Martez Harrison very dynamic but streaking and is known to put up a lot of shots. I just can’t see UMKC shooting their way to a win on March 10th against UVU.

UT-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros (8-21, 4-10)

UTRGV is the six seed and the only lower seeded team I could see beating a top seed. All the Vaqueros need to do is win a game away from home against a conference foe for the first time this season. As much of a daunting task that might be, they have to be thrilled that they match up against the most jekyll and hyde team in the WAC this year. UTRGV will have to play some inspired ball to make a run in the tournament.

Chicago State Cougars (4-27, 0-14)

Chicago State comes into the WAC tournament as the 7 seed and will have the steepest hill to climb if they are to win the WAC’s auto bid into the dance. This team has been playing this season not sure if the school they play for might be shut down for good or not. So I can only imagine how tiring it might be for this team to be worrying about more than just basketball. Never say never but I can’t see this team doing much in proving the world wrong and going to the big dance.

Grand Canyon University ‘Lopes (25-6, 11-3)

The Lopes aren’t eligible to play in the WAC tournament being that this is just their third year in transition from NCAA division 2 basketball. I wouldn’t feel to bad for the GCU Lopes because they have invite and have accepted to play in the Collegeinsider.com tournament which starts March 14th.  The Lopes had some great wins this year beating the likes of San Diego State in San Diego. They also beat Houston and Marshall to win the Global Sports Classic tournament.

My prediction for the WAC tournament is that NMSU will reach the final without much trouble where they will meet Bakersfield who will themselves coast through their first two games. I see the Aggies prevailing in the WAC tournament final with a 64 to 51 victory to punch their ticket to the dance.

Where to watch the WAC tournament.

The WAC Digital Network will have the first two days of games March 10-11. While the championship game will be on ESPNU at 8pm pacific.

E-mail Josh at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @joshualovern87.

Photo: New Mexico State University.

Auburn: Is Kevin Steele The Answer?

Kevin Steele is the new defensive coordinator at Auburn University. He indicated, at his press conference on Tuesday, that his goal is to make Auburn the last stop on his coaching journey. That is certainly possible, but is it likely? Steele’s path, like that of countless other assistant coaches, is often long and circuitous. That is simply the nature of the business.

Here is look at Steele’s ‘long and winding road’.

After his playing days, as a linebacker, at Furman and Tennessee, he became a graduate assistant for the Vols from 1978-1979. He was promoted to outside linebackers coach in 1982. He held this position for one year.

1983 saw Steele as the coach of linebackers at New Mexico State.

Steele then took the job as linebackers and tight ends coach at Oklahoma State for three seasons. Afterwards he returned to Knoxville to coach defensive backs from 1987-1988. The head coach at Tennessee throughout his playing and coaching time there was Johnny Majors.

Lincoln, Nebraska was the next stop for Steele. He spent six seasons with the Cornhuskers, under the tutelage of the legendary Tom Osborne, as a linebackers coach. He departed the Midwest for an opportunity to test the waters of the NFL. Charlotte was the destination and the job was linebackers coach of the Carolina Panthers for four seasons. Dom Capers was the head man for the Panthers during those years.

In 1999 Steele was offered an opportunity that every coach must relish. He was hired as a head coach. The job was with the Baylor Bears. The four years in Waco did were not productive, as far as wins and losses were concerned, and he moved on to Tallahassee, Florida to assist another coaching legend, Bobby Bowden. Linebackers were his duty there.

In 2007, the University of Alabama, in an effort to end years of frustration, announced Nick Saban as head coach of the Crimson Tide. Saban lured Steele away from the Seminoles to be his defensive coordinator. Assistant head coach was added to his title in 2008.

Dabo Swinney enticed Steele away from Tuscaloosa to Clemson as the DC of the Tigers in 2009. He remained in that capacity through 2013, when he was dismissed after a blowout loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Then it was back to Alabama where Steele, again, coached linebackers for one season.

The phone rang early in 2015. Les Miles was on the line. He offered Steele another shot as a defensive coordinator. Steele accepted. And, as you know, things got a little dicey down in Baton Rogue this past season.

“It’s certainly an exciting time for (his wife), myself and my children. … It’s an exciting time to be here with coach. It was a very, very easy decision for me.” – Kevin Steele

Everything wasn’t coming up roses for another group of Tigers during this most recent campaign. The Auburn version of fierce felines went 6-6 on the Plains of east Alabama. Auburn’s DC, Will Muschamp, was given the chance to turn it around in Columbia, South Carolina and he, wisely, embraced it. If you are afforded a shot as a head coach in the SEC then you are probably set for life, as far as your finances are concerned.

Gus Malzahn said that he was looking to build stability and continuity in his hiring of a new defensive coordinator. Will this be possible with Steele, or anyone else for that matter? If you follow football, whether it be college or pro, you know that coaches move and move and move, again and again and again. You just read of a perfect example in the words above. It is somewhat rare that any coach stays at a job for a lengthy period of time, be he the head coach or an assistant, these days. The pressure to win NOW, and continue to do so, is enormous.

But, Steele has very strong ties to the state of Alabama and Auburn. His daughter is a graduate of Auburn. His mother lives in Prattville. The first college football game he attended was at, then, Cliff Hare Stadium in Auburn. That was back in the late 60’s when his father was a head coach in Gordo, Alabama. Steele said that most of his relatives live within a one-hundred mile radius of Auburn.

Auburn has, for multiple reasons, and not all of them good, changed defensive coordinators SEVEN times in the last ten years. They desperately need that stability and continuity that Malzahn spoke of before he hired Steele. The Tigers haven’t fielded a truly good defense since the 2008 unit. That takes a toll on the program.

“I don’t know how to read a contract.” – Kevin Steele

Will Kevin Steele, at 57 years old, actually find the last stop of his coaching career at Auburn University? Will he help bring the stability and continuity that both he and Malzahn, together, seek? Will the Auburn family, finally, be able to step off the roller coaster ride that has been Auburn football since Pat Dye’s last SEC Championship in 1989?

Stay tuned.

E-mail Bird at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

Photo: TigerNet/Flickr

Five You Must See: Week Eight

#20 Cal (5-1) at UCLA (4-2) Thursday 9:00 PM on ESPN

To start off your weekend, flip over to this west coast battle between teams trying to bounce back.  Cal suffered a minor setback two weeks ago, turning the ball over six times and losing by six points at Utah.  You can bet Sonny Dykes used the Bears’ bye week to draw up some new schemes to throw at the Bruins.

After looking like the team to beat in September, UCLA is in danger of dropping their third straight if they’re not careful.  Injuries on defense are catching up to them quicker than they’d hoped.  The Bruins have lost a key member to each level of their defense, most notably linebacker Myles Jack who is no longer with the team because he has declared for the NFL draft.

Speaking of the draft, you’ll want to take advantage of a rare opportunity to see Cal quarterback Jared Goff.  Many are touting him as possibly the first QB taken this April.  Jim Mora had better find a way to get more out of his defense or Goff will take advantage.

UCLA needs a fast start to win this game.  Josh “chosen” Rosen has proven to be capable of a lot of things you wouldn’t expect from a true freshman quarterback.  Leading a comeback against a conference opponent is not one of those things.  If Cal scores the first two touchdowns they’ll probably run away with it.

Tennessee (3-3) at #8 Alabama (6-1) Saturday 3:30 PM on CBS

As I’ve said before, there aren’t many weekends where I’m not interested in the SEC on CBS game of the week.  Few things say fall quite like hearing Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson go back and forth, drooling over how impressive this guy and that guy are.  I watch because even the bad matchups are made entertaining by those two in the booth.  Unfortunately, we’ll have to rely on Verne and Gary this week as well.

(Photo: USA Today Sports)
(Photo: USA Today Sports)

Frankly, I’m not giving Tennessee much of a chance in this one.  Alabama is just too strong.  The Tide offensive line has been commanding the line of scrimmage since slipping up in the loss to Ole Miss.  Running back Derrick Henry has been the main beneficiary.  The workhorse is up over 900 yards on the season with 12 rushing touchdowns.  He averages over 20 carries per game, and at nearly six yards a pop that makes for a long day if you’re lined up on the other side.

We can’t discount the Vols’ resiliency though.  They’ve lost three games to Oklahoma, Florida and Arkansas by a combined 12 points.  Last time out they were down 24-3 in the first half against Georgia, only to come storming back to win 38-31.  Quarterback Josh Dobbs leads his team by example.  The kid plays every down with a toughness that’s rarely seen in quarterbacks.  It’s refreshing to see, and he’s going to need it with the Bama defense chasing him around all afternoon.

Alabama needs a win to set up that epic showdown with LSU in two weeks.  First, let’s see how they handle a team with nothing to lose at this point.

#15 Texas A&M (5-1) at #24 Ole Miss (5-2) Saturday 7:00 PM on ESPN

Here we have another matchup of two teams coming off losses.  A&M was put in their place by Alabama in a game that was never really close.  Meanwhile, Ole Miss was beaten convincingly by a Memphis team that everyone had not taken seriously enough.

Interestingly, this will be the Aggies’ first true road game this season.  In retrospect, it’s easy to see that we all probably gave them a bit too much credit for their “neutral-site” win over Arizona State in the season opener.  That alone was enough to catapult them from unranked to #16.  Since then Kevin Sumlin’s squad hasn’t done anything more than we would have expected them to.  This is their opportunity to show everyone they’re for real this year.  I’m not sure they are.

The Rebels’ standout defensive end Robert Nkemdiche suffered a concussion while carrying the ball on offense last week.  Suddenly, people don’t seem to think it’s such a great idea for Hugh Freeze to be using one of his best players on both sides.  Nkemdiche’s availability this weekend is still in question.  Not having him in the lineup would be a huge blow to the Rebel defense.

These two seem pretty evenly matched so the game will come down to who can limit their own mistakes and capitalize on their opponents’.  We should be looking at a full sixty minutes here.

#3 Utah (6-0) at USC (3-3) Saturday 7:30 PM on Fox

USC has a lot going on right now.  Head coach Steve Sarkisian is long gone.  Athletic Director Pat Haden collapsed on the sideline before last Saturday’s game at Notre Dame.  Not to mention, the Trojans are staring their fourth loss right in the face with the powerful Utes coming to the Coliseum.

Utah might be the best overall team in the nation right now.  They’ve got an expert possession-style gameplan courtesy of head coach Kyle Whittingham.  And if you do happen to knock them off their game somehow, the Utes can handle it because there aren’t many things they don’t do well.

I’m looking forward to watching Cody Kessler, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adoree Jackson challenge Utah’s defense.  If those three can take advantage of the Utes’ one perceived weakness, their secondary, then this game will become much more interesting.

If not, we could see Utah make another big statement by blowing out a conference opponent on the road for the second time this fall.

Washington (3-3) at #10 Stanford (5-1) Saturday 10:30 PM on ESPN

The night cap should be a decent enough watch this week.  Even if it’s not, you’ll want to see this revitalized Stanford team.  Since losing to Northwestern to open the season, the Cardinal have scored 31, 41, 42, 55, and 56 points in their last five games, winning by an average of 22 points.  That’s wonderfully uncharacteristic for a team that’s used to handling opponents but only winning by two touchdowns.

(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports)
(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports)

Quarterback Kevin Hogan is doing exactly what he needs to, completing easy passes (65.9% completion rate) and taking care of the ball (12-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio).  The rest is as simple as turning around and handing the ball off because running back Christian McCaffrey has been feasting on Pac-12 defenses.  In four conference games McCaffrey has yet to fail to reach 100 yards, rushing for 200+ twice.  Last Thursday against UCLA he racked up four touchdowns on the ground, averaging nearly 10 yards while carrying the ball 25 times.  I’ll be shocked if the Cardinal don’t keep feeding him.

Washington may look like a pushover, but like Tennessee, they make for entertaining games by keeping themselves within striking distance.  The Huskies have lost to Boise State, Cal and Oregon by a combined 15 points.  They don’t stop the run or the pass exceptionally well.  They just keep their opponents out of the endzone.  U-Dub comes into this one ranked sixteenth in scoring defense, allowing just 16.8 points per game.

Washington might be the only Pac-12 team left on Stanford’s schedule that can stop this sudden offensive explosion.  I never thought I’d say this, but the higher the score is the more I like Stanford here.

Game of the Weak

Troy (1-5) at New Mexico State (0-6)

Big shoutout to Aaron Creguer for suggesting that I feature this atrocious matchup in a new “Game of the Weak” segment that will highlight the worst game on the schedule each week.

These two abominable programs have accounted for just a single win this fall.  That one came when Troy beat up on Charleston Southern of the FCS.  The Trojans have played in some tough road games, travelling to NC State, Wisconsin and Mississippi State.  But, it doesn’t seem to have done them much good since they’ve dropped games to South Alabama and Idaho as well.

New Mexico State, for my money, is the worst team in the FBS.  The Aggies have collected two SEC paychecks for getting embarrassed by Florida and Ole Miss.  They’ve lost to Georgia State and Georgia Southern, a feat that I can’t imagine any FBS team has ever accomplished.  And they’ve already chalked up an L next to their biggest game against rival New Mexico.

If for some reason you’re interested in watching this futility you can stream the game on the Watch ESPN app Saturday night at 8:00pm.

The Pipeline – August 22, 2015: When Administrators fail to Protect Those who Cannot Protect Themselves

  1. Baylor’s Ukwuachu Convicted, Sentenced

The first story out of the Pipeline this week is another disturbing tale of sexual violence.

On Friday afternoon Baylor defensive end Sam Ukwuachu was sentenced to felony probation for 10 years following a conviction of second-degree sexual assault on Thursday.

There are a plethora of details surrounding this case.  Jessica Luther and Dan Solomon of Texas Monthly have connected dots that go back even before the night of October 19, 2013 when the incident in question occurred. In this storyline we have a previous accusation of sexual assault, a transfer, a questionable investigation, a shady cover-up, a denial of any prior knowledge, overall a very sticky situation for everyone involved at Baylor.  Go read the full report for all the details. In addition, we have two premier college coaches with conflicting stories.  Former Boise State head coach (and current head coach at Washington) Chris Petersen has said that he informed Baylor head coach Art Briles why he had dismissed Ukwuachu from his team.  Briles, on the other hand, has maintained that he knew not of Ukwuachu’s violent past at Boise State, insisting he likes “the way we’ve handled it as a university, an athletic department, and a football program.”

Follow the fallout here.  We will update as more relevant information becomes available.

  1. Injury Bug Continues to Bite Tennessee Guards

Redshirt sophomore Austin Sanders will miss the 2015 season due to a torn biceps tendon.  This news, just a week and a half after the Vols learned they would be without Marcus Jackson this fall.

Ironically, Sanders and Jackson, who play the same offensive guard position, suffered the same upper arm injury.

These losses could result in a lack of depth on the interior of the line.  Head coach Butch Jones is staying positive, saying, “The good thing, the positive thing going in is we’ve recruited the have some depth at the offensive-line position.”  He went on to suggest that incoming freshmen Chance Hall and Jack Jones are possible fill-ins.

This is bad news for a Tennessee team that finished 13th in the SEC (ahead of only Vanderbilt) in rushing yards per attempt (3.6), and per game (146.4) in 2014.

  1. Sprained MCL for Alabama Receiver Foster

Alabama football beat writer for AL.com Matt Zenitz reported on Thursday that redshirt sophomore Robert Foster sprained an MCL in a scrimmage last Saturday, according to a source.  The injury, however, has not kept Foster off of the practice field this week.

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Foster caught just six balls for 44 yards as a redshirt freshman in 2014, but is looking at a drastic increase in playing time this fall due to the departures of Tide receivers Amari Cooper, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones.

Foster has impressed his coaches in spring practice and fall camp.  He and ArDarius Stewart, another redshirt sophomore, were named co-MVPs of the Alabama spring game in April.  Foster racked up 125 yards on six receptions that day.

Replacing the explosive Amari Cooper becomes even more difficult for the Tide if one of their top targets is hobbling around on a bad leg.

  1. Three Gators Suspended for Season Opener

Alex McCalister, Marcus Maye, and Latroy Pittman will not be on the field when Florida opens the season at home against New Mexico State.  The suspensions were handed down on Friday in accordance with “University Athletic Association policy.”

McCalister, a defensive lineman, and Maye, a defensive back, are both projected starters for the Gators in 2015.  Pittman is a role player at receiver.

Luckily, the 36-point favorite shouldn’t need all hands on deck to defeat the lowly Aggies.

  1. Ricky Town to Transfer from USC to Arkansas

Finally, we have a bit of good news for someone this week.

Before he even really started his freshman season in southern California, Ricky Town has announced he will be heading to Fayetteville.

Credit: 247Sports

Town enrolled early at USC to participate in spring practices.  Now he will join the Razorbacks just before the start of the season.  The highly touted recruit competed in the U.S Army All-American game and the Elite 11 camp after his high school senior season.

This is a big win for Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks whose offense relies on a strong pro-style quarterback.  Town fits that profile, and will have four years of eligibility starting in 2016.