Pat Forde

  • Forde-Yard Dash: Gauging hate, intrigue and more for this year's Rivalry Weekend

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago

    Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (Ray Lewis highlight video sold separately to the conscientious tackling objectors in Lawrence, Kansas):

    So, yeah, boring. This week expectations are higher, and hopefully the games deliver. This is the best weekend of the year, Rivalry Weekend, and The Dash is here to edify you on the great ones, the near-great, the boring and the contrived.

    RIVALRY PRIMER

    There are a whopping 30 FBS matchups this week that could be described as rivalry games – some with more veracity than others. All you need to know follows:

    HIGH STAKES

    Games that will affect the playoff race and/or major conference championships:

    Auburn at Alabama (1), aka the Iron Bowl. With a victory, the Crimson Tide (10-1) win the SEC West and take a large step toward the College Football Playoff. A win by Auburn (8-3) likely would crush Alabama’s national championship dreams for the second straight year.

    When: 7:45 p.m. ET Saturday.

    Hate meter: Doesn’t go high enough to measure it.

    Academic prestige meter: Alabama is tied for No. 88 in the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings of American universities, while Auburn is No. 103.

    When: Noon ET Saturday.

  • Forde's Fab Four: FSU slipping in bracket after another narrow escape

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    Every week, I will play Selection Committee member, take a look at the College Football Playoff picture and offer Forde’s Fab Four bracket as if today were Selection Sunday. Feel free to agree or disagree, starting with this question: who has Florida State beaten, really?

    No. 1 seed Alabama vs. No. 4 seed Florida State in the Sugar Bowl

    No. 2 seed Oregon vs. No. 3 seed Mississippi State in the Rose Bowl

    Dropped out: None.

    Also considered: TCU, Baylor, Ohio State, UCLA.

  • Kentucky looks as dominant as advertised: Can anyone beat the Wildcats?

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    INDIANAPOLIS – Having just handed fifth-ranked Kansas the fourth-worst loss in its gilded history, John Calipari came into the postgame news conference trying to slow the hype train.

    "No, we're not that good," the Kentucky coach said before sitting down. "Next question."

    Next question: Do you really expect us to believe that?

    Because the hype train done left the station Tuesday night, and it's breaking land-speed records rocketing across Hoopsworld. For a sport that crowns its champion in April, November talk is cheap. But after watching Kentucky 72, Kansas 40 – that's Kansas, not Emporia State – it's fair to openly wonder who, how and when anyone will be able to beat the Wildcats.

    I've said for years that a team will not run the table again the way Indiana last did in 1976. I believe that. It will take 40 games now, not the 32 those Hoosiers won. The tournament road is tougher and longer, the spotlight is 1,000 times brighter, the pressure is heavier.

    For now, feel free to scour the schedule for adequate challengers to this Kentucky team.

  • 'Supporting cast' shows Duke is much more than NBA lottery pick Jahlil Okafor

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago

    INDIANAPOLIS – Duke center Jahlil Okafor, the most enticing talent in college basketball, had four fouls. And Michigan State wasn’t going away. There were nine minutes left Tuesday night.

    Could the Blue Devils hold their seven-point lead without the one guy the Spartans absolutely, positively could not guard? Could they find enough baskets without the ease of throwing the ball inside to the 6-foot-11, 280-pound freshman?

    This was going to be interesting.

    Turned out to not be that interesting after all, at least in terms of any drama. Duke’s supporting cast – an unfair term for a bunch of guys that talented – immediately took control and pushed the lead to 13 points. Game essentially over. The lead was never single digits again, and the Blue Devils coasted in for an 81-71 victory in the Champions Classic.

    This is not a vintage Michigan State team, and it is without a few pieces right now. It will be a while before we see how good the Spartans can be. But they will always challenge a team's toughness and effort, and Duke passed that early test in a big-time atmosphere.

    Okafor finished with 17 points but scored just two points in the final 16 minutes. And it didn’t matter a bit.

     

  • Forde-Yard Dash: College football's five biggest dumpster fires

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago

    Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (petition to never play Wisconsin again circulating separately in Lincoln, Neb.):

    Also in this Dash: Heisman race | Division imbalance | Bowling? | 'Perfect' teams | More

    THE FIVE BIGGEST DUMPSTER FIRES IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    THE DUMPSTER FIRE THAT WINS

    RECONSIDERING THE HEISMAN RACE

    As is often the case, something big happens in November that rejiggers our collective thinking about the Heisman Trophy race. It happened to two people Saturday – ushering one player to near the front of the pack, and pushing another back into said pack.

    It’s an insane performance.

    Three others on The Dash’s radar:

    WHY IT’S HARDER FOR RUNNING BACKS

    DIVISIONAL IMBALANCE

    GO BOWLING OR GO HOME

    RUNNING THE LEAGUE TABLE

  • Forde's Fab Four: Mississippi State still in picture despite loss to Alabama

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    Every week, I will play Selection Committee member, take a look at the College Football Playoff picture and offer my bracket as if today were Selection Sunday. Feel free to agree or disagree, starting with this question: does the SEC merit two teams in the bracket while evicting the Big 12?

    No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Mississippi State in the Sugar Bowl

    No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl

    On a day when three other one-loss teams fell – Arizona State, Nebraska and Duke – the Ducks enjoyed not playing and held on to the No. 2 spot. The Sun Devils’ upset loss to Oregon State means Oregon is the only realistic Pac-12 playoff contender at this point. They still have quality wins over Michigan State and UCLA, and have recorded five straight dominant victories. But the next two opponents (Colorado and Oregon State) won’t help them much before playing USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State or Utah in the league championship game. Stat: Oregon showed some killer instinct against Stanford and Utah its last two games, outscoring them by a combined 38-7 in the fourth quarter. Next: Colorado.

    Dropped out: Baylor.

    Also considered: Baylor, TCU, Ohio State, Mississippi.

     

  • After Will Muschamp whiff, pressure on Florida AD to revive football program

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    On the floor of the Louisiana Superdome after Florida had blasted Cincinnati in the 2010 Sugar Bowl, Jeremy Foley offered me some reader feedback.

    I’d written a column the previous day surmising that the game might be the last night of the Florida dynasty – Tim Tebow was leaving, defensive coordinator Charlie Strong was leaving, and head coach Urban Meyer’s future was uncertain after a bizarre retirement/unretirement in a matter of 48 hours. It had been a great run, but the future was in the balance.

    “This is not the last night of the Florida dynasty,” Foley said, friendly but firm. “I guarantee you that.”

    Nearly five years and zero Southeastern Conference championships or BCS bowl wins later, the dynasty is dead and in need of a revival. And it’s on Foley to bring it back to life.

    He’s an accomplished and respected athletic director who suddenly finds his continued viability at Florida very much on the line. After firing Will Muschamp Sunday, Foley has to get his replacement right.

    A lot of athletic directors who have two strikeout football hires don’t get to make another one. Foley’s stature gives him wider latitude – but there will be a lot of pressure to hit a home run this time.

  • How Alabama ended Mississippi State's dream run and what it means for CFP picture

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 12 days ago

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The product placement was meticulous as always – a can of Coca-Cola was on the right corner of the podium in the Alabama press conference room. Logo facing the cameras.

    Nick Saban came in with another Coke product in hand, a bottle of Dasani water. The dispassionate dream killer took his place at the podium and gave his clinical assessment of the day’s events.

    “When you beat the No. 1 team in the country, I think that’s a significant accomplishment,” the coach of the Crimson Tide said. “ … This is a really good football team we beat today.”

    That team is Mississippi State, 9-0 and No. 1 for the first time in school history, the last overachieving darling standing in this 2014 season. But this is a place where darlings go to die.

    Florida State has its sod cemetery. Alabama should have one for glass slippers.

    This loss will evict Mississippi State from the top of the rankings – but it may actually help the Southeastern Conference.

    “Those are two of the best teams in the country out there battling,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said, “and there’s absolutely no doubt about that.”

    Which is saying something.

    “We made big-time plays at the right time,” Sims said.

  • 25 Most Intriguing Questions in college basketball

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    Back by popular demand (or at least an absence of protest), I present my annual Most Intriguing Lists previewing the season in college basketball. We wrap up the series with the 25 Most Intriguing Questions to be answered this year:

    1. What's with all the big guys? Reports of the center position's death have been greatly exaggerated. From 7-footer Frank Kaminsky at Wisconsin to the flotilla of 7-footers at Kentucky to Jahlil Okafor at Duke to Myles Turner at Texas, centers appear alive and well in college hoops this year. And don't forget the power forwards: Montrezl Harrell at Louisville, Chris Walker at Florida, Cliff Alexander and/or Perry Ellis at Kansas, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at Arizona, Jordan Mickie at LSU, and so forth. After years trending the other way, this season may well be played from the inside out.

    18. Will there ever be a solid third team from the SEC? They can have five good football teams in one division, is it too much to ask to find a running mate for Kentucky and Florida? If LSU, Arkansas don't step up into the top 25, it's not happening again this year. Nobody else need apply.

    More college basketball coverage:

  • Mississippi State faces 'game of a lifetime' against Alabama

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    A mere 83-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 82 separates gridiron peasantry from royalty.

    That's the distance from the humble football hamlet of Starkville, Miss., to the gentrified enclave of Tuscaloosa, Ala. It is the closest distance between any two schools in the Southeastern Conference. You head east across the state line, roll through Reform, go past Gordo, cross the Black Warrior River – and there it is, Bryant-Denny Stadium.

    The seat of power in the SEC.

    This is the place where Mississippi State will try to complete its improbable peasant rebellion by overthrowing the king, Alabama.

    "Nick Saban has the model program in the country right now," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. "They seem to be a team that is always in the championship discussion every single year."

    The Bulldogs are never in the championship discussion. Until now. Until being 9-0 for the first time in school history, with victories of escalating impact over LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn. Until being ranked No. 1 for the first time as well.

    It's the game of a lifetime on one side of the divide, just the next big one on the other.

    More college football coverage: