Originally Published: September 25, 2014

UCLA's QB sneak, Emmitt Smith's apology and Texas Tech's new DC


Seven unbeaten teams, but the Pac-12 still has something to prove

By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

1. No. 11 UCLA plays at No. 15 Arizona State on Thursday night, which means the Pac-12 will have one less undefeated team. Seven programs in the league are a combined 24-0, which is amazing when you think that the Pac-12 plays nine conference games. Upon further review, to coin a phrase, maybe not so amazing. No. 2 Oregon did beat No. 9 Michigan State, but the nonconference schedule includes as many FCS teams as from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC (five). The latter group includes a reeling Texas and a more reeling Michigan. In other words, the Pac-12 has more to prove.

2. The team that grinds out first downs, keeps the ball and runs the clock keeps the opponent's spread offense off the field and prevents it from getting into a rhythm. Arkansas hopes to implement that strategy against No. 6 Texas A&M at AT&T Cowboys Stadium on Saturday. But here's the thing: The Aggies have been so efficient they haven't needed the ball so much. While teams such as Baylor, West Virginia and Arizona are averaging well over 80 snaps per game, Texas A&M checks in at 76. With fewer plays, the Aggies are second in total offense (612.5 YPG) and scoring (55.3).

3. Bureaucracies love nothing more than rules, even when they make no sense. Now, as the Daily Oklahoman reported, Oklahoma State had to return about 1,000 of its 4,000-ticket allotment to Oklahoma for Bedlam on Dec. 6. The Big 12 has a rule that visiting teams must return unsold tickets well in advance of the game. On the surface, it makes a lot of sense. In reality, in this case, it's foolish. It seems like the visiting team should be able to opt in and keep selling. Oklahoma State and its fans aren't blameless, either. A thousand more Pokes probably won't make a dent in Norman. Still, that's a shame.

Amari Cooper vs. Todd Gurley

By Take Two Debate | ESPN.com

From time to time, our SEC reporters will give their takes on a burning question facing the league. They will both have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We will let you decide which reporter is right.

Four weeks into the season, we're still trying to figure out who is the best player in the SEC. Is it the rumbling tank of a running back or the hotshot receiver who is making everyone on defense look silly with his moves, speed and intelligence?

Today's Take Two topic: If you were starting a team from scratch, whom are you building around -- Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper or Georgia running back Todd Gurley?

Take 1: Alex Scarborough

We're talking apples and oranges, people. Unlike running backs, most receivers are dependent on the quarterback, after all.

But Cooper isn't most receivers.

Cooper may not be as physically impressive as Gurley. He may not run with the same ferocity. But Cooper is every bit the star. If I were starting a football team from scratch, I would take the junior receiver No. 1 overall.

To read the rest of this story, click here.

How To Lose 200 Games

By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Coach Quixote's black hair has gone to white, and the left arm, the one that smashed into the wall at old Dudley Field his junior year at Vanderbilt, doesn't hang so much as dangles. That shoulder cost him his athletic career, football and baseball both, just as Coach Bryant told him it would. As a 17-year-old high school senior, Coach Quixote drove to Tuscaloosa to tell the Bear he wouldn't be coming to Alabama. He wanted to play for Vanderbilt.

It takes stones to defy a man so imposing, but Coach Quixote's daddy said you told him you were coming, and now you're not, so you need to tell him to his face. So Coach Quixote drove to Tuscaloosa from right here in Cookeville.

"Here's what's going to happen," Bryant said. "You can go up there, and you might have a good career. But I doubt you'll finish, because you don't have good players around you. In this league, you gon' have a tough time."

Nearly a half-century later, Coach Quixote belly-laughs at the memory.

"Coach Bryant hit it on the nose!" he said. "Hit it on the nose."

To read the rest of this story, click here.


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