Sep 03, 2011; San Francisco CA, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs running back Robbie Rouse (8) scores a touchdown during the first quarter of the game against the California Golden Bears at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Final 2011 Power Rankings: Buffalo, Central Michigan, Fresno State & Minnesota at 101-104

Sept 10, 2011; Lexington, Kentucky, KY, USA; Central Michigan Chippewas quarterback Ryan Radcliff (8) throws a pass against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE

3-9, 2-6 MAC

Offense: 22.6 PPG (No. 92); 389.9 YPG (No. 57); 115.8 rushing YPG (No. 98); 274.2 passing YPG (No. 25); 84 percent red zone efficiency (No. 45); 35.4 percent third down efficiency (No. 104); 17 sacks allowed (No. 37)

Defense: 33.3 PPG allowed (No. 99); 428.8 YPG allowed (No. 96); 187 rushing YPG allowed (No. 93); 241.8 passing YPG allowed (No. 80); 83 percent red zone opponent efficiency (No. 72); 45.6 percent third down opponent efficiency (No. 96); 13 sacks (No. 110)

Special Teams: 33.2 yards/punt (No. 113); 7.8 yards/PR (No. 69); 10.9 yards allowed/PR; 13-16 FGM-FGA; 32-32 PATs; 20.1 yards/KR (No. 88); 21.2 yards allowed/KR (No. 53); 7 touchbacks (No. 67)

Time of Possession: 29:06 (No. 79)

Turnover Differential: -12

Penalties: 56 penalties/560 yards (No. 16)

Brian Kelly and Butch Jones both left Central Michigan and won Big East titles at Cincinnati. Obviously, Dan Enos had a high standard to meet assuming the Chippewas’ reins and thus far, it’s been a bumpy road. The Chips are 6-18 in the past two seasons, and ended 2011 on a three-game skid. CMU teetered perilously close to making that streak four losses, surviving in its final victory 23-22 over hapless Akron.

CMU showed some signs of offensive life, with quarterback Ryan Radcliff tossing 25 touchdowns and nearly 3300 yards. Radcliff was also intercepted 16 times, though, a contributing factor to the Chippewas’ lopsided turnover differential. CMU’s running game lacked punch — the team leaders in rushing scores were Zurlon Tipton and Paris Cotton, each with two. As a result, the Chippewas had 333 carries to 458 pass attempts. The reliance on the pass resulted in Radcliff forcing passes when another quarterback might not.

Sep 24, 2011; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Bulls linebacker Khalil Mack (46) tries to make a tackle on Connecticut Huskies running back Lyle McCombs (43) during the second half at University of Buffalo Stadium. Connecticut defeats Buffalo 17 to 3. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-US PRESSWIRE

3-9, 2-6 MAC

Offense: 22.2 PPG (No. 97); 365.2 YPG (No. 80); 155 rushing YPG (No. 60); 210.2 passing YPG (No. 76); 81 percent red zone efficiency (No. 63); 34.1 percent third down efficiency (No. 107); 23 sacks allowed (No. 59)

Defense: 29.4 PPG allowed (No. 83); 384.8 YPG allowed (No. 63); 181.2 rushing YPG allowed (No. 86); 203.7 passing YPG allowed (No. 36); 87 percent opponent red zone efficiency (No. 96); 40.8 percent opponent third down efficiency (No. 69); 16 sacks (No. 100)

Special Teams: 34.8 yards/punt (No. 97); 5.4 yards/PR (No. 98); 10.6 yards allowed/PR (No. 92); 11-16 FGM-FGA; 27-30 PATs; 19.6 yards/KR (No. 102); 20.9 yards allowed/KR (No. 49); 7 touchbacks (No. 76)

Time of Possession: 28:59 (No. 83)

Turnover Differential: -2

Penalties: 67/653 yards (No. 50)

Buffalo had a knack for playing up the better its competition. The Bulls knocked off MAC East winner Ohio, and barely fell to MAC champion Northern Illinois. Both games were decided by a single point. The flip side was that UB suffered some particularly ugly losses, dropping three of its final four by 28, 13 and 14.

When the Bulls were clicking, it was because the dynamic backfield of quarterback Chazz Anderson and tailback Branden Oliver were firing. The two combined for 20 rushing touchdowns, and Oliver accrued just shy of 1400 yards.

The UB defense had its problems, despite the play of First Team All-MAC linebacker Khalil Mack. UB attacked the pass well, a worthwhile accomplishment in the explosive MAC. However, the Bulls were attacked via the rush, and opponents found a soft spot in the coverage there.

Sep 10, 2011; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Minnesota Gophers team kneels while Minnesota Gophers head coach Jerry Kill (not pictured) lays on the field at TCF Bank Stadium. The Aggies won 28-21 Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

3-9, 2-6 Big Ten

Offense: 18.4 PPG (No. 111); 310.3 YPG (No. 110); 160 rushing YPG (No. 56); 150.3 rushing YPG (No. 109); 83 percent red zone efficiency (No. 54); 38.1 percent third down efficiency (No. 86); 21 sacks allowed (No. 52)

Defense: 31.7 PPG allowed (No. 93); 403.1 YPG allowed (No. 77); 186.4 rushing YPG allowed (No. 91); 216.8 passing YPG allowed (No. 49); 81 percent opponent red zone efficiency (No. 55); 44.3 percent opponent third down efficiency (No. 93); 19 sacks (No. 86)

Special Teams: 34.2 yards/punt (No. 105); 7.7 yards/PR (No. 72); 5.4 yards allowed/PR (No. 26); 12-15 FGM-FGA; 23-25 PATs; 23.4 yards/KR (No. 29); 21 yards allowed/KR (No. 51); 8 touchbacks (No. 67)

Time of Possession: 29:09 (No. 77)

Turnover Differential: -8

Penalties: 68/593 yards (No. 51)

Jerry Kill’s first season had no shortage of stress. He suffered an on-field seizure, the gravity of which far outweighs any scoreboard outcomes. However, losses to an FCS team — even if it was the national champion, North Dakota State — and New Mexico State are indignities no Big Ten coach wants to endure.

However, Minnesota finished much stronger than it began. The Golden Gophers knocked off rival Iowa for a second consecutive campaign, played Legends Division-winning Michigan State tough on the road, and routed Illinois to end 2011 on a high note.

The final month saved Minnesota from landing in the nation’s bottom four, which looked very realistic early on. The home loss to NMSU was a serious blemish, but perhaps paled into comparison to 58-0 (Michigan), 45-17 (Purdue) and 41-14 (Nebraska) blowout defeats to open Big Ten play.

4-9, 3-4 WAC

Offense: 28.5 PPG (No. 52); 411.9 YPG (No. 37); 139.2 rushing YPG (No. 75); 272.6 passing YPG (No. 27); 87 percent red zone efficiency (No. 25); 37.4 percent third down efficiency (No. 90); 20 sacks allowed (No. 42)

Defense: 35.2 PPG allowed (No. 106); 435.9 YPG allowed (No. 100); 166.6 rushing YPG allowed (No. 72); 269.2 passing YPG allowed (No. 106); 87 percent opponent red zone efficiency (No. 96); 43.4 percent opponent third down efficiency (No. 91); 22 sacks (No. 77)

Special Teams: 35.9 yards/punt (No. 77); 15.5 yards/PR (No. 4); 11.8 yards allowed/punt (No. 104); 27-38 FGM-FGA; 42-42 PATs; 20.5 yards/KR (No. 82); 24.5 yards allowed/KR (No. 112); 3 touchbacks (No. 102)

Time of Possession: 32:05 (No. 18)

Turnover Differential: -14

Penalties: 88/809 yards (No. 88)

Pat Hill’s motto for Fresno State football was “anyone, anytime, anywhere.” Ultimately the toughness that defined Hill’s Bulldogs was his undoing. That his leash was so short is surprising — 2011 marked the first postseason Fresno State missed since 2006, and just the second since 1999. The Bulldogs also dropped four of its nine losses by single digits, was within two in the fourth quarter at Nebraska, and led Ole Miss going into the final period.

However, the Bulldogs went 1-5 in the season’s second half and dropped historically bad losses. Former conference mate New Mexico State, for example, had never beaten a Fresno State team. Fresno State also squandered an offense much better than 4-9. Running back Robbie Rouse was among the nation’s rushing leaders, and quarterback Derek Carr (brother of Bulldog legend David Carr) threw 26 touchdowns to just nine interceptions.

But the Bulldog defense leaked like a siv. The defense’s inability to force turnovers resulted in one of the most lopsided turnover differentials in the nation. And without turnovers and opposing offenses racking up yards, that became points.

Tags: Buffalo Bulls Central Michigan Fresno State Minnesota Power Rankings

comments powered by Disqus