Playoff Prognosis: Jets at Colts

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Playoff Prognosis: Jets at Colts

Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011
1:26 p.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The buffoonery of Jets coach Rex Ryan may make for interesting sound bites and copy but for playoff purpose, it is much sound and fury and signifies nothing.

What it has done is divert attention from Indianapolis in a way that rarely happens this time of year to a team that turns on Peyton Manning. The Colts legend has won five of six meetings with defenses coached by Ryan, who is capable of confounding most offenses and quarterbacks with his blitzes and general scheming.

A shock of the 2010 season has been the turnovers from Manning, who has had to improvise as much with personnel as he has with play calling at the line. Losing tight end Dallas Clark and wideout Austin Collie put pressure on Manning and he uncharacteristically threw enough interceptions (17) for his team to have negative turnover ratio.

The fact that the Colts did not have their customary dominant season a team that has started 13-0 had to win its last four in a row to make the postseason -- has obscured that they were a Super Bowl team just 12 months ago.

No one is talking about the Colts, said Herman Edwards, ESPN analyst and former NFL player and coach. With Peyton Manning, youre going to have to knock this guy out. This is a team thats been in this situation before and they always seem to rise to the occasion when people count them out. If you keep it within a score, good luck. If you keep it within a scores length and theyve got the ball, good luck trying to stop Peyton Manning.

But that in fact may be the route for the Jets to follow. The Jets are 6-3 in games decided by one score, with one of the losses coming in Chicago to the Bears. So they can function in tight scoreboard spaces.

Its definitely tough on the ticker, thats for sure, Ryan said. But were finding ways to win and I think thats the mark of a good football team.

The problem here is that Indianapolis won three of those last four by 2, 5 and 3 points and out-rushed their opponents in three of the four, a departure from traditional Manning-based offenses.

The Jets moved through the 2009 postseason with a rookie quarterback and as long as Mark Sanchez avoids meltdown plays or series, the Jets have a chance in a road game with the Colts favored by less than a field goal.

Sanchez cant go into this game thinking Im going to out-duel Peyton Manning, Edwards said. He cant do that. He can not do that.

Two teams proficient in close games will play one on Sunday.
Indianapolis 27 New York 24

Big Ten poll update: Three teams in top 10, Huskers rise to No. 15 in both polls

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Big Ten poll update: Three teams in top 10, Huskers rise to No. 15 in both polls

The Big Ten landed three teams in the top 10 in both the coaches and the AP poll, and Nebraska moved up to No. 15 when both polls were released Sunday afternoon.

Ohio State remained the No. 2 team in both polls. The Buckeyes had a bye week this weekend. Undefeated after three non-conference games, including that big win at Oklahoma, Ohio State begins Big Ten play next weekend against Rutgers.

Michigan checked in at No. 4 in the AP poll and No. 5 in the coaches poll. The Wolverines had an impressive 49-10 win over Penn State on Saturday, getting six rushing touchdowns from five different ball-carriers and dominating on defense. Michigan has a huge showdown with Wisconsin next weekend in Ann Arbor.

Speaking of the Badgers, they rose to No. 8 in both polls after a dominant win over Michigan State. Wisconsin's defense was incredible, keeping Michigan State out of the end zone and coming away with four takeaways in that 30-6 win in East Lansing. Freshman quarterback Alex Hornibrook was also impressive in his first start. The game against the Wolverines will be the Badgers' third against a top-10 opponent this season.

Nebraska jumped five spots in both polls, climbing from No. 20 to No. 15 after Saturday's 24-13 win over Northwestern. The Huskers were hardly mistake-free in the victory, fumbling twice on the goal line but avoiding any damage because of it. Mike Riley is now 4-0 to start his second season in Lincoln after winning just six games all of last year.

Michigan State dropped to No. 16 in the coaches poll and No. 17 in the AP poll following its loss to Wisconsin. Tyler O'Connor was intercepted three times, and the offense was generally unable to do much of anything — accumulating only 75 rushing yards — the team not faring much better on the defensive side. Michigan State takes on Indiana next weekend.

Iowa dropped out of the coaches poll after narrowly beating Rutgers on Saturday. The Hawkeyes still received votes in that poll, along with Minnesota and Maryland. Iowa and Maryland also received votes in the AP poll.

Notre Dame fires defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder

Notre Dame fires defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder

Notre Dame fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder on Sunday, ending a rocky three-year tenure in South Bend. 

Greg Hudson, who was on staff as a defensive analyst, was named interim defensive coordinator. VanGorder is the first assistant coach fired by coach Brian Kelly at Notre Dame. 

"This is a difficult decision," Kelly said in a statement. "I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn't it where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes.

"It's never easy to make a change on your staff, but I'm confident in Greg's ability to lead our defense. As a former player at Notre Dame and an experienced defensive coordinator, he not only understands the expectations necessary to compete at the highest level, but he'll bring a fresh perspective to our sideline, practice field and meeting rooms."

The struggles of VanGorder's defense have been at the heart of Notre Dame's 1-3 start to the 2016 season. The Irish allowed 50, 36 and 38 points in losses to Texas, Michigan State and Duke, with the latter one of the program's more embarrassing defeats at Notre Dame Stadium in the Kelly era. 

After Week 4, Notre Dame ranks 101st in scoring defense (33.5 points per game), 104th in yards per play allowed (6.18), 93rd in red zone touchdown rate (68.75 percent), 89th in forced turnovers (four), 126th in sacks (one) and 108th in tackles for a loss (17), among other damning statistics. 

Even with a host of NFL talent on its roster last season, Notre Dame's defense only ranked 35th in S&P+, which was good enough for the Irish to reach the Fiesta Bowl but not good enough for them to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. 

Hudson was hired as a defensive analyst this year after spending 2013-2015 as Purdue's defensive coordinator. The 1990 Notre Dame graduate also served as a defensive coordinator at East Carolina and Minnesota, and held coaching positions at Florida State (linebackers/assistant head coach, 2010-2012) and Cincinnati (assistant coach, 1997-2000). 

"Obviously, this is a difficult day for our coaching staff, but I'm excited and honored about the opportunity that coach Kelly has afforded me," Hudson said. "We've got to improve on defense, without a doubt, and I'm confident that we will. We have great student-athletes and a tremendous defensive coaching staff. I can't wait to get started with our group."