Coaches across the country spent the off-season trying to figure out a way to stop top-ranked Oregon's bullet-train offense. No matter what they've tried, no one's been able to do it.
A new tactic may be emerging: faking injuries.
Outlandish as it may seem, speculation over fake injuries has been rising over the past few weeks as seemingly healthy players fall to the ground, howling in pain, their season apparently over, only to be back on the field the next play.
Ducks fans have been screaming about this unusual human-speedbumping method almost since the season started, often booing opposing players they believe to be Meryl Streep-ing it up.
Opposing coaches deny it's happening.
Pac-10 officials say not much can be done about it.
This is a gray area hovering out there between the lines of ethics and the rules.
"Obviously, you don't know when a player is really injured and not injured," Oregon Coach Chip Kelly said. "I don't know really what can be done about it."
The NCAA rulebook frowns upon faking injuries, calling the practice unethical. There are no specific rules to prevent it, though. Officials can't call delay of game or unsportsmanlike conduct if a player claims to be injured. The only recourse is that an injured player has to sit out the next play.
Whether injury faking is actually happening is up for debate.
Oregon fans first raised the issue the second week of the season, when a few Tennessee players suffered what they saw as questionable injuries.
Kelly broached the was-he-really-injured topic Sept. 25 at Arizona State, saying it reminded him of a World Cup game with the atmosphere and the injuries, an apparent intimation that some Sun Devils players were flopping.
The most glaring instance of the fall-down, slowdown — at least to injury-faking theorists — came last Saturday against Cal.
A few times during the game, Cal players went down with injuries, only to return shortly after, if not the next play. The most notable of these injuries came early in the game, when Bears defensive lineman Aaron Tipoti got up from making a tackle, went up to the line, looked to the sideline, then fell to the ground holding his leg, just before Oregon could snap the ball.
Curry's team to face Bama
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — No. 10 Alabama (8-2) plays host to former Bama coach Bill Curry's first-year program Thursday night in a game that is literally a historic mismatch.
Georgia State (6-4) has enjoyed success in its debut season, but it's come against teams like Shorter, Campbell and Savannah State. Now, the independent Championship Subdivision team faces one of the biggest names in college athletics.
"The bottom line is when you have a chance to do something like this with your football team you do not walk away from it out of fear of somebody whipping you badly or anything else that might happen," Curry said. "What you do is you take advantage of the privilege of going to play in one of the great football venues ever in intercollegiate athletics."
The Crimson Tide can match their second-longest home winning streak of 20 games, then try to top it against No. 2 Auburn eight days later.
Nutt suspends 2 players
OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi Coach Houston Nutt suspended true freshmen Tony Grimes, a defensive back, and Delvin Jones, a defensive lineman, for a violation of team rules.
Nutt said the suspensions were indefinite. The Rebels have just two games remaining. Both players are members of the Rebels' 2010 signing class out of Florida.
On Tuesday, Nutt made reference to needing to see "effort in the classroom" from the players.
Grimes had played in nine of the Rebels' 10 games. He started at cornerback in the Rebels' Oct. 2 win over Kentucky. Grimes has recorded 15 tackles and two pass breakups.
Jones has played in just two games this year, recording one tackle.
Fox gets Big Ten title game
PARK RIDGE, Ill. — The Big Ten Conference says it has reached a media agreement with FOX Sports to be the official broadcast partner of the 2011-16 Big Ten Football Championship Games.
Big Ten officials said Wednesday at conference headquarters that the inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game will be played in prime time on Dec. 3, 2011, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The winner will earn the conference championship and a chance to play in either the Rose Bowl Game or the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game.