Thursday, October 25, 2007

This Weekend in College Football: Week 9

Before we get into the FOOTBAW, a little baseball aside.

So to watch Braves games I bought a subscription to, baseball's online service for out-of-market regional games. (This is where I give a hearty "f-you" to TBS for ending national Braves broadcasts; though I understand why it sucks that it happened when I moved to the west coast.) Though you can't get live video of post-season broadcasts (a hearty "f-you" to Fox, just on general principle because I don't like Fox - thanks for forcing a damn three day layoff between the end of the LCS and the World Series that may push the series into November) you can still get the live radio feeds. So I popped open the stream of the Red Sox home broadcasters about 10 minutes after game time to hear something to the effect of: "Beckett strikes out the side, we go to the bottom of the first."

"Oh snap," I thought, "if he's on tonight the Rockies are pretty much screwed." And he was on, but they didn't lose then and there.

Bottom of the first, the Sox's young leadoff hitter takes the 2nd pitch to straight-away center for a home run. Fenway erupts.

That's the precise moment at which the Rockies lost.

The Sox scored a few more runs. I turned it off around the 3rd inning because I had to go home, but the outcome of the game wasn't in doubt in my mind. So I wasn't surprised to find later that the final was 13-1.

The Rockies pretty much need to win tomorrow. The problem for them is, they probably won't and will head back to Denver down 2-0. I would be surprised if the series made it back to Boston at that point.

Anyway, now that I have a new idea for a post (how networks effect scheduling of games, or more accurately how they ruin them), let's go onto football.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong. As a free bonus, we're throwing Thursday's and Friday's tilts as well.

7:30: Boston College @ Virginia Tech (ESPN): This is one of the two big reasons to bother to watch football at all this weekend, other than that you should be watching it anyway. This the first of many of BC's potential stumbling block away games, one of two of the conference's toughest places to play. (They also make a visit to Clemson.) The big question is at quarterback. On the VPI side, the question is "Who will be the starter?" as their mobile freshman guy hurt his ankle last week versus Duke.
On the BC side, the question is "How will Matt Ryan fare against the VPI defense?" If their previous game against a "Tech" was any indication, he should do fairly well. The Hokies are actually ranked lower (40th, compared to 33rd) than the Jackets. Matt Ryan is definite NFL caliber QB who is not fazed by blitzing and can make pinpoint accurate throws into tight coverage. (His line: 17 TD, 6 INT, 63.2%.) The Hokies have the 17th ranked rushing defense, but it doesn't really matter because BC will pass first (the Eagles pass on 56% of their plays).
Meanwhile, the Hokies will desperately try to retool their offense with Glennon back at the helm. Glennon was benched for a reason: against ECU he led the offense to 17 points, and only 7 in the debacle at LSU. He did play well last week, but that was against Duke. Boston College boasts a pretty stout defense, including the best rushing defense in the country, allowing a downright meager 46.53 yards per game. Their pass defense isn't bad, either.
So, I guess in conclusion, I think the Hokies are going to have some real problems. If this game weren't in Blacksburg, it might not even be close, but I'm going to call for BC to remain undefeated in a tight game.

9:00: Air Force @ New Mexico (Versus): This is a sort of cool down game, sort like how you're supposed to "cool down" when you're done exercising. This is actually a pretty big tilt in the MWC - though BYU is stomping everyone in the conference, neither of these teams are bad and it could have an impact on their bowl situations (though I have Air Force not going to San Diego to avoid a rematch with Navy). The Air Force should win, though.

9:00: Boise State @ Fresno State (ESPN): Don't look, but the boys of The Valley (as opposed to those other valleys in California) are relevant in the WAC again after really brining the suck last year. 4-0 vs. Boise's 3-0, but I think what most people care about is that one of them beats Hawaii. I'll give Fresno the home edge.

  • West Virginia @ Rutgers (ABC/Gameplan): I don't know why ABC is having these noon-eastern broadcasts this week, but whatever. At any rate, it's safe to say that this game is far more important for West Virginia than it is for Rutgers. WVU needs to have only 1-loss to stay relevant nationally (and more importantly, preserve my prediction that they go to the Rose Bowl). And I think they will - I think Rutgers is a good football team, but WVU is better.
  • Colorado @ Texas Tech (Gameplan/ABC): See, I liked a few years ago when Colorado was terrible and bribing their recruits with strippers. Made it easy to "man, they are going to lose." And they did. And by all rights, they should. But Texas Tech is coming off a huge let down against Missouri, who blew out the Raiders 41-10. Yes, that's right, Texas Tech only scored 10 points. Neither of these schools is exactly on an uptick right now. I'm going to go ahead and pick TTU anyway, but be wary of an upset here.
  • Michigan State @ Iowa (ESPN2): Big Ten yawnfest of the day. Michigan State wins; let's move on.
  • North Carolina @ Wake Forest (Raycom/Gameplan): Okay, this isn't really much more exciting, but at least I nominally care about it. UNC will probably lose, though, adding yet another game to their series of close losses.
12:30: Mississippi State @ Kentucky (LF/Gameplan): Kentucky is coming off their loss to UF, but should find relief in the comfort of the arms of Mississippi State. Or I should say, that Miss. State will desperately be trying to get Andre Woodson and his receivers in their arms, because the whole tackling thing is essential in this sport. I guess what I'm trying to convey here is that it's rather unlikely they'll be able to do so and will lose pretty badly.

3:00: Southern California @ Oregon (FSN): I'm not entirely sure how this game escaped ABC's clutches (the scheduling for this weekend is wacky) but at any rate this is probably for the Pac-10 title and a Rose Bowl berth, or in Oregon's case a chance to sneak their way back into the title game picture. (Provided neither team loses again, they could both make a BCS bowl, especially Oregon.) Anyway, I think Oregon is darn good football team, and more notably they did what they were supposed to do with Stanford (whipping them 55-31). This game is, to me, definitely in favor of the Ducks, but could be close.

  • Georgia vs. Florida (CBS): The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party kicks off once again in Jacksonville. I like to think of it as more as Georgia's yearly whipping at the hands of the Gators. As you probably know, UF has won all but two contests since 1990, and I don't see any reason why this season won't be different.
  • Nebraska @ Texas (ABC/Gameplan): If sports message boards and more nerdy message boards intersected, they'd spawn memes like "lolnebraska" instead of "lolsony". Nebraska has lost three straight and all but fired their head coach. The word "quit" has been used a lot in conjunction with the word "team." In other words, Texas by at least 2 touchdowns. Unfortunately, it looks like most of the country is going to be subjected to this crap and it won't even be in HD. Either of the other two ABC contests will probably be more palatable.
  • Clemson @ Maryland (Gameplan/ABC): So let's start with the ACC game. Clemson broke their two game losing streak to the ACC's Techs with a drubbing of Central Michigan. Maryland, meanwhile, was on the wrong side of Virginia's incredible lucky streak last weekend. That said, this matchup is important in the ACC's other division (my name for the division GT isn't in because I can never remember the stupid names) and for the ACC bowl pecking order. Clemson still has a lot of weapons, but they seem to forget what they are - in their loss to Virginia Tech, they got down 17-0 early and Cullen Harper threw 66 passes. Davis and Spiller had a combined 12 yards rushing, and whenever stuff like that occurs it's usually bad, bad news for the Tigers (same thing happened to a lesser degree against Tech). Provided Clemson avoids an early let down and runs the damn ball, I think they win.
  • South Florida @ Connecticut (Gameplan/ABC): Since USF's soft, vulnerable underbelly has been exposed. And that vulnerable spot is the blitz, as Groethe apparently had "no hot reads" against Rutgers's rush. Meanwhile, UConn finds itself ranked and playing the most important game in its short football history. The still haven't beat anyone, though, and I doubt they will here.
  • Minnesota @ Michigan (ESPN Classic): Michigan, by 3 touchdowns.
6:30: California-Los Angeles @ Washington State (FSN): UCLA can't decide if it sucks or not, and I don't think anyone would be surprised if they celebrated their victory over Cal by losing in Pullman. I mean, heck, the Cougars have more wins than Notre Dame does. That said, I'm taking UCLA here.

7:00: Kansas @ Texas Agricultural & Mechanical (ESPN2): I hate to say this, but I think KU is actually kind of legit. Look for them to prevail in College Station.

7:45: South Carolina @ Tennessee (ESPN): Whoops. So, uh, yeah. Vandy. And Alabama. Both these teams suffered terrible, terrible losses last week. While losing to Vandy is bad in and of itself for most SEC teams, getting basically blown out by one of your chief rivals (where does 'Bama rank on the Tennessee rivalry scale, anyway?) is probably worse. The calls for the head of Fulmer reach high. Whil they be able to recover? It helps them that South Carolina has pretty much no offense, but Tennessee has no defense. I expect the Gamecocks to recover and prevail.

8:00: Ohio State @ Pennsylvania State (ABC): This is probably Ohio State's chance to lose before playing Michigan, and I'm sure the biggest Penn State fans this weekend may actually be in Pasadena. Penn State is a decent team, but Ohio State is good. This year, the Buckeyes haven't allowed more than 17 points on defense. This would mean more if they could beat a decent team, though. I think they will, for my previously stated reason that they need to be undefeated heading into the Michigan game for maximum season-ending chaos potential.

10:00: California @ Arizona State (FSN): And our last game of the day, Cal's last gasp of relevancy following their terrible loss to UCLA. That said, the Sun Devils face their first true test and I honestly thing the run ends here or next week at Oregon. I'll go ahead and take the Bears.

I had something to say here, but this post took forever, so I'm going to bed. Enjoy the weekend!

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