Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bowl Games: Part III, 12/31

Here's all the games of the last day of the year. As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
  • Air Force vs. Houston, Armed Forces Bowl (@Fort Worth, TX; 12:00 PM, ESPN): I'm taking the Falcons here not because I'm currently running an Air Force dynasty in NCAA 2009 right now, but because Houston isn't very good and, well, it's the Armed Forces Bowl. Air Force almost has to win.
  • Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh, Sun Bowl (@El Paso, TX; 2:00 PM, CBS): I am finally picking Pitt to win a football game, and I'm hoping I don't regret it. That said, I can't think of very many teams more disappointed heading into their bowl game than the Beavers.
  • Vanderbilt vs. Boston College, Music City Bowl (@Nashville, TN; 3:30 PM, ESPN): As much as I like rooting for Vandy during the season, they pretty much tanked after the Auburn win, beating only Kentucky in their next seven games afterwards. BC is a decent football team, and should win, but I also don't expect the score to be that high.
  • Kansas vs. Minnesota, Insight Bowl (@Tempe, AZ; 5:30 PM, NFL): Kansas ended the season with a strong victory over Mizzou, and I can't say I've though much of the Gophers at all over the course of the season. So I'm taking KU, and let's face it, since it's on the NFL Network it's not like you'll see if I'm wrong anyway.
  • Georgia Tech vs. Louisiana State, Chik-fil-A Bowl (@Atlanta, GA; 7:30 PM, ESPN): Usually, I avoid picking Tech at all in games. I don't like predicting the outcome of my own team, because, well, it just feels wrong. To be consistent, I always pick Tech to win if I'm in a situation where I have to make a pick, like this one. So I did, and I won't even attempt to provide any justification.
The next edition to the picks will be posted later tonight or tomorrow.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Bowl Games: Part II, Electric Bugaloo

  • Central Michigan vs. Florida Atlanta (@Detroit, MI; 8:00 PM, ESPN): Totally not late. At any rate, my prediction hasn't changed Central Michigan should pull away in the 2nd half.
  • North Carolina vs. West Virginia (@Charlotte, NC; 1:00 PM, ESPN): ACC Bowl Day kicks off with UNC vs. WVU. UNC's a decent team but any level of competent coaching should allow WVU's athletic talent on offense to flourish.
  • Florida State vs. Wisconsin (@Orlando, FL; 4:30 PM, ESPN): FSU has also been a decent team this year, but Wisconsin is here pretty much for a perception of traveling well. If FSU shows up, they'll win a close one. If the offense also makes it, they'll pull away.
  • Miami (FL) vs. California (@San Francisco, CA; 8:00 PM, ESPN): The final game of the day. Miami ended the season very badly, and they will be in a pro-Cal environment and it will be cold, especially compared to south Florida. I have Cal here.
  • Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech (@Shreveport, LA; 8:00 PM, ESPN): Why is LaTech in the WAC? I really have no idea. If anyone knows let me know. Anyway, in what is probably one of the least interesting games of the bowl season I pretty much just picked Louisiana Tech because, hey, it's close to home.
  • Rutgers vs. North Carolina State (@Birmingham, AL; 3:00 PM, ESPN): NCSU started the season horribly but finished hot to just barely become the 10th bowl eligible ACC team. Rutgers also had a bad start but recovered sooner, and at any rate I have Rutgers winning comfortably, though I don't remember why. So there you go.
  • Missouri vs. Northwestern (@San Antonio, TX; 8:00 PM, ESPN): Northwestern goes to their best bowl in quite awhile, but also plays a pretty good Mizzou team. Chase Daniel and company should win easily.
  • Nevada vs. Maryland (@Boise, ID; 4:30 PM, ESPN): The Blue Turf Bowl is renewed for the last time with a WAC vs. ACC matchup, and has often been the case I think the WAC will prevail here. Nevada is underrated in my opinion and there is no way to know which Maryland team will show up.
  • Oregon vs. Oklahoma State (@San Diego, CA; 8:00 PM, ESPN): Oregon's struggled this year at times, but rallied late and beat arch-rival Oregon State. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has only 3 losses, all to teams you've probably heard of. This is the first test of Big 12 superiority this year, and I think they'll pass.
  • Western Michigan vs. Rice (@Houston, TX; 8:00 PM, NFL): Which number will be greater, the number of people at the game or the number of people able to watch it on the NFL Network? Anyway, I picked Rice to run away with it.
I'll do separate posts for the 31st and 1st. Hope you're enjoying the holidays and this bounty of bowl games!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bowl Games: Opening Weekend

Full predictions are now uploaded. As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Wake Forest vs. Navy, EagleBank Bowl (@Washington, DC; 11:00 AM, ESPN): Maryland should've been here for a somewhat rare intra-state matchup with Navy, but instead we get a rematch of Navy vs. Wake Forest. Navy actually won the first time around, but I think Wake's a decent enough team to not lose twice to the Midshipmen. Demon Deacons in a close one, 24-21.
  • Colorado State vs. Fresno State, New Mexico Bowl (@Albuquerque, NM; 2:30, ESPN): If there's such a thing as a WAC institution, it's Fresno State, and that's why they got preferential bowl treatment over, say, Nevada, who got sent to Boise. CSU qualified by the skin of their teeth, and Fresno just got worked over by Boise. Nonetheless, I think Fresno is the better team here and should prevail in the end.
  • Memphis vs. South Florida, St. Petersburg Bowl (@St. Petersburg, FL; 4:30 ESPN2): This is definitely not where USF envisioned being at the end of the year. If I were less lazy, what I would probably do is calculate the most "disappointing" seasons for each bowl team and track how they do in bowl games, because at least from a subjective standpoint this seems to have as much to do with post-season performance as anything else. That said, USF is still light-years better than 6-6 Memphis and should win, though probably by not as much as they or you expect.
  • Brigham Young vs. Arizona, Las Vegas Bowl (@Las Vegas, NV; 8:00 ESPN): BYU has two losses this year to the best teams they played, and a close (and also controversial) victory over a Washington team Arizona blew out. In the first a few games that go against my usual thinking, I'm taking the Wildcats.
  • Troy vs. Sourthern Mississippi, New Orleans Bowl (@New Orleans, LA; 8:00 ESPN): Troy finally won the Sun Belt as they should, despite managing to lose to UL-Monroe. After that, they just reeled off 3 wins and an almost upset of LSU, and wrapped up the season against UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State by a margin of 83-12. USM also had a pretty strong finish, winning 4 straight kicked off with a 70-14 blowout over UAB. That said, USM sports some bad losses and I honestly think Troy is just as good, if not better, so I'm going with the Trojans.
  • Texas Christian vs. Boise State, Poinsettia Bowl (@San Diego, CA; 8:00, ESPN): Ordinarily, the Poinsettia's sister bowl, the Holiday, signals the traditional start of bowl matchups people actually care about. That's not the case this year, as undefeated Boise State battles a darn good TCU team. And you know what? I think TCU will win this matchup. Boise is good, yes, but I think they are overrated and sport an incredibly soft schedule. It's not like TCU's losses came against chumps, either, unless you think that about Utah and Oklahoma. TCU sports a pretty good defense, good passing offense, and superior special teams that I think can knock-off the Broncos.
  • Notre Dame vs. Hawaii, Hawaii Bowl (@Honolulu, HI; 8:00, ESPN): In yet another test of motivation, we have an exceedingly mediocre Notre Dame team versus a pretty mediocre Hawaii team. Two advantages of Hawaii, though: 1) It's a home game, basically, and 2) They're more than happy to be there. I watched them nearly beat a decent Cincinatti team that wasn't prepared to be there, so I can't really fathom how ND will work up with the motivation to perform a team they should definitely outclass. The Warriors Formerly of the Rainbow win, perhaps easily.
That warps up the pre-Christmas slate. Next up, the bowls of December 26th through the 28th.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Bowl Predictions, Final

And here's the last set of trying to call who goes where instead of who wins. Once everything is set, then the predicting begins!

Anyway, here's some closing thoughts:
  • It's shaping up to be a Wake Forest-Navy rematch up in DC, though this could be avoided if the Emerald takes Wake.
  • I imagine the BCS has no good solution for the Cincinnati/Utah situation. Everyone seems to assume that Cincy will fall to the Orange and I'm going along with that, but as I've said before in the past the last bowl on the pecking the order (in this case, the Orange) gets stuck with the mid-major. Also, the Sugar featured a mid-major team last year. On the flip side, the Fiesta is probably salivating at the thought of a Texas-Ohio State matchup, which is every bit as high profile as the Rose and the title game itself.
  • I'm still guessing LSU is Tech's probably opponent.
  • Disappointment Bowl: the projected GMAC Bowl is a study in having a great season that just falls short.
  • Central vs. Western: In other MAC news, Central and Western Michigan both have winning records but the MAC only has 3 bids, and with the title game participants locked in it's going to be interesting to see who gets the Motor City bid if Ball State goes to Mobile. There's also the question of their opponent. I thought it'd be Notre Dame but the online rumor mills point to ND going to Texas or Louisiana, so I'm sliding NC State in there.
  • There was apparently a big push there year to keep bowls from announcing early. While I generally commend this trend, it does make it more frustrating to me because I basically had to do a Google news search on all the bowls a few times this week to check for news. (I used to use the ESPN news wire for this, but it's not working as well this year.)
  • In reality, the Gators may jump OU because they a) beat the top ranked team and b) as a move by the human polls to ensure the UF-OU matchup in the title game. People prattle on about the computer polls but the reality of the situation is that with 2/3rds of the vote, the human polls exact a very large amount of control over who gets in to the title game.
Anyway, Sunday's the big day, and I'll have the final set of matchups uploaded tomorrow night.

Friday, December 05, 2008

This Weekend in College Football: Week 14

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Ball State vs. Buffalo (@Detroit, MI; ESPN2): We get the championship weekend started with the resurgent Buffaloes and potential hot coaching commodity Turner Gill versus undefeated Ball State. There was apparently an offer for the Cardinals to play Boise State, but out in Boise, which I agree is silly. Anyway, Ball State goes 13-0 and then off to the Motor City Bowl, most likely.

  • Pittsburgh @ Connecticut (ESPN): I'm going to be frank here and say this is going to be a really boring game. UConn hasn't beaten anyone other than Syracuse in a month, so I guess I'll go with Pitt.
  • East Carolina @ Tulsa (ESPN2): ECU has had a real roller coaster season, but they've been more consistent than their other C-USA East brethren. Except for two nightmare weeks, Tulsa has been pretty darn good, and with the home field advantage I'll go with them.
  • Navy vs. Army (@Philadelphia, PA; CBS): I've said it before and I'll say it again. I want Army to win, but will pick Navy to do so. Also, this matches up two of the top 10 rushing offenses in the country, so there's also that.
1:00: Virginia Tech vs. Boston College (@Tampa, FL; ABC): If the fans of the schools involved can't be bothered to show up, why should I? Seriously, this game cannot get to Charlotte quickly enough. That said, Virginia Tech's offense is epically bad, barely scraping out victories against a depleted Duke squad and a very mediocre UVA. I'm taking BC.

3:00: Washington @ California (FSN): Cal. Next!

4:00: Alabama vs. Florida (@Atlanta, GA; CBS): It's Bama! It's Florida! And my very overused cliche! Anyway, this game is very tough to predict. Florida is flat-out one of the most productive offense teams in the country and has not scored less than 38 points since the baffling loss to Ole Miss. Alabama may not be as flashy on offense, but come in sporting thirds place in total and scoring defense. It's difficult for me to pick a team here. I was convinced that I was going to pick 'Bama, but maybe it's my bias or just being impressed with Florida's offense performance this season. If there's anything I've learned in life, though, your first instinct is usually right. So I'll stick with Bama, though it pains me so.

4:30: Southern California @ California-Los Angeles (ABC): USC. Next!

  • Missouri vs. Oklahoma (@Kansas City, MO; ABC): Honestly, while Mizzou is a good football team it has been shown several times this year they haven't really been able to run with the elite of the Big 12 South this year. It also helps that OU has put up 60+ for a month now. Of course, this game has produced surprising results on occassion, but I'm going to stick with the favorite.
  • Arizona State @ Arizona (ESPN): ASU has to be in the conversation amoung most disappointing teams this year. As I said last night, the winner here earns a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl. ASU has won 3 straight, but against 3 of hte worst teams in the Pac-10 this year. Of course, Arizona hasn't won since beating Wazzou a few weeks, but I'll take them anyway, and then probably forget about the game as I'll be watching Mizzou-OU.
  • South Florida @ West Virginia (ESPN2): Speaking of disappointing seasons, I think both of these teams have had one. WVU still has better talent, though maybe not good coaching as the Bill Stewart face has permeated the Internet this year. Nonetheles, I'm picking WVU.
11:30: Cincinnati @ Hawaii (ESPN2): Wouldn't be hilarious if Hawaii beat the Big East Champion? It's unlikely, though, as they only managed 24 on a very moribund Wazzou squad. I'll take Cincy here.

Bowl Updates, Part 2

The invitations, they keep a-flowin'. The bowls are, as usual, here.

That's all for now. Most of the action will happen on Sunday, so look for the final edition of these predictions very early Sunday. I'll do one last sweep tomorrow night, watch Saturday's games, and then do the last set before the dominoes fall.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bowl Updates

A flurry of bowls have announced their bids or have tipped off the press of their intentions, so I've started marking predictions. As usual, the chart is here. A quick summary:
  • Navy is going to the EagleBank Bowl in DC, but their ACC opponent is unknown. The December 20th date conflicts with Maryland's exam week and rumor has it a deal with the Motor City Bowl is in the works.
  • I was mistaken on Hawaii's bowl qualifications, and they will be headed to their namesake bowl.
  • Confirmed ACC activity: Georgia Tech to the Peach, North Carolina to the Car Care, Florida State to the Champs, and what may be the most surprising bid this bowl season, Clemson to the Gator. FSU seemed like an obvious pick for the Gator, but Clemson's willingness to travel and hot end to their season must have weighed heavily against a FSU team that just got blown out by their rival.
  • In other Gator news, indications seem they will take a Big 12 team this year. Provided they don't announce before Saturday, I'll change the Sun and Gator afterwards.
  • A side effect of the ACC picks slotting into place already means the loser of the ACC title game will fall to the Music City Bowl to face either Vanderbilt or Kentucky.
  • Lousisiana Tech accepted a bid to their local game, the Independence Bowl, which will need another at-large bid this year.
  • I was expecting Big Ten bids to be announced already, but I guess there is still a question of whether or not Ohio State will get into the BCS.
  • SEC upper-tier bids are no where near set. What I have are pretty much the best guesses of anyone, but there is some politicking going on, including Ole Miss trying to set up into the Capital One Bowl, which would send LSU to the Cotton, South Carolina to the Peach, and Georgia to the Outback.
  • Though it's not confirmed, it's pretty likely BYU will go back to the Las Vegas Bowl.
  • Confusion reigns in the world of Conference USA bids, since no one knows where the loser of the C-USA title game will fall.
  • I didn't really see any rumors of where Notre Dame might end up other than the Sun if some shenanigans happen in the Big East this weekend.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Bowl Predictions, Week 7

These are the penultimate bowl predictions in the predicting-who-goes-where phase. Next week I'll try to take a more in-depth look at this next week. For now, here's a quick overview.
  • The SEC is going to send a very mediocre slate of teams to its bowls this year, which are (arguably) collectively the most high profile set of bowls of any conference. Alabama and Florida are both elite teams and will obviously end up in the BCS (more on that in a second, though) but after that it gets very dicey very quick. First off is the decided lack of Outback and Capital One Bowl stalwarts like Tennessee and Auburn. Georgia, expected to be among the elite this year (excuse me for a second: ahahahahahahahahaha) and in the Sugar Bowl has probably locked up the SEC's best non-BCS Bowl (the Capital One) and will sport a 9-3 record and come off a loss. It drops off after that. The collective 3/4/5 picks (Cotton, Outback, and Peach) are particularly brutal. Ole Miss is probably the best looking team out of this group and they're 8-4. I've slotted them into the Cotton. LSU and South Carolina are the only other teams with winning records, so they have to go to the Peach and Outback.
  • So the BCS. Right now, if trends hold, we'll have Alabama and Oklahoma in the title game. But what happens if Florida beats 'Bama? Dr. Saturday points out it's not necessarily automatic that Florida gets in. Even so the at-large situation is very important and rather confusing.
    Provided that Alabama and Oklahoma get in, then the Sugar and Fiesta Bowls get first crack at the other available automatic qualifiers and at-large selections. They'll probably take Florida and Texas. After that, we go in reverse order and that is where it gets interesting. The Fiesta can basically choose from Cincinnati, Utah, or an at-large team (probably Ohio State). The consensus among many professional types and Utah message board posters is that Utah will go to the Fiesta due to travel concerns. I usually tend to take a pessimistic view of the BCS selection process, but the bowl commissioners have cooperated in the past (though not last year, though I suspect Hawaii probably would not have travelled well to any bowl). So while this set of predictions has Ohio State, I'll probably change it in next week's edition (if not before then). So then we go to the Sugar, which will probably be left with Cincy, Ohio State, or Utah to face Florida. If Utah does go to the Fiesta like everyone thinks, then they'll take OSU unless they really want Boise State for some reason. End result? One boring Orange Bowl, most likely.
  • Tech will go to the Peach or Gator unless they get a shaft-job of epic proportions.
Anyway, that took a lot longer than I wanted. Tune in later this week for my take on the last weekend of the regular season.