Friday, October 30, 2009

This Weekend in College Football: Week 9

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Indiana @ Iowa (ESPN): The first number that popped into my head as I wrote this was "12", so I'm guessing that means the final score here will be something like 12-11, Iowa.
  • Purdue @ Wisconsin (ESPN2): Well, after staking their claim as the 2nd worst team in the Big Ten, Purdue should be back on schedule with their beatdown in Madison.
  • Cincinnati @ Syracuse (ESPNU): Cincy can't lose this game, can they? I suppose they can, but the 'Cuse has been even more dreadful than usual the past few weeks, while Cincy took care of business, including putting up 41 on the Big East's other doormat, Louisville.
  • New Mexico State @ Ohio State (BTN): Mmm, delicious cupcakes. At any rate, OSU should be able to name their own score against NMSU. I was going to make a joke about their coach punching people, but that's actually the head coach of New Mexico. So my bad.
  • Mississippi @ Auburn (SEC/Gameplan): Well, apparently the clock struck midnight for Chris Todd and turned back into, well, Chris Todd. Even worse during the three game skid has been Auburn's defense, which gave up 44 points to Arkansas and 31 to LSU. This will be important if Jevan Snead isn't on target again this week (he threw 2 picks against Arkansas), as the Tigers need to give their offense all the help it can get. I think this one will probably end up low-scoring and in Ole Miss's favor.
  • North Carolina State @ Florida State (Raycom/Gameplan): FSU got up off the mat last week against UNC. Meanwhile, NC State is really, really bad. Christian Ponder should be able to have a field day on NCSU's secondary, which Duke torched en route to 459 passing yards a couple weeks ago. The ACC may be wacky, but NCSU is just far and away the worst team in the conference this year.

12:30: Nebraska @ Baylor (Versus): All the recaps for Baylor should probably read, "It was over when... Baylor QB/wunderkund went down for the year with a knee injury." Of course, if Nebraska turns the ball over EIGHT TIMES again, well, who knows?

1:30: Missouri @ Colorado (FSN): Colorado: still bad! Mizzou should finally get their first Big 12 win of the year here.


  • Florida vs. Georgia (@Jacksonville, FL; CBS): Ahahahahahahahahahahaha. Anyway, hopefully Florida can find an offense against Willy Martinez's patented "swiss cheese" defense. They should win anyway, but still.
  • California @ Arizona State (ABC/Gameplan): Well, even though they did just play two of the worst teams in the Pac-10, I do feel good about saying Cal is back, and that trend should continue against a team that just lost by 19 to Stanford.
  • Michigan @ Illinois (ESPN2/ABC): Why is this even on TV at all? Michigan rolls.
  • Kansas @ Texas Tech (Gameplan/ABC): Though the ship has run aground for Texas Tech, this is still a Big 12 South vs. North matchup that doesn't involve Baylor, so the team from the south division should win.
  • University of Miami @ Wake Forest (Gameplan/ABC): "Da 'U'" heads up to Winston-Salem, and most likely a win, as Wake comes off a 13-10 loss to Navy. If you can't put up more than 10 on Navy, well...
  • Central Michigan @ Boston College (ESPNU): Since the loss to Arizona in the season opener, Central Michigan has rolled off 7 straight. The downside for them is that this at BC, so while I expect CMU to give them a run for their money BC should still win.
  • Temple @ Navy (CBSCS): Hey, Temple isn't terrible this year! Nonetheless, Navy should still be able to beat them.

4:00: Nevada-Las Vegas @ Texas Christian (Versus): TCU has to avoid the post-game let down against a very bad UNLV squad. Provided they do, they should win handily.

4:30: Pennsylvania State @ Northwestern (ESPN): Northwestern is on the edge of getting bowl eligible, but that will most likely come against Illinois in a couple of weeks.


  • Kansas State @ Oklahoma (FSN): This isn't last year's Oklahoma team, and this isn't last year's Kansas State team. So Kansas State may only lose by 13 instead of 23 this time.
  • Eastern Michigan @ Arkansas (ESPNU): Arkansas. Next!
  • Mississippi State @ Kentucky (SEC): Okay, this isn't much more exciting, but at least this is a conference game. Miss State has shown signs of life but on offense the just lack talent outside of RB Anthony Dixon. Kentucky is tough to read right now, because while they are 1-3 in the SEC, those 3 losses are definitely to the upper crust of the SEC, including both Florida and Alabama. I still think Kentucky is a slightly better team than Miss State, but this could be pretty close.


  • Washington State vs. Notre Dame (@San Antonio, TX; NBC): I don't know for sure if this is a "true" neutral site game, but they could play this game on the Moon and Notre Dame would still win by 30. Wazzou is just bad.
  • New Mexico @ San Diego State (CBSCS): Speaking of terrible teams, New Mexico is already 0-7 and that shouldn't change against a merely bad San Diego State squad.
  • Georgia Tech @ Vanderbilt (SEC): The GT boards are alight with giddiness over the fact that GT now controls its own destiny, especially with 4 games to go. I'm still nervous, of course. The key for Tech here in Nashville is avoid a letdown and make sure that we come out in the 1st half and take Vandy out of the game. I've made the point in past weeks about just how terrible Vandy's offense is this year, so I can't exactly take it back now. But I'm just worried that our bad defense could show up again at any moment now and Vandy could figure out how to run and/or pass the ball and just ugh. GT just needs to go up there, stay focused, and avoid turnovers.

7:45: South Carolina @ Tennessee (ESPN): I'm still not buying what Tennessee is selling, and hey, now that Steve Spurrier has finally beaten Vandy perhaps him and his Gamecocks are over the hump now! (Now there's a sentence that no one could conceive of being written 10 years ago.)


  • Southern California @ Oregon (ABC/ESPN2): The two most important games of the day, right here. This is the Pac-10, right here. And trust me, I want to pick Oregon so bad. And it wouldn't even be that far-fetched. While both offenses have been absolutely rolling the past few weeks, the USC defense is just a shadow of its former self at this point. That said, USC just doesn't lose games like this, it seems like. I'll pick the Trojans until they show me why I shouldn't pick them. Unfortunately.
  • Texas @ Oklahoma State (ESPN2/ABC): This is also a huge game, obviously. However, I think this is the game where OSU will finally feel the loss of their best player and while they may be in it for awhile, Texas will probably prevail.
  • Michigan State @ Minnesota (BTN): That said, this is is the game of the night! It has everything you want! Two 4-4 Big Ten teams going at it in primetime! Only on the BIG TEN NETWORK!!! Okay, seriously, I'll go with the team that didn't let Iowa drive the length of the field with 90 seconds in the left of the game, and that's Minnesota.

8:15: Marshall @ Central Florida (ESPN): This is a very confusing game to pick. Both teams are roughly equal in terms of wins and losses. Both have lost to East Carolina, beat the terrible teams they played, and lost to their BCS conference opponents. So let's play "C-USA East Coin Toss". Marshall is heads, and UCF is tails. Heads it is!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This Week in College Football: Week 9

Introducing "This Week in College Football". With the proliferation of conferences desperate for ESPN's money and exposure, we now have college ball on practically every day of the week. So each week, I'll write up a short post about this week's weekday games in the same vein as my weekend column.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: East Carolina @ Memphis (ESPN2): These are two C-USA teams going in opposite directions. ECU is 3-1 in the conference and has a win over fellow 3-1 team Marshall, which puts them in the driver's seat for the C-USA East division. Memphis, meanwhile, is 1-3. Statistically, the two teams are somewhat similar, though Memphis has marginally better offensive stats, though this may be skewed by a couple of Memphis blowouts. However, Memphis has a harder time holding onto the ball and doesn't play defense especially well. I expect this to be a close for awhile, with ECU pulling away at the end.

7:30: North Carolina @ Virginia Tech (ESPN): I'm not even going to get into the whole blocking discussion that flared up over the weekend. (It's also been covered well elsewhere.) I will say that Carolina's offense is still just terrible (namely, 114th in the nation bad). I think VPI should be able to cruise to a victory here.

8:00: West Virginia @ South Florida (ESPN2): It looks like the annual October swoon for USF - get everyone excited in September, and the flop against the teams you need to beat to win the conference. Mainly, it looks like it starts with the defense - allowing 75 points to Cincy and Pitt while averaging well less than 20 to that point in the season. WVU did what they needed to last week against UConn, and behind Noel Devine, they should be able to again.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bowl Predictions 2009: Week 2

Once again, you'll find the full set right over here.

Let's hit the talking points.

  • The title game remains unchanged. Provided they win out, I see Alabama and Texas. If Texas beats Oklahoma State this weekend, then they are pretty much set barring a huge upset.
  • It's extremely likely that Florida losing to Alabama would not drop them out of the top 14, which means the Sugar will snap them up. The Fiesta, however, has a lot more choices to replace Texas. Right now, I like the loser of USC/Oregon game to wind up here, but Oklahoma State could work themselves into this position as well. The Fiesta may also want Penn State, but I think they'll take a western team.
  • With TCU's resounding win over BYU Saturday, they have passed Boise in the BCS and considering each team's remaining schedules this is unlikely to change unless TCU loses. Either way, I see the mid-major team going to the Fiesta, though Boise would have a higher chance than TCU at it. Either way, it is likely either the Fiesta or the Sugar, or at least I think so.
  • With Miami's overtime loss to Clemson, GT now controls its own destiny in the ACC. In case you haven't noticed from my weekly picks, I hate predicting GT to do anything. But since most mainstream projections now also have GT in the Orange I feel a little better. (I'm still nervous about it, though.)
  • The Orange has the first at-large selection this year, and if Penn State is available I think they'll take them. With a decent season (provided they beat Ohio State) and a large fanbase, the temptation for the Orange (near the back of the at-large pack for the past 2 years) to take the best available at-large teams and sticking the Sugar and Fiesta with the remaining two auto-qualifiers (TCU and Cincinnati) would be too great.
  • Cincinnati would be stuck in the Sugar if the Fiesta takes TCU. I don't really have much reason to think that the Fiesta would like Cincy more than TCU.
  • Finally, I currently have Iowa in the Rose, provided they win out. I think if Iowa loses any of its remaining games it is unlikely the Big Ten will get two auto-qualifiers, which opens the rest of the BCS up significantly (for teams like, say, Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech).
  • Each of the ACC division leaders (GT and Clemson) controls their own destiny at this point.
  • After those two, Virginia Tech, and Miami the ACC picture is extremely muddy. Right now I have BC, followed by 3 7-5 teams (Clemson, Wake, and UNC) and that's it. However, the middle of the pack could break several ways and the ACC could wind up with a few more 6-6 teams, but for now the conference will fall well-short of its 8 non-BCS bowl obligations.
Big 12
  • Texas is, of course, the runaway favorite in the conference.
  • There were two shocking upsets this weekend in the Big 12: Iowa State's 9-7 win over Nebraska and Texas A&M's surprising and thorough demolition of Texas Tech. I still don't think either of those teams will make bowls, though, while TTU and Nebraska will probably continue as usual.
  • It's still tough to predict Colorado to win any of its remaining games.
  • I still see Nebraska winning the Big 12 North, not that it matters.
  • Mizzou has gotten off to a terrible conference start, but with all the terrible teams it still has to play I don't have a hard time getting them 8-4.
Big East
  • Pittsburgh its trying as hard as it can to be relevant, but I think Cincinnati is the better team and has better coaching. I see Pitt losing to West Virginia as well.
  • Thanks to Notre Dame likely taking their Gator Bowl spot, the Big East can generate an extra at-large team. With the other conference coming up short this year (looking at you, ACC) this is pretty important.
  • The extra team out will probably be a 6-6 Connecticut.
Big Ten
  • For now, I see Iowa continuing its string of 1-3 point victories no matter the opponent, if for no other reason than it simplifies things.
  • Penn State will likely earn a BCS at-large bid provided it wins out. I don't think any other Big Ten team will be able to do so.
  • I actually think Michigan can get up to 9-3, along with Wisconsin.
  • I think Northwestern will just barely squeak in at 6-6.
  • This week's Oregon-USC battle is for the conference, pretty much. Right now I have USC winning and Oregon getting an at-large berth. I'm not sure a 2-loss USC could do the same.
  • I think Cal is on the road to recovery, and I like Arizona and Oregon State to achieve winning records as well. Arizona State and Washington may just sneak in.
  • Without an upset or two the rest of the way, though, I see Stanford falling just short.
  • As is well-documented at this point, Florida and Alabama are on a collision course to the title game. It'd be nice if either actually could score some points, though. Florida has the easier schedule, having already cleared the LSU hurdle Alabama faces this weekend.
  • After those three, the SEC picture is extremely muddled. In the end, I have an excess of 6-6 and 7-5 teams, with only Vanderbilt and Miss State failing to reach the mark.
Non-Obvious Matchup of the Week: Pretty slim pickings this week. I'd say Miami-Notre Dame in the Gator, but that's pretty obvious, along with Nebraska-Michigan. But hey, while any weekend of college football is exciting, this weekend has the potential for some that could really shake up the bowl landscape. So we'll see what goes here next week.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

List of GT Football Hexes

Well, with the win, let's check the list:
  1. 0-7 against Georgia since 2000
  2. 0-12 against FSU since they joined the ACC in 1992
  3. 0-8 against Virginia in Charlottesville since 1991
That feels good. Am I missing any?

This Weekend in College Football: Week 8

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Minnesota @ Ohio State (ESPN): The natives are restless in Columbus, but I would still wager the odds of a Gopher upset are low. I also just refuse to accept that OSU is that bad despite the now piling evidence to the countrary.
  • Illinois @ Purdue (ESPN2): Purdue, despite last weekend, is not a very good football. Saying Illinois is a football team does a disservice to all football teams, everywhere. Digest this: the Illni have been outscored in 4 conference games by 71 points. Taking the Boilermakers here.
  • Connecticut @ West Virginia (ESPNU): I think it's been well covered at this point what the folks at UConn are going through. As far the game goes, UConn seems like the rare team whose position in the Big East is well-defined: not at the bottom, but right in the middle. I like WVU here.
  • Arkansas @ Mississippi (SEC/Gameplan): I think it's safe to say at this point the Ole Miss offense is not what most folks projected it to be this year. They're averaging 12 points a game in SEC play so far, including a 10 point effort in Columbia and, admittedly like everyone else (including Arkansas), 3 points against 'Bama. That said, even a 48-point effort against UAB last weekend doesn't inspire much confidence in me, either. I like the Razorbacks here.
  • Georgia Tech @ Virginia (Raycom/Gameplan): One game at a time. That has to be the motto for GT going forward. Past GT teams have stumbled here, teams as good as this one, even. As anyone reading this probably knows, Tech has lost 8 straight in Charlottesville*, dating back to the 41-38 victory over #1 Virginia in 1990. I talked about this two years ago, as well. I hope I don't have to link this post, or that one, two years from now.
    The most interesting matchup in this game is GT's offense against UVA 3-4 defense. It was moderately effective last year, but GT's 3 turnovers were perhaps the most effective defense for UVA as well. A perhaps overlooked part is UVA's tall secondary, which contains many players over 6' which will mean we need to smart in the passing game - as much as I love throwing the ball to Demaryius Thomas, a key aspect of his game is the fact he physically outclasses many of those assigned to cover him, so Nesbitt needs to look for the open man rather than the jump ball. The UVA defense is patient, and willing concede small plays to hope we make a mistake. It sound obvious, but GT simply cannot put the ball on the ground. They will make us earn every point.
    Conversely, our defense just has to play better on the road. I don't think we'll let them run up 500 yards on us, but in a game where I think points will be tight the defense has to do its part.
  • Iowa State @ Nebraska (FSN): Iowa State currently sits at 4 wins, and I think they have two very winnable games left on their schedule. This isn't one of them.
  • Oklahoma State @ Baylor (Versus): Well, since the loss to Houston, Oklahoma State has just been doing it's thing, as it were. Of course, since that time their single toughest opponent has been Missouri, so that may not be saying much. Of course, saying they'll almost certainly beat the Bears isn't really saying much, either.
  • Tennessee @ Alabama (CBS): While it's actually the fourth Saturday in October this year, this is still a big game. That said, outside of the 45 point outburst against UGA (ahahahahaha) Tennessee isn't really scoring much, and Alabama is not particularly the team you want to face as an offense anyway. That said, I suspect Alabama will still win by a score of like, 20-7 because that's just how they roll.
  • Boston College @ Notre Dame (NBC): Boston College is 5-0 at home and 0-2 on the road. At home, they score an average of 39 and give up an average of 14.4 points per game. On the road, they have averaged 10.5 and 36.5, respectively. That said, I also think it's a fair point to say they best teams they have played were also on the road, and I don't think that changes this week against ND. They may put more than 163 yards, but then again, that's not really a lot.
  • Oregon @ Washington (ABC/Gameplan): This is the very definition of a trap game. Don't get me wrong, I'll pick Oregon to win this one every time. But they can't get caught looking ahead to the showdown at home next week against USC. Washington is an improved team this year, but they still have some issues. Oregon just has to take care of business. (Especially if they want a shot at the Rose Bowl.)
  • Clemson @ University of Miami (Gameplan/ABC): As with many teams in the ACC, the question of whether Clemson will win depends highly upon which version of them shows up. Is is the team that dominated Boston College and Wake Forest by a combined score of 63-10? Or is it the team that narrowly lost to TCU (no shame in that) and lost to Maryland (lots of shame in that)? Either way, Miami is not either Wake or Boston College, but simply the most competent passing attack in the ACC and my favorite to win this one, regardless of which Clemson shows up.
  • Oklahoma @ Kansas (Gameplan/ABC): See Kansas what happens when you schedule absolutely no one? There is no room for error, and losing to a very bad Colorado team is a very big error. That said, Oklahoma enters Lawrence having to define what their season is all about. Will the offensive side of the house at OU is in disarray, the defense is well in order and should hold Kansas under 30 (and probably 20) points, which will keep the Sooners in the game. In fact, I like them here.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Michigan (ESPN/ABC): Lots of people like Penn State to lose here, but I don't. I'd certainly like to see that, though, because it opens up the BCS at-large bids a lot.
  • Louisville @ Cincinnati (ESPNU): Even after Tony Pike went down last week, Cincy rolled along on their way to drumming USF 34-17. Now they get two straight games with the worst teams in the conference. I like their chances of being 8-0 through that strech. A lot.
  • Wake Forest @ Navy (CBSCS): Neither of these teams scores a lot, and neither allows a lot. Compared to many of their BCS conference foes, the talent gap between Navy and Wake isn't that large, and both teams are also smart. That said, I still think Wake a slight edge here.
4:00: Air Force @ Utah (Versus): This is the second most important game in the MWC today. That said, it may still be worth watching, but to me it looks like there's a spanner in the works in the Air Force offense. I like Utah here.

  • Vanderbilt @ South Carolina (ESPNU): I'm not sure how, but Vandy has a two year winning streak running over South Carolina. As stated previously, though, the 'Dores luck has run out this year and I can't really pick them here.
  • Iowa @ Michigan State (BTN): Michigan State has been consistent the past two games, beating two clearly inferior teams 24-14. Iowa, well, we've had a dislike of Iowa here since the infancy of this site. Who knows, they'll probably McGuyver another win together here and win 16-15 or some crap like that.
  • Louisiana-Monroe @ Kentucky (SEC/Gameplan): I'm not even going to dignify this with an analysis.
  • Florida @ Mississippi State (ESPN): ESPN's been trying to make this one sound interesting, and sure, Miss State is slightly more competent this year, and heck, their RB will probably even break a couple of runs. That said, Florida should still pound them.
  • Auburn @ Louisiana State (ESPN2): Even despite the recent two game losing streak, I still would've picked the other Tigers. That said, if Chris Todd stops looking like, well, Chris Todd again Auburn stands a chance. I didn't say they'd win, though.
  • Texas Christian @ Brigham Young (Versus): I really believe this is the game of the day. That said, I think TCU holds all the cards here. BYU may sport the better overall win, but even then those 54 points allowed to FSU - at home - stick out like a sore thumb. I think TCU is also the best team BYU's played since then, and after putting up 44 on Colorado State last weekend I think TCU has the ability to exploit BYU's defense as well.
  • Southern Methodist @ Houston (CBSCS): What in the hell is going on in the West division of C-USA? I was watching UTEP-Tulsa Wednesday, and after Tulsa scored to take a multiple-score lead I went home thinking Tulsa would take care of business. Then they didn't, and I didn't even see it until the next day because I didn't even think UTEP had a chance. So now UTEP has wins over the two teams everyone thought could win the division, but already has a conference loss to a very bad Memphis team. Meanwhile, SMU is 2-0 and is in the driver's seat of the division. Well, not for long, I think. Houston is still putting up points like it's going out of style, and SMU's defense has been more than obliging it looks like.
  • Oregon State @ Southern California (ABC/Gameplan): One of my coworkers is an USC alum, and thanks to that Thursday night last year in Corvallis has some sort of post-traumatic stress syndrome relating to really short running backs. That said, while OSU is a pretty solid team, I think USC takes care of business and heads into Eugene next week to determine the Pac-10 title.
  • Texas @ Missouri (Gameplan/ABC): Don't look, but Mizzou's best win is still over... uh... Nevada, maybe? They've lost both their Big 12 games so far and frankly I'm not sure why that trend wouldn't continue.
  • Arizona State @ Stanford (FSN): Will Stanford get back on track this week against ASU? They could - ASU so far has a record evenly split down the middle. (They've lost to teams better than them and beat teams worse than them.) The problem is, these are effectively two teams in the middle of the Pac-10 race and I'm not sure how they compare. What I do know is that this is one of maybe 2 or 3 games left Stanford has a real shot to win, I think, but that said I'm going with the devils from the desert.
  • Fresno State @ New Mexico State (ESPNU): The Mike Locksley era will continue to get off to bad start with a loss to Fresno. I assume that Pat Hill will not be punched in the face after the game.

*: UNC's streak in Charlottlesville is worse, having gone without a win in 14 straight games dating back to 1983. Overall, UNC is 6-19-1 in that span, including losing 6 of the last 7.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This Week in College Football: Week 8

Introducing the new "This Week in College Football". With the proliferation of conferences desperate for ESPN's money and exposure, we now have college ball on practically every day of the week. So each week, I'll write up a short post about this week's weekday games in the same vein as my weekend column.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Tulsa @ Texas-El Paso (ESPN): This game has already started, but I mean, Tulsa should win. Of course, as I type this UTEP just scored to go up 13-0.

7:30: Florida State @ North Carolina (ESPN): These are definitely two ACC teams who though they'd be having better years than they actually are. Both have zero wins in conference play and need a turnaround quickly. That said, UNC is having major troubles putting points up on any reasonably competent defense, whereas FSU isn't really having any problems scoring. Even if the season is lost for them, I have an easier time predicting FSU to win here.

8:00: Rutgers @ Army (ESPN2): I wish Army could get to 6 wins this year, but they blew it last week against Temple. Rutgers is much more competent and should have no issues.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bowl Predictions 2009: Week 1

Here they are!

See last year's first post for my general thought process. (The Big Ten writeup rings especially true, even a year later. Well, except the Ohio State part, I guess.) Basically, I sat down after the standing came out and tried to project the record of every remaining BCS conference team. This will hopefully bear fruit in terms of sensible predictions, because at the least it require to look at everyone's schedule and make some decisions and prevents me from magicking 6-6 teams from thin air. (I had some help with this, as well. Kudos to my brother and a friend of mine for contributing! Y'all know who you are.)

Right now, for BCS purposes I am projecting Alabama and Texas to win out. I also assumed that the ACC 3-way Circle of Death would continue, and that USC would beat Oregon but that Oregon would recover in time for the final BCS standings. A lot of folks think that the Orange and Fiesta will want to foist Boise or TCU upon the Sugar, but I'm not so sure. Especially with the Fiesta and Boise, which as you may recall have a little history now. I also think for a bowl in Arizona Cincinnati and Boise would travel equally well.

Unfortunately, with at-large teams like USC, Florida, Penn State, or Oregon around the chances of the ACC, even with 3 10-win and better teams, will not get multiple BCS bids. In fact, the only way I think this could happen is if someone other than Miami wins the tiebreaker, which frees the Sugar to try to engineer Florida-Miami. Even then, if Miami takes a late loss, it may knock them right out of the top 14, especially considering the remaining schedule.

We are, once again, in a very precarious position with regards to 6+ win at-large teams. The only BCS conference team with a 6-6 or better record that was available was UConn. Even after that, I only had one spare, though I will be completely honest and say I didn't look at all the MAC teams to see if they could eke out 6-6 or 7-5 records. (Remember, the NCAA requires all 7-5 teams to be picked before 6-6 teams.) With 34 bowls again this year, and more on the way next year (there's at least 2 new bowls, and maybe another 1 or 2 on the way), I am convinced that this scenario will need to be dealt with next year. On the flip side, if some of these games do badly enough (especially independents that aren't propped up by ESPN Regional TV so people have something to watch on New Year's Eve other than old Christmas specials) perhaps some will fold and we'll get back to maybe 30 bowls or so. (Hah, yeah right.)

Anyway, let's hit up some Non-Obvious Matchups and call it a day.
  • BYU-Washington, Poinsettia Bowl: a.k.a, The Tyrone Willingham Memorial Bowl, as BYU's controversial win on a last-second field goal in Seattle last was the first nail in Ty's coffin. Of course, U-Dub is better this year (I'd say they couldn't have been worse, but Washington State keeps proving that saying wrong.) but may not make a bowl, so I'm crossing my fingers for this one. Note if TCU makes the BCS instead of Boise, BYU probably ends up in Las Vegas. Again.
  • Kansas-Georgia, Independence Bowl: aahahahahahahaha. (ahem) I'm sorry, where was I? Oh, right, this is the Disappointing Season Bowl, Part I. Kansas still has to play Nebraska and Mizzou, and after losing to Colorado it's hard to predict them to win anything. As for UGA, well, I think it's pretty self-explanatory.
  • Air Force-Houston, Armed Forces Bowl: isn't it at least a tinge ironic that the Air Force Academy almost never throws the ball and the school featuring the land-based mammal as a mascot runs the Air Raid offense? Well, is it at least Alanis-level irony? No? Oh.
  • LSU-Michigan, Capital One Bowl: a.k.a, the Les Miles Bowl. Though maybe Michigan fans are over it now?
  • Oklahoma-Ohio State, Alamo Bowl: a.k.a, the Disappointing Season Bowl, Part II. Both these teams aimed for the national title and ended up in San Antonio.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cam Chanchellor: Not Clairvoyant After All

Some of you may recall this quote from ACC media days back in July:

Virginia Tech safety Kam Chancellor said that during a film session he think he has figured out what Tech is going to do, just from the blocking schemes.

“I can tell run, pass, who’s getting the ball,” Chancellor said.

“If they keep it like that, then we’re all good.”

Well, 309 yards is a relatively low total for us.

At any rate, this was a great win, of course. Tech made great second half adjusts to free up both a long run for Dwyer and get to the perimeter (though that was also helped by getting some blocking outside as well). The defense played well for three quarters, which was just enough allow GT to get a lead that it would never relinquish.

This was Tech's first win over a top-5 team since beating #1 Alabama 7-6. In 1962.

Next up? Let us consult the list of GT Hexes:
  1. 0-7 against Georgia since 2000
  2. 0-12 against FSU since they joined the ACC in 1992
  3. 0-8 against Virginia in Charlottesville since 1991
Well, hrm.

This Weekend in College Football: Week 7

Programming note: first bowl predictions of the year will go up on Sunday!

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Oklahoma vs. Texas (@Dallas, TX; ABC): Ah, the Red River Shootout, thank you very much. At any rate, I think this one will be worth me getting up early for, which as you may note by the time this is posted (and, most likely, the numerous grammatical and spelling errors) is no small feat, indeed. I also think it'll be a small feat for OU to win this one, but it is also the last chance for them to salvage their national aspirations this season. That said, I think Texas proves their worth here.
  • Iowa @ Wisconsin (ESPN): Iowa's been winning in a very, well, Iowa-like fashion. The 30-28 win over Michigan was a downright barnburner - they've only scored more against Iowa State. Wisconsin, on the flip side, had been rolling offensively until they ran into Ohio State. Though they still outgained the Buckeyes by almost 200 yards, they also threw two interceptions returned for touchdown and allowed a kickoff return to go the distance. That said, I never quite trust Iowa, so I have to go with Wisconsin here to knock off the Big Ten's last unbeaten.
  • Northwestern @ Michigan State (ESPN2): I'd make more Kafka jokes, but Doc Saturday already beat me to the punch. I also agree with the Doc re: Northwestern's chances, as this should be really high flying, especially for a Big Ten game. I'll stick with Sparty, though.
  • Ohio State @ Purdue (BTN): If it weren't for Illinois trying to get Ron Zook fired, Purdue would be the worst team in the Big Ten this year. Ohio State should be able to get back on track offensively against the Boilermakers.
  • Georgia @ Vanderbilt (SEC): As I recently explained to a friend of mine (who went to Vandy) last weekend when discussing Vandy's loss to Army, "This is basically the same offensive Vandy had last year, and basically teams aren't giving the ball to them for free anymore." That said, they're still +5 through 6 games, but the offense is just so bad: 18.8 points per game, 35% on third downs, etc. Meanwhile, in terms of ye ole schadenfraude full panic mode is on over in Athens after they made Jonathan Crompton look like Peyton last weekend in Knoxville. Unfortunately, I have to think the UGA defense will hold up slightly better against Vandy. Unfortunately.
  • Wake Forest @ Clemson (Raycom/Gameplan): Since this is an ACC Atlantic game, I'm just going to flip a coin. Heads is Wake, tails is Clemson...... tails it is!
12:30: Mississippi State @ Middle Tennessee State (ESPNU): Well, I think MSU can beat MTSU. Right? I mean, Miss State is a little better than they were last year, aren't they?

  • Arkansas @ Florida (CBS): Somehow I just don't see Arkansas hanging 30, much less 40, on Florida's defense. Just no way. UF takes care of business.
  • Southern California @ Notre Dame (NBC): Reports of optimism abound from South Bend. I don't they're well founded, though. Especially after the combined 57-9 beatdown USC has distributed the past two weeks, while Notre Dame hasn't really shown they can do this "defense" thing. Also, this should give us a good clean transitive break, since Washington lost to Notre Dame but USC should beat Notre DAme.
  • Minnesota @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN/ABC): I think Minnesota is very solidly in the middle of the pack of the Big Ten. The natural order of things should be returned with a PSU victory here.
  • North Carolina State @ Boston College (Gameplan/ABC): Well, BC's at home, which means their offensive might show up this week after not making the trip to Blacksburg. Meanwhile, with losses to Wake and Duke, I think it's safe to say that NC State is one of the worst teams in the ACC. That said, that doesn't necessarily mean anything (note that Virginia and Maryland still have conference victories), but I feel good enough about BC here to not have to resort to the ACC Atlantic coin flip.
  • Texas Tech @ Nebraska (Gameplan/ESPN/ABC): Hard to get a read here, since they pretty much each have beaten teams worse than them and lost to teams that were better than them. (Yes, I remember Houston that beat TTU.) Nebraska's last effort was the 27-point fourth quarter in a driving rainstorm in Columbia that led to their 27-12 victory over Mizzou last Thursday. Mean, TTU did their thing against K-State, throwing for 500 yards and scoring 66 points. I suspect this game will be somewhere in between, but a Nebraska victory.
  • California @ California-Los Angeles (ABC/Gameplan): Well, we know now these are probably the two worst teams in the Pac-10 outside of Pullman. Both these teams have been struggling on offense, but Cal just has to have more talent offensively, right? Jahvid Best has to reassert himself at some point, doesn't he? Cal can't be this bad, can they?
  • Houston @ Tulane (CBSCS): Houston should be able to name the score for this one.
  • Colorado State @ Texas Christian (Versus): TCU has to come out ready for this game. Colorado State isn't terrible, but they're definitely an opponent TCU should be able to beat easily. They just can't get caught looking forward to BYU next week, or else CSU is decent enough to take advantage.
  • Virginia @ Maryland (ESPNU): It's the ACC Atlantic Slap Fight of the Week! Ugh. If you hate football, you might like this game. I don't know what else to say. Anyway, it's back to the coin flip: UVA is head and UMD is tails.... tails.
6:00: Virginia Tech @ Georgia Tech (ESPN2): If I were less exhausted, I would have an extensive preview of this game. This is a must-win for GT, no two ways around it. With a loss, GT is pretty much eliminated from ACC title game contention, barring basically a repeat of, well, last year. My main worries in this game are: 1) VPI's defensive line and 2) our defense. We haven't played a team since Miami (and to a small extent, UNC) that was able to get a great interior rush and really disrupt what we're trying to on the offensive. (That said, whenever a DT is constantly in your QB's face, it doesn't really matter which offense you run.) Miami did have another advantage as well in their speedy corners and linebackers, that were able to pretty much go outside because their defensive line was owning our offensive line all night. As a result - there was no where for the offense to go. I don't know if VPI has the same type of talent on the edges, but if we allow their DTs to control the offensive line that is not good for Tech.
As for the defense, well, they're not very good. Perhaps not coincidentally, Tech's biggest problem is the lack of pass rush, which leads to QBs with all day to throw because they never have anyone in their face. At one point in the first half last week, we actually ran an all-out blitz and FSU still scored because it didn't work. Tyrod Taylor is faster than anyone in our front 7 most likely, so forcing him out of the pocket is not necessarily a great thing. If our D-linemen do find themselves getting to him, they must make the tackle and not let him escape. He is throwing better this year and is now a competent passer. Therefore, it is imperative we show some semblance of a defense this week, because I don't think we'll put up 40 against VPI.

  • Kansas @ Colorado (FSN): Colorado: still bad. KU: still scoring lots of points. This shouldn't be hard to figure out.
  • Illinois @ Indiana (BTN): The plan for Indiana has to be this. They sit at 3-3, having lost 3 straight including the inexplicable 40-point(!) loss to Virginia. (Seriously, how the hell did that happen?) Illinois and Purdue are the most winnable games left on the schedule, getting them to 5-3. The problem is, the other games are against Northwestern (competent), Iowa (uh-oh), Wisconsin (oh man), and Penn State (there goes that). So this is a must-win, in a game they should win.
  • Alabama-Birmingham @ Mississippi (SEC): UAB does have a winning record in C-USA! Unfortunately for them, Ole Miss is not in Conference USA.
  • Stanford @ Arizona (Versus): I got on the Cardinal bandwagon, and doggone it I'm going to go down with the ship.
  • Kentucky @ Auburn (ESPNU): Well, you can't win 'em all, Auburn, but Kentucky should help get that chin back up.
  • University of Miami @ Central Florida (CBSCS): Yes, that's "da U" up in Orlando. That said, they should do their thing and come out with a win. (This hast to be a 3-for-1 deal, right?)
7:45: South Carolina @ Alabama (ESPN): I'm running out of steam here. USC should suffer their second loss here. I hate to say it, but I think 'Bama is just that good.

9:15: Missouri @ Oklahoma State (ESPN2): Welcome to the "lowered expectations" bowl! Both these teams have struggled in their own way, and the 1-loss records don't really tell us much. If OSU gets Dez Bryant back, then the should win. Otherwise, it's Mizzou.

10:15: Washington @ Arizona State (FSN): Arizona State just isn't very good. I have to pick U-Dub here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Week in College Football: Week 7

Introducing the new "This Week in College Football". With the proliferation of conferences desperate for ESPN's money and exposure, we now have college ball on practically every day of the week. So each week, I'll write up a short post about this week's weekday games in the same vein as my weekend column.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Arkansas State @ Louisiana-Monroe (ESPN2): Ordinarily, I'd look at this and say, "Pschaw, 1-3 (1-0) Arkansas State at 3-2 (2-0) Monroe? This one's a gimme." Au contraire! Consider that Monroe's wins are over I-AA Texas Southern and the F_U pick'em. Sure, Arknsas State's win is over a I-AA team, but their losses are to Nebraska, Iowa, and Sun Belt powerhouse (note: that's a purely relative statement) Troy. That said, and I can't believe I'm going to say this, UL-Monroe should still win.

8:00: Boise State @ Tulsa (ESPN): In their last action, Tulsa only put up 27 points on a very bad Rice team. In their last action, Boise only put up 34 points on UC-Davis, which, for those you keeping score at home, is not in Division I-A. That said, it's tough to argue against Boise here - against a decidedly vulnerable Oklahoma Tulsa scored zero points and was generally not very. Should still be fun to watch, though.

7:30: Cincinnati @ South Florida (ESPN): Battle of the undefeated Big East teams! That's right folks. That said, the portion of USF's schedule that isn't DI-AA or from the Sun Belt consists of Florida State and Syracuse, and Matt Groethe is still out for the season. Cincy, meanwhile, has taken care of business, with a solid win over Oregon State. (Rutgers may be 4-1, but considering they haven't played other than Maryland since makes me dubious about that record.) Cincy is definitely the better team here, but can they go on the road and execute? I think so, but we'll see.

8:00: Pittsburgh @ Rutgers (ESPN): Hey, more Big East teams! Each of these already has a loss, though (NC State and USF, respectively). I see nothing to suggest either of these teams is terribly good, so I'm going to cautiously go with the side that's at least beaten more DI-A teams (Pitt).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dear Bob Davie:

Allow me to quote a fantastic article written by a Navy fan last summer:
The spread option, as run by Paul Johnson and Ivin Jasper, is not the wishbone.
Emphasis mine. And indeed, said article explains exactly why defenses designed to stop the wishbone don't work very well against Paul Johnson's offense, whatever you want to call it. Apparently neither Mickey Andrews nor Bobby Bowden have read it.

One last thing. Bob Davie even showed a video of late-70's Texas running the wishbone and said that since Tech has 3 guys in the backfield we're obviously running the exact same offense! Well, gee, if that's the case I guess the Wishbone is the same as the Wing-T and Maryland I. Sheesh.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

This Weekend in College Football: Week 6

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Auburn @ Arkansas (ESPN): These are two of the SEC's higher scoring offenses, but also two of the worst defenses. Auburn's been a little more consistent with regards to both aspects, but scored "only" 26 against Tennessee. (It should be noted Tennessee is the best defense Auburn has faced to date.) Arkansas, to its credit, recovered from the UGA loss and the embarrassment against against 'Bama to absolutely cream a terrible Texas A&M team. Again, I think this'll be pretty high scoring, but in the end I think Auburn will get the ball last and probably win.
  • Purdue @ Minnesota (ESPN2): That win over Toledo is starting to get a bit long in the tooth for the Boilermakers, losers of four straight including consecutive close losses to Notre Dame (understandable) and Northwester (less so). Except for the Cal game, Minnesota has rarely been outplayed this year (though the score against Wisconsin was probably closer than the actual game). That said, there's not much reason to be optimistic about Purdue right now, so I'll take the Gophers.
  • Vanderbilt @ Army (CBSCS): Vandy's turnover margin, while still positive, is down 0.8 turnovers a game so far this year. This year's Vandy offense isn't actually worse than last year's, but when you go from the 112th ranked offense to the 83rd, well, there was really nowhere else to go. So a date with Army is probably just what the doctor ordered for the 'Dores, who have beaten up on their out-of-conference opponents 81-17 but have only mustered 19 points against SEC foes.
  • Eastern Illinois @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN Classic): Penn State.
  • Michigan State @ Illinois (BTN): If you could look up "reeling" in the dictionary, the University of Illinois logo would probably right next to it. Provided Michigan State doesn't get caught up in the fact they beat Michigan last weekend, they should be able to take care of business.
  • Georgia @ Tennessee (SEC/Gameplan): Things UGA does well: score points. Things Tennessee does well: play some semblance of defense. What happen when these forces collide in Knoxville? Probably produce a result similar to what we saw last weekend: UGa puts up less than their averages but their ability to move the ball at all puts them past the Vols in the end.
  • Boston College @ Virginia Tech (Raycom/Gameplan): I would like to take a moment to point out that the only ACC Atlantic teams with winning conference records are Boston College and Maryland. Let that sink in for a moment. Maryland, who has lost two straight to Middle Tennessee State and very nearly lost to James Madison in overtime. Boston College, who against Clemson not three weeks ago put up 54 yards and 4 first downs. (Since this is the ACC we're talking about, I should clarify that BC did, in fact, lose that game.) Virginia Tech, by far the most consistent team in the conference since they joined, has done their usual thing and rolled off 4 straight, though they looked a bit lackluster against Duke last weekend. The logical pick here is VPI, and for the sake of my sanity, that's what I'm going with.
  • Oklahoma State @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (FSN): Oklahoma State is lacking their best player thanks to some off-the-field shenanigans involving "Neon" Deon "Prime Time" Sanders. Yes, I know TAMU is 3-1 and all, but against the only team they've played that isn't chopped liver (sorry UAB fans) they laid an egg. I think OSU still wins this game, but not by as much as they should.
  • Iowa State @ Kansas (Versus): Speaking of terrible teams that got 3 (or more) wins off terrible patsies, Iowa State should lose to Kansas.
  • Houston @ Mississippi State (ESPNU): If you looked up "laid an egg after the most important win in school history".... okay, I think you all get where I'm going with this. I will say that Miss State is a decent football team, however, they seem to have forgotten that putting the ball on the ground is a bad thing. Provided the Cougars can pick themselves back off the ground, I think they should be able to win this one. It would also probably help if they don't allow Miss State to run up 581 total yards of offense (of which one player was responsible for 262 yards).
  • Alabama @ Mississippi (CBS): Okay, Ole Miss isn't as good as we thought. But they're probably not that bad either. Will it be enough to stop the Alabama juggernaut? Probably not. (Unfortunately.)
  • Oregon @ California-Los Angeles (ABC/Gameplan): UCLA didn't put up much resistance last week in their loss to Stanford. On the flip side, Oregon has been rampaging, er, beating up, er, winning all their games since the debacle in Boise to open the season, and I don't see why the streak will end in Pasadena.
  • Wisconsin @ Ohio State (ESPN/ABC/Gameplan): Wisconsin kept up their habit of winning by 1 score or less in last week's 31-28 win over UMN. Ohio State has done the opposite. Since playing it close to the sweatervest against USC, they've scored 30 or more points in every game since. I think Wisconsin will provide some resistance, but provided Ohio State is finally doing what it actually wants to on offense, I think they have the inside track to the Big Ten title.
  • Baylor @ Oklahoma (Gameplan/ABC): This is an okay Baylor team. Of course, you could argue Oklahoma has proven absolutely nothing, but they will have Sam Bradford back and they should beat Baylor anyway.
  • Connecticut @ Pittsburgh (Gameplan/ESPN/ABC): Pitt thrashed Louisville, but I don't really take that as any sort of indicator of "quality". I'm going to admit I'm completely guessing here and just with UConn because I think that'd be pretty funny.
  • Navy @ Rice (CBSCS): I bet 10-3 seems really far away now for the Owls. Navy should cruise here. No pun intended.
4:00: Duke @ North Carolina State (ESPNU): It's funny how, for all the wackiness of the ACC, the one terrible constant through all the years is Duke. For what it's worth, both these teams have the exact same number of DI-A wins (one). That said, well, until they prove otherwise there's not really any reason to favor Duke.

7:00: Stanford @ Oregon State (FSN): For the second week in a row, I'll pick Stanford. I'm forced to wonder if that has ever happened before. I should go back and look. Though not right now.

7:15: Colorado @ Texas (ESPN): Unless something has happened since losing to The Bill Steward Experience, Colorado is still a terrible football team. Texas should handle them easily.

  • Southern Mississippi @ Louisville (ESPNU): Well, I'll say one thing: if Louisville loses this game, the odds of them having the same head coach against UConn next week have to be extremely slim. In fact, they're currently 0-3 against I-A teams. USM, meanwhile, has experienced something of a let down since the win over Virginia (which, if trends hold, should get more valuable each of the next three weeks!) by losing to Kansas (understandable) and UAB (much less so). UL should still beat their old C-USA foe, but the emphasis on that is should.
  • Texas Christian @ Air Force (CBSCS): TCU is the most legitimate of the remaining mid-major unbeaten teams, and they have to be on their guard against a pretty decent Air Force squad. They should win, though.
  • Florida @ Louisiana State (CBS): Hooo boy. Well, here's what we know. 1) We don't know if Tim Tebow, the best player in college football, will play. 2) We know that in a haze of bourbon and butter, it will be very intense tonight in Baton Rouge. 3) Les Miles is crazy; Urban Meyer, not so much. And that, honestly, is what makes me think Florida will win regardless of Tebow's presence. It's not like the backup QB for Florida is some dude they got off the street two weeks ago. Will it change UF's gameplan? Of course. But here's what I know about LSU from their last two games. 1) They couldn't stop Miss State for most of the game, except on a goal line stand at the end of the game that was probably Miss State's fault as much as anything else. 2) They couldn't score against UGA's leaky defense for the first, oh, 57 minutes of the game last weekend. I think Florida, even without Tebow, has the talent to keep up with LSU and has a definite edge in coaching, and I think the Gators can, and should, win. Regardless, though, I think it'll be close.
  • Michigan @ Iowa (ABC): Michigan learned last week the ups-and-downs of having a freshman QB - saving your bacon one minute, throwing the game losing interception into the end zone the next. (Believe me, as a survive of the Reggie Ball Era, I know all about the perils of freshman QBs. The problem is when they don't stop being freshman QBs.) Nonetheless, Iowa has failed to convince me of much of anything, and there's the pesky fact they very nearly lost to Arkansas State last weekend. I actually like Michigan here.
  • Georgia Tech @ Florida State (ESPN2): Hey, did you know Florida state is actually playing a game this weekend? Anyway, the drama around Bobby Bowden this week can amount to one of two things: 1) FSU is truly internally divided, with coaches and players fighting among themselves 2) the players have united behind Bowden and will come out motivated and ready to play. But here are some facts: Tech is looking bad on defense, and while we ended the overall losing streak to FSU last year, we're still 0-6 in Tallahassee. Our last visit there was my freshman year back in 2003, where coming off the huge Auburn win we led 13-0 going into the 4th quarter only to lose, 14-13. We have to get this monkey off our back.
    The offense looked pretty darn good last week. We took advantage of Miss State's 5 (!) turnovers and Nesbitt's good passing effort (11-14 for 266 yards), easily a career best. Dwyer still lacks a 100 yard game, but with the way the passing game was working last week we almost didn't need to - and in fact, we had more total yards passing (266) than rushing (213). Which led Mickey Andrews to his award-worthy quote: "You can’t cover everybody and play the run like you need to and double cover (Demaryius Thomas). You can, but they’ll penalize you. We’ve got it figured out if they’d just let us play with that extra guy. And they ought to, we need it right now.”
    On the opposite side of the ball, the defense was just not very good last week outside of forcing 5 turnovers. If nothing changes and the FSU that put 54 on BYU shows up, this could be a long day for us.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Yeah, the World Really Needs Another SEC-Big Ten Matchup

So I read Georgia Tech sports message boards. This is oftentimes a mistake, but sometimes has a payoff.

So I was just reading the latest about how ACC leadership is screwing the pooch and thinking it's the usual amount of hyperbole and, as one poster once said, "hand waving freak-outery". The problem is that this time it's completely justified:
The Gator Bowl is returning to what its chairman considers "Jacksonville's roots," with the announcement Wednesday that the game will match a Southeastern Conference team against the Big Ten beginning with the 2010 season at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
So if you're the ACC, you just lost your only traditional New Year's Day bowl outside of the BCS. What do you do to make up for this? You, uh, decide to replicate the Gator in the Champs Sports, just for old time's sake:
The Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando has been elevated to the number three spot in the ACC's contracted bowl selection order for 2010 through 2013, conference officials announced Wednesday.
That article also notes that the Gator wanted the ACC to drop its team selection rules, which I generally support. But the ACC needed to replace the Gator on the New Year's day schedule, and needed to schedule someone other than the Big East. Don't worry though, the ACC was right there to sweep the SEC's crumbs in the lovely destination known as Shreveport: Wright told the club it looked like the 2010 matchup in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl would match teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Mountain West Conference.
Well, I guess you could argue that the Mountain West is somewhat more prestigious than the Big East at this point.

Anyway, back to my original point. Provided the SEC keeps the rest of its current bowls, they'll have the following lineup next year (not necessarily in order, as the slots are still being worked out):
  1. Capital One (vs. Big Ten)
  2. Cotton (vs. Big 12)
  3. Outback (vs. Big Ten)
  4. Gator (vs. Big Ten)
  5. Chick-fil-a (vs. ACC)
  6. Music City (vs. ACC)
  7. Liberty (vs. C-USA)
  8. (vs. Big East)
Yes, this world really needs three SEC-Big Ten matchups on the same day. At least get a Pac-10 team in there or something just to mix it up a little.

By the way, here's my projected pecking order for the ACC:
  1. Chick-fil-a (vs. SEC)
  2. Champs Sports (vs. Big East/Notre Dame)
  3. Music City (vs. SEC)
  4. Sun (vs. Pac-10)
  5. Car Care (vs. Big East)
  6. Independence (vs. Mountain West)
  7. Eagle Bank (vs. at-large)
  8. GMAC (vs. MAC)
At any rate, this is huge blow to the conference's prestige and likely to be a huge financial blow in terms of TV contracts are negotiated and bowl payouts (with the Gator effectively replaced by the Independence, though the Sun will presumably pay more than the Emerald did). I can only hope that by 2014 the ACC's situation has improved, which is something that is largely in their hands, both on the field and off.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

This Week in College Football: Week 6

Introducing the new "This Week in College Football". With the proliferation of conferences desperate for ESPN's money and exposure, we now have college ball on practically everyday of the week. So each week, I'll write up a short post about this week's weekday games in the same vein as my weekend column.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Middle Tennessee State @ Troy (ESPN2): SUN BELT GRUDGE MATCH. I don't know if ESPN is bringing back Interactive Tuesday (let's hope not), but this game features two potential Sun Belt front runners, and Troy won the conference last year (and should've two years ago). I think this may actually be a rivalry, but my perception is slightly colored because I know folks who went to both schools. MTSU has had a strong season so far, so I'll have to pick again the reigning champs. (Sorry Rob.)

9:00: Nebraska @ Missouri (ESPN): It's "bad mojo week" at Mizzou, as yesterday was the 19th anniversary of the infamous "5th down" that cost Missouri a victory over Colorado and GT an undisputed national title. 11 years ago was also the "das boot" game against Nebraska. Back in the present day, both these teams are undefeated and poised (along with Kansas) to challenge for the Big 12 North title. Missouri hasn't done much since running Illinois off the field in Week 1, which as we know isn't really that impressive. Nebraska has been putting up tons of points against teams that aren't Virginia Tech, but on the flip side all those other teams were from the Sun Belt. Nonetheless, I expect the usual Big 12 North defensive presence, which is to say none. I think Nebraska will ultimately come out on top, though.

9:00: Louisiana Tech @ Nevada (ESPN): You've probably read by now about how Nevada absolutely exploded on UNLV last Saturday. If not, consider these facts. 772 total yards. (Note, this is just Nevada.) 559 yards rushing. Of course, this was a tight game through the end of the 3rd quarter, when Nevada went up 35-28. Then they proceeded to score 28 unanswered points. Talk about letting off some steam after an 0-3 start. LaTech held a tired Hawaii team to no touchdowns and "only" 300 or so yards last weekend in a 27-6 win. Honestly, I like Nevada here, provided they average out a bit.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

This Weekend in College Football: Week 5

Based on my performance over the past couple of weeks, keep in mind the latter clause in the following disclaimer:

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Wisconsin @ Minnesota (ESPN): I really have no opinion on this game. None. I guess Wisconsin will probably win? I don't know. I would say this is the least compelling game of the morning, but it's got nothing on...
  • Arkansas State @ Iowa (ESPN2): this game. Keep in mind, ESPN picked this game before Iowa beat Penn State last weekend. How this got picked over Michigan-Michigan State (rivals!) or Ohio State-Indiana (3-1 vs. 3-1!) defies any logic I could possibly give. I shouldn't have to say this, but, uh, Iowa should win.
  • Clemson @ Maryland (ESPNU): I'd even rather watch this than Arkansas State-Iowa. Now, the most likely outcome is that I'll be asleep on my couch for most of these games anyway, but still. Anyway, it's not like Maryland has been great the past few years, yet somehow it wins games like these for no apparent reason. Clemson should still win handily, though.
  • East Carolina @ Marshall (CBSCS): Marshall may be 3-1, but don't let that fool you. They're still not very good. To be fair, ECU hasn't exactly impressed so far but played 2 BCS conference teams. I still like ECU here.
  • Michigan @ Michigan State (BTN): Michigan State's unlucky streak continues, with their 8 point loss to Wisconsin actually being the largest margin of defeat they've suffered so far this year. That said, with 3 losses this has to feel like a season on the brink as their biggest (and heretofore, undefeated) rival that's had all the bounces go their way so far rolls in. That said, at what point does it stop being luck and starts being an indicator that these teams are going in completely different directions this season? We'll find for sure in East Lansing, but my hunch is that presents trends will continue with a Michigan victory.
  • Alabama @ Kentucky (SEC): As unfortunate as Tebow's injury is, we also learned Kentucky isn't quite ready to run with the big boys of the SEC yet. Alabama should take care of business.
  • Virginia @ North Carolina (Raycom): While UNC got dominated statistically by Tech last weekend, Virginia should present no such challenge. We're talking about a team that gave up 200+ yards rushing to Southern Mississippi, here. UNC should be fine.
  • Washington @ Notre Dame (NBC): Well, so much for that maybe being a really good team, eh U-dub? Losing by 20 to Stanford can do that. ND should win this one. Should.
  • California-Los Angeles @ Stanford (ABC/Gameplan): I don't know if anyone noticed, but Stanford could go to 3-0 in the Pac-10 with a win here. Okay, they probably did, and then remembered that their victories are over Washington and the worst team in the conference, Washington State. Meanwhile, UCLA put all their OOC games first and won them all, with Tennessee the best among those. UCLA should, and probably will, win this game, but Stanford can keep their offense going as they have (they dominated Washington) they have a very good chance of making this a special season for the Cardinal.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Illinois (ESPN/ABC): As bad as Penn State's loss last week was for their (and their conference's) national title chances, Illinois should provide a welcome, refreshing respite. In other words, it's not looking good in Urbana-Champaign for the Zooker.
  • Florida State @ Boston College (Gameplan/ESPN/ABC): I'm not sure where exactly Boston College found 400 yards of offense, but they used it to its full effect in the upset over Wake. Meanwhile, I (and no one else, I think) have no idea what the hell is going with FSU. They lost well to a good Miami team (despite last week's result in Blacksburg), almost got upset by Jacksonville State, hung 54 on BYU (at Provo, nonetheless) and then lost badly to Groethe-less USF. Logically, BC just doesn't have the offensive weapons to hang with FSU's defense, but I just... I don't know. I will pick FSU, but ugh.
  • New Mexico @ Texas Tech (FSN): Texas Tech gets a nice, tasty cupcake to get over the sting of losing to Houston. Considering Tulsa hung 44 on NMU, I'd say TTU should score at least 55.
  • North Carolina State @ Wake Forest (ESPNU): Well, NCSU beat Pitt last week basically because Pitt had no idea how to run a read-zone offense, which I guess isn't terribly surprising but still. If Wake can not turn the ball over 3 times, especially not 8 yards from the goalline in overtime, this should win.
  • Air Force @ Navy (CBSCS): Leg 1 of the Commander-in-Chief's trophy begins! AF comes in with a 3-1 record, with a DI-AA win and over the dregs of the Mountain West. Navy is 2-2 and seems to have lost focus after the close loss to Ohio State: they've beaten the bad teams but lost a very winnable game to Pitt. Anyway, if you like option football, WATCH THIS GAME. Also, I'll take Navy.
  • Oregon State @ Arizona State (Versus): ASU just never quite put it together against Georgia to produce a winning drive and honestly didn't look that great. I haven't seen Oregon State since the UNLV game, and since then they're 0-2. I think OSU is slightly better offensively, though, but by Pac-10 standards this may be a close, low-scoring game. I like the Beavers anyway.
  • Mississippi @ Vanderbilt (ESPNU): Ole Miss confirmed last week what I think most of us already knew: they're not a top-10 team. Before their hot finish last year, they even lost to Vandy! This Vandy outfit, though, isn't nearly as lucky, and it took a very bad Rice squad to get them their first DI-A win. I'll be rooting for the 'Dores, but Ole Miss should win this one.
  • South Carolina State @ South Carolina (ESPN Classic): I considered not listing this one, but it technically a game with a DI-A team on TV. I think it's fairly obvious who I'll pick.
  • Ohio State @ Indiana (BTN): Ohio State beat up on a extremely hapless Illinois squad last weekend. This Indiana team is a little less, er, hapless, and should at least providing some resistance. I didn't say the Hoosiers would win, though.
  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical vs. Arkansas (@Arlington, TX; ESPN2): Ah, more games in Jerry Jone's new Intergalactic Space Palace. This old SWC series gets back off the ground in what should be a high-scoring contest. TAMU may be 3-0 but that is against an extremely soft schedule, where as Arkansas actually played a team with a defense last weekend. They probably won't on Saturday, though, and should take the first game in this renewed series.
  • Tulsa @ Rice (CBSCS): I don't know if anyone noticed, but Rice is not a very good football team this year. Tulsa should win easily.
  • Georgia Tech @ Mississippi State (SEC/CSS): GT makes its return trip to Miss State, a year after crushing them in Atlanta. (Fun fact: despite being in the SEC with both Ole Miss and Miss State for 32 years (and in two other conference before that, dating back to the 1890's), GT has never played in the state of Mississippi. In fact, GT and Miss State never met in SEC play, and GT met Ole Miss twice during that time span, though the second time was in the Sugar Bowl.) This year's outfit, though, has a new coach and is actually somewhat competent this year. Perhaps most optimistically for GT, they allowed 390 yards on the ground to Auburn, but you can flip that around and say they only allowed 33 and 30 to Vandy and LSU, respectively.
    In the near upset over LSU last week, Miss State dominated statistically but couldn't punch in the winning score despite 4 attempts within LSU 2 yard line, including what I thought was a very strange call (the 3rd down pass attempt that was miraculously broken up). Overall, Miss State runs a spread-option offense with essentially three players, one at each major skill position. Defensively, Miss State has had success in the last two games stopping the run, though it could be argued both of those teams are also just not very good at running the ball.
    Defensively, I believe GT will stay with the 4-3 that had success last week against UNC and look to stop Miss State's run game. Offensively, Tech still has issues on the interior of the offensive line. While we dominated UNC last weekend, the game wasn't put away until well into the 4th quarter as Tech left a bunch of points on the field with a few stalled drives in Carolina territory and two missed field goals. Tech may go with a new kicker this week, as we also had several kick-offs out-of-bounds that UNC fortunately wasn't really able to capitalize on.
    Overall, I expect this to be a close, but high scoring game. Hopefully the good guys win.
    Also, to whoever at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area/California made the decision to pick up the SEC TV package: THANK YOU!
7:45: Auburn @ Tennessee (ESPN): The line on this game is 2.5-3, which is basically crediting Tennessee for home field advantage. I'm honestly not sure what to think about it either, but I can't help the feeling that Auburn's rejuvenated offense will carry the day while Crompton continues turning the ball over at inopportune times.

  • Southern California @ California (ABC/Gameplan): The 8:00 time slot is a perfect reflection of when these matchups were set two weeks ago. USC-Cal looked to be a major contest with the fate of the Pac-10 on the line, as well as national title implications. For now, it's strictly in the former category. To me, this feels like the game every year where USC starts to rehab from its yearly terrible loss, so I'm taking the Trojans. That said, this game can still be valuable for Cal - but make no mistake, the loser of this game will probably be looking to the Holiday Bowl (at best) instead of the Fiesta.
  • Oklahoma @ University of Miami (Gameplan/ABC): This is still an important inter-sectional matchup, but with Miami laying an egg in Blacksburg last weekend it's declined a bit. OU hasn't had any trouble scoring without Sam Bradford (whom they still lack for today's game), but I feel safe in saying that Miami is probably still a little better than Idaho State and Tulsa. I think Miami will rebound a bit from last weekend, but probably not enough to topple the Sooners.
10:30: Colorado State @ Idaho (ESPNU): On Thursday, I had a message on my DVR that Comcast had just added ESPNU HD, which is about the only reason I can think of to watch this. Well, there is another: it's being played at the Kibbie Dome! Fun facts: it was originally an outdoor stadium that was enclosed; it was the second dome built for sports in Idaho, after Idaho State's own Holt Arena; seating 16,000, it is the smallest stadium in Division I-A (which is why, on occasion, Idaho plays home games in nearby Pullman, home of Washington State); when used for basketball, it is known as the Cowan Spectrum. This is all at least tuning in for a few minutes for. As for the actual game? Well, at 3-1 Idaho already has as many wins as it did in the past two season combined. CSU is also 3-1, but both resumes are overall equally unspectacular. (Giving CSU credit for beating Colorado would probably be a little much at this point.) A quick glance at the stats show you probably shouldn't expect a whole lot of defense. That said, I'll still take Colorado State.

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