Saturday, October 30, 2010

This Weekend in College Football: Week 9

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Miami @ Virginia (ESPN): With Florida State losing at NC State this past Thursday there is, once again, the lack of a clear favorite to win the ACC. While most people don’t care about this sort of thing, as a fan of an ACC school I sort of have to. Sitting at 3-1 and in second in the Coastal, now is as good of a time as any for Miami to step up and show that they can take the reigns of the division. For the purposes of tomorrow, though, they should roll.
  • Purdue @ Illinois (ESPN2): Both of these teams have two Big Ten wins in 3 or 4 games. Now, before you get too excited, the collective group these wins are over is Northwestern, Minnesota, Indiana, and Penn State. In terms of this game, though, I guess I’ll go with Illinois? I think it’s a tossup, though Illinois has beaten slightly stronger competition. And with the Zooker it’s hard to know which version of Illinois will show up at any given time anyway.
  • Oklahoma State @ Kansas State (FSN): Provided Oklahoma State isn’t too upset about having their undefeated record spoiled by Nebraska last week they should be able to beat K-State.
  • Syracuse @ Cincinnati (ESPNU): This isn’t last year’s version of either of these teams. I’ll take the Orange.
  • Northwestern @ Indiana (BTN): I’ve got a hunch there’ll be a lot of points scored in this game. If I remembered that I get the Big Ten network I would probably even watch a little of it. Alas. Oh, and I’ll take Northwestern here.
  • Tennessee @ South Carolina (SEC): South Carolina definitely took it easy in Nashville last weekend. Back in Columbia and with their human freight train Marcus Lattimore back, well, this should be an easy one for the Visor and Co.
  • Clemson @ Boston College (ACC): I swear if Clemson loses this game…. ugh. They should win easily against a team that hasn’t scored more than 21 points in any game this year.

2:30: Tulsa @ Notre Dame (NBC): All I have to say about this is that ND will probably win.


  • Florida vs. Georgia (@Jacksonville, FL; CBS): The Cocktail Party returns, and both fanbases seem to be too busy talking about how the other is going to get blown out to really put any sort of analysis of this thing. Yes, UGA is on a three game winning streak. Those three games are wins over Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky – the latter of which Florida beat earlier in the year 48-14. (Yeah yeah, transitive property doesn’t apply, I know.) Despite all their issues or whatever, I’m still picking the Gators.
  • Michigan State @ Iowa (ABC/ESPN): The next two games feature undefeated teams that are underdogs. The conventional wisdom for this Michigan State team is that they haven’t beaten anyone on the road yet, but Iowa hasn’t really beaten anyone anywhere as they’ve lost to the best two teams they’ve played (Arizona and Wisconsin, the latter of which was at home). I like the Spartans here.
  • Missouri @ Nebraska (ABC/ESPN): So Nebraska goes out and beats a defense-optional Oklahoma State team and all of a sudden they’re Big 12 North favorites again? Did I miss something? Did I miss the fact that the last time the Huskers faced a competent defense it was in the form of an extremely moribund Texas squad that had every reason to lose in Lincoln and then didn’t? Oh, and also that Missouri has a defense that’s been as good as Texas’s this year, if not better? Jeez, what do you have to do to get some respect? I like the Tigers.
  • Arizona @ California-Los Angeles (FSN): UCLA has lost their last two games (vs. Cal and @Oregon) by a combined total of 95-20. Arizona is not quite that explosive but it would be very difficult to take UCLA here.
  • Wake Forest @ Maryland (ESPNU): Maryland should get bowl eligible for the first time since 2008 here.
  • Duke @ Navy (CBSCS): Navy.

6:00: Auburn @ Mississippi (ESPN2): While not projecting an aura of crazy that’s as strong as Les Miles, weird things do tend to happen around Houston Nutt. Such are the challenges Auburn will face in its quest to hang on for the perfect season that, unlike 2004, will payoff this time. Provided Auburn clears this hurdle, and they should, their remaining schedule is UTC, UGA, and @Bama. While UGA is a rivalry game, they shouldn’t be troubled again until they make the drive over to Tuscaloosa.


  • Baylor @ Texas (FSN): Running out of time here, but Texas has lost its last two home games. To UCLA and Iowa State. That is not exactly a murder’s row of teams there. I think Baylor can pull this off.
  • Stanford @ Washington (Versus): Stanford.
  • Kentucky @ Mississippi State (ESPNU): This is an intriguing match, and we could see a lot of points here. I like the cowbells.

7:30: Utah @ Air Force (CBSCS): Air Force is probably the most interesting team Utah has played this season (other than now-Big East favorites Pittsburgh to start the year). I like the Utes to pull away in the second half here.


  • Ohio State @ Minnesota (ABC): Yes, that’s right America, no reverse mirror for this game. So if you’re in the Midwest you’re still with the impending beatdown Ohio State is about to lay on Minnesota. The Oregon-USC game will be on at least.
  • Oregon @ Southern California (ABC): The rest of the country will see this game. I mean, this should be a beatdown as well, but at least it’s got the potential to be interesting.
  • Michigan @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN): Instead, many eyes may be here (well, or on Utah-Air Force, or Baylor-Texas… you get the idea) to see which of these Big Ten teams get out of their recent conference funk (though Penn St. did notch a win against the hapless Beavers last week). While the Wolverines haven’t shown any ability to play defense this year, that shouldn’t be a problem against a Penn State team trying to find an answer at quarterback. The only major problem may be the location factor – Happy Valley at night on Halloween may be a little less happy – but I still like Michigan here.

9:15: Colorado @ Oklahoma (ESPN2): Cody “Son of Coach” Hawkins will start for the Buffs in Norman. He’s going to need all the help he can get, but the main objective for Colorado here is probably avoiding the blowout so Dan Hawkins can at least have the dignified “end of season” firing instead of the midseason variety. Sooners should roll.

10:30: Utah State @ Nevada (ESPNU): Since beating in-state rival BYU, the Aggies (that’s Utah State) have scored 13 points combined against Louisiana Tech and Hawaii. While allowing 69. Nevada’s crept back up into the rankings since their 6-point loss to the Hawaiians two weeks ago, and they will probably stay there for at least another week.

11:00: Texas Christian @ Nevada-Las Vegas (CBSCS): I just went to look at UNLV’s schedule on and a highlight video started autoplaying featuring the headline “TCU Blanks UNLV 41-0”. From last year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see history repeat itself here. Horned Frogs roll.

With each passing week, it gets just a little easier to do the bowl predictions. Expect a fairly quick turnaound after this weekend. Will we see a new #1? Probably not. But if Vegas is right, we’ll have some shakeups around the 5th and 6th ranked teams. So settle in and enjoy, this weekend (especially the 3:30 games) promises to be a fun ride once again here in the return of Bizarro Year.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bowl Predictions 2010: Week 2

Well, it’s week two of bowl prediction season and I still have no solid idea of what’s going on here. I’ll try to do some analysis, though. Let’s try some bullet points, but first here’s a link to the predictions:

  • Auburn and Oregon are the only two teams that control their BCS destiny at this point. If they both win out, they’re in. I feel pretty good about this one. If either of them loses, it’ll be chaos.
  • And even then, it’s not entirely clear what will happen behind Auburn and Oregon. I have no earthly idea who is going to win the Big 12. Right now I would say it will be Oklahoma, Nebraska, or Missouri. Mizzou plays Nebraska this weekend so that will at least let me figure out the likely divisional winners. Even then, I’m not sure Mizzou could beat OU twice. Right now, however, I am projecting the Tigers as the Big 12 champs.
  • As a reminder, the BCS bowls pick in this order: the bowls that lost teams to the championship game get to pick replacements first, followed by the rest of the bowls in reverse order (so this year, the Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, and then Rose). Also, a mid-major team will almost certainly end up in the Rose. I think the TCU/Utah winner will jump Boise State in the BCS eventually, so that’s why I put them there.
  • The rest I feel okay about. This week I actually have extra teams, as each week of conference play also makes it easier to evaluate the non-BCS conferences. Still, though, I’m nervous about having Southern Miss and Troy in the New Orleans Bowl again, but at this point it’s too early to get concrete news on which way the bowls are leaning. Though I did read somewhere Notre Dame might not even get invited to the Champs Sports Bowl (in place of the Big East runner-up), but we’ll see.
  • Oh, speaking of the Big East, I’m projecting a three-way tie thanks to Syracuse upsetting West Virginia last weekend. It seemed like the most rational prediction at this point.
  • As much as I hate to admit this, I’d actually like to see Georgia and Clemson play each other. That’s a pretty longstanding rivalry that should be played every year but isn’t.

Anyway, this weekend holds even more intriguing matchups that will probably change everything again. So, until next time…

Saturday, October 23, 2010

This Weekend in College Football: Week 8

No time this week, so let’s get this going. As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Notre Dame vs. Navy (@East Rutherford, NJ; CBS): For only the 2nd time since 1964, Navy has a chance to win consecutive games against Notre Dame. Will they do it? Probably not.
  • Michigan State @ Northwestern (ESPN): This is a game that would be easy for the Spartans to overlook, but should otherwise be one where they should take care of business.
  • Syracuse @ West Virginia (ESPN2): West Virginia is probably the best team in the Big East this year. Which, unfortunately for them, isn’t really saying much. But they should be able to beat Syracuse, even this rejuvenated edition. Key word there: “should”.
  • Iowa State @ Texas (FSN): Iowa State has lost its last games (Utah and Oklahoma) by a combined 93 points. I don’t think it’s going to get any better against the Longhorns.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Minnesota (ESPNU): Minnesota finally fired Tim Brewster, who definitely came into this season as, well, the most likely coach to get fired before the season ended. Note this was after the bizarre extension he got last winter. At any rate, even this astonishingly mediocre edition of Penn State should be able to beat them.
  • Purdue @ Ohio State (BTN): Purdue is surprisingly 4-2 and 2-0 in the Big Ten. Well, surprising until you see that their 2-0 conference record is against the two worst teams in the conference. I think it’ll go to 2-1 in this game, unless Ohio State pulls a, well, “last year against Purdue” type game out of their hat after getting mauled by Wisconsin last weekend.
  • Mississippi @ Arkansas (SEC): I’m going to guess that Houston Nutt probably checked into his hotel in Fayetteville under an assumed name. That aside, Arkansas should continue in its quest to stay relevant in the SEC West race with a win here.
  • Duke @ Virginia Tech (ACC): Well, it looks like the Hokies are peaking just in time… to pound Duke in a pulp.


  • Louisiana State @ Auburn (CBS): The first of a trio of huge 3:30 games, none of which I’ll probably watch due to our game being at the same time. But no matter! Folks other than me are starting to notice this similarities of this year to 2007, and, well, you know who got into the title game and won it that year? LSU-led Les Miles. The crazy continues in Auburn this weekend, where by rights Auburn should win. But that this point, I can’t pick against LSU until this lose. Yes, I know Auburn scored 65 points last week. LSU actually kind of does play defense, so they probably won’t do that again. But if they don’t bury the Lovecraftian horror that is LSU’s offense early, it will come back to haunt them.
  • Wisconsin @ Iowa (ABC/ESPN): Game number 2! Sure, both these Big Ten hopefuls have a loss but they’re still two of the best four teams in the conference. If Iowa wins, they control their own destiny in the conference as they play both Michigan State and Ohio State. Wisconsin also puts itself at the likely top of the 1-loss heap, but they don’t play Michigan State so that would start to get interesting at the end of the year. At any rate, the Wisconsin offense is pretty good (they’re probably the textbook definition of a team that “runs downhill”) but Iowa probably has a better and more experienced defensive line than Ohio State. I’ll take the Hawkeyes at hom.
  • Nebraska @ Oklahoma State (ABC): Here’s the third game. Nebraska suffered a huge let down against Texas last weekend, to the say the last. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State hopes to keep pace with the conference frontrunners by staying undefeated. Can Nebraska make another team suffer the same grief they just went through? Earlier this week I was high on the Cowboys but now I’m not so sure, as they’ve definitely given up a lot of points this year. This may be the kind of team Nebraska can regroup and get the offense back on track for. I’ll change my mind here at the last minute and take the Huskers.
  • Georgia Tech @ Clemson (ABC/ESPN): I quote this stat every year for this game, but here goes again. Starting in 2004, Tech is 6-1 against Clemson. That “1” was a 31-7 blowout that I still remember – I was at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Chattanooga and Clemson was wearing those awful all-purple unis. The other 6 have all been Tech wins, yes, but but an average of 4.5 points. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1989 to find the last time Tech beat Clemson by more than a single score. It’s rumored Clemson will be clad in purple once again, so let’s hope we don’t get a 2006-ish effort.
    We played Clemson twice last year, so it’s tempting to compare this year to those efforts, especially the most epic conference championship no one watched. If I had to compare this year’s team to last year, it’s that a) we’re not scoring as much and b) we turn the ball over more. I think our turnovers are a direct result of poorer blocking along the line this year. While the offensive line doesn’t usually turn the ball over, if they’re not getting their blocks then you have a flood of defenders in your backfield too quickly to let anything develop. This leads to things like bad snaps (anxiety of the C to get his block) and missed pitches (timing is thrown off because the pitch man has to go around a defender). These are both mistakes we will have to continue to limit in order to be successful in this crucial stretch that starts up in up-state South Carolina.
  • Arizona State @ California (FSN): Cal? Yeah. I have no clue what to think of them. Trying to figure this out would surely drive me mad, so I’ll take the easy way out and the Sun Devils.
  • Connecticut @ Louisville (ESPNU): These are probably the two worst teams in the Big East. Louisville has somewhat better losses so I’ll pick them.
  • Houston @ Southern Methodist (CBSCS): Houston just lost to Rice. Yeah. I’ll take the Mustangs.


  • Alabama @ Tennessee (ESPN): Well, this October has 5 Saturdays so the 3rd Saturday in October… isn’t. Nonetheless, the Tide should, er, roll easily through Knoxville.
  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ Kansas (FSN): Don’t even get me started on Kansas. Ugh. TAMU rolls.
  • Alabama-Birmingham @ Mississippi State (ESPNU): In days of yore, I probably would’ve been tempted to take UAB here but, well, Miss State is actually kind of good now. So not so much.

7:30: North Carolina @ Miami (ESPN2): Among other things, two teams have bedeviled Miami since their entry into the ACC: Georgia Tech and UNC. UNC has actually one three straight over the Canes, but even with their depleted defense back I think good Jacory makes a cameo and Miami wins.


  • Oklahoma @ Missouri (ABC): While there’s a trio of good 3:30 games, with apologies to AF-TCU, this is the game of prime time right here. We’ll find out in a matter of hours which of these teams is “for real” and which isn’t. Despite the less impressive resume, I picked Missouri in my bowl predictions and, well , it’s too late to turn back now. (Well, as demonstrated above, it actually isn’t, but I needed a reason to pick the Tigers so there you go.)
  • Air Force @ Texas Christian (CBSCS): I think this has a chance to be an interesting game, by which I mean there’s a chance TCU will win by less than 4 touchdowns. I’ll take the Horned Frogs here.

10:15: Washington @ Arizona (ESPN): Here’s your Pac-10 Nightcap. While last week’s Washington-Oregon State tilt wasn’t all that thrilling regulation, overtime was great until the Beavers decided to go for two in the second overtime for reasons I haven’t quite figured out. (The way I figure, if you’re going to go for two early, do it in the first overtime. In the second why not just get back out there on defense for the 3rd OT where everyone has to go for two anyway?) Anyway, I’ll thumb my nose at the transitive property once again (Oregon State is responsible for Arizona’s single loss) and take Arizona.

Look for bowl predictions once again late Sunday. Hopefully things will make even just slightly more sense this weekend. (Though if this season has proven anything, it’ll probably be the opposite.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bowl Predictions 2010: Week 1

Ordinarily, I use the first post of the year to go through my process and my thoughts on the individual bowls.

I won't do that here, though, for two reasons.
1. I am really busy right now.
2. I have no idea what is going on.

Hopefully I'll have something more substantive for week 2. In the meantime, enjoy. Oh, and yes, I am short a team. That could well happen this year!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

This Weekend in College Football: Week 7

Expect the first round of bowl predictions after the BCS is released on Sunday.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
  • Boston College @ Florida State (ESPN): The only thing FSU has to worry about in this game is themselves. BC is still an offensive non-entity, which was certainly not a problem for FSU last weekend.
  • Minnesota @ Purdue (ESPN2): My reaction upon seeing this: what the hell? These are the two worst teams in the Big Ten and they’re on national television? Meanwhile, the team people might actually want to see, Michigan State, is on the Big Ten network? How the heck did this happen? That said, you could well see Tim Brewster get fired live in national television, so it may be worth it for that. Purdue should win.
  • Missouri @ Texas Agricultural & Mechanical (FSN): TAMU put up a good fight against Arkansas, but I don’t think they really have it in them to beat Mizzou. Then again, Missouri’s best win so far is either Illinois or Colorado, which isn’t really saying much.
  • Arkansas State @ Indiana (ESPNU): Indiana.
  • North Carolina State @ East Carolina (CBSCS): ECU is 3-0 against C-USA, but 0-2 against VPI and UNC and neither of those games was really close. Russell Wilson and Co. should roll.
  • Illinois @ Michigan State (BTN): Illinois beating Penn State last weekend says a lot more about the latter than the former. Sparty rolls.
  • Vanderbilt @ Georgia (SEC): Sure, they beat Tennessee (pretty handily, too) but there’s not a whole lot of satisfaction in Athens. Vandy is cagey, but UGA should win this one.
  • Maryland @ Clemson (ACC): Since the overtime loss to Auburn, Clemson’s season has been spiraling downhill, with consecutive losses to Miami and a depleted UNC. Meanwhile, Maryland sits at 5-1, but the “1” comes to easily the best team they’ve played so far. I’m going to take Clemson here, but I don’t feel good about it at all.
2:30: Western Michigan @ Notre Dame (NBC): Not a good sign when, while writing this, I had to remember that yes, in fact, all the directional Michigans are DI-A and in the MAC. Notre Dame rolls.
  • Arkansas @ Auburn (CBS): This may well be the most wide open game in the history of the SEC. Arkansas also desperately needs it to keep their slim SEC West chances alive. Arkansas actually seems to play some semblance of defense, though, so I’ll take them. But if I were betting on this (note that we endorse that sort of thing) I’d take the over.
  • Iowa @ Michigan (ABC/ESPN/Gameplan): Speaking of defense – Iowa’s got one, and Michigan emphatically does not. Will we witness another Michigan implosion after a 5-0 start? I kind of doubt it – I’ll take the Wolverines.
  • Texas @ Nebraska (ABC/ESPN/Gameplan): I just cannot see any way this year’s Texas team beats this year’s Nebraska team. One of the storylines I always found intriguing when it was rumored, and then announced, that Nebraska was bolting for the Big Ten after this season is sort of the idea that this whole Big 12 thing didn’t really go the way the ‘Huskers wanted it. In the old Big 8, Nebraska was king – and at the time, it was naturally assumed that this would continue to be the case. And sure, the old Big 8 schools held their own at first, with Nebraska and Kansas State vying for dominance and racking up the BCS appearances. But then a funny thing happened, and next thing they knew Oklahoma and Nebraska wasn’t a big rivalry anymore and Texas was getting all the headlines. Anyway, what I’m getting at here is that while Nebraska fans have had this one marked literally on the calendar since it was announced, they’ve probably been looking forward to it figuratively for a long time.
  • California @ Southern California (FSN): I have no idea what to make of Cal this year. None. USC though doesn’t have much of a defense. I’ll take the Bears.
  • Wake Forest @ Virginia Tech (ESPNU): Wake is… well, they’re just not very good this year. VPI rolls.
  • Southern Methodist @ Navy (CBSCS): Other than the expected beatdown from TCU, SMU has been holding their own this year. Navy, though, just barely beat a terrible Wake Forest team and, well, with losses to Maryland and Air Force I don’t think this year is going quite as they (or at least I) expected. I’ll take the Mustangs.
  • Middle Tennessee State @ Georgia Tech ( It’s easy to point at Dwight Dasher’s first game back last Tuesday against Troy and say that he was horrible. Because he was. But that doesn’t really relate to anything that might happen in Atlanta. I don’t want to say this is a (sigh) trap game, but after showing decent progress last week we need to not regress going into the most important stretch on our schedule.
4:00: Brigham Young @ Texas Christian (Versus): At the beginning of the year, I probably saw this game somewhere and I probably said something like, “aw yeah, this is going to be a great one!” Yeah, not so much. TCU should roll
6:00: South Carolina @ Kentucky (ESPN2): The best part about South Carolina winning is, for me, the fact is gives Steve Spurrier ammo to start making fun of other coaches again – for instance, this week he made a remark about his team “at least being able to count to 11” or some such. At any rate, Kentucky gave Auburn all they wanted and more, but they’ve still lost three straight. I suspect that will go to four.
  • Ohio State @ Wisconsin (ESPN): Okay, so far Ohio State has done everything right. They thoroughly beat the one decent team they played and they’ve blown out everyone else (except Illinois). So now they go into Camp Randall Stadium the obvious favorites. Folks are giving Wisconsin a lot of credit, but really they’ve played one really good team (Michigan State) and lost, and been an okay Arizona State team. So we don’t really know much about them either. Personally, I’m taking the chalk and honestly I don’t think it’ll be that close.
  • Iowa State @ Oklahoma (FSN): I think the only way Iowa State has a chance here is if Oklahoma turns the ball over 9 times a la Nebraska last year. Sooners should roll.
  • Mississippi State @ Florida (ESPNU): Okay, Florida fans, your offense actually does suck. Fine, I believe you. There’s still no way you should lose to Miss State.
7:30: Arizona @ Washington State (Versus): Arizona.
8:00: Air Force @ San Diego State (CBSCS): San Diego State’s good start was probably just an illusion. As long as Air Force isn’t too high on having the inside track for the Commadner in Chief’s trophy for the first in forever they should be able to take care of business.
9:15: Mississippi @ Alabama (ESPN2): South Carolina is a very good football team that played the game of their lives last weekend. Ole Miss is not very good. In fact, they’re probably not even good. This one might get ugly.
10:15: Oregon State @ Washington (ESPN): I still like Oregon State a whole bunch, so I’ll take them to beat U-Dub here.
10:30: New Mexico State @ Fresno State (ESPNU): And here’s the nightcap! Fresno may be having a down here, but New Mexico State just got its first win of the year last week, and only because they played also winless New Mexico. Fresno should have this one.
All right, that was a little short, but the night schedule is relatively spaced out this week with no 8:00 ABC game. Anyway, like I said, bowl predictions sometime Sunday night or Monday!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

@ajcbraves Tweets that Fredi Gonzalez Will Be the Next Braves Manager

Well, there ya go. Considering the rumors and the way the players have talked on the record this is almost certainly true.

Gonzalez was the Braves's third base coach before being hired by the Marlins in 2007. He went 276-279 with the fish, his best year being 2009 when they finished 87-75 and finished second in the division. He was fired in June of this year after a public spat with Marlins superstar Hanley Ramirez. The team was 34-36 when he was fired.

So 2010 is over. What about 2011?

The 2010 Braves tried as hard as they could, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to overcome missing 2 of their top 3 offensive weapons. So aside from a new manager, who else do the Braves need to worry about replacing this offseason? I went through the Braves’ current contracts to preview who’ll become a free agent, who’s up for arbitration, and who will return.

Pardon the obligatory spelling and grammar errors, I’m tired.

Veteran Free Agents/Options

  • Derrek Lee (1B): He’ll be 35 next year, and has a bad back among other possible ailments. Despite only hitting 3 HRs, he put up an 849 OPS in 39 games with the Braves. While he won’t again command a $13 million salary, it’s generally thought the Braves expect Freddie Freeman will be ready for primetime next year. I doubt the Braves consider resigning him.
  • Troy Glaus (1B): He figuratively, and very nearly literally, carried the team in May and June. The rest of the year his OPS hovered in the 550-600 range, which is pretty terrible for a first baseman. The Braves only paid him $1.75 million (plus incentives), but again with Freeman expected to make the big club he’s gone.
  • Eric Hinske (4C): He’s really only a 3 corners guy, and saw his use in the field decline precipitously throughout the year despite the Braves being terrible in the outfield. However, he was still a decent left-handed bat off the bench, and only cost $1 million. I think the Braves might look into resigning him.
  • Scott Proctor (RHP): The Braves signed this righty-reliever coming off Tommy John surgery as a reclamation project. He experienced multiple setbacks and spent most of the year in the minors before being called up in September, where he only appeared in 6 games, allowing 4 runs, 4 walks, but getting 6 strikeouts in 5.2 innings. I’m not really sure what the Braves would do here – righty middle relievers are a dime-a-dozen.
  • Billy Wagner (LHP): Despite a $6.5 million club option, Wagner will retire.
  • Kyle Farnsworth (RHP): Acquired in the Kansas City trade that also brought over Rick Ankiel, Farnsworth didn’t pitch well, but he didn’t pitch badly either and made the postseason roster in a deep pen. However, it’s doubtful the Braves think he’s worth his $5.25 million club option for next year.
  • Takashi Saito (RHP): The Braves signed him to a 1-year deal last offseason, and he delivered the goods before coming down with a variety of aliments late in the season that could be roughly attributed to his age (he’ll be 41 next year). I don’t think he’ll be back – there’s not a lot of demand for 41 year old righties with arm and shoulder issues.
  • Melky Cabrera (OF): The Braves acquired him to platoon with Matt Diaz in left. Unfortunately, he was pressed into much more playing time than planned when Diaz went down for a couple of months with an infected thumb. Thought to be a speed-type player, he rarely bunted for base hits and only stole 7 bases. He also only hit .266 (685 OPS) against righties which is not good when you’re part of a platoon in a corner outfield position. Unfortunately for the Braves, Nate McLouth was so bad he also played a lot in center, regardless of who was pitching. I’m not sure what the Braves intended to do with the outfield outside of Jason Heyward and Matt Diaz, but they need to figure something out. It probably won’t involve this guy.
  • Rick Ankiel (OF): I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Braves won’t pick up Ankiel’s $6 million mutual option. After not playing May and June, he played well in his last few games with the Royals before the trade, where he promptly returned to his 2009 form that caused the Cardinals to not resign him. He looked lost at the plate hitting .210 in his time in Atlanta, but he was better in the field than most of the other options of the outfield. I doubt the Braves resign him, and the way he’s swung the bat the last two seasons put his future as a major leaguer in doubt.
  • Alex Gonzalez (SS): I joked early in the NLDS that someone should just tell him they were going to play the Giants at Rogers Centre, because whatever the reason he hit 17 HR in 85 games with the Blue Jays but only 6 in 72 games with the Braves. The Braves could exercise a $2.5 million club option for him in 2011, and with the lack of any other major-league ready shortstops in the minors (unless the Braves consider Omar Infante an option at short, which I don’t think they do) they may pick it up.

Arbitration Eligible

  • Matt Diaz (LF): The Braves signed him for $2.55 million last winter to avoid arbitration, and it’s likely they will do so again. I think they will make an effort to retain Diaz, as he plays left and absolutely kills lefties. His health issues from last year and this year should also continue to keep his salary under $3 million.
  • Omar Infante (UT): The Braves’s super-sub made a somewhat controversial All-Star appearance, and then got a chance to play everyday when Chipper Jones went down in August. The Braves have a $2.5 million club option for next year and I see no reason why they wouldn’t pick it up. I don’t think they want to see him play everyday, but he can play 2B, 3B, and in a pinch, short and is a decent bat off the bench.
  • Peter Moylan (RHP): The affable Aussie is eligible for arbitration again, and the Braves will most likely work to retain his services.
  • Jair Jurrjens (RHP): This wasn’t a good year for Jurrjens, as he spent large chunks of it hurt and his numbers were done. However, the Braves know that, if healthy, he’s a solid middle of the rotation guy and is certainly worth more than the $480,000 they paid him last year. The Braves will probably attempt to work out a long-term deal in the off season, but since Jurrjens is represented by Scott Boras he may explore the market or force arbitration.
  • Eric O’Flaherty (LHP): When healthy, O’Flaherty played the LOOGY role in the Braves’s bullpen, but he also spent a large portion of the season hurt and didn’t make the postseason roster due to dizziness and blurred vision. At press time, it’s still not known what ails him. Provided he works it out, the Braves will probably seek to sign him to a 1 to 2-year deal to avoid arbitration for now.
  • Martin Prado (2B/3B): All Prado did in 2010 was hit over .300 again for decent power (mostly in the form of doubles) and make the All-Star team. Unfortunately for him and the Braves, his various ailments (broken pinky, sore groin) started to catch up to him in September before he tore his oblique the last week of the season. Nonetheless, I think the Braves see him as their second baseman of the future and will probably attempt to work out a long-term deal while avoiding arbitration. Suffice it to say, he’s going to get a raise from the $440,000 he made this past year.

Veterans Under Contract

  • Tim Hudson (RHP): Hudson was, in his first full year after Tommy John surgery, far and away the Brave's’s best starting pitcher, and became the guy the Braves thought they were getting back in 2005. In fact, he posted his best season since 2003, posting a sub-3.00 (2.83) ERA for the first time since then with a slightly lower strikeout rate. $9 million a year through 2012 looks like a steal right now, and he should be the Braves’s #1 starter next year.
  • Kenshin Kawakami (RHP): Kawakami was dreadful this year. Despite getting his first win in his June 26th start against Detroit, he was already bad enough that Kris Medlen took his spot the next time it came up. From there, he was relegated to bullpen, wherefrom he made the all of two appearances and an emergency/last chance start in early September where he gave up 5 earned runs in 3 innings. Problem is, the Braves still have him under contract for $6.667 million next year. He was left off the postseason roster and it’s uncertain what the Braves will do with him.
  • Derek Lowe (RHP): Lowe was the NL pitcher of the month for September after finding/rediscovering his slider reduced his WHIP from around 1.4 to 1.076 as he reduced his walk and increased his strikeouts. Downside is next year he’ll enter his age 38 season and rarely goes past six innings. Nonetheless, he’s under contract through 2012 for $15 million a year. If the Braves get a few more months like this past September/October out of him they at least have gotten some of their money’s worth.
  • Brian McCann (C): Another year, another all-star appearance for Brian McCann. Another 20 homers, another 4.7 WAR (making him the most valuable player on the roster), another year of being the best catcher in the league (though unlike the Cubs rookie from a few years back, Buster Posey looks to be a legit challenger to this title). His average was down because his strikeouts increased, and his 20 lost RBI can probably be attributed to Chipper getting hurt. The scary thing (well, for opposing pitchers)? He turns only 27 next year, and he’s under contract through 2012 with a club option at $12 million for 2013. I have a feeling it’ll probably be worth it.
  • David Ross (C): As Baseball Prospectus’s preview of the NLDS said, “let’s talk about David Ross, because nobody talks about David Ross”. During this past season he negotiated a new contract worth $1.625 million per year through 2012. For a backup catcher who defends better than the starter but doesn’t embarrass himself at the plate (871 OPS over 145 plate appearances this year) that’s totally worth it.
  • Chipper Jones (3B): Chipper is signed through 2012 for $13 million a year. He was having a rough go of it early in the season, but from June 10 to August 10 (when he tore his ACL) he hit .299/.385/.503 with 7 homers. Despite missing the last two months of the season, he was still the 3rd most value player on the club, worth 3.2 wins above replacement. Since WAR is a cumulative stat, it’s worth wondering how much higher he would’ve been had he been in the lineup the last two months of the year. He mentioned during an in-game interview the last Friday of the season that he was going to begin hitting of a tee the next day. His current plan seems to be to rehab as normal and then see if the can make the club in the spring. Based on the way he talked when he was mired in a slump the first part of the season, I don’t think Chipper will be out there if he thinks he’s an embarrassment to himself or the team. He’s not chasing any numbers that I know of and has done enough to be a first ballot hall of famer. Going into his age 39 season next year, I suspect it will mostly be up to him.
  • Nate McClouth (OF): June 9th at Arizona, Nate McLouth collided with Jason Heyward in right center field. Heyward got up, but McLouth had a concussion and didn’t return to the big club until July 21. It would be tempting to attribute his struggles to that incident, but frankly he was terrible before then. In 60 games before then, he was batting .176 and a .295 on base percentage, which is out-and-out terrible for a guy who’s supposed to be able to leadoff and steal some bases. He also only stole 7 bases on the year. Oh, and he doesn’t play center particularly well either. All this and more are what the what the Braves are paying him $6.5 million next year for. I really hope they can figure out a way out this contract.

Active, Notable, or Injured Rookies or Second Year Players

  • Tommy Hanson (RHP): The Braves’s front-end rotation guy of the future had a pretty solid 2010 and avoided a sophomore slump. He pitched as well as anyone in the second half but terrible run support limited him to a 10-11 record despite a 3.33 ERA. There’s a chance he may be “Super 2” player (i.e., eligible for arbitration after his second year), in which case he would be eligible for arbitration. If he’s not, the Braves will probably sign him for a modest raise over his current $435,000 salary.
  • Kris Medlen (RHP): The rookie righty will spend most, if not all, of 2011 in the DL recovering from Tommy John surgery.
  • Jordan Schafer (OF): The once highly touted outfield prospect was last seen being demoted to AA Mississippi in July and assigned to the DL in August. The Braves will probably keep him around in 2011 for around the minimum and hope he figures it out.
  • Brandon Beachy (RHP): Called up to make an emergency start for Mike Minor in September, he went on to pitch decently in his for two major league starts. I suspect we may see more of him next year and will likely remain on the 40-man roster.
  • Brooks Conrad (UT): The Braves signed Conrad out of spring training as a bench guy who could play every position on the infield, winning out over Joe Thurston due to his defense. He then went on to become an Atlanta folk hero when he capped off a ridiculous 9th inning rally last May with a pinch-hit walk off grand slam. However, he was a 30-year old rookie for a reason, as he still swings at a lot of breaking stuff out of the zone. The statement in the first sentence about his defense became extremely ironic after the Braves had no choice but to play him everyday after Martin Prado suffered his season ending injury the last week of September. Conrad went on to commit more errors than games played, including costly errors that led directly to losses in the playoffs. Hopefully the dude gets it straightened out. Provided he does, the Braves may look to maintain his services for a price around the minimum.
  • Micheal Dunn (LHP): Dunn should play a huge role in the future of the Braves bullpen. For starters, he’s left handed and breathing. Secondly, he throws an upper-90’s fastball with a nasty slider. As rookie, the Braves control him for couple more years.
  • Freddie Freeman (1B): The Braves’s first baseman of the future didn’t do much of anything in a September callup, but the organization really wants him to be ready next spring. He hit well at AAA Gwinett after recovering from an injury filled 2009 that reduced his numbers. If he can hit around .300 with 15+ HRs in Atlanta he would be the best Braves first baseman in awhile.
  • Diory Hernandez (UT): Hernandez was called up in late July to supplement the bench when Martin Pardo went on the DL for the first time, and spent most of his days in Atlanta riding the pine. He will probably continue to the same or start 2011 at Gwinett.
  • Jason Heyward (OF): The Braves new everyday right fielder faltered down the stretch and in the playoffs, but he likely has a long major league career ahead of him. Since he was a rookie, though, the Braves will be able to resign him on the cheap in 2011.
  • Craig Kimbrel (RHP): Kimbrel is the popular guess to replace Billy Wagner as the Braves’s closer next year, and why not? He has nasty stuff and averages two strikeouts per inning. He’ll get a shot at it in the spring.
  • Cristhian Martinez (RHP): Martinez became the Braves’s long man/emergency starter later in the year as Kenshin Kawakami declined, and was even on the postseason roster in favor of him. He had a 3.08 ERA but only a 1.006 WHIP in 52.2 innings at AAA and showed similar stats in the 26 innings with the big club. For a guy the Braves got off waivers from the Marlins, he’s worked out pretty well.
  • Mike Minor (LHP): The Braves added Minor to the roster to replace Kris Medlen, and at first, he didn’t disappoint. However, the stresses of his first full professional season (he pitched 134.1 innings in the minors before being called up) got to him at the end of the season as he started to run out of gas and was eventually replaced by Brandon Beachy. However, I would suspect he remains part of the Braves’s plans for their rotation of the future and probably has a chance to start the year with the big club as a 5th starter.
  • Jonny Venters (LHP): “Everyday” Jonny Venters pitched almost everyday for the Braves down the stretch and responded well before the last weekend, where he was obviously tired. The three days off before the playoffs started rejuvenated him and he pitched well in the postseason. He has a bright future with the club.

Other Guys on the 40-Man Roster

  • J.C. Boscan (C): The Crash Davis-esque minor league vet finally got a cup of coffee in September. However, unlike Crash Davis, he only hit 5 HR in AAA with a .250 average. I can’t say I know a whole lot of about Braves catching prospects, but the spent nearly all of 2010 with 2 catchers on the 40-man roster, and I suspect Boscan will be designated back to AAA after the World Series to free up room.
  • Kyle Cofield (RHP): I don’t know anything about this kid other than the he was drafted in 2005 and was put on the 40-man roster this year (probably to avoid exposing him to the Rule 5 draft).
  • Brandon Hicks (SS/3B): Hicks broke his right index finger and was put on the 60-day DL in September to free up space on the 40-man roster. I can’t honestly say I know the Braves plans are for him, though in 2011 they may use him as a sort of designated backup for Chipper if/when he returns or a last resort if they can’t find anyone to play short.
  • Lee Hyde (LHP): The 2006 4th round pick out of Georgia Tech (woo!), Hyde was probably put on the 40-man last November to avoid the Rule 5 draft. I suspect he’ll stay there despite a 4.29 ERA and 1.714 WHIP in Gwinett this year as long as he is physically able to throw using his left arm and run on to the field.
  • Jose Ortegano (LHP): Yet another Braves signee out of Venezuela, 2010 was not a good year for him. He was signed in 2006 so he will likely remain on the 40-man for now to avoid the Rule 5 draft.
  • Stephen Marek (RHP): Marek seems to have figured it out in AAA this year, posting a 1.43 ERA in 50.1 innings of relief and 56 strikeouts to only 19 walks. I would bet he gets an invite to camp next spring.
  • Luis Valdez (RHP): He’s listed on the 40-man roster despite not actually being on it, as he’s been on the restricted list since March due to visa issues and hasn’t been heard from since.

And a final note

This was the most fun year I’ve had as a Braves fan in awhile. It pains me to see it end like like it did, and this post is one of my main ways of coping. I’m 25, and I’ve been watching the Braves probably since I was 5. I’ve never known any other baseball teams, much less any other managers. It will be bizarre seeing some other guy sitting in that Braves dugout next year. It will be weird watching a broadcast and not hearing the familiar shouts of encouragement from the top step of the dugout. It will be weird when all of players no longer have nicknames that end with a “-y”.

The next guy, whoever he is (and there seem to be a real scarcity of rumors around this – either it’s already been decided or people aren’t talking about it out of respect)… well, he’s going to have some awfully big cleats to fill.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

This Weekend in College Football: Week 6

It’s week 6! Doesn’t feel like it, does it?

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Indiana @ Ohio State (ESPN): Here’s the thing about Indiana. They’re Indiana. With Ohio State’s newfound penchant for beating up on less opponents, they should win easily.
  • Illinois @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN2): The Zook Era is probably over at Illinois anyway. But this game probably isn’t going to help things.
  • Texas Tech vs. Baylor (@Dallas, TX; FSN): Texas Tech was on the receiving end of an upset beatdown, while Baylor was on the giving end. College football blogger types have been waiting for Baylor QB Robert Griffin, who finally had his breakout game against Kansas, where Baylor rolled 55-7. Also fun is the fact that this game is being held at and during the Texas State fair, though unlike last week’s Red River Shootout I’m not aware of any good nickname for this game between two other Big 12 South rivals. At any rate, I’m going against all my college football instincts and picking Baylor to win.
  • Central Michigan @ Virginia Tech (ESPNU): VPI, unless they confuse CMU for JMU or something.
  • Minnesota @ Wisconsin (BTN): Wisconsin.
  • Tennessee @ Georgia (SEC): UGA is not running good right now, as they ended being trampled (ha-ha!) by a late Buffalo comeback last week. Tennessee, of course, lost as only a team can lose to LSU: in the most chaotic and crazy way possible. Presumably, the Vols have learned their lesson and probably will have no more than 11 folks on the field at any given time to secure the win.
  • Boston College @ North Carolina State (ACC): BC is always a decent team, but this year they seem to lack any decent quarterbacks. Russell Wilson should be able to get back on track in this one.


  • Alabama @ South Carolina (CBS): I feel pretty good about saying this is Alabama’s last major challenge until Auburn. Yes, I know LSU and Auburn are both higher ranked than South Carolina, but the mere idea of a Nick Saban team losing to Les Miles is almost enough to make my head explode. While South Carolina is a legit threat, I suspect the Tide will dispose of them the same way they do all their threats. As EDSBS’s Orson Swindle put it last week, Alabama plays football like they hate it, as though they’re bored with it. That ruthless efficiency will allow them to win again in Columbia, most likely.
  • Pittsburgh @ Notre Dame (NBC): The most recent image in my head for either of these teams is Pitt getting mercilessly pounded by Miami, so I’m going to take ND here.
  • Michigan State @ Michigan (ABC/ESPN): Two undefeated teams will enter, but only one will leave! This is shaping up to be the best iteration of this rivalry in years, and is fully worth your support. As a Tech fan, it’s hard not to sympathize with Michigan State, which along with GT and teams like Texas A&M have an arch-nemesis who doesn’t really reciprocate. Both these teams appear good from the available data. Michigan has one of the most electric quarterbacks in the country, and Michigan State has a coach who is back only a few weeks after a heart attack. Of course, as Doc Saturday points out, this undefeated starts bears a resemblance to last year’s 4-0 start for Michigan, a streak which was broken by the Spartans. That said, being the home team and possessing the superior offense, I have to pick Michigan.
  • Clemson @ North Carolina (ABC/ESPN/Gameplan): Clemson ended up losing by 9 to Miami last week, but there’s no real shame in that. UNC has rebounded from an 0-2 start to pull up to 2-2, with wins over moribund Rutgers and East Carolina. Against quality competition, I basically consider both these teams 0-2, and with all the drama surrounding Carolina right now I have to pick the Tigers.
  • Arkansas vs. Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (@Arlington, TX; ABC/Gameplan): Dallas is basically the capital of the college football world for the day, with the early game up at the Cotton Bowl and this game down at Jerry Jones’s Intergalactic Space Palace. Do not be fooled by TAMU’s 3-1 record, for the “3” part of that comes against teams like Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana Tech, and Florida International (whom they only beat by a touchdown). Arkansas has also had a bye week to recover from their last minute collapse against Alabama, and should be on the right track here to beat the Aggies.
  • California-Los Angeles @ California (FSN): Hey, remember that time Cal lost by three touchdowns to Nevada as the Wolfpack ran all over them for 316 yards? Hey, remember that time UCLA beat Texas by three touchdowns while rushing for 264 yards? Now recall that UCLA installed Nevada’s offense and, well, I’ll be taking the Bruins over the Bears.
  • Virginia @ Georgia Tech (ESPNU): It’s homecoming. I’m generally against scheduling homecoming against conference foes (especially we play MTSU at home next week), but I’m not in charge of these things. As for the football game? Well, we basically played like crap again until sometime around the 8-minute mark in the 4th quarter the offensive collectively woke up and realized, “hey wait, we’re losing to Wake Forest”. From there, GT went on a tear as it methodically came back. Dropped passes and missed blocks – two of GT’s main problems – are mostly issues of execution, not talent. This team has the talent to succeed if it plays four quarters of football. They just need to play like it if they want to beat UVA two years in a row for the first time since 1990 and 1991.
  • Wyoming @ Texas Christian (CBSCS): This is an away game for the Cowboys, so definite no brown tops. Boise beat these guys 51-6, so I figure that’s about where the bar is for TCU.


  • Colorado @ Missouri (FSN): We’ve talked plenty about 5th down. These Tigers are undefeated, but against, well, terrible teams. Fortunately for them, this edition of Colorado is pretty bad. I’ll take Mizzou.
  • Oregon State @ Arizona (Versus): I think Oregon State’s got what it takes to take down Arizona. Arizona is 4-0, which is all well and good, but I just can’t figure out what they’ve done to deserved to be ranked 9th in the country. Which is a major part of why I’m taking the Beavers.
  • Eastern Michigan @ Vanderbilt (ESPNU): I’m pretty sure Vandy can win this one against one of, if not the worst, Division I-A football team in the country.


  • Louisiana State @ Florida (ESPN): Don’t let Florida fans fool you, they’re still pretty good and undefeated against teams that aren’t Alabama over the past two seasons. I think they’ll beat LSU.
  • Auburn @ Kentucky (ESPN2): The Cam Newton Experience is back in action in Lexington, where Auburn should be able to beat Kentucky pretty thoroughly.
  • Purdue @ Northwestern (BTN): Purdue just lost to Toledo by 11. Toledo. I’ll take Northwestern to run it to a not really that improbable 6-0, considering the schedule they’ve played.


  • Southern California @ Stanford (ABC/Gameplan): If you’d told me even two years ago that Stanford would ever be a double-digit favorite over USC I’d have thought you were crazy. And yet, here we are. Andrew Luck and Co. should be ready to exploit USC’s entirely too forgiving defense while avenging their loss to Oregon.
  • Florida State @ Miami (ABC/Gameplan): FSU and Miami are ranked again! It’s everything the ACC ever wanted! Well, except that each of these teams lost to superior teams from other conferences already, so not so much. Also, FSU’s pass defense still seems to be somewhat terribly, giving nice, soft and juicy coverages for Jacory Harris to exploit mercilessly. Miami should win pretty easily, unless Harris has one of his “bad days”.
  • Mississippi State @ Houston (CBSCS): With their all-everything QB, Houston would have a very good chance to win this game, but since he isn’t have to take Miss State.

10:30: San Jose State @ Nevada (ESPNU): Last year’s edition of this game is what led to one of the quotes down at the bottom of this page. Oh, and last weekend SJSU let DI-AA UC-Davis score two unanswered touchdowns to rally and win 14-13. (I was eating dinner with some friends when I overheard someone else in the restaurant ask someone how SJSU did. They just said, “well, we lost” and left out the part about losing to Davis.) I would expect something similar to last year’s 62-7 route, but hey there’s nothing else on this late and watching Nevada run their offense can be pretty entertaining.

That’s all for now. Bowl predictions are almost here! They’ll debut after the BCS comes out next week (as in, after Week 7).

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

20 Years Ago Today: 5th Down

20 years ago today, the most egregious mistake in the history of college football officiating took place: Colorado was given an extra down, down by 4 with under a minute left at Missouri. Skip to around the 2:45 mark in the following video, when Colorado gets their first first and goal:

Not only was an absolute failure of the officials' most basic responsibility, it also had national title implications. 1-loss (and tied) Colorado would later go on to be #1 in the Associated Press poll, while undefeated (but tied) Georgia Tech would go on to be #1 in the Coaches' Poll. Had Colorado not been given an extra down, it's extremely possible they would've lost. (I also personally don't think the guy even got into the end zone, but I've never seen a clear replay of it from any angle other than the ones in that video.)

I'm pretty sure there's really only two college fanbases that really still care about this: us (by which I mean Georgia Tech fans) and Missouri fans. Well, this Saturday Colorado will play Missouri in that very same stadium. (Incidentally, Tech also has a 20th anniversary rematch this weekend, as they take on Virginia, who were ranked #1 at the time. They beat UVA on a last-second field goal in Charlottesville. They wouldn't win there again until last year.)

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a good article about the incident.

The write up should be up as usual on Friday/Saturday morning.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

This Weekend in College Football: Week 5

Before we dive in, I'd like to go tell the SID at Colorado who wrote the blurb quoted in this UGA blog (of all places) to go die in a fire. To save you from having to click that link, I'll reproduce it here:
Now apparently, our use of the word “consensus” upsets a few folks around the country. It’s not to slam the others, but rather to strengthen CU’s case for that season since many point to the Fifth Down game or the clip on Raghib Ismail’s punt return in the Orange Bowl and say our title is tainted. But fact is fact; at the time nine (*) basic postseason polls were recognized as determining a unanimous or consensus national champion; Colorado topped six of those: *Associated Press, *FWAA (Football Writers Association of America), *National Football Foundation/College Football Hall of Fame (MacArthur Trophy), *USA Today-CNN, *Sporting News and *Football News; Georgia Tech won the *United Press International poll (by 1 point) and Miami, Fla., the *Sagarin and *New York Times computer ratings. In the NCAA Record book listing for 1990, it shows 19 different groups that declared a national champion; 11 voted outright for Colorado and three each for Georgia Tech and Miami; one (National Championship Foundation) split it between CU and Tech, and another (FACT, a computer ranking) voted for four, including Washington.
I wish I were as funny as the Fire Joe Morgan guys so I could tear this apart the way it deserves, but alas, they're actually people who are paid to be funny while I'm a programmer who doesn't update his own site more than once a week, if that. (By the way, those guys posted a whole bunch of stuff on Deadspin last week. It was pretty awesome.) So here are my criticisms, in order:
  • Well, I'm upset because you apparently don't know what the word "consensus" means. Generally, you only get to say you're the "consensus" national champion in college football if you were ranked first the most important polls of the day. (This is true even in the BCS era, with the AP poll still having significant clout.) 
  • If it's not to slam "the others", then why do you keep saying this? I'm from the South. This is like when someone says, "well, bless their heart, but..." You're trying to insult someone without saying you're insulting them.
  • The anniversary of the 5th down game is this coming Wednesday, by the way. October 6, 1990, never forget. Well, at least if you're a Georgia Tech or Missouri fan.
  • I'm going to say your title is tainted, because it is. Had you not had the most incompetent officials in the world against Mizzou you would've had two losses.
  • Widely regarded by whom? At the time, the UPI poll was the Coaches Poll, so that and the AP Poll are generally recognized by most sources are the two most important.
  • The NCAA record book is irrelevant for determining Division I-A national titles. In case you haven't noticed, the NCAA is sort of bitter about the fact it doesn't control the I-A national championship (hence why the divisions are "Bowl Subdivision" and "Championship Subdivision" and not I-A and I-AA anymore). So in an effort to undermine the current system they award a championship anytime anyone ranks you number one.
Anyway, I just wanted to rant about that. Let's move on.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Northwestern @ Minnesota (ESPN): The best thing, by far, to come out of this game is this entry from what has to be the world's only Northwestern sports blog. (If there are others, I'm not sure I want to know about them.) Also, Minnesota is, like, really bad.
  • Miami @ Clemson (ESPN2): Things we know about Miami: Boy, Jacory Harris can sure throw some interceptions! Things we know about Clemson: man, they barely lost to Auburn! In other words, we don't know much either way. I'll take the non-Dabo coached team, which is Miami.
  • Kansas @ Baylor (FSN): Well, this has to be one of the games the Bears circled on their schedule as a "winnable Big 12 game". Them being Baylor, though, I'll see it when I believe it.
  • Louisiana-Monroe @ Auburn (ESPNU): Auburn.
  • Temple @ Army (CBSCS): Army's 3-1! Of course, it comes mostly from beating up on teams like... Temple. Well, Temple of a few years ago, not the Temple that gave Penn State all it wanted and beat UConn. (You know that had to feel good around the Temple athletics offices.) I'll still take Army here though.
  • Ohio State @ Illinois (BTN): In the past, I would've said the Sweatervest would take his 31 points and call it a day. Apparently someone released him from his chains, though. This one could be ugly.
  • Kentucky @ Mississippi (SEC): Ole Miss went and beat Fresno last weekend, which I think says more about Fresno than it does Ole Miss. Unfortunately, all we know about Kentucky is that they got pounded by Florida last weekend, which I'm pretty sure was a given. So this is a tossup, and I'll give the edge to the team that didn't lose to Jacksonville State.
  • Florida State @ Virginia (ACC): FSU.
2:30: Navy @ Air Force (Versus): It's the first leg of the Commander-in-Chief's trophy, and with Navy off to a relatively so start this may be Air Force's year. I'll take them.

  • Tennessee @ Louisiana State (CBS): As has been thoroughly established by now, LSU is the most precarious 4-0 team in the country after last week's... "game" against West Virginia. That said, Tennessee needed overtime to beat UAB, so I'll take LSU to become the most precarious 5-0 team in the country. (By the way, check out Les Miles's zen koan down at the bottom of the page. Also, how does he know what the word "scotoma" means?)
  • Wisconsin @ Michigan State (ABC/ESPN): Given Wisconsin's out-of-conference schedule, you'd expect them to be 4-0 at this point so I have no idea what to make of them. Meanwhile, Mark Dantonio returns after his heart attack. That should give Sparty the early edge, at least. I'll take them for the game.
  • Texas vs. Oklahoma (@Dallas, TX; ABC/ESPN): It's the Red River Shootout! All that stuff about Texans willing to fry anything, by the way? It's totally true. I was in Austin earlier this year and I had Dr Pepper flavored chicken wings. (They also love their Dr Pepper, which was great for my taste buds but terrible for my arteries. Actually, that's a good description for that entire trip.) Getting back to the game, well, neither of these teams play much defense, but Texas doesn't really play much offense either. Oh, and they got torn apart by UCLA last weekend. It probably won't be a blowout, but I like the Sooners here.
  • Virginia Tech @ North Carolina State (ABC/Gameplan): Russell Wilson's pretty good, especially when your defense admits it has no idea what it's doing. Not that I'm bitter. All I'm going to say is that NCSU better win this game.
  • Michigan @ Indiana (ESPNU): Michigan.
  • Georgia @ Colorado (FSN): Here's a mixed feelings game. The reason for the press release at the top of this post is because CU will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of their share of the 1990 national title today. Now, the timing seems pretty odd to me. I don't know why you'd do this against an out-of-conference opponent, unless they figured UGA was the closest they were going to get to scheduling us or something. It's also one of the two weekends they could've picked that are closest to the 5th down game, which I'm not sure is something I'd want to celebrate. Whatever. This is a "hope for the meteor" game for me.
  • Georgia Tech @ Wake Forest (ESPNU): My favorite thing about this game is the fact it isn't at noon eastern, or 9 AM my time. Kansas is just as bad as these guys, so GT really needs to actually come out for this game. We just looked completely out-of-sorts against NC State and it showed on both sides of the ball. Turnovers are up on offense, while the defense is seemingly helpless on third downs. I honestly have no idea what to expect from GT this year from week-to-week, but I just hope it starts improving. Going back to the above for a second: GT is saving the 20th anniversary celebration for its biggest home game of the year, November 13th against Miami.
  • Florida @ Alabama (CBS): GAME OF THE WEEK OF THE YEAR OF THE CENTURY. It's the well-anticipated rematch of last year's SEC title game, which I never saw (I was too busy standing in a parking lot in an entirely too cold Tampa) but as far as I can tell was pretty lackluster. Anyway, this game features 100% less Tim Tebow but ESPN's already hyping "Tebow-Lite" so I'm sure the CBS guys (who I actually like!) will mention him approximately 1000 times. That said, I'll take the chalk and take Bama, but root for the other superpower. Watching these two teams as a neutral fan must be like what it felt like to be in the "Third World" during the Cold War (when that term meant something).
  • Stanford @ Oregon (ABC/ESPN2): In my mind, this could actually be a better game. This should be the first opponent to challenge either team, and should be a good game to watch. I have to give the Ducks the slight edge up in Eugene, though.
  • Notre Dame @ Boston College (ABC/Gameplan): I'll take the team that has an actual quarterback. I'm not sure BC would've worse off last week just snapping it to no one, that's how bad they were.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Iowa (ESPN): Look, I think Arizona's an okay team and all, but Iowa was one of my Big Ten favorites for the first time in forever, and once again in the grand tradition of this site, they let me down. So I'll take Penn State.
  • Washington @ Southern California (ESPN2): USC.
  • Marshall @ Southern Mississippi (CBSCS): USM.
And with that I'm done. By the way, if you want to see a team try to reach 100, Boise's playing New Mexico State on