Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bowl Games 2011: Part 3

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Friday, December 30
12:00: Tulsa vs. Brigham Young (Armed Forces Bowl @ Dallas, TX; ESPN): Tulsa sports a fun, high-flying offense. BYU comes in with a pretty decent defense, so this could be a, let's say, 35-27 kind of affair. The question, which side gets to 35 first? Does BYU generate enough stops to limit Tulsa to just 27, or does the porous Tulsa defense allow the Cougars to get there first? Actually, let's make that 35-32, Tulsa.
Previous meetings: These two have met seven times, and BYU leads the all-time series, 6-1. They last met in 2007, which Tulsa won 55-47.
Last bowl game: Tulsa demolished Hawaii in last year's Hawaii bowl, 62-35. This is BYU's 7th straight bowl game, with their last game being a 52-24 beatdown of UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl.
Fun facts: Tulsa is known as the "Golden Hurricane" because at the time (the early 1920's) Georgia Tech was known was the "Golden Tornado". Tulsa stuck with their weather phenomena moniker, but the Yellow Jackets did not.

3:30: Iowa State vs. Rutgers (Pinstripe Bowl @ New York, NY; ESPN): Dear Cyclones: while I found your double overtime win over Oklahoma State exhilarating and exciting, it did, unfortunately, doom us to LSU-Alabama Part II. I'm picking Rutgers in a close, low-scoring game.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: Iowa State last made a bowl game in 2009, where they beat Minnesota 14-13 in the Insight Bowl. Rutgers had a 5-year bowl game streak snapped last year. In 2009, they won the-then St. Petersburg Bowl 45-24 over Central Florida.
Fun facts: Rutgers was not the original name for the State University of New Jersey. Founded in 1766 as Queen's College, the Revolutionary War necessitated a new name, and Colonel Henry Rutgers was around at the time, and one thing lead to another...

6:40: Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest (Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN; ESPN): Other than Wake's now-traditional upset of Florida State, both of these teams pretty much beat the teams they were supposed to and lost to the teams they were supposed, which is pretty much how you get to 6-6. That said, it's hard to see these Bulldogs getting blown out by Vanderbilt 41-7, so I'll have to go with the ess-eee-cee again in this one.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: The Bulldogs make their second straight bowl appearance, with the previous game being a 52-14 rout of Michigan in the Gator Bowl. Wake Forest is just breaking out of one of their "down cycles", with their last bowl appearance being a 29-19 win over Navy in the 2008 Eaglebank Bowl (which is now the Military Bowl).
Fun facts: In one of my favorite university history anecdotes, Wake Forest was originally found around what would become known as Wake Forest, North Carolina, after the college. After a sizable donation in 1946, the school began work to move to nearby Raleigh, and completed the move by 1956, leaving the town named after the university with a new Baptist seminary.

10:00: Oklahoma vs. Iowa (Insight Bowl @ Tempe, AZ; ESPN): While the Hawkeyes may get a slight spark from the retirement of their long time defensive coordinator, I feel like they kind of used their "upset of clearly superior team" card this year when they beat Michigan. I'm going with Sooners in a scoring bonanza.
Previous meetings: Just one: a 21-6 Oklahoma win in 1979.
Last bowl game: This is Oklahoma's 13th straight bowl game, with the progenitor of the streak being the 1999 Independence Bowl, which they lost to Ole Miss 27-25. Last year, they destroyed UConn in the Fiesta Bowl, 48-20. This will be Iowa's fourth straight bowl game, with their previous game being this very game, actually, where they beat Mizzou in a thriller no-one saw, 27-24.
Fun facts: Of all the Big Ten's various trophy games, by far the most amusing is the Iowa-Minnesota game, which is played for a pig known as the Floyd of Rosedale.

Saturday, December 31
12:00: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical vs. Northwestern (Car Care Bowl of Texas @ Houston, TX; ESPN): My favorite running joke of this college football season has been TAMU's second half defense. It goes something like this: "Down by more than 10 points at halftime? You've got Texas A&M right where you want them." Both these teams are more than capable of putting up points, which means what this game lacks in quality or defense it should make up for in scoring. And, well, at this point, can you really pick the Aggies? Northwestern rallies in the second half to win a shootout.
Previous meetings:None.
Last bowl game: This is TAMU's third straight bowl game. The lost to 41-24 to LSU in last season's Cotton Bowl. Northwestern is actually appearing in their fourth straight bowl game, and they lost last season's TicketCity Bowl to Texas Tech, 45-38.
Fun facts: Both of these schools apparently have satellite campuses in Qatar. I'm not sure what else to say about that.

2:00: Georgia Tech vs. Utah (Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX; CBS): This is the toughest game for me to predict, every year. Yes, I know about the Georgia Tech bowl streak, especially with regards to our offense. Do I necessarily think there's anything to it? It's hard to say. Against LSU and Iowa, we simply lost to better opponents. Against Air Force, it looked like we were just... bad. This Utah squad sports the nation's 7th ranked rush defense but unlike in past years they haven't played any option teams. However, they did win their last three games straight against Air Force. Perhaps the best matchup for the Jackets is Utah's mediocre-to-bad offense that couldn't score against Colorado with the Pac-12 South on the line against GT's mediocre-but-improving defense.
Previous meetings: One, in the 2005 Emerald Bowl. Utah won 38-10. That's really all there is to say on the matter.
Last bowl game: GT is making its 15th straight bowl appearance, which is currently tied for the fourth-longest in the country with UGA, of all teams. The streak started with a 35-30 win over West Virginia in the 1997 CarQuest Bowl, which these days is in Orlando and is known as the Champs Sports Bowl. However, starting with the last time these two teams faced each other, Tech has lost six straight bowl game, including last year's ugly 14-7 loss to Air Force in the Independence Bowl. Utah is making its ninth straight bowl appearance. Their streak started with a 17-0 win over Southern Miss in the 2003 Liberty Bowl. Last year, they lost 26-3 to Boise state in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Fun facts: Like any good football rivalry, Utah and BYU disagree on the number of wins and losses on each side. Utah counts 6 games BYU played as the "Brigham Young Academy" in the late 19th-century, while BYU says the series did not begin until 1922. Either way, Utah leads the series, but 53-33-4 or 50-30-4 depends on who you ask.

3:30: Vanderbilt vs. Cincinnati (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ABC): Vandy has the country's 19th ranked defense, which is starting to make me think there may be something to "well, maybe most of the offenses in the SEC are just kind of bad" train of thought. I'd make this a fun fact, but it's just too fun: Cincy's quarterback for the past few games has been Munchie Legaux. While I expect the 'Dores to put up a fight as they have for most of the season, I think Cincy has the edge here.
Previous meetings: The first meeting really goes back. I mean, really, because it was in 1898 with a follow-on game in 1899. Cincy won both games, 10-0 and 6-0. Vandy put in a one-off beat down in 1934 (32-0), and then Cincinnati got to repay the favor in 1976 by winning 32-0. A year later though, the Dores decided revenge was a dish best served hot and not over half a century later by winning 33-7. Vandy won the last two meetings in 1993 and 1994 17-7 and 34-24.
Last bowl game: Vandy is making their first bowl game appearance since 2008's Music City Bowl, where they beat Boston College 16-14. Cincinnati had a four game bowl streak snapped last year. The last game in that streak was a 51-24 loss to Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Fun facts: One of Cincinnati's chief football rivals is Miami University (you know, the one in Ohio). The series is much more even than you might expect. Miami is 59-49-7 all-time, and also is pretty even over the past 20 years even as Cincinnati has risen through the college football ranks.

3:30: California-Los Angeles vs. Illinois (Fight Hunger Bowl @ San Francisco, CA; ESPN): Well, I hate myself enough to actually watch this game. Do you? This game is the poster child for "there are too many bowl games", as UCLA had to get a waiver to even be eligible at 6-7, and Illinois just went 0-6 to end the season. Both of teams subsequently fired their head coaches and booked travel to San Francisco. At least when UCLA got blown out to end the season, it was to teams like USC and Oregon and not, you know, Minnesota. These sorts of games tend to be sloppy affairs, the question is if it'll be of the fun sort where neither side really bothers to play defense or the kind where neither team really shows up and someone happens to win at the end. I'm guessing the latter here. For some reason I'm taking the Illini.
Previous meetings: These teams have met 11 times, so I won't go through them all. They first met all the way back in the 1946-1947 Rose Bowl, with the Illini winning 45-14. I guess they worked out some sort of scheduling agreement then, because then they played 6 times in the regular season from 1950 to 1964, with the Illini going 4-2. In 1983-1984 they met in the Rose Bowl again, with the Bruins winning 45-9, and then 7 years later they also won the Sun Bowl, 6-3. They then met 12 years later with the Bruins winning with the same 6-3 score, and then finally some touchdowns were scored in they last meeting in 2004, with UCLA coming out ahead 35-17. The Bruins lead the all-time series 6-5.
Last bowl game: UCLA's last bowl game a was a 30-21 win in the 2009 EagleBank Bowl. Illinois made a bowl game last year, where they beat Baylor 38-14 in the Texas Bowl.
Fun facts: This game dampens my spirits such that I can't think of anything fun about it.

7:30: Virginia vs. Auburn (Chick-fil-a Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Virginia looked for awhile to actually be kind of legit, and then they got blown out 38-0 by their in-state rival. Whoops. Meanwhile Auburn just lost their offensive coordinator to Arkansas... State. Auburn also had an awful time against teams that actually played defense, which (38-0 aside) Virginia actually does. I'm going to predict a moderate score for both sides in this game, which will probably be more exciting than most observers thing, but I'll kowtow to the ESS-EEE-CEE groupthink and go with the Tigers.
Previous meetings: Two, in 1997 and 1998. Auburn won the first game 28-17, but the Cavs shut out the Tigers 19-0 in the second.
Last bowl game: This is UVA's first bowl game since 2007-8's Gator Bowl, where they lost to Texas Tech 31-28. Auburn is appearing in their third straight bowl game. You might recall they beat Oregon in last year's BCS Championship Game, 22-19.
Fun facts: Virginia's athletic teams really are named after the historical English Cavaliers, the side in the English Civil War that was loyal to the king, and later on, the original Virginia colonists who were loyalists.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bowl Games 2011: Part 2

Merry Christmas, loyal readers. All, um, five of you.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, December 26
5:00: North Carolina vs. Missouri (Independence Bowl @ Shreveport, LA; ESPN2): Nothing quite says "mediocre bowl game" like two teams with 7-5 records and average statistical rankings, it seems like. I guess it shows I haven't paid a lot of attention to Mizzou this year, as I'm pretty shocked that they're 11th in the nation in rushing and 57th in passing, which is pretty much the complete opposite of the past few years for them. This version of the UNC defense isn't as fearsome as past editions, which makes me give a slight edge to the Tigers.
Previous meetings: Two, all the way back in 1973 and 1976. Mizzou won both games, 27-14 and 24-3.
Last bowl game: This is Carolina's fourth consecutive bowl game, with their last appearance being that that debacle of a Music City Bowl against Tennessee that they wound up winning 30-27. Mizzou makes their seventh straight bowl appearance here, but you probably don't remember their last game: the very anonymous Insight Bowl. They lost 27-24 to Iowa.
Fun facts: I'd grumble some more about 5th down, but these are supposed to be fun facts.

Tuesday, December 27
4:30: Purdue vs. Western Michigan (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl @ Detroit, MI; ESPN): The Boilermakers are pretty much here due to their miracle upset of Ohio State back on November 12th. It's hard to tell how much of a talent disparity there is in games like, this, though, as WMU's stats could be inflated by their league while Purdue's could be deflated by theirs. I'm leaning toward this being a shootout, with Purdue coming out just barely ahead.
Previous meetings: Two, which is actually lower that I would've thought given the Big Ten teams' proclivity of scheduling MAC teams as patsies. Anyway, they were both in September, but the first was in 1993 and the last in 2002. Purdue won both, 28-13 and 28-24.
Last bowl game: The Boilermakers are making their first bowl appearance since 2007, when they beat another directional Michigan (Central) in this very same game, 51-48 (though it was then the Motor City Bowl). The Broncos' last bowl appearance was actually more recent. They lost 38-14 to Rice in the 2008 Texas Bowl (which is now the Mieneke Car Care Bowl of Texas).
Fun facts: Purdue quarterbacks (a group that includes names like Bob Griese and Drew Brees) have more touchdown passes thrown in the NFL than any other school.

8:00: North Carolina State vs. Louisville (Belk Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): Mediocrity, ahoy! Both of these teams sport anemic offenses and above-average defenses, which points to a low-scoring struggle to see who can kick the most field goals. However, NC State's kicker is 10 of 15 and Louisville's is 11 of 16, so that doesn't quite work either in terms of distinguishing these two teams. In their last two games, both teams found their offensive mojo, as NC State routed Maryland in their last game and upset Clemson before that, while the Cardinals won 5 of their last 6 after a 2-4 start. These are basically the same team, if you ask me, so I'll go with the one that beat North Carolina this year: NC State.
Previous meetings: This will be the fourth meeting between these two teams, with NCSU looking for its first win against the Cardinals. The first was all the way back in 1953, which Louisville won 26-2. In 1994 they won 35-14, and in 2007 they won 29-10.
Last bowl game: The Wolfpack went to the Champs Sports Bowl last year, where they beat West Virginia 23-7. Louisville won last year's Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, beating Southern Mississippi 31-28.
Fun facts: I'm not entirely sure how this works, but the cardinal in the Louisville logo has teeth.

Wednesday, December 28
4:30: Toledo vs. Air Force (Military Bowl @ Washington, D.C.; ESPN): Combined average defense ranking of these two teams: 73rd in the country. Mean, both these teams are more than capable of scoring: Toledo, (in)famously lost game this year 60-63 and then came back and won the next week 66-63. Air Force's defense is really awful in all phases, though, while Toledo is mainly terrible against the pass (118th out of 120), something they won't really have to worry about against the triple-option lovin' Falcons. Toledo edges out (another) shootout.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: The Rockets went to last year's Little Caesar's Bowl, where they lost 34-32 to Florida International. Air Force is making their fifth straight bowl game, and they (sigh) beat Georgia Tech 14-7 in last year's Independence Bowl.
Fun facts: Toledo's moniker, the Rockets, apparently originated as a contraction of "Skyrockets", which was made up during in the pressbox during a massive upset in the early 1920's. The name stuck, despite the university not otherwise having much to do with rocketry.

9:00: California vs. Texas (Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): After watching the Texas-Texas A&M game, I think I described the Longhorns' offense as "the McGuyver of offenses", held together by trick plays, bubblegum, and dental floss. This is the best all-around defense the Golden Bears have played all year, and they already struggled offensively against every other decent outfit they've played. Both teams will struggle to score, but I think Longhorns are more used to that and will come out ahead in the end. (Yes, I'm aware Texas just gave up 48 to Baylor, but Cal doesn't have Robert Griffin III at QB for them, last I checked.)
Previous meetings: The Bears are 0-4 against the Longhorns, and it hasn't really even been close. The first meeting was in 1959, which Texas won 33-0. Two years later, they met again, with the Texas winning 28-0. To close the decade out, they met in 1969 and 1970, and again, it was all Texas, as they won 17-0 and 56-15, respectively.
Last bowl game: Cal previously had a good bowl streak going, but missed out on the postseason last year, making this their first game since the 2009 Poinsettia Bowl, where they lost to Utah 37-27. Texas looks to restart a long streak that was also broken last year, which was only one season after the lost to Alabama in the 2009-2010 BCS National Championship Game, 37-21.
Fun facts: One of the first fight songs I ever learned was the Cal Drinking Song. Of course, there's another Cal song that has a tune that's very familiar to most Tech fans, though I've read articles elsewhere that state the common theory about the song being lifted after the 1929 Rose Bowl to be false.

Thursday, December 29
5:30: Notre Dame vs. Florida State (Champs Sports Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ESPN): FSU's offense is also a short of make-shift outfit, but they do have the dynamic E.J. Manuel, who on his good days can put some points on the board for the Seminoles. They also have the sixth ranked total defense in the country, but as their 23-13 loss to Oklahoma showed, that doesn't necessarily matter if you still can't put up the points, which hasn't been a problem for the Irish this year. I'll take the Domers in a relatively low-scoring affair.
Previous meetings: For the all the cachet this matchup has, I was actually somewhat surprised to find that FSU and Notre Dame only met once when the former was an independent, in 1981. (FSU joined the ACC in 1992.) FSU won that game 19-13. In the 90's, the two teams played 3 times, with ND winning 31-14 in 1993 and FSU winning 23-16 in 1994. On New Year's Day in 1996, they met in the Orange Bowl and FSU won 31-26. And finally, they played again in 2002 and 2003. ND won the first game 34-24, but FSU shut them out in the latter game, 37-0.
Last bowl game: Notre Dame ventured to El Paso last year for the Sun Bowl, where they beat Miami 33-17. FSU, of course, currently owns the longest bowl streak in the nation, with this being their 30th consecutive appearance. One has to go all the way back to 1976 to find the last time the Seminoles failed to reach a bowl game. The year after, they went to what was then known as the Tangerine Bowl, where they beat Texas Tech 40-17. Last year, the beat South Carolina in the Chick-fil-a Bowl 26-17.
Fun facts: Other than the usual (and tired) jokes about FSU being a women's college until 1947, I can't really think of anything to put here.

9:00: Washington vs. Baylor (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): The best hope for the Huskies in this one is probably to force a shootout and hope to have the ball last, because otherwise their offense isn't good enough to keep up with the Bears, even with Baylor's really bad defense.
Previous meetings: Four, and somewhat surprisingly none were bowl games. Baylor won the first two contests in 1954 and 1955 34-7 and 13-7, respectively. They met again in 1964 and 1965, and this time the Huskies managed to win a game 35-14, but the Bears came right back in '65 and won 17-14.
Last bowl game: The Huskies snapped a bowl drought last season by making the Holiday Bowl, where they pulled off one of the most shocking upsets of last bowl season by beating Nebraska 19-7. Baylor's drought was even longer before they made the Texas Bowl last year, when they lost to Illinois 38-14. Before that, they had not appeared in a bowl game since 1994, and you have to go all the way back to the 1992 Sun Bowl to find the last time they won a bowl game. (They beat Arizona 20-15 in that game.)
Fun facts: Very occasionally, there is actually somewhat clever writing on Wikipedia. For instance, referring to Washington: "The husky was selected as the school mascot by student committee in 1922. It replaced the 'Sun Dodger,' an abstract reference to the local weather that was quickly dropped in favor of something more tangible." Well done, I say.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bowl Games 2011: Opening Slate

Let's start off with all the pre-Christmas bowl games. The full set of winner-loser predictions are available, but more detailed previews will come closer to the games themselves.

As usual, all times Eastern, and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 17
2:00: Temple vs. Wyoming (New Mexico Bowl @ Albuquerque, NM; ESPN): Bowl season kicks off down in New Mexico, where anything could happen in this MAC-MWC matchup. Which, like many of these sorts of games, make it hard to predict. The matchup the Owls will be looking to exploit is their 7th-ranked rushing attack against the nation's 115th-ranked rushing defense. Temple also has a decent defense themselves, which makes me inclined to think they'll prevail.
Previous meetings: Only one, back in 1990. Wyoming won 38-23.
Last bowl game: For the Cowboys, it was the 2009 edition of this very game, where they beat Fresno State 35-28. Temple also last went bowling in 2009 despite an 8-4 record last year. They lost to UCLA 30-21 in what was then the Eaglebank Bowl, but is now the Military Bowl.
Fun facts: New for this year, I'll attempt to unearth some sort of interesting (to me, at least) fact about either or both of the teams involved in the game. Generally this means I'll look something up on Wikipedia, so hopefully the schools involved don't generally have their pages vandalized very often. But today, I will remind you that brown and gold are Wyoming's official colors. This leads to what I think are college football's most charming and, at the same time, ugliest uniforms:

When EA Sports' NCAA Football games used to have a create-a-school option I generally tried to make the home uniforms as ugly as possible. After they took that out, well, it was pretty obvious which team I had to lead to glory.

5:30: Utah State vs. Ohio (Potato Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): Utah State chose pretty much the most dramatic route to a bowl game possible. After a 2-5 start including a game at Auburn that they led in the fourth quarter and a double overtime loss to Colorado State, they rallied to win five straight. Nonetheless, they only one two of their games by more than a touchdown, which means that the Bobcats will likely be in this thing to the end. Both these teams would prefer to run the bowl, especially Utah State, whereas Ohio features a more balanced offense. That said, I like the Bobcats. While their numbers are very similar, I think the MAC was a tougher conference than the WAC this year. I guess we'll find out for sure on Saturday, though.
Previous meetings: Once, amazingly, in 1994. If I had more time, I would look this up, because Utah State apparently won 5-0. (I just checked on Google, but even 1994 as a search term it still just came up with articles for this year's game.)
Last bowl game: For the Aggies, you have to go all the way back to 1997, when they lost to Cincinnati 35-19 in the Humanitarian Bowl. The Bobcats are headed to their 3rd straight game and their first win in a bowl game (they're 0-5 all-time in bowl games). They lost 48-21 to Troy last year in the New Orleans Bowl.
Fun facts: Utah State's basketball arena is known as the "Dee Glen Smith Spectrum", which reminds me that one of these days I need to figure out how "Spectrum" became used as a word for indoor sports arenas, as Idaho has the Keenan Spectrum for basketball, and Philadelphia, of course, had the most famous version.

9:00: San Diego State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): The Ragin' Cajuns should definitely enjoy home field advantage in their first ever bowl game. That said, I don't think that will be enough to get them past a superior San Diego State team.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: The Ragin' Cajuns have been playing major college football since 1973, and this will be their first bowl game. In that time, they only have two other seasons with more than 6 wins: 1993 (8-3) and 1976. The Aztecs are now in a bowl game two years running. Last year they beat Navy 35-14 in the hometown Poinsettia Bowl.
Fun facts: There have been numerous debates in Louisiana over the years about which school there had the right to call itself just "the University of Louisiana". While there's always definitively been one Louisiana State, the University of Louisiana system was only formed in 1974 as a conglomeration of existing campuses. That said, Lafayette is the largest campus in the system.

Tuesday, December 20
8:00: Marshall vs. Florida International (Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl @ St. Petersburg, FL; ESPN): Neither of these teams really do the "scoring points" thing particularly well, but at least FIU does prevent other teams from scoring points. The result? A situation where I'll actually pick a Sun Belt team to win.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: For the Herd, it was the 2009 Little Ceasars Bowl, where they beat Ohio 21-17. FIU, of course, made their first ever bowl appearance in that very same game, but in 2010, where they beat Toledo 34-32.
Fun facts: FIU was established in 1965, which has to make them one of, if not the, youngest universities in major college football.

Wednesday, December 21
8:00: Louisiana Tech vs. Texas Christian (Poinsettia Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): While TCU finds itself in the somewhat strange situation of being outside the top ten teams in the country in defense, they're still pretty good. And I'll roll with the MWC champs over the WAC champs any day.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: LaTech was last seen beating Northern Illinois in the 2008 Independence Bowl, 17-10. TCU meantime, is back in the Poinsettia Bowl (where they played in 2008, beating a 12-1 Boise team 17-16) after two straight appearance in BCS bowl games. Boise got revenge in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, winning 17-10, but the Horned Frogs mustered just enough to win the Rose Bowl 21-19 against Wisconsin last year. TCU has also made a bowl appearance every year since 2004, and discounting that, every year since 1998.
Fun facts: Unlike, say, Georgia Tech, the full name of LaTech is actually "Louisiana Tech University". And they really are a university, since they have 19 bachelor's degrees in the liberal arts. If you're reading this, you likely already know the answer to this question, but I'll ask anyway: in major college football (Division I-A or FBS, that is) there are 120 teams. Five of them, one of them being Georgia Tech, do not have the word "university" in their title (as GT is the Georgia Institute of Technology). What are the other four?

Thursday, December 22
8:00: Arizona State vs. Boise State (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV; ESPN): Unless Boise just comes in completely deflated and unmotivated in making their second straight Las Vegas Bowl appearance after having BCS aspirations (with this year being especially painful since they this was probably their best chance of getting into the BCS title game ever), this should be a cakewalk for Boise. The best Arizona State can hope for, most likely, is a shootout. [insert obligatory mention of Arizona State quarterback Brock Oswelier's 6'8" stature here]
Previous meetings: One, back before Boise State was any sort of powerhouse. The Sun Devils won easily, 56-7.
Last bowl game: Probably part of the reason Dennis Erickson got the ol' heave-ho is that this is the Sun Devil's first bowl game since 2007, where they lost to Texas 52-34 in the Holiday Bowl. Boise beat down Utah 26-3 in last year's Las Vegas Bowl, continuing a streak they've had since 2002, or 1999 if you discount that they went 8-4 in 2002 but didn't get an invite.
Fun facts: While I don't really mind the blue turf myself, it has invited a host of copycats. Most famous of these non-Boise surfaces is, of course, Eastern Washington:
But there's also the field donated to Barrow High School, which I believe is the world's northernmost American football field:
But this? There's just... well, I guess if you're the Central Arkansases (I guess that's the plural of "Arkansas"?) you'll do just about anything to stand out:

Saturday, December 24
8:00: Southern Mississippi vs. Nevada (Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI; ESPN): Nevada entered the season with hopes of dominating this year's watered-down WAC, but instead lost two conference games and got sent to Hawaii. Southern Miss, of course, just pulled off a pretty big upset to take the Conference USA crown, and they did it by forcing Case Keenum to have the worst day of his life. However, instead of ending up in the nearby Liberty Bowl, shenanigans occurred and they got sent to Hawaii. I mean, there are worse places to go for sure, but it's not so good in terms of having a victory lap for one of the most successful seasons in school history. They'll also need to switch gears from their stifling pass defense to their pretty good run defense, as they face the Wolf Pack's unique pistol offense. The Golden Eagles are no slouches on offense themselves, though, and they should eventually pull away in the second half for the victory.
Previous meetings: Two, in what was likely a home-and-home arrangement. Southern Miss won both legs, though. In 1997 the Golden Eagles prevailed 35-19, and then really poured it on in 1998 in a 55-28 win.
Last bowl game: Southern Miss is on a pretty long bowl game run themselves: every year since 2001, and 1997 if you discount that. Last year they lost 31-28 to Louisville in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl. Nevada's made a game every year since 2005, and last year beat Boston College 20-13 in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
Fun facts: In 1923, California finished 9-0-1 and claims a national title for that year. The only blemish was a 0-0 tie to Nevada. The Golden Bears had a 50-game winning streak at the time as well, making this one of the most unlikely upsets ever.

Friday, December 09, 2011

This Weekend in College Football: Week 15

The regular season is technically over, but we'll cover the Army-Navy game as well as the various playoff games that are actually on television (not to mention the others that'll be on the Internet).

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Northern Iowa @ Montana (Division I Quarterfinal; ESPN): These teams entered as the 5 and 4-seeds (respectively) in the tournament, and thus both received byes to the second round in the 20-team bracket. The Grizzlies thumped their second opponent, Central Arkansas, 41-14 while UNI ended up winning 28-21 with some help from probably the most boneheaded play of last weekend. Nonetheless, Montana has all the cards here, with superior offensive and defensive rankings as well as a projected game time temperature of about 25 degrees in their home stadium, which looking at attendance figures will probably be sold out. Meanwhile, UNI plays their home games in a dome. I think I know who I like here.

Noon: Montana State @ Sam Houston State (Division I Quarterfinal; ESPN): Sam Houston State is the #1 seed in the tournament, but they're last in spelling, because apparently they are officially the "Bearkats". I mean, at least "dawgs" is usually an unofficial nickname, but nope, it's right there on their ESPN page. In protest, I refuse to write anything further about this game.

1:00: Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical vs. Grambling State (SWAC Championship @ Birmingham, AL; ESPNU): I really debated putting this game on the list. It's on TV and all, but... I don't know, maybe I just don't fully understand the traditions of the SWAC that would cause them to want to have their own title game and not participate in the playoffs that so many of us at the top level of the sport of would love to have. Not only that, but the SWAC has 10 teams and plays 9 conference games, which means that a title game is wholly unnecessary. Oh, and speaking of rematches, A&M beat Grambling 20-14 back in September. If anything, the game should be the resolution of the three 7-2 teams that all beat each other in the regular season (Jackson State, A&M, and Alabama State).

2:30: Army vs. Navy (@Landover, MD; CBS): This has not been a banner year for these two academies. Navy is 4-7 and Army is 3-8 and is, last I checked, narrowly favored for what has to be the first time in awhile. Both have been undone by very mediocre-to-bad defenses. That said, though, Navy's schedule was a lot tougher than Army's, with Navy's only really bad loss to San Jose State, then again, that's countered by Army's upset of Northwestern (which probably says a lot about how far the Wildcats have come more than anything else, since we can properly call it an "upset"). I'll stick with the Midshipmen to continue their nine game winning streak.

Look for bowl previews starting next week!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Bowl Predictions 2011: Shenanigans

I didn't forsee Virginia Tech getting into the Sugar Bowl, but who did? Updated predictions are now available.

Bowl Predictions 2011: Final

This is it. I'm going and writing this up now. We'll see what's still true later today.

I have come up eight possible scenarios based on the outcome of the BCS today. Basically, these are the three most important variables:
  • Whether Oklahoma State moves ahead of Alabama to #2 in the BCS
  • Whether Michigan moves from #16 to #14 or better in the BCS
  • Whether TCU moves from #18 to #16 or better in the BCS
This means that it is currently very difficult to nail down exactly what will happen with the Big Ten, Big 12, or Mountain West. (The SEC is unaffected because Alabama will go to a BCS game if it falls out of the top two.)

For each set of scenarios, there are constants. You can see those constants here. Also common in most of these scenarios is that I do not think Boise State will get a BCS at-large bid. If TCU does not make it, then I think that's that for the mid-majors this year - unless Michigan also does not make it, thus limiting the available/attractive at-large bids.

Which do I think is most likely? What I call "Scenario 1": a LSU-Alabama rematch with Michigan in and TCU out. This is currently what is available on the main page. Each scenario is also available in its entirety:
Why do I think the first is the most likely? I don't think enough voters will suddenly decide to put Oklahoma State ahead of Alabama and Stanford to pass them in the standings. Also, while many thought the Cowboys would pass Alabama in all the computers, the first poll out of the gate is the Sagarin ratings, which puts Alabama 2nd and Oklahoma State 3rd. While the highest and lowest positions for each team are thrown out, if any of the other five polls break that way then we will not have agreement among them. Also, all these teams in front of Michigan lost yesterday: Virginia Tech, Houston, Oklahoma, and Michigan State. The last two, specifically, are likely to fall behind Michigan in the new poll. The questions is: will they also fall behind TCU? The closest loss in the rankings to TCU was Georgia, which will fall behind them, but around them in the rankings are Baylor (which just beat Texas) and Clemson (which just demolished Virginia Tech). Also, I think many of the newly-minted two-loss teams today could settle in ahead of TCU. So in other words, it doesn't look good for the Horned Frogs. And given the general leanings of the folks who control the BCS, I don't think they'll give out a bone to Boise State, even though they could be as high as 5th in the new poll.

I'll start with the conferences that are well-defined in my template. Again, regardless of what happens at the top of the polls, that will likely not have any effect on these, and are constant across all scenarios.

With Clemson back to its old ways in the ACC title game, this makes the Chick-fil-a a very good bet to grab Virginia Tech, which means the FSU-Notre Dame matchup is back in play for the Champs. There's still some room for FSU to go to Atlanta, but I don't think VPI will fall past the Champs even though they got blown out. The rest of the conference looks pretty straightforward: Tech to the Sun, NC State to the Belk, Virginia to the Music City, Wake Forest to the Independence, and North Carolina to the Military.

Big East
The Champs Sports Bowl will almost certainly use its option to take Notre Dame this year. After that, only news searches revealed my least favorite bowl scenario is going to happen. Read the article if you want the gory details. The upshot is that other online search put Louisville as a solid lock of the Belk, Rutgers in the Pinstripe, and Pitt to the Compass, which leaves Cincy to the Liberty.

Conference USA
Houston losing was really bad for the conference. Due to the wacky Big East/SEC Liberty Bowl thing it also looks like Southern Miss won't be going there. While there supposedly is an "order" for the C-USA bowls that I found today, it still doesn't make much sense to me. Either way, they will fall a team short, most likely in the New Orleans Bowl. I put Southern Miss in the Compass Bowl and Houston in the TicketCity. I put SMU in the other Dallas bowl game, Marshall in the Beef 'O' Brady's, and shipped Tulsa out to Hawaii. But of all my picks, short of guessing at-large teams, I generally always feel the least confident about C-USA. Well, and the Big East.

With their win in the title game, NIU should be bound for the Bowl in Mobile. I saw a rumor say that Western Michigan would get the nod for Pizza Bowl, so I put conference runner-up Ohio out in Boise, with Toledo and Ball State waiting nervously by the phone.

I think Stanford is a lock for a BCS at-large berth, which leaves the Pac-12 short a team or two, even with UCLA's waiver. As the best remaining team on the board at this point, I put Washington in the Alamo and Cal in the Holiday. Utah is the only other team with a winning record, so I stuck them in the Sun, and figured that left Arizona State for the Las Vegas Bowl. This leaves, of course, UCLA, which a trip to the Fight Hunger Bowl.

Since LSU and Alabama will both be in the BCS in any scenario, we can go ahead and figure the rest of the BCS. I like Arkansas to get the nod for the Capital One, which also lets the SEC bowls switch things up. Georgia and South Carolina, then will end up in the Outback and Cotton bowls, and maybe even in that order. Auburn is pretty solidly next on the plate, and with the worry of an Auburn-Clemson rematch gone, they'll get a trip to Atlanta. I think the Gator, regardless of scenario, will try to set up the Urban Meyer thing, so they'll probably take Florida. At this point, what's left is Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. I like both to stay home, relatively speaking, with Vandy going to the Music City and Miss State to the de facto capital of Mississippi, Memphis.

Sun Belt
Arkansas State, Florida International, and UL-Lafayette are all set. It's not looking good for Western Kentucky to get their first every bowl bid, though.

Hawaii lost to BYU, so unlike UCLA, they will not be bowling at 6-7. Utah State and Louisiana Tech are set with bids already. There are some rumblings Nevada may work out an arrangement to play closer to home (say, the Fight Hunger), but without anything more concrete I'm sticking with putting them in the Hawaii Bowl.

Okay, cool, so what about the conferences that are affected by the BCS? Well, let's start with the Big 12.

Big 12
Whether Oklahoma State gets into the title game doesn't matter here, as they will be in the BCS either way. The question is whether Kansas State will get an at-large berth. Oklahoma, Houston, and Virginia Tech all lost in front of them and will probably fall behind K-State, which may make them an attractive candidate generally for lack of better options. The only team that threatens K-State in this regard is Boise State. I am perhaps not giving Boise enough credit for the BCS folks here, but I think the Wildcats would be an attractive option for the Fiesta or Sugar, while Boise is probably more attractive to the Fiesta. So in all scenarios where either Michigan or TCU do not make it, or both, I have Kansas State in over Boise. The BCS bowl committees may surprise me, though! It's happened before.

Outside of that, I think Oklahoma is a pretty safe bet for the Cotton in any scenario where K-State is in the BCS, but if K-State is not in the BCS I think they are bound for Arlington. From there, things pretty much just go in this order for me: Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, and Iowa State. Just push them up or down a slot depending on who gets into the BCS, basically.

Big Ten
Wisconsin is in and Michigan State is out, in all scenarios. The question is Michigan. If Michigan is in, and I think they will be, I think the Capital One jumps at the chance to grab Nebraska for the second time ever and the first since 1990. If Michigan is not in the BCS, however, then I think they will go to the Capital One. Either way, I think Michigan State is a good bet for the Outback Bowl, followed by Iowa if Michigan is in or Nebraska if Michigan is out. (If Michigan is out, some of my scenarios have Texas-Nebraska in the Insight Bowl. That'd be a fun one, I'd wager, but probably not likely.) I have Ohio State in the Gator regardless of scenario as well.

Then things start to get interesting. The Big Ten has too many teams for its bids, the questions is if this will be one or two extra teams. If Michigan is in, I think that will put Penn State in the Car Care Bowl, Purdue in the TicketCity, and Northwester in the Pizza with Illinois waiting anxiously. If Michigan is out, then I like Iowa to the Car Care, Penn State to the TicketCity, and Purdue in the Pizza, with Northwestern and Illinois waiting.

Mountain West
If Boise is not in, then all indications are they will go to the Las Vegas Bowl. If TCU is not in then they will go to the Poinsettia. The only way TCU goes to the Vegas, it appears, is if Boise gets into the BCS. If TCU is in the BCS, then it looks like (as of the wee hours of Sunday) that the Poinsettia will not take the hometown San Diego State Aztecs and instead take Wyoming. All scenarios put Air Force in the Independence again, while Wyoming goes to the New Mexico if they're still available, and San Diego State if they're not. With the former scenario, SDSU will need an at-large berth.

The leftovers
In no scenario do I have Ball State or Western Kentucky making a bowl game. (Sorry Hilltoppers.) Basically, all these scenarios have an affect on how many teams need at-large bids. In cases where the Big 12 gets two teams in, I have Temple in the Military Bowl and Iowa State if not. I also have Illinois going out west to the Fight Hunger Bowl in all scenarios. That leaves the New Orleans Bowl and New Mexico Bowl needing teams, which depends heavily on if Boise/TCU and/or Michigan got BCS bids. If both do, then I have Toledo and Temple in those games. If the former but not the latter then I have Northwestern and Temple, with Toledo out completely. If the Michigan gets in and Boise/TCU do not, then  I have Toledo and San Diego State occupying those slots. If neither get in, then I have Northwestern and Toledo in those slots.

Note that when it comes to the at-larges, the situation tends to be extremely fluid and there can also be horsetrading (like I alluded to with Nevada).

I will update all 8 scenarios throughout the day as the bids come in, so stay tuned. If you really care about how I determine whether I predicted the matchups correctly, I will probably go with the scenario that most closely matches out the BCS actually turns out. I'll be keeping track of the final destinations here in a separate directory, even.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

This Weekend in College Football: Week 14

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: West Virginia @ South Florida (ESPN): The very last edition of Thursday night college football comes to you from "beautiful" Tampa, where "South" Florida will attempt to not lose to the Mountaineers. After starting 4-0, the Bulls have gone 1-6, so I can't say I really like their odds. Also, if WVU wins, they will probably get the Big East's BCS bowl bid if Cincinnati also wins.

7:00: Ohio vs. Northern Illinois (MAC Championship @ Detroit, MI; ESPN2): Unlike the other conference title game on this night, these two teams actually are the best teams in their league. Both teams can score, but the Bobcats seem to actually play defense sometimes, so I'll take them. I will say that I think this game will probably be close, unlike...

8:00: California-Los Angeles @ Oregon (Pac-12 Championship; FOX): This game. The only question is not if Oregon will win, but by how many touchdowns. By the way, UCLA did in fact get a waiver to go a bowl game at 6-7. Bruins fans: get your Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl tickets now!

  • Southern Mississippi @ Houston (C-USA Championship; ABC): Southern Miss may arguably be the best team Houston has seen all season, which is one of the reasons why the Cougars haven't been getting a lot of national attention. A win here does seal a BCS bowl bid for them, though, along with a large payday for the rest of Conference USA. Fortunately for the conscience of everyone involved, I really don't think they'll have that many issues, as the game will probably play out a lot like their game against Tulsa: a slow start and then pulling away in the second half.
  • Connecticut @ Cincinnati (ESPN): So it turns out the Big East can potentially end in a 3-way tie, among Louisville, Cincinnati, and West Virginia. Louisville is in the clubhouse with a 5-2 league record. If Cincy wins this game and WVU loses tonight, then Cincy wins the league outright due a head-to-head tiebraker. If Cincy loses this game, then Louisville wins the league outright by either having the best record (WVU loss) or due to their head-to-head tiebreaker over WVU. If there is a 3-way tie, then it will go to the BCS, and right now that benefits Cincy. In any case, I think Cincy is going to win this game.
  • Syracuse @ Pittsburgh (ESPN2): Do you want to see two 5-6 Big East teams attempt to sneak into a bowl game? Probably not, but in case you do, Pitt should win this game. The Orange have lost 4 straight after a 5-2 start and don't look to be getting any better.
12:30: Iowa State @ Kansas State (FSN): You what they say, "You don't just walk in to Bill Synder Family Memorial Stadium and expect to win." This applies to the Cyclones especially, as no one else has succeeded in beating the Wildcats at home this year expect for Oklahoma.

2:30: Nevada-Las Vegas @ Texas Christian (Versus): UNLV is awful. TCU should clinch the MWC title easily.

3:30: Texas @ Baylor (ABC): Texas basically McGuyver'ed a victory in College Station last week. Texas's offense hasn't shown enough ability to score against the other generous defenses of the Big 12, though, and while their defense is competent I don't think it'll be enough to prevent Robert Griffin III from doing his thing. If Texas had any offense at all, this would be a shootout, but instead I really like the Bears' chances.

4:00: Louisiana State vs. Georgia (SEC Championship @ Atlanta, GA; CBS): Georgia's good and all, but their best win of the year may, technically speaking, be over Georgia Tech. LSU is the best team in the land and should clear this hurdle, and probably easily.

7:30: Brigham Young @ Hawaii (ESPN2): BYU visits Hawaii! Why? Because they can! They should also get a victory for their efforts, though Hawaii does need the win to get bowl eligible.

  • Wisconsin vs. Michigan State (Big Ten Championship @ Indianapolis, IN; FOX): Here's one rematch I can't say I mind too much. I think even the first time I liked the Badgers, and I'll stick by that here. Both of these teams are "pretty good" but not "great" and this should be a close, fun game once again.
  • Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State (ABC): Oh, what could have been. The mind still reels trying to comprehend how Texas Tech beat Oklahoma in Norman. I mean, at least OSU had the decency to get upset on the road. Anyway, this is still Bedlam and it's still in Stillwater. I always think "hey, this matchup is always pretty crazy!" but this ignores the historical reality. Anyway, we also know both of these teams can score, but Oklahoma can sort of/kind of actually play defense sometimes. That said, I've liked these Cowboys all season to win this game, and I'm not changing my mind now.
  • Virginia Tech vs. Clemson (ACC Championship @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): Clemson has lost of its last four, with, as I've grown fond of saying, that one win being a last second FG to beat Wake Forest. This Clemson team shouldn't have any business needing last second field goals to beat Wake Forest, but here we are. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, easily beat Wake Forest and just finished routing their cross-state rival while Clemson lost to theirs, continuing to look lost on offense. What I'm saying is this: I really like the Hokies to prevail in this rematch.
  • Fresno State @ San Diego State (CBSS): SDSU likes to score points, and Fresno State doesn't like to play defense. Blowout, ahoy!
Check back in starting Saturday night for bowl predictions.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bowl Predictions 2011: Week 7

Almost everything went as expected this last weekend, which means while there were a few changes in the predictions there wasn't a major upheaval like there was last weekend. Let's start with the BCS this time.

Note that most bids will be announced very closely after Saturday's games. The last major hurdle is the final BCS standings, everyone should know where they're going for the holidays by the end of the day Sunday. And, as per usual, the predictions are available here.

I'm left with no other choice but to call LSU-Alabama. The only way I could see a change is a major uprising by poll voters to put Oklahoma State ahead of Alabama with a victory over Oklahoma on Saturday. In the other games, the major change is Michigan appearing in the Sugar Bowl. Wolverine fans should be pretty jazzed about beating Ohio State, but there is a slight problem: they are currently 16th in the BCS. However, Georgia and the loser of the Big Ten title game should fall behind them, allowing them to rise up to 14th by next weekend. If Michigan doesn't make it, then the Sugar may take Kansas State. Otherwise, there's nothing shocking about the rest of the BCS bowls.

The winner of the ACC title game will go to the Orange Bowl. Virginia Tech has a very outside shot at a BCS at-large even if they lose. With Clemson now having lost 2 of their last 3 games (and the 3rd was a last-second field goal over Wake Forest), a loss in the ACC title game may push them out of the Chick-fil-a now. For that reason, I've put Florida State above them in the pecking order, putting FSU in Atlanta and Clemson in the Champs Sports. (Also, I have Auburn in the Chick-fil-a game and though I've seen some things to the contrary I really don't think they want a rematch.) The Sun Bowl has said they will take Georgia Tech if available, so that's pretty easy. (A GT win against Georgia was necessary to raise our draft stock any higher.) With NC State's strong finish, they are a good candidate for the in-state Belk Bowl, which leaves Virginia for the Music City. This will stick the Independence Bowl with Wake Forest, relegating 3-5 North Carolina to the Military Bowl.

Big East
Who knows? I'm assuming West Virginia wins at this point and going from there. Oh, and ESPN's Big East blogger raised the scenario that I fear most, which that the Liberty will have a say in the Big East bowl picture. For the sake of my sanity, I'm assuming the Liberty will stick with Southern Miss whether they win or lose to Houston. Oh, and yeah, Notre Dame is almost certainly going to the Champs Sports instead of a Big East team.

Big Ten
The winner of the Big Ten will go to the Rose Bowl, and the loser of the title game will likely go to the Capital One Bowl (especially if Michigan gets a BCS at-large bid). From there, I have Nebraska breaking into their newfound ability to go to the Outback Bowl and then, as the last team that isn't 7-5 or 6-6, Penn State will probably end up in the Insight Bowl. (And frankly, the Insight Bowl may be the most anonymous bowl that features two BCS confernece teams, likely due to their previous TV contract with the NFL network. They could probably use the press.) I had to adjust my preliminary bowl predictions because the Gator said they really want to match Ohio State and Florida. (Remember folks, the bowl games exist mainly for themselves, not for you. The Gator is just the most brazen about it.)

Big 12
The Oklahoma-Oklahoma State winner will go to the Fiesta. If OSU loses they may still get a BCS bid (this depends on Michigan and Houston), however if the Sooners lose they are out of the BCS picture. I'm picking OSU to win that game, so I have K-State in the Cotton and Oklahoma in the Alamo. That leaves the rest of the conference picking up the scraps, with Texas at the top of the heap for the Insight, Baylor getting a nice trip to San Diego, TAMU getting a slightly less nicer trip to Houston. Oh, and Mizzou ends up in New York.

The Pac-12 is a mess with USC ineligible for a bowl game. Oregon and Stanford are probably both in, meanwhile UCLA (barring the biggest upset of the year) will probably be 6-7 and ineligible. While there were some reports they could get waiver, I haven't seen this confirmed yet. (If they do, they will almost certainly be in the Fight Hunger Bowl.) So with the two best teams in the BCS, that leaves everyone else to fight over the Alamo Bowl bid. Arizona State looked to be that team, but their epic collapse is complete and their coach fired, so Washington gets the nod. The Holiday will probably then take that chance to grab Cal, and so I'm left with Utah and Arizona State for the Sun. I figure the former's fans are going to feel a little better about themselves because I don't think anyone had them getting a winning record in Pac-12 play this year, so I'll put them into the sun and the Sun Devils in the Las Vegas Bowl.

The SEC will have two teams in the BCS. (If Georgia beats LSU and LSU falls to #2 and Bama rises to #1, they could even have three teams in the BCS, since UGA would get the Sugar auto-bid.) Since Tennessee lost to Kentucky, they will not have enough bowl eligible teams this year. For now, I have Arkansas going to the Capital One Bowl, which leaves the Cotton in a predicament of having to pick a SEC East team. I have them getting Georgia and leaving South Carolina to the Outback, though that could go either way. (Or Arkansas could fall past the Cap One, but I don't know if they would really want UGA, and it's not like Arkansas isn't going to have other chances to go the Cotton Bowl.) This leaves Auburn as a good choice for the Chick-fil-a (since they'll have equally attractive options on the ACC side to avoid the Auburn-Clemson rematch). I then have Vandy staying close by to go the Music City and Miss State going against Southern Miss in the Liberty.

The Rest
Some bids have come in already (indicated by the asterisks), but otherwise this is pretty unclear. The WAC has completely fooled me so far and it's not clear what the Hawaii Bowl will do if Hawaii loses to BYU this weekend. (I.e., they may decide to not take Nevada.) There's lots of guesses for C-USA and the at-large bids indicated by the question marks, but we will have enough teams. (I have 71 on this table, 72 if UCLA gets a waiver.)

Anyway, bowl bids will continue to trickle in throughout the week most likely, with a furious wave Saturday night and Sunday. What I usually do is make one last set of predictions Saturday evening and then watch the carnage unfold. A final post like this will probably go up really early on Sunday (or Saturday night, depending on your perspective). So until then...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/26

Men, Georgie's a fine football team, a very fine football team. Georgie's bigger and faster than we are. Probably a little tougher, too.

That's okay, because we're smarter than they are.

Now, let me tell you what's going to happen. That Georgie team's going to come running out of the tunnel screaming and foaming at the mouth and smashing one another upside the head just to get warmed up.

We won't do any of that. While they waste their energy, we'll conserve ours. I've told you that they're bigger, faster, and tougher than you. That's true. But we do have that one big advantage.

We ... are ... smarter.

Think about what I teach you. Play field position. Play great defense. Make no mistakes on offense. Be great in the kicking game. Do that and we'll keep it close.

As the game goes on, they'll start to get tired because they wasted so much energy in the beginning. Because we're smart, we'll have plenty of energy left, and at some point in the fourth quarter they'll make a mistake.

When they do make that mistake, we'll get the football. And when that happens, I'll think of something and we'll win!
Coach Bobby Dodd, as told by Bill Curry

Friday, November 25, 2011

This Weekend in College Football: Week 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Ohio State @ Michigan (ABC): Ohio State has won seven straight, but for the first time that I can remember Michigan has all the advantages. They play good enough defense, and while their offense is spotty it's more consistent than the Buckeyes'. Add in the fact it's in the Big House and the Wolverines have to be a clear favorite.
  • Iowa State @ Oklahoma (FX): Iowa State rocked the college football world in Ames last weekend, however, this contest is in Norman. Oklahoma, provided they learned anything from Baylor, should take the Cyclones seriously enough so as to not have any trouble with them.
  • Georgia @ Georgia Tech (ESPN): To hell with Georgia.
  • Rutgers @ Connecticut (ESPN2): I guess Rutgers is going to win this? I dunno. No, really, I don't.
  • Rice @ Southern Methodist (FSN): Neither of these teams are particularly good, but SMU is just slightly less bad.
  • Michigan State @ Northwestern (BTN): Spary's already clinched a spot in the Big Ten title game, but they shouldn't overlook the Wildcats. I don't think they will.
  • Tennessee @ Kentucky (SEC): Oy. This is a SEC East slapfight. Both teams of these teams are also pretty bad, but again, the Vols are just slightly less bad.
  • James Madison @ Eastern Kentucky (NCAA Tournament; ESPNU): I like giving props to the NCAA football tournament, and this is the the only game on national TV. I know even less about these teams than I do even Rice and SMU, so I won't offer up a pick.
12:30: Maryland @ North Carolina State (ACC): Maryland is still simply awful this year and NCSU has rallied in the second half of the year, making the Wolfpack an easy choice.

  • Alabama @ Auburn (CBS): While this will likely be closer than the line, I just can't really imagine a scenario where Auburn can win this game.
  • Oregon State @ Oregon (ABC/ESPN2): It's the Civil War! This is an underrated rivalry game, but the Beavers have just had an awful time of it this year. I really like the Ducks.
  • Virginia Tech @ Virginia (ABC/ESPN2): UVA has exceeded every expectation for this year. While VPI still had legitimate offensive issues, it's hard to see how UVA will prevail.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Wisconsin (ESPN): Well, Penn State has exceeded at least my expectations these past couple of weeks. But Wisconsin has regained at least some offensive swagger, though they were a little slow to really get going against Illinois last week. However, I just can't see how Penn State's offense can keep up.
  • Missouri vs. Kansas (@Kansas City, MO; FSN): Probably one of the last meetings of these two bitter rivals, but this KU team is simply awful. Mizzou all the way.
  • Vanderbilt @ Wake Forest (ESPNU): Vandy needs this to get bowl eligible, and for me it's a difficult call to make. Both of these teams are undermanned the vast majority of the time, so it's hard to say what will happen when they meet each other. I'm leaning toward Vandy though.
  • East Carolina @ Marshall (CBSS): The winner goes to a bowl game. The loser doesn't. I think it'll be ECU heading off to some far-flung C-USA bowl game.
  • Illinois @ Minnesota (BTN): It would be the most Ron Zook thing ever for them to lose to Minnesota, right? I'll go with that.
  • Purdue @ Indiana (BTN): This is rivalry game, of sorts. Another game where neither team is very good but Indiana is just awful. I like the Boilermakers.
  • Duke @ North Carolina (ACC): Duke and UNC meet once again, but it'll be another couple of months before they meet in a fashion anyone in the Raleigh-Durham area really cares about. I'll take the 'Heels.
  • Florida State @ Florida (ESPN2): Florida can't score, but sort of plays defense. FSU, meanwhile, just suffered a bad loss to Virginia. Provided FSU actually shows up for this one, though, I have to take the Seminoles here.
  • Mississippi @ Mississippi State (ESPNU): Houston Nutt's tenure at Ole Miss will not go out with a bang, but with a whimper.
  • Texas Tech vs. Baylor (@Arlington, TX; FSN): Robert Griffin the III singlehandedly lead Baylor to their biggest victory ever against Oklahoma. Provided he's not looking forward to a trip to Manhattan (New York, that is) he should have considerably less trouble against the Red Raiders.
7:30: Washington State @ Washington (Versus): It's the Apple Cup once again! Udub lost to Oregon State somehow last weekend, but I have a hard time figuring out exactly how they could lose to equally morbund Wazzou. I like the Huskies here.

7:45: Clemson @ South Carolina (ESPN): I've been grappling with how to pick this game all week. South Carolina is now an offensive non-entity, but Clemson has lost two of their last three, and the third was a last-second FG win over Wake Forest. I'm sitting here in my family's living literally scratching my head over my head over this. I think this is basically a toss-up. If Clemson shows up, then they have the offensive firepower to win. However, based on the last few weeks I have to think this will be a defensive struggle that favors the Gamecocks.

8:00: Notre Dame @ Stanford (ABC): ND may put up a fight, but I really like Andrew Luck and Stanford here.

10:00: California-Los Angeles @ Southern California (FSN): Boy howdy USC has looked good the last couple weeks haven't they? And besides, it'll make for good trivia for UCLA to represent the Pac-12 South next week at 6-6 and likely to be multiple touchdown underdogs.

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/25

Posting this video has been a tradition that I’ve done for each of the past three years here. With the recent death of Larry Munson, however, I debated whether not doing so again this year would be in good taste.

I’ve thought about it for a few days and come to the following conclusion: he was beloved by UGA fans for telling it like was, and all this video really captures is one of the very few times in the past 40 years in which his team has been underdogs to Tech.

And, in the end, I’m sure he’s not the only one who thought they were getting beat “like we were Wake Forest or Maryland or somebody”.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/23

First, I just rediscovered this gem of an animated GIF from September and had to bring it back:
(From RjTheMetalhead, purveyor of fine single and multi-frame images.) Anyway, hoping to see a lot of that this weekend.

With that out of the way, let's talk about Uga. No, not the school, the dog. New breed standards were recently developed for the English bulldog, and Uga's breeders aren't happy about that:
"I don't care what the British do," said Sonny Seiler, owner of the bulldog line that has become the most celebrated sports mascot in the United States.
Critics in England and in the United States, however, said breeders have transformed bulldogs and some other dog breeds into genetic monstrosities prone to chronic disease and sometimes early death.
 This what the original bulldog mascot, Yale's Handsome Dan, looked like in 1890:

The underbite is there, but notice the overall lack of wrinkles and muscular frame. I'd paste an actual Uga here, but you've probably seen them before and if you haven't: remember that the past few Ugas were not terribly mobile and generally spent most of their times at the game laying on a block of ice due to respiratory issues. There's also been the notable short lifespan of the previous two. The current Uga, of course, isn't actually an Uga because he's not nearly in-bred enough and actually has a brown spot (because Ugas also have to have a perfectly white coat). Even by today's degraded standards, other Bulldog mascots (think Miss State and the current stand-in for UGA) look relative healthy compared to the last few Ugas.

I swear, these "inbred redneck" jokes just about write themselves.

This Week in College Football: Week 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

7:00: Miami @ Ohio (ESPN2): Ohio has already sealed up the MAC East, but nonetheless shouldn't overlook their in-state rivals in Miami. I like the Bobcats here.

8:00: Texas @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (ESPN): I'm not sure what Texas fans were expecting this year, though they have probably found this season frustrating nonetheless. Texas A&M fans, though, well, suffice it to say I'm not sure they expected to lose 2 games, much less 5. The culprit has been defense, especially their well-publicized issues holding a double-digit lead in the the second halves of games. That said, can the Longhorns even generate enough points to have a second half lead, much less a double-digit one? In their last two games against Mizzou and Kansas State Texas has only scored 18 points. Scoring has not been the issue for the Aggies. I wasn't sure about this earlier, but now I just don't know how Texas is going to score enough points to win this game.

  • Louisville @ South Florida (ESPN2): The Big East will trend toward any scenario that makes there conference tiebreaker more complicated, so Louisville basically guaranteed to win this game.
  • Eastern Michigan @ Northern Illinois (ESPNU): Toledo needs a EMU victory here to have a shot at the MAC West, but I don't think they're going to get it.
  • Iowa @ Nebraska (ABC): ALL HAIL THE CORN BOWL. No, really. That said, I think the Huskers can get back on track in the game and earn the world's first trophy that features REAL CORN. (Just don't tell Artur Boruc.)
  • Houston @ Tulsa (FSN): Tulsa may be the most formidable obstacle Houston has played to date, if for no other reason than because they're the first team they've played that can keep up with them on offense. Of course, with a BCS now on the line for the Cougars, there's just that much added pressure. I still like them to prevail, but this will be their stiffest test of the year, I think.
2:30: Arkansas @ Louisiana State (CBS): I've been saying this all year: the Razorbacks feature probably the only truly competent offense in the SEC. No other team in the SEC has been able to put up 30 as often against quality opponents. The problem is, the best team they've played so far, Alabama, held them to just 14. LSU's defense is as good as Bama's if not better. The question for LSU is, of course, the offense. They've been more potent this year, but the whole operation feels as though it's just a few Jordan Jefferson fumbles or Jarret Lee interceptions away from total disaster. Do I think this disaster will occur in Baton Rouge Friday afternoon? No, probably not. This game is usually pretty great though, and comes highly recommended from me.

  • Boston College @ Miami (ABC): Speaking of total disasters, if the Miami locker room is really disappointed about the Canes not going to a bowl game that's exactly what this could turn into. Then again, I'm not convinced BC could score enough points to win this game even Miami didn't even come out on defense at all.
  • Colorado @ Utah (FSN): Fun fact: Utah now has the inside track to win the Pac-12 South. Yeah. They should be able to beat a Colorado team that just lost 45-6 to UCLA.
  • Pittsburgh @ West Virginia (ESPN): It's the Backyard Brawl! And maybe for the last time in awhile. Against, for maximum Big East chaos I think WVU needs to win for the 4-way tie to be preserved, so that's probably what will happen.
  • Texas-El Paso @ Central Florida (CBSS): I have UTEP winning for the purposes of my bowl predictions, so, yeah, I guess I'll take the Miners here.
10:15: California @ Arizona State (ESPN): Cal has been awful on the road this year, with their only such win a 36-33 overtime win against a Colorado team that is usually paired with adjectives like "hapless". Therefore, I have to go with the increasingly, erm, hapless Sun Devils here.

Have a good Turkey Day and weekend predictions will go up on Friday!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bowl Predictions 2011: Week 6

Chaos reigned supreme last weekend. Now we stare down the barrel as someone will most likely play someone they already played in the BCS Championship Game. Remember folks, every game counts, unless it doesn’t.

I’m writing this as I go. Since this is an electronic document I could, of course, actually just move things around to their customary order first, but that would be too easy. So let’s start off with the little guys. The final predictions will be up at their usual place.

The first announcements of the year that I saw where that UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State have accepted bids to the New Orleans and bowls, respectively. I also have FIU and Western Kentucky qualifying as well.

BYU also formally accepted its bid to the Armed Forces Bowl.

Hawaii could’ve gained eligibility but only managed to put up 21 points against one of the worse defenses in college football. Since they play 13 games, they must have a winning record, and so at 5-6 now they will need to beat Tulane (extremely doable) and BYU. While they can beat BYU, I don’t think they will. Elsewhere in the WAC, Nevada lost a pivotal home matchup to Louisiana Tech, but that may not really matter that much as the WAC moves teams around based on what they think will work best for their games. Therefore, I still sent Nevada to the poinsettia, LaTech to Boise, and 6-6 Utah State to Hawaii.

In the MAC, I don’t see Kent State or Eastern Michigan winning their final games to get eligible. Ohio has already clinched the MAC East, and I think they will go ahead and play Northern Illinois in the MAC title game. The MAC champion goes to the bowl, but I always figure it’s best for a MAC team to actually play in the Midwest. Nonetheless, I’m guessing Ohio will go down to Mobile, NIU will go to Detroit, and I’ll pick Toledo to go out to Boise. That leaves Temple, Ball State, and Western Michigan as eagerly anticipating at-large bids elsewhere, which should materialize.

The Mountain West is going about how one would expect now that Boise is not going to the BCS. TCU will win the conference even if they sleepwalk through the UNLV game and get themselves an invite to Vegas. Boise will be a slam dunk for the Poinsettia unless an utter collapse elsewhere in the BCS occurs and they get invited as an at-large. Then it comes down to the Independence Bowl, which will likely have to choose between Wyoming and San Diego State. (Air Force should get eligible, but they do need to beat Colorado State Saturday since they played 2 DI-AA teams this year.) I’m just going to go in standings order for now (Wyoming to Independence, SDSU to New Mexico), leaving Air Force as a potential at-large for later.
Since it’s next on my list, the other two service academies will not be bowling this year after Navy’s loss to San Jose State. Notre Dame will be bowling somewhere, and I think it’s likely that somewhere will be the Champs Sports Bowl (otherwise, it will be the Pinstripe Bowl).

In Conference USA, East Carolina and Marshall will play this weekend for a bowl bid, and I like ECU in that game. Southern Mississippi, despite an inexplicable loss to UAB, should clinch the division. Houston will win the conference, of course, and should be in line for a BCS bowl bid, but they will need to beat Tulsa Saturday and USM next week to clinch it for sure. I have UTEP beating UCF Saturday to get to 6-6, giving us 6 total C-USA teams. I like USM to the Liberty bowl, but after that it’s all guesswork. C-USA does not explicitly order their bids, so I look at the payouts, with the TicketCity being the highest, followed by the Hawaii Bowl and the Armed Forces Bowl. The New Orleans and Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl sit at the bottom. I’ll go ahead and send Tulsa to the TicketCity and SMU to the hometown Armed Forces (literally, as it’s at their home stadium). That leaves us 2 6-6 teams for 3 bowls. Let’s pencil in ECU to go to Hawaii and UTEP to St. Petersburg, leaving us needing another team in New Orleans.

A LSU-Alabama rematch seems nearly inevitable at this point, unless all hell breaks even more loose this weekend. I highly dislike the idea of the rematch, after all, the college football is regular seasons is so short it’s not really interesting for teams to play each other twice. This year, more than ever, shows how difficult it is to resolve differences between teams that play vastly different schedules over only 12 games, and why we really need a playoff.

In the Rose, I’ve got ahead and put in Wisconsin and Oregon, though both will need to play conference championship games this year. For the other autobids, I’ve put in Oklahoma State to the Fiesta and Virginia Tech to the Orange.

The Sugar gets the first at-large pick because it lost its autobid champion to the national title game. This is where it gets tough, though. Unless some other weird stuff happens, the SEC can’t get a third team into the BCS, which limits the sort of teams that the Sugar typically picks. I will go ahead and put in Kansas State there, since Oklahoma I have Oklahoma losing to Oklahoma State this weekend. (Note that if Bedlam goes the other way around, both teams could still get into the BCS.) Now the Fiesta has a difficult choice, but I think the area’s NFL fans will flock to see Andrew Luck, so I will put Stanford in there. Now we still have to put whoever the heck is going twin the Big East as well as Houston somewhere. Due to proximity, I figure the Sugar will fall on that sword and take the Cougars. I have the Big East finishing in a 4-way tie for first, so I’m taking West Virginia out of that group.

Even with their inexplicable loss to NC State blowing their BCS hopes, Clemson will likely still be attractive enough for the Chick-fil-a Bowl. Following that, there are 4 ACC teams that will finish 5-3 (most likely): Wake Forest, Florida State, Virginia, and Georgia Tech. Of this group, FSU is probably the most attractive for the Champs Sports at the ACC #3 slot. Also, if they take Notre Dame is creates a huge “name” matchup. ACC #4 is the Sun Bowl and I think it’s likely GT will end up there. The Belk Bowl will probably use its option to take a 4-4 NC State team over UVA and Wake, but the Music City will probably have no issues with taking UVA. (This is where I had Miami going previously, but with their announcement that they won’t accept a bowl bid it’s sort of a moot point now.) With Carolina at 3-5, this means Wake can’t fall any farther than the Independence Bowl, with the Tar Heels then ending up in DC for the Military Bowl.

Big 12
If Oklahoma doesn’t make a BCS game, they will be a very obvious candidate for the Cotton Bowl. At this point, the Alamo will probably have no choice but to take Baylor. This leaves the rest of the 7-5-/6-6 Big 12 misfits to fight over the remaining bids. I’ll go ahead and put Texas in the Insight Bowl and Missouri in the Holiday, leaving TAMU to the Car Care Bowl (of Texas) and Iowa State to the Pinstripe.

Big East
Again: I really hate picking the Big East. As I said above, I have 4 teams finishing with a 5-2 conference record currently. Since the Champs will probably take Notre Dame, that leaves the next selection to the Belk Bowl, where I guess Cincy has the best chance of going except that they already played NC State this year, so I’ll switch that to Louisville instead. Rutgers likes to think of themselves as “New York City’s college football team” so I’ll send them to the Pinstripe. I’ll pencil Cincy in for the Compass Bowl and so that leaves only Pitt for the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s.

Big Ten
I’m not sure the Big Ten will get two teams into the BCS this year. If they do, it will be Michigan. Since Michigan State will suffer a third loss in the Big Ten title game they won’t likely be eligible, which means Michigan could sneak into the top 14. If they don’t, the Capital One Bowl is good consolation prize, especially after the past few years. Fret not, Sparty supporters, as I just have them landing softly in the Outback Bowl. From there, I’m sure the Insight Bowl would love to match Nebraska back up with Texas, and given the Gator Bowl’s scruples I doubt they would hesitate to take Penn State. Iowa’s large traveling fanbase should be a slam dunk for the Car Care Bowl (of Texas!). Form there, there’s a bevy of unattractive options at 6-6 and 7-5, such as Northwestern, Purdue, Ohio State, and Illinois. The only two bowls left are the TicketCity Bowl and Little Ceasar’s Pizza Bowl, so I’ll go ahead and take the biggest “names” for those two, with the Buckeyes going to Dallas and Illinois to Detroit, leaving Purdue and Northwestern to fend for themselves.

With Oregon and Stanford in the BCS and USC ineligible, the picture looks pretty bleak if you’re a bowl affiliated with the Pac-12. I actually have Utah winning the Pac-12 South and getting to an 8-4 record, so you know what, I’ll go ahead and put them in the Alamo. The Holiday is next up. I want to put Washington there but they went to San Diego last year. UCLA is also 5-4 in conference but they’re also actually awful and may fire their coach after the season. I’ll go ahead and put them there though and send Washington El Paso. That leaves me 6-6 Arizona State and Cal, so I’ll send the Sun Devils to Vegas and let the Bears stay in their temporary home for the Fight Hunger Bowl.

Arkansas is the jewel of the remaining SEC teams and will certainly end up in the Capital One Bowl. Of course, that means we have to figure out someone else to send to the Cotton Bowl. That’ll be between Georgia and South Carolina most likely, so I’ll put UGA in the Outback and send the Gamecocks to Dallas. Auburn’s the only team left at this point with a winning record, so I’ll set up Tigers-Tigers in the Chick-fil-a. The Gator is the next up, and well, it’s so easy to put the Gators there. (Almost… too easy.)  I’ll go ahead and put the Vols in the Music City, leaving us 2 teams and bowls! Memphis is basically the capital of Mississippi anyway, so that makes Miss State a natural fit for the Liberty and relegates Vandy to the Compass.

At-large Resolution
At this point, I still need four teams for the New Mexico, New Orleans, Military, and Fight Hunger Bowls. Northwestern and Purdue will probably go somewhere, so I’ll put Northwestern in the Military and Purdue in the Fight Hunger. I figure 8-4 Temple will get a bid somewhere, so let’s go with the New Orleans Bowl. That leaves us the New Mexico bowl… this is a guess, but I’ll go ahead and put 8-4 FIU there.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/20

It is time, once again, for To Hell With Georgia week here.

As usual, this opening message will be short, and sweet. I will leave you with one succinct thought: To Hell With Georgia.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

This Weekend in College Football: Week 12

Before we begin: what the heck, Oklahoma State? With that out of the way...

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Nebraska @ Michigan (ESPN): This could well be the most interesting game of the weekend, in terms of competitiveness. I think, however, Michigan's ability to play some semblance of a defense (imagine saying that any of the past three years) will allow them to prevail in the end.
  • Wisconsin @ Illinois (ESPN2): Dusting themselves off after two straight losses knocked them out of the nation title picture, the Badgers have got their offense rolling again. Meanwhile, Ron Zook is walking out of press conferences. I like the Badgers.
  • Kansas @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (FSN): If there's one team TAMU probably won't blow a double-digit second half lead to, it's Kansas.
  • Cincinnati @ Rutgers (ESPNU): Speaking of walking out of press conferences, that's what I'm tempting to do anytime anyone asks me to make sense of the Big East. I'll take the Bearcats out of a sense of hope and desperation.
  • Indiana @ Michigan State (BTN): Three low-level Big Ten games! Sparty looks to preserve its lead in the Legends division, which they should do easily.
  • Minnesota @ Northwestern (BTN): Minnesota's shown flashes of maybe not being a complete doormat these last few weeks, but Northwestern should still win in the end.
  • Iowa @ Purdue (BTN): Outside of their shocking win over Ohio State, Purdue hasn't really shown they can score any points. Iowa doesn't score a lot but it should be enough.
  • Kentucky @ Georgia (SEC): Will the dogs suffer a letdown against the SEC's second worst team? No, probably not. Unfortunately.
12:30: Georgia Tech @ Duke (ACC): Well, what can I say about the Virginia Tech game that hasn't been said? Yeah, that's what I thought.
This will be the 79th meeting of the Yellow Jackets and Blue Devils. Duke is actually Tech's third most-often played team, behind Auburn (92 games) and Georgia (105). The only other teams Tech has met even more than 50 times are Clemson (76) and Alabama (52). Somewhat surprisingly, the Jackets still sport a better winning percentage against Clemson (65.8%) than Duke (60.9%). However, while the Clemson series has been mostly even since the early 70's, the Duke series has not been. After Georgia Tech's low-point in the 70's and early-80's, the series has been all Tech - Duke has only won twice since 1990.
Duke is not the ACC's most awful team this year - that honor lies with Boston College. However, that doesn't mean the Jackets can overlook them. One need look no further than Ames, Iowa after the events of last night to remember that anything can happen on any day in college football. Virginia Tech came out against the Blue Devils and, were it not for 3 missed FGs, could have nearly lost the game. It will be critical for Tech to be on their game and press their advantage against one of the few teams they will are physically superior than. Other than special teams, Tech's Achilles's heel this year has been pass defense. After a heroic effort in the Clemson game, Virginia Tech continually got behind our secondary and was able to stretch the defense. Duke is 27th in the country in passing yards, which is partially due to necessity. However, Sean Renfree is a decent quarterback who can burn us pretty easily if the secondary allows him to.

  • Tulsa @ Texas-El Paso (CBSS): UTEP is up to its old tricks again - lose to Rice one week, beat East Carolina the next. That said, Tulsa should have little trouble dissecting them.
  • Maryland @ Wake Forest (ACC/FSN): I think we can pretty safely call Maryland awful at this point. Wake Forest should get their sixth win here.
  • Mississippi State @ Arkansas (CBS): Miss State should be able to score, but they just... can't. One of my favorite football writers said on Twitter last weekend that he thinks Dan Mullen tries to get too "cute" with the Urban Meyer-style spread offense, and I'm inclined to agree. Arkansas, meanwhile, fields one of the few actual offenses in the SEC and should win easily as long as they're not looking forward their huge showdown with LSU next Friday.
  • Texas Tech @ Missouri (ABC): As everyone on the Internet is saying, Texas Tech's victory over Oklahoma is becoming more and more inexplicable by the week. In their three games since then, they have been outscored 159-33. It wasn't just Oklahoma State, either - Iowa State put up 41, and Texas's moribund offense managed 52. Mizzou should win easily, even without Gary Pinkel on the sidelines due to his extremely ill-advised trip to Chili's.
  • Clemson @ North Carolina State (ABC/ESPN): What better way to follow up a loss to the worst team in the ACC than by an explicable upset over Clemson? Yeah.. I'm not seeing it either. Though after Wake the Tigers are almost just begging to lose again, aren't they?
  • Pennsylvania State @ Ohio State (ABC/ESPN): Okay yes Ohio State may have just lost to Purdue but still it's hard to imagine Penn State winning any more games this year.
  • Southern Methodist @ Houston (FSN): Well, based on the number of times I've said "win easily" so far it's not hard to see why Gameday decided to make its annual mid-major trip out to Houston this weekend. And that was before Houston because the last remaining undefeated mid-major last weekend, and before the events last night that made them one of the only two remaining undefeated teams in the country. Meanwhile, SMU has lost to the other two decent C-USA teams it has played by pretty wide margins and just lost to Navy last week. So... this may end up being a blowout too.
  • Miami @ South Florida (ESPNU): One of these schools is actually in a geographic region I would call "south Florida" and it's not the one named "South Florida". With that out of the way, USF did nothing between its upset of Notre Dame the first weekend of the year and beating Syracuse last weekend. I would expect them to get right back on the losing side of the ledger in this one, though.
  • Colorado State @ Texas Christian (Versus): The Missed Field Goal Heard 'Round College football resonated and wide (... right) last weekend, but now TCU has to keep up their 5 game winning streak against the less notable segments of the Mountain West in order to clinch their last mid-major conference title.
4:00: Boston College @ Notre Dame (NBC): I would say that BC is probably the single worst team on Notre Dame's schedule this year, and keep in mind this is a schedule that includes Purdue, Navy, and Maryland. They should win easily.

  • Louisiana State @ Mississippi (ESPN): The SEC's two most colorful coaching personalities clash in what should be a LSU rout, but does Houston Nutt have one last trick up his sleeve? (I.e., "lose to Louisiana Tech and then suspend 3 of your offensive skill position starters for the game and win".) Well, no, probably not, but if Ole Miss does win the final score will be something like 9-8.
  • Central Florida @ East Carolina (FSN): This is been a down year for both teams, but at least ECU managed to beat UAB. (Yes, I know they just upset Southern Miss.)
  • Vanderbilt @ Tennessee (ESPNU): Let this sink in: Vanderbilt is favored to beat Tennessee. But I still don't know if I can pick the 'Dores because the last time Vandy was supposed to win this game they didn't. My heart says Vandy but my brain says Vols, so let's go with the latter.
  • Virginia @ Florida State (ESPN2): Both of these teams have beaten Miami, which says something but I'm not entirely sure what. Nonetheless, FSU has their offensive mojo back and Virginia is not Wake Forest so the Seminoles should come out with a win.
  • Colorado @ California-Los Angeles (Versus): Note: even with a 25-point loss to Utah last weekend, the Bruins still have a shot to win the Pac-12 South. That said, Utah is better than Colorado, I'm pretty sure. This will be a terrible, sloppy, "defensive struggle" sort of a game but UCLA should still win and Rick Neuheisel will probably still get fired.
  • Southern California @ Oregon (ABC): Oregon established pretty firmly last weekend that they are, in fact, still the team to beat in the Pac-12. USC has the talent to compete, but not the depth to stay with the Ducks. Expect the usual Oregon blueprint against good teams: a close first half followed by the Ducks simply wearing out the opposing defenses in the second half.
  • Oklahoma @ Baylor (ABC): Welcome back to the BCS title hunt, Sooners! Okay, yes, now beating Oklahoma State won't have the cachet it used to. Anyway, Baylor's all-everything QB Robert Griffin III will try his best to singlehandedly keep the Bears in this one but I just don't see how it can be enough against the Sooners.
  • Kansas State @ Texas (FX): Okay yes they didn't play in 2008 and 2009 but Kansas State has won three straight against Texas. I'm not sure if it's an upset at this point, but K-State has shown they can at least run with TAMU and Oklahoma State, and unlike Texas, those teams actually can play offense! So I'm taking the Wildcats.
  • Boise State @ San Diego State (CBSS): Boise once again finds itself picking up the pieces after a game gone horribly wrong, made even more painful by Oklahoma State's loss last night. San Diego State is not exactly chopped liver, but this is not last year's fiesty version either. I suspect the Broncos are once again the sort of team that picks up the pieces by laying waste to their next opponent, so I'll take them here.
  • California @ Stanford (ESPN): The Big Game! Stanford Stadium is about 5 miles from my apartment out here, but by the time you read this I'll be more like 2000 miles away. Anyway, speaking of picking up the pieces from a bad loss, you really have to like Andrew Luck and company in this one, right?
  • New Mexico State @ Brigham Young (ESPNU): I'll confess I don't know that much about BYU, but they don't have one of the worst defense in the country, in stark contrast to Fresno State will let these Aggies put up 48 last weekend. So, yeah, I'll the Stormin' Mormons here.
And that's that. Bowl predictions may be delayed this weekend due to chaos.