Monday, December 31, 2012

Bowl Games 2012: Part 5

Happy New Year!

First, though, I'd like to correct an error in the previous post. Somehow I missed that Tulsa and Iowa State actually played each on September 1 of 2012. Whoops. For what it's worth, Iowa State won that matchup 38-23. Now, back to our new programming.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Tuesday, January 1
Noon:
  • Northwestern vs. Mississippi State (Gator Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL; ESPN2): I'm calling a narrow Northwestern victory here. This is mostly due to Miss State's flop against Ole Miss in their last game of the season. If you lose 41-24 to your most bitter rival, how can you get up for a team wearing purple from the Big Ten?
    Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
    Last bowl game: The Wildcats are making their fifth straight bowl appearance. They lost 33-22 to Texas A&M in last year's Car Care Bowl. Miss State is making its third straight appearance. They beat Wake Forest in last year's Music City Bowl, 23-17.
    Announcers: Bob Wischusen, Danny Kanell
    Fun facts: We've railed on the Gator Bowl here before, so this shouldn't be a huge surprise:
  • Oklahoma State vs. Purdue (Heart of Dallas Bowl @ Dallas, TX; ESPNU): Against any other reasonably competent team, Purdue's offense has struggled big time. I believe that Oklahoma State qualifies as "reasonably competent", at least with their own offense.
    Previous meetings: Just one, the 1997 Alamo Bowl. Purdue won, 33-20.
    Last bowl game: Oklahoma State is making its seventh straight bowl appearance. In last season's Fiesta Bowl, they beat Stanford 41-38. After missing a few years, Purdue is back for its second straight game. Last year, they beat Western Michigan in the Little Ceasars Pizza Bowl, 37-32.
    Announcers: Clay Matvick, Matt Stinchcomb
1:00:
  • Georgia vs. Nebraska (Capital One Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ABC): Nebraska doesn't just need to have a short memory, they might be well-served by having some lobotomies considering what happened to them in Indianapolis last month. This is a team that had Rose Bowl aspirations and fell completely flat to a 5-loss Wisconsin. Yes, UGA lost their last game too. But the circumstances were completely different, and I think they can get over missing out on the title game since they actually tried.
    Previous meetings: Just one, the 1969 Sun Bowl. Nebraska won, 45-6.
    Last bowl game: UGA is making their 16th straight bowl appearance, and notably blew last year's Outback Bowl against Michigan State, giving up a large lead to lose 33-30. Nebraska's making their fifth straight appearance and lost last year's Capital One Bowl to South Carolina, 30-13.
    Announcers: Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer
  • Michigan vs. South Carolina (Outback Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ESPN): Michigan has surprised me in bowl games before. That said, South Carolina's defensive line is just that good. Both offenses are pretty questionable, though, which may help keep this a close game late.
    Previous meetings: Two, and surprisingly neither was a bowl. South Carolina won the initial meeting in 1980 17-14, but in 1985 the Wolverines evened things up with a 34-4 victory.
    Last bowl game: The Wolviners are making their third straight bowl appearance. They beat Virginia Tech in last season's Sugar Bowl, 23-20. The Gamecocks are making their firth straight appearance, and they won last year's Capital One Bowl over Nebraska, 30-13.
    Announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon "THIS GUY" Gruden
5:00: Wisconsin vs. Stanford (Rose Bowl @ Pasadena, CA; ESPN): Stanford has a pretty solid defense, and it's hard to see how Wisconsin will run over them the same way they ran over Nebraska. Remember, this Wisconsin team wasn't some sort of sleeping juggernaut that picked it up late in the season. They lost their previous two games to Ohio State and Penn State before heading to the Big Ten title game. I wouldn't be surprised if the Badgers still got their yards, but I will be surprised if they can consistently turn them into touchdowns instead of field goals.
Previous meetings: Five, with the most recent being the 1999/2000 Rose bowl, which the Badgers won 17-9. Before then, they played two series of home-and-away match-ups in 1959/1960 and 1995/1996. Wisconsin won all of those games, except for in the 1995 games they had a 24-24 tie.
Last bowl game: Wisconsin is making its 11th straight bowl appearance. They lost last year's Rose Bowl to Oregon in a 45-38 thriller. Stanford, meanwhile, is making its fourth straight bowl appearance. They had their own thriller last season against Oklahoma state in the Fiesta Bowl, but they ended up on the losing end of a 41-38 game.
Announcers: Brent Musbuger, Kirk Herbstreit

8:30: Florida State vs. Northern Illinois (Orange Bowl @ Miami Gardens, FL; ESPN): Don't get me wrong, I'm all for cheering for the underdog. (Today provided a good example, I picked against Vandy and Clemson but certainly didn't mind seeing them win.) But I just cannot really conceive of a way Northern Illinois can win this game. For as much as I talked about the gap between the relative talent levels of GT and USC yesterday, this blows that out of the water. NIU is a good football, but their best win of the year came over Kent State in double overtime in the MAC title game. NIU played two teams from major conferences this year: a very down Iowa (that they lost to) and an awful Kansas team. I don't think I'm going out on a limb here saying that NIU has not faced an offense or defense like Florida State's. That said, it is not impossible for NIU to win this game. FSU could come out flat. E.J. Manuel can be rattled, as was demonstrated in the 2nd half of ACC title game (or the Florida game for that matter, when he threw three picks). But despite all of that, I just really, really find it doubtful they will even be within two scores.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: FSU's longest bowl streak doesn't appear to be going anywhere, as this will be their 31st consecutive bowl game. They beat Notre Dame in last year's Champs Sports Bowl, 18-14. This is NIU's fifth straight game. They beat Arkansas State in last season's godaddy.com Bowl, 38-20.
Announcers: Joe Tessitore, Matt Millen

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bowl Games 2012: Part 4

Well, I'm 9-10 now. I guess this makes up for having a good year last year? That said, still 16 games to go, so there's still time to avert my first below .500 year since 2005.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, December 31
12:00: Vanderbilt vs. North Carolina State (Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN; ESPN): This one was pretty difficult for me to call. Vandy did end on a relatively high note for their season, but their offense really is kind of woeful. NC State, meanwhile, is just plain vanilla and mediocre, which is something that the administration in Raleigh only apparently just caught on to when they fired Tom O'Brien. So I've predicted the Wolfpack to win, but in as narrow a fashion as possible.
Previous meetings: Despite both teams being in the South (and in the original Southern conference), they have only met once: on November 9, 1946. Vandy won 7-0.
Last bowl game: Vandy is going to consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history. They lost last year's Liberty Bowl to Cincinnati, 31-24. This is the Wolfpack's third straight bowl, and they beat Louisville in last year's Belk Bowl 31-24.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn, Rod Gilmore

2:00: Georgia Tech vs. Southern California (Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX; CBS): Here we are, once again. USC will be without Matt Barkley and may be without Marquise Lee, but nonetheless their backups are still likely more talented than any of our players. In general I agree with this write-up, but then again, most everything there is a pretty obvious roadmap for a heavy underdog to pull of a monumental upset.
Maybe the thing I haven't seen much of is that Tech's best player, Orwin Smith, will play in this game after missing the UGA game the ACC championship game. Him and Jeremiah Attachou on defense may be the only guys on our team that would have a shot of cracking USC's two-deep, and so we will need to lean heavily on them to make the plays that will be needed for us to have a shot. One player that will be missing for the Jackets is starting safety Isiah Johnson, the team's leading tackler. That's a big loss for an already thin and not very good secondary.
Perhaps the ray of hope for Tech partisans can also be this: USC is here for a reason. They lost to games to Stanford, Oregon, and Notre Dame, yes, but on paper at least one of those should've been a win, much less the losses to UCLA and especially Arizona. We don't exactly have a Kenjon Barner in our backfield but the Trojans' defense didn't just give up 426 rushing yards in a void. That suggests a defense that has issues with assignment football and discipline, which is just the sort of thing we can exploit.
On the flip side, well, our defense is awful and as said earlier everyone on USC's offensive two-deep would start almost anywhere else in college football. a5 and I's worst nightmare when we first realized that the stars were aligning to put these two teams in the Sun Bowl were visions of Matt Barkley lobbing passes to wide-open receivers streaking downfield, and just because Barkley isn't playing doesn't make that any less possible.
That's all about I have for this.
Previous meetings: I'm not surprised we've played USC before, but I am surprised that all 3 contests took place during the regular season. The games took place in 1961, 1969, and 1973. Tech won the first 27-7, but USC claimed the last two, 29-18 and 23-6.
Last bowl game: This is Tech's 16th consecutive bowl appearance. They lost last year's Sun Bowl 30-27 to Utah. (Notably, GT hasn't won a bowl game since the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl, which was a 51-14 beatdown of Syracuse.) Thanks to NCAA probation, USC's 9 year bowl streak was snapped in 2009. That year, they beat Boston College in the Emerald Bowl 24-13.
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson

3:30: Tulsa vs. Iowa State (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ESPN): Iowa State just isn't, well, good.
Previous meetings: Just once, in 1961. Iowa State won 27-6. Some will remember that Tulsa used to be a big passing team, but that's no longer the case, as they now sport a prolific rushing attack. I don't see how the Cyclones can keep up.
Last bowl game: This is Tulsa's third straight bowl appearance. They lost to BYU in last year's Armed Forces Bowl, 24-21. Iowa State lost last year's Pinstripe Bowl to Rutgers, 27-13.
Announcers: Mark Jones, Brock Huard

7:30: Clemson vs. Louisiana State (Chick-fil-a Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Clemson's offense is prolific, but as one of the few to beat Texas A&M this year, LSU has shown they have the defensive talent to contain some of the nation's best attacks. Clemson, on the other hand, got outclassed by South Carolina in their last game and will probably have similiar issues trying to get anything working against the LSU defense while their own defense will probably not be up to the task. The best case for the orange and purple tigers might be to keep this one tight and low scoring and hope for some breaks, because it's hard to see how their offense will prevail.
Previous meetings: These tigers have met only once, and both in bowl games. In the 1958/59 Sugar Bowl, LSU won 7-0, while in the 1996 Peach Bowl LSU won 10-7.
Last bowl game: This is Clemson's eighth straight bowl game, though they would probably rather forget about last year's Orange Bowl debacle, where they got trounced 70-33 by West Virginia. Then again, arguably more embarrassing was LSU's offensive no-show in last year's BCS Championship, which they lost 21-0 to Alabama. This will be their 13th straight bowl appearance.
Announcers: Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bowl Games 2012: Part 3

It's been a mixed bag for me so far in the prediction game, but the next four days is the bulk of the activity. So I'm currently 9-7, but that can change quickly.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 29
11:45: Rice vs. Air Force (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): A few years ago, Rice started to sling the ball around and got back so something resembling competence before fading away again. This year they're back, but now they run the ball. Not quite as much as Air Force, though, which in terms of passing yards is 122nd in the nation. That said, I'm going with a narrow Air Force win.
Previous meetings: These two have met 6 times previously, with all meetings happening between 1985 and 1998. Air Force is 5-1, and won the last game 22-16.
Last bowl game: The Owls last appeared in a bowl in 2008, where they beat Western Michigan 38-14 in the then-Texas Bowl. This Air Force's sixth straight bowl game. They've actually appeared in this bowl 3 time already from 2007-2009. Last year, though, they lost to Toledo 42-41 in the Military Bowl.
Announcers: Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway

3:15: West Virginia vs. Syracuse (Pinstripe Bowl @ New York, NY; ESPN): West Virginia may have the worst defense of any bowl team this year, which is probably why after their hot start they're now in the Pinstripe Bowl. I still have them beating Syracuse, but for some reason I predicted the scoring margin on this one to be a lot larger than it probably actually will be.
Previous meetings: With both being Northeastern independents at one time or another and then members of the Big East, they've met 59 times dating back to 1945. Syracuse has the slight edge all time (32-27) and won their last regular season meeting last year, 49-23.
Last bowl game: WVU has been in a bowl every year since 2002. Last season was their savage 70-33 beatdown of Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The Orange missed a bowl last year, and so their last appearance was the 2010 edition of this bowl, where they beat Kansas State 36-34.
Announcers: Chris Fowler, Jesse Palmer

4:00: Arizona State vs. Navy (Fight Hunger Bowl @ San Francisco, CA; ESPN2): I thought all year that this edition of the Sun Devils was underrated and the expanded Pac-12 schedule does them no favors. This version of Navy (lacking any marquee wins this year) probably isn't good enough to beat them.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: ASU got trounced by a jilted Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl last year, 56-24. Before last year, Navy had made 8 straight bowls, but missed out last year. They lost to San Diego State in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl, 35-14.
Announcers: Dave Pasch, Brian Griese. Note that this the first game scheduled to be on at the same time as another game and that's on ESPN2 and not ESPN.

6:45: Oregon State vs. Texas (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): I have this as an easy win for Oregon State, as I just don't see how Texas's utterly disjointed 2012 offense will be able to keep up with the Beavers' attack. Also, as a school that rarely has off-field distractions, the news out of San Antonio the past day has to be a shock, which may well be reflected on the field.
Previous meetings: Two, and Texas won both times: 35-0 in 1980 and 61-16 in 1987.
Last bowl game: This is the Beavers' first appearance in a bowl since the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl, where they lost to BYU 44-20. Texas won last year's Holiday Bowl, beating Cal 21-10.
Announcers: Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman. At least, that's the schedule, but that mostly depends on how McDonough's trial run doing a NBA game last week went.

10:15: Texas Christian vs. Michigan State (Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl @ Tempe, AZ; ESPN): Sparty has a pretty good defense, but offensively Michigan State is just, well, woeful. TCU also had a mediocre offense against the generous defenses of the Big 12, so this one could actually be a lot closer than I originally predicted. Nonetheless, I'm sticking with TCU.
Previous meetings: Just one, in 1953. Sparty won 26-19.
Last bowl game: TCU would have a pretty healthy bowl streak dating back to 1998 had they not missed out in 2004. As it is, they beat Louisiana Tech in last year's Poinsettia Bowl, 31-24. Sparty's been to a bowl every year since 2007, and beat Georgia in the Outback Bowl last season, 33-30.
Announcers: Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bowl Games 2012: Part 2

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Wednesday, December 26
7:30: Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl @ Detroit, MI; ESPN): I'm once again finding myself in the odd position of predicting a Sun Belt team to win, but the Hilltoppers were pretty good on the season, while CMU barely got into a bowl.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is Western Kentucky's first ever bowl game. Central Michigan last appeared in the 2009/10 GMAC Bowl, where they beat Troy State 44-41.
Announcers: Mark Neely, Ray Bentley
Fun facts: Western Kentucky's mascot is an amorphous blob named Big Red. Yes, really.

Thursday, December 27
3:00: Bowling Green State vs. San Jose State (Military Bowl @ Washington, DC; ESPN): I have this being a close game with San Jose State coming out ahead. It's hard to get a feel for these WAC teams, after all. That said, I'm not going back on my prediction here.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: SJSU's last bowl was the 2006 New Mexico Bowl, where the beat New Mexico 20-12. BGSU's last appearance was the memorable wacky 2009 Humanitarian Bowl, which they ended up losing to Idaho 43-42.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen, Danny Kanell


6:30: Duke vs. Cincinnati (Belk Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): I don't think Duke really has much of a shot in this one, then again, I didn't think Kent State had much of a shot against Cincy either. That'll teach me to have any confidence at all in a Big East team, I suppose.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Duke's last bowl game was the 1994/5 Hall of Fame Bowl, where they lost 34-20 to Wisconsin. Cincy dispatched Vanderbilt in last year's Liberty Bowl, 31-24.
Announcers: Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham

9:45: California-Los Angeles vs. Baylor (Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): I have this as 31-28 UCLA on my predictions page, but I'm still afraid that's not going to be enough points. That said, the odds of the Baylor "defense" getting enough stops to make a difference is pretty low.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: We can only hope that this game is as memorable as Baylor's last encounter with a Pac-12 team. This is their third straight bowl. The beat Washington 67-56 in last year's Alamo Bowl. UCLA appeared in last year's Fights Hunger Bowl, which they lost to Illinois 20-14.
Announcers: Dave Pasch, Brian Griese

Friday, December 28
2:00: Ohio vs. Louisiana-Monroe (Independence Bowl @ Shreveport, LA; ESPN): Ohio looked to be a force in the MAC this year, that is, until they dropped 4 of their last 5 conference games. Whoops. While in general these things don't make that much of a difference, here it's enough for me to take a Sun Belt team by a slight margin.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is the Bobcat's fourth straight bowl. They beat Utah State 24-23 in last year's Potato Bowl. This is Monroe's first ever bowl game.
Announcers: Dave Lamont, Kelly Stouffer

5:30: Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech (Russell Athletic Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ESPN): I hope you don't like points, because this could get ugly. It's almost mind-blowing how bad the Virginia Tech offense was this year. Maybe they'll figure out it for the bowl game, but, well, I'm thinking they probably won't. Still tough to pick a Big East team here, though, so my confidence here is low.
Previous meetings: There were two one-off meetings in 1920 and 1953, but after that all meetings where in the framework for the Big East from 1992-2003. VPI leads the all-time series 11-3, with them winning the last 11 in a row.
Last bowl game: Rutgers beat Iowa State 27-13 in last year's Pinstripe Bowl. This is VPI's 20th straight bowl game, with their most recent postseason effort being a 23-20 loss in last season's Sugar Bowl.
Announcers: Joe Tessitore, Matt Millen

9:00: Texas Tech vs. Minnesota (Car Care Bowl @ Houston, TX; ESPN): I had TTU winning big originally, but I wonder how bad Tommy Tuberville's hasty exit will affect the team. Then again, there are still players on this team that remember how unceremoniously Mike Leach was fired, so perhaps they'll still have the mental fortitude to go out and dismantle the Golden Gophers (reminder: they were 2-6 in Big Ten play this year) like they should.
Previous meetings: These two teams have met exactly once, in the 2006 Insight Bowl. Texas Tech won in overtime, 44-41.
Last bowl game: This is TTU's first bowl appearance since 2010, where they beat Northwestern 45-38 in the Ticket City Bowl. Minnesota also makes their first appearance for a while, with their last postseason effort being a 14-13 loss to Iowa State in the 2009 Insight Bowl.
Announcers: Mark Jones, Brock Huard

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bowl Games 2012: Opening Slate

New for this year: announcers! Last year's "fun facts" return only for selected games, as least for the opening slate here as I have not had enough time to to do my research.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 15
1:00: Arizona vs. Nevada (New Mexico Bowl @ Albuquerque, NM; ESPN): Arizona's been a pretty solid team in the last half of the season, with the cornerstone of their year the upset over USC. Nevada has an okay year, by their standards. They made a bowl again, but I believe they were one of the preseason favorites in the Mountain West and they wound up dropping games all the teams they needed to beat. Anyway, in this cats vs. dogs battle, I like the Wildcats.
Previous meetings: This is the first time these two schools in neighboring states have met since 1941. Nevada won in 1924, they played a 0-0 draw in 1925, and then the Wildcats go on the board in 1941 with a win.
Last bowl game: This is Arziona's first appearance in a bowl game since the 2010 Alamo Bowl, which they lost to Oklahoma State 36-10. Nevada has made a bowl every year since 2005, and actually played in this game in 2007. They lost to hosts New Mexico, 23-0.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen, Danny Kannel

4:30: Utah State vs. Toledo (Potato Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): While Toledo did get a big upset this year (a win over Big East frontrunners Cincinnati), Utah State was 5 points away from an undefeated season (2 to Wisconsin, who I remind you are somehow the Big Ten champions, and 3 to BYU). They also upset WAC frontrunners Louisiana State, in Louisiana. I'm going with the Aggies.
Previous meetings: Somewhat unsurprisingly, this is the first meeting between these two schools.
Last bowl game: Utah State appeared in this game last year, losing to Ohio 24-23. Toledo is making its third straight bowl appearance. They beat Air Force in the Military Bowl last year, 42-41.
Announcers: Tom Hart, Mike Bellotti
Fun facts:
Yes, that is a picture of Brono Stadium set inside of a baked potato. I don't feel like I really need to say much else.

Thursday, December 20
8:00: Brigham Young vs. San Diego State (Poinsettia Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): BYU is a pretty good team, but their offense has just been sadly lacking in the second half of the season. I'm not putting a lot of confidence on this one, though.
Previous meetings: Thanks to a shared conference history in the WAC and then the MWC, these two have met quite a lot (every year from 1978 to 2010). However, since BYU went independent, they haven't played. The Stormin' Mormons are 27-7-1 against the Aztecs.
Last bowl game: BYU has played in a bowl game every year since 2005, most recently beating Tulsa in last year Armed Forces Bowl. This'll be the Aztech's third straight, and they'll be staying home once again. They got to travel to New Orleans last year, where they lost to the local Cajuns 32-30.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn, Rod Gilmore

Friday, December 21
7:30: Central Florida vs. Ball State (Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl @ St. Petersburg, FL; ESPN): UCF went big this year, but they failed to get the result that presumably would've made the impending NCAA banhammer worth it, as they lost to Tulsa in the CUSA title game. Ball State, meanwhile. enters on a relative high note, having closed their season in strong fashion against their MAC rivals. That said, I think on paper UCF is still the better team, so I'll go with them here.
Previous meetings: Ball State owns the all-time series, 2-1.
Last bowl game: We last saw Ball State in the 2008/9 GMAC Bowl, where they were obliterated by Tulsa 45-13. This'll be UCF's first bowl appearance since the wonderful 2010 Liberty Bowl, where they beat Georgia 10-6.
Announcers: Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Desmond Howard

Saturday, December 22
Noon: East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): I'm not going to pick Sun Belt teams to win very often, but here we are. UL-Lafayette has flirted with greatness several times this year, while ECU scraped their way to 8 wins.
Previous meetings: From 1977 to 1990, these teams met 10 times and UL-Lafayette came out ahead, 6-4. They have not met since.
Last bowl game: ECU had a modest bowl streak broken last year, so they last appeared in a bowl game in the 2010 Military Bowl. They got blown out by Maryland 51-20. These particular Cajuns last Raged in last year's New Orleans Bowl, where they beat San Diego State 32-30.
Announcers: Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway

3:30: Washington vs. Boise State (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV; ESPN): It took a week, but here's our first real bowl game of the season. This is just the sort of situation Boise has thrived on the past, that is to say, 1-game chances to pick off a Pac-10/12 opponent. That said, with this particular bunch I would ordinarily pick the Huskies here but, well, one of these teams lost to Washington State Thankgiving weekend, and it wasn't Boise. I'll take the Broncos in a narrow win.
Previous meetings: These two have met exactly once, in 2007. U-Dub won 24-10.
Last bowl game: This'll be Washington's third straight bowl game, and third different locale. They lost last year's (in)famously defense-less Alamo Bowl to Baylor, 67-56. Boise's been to a bowl every year since 2002, and they only missed 2001 because there weren't a million bowl games back then. (They were 8-4.) They won last year's Las Vegas Bowl 56-24 over Arizona State.
Announcers: Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit. Ol' Brent at the Las Vegas Bowl? I swear, the jokes just practically write themselves.

Monday, December 24
8:00: Southern Methodist vs. Fresno State (Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI; ESPN): June Jones is back in Hawaii! Woo? Fresno has generally beat the teams they should beat this year, while SMU lost to Tulane and Rice, barely getting to 6-6. I like the Bulldogs.
Previous meetings: SMU and Fresno met every year between 1999 and 2004. It didn't go so well for the Mustangs, as Fresno is 5-1 all-time.
Last bowl game: This is SMU's fourth straight bowl. They beat Pittsburgh in last year's BBVA Compass Bowl, 28-6. Fresno had a pretty good thing going for awhile, but they missed a bowl last year so their last postseason game was the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl, which they lost 40-17 to Northern Illinois.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn, Kelly Stouffer

Friday, December 07, 2012

This Weekend in College Football: Week 15

There's only one FBS game this weekend, so as usual this also doubles as my yearly foray into the FCS playoffs.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Friday
8:00: Sam Houston State @ Montana State (ESPN2): It will be below freezing in Bozeman tonight with a 90% chance of snow. That's reason enough to watch this if you ask me, though Montana State doesn't quite have the same appeal as Montana does in terms of "played in what appears to be some sort of post-apocalyptic hellscape with a football stadium in it".

Saturday
Noon: Georgia Southern @ Old Dominion (ESPN): The reason to watch this is, of course, Georgia Southern's Paul Johnson-style option attack.

1:00: Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. Jackson State (SWAC Championship @ Birmingham, AL; ESPNU): APB already played Jackson State back in October and won 34-24. I'll say it again: the SWAC only has 10 teams and they already play a 9 game conference schedule. What's the point of this again?

3:00: Army vs. Navy (@Philadelpha, PA; CBS): Army's win over Boston College says more about BC than it does Army, and their win over Air Force that makes this game the deciding game for the Commander-in-Chief's trophy really came out of nowhere. Those are the only two wins for the Black Knights this year. Also, I hope you like running, because both of these teams are in the top 10 in rushing yards and the bottom 4 in passing. Fortunately, I do, so that's why I'll be watching this one anyway. Given their track records this year, though, it is pretty much impossible to pick Army to winthis.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Bowl Predictions 2012: Final

Okay folks, here's the final edition of my bowl predictions. They come in three flavors, in order of most to least likely:
  1. Oklahoma in the BCS
  2. Northern Illinois in the BCS
  3. Boise State in the BCS
Note that as bids are announced, the final table will take its form in the usual place.

Basically, the factor right now is where Northern Illinois and Boise end up in the final polls. Currently, most experts are predicting NIU will fall just short, but it really depends on how high the Huskies climb. No one is really giving Boise much of a shot, but I've thrown them in there anyway. For the purposes of tracking my predictions, if one of the alternate scenarios does happen, I will use those.

Other than that, there's a few potential pitfalls out there. I adjusted these rankings for the news as of about 2 AM Pacific time, as actual bids will probably start to leak out later this afternoon. Other than the BCS picture, some things to watch are:
  • How will the Big Ten bowls handle Nebraska? After getting embarrassed by Wisconsin, many are sending Nebraska to the Outback Bowl instead of the Capital One.
  • Georgia Tech. GT would be content with not going to the Sun Bowl again, but I haven't heard or seen anything about the situation other than that.
  • The bottom of the Big 12. The Big 12 will have an extra team even if Oklahoma gets into the BCS. I have Iowa State on the outside looking in, and I did not see a lot of news about them. It is no longer a rule that 6-6 teams must be chosen behind everyone else in the at-large pool, but there aren't that many at-large slots available that do not already have contractually obligated backups. One possibility for them is the Heart of Dallas Bowl, where I currently have Ball State.
  • Georgia. I saw multiple articles that had UGA going to the Cotton Bowl, which would send LSU down to the Chick-fil-a. The Capital One will probably take Texas A&M, which sets up LSU, Georgia, and South Carolina all fighting for the Cotton and Outback slots. Note that the Cotton generally is supposed to prefer SEC West teams, but it is not required to take them.
That's about it. As the bids roll in tomorrow, I will be updating the main page.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

This Weekend in College Football: Week 14

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Thursday
7:30: Louisville @ Rutgers (ESPN): I've given up on predicting the Big East at this point seeing as how both these teams managed to lose last weekend. And don't even get me started on picking Louisville over UConn for ACC expansion. Anyway, the quick fire prediction here is Louisville.

Friday
7:00: Northern Illinois vs. Kent State (MAC Championship @ Detroit, MI; ESPN2): It's exceedingly possible this game will be much more compelling than the Pac-12 championship. On one side, NIU has one of the most dynamic quarterback and wide receiver duos in the country, while with a win the Golden Flashes's first bowl game since 1972 could end up being the Orange Bowl. However, I actually like the Huskies better. While both have top-10 rushing offenses, NIU has a more credible passing game (see above) and a slightly better defense.

8:00: California-Los Angeles @ Stanford (Pac-12 Championship; FOX): The idea that UCLA purposely threw last week's regular season game against Stanford so they could play Stanford again is ludicrous, mostly because the idea anyone actually wants to play the Cardinal twice in two weeks is the same. (As EDSBS put it, playing Stanford is like "being bludgeoned with a sack of sledgehammers".) Anyway, the idea that UCLA will succeed this time is not ludicrous, but still highly unlikely.

Saturday
Noon:
  • Oklahoma State @ Baylor (FX): Both teams played overtime games this past weekend, though I think most would agree Oklahoma is better than Texas Tech. Expect plenty of points, also, take a drink every time the Baylor defense makes a stop and the announcers insinuate they're not as bad as the statistics show. (I suspect that's not really a very good drinking game since it won't result in you taking a lot of drinks, so maybe make it a shot or something.) Also the Cowboys should win.
  • Oklahoma @ Texas Christian (ESPN): TCU had a great win last Thanksgiving, but I think it's been thoroughly demonstrated by now that the Sooners have it slightly more together on offense.
  • Central Florida @ Tulsa (Conference USA Championship; ESPN2): Okay, so based on what I said about UCLA-Stanford I guess I have to pick Tulsa again here, but on the flip side UCF is pretty much banking on this season being awesome. Or they should be, because by delaying their bowl ban via an appeal I'm pretty sure the NCAA will bring the hammer down on them. So I'm somewhat irrationally going with the Golden Knights here.
2:30: Kansas @ West Virginia (FSN): Despite how awful they've been this year, no one has yet scored 60 on KU. That may change. Also the Jayhawk offense is so bad that WVU doesn't even have to worry about how terrible their defense is.

3:30:
  • Boise State @ Nevada (ABC): I'm a little surprised this game is on ABC. Anyway, the Broncos will probably win but I think Nevada is good enough to make a game of it.
  • Cincinnati @ Connecticut (ABC): Not that it means much in the Big East, but Cincy should win this one.
4:00: Georgia vs. Alabama (SEC Championship @ Atlanta, GA; CBS): Despite watching my team lose to them by 32 last weekend, I still think UGA is overrated: their second best win all year is over Vanderbilt (or maybe Mississippi State, but they went and lost to Ole Miss, so...). Granted, Vandy is 8-4, but still. I'll concede this year's Alabama isn't as good as last year's, but I think they have a good enough defense to stop UGA and a good enough offense to overcome them.

7:00: Pittsburgh @ South Florida (ESPN2): This sure is a football game that will be televised and everything. Pitt probably becomes bowl eligible.

8:00:
  • Wisconsin vs. Nebraska (Big Ten Championship @ Indianapolis, IN; FOX): Much to Nebraska's relief, there will not be a 30 mile per hour wind inside of Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend. The Cornhuskers only won by three back in September, but that was then, and this is now.
  • Texas @ Kansas State (ABC): K-State has had a week to think about their shocking loss to Baylor. Nonetheless, their is still a chance to clinch a bid to the Fiesta Bowl for one of the best seasons in school history here, and I think they'll get it.
  • Florida State vs. Georgia Tech (ACC Championship @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): Where do you even begin? While no one expected GT to win last weekend, a fair number of reasonable people expected the Seminoles to expose the Florida once and for all. For a little while in the 3rd quarter, it looked like it was going to happen. Everything was going wrong for UF, including a freak bobble on a handoff that literally fell right into the arms of a FSU defensive end who ran it in for a touchdown. And then everything went wrong for FSU, to the tune of 24 straight points for the Gators and the win.
    Tech last played the Seminoles in 2008 and 2009, after the original bout of ACC realignment put them in separate divisions. As previously detailed here, Tech managed to win both of those games. Of course, those Tech teams were better, and those FSU teams worse than the current editions.
    Everything that could have gone wrong for Tech last weekend did, just about. Despite racking up 306 yards rushing against one of the nation's top rushing defenses, we only scored one touchdown. The tone of the game was set on Tech's first drive, as UGA's first drive proved it was going to be a game where Tech needed to score on all of their drives to have a shot. At the end of a 10 play, 83 yard march down the field that started at our own 15, Robert Godhigh had the ball stripped as he was trying to go in for the tying touchdown at the UGA 1 yard line. Tech kicked a field goal the next time it got the ball to make it 14-3, but then the next three possessions of the first half ended on a turnover on downs, an interception, and a missed field goal.
    The keys for this game, and a shot at creating the most absurd BCS bowl game ever, lie in the same keys any team has in seeking to pull of an upset. Don't turn the ball over and capitalize when they do. Basically, if any football cliche applicable to this situation, GT needs to adhere to it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bowl Predictions: Week 7 Addendum 1

Conference USA has done me a huge favor and released their bowl scenarios. I have marked SMU with a single star on the page and changed the other predictions to reflect UCF winning the C-USA title.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bowl Predictions 2012: Week 7

Okay, it's that time again. For those who just want to get straight to the good stuff, look no further.

First, a note on the process. At this point, we're now firmly at the point in the season where we start looking up news and notes online. If you want to try this for yourself, I generally just use Google news, type the name of the bowl in double quotes, and also "-site:bleacherreport.com" because that site is written mostly by a bunch of amateurs who are worse at this predictions thing than I am. For the most part, you want articles from newspaper beat writers. This is mostly because they generally actually talk to bowl officials to try to get an idea of where the teams they cover are going. Also, this clues them into any bowl selection minutiae you might not otherwise know. For instance, the BBVA Compass Bowl is guaranteed a SEC team this year because they didn't get one last year. The downside is, you need to have a gauge to know whether the minutiae is true or if they're guessing. I also still see some inaccuracies in newspaper articles, such as one that claimed the Cotton Bowl gets to pick a SEC East team before the Capital One Bowl does, a claim refuted multiple times by the bowl's official Twitter feed last night. (The guy behind the tweets for both the Capital One Bowl and Russell Athletic Bowl is pretty awesome by the way, and many of my problems would be solved if all bowls were as transparent about their selection process as those two are.)

Also on that note, I am going to switch up the format of this post a bit. Because there is probably something wrong with me, I will run down all of the bowl games in this week's post and give, at a minimum, the possible teams in play for each. I should note, though, that in almost any at-large team scenario I am generally guessing from my available pool of leftover teams.

I will start with the BCS as usual, and then work chronologically backward since, roughly speaking, the more prestigious bowls are located closer to New Year's Day than not. As with the main bowl prediction table, an asterisk means the team has accepted a bid, two asterisks means I predicted the bid correctly, and a question mark indicates a fill-in team (whether a contractually obligated back-up team or a general at-large).

BCS National Championship Game
Pick: BCS #1 vs. BCS #2
Prediction: Notre Dame vs. Alabama
Possibilities: Georgia
After all the stuff I typed up last week, the simplest possible scenario prevailed (unfortunately). The winner of the SEC title game will play Notre Dame for the BCS crown. That's pretty much it.

Fiesta Bowl
Pick: BCS (Big 12 champion) vs. BCS (at-large)
Prediction: Kansas State vs. Oregon
Possibilities: Stanford, Oklahoma
I don't really think the Fiesta would take Stanford over Oregon if they lost the Pac-12 title game this weekend, but it's a possibility. Oklahoma would go here as the Big 12 champ if they beat TCU and Kansas State loses to Texas.

Sugar Bowl
Pick: BCS (SEC champion) vs. BCS (at-large)
Prediction: Florida vs. Oklahoma
Possibilities: Kansas State, Clemson, Kent State, Big East champion
Yes, you're reading that correctly. Kent State is currently #17 in the latest BCS rankings. While it's more likely they would wind up in the Orange Bowl, if they beat Northern Illinois in the MAC title game Friday night and UCLA and Texas lose as I expect then they will finish in the top 16 of the BCS rankings. Since all the possibilities for Big East champion are currently not in the top 25, they will finish ahead of them. The only catch is that I don't see Kent State beating Northern Illinois. NIU themselves also has a shot, but they're currently at #21 and so farther away from the promised land.  If a MAC team does qualify, then I would expect the Sugar to take the Big East champ. Note that as long as Florida stays ranked about the SEC championship game loser in the BCS rankings, they are guaranteed a spot in this game since they will finish #3 in the rankings. There is also a slim chance of Clemson still getting an at-large bid if both Oklahoma and Kansas State lose and the Sugar decides they'd rather have a two-loss Clemson than a three-loss OU or two-loss K-State.

Orange Bowl
Pick: BCS (ACC champion) vs. BCS (at-large)
Prediction: Florida State vs. Rutgers
Possibilities: Georgia Tech, Kent State, some other team from the Big East
I think you all know about how much I dislike deciphering the Big East at this point (and with both Rutgers and Louisville losing last weekend, I feel like that sort of proved my point). If you hate the BCS, you should probably be rooting for Georgia Tech against, like, Syracuse or something. (As a GT fan, we could always use more fans, so you're more than welcome to get on our bandwagon to play in the most absurd BCS bowl since the either the 2006 Orange Bowl (Wake Forest-Louisville) or the 2011 Fiesta Bowl (Oklahoma-Connecticut).)

Rose Bowl
Pick: BCS (Big Ten champion) vs. BCS (Pac-12 champion)
Prediction: Nebraska vs. Stanford
Possibilities: Wisconsin, UCLA
The Rose is pretty straightforward at this point.

GoDaddy.com Bowl
Pick: Sun Belt #2 vs. MAC #2
Prediction: Arkansas State vs. Kent State
Possibilities: any other Sun Belt team, Northern Illinois, any other MAC team if Kent State goes to BCS
As far as I know, this bowl does not have any contract stipulation regarding the records of the team it picks. It picks behind the New Orleans Bowl for the Sun Belt (which has already taken Louisiana-Lafayette) and the Little Ceasars Pizza Bowl, which will take the MAC champion this year.

BBVA Compass Bowl
Pick: SEC #8/9 vs. Big East #5/6
Prediction: Mississippi vs. Ohio?
Possibilities: Pittsburgh, any bowl eligible Sun Belt team, any bowl eligible MAC team
If Pitt gets to 6-6, they will go here or to Tampa. In my news search earlier, I did find that due to the wacky swap with the Liberty and Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl last year this game will get a SEC team this year. I would normally think Ole Miss would go to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl. Note that Vandy is maybe a possibility here, but I believe the SEC does have some language regarding records in their deals and Vandy is 8-4 while Ole Miss is 6-6.

Cotton Bowl
Pick: Big 12 #2 vs. SEC #3/4
Prediction: Texas vs. Louisiana State
Possibilities: Oklahoma, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M
The Cotton Bowl gets the first pick of the Big 12 teams after the BCS and will grab Oklahoma or Kansas State if they're forced out of the BCS either because both lost or because a MAC team made it in. Most likely, they will be picking between Texas and Oklahoma State. I went with Texas, but I figure either is equally likely if they can't get Texas A&M. The Cotton Bowl's agreement with the SEC says they will generally "prefer" a SEC West team, and this year figures to be no exception. The Cotton would probably prefer Texas A&M, but they will almost certainly take LSU if they are available, which I figure to be the case.

Outback Bowl
Pick: Big Ten #3 vs. SEC #3/4
Prediction: Northwestern vs. South Carolina
Possibilities: Nebraska, Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Mississippi State
If Nebraska loses the Big Ten title game, they could land here. Likely I think they will take which of Michigan or Northwestern the Capital One doesn't take. On the SEC side, just as the Cotton is supposed to prefer SEC West teams, the Outback is supposed to prefer teams from the East. I think they will probably take South Carolina, but the SEC title game loser is a very strong possibility. I sort of went with this to avoid a potential South Carolina-Clemson rematch in the Chick-fil-a Bowl, but in real life the Outback Bowl doesn't have to care about that.

Capital One Bowl
Pick: SEC #2 vs. Big Ten #2
Prediction: Texas A&M vs. Michigan
Possibilities: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana State, South Carolina, Northwestern, Nebraska
I think it's pretty unlikely that the Capital One Bowl would take either conference's title game loser. More likely is that they'll take a team that hasn't played in a Florida bowl game since the 60's and has the nation's most exciting player as their quarterback. On the Big Ten side, they can consider Nebraska if they lose to Wisconsin, but I think more likely is that they are choosing between Northwestern and Michigan. In the end, I think Michigan's larger fan base and their own exciting player will win out over Northwestern's very good season.

Heart of Dallas Bowl
Pick: C-USA #2/3/4/5/6 vs. Big Ten #7
Prediction: Baylor? vs. Purdue
Possibilities: any of the bowl eligible Conference USA teams (other than the champion), Iowa State, Minnesota
Apparently at some point during the season the Big 12 signed an agreement with this bowl (which I like to call the "Zombie Cotton Bowl" since it's a New Year's Day bowl game at, well, the Cotton Bowl), and it should come in handy since C-USA won't have enough teams and the Big 12 doesn't have enough bowls for all its teams. Iowa State or Baylor could represent the Big 12, as could Minnesota or Purdue from the Big Ten.

Gator Bowl
Pick: Big Ten #4 vs. SEC #6
Prediction: Wisconsin vs. Mississippi State
Possibilities: Northwestern, Michigan, South Carolina, Georgia, Vanderbilt
Georgia could fall all the way here if they lose the SEC title game, though I doubt they will. South Carolina could end up here if the Chick-fil-a Bowl has to take Clemson. Looking over the Big Ten, I don't think any of the 6-6 teams would jump Wisconsin to get here. Northwestern could fall here if the Outback takes Wisconsin instead. I don't view Michigan getting past the Cap One and Outback Bowls as terribly likely.

Chick-fil-a Bowl
Pick: ACC #2 vs. SEC #5
Prediction: Clemson vs. Georgia
Possibilities: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State, Mississippi State, South Carolina
If Clemson gets into the BCS somehow, then all heck breaks loose for the Chick-fil-a Bowl. The ACC's agreement with them (and all their bowls) require that they take a team within two conference wins of the best available team. In this case, that would mean Georgia Tech at 5-3 (assuming we lose in the ACC title game), NC State at 4-4, and Virginia Tech at 4-4. I can't imagine any of these possibilities are exciting for the CFA Bowl, even though Clemson already traveled to Atlanta this year to play in their kickoff game. By the same rule, Clemson at 7-1 (or, via some miracle, Florida State at 7-1) would be the choice(s) if they are available. That said, if Georgia falls all the way here, the best way to get both of those teams back in the Georgia Dome for a second time this year is to have them play each other. The two rivals last meet in 2003. Since the bowl will pretty much have to take Clemson, I would guess they would take Georgia or Mississippi State over a rematch for the Tigers with South Carolina. Oh, and yeah, of the other three ACC teams, they would almost have to take NC State even though they just fired their coach. I just can't see a 6-6 VPI or a 6-7 Georgia Tech in this game.

Liberty Bowl
Pick: C-USA champion vs. SEC#8/9 or Big East #5/6
Prediction: Central Florida vs. Louisiana-Monroe?
Possibilities: Tulsa, any other bowl eligible team
Provided there's no shenanigans like there were last year, the C-USA champion (either UCF or Tulsa) will go here. The at-large replacement on the other side is a guess.

Sun Bowl
Pick: ACC #4 vs. Pac-12 #4
Prediction: Georgia Tech vs. Southern California
Possibilities: North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, Duke, Washington, Arizona State, Arizona
Since there are enough bowl eligible teams at this point, Georgia Tech will not automatically qualify at 6-7 under the NCAA's new rules to make up a shortfall of teams. This means they will need a waiver, a la UCLA last year, to still go to a bowl if they lose the ACC title game. If they do get the waiver, most signs seem to point toward the ACC stipulation that the title game loser cannot fall past here will still apply, meaning GT will be back here for the second year in a row. If GT does not get the waiver, or is selected by the Chick-fil-a or Russell Athletic Bowls, then that opens the door for the other three ACC teams listed here. (I don't think FSU will fall this far if they lose.) On the Pac-12 side, I think it's mostly a tossup, though I doubt the Sun will be able to resist the siren call of the USC brand name. Arizona could be the strongest possibility, though, since they're the only Pac-12 of these four that ended their season on a positive note.

Music City Bowl
Pick: SEC #7 vs. ACC #6
Prediction: Vanderbilt vs. Virginia Tech
Possibilities: Mississippi State, Mississippi, Duke
The Music City Bowl is praying the Gator Bowl takes Vanderbilt, but if they don't I think they will have no choice but to take Vandy over a 6-6 Ole Miss. At this point in the ACC process, it will either be VPI or Duke here, so they're really hoping the Belk Bowl takes Duke as well.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Pick: Big 12 #4 vs. Big Ten #5
Prediction: Texas Tech vs. Michigan State
Possibilities: West Virginia, Texas Christian, Purdue, Minnesota, Wisconsin
I don't think Oklahoma State or Texas could in up here, so that leaves just the other potential 7-5 Big 12 teams. From the Big Ten side, it will probably be one of the 6-6 teams, as I doubt Wisconsin will free fall all the way here if they lose the Big Ten title game.

Alamo Bowl
Pick: Pac-12 #2 vs. Big 12 #3
Prediction: California-Los Angeles vs. Oklahoma State
Possibilities: Stanford, Oregon State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas
If UCLA upsets Stanford Friday, then the Cardinal could fall out of the BCS and land here. Otherwise, it will likely be a choice between UCLA and Oregon State. The Alamo may actually favor the Beavers here, since the most likely scenario is that UCLA is about to get blown out again by Stanford. On the Big 12 side, if K-State or OU falls out of the BCS, they could fall all the way here if the Cotton sticks with Oklahoma State or Texas. Otherwise, the Alamo will probably take whoever the Cotton doesn't.

Fight Hunger Bowl
Pick: Pac-12 #6 vs. Navy
Prediction: Arizona State vs. Navy**
Possibilities: Arizona, Washington, Southern California
Any of the 7-5 Pac-12 teams could slide down here, though I think the most likely one to do is Arizona State. Navy has already accepted a bid to this game.

Pinstripe Bowl
Pick: Big 12 #7 vs. Big East #4
Prediction: Iowa State vs. Syracuse
Possibilities: Baylor, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, some other Big East team depending on how it shakes out
A big thing these days is "eating local", and it's likely the committee of this New York based bowl wants to get Rutgers or Syracuse if at all possible. Chances are they'll end up with the Orange. On the Big 12 side, they'll likely be choosing between 6-6 Iowa State or 6-6 Baylor. WVU could fall here too.

Armed Forces Bowl
Pick: C-USA #2/3/4/5/6 vs. Mountain West #3
Prediction: Southern Methodist vs. Air Force*
Possibilities: any other bowl eligible non-champion Conference USA team, any eligible at-large team
Air Force has already accepted a bid to this game.

Car Care Bowl
Pick: Big 12 #6 vs. Big Ten #6
Prediction: Texas Christian vs. Minnesota
Possibilities: Texas Tech, West Virginia, Purdue, Michigan State
At the end of the day, this seems the most likely.

Russell Athletic Bowl
Pick: Big East #2 vs. ACC #3
Prediction: Cincinnati vs. North Carolina State
Possibilities: Rutgers, Louisville, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Florida State
On the Big East side, it's most likely any of them except Syracuse really. On the ACC side, they will probably stick with NC State given their other choices unless FSU is available.

Independence Bowl
Pick: ACC #7 vs. SEC #9
Prediction: Louisiana Tech? vs. Western Kentucky?
Possibilities: any bowl eligible at-large team
I have no idea for this once, since neither the ACC nor SEC will have enough teams. I've seen reports they really want the extra Big 12 team, but given the Heart of Dallas thing I doubt that'll happen unless the Big 12 only gets one team into the BCS.

Holiday Bowl
Pick: Pac-12 #3 vs. Big 12 #5
Prediction: Oregon State vs. West Virginia
Possibilities: UCLA, Oregon, Stanford, Texas Tech, Texas Christian
Basically, whichever Pac-12 team the Alamo doesn't take will end up here. Holiday Bowl officials are really hoping the Alamo takes UCLA, though. Note that if UCLA goes to the Rose Bowl or Oregon is the odd team out in the BCS (or both) they could end up with Oregon or Stanford. On the Big 12 side, it basically depends on which of TTU, WVU, and TCU is left from the bowls in front of them.

Belk Bowl
Pick: ACC #5 vs. Big East #3
Prediction: Duke vs. Louisville
Possibilities: Virginia Tech, NC State, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Syracuse
The Belk has, to the frustration of many other ACC teams over years, generally preferred to pick a team from North Carolina. Since this is Duke's first bowl game in two decades, it figures that they might actually get the nod here over VPI. NC State will go here if they are still available. As for the Big East, well, it's still the Big East.

Military Bowl
Pick: ACC #8 vs. Army
Prediction: Ball State? vs. San Jose State?
Possibilities: any other eligible at-large team
Army will not qualify, and the ACC doesn't have enough bowl eligible teams to get a team here

Little Ceasars Pizza Bowl
Pick: Big Ten #8 vs. MAC #1
Prediction: Middle Tennessee State? vs. Northern Illinois
Possibilities: any bowl eligible Sun Belt team (as a contractual backup for the Big Ten), Kent State
There is a chance Kent State could win the MAC title game still end up here. On the Big Ten side, there aren't enough Big Ten teams. The Sun Belt has an agreement with the bowl to provide teams in this case.

Hawaii Bowl
Pick: C-USA #2/3/4/5/6 vs. MWC #4
Prediction: East Carolina vs. Fresno State
Possibilities: any other non-champ C-USA team, any eligible at-large team, Boise State, San Diego State
The C-USA team that lands here, if one even does, is pretty much a toss-up. On the Mountain West side Fresno will likely be the team left at this point. I have to say, having a bowl game in Hawaii has probably been pretty well proven at this point to be a much better idea on paper than in execution.

Las Vegas Bowl
Pick: Pac-12 #5 vs. MWC #1
Prediction: Washington vs. Boise State
Possibilities: Southern California, Arizona, Arizona State, Fresno State, San Diego State
Note that "MWC #1" is not the same as "MWC champion", in this case it very much means that this bowl just gets the first choice of Mountain West teams. I would guess they'll take Boise, with Fresno as the second strongest possibility. On the Pac-12 side, it's basically whoever they want from the gaggle of 7-5 teams after the Sun Bowl gets their pick. Arizona is also a strong candidate here.

New Orleans Bowl
Pick: C-USA #2/3/4/5/6 vs. Sun Belt #1
Prediction: Rice vs. Louisiana-Lafayette**
Possibilities: any other non-champion C-USA team
Note that the Ragin' Cajuns have already accepted a bid to this game.

Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl
Pick: C-USA #2/3/4/5/6 vs. Big East #5/6
Prediction: Tulsa vs. Pittsburgh
Possibilities: any other non-champion C-USA team, any eligible Sun Belt team, any eligible MAC team
If Pittsburgh qualifies, I think they will end up here, but they could also go to the BBVA Compass Bowl. This could very easily turn into a MAC-Sun Belt matchup though.

Poinsettia Bowl
Pick: BYU vs. MWC #2
Prediction: BYU** vs. San Diego State
Possibilities: Boise State, Fresno State
BYU is already locked in. On the Mountain West side, if the Vegas bowl doesn't take Boise the Poinsettia could, but I figure they like SDSU the best.

Potato Bowl
Pick: WAC vs. MAC #3
Prediction: Utah State** vs. Toledo
Possibilities: Ball State, Ohio, Bowling Green State
Utah State accepted the WAC's last ever bowl bid. On the MAC side, I'd think they'd prefer either of the 9-3 teams or the MAC title game loser if the GoDaddy.com Bowl doesn't take them.

New Mexico Bowl
Pick: Pac-12 #7 vs. MWC #5
Prediction: Arizona vs. Nevada**
Possibilities: Arizona State, Washington, Southern California
Whichever Pac-12 team is left from the above bowls goes here. Nevada has already accepted a bid.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/24

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 23, 2012

This Weekend in College Football: Week 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Noon:
  • Michigan @ Ohio State (ABC): Ohio State has, eventually, dispensed with every Big Ten challenger in their way. I've said it all year, but there really ought to be a Terry Bowden Trophy for teams on probation that go undefeated, because I think the Buckeyes would get it if it existed.
  • Tulsa @ Southern Methodist (FX): SMU had glimpses of a promising season several times this year, but it looks as though the dream will die against the Golden Hurricane.
  • Georgia Tech @ Georgia (ESPN): To Hell With Georgia.
  • Rutgers @ Pittsburgh (ESPN2): I agree with most of the snarky tweets from Friday that lament the loss of the Backyard Brawl. Rutgers should win, I guess?
  • Virginia @ Virginia Tech (ESPNU): It's almost unbelievable that VPI needs to win this game to go 6-6. And they should win, but UVA has been feisty a few times this year.
  • Alabama-Birmingham @ Central Florida (FSN): It's funny that UCF is basically doing the opposite of what Miami did. Instead of trying appease the NCAA, it's like George O'Leary just said "eff it" and go for a bowl game and conference title. Well, UAB almost certainly isn't going to stop them.
  • Illinois @ Northwestern (BTN): Illinois is a lot like Cal in several ways. One of the first ways that comes to mind for me is that in academic circles Illinois usually UIUC and Cal is usually just Berkeley. They also have in common that they've fallen behind an in-state, also notable private school rival.
  • Kentucky @ Tennessee (SEC): I'm not sure I would've guessed that Joker Philips would be the coach still on the sideline for this one, even if this is his last game. Either way, Tennessee should win, but that's not something that's gone well for them this year.
  • Miami @ Duke (ACC): Miami should win, but well, I've been wrong before.
2:30: Baylor vs. Texas Tech (@Arlington, TX; FOX): Baylor had an Earth-shattering upset of K-State last weekend, but nonetheless they need to beat either TTU or Oklahoma State to get to 6 wins. I like their chances for that with Texas Tech better than with Oklahoma State.

3:00:
  • Oregon @ Oregon State (Pac-12): This game will not be available for many of you, which is just a crime really. This game should be good viewing. I think Oregon will still win but the Civil War is always good viewing, regardless how the season is going for either.
  • Maryland @ North Carolina (ACC): Well, UNC should win. Given your other options I can't really recommend that you watch this.
3:30:
  • Auburn @ Alabama (CBS): Well, unless, as I said in my bowl predictions, Gene Chizik is preparing to unleash the greatest practical joke in the history of the state of Alabama, this one is in the bag for the Tide.
  • Florida @ Florida State (ABC): Well, this won't be appointment viewing probably, but it will be important. FSU needs this win badly to even be in consideration in the national title discussion. I actually like their chances, really. Florida basically stopped playing offense about two months ago, relying entirely in defense and special teams to general any semblance of offensive output. FSU, meanwhile, can actually move the ball and I think that will be the difference in this game.
  • Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma (ESPN): Offense will not be the issue in this one. Instead, it's OU with the advantage, in the sense they're one of the few Big 12 teams that bothers to play any defense at all.
  • Wisconsin @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN2): I think Wisconsin can beat Penn State, which would at least give the Big Ten the ability to say teams on probation didn't finish #1 and #2 in the Leaders. (Still had to look that up by the way.)
  • Vanderbilt @ Wake Forest (ESPNU): I just don't see how Wake can beat this edition of the Commdores.
  • Tulane @ Houston (FSN): Having the 100th ranked scoring offense and 118th ranked scoring defense is not a recipe for success, which explains why the Green Wave are not having any.
  • Michigan State @ Minnesota (BTN): Well, there are some other traditional Big Ten games left, thankfully. Anyway, I like Sparty's chances.
6:30: Stanford @ California-Los Angeles (FOX): Why watch this now when you can watch the same game from Palo Alto next weekend?

7:00:
  • Missouri @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (ESPN2): TAMU should win this one pretty easily, and it could well clinch a Heisman for Johnny Football.
  • Mississippi State @ Mississippi (ESPNU): It's hard to see how Ole Miss will keep up with their rivals offensively. I think the Bulldogs can get this one.
7:15: South Carolina @ Clemson (ESPN): I've been going back and forth on this one all week. Clemson, really, has been tested only once all year (against FSU) and they failed. South Carolina had a brutal October, and while they got the win over UGA, they then lost to LSU and Florida, thus playing themselves out of the SEC East race. So really, it's hard to say. Clemson does have all their offensive weapons, which has generally led me to favor them over the at-times piecemeal Gamecock attack (especially minus Marcus Lattimore). That said, the Gamecocks still have an excellent defensive line, so I consider this one basically even. Still leaning slightly for the Tigers though.

8:00: Notre Dame @ Southern California (ABC): After USC's performance against UCLA last weekend, it's hard to really see how they will be able to do anything against Notre Dame's defense. I think this one will mostly come down to whether the Domers are able to handle the enormous presure and expectations. On the flip side, it may help them that USC will almost has to be reminded that back in August they were the ones supposed to be going into this game playing for a national title, not ND, thus reminding the Trojans how everything in this season has gone wrong.

10:30: Louisiana Tech @ San Jose State (ESPN2): Ah, a nice WACtion nightcap. Not many more of these! I like LaTech here.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a great Turkey Day, and may your team of choice win on this day. Unless you're a Georgia fan.

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/23

Like we were Wake Forest or Maryland or somebody...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bowl Predictions 2012: Week 6

Okay, it's that time again folks. The picture is starting to get clearer, or it would be, expect it seems to have decided to actually get cloudier if anything as we're now only two weekends away from the end of the season and there is still a very real chance we won't have enough teams.

However, as usual, let's start at the opposite end of the spectrum. The predictions are, as per usual, here.

BCS
Oregon losing to Stanford had all sorts of repercussions for the BCS bowls, and not just at the very top.

Starting with the National Championship Game, I've gone ahead and matched Notre Dame and Alabama. Of course, this is beset with all sorts of caveats. The number of games that could impact #1 and #2 before the end of the season are almost too numerous to list.

#1 is easy, though, given the following: if Notre Dame beats Southern Cal this weekend in Los Angeles, the Irish will make their first ever appearance in the national title game. If Notre Dame loses, well, all hell breaks loose. The specter of another SEC-SEC matchup looms extremely large. But for now, let's go with what happens if Notre Dame wins.

Alabama will not lose to Auburn this weekend. I just can't even entertain the possibility of it happening, unless Gene Chizik is just trying to pull the most epic practical joke in the history of the state of Alabama. An easier explanation is just that Chizik is as awful of a coach as everyone thought he was when Auburn inexplicably hired him away from Iowa State. As for Georgia at #3, well, I think anyone reading this by now knows my positions re: the Bulldogs, but nonetheless they will play Alabama for the SEC title next weekend in Atlanta. Provided neither team loses this weekend, this matchup is currently a play-in game for the national title game.

Okay, so what happens if the things everyone expects to happen don't? Well... let's start with what happens if Notre Dame loses and the eventual SEC champion does not lose this weekend. Sitting at #4 in the BCS standings currently is Florida. If Florida beats Florida State Saturday, then they're in. If the Gators lose (a very real possibility), then it gets interesting. The remaining 1-loss teams at the top of the standings are Oregon, Kansas State, Stanford, and Florida State. (I skipped LSU and Texas A&M. While they're still high in the polls, the scenarios for human voters to elevate a 2-loss team to the national title game this year just seem too remote right now.) Oregon has one game remaining against their ranked rival Oregon State. Kansas State plays Texas next weekend, which is good because it is a) next weekend (a win would be fresh in voter's minds, especially since Oregon will likely not play in the Pac-12 title game) and b) it is against a resurgent and ranked Texas. Also c) K-State still holds the tiebreaker over Oklahoma in the Big 12, so they will still be conference champs. Additionally d) the computers still love K-State and they like Texas, so a win over the Longhorns would help them. For these reasons, even if Oregon beats Oregon State, I like the Wildcats to jump the Ducks if Notre Dame and Florida lose. Next up is Stanford, which now controls its own destiny in the Pac-12. They will play UCLA this weekend, and if they win, well, they get to play UCLA again next Saturday. Playing two more games is good, and they did beat the Ducks head-to-head, but they are still 11th in the human polls. Nonetheless, they could be the next up if Oregon and K-State lose. If K-State loses and Oregon doesn't, that could be an interesting battle. Finally, there's Florida State. FSU desperately needs the cred they'll get from the computers if they beat Florida, which will give their computer ranking a chance to catch up to their human ranking (6th and 5th versus 17th, currently). FSU's schedule and loss to a mediocre NC State are really screwing them over right now. A win over GT in the conference championship game, whether we're 6-6 or 7-5, would probably be their 3rd or 4th best win of the season behind Florida and Clemson.

So let's get back to ND-Bama in the national title game and look at the other bowls. First up will be the Sugar Bowl, seeking a replacement for Alabama. I think it is pretty unlikely the Sugar will take the SEC title game loser, and at this point, considering the hype around TAMU and Johnny Manziel, I think the Sugar will take Texas A&M. Next up is the Fiesta. Kansas State will go here if they beat Texas and don't wind up back in the title game. And here's where the ramifications begin. If Oregon beats Oregon State (and, well, maybe even if they don't), they will likely end up here. Note that this now means there will be two Pac-12 teams in, as I have Stanford winning the league and facing Nebraska in the Rose Bowl. The Sugar needs another team, and basically will be picking between Oklahoma and Clemson. And this where the ramifications end up: what looked like a great possibility for the ACC until last weekend has been snuffed out, unless Oregon, Kansas State, or Stanford get into the national title game. I just don't think the Sugar will pick Clemson over the Sooners. This relegates, as expected, the Big East winner (whoever they end up being) to the Orange.

All that said, man, there's definitely a certain plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose vibe to Notre Dame and Alabama playing for a national title. As other observers have noted, it's like we're back in the 60's or something.

Anyway.

ACC
Miami announced on Monday that they will, once again, forgo a trip to a postseason college football contest. The ACC will not, under any circumstance, have a team to send to the Military Bowl. If Wake Forest upsets Vanderbilt this weekend, then there could be a team send to the Independence Bowl, but otherwise that's that. If Clemson doesn't make the BCS, they are a lock for the Chick-fil-a Bowl. The Russell Athletic Bowl will have its hands tied and probably take NC State. This likely leaves Georgia Tech for the Sun Bowl. If GT does beat UGA, then this could all change, but if we don't, then El Paso is likely our destination again (even if we qualify under the "UCLA rule"). For the first time in the history of everything (in football, at least) I have put Duke ahead of Virginia Tech and have them going to the Belk Bowl, leaving VPI for the Music City.

I just want to note up here that I have Georgia Tech playing Southern Cal in the Sun Bowl. To quote James Earl Jones from the widely acclaimed Cold War drama Hunt for Red October, "Mother of God."

Big East
Do I have to? Okay, well, I'm guessing Louisville will still win the league and go to the Orange Bowl, putting Rutgers in the Russell Athletic Bowl, Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl, and then Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Big Ten
I project Nebraska to win the Big Ten and head to the Rose Bowl, but that could just as easily be Wisconsin. That said, I do have Michigan in the Capital One Bowl for now, relegating Wisconsin to the Outback. I've seen folks saying that Northwestern is probably headed to the Gator, so I went ahead and put them there. I also have Purdue getting in at 6-6, but otherwise the selection order goes pretty much how you'd expect for now.

Big 12
With both Oklahoma and K-State BCS bound according to my projections at top, this puts Texas in the Cotton. Since I ran out of teams, I did change my projections to have Baylor beat Texas Tech this weekend so the Bears could get to 6-6. That probably means I should've swapped Texas Tech and West Virginia maybe, but I think the Red Raiders will still be okay for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. (I'm debating shortening that to just "Wings Bowl" but I'm not sure.)

Pac-12
The Pac-12 actually was in danger of having more teams than slots until this past weekend. Getting two teams into the BCS means bids for everyone. The question is, out of the remaining teams, who goes to the Alamo Bowl? While it almost certainly has to be Oregon State and UCLA, will the Alamo want a team that just lost its last two games to the same team? In my searching, I found the Holiday Bowl really wants Oregon State over UCLA. I went ahead and swapped them for now but we'll see again next weekend. In any scenario, I think the two Arizona schools will get picked last, but which one goes to San Francisco and which goes to Albuquerque will probably be determined this weekend. As for the middle, well, the Sun can either pick USC or Washington probably, with the other going to the Las Vegas Bowl.

SEC
I think the loser of the SEC title game will probably wind up in the Capital One Bowl, or Texas A&M if they're still available. If TAMU is still around when the Cotton Bowl comes up, then they are a lock, otherwise it'll probably be LSU. I'm putting Florida in the Outback Bowl (assuming a loss to Florida State this weekend). I currently have Miss State in the Chick-fil-a Bowl, though I'm not super confident in the Bulldogs over the Gamecocks, but the latter's final destination likely has a lot to do with how they do against Clemson this weekend. Assuming a loss, I have them in the Gator Bowl. I put Vanderbilt in the Music City, but they would really love it if Missouri or Ole Miss get eligible somehow.

Everyone Else
As mentioned above, I ran out of teams, so I put used my "in case of emergency, break glass" team in the form of the Texas-San Antonio Road Runners, putting them in the Independence Bowl. I also have the Military Bowl and the BBVA Compass Bowl as being completely devoid of participants. And this all includes the fudging I did to get Baylor eligible. I had to a fair amount of swapping to make sure that two MAC teams weren't facing each other in the games, but at this point I really consider myself two teams short.

Also, in other news, Air Force actually accepted a bid to the Armed Forces Bowl earlier this week, which I guess is a pretty good indication the Mountain West doesn't have any sort of rules for their bowls. I didn't really predict that, hence the single asterisk.

Well, this is a pretty long post, and there's a fair chance all of this could be bunk after this weekend. So I'll stop here. Enjoy your Turkey Day, and the weekend guide should go up tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/20

Okay, this doesn't really have anything to do with Georgia (hence why I'm post-dating it), but it does have to do with awesome.


I think what really makes this for me isn't that he got the first down, it's that he broke a tackle!

I've seen jokes about tackle-eligible plays, but unfortunately those doesn't really work in college, thanks to this rule:

Eligibility To Touch Legal Forward Pass
ARTICLE 3. a. Eligibility rules apply during a down when a legal forward pass is thrown.
  1. All Team B players are eligible to touch or catch a pass.
  2. When the ball is snapped, the following Team A players are eligible:
    1. Each lineman who is on the end of his scrimmage line and who is wearing a number other than 50 through 79.
2. Each back wearing a number other than 50 through 79.
Half the point of a tackle-eligible play is that you have an otherwise normal offensive lineman with an offensive lineman's number up there on the end of the line go run a route and not block. It sort of loses part of the deception if #64 the rest of the game suddenly appears on the end of the line as #24. (Note that the NFL allows such a player to report himself "eligible" to the referee before the start of a play, which is why a lot of times when you see teams in their goalline packages you can hear the referee say "number 72 has reported eligible".)

Monday, November 19, 2012

This Week in College Football: Week 13

Georgia Tech coastal division champions? Maryland to the Big Ten? I don't know about any of that, but what I do know is there's actual college football being played all week

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Tuesday, November 20
7:00: Akron @ Toledo (ESPN2): Well, Toledo's been pretty solid this year. Akron, at 1-10, less so.

Thursday, November 22
7:30: Texas Christian @ Texas (ESPN): Texas has been on a 4-0 roll after the Disaster in Dallas during the Red River Shootout. TCU can point to their upset of WVU a few weeks ago, but Texas has generally been better over the last few weeks and they appear to be a more solid team at this point in the season. Nonetheless, this will probably still be more interesting than watching the Patriots dismantle the Jets.

Friday, November 23
11:00:
  • Syracuse @ Temple (ESPN2): Last one out of the Big East, turn off the lights. That aside, looking at the records of the Big East teams and their stats and trying to discern any noticeable patterns is an exercise in madness. The 'Cuse should win, but will they? Who knows.
  • Ohio @ Kent State (ESPNU): Some early post-Turkey Day MACtion! Early on, this looked like it could decide the MAC East but Ohio went from undefeated to losing three games this year and Kent State has already clinched. So I'll have to go with the Golden Flashes.
12:00: Nebraska @ Iowa (ABC): Iowa's offense should be declared a federal disaster area at this point. The Huskers should roll.

2:00: Marshall @ East Carolina (CBSS): This is the Thundering Herd's last, best change for a bowl game, but I think they'll probably come up short.

2:30: Louisiana State @ Arkansas (CBS): While LSU making too close to teams they should dominate makes for sublimely entertaining Les Miles press conferences, I don't really expect a repeat in this one.

3:00: Utah @ Colorado (FX): I'm not sure why you'd watch this, but I feel pretty good about the Utes' chances here.

3:30:
  • Washington @ Washington State (FOX): We used to make fun of the Apple Cup for featuring two awful teams, but this one will probably be more akin to a train wreck.
  • West Virginia @ Iowa State (ABC): Iowa State is one of the very few Big 12 teams that probably can't take advantage of WVU's defense to keep up with them, this finally getting the beleaguered Mountaineers another conference win. That said, the best realignment tweet I've seen all day was:
7:00: South Florida @ Cincinnati (ESPN): Cincy should win, but see above for my disclaimer about trying to predict anything related to the Big East.

10:00: Arizona State @ Arizona (ESPN): The battle for the Territorial Cup has been pretty even these last few years, and that may make this the most entertaining game of the day. I expect the Sun Devils to win, but keep in mind the last three games have all been decided by four points or less. So if you haven't been watching football day, this might be a good one to unwind to.

Expect bowl predictions to be up in the next couple days, and the weekend picks column up as per usual on Friday night. Until then, remember, To Hell With Georgia.

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/19


Sunday, November 18, 2012

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/18

It is time, once again, for To Hell With Georgia Week here at asimsports.


I was reminded to start this up thanks to a quote from T.J. Barnes after yesterday's victory over Duke.
This is like momentum, really, to keep the team’s spirits up because hate week is next week.
Indeed it is. I am pleased to see that the players are thinking about it already.

That's about all for the opening message, as per usual. Once again, To Hell With Georgia.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

This Weekend in College Football: Week 12

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Noon:
  • Iowa @ Michigan (ESPN): Where have you gone, Denard Robinson? / Wolverine nation turns its lonely eyes to you  Okay perhaps not quite yet, but regardless if the former wunderkind plays today or not Michigan should win.
  • Northwestern @ Michigan State (ESPN2): Picking Northwestern to win Big Ten games feels so wrong, yet so far this year it's been almost mostly right.
  • Florida State @ Maryland (ESPNU): FSU should be able to name their score in this one.
  • Central Florida @ Tulsa (FSN): This might be the best game of the bunch. What to expect? Points, and lots of 'em. That said, I expect a rematch between these two in a couple of weeks, so this one is probably for home field advantage in that game. I'm expecting the rematch to be in Orlando.
  • Temple @ Army (CBSS): Temple, probably.
  • Indiana @ Pennsylvania State (BTN): Penn State, almost certainly.
  • Arkansas @ Mississippi State (SEC): Miss State just lost the three games on its schedule it was supposed to lose. Now the question is if they can get back on the horse and see things out to 9-3.
12:30: Virginia Tech @ Boston College (ACC): Virginia Tech's offense is bad, but fortunately for them they're facing one of the few that is even more inept.

1:30: Washington @ Colorado (FX): The only thing worse than Colorado's offense is their defense. Serious: they score 17.6 per game (118th in the nation) while their opponents score 47.2 (124th in the nation, aka, dead last). Yeah, I think the Huskies have this one.

3:00:
  • Southern California @ California-Los Angeles (FOX): As pointed out elsewhere, UCLA won't be lame ducking their way into the Pac-12 title game this year, but that said, I don't think they'll get there at all because I think USC will win this one. Maybe I'm just not looking closely enough, but still, I like the Trojans here.
  • South Florida @ Miami (ACC): Virginia sure isn't very good, but that was probably a fluke. The Hurricanes should prevail once again over USF, if for no other reason than because unlike USF, Miami actually is in any area one might reasonably call "south Florida".
3:30:
  • Mississippi @ Louisiana State (CBS): Well, this result will probably be less embarrassing than last year's 59-3 "kneel down with 8 minutes to go" debacle, but not by much.
  • Wake Forest @ Notre Dame (NBC): Despite their numbers, Wake is still 5-5, which may cause some to say that they're not awful. The thing is, they certainly aren't very good, and it's hard to see how the nation's 109th ranked scoring offense is going to do anything against its best defense. Oh sure, the Demon Deacons could catch a few lucky breaks, but that's their only hope.
  • Ohio State @ Wisconsin (ABC/ESPN2): So Wisky already has the Big Ten (checks divisions again because they still make no sense) Leaders division in the bag, while Ohio State still has the diluted goal of an undefeated season. (Still think there should be a "Terry Bowden Trophy" for this situation.) Anyway, the point is, the Buckeyes are probably going to win.
  • North Carolina State @ Clemson (ABC/ESPN2): This the last chance for Clemson to pull a Clemson this year. Doing so would probably actually cause more chaos in the BCS than Alabama's loss did last weekend. That said, it wouldn't be much of a Clemson-ing if one could actually predict them, so therefore I have to take the Tigers.
  • Duke @ Georgia Tech (ESPNU): Not sure what to write about this one. I think of Duke's competent passing attack and think of our shambolic defense. I see Sean Renfree (one-time GT commit, though given his abilities I'd say he made the right decision after Chan got fired) doing his best Matt Ryan impersonation, bombing above and behind our beleaguered secondary. Both of these defense give up more than 30 points per game. GT is slightly better on offense, though that's certainly been spotty at times.
    Simultaneously the most entertaining and maddening thing about college football is its unpredictability. Duke should not be in a position to play for the ACC title. Neither should Georgia Tech. The difference, though, is one of these teams is happy with a potential 6-6 record, the other should not be, having recorded at least one utterly inexcusable loss. If the win over UNC last week was an upset, then it was certainly a narrow one - Tech has beaten no other opponents this year against which we have been not been favorites. So we haven't pulled off the upset, and we've been victims to multiple ones.
    I guess I'm just rambling (no pun intended) at this point. Anyway, there's a pretty good reason why I always say "all predictions wrong" because I suspect that more often than not I am. And even though I have to for the bowl predictions, I hate making predictions involving my own team. All I can do is watch and hope.
  • Colorado State @ Boise State (NBCS): In yet another edition of "awful offense" against "really good defense", Boise should win in a landslide.
  • Texas Tech @ Oklahoma State (FSN): Overtime against arguably one of the worst teams in major college football does not do much to inspire confidence in me, Texas Tech. Also I still have this probably irrational respect for Oklahoma State. I say that because I'm pretty sure I haven't actually seen them play this year. But hey, it makes sense. I think.
  • Texas State @ Navy (CBSS): Thanks to their special exemption, Army and Navy get to play a week after the actual end of the season, meaning after this Midshipmen don't have another game for two weeks. They should head into their double-bye with a win.
  • Minnesota @ Nebraska (BTN): Minnesota is most of the way through my prediction of them going 2-6 in the Big Ten and making a bowl game. Don't let me down, Gophers!
7:00:
  • Oklahoma @ West Virginia (FOX): Oh sure, WVU might score 40, but their defense is so awful the Sooners could well score 80.
  • Tennessee @ Vanderbilt (ESPN2): I think I predicted Vandy to beat Tennessee last year as well, and as I recall, they probably should have. They should again this year, but as stated often around these parts, that doesn't mean much.
  • Syracuse @ Missouri (ESPNU): With Texas A&M on the docket for next weekend, this is their last, best hope for a bowl game. I've been predicting all year in the bowl predictions they won't make it, so may as well stick to my guns.
  • Iowa State @ Kansas (FSN): It's difficult to overstate how awful the Jayhawks are this year, so let me just say it again: Kansas is awful. Fortunately for everyone there, basketball season has started, so there will only be a few curious and/or brave souls to see that they lost to Iowa State.
8:00:
  • Stanford @ Oregon (ABC): Game of the day right here. I know everyone's probably saying that but that doesn't make it any less true. That said, it's only the Cardinal's decent defense up against the onslaught that is the Oregon offense. If you read one article about college football this week that isn't this one, it should be Chris Bown's article about the Oregon offense. (Really, you should be reading lots of other article about college football in a given week because this one isn't very good.) A lot of people think that Chip Kelly will go to the NFL if he wins a national title. I really hope he gets the chance to kick the NFL into the 21st century. Oh, the league is gradually evolving, but Kelly would jump the league right into the deep end. (Probably the key takeaway from the article for me was the point about Kelly's quarterbacks: they actually don't run that much, negating one the usual cracks on run-based college offenses in the NFL. Also I still think even the Urban Meyer spread offense could work in the NFL, because it certainly couldn't be any worse than every attempt I've ever seen at running the speed option in a NFL Game. I just tear my hair out going "the pitch angle is all wrong, it's like they're just doing this for the hell of it!") Anyway, as for this game, I think Stanford isn't going to be a wet piece of toilet paper, but Oregon should still win by at least 2 scores.
  • Kansas State @ Baylor (ESPN): One might be tempted to be worried about Baylor's offense against Kansas State, but then you remember they've already beaten several teams as good or better on offense than the Bears this year. And then you also see that K-State is 14th overall in offense, and their ability to measure out drives means that they can make time of possession meaningful. It's difficult to score if you don't have the ball, which I think is a predicament the Bears will find themselves in.
  • Texas-El Paso @ Southern Mississippi (CBSS): Reminder: Southern Miss won 12 games last year. One of these days I'll remember too look up if anyone has ever had a 12 game swing from year-to-year, because USM is probably on their way.
10:00: Arizona @ Utah (ESPNU): They're finding their feet, but the Utes are still a little out-of-place in the Pac-12. Arizona should be able to handle them.

10:30: Brigham Young @ San Jose State (ESPN2): Well, you can't have MACtion on a Saturday night, but you can certainly have WACtion. Okay that was bad, I'm sorry. Anyway, this one should be pretty interesting, but nonetheless I think BYU is a little better and will come away with the win.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bowl Predictions 2012: Week 5

Well, it just wouldn't do have the This Weekend in College Football up before the end of the bowl predictions are. The predictions themselves have been up since Sunday, but unfortunately I haven't had a chance to write anything yet. So here's some thing quick, focusing mainly on the BCS situation.

I have Oregon and Kansas State in the title game, and note also that I have Oregon in the #1 slot. I still think that if they go undefeated over their remaining schedule (Stanford, Oregon State, and the Pac-12 South winner) they will gain enough favor with the computers to pass Kansas State. So let's talk about the other BCS bowls.

Though some think Louisiana Tech has a shot, they have no currency with the computers and little chance to gain it. They also need a whole bunch of teams in front of them to lose. It's not impossible that they enter the Top 16 and pass the Big East or Big Ten winner, but it's improbable.

So let's get to the automatic winners: Alabama (SEC, Sugar), Florida State (ACC, Orange), and Nebraska (Big Ten, Rose). With the first selection from the at-large pool, the Rose is likely to take Notre Dame now, especially if the Irish remain undefeated. (If Notre Dame loses, then they could take Oklahoma.) With the second selection is the Fiesta, and I think if they're available they'll take Oklahoma. The Fiesta also gets the next pick from the at-large pool. After ND and Oklahoma, the remaining candidates are less obvious. We have a gaggle of SEC teams, from which only one can be chosen, a one-or-two loss Clemson, and Louisville. On the fringes are a few three-loss teams, like Oregon State and Stanford, but I really don't think they'll be selected. Basically, given the above scenario, I think the Fiesta will take any available 1-loss SEC team. Right now I am still projecting that team to be Florida. LSU, South Carolina, and a three-loss Texas A&M are also in the mix. (Note that UGA is not.) The Sugar at this point will want someone other than Louisville, but by now the only other possible someone is Clemson, who can still make it with two-losses but they will be doing themselves a huge favor if they beat South Carolina. And finally, Louisville goes to Miami.

Otherwise, the rest of the grid is still very much in flux these last couple of weeks. This week I had exactly 70 teams qualify for a bowl. Good news for the MAC, WAC and Sun Belt, but not so good for nervous bowl commissioners.

Notable matchups:
  • Cotton Bowl, Texas A&M vs. Texas: I'm perhaps just blinded by the potential of this, but it almost just has to happen, doesn't it? Fortunately Texas has been playing well enough recently to get there. That said, it also depends on where TAMU gets up to - does the Capital One Bowl get frisky and take them? What about a BCS bowl even, as ESPN's Brad Edwards predicted? If TAMU does fall to to the Cotton, I am almost certain they would take them over LSU at this point.
  • Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma vs. Florida: a matchup of a team with a good offense versus a team whose best offense literally is their defense.
  • Potato Bowl, Louisiana Tech vs. Northern Illinois: this game would be the way any game played on blue turf in the late afternoon of the first day of bowl games: chock full o' points, as the NIU ground game meets LaTech's Air Raid attack.
Don't forget to have a look at a5's rundown of the ACC Coastal's tiebreaker scenarios, and otherwise, enjoy the remaining portion of the week!