Thursday, November 29, 2012

This Weekend in College Football: Week 14

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

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.

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 "" 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. 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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?

  • 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.

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.


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.)

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.

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
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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".
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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!

Monday, November 12, 2012

That's right, I'm still here

Given the catastrophe that is the ACC Coastal, here is a sampling of the possible division scenarios:

  1. Duke wins out against GT and Miami. They win the division. Needless to say, it's pretty rare for a team that controls its own destiny after 10 games to be double-digit underdogs in their two remaining games.
  2. GT beats Duke, Duke beats Miami. GT wins Coastal.
  3. Duke beats GT and loses to Miami. Miami wins Coastal.
  4. Duke loses to both GT and Miami, UNC goes 1-1 or 0-2 against UVA and Maryland. Miami wins Coastal by head-to-head win over GT earlier this year.
  5. Duke loses to both GT and Miami, UNC goes 2-0 to finish. This is where it gets fun. To save some trouble, it goes straight to ACC tiebreak rule #3, which I'll quote here in all its confusing glory:
Head-to-head competition versus the team within the division with the best overall (divisional or conference) record, and proceeding through the division. Multiple ties within the division will be broken first to last.
In English, this means that that the teams in the tiebreak will have their head-to-head results against teams in the division that are outside the tiebreak group compared in descending order. In this scenario, the winner hinges on the winner of UVA-VT.  If VT wins (assuming they beat BC), Miami goes to Charlotte.
If UVA wins, things get really interesting. There would then be a 3-way tie for 4th at 3-5, which would mean that the tie for 1st could not be broken until that was resolved (also, the tie for 4th can't be broken until the tie for 1st is).  Problem is that the rule says ties have to be broken from the top down, and none of these teams are likely to be ranked at the end of the we'd possibly have to fall through to tiebreaker #8, which is a random drawing.
Update: If Miami self-imposes a postseason ban then we could potentially end up with a 4-way tie at 4-4 for "first" (GT loses to Duke, Duke loses to Miami, UNC goes 1-1, VT goes 2-0) due to a 5-3 Miami being ineligible. 

In this scenario, VT and Duke would come out of the first set due to being 2-1 against the group. VT then takes it due to beating Duke head-to-head, I think. As far as I can tell, this is VT's only possible scenario now that UNC is allowed to create ties.

Update 2: Ken Sugiura has a better version (worked out with help from the ACC league office) HERE

Saturday, November 10, 2012

This Weekend in College Football: Week 11

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Arkansas @ South Carolina (CBS): It's difficult to come up with a reason why Arkansas has any sort of chance in this game, the lack of Marcus Lattimore notwithstanding.
  • Miami @ Virginia (ABC): Virginia is actually a slight favorite at home. Uh, what? I'm tempted almost to say "'Canes roll" but I guess we'll find out.
  • Louisville @ Syracuse (ABC): Louisville has only three games remaining. Three chances for the Big East to preserve some shred of dignity. Can they pull it off? Well, it's the Big east so it's hard to say, but you have to like their chances against the Orange.
  • Northwestern @ Michigan (ESPN): I have Michigan here, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Widlcats win.
  • Wisconsin @ Indiana (ESPN2): The Big Ten is also hoping to preserve some dignity and is probably desperately rooting for a Wisconsin victory.
  • Army @ Rutgers (ESPNU): Rutgers hasn't played since losing to Kent State. In the meantime, Army got its second win, and by far its best, over Air Force last weekend. Rutgers should still win handily, but hey, they should've easily beat Kent State too.
  • Kansas @ Texas Tech (FSN): KU is just awful this year.
  • Purdue @ Iowa (BTN): Purdue began Big Ten play on October 6, and has lost every game since. Both teams sport mediocre offenses, so if the Boilermakers keep this low scoring they have a chance, but otherwise Iowa has a slight edge.
  • Louisiana-Lafayette @ Florida (SEC): I guess this is homecoming for the Gators?
  • Missouri @ Tennessee (SEC): Tennessee beat Troy last week. This ordinarily wouldn't be remarkable, except the game was a 55-48 shootout. However, the Volunteers are slightly more competent on offense than the Tigers are, so I'll give them a slight edge.
12:30: Georgia Tech @ North Carolina (ACC): Our defense has looked better so far, yes, but the teams we have played have been awful on offense. The only team that was even mediocre, BYU, ended up blowing us out. Carolina sports an all-conference running back in Giovani Bernard and a competent passer in Bryn Renner. They also have a pretty good defense. Both teams are playing for something - Tech to preserve our bowl streak and Carolina to show that the sanctions aren't getting them down. We'll see which is the more powerful in Chapel Hill.

1:30: Colorado @ Arizona (FX): Colorado is, like, so bad you guys.

  • Oregon State @ Stanford (FOX): This is a pretty pivotal Pac-12 matchup. Both teams have yet to play the frontrunner (Oregon), so in order to have any shot in the Pac-12 North they need to win this game. It's actually difficult to get a read on these teams. Stanford has two losses, Notre Dame and Washington. Oregon State has only one, also to Washington. Both are sort of bizarro Pac-12 teams this year, sporting good defensive numbers but mediocre offensive ones. I actually took a break here because I'm legitimately stumped by who is going to win this. I'm going to roll with the Beavers and maintain a watch on my local In-n-Out, which is also the closest one to Stanford.
  • Wake Forest @ North Carolina State (ACC): NC State shouldn't lose this game, but they also probably shouldn't have lost 33-6 to Virginia either. Regardless, by all rights the Wolfpack should win.
  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ Alabama (CBS): Helpfully, TAMU has already played two defenses that are almost as good as Alabama's: Florida's and LSU's. TAMU failed to break 20 points in either contest and lost both of them. I would guess the same will happen here.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Nebraska (ABC/ESPN2): Nebraska should almost certainly win here, but then again everyone thought Penn State was going to lose 10 games this year too. There's not a lot of certainty in the Big Ten this year, that's for sure.
  • West Virginia @ Oklahoma State (ABC/ESPN2): I hope you like points! That said, OSU's defense is a lot less awful than WVU's, which is also why WVU has lost three straight games and likely going on four.
  • Maryland @ Clemson (ESNPU): A lot of folks are, like me, projecting Clemson into the BCS this year. Which probably means the time is ripe for a Clemson'ing. That said, pretty much every player on Maryland's team has torn their ACL at this point and having watched last weekend's grisly affair the Terrapins should stand absolutely no chance in hell in this one.
  • Air Force @ San Diego State (NBCS): San Diego State's upset of Boise last weekend not only punted Boise out of the BCS but also put SDSU right into the thick of the MWC title chase. Air Force lost to Army last weekend. I think I like the Aztecs here.
  • Baylor @ Oklahoma (FSN): Again, I hope you like points! That said, the Sooners actually kinda sorta play a little (okay, well, a lot) of defense. Baylor may be able to keep up in the first half but will probably fade in the second.
  • Minnesota @ Illinois (BTN): Minnesota can secure a bowl bid with a win, thus likely achieving the rare feat of going 2-6 in one's conference and still making a bowl game.
5:00: Tulsa @ Houston (CBSS): I hope you like points, part three! That said, Houston has basically no defense. It may be fun for awhile, but once again the team from Oklahoma should prevail over the one from Texas.

  • Kansas State @ Texas Christian (FOX): Well, no one will doubt Gary Patterson's cajones a this point, after deciding to go for two early in the overtime game against WVU. That said, that won't be enough against Bill Synder's particular brand of clock-killing wizardry, Collen Klein or no.
  • Mississippi State @ Louisiana State (ESPN): Hey Bulldog(s), remember that time you started 7-0? And then you gave up 38 points to both Alabama and TAMU? Yeah, I'm not expecting much better here, but hey you'll be favored against the last two teams on your schedule.
  • Georgia @ Auburn (ESPN2): Are there any prop bets on which quarter of the game Gene Chizik will get fired in? I'm only partially kidding here.
  • Vanderbilt @ Mississippi (ESPNU): Neither of these teams really play offense in any meaningful way, but Vandy does usually play defense against teams that aren't obviously superior to them. Ole Miss is not Georgia or Florida, so the Commodores have a real good shot at winning this and securing a bowl bid for the second consecutive year. (And as I noted in the bowl games column last weekend, Vandy has never gone to a bowl game in back-to-back years.)
  • Boise State @ Hawaii (NBCS): Hawaii used to at least fling the ball around and put up a ton of points. Now they don't even do that. The Broncos should bounce back with this one.
  • Southern Mississippi @ Southern Methodist (FSN): I'm not even going to look up SMU because USM is so awful this year. What the hell is happening down in Hattiesburg?
8:00: Notre Dame @ Boston College (ABC): You might be tempted to say, "hey, so ND went to overtime last weekend against a Pitt team that just got blown out by UConn". And that is a thing you could say. But trust me on this: BC is a lot more awful than Pitt is, and by a pretty good margin.

10:15: Idaho @ Brigham Young (ESPNU): I just can't help but feel bad for Idaho. I've always thought they were a quirky little team. They play in the KIBBIE DOME, for goodness sake! And yet, they will be adrift, a team without a conference, a rival who refuses to play them, and a non-trivial number of folks who think they should just give up on this FBS thing. And they are just plum bad this year: 123rd in scoring offense and 121st in scoring defense. BYU will almost certainly blow them out.

  • Oregon @ California (ESPN): So Cal is probably going to be 1-5 (against FBS teams) at home in their newly remodeled stadium after this game. Probably not quite the way they drew it up.
  • California-Los Angeles @ Washington State (ESPN2): Multiple commentators have said that Wazzou officials should've known there'd be "drama" when they hired Mike Leach. Help me out here: does anyone remember any "drama" with Leach before Craig James untertook a campaign to get him fired at Texas Tech? Because I sure don't. Anyway, they'll probably lose this.
  • Fresno State @ Nevada (NBCS): Nevada has to have this game to have any shot at the MWC title. I think they'll give their best but Fresno should pull it out in the end. That said, this is probably the most interesting of the late games. And in how many of those games will it get down to a "pleasant" 16 degrees? Not many outside of this one, I'd wager.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Bowl Predictions 2012: Week 4

Welcome back. The predictions are up, and we're only three weeks away now from the final set of predictions. I did attempt to search for news, but there's not much action going on there yet except for a few stray beat writers and the rest of the Internet's so-called "predictions". Pschaw.

A quick note on methodology: remember, this is not a snapshot, but rather predictions on where teams will be at the end of the season. Hence why we've got Alabama and Oregon in the title game.

Quick note before we begin: with their 24-17 victory over Florida Atlantic, Navy reached the 6 win mark and accepted a bid to the Fight Hunger Bowl.

Let's start at the top. I am still projecting Oregon, if they win out, to pass Kansas State in the BCS. I doubt at this point they will actually completely pass Kansas State in the computers, but rather just gain enough ground to let their #2 ranking in both human polls buoy them to the top.

Other than Alabama, Oregon, Notre Dame, and Kansas State, at-large locks for BCS bids are likely Florida (provided Georgia doesn't lose to Auburn this weekend and they do lose to Alabama in the SEC title game), Florida State (provided they win the ACC title game, or with an at-large bid assured if they beat Florida), Oklahoma (if they win out). I am still agreeing with some other analysts that the Rose will play nice and take Oklahoma, which they will probably be more inclined to do if Nebraska is the Big Ten's champion. This would allow the Fiesta to match Notre Dame against Kansas State. At this point, if Florida does not lose to Florida State (or anyone else), they will likely head to the Sugar Bowl as Alabama's replacement. If they do stumble, then you could see Georgia or South Carolina there.

Louisville, or whoever bothers to win the Big East, is the last automatic qualifier. This leaves a mess for the last possible at-large spot. As noted last week, Boise State was in position to do this by finishing ahead of Nebraska in the BCS standings, but they lost to San Diego State. There is a two-team-per-conference limit, so none of the various SEC teams littering the top 14 can qualify. A strong candidate, if everything were to be done today, would be Oregon State, but I have them losing twice to end up at 9-3. I also have Stanford losing to Oregon, putting them at 9-3. USC could have as many as five losses at this point if they end up playing in the Pac-12 title game. This leaves only one potential 1 or 2 loss team: Clemson. Provided Clemson doesn't pull a Clemson against Maryland or NC State, they will head into their game against South Carolina at 10-1. If they win, they will wrap up an at-large bid. At this point, given the rest of my projections, even if they lose to the Gamecocks they will still be 10-2 and more palatable than, say, a 10-2 Rutgers. For those of keeping score at home, yes, this would be the first time ever the ACC has sent two teams to the BCS. They would likely be selected by the Sugar, leaving Louisville to play FSU in the Orange.

With Clemson off to the promised land, this leaves the rest of the ACC's bowl partners in rather unenviable positions. The Chick-fil-a would almost certainly go with an 8-4/5 Miami, and the Russell Athletic Bowl snapping up NC State. I have no other ACC teams projected to finish with winning records, with Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Duke all finishing 6-6. (Well, UNC should finish 8-4, but they're on sanctions.) And even then, that's with a rather heavy dose of optimism on my part, because I'm sure not crazy about our chances against Carolina this weekend. Either way, I'm sending VPI to the Sun, us to the Belk, and Duke to the Music City.

Big 12
I was able to put Texas back into the Cotton Bowl, but I couldn't quite arrange things to put Texas A&M into the game as well. I also put Texas Tech into the Alamo over Oklahoma State, but everything else proceeds in order from there. In a rarity, the Big 12 will actually have enough teams, even with two of them going to the BCS.

Big East
Please, someone, anyone, win this thing, but preferably a team that hasn't lost to anyone from the MAC.

Big Ten
Iowa's loss to Indiana (Indiana!) this past weekend probably wrecks the chances of everyone in the Legends division qualifying. Unfortunately, I still don't have Indiana getting to 6-6, so Wisconsin remains the only eligible team from the Leaders. Minnesota can thank their incredibly soft out-of-conference scheduling for getting them to the new Car Care Bowl despite going 2-6 in Big Ten play.

The infighting in the conference wrecks their chances of getting two BCS teams, unless Stanford or Oregon State upset Oregon in the next few weeks. Otherwise, I actually have Arizona as a 7-5 team with nowhere to go. The projections for at-large teams in other bowls is a total crapshoot until officials of the affected bowls start talking about who they're looking at (which one of the reason I start looking for news), so for now I'm shipping the Wildcats off to Shreveport to make up for a lack of ACC teams.

Thanks to generous out-of-conference schedules and some really awful teams at the bottom of the conference, the SEC should get 5 teams to the 10-win mark this year. I had to put 10-2 LSU in the Cotton over 9-3 Texas A&M, but that could still change in the coming weeks. I also have Tennessee limping to 6-6 ad a Liberty Bowl bid, though they could also go to the Compass Bowl.

Everyone Else
It does look like we will avert the shortage of teams catastrophe. It just seems to "work out" every year, but someday it probably won't. As much as I like doing these projections, frankly if we had 5 less bowls I don't think anyone would notice. Also, with Boise not making the BCS, this pushes 6-6 New Mexico out of the Mountain West affiliated bowls. Along with 6-6 Western Michigan, they could be the only two eligible teams sitting at home this year.

As usual, things will look different next week. After the excitement of last weekend, the marquee game for the top teams this weekend will be Alabama-Texas A&M. But, hey, more on that later in the week.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

This Weekend in College Football: Week 10

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Oklahoma @ Iowa State (ABC): It's not unprecedented for Iowa State to pull off an upset of this magnitude, but that doesn't make it any less unlikely.
  • Temple @ Louisville (ABC): Can Louisville remain the Big East's only somewhat competent team? Probably.
  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ Mississippi State (ESPN): Mississippi State's 15th ranked scoring defense should continue to suffer against the second team on its schedule capable of scoring points.
  • Missouri @ Florida (ESPN2): The Gators would probably have to turn the ball over, like, twelve times to lose to this bunch of Tigers.
  • Vanderbilt @ Kentucky (ESPNU): Vandy can, and should, put itself in a very good position to make it a bowl game for a second consecutive season. How many times have the Commodores done that, though? None.
  • Houston @ East Carolina (FSN): Neither of these teams can play defense to save their lives, but Houston's offense is slightly more proficient and should get them the victory in the end.
  • Air Force @ Army (CBSS): I keep forgetting that Air Force actually lost to Navy last month and so this will not decide the Commander-In-Chief's trophy. Nonetheless, Army is still not any position to win it themselves.
  • Michigan @ Minnesota (BTN): Time for more wacky Big Ten hijinks! Whee! Michigan probably wins.
  • Troy @ Tennessee (SEC/FSN): Tennessee isn't bad enough to lose to Troy, are they? Probably not.
  • Tulsa @ Arkansas (SEC): A few years ago, the Golden Hurricane liked to sling the ball all over the place, but these days they're 9th in rushing and only 86th in passing. I realize that Arkansas is just plan not very good but I still find it exceedingly difficult to pick against them.
  • Georgia Tech @ Maryland (ACC): Maryland is playing a linebacker at QB this week, but our defense has had the unfortunate tendency to make opposing quarterbacks look several times more competent than they actually are. Maryland also sports a pretty good rushing defense, the likes of which have given us fits this season.
  • Virginia @ North Carolina State (ACC): NC State should be able to regroup after a devastating, last-minute loss to UNC last weekend.
2:00: Stanford @ Colorado (FX): If you're the sort of person who likes disaster based reality TV shows, then this will be the football game for you.

3:00: Texas Christian @ West Virginia (FOX): WVU looks to get back on the right side of the ledger, after going 0-2 in their last two games. The main thing both those games was playings teams that aren't awful at defense. TCU isn't either, but if the Mountaineers can get any sort of offensive foothold at all they should prevail.

  • Mississippi @ Georgia (CBS): UGA won't need six turnovers to beat Ole Miss.
  • Nebraska @ Michigan State (ABC/ESPN2): Nebraska, probably? It's the Big Ten, so we're pretty much just guessing at this point.
  • Texas @ Texas Tech (ABC/ESPN2): When was the last time TTU was favored against Texas? It has to have been awhile. Though in the Big 12, giving a team seven points is basically betting they're going to get the ball last. Nonetheless, I think the Red Raiders can pull it off.
  • Illinois @ Ohio State (ESPN): There are no certainties in the Big Ten, other than that Ohio State will find the most excruciating ways to win, such that it continues to make the rest of the conference look bad. If you're not sure what I mean, the usual conversation goes something like this: "Ohio State is clearly the best team in the Big Ten." "Yeah, but they're not eligible for the title! And they only beat the Indiana schools by a combined 10 points!" "Well, that just makes everyone else look even worse, doesn't it?"
  • Pennsylvania State @ Purdue (ESPNU): Speaking of Purdue, they lost by 16 to Minnesota last week. Whoops! They'll probably lose to Penn State, too.
  • Kansas @ Baylor (FSN): Kansas is Baylor's first, and perhaps best, hope for a Big 12 victory this season.
  • Florida Atlantic @ Navy (CBSS): Navy should be able to lock-up a trip to San Francisco with ease.
  • Iowa @ Indiana (BTN): Reminder: Iowa has a .500 record in the year so far, including two Big Ten wins, and has the nation's 107th ranked scoring offense. Big Ten Football! Feel the excitement! They should probably still win, though if their defense has an off day against the Hoosiers there should be no way they can keep up.
  • Boston College @ Wake Forest (ACC): I'm going with Wake since they managed to actually beat Army this year.
  • Oregon @ Southern California (FOX): USC picked the wrong time to fall asleep on defense last week. If they do the same again here, this game will over by halftime. That said, I think USC will be able to keep up, at least for a bit, but Oregon should pull away in the second half.
  • Clemson @ Duke (ESPN2): Duke lost 48-7 to FSU last weekend, except similar here.
  • Connecticut @ South Florida (ESPNU): This is a matchup of the two worst teams in the Big East. Remember, Temple is in the Big East again. Yeah.
  • Southern Methodist @ Central Florida (CBSS): This is probably the second most compelling game on if Oregon gets up on USC by like 4 touchdowns before the next set of games start. Except for a slip-up against Tulane, both of these teams have marched through C-USA without meeting much resistance. Nonetheless, UCF should prevail.
  • Oklahoma State @ Kansas State (ABC): Kansas State is pretty darn good. Oklahoma State is currently one of the best two-loss teams in the country, but they're probably about to become the best three loss team.
  • Alabama @ Louisiana State (CBS): It's a night game in Baton Rouge. That is usually enough for the Tigers, but it probably won't be against this juggernaut of a football team. Alabama is actually competent offensively, and the first team to 14 points could well win this game. With the right combination of luck, we know LSU can prevail (see: last year's regular season matchup), but I think Alabama will work diligent to make sure that on this night, luck won't matter.
  • Arizona State @ Oregon State (ESPN2): I got it in my head last weekend that I actually liked Arizona State to win the Pac-12 South, but I keep forgetting that they actually lost to UCLA. Whoops. Anyway, I actually still like them against the Beavers simply because the Sun Devils will be the best team they've played so far this year.
  • San Diego State @ Boise State (CBSS): Boise State continues its quest for a darkhorse run at a BCS game, which should make for good enough reason to find the CBS Sports Network in and of itself. If it doesn't, or you hate the blue turf, then it's a good enough reason to bring up the GameTracker or some such. I think the Broncos will win, but this is their stiffest test since their opener.