Monday, October 28, 2013

Bowl Predictions 2013: Week 2

This one's going to be quick. As usual, you can find them here.
  • I had to relent and put Fresno in. I give them a slight edge over NIU because the MWC is probably perceived to be a better conference than the MAC. 
  • Yes, this whole exercise was obvious to get Northern Illinois and Illinois to play each other in Detroit.
  • Avoiding some repeat destinations for bowl teams right now is difficult. For instance, I had a hard time not sending Georgia Tech to the Sun Bowl for the third year in a row. I also have South Carolina making a repeat trip to the Outback Bowl. There's probably more at this point, but I'll start worrying about them in the coming weeks.
That's all I have time for, so tune in next week to see how things shake out.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

This Weekend in College Football: Week 9

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Nebraska @ Minnesota (ESPN): This might be the most lopsided matchup in history between two 5-win teams. Nebraska should roll.
  • Louisville @ South Florida (ESPN2): Well, Louisville kind of ruined its season last week, and unfairly, the Heisman candidacy of their star quarterback. Now it’s a race for the Cardinals to still try to win the AAC and rise above Northern Illinois and Fresno State in the BCS. Can they do it? Against South Florida, the answer for this week is “probably”.
  • Houston @ Rutgers (ESPNEWS): I actually like Houston here.
  • Wake Forest @ Miami (ESPNU): All together now: trap game. Wake has looked slightly cagier in recent weeks, but regardless Miami should steamroll them. Unless, of course, they’re caught looking ahead to next week's huge game against their rival, Florida State.
  • Oklahoma State @ Iowa State (FSN): Oklahoma State.
  • Northwestern @ Iowa (BTN): After their 40-30 defeat against Ohio State, it’s almost as though this team is completely deflated. Their numbers are now middling,while Iowa at least boasts a good defense. It’s hard to see how Northwestern will pull itself out of the doldrums, and this may be their last chance to do so.
  • Vanderbilt @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (SEC): TAMU boasts the 4th ranked scoring offense and the 104th ranked scoring defense. Yes, it’s a disaster that has now cost them a shot at the national title, but even after notching a win over UGA last week (yay) the Commodores should not be a match for TAMU.

12:30: Georgia Tech @ Virginia (ACC): I’m not even sure what superlatives I can add after last week’s 56-0 trouncing of Syracuse. (Welcome to the ACC!) Tech executed very well in all phases. Now the key is to go into what has been a house of horrors GT: Charlottesville, VA. After 1990, Georgia Tech has 1 win in 10 tries at Scott Stadium, which came in 2009. We lost in our last trip there in 2011 after going in 6-0. I’m a man of science, but there are definitely times where I’m forced to wonder what in the heck could lead to that sort of record other than luck. But coincidence and luck are indeed the most rational explanations: GT has a losing record against UVA in that time (9-13) including a 4-game losing streak in the early 90’s (no surprise there, some of those Tech teams were awful), and some losses when the two sides were evenly matched. I would suspect, by the numbers, most of them actually make sense. Nonetheless, I am taking nothing for granted going into this one, and hopefully we can put forth the effort shown last weekend.

1:00: Pittsburgh @ Navy (CBSS): I guess the angle for this one is that Pitt gets some complacent when they easily beat Navy that they just take playing the same offense run by us next week?


  • Texas Tech @ Oklahoma (FOX): Oklahoma is easily the best team TTU has played since beating TCU back in week 3. And even then, TTU only won 20-10. Will they be able to contain the Sooners? I think not.
  • Tennessee @ Alabama (CBS): Third, fourth, Saturday of October, it doesn’t matter. This game could well by over by the time the second quarter starts.
  • Michigan State @ Illinois (ABC/ESPN2): Well, if there’s anyone left on Michigan State’s schedule they may be able to score offensive points against, it’s probably Illinois. Nonetheless, I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Sparty win a 6-2 game or something.
  • North Carolina State @ Florida State (ABC/ESPN2): I missed the last games last weekend, so I DVR’d the Florida State-Clemson game. I started fast forwarding through only to see the game get increasingly out of hand. I think I stopped watching in the third quarter and just went over to College Football Final. Suffice it to say, I will not be DVR’ing this game.
  • Clemson @ Maryland (ESPN): As many internet commentator types have noted, the Maryland Injury Bug has struck again, seemingly this time afflicting everyone but their quarterbacks. I doubt it would matter much against what should be a Clemson team out to restore their honor.
  • Duke @ Virginia Tech (ESPNU): I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the inevitable Virginia Tech-Michigan State bowl game, despite the fact that the ACC and Big Ten don’t have any bowl games each other. As for this one, the limitation here is VPI’s offense being able to get to, let's say… 17 points.
  • Boston College @ North Carolina (ACC/FSN): What a disaster for Carolina this season, and when you can’t even count on beating Boston College, well…

3:45: West Virginia @ Kansas State (FS1): It feels like the magic has run out for K-State, but fortunately for them this is a very winnable game at home.

4:00: Utah @ Southern California (Pac12): Going with Utah in this one. They beat Stanford and were close in losses to UCLA, Oregon State, and Arizona. Against an injury riddled USC I have to like their odds.

5:00: Notre Dame @ Air Force (CBSS): It is not working for Air Force this year. ND should roll.


  • California-Los Angeles @ Oregon (ESPN): UCLA is a fine football team this year. Very fine! But Oregon is… well… they’re pretty good.
  • South Carolina @ Missouri (ESPN2): I’m not sure what I’m having a harder time coming to grips with: how mediocre South Carolina apparently is or how good Missouri apparently is. Is this the game Mizzou fans are waiting for, that is, the game when the other shoe drops? I don’t think so, but even if it is, they’re still two games ahead in the loss column in the SEC East and the schedule lightens up after this until the very last weekend of the season.
  • Baylor @ Kansas (ESPNU): Kansas averages 18.3 points per game. Baylor averages 16.2. Per quarter. The real season starts for the Bears next week against the Sooners.


  • Texas @ Texas Christian (FS1): TCU’s defense is looking to bring Texas back to the grim reality of this season, but will Texas’s mediocre offense oblige? And will TCU’s mediocre offense score enough points to matter? I’m going with TCU but I’m not very comfortable with it.
  • Florida Atlantic @ Auburn (SEC/FSN): Auburn.


  • Pennsylvania State @ Ohio State (ABC): Ohio State has yet to defeat a Big Ten foe by more than 10 points this season. They should be able to against Penn State, but then again, you probably would’ve said the same about Iowa or Northwestern.
  • Arizona @ Colorado (Pac12): Colorado just isn’t very good.


  • Stanford @ Oregon State (ESPN): It’s still hard for me to shake the fact that the Beavers’ lone loss came against Eastern Washington, but then again, one could argue that the next five games will tell us a hell of a lot more about them than the first seven. I’m going with the Cardinal here.
  • Fresno State @ San Diego State (ESPN2): Fresno State so far this season has had little trouble with their Mountain West foes, a pattern that should continue here.

11:00: California @ Washington (FS1): Washington should be able to right the ship against the worst scoring defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Seriously, this could get ugly.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bowl Predictions 2013: Week 1

And… we’re back! I’ll start out with a description of my process, and then we’ll do the overview. As usual, you can get the predictions here.


Even though I wait until the BCS Standings come out to do my initial round of predictions, the first several weeks still involve a lot of guesswork. I start by basically looking at every team with a shot at bowl eligibility and then trying to figure out if which of the rest of their games they will win. For those who read my weekend previews, you probably know I’m not very good at the predicting part, so the predictions can change pretty wildly in the first couple weeks as teams pull off unexpected upsets, get upset themselves, etc. By the nature of having this many bowl games, most teams will have 6 to 8 wins, which means that their seasons can change quickly, or maybe a team that I thought will have five wins ends up pulling off an upset that propels them to 6 or 7 wins. There’s also the undercurrent of BCS busters, which I’ll get to below.

As we get closer to the end, there’s a) less guessing and b) some reporting. Around Thanksgiving, team beat writers start writing about possible bowl destinations for their teams. Doing this research helps me refine the predictions greatly, as they’re usually talking to bowl officials and athletic directors, allowing them to get wind of any shenanigans that may go down (and trust me, they have gone down in the past). Since this requires access, team bloggers are usually not a great source for this. (And don’t even get me started on the Bleacher Report, which wrecks my Google search results unless I exclude them.)

So that’s that. I’ll start where I usually do, but this year it’ll be for the last time: the BCS.


I have Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Ohio State running the table. As with most other experts I’ve seen, I think Oregon’s backloaded strength of schedule will allow them to pass Florida State in the computers. So let’s pencil in Alabama and Oregon to go to Pasadena. The other automatic slots are filled out thusly: Ohio State to the Rose, Oklahoma to the Fiesta, and Florida State to the Orange.

From there, first, the Sugar and Rose bowls get the first pick of the remaining eligible BCS teams. I have them going with Auburn. If Auburn’s only other loss this season is to Alabama, then they will probably be in a better position to get a BCS berth than Missouri, though I’ve been wrong about that sort of thing in the past. I also like Stanford to get a BCS at-large bid with two losses, and take Oregon’s place in the Rose Bowl.

Then we go Orange, Sugar, Fiesta for the remaining spots. The Big Ten looks two weak this year to get 2 BCS bids, so the other conferences will have to pick up the lack. For that reason, I have a 1-loss Baylor getting an invite to the Orange Bowl (that loss is to Oklahoma). I then put Clemson in the Sugar bowl, who could very well finish the season with just one loss. And finally, the American champion will go to the Fiesta. I currently have Louisville recovering to win the conference anyway.

So what about BCS busters? Northern Illinois and Fresno State are both likely candidates, and they are currently 17th and 18th in the standings. Louisville is currently 20th. However, Louisville could probably pass them and maybe get into the top 12 if they don’t lose again, which would block the BCS busters. However, if Louisville loses again, it is game on to see if any mid-major can finish in the top 16.


It looks to be a strong year for the ACC in terms of sending teams to bowl bids. They may only come up short if the conference places two teams in the BCS, which it still has never done.

  • Miami could well finish with two losses to Florida State, which I think will knock them out of contention for a BCS bid. They go to the Chick-fil-a Bowl.
  • They way their defense is playing, VPI could still win the ACC Coastal, but I currently have Miami beating them. This puts them in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
  • Finally given the opportunity to do so, the conference sends someone other than Georgia Tech to the Sun Bowl. In this scenario, that’s Boston College.
  • Thanks to an awful out-of-conference schedule, Maryland could very well make a bowl game while going 2-6 in conference. In fact, I have them doing exactly that. I was thinking they’d get the shaft in terms of a bowl destination, what with leaving the conference and all, but as it turns out they slot right into the Military Bowl, due to be played in Annapolis, Maryland this year. Dang.


I barely consider the AAC worth talking about, but they do still have a BCS auto-bid. Anyway, I think UCF is going to drop a couple games and that Louisville is going to win the conference anyway. As outlined above, the most interesting question is whether the champion of the American will finish high enough to prevent any BCS busters.

Big 12

Baylor’s next two games are against Oklahoma and Texas Tech, so we’re going to know a lot more about those three teams two weeks from now. For now, I have Baylor and Texas Tech losing some games and Oklahoma recovering to win the conference. I have TCU just missing out, so that’s a team to watch to see if they can score that 6th win.

Big Ten

As with last year, the Leaders division is Ohio State, Wisconsin, and then everyone else. At least Ohio State can go to a bowl this year. I have Nebraska as the champ from the Legends, which implies that I think they’ll beat Michigan. I do currently have Nebraska as making a return trip to the Capital One Bowl, so that could very easily be Wisconsin or Michigan there, depending on how things goes.


I actually have an extra Pac-12 team, even with Oregon and Stanford both going to the BCS: Utah. Of course, I may have been somewhat optimistic putting USC in a bowl game at all, and even that optimistic prediction has them at 6-6. And haters take note: despite playing nine conference games, 9 of the 12 teams could be bowl eligible (possibly 10, even, if Wazzou can eke out two more wins).


So I have Missouri winning the SEC East, and I don’t feel good about it at all. But everyone else in the SEC East has managed to face plant so far, so what other course am I left with? I even have them suffering at least one loss (probably to South Carolina) just because I can’t really fathom them going undefeated. And Auburn in a BCS game? Madness. Last year the SEC was easy: you had Alabama, TAMU, and Georgia at the top, a bunch of medicore teams, and then Ole Miss, Auburn, and Mizzou (oh, and yeah, Kentucky). This year it’s more like Alabama, everyone else, and then Kentucky.

Everyone else

From the independents, I don’t see Notre Dame making a BCS game at 9-3 (and they’re not even ranked right now), so I currently can only slot them in the Pinstripe Bowl? I’ll have to check in on that. I see BYU and Navy (the latter barely) making it.

From the mid-major conferences, I talked about the BCS busters at length above. It looks like we probably won’t have a shortage of teams this year, as the Sun Belt and MAC look like they’ll have plenty of extra teams to spare. The MAC especially is looking like it’ll be a good fight. MACtion Tuesdays can’t get here fast enough.

So that’s all until next week, when everything will surely be different.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

This Weekend in College Football: Week 8

Okay, this time I'll really debut the bowl predictions after today's games. (I thought the BCS was coming out last week.)

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Texas Christian @ Oklahoma State (FOX): I'll take the team with close losses to the likes of LSU and Oklahoma rather than the one with the blowout loss to West Virginia, thank you.
  • Georgia @ Vanderbilt (CBS): Oh hey a game featuring the last two teams Mizzou beat. Anyway, it looks like tough sledding for Vandy here on out, with probable losses here, to TAMU, and then to Florida. They have the last 3 weeks of the season to get to 6-6, I'd say.
  • South Carolina @ Tennessee (ESPN): Hatin' Ass Spurrier is hilarious, and also, real.
    I like South Carolina in this one.
  • Minnesota @ Northwestern (ESPN2): Northwestern is now in the easier part of their schedule, after going 0-2 against two teams you'd reasonably expect them to. Minnesota, meanwhile, has blowout losses to Iowa and Michigan.
  • Texas Tech @ West Virginia (FS1): Is Tech Tech for real? I'm still not sure, but that doesn't affect my opinion of their chances against WVU.
  • Navy @ Toledo (ESPNEWS): Holy Toledo, Navy isn't very good this year.
  • Connecticut @ Cincinnati (ESPNU): There is not a joke about the start of basketball season here. None at all. Cincy rolls.
  • Southern Mississippi @ East Carolina (FSN): I have a suspicion that we're about to see a mid-major school have a 3rd coach in three years where none of the coaches left for a better job. How often does that happen?
  • Purdue @ Michigan State (BTN): EDSBS compared the Michigan State offense to the Battle of Ypres, which were a series World War I trench warfare affairs. Sounds about right. Sparty goes over the top and gets the win, but only at great cost.
  • Florida @ Missouri (SEC): Yeah, that's right, two teams with a combined 10-2 record are on at noon on syndication. Of course, one of them lost their starting quarterback last week, and Florida's gone through like 50 QBs at this point, I think. I still like the Gators here.
12:30: Syracuse @ Georgia Tech (ACC): What is there to say at this point? Arguably, our 3-3 record is correct: we have to beat every team we should've but lost to every team we should've lost to. So where do you go from there, when staring down the barrel of needing 3 wins from your next 5 FBS games? Oh, and two of those games are against our biggest rivals.
The problems for GT right now are many. The first are awful, slow starts in the first half by the defense. Then there's the backbreaking turnovers, plus the inability to capitalize on our own mistakes. It's cool that we have a kicker with a cannon of a leg now, but I liked it when we tried to score touchdowns at almost any cost. Then there's almost anything relating to the offense. Mistakes in the line, mistakes by the skill players, mistakes by both. Perhaps nothing summed up this season more than the reverse we ran against BYU last week. It was called at the perfect time of the game in the perfect situation - BYU had been overflowing to the playside, which make them perfectly vulnerable. The play would've resulted in a touchdown except one of the WRs couldn't make his block. Perhaps the other problem is that while I think we all still have reasons to be excited about our young quarterbacks, they are still young.
I haven't seen a single Syracuse game this season, so I have no idea what to really write about them. They beat NC State last week for their best of the season so far. They otherwise seem pretty average, but their record is also 3-3, so I guess that makes sense. We'll see what happens.

  • Auburn @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (CBS): So it turns out that TAMU's defense is probably kind of bad? Nonetheless, the offense is so spectacular they can just keep outscoring the Auburns of the world.
  • California-Los Angeles @ Stanford (ABC/ESPN2): 5-0. #9 in the country. Why, then, does my brain keep telling me Stanford is going to win this one? I'm just not buying what the Bruins are selling for some reason.
  • Iowa @ Ohio State (ABC/ESPN2): Iowa has only scored more points in a single game than Ohio State averages per game only once this season. This one might be a little rough.
  • Oklahoma @ Kansas (ESPN): I'm glad I'm not a Kansas fan right now. I mean, when it comes to football, that's generally true, but in a "vent our frustrations" sort of game like this, I'm really glad.
  • Brigham Young @ Houston (ESPNEWS): BYU is easily the best team Houston has played this year, which I think will result in their first loss.
  • Maryland @ Wake Forest (ESPNU): How many more times this year am I going to have to go with "this isn't one of those good Wake Forest teams"? Of course, they did win last week (like it says at top, "all predictions wrong") but still, not seeing how they beat Maryland.
  • North Texas @ Louisiana Tech (CBSS): A cursory examination reveals that one of these teams is slightly less awful than the other, so going with UNT.
  • Indiana @ Michigan (BTN): Just take what I said about Kansas and Oklahoma up there and replace Kansas with Indiana and Oklahoma with Michigan.
  • Duke @ Virginia (ACC/FSN): UVA's offense is a disaster right now, which means Duke has a very good chance to eke out a win here. The way their schedule is shaping up, do I even dare suggest we could see a 7-5 Duke by season's end?
6:00: Washington @ Arizona State (Pac12): Washington's back to playing teams on its level game, and I think they'll be able to even up their Pac-12 record in Tempe.

  • Arkansas @ Alabama (ESPN): Since giving up 42 points to TAMU, Alabama has given up 15 points in 4 games. The absurdity should continue here.
  • Louisiana State @ Mississippi (ESPN2): Ole Miss does not appear to be great at scoring points or not letting people score points. This is bad when playing superior opponents like the LSUs of the world. I mean, it wasn't great against the TAMUs of the world, but at this point the Aggies's defense can officially be considered "suspect". LSU's is not.
  • Iowa State @ Baylor (ESPNU): The Cyclones have the nation's 87th ranked scoring defense. I don't know what the over/under is on this game, but I'd probably take the over.
7:30: Southern California @ Notre Dame (NBC): DACOACHO GONNA GO TODA SOUTHA BEND ANDA GONNA SEEAH THA DOME. FOOTBAW. (Also, probably a USC loss.) (I really hope Orgeron gets another head coaching gig after this though.)

  • Florida State @ Clemson (ABC): I have Clemson in this one. Why? For starters, they've already played and beaten a good team (Georgia) and dominated most of their opponents. Yes, FSU blew out Maryland, but come on, they're Maryland. Also it is at night, at home, and in this battle of young, excellent QBs only of them is going to have the crowd behind him.
  • Nevada @ Boise State (CBSS): I made a face when I saw that Boise has the 17th ranked scoring offense to the Wolfpack's 118th ranked scoring defense. That's, uh, that's not real good.
  • Wisconsin @ Illinois (BTN): Wisconsin continues their rampage against Illinois based teams here.
  • Washington State @ Oregon (FS1): We all expected Oregon to score points, yeah. I'm not sure I saw the 13.8 points per game of their opponents coming. Wazzou is better this year, but not that much better.
  • Utah @ Arizona (Pac12): I'm favoring Utah in a Pac-12 game against a team that isn't Colorado and I'm not sure how that makes me feel.
10:30: Oregon State @ California (ESPN2): The nation's best passing offense goes against the nation's worst passing and scoring defense. Sure, Cal is 5th in passing as well, but their defense is so bad it doesn't really matter.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2014 World Cup Update: Commentary and Selected Scenarios for 10/15

Editor’s note: this was my draft going into last night, but some stuff came up and I could not finish it. I just wanted to publish the work I did for posterity. A proper wrap-up post will come soon.

Lots of stuff is bound to go down on Tuesday. Let’s have a look.


Nothing will conclude in Africa on the 15th, with the return leg of all the matches taking place in November. That said, we can talk about the early results. (INSERT)


The US has secured the top of the table going into their match against Panama. First, let’s talk scenarios.

Team W D L GF GA Diff Pts
United States 6 1 2 12 6 +6 19
Costa Rica 4 3 2 11 6 +5 15
Honduras 4 2 3 11 10 +1 14
Mexico 2 5 2 6 7 -1 11
Panama 1 5 3 8 11 -3 8
Jamaica 0 4 5 3 11 -8 4

No matter what, Honduras can do worse than 4th place, so they have a spot in the inter-confederation playoff against New Zealand at least. Costa Rica already has a ticket to Brazil.

  • Honduras can clinch a spot in the World Cup Final with a win or draw against Jamaica.
  • Honduras can clinch with any Mexico draw or loss to Costa Rica.
  • Mexico can clinch a spot in the World Cup Final with a win over Costa Rica and a Honduras loss to Jamaica. Mexico would also need to win by at least two goals.
  • Mexico can clinch a spot in the Inter-Confederation Playoff with any win or draw.
  • Mexico can clinch a spot in the Inter-Confederation Playoff with any Panama draw or loss to the United States.
  • Panama can clinch a spot in the playoff with a win over the United States and a Mexico loss. Panama would need to beat the US by at least two goals. There are scenarios where Panama can prevail over Mexico if they finish with the same goal difference, provided Mexico does not overtake them in terms of total goals scored.


Colombia clinched on Friday. The remaining three non-eliminated teams can do no worse than the Inter-Confederation playoff against Jordan. The remaining matches that matter are Chile vs. Ecuador and Uruguay vs. Argentina.

  • Ecuador and Chile will clinch a spot in the Final with any Uruguay draw or loss to Argentina.
  • Ecuador and Chile will clinch a spot in the Final if they draw against each other.
  • Uruguay can only clinch a spot in the final if there is a loser in the Ecuador-Chile match and if they beat Argentina. In that case, it will come down to goal difference. Uruguay currently has a –1 differential, while Ecuador is at +5 and Chile is at +3.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

This Weekend in College Football: Week 7

Bowl predictions will debut tomorrow!

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Oklahoma vs. Texas (@Dallas, TX; ABC): Boy howdy Texas is in it for a bad way, aren’t they? I know I’m not exactly providing any new insight here when I say that it’s extremely difficult to see how in the world Texas is going to win this game. It may literally come down to avoiding an embarrassing loss to save Mack Brown’s job. Which makes me wonder: how do we reach these situations? By most accounts, it’s a matter of institutional rot, which I guess is the main way of trying to figure out how a guy goes from winning a national title and coming close several times to… this.
  • Missouri @ Georgia (ESPN): I’m not buying Mizzou, but even if they’re as improved as everyone thinks they are, they’re still not good enough to beat Georgia.
  • Indiana @ Michigan State (ESPN2): Michigan State’s defense is really good, which is fortunate for them because their awful is pretty much awful. They’ll need to retain these qualities to defeat what looks like to be a not terrible set of Hoosiers.
  • Iowa State @ Texas Tech (FS1): Texas Tech should pretty much be able to cruise to their showdown in Norman in two weeks, provided they leave such concepts to us.
  • Memphis @ Houston (ESPNEWS): Houston is 4-0 but hasn’t played anyone. We’ll like be able to revise that sentence to “5-0 but hasn’t played anyone” after this contest.
  • Pittsburgh @ Virginia Tech (ESPNU): Pitt only scored 14 points against UVA. I don’t see how they’re going to be able to do that against VPI.
  • Kansas @ Texas Christian (FSN): TCU.
  • Nebraska @ Purdue (BTN): Nebraska.
  • Eastern Michigan @ Army (CBSS): Army is very slightly less awful than EMU, so I’ll go with them.
  • South Carolina @ Arkansas (SEC): After getting TAMU and Florida in consecutive weeks, it’s not getting any easier for the Razorbacks.

12:30: Navy @ Duke (ACC): Duke bowl watch: they need to get a win here because after this I only really see two other wins on their schedule.


  • Florida @ Louisiana State (CBS): It feels weird to say this about LSU, but this will probably be the best offense Florida has faced all season. If LSU can actually move the ball, and I think they will, then I’m not sure how Florida will be able to score enough to keep the game within reach.
  • Baylor @ Kansas State (FOX): Baylor’s offensive numbers this season are downright obscene at this point, so I will refrain from posting them here. It will take some very potent magics from Bill Synder to be able to keep up in this one.
  • Northwestern @ Wisconsin (ABC/ESPN2): Northwestern is a great feel-good story, but they hadn’t really played anyone prior to last week. Considering that loss and home field advantage, I have to take Wisconsin here.
  • Boston College @ Clemson (ABC/ESPN2): Clemson.
  • Virginia @ Maryland (ESPNU): Ah, the Terrapin Conundrum: are they going to be the team that beat WVU 37-0 or the team that lost to FSU 63-0? Against UVA, I’m going with the former.
  • San Jose State @ Colorado State (CBSS): Living in San Jose, I can’t help but notice some of the attention that San Jose State has gotten so far this season. Specifically, negative attention as apparently more was expected of them this year. Unfortunately for them, I see the disappoint continuing in this one.
  • Syracuse @ North Carolina State (ACC/FSN): Losing to Wake Forest tells me that you’re probably not a very good team, NC State. Unfortunately, I have no read on Syracuse whatsoever because their three losses are reasonably but their two wins tell me nothing. I’ll stick with the team that didn’t lose to Wake Forest, though.

4:00: Oregon @ Washington (FS1): Washington looks pretty good this year, I have to say, but still not good enough to unseat Oregon. I just don’t see how they can keep up.

5:00: Michigan @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN): I can’t pick a team that lost to Indiana by 20, so that means I’m going with Michigan here, even with how shaky they’ve been in recent weeks.


  • Alabama @ Kentucky (ESPN2): Alabama feels like a pretty safe bet here.
  • Georgia Tech @ Brigham Young (ESPNU): Where to begin? I have no idea at this point. Something I have seen get virtually zero coverage is our now perilous bowl situation. Since we play two FCS teams this year, that means that one of those victories will not count for bowl eligibility. So in reality Tech needs three more wins from the group of BYU, Syracuse, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Clemson, and Georgia. So it’s not impossible yet, but we need to really get it into here. Unfortunately, this is a difficult contest to do so in. Last year, BYU took us to the woodshed at home, sort of like what they did to Texas earlier this year. BYU enjoys a substantial home-field advantage due to an unique, high altitude environment that they are accustomed to.
    Last week I said that we would need to force Miami to make mistakes, capitalize on those mistakes, and then not commit any of our own. We succeeded only on the first count. The same is true here, even if we do theoretically enjoy some physical advantages here (as opposed to against Miami).

7:30: Bowling Green @ Mississippi State (SEC/FSN): I got momentarily excited that Bowling Green was 5-1 (“hey, maybe they’ll be a challenge for Miss State!”) but that quickly dissipated when I saw that the loss was a 32 point loss to Indiana.


  • Tulsa @ Texas-El Paso (FS1): The only reason I can think of to watch a game featuring two 1-4 teams is that anything (anything!) can happen in El Paso at night. I also like UTEP here.
  • Boise State @ Utah State (CBSS): Minus their starting quarterback, I have to downgrade Utah State from a slight favorite to an underdog against Boise.

8:30: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ Mississippi (ESPN): TAMU.

10:00: Colorado @ Arizona State (Pac12): Arizona State.


  • California @ California-Los Angeles (ESPN2): UCLA seems pretty legit. Cal isn’t very good or anything this year, but this should still provide the Bruins a decent test before heading to Palo Alto next weekend.
  • Oregon State @ Washington State (ESPNU): Does Oregon State’s loss to Eastern Washington still have any bearing on this season? Well, it indicates that maybe that 4-0 run since then isn’t all that great. I’m going with Wazzou here.

Friday, October 11, 2013

2014 World Cup Update: Commentary and Selected Scenarios for 10/11

It’s that time again. In many confederations we’re now in the home-stretch of qualifying. So let’s go confederation-by-confederation as usual and breakdown what we’re looking at.

Before we begin, though, I have updated many of the resources on the site here, including the status of every member of FIFA and the “Everything” chart.


Last month, Jordan clinched advancement to the inter-confederation playoff by defeating Uzbekistan 9-8 in penalties after each side drew 2-2 on aggregate. It’s a disappointing result for the Uzbeks, as at one time they were leading their group and only lost out on qualifying directly on goal difference with South Korea. What will they be haunted by? The own goal in Seoul back in June that led to a 1-0 loss? Allowing Qatar to score before they realized that they needed goals, triggering a furious comeback but ultimately coming up short despite the 5-1 win? Or the two misses in penalties against Jordan?


Saturday and Sunday mark the beginnings of the final play-off matches for Africa. 5 ties for 5 spots in Brazil. The draw?

Cote d’Ivoire Senegal
Ethiopia Nigeria
Tunisia Cameroon
Ghana Egypt
Burkina Faso Algeria

It’s hard not to root for Egypt, and not just because that means if they advance the US can’t lose to Ghana again. And it’s not the Bob Bradley revenge angle either. It’s because, and SI’s Grant Wahl explains, Bradley is the right man for the job, even after he was no longer the right man for his homeland.


Costa Rica and the United States have clinched, and I still love watching these highlights from last month:

(I still get excited when I see the first Eddie Johnson header and see it get saved.)

So let’s look at the table and talk scenarios.

Team W D L GF GA Diff Pts
United States 5 1 2 10 6 +4 16
Costa Rica 4 3 1 11 5 +6 15
Honduras 3 2 3 10 10 0 11
Panama 1 5 2 7 9 -2 8
Mexico 1 5 2 4 6 -2 8
Jamaica 0 4 4 3 9 -6 4
  • Honduras will advance directly to the 2014 World Cup Final with a win and a Panama-Mexico draw. (This also means that Mexico and Panama would be able to do no better than qualify for the Inter-Confederation Playoff against New Zealand.)
  • Jamaica is completely eliminated with any draw or loss.

If there is a winner in Mexico City, then they are in good position to try to catch Honduras on goals on Tuesday, though Honduras will play Jamaica next week so that may still be difficult. Of course, if Costa Rica is following the same philosophy as the US, then Hondurans should have their work cut out for them even at home. Nonetheless, there’s a good chance the US game against Panama on Tuesday will matter, which leads to the question: who will be this cycle’s Jonathan Bornstein? (Let’s also snicker a little about how I asserted that Mexico will qualify. Whoops!)


I’m pretty sure the All Whites just want to know where they’re going to fly to already.


I’m not going to put the table here, but what you need to know is that Argentina has qualified and tat Colombia and Chile have clinched at least a spot in the play-off. Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay have all been eliminated. This leaves 4 teams vying for the three direct spots, plus Venezuela for the play-off spot.


  • Venezuela will be eliminated if Ecuador-Uruguay is a draw.
  • Venezuela will be eliminated if they lose or draw to Paraguay.
  • Colombia will directly qualify with a win over Chile.
  • Colombia will directly qualify with a win or draw against Chile and an Ecuador-Uruguay draw.
  • Chile will directly qualify with a win over Colombia and an Ecuador-Uruguay draw.


I’m just going to go group-by-group here.

Group A

  • Belgium will directly qualify with a win or draw over Croatia.

Group B

Italy has already qualified, leaving a 4-way fight for second place. Unfortunately, having to take the ranking of the 2nd-place teams into account makes things too complicated for me to be willing to figure out. The teams in question are Bulgaria, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Armenia. I will say I’d be pretty crestfallen if my Danish soccer-playing doppelganger doesn’t make it to Brazil.

Group C

  • Germany will qualify with a win or draw over Ireland.
  • Germany will qualify with a loss or draw by Sweden against Austria.

Group D

The Netherlands have already qualified, leaving Hungary, Turkey, and Romania fighting for second.

Group E

  • Switzerland will qualify with a win over Albania.
  • Switzerland will qualify with a draw and an Iceland loss or draw to Cyprus.

Group F

  • Russia will directly qualify with a win over Luxembourg and a Portugal loss to Israel.
  • Israel will be eliminated with a draw or loss to Portugal.

Group G

Both Bosnia and Greece have 19 points, so neither can clinch today. However, Bosnia is 15 goals better in the goal difference column, so Greece would need a ton of goals if they wound up tied in the end. Greece plays Slovakia while Bosnia gets Liechtenstein (and thus a really good chance for them to further pad that goal difference).

Group H

Only Moldova and San Marino have been eliminated in this group, so that means everything’s still in play. However, there is a scenario where one team can qualify directly.

  • England will clinch with a win over Montenegro and an Ukraine loss to Poland.

Group I

Spain and France are both sitting on 14 points, however, Spain has played one less game. They will play that one game today against Belarus, however, a win does not allow them to clinch just yet.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

This Weekend in College Football: Week 6

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

11:30: Air Force @ Navy (CBS): This reminds me that I need to call and see if I can still do my Global Entry interview on Tuesday. Oh, and yeah, Navy looks like a much more solid squad this year.


  • Maryland @ Florida State (ESPN): Maryland? Competent? I’ve having trouble dealing with the subject. I’m getting the sneaking suspicion that reality will hit them pretty hard in this one.
  • Michigan State @ Iowa (ESPN2): This could well be a 5-3 final score. The scary thing is that both coaches might be okay with that. I’ll take Sparty to get the 5.
  • Texas Tech @ Kansas (FS1): Two weeks ago Kansas notched their first victory of a FBS school since 2011. Will the Jayhawks be able to win their first Big 12 contest since defeating Colorado 52-45 on Novebemer 6, 2010? Probably not.
  • Rutgers @ Southern Methodist (ESPNEWS): Not seeing a lot of hope for SMU in this one.
  • Illinois @ Nebraska (ESPNU): Two sets of typical October 3-1 teams here: three wins over inferior competition and one beatdown by the best team they’ve played. So I’ll fall back to pre-season convention wisdom, which held that Nebraska was okay but kind of unpredictable and that Illinois would be terrible.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Indiana (BTN): Boy howdy Indiana still isn’t very good, but this is a win they need if they’re going to get 6-6. So they probably won’t.
  • Ball State @ Virginia (ACC/FSN): I really wanted to pick 4-1 Ball State here, but I looked at the schedule and they lost to North Texas. Then again, UVA is pretty bad. So don’t count the Cardinals out. But for the sake of doing the thing where I pick someone I’m going with UVA.

12:30: North Carolina @ Virginia Tech (ACC): Well, VPI still can’t really score any points, but so far this season it’s not apparent Carolina can either. Combine that with VPI’s defense and this could be the most lopsided 17-3 game in history.


  • Georgia @ Tennessee (CBS): Managing to beat South Alabama by only a touchdown does not engender a great deal of confidence in the Voluneers’ ability to win this game. Not a great deal at all.
  • Clemson @ Syracuse (ABC/ESPN2): Well, unless they’re confused by having to play in a dome, I don’t think the Tigers are going to have a lot of issues here.
  • Minnesota @ Michigan (ABC/ESPN2): Losing to Iowa 23-7 is a pretty go way to earn the “worst 4-1 team in the country label”. The Gophers are probably looking to the Indiana, Penn State, and Michigan State games as their best shot to get those other two wins. That said, it turns out that this Michigan team maybe isn’t very good?
  • Kansas State @ Oklahoma State (ABC): The fact of the matter that so far this season Oklahoma State’s high-flying act has only really been on display against vastly inferior opponents. Against Mississippi State and West Virginia, they averaged 25.5 points, while against UTSA and Lamar they averaged 57.5. That said, it’s not apparently how K-State is going to be able to work enough magic to score 26.
  • Georgia Tech @ Miami (ESPNU): The sound the Georgia Tech offense made last week against VPI was something akin to a “thud”. I figure that was a 50/50 game: the loss was 50% our offense continually shooting itself in the foot and 50% VPI’s excellent defensive line. After all, “physical superiority cancels all theories”. The team other than the Hokies that has been adept the past few years at proving that point has been Miami, which a defense chock-full of prospects and blue-chippers. It still almost feels like karma for the beatdown Tech laid on Miami back in 2008, where we piled up 472 yards of rushing en route to a 41-23 win. We haven’t won since, the closest being last year’s overtime loss where in we frittered away a 4th quarter lead and turned it into a loss.
    The hopes against Miami come down to the usual things. Hoping that we can get any sort of rush on the passer and that the secondary will be good enough to cover their physical receivers. Hoping that their defense, full of those self-same blue-chip athletes, ignores their coaches and try to fly around to the ball, getting out-schemed by the offense. Hope that the line can do their job well enough for the option to work (which was the most glaring probably against VPI).
  • East Carolina @ Middle Tennessee State (FSN): The main thing ECU probably needs to worry about is not being hyped off coming off their 55-31 beatdown of UNC last week.
  • Rice @ Tulsa (CBSS): I guess I’m going to have to go with Rice here?
  • North Carolina State @ Wake Forest (ACC/FSN): I wonder how many times this year I will say something akin to “there are occasionally good Wake Forest teams, but this isn’t one of them”? Count this as one.

4:00: Washington State @ California (FS1): Considering the coaches involved, I suspect what many are hoping for a 55-50 explosion of offense. That said, there’s a couple factors here. First, it’s almost impossible to know how bad or good Cal actually is since all three of their losses have been to ranked teams (Northwestern, Ohio State, and Oregon). I’m tentatively going with Wazzou here.

6:00: Oregon @ Colorado (PAC12): Oregon.


  • Louisiana State @ Mississippi State (ESPN): LSU.
  • Arkansas @ Florida (ESPN2): I’m sure if he had his way, Will Muschamp would win games by having the other team score negative points, so he could win like 0 to –21. Either way, Florida will probably be good for somewhere around 20 points and the Razorbacks for less than that.
  • Mississippi @ Auburn (ESPNU): I don’t know why Ole Miss is ranked, but they’ll probably beat Auburn.
  • Texas Christian @ Oklahoma (FOX): I just don’t see how TCU is going to be able to score enough to keep up with the Sooners.


  • Arizona State vs. Notre Dame (@Arlington, TX; NBC): At this point, the evidence seems to show that ND is kind of mediocre this year. I like the Sun Devils here quite a bit.
  • Louisiana Tech @ Texas-El Paso (CBSS): Well, if you ever wanted to see a game between two teams with a combined 2-7 record, boy howdy does CBS Sports ever have the game for you! If LaTech had any semblance of last year’s offense they’d win easily, but they don’t and so they probably won’t.
  • Kentucky @ South Carolina (SEC/FSN): Hard to see this ending well for the Wildcats.


  • Ohio State @ Northwestern (ABC): May be the game of the day, but realistically, I’m sure that the Wildcats will put up a good fight but in the end come up short.
  • West Virginia @ Baylor (FS1): Try to follow along here: WVU scores zero points against Maryland one week, and then busts out for 30 against Oklahoma State and wins. Then again, 30 isn’t going to be enough to beat Baylor. The only question for the Bears is the fact they haven’t played anyone yet, so maybe they’ll only score 50 instead of 70.

10:30: Washington @ Stanford (ESPN): This is probably really the game of the day, a West Coast matchup between two undefeated teams with solid resumes. That said, it’s hard to shake the feeling of dominance that Stanford usually imparts on their victims. Hard to see how U-Dub will be able to come out on top of this one.