Saturday, November 28, 2015

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/28

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 27, 2015

This Weekend in College Football: Week 13

It's the last full weekend of the year. Ready?

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Ohio State @ Michigan (ABC): Ohio State looks suddenly more vulnerable after the loss to Michigan State, where their offense was thoroughly dominated. However, I would think it unwise to bet those mistakes will be repeated again. Going with the Buckeyes.
  • Clemson @ South Carolina (ESPN): The Tigers look to make it two in a row against their in-state rivals, and considering all the turmoil in Columbia that seems very likely.
  • Georgia @ Georgia Tech (ESPN2): To Hell With Georgia.
  • Iowa State @ West Virginia (FS1): Iowa State fired Paul Rhodes, which doesn't really solve the fundamental problem of them being Iowa State. West Virginia should roll.
  • Virginia Tech @ Virginia (ESPNU): Okay, I think I got a little overenthusiastic last week, but this time, they should be able to win one for the Beamer.
  • Southern Methodist @ Memphis (ESPNEWS): Memphis is on the AAC West sidelines now, but they're still have an extremely successful season. Will they be able to retain their coach? Either way, they'll steamroll the Ponies.
  • Louisville @ Kentucky (SEC): Considering all the alternatives available, I have a hard time conceiving of a reason to watch this, but hey, it's football, and it'll all be gone too soon. Also, Louisville should roll.
  • Cincinnati @ East Carolina (CBSS): I've pretty much given up trying to figure out what Cincinnati will do week-to-week in the AAC, considering that I still get hung up thinking they should be the best team in the conference. I'm still pretty sure they're better than ECU, though. Kinda.
  • Indiana @ Purdue (BTN): Indiana should be able to cap-off a successful, by Indiana standards, with a win here.
  • Duke @ Wake Forest (ACC): Duke has lost four straight since beating Virginia Tech, including a rather disappointing loss to Virginia last weekend. (Yes, Duke can have disappointing losses now.) Either way, they should still be able to beat Wake.
  • Boston College @ Syracuse (ACC/RSN): 'Sup Big East? Anyway, BC's offense is so bad that I can't realistically predict them to win anything since they seem completely in capable of scoring points. I'll bet if they win this one it's because of multiple defensive scores.
2:30: Colorado @ Utah (Pac12): In a battle of the Pac-12's neophytes, it's still amazing how far ahead Utah is of Colorado now. Even though the Utes had a bit of a slide at the end of the year, eliminating them from Pac-12 South contention, they're still favorites here.

  • Alabama @ Auburn (CBS): Auburn apparently just needs to be rebooted every few years. Check back in for a competitive Iron Bowl in a year or two.
  • California-Los Angeles @ Southern California (ABC/ESPN2): The battle of the fancy uniforms (both teams wear their "home" jerseys in this game, because LA I guess?) is also the battle for the Pac-12 South this year. Both teams could have their seasons reasonably described as "uneven". USC is fresh off a pasting by a suddenly resurgent Oregon, while UCLA got a crucial win in Salt Lake City to eliminate Utah from contention, but lost to Wazzou two weeks ago. So this one's pretty much a toss-up in my mind. I'm giving the Bruins a slight edge.
  • North Carolina @ North Carolina State (ABC/ESPN2): I'm not entirely sure who Wolfpack fans think is their greatest rival. Nonetheless, UNC should have this one unless their concentration slips.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Michigan State (ESPN): I don't... think Sparty will have a letdown after their huge win over Ohio State. Probably.
  • Northwestern vs. Illinois (@Chicago, IL; ESPNU): While Illinois is still better this year than they have any right to be, I like the Wildcats here.
  • Brigham Young @ Utah State (CBSS): BYU should be able to handle this.
  • Wisconsin @ Minnesota (BTN): Hey Wisconsin, didn't see you sneaking up there, which is pretty humorous when you consider the typical build of their linemen. Regardless, this battle for the Axe may be close, but it'll be the Badgers' in the end.
  • Kansas State @ Kansas (FS1): While it's not K-State's year, a blowout over KU should act as a nice salve.
  • Vanderbilt @ Tennessee (SEC): Vandy and Mizzou are having a content to see who can field the most awful offense in the SEC, and currently Missouri is "winning" by eight points. It'll be a close race to the end.
7:00: Connecticut @ Temple (ESPNU): Way mess things up, Huskies. I suspect as a result of last week's upset over Houston they'll get pasted here.

7:15: Mississippi @ Mississippi State (ESPN2): After mostly disappointing seasons, these two teams enter their final game in a high note. I'm thinking they're about even, so I'm giving an edge to the home Bulldogs.

  • Notre Dame @ Stanford (FOX): I have no idea who is going to win this game. I've watched a lot of both these teams this year and I think that the Cardinal are more than capable of handing Notre Dame their second loss. This game is right up there with Bedlam for game of the day, and I would advise to find some way of watching both at once. As for the winner here, I'm going with the Domers, by a smidge.
  • Florida State @ Florida (ESPN): Florida sure looks bad without their quarterback, huh? That said, I think they're still capable of beating FSU like 12-10, but if FSU scores 17 or more I don't think the Gators will be able to match.
  • Texas A&M @ Louisiana State (SEC): LSU is going to win this game, and then Les Miles is going to get fired. The world is dumb.
8:00: Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State (ABC): Bedlam. After a weirdly long Sooner winning streak, these teams are 2-2 against each other with two of those games going to overtime. This rivalry has always struck me as more fun and weird than most, and under the lights in Stillwater with everything on the line I'm sure we'll have both. I'm leaning toward the Sooners, but I have zero confidence in that pick.

9:00: Colorado State @ Fresno State (CBSS): This is not, as far as I know, a rivalry, but will put to rest an unfun season for Fresno State.

10:00: Arizona State @ California (FS1): Arizona State beat Arizona, Cal lost to Stanford. Will there be a hangover here from last weekend, and if so, in which direction? Hard to say. Going with the Sun Devils.

10:15: Air Force @ New Mexico (ESPNU): Hope you like the option in this one. I like the Falcons here.

10:45: Nevada @ San Diego State (ESPN2): And finally, the end. I hope by the time you get here, you're decompressing from however you enjoyed (or didn't) your rivalry game and are treating the last full day of college football appropriately. Have fun, stay safe, and the Aztecs probably have this one.

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/27

We're toning it down a bit this year, but on the flip side we're attending the contest for the first time in ten years.

First, a classic:

Like Wake Forest or Maryland or somebody... 

And some quality animated GIFs, though from unrelated bouts of UGA misery:

To Hell With Georgia

Thursday, November 26, 2015

This Week in College Football: Week 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • South Florida @ Central Florida (ESPN): UCF continues its quest to become one of the worst teams in the history of college football with a visit from a surging USF squad. I'd stick to the other game.
  • Texas Tech @ Texas (FS1): At 4-6, Texas isn't out of the bowl picture yet (especially with the "being short of teams" business) but time is running out for the 'Horns. The Fighting Kingsburys recently got back into form after a 3-game losing streak by putting up 56 on K-State, so they figure to have the advantage here.
  • Navy @ Houston (ABC): This one's tough to judge. These are both solid teams with potent offenses. Navy did beat Memphis by a larger margin, so I'm giving a slight edge to the Midshipmen.
  • Miami @ Pittsburgh (ESPN2): I like Pitt a lot in this late season ACC tilt. Miami's "mailing it in" status seems to vary based on the opponent, so we'll see.
  • Marshall @ Western Kentucky (FS1): If last year's contest is any indication, then this will be one of the most exciting games of the weekend. Western Kentucky's looked slightly better on the year, so I'll go with them.
  • Western Michigan @ Toledo (CBSS): Toledo should have this one.
2:30: Missouri @ Arkansas (CBS): Well, Mizzou has no offense basically, which makes this an apparently easy pick for the 'Hogs, but you never know with the Fightin' Berts.

  • Washington State @ Washington (FOX): It's a bit of an inversion in the Apple Cup this year, eh? Three months after everyone was writing off Mike Leach and Co., they're one of the mot improved teams of the year. I suspect coaches would take that sort of result against Portland State if it meant more seasons like this. So, yeah, I like the Cougs here.
  • Iowa @ Nebraska (ABC): Someone, please, help? Anyone? I have to go with the Hawkeyes, though.
  • Boise State @ San Jose State (CBSS): Boise's down this year, but that happens sometimes. They should be able to beat the Spartans.
4:00: Oregon State @ Oregon (FS1): Oregon's looked more like, well, themselves the past few weeks, which does not bode well for Oregon State at all.

4:30: Massachusetts @ Buffalo (ESPNU): Buffalo is mediocre. UMass is terrible. Easy pick!

7:30: Baylor @ Texas Christian (ESPN): Game of the day, except that everyone's hurt. However, Baylor seems to have the much, much better Plan B, so I'm giving them a slight edge.

8:00: Tulsa @ Tulane (ESPNU): Well, Tulane just fired their coach, so... Tulsa?

Bowl Predictions 2015: Week 6

They've been up for a few days, at the usual place. I was just holding off on posting for two reasons. First, I was hoping to hear what the NCAA might say about their 5-7 eligibility policy, considering that I'm four teams short this week. The mainstream media has started to pick up on there not being enough teams this year, so it was in the news, but I haven't heard an update. Second, I wanted to look for some bowl news but I hadn't had the chance. I finally checked earlier tonight, and it was not exactly a bumper crop of updates. Hopefully, we'll get more information after most teams wrap up their regular seasons this weekend.

At this point, most of the non-CFP bowls are still pretty much somewhat educated guesses, but the CFP picture is hardly clearer. These are the teams I view as contenders, based on my projections through the end of the season:
The top two are obvious in these projections: Clemson and Alabama. After that? I have no idea. My gut is to go with Oklahoma and Michigan State in this scenario, but they each have flaws. Here are the arguments for and against Oklahoma, Michigan State, and Notre Dame:
  • Notre Dame
    • For: Tough schedule
    • Against: Lost to Clemson already, no "signature" win (with a loss to Notre Dame, Stanford might well still be Pac-12 champs but also have 3 losses)
  • Oklahoma
    • For: Tough schedule, wins over all the other Big 12 contenders (true champion), came on strong the past few weeks
    • Against: By far the worst loss in the table
  • Michigan State
    • For: Defeated two previously unbeaten teams (again: my projections), Big Ten Champs
    • Against: Not exactly dominant (led zero minutes in wins against Ohio State and Michigan), Nebraska isn't the worst loss here but it's not good
Of course, this is all off the table if any of these teams lose this weekend or next, but hey, that's the fun part of all this. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 20, 2015

This Weekend in College Football: Week 12

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Michigan @ Pennsylvania State (ABC): Both these teams sport excellent defenses, but Michigan, unlike Penn State, has some semblance of a pulse on offense.
  • North Carolina @ Virginia Tech (ESPN): Carolina's rampage through the ACC Coast figures to carry them all the way to Charlotte, which it would with a win here.
  • Purdue @ Iowa (ESPN2): Speaking of continuing unabated through the weak division of your conference...
  • Iowa State @ Kansas State (FS1): Honestly, I'm going with Iowa State in this one. K-State's six-game losing streak is just bad at this point. Iowa State has a win over Texas a competitive loss to Oklahoma State in the meantime.
  • Memphis @ Temple (ESPNU): With both these teams taking defeats, the luster has worn off a bit of these two, but it may still be the best game in this time slot.
  • Illinois @ Minnesota (ESPNEWS): The Illinois "playing with house money" season continues, as I'm giving them a slight edge here.
  • Florida Atlantic @ Florida (SEC): So... this one is mostly a matter of how early the Gators feel comfortable pulling their starters.
  • Rutgers @ Army (CBSS): If Army has any shot of getting another win against a FBS team this year, this is probably their best chance. So why not?
  • Indiana @ Maryland (BTN): At a party last weekend, my Ohio State buddy assured me that Indiana isn't as terrible this year as they have been in the recent past. And hey, he's right. Sure, they've lost six straight games, but only two of them were by more than one score (a 26 point loss to Sparty and a 26 point loss to... Penn State, of all teams). But they were game against the Buckeyes, Hawkeyes, and Wolverine(-eyes?), and they can score points. Which is a long way of saying, I'm guessing they're going to vent some frustration on Maryland and Purdue here in the next couple of weeks.
  • Syracuse @ North Carolina State (ACC): NC State has six wins and their best win this year is probably... this game, if they win it. Which they probably well. Let me put this way, if GT played their out-of-conference schedule, we'd be bowling.
  • Georgia Tech @ Miami (ACC): Speaking of... us, well, this season is pretty much a disaster at this point. I'm not sure what else to say about it. I think it hit me how terrible the injury situation has been when, in the middle of the Virginia Tech game last week, I realized there were guys on defense making plays whose names I'd never heard, and I was watching the tenth game of the season. That is not normally when you want guys to be getting their first starts/snaps!
    As for this game, I have no idea how it will go. Given the state of these two teams, there may well be a few... dozen fans in the stands Saturday afternoon. I'm not sure what else to say.
  • Louisiana State @ Mississippi (CBS): Speaking of matchups that have lost their luster, this looked like it could be a battle of the SEC West of Alabama fell from their perch, but instead it was their contenders who faltered. In the battle or best runner-up, then, who will prevail? Eh, probably LSU, the Arkansas thing feels like a fluke.
  • Michigan State @ Ohio State (ABC): Ohio State is a large favorite here and I'm not entirely sure why. Their loss was shocking, but still. I had the Buckeyes the whole in this one anyway, but I still figure the game will be relatively close.
  • California-Los Angeles @ Utah (FOX): Hard to get a read on either of these teams at this point. Which one's better? Beats me. Utah in a coinflip.
  • Southern California @ Oregon (ESPN): When you're Oregon, a three-loss season is a bit of a calamity, but they're rallied and reeled off four straight, including last week's upset of Stanford. Now, we get a retro-but-not-really matchup between Oregon and Southern Cal. I'm going with the Trojans, mostly because they seem to play some defense?
  • Wake Forest @ Clemson (ESPN2): Clemson rolls.
  • Arizona @ Arizona State (FS1): It's the battle for the Territorial Cup! And it's a bit anticlimatic, in a way, as I don't think the season has gone the way either school wanted. The Sun Devils could still drop these last two and miss a bowl. I think they'll make it, though.
  • Houston @ Connecticut (ESPNU): UConn beat Tulane last weekend, that's not news. What is? They won 7-3. Yeah. Cougars roll.
  • Buffalo @ Akron (CBSS): They play MAC games on Saturdays? These two are actually perfectly in the middle of the MAC East standings, so it could be close. I've got Buffalo here, though.
  • Northwestern @ Wisconsin (BTN): The teams that were supposed to be competing for the Big Ten West are... not thanks to our glorious, fearless Hawkeye leaders. And so the Wildcats and Badgers got relegated to the Big Ten Network, which I still don't get in HD for some reason. Anyway! Who's going to win? I'm going with Wisconsin, they're just a better team.
3:45: Louisville @ Pittsburgh (ESPNEWS): Yeah Louisville, I see you there, just sort of hanging around behind Clemson and FSU in the Atlantic. And they'll still be there, even after they lose to Pitt.

4:00: Idaho @ Auburn (SEC): I think Auburn's got this one. Hopefully no one gets the copycat idea to punch their eagle.

6:00: Washington @ Oregon State (Pac12): Speaking of disappointing seasons, oof. The Beavers are just bad. UDub rolls.

  • Navy @ Tulsa (CBSS): Everyone in Annapolis is wondering why Army had such a bad time with this conference thing. After a win in Tulsa, they're going to roll into undefeated Houston next week for a huge game with a C-USA West title on the line. Good times!
  • Mississippi State @ Arkansas (ESPN): The even weirder thing about Arkansas's rampage through the SEC West has been that they beat Mississippi and LSU on the road. Seriously, they won two straight against the two best not-Alabama teams in the conference away from home. Will they revert to form now that they're back in the cozy confines of Fayetteville? Hard to pick against them here.
  • Georgia Southern @ Georgia (ESPNU): As much as I'd love to see it, I don't think the Eagles stand much of a chance here.
7:15: Tennessee @ Missouri (ESPN2): In six conference games, Mizzou has score 62 points. 62! There's teams with more points in a game than that! That's... not good! Tennessee rolls.

  • Baylor @ Oklahoma State (FOX): Okay, well, who ya got? Here's what we know. There's going to be lots of points and something crazy will happen. It's in Stillwater, which means that the crazy could really go either way. I'm going with Baylor, because that will create the maximum amount of chaos.
  • Charlotte @ Kentucky (SEC): Kentucky rolls.
  • Texas A&M @ Vanderbilt (SEC): TAMU rolls. (Still mad the "A&M" doesn't stand for anything, though).
  • Boston College vs. Notre Dame (@Boston, MA; NBCSN): Being played at Fenway Park for some reason. Domers roll.
  • Texas Christian @ Oklahoma (ABC): Again: maximum chaos dictates that Oklahoma wins. Is there any loss that will prove to be more weird than that loss to Texas?
  • Tulane @ Southern Methodist (ESPNEWS): With the two Big 12 games overlapping, I'm guessing the viewership for two AAC also-rans will be pretty abysmal. Going with SMU, because, hey, chaos. Let's stay on message here. (Also, for all their other issues, they can actually score.)
  • California @ Stanford (ESPN): It's the Big Game! Nice and late over here, too. And talk about a legacy of chaos! Despite the Oregon loss, though, I think Stanford is just the better team. However, in this rivalry, more than any other, it goes with saying: crazier things happened.
  • San Diego State @ Nevada-Las Vegas (CBSS):
10:45: Colorado @ Washington State (ESPN2): It would really be chaotic if somehow Wazzou dropped this, but... yeah, okay, probably not.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bowl Predictions 2015: Week 5

They're up relatively early this week, so have at them.

This will be a brief writeup. First off, I'm bringing back my contenders chart for this year. Here's what it looks like after this weekend:

Oklahoma's defeat of Baylor moved them in for me, but there's still plenty of time for the Big 12 to eat its own children.

This week, I'm back up to three unfilled bowl slots. Again, I want to stress I've never gotten this late into the season short of teams. We're liable to have a real problem on our hands in a few weeks unless there's some more wacky upsets.

Not much else is notable this week. Next week will almost certainly change everything again, especially with regards to the Big 12. So, until then...

Saturday, November 14, 2015

This Weekend in College Football: Week 11

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Georgia @ Auburn (CBS): It's the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry once again, but this time around, at least, I'll be shocked if Auburn wins.
  • Ohio State @ Illinois (ABC): Ohio State should roll here, regardless of their QB situation.
  • Florida @ South Carolina (ESPN): It's a bit of a lost season for the Gamecocks, while the Gators look ascendant.
  • Maryland @ Michigan State (ESPN2): I can't conceive of how Maryland would have a chance here...
  • Kansas @ Texas Christian (FS1): ... much less KU.
  • Texas @ West Virginia (ESPNU): I think these are both teams that have had ups-and-downs this season while still trying to find themselves.
  • Pittsburgh @ Duke (ESPNEWS): I think these teams are about even, really, but I slightly favor Duke.
  • North Texas @ Tennessee (SEC): Tennessee rolls.
  • Tulane @ Army (CBSS): Neither of these teams are terrible good, but I'm going with the Green Wave.
  • Purdue @ Northwestern (BTN): Northwestern should get a respite here.
  • North Carolina State @ Florida State (ACC): FSU is still good enough to beat NC State, I'm pretty sure.
  • Virginia @ Louisville (ACC/RSN): Despite losing to them, I still don't think UVA is very good and I wonder how Mike London is still employed. Louisville should win.
3:00: Washington @ Arizona State (Pac12): An early Pac-12 game that's proving difficult for me to contemplate, but this may be worth keeping an eye on. Ultimately, I like the Sun Devils better.

  • Alabama @ Mississippi State (CBS): I have the line on this as being Bama by 8, but despite being initially tempted to say Miss State would cover I'm now doubting it. I was in Austin last weekend, and I wound up watching most of the first half at this bar full of LSU fans. Let me tell you, they're as celebratory of a bunch as you'd be led to believe, but the Tide absolutely owned that second half. They look pretty good.
  • Wake Forest @ Notre Dame (NBC): Wake should offer little resistance for the Domers.
  • Michigan @ Indiana (ABC/ESPN2): Even if the Wolverines were to have a bad time offensively, I don't think it will matter much against the Hoosiers.
  • Clemson @ Syracuse (ABC/ESPN2): Seriously, what's up with these 3:30 games? Clemson should roll.
  • Kansas State @ Texas Tech (FS1): As should Texas Tech, but K-State figures to be game, at least.
  • Miami @ North Carolina (ESPNU): I don't think Miami is terrible or anything, but the Tarheels look "for realz" as the kids say.
  • Nebraska @ Rutgers (BTN): Again, seriously. Maybe just stick to UDub and Arizona State or something. Nebraska should have this one.
4:00: Kentucky @ Vanderbilt (SEC): Ugh. While I think the top of the SEC is pretty good, the bottom is as terrible as the bottom of any other conference in the country. Despite that, Kentucky is still slightly less bad than the 'dores.

  • Memphis @ Houston (ESPN2): Honestly, this might be the most intriguing games of the week. I'm going with Houston here, but there's no shortage of goodness here. Especially if most of the 3:30 games are runawys by the time 7:00 rolls around.
  • Western Carolina @ Texas A&M (ESPNU): TAMU rolls.
  • Temple @ South Florida (CBSS): Temple should have this one.
7:15: Arkansas @ Louisiana State (ESPN): The battle for the boot is always a good one, and hey, with LSU involved there's always a potential for wackiness. If I'm honest, though, I don't thin the Razorbacks have much of a chance.

  • Oregon @ Stanford (FOX): Against this version of Oregon, Stanford should roll.
  • Tulsa @ Cincinnati (ESPNEWS): Cincy seems to be stuck. Somehow, they aren't one of the top teams in the AAC, but they're obviously still better than most of the other AAC teams. If I were a Bearcats fan, I'd be kind of bummed that we apparently missed getting on the good side of the conference reshuffle a few years back.
  • Brigham Young vs. Missouri (@Kansas City, MO; SEC): Still not convinced Mizzou can score, so going with BYU here,
  • Oklahoma @ Baylor (ABC): For Game of the Week honors, this edges out Memphis and Houston, but not by much. Oklahoma's only blemish is the bizarre blowout to Texas. Baylor is unbloodied but still somewhat untested. I think they survive this test, but their trials have only just begun.
  • Minnesota @ Iowa (BTN): I think Iowa will go undefeated, given their schedule.
10:00: Utah @ Arizona (FS1): Despite that blowout loss to USC, the Utes still lead the Pac-12 South. I don't see that situation changing.

10:15: New Mexico @ Boise State (ESPNU): I need to watch this to see which triple-option variant Bob Davie runs, if for no other reason. Boise should win.

  • Wyoming @ San Diego State (CBSS): Aztecs all the way.
  • Oregon State @ California (Pac12): Cal should be able to pick themselves back up off the loss to Oregon and recover to at least go .500 against the state this year.
10:45: Washington State @ California-Los Angeles (ESPN): Wazzou may be the best ever team to lose to an FCS team. I recall the dire predictions after the Portland State loss and, at the time, it wasn't hard to disagree. Since then, the Cougs have seeimingly done the job. I think this game, though, will show the sort of thing they're up against, and that's the vastly superior talent of teams like UCLA. I like the Bruins her.e

Friday, November 13, 2015

The End of an Era

Georgia Tech: 17 Consecutive Bowl Games


  1. 12/29/1997: Carquest Bowl @ Miami, FL, vs. West Virginia, W 35-30
  2. 1/1/1999: Gator Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL, vs. Notre Dame, L 28-13
  3. 12/29/2000: Peach Bowl @ Atlanta, GA, vs. Louisiana State, L 28-14
  4. 12/27/2001: Seattle Bowl @ Seattle, WA, vs. Stanford, W 24-14
  5. 12/31/2002: Silicon Valley Bowl @ San Jose, CA, vs. Fresno State, L 30-21
  6. 1/3/2004: Humanitarian Bowl @ Boise, ID, vs. Tulsa, W 52-10
  7. 12/21/2004: Champs Sports Bowl @ Orlando, FL, vs. Syracuse, W 51-14
  8. 12/29/2005: Emerald Bowl @ San Francisco, CA, vs. Utah, L 38-10
  9. 1/1/2007: Gator Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL, vs. West Virginia, L 38-35
  10. 12/31/2007: Humanitarian Bowl @ Boise, ID, vs. Fresno State, L 48-28
  11. 12/31/2008: Chick-Fil-A Bowl @ Atlanta, GA, vs. Louisiana State, L 38-3
  12. 1/5/2010: Orange Bowl @ Miami, FL, vs. Iowa, L 24-14
  13. 12/27/2010: Independence Bowl @ Shreveport, LA, vs. Air Force, L 14-7
  14. 12/31/2011: Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX, vs. Utah, L 30-27
  15. 12/31/2012: Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX, vs. Southern California, W 21-7
  16. 12/30/2013: Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN, vs. Mississippi, L 25-17
  17. 12/31/2014: Orange Bowl @ Miami, FL, vs. Mississippi State, W 49-34
Overall record: 6-11
Head coaches:
  1. George O'Leary (1997-2000)
  2. Mac McWhorter (2001, interim)
  3. Chan Gailey (2002-2006)
  4. Jon Tenuta (2007, interim)
  5. Paul Johnson (2008-present)
 I matriculated at Tech in the fall of 2003, so I have some memories.
  • 2004 Humanitarian Bowl: I remember P.J. Daniels running through Tulsa over and over on the blue turf.
  • 2004 Champs Sports Bowl: I remember ESPN interviewing Syracuse's new athletic director as the rout was thoroughly underway. (I like to think the following happened after a reverse to Calvin Johnson went for a touchdown, but I don't remember the exact sequence of events.) When new AD was asked about long-time but recently on relatively hard times coach Paul Pasqualoni, he hesitated. Eight days later, he fired Pasqualoni. Syracuse has gone 45-77 since.
  • 2005 Emerald Bowl: I remember making Eric Weddle making life miserable for an otherwise completely listless Georgia Tech squad in a game played in a wonderful baseball venue (but not so much a football venue).
  • 2007 Gator Bowl: I remember someone on a GT message board saying that the band came back from their halftime show to find... something left by a West Virginia fan.
  • 2007 Humanitarian Bowl: I remember a terrible audition by Jon Tenuta for the main job after Gailey got fired, and a disgruntled newly-hired Paul Johnson in the stands.
  • 2008 Chick-Fil-A Bowl: the future looked so bright going into the game, new coach, fresh off the first win over UGA since I became a fan, etc. And then LSU defensive line proved that raw talent cancels all theories.
  • 2010 Orange Bowl: I remember the last time Iowa was good. That defense was special.
  • 2010 Independence Bowl: I remember watching this at my brother's apartment, mostly because I also remember that before this I forgot to set an alarm and slept for like 16 hours. I don't remember much of the game.
  • 2011 Sun Bowl: I don't remember much about this game against Utah.
  • 2012 Sun Bowl: the most hilarious game ever. Somehow Lane Kiffin would have to wait another 9 months to get fired.
  • 2013 Music City Bowl: I remember attending this game. It was cold and we lost. After the game, my Dad and I stopped at a Buffalo Wild Wings. It was severely understaffed and were stuck there for like an hour and a half.
  • 2014 Orange Bowl: I watched this game with my brother and parents at his house. It didn't really occurred to any of us, I don't think, how badly Georgia Tech was dominating this game until sometime late in the third quarter.
More on what this means for the future later. But for now, I'm not worried, and I'm not panicked.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

2018 World Cup Update: For the US, It Begins!

Yes that's right folks, this Friday the United States will begin qualifying for a tournament that is still two and a half years away. Why? Well, that mostly because FIFA eliminated the February international dates in their calendar.

Let's do a quick whip-around and checkout what's been going on where, eh?

Asia is in the midst of its second round of qualifying, featuring seven groups of five and one group of four. Each group will play again this month and then in March to determine the winners. The winner of each group advances to the third round, and the four best runners-up advance as well.

So far, we've got a minor upset in Group B, with Australia trailing Jordan by a point. The Socceroos lost 2-0 to Jordan back on October, but they'll get a chance again on the last matchday back on home soil in March.

Right now, Qatar is in control of Group C, but I would still be tickled if Hong Kong finishes ahead of China.

Most of the other groups currently contain no big surprises or anything, so we'll revisit these guys in March.

Africa is currently in its second round, which pits 40 teams in home-and-away matches to determine who advances to the third round. Most of the ties haven't gotten underway yet, so there's not much to report. We'll know the all the results by Wednesday, though!

For North American, the fourth round is about to begin. Let's go over each group.

Group A
This figures to be a pretty intense group. Mexico has a new coach, Honduras have made two straight World Cups, El Salvador are always tough, and Canada is trying to get to the same level as its continental neighbors. The first two would have to be the favorites, though.

Group B
Costa Rica were the darlings of the World Cup last year, Panama was just on the cusp of making it in 2014, and Haiti and Jamaica were the darlings of this summer's Gold Cup. If I had to pick two to come out of this group, I'd probably go with Costa Rica and Jamaica.

Group C
The US drew by far the easiest group. We're sharing the group the with Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Guatemala. St. Vincent and the Grenadines sounds like it'd be a good name for a 50's band more than anything else. Guatemala concerns me mostly because having to play a match in those Central American venues is always concerning. Trinidad and Tobago is the best team out of this group, and of course the US has some history with them as well (having knocked them out of contention of the 1990 World Cup). It should be instructive, if nothing else.

South America's grand qualification tournament has begun, and so far it's a doozy. Right now the big news is that Argentina only got one point of their first two games, and will still lack Messi for this month's games. If you can, try to find Argentina-Brazil tonight.

Not much has happened in Oceania since the last time we went over this, since their next round doesn't start until May.

Europe doesn't begin qualifying until next September.

That's it for now! Since there won't be any more action until March after this, I may do a postmortem, but we'll see!

Bowl Predictions 2015: Week 4

They're late but they're here.

First, let's start with the "Not Enough Teams" watch. This time around, I've got 78 teams for 80 slots. I will say that I tried to be a bit more optimistic this time around, and well having more data always helps. I'm naturally not a very optimistic person, but if I had to guess, I think we're going to make it.

I'll do my first breakdown of the year.

I went with Clemson, Baylor, Alabama, and Ohio State in that order. I would say my jilted team in this case would the winner of the Notre Dame/Stanford game, assuming they win out otherwise. We've still got plenty of season to go, though. It's entirely possible the Big 12's round-robin schedule will eat its own children again, or Ohio State losing to Michigan State.

The last slot of the playoff controlled bowls was probably the toughest, though. I went back and modified my predictions so that I had Utah beating UCLA and wining the Pac-12 South, which allowed me to slot them into the Fiesta Bowl. The winner of the American is probably still on the fast-track to the Group of Five slot, though the question is if it'll be Houston or Navy, I'd think. Otherwise, I don't think my picks are controversial at this point.

I have North Carolina winning the Coastal, but I don't think a two-loss UNC (one current loss plus a loss to Clemson in the ACC championship game) is going to get into a CFP-controlled bowl. Otherwise, the picks proceed apace. I have Virginia Tech edging into a bowl on the back of a Frank Beamer farewell tour, even if that means a return to the Military Bowl for a second straight year. Coach-less and 7-5 Miami get sent to Detroit.

Big 12
With TCU's loss to Oklahoma State, I have them taking a loss to Baylor. I'm not sure a two loss TCU makes it into the CFP-controlled bowls. I don't think Oklahoma is going to fare well in their backloaded schedule, either. I have Texas, Texas Tech, and West Virginia finishing 6-6. Kansas State figures to just miss out.

Big Ten
Michigan State's shock loss to Nebraska removes them from CFP-bowl contention, while not really doing much for Nebraska's own bowl prospects, so that has to be a bummer for the Big Ten. In fact, I don't have the Big Ten west faring well as a whole, with that sixth win likely eluding Illinois as well as Nebraska and Minnesota.

The Pac-12 is doing its part, especially with probably the best ever team to lose to a FCS team, Washington State, likely to finish 8-4 at this point. (Seriously, who saw that coming back in September?)

The SEC figures to be the only conference to get three teams into the CFP-controlled bowls, but the drop off does seem pretty stark after Alabama, LSU, and Florida. The best of the bunch seems to be a 9-3 Georgia. (Yeah.) But hey, I did manage to set up a Texas-Texas A&M matchup in the Texas Bowl. (Seriously, it's just too perfect, which is probably why it won't happen. But seriously, the Texas Bowl! Come on!)

Group of Five
As I said earlier, the winner of Houston-Navy figures to have the best shot at the Group of Five slot, followed by Temple probably. Undefeated Toledo may have had a shot, but that likely slipped away.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

This Weekend in College Football: Week 10

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Notre Dame @ Pittsburgh (ABC): This game is vastly more interesting than anyone would've predicted back in August, I'd say. That said, having watched both these teams play my team, I'm going with the Domers all the way.
  • Vanderbilt @ Florida (ESPN): As James Earl Jones intoned when the Red October purposely steered into the path of that torpedo, "Mother of God".
  • Duke @ North Carolina (ESPN2): This might be the most important edition of this rivalry to ever be played on natural grass. Again, having played (and lost to!) both these teams, I have to go with Carolina.
  • Texas Tech @ West Virginia (FS1): It's not just the top of the Big 12 that's a puzzle right now, it's also the middle-to-bottom. That said, Texas Tech has generally acquitted themselves better over the Big 12 schedule and look primed to take this one.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Northwestern (ESPNU): Don't look, but Penn State is 7-2. Actually, go ahead and take a look now because those seven wins are over nobodies and the schedule is horribly backloaded, with the Wildcats being the tip of the spear, followed by Michigan and Michigan State. 7-2 looks like it's about to become 7-5.
  • Central Florida @ Tulsa (ESPNEWS): Central Florida continues their quest to be one of the most historically awful teams ever and look primed to lose to Tulsa.
  • Kentucky @ Georgia (SEC): I don't buy the crisis over in Athens. I just don't. Lots of teams having down years that are worse than UGA's, and besides, it's not like they had a quarterback. Things look to be on the upswing starting here.
  • Illinois @ Purdue (BTN): Yeah, so it turns out that Illinois is as bad as we all thought, it just took a while for them to realize it as well. Yeah, that's right, I'm going to take a 2-6 team over a 4-4 team, and there's nothing you can do to stop me!
  • Akron @ Massachusetts (CBSS): Akron will zip into the end zone early and often in this one.
  • North Carolina State @ Boston College (ACC): While BC's defense is legitimately stingy, they're just screwed if anyone can score, like, 10 points against them. Which NC State probably will.
  • Syracuse @ Louisville (ACC): While I don't think they're going to win, I think the 'Cuse have generally exceeded expectations this year.
1:00: Stanford @ Colorado (Pac12): I feel like Stanford's offense is probably best described through a series of onomatopoeia. Words like "pow!", "bam!", etc.

3:00: Virginia @ Miami (ACC/RSN): I refuse to believe Miami will lose this game. I won't accept it. Though it's odd that Virginia will play two teams in a row coming off miracle, last-second wins. Perhaps they'll get two let-downs in a row?

  • Florida State @ Clemson (ABC): I have zero problems with Clemson being #1 in the meaningless first edition of the college playoff rankings. For starters, they're meaningless at this point. Also, I think Clemson really is that good. FSU is good, but they have a lot of issues, especially on their offensive line. Unlike us, Clemson's defensive line doesn't need to have the game of their lives, they just need to have a normal day at the office and they should be able to shut FSU down.
  • Texas Christian @ Oklahoma State (FOX): Oklahoma State is undefeated, but it seems a flimsy sort of undefeated, as though it shouldn't really count. I've got TCU all the way here.
  • Arkansas @ Mississippi (CBS): After a two game respite, it's back to the grind for Bert and company. By which I mean they're going to lose badly.
  • Iowa @ Indiana (ESPN): Iowa is also a puzzling undefeated team, but they remain safe for now.
  • Cincinnati @ Houston (ESPN2): Speaking of undefeated teams, this could be a really fun undercard. I like Houston here.
  • Arizona State @ Washington State (FS1): I'm going with Wazzou because, well, why the hell not?
  • Army @ Air Force (ESPNU): I'm going to go ahead and say that Army does not look like a huge favorite to regain the Command-in-Chief's trophy this year.
  • Utah State @ New Mexico (CBSS): The Lobos are actually not awful this year, but these Aggies are still better.
  • Rutgers @ Michigan (BTN): Michigan rolls.
  • Connecticut @ Temple (ESPNEWS): Temple vs. Memphis is in two weeks, don't screw it up, Owls.
  • South Carolina @ Tennessee (SEC): Two programs, opposite directions. The Vols look good in this one.
4:30: California-Los Angeles @ Oregon State (Pac12): It's been a frustrating year for Bruin fans, but this game and their next look very winnable, and they still have a pretty good shot at the Pac-12 South title.

  • Michigan State @ Nebraska (ESPN): Sparty shouldn't have too many problems in this one.
  • Navy @ Memphis (ESPN2): This is probably the highlight of the "bridge" games to the LSU-Alabama game. Navy should figure to give Memphis fits, but the Tigers have the offense to keep up. I suspect Navy will find themselves outmanned in the second half.
  • Iowa State @ Oklahoma (ESPNU): The Sooners should continue their quest to play spoiler in the Big 12.
  • Utah @ Washington (FOX): I still like the Utes well enough to beat UDub, but I'm not sure about the rest of their schedule.
  • Auburn @ Texas A&M (SEC): I can't think of any other team that more epitomizes the "boom" and "bust" cycle of college athletics than Auburn.
  • South Florida @ East Carolina (CBSS): ECU should(?) be able to handle this one.
  • Louisiana State @ Alabama (CBS): So this one is tough. That said, I still think Alabama has the defense to stop LSU, and while it's happened before, I think Alabama has the advantage in a low scoring game at home.
  • Minnesota @ Ohio State (ABC): Even without their nominal starter, the Buckeyes should be able to handle this one.
  • Arizona @ Southern California (ESPN): The resurgent Trojans figure to handle this one easily.
  • California @ Oregon (ESPN2): This might be the toughest pick of the day. I'm going with Cal based purely on gut.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Bowl Predictions 2015: Week 3

The latest predictions are up, for what that's worth. Why so glum?

I still have an unprecedented seven open bowl slots. I'm pretty sure I've never gotten into November hurting for teams, but this year looks particularly dire. It may be worth noting some regulars that do not appear in this week's edition:
  • Virginia Tech (2nd longest active bowl streak at 22 years)
  • Georgia Tech (tied-3rd longest active bowl streak at 18 years)
  • Nebraska (perennial power)
  • South Carolina (consistently made bowls under Spurrier)
  • Kansas State (is the magic running out?)
And those are power five teams that have been to a bowl at least the past five years in a row.

Part of the problem are also the smaller teams. After usually getting an automatic loss or two in the early part of the season, these teams are behind the eight-ball in getting to six wins. Here's how many I have getting in from each of the minor conferences:
  • American: 7/13
  • Conference USA: 7/12
  • Mid-American: 6/14
  • Mountain West: 6/12
  • Sun Belt: 5/11
The Power 5 aren't much better. I have half the ACC Atlantic missing on a bowl game, for instance.

Hopefully, it's a situation that improves in the next couple of weeks, or else this is going to start getting tough.