Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bowl Games: Main Course

All right folks, though this is being posted before the end of tonight's game, I've updated my main predictions and my competition with my erstwhile brother, who is way behind in predictions. I even managed to get the Emerald Bowl score completely correct.

Anyway, now it's time for the New Year's Eve and Day games, the main course of the bowl season buffet. As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Dec. 31:
  • Air Force vs. California, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (12:30, ESPN): Well, for starters, it's a bowl named in honor of the armed forces, so obviously it confers Air Force an advantage. Also, Cal is terrible and was last seen losing to Stanford. So I'm calling Air Force.
  • Oregon vs. South Florida, Brut Sun Bowl (2:00, CBS): I don't expect a lot of points here, at least out of Oregon at any rate. This probably won't be very exciting, but the alternatives abound. (Not really.) USF wins.
  • Fresno State vs. Georgia Tech, Roady's Humanitarian Bowl (2:00, ESPN2): Woooooo. Predicing GT out of blatant homerism more than anything else. I can only how we bother to show up unlike the last time we were on the west coast.
  • Kentucky vs. Florida State, Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl (4:00, ESPN): It should come as no surprise I'm picking Kentucky here. FSU will do good to score as many points as they had players suspended, in all likelihood.
  • Oklahoma State vs. Indiana, Insight Bowl (5:30, NFL): The latest in bowl games you probably can't watch even if you wanted to! Yes, that's right kids, Indiana's return to post-season won't be seen by you! I picked Indiana and I can't remember why, so there.
  • Clemson vs. Auburn, Chick-fil-a Bowl (7:30, ESPN): This is probably, by far, the most worthwhile game of the day. I will guarantee you that the Tigers will win! Hah! See what I did there? I bet no one's thought of that before!
    (Ahem.) Anyway, I personally like Clemson here. They have a pretty darn good offense, and Auburn has been inconsistent at best.
Jan. 1:
  • Wisconsin vs. Tennessee, Outback Bowl (11:00, ESPN): Who's idea was it to have games before noon on New Year's Day? I've been trying to figure this out for years. Anyway, I've thought Wisconsin is an overrated team in a bad conference, while Tennessee is pretty decent. So I like the Vols here.
  • Missouri vs. Arkansas, AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic (11:30, FOX): Missouri: likes to pass. Arkansas: can't pass. I think the Mizzou will just air it out over Arkansas's heads all day long, though there's always a chance Darren McFadden could make it interesting.
  • Florida vs. Michigan, Capital One Bowl (1:00, ABC): I'll be honest here. I don't think Michigan stands a chance. We watched fast, athletic teams run all over this Michigan team all year and I don't see any reason why they'll suddenly start succeeding here.
  • Virginia vs. Texas Tech, Konica Minolta Gator Bowl (1:00, CBS): The Gator hosts an over-achieving ACC team the second year in a row. I don't think there's any way UVA can keep up with the Texas Tech offense.
  • Illinois vs. Southern California, The Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi (4:30, ABC): Here's another blow-out worthy game, as once again I'm giving the Big Ten little chance. (Notice a theme here?)
  • Georgia vs. Hawaii, AllState Sugar Bowl (8:30, FOX): Sigh. My heart says Hawaii while my brain says Georgia. So, against everything I stand for, I'm picking the Dogs.
Anyway, sorry for the rush job there, haven't lots of time. I'll be back late New Year's Day to take you through the finale of this bowl season.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Bowl Games: Hors d'œuvre

And we're now starting to get to the decent stuff in this buffet that is bowl season. Also, A5 and I have put together a little contest, and I'm beating him by one game so far.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Central Michigan vs. Purdue, Motor City Bowl (Dec. 26, 7:30, ESPN): This one is just underway, but that doesn't really change the fact I predicted Purdue to win here. Helps that Purdue already beat them 45-22 this season. Of course, as I write this CMU goes up 3-0.
  • Arizona State vs. Texas, Pacific Life Holiday Bowl (Dec. 27, 8:00, ESPN): I always consider this the first real game of bowl season. This year is no exception, as we get our first matchup of marquee names, as well as the first with two BCS conference teams. I like Arizona State here for no particular reason.
  • Boston College vs. Michigan State, Champs Sports Bowl (Dec. 28, 5:00, ESPN): I doubt this is where the Eagles wanted to end up, while I'm sure Mich. State is more than happy to be here. Will "happy to be here" be enough for them to beat the Eagles and Matt Ryan playing in his last collegiate game? I doubt it.
  • Texas Christian vs. Houston, Texas Bowl (Dec. 28, 8:00, NFL): TCU has won the last 7 games in this series, including 4 since 2000. Seeing as how it's on the NFL network, you probably won't get to see them go to 8 straight.
  • Maryland vs. Oregon State, Emerald Bowl (Dec. 28, 8:30, ESPN): I still don't really think Maryland is that good, as they demonstrated by them losing 4 of their last 6. Meanwhile, Oregon State's last 7 is only blemished by a loss to Southern Cal. I like the Beavers in a close one.
  • Wake Forest vs. Connecticut, Meineke Car Care Bowl (Dec. 29, 1:00, ESPN): Yet, I like Wake over UConn. Both teams are considered exceedingly lucky. I can't believe I'm typing this, but when it comes to skill, I like the Deacons.
  • Central Florida vs. Mississippi State, Autozone Liberty Bowl (Dec. 29, 4:30, ESPN): Not sure I can quantify why I like UCF here, as Miss State should be about on par talent-wise. UCF does have one major advantage at running back, as they bring in the nation's #1 running back, Kevin Smith. Miss State sports the nation's 65th ranked rushing defense (at 159 yards/game), which isn't all that great.
  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical vs. Pennsylvania State, Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 29, 8:00, ESPN): TAMU is definitely an upset pick here, but they do already have a new coach in place and are playing in the state of Texas, which should give them a definite home-field advantage.
  • Colorado vs. Alabama, Petrosun Independence Bowl (Dec. 30, 8:00, ESPN): Battle of 6-6! Only one team advances to a winning record, and we all know how much Bama is paying for those these days. Perhaps I'm letting my biases get in the way, but I like the Buffs here.
Anyway, two more bowl preview posts coming up for y'all. First set will be our main course of the 31st and 1st, followed by a rich dessert plate for the post New Year's BCS bowls and national title game.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bowl Games: Opening Slate

You can see my predictions for all the games right here, but you can only get my commentary for the first set below. So let's go. As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Utah vs. Navy, San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (Dec. 20, 9:00, ESPN): And it's the opening salvo of bowl season, replete with an absurdly long sponsor's name. Navy scores a lot of points has demonstrated repeatedly they don't score a lot of points. They're also minus a coach and going against a very solid Utah team that's beaten some big boys this year. In the end, I think Navy will get the ball often enough and triple option their way down the field to victory.
  • Florida Atlantic vs. Memphis, R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 21, 8:00, ESPN2): It looked like Troy was going to roll their way into New Orleans, but FAU pulled out the win a few weekends ago and thus earn the bid. That said, Troy probably stood a chance here, FAU, probably not such much. Memphis rolls.
  • Southern Mississippi vs. Cincinnati, Bowl (Dec. 22, 1:00, ESPN2): I think I've ranted before about how stupid this bowl's name is, so we'll move on. For whatever reason, USM fired their long-time coach Jeff Bower after the season. All things considered, Cincy had a pretty good season and got shafted by the Big East bowl tie-ins. I like the Bearcats here.
  • New Mexico vs. Nevada, New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 22, 4:30, ESPN): Nevada isn't a bad team by any means, but this is essentially a home game for New Mexico, so based pretty much on that I like them here.
  • Brigham Young vs. California-Los Angeles, Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 22, 8:00, ESPN): BYU is the best team you've never heard of this year. UCLA isn't. The Fightin' Mormons, with the lack of anything else to do in Las Vegas, will be ready and should roll.
  • East Carolina vs. Boise State, Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 23, 8:30, ESPN): So, Boise State wanted a bowl in a warm weather environment. What they didn't count on was that their fans would feel downright spurned that they didn't want to stay home and play in front of them. Long story short, they've sold a few hundred tickets (at least the last time I checked). That said, they should still win.
That does it for now. Join me next week as I predict the real start of bowl season and take you all the way up to the Independence Bowl.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Week Fifteen (?)

How many of you have been waiting at your computers since Sunday morning, constantly refreshing your Facebook notes page to see if I had written this column? Well, refresh no more, for it is here! (No one, of course, falls into that category. Is the laziness joke getting old yet?)

Thanks to the injured status of Matt Flynn and Glenn Dorsey, Tennessee managed to put up a fight against LSU. The announcers even recognized this fact, stating, "...this is a fight for the SEC Championship." I typically like CBS' commentators, but that remark is one of the worst I have heard on television. During one return from a commercial break, the camera showed UT's mascot barking intermittently. Verne Lundquist waited a few seconds, then calmly greeted the dog by saying, "Hello, Smokey." However, these quips were nothing compared to the constant assault of brain-numbing Dr. Pepper commercials.

I should have known that West Virginia was going to lose, given the predictable unpredictability of this season. The Mountaineers' collapse against 4-7 Pittsburgh is understandable, given the nature of rivalry games and Pat White's mid-game injury. The officials tried to prevent the upset with phantom holding calls in the fourth quarter, but they did not succeed. The ending, the Panthers punter walking out of the end zone for a safety as time expired, was either the most hilarious or the most pitiful I've ever seen. At least Slaton and White have one more year to make a run at the title.

Missouri's Chase Daniel was less than spectacular against Oklahoma's defense. The star quarterback completed 23 of 39 passes for 219 yards but failed to find the end zone even once. The Sooners stuffed the Tigers in the red zone on multiple occasions, forcing field goals. In other news, Florida International topped North Texas for their first win of the season, and Stanford broke a five-game losing streak to Cal. The ACC Championship was sparsely attended, mostly due to its irrelevance.

The losses by West Virginia and Missouri paved the way for a coaches' call-in show on SportsCenter. Mark Richt, Les Miles, and even Pete Carroll all tried to sell their team to the voters. (Jim Tressel, whom I suppose was confident about his chances, was noticeably silent.) The decision on Sunday evening? 11-1 Ohio State will face 11-2 LSU in the national championship game. The Buckeyes are likely to receive another spanking from the SEC, but I'll save the rushed and extremely brief prediction detailed pre-game analysis for a later post.

Those darn islanders won again! And would you believe it, somebody actually gave them a first-place vote in the AP poll! Does someone really think that Hawaii could stand against one of the traditional powerhouses? I guess we'll see when they face Georgia on New Year's Day. Here's hoping Matt Stafford reminds them that you need offense and defense to win a football game.

Here's my Heisman ballot.

3. Thomas Weber, kicker, Arizona St.: Weber was 42/43 on extra points and 22/23 on field goals (that's 95.7%). He made two over fifty yards, one from 53. In four games, his Sun Devils would not have won without his leg.

2. VINCE YOUNG, quarterback, Texas: Come to think of it, I'm officially renaming the Heisman the YOUNG Award. I would have given my first-place vote to VINCE YOUNG for the third year in a row, but his successor has finally arrived. That successor is named...

1. Tim Tebow, quarterback, Florida: I don't think it's possible to describe Tim Tebow without sounding idolatrous. The man (it is reprehensible to refer to Tebow as a "guy") was only contained by four defenses this season: Ole Miss, Auburn, LSU, and Georgia. His lowest output during those games? 221 total yards of offense against the Bulldogs. 221 yards was his minimum! Against South Carolina, he appeared to run for first downs whenever he felt like doing so. I foresee Tebow winning at least three YOUNGs during his career, if not four (one will be bonus).

In the midst of all the recent coaching changes, I have an announcement to make. Due to my wedding in June and the beginning of my teaching career in the fall, I do not think that I will have time to write this column next season. Therefore, it is with great sadness that I announce my resignation from asimsports, effective January 9. I will finish out this season with bowl commentary during the holidays, but the chances of me returning in August are slim. (The CFP may be shut down indefinitely as well.)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bowl Predictions, Final

Game predictions will be up in the next couple of weeks. I switched to the Kansas-in predictions when it became apparent they would be selected for whatever reason. Anyway, they're up now.

Bowl Predictions, Week 8

I don't have time to do a full, conference-by-conference breakdown. However, I will say that I've given up hope of logic, reason, and human decency prevailing in the case of Georgia Tech's bowl berth. Boise, here we come!

Anyway, with all the shenanigans that happened today, even who will be in the BCS title game is hard to see. For the time being, I think we're all LSU fans. From what I have been told, LSU should pass Georgia in most of the computer polls, which means that they need only to pass UGA in one of the human polls. Both sets of my predictions assume this will occur.

Yes, that's right, "both". See, the biggest BCS question now is this: what if Kansas finishes 3rd or 4th? By BCS rules, this means they gain an automatic bid to a BCS Game. Hawaii will almost certainly finish 12th or higher, meaning they are also an auto-qualifier. By my count, the following teams will more than likely earn automatic berths: Ohio State (BCS #1), LSU (BCS #2), Virginia Tech (ACC champion), West Virginia (Big East champ), USC (Pac-10 champ), Oklahoma (Big 12 champ), Hawaii (WAC champ, finished 12th or higher), Georgia (finished 3rd or 4th in the BCS). If Kansas is also in this group, it really affects the Sugar and Fiesta bowls because the Fiesta really wants Arizona State but with the Orange likely to select West Virginia ahead of them they will have to take Hawaii, unless they really want a Kansas-Oklahoma bout (which I doubt). This sends Kansas to the Sugar Bowl to face Georgia.

So, I produced two versions: one where Kansas makes it, and another where they, well, don't.

So there's what I'll hang my hat on. The BCS standings will be announced at 8:00 EST on FOX. I may update the projections based on projected BCS standings, but that mostly depends on how many normal bowl bids are announced between now and 8:00 EST later today.

UPDATE (12/2, 3:40): Kansas has dropped to 8th in the AP and Coaches' polls, which means they are almost certainly out. As pointed out by the anonymous commenter below, this also means the Gator will pick before the Cotton does. I have updated the predictions accordingly.

UPDATE (12/2, 6:44): TCU has been selected to the Texas Bowl, implying that the Big 12 will send two teams to the BCS. Looks like my Kansas-oriented predictions shouldn't be thrown away quite yet...

Friday, November 30, 2007

This Weekend in College Football: Week 14

Last week of the regular season! As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

11:00: Central Michigan vs. Miami (@Detroit; ESPN2): It's MAC-tastic! Miami won't make a bowl game if they lose, so they're going to have to win this to go anywhere. That said, they probably won't.

  • Army vs. Navy (@Baltimore; CBS): My allegiance here, if it can be called that, is to the Black Knights. Unfortunately, I don't really think they'll have much of a chance against bowl-bound Navy.
  • Tulsa @ Central Florida (ESPN): Both these teams have been the toast of Conference-USA this year, though UCF has one less conference loss, helped by the fact they won the first meeting between these two teams 44-23. Thought it may be closer this time around, it's a home game for the Knights and I expect them to earn the trip to Memphis.
1:00: Boston College vs. Virginia Tech (@Jacksonville; ABC): And here we go again, a rematch of the rainy night in Blacksburg featuring a miracle come back for the Eagles that kept them in national title contention (at the time). No rain is expected tomorrow, for better or worse for these teams. Of course, since that night, VPI is 5-0 and won in convincing fashion, whereas BC is 2-2 with losses to moribund FSU and Maryland and an unconvincing margin over Miami (though the win at Clemson is good). That said, VPI seems to have found something of an offense and reversed their usual November swoon. I expect them to take the lead and hold it this time around, and get themselves some oranges in the process.

4:00: Louisiana State vs. Tennessee (@Atlanta; CBS): This game is of greatly diminished importance for all the obvious reasons. Tennessee has also been lucky (though not the luckiest team) since their loss to Alabama, beating Kentucky and Vanderbilt by a combined 3 points. LSU is also facing plenty of distractions, as not one but two of their coaches are rumored to be heading elsewhere. That said, Tennessee has no weapons like McFadden, and I still think LSU wins this one handily.

  • California-Los Angeles @ Southern California (ABC): Last year, USC was on their way to another shot at the national title when all of a sudden they got, shall we say, Dorrell'd. The plucky coach of UCLA probably needs to do it again if he wants to save his job. I'd say there's a pretty good chance he's going to need some new work come Monday. That said, would it not spectacularly sum up this season if UCLA and Arizona win, thus sending the Bruins to the Rose Bowl? (Ugh. I hate quoting Bill Simmons-isms, but I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.)
  • Oregon State @ Oregon (ESPN2): Alas, poor Oregon. If there was an award in college football for "a player that individually makes a huge impact in the performance of his team", Dennis Dixon would have to win it (and maybe there is, I think there are two "best player" trophies). The Oregon offense was offensive last weekend and put up a mighty zero against noted non-juggernaut UCLA. They are just completely boned without Dixon, and I don't see that changing here. Beavers win.
7:00: California @ Stanford (Versus): Not only is it on Versus, it's on Versus HD. Aw yeah, you know we'll all be up for some Big Game action. Okay, well, not really, Cal should roll here.

7:45: Pittsburgh @ West Virginia (ESPN): Backyard brawl time! Does Pitt stand a chance? Not really! Many couches will lose their lives in Morgantown tonight.

  • Oklahoma vs. Missouri (@San Antonio, ABC): I feel conflicted about this. I want to like Missouri, I really do, but for whatever reason I still think Oklahoma is a better team. It also doesn't help the Sooners won their previous meeting. Yet, in my bowl predictions, I took Mizzou because figuring out the Oklahoma winning scenario would be complicated. Of course, I'll change the predictions after the games anyway before the bowls are announced in Sunday, but still. I'll go with the #1 team in the country to pull off the upset here.
  • Arizona @ Arizona State (ESPN2): ASU better not screw this one up, that's all I can say. Sun Devils should win.
11:30: Washington @ Hawaii (ESPN2): You'd think this is an easy victory for the Warriors, but Washington played Boise State earlier this year and won, getting them one of their four victories. Of course, Hawaii took care of Boise pretty well, but still. That said, that was a long time ago, and I like Hawaii here, but it could be closer than many on the islands would like to think.

Week Fourteen

Note: I will no longer include pictures in these posts, because formatting them with captions in Blogger is tedious.

The college football season is way too short. Fans are offered only fourteen out of fifty-two weeks to enjoy the greatest sport in the world (unless you count the bowl season). I say that's not enough. If it were up to me, college football would be played in the spring, too. Each team would play a total of twenty-four games. The doubled air time would be well worth the exponential spike in player injuries that would occur. As an added bonus, baseball would get much less attention from the sports media.

Anyway, you probably didn't direct your browser to this note in order to read me whine. LSU dropped another triple-overtime thriller to Arkansas. The upset may have led to Nutt's contact extension (which he turned down for a lucrative position at Ole Miss [!?]). It also destroyed the Tigers' championship hopes, in all likelihood. LSU can still secure a trip to the Sugar Bowl with a win over Tennessee (4, CBS), but the title game is now a very long shot.

In contrast, some other Tigers are one win away from a trip to New Orleans. Thanks to their 36-28 victory over rising star Kansas, Missouri is scheduled to face Oklahoma this Saturday for the Big 12 title (8, ABC). Chase Daniel vaulted his team over West Virginia to the No. 1 spot in the BCS. The Mountaineers attempted to prevent the coup with a 66-21 slaughter of Connecticut. Unfortunately for Rodriguez, the BCS realized that crushing a team in New England means about as much as lapping a baby in a mile race.

Ohio State benefited the most from this week's shakeup. A loss by Missouri or West Virginia gives the Buckeyes a chance to redeem their embarrassment at the hands of the Florida Gators. It is unlikely that 4-7 Pittsburgh will topple the Mountaineers (7:45, ESPN), so Jim Tressel should start praying now for the Sooners to overwhelm the Tiger defense. Georgia and Virginia Tech, who each took care of their in-state rivals, need both of the top two to lose to have a shot. (The Hokies would also have to overcome Boston College (1, ABC).)

In other news, Nebraska demonstrated defensive ineptitude once more and allowed Colorado to drop 65 points on them. Bill Callahan, the Alec Baldwin doppleganger of Division I-A, was fired soon after the game. Boston College defeated Miami for the first time since the Flutie miracle, and Tennessee rode another SEC East overtime matchup to a win.

Their backup 11 of 39 passing, Oregon was unable to score against UCLA. Surprisingly, the Bruin quarterbacks were even worse, completing 4 of 17. Like much of the Pac-10, both teams are active this Saturday. Oregon hopes to save face in the Civil War against Oregon State (4:30, ESPN2), and UCLA looks to taint another Trojan season (4:30, ABC).

And now, some coverage of the little guys. Florida Atlantic and Troy are going to duke it out for the Sun Belt (the "Best of the Worst" title), Miami (OH) and Central Michigan for the MAC, and Tulsa and Central Florida for Conference USA (what a presumptious name). Florida International, the only winless team at this point, hosts North Texas in hopes of avoiding an ultimate disgrace.

Hotshot Hawaii defeated Boise State to claim the WAC Championship (doesn't the name of their conference say it all?) and a #12 BCS ranking. The Warriors host Washington, who at 4-8 don't look very threatening. Apparently the Huskies knew in advance they wouldn't make a bowl and scheduled a trip to the island (like Alabama did a few years ago).

Speaking of Alabama, did anyone watch their game a few nights ago? I think they lost to their in-state rival for the sixth year in a row. That's what I read, anyway. Oh wait, I did see that game in person. Witnessing another Iron Bowl victory by Auburn from the 25-yard line was well worth the five hours I spent at the stadium before the game. I'd like to thank my fiancee Laura for waiting with me; it was truly an act of love.

Finally, this hilarious quote by writer Ivan Maisel: " for the theory that Nick Saban is whipping Alabama into shape, Tuberville just continues to whip Alabama." War Eagle!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bowl Predictions, Week 7

This is the last week before the major conference bids are finalized, so I'll walk through every conference picture like I did for Week 1. Look for a post later on Tech's coaching changes and the ACC/Big Ten challenge, which got underway tonight.

So let's do this.

There are two major scenarios for the BCS to worry about at this point: Missouri wins the Big 12 or Oklahoma wins the Big 12. Personally, I think the latter is actually slightly more likely but I went with the Tigers anyway. Recall the selection order this year (Orange, Fiesta, Sugar) and let's get under way:
  • BCS Championship Game: Missouri vs. West Virginia: This is the simpler scenario. If Mizzou loses (or, less likely, WVU loses, or God forbid, both lose) then the Rose has to find a replacement for the Buckeyes. I honestly don't know who that'd be unless Illinois sneaks into the top 14 this weekend.
  • Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Georgia: A rematch of last year's Peach Bowl, but this is somewhat unavoidable. I like VPI to win their rematch against Boston College, but it doesn't change that the ACC winner will go here. The Orange would love to have a SEC team as an at-large pick, and UGA will automatically qualify since they will finish in the top 4. (Bastards.)
  • Fiesta Bowl: Kansas vs. Arizona State: Kansas will probably rise again slightly, and luckily for them Texas lost last week or else they'd be a shoe-in for at-large selection. Provided Arizona State takes care of business this weekend, the Fiesta would love to have the Sun Devils here.
  • Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. Hawaii: LSU goes here provided they beat Tennessee, otherwise the Vols do. Hawaii goes here because they are unlikely to fall out of the top 12 now (being #12 this week), which means they automatically qualify. I doubt any of the BCS bowls want them, though, so the Sugar gets stuck with them since they pick last.
  • Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Southern Cal: Meanwhile, barring another upset this weekend, the Rose gets what it wanted all along.
The main question here is, if Virginia Tech loses to Boston College, will they still get an at-large berth? Probably not, unless there's more upsets or other such shenanigans. And alas, poor Florida, which will probably be stuck on the outside looking in unless the Fiesta really wants them or something.

The first to bat for the ACC is the Peach. I like them to take the conference runner-up this year. According to their selection blog, BC, UVA, and VPI are their prime targets. Neither the Boston College or Virginia fan bases travel particularly well, and both will be coming off a loss. I still like the Eagles here, though.

Next up is the Gator. I like them to take Clemson's energized fan base, coming off a big win over their in-state rival. Following the Gator is the Champs Sports, where Virginia makes a soft landing. These could easily end up the other way around.

Now we get to the ACC 5/6/7 cluster: the Music City, Car Care, and Emerald Bowls. All ACC fans know the first two are more desirable, seeing as how they're played on this side of the country. There are essentially 3 teams competing for these spots: Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Wake Forest. The Car Care has made it known they prefer North Carolina teams, so Wake seems like a shoe-in even with their tiny fan base. Somewhere along the line (not sure where), it was decided FSU fans were suddenly awesome and traveled well and they seem to be the front runner for the Music City. This leaves Georgia Tech for the Emerald.

Or so you think! At least, according to the AJC, which claims that 6-6 Maryland could pass Tech and go to the Emerald. I claim that they are a) wrong, and b) very wrong, despite the quote from the Emerald Bowl guy, who must also be wrong. The NCAA Postseason Handbook makes one thing exceedingly clear. Here's a quote:
Per NCAA Bylaw an institution with a record of six wins and six losses may be selected for participation in a bowl game if 1) the institution or its conference has a primary contractual affiliation, which existed prior to the first contest of the applicable season, with the sponsoring bowl organization. In the case of a conference contractual affiliation, all conference teams with winning records must be placed in one of the contracted bowl games before any institution with a record of six wins and six losses may be placed in a contracted bowl game.
In the case of a conference contractual affiliation, all conference teams with winning
records must be placed in one of the contracted bowl games before any institution with a record of six wins and six losses may be placed in a contracted bowl game. There shall be no contingency agreements with other sponsoring bowl organizations intended to enable an institution with a record of six wins and six losses to become eligible for those contests.
I have no idea how the Emerald could not be aware of this, since not only is a rule, they say it twice just to make sure. But then again, they think it's a great idea to have a bowl game in a baseball stadium, so what do I know? (Hey, if 6-6 teams can be selected ahead of 7-5 teams, why can't Alabama go to the Music City Bowl any more? This makes no freakin' sense.)

Anyway, provided there is any sanity or fairness in this world, Maryland will head to Boise.
Big East:
This is easy. Provided West Virginia doesn't screw up, they're in the national title game. The Big East has no specific slot in the BCS so no bowl there gets to replace them.

Well, that part was, at least. Turns out the Gator and Sun Bowls have a confusing (and stupid) agreement to swap picks every once in awhile. Turns out, the Gator has to take 2 Big 12 teams over the next 3 years, so if they don't do it this year they have to do it each of the next two. Apparently there is also a clause that enables the Gator to select before the Cotton if the Big 12 only qualifies one team for the Big 12, but I don't think that'll happen this year (though Kansas may get shafted if Oklahoma wins).

This wouldn't be that big of a deal, but since Notre Dame is part of the Big East's bowl package, the Gator probably doesn't want to be guaranteed to lose on that for the next two years. So they'll pick a Big 12 team, which I'll get to in a minute. Meanwhile, the Sun gets the first Big East selection after the BCS, and I like a hot Cincinnati team to get the nod.

Next up is the Car Care Bowl, where I think South Florida will land, followed by the International Bowl. Connecticut is closest and hot, so I like them to go there, relegating Rutgers to the Bowl. There's an outside shot Louisville make 6-6 if they beat Rutgers this weekend, but even if they do I don't think it's likely they get selected to anything.

Big Ten:
The Big Ten is completely done and had 10 of its 11 teams qualified for bowls. It's mainly waiting to see if Illinois will make the BCS or not. Even if they do, I don't think they'll be selected unless Ohio State goes to the title game, sending the Illini to the Rose.

So anyway, first go after that is the Capital One Bowl, where Illinois will probably end up, as a sort of feel-good story. Also, I think Florida will end up there, which will be great for TV coverage (Zook Goes Against School that Spurned Him, etc.). After that, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Penn State will all be competing for the Outback, Alamo, and Champs Sports bowls. I like the schools to go in that order.

The last two Big Ten bowls are the Insight and Music City Bowls. Coming out of the 7-5 morass will probably be Indiana (feel-good story), and Michigan State (fans) in that order, leaving 7-5 Purdue in the cold, not to mention 6-6 Iowa and Northwestern.

Big 12:
Provided Missouri wins Saturday, they will go the BCS title game, which means the Fiesta has first shot of the remaining teams qualified for the BCS. I think they'll take Kansas, so that's the scenario I'll use.

This sends Oklahoma to the Cotton and Texas to the Holiday, but the picture gets murkier after that as the Big 12 descends into a series of unexciting 7-5 and 6-6 teams. Sitting pretty is 8-4 Texas Tech, sending them to the Alamo. Since the Sun took a Big East team, the Gator gets the next pick and goes with Texas A&M in the hopes of getting Notre Dame in the next two years. Oklahoma State and Colorado are both 6-6 and fill out the Insight and Independence Bowls. This leaves the Texas Bowl to its own devices, which I'll get to in a minute.

Conference USA:
This hasn't been a great year for C-USA, which hasn't looked so hot since they were raided by the Big East a couple years ago. Central Florida is its best team, and South Florida wiped the floor with them earlier this year. Anyway, UCF will probably win the title game against Tulsa and head to the Liberty Bowl.

It gets murkier after that, since minor bowls (more than anyone else) are apt to take geographically close teams in order to increase the chances of anyone actually attending the game. The GMAC will probably opt for the runner-up this year, though, which will be Central Florida. The Bowl and the New Orleans bowls have already announced they will take Southern Miss and Memphis. This leaves 7-5 East Carolina to head out to Hawaii. Also, the Texas Bowl has announced they'll take hometown Houston.

Navy has already accepted a bid to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. (Try saying that three times fast.) Notre Dame, with a 3-9 record and the worst offense in college football, will not be attending a bowl this year, which saves them the trouble of going to some destination and losing for the 10th straight time.

The MAC has three bids, and to the relief of everyone running a bowl, will only have 3 teams with 7-5 records or better. I would imagine the Motor City would love to have the winner of the title game, which should probably be Central Michigan. This sends Miami (OH) to the GMAC Bowl and Ball State to the International.

Mountain West:
The Mountain West gets 4 bids, which I'm only partially sure of the order of. Provided I'm right, BYU has clinched the MWC title and will head to Las Vegas, Utah will head to the Poinsettia, and New Mexico will head to...New Mexico. Air Force has already accepted a bid to the Armed Forces Bowl.

Yes, I know there is a scenario that could occur were UCLA qualifies for the Rose Bowl, and I hope that it does not come to pass. Provided sanity prevails (knock on wood), USC and ASU should make BCS games to their logical destinations.

I am pretty sure that bowl officials have noticed that Oregon really, really, really sucks without Dennis Dixon, and this will hurt them quite severely come selection time. Provided Oregon State beats them (and since they got shut out by UCLA, I don't see why they won't), OSU will get the Holiday Bowl spot. Cal logically then goes to the Sun, provided they win the Big Game this weekend, which means Oregon crash lands into the Las Vegas Bowl and puts a (hopefully) 6-6 UCLA in the Emerald. This leaves the Pac-10 unable to fulfill its obligation to the Armed Forces Bowl.

Much like the Big Ten, the SEC qualifies 10 teams this year. Unlike the Big Ten, the SEC is assured of putting two teams in the BCS.

Florida will be an attractive selection for the Capital One, especially if it also gets Illinois. Now we hit the infamous SEC 3/4/5 cluster of the Peach, Outback, and Cotton Bowls. The latter two are supposed to get their picks of the SEC West and East first. So I see Tennessee landing in the Outback and Arkansas (yes, Arkansas) heading to the Cotton, which their fans will love (since it reminds them of the good ole SWC days). The Peach will be perfectly happy taking Auburn at this point.

This is followed by the Music City and Liberty Bowls. Since Kentucky went to the Music City last year, I see them going to the Liberty and therefore sending Mississippi State to Nashville. The Independence gets its pick of 6-6 teams: Alabama or South Carolina. I could see them going either way, but for now I'm putting 'Bama.

Sun Belt:
Provided Troy takes care of business against Florida Atlantic, it will be the Sun Belt champion and thus earn a bid in the New Orleans Bowl. Fun fact about Troy: they have outscored their Sun Belt opponents by a combined 155 points.

Last, but not least, is the WAC. Hawaii will probably qualify for the BCS. Of the 3 WAC bowl berths, two of them exist pretty much to provide their top teams with a well-attended game: the Humanitarian Bowl and the Hawaii Bowl. Boise State will go to the former, but now the latter needs a team, and so does the New Mexico Bowl. I like Fresno State to go the former, and the winner of the Nevada-Louisiana Tech game to the latter.

At-large bids:
This all leaves two bowls without a team: the Texas and Armed Forces Bowl. TCU and Purdue should/will finish 7-5, and thus according to the NCAA Postseason Handbook must be picked before any available 6-6 teams. Since TCU is in the MWC, they won't play Air Force again, and thus go to the Texas Bowl, sending Purdue to the Armed Forces.

And that's all folks. Please forgive any spelling/grammar mistakes, as it's late, but please feel free to pick apart my logic. Later!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

This Weekend in College Football: Week 13

A special Turkey Day edition for Week 13!

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Southern California @ Arizona State (ESPN): Not sure I need state what's at stake here. To sum it up, Arizona State controls its own destiny in the Pac-10. USC needs a win and an Oregon loss to clinch a Rose Bowl berth. Will they? I'm thinking no.

Noon: Nebraska @ Colorado (ABC): All that's on the line here is a possible bowl berth, which the Big 12 will need because it likely won't fill all its bids. The Buffs come in off a loss to Iowa State; their opponent comes off a bye week after shellacking Kansas. This game is basically a tossup, and I'm probably picking a minor upset by taking the Cornhuskers.

12:30: Mississippi @ Mississippi State (LF/Gameplan): Miss State will bring plenty of Cowbell as they try to guarantee themselves a bowl berth in a crowded SEC picture. Ole Miss is, of course, the only SEC team that has no shot at a bowl, and I don't think they'll suddenly start playing well in this contest. Miss State wins.

2:30: Arkansas @ Louisiana State (CBS): Houston Nutt is probably gone after the year and, oh yeah, LSU is really good. Tigers win the Battle for the Golden Boot.

3:30: Texas @ Texas Agricultural & Mechanical (ABC): Speaking of coaches likely to lose their jobs, Texas rolls into Kyle and should win. They desperately need help from the boys in Stillwater to play in Kansas City next week, though.

9:00: Boise State @ Hawaii (ESPN2): This is also a game worth watching, provided your turkey leftovers haven't put you to sleep. This is Hawaii's second real test all season, against by far their best opponent. A win here gets Hawaii ranked in all computer polls and will vault them into the top 14 of the BCS, which this year would just about guarantee them a bid. Boise is also right up there with Hawaii in the rankings, though, and is more well-liked by the computers. Neither team has beaten anyone from a BCS conference this year, and will play the same BCS team - Washington. I would say both teams would beat Washington handily at this point of the year - after their victory over Boise, the Huskies lost 6 straight and are 4-7 on the year. Honestly, I think Boise State could very easily pull the upset here, especially if Colt Brennan is still having issues related to the concussion he suffered during the Fresno State. That said, I'll take the Warriors at home.

  • Miami (FL) @ Boston College (ESPN): BC has clinched a spot in Jacksonville next week, and their opponent will be playing at the same time over on ESPN2. If this were an NFL team, they'd probably rest their starters, but they'll probably get a chance to anyway as they should beat Miami handily. Unless the Canes pull off the upset, this will the first time they have not made a bowl since 1997.
  • Virginia Tech @ Virginia (ESPN2): For the past few weeks, we knew this is what the ACC Coastal title would hinge on. I am still not sold on Virginia, unless you're trying to sell me on the idea that they're incredibly lucky. In other words, I'm going to say the Hokies win this one.
  • Maryland @ North Carolina State (Raycom/Gameplan): One again, a bowl berth is on the line, the destination Boise. Both these teams have shocked at some point this season. Maryland by upsetting Boston College and then losing to FSU last week. NCSU won 4 straight games, and then lost by 20 to Wake. Whoops. At any rate, I'm taking Maryland here.
1:30: Tennessee @ Kentucky (CBS): Kentucky hasn't played all that well away from home, a fact that's brought them down from the high of beating LSU there. Tennessee should've lost to Vandy last week, the Vols got all the calls. Can UK pull off the upset at this point? Probably not. I hope not.

  • Oregon @ California-Los Angeles (ABC/Gameplan): Will Dixon-less Oregon be able to beat UCLA? Normally, this is kind of game Karl Dorrell would pull out, but without Dixon they have a realistic shot to win. Which is why they will lose.
  • Georgia @ Georgia Tech (Gameplan/ESPN2/ABC): To Hell With Georgia.
  • Connecticut @ West Virginia (Gameplan/ESPN2/ABC): Ladies and Gentlemen, your Big East Championship Game! Of course, I don't think anyone planned it out that way, but hey, I guess those round-robin schedules produce some interesting late season matchups anyway. That said, I can't really fathom any way WVU loses this game. This season hasn't helped me believe that all, but I can't in good conscience predict an upset here.
  • Kansas State @ Fresno State (ESPN2/Gameplan): Why is this taking up space on ESPN? The mind boggles. The mind also boggles at why K-State is going to Fresno. Anyway, the only reason I can think of to watch this is that one of my cousins is blocking TE for K-State. Fresno should win, though.
  • Notre Dame @ Stanford (ESPN): After subjecting us to Duke last week, ESPN for some reason opts to show us this contest. I cannot fathom why. Just for the hell of it, I'm going to say the Cardinal prevails and move on.
  • Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma (FSN): It's Bedlam, baby! I've always liked watching this rivalry. And you don't need to go too far back to find an upset by the Cowboys in a situation where Oklahoma desperately needed a win: a 12-1 Oklahoma team came into Stillwater in 2002 and lost 38-28. An 11-1 OU team lost by 3 a year before. The 2000 OU team that won the national title only beat a 3-8 OU squad by a 12-7 score. Last year, the Sooners only won by 6. However, these upsets will stay just that, upsets. Despite the loss next week, Oklahoma gets it done here.
5:00: Florida State @ Florida (CBS): Florida needs a win to stay in contention for a possible BCS bid. FSU needs a win to solidify their bowl position (though they'll probably end up on this side of the country anyway, see below). Florida has been rolling since Tebow got a little healthier, and I see no reason for that trend to stop against a mediocre-to-terrible FSU squad.

  • Clemson @ South Carolina (ESPN2): Definitely the more interesting of the state rivalries at this time slot. Clemson had better not screw this up, but South Carolina has to know they're probably playing for a bowl berth here.
  • Washington State @ Washington (FSN): Yawn. U-Dub wins. Next.
  • Missouri vs. Kansas (@Kansas City; ABC): Can you say "national title implications"? I thought so. Anyway, this is seriously the first real test for the Jawhawks all season long. I think Mizzou is slightly better, honestly. They've played an infinitely better OOC schedule and their only loss is to Oklahoma. Whatever the outcome, don't expect a blowout, but probably a lot of points. I think this is a tossup to be completely honest, and I'll take the safe but less ballsy pick of Kansas.
  • Alabama @ Auburn (ESPN): If I need cheering up at this point, the only thing that would do it would see Auburn beat the ever-living daylights of Alabama. Again. Both squads are mistake prone, but Auburn is simply a better football team right now in all respects. And I really just hate Alabama.
Anyway, enjoy your turkey and I'll be back on Sunday to analyze the new bowl situation, whatever it is.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bowl Predictions, Week 6

Not entirely lucid? Perhaps. But hey, they're up and I'm ready to discuss them as proceed on Hate Week here at asimsports.

  • The BCS announced the other day that if there are not enough teams in the top 14 that can be selected, then the field can be expanded to the top 18. So, uh, hi there, Illinois? How are you doing?
  • We'll see after this weekend how Hawaii fares, as their matchup against Boise State Friday night will at least get them into the top 14 with a victory. Either would probably qualify via "the Pitt rule" UConn upsets West Virginia. The likely destination for either would probably be the Sugar Bowl, which selects last this year.
  • As people who know me, well, know, I despise the so-called "University" of Alabama and everything it stands for. When they play Georgia I usually hope for the Earth to swallow them both whole or a local, but devastating, meteor impact. They did not do me any favors Saturday in their stupid loss to Louisiana-Monroe. The Music City Bowl wanted the loser of the Alabama-Auburn, and since FSU played 'Bama this year this made Georgia Tech an attractive pick for the spot. Now at 6-6, Alabama can't be picked ahead of any SEC team that finishes 7-5 or better, except in the off-chance they somehow beat Auburn Saturday. The ideal situation for me is that Auburn wins, we win, and end up there anyway. But FSU went to the Emerald last year and so it's not looking good for the White and Gold. This week's predictions "keep the faith", as it were, but I'm not optimistic.
  • The SEC and Big Ten bowl picture is crowded. 10 of 11 Big Ten qualify, and 10 of 12 SEC teams already have and 5-6 Vandy meets Wake Forest Saturday. Because of NCAA rules, 6-6 won't be good enough in these conferences, and even 7 wins may not be enough for some teams. I see Purdue, TCU, and Ball State getting 7 wins but being left out of their conference's bowl picture. I see Iowa, Northwestern, and South Carolina finishing 6-6 and staying at home.
  • The predictions are a mixture of reality and attempts to see into the future. As you can see, I see USC and ASU getting at-large BCS bids, implying that USC beats Arizona State tomorrow and Oregon loses another game (which they have to, as they win any three-team tiebreaker with USC and ASU).
We've got at least two more weeks of predictions. We may see some bowls featuring smaller conferences start to announce their bids after this weekend, though. So stay tuned!

Friday, November 16, 2007

This Weekend in College Football: Week 12

Bowl predictions are up at the usual place.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Ohio State @ Michigan (ABC): This will be on the big screen at my apartment as a cadre of Big Ten alums invade. That said, with Hart having a high ankle sprain and Henne hurt, I like the Buckeyes here.
  • Northwestern @ Illinois (ESPN): Will Zook, well, Zook it up after pulling off the huge upset and having an outside show at a BCS bid? Probably not, Illini roll.
  • Syracuse @ Connecticut (ESPN2): Goodness Syracuse is a terrible. The Orange are ranked 114th nationally in total offense and 110th in defense. Does not bode well for them.
  • Tulsa @ Army (ESPN Classic): Tulsa's a pretty decent team and controls their destiny in C-USA west. Army is not a very good football team, especially on defense. Tulsa rolls.
  • Maryland @ Florida State (Raycom/Gameplan): Part of one of the two ACC Raycom/Lincoln Financial Sports Games of the Week. Maryland is coming off their upset of Boston College while FSU just got rolled by VPI. Xavier Lee may be back for the Seminoles, but I really fail to see how that actually helps them. FSU also needs the win here to get to the 7-win mark going into Gainesville next week, which would increase their chances of staying in this part of the country for a bowl game. Maryland sits at 4 wins but this game and next week's against NC State are both winnable. The line is FSU by 7.5, but to be honest I think that's a little generous, and in fact I'm going to pick the upset here.
  • North Carolina @ Georgia Tech (Raycom/Gameplan): We need to play better than we did last week at Duke, that's for damn sure. Even though we won I'm still not excited about this offense and Choice's knee worries me greatly.
  • Missouri @ Kansas State (FSN): Mizzou knows it has an oppurtunity to inject itself into the title game by winning out. Kansas State knows it lost to Iowa State two weeks ago and then got waxed by Nebraska last week. Tigers win.
  • Kentucky @ Georgia (LF/Gameplan): Alas, poor Kentucky! Ravaged by injuries, Kentucky sits at 7-3 with two games left against the SEC East's top two teams. I hate to admit it, but Georgia is playing good football right now. The top two priorities for any team playing UGA right now has to be to pressure Matt Stafford and stop Moreno. Georgia wins here. And with typing that, I think I'm going to kill myself after this post. Ugh.
2:30: Duke @ Notre Dame (NBC): Ahahahahahahahahahaha. Okay, I'm in a good mood again. Seriously! Oh man. I will laugh so hard if Duke wins. And you know what? Why not? This is the year to beat ND folks. Line up and get your automatic W in South Bend! Woooo!

  • Louisiana State @ Mississippi (CBS): I'm not really sure why the powers that be at CBS picked this over at a game that at least stands a chance of not being a blow out. I know it's been close, but Ole Miss is terrible and LSU is really good. LSU rolls.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Michigan State (ESPN/ABC): It's your irrelevant Big Ten game of the day! Man, at least the Big Ten season is over after this week. PSU should win.
  • Miami @ Virginia Tech (Gameplan/ABC/ESPN): Oh, Miami. On November 19, 2005, you were ranked 3 in the country when Georgia Tech beat you. Since then, you're a decidedly un-"U"-like 13-12, including a blowout loss last week to Virginia in your last game ever in da "OB". Yeah, folks, Miami sucks. Virginia Tech will hopefully not overlook them going into their division deciding showdown against Virginia next week.
  • Iowa State @ Kansas (Gameplan/ABC): Iowa State has won two straight Big 12 games. Let that sink in a minute. Can they make it three straight? Probably not, setting up the biggest Big 12 North showdown in a long, long time next week. That said, I do like ISU to cover 26.
  • California @ Washington (ABC/Gameplan): This season has fallen apart for Cal, but they'll stop the bleeding against Washington this week and against Stanford in The Big Game in two weeks.
7:00: Oklahoma State @ Baylor (FSN): Why is Baylor on national television for the second week in a row? Who knows, and who cares? OSU rolls.

  • West Virginia @ Cincinnati (ESPN): At first glance, you might think WVU is gonna roll here. Not so fast! This has huge Big East implications, though Cincy doesn't quite control their own destiny (as they need UConn to lose again). That said, I still have to like the Mountaineers.
  • Boston College @ Clemson (ESPN2): Unthinkable a month ago, BC finds itself competing for the ACC Atlantic crown in Death Valley. At night. Not exactly a promising scenario for the Eagles. Clemson put up 44 on a pretty decent Wake team last week, continuing its roll on offense. Meanwhile, BC has lost two straight as their season falls apart around them. These are teams going in two different directions, folks, and I like the Tigers to continue putting up the points.
8:00: Oklahoma @ Texas Tech (ABC): Last game of the night. Texas Tech does not do the defense thing very well, as they tend to get blown out in their losses. If Oklahoma scores a couple touchdowns early, then this shouldn't be a problem. TTU needs to keep the game in shootout mode. They probably won't.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Week Twelve

I'm not going to apologize any more for posting this so late. You all have come to expect it by now. I could offer excuses like "I had too much to do" or "school is so demanding", but that would be lame and a lie. The honest truth is that I am not as dedicated to my readers as I should be. Will you forgive me? I'm so sorry! (I really wasn't going to apologize; sorry...doh!)

Enough. There have been better weeks of college football than week eleven, 2007. (You know something is wrong when NCState's four-point win over UNC is news-worthy.) For some reason, Division I-A decided to forgo defense. Mississippi State was the only team to score less than 20 points and still win a game. Nebraska, still sore from a 76-39 spanking by Kansas, took it to the Jayhawks' in-state rivals in a 73-31 decision. Navy and North Texas combined for 136 points in regulation, an NCAA record.

60 of the AP Poll's 65 voters picked Ohio State as the best team in the nation before their collapse against Illinois. In my opinion, LSU is the real deal and now has the best chance of taking home the crystal ball in January. A few others could pull it off, though. The Big 12 has the best shot of securing BCS #2, since Kansas (12-0) or Missouri (11-1) will face Oklahoma (11-1) in the conference championship. Oregon, on the other hand, closes against Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon State. Not exactly the most impressive finish.

Matt Flynn does not care about the oncoming rushers behind him. He will dominate your defense anyway.

This week's schedule looks a little more appealing than the last one. Here are the highlights (brought to you in Eastern Time and BCS rankings!):

#16!? Hawaii at Nevada (11 PM!?, ESPN2): Maybe undefeated Hawaii deserves a ranking, but not #16. The AP has them at #13. Above Florida. Ridiculous. I hope they drop one of their last three (at Nevada, at Boise State, Washington) so we don't have to hear them whine when they don't get a BCS bowl bid.

#7 Ohio State at #21 Michigan (12, ABC): Things at stake in this game: the Big Ten championship, Lloyd Carr's job, and the patience of millions of fans outside the Big Ten who are not that impressed by this rivalry.

Off walks the "tough" Buckeye defense.

#23 Kentucky at #9 Georgia (12:30): Why isn't this on television?

Duke at Notre Dame (2:30, NBC): Will the Fighting Irish make it to three wins? Maybe, but I doubt it. Duke almost beat Navy, Miami, and Wake Forest. Stanford beat USC, the greatest team of all time. Incidentally, the Cardinal hasn't beaten Notre Dame in five straight meetings. Did you notice that Notre Dame lost to two service academies this year?

Raise your hands if you beat Notre Dame this season!

Take your pick from the following 3:30 massacres!
#1 LSU at 3-7 Ole Miss (CBS)
3-8 Iowa State at #3 Kansas (ABC)
5-5 Miami at #10 Virginia Tech (ABC)
#25 Wisconsin at 1-10 Minnesota (Big Ten Network)

Penn State at Michigan State (3:30, ABC): I'm going to have to ride the fence on this one. I probably know over fifty Penn State fans from my summers in Vermont, and my girlfriend Laura graduated from Michigan State. What's my compromise? I'm going to cheer for the Nittany Lions during the first half and the Spartans during the second. Laura says the second half is the only one that matters, anyhow.

#17 Boston College at #15 Clemson (7:45, ESPN2): The only reason I care about this is that I picked Clemson to win their division. This game determines whether or not I was right. Go Tigers!

Friday, November 09, 2007

What Do Michigan State, Kentucky, and Georgia Tech's Basketball Teams Have in Common?

As one of my friends said, why would Bizarro Year limit itself to one sport?

At least Michigan State's upset didn't count, as it was an exhibition game.


This Weekend in College Football: Week 11

As usual, all predictions wrong and all times eastern.

  • Michigan @ Wisconsin (ESPN): In continuation with on branch of my harebrained predictions, Michigan wins, setting up what in August would've been considered a very unlikely match for the Big Ten championship.
  • Wake Forest @ Clemson (ESPN2): Clemson ruined Wake's perfect season last year with a FG block returned for a TD. Both still have an ACC title game berth on the line, but at this juncture only Clemson controls their own destiny. Wake is by far the meatiest opponent they've played since their two losses. The Tigers have racked up 49 points per game since the losses to GT and VPI while allowing only about 14, but those opponents were Central Michigan, Maryland, and Duke. In fact, Clemson's best win was probably the season opener over FSU. However, Wake's resume isn't that impressive either and they're coming off a tough loss to Virginia last weekend. Clemson wins, but it's closer than most think.
  • Indiana @ Northwestern (ESPN Classic): This joke has been made a thousand times over, probably, but there is nothing really "classic" about this matchup. Indiana is already bowl-eligible but NU must win this week or next week versus Illinois. Neither of these teams good, but Indiana at least managed to beat Iowa, so I'll give them the edge.
  • North Carolina @ North Carolina State (Raycom/Gameplan): Don't look, but NC State has won three straight games, including a victory over a OOC opponent UNC couldn't beat, East Carolina. UNC did manage to beat Maryland, but only NC State has felled Virginia in ACC play thus far. I'm going with a rejuvenated Wolfpack here.
  • Texas Agricultural & Mechanical @ Missouri (FSN): The Aggies simply got whipped last week at Oklahoma, and for the second consecutive week they played the 6th ranked team in the country. With all the questions surrounding the head coach's job and 2 straight losses, I don't expect a different result here. Mizzou wins.
  • Kansas State @ Nebraska (Versus): The "Don't Care" meter is reaching awfully high levels here, but that said Nebraska is just hapless at this point. K-State wins.
  • Alabama @ Mississippi State (LF/Gameplan): Mississippi State is improved, yes. That doesn't mean I'm about to start picking them to win anything until they play Ole Miss. 'Bama wins.
  • Arkansas @ Tennessee (LF/Gameplan): Tennessee is still very much in control of its own destiny in the SEC East. Arkansas seems to have rediscovered its offense, which you'd think wouldn't be difficult since their offense consists of entirely one person. Nonetheless, I like the Vols here. I'm willing to chalk up the loss to Alabama as a fluke, and besides, it'd be infinitely more amusing if Tennessee lost the SEC East race because of a loss to Vanderbilt next week.
1:00: Georgia Tech @ Duke ( Tech's first non-televised game of the year comes against Duke. I don't really have much to say about the Jackets right now.

2:30: Air Force @ Notre Dame (NBC): Notre Dame loses to a service academy the second week in a row. Fun fact: Notre Dame has not lost to two service academies in one year since 1944.

  • Auburn @ Georgia (CBS): This game is vastly more important for the Bulldogs than it is for the Tigers. If Georgia loses it significantly muddles their road to the SEC title game (more so than it already is since they still need Tennessee to lose). I think Auburn knows they've got nothing to lose and I expect an exciting game that hopefully will result in a victory for them.
  • Illinois @ Ohio State (ESPN/ABC): Illinois has a two game winning streak, sure. Of course, those games were Minnesota and Ball State. I can't really think of any way the go up to Columbus and win.
  • Florida State @ Virginia Tech (Gameplan/ABC/ESPN): FSU seeks to ruin the dreams of another ACC program this week. By every conceivable measure Matt Ryan is a better quarterback than Sean Glennon, and FSU certainly flustered the former plenty last week. I don't expect Glennon to repeat last week's performance at all, but I also don't see how FSU is going to score any points against the Virginia Tech defense in Blacksburg. Except a a defense-heavy game typical of the ACC with the Hokies edging out a narrow victory.
  • Arizona State @ California-Los Angeles (Gameplan/ABC): Hop aboard the train of the country's most schizophrenic football team, the UCLA Bruins. See a team that can beat Cal but lose to Arizona, Utah, and Notre Dame! I mean, hell, there's a chance they could even beat ASU this weekend. That said, it's not a very good chance. Arizona State wins.
  • Texas Tech @ Texas (Gameplan/ABC): Mike Leach's Texas Tech pirate ship ran aground a few weeks ago. They managed to patch the hull and fix some leaks and beat Baylor 48-7, but on the horizon is the frigate that is Texas and the veritable ship-of-the-line that is Oklahoma. The Texas frigate is also banged up, but it's loaded with the appropriate amount of grapeshot to take the wind out of Tech's sails. Longhorns win.
6:30: Baylor @ Oklahoma (FSN): Why is this a national broadcast on FSN? Who knows! Oklahoma rolls.

7:15: Virginia @ Miami (FL) (ESPN2): Miami is not a very good football team. Neither is Virginia, but they are exceedingly lucky. The Cavaliers average a mere 24 points per game and their average margin of victory is 6.6 points. Remove a blowout win over hapless Pittsburgh and the margin of victory shrinks to 3.3 points. That said, I don't see this UM team defending the home turf in the "OB". Cavs win.

7:45: Florida @ South Carolina (ESPN): It's been an up-and-down season for the Gators, but for the Gamecocks it's been down, down, down these past three weeks. South Carolina just can't do much offensively and their defense seemed to have precious few answers against the one-dimensional Arkansas running attack last week. I don't see much reason to pick them here.

  • Kansas @ Oklahoma State (Gameplan/ABC): It's difficult to pick against a 9-0 team, especially when a 5-4 Oklahoma State really isn't even the best opponent they've beaten.
  • Southern California @ California (ABC/Gameplan): Still a reasonably big game for the Bears, but more for pride and bowl position more than anything else. USC sits at two losses and needs a lot of help in the Pac-10 race. It's hard to get a feel for how these teams are going to tomorrow, so I'll go ESPN-style and blindly take the Trojans.
  • Boston College @ Maryland (Gameplan/ABC): Maryland hasn't looked good as of late, and BC has to know they still control their own destiny in the ACC race, even if they didn't handle that pressure well with regards to the national title race. Maryland just isn't very good and with their remaining schedule could miss a bowl. BC wins.
10:15: Washington @ Oregon State (FSN): It's your late night terrible Pac-10 matchup of the week! Seriously. Beavers roll.

11:00: Fresno State @ Hawaii (ESPN2): Now this is a late night game perhaps worth watching. Easily the best opponent Hawaii has played all year, Fresno gives them a chance, perhaps, to finally get some attention from the computers and boost their BCS standing into the promised land. Fresno's only WAC loss is to the other WAC powerhouse, Boise State. That said, with the game in Hawaii you have to think the Warriors have an advantage with their passing attack. Hawaii wins.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bowl Predictions, Week 4

So here we are again. These aren't proofread yet, so consider them beta-quality.

I'll share with you some of the reasoning I can remember:
  • I don't really see anyone passing LSU in the polls at this point unless they lose. I think the only team that has a chance is an undefeated Kansas with a victory over Oklahoma in the Big 12 Title game.
  • With Boston College losing, I'm now calling for Virginia Tech to win the ACC.
  • Provided it gets two teams into the BCS, the Pac-10 will probably be the only major conference unable to fulfill its bowl bids. Of course, I think other conferences would have similar issues if they had a 9-game schedule as well. Most BCS conference teams tend to win their OOC games unless they schedule real games or suck, and in the former case you rarely have a team that schedules more than one. Anyway, in the end the system doesn't reward not scheduling patsies for all but the top teams (where scheduling makes a difference), so yeah.
  • Meanwhile, the SEC, ACC, and Big Ten are all in danger of having too many teams qualify for bowls. I have Miami not even making a bowl from the ACC. In the SEC, Mississippi State sits at the 5-win mark and has a game with terrible Ole Miss remaining. Vandy also sits at the 5-win mark but will not be favored in any of their remaining games. As for the ACC, Georgia Tech would do well to finish with a 4-4 in-conference mark after last Thursday's debacle. We probably have the easiest remaining in-conference schedule (@Duke, UNC), at any rate. I predict the following 4 teams will be clamoring for the last 4 spots in the ACC bowl hierarchy: GT, FSU, Maryland, and Wake Forest. Of those, I only see GT and Wake finishing with 7-5 (or better) records, meaning that they must be picked ahead of FSU and Maryland.
  • Florida jumped from 20th to 15th place in the BCS this week, which means I'm placing them in the Sugar Bowl in place of LSU.
  • Michigan didn't rise like I anticipated them doing. Provided they don't again this week, I will have to drop them from the Rose and figure out who is going to go there.
  • Since Arizona State didn't fall that much, I figure they'd be a good choice for the Fiesta provided they don't lose again.
Anyway, that's all I got for now. Questions? Comments? Feel free to leave them.

Friday, November 02, 2007

This Weekend in College Football: Week 10

As usual, all time Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Purdue @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN): The list of teams Purdue has lost to (Ohio State, Michigan) is far more impressive than the list of teams they've actually beaten. Their OOC consisted of 3 MAC schools and Notre Dame, and in-conference their best win is probably against Northwestern. I'm going with Penn State here.
  • Iowa @ Northwestern (ESPN2): Speaking of bad teams that have lost to Purdue... anyway, I'm going with Northwestern here.
  • Wake Forest @ Virginia (Raycom/Gameplan): ACC implications! More for Virginia than Wake, though, as with a UVA loss Virginia Tech will have first all to themselves in the division. I still don't really think Virginia is all that good, so I'll take Wake here.
  • Nebraska @ Kansas (FSN): Yes, I know Nebraska showed up for 3 quarters against Texas last week. I still think they're pretty bad and have a lame duck coach. The Fightin' Manginos survive another week.
  • Kansas State @ Iowa State (Versus): Meanwhile, K-State rolls.
  • Vanderbilt @ Florida (LF/Gameplan): Unless Florida pulls its best South Carolina impression, I don't really see how the Commodores will escape the swamp with a win. Provided they pull it off somehow, they will be bowl eligible for the first time since 1982.
2:30: Navy @ Notre Dame (NBC): We all know the story here. And I was supremely confident in a Navy victory until they lost in a 59-52 shootout to Delaware last week. That said, I highly doubt Notre Dame's offense is capable of generating 21 points, much less 59. I think the Midshipmen pull it out.

  • Michigan @ Michigan State (ESPN/ABC): I don't think either of these teams are particularly good, but the Wolverines have done a better job of feasting on their weak Big Ten foes. And I have to preserve my crackpot prediction that they'll beat Ohio State and go to the Rose Bowl, so they win here.
  • Texas @ Oklahoma State (Gameplan/ABC): Despite losing at Texas A&M, Oklahoma State is still in the thick of the Big 12 South race with Oklahoma. Texas needs a ton of help (if it's still even possible for them to pull it off) and they'd need a win here. The Cowboys did a much better job of dispatching Nebraska than the boys from Austin did. With the game in Stillwater and OSU knowing that control of their own destiny still on the line I think they win here.
  • California-Los Angeles @ Arizona (ABC/Gameplan): Why is this on TV anywhere, much less ABC? Arizona probably won't even make a bowl game and UCLA is not a very good team, and just inconsistent enough to possibly lose this game. Will they? Probably not.
  • Cincinnati @ South Florida (Gameplan/ABC): Remember when these teams were relevant? You know, like a month ago? No? Well, then. Both are actually 6-2 but sport 1-2 conference records, with the main difference being that Cincy is reeling after consecutive losses to Louisville and Pitt. USF is reeling as well, but losses to Rutgers and UConn look slightly better at this point. I'll say the Bulls will probably win.
5:00: Louisiana State @ Alabama (CBS): So Saban has saved his job for the time being from fickle Alabama fans by beating Tennessee in Knoxville and doing so with some gusto. LSU is missing some key guys due to injury and shady off-week shenanigans involving nightclubs and guns, but I still feel pretty confident LSU will prevail.

6:30: Missouri @ Colorado (FSN): 17 years! Never forget! Also, Mizzou wins.

6:45: Arizona State @ Oregon (ESPN/FSN Arizona/FSN West): While some bunch of idiots at ABC/ESPN Central Command decided that UCLA-Arizona would be worth broadcasting this got stuck on two regional FSNs. Fortunately for the rest of us, ESPN managed to get the national rights to the game. I expect a pretty good game, but the Oregon crowd is pretty loud and though uniforms would be enough to dispirit any opposition before the game. Arizona State passed their first test last week, but I think this Oregon team is just too good to lose to them.

  • Florida State @ Boston College (Gameplan/ABC): Here's what I know about this game. 1) FSU isn't very good. 2) Matt Ryan is pretty darn good. Eagles cruise.
  • Oregon State @ Southern California (ABC/Gameplan): Once again, ABC subjects us to crap. Recent losses notwithstanding, Trojans win.
  • Texas Agricultural & Mechanical @ Oklahoma (Gameplan/ABC): TAMU is slightly less dispirited than Nebraska is despite also having a lame duck coach. But it will be rockin' in Norman on this Saturday night and I think they're better anyway. Sooners win.
  • South Carolina @ Arkansas (ESPN2): Despite their consecutive losses, South Carolina is probably still a better than Arkansas. The Razorbacks have spent the past two week drubbing lesser opponents (Ole Miss and FIU, both worse than Vandy) while South Carolina is coming off a close overtime loss to Tennessee. Provided they show up, they have an edge I think and I'll take them here.
10:00: Washington State @ California (FSN): Cal gets back on track by blowing out the Cougars.

That's all I got folks. Look for bowl predictions sometime Sunday or Monday.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Week Ten

Oh man, I am so behind on college football analysis. I apologize profusely and hope this week's column earns my way back into your hate list. I guess I'll start by covering the more interesting scores of the last two weeks.

Rutgers 30, #2 South Florida 27: Cinderella's spell wore off on October 18, unless you still count Rutgers as a Cinderella team from last season. Essentially, the Big East pulled an SEC and eliminated itself from a shot at the national championship. Bulls QB Grothe (which is probably pronounced like the name of German poet Goethe) was sacked seven times in the second half, and the Rutgers' O-line stopped the nation's leading sacker (George Selvie with 11.5) from reaching Scarlet Knight QB Teel. It didn't help that the Bulls dug themselves a 4th-and-37 hole with a sack and a penalty on the final play of the game.

Connecticut 21, Louisville 17: I'm spending way too much time on the Big East, but Connecticut's run is pretty impressive. They joined Division I-A in 2000 and the conference in 2004, and they are currently 7-1. That's better than highly touted South Florida. Their records in 2000 and 2001? 3-8 and 2-9.

#23 Connecticut 22, #10 South Florida 15: (See the last two summaries.)

Temple W, Northern Illinois/Akron/Miami (OH) L: Temple is on a three-game win streak!? The last time Temple won more than four games was in 1990, when they went 7-4. The Owls probably have the worst historical record of any Division I-A program, so you have to feel good when they actually do something. You have to hand it to them; most people would give up after so many years of awful football.

And now, the guys who don't lose all of their games any more!

Vanderbilt 17, #6 South Carolina 6: On to the SEC (finally). I'm really not sure how this happened, because I was driving to Baton Rouge during this game. It is interesting to note that this was Spurrier's first loss to the Commodores. He notched two with Duke, ten with Florida, and two with South Carolina before the debacle on October 20. This threw the SEC East into total shambles, or so we thought untill...

Alabama 41, #21 Tennessee 14: The Tide opened with a successful onside kick and never looked back. Alabama put 510 yards on the Volunteer defense, 363 from the arm of John Parker Wilson. Thankfully, the boost in confidence resulting from this game will set up the Saban Nation for heartbreaking (or humorous) losses against the Two Tigers of the West.

Tennessee 27, #16 South Carolina 24: Both teams rebounded for a thriller in Knoxville. The Gamecocks Succop'ed a loss in the second overtime, much to the delight of the Volunteer faithful.

#4 LSU 30, #17 Auburn 24: In one of the worst officiating blunders in college football history, the scores of the two teams were reversed, robbing ol' Tubs of a perfectly good road victory.

#15 Florida 45, #7 Kentucky 37: Two of the top tier teams in an SEC shootout. These are top tier teams, right? Well...

#18 Georgia 42, #11 Florida 30 and Mississippi State 31, #14 Kentucky 14: ....maybe not. Georgia and Tennessee are now on top of the SEC East, and Florida, Kentucky, and South Carolina are on the bottom. This season hasn't run out of surprises yet. Also, MSU coach Sylvester Croom has probably earned himself another season of employment.

#1 Ohio State 24, Michigan State 17: The Buckeyes slid by another conference opponent, and the voters keep them atop the polls. Incredible. To their credit, they did roll over Penn State. Penn State won the student section competition, though.

#13 Kansas 19, Colorado 14 and #9 Kansas 19, Texas A&M 11: The Jayhawks notched two wins over unranked Big 12 opponents and are 8-0 for the first time since...1909. Their last 7-0 runs were ended by Kansas State (1995) and Oklahoma (1968). They've already beaten the Wildcats, and they don't play the Sooners this year. Historically, they are looking pretty good.

#5 Oregon 24, #12 USC 17: This is probably the sweetest score in recent history. I don't know how the sports media could stand to publish the information. Finally, USC is out of the running for the Pac-10 championship. (Of course, they have the absence of John David Booty as an excuse.) The Ducks face Arizona State this Saturday to determine the conference. The Sun Devils will probably win, but for the sake of looking smart, I hope they don't.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...

#2 Boston College 14, #8 Virginia Tech 10: Apparently fourth-quarter miracles are more impressive than sixty-minute pummelings. (LSU 48, Virginia Tech 7? Do any of the voters remember that?) To close out the season, BC hosts Florida State, travels to Maryland and Clemson, and returns for Miami. If the Eagles don't fall somewhere during that period and play for the national championship as a result, I'm going to be upset.

If you are still reading at this point, here's a list of the big games this Saturday along with some quick-fire analysis. I'm getting tired and hungry, or this would be longer. All times are Eastern.

#21 Wisconsin at #1 Ohio State (12): The Buckeyes have one last test before heading to Ann Arbor on November 17. They'll pass.

Nebraska at #9 Kansas (12:30): It's possible that Nebraska will right their ship, but I doubt it. Kansas improves to 9-0.

Vanderbilt at #20 Florida (12:30): The Gators should put an end to the Commodore nonsense in the East.

Navy at Notre Dame (2:30, NBC): Navy hasn't beaten Notre Dame since 1963. They have come close to ending the streak only a handfull of times, and this year could very well be the one. The Midshipmen have no defense, as their 52-59 loss to Delaware demonstrated. However, they do have an offense, something the Fighting Irish lack. Weis' squad hasn't managed more than 19 in any of their games. Even luck cannot propel Notre Dame over Navy. I hope the entire Academy runs onto the field after the win.

#12 Michigan at Michigan State (3:30, ABC): The Spartans have come so close to an upset this season. Cut 'em a break, will ya Carr?

#3 LSU at #17 Alabama (5, CBS): Nick Saban gets walloped by his former employer. Boston College stays ranked above LSU even after the Tiger domination of the Tide.

"You guys played a good game. Have fun cleaning up after we trash 'Bama."

#4 Arizona State at #5 Oregon (6:40, ESPN): It's the Pac-10, so no one cares.

Florida State at #2 Boston College (8, ABC): ABC is hosting a slew of day games and night games? That's awesome.

Oregon State at #19 USC (8, ABC): Get this trash off of television, please.

That's all I have for this week. Hopefully I can be more faithful to you guys from here onward. Oh, one other thing. I lost the challenge to Tim. My computer crashed a few weeks before the finish, but I was so far behind that I conceded. Therefore, I'll be sporting a pink T to the Auburn-Tennessee Tech game. Don't worry; there will be pictures.

Q: Is it worse to look like this guy or wear pink to a football game?

A: Wearing pink is still worse.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bowl Predictions, Week 3

It's that time again! Some thoughts:
  • Auburn and Michigan in the BCS? "This is madness!" you say. I say, "This is Sparta the 2007 college football season!" Michigan has been soaring up the polls and the BCS rankings, and if they lose only to Ohio State in the season finale they should still meet the golden criteria (top 14, 9 wins) to get picked as a replacement for Ohio State by the Rose. As for Auburn, they're almost in the top 14 and will continue to rise as long as they win out. Alabama could find themselves here if they win out as well. They have the best chance to qualify since the SEC East is too busy beating itself up (see: Kentucky, Florida). Also, Hawaii is getting to a point where if they win out they might get an auto-bid, but they really need to beat someone that will get them ranked in the computers. For now, I have predicted Arizona State and Kansas to be 1-loss teams that get at-large spots, though that last spot in the Sugar is something of a tossup. (The Sugar is also where Hawaii would probably fall if they qualified, since they pick last this year.)
  • There are a few 6-6 teams that didn't make it but I don't remember who they are at the moment. The SEC may qualify both Miss State and Vanderbilt, though the latter is less likely. (Miss State should be favored to beat Ole Miss at this point, whereas Vandy will be an underdog in all its remaining games.)
  • I've seen some projects put GT into the Champs Sports, but I think it's more likely we fall to the ACC 5/6/7 rigmarole. Also, if nothing else, I could at least go to Nashville for a bowl game if that were to happen. But if we lose 2 more we could find ourselves out west.
  • Though I think Miami will actually be lucky to qualify for a bowl at this point, they probably won't make a return trip to Boise, so I've swapped them and FSU's proper places.
  • For now, I've reverted the Gator and Sun back to their more natural conferences, as I really doubt the Sun Bowl wants UConn.
  • Intriguing projected match-ups: USC-Texas (Holiday), Michigan-Oregon (Rose; can the Wolverines not get blown out this time?). I guess that's not that good of a list? Eh, that's the issue with these early projections.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

This Weekend in College Football: Week 9

Before we get into the FOOTBAW, a little baseball aside.

So to watch Braves games I bought a subscription to, baseball's online service for out-of-market regional games. (This is where I give a hearty "f-you" to TBS for ending national Braves broadcasts; though I understand why it sucks that it happened when I moved to the west coast.) Though you can't get live video of post-season broadcasts (a hearty "f-you" to Fox, just on general principle because I don't like Fox - thanks for forcing a damn three day layoff between the end of the LCS and the World Series that may push the series into November) you can still get the live radio feeds. So I popped open the stream of the Red Sox home broadcasters about 10 minutes after game time to hear something to the effect of: "Beckett strikes out the side, we go to the bottom of the first."

"Oh snap," I thought, "if he's on tonight the Rockies are pretty much screwed." And he was on, but they didn't lose then and there.

Bottom of the first, the Sox's young leadoff hitter takes the 2nd pitch to straight-away center for a home run. Fenway erupts.

That's the precise moment at which the Rockies lost.

The Sox scored a few more runs. I turned it off around the 3rd inning because I had to go home, but the outcome of the game wasn't in doubt in my mind. So I wasn't surprised to find later that the final was 13-1.

The Rockies pretty much need to win tomorrow. The problem for them is, they probably won't and will head back to Denver down 2-0. I would be surprised if the series made it back to Boston at that point.

Anyway, now that I have a new idea for a post (how networks effect scheduling of games, or more accurately how they ruin them), let's go onto football.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong. As a free bonus, we're throwing Thursday's and Friday's tilts as well.

7:30: Boston College @ Virginia Tech (ESPN): This is one of the two big reasons to bother to watch football at all this weekend, other than that you should be watching it anyway. This the first of many of BC's potential stumbling block away games, one of two of the conference's toughest places to play. (They also make a visit to Clemson.) The big question is at quarterback. On the VPI side, the question is "Who will be the starter?" as their mobile freshman guy hurt his ankle last week versus Duke.
On the BC side, the question is "How will Matt Ryan fare against the VPI defense?" If their previous game against a "Tech" was any indication, he should do fairly well. The Hokies are actually ranked lower (40th, compared to 33rd) than the Jackets. Matt Ryan is definite NFL caliber QB who is not fazed by blitzing and can make pinpoint accurate throws into tight coverage. (His line: 17 TD, 6 INT, 63.2%.) The Hokies have the 17th ranked rushing defense, but it doesn't really matter because BC will pass first (the Eagles pass on 56% of their plays).
Meanwhile, the Hokies will desperately try to retool their offense with Glennon back at the helm. Glennon was benched for a reason: against ECU he led the offense to 17 points, and only 7 in the debacle at LSU. He did play well last week, but that was against Duke. Boston College boasts a pretty stout defense, including the best rushing defense in the country, allowing a downright meager 46.53 yards per game. Their pass defense isn't bad, either.
So, I guess in conclusion, I think the Hokies are going to have some real problems. If this game weren't in Blacksburg, it might not even be close, but I'm going to call for BC to remain undefeated in a tight game.

9:00: Air Force @ New Mexico (Versus): This is a sort of cool down game, sort like how you're supposed to "cool down" when you're done exercising. This is actually a pretty big tilt in the MWC - though BYU is stomping everyone in the conference, neither of these teams are bad and it could have an impact on their bowl situations (though I have Air Force not going to San Diego to avoid a rematch with Navy). The Air Force should win, though.

9:00: Boise State @ Fresno State (ESPN): Don't look, but the boys of The Valley (as opposed to those other valleys in California) are relevant in the WAC again after really brining the suck last year. 4-0 vs. Boise's 3-0, but I think what most people care about is that one of them beats Hawaii. I'll give Fresno the home edge.

  • West Virginia @ Rutgers (ABC/Gameplan): I don't know why ABC is having these noon-eastern broadcasts this week, but whatever. At any rate, it's safe to say that this game is far more important for West Virginia than it is for Rutgers. WVU needs to have only 1-loss to stay relevant nationally (and more importantly, preserve my prediction that they go to the Rose Bowl). And I think they will - I think Rutgers is a good football team, but WVU is better.
  • Colorado @ Texas Tech (Gameplan/ABC): See, I liked a few years ago when Colorado was terrible and bribing their recruits with strippers. Made it easy to "man, they are going to lose." And they did. And by all rights, they should. But Texas Tech is coming off a huge let down against Missouri, who blew out the Raiders 41-10. Yes, that's right, Texas Tech only scored 10 points. Neither of these schools is exactly on an uptick right now. I'm going to go ahead and pick TTU anyway, but be wary of an upset here.
  • Michigan State @ Iowa (ESPN2): Big Ten yawnfest of the day. Michigan State wins; let's move on.
  • North Carolina @ Wake Forest (Raycom/Gameplan): Okay, this isn't really much more exciting, but at least I nominally care about it. UNC will probably lose, though, adding yet another game to their series of close losses.
12:30: Mississippi State @ Kentucky (LF/Gameplan): Kentucky is coming off their loss to UF, but should find relief in the comfort of the arms of Mississippi State. Or I should say, that Miss. State will desperately be trying to get Andre Woodson and his receivers in their arms, because the whole tackling thing is essential in this sport. I guess what I'm trying to convey here is that it's rather unlikely they'll be able to do so and will lose pretty badly.

3:00: Southern California @ Oregon (FSN): I'm not entirely sure how this game escaped ABC's clutches (the scheduling for this weekend is wacky) but at any rate this is probably for the Pac-10 title and a Rose Bowl berth, or in Oregon's case a chance to sneak their way back into the title game picture. (Provided neither team loses again, they could both make a BCS bowl, especially Oregon.) Anyway, I think Oregon is darn good football team, and more notably they did what they were supposed to do with Stanford (whipping them 55-31). This game is, to me, definitely in favor of the Ducks, but could be close.

  • Georgia vs. Florida (CBS): The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party kicks off once again in Jacksonville. I like to think of it as more as Georgia's yearly whipping at the hands of the Gators. As you probably know, UF has won all but two contests since 1990, and I don't see any reason why this season won't be different.
  • Nebraska @ Texas (ABC/Gameplan): If sports message boards and more nerdy message boards intersected, they'd spawn memes like "lolnebraska" instead of "lolsony". Nebraska has lost three straight and all but fired their head coach. The word "quit" has been used a lot in conjunction with the word "team." In other words, Texas by at least 2 touchdowns. Unfortunately, it looks like most of the country is going to be subjected to this crap and it won't even be in HD. Either of the other two ABC contests will probably be more palatable.
  • Clemson @ Maryland (Gameplan/ABC): So let's start with the ACC game. Clemson broke their two game losing streak to the ACC's Techs with a drubbing of Central Michigan. Maryland, meanwhile, was on the wrong side of Virginia's incredible lucky streak last weekend. That said, this matchup is important in the ACC's other division (my name for the division GT isn't in because I can never remember the stupid names) and for the ACC bowl pecking order. Clemson still has a lot of weapons, but they seem to forget what they are - in their loss to Virginia Tech, they got down 17-0 early and Cullen Harper threw 66 passes. Davis and Spiller had a combined 12 yards rushing, and whenever stuff like that occurs it's usually bad, bad news for the Tigers (same thing happened to a lesser degree against Tech). Provided Clemson avoids an early let down and runs the damn ball, I think they win.
  • South Florida @ Connecticut (Gameplan/ABC): Since USF's soft, vulnerable underbelly has been exposed. And that vulnerable spot is the blitz, as Groethe apparently had "no hot reads" against Rutgers's rush. Meanwhile, UConn finds itself ranked and playing the most important game in its short football history. The still haven't beat anyone, though, and I doubt they will here.
  • Minnesota @ Michigan (ESPN Classic): Michigan, by 3 touchdowns.
6:30: California-Los Angeles @ Washington State (FSN): UCLA can't decide if it sucks or not, and I don't think anyone would be surprised if they celebrated their victory over Cal by losing in Pullman. I mean, heck, the Cougars have more wins than Notre Dame does. That said, I'm taking UCLA here.

7:00: Kansas @ Texas Agricultural & Mechanical (ESPN2): I hate to say this, but I think KU is actually kind of legit. Look for them to prevail in College Station.

7:45: South Carolina @ Tennessee (ESPN): Whoops. So, uh, yeah. Vandy. And Alabama. Both these teams suffered terrible, terrible losses last week. While losing to Vandy is bad in and of itself for most SEC teams, getting basically blown out by one of your chief rivals (where does 'Bama rank on the Tennessee rivalry scale, anyway?) is probably worse. The calls for the head of Fulmer reach high. Whil they be able to recover? It helps them that South Carolina has pretty much no offense, but Tennessee has no defense. I expect the Gamecocks to recover and prevail.

8:00: Ohio State @ Pennsylvania State (ABC): This is probably Ohio State's chance to lose before playing Michigan, and I'm sure the biggest Penn State fans this weekend may actually be in Pasadena. Penn State is a decent team, but Ohio State is good. This year, the Buckeyes haven't allowed more than 17 points on defense. This would mean more if they could beat a decent team, though. I think they will, for my previously stated reason that they need to be undefeated heading into the Michigan game for maximum season-ending chaos potential.

10:00: California @ Arizona State (FSN): And our last game of the day, Cal's last gasp of relevancy following their terrible loss to UCLA. That said, the Sun Devils face their first true test and I honestly thing the run ends here or next week at Oregon. I'll go ahead and take the Bears.

I had something to say here, but this post took forever, so I'm going to bed. Enjoy the weekend!