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!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bowl Predictions, Week 2

Week 2 of my horrendous guesses trying to put some order into this season that lacks any. Some notes:

  • I really have no idea what to make of the BCS situation. For starters, who will the Rose Bowl want if Ohio State runs the table? There is no way any other Big Ten team is going to qualify for the BCS. And even outside of that, who are going to be the at-large teams? Of my at-large qualifiers, only Kansas might have 1-loss. Madness.
  • The Big Ten is so mediocre this year that they will have 9 bowl eligible teams. This week I was able to fill all spots, so I gave Indiana and Northwestern the shaft. The SEC may also have another qualifier, so I gave Arkansas the shaft, especially if they end up firing Nutt.
  • I still have Tech in the Music City bowl, but more realistically they will end up on the West Coast if they lose more than 1 game the rest of the way.
  • These result more of what is going on right now than out-and-out predictions, which is why my stated prediction of Michigan beating Ohio State isn't on here. Also, these try to somewhat more firmly rooted in reality.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

This Weekend in College Football: Week 8

Before our predictions, let me misquote the best Tom Clancy-based movie, Hunt for Red October: "This season will get out of control. This season will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it."

With USF losing Thursday night in New Jersey, things could open up for the 1-loss teams if there's some shenanigans down in Baton Rouge tonight. By the way, I think that USF should stay in the top ten - USC didn't fall that far after suffering a far, far worse loss. But I suspect the humans will put then in the 12-15 range. Whatever.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Pennsylvania State @ Indiana (ESPN): Surprising Indiana squad gets a home date with a somewhat disappointing Penn State team. (Note, however, that both are 5-2. Pre-season expectations for the win!) That said, Indiana got blown out last week by the green Spartans, meanwhile Penn State is coming off a huge victory over Wisconsin. Should be interesting, as far as Big Ten games go, tough to tell who's going to come out on top in this one. I go against my usual instinct to pick the home team in this situation and go with Penn State.
  • Iowa @ Purdue (ESPN2): Don't let their victory over Illinois fool you - Iowa is still terrible. While Purdue has wilted against actual teams, Iowa doesn't really count. Look for the Boilermakers re-discover how to play offense.
  • Army @ Georgia Tech (Raycom/Gameplan): I wouldn't usually list a game like this, but it's Tech so it's going here. This is homecoming for the Jackets, and it was hoped when this game was scheduled it'd be a homecoming for Bobby Ross, but he resigned earlier this year and got inducted into the GT Hall of Fame anyway. I hope we can get up early and practice passing a little, but Army made Boston College leave their starters well into the second half, and as the cliche goes the guys from the military academies usually don't quit easily.
  • Oklahoma @ Iowa State (FSN): Why is this on TV? Really? OU rolls.
  • Texas @ Baylor (Versus): (see above, replace "OU" with "Texas")
  • Tennessee @ Alabama (LF/Gameplan): Whoops. The Third Saturday in October rivalry is relegated to the dregs of the SEC TV deal. At the beginning of the year, I would've said this'd be on ESPN at the worst, but who knew that Florida-Kentucky would have not only SEC implications, but national ones? Both these teams have multi-game winning streaks, but only Tennessee's victory over Georgia looks any good. Also, I hate 'Bama, so I'll wish I was on "old Rocky Top" and pick the Vols.
  • Vanderbilt @ South Carolina (Gameplan): What would upset the machinations of a SEC title game contender more than a loss to Vandy? Unfortunately for the Commodores, South Carolina seems to be winning the games it's supposed to this year. So I'll take the Gamecocks. (But go 'Dores!)
1:00: Wake Forest @ Navy (CSTV): Over/under on pass attempts for this game should be around 30. While Navy is formidable, in the end Wake should win.

  • Southern California @ Notre Dame (NBC): Notre Dame seeks to go 2-0 against teams from Los Angeles. Will they succeed? Probably not. Then again, winning by a touchdown against Arizona isn't really much of a triumph to come off of. But, still, I see little reason to pick ND here.
  • Florida @ Kentucky (CBS): CBS returns to Lexington for the second weekend in a row, again with national title implications on the line. Loser here is removed from the picture completely. I don't even know where to begin to analyze this game. Both these teams are good, good, good. I feel UF brings a slightly better offense than LSU but also a worse defense. All I know is that this will probably make for good TV, considering how evenly matched these two teams were against LSU. Possibly in Florida's favor is that they're coming off a bye week, giving them time to re-focus off the LSU loss. If they knock off Kentucky, that puts them in the driver's seat for the SEC East and a possible (probable) re-match against LSU. So, just to continue the bizarreness of this season, I'll go with the Gators here.
  • Michigan State @ Ohio State (ESPN2/ABC): Of all the bizarre things that have happened this year, this is the most normal. OSU was not highly regarded going into the year but has so far run the table on what has turned out to be a really soft schedule. Much like USC, I don't really see where they will stumble on their schedule, though, except for maybe their two remaining road tests: @Penn State and @Michigan. Honestly, for Bizarro Year to be truly complete they need to go into the Michigan game undefeated (and then losing, thus making the whole thing come full circle), so I'm going with the Buckeyes here.
  • California @ California-Los Angeles (ABC/Gameplan): While I didn't see Cal's dumb, dumb loss last week (seriously, what I read about the play at the end makes it sound downright Reggie-esque), I do know that UCLA has two bad losses at this point, including the sole Notre Dame victory. Cal gets back on their feet down in the Rose Bowl.
  • Miami @ Florida State (Gameplan/ABC/ESPN2): Ahahahahaha. Ahahahahahahahaha. Thank god this isn't the special season-opener Monday night game anymore. But, yeah, gotta pick FSU to win here. For starters, we need Miami to pick up more conference losses. But also Miami is just terrible. If FSU can put up a few touchdowns early Miami will be unable to catch up - we caught several breaks last week where Kyle Wright's "quarterbacking" bailed us out.
  • Texas Tech @ Missouri (Gameplan/ABC): Texas Tech - Missouri, now with Fiesta Bowl implications! Both teams need to avoid a second conference loss to stay in the race for their respective divisions. If Mizzou can stop the Texas Tech aerial assault, even a little, they may stand a chance. But I don't like their chances.
5:45: Kansas @ Colorado (ESPN): I am still trying to comprehend the part of the season where Kansas is a serious contender. USF, I could believe, because I mean, it's the Big East, Florida is a fertile recruiting ground, etc. Still, Colorado already ruined Oklahoma's perfect season, can they strike twice? After losing to Kansas State last week, I'm going to say no.

7:30: Oregon @ Washington (FCS Pacific/FSN NW): So, uh, Washington was a little overrated to start the year. Meanwhile, Oregon is still scoring a lot of points, as they come off a 52-7 shellacking of Wazzou last week. I expect more of the same here, though maybe only 30-7 because it's in Seattle.

  • Michigan @ Illinois (ABC): Ugh. I still have a hard time believing that Michigan is a decent football team at all, and Illinois just proved to us that Ron Zook is still, in fact, their coach after losing to probably the 2nd-worst team in the Big Ten last week, scoring only two field goals. The Juice will apparently be back at QB this week. Also, don't look, but Michigan is 3-0 in conference play. 3-0. Yes, that's right folks, a trip to the Rose Bowl could be on the line in Ann Arbor next month, the very place where all this craziness began. So, as rationalized above, I think this matchup will be preserved an I'll take the Wolverines.
  • Virginia @ Maryland (ESPN2): Both of Tech's terrible losses face off in College Park. I'm still not sold on UVA, while Maryland is actually kind-of decent. Also, we need UVA to lose. So go Terps.
9:00: Auburn @ Louisiana State (ESPN): Tigers win! (Sorry.) Anyway, Auburn played down to Arkansas's level last week and eeked out a 9-7 victory. LSU is coming off a not-exactly debilitating loss last week. I think this will be a great game if Auburn shows up with any semblance of an offense. We know both coaches are willing to take risks, though (and perhaps Tito can correct me on this) it seems to me Tuberville has gotten more conservative in the past few years. (As much as people love to talk about LSU's fake FG earlier this year, Auburn ran wonderful fakes and play-actions 4 years ago or so.) Meanwhile, Auburn is sitting at one conference loss and still in the SEC West race and could control their own destiny with a win. Will they win, though? I have my doubts. I think LSU is probably the better team here, and playing in Baton Rouge, at night, gives them an edge. (Hopefully Tito scored some tickets and can let us know first hand, also EDSBS's account of their trip there indicates that it's just as crazy as you'd think.) So I'm going to pick LSU.

That wraps it up for me, I need to get to bed so I can watch the early games. BCS comes out on Monday until the final week, so except the final version of the bowl predictions then. (Though I may post a sort-of "beta" version late Sunday, we'll see.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bowl Predictions, Week 1

Here we go kids. Here they are. I kind of explain the process during last week's first set. This year for our first week I'll try to make sense of the season and take a conference-by-conference look at the predictions, as well as a BCS section. That said, this is all pretty much a crap shoot the way this season is going.

The BCS:
The BCS rules are laid out on the prediction page, so I won't bother here. What I will say is that my process for the BCS goes something along the lines of synthesizing the current standings with what I think will happen. So for now this yields a title game matchup of Ohio State and South Florida. I don't think USF is as illegitimate as a lot of people may think. They have out-of-conference wins over UNC and at Auburn, and a victory over still highly-regarded West Virginia.

Other potential title game contenders include the other teams in the top 5: BC, Oklahoma, and LSU. LSU was (rightly) not penalized for losing to Kentucky, with some losses by other top teams could find themselves in New Orleans. Of course, according to me, they'll end up there anyway, but we'll get there in a bit.

The other conference winners, according to me, will be Boston College, Oklahoma, LSU, and Oregon. While a loss in Blacksburg Thursday does sink BC's title game chances (well, in all likelihood), it does not end their ACC Title game chances. Oregon is my pick to come out of the three-way choas created by Cal's loss to Oregon State. So they all go to their respective bowls (Orange, Fiesta, Sugar, and Rose).

So the Rose has the first shot at the remaining eligible teams, since they lose Ohio State to the title game. And, well, I have my doubts they'll be excited about what they see. There is history of SEC teams going to Rose Bowls in the distant past (i.e., before World War II Alabama went to a few games and Georgia Tech even went to one). So I put Kentucky there, assuming they'll do well the rest of the way. I figure West Virginia will be able to go to a BCS game and land in the Orange (though they could end up in the Rose as well, sending Kentucky to the Orange). I like Cal going to the Fiesta, though in retrospect perhaps this should be USC, or maybe even someone else because for my Oregon scenario they each need 2 losses. I'll re-examine this next week. Moving on, I then put Kansas in the Sugar because they'll be the most appealing team left.

The ACC:

Since I have BC going to the Orange Bowl, then my predicted ACC runner-up will be Virginia Tech, who then will go to the Gator.

It gets a lot harder after that.

Thanks to their good record right now, I have Virginia in the Gator Bowl spot, though I doubt this will remain the status quo. Clemson slots nicely to the Champs Spots Bowl, and then we have the ACC# 5/6/7 cluster for the Music City, Car Care, and Emerald Bowls. In perhaps a bit of homerism, I have Maryland getting exiled out west while Florida State and Georgia Tech go to the Car Care and Music City Bowls. Assuming Miami loses to FSU, they'll bring up the rear and make a return trip to Boise, though the league may send Maryland or FSU there instead.

The Big East:
I have both USF and WVU going to the BCS. The Big East #2 pick goes to either the Gator or Sun Bowls (see the page), and so this year I see Cincinnati going to the Sun Bowl (otherwise, the Sun will be stuck with Big East teams in 2008 and 2009). I like Rutgers to go Charlotte to play FSU and UConn to go up north, leaving Louisville to salvage to the remains of their season in Birmingham.

The Big 12:
The choas has hit especially hard in the Big 12, with both of the traditional Big 12 South powers losing before they played each other. Nonetheless, I see Oklahoma winning the conference and having a Fiesta. However, assuming Kansas's only loss is to OU in the Big 12 Title Game, then they could very easily still qualify for the BCS, so I've slotted them into the Sugar Bowl.

The Cotton Bowl will take the aerial show of Texas Tech, sending Texas out to the official start of interest-worthy bowls, the Holiday Bowl. TAMU slots in nicely to the Alamo Bowl, followed by Kansas State going to the Gator (see the Big East for why). The sixth pick goes to one of the two games that no one will see, the Insight Bowl, due to being on the NFL Network, unfortunate if you're a fan of the Missouri Tigers. The next slot is the Independence Bowl, where I send Colorado, and last and certainly least is the other game no one will see, the Texas Bowl, where the greatest offense on Earth, Oklahoma State, winds up.

The Big Ten:
After everyone's favorite "whoops!" moment of the year (Michigan losing to Appalachian State), the Big Ten was written off. And it probably still should be, as it will probably only send Ohio State to the BCS, leaving the Rose without its coveted Big Ten team as none will probably qualify.

Michigan, at the rate they are going, may well finish runner-up in the conference and end up with a nice payout in the Capital One Bowl, a nice finish after the way they started. I sent Penn State to the Outback, followed by Illinois going to San Antonio. Indiana finishes their surprising season in Orlando. Wisconsin finishes its disappointing season in Tempe, with Michigan State staying local and going to the Motor City Bowl.

"But wait!" you may say, "what about Purdue and Northwestern?" Indeed. Purdue has 5 wins and Northwestern has 4, and both should/could qualify. In the past, the Big Ten has had trouble filling its 7 bids but this year appears not to be the care. Parity is good for the old bottom line, it seems. I see Northwestern getting the shaft and Purdue (spoiler alert!) going to the Armed Forces Bowl to fill in for a Pac-10 team.

Conference USA:
Conference USA has a hearty 5 bids, the most of any mid-major. I predict East Carolina to win the whole shebang and earn a bid to the Liberty Bowl.

More than anywhere else, mid-majors generally have teams picked out-of-order to increase the chance of the game actually selling tickets. This is why I almost always pick Southern Miss to go to the GMAC bowl in Mobile, as it's about a 2 hour drive away. My predicted title game runner-up, Tulsa, then ends up in the Bowl, which always makes me wonder why they just don't drop the stupid "dot-com" like everyone else did 4 years ago (c.f., " Bowl" -> Insight Bowl"). The last two bids are held by geographically-named bowls (New Orleans and Hawaii), where the conference might be represented by UTEP and Central Florida.

Navy will easily qualify for its berth in the Poinsettia Bowl. At 1-6, Notre Dame will probably not reel off a 5-game winnings streak and miss a bowl game for the first time since 2003. Were I a lesser man, I would make a quip about how this helps postpone them extending their consecutive bowl games without a win streak. I'm not, so I won't.

The MAC:
The Mid-American Conference has 3 bids. Though it says its champion can go to either the Motor City or GMAC Bowls, due to geographic proximity the champion almost always goes to the Motor City. This will probably happen again, with Central Michigan heading to Detroit. I then like Miami of Ohio to go Mobile and Ball State to go to Toronto.

The MWC:
The Mountain West Conference has 4 bids. Its champion goes to Las Vegas, and BYU is destroying most of its conference foes so far, so I'll send them there. Wyoming goes to San Diego, Air Force to the Armed Forces Bowl, and then New Mexico to the New Mexico Bowl. Falls into place nicely, I'd say.

The Pac-10:
Though this will probably change next week, I have both Oregon and Cal going to BCS games. I like Southern Cal then to go to the Holiday Bowl against Texas. Traditional powers, usually good game, etc., etc. Next up is the Sun Bowl, where I'll send Arizona State.

After that, the Pac-10's games aren't all that great, in terms of stature. I like UCLA going to the Las Vegas Bowl and Oregon State to the Emerald, leaving the Armed Forces Bowl without a team. (Of the current 2-win teams, Washington probably has the best chance of winning 6.)

The SEC:
LSU and Kentucky will both go to the BCS in these projections. "However," you say, "didn't South Carolina beat Kentucky?" Why yes they did! But I never said that Kentucky would go to the SEC title game, did I? Late losses usually kill teams, so South Carolina's loss will probably know them out of the top 14 of the BCS and send them to the Capital One Bowl.

The SEC groups their 3-5 and 6-8 picks, presumably to give the bowls more flexibility who they chose. I like Auburn, Florida, and Tennessee to finish in the 3-5 cluster and end up in the Peach, Outback, and Cotton bowls respectively. I like Alabama in the Music City to face Tech, Arkansas in Memphis, and Georgia in Shreveport.

The Sun Belt
Troy has won 4 straight and I like that trend to continue. FAU also has a shot, but Troy has just dominated everyone since that Oklahoma State game.

The WAC:
The WAC has three bowl bids, all primarily designed to give their remote teams somewhere to go if they qualify. In a rare move, the Humanitarian Bowl actually gains its old name back after being known by it's sponsor (Micron) for the past few years. (Hint, hint Chick-fil-a Bowl.) Boise State will almost certainly end up there. Then there's the Hawaii Bowl. Hawaii is 18th in the initial BCS, so even if they do win out I highly doubt they'll be able to climb high enough to qualify. So Hawaii stays there. For the New Mexico Bowl, I pretty much threw a dart and it landed on Fresno State, so there you go.

Anyway, that's all for this week. I'll update these every Monday the rest of the way, with the the release of each new BCS. This season has been wacky so far, so these are very subject to change.

Week Eight

Despite two notable exceptions, the college football world seemed to right itself this weekend. Most of the teams in the top 25 took care of business from the get-go. #3 Ohio State slammed Kent State 48-3, #5 South Florida beat Central Florida 64-12, and #9 Oregon trashed Washington State 53-7. Virginia Tech, Arizona State, and Texas dominated, too. Boston College, the USCs, and Georgia let their opponents hang around until the end. Penn State embarrassed #19 Wisconsin 38-7, and #20 Kansas continued their march to a division title with a 58-10 decision over Baylor. (Admittedly, they were playing Baylor.)

"Maybe we should try to go into the other team's end zone."

As you well know, the top two teams in the country lost last evening. This is the eighth time that both have done so in one weekend since 1964 and the first time since 1996. Cal fell thanks to a poor decision by first-time starter Kevin Riley, who decided to run the ball with 0:10ish left rather than throw it away. Only when he fell to the ground did he realize that his team was out of time-outs. There are probably more reasons for the Bears' collapse, but they are in the Pac-10, so they aren't worth a more detailed analysis.

Somebody at needs to proofread a little closer.

LSU fell, too, in a triple-overtime thriller against up-and-coming Kentucky. The majority of the credit goes to Wildcat QB Andre' Woodson, who threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns. He even VINCE YOUNGed into the end zone through a gap so wide that I could have done the same. Woodson's performance was impressive, but the Wildcat defense won the game. LSU failed to gain a first down in four tries on the ground, the last coming about a yard short. Colt David almost saved his team with a ridiculous 57-yard field goal attempt as time expired; he had the distance but not the angle.

This is what happens when you let a conference doormat beat a juggernaut. People lie down on football fields.

Auburn's transformation appears genuine, though touchdowns are few and far between. The Tigers inched out a 9-7 win over Arkansas thanks to the powerful (and sometimes inaccurate) leg of freshman kicker Wes Byrum. Byrum sealed his place in Auburn football history by performing the Gator chomp after his game-winning field goal(s) against Florida. He missed two longer attempts against the Razorbacks but redeemed himself by splitting the uprights to put Auburn ahead.

The Tiger defense continued to impress. Arkansas' run game only managed 67 yards, ending McFadden's run (yuk yuk) at the Heisman. That effectively shut down the Razorback offense by forcing Casey Dick to throw the ball, which he can't do. I'm not sure why they play him at all with receiver Marcus Monk injured. One of my friends suggested that McFadden should be the starting quarterback. That makes sense to me.

A DVR is a wonderful tool.

I'm looking forward to this weekend. Kansas goes to Colorado to continue their Big 12 quest. USC returns to South Bend, but this time the Trojans don't have much to lose (or the best offense of all time) (3:30 PM ET, NBC). Miami and Florida State face off in what used to be an epic struggle (3:30 PM ET, ABC). Down-and-out Nebraska and Texas A&M meet for yet another showdown of disappointments.

Every time I see this picture, I get a sick feeling in my stomach.

The SEC boasts three major matchups: Florida at Kentucky (3:30 PM ET, CBS), Tennessee at Alabama (4:30 PM ET, CBS), and Auburn at LSU (9 PM ET, ESPN). No one knows what will happen in Lexington. 'Bama just squeaked by Ole Miss and Tennessee is on a roll, so I'm guessing the Tide will pull off another bogus comeback win. Tuberville is 14/15 in SEC road stadiums, but his one loss was against LSU in 2005. (Thanks a lot, John Vaughn.) I'm considering making the drive to Baton Rouge to redeem my unfaithfulness over the Florida game.

Nope, your game-winning field goal against Georgia does not erase the five misses against LSU. Nice try.

P.S. I forgot to mention that Michigan State won a 52-27 beatdown of Indiana. My fingers are crossed for a victory over Ohio State in Buckeye Stadium, which hasn't happened since 1987. Go Spartans!

Friday, October 12, 2007

This Weekend in College Football: Week 7

As usual, all times Eastern and most predictions wrong.

  • Georgia Tech @ Miami (ESPN): I don't know what to say about GT anymore. Hopefully Tenuta gets the last laugh over Patrick Nix.
  • Illinois @ Iowa (ESPN2): The chance of me watching this game is pretty much somewhere around 0%. Illinois should win handily, but with the Zookinator at the helm anything can happen.
  • Virginia Tech @ Duke (Raycom/Gameplan): Duke will be a soothing salve for VPI's offensive woes.
  • Texas @ Iowa State (FSN): Stranger things have happened. And not in the distant past, either, but this very year. That said, Texas would have to be really reeling to lose to this throughly terrible Cyclone bunch.
  • Alabama @ Mississippi (LF/Gameplan): I'll give you two reasons to watch this game. The first is because since it starts 30 minutes later, this game will be going on while the noon games are still in half time. The other is always the outside chance someone interview The Orgeron, which is a treat in and of itself. As for the game, 'Bama should (unfortunately) win.
  • Boston College @ Notre Dame (NBC): Perhaps ND got it together last week at UCLA. However, Boston College is a seriously good team, and although it would fit into the calculus of this season there is really no way they should lose to Notre Dame.
  • Louisiana State @ Kentucky (CBS): I can't help but think Kentucky has been feasting on a diet of delicious cupcakes. LSU meanwhile, has pretty much the best defense in the country hands-down. South Carolina held them to 23, and I expect LSU to do worse. That said, I also don't expect LSU to score a whole bunch, so it'll be a tight game that the Tigers win in the end.
  • Wisconsin @ Penn State (ESPN/ABC): Woo? Wisconsin isn't nearly as good as their 5-1 record might lead you to believe, but Penn State has lost to Illinois as well. Let's just take the home team and move on.
  • South Carolina @ North Carolina (Gameplan/ABC/ESPN): Okay, moving on to this may not have been such a good idea. South Carolina is pretty darn good, UNC is not. From an OOC scheduling standpoint, I like the game, but otherwise not so much.
  • Arizona @ Southern California (ABC/Gameplan): I cannot fathom a way USC loses this game. Then again, I would have said the same last week as well. If I had a hat, I'd put it on the line here, because if USC loses to another crappy team I would eat my hat. If I had one.
  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ Texas Tech (Gameplan/ABC): This is a pretty important Big 12 South title - not too often schools not named "Texas" or "Oklahoma" get to say that. It's hard to say who's better here, both have what I consider to be not-so-great losses (Miami for TAMU, Oklahoma St. for TTU). I think if Tech can pile up the points early, and they probably should, they will win. Of course, if it's a shootout, that also favors TTU. So I guess what I'm trying to say here is that Texas Tech should win.
6:00: Georgia @ Vanderbilt (ESPN2): I am desperately rooting for two in a row here. Vandy got torched at Auburn last week, however, and may have a hard time picking themselves back up. Also, UGA probably isn't too happy about losing their homecoming game last year. Take the mutts, but root for the Commodores.

6:30: Missouri @ Oklahoma (FSN): By playing absolutely no one, Mizzou is 5-0. OU has already lost to a Big 12 North team - can the Tigers tilt the balance completely in favor of the north this year? I don't really think Missouri is better than Texas, to be completely honest, and I also think the Sooners should win.

7:00: Oregon State @ California (Versus): Thanks to last week, the Versus game will now get a mention here. That said, Cal shouldn't really have any issues here.

7:45: Auburn @ Arkansas (ESPN): After losing to Miss. State, Auburn has really gotten its act together. Rediscovering the concept of "offense" against NMSU, they beat Florida and whipped Vandy. After their initial two SEC losses, Arkansas has played absolutely no one, putting the screws on North Texas and UTC. I look for the revitalized Auburn offense to put Arkansas in a hole, a position they have a really had time recovering from with their anemic passing game. Look for the Tigers to get up early, and then Arkansas to attempt a rally but never quite pass Auburn.

9:15: Colorado @ Kansas State (ESPN2): Just another day at the office for the crazy-as-hell Big 12. Despite two losses, CU is 2-0 in the conference and K-State has a loss after a hard fought game with their rival last week. So, once again, a game you might not expect to have a great deal of importance does. Being from Kansas and angered by the fact that despite needing 5-downs to beat Missouri and having a loss the Colorado sports publicist claimed this week they were the "true" champions of 1990, I'm going to go with KSU. (Sorry for the run-on sentence there.)

10:15: Washington @ Arizona State (FSN): Washington is, unfortunately, not as good as many of us thought early in the season. Saddled with 3 losses now and 0-2 in the Pac-10, UW is one the ropes. This is sort of a trap game for the Sun Devils, though - they have a bye next week before facing Cal. At 6-0 and 3-0 in the Pac-10, they can hardly afford to trip up against the Huskies. That said, the 6-0 is barely legitimate, I would say their best victory is probably the one over Colorado. Then again, there's something to be said this year about actually being about to beat patsies (that's pretty sad, if you ask me, but hey). The Sun Devils win, and will get to 7-0 (4-0), which will hopefully set up a pretty epic clash with against Cal in two weeks.

That's all, folks. Also, the first BCS standings of the year come out on Sunday, so look for my initial bowl predictions then!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Week Seven

Last week, 32 of the 65 AP voters thought USC was the best team in the nation. A 27-24 win at Washington wasn't enough to shake their confidence. A 23-24 loss to Stanford was. The Cardinal punted six times in the first half and remained scoreless until an intercepted pass by John David Booty (whose name is always referenced in full) was returned for a touchdown. Stanford scored 17 more points in the fourth quarter (including a 4th and goal touchdown pass with 54 seconds remaining in regulation) and snapped a 35 game win streak in the Coliseum. Today, the 32 errant voters finally came to their senses and voted LSU #1.

This is my favorite photo of the season thus far.

Speaking of LSU, the Tigers had quite a scare in Death Valley last night. Florida came into Baton Rouge seething from yet another loss to Auburn's defense and special teams. Unfortunately, Tebow was not the quarterback savior that the Gator nation needed. The sophomore was 12 of 26 in the air for 158 yards and produced just 67 yards in 16 attempts on the ground. Two second half turnovers gave LSU just enough chances to overcome a ten-point deficit. You have to give some credit to the Tigers, though. Miles' squad converted five fourth downs, one from the Florida 7 with little over 2:00 left on the clock.

Les Miles may be the angriest coach in the SEC.

On the Plains, I witnessed Auburn's 35-7 obliteration of Vanderbilt (the Commodore touchdown was against the second string defense). Brandon Cox was 14 of 17 for 165 yards, a touchdown, an interception, and only one sack. Cox even improvised, pitching the ball forward on one play and rolling out of the pocket to throw to the end zone. Tailback Brad Lester returned from academic suspension in full force. He ran 77 yards in 13 carries and was responsible for two Tiger touchdowns. The only disappointment was that kicker Wes Byrum never had the opportunity to display his prowess. Tommy Tuberville notched his 100th win since entering the SEC. (Also, I was able to touch his hand during Tiger Walk. I will never wash mine again.)

Believe it or not, Brad Lester can fly.

In other news, Oklahoma regained composure and inched out a 28-21 win over Texas. #5 Wisconsin was finally exposed as mediocre by Illinois, and #6 South Florida almost fell to Florida Atlantic. (How USF is still ranked in the top ten is a mystery.) North Carolina beat Miami. (Read the previous sentence again if needed.) Ohio State and Penn State took care of business while Michigan struggled against their Eastern counterpart. Notre Dame finally won (thanks to the injury of UCLA's Ben Olsen). Alabama held off previously 2-2 Houston with an interception in the end zone in the final play of the game. Kentucky's dreams were shattered as South Carolina prepared for a run at the SEC East title. Tennessee trounced Georgia 35-14.

There isn't much going on next weekend. There's more than what is listed below, but I'm too lazy to write any more (all times Eastern):

12 PM, ESPN: Georgia Tech and Miami face off to determine who is the most disappointing team in the ACC.

12 PM: UCF goes to South Florida to potentially end the Bulls' dreams.

3:30 PM, CBS: LSU goes to Kentucky to begin their destruction of the rest of the SEC. (The Tigers will not lose again after nearly falling to Florida.)

3:30 PM, NBC: #4 Boston College travels to Notre Dame to return the Irish to reality.

3:30 PM, ABC: #19 Wisconsin visits unranked Penn State (those rankings should be reversed).

7:45 PM, ESPN: #22 Auburn goes to Arkansas to see if they are really better or not.

Have fun watching!

I don't think it is possible to overuse this picture.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Anatomy of a Sack

or: "I'm in ur base, sackin ur qbs"

[Editor's note: I started writing this back in August. Some of it may make less sense now. Micheal Johnson only has one sack this year, however, I believe he is still effective - in the Boston College game he drew at least 4 holding calls by himself.]

Last season, Tech was ahead by 4 with just over a minute left when a missed tackle allowed Maryland to get all the way to the 9-yard-line. Their first two plays ineffective, Maryland calls a timeout to regroup. With 41 seconds left, the ball is snapped. No more than 3 seconds later, Micheal Johnson has soundly beaten the Maryland left tackle and his pulling Sam Hollenbach to the ground. You can watch it here.

After some confusion on the initial call, Maryland is penalized for an illegal forward pass (the ref said intentional grounding, but looking it up it appears when time is involved it is technically an illegal forward pass - either way, they got the penalty right (5 yards from the spot and loss of down)). At any rate, Maryland now has a 4th and goal from the 19 yard line and 35 seconds left.
Not that it mattered - both of Maryland's tackles got owned as Johnson and Darrell Robertson agreed to have a meeting with Hollenbach. Within another 3 seconds the game was over, as you can see here.

Today on asimsports, we'll put our Ron Jaworski hat on as we break down why, more than anything else, Tech fans are very confident about the defensive line this year.

So let's start with 3rd down.

There's the snap. The left tackle, #70, is already backpedaling.

This is almost 30 frames later. There's roughly 30 frames per second of
footage. If this is a running play, this is a decent hole on the left side of
the line. #70 has stepped to the latterly to the left, attempting to block
Micheal Johnson out of the pocket. Johnson, however, has other plans.

This is well less than a second later. Johnson has begun his spin move.

This is 17 frames after the last image. Johnson has completed his spin move.
The only way #70 can stop him now is to commit a blatant hold. The running back,
#33, does not see this occur and begins to run his delay route. This is a big
break for Tech.

Whoops. 21 frames later, #33 is now out of the play. Note compared to the
first image, the line has been moved back 3 yards. The quarterback's 3-step
drop has him drop back 6 yards. Let's see how fast Johnson closes the remaing
4 yards (Hollenbach has yet to finish his drop).

If you said 56 frames, or about 2 seconds, you were correct! Notice #70 is
on the ground. He fell down around frame 135 trying to turn himself around.

4th down

So here's the snap. Note the formation - 2 WR on the left, 2 backs, a TE
on the right side of the line (so there's no one to the right of the TE).

This is 1 one frame later. At the bottom of the screen, you see Darrell
Robertson #90. Notice he is already out of his crouch and that the TE hasn't

This is nearly a second after the snap. The tight end is already beat as
the QB is dropped out of the back of the pocket. Both the running backs are
going out on routes. Note there are four terps blocking the two defensive tackles.

22 frames later. Poor #70. Micheal Johnson has completely faked him out. #70
was preparing to block for Johnson coming through the hole, instead Micheal
Johnson just decided to run around him. Sam Hollenbach is dropping back way too
far. The line of scrimmage was the 19, and he's going to go back another 4 yards,
which doesn't help his line at all.

This where the tight end and #70 are completely beat. There is now no way
for them to block Johnson and Robertson legally.

The QB realizes his fate and tries to step up into the pocket.

Instead, he forms the middle of a defensive end sandwhich.

Ball game.

And there you have it folks.

This Weekend in College Football: Week 6

As usual, all times Eastern and almost all predictions wrong.

  • Wisconsin at Illinois (ESPN): The 4-1 Fightin' Zooks will see one of the tamest 5-0 teams in the country roll into Urbana-Champaign this weekend. I recall seeing somewhere Illinois was favored here, thus reflecting my perceptions of the Badgers. In the end, I have a hard time picking the Zookinator, so I'll go with the Badgers here.
  • Miami (FL) at North Carolina (ESPN2): Hot, hot ACC Coastal action. (Note: I still don't remember who's in which division, I just know who's not in a division with the other. Damn screwy ACC divisions.) I'm not entirely sure why this is more worthy of being televised nationally than our game, but whatever. I don't think Miami is really that much better than UNC is this year, even after the recovery victory against TAMU. I will say it's a good bet the Patrick Nix Experience will put up more points in Chapel Hill this time around than it did last year, and will probably also still escape with a victory.
  • Kansas at Kansas State (FSN): Sure, KU is 4-0, but they've beaten nobody. Meanwhile, Kansas State just beat Texas. I'm going with KSU here.
  • Georgia Tech at Maryland (Raycom/Gameplan): Hopefully no 4th-quarter heroics will be necessary here. (Also, I really want to finish the feature I'm doing on Micheal Johnson's performance in the clutch tonight.) There are questions in College Park of who the starting quarterback will be, and I think either answer is okay for us. My main worry is concentrated in the straight-up-the-middle rushing attack Maryland, a key component in their "upset" over Rutgers last week.
    Once again, Tech really needs to win the remainder of its ACC schedule. They brought the focus and the pain against Clemson last week, and I don't think this Maryland team is significantly better than Clemson is. (Of course, I don't think Virginia is, either.) While the defense was spectacular against Clemson, the offense was not. Bennett put up some Reggie-esque numbers, including a bad interception. Outside of the interception, though, he seemed more comfortable than he has in past weeks in the pocket. The problem is, our receivers couldn't catch a cold last week - there were at least 4 easy passes dropped. We need at least a 50% passing day from Taylor and another 100+ yard day from Choice, who is hopefully more healthy than he was last week. (He admitted after the game last week he'd been lying about his condition all week and was probably about 80%.) That said, Grant looked good in his limited carries, so we have options if Tashard is still not 100%.
    Once again, we need a lot of things to go right for us again. At the very least, I'm reasonably sure Maryland won't be returning any kickoffs for touchdowns this year. Tech's special team are downright great this year - we all know Brooks as well, but Travis Bell is showing the kind of promise he did early in his career. But the kickoff coverage is a breath of fresh air this year.
    As the article mentions, they also want to work in our freshman QB into the offense a little more this week. They tried last week, but Nesbitt fumbled a shotgun snap and that was that. I'm in favor of this - it's obvious Nesbitt is the QB of the future for us, and this also helps deflect criticism in the past of the backup QB not seeing enough playing time.
    Anyway, I'm going to have to get up early once again for this thing. So hopefully it'll turn out better than the UVA game.
12:30: Vanderbilt at Auburn (LF/Gameplan): Oh, Auburn. People love to give Tech crap about inconsistency but how many teams lose to Mississippi State and beat Florida in the same season? I feel your pain, Auburn fans. Anyway, AU should win here, though Vandy will probably make it exciting for awhile.

  • Georgia at Tennessee (CBS): (Hums "Rocky Top") I'm not a huge fan of Tennessee or anything. But I do really hate Georgia. It's tough to get a read on the Vols, though. At 2-2, they've lost to to two really good teams and beat two really bad ones. However, both those losses were away. Georgia's resume does precious little to impress me as well. Since it's in Knoxville, I have to give a slight edge to the Vols here.
  • Oklahoma vs. Texas (ABC/Gameplan): After the events of last weekend (whoops!), this is now more of a pillow-fight than a shootout. The winner still has a shot at getting to the Big 12 title game, and I have to say I kinda like Texas here. They have better victories and their loss is arguably better, whereas Oklahoma's resume is just bleak, despite all the points.
  • Iowa at Penn State (ESPN2/ABC): Iowa is terrible. Penn State isn't great, but they have home field advantage. I'm not sure why this is worthy of a national telecast. Anyway, let's move one.
  • North Carolina State at Florida State (Gameplan/ESPN2/ABC): Battle in the ACC Atlantic! Well, more a cripple fight. FSU still isn't great or anything, but NCSU is downright terrible. FSU should easily pick up their first conference win.
6:00: Virginia Tech at Clemson (ESPN): I read somewhere (forgot where) that Clemson is going to let Virginia Tech run down their hill. First, I think the whole "running down the hill and touching the rock" thing is pretty silly. I think it's even sillier to let Virginia Tech do it because of what happened earlier this year. At any rate, Clemson wants to avoid the dreaded second conference loss and Virginia Tech wants to stay in a position to control their own destiny in the Coastal. The real Tech (i.e., us) really needs Clemson to win here, and I don't think they're as terrible as they showed last week. The key here is: can Clemson get their two-headed monster rushing attack back on the tracks? That would be a stunning reversal of what happened last year when they played the two Techs back-to-back. (They ran for over 300 on us last year, and then went to Blacksburg and lost big.) If VPI can contain them like we did, then look for another low scoring contest like last week, which will hinge on whether or not Clemson can kick their field goals. Since it's at Clemson, I'll give them a slight edge here and say that it's unlikely Davis and Spiller will be contained for a second week in a row.

7:30: Oklahoma State at Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (FSN): Why is this on TV? Because there's a lack of decent Big 12 games to broadcast, I guess. TAMU should win, despite their bad loss to Da U last week - OSU is just bad, even at 3-2.

  • Florida at Louisiana State (CBS): This game is somewhat reduced in stature after Florida's loss last week. It is still immensely important. If LSU wins, that's one more obstacle out of their path to the national title game. If UF wins, it's the sort of thing that can catapult them back into the nebulous area near the top. But with the game in Baton Rouge and LSU just that good, I have to take the Tigers here.
  • Notre Dame at California-Los Angeles (ABC/Gameplan): Screw you, ABC. Let's pick up the national broadcast of a 4-1 team that lost to Utah against a, frankly, terrible, Notre Dame team that UCLA should beat by at least a few touchdowns. Ugh.
  • Ohio State at Purdue (Gameplan/ABC): This the game I actually want to be national and in beautiful HD as we figure out if the Boilermakers are for real or not in this clash of 5-0 teams. Purdue has been scoring a ton of points this year, but Ohio State is far and away the best team they've played so far. I'll have to give an edge to the Buckeyes here, even though I want Purdue to win.
  • Cincinnati at Rutgers (ESPN2): Rutgers had their first real test and failed last week, and now Cincy has theirs. Neither team has beaten anyone competent, but I still think the State University of New Jersey is a little better and hands Cincy their first loss of the year.
9:15: Nebraska at Missouri (ESPN): Finally. I don't know what to think about this game, and frankly I don't care. Neither team has beaten anyone, so I'm going to go with the home team and get some lunch.

Have a good Saturday, everyone!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


That pic is the final standings from my Fantasy Baseball league - I pretty much led the whole season, and I still won by 250 points despite benching most of my SPs for a few weeks. Anyway - the On Notice board for this week pretty much writes itself, so I won't bother. Next weekend I'm going to be out in CA visiting asim (who has GamePlan), so don't be surprised if there's a drunken liveblog of the day's action on Saturday (at least the afternoon PDT action). He'll also probably make me do a real On Notice board, too - so look out for that.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Week Six

I could not have picked a worse week to precede with conference winner predictions. Just in case you missed the entire weekend of college football, everything went absolutely crazy. This was the most chaotic Saturday during my tenure as a fan of the sport. Oklahoma and Texas tripped on their way to the Red River Shootout. South Florida solidified their case for legitimacy with a win against Big East-favorite West Virginia. Oregon fumbled away a chance at overtime with Cal, boosting the Bears to a No. 3 ranking.

As embarrassing as those results were for my column, I could not have been more wrong than my prediction for the Florida game. "I sold my ticket to the Swamp when I realized it wouldn't be much fun to drive six hours to watch us get clobbered" (9/12/07). I told a number of people that their trips to Gainesville were going to be a waste of time. The Auburn Tigers, apparently, thought otherwise.

I should have known that Auburn would pull off the upset. The Tigers are at their best when they are perceived to be at their worst. (I wish Auburn could somehow play as the underdog in every game for the rest of its history, because then Auburn would never lose.) Also, recent history has shown that Auburn is capable of beating Florida without an offense: the Gators are no match for Auburn's defense and special teams.

In 2001, Auburn placekicking legend Damon Duvall tacked a 40+ yard field goal with ten seconds left onto a pair earlier in the game. That kick defeated Spurrier's final Gator squad, which was ranked #1 coming into Jordan-Hare Stadium. I was only fifteen when I attended that game, but seeing the students rush the field and tear down the goal posts is one memory I will never forget.

In 2006, Auburn rebounded from a humiliating loss to then-underappreciated Arkansas to defeat the future national champions. John Vaughn, who single handedly lost the 2005 LSU game (for which I will never forgive him), put four of five through the uprights. The defense forced mutliple turnovers, a safety, and converted a blocked punt into a touchdown.

In 2007, offensive coordinator Al Borges replaced quarterback Brandon Cox with a ridiculously efficient robot. Cox was 17 of 26 for 227 yards, connecting on multiple occasions with superstar receiver Rodgriqus Smith. He didn't throw any touchdowns, but that was due to the utilization of Kodi Burns in the red zone. More importantly, Cox didn't throw any interceptions, either.

"Wait a second," you may be asking yourself. "Didn't you say Auburn beats Florida without offense?" Yes, I did; I guess I exaggerated a little. The Tiger defense held the Gators to only 17 points when they had averaged 49.25 in their first four games. They shut down Tebow three consecutive times inside the goal line.

The difference maker, in my opinion, was special teams. It all began with a Florida penalty: roughing the kicker transformed Auburn's first drive from a three-and-out to a field-long campaign for the end zone. Early in the second quarter, Auburn blocked a 34 yard field goal attempt. And, of course, freshman kicker Wes Byrum nailed two field goals (three, if you count the first try at the game winner) in the second half to seal the win.

I wish I had a picture of Byrum's Gator chomp. It was classic.

I'm a little worried about Vanderbilt's visit to the Plains on Saturday. Just as Auburn is incredible as an underdog, Auburn is sketchy as a favorite and slow in the morning. Three of our last four losses were to unranked opponents and kicked off no later than noon (Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi State). However, considering my stupidity in recent times, I'm going to go against what I would normally say and pick Auburn to win by more than two touchdowns.

That reminds of me of the Seinfeld episode where George finds incredible success by rebelling against his instincts. Maybe I should try that on this week's slate. Would South Carolina over Kentucky (Thursday, 7:30 PM ET, ESPN) be an upset? Certainly Illinois over Wisconsin (Saturday, 12 PM ET, ESPN) would. So would Florida over LSU (8 PM ET, CBS) (thank goodness I'll get to watch it). Just for kicks, I'll pick Purdue over Ohio State, Eastern Michigan over Michigan, Florida Atlantic over South Florida, and...Stanford over USC. It's so crazy that it just might work!

I'm taking college football advice from this guy. It can't get worse than last week, right?