Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bowl Games: Part III, 12/31

Here's all the games of the last day of the year. As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
  • Air Force vs. Houston, Armed Forces Bowl (@Fort Worth, TX; 12:00 PM, ESPN): I'm taking the Falcons here not because I'm currently running an Air Force dynasty in NCAA 2009 right now, but because Houston isn't very good and, well, it's the Armed Forces Bowl. Air Force almost has to win.
  • Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh, Sun Bowl (@El Paso, TX; 2:00 PM, CBS): I am finally picking Pitt to win a football game, and I'm hoping I don't regret it. That said, I can't think of very many teams more disappointed heading into their bowl game than the Beavers.
  • Vanderbilt vs. Boston College, Music City Bowl (@Nashville, TN; 3:30 PM, ESPN): As much as I like rooting for Vandy during the season, they pretty much tanked after the Auburn win, beating only Kentucky in their next seven games afterwards. BC is a decent football team, and should win, but I also don't expect the score to be that high.
  • Kansas vs. Minnesota, Insight Bowl (@Tempe, AZ; 5:30 PM, NFL): Kansas ended the season with a strong victory over Mizzou, and I can't say I've though much of the Gophers at all over the course of the season. So I'm taking KU, and let's face it, since it's on the NFL Network it's not like you'll see if I'm wrong anyway.
  • Georgia Tech vs. Louisiana State, Chik-fil-A Bowl (@Atlanta, GA; 7:30 PM, ESPN): Usually, I avoid picking Tech at all in games. I don't like predicting the outcome of my own team, because, well, it just feels wrong. To be consistent, I always pick Tech to win if I'm in a situation where I have to make a pick, like this one. So I did, and I won't even attempt to provide any justification.
The next edition to the picks will be posted later tonight or tomorrow.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Bowl Games: Part II, Electric Bugaloo

  • Central Michigan vs. Florida Atlanta (@Detroit, MI; 8:00 PM, ESPN): Totally not late. At any rate, my prediction hasn't changed Central Michigan should pull away in the 2nd half.
  • North Carolina vs. West Virginia (@Charlotte, NC; 1:00 PM, ESPN): ACC Bowl Day kicks off with UNC vs. WVU. UNC's a decent team but any level of competent coaching should allow WVU's athletic talent on offense to flourish.
  • Florida State vs. Wisconsin (@Orlando, FL; 4:30 PM, ESPN): FSU has also been a decent team this year, but Wisconsin is here pretty much for a perception of traveling well. If FSU shows up, they'll win a close one. If the offense also makes it, they'll pull away.
  • Miami (FL) vs. California (@San Francisco, CA; 8:00 PM, ESPN): The final game of the day. Miami ended the season very badly, and they will be in a pro-Cal environment and it will be cold, especially compared to south Florida. I have Cal here.
  • Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech (@Shreveport, LA; 8:00 PM, ESPN): Why is LaTech in the WAC? I really have no idea. If anyone knows let me know. Anyway, in what is probably one of the least interesting games of the bowl season I pretty much just picked Louisiana Tech because, hey, it's close to home.
  • Rutgers vs. North Carolina State (@Birmingham, AL; 3:00 PM, ESPN): NCSU started the season horribly but finished hot to just barely become the 10th bowl eligible ACC team. Rutgers also had a bad start but recovered sooner, and at any rate I have Rutgers winning comfortably, though I don't remember why. So there you go.
  • Missouri vs. Northwestern (@San Antonio, TX; 8:00 PM, ESPN): Northwestern goes to their best bowl in quite awhile, but also plays a pretty good Mizzou team. Chase Daniel and company should win easily.
  • Nevada vs. Maryland (@Boise, ID; 4:30 PM, ESPN): The Blue Turf Bowl is renewed for the last time with a WAC vs. ACC matchup, and has often been the case I think the WAC will prevail here. Nevada is underrated in my opinion and there is no way to know which Maryland team will show up.
  • Oregon vs. Oklahoma State (@San Diego, CA; 8:00 PM, ESPN): Oregon's struggled this year at times, but rallied late and beat arch-rival Oregon State. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has only 3 losses, all to teams you've probably heard of. This is the first test of Big 12 superiority this year, and I think they'll pass.
  • Western Michigan vs. Rice (@Houston, TX; 8:00 PM, NFL): Which number will be greater, the number of people at the game or the number of people able to watch it on the NFL Network? Anyway, I picked Rice to run away with it.
I'll do separate posts for the 31st and 1st. Hope you're enjoying the holidays and this bounty of bowl games!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bowl Games: Opening Weekend

Full predictions are now uploaded. As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Wake Forest vs. Navy, EagleBank Bowl (@Washington, DC; 11:00 AM, ESPN): Maryland should've been here for a somewhat rare intra-state matchup with Navy, but instead we get a rematch of Navy vs. Wake Forest. Navy actually won the first time around, but I think Wake's a decent enough team to not lose twice to the Midshipmen. Demon Deacons in a close one, 24-21.
  • Colorado State vs. Fresno State, New Mexico Bowl (@Albuquerque, NM; 2:30, ESPN): If there's such a thing as a WAC institution, it's Fresno State, and that's why they got preferential bowl treatment over, say, Nevada, who got sent to Boise. CSU qualified by the skin of their teeth, and Fresno just got worked over by Boise. Nonetheless, I think Fresno is the better team here and should prevail in the end.
  • Memphis vs. South Florida, St. Petersburg Bowl (@St. Petersburg, FL; 4:30 ESPN2): This is definitely not where USF envisioned being at the end of the year. If I were less lazy, what I would probably do is calculate the most "disappointing" seasons for each bowl team and track how they do in bowl games, because at least from a subjective standpoint this seems to have as much to do with post-season performance as anything else. That said, USF is still light-years better than 6-6 Memphis and should win, though probably by not as much as they or you expect.
  • Brigham Young vs. Arizona, Las Vegas Bowl (@Las Vegas, NV; 8:00 ESPN): BYU has two losses this year to the best teams they played, and a close (and also controversial) victory over a Washington team Arizona blew out. In the first a few games that go against my usual thinking, I'm taking the Wildcats.
  • Troy vs. Sourthern Mississippi, New Orleans Bowl (@New Orleans, LA; 8:00 ESPN): Troy finally won the Sun Belt as they should, despite managing to lose to UL-Monroe. After that, they just reeled off 3 wins and an almost upset of LSU, and wrapped up the season against UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State by a margin of 83-12. USM also had a pretty strong finish, winning 4 straight kicked off with a 70-14 blowout over UAB. That said, USM sports some bad losses and I honestly think Troy is just as good, if not better, so I'm going with the Trojans.
  • Texas Christian vs. Boise State, Poinsettia Bowl (@San Diego, CA; 8:00, ESPN): Ordinarily, the Poinsettia's sister bowl, the Holiday, signals the traditional start of bowl matchups people actually care about. That's not the case this year, as undefeated Boise State battles a darn good TCU team. And you know what? I think TCU will win this matchup. Boise is good, yes, but I think they are overrated and sport an incredibly soft schedule. It's not like TCU's losses came against chumps, either, unless you think that about Utah and Oklahoma. TCU sports a pretty good defense, good passing offense, and superior special teams that I think can knock-off the Broncos.
  • Notre Dame vs. Hawaii, Hawaii Bowl (@Honolulu, HI; 8:00, ESPN): In yet another test of motivation, we have an exceedingly mediocre Notre Dame team versus a pretty mediocre Hawaii team. Two advantages of Hawaii, though: 1) It's a home game, basically, and 2) They're more than happy to be there. I watched them nearly beat a decent Cincinatti team that wasn't prepared to be there, so I can't really fathom how ND will work up with the motivation to perform a team they should definitely outclass. The Warriors Formerly of the Rainbow win, perhaps easily.
That warps up the pre-Christmas slate. Next up, the bowls of December 26th through the 28th.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Bowl Predictions, Final

And here's the last set of trying to call who goes where instead of who wins. Once everything is set, then the predicting begins!

Anyway, here's some closing thoughts:
  • It's shaping up to be a Wake Forest-Navy rematch up in DC, though this could be avoided if the Emerald takes Wake.
  • I imagine the BCS has no good solution for the Cincinnati/Utah situation. Everyone seems to assume that Cincy will fall to the Orange and I'm going along with that, but as I've said before in the past the last bowl on the pecking the order (in this case, the Orange) gets stuck with the mid-major. Also, the Sugar featured a mid-major team last year. On the flip side, the Fiesta is probably salivating at the thought of a Texas-Ohio State matchup, which is every bit as high profile as the Rose and the title game itself.
  • I'm still guessing LSU is Tech's probably opponent.
  • Disappointment Bowl: the projected GMAC Bowl is a study in having a great season that just falls short.
  • Central vs. Western: In other MAC news, Central and Western Michigan both have winning records but the MAC only has 3 bids, and with the title game participants locked in it's going to be interesting to see who gets the Motor City bid if Ball State goes to Mobile. There's also the question of their opponent. I thought it'd be Notre Dame but the online rumor mills point to ND going to Texas or Louisiana, so I'm sliding NC State in there.
  • There was apparently a big push there year to keep bowls from announcing early. While I generally commend this trend, it does make it more frustrating to me because I basically had to do a Google news search on all the bowls a few times this week to check for news. (I used to use the ESPN news wire for this, but it's not working as well this year.)
  • In reality, the Gators may jump OU because they a) beat the top ranked team and b) as a move by the human polls to ensure the UF-OU matchup in the title game. People prattle on about the computer polls but the reality of the situation is that with 2/3rds of the vote, the human polls exact a very large amount of control over who gets in to the title game.
Anyway, Sunday's the big day, and I'll have the final set of matchups uploaded tomorrow night.

Friday, December 05, 2008

This Weekend in College Football: Week 14

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Ball State vs. Buffalo (@Detroit, MI; ESPN2): We get the championship weekend started with the resurgent Buffaloes and potential hot coaching commodity Turner Gill versus undefeated Ball State. There was apparently an offer for the Cardinals to play Boise State, but out in Boise, which I agree is silly. Anyway, Ball State goes 13-0 and then off to the Motor City Bowl, most likely.

  • Pittsburgh @ Connecticut (ESPN): I'm going to be frank here and say this is going to be a really boring game. UConn hasn't beaten anyone other than Syracuse in a month, so I guess I'll go with Pitt.
  • East Carolina @ Tulsa (ESPN2): ECU has had a real roller coaster season, but they've been more consistent than their other C-USA East brethren. Except for two nightmare weeks, Tulsa has been pretty darn good, and with the home field advantage I'll go with them.
  • Navy vs. Army (@Philadelphia, PA; CBS): I've said it before and I'll say it again. I want Army to win, but will pick Navy to do so. Also, this matches up two of the top 10 rushing offenses in the country, so there's also that.
1:00: Virginia Tech vs. Boston College (@Tampa, FL; ABC): If the fans of the schools involved can't be bothered to show up, why should I? Seriously, this game cannot get to Charlotte quickly enough. That said, Virginia Tech's offense is epically bad, barely scraping out victories against a depleted Duke squad and a very mediocre UVA. I'm taking BC.

3:00: Washington @ California (FSN): Cal. Next!

4:00: Alabama vs. Florida (@Atlanta, GA; CBS): It's Bama! It's Florida! And my very overused cliche! Anyway, this game is very tough to predict. Florida is flat-out one of the most productive offense teams in the country and has not scored less than 38 points since the baffling loss to Ole Miss. Alabama may not be as flashy on offense, but come in sporting thirds place in total and scoring defense. It's difficult for me to pick a team here. I was convinced that I was going to pick 'Bama, but maybe it's my bias or just being impressed with Florida's offense performance this season. If there's anything I've learned in life, though, your first instinct is usually right. So I'll stick with Bama, though it pains me so.

4:30: Southern California @ California-Los Angeles (ABC): USC. Next!

  • Missouri vs. Oklahoma (@Kansas City, MO; ABC): Honestly, while Mizzou is a good football team it has been shown several times this year they haven't really been able to run with the elite of the Big 12 South this year. It also helps that OU has put up 60+ for a month now. Of course, this game has produced surprising results on occassion, but I'm going to stick with the favorite.
  • Arizona State @ Arizona (ESPN): ASU has to be in the conversation amoung most disappointing teams this year. As I said last night, the winner here earns a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl. ASU has won 3 straight, but against 3 of hte worst teams in the Pac-10 this year. Of course, Arizona hasn't won since beating Wazzou a few weeks, but I'll take them anyway, and then probably forget about the game as I'll be watching Mizzou-OU.
  • South Florida @ West Virginia (ESPN2): Speaking of disappointing seasons, I think both of these teams have had one. WVU still has better talent, though maybe not good coaching as the Bill Stewart face has permeated the Internet this year. Nonetheles, I'm picking WVU.
11:30: Cincinnati @ Hawaii (ESPN2): Wouldn't be hilarious if Hawaii beat the Big East Champion? It's unlikely, though, as they only managed 24 on a very moribund Wazzou squad. I'll take Cincy here.

Bowl Updates, Part 2

The invitations, they keep a-flowin'. The bowls are, as usual, here.

That's all for now. Most of the action will happen on Sunday, so look for the final edition of these predictions very early Sunday. I'll do one last sweep tomorrow night, watch Saturday's games, and then do the last set before the dominoes fall.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bowl Updates

A flurry of bowls have announced their bids or have tipped off the press of their intentions, so I've started marking predictions. As usual, the chart is here. A quick summary:
  • Navy is going to the EagleBank Bowl in DC, but their ACC opponent is unknown. The December 20th date conflicts with Maryland's exam week and rumor has it a deal with the Motor City Bowl is in the works.
  • I was mistaken on Hawaii's bowl qualifications, and they will be headed to their namesake bowl.
  • Confirmed ACC activity: Georgia Tech to the Peach, North Carolina to the Car Care, Florida State to the Champs, and what may be the most surprising bid this bowl season, Clemson to the Gator. FSU seemed like an obvious pick for the Gator, but Clemson's willingness to travel and hot end to their season must have weighed heavily against a FSU team that just got blown out by their rival.
  • In other Gator news, indications seem they will take a Big 12 team this year. Provided they don't announce before Saturday, I'll change the Sun and Gator afterwards.
  • A side effect of the ACC picks slotting into place already means the loser of the ACC title game will fall to the Music City Bowl to face either Vanderbilt or Kentucky.
  • Lousisiana Tech accepted a bid to their local game, the Independence Bowl, which will need another at-large bid this year.
  • I was expecting Big Ten bids to be announced already, but I guess there is still a question of whether or not Ohio State will get into the BCS.
  • SEC upper-tier bids are no where near set. What I have are pretty much the best guesses of anyone, but there is some politicking going on, including Ole Miss trying to set up into the Capital One Bowl, which would send LSU to the Cotton, South Carolina to the Peach, and Georgia to the Outback.
  • Though it's not confirmed, it's pretty likely BYU will go back to the Las Vegas Bowl.
  • Confusion reigns in the world of Conference USA bids, since no one knows where the loser of the C-USA title game will fall.
  • I didn't really see any rumors of where Notre Dame might end up other than the Sun if some shenanigans happen in the Big East this weekend.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Bowl Predictions, Week 7

These are the penultimate bowl predictions in the predicting-who-goes-where phase. Next week I'll try to take a more in-depth look at this next week. For now, here's a quick overview.
  • The SEC is going to send a very mediocre slate of teams to its bowls this year, which are (arguably) collectively the most high profile set of bowls of any conference. Alabama and Florida are both elite teams and will obviously end up in the BCS (more on that in a second, though) but after that it gets very dicey very quick. First off is the decided lack of Outback and Capital One Bowl stalwarts like Tennessee and Auburn. Georgia, expected to be among the elite this year (excuse me for a second: ahahahahahahahahaha) and in the Sugar Bowl has probably locked up the SEC's best non-BCS Bowl (the Capital One) and will sport a 9-3 record and come off a loss. It drops off after that. The collective 3/4/5 picks (Cotton, Outback, and Peach) are particularly brutal. Ole Miss is probably the best looking team out of this group and they're 8-4. I've slotted them into the Cotton. LSU and South Carolina are the only other teams with winning records, so they have to go to the Peach and Outback.
  • So the BCS. Right now, if trends hold, we'll have Alabama and Oklahoma in the title game. But what happens if Florida beats 'Bama? Dr. Saturday points out it's not necessarily automatic that Florida gets in. Even so the at-large situation is very important and rather confusing.
    Provided that Alabama and Oklahoma get in, then the Sugar and Fiesta Bowls get first crack at the other available automatic qualifiers and at-large selections. They'll probably take Florida and Texas. After that, we go in reverse order and that is where it gets interesting. The Fiesta can basically choose from Cincinnati, Utah, or an at-large team (probably Ohio State). The consensus among many professional types and Utah message board posters is that Utah will go to the Fiesta due to travel concerns. I usually tend to take a pessimistic view of the BCS selection process, but the bowl commissioners have cooperated in the past (though not last year, though I suspect Hawaii probably would not have travelled well to any bowl). So while this set of predictions has Ohio State, I'll probably change it in next week's edition (if not before then). So then we go to the Sugar, which will probably be left with Cincy, Ohio State, or Utah to face Florida. If Utah does go to the Fiesta like everyone thinks, then they'll take OSU unless they really want Boise State for some reason. End result? One boring Orange Bowl, most likely.
  • Tech will go to the Peach or Gator unless they get a shaft-job of epic proportions.
Anyway, that took a lot longer than I wanted. Tune in later this week for my take on the last weekend of the regular season.

Saturday, November 29, 2008




THWG Thought of the Day: 11/29

Men, Georgie's a fine football team, a very fine football team. Georgie's bigger and faster than we are. Probably a little tougher, too.

That's okay, because we're smarter than they are.

Now, let me tell you what's going to happen. That Georgie team's going to come running out of the tunnel screaming and foaming at the mouth and smashing one another upside the head just to get warmed up.

We won't do any of that. While they waste their energy, we'll conserve ours. I've told you that they're bigger, faster, and tougher than you. That's true. But we do have that one big advantage.

We ... are ... smarter.

Think about what I teach you. Play field position. Play great defense. Make no mistakes on offense. Be great in the kicking game. Do that and we'll keep it close.

As the game goes on, they'll start to get tired because they wasted so much energy in the beginning. Because we're smart, we'll have plenty of energy left, and at some point in the fourth quarter they'll make a mistake.

When they do make that mistake, we'll get the football. And when that happens, I'll think of something and we'll win!
Coach Bobby Dodd, as told by Bill Curry

Thursday, November 27, 2008

This Weekend in College Football: Week 14

Here's your viewing guide for the entire weekend. Enjoy!

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ Texas (ESPN): In a move to ensure a full day of football, TAMU and Texas agreed to move their game from Friday to Thursday night. Of course, the game probably won't be that good, since it is in Austin and TAMU is really bad. Texas names their own score and attempts to prevent Oklahoma from leapfrogging them in the polls.

12:00: West Virginia @ Pittsburgh (ABC): Both teams enter the Backyard Brawl with 7-3 records. But are these records created equal? Both teams have a loss to Big East champ Cincinnati. Outside of that, WVU had early season losses to ECU and Colorado, and Pitt lost their opner to Bowling Green and later on to a resurgent Rutgers. But "resurgent" seems to describe both these teams, really, because mentioned above WVU has only lost once since losing to Colorado back in September. I would say it comes down to coaching but we're dealing with a matchup of the Wannstache and Bill "Somewhat Incompetent" Stewart. So then it comes down to players, and one of these teams has Pat White, and that's WVU.

12:30: Mississippi State @ Mississippi (Raycom/Gameplan): A moment of silence, please.

This is the last game for the Daves. I wrote about this back in August and it applies now. I just hope that ESPN's regional syndication arm picks these guys up. As for the game itself, Ole Miss should win handily.

2:30: Louisiana State @ Arkansas (CBS): LSU is not a very good football team. We know this now. I would say Arkansas is really bad, but has anyone noticed that their worst margin of losing since the Auburn game is 7 points to South Carolina? I still favor LSU here, but don't go predicting blowouts here.

3:30: Colorado @ Nebraska (ABC): Colorado's 2 Big 12 wins came against two of the worst teams in the conference (Kansas State and Iowa State). While winning here gets them to a bowl, I think Nebraska pulls it out.

6:00: Fresno State @ Boise State (ESPN2): I tried to watch the San Jose St. - Fresno State game last week and just ugh. This Fresno team isn't really trhat good and will probably suffer mightily in the cold on the blue turf up in Boise.

9:30: California-Los Angeles @ Arizona State (ESPN): Both these teams need a win here to maintain an outside shot at bowl eligilibility. Of course, ASU has the easier path since they play the relatively tame Wildcats of Arizona next week as opposed to USC. UCLA's only road win this year was @Washington, so I'm going to go with the Sun Devils here.

  • Georgia Tech @ Georgia (CBS): To Hell With Georgia.
  • Virginia @ Virginia Tech (ESPN): The lines are drawn and regardless of the above result if VPI loses Georgia Tech will play in Tampa next week. UVA is fighting for a bowl spot and is riding a 3-game losing streak into Blacksburg. VPI hasn't really been puching the consistency close themselves, either and lacks a serious amount of any offensive competence, as shown in the so-called football game played against Duke last weekend. That said, I will pick VPI but root like hell for UVA.
  • South Carolina @ Clemson (ESPN2): The Citadel and South Carolina State are the main reasons why Clemson is 6-5 and not bowl eligible. They need to win here against South Carolina to get to a bowl. With resounding wins over, well, um, Duke and UVA they're getting hot at the right time. South Carolina has been mostly consistent in the muddled middle of the pack of the SEC. They got absolutely waxed at Florida two weeks ago, though, so it's tough to make a call here. With the noon start, I don't think there'll be a huge advantage for Clemson at home and I'll take the Gamecocks, though I view this game as essentially a pick 'em.
  • Miami @ North Carolina State (Raycom/Gameplan):NCSU has amazingly won 3 straight against mediocre competition. Miami had won 5 straight before their shallacking last week at the hands of GT (woo). Neither of these teams are particularly good in my opinion. NCSU just, well, isn't despite their 3 game winning streak, or perhaps more accurately I refuse to believe they are. Despite having an offense led by Pat Nix, I don't really think that Miami is as bad as they showed last week. So the question may be whether NCSU as good as the team that manhandled UNC last week? I really have no idea. A coin flip says Miami.
12:30: Missouri @ Kansas (FSN): Missouri, try not to overlook Kansas too much on your way to the Big 12 title game, eh?

  • Auburn @ Alabama (CBS): As much as I hate to admit, Alabama can and will win tomorrow. Hopefully it'll at least be close.
  • Florida @ Florida State (ABC/ESPN2): I saw somewhere the line was UF by 16.5? Yeah. I'd take Florida to cover.
  • Maryland @ Boston College (ESPN2/ABC): Quick summary: BC wins and they're win. Maryland wins and FSU is in. I've liked BC all year and I like them again here.
  • Baylor @ Texas Tech (Versus): TTU was embarrassed last weekend. But the odds of it happening again are slim. TTU wins.
6:30: Kentucky @ Tennessee (ESPN2): Tennessee may have beat Vandy last weekend, but I think it was more of Vandy not playing well more than anything else. Of course, Kentucky lost to Vandy and hasn't shown any indication recently of being decent. Relucantly going with Tennessee here.

7:00: Oregon @ Oregon State (Versus): This is the second biggest game of the day in terms of the potential money involved for the Pac-10 and Big Ten. Oregon State should win, though. Oregon is not a bad team, of course. But both these teams have played an equivalent Pac-10 schedule, and Oregon State has just been consistent through the Pac-10 over the past few months.

  • Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State (ABC): Perhaps the most important considerations of this game are that OSU is a pretty good team and they are at home. But Oklahoma has just been better throughout the year, and while this series has had plenty of stunning upsets in recent history I think OU prevails Saturday night.
  • Notre Dame @ Southern California (ESPN): Southen Cal names their own score against hapless Notre Dame.
Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/27

"We may not make a university student out of him, but if we can teach him to read and write, maybe he can work at the post office rather than as a garbage man when he gets through with his athletic career." --- UGA defense attorney Hale Almand
Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/26

It takes absolutely no courage or conviction to be a [UGA] fan. All it takes is $10 and a trip to Wal-Mart. --- "GTDad", on StingTalk

Bowl Predictions, Week 6

Okay, I've been a lot busier than anticipated, but I will scratch out a bowl predictions post right quick. I'm despairing because this all going to be a lot clearer after this weekend, especially with regard to the Oregon State situation.

  • I finally bit the bullet and projected Oregon State to win the Pac-10, which causes Ohio State to miss the BCS and the Big Ten to actually fufill its bowl obligations.
  • I put Oklahoma there before the BCS came out. There's really no way to predict what the voters will do based on the results this weekend, though.
  • I am stubbornly sticking to my guns regarding a Tech-Vandy Music City matchup.
  • I apparently forgot to put someone in the Emerald Bowl. Just go with Hawaii, I guess. Oh, and ignore that Fresno State-Rutgers is a rematch. (I may correct these issues before I upload next week's.)
  • Somewhat Non-Obvious Matchup of the Week: None. I don't see any non-high-profile game that intrigues me at all on this list.
Anyway, I will try to upload on Saturday night. My usual policy is to at least do the initial predictions before the bowls will have a chance to announce matchups. (A lot of bowls involving non-BCS conferences will probably announce their bids this week.) If a bowl extends a bid and I'm wrong, I will change the prediction of the other bowls involved with that conference. I don't remember if I count any correct predictions that were changed during the week as "correct", but we'll see.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/23

It's to Hell With Georgia Week here on ASimSports.

I'll try to make a post every day with content related to the upcoming contest this Saturday. I've set up some to post ahead of time, and others I'll do on the fly.

Today, however, we rest. Well, also I have a flight in a little over 5 hours. After I get back home, I'll be back with some thoughts on what happened yesterday and the bowl predictions. I actually already uploaded them, but I'll double-check them once the BCS comes out and then do my analysis.

Friday, November 21, 2008

This Weekend in College Football: Week 13

I love Thursday night games. What I like even more is that we managed to win this year.

Das Jackets are now 8-3 with 1 game to go. We're basically at the upper bound of what I predicted we could this year (4 to 8 wins), based on all the stuff that happened in the offseason. And what I saw tonight is one of the best games mentally Tech has played all year. There was only really one or two major player mistakes (the chop block early in the 1st quarter, which was legit, and the bad pitch by Jaybo in the third) and one coaching mistake (the onside kick after MJ's pick-6). All these mistakes presented opportunities to let Miami into the game, but the team recovered and shut down Miami on offense until garbage time. The Tech offense didn't let up until late in the 3rd quarter, and perhaps best of all the Jackets never trailed in this game.

Anyway, unlike the crap last weekend, there's actaully some games on Saturday. So let's do some predictin'.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Michigan @ Ohio State (ABC): It's Michigan! It's Ohio State! Er, wait, OSU is favored by three touchdowns? Trivia of the week: The last time either team came in with a losing record was OSU in 1988 (they were 4-5-1 at the time, and then lost). The last time Michigan came into this game with a losing record was 1967. As for the prediction part, well, I agree with Vegas on this one.
  • West Virginia @ Louisville (ESPN): Louisville has no moment here, as losers of 3 straight. The only thing in their favor is WVU's terrible coaching, but even so I don't like the Cardinals' chances here.
  • Indiana @ Purdue (ESPN2): I like how this game is on national TV but Illinois-Northwestern isn't. At least Northwestern is going to go a bowl. Anyway, will the Boilermakers be able to win one for Joe "Oatmeal" Tiller? Since both are 1-6 in the Big Ten and 3-8 overall, and also terrible in general, this game is about a push as far as I'm concerned. So I'll just root for Purdue and move on.
  • North Carolina State @ North Carolina (Raycom/Gameplan): GT needs UNC to lose one of its last two games, but I don't really see that happened. Of course, I didn't really see UNC losing to Maryland last week, either, but them's the breaks. Also, Maryland is better than Duke and NC State, even in this topsy-turvy ACC. Tarheels win.
  • Clemson @ Virginia (Raycom/Gameplan): If Clemson pulls out a win here, they will be bowl eligible. Talk a miracle comeback. Tech also needs UVA to lose again, but I don't really see that here either. Cavs win.
12:30: Tennessee @ Vanderbilt (Raycom/Gameplan): The last time Tennessee did not go to a bowl was 2005, where Vandy (having blown their chance to do so) played the spoiler. While there will probably still be more construction orange than black or gold in Nashville, I like Vandy's chances here now that they have the bowl qualification monkey off their back.

2:30: Syracuse @ Notre Dame (NBC): Man, I really wanted Navy to win last week. Oh well. This is pretty automatic for ND here as long as they're not looking forward to next week.

3:00: Washington @ Washington State (FSN): CRIPPLE FIGHT. The two worst teams in major college football will face off in the Apple Cup Saturday. Hilariously, both teams have scored the same paltry amount of points (139) but U-Dub's defense is allowing 10 points less per game. I suspect this will be the edge here, so I'll take the Huskies.

  • Mississippi @ Louisiana State (CBS): I don't know if the rest of the college football world noticed, but LSU nearly lost to Troy last week. The short story is that for 3 quarters, LSU's quarterbacks were really, really bad. That said, I still like LSU here as at every other skill position they are more talented than Ole Miss. (That said, if LSU is down 31 at the start of the 4th quarter they're not coming back this time. I think that's obvious, though.)
  • Michigan State @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN2/ABC): Penn State is playing for the Rose Bowl here, basically. If Michigan State wins, they will probably have a case for one of the other BCS bowls. If Penn State wins, and I think they will, then they'll go to the Rose.
  • Boston College @ Wake Forest (Gameplan/ESPN2/ABC): Wake has been, well, inconsistent this year. I realize this is moniker that could apply to every team in the ACC, but still they lost to by far the worst team in the conference last week. Meanwhile, BC is on something of a roll after wins over Notre Dame and FSU. I like the Eagles here.
  • Stanford @ California (ABC): My favorite thing about this game? The Stanford Jonah. Yes, that's right, the song GT ripped off at the 1929 Rose Bowl and turned into "Up With the White and Gold". So I get to watch a usually entertaining game (and, if you look at the coverage map, not many people will) and sing one of our fight songs. Everyone wins! At any rate, Stanford needs this win to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2001. I'm not really optimistic about their chances, so I've got to pick Cal here.
  • Air Force @ Texas Christian (Versus): Hey, uh, Versus? If you were going to show a Mountain West game, why not, you know, BYU-Utah? I mean, I'm just saying. At any rate, I may watch this just for AF's true wishbone offense (at least, I think it is) but TCU should prevail.
  • Illinois @ Northwestern (BTN): I wonder when the last time NU was favored here? Well, I don't know if Vegas does but I do.
  • Oregon State @ Arizona (Versus): Oregon State is living the dream right now, and as long as they don't overlook Arizona I think they will go into next weekend with a very real chance of winning the Pac-10.
  • Iowa @ Minnesota (BTN): Minnesota has got to be the turn-around story of the year. Of course, they're not exactly ending on a high note at the moment as they've lost 3 straight with bad losses to Big Ten bottom-dwellers (and try not to laugh (too much)) Michigan and Wisconsin. Despite every lesson I've ever learned about Iowa, I like them here.
7:15: Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati (ESPN2): I really just cannot take the Wann-stache here. Also, a win here would just about clinch the conference for Cincy, as they'd hold tiebreakers over everyone except UConn. So I like the Bearcats.

7:45: Florida State @ Maryland (ESPN): While a win here does not clinch the ACC Atlantic for the Turtle, it does keep them in the driver's seat. Also, nothing about FSU scares me and the game is at Maryland, where it will be cold (and loud, if anyone shows up). I'll take the Terps here.

8:00: Texas Tech @ Oklahoma (ABC): If I had a copy of "The Final Countdown" I'd start playing it right now. Of course, the question is, does a loss to Oklahoma even knock TTU out of the title game? I'm not so sure it does. Oklahoma would be best loss sported by any of the 1-loss teams. And if OSU beats Oklahoma next week TTU would still go to the Big 12 Title Game with a shot at redemption anyway. So maybe this isn't quite the final countdown. At any rate, I like Texas Tech. This offense is just too good. I realize both offenses are good but OU's is pretty white break in my opinion, whereas I (and the talking heads are jumping on board with this) think of Mike Leach as a pass-happy version of Paul Johnson. So I have to go with Texas Tech here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bowl Predictions, Week 5

Once again, on the stage of history, this week's bowl predictions. Commentary follows.

Oh, you can read them here.

  • Tech versus Vandy may be optimistic hope more than anything else, but let me just throw this out here:
    Dear Music City Bowl,

    If you select the Georgia Institute of Technology to your post-season collegiate football contest, I will purchase a ticket for myself and several of my colleagues.

  • Oh, I also suppose there's a chance a Tech could end up just about anywhere in the ACC's bowl hierarchy except for the Peach. I break it down like this. Wins against Miami and Georgia probably propel Tech all the way to the Gator. Win against Miami but a loss to Georgia puts Tech purely at the mercy of the bowl committees. I could see Tech anywhere from the Champs to the Car Care in that scenario, with a slight chance of having to go out west or to DC. 0-2 the rest of the way likely means the football team will need to start packing their bags for San Francisco. A loss to Miami but a win over UGA will probably just cause my brain to explode.
  • Alabama and Texas Tech control their own destines. The 1-loss teams that have an inside track of are probably Texas and Florida. Oregon State has games with Arizona and Oregon remaining to settle the matter of the Pac-10.
  • There's now a glut of potential bowl eligible teams. I've listed the teams that are or might go 6-6 that didn't get at-large bids at the bottom. The Big East will probably end up with 2 extra teams, which the Pac-10, Big 12, and SEC will all come up way short. The Sun Belt looks like a bunch of geniuses at the moment due to a pre-season deal that they would provide backup teams to three bowls, as this also gives their 6-6 teams priority over "true" at-large 6-6 teams.
  • Somewhat Non-Obvious Matchup of the Week: Iowa-Mississippi. Not really a game I want to watch, but notable because who would've expected either of these teams to appear in the Outback Bowl back in August? Of course, both benefit from very strong teams at the top of their conferences that will get them 2 BCS bids.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This Weekend in College Football: Week 12

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Notre Dame vs. Navy (@Baltimore, MD; CBS): Should Navy win this game? Probably not, despite everything ND still had more talent on both sides of the ball. Can Navy win this game? Almost certainly, and I'll project them to the upset.
  • Ohio State @ Illinois (ESPN): That Pryor guy's pretty good, I hear. OSU names their own score.
  • Northwestern @ Michigan (ESPN2): When people talk about how boring ACC football is, I think of Big Ten football and games like this. Despite how bad Michigan has been they could definitely win this game, but I think NU pulls it out anyway.
  • Indiana @ Pennsylvania State (BTN): Penn State had their bad game of the year last weekend, but unfortunately (for them) it was against a mediocre Iowa team and they don't have the schedule to make up for it. They'll get back on the Rose Bowl tracks against the Hoosiers, though.
  • Duke @ Clemson (Raycom/Gameplan): Man, I don't know about Duke anymore. They started off so well! Then they, uh, lost to by far the worst team in the ACC last week. Whoops! Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and take the Tigers. Duke is just, you know, Duke at this point instead of "darkhorse ACC sleeper".
  • Texas @ Kansas (FSN): Texas doesn't need William Shatner to explain that they can name their own score for this one.
  • Georgia @ Auburn (Raycom/Gameplan): Georgia may easily be one of the most disappointing teams in the country this year. And I couldn't be happier about it. I'd be really happy if they, say, ended the season on a 2-note losing streak. Once again, though, my heart says "maybe they'll play like this did last week against Kentucky but lose this time" but my brain says that "Auburn hasn't beaten anyone worth a damn this year and has lost 4 straight against DI-A competition". So I'll go with the brain. For now.
  • South Carolina @ Florida (CBS): South Carolina isn't a bad football team, no. But what follows is the amount of points Florida has scored against SEC competition since their miscue against Ole Miss: 38, 51, 63, 49, and 42. For those of you as calculator dependent as I am, that's 48.6 points per game. And that's not terrible. What I'm trying to say is while The Visor going back to Gainesville makes a good storyline this probably won't be a good game.
  • California @ Oregon State (ABC/Gameplan): Oregon State controlling their own destiny is the one thing I don't think I've heard anyone on TV talking about. I know it's sort of a long shot considering their remaining schedule, but still! This would have huge effects on the BCS bowls because Oregon State is not even sniffing the rankings. That said, it's tough to predict how they will perform against the first decent team they've played since Utah. I'm going to test the waters here and predict an OSU win.
  • Minnesota @ Wisconsin (ESPN/ABC/Gameplan): Yet Another Big Ten Game That Involves a Trophy. Man, we should invent a trophy for our "rivalry" against, say, Duke! Yeah, there you go. Anyway, Wisconsin has dominated this series over the past 4 years, but I think despite the loss to Michigan last week Minnesota is poised to turn the tide.
  • North Carolina @ Maryland (Gameplan/ESPN/ABC): This is an ACC football game involving two teams within a couple games of each other. Most outside observers would say this is pretty much a toss-up, but UNC has really been the most consistent team in the conference. I am not even kidding. And for UMD, there are worse teams to lose to than VPI, but I think UNC is a reasonably talented football team and will win. (Now watch Maryland hang 50 on them for no apparent reason.)
  • Brigham Young @ Air Force (CBSCS): I was thinking about dropping the CBS College Sports games this week, but then I saw this matchup and realized I'd feature it anyway. While Air Force doesn't control its own destiny in the Mountain West, it can sure affect BYU's chance to knock Utah off at the end of the year. That said, I still think BYU is capable of defeating Air Force, blowout loss to TCU nonwithstanding.
6:30: Missouri @ Iowa State (FSN): Man, what is it like to lose eight straight games? Like, it's one thing to lose all of them, Wazzou-style. But Iowa State started off 2-0! Anyway, Oklahoma State put up 59 on them a few weeks ago and I guess Mizzou will try to top that for style points or something.

7:00: Southern California @ Stanford (Versus): I almost went to this game, but apparently people are actually bothering to show up for this so the tickets are ridiculously expensive. Just out of spite, I will predict a USC win. Oh screw it, they'll win yes, but I'm rooting for the Cardinal just because it's more fun that way.

7:45: Mississippi State @ Alabama (ESPN): I think I said this last week but I think the odds of this edition of Alabama getting Croom'd this year are pretty slim. Anyway, if I had a cowbell I'd be ringing it throughout this contest, but in reality the Sabanators will probably win by 30 or 40.

  • Boston College @ Florida State (Gameplan/ABC): Things FSU will not do this weekend: pass, as they've suspsended 5 WRs. Unfortunately for them, that was kind of a weapon for them this year. Do they still have the talent to beat BC? Probably, but so did ND and BC took care of business 17-0. This one will be a close, offensive-less ACC battle probably in the 14-10 neighborhood. I think BC will have the 14.
  • Oklahoma State @ Colorado (ABC/Gameplan): I'm not sure what this game did to deserve the prime time slot. OSU by like 30 or whatever.
  • Vanderbilt @ Kentucky (ESPN2): Vandy! You coulda been a contenda! But you had to lose the mojo and lose 4-straight, including two inexplicable losses to Duke and Mississippi State. 1 win! That's how close you are! For once, I'll take the sentimental favorite just because.
10:15: California-Los Angeles @ Washington (FSN): Sometimes I look forward to these late-night West Coast games, especially since they're not really all that late here. Not this one, though. Anyway, UCLA all the way.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

BCS Shenanigans: Oregon State Edition

So I based my bowl predictions on the idea that Oregon State will, actually, you know, lose again. But here's OSU's remaining schedule:
  • 11/15: vs. California
  • 11/22: @Arizona
  • 11/29: vs. Oregon
It's probable they'll lose to one of those teams. Though they beat USC, they subsequently lost to Utah the next week and their new found 4-game winning streak has been against the 4 worst teams in the Pac-10 (UCLA, Arizona State, Washington, and Washington State). But what if they don't lose again? Well, they would earn the Pac-10's auto-bid to the Rose Bowl. So let's re-evaluate the BCS selection process, using the same set of assumptions I use in my normal bowl predictions:

  1. Set the auto-bids. Alabama and Texas Tech go to the title game, VPI goes to the Orange, Penn State and Oregon State go to the Rose.
  2. The Sugar gets first pick of the remaining auto-bid teams (the Big East winner, Utah, Texas, and Florida). The Sugar being where it is, they'll be more than happy with another SEC team and take the Sugar.
  3. The Fiesta gets the next pick to replace Texas Tech. The Fiesta also has the first at-large pick, so they effectively get to setup whatever matchup they want. There are still 3 auto-bids left, so of those 3 let's say they take Texas. The Fiesta probably doesn't want Utah or the Big East champ, so they leave them to the Sugar and Orange to sort out while they take stock of the eligible at-large teams. The juciest prizes are almost certainly a 2-loss Ohio State and a 1-loss Southern Cal. All things being equal, I'm guessing they take USC.
  4. The Sugar and Orange then have to take the Big East champ and Utah.
So who does OSU's win over Southern Cal effect the most? Monetarily, probably the other OSU, who will lose some $13 million or so by going to the Capital One Bowl instead of the Fiesta. So, for those of you stuck in Columbus or the other reaches of Ohio, I suggest you become big Cal, Arizona, and Oregon fans in a hurry.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bowl Predictions, Week 4

Here ya go. Let's do this.

  • Got officially back onto the Florida bandwagon, they should make a BCS bowl over Georgia even if they lose to Alabama in the SECCG.
  • The Big 12 and SEC will be 2 teams short of a full slate. I don't see this changing unless some really unlikely stuff occurs.
  • As for the ACC, who the hell knows? They will have at least 9 bowl eligible teams, though.
  • Yes, Virginia, you do see both Buffalo and Florida International on there, though FIU is pretty much a stand-in for "any eligible Sun Belt team". Buffalo will probably be at least 7-5, though.
  • Just a reminder, even though I do have USC going to the Rose if Oregon State wins out they will have the tiebreaker over USC. Which makes things interesting for the Fiesta, as they'd have a choice (most likely) of Texas, Ohio State, and USC and could only pick two.
  • Somewhat Non-Obvious Matchup of the Week: Oregon State-Oklahoma State, Holiday Bowl. Not exactly non-obvious, but Oregon State is strangely buyount this season and Oklahoma State should have no problems scoring points. The Holiday's repuation as a good bowl should remain intact. Imagine if USC falls to here (though they probably won't)?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

This Weekend in College Football: Week 11

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Michigan @ Minnesota (ESPN): After their thrilling loss to the Fightin' Kafkas last week, I expect a pedestrian beatdown of the Wolverines, whose season, and bowl streak, is shot.
  • Ohio State @ Northwestern (ESPN2): Just how good is this Northwestern team? We're about to find out for sure. Considering the losses to Michigan State and Indiana, my guess is "not very good". OSU by a few field goals.
  • Baylor @ Texas (FSN): I'm looking forward to seeing what Baylor can do next year. Tomorrow? Not so much. Texas by 30 or so.
  • Purdue @ Michigan State (BTN): Michigan State continues their pleasure cruise through the Big Ten and a probably Capital One Bowl berth.
  • Georgia Tech @ North Carolina (Raycom/Gameplan): Huge game for both teams, though neither currently controls their own destiny in the ACC Coastal. Both teams are still in it, but need VPI and Virginia to lose. The loser of this game is more than likely out of it, period. GT is ahead of every other ACC team in the conference schedule at the moment, with 6 games down and 2 to go. They have an off week which is desperately needed.
    And that's going to be Tech's biggest problem in this game.
    UNC is probably the most competent passing team in the ACC, which is probably not saying much but still. This is bad news for Tech's banged up secondary. They performed well last week, with freshman safety Cooper Taylor coming up with the now-famous fumble. But he also made a big freshman mistake earlier, where he never turned around and saw the ball on the pass that put FSU within 3. Luckily, we got Dominique Reese back for this game, but we're still missing senior Jahi Word-Daniels at corner. Expect to see Morgan Burnett (who is Tech's best defensive back, period) occasionally slide over to corner.
    Where Tech is really hurting is on the offensive line. This unit was already thin, but starting left tackle and captain Andrew Gardner is out for the year after surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. The only Tech player from my high school, RT David Brown (also a senior), is out for a second consecutive game with a spinal condition. Underclassmen are now starting at RG and RT, and freshman stud Nick Claytor is going to start at LT. They are all capable but also young, and the depth behind them is iffy.
    Anyway, I cannot stress enough how badly Tech needs a win here, especially going into the bye week. The last visit to Chapel Hill was the 7-0 debacle back in 2006 - while we did clinch a Coastal Division title in that game, it also was a clear signal that perhaps all was not well with that 2006 team. At least it was the beginning of the end of Patrick Nix as OC.
12:30: Georgia @ Kentucky (Raycom/Gameplan): UGA was absolute savaged down in Jacksonville last weekend, much to my delight. While I would love Kentucky to do the same, I'm not holding my breath.

1:30: Iowa State @ Colorado (Versus): CU continues their epic march towards a huge showdown with Nebraska to see who will go 6-6, barring any major upsets.

  • Alabama @ Louisiana State (CBS): This really should be a night game. The fact that it is not works very much in Bama's favor. Also in Alabama's favor is the fact LSU has wilted in their two games against the other two most competent teams in the SEC so far this year, losing by 30 to Florida and 14 to Georgia. I may regret saying this, but looking over LSU's schedule gives me no realy indication why they are ranked or perceived as highly as they are this season. So I'm picking Alabama.
  • Oklahoma @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (ABC/Gameplan): OU hasn't suffered any apparently ill effects from the Texas game, aside from perhaps a somewhat leaky defense. Is TAMU competent enough to exploit this? Not particularly. OU by a few scores.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Iowa (ESPN/ABC): There has been many a drop of ink and bytes of disk space wasted on why Penn State should not be #3 in the BCS right now. If they're one of 2 undefeated teams from a BCS conference, then sure, they are deserving. But right now, Texas Tech is, from any measure that I can tell, a better football team. I could probably also make arguments for several 1-loss teams, but still.
  • Clemson @ Florida State (Gameplan/ESPN/ABC): I tried not to want to rant about this but I guess I failed. GT-UNC is the only matchup this week of two ranked ACC teams, and they're also the highest ranked ACC teams. Nonetheless, ESPN/ABC decided they wanted Notre Dame-Boston College and this game instead. Clemson is 4-4, has no head coach, and will probably miss a bowl, especially if they lose in Tallahassee. Which they probably will.
  • Stanford @ Oregon (FSN): I...I...I have no idea what to make of this game. None. Since it's at Oregon, I'll take the Ducks.
  • Marshall @ East Carolina (CBSCS): These teams are actually tied for the lead in the C-USA East division. I watched the UCF-ECU game last Sunday and while ECU won, they didn't really look good doing it. That said, it's at ECU and Marshall isn't exactly setting the world on fire, so Pirates in a close one.
7:00: Kansas State @ Missouri (FSN): Kansas State is coachless and, as much as I hate to say it, things look pretty bad out there. Mizzou can probably name their own score for this one.

  • California @ Southern California (ABC/Gameplan): It's Cal! It's USC! And I don't care! I'd rather watch OSU-TTU and since Tech was on Raycom this weekend I went ahead and ordered Gameplan for the weekend. Stupid west coast. Oh, and USC by at least a few scores, unless they've spent more time moaning about the BCS this week than, you know, on actually playing football. (Dear USC: Maybe you should've beaten Oregon State? And perhaps also you realize that unless OSU loses again they will go to the Rose Bowl instead of y'all?)
  • Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech (Gameplan/ABC): GAME OF THE DAY. Both these teams love scoring points. But Texas Tech has shown not only do they have the usual bombing-it-out passing game they can run the ball, too. Oh, and play defense, though both these teams do that at least somewhat well. In fact, OSU has the stingiest defense in the Big 12, allowing 102 points in 5 games, to TTU's 138. Sure, that's over 20 points per game, but when you're putting up 40-50 PPG it doesn't really matter if you give up the occasional 24-spot. At any rate, with another crazy night in Lubbock I expect TTU to emerge victorious again, but I also expect a contest as equally dramatic as last week's.
  • Notre Dame @ Boston College (ESPN): The only common opponent for these two teams is North Carolina, which beat both. BC does lack an embarrassing loss to Pittsburgh, though. In fact, looking at ND's schedule doesn't really make me think any of their 5 wins are all that much to write home about. Probably the best team they've beaten is Stanford. BC should prevail here.
  • Florida @ Vanderbilt (ESPN2): Do I want Vandy to win? Sure. I like rooting for them, and hey, choas is fun. Do I think they will win? No, not so much. Florida by 10-20 points.
  • Tulane @ Houston (CBSCS): Tulane: At Least We're Not SMU. Houston rolls.
Anyway, see y'all Sunday for bowl predictions. And if I get around to it, a basketball preview! See ya then.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Bowl Predictions, Week 3

Here ya go. Let's hit the high points.
  • Yes, I know I have Georgia in the BCS. Right now, I am not sure what will happen to Florida if they lose in the last weekend of the season in the SEC title game and Gerogia wins outs. Of course, since UGA went to the Sugar last year they may want Florida if they can get them anyway.
  • I don't see an undefeated Alabama or an undefeated Texas Tech getting jumped by Penn State. With TTU's remaining schedule I think eventually the pollsters will move TTU up, or at the least the gap will close between TTU and Penn State, and with their commanding lead in the computers that will be enough to keep Texas Tech at #2.
  • Fun fact: if Penn State loses to Michigan State (by far the toughest team on their remaining schedule) then Michigan State will go to the Rose Bowl over Ohio State. OSU will still go to a BCS game if they win out, but still.
  • I, like most everyone else, have no idea what to make of the ACC. Last week I had Miami in the EagleBank Bowl and now they're in the Gator. They could be in Boise next week. Trying to predict this conference sucks, but there are two teams that do control their path to the ACC title game: Maryland and Virginia Tech. Both, however, have plenty of conference games remaining.
  • Georgia Tech does not control its own destiny, though, since both of our/their losses are to ACC opponents in their own division. The one nice thing for Tech (as you can see on the right) is that they only have 2 conference games remaining, so they'll get into the clubhouse early, as it were.
  • I actually have an extra team this week, Akron! We'll see if that holds up, though. Of the extra MAC teams, I really have no idea which would be most preferred since they're all pretty far away from most of bowl games. (I'm surprised more cold-weather cities with domes don't have bowl games. Detroit has the Motor City Bowl and Toronto has the International Bowl and that's it. I would think Indianapolis, with a new stadium and central location, would look into a game. Sure beats playing outdoors in Washington, D.C.)
  • If this holds up, I feel sorry for the Independence Bowl. Also, Troy, why you gotta lose to UL-Monroe? Though (somewhat ironically) they probably improve their bowl position this year with a loss (as opposed to last year, where their last game loss cost them a bowl appearance).
  • Somewhat Non-Obvious Matchup of the Week: Gator Bowl, Miami vs. Notre Dame. Maybe if we close our eyes and wish really hard, we can pretend it's the 1988 version of these two teams. Miami suffered its only loss of the year to the undefeated Irish, 31-30. Okay, yeah, maybe this is pretty obvious but I don't really see any other interesting non-BCS matchups this week. And Notre Dame will be vastly overpicked here, but they're Notre Dame and they'll draw better than Conneciticut, probably.

Sometimes, It Really is Better to be Lucky

We're all familiar with the cliche "it's better to be lucky than good".

My Mom called me after the game GT-FSU game Saturday to discuss the miracle finish. (Video, in case you haven't seen it.) I told her at the time that it was "the luckiest thing I've seen since I started watching Georgia Tech football", even more so than the miracle finish at Clemson in 2004.

But then I thought about it, and decided perhaps I should do a little comparison.
2004 vs. Clemson2008 vs. FSU
BackgroundClemson had the ball and needed only a first down to win the game. On first down, Charlie Whitehurst tucks and runs with plenty of open space in front of him. To avoid the tackle, he slides down half a yard short of the first down. Clemson is then stopped for no gain or a loss on the subsequent two downs.FSU intercepted a Jaybo Shaw pass with plenty of time left and began to drive. Tech had forced a 4th and 11 and a punt at one point, but Daryl Richard fell out of his stance and was called for offisdes. FSU went for it on 4th and 6 and made the first down, and the drive continued unabated to the Georgia Tech 4. With the clock winding down under a minute, FSU looked like they were going to score the game-winning TD, but even if they somehow didn't they still just need a chip-shot field goal to tie.
The BreakClemson's long snapper doesn't quite get it to the punter. The Clemson punter falls on it at their own 12 yard line.FSU's Jermaine Thomas carries the ball straight up the middle with only one hand on the football. Safety Cooper Taylor puts his helmet on the ball and it flies in the air into the end zone.
The LuckClemson was up by 3. Had the Clemson punter had the presence of mind to pick the ball up and run with it into the end zone Clemson probably would have preserved the lead and been able to force Georgia Tech in worse field position on the subsequent kickoff.Freshman cornerback Rashaad Reid makes a, well, freshman mistake and tries to pick the bouncing ball up instead of falling on it. Two FSU players attempt to get the ball, but somehow Reid comes out of the ensuing pile-up with the ball and a touchback for Georgia Tech.
The GameReggie Ball throws the first of what would become Georgia Tech's staple red-zone play for the next 3 seasons, the simple fade to Calvin Johnson. Despite some excitement on the ensuing Clemson Hail Mary, Georgia Tech escapes with the win.The call is reviewed and the replays confirm the touchback call. With 45 seconds left, Jaybo kneels twice (FSU had a timeout) and the game is over.

Overall, I have to go back on what I told my Mom and say the Clemson win was still luckier, mainly because there was pretty much no reason for Tech to get the ball back in decent field position there (much less the Clemson 12). All Charlie Whitehusrt had to do was slide an additional half a yard to get a first down and the win. All Clemson had to do after that was gain a half a yard in two plays. And all they had to do after that was punt the football. In the FSU game, the fumble was caused by an athletic play, and while recovering the ball required a significant amount of luck it didn't require 4 straight plays worth.

One of my friends from Tech wasn't able to watch the game (I was, thanks to the magic of the Slingbox) and so I was giving updates via AIM. Here's the (slightly edited) conversation.
(3:40:57 PM) Me: [FSU rushes] to the GT 4
(3:41:41 PM) Me: FUMBLE
(3:41:45 PM) Him: NO WAY
(3:41:45 PM) Me: TOUCHBACK
(3:41:49 PM) Me: IT'S A MIRACLE
(3:41:53 PM) Me: SNAP THE [...] BALL
(3:42:01 PM) Me: it's questionable
(3:42:05 PM) Me: snap the [...] ball
(3:42:27 PM) Me: we put a helmet right [on it]
(3:42:30 PM) Me: I think we really have it
(3:42:57 PM) Me: TOUCHBACK
(3:42:58 PM) Him: eeeee
(3:42:59 PM) Me: GT BALL
(3:43:01 PM) Me: 45 SECONDS LEFT
(3:43:04 PM) Me: FSU HAS 1 TIMEOUT
(3:43:16 PM) Him: So help me god if we fumble
(3:43:33 PM) Me: FORCED, EVEN
(3:43:44 PM) Me: GT WILL KNEEL
(3:43:51 PM) Me: THERE'S ONE
(3:45:23 PM) Me: BALL GAME
(3:45:30 PM) Him: gaaaaaaa
(3:46:06 PM) Me: they're rushing the field
(3:46:17 PM) Him: hahahah
(3:47:57 PM) Me: wowowowow
(3:48:02 PM) Him: 49-3
(3:48:08 PM) Him: Florida is savaging Gerogia
(3:48:13 PM) Me: today
(3:48:15 PM) Me: is an excellent day

Saturday, November 01, 2008

List of Georgia Tech Football Hexes

  1. 0-7 against Georgia since 2000
  2. 0-12 against FSU since they joined the ACC in 1992
  3. 0-8 against Virginia in Charlottesville since 1991
What a day!

Friday, October 31, 2008

This Weekend in College Football: Week 10

Boo! In a hurry tonight, so let's get this over with.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Wisconsin @ Michigan State (ESPN): I still can't get over the virtual implosion of this Wisconsin team. MSU is coming off a huge win over Michigan and should (repeat, should) have no problem with the Badgers.
  • Northwestern @ Minnesota (ESPN2): The Big Ten's two most resurgent programs face off in an epic battle! Well, I don't know about "epic", but they are basically playing for 3rd place (along with Michigan State) behind Penn State and Ohio State. That said, NU suffered a really bad loss to a really bad Indiana team last weekend, so I have to go with the Gilded Gophers here.
  • Michigan @ Purdue (BTN): Michgian is bad this year, but unfortunately not as bad as Purdue. Wolverines should pick up a win.
  • Miami @ Virginia (Raycom/Gameplan): I don't know how this happened, but it turns out that Virginia is a decently good football team. Of course, they also got the SMQ Dr. Saturday kiss-of-death this week, but rational thought (insofar as it applies to the ACC this year) has to favor the Cavs. Also, it makes us look better, even if we do need them to lose.
  • Kansas State @ Kansas (FSN): Kansas isn't as good as everyone thought, but they are unfortunately good enough to beat KSU.
  • Auburn @ Mississippi (Raycom/Gameplan): I miss the days, of, oh, say, the last 4 years or so where this was an automatic pick. (Actually, it's probably more than that, but still.) Things look pretty bleak for the Tigers, losers of 3 straight, but the only pin of the cap of Ole Miss is the freak upset for Florida. Given this is probably about even, I'll take the home team here.
2:30: Pittsburgh @ Notre Dame (NBC): With South Florida's loss yesterday, suddenly Pitt's 5 game winning streak prior to losing to Rutgers last week is making me re-evaluate the Big East frontrunner. I think ND's got this one in the bag.

  • Georgia vs. Florida (@Jacksonville, FL; CBS): The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party name may not really make any sense (it assumes fans of either school can afford cocktails, baffling when you consider how much cheaper PBR, Steel Reserve, or Bud Light is) but it's still better than nothing, which is what it officially is now. This game is hideously difficult to pick. Though UGA's loss may be better, UF has really put things together and both sport blowouts against LSU in which they scored 50 points. Therefore, I will pick who I want to win (UF) and just say this game will be on my TV while I'm Slingboxin' the GT game.
  • Oregon @ California (ABC/Gameplan): Cal, I guess? Man I don't care about this game, but it probably could go either way.
  • Oklahoma State @ Iowa State (Gameplan/ABC): This game will end sometime Monday morning because Oklahoma State will not stop scoring until then. Seriously.
  • Florida State @ Georgia Tech (Gameplan/ESPN/ABC): "Fun" fact: since FSU joined the ACC in 1992, only two ACC teams have failed to beat them at least once. They, of course, Georgia Tech and Duke. Duke you can understand, but while GT hasn't exactly had a sustained run of success since then (see: 1993-1997), they also couldn't beat them with Joe Hamilton. GT's second best player in this time period, Calvin Johnson, never actually got to play the Seminoles because in their infinite wisdom the ACC put FSU and GT in seperate divisions, so they have not met since 2003. 2003 was, of course, my freshman year. Tech played FSU the week after the Auburn upset and led 13-0 going into the 4th quarter. FSU then scored 14 points and came back, winning 14-13. That is basically the series in a nutshell. Next to beating UGA, I cannot think of a sweeter win we could get this season.
  • Iowa @ Illinois (ESPN/ABC): Illinois, I guess? I'm in a hurry here.
  • Temple @ Navy (CBSCS): Navy, by a few touchdowns. Over/under on the number of pass attempts by the Midshipmen is about 3.
6:30: Washington @ Southern California (FSN): The line is something absurd, like 40 points or something? If I were a betting man, I still might take USC to cover.

7:00: Tennessee @ South Carolina (ESPN2): The other USC is less formidiable, and their opponent is slightly better. That isn't really saying much, though, for Tennessee. Spurrier-ball should prevail.

  • Texas @ Texas Tech (ABC): I don't need to tell you how big this game is, thanks to ESPN. Both these teams are really good. I can't really even think of any positives or negatives here except that Texas's schedule to this point has been superior. So for absolutely no rational reason, I like the Longhorns here.
  • Nebraska @ Oklahoma (ESPN): I don't have time to go link it, but as Dr. Saturday said this game sure isn't what it used to be. Especailly since Oklahoma should dominate here.
  • Texas Christian @ Nevada-Las Vegas (CBSCS): I think TCU is pretty legit, and so I'll take them here in this MWC road contest.
10:00: Arizona State @ Oregon State (FSN): Finally. ASU has been a disappointment, to say the least. I'd go into why, but I need to go so I'm taking the Beavers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bowl Predictions, Week 2

As explained last week, this edition will just hit the high notes. To wit:
  • Still mainting the winner of the Big 12 versus the winner of the SEC will go to the national title game, provide they're undefeated. That will be a challenge for both Texas and Alabama. The biggest question probably is what happens if Texas Tech wins Saturday.
  • The SEC title game loser will probably end up in the Capital One Bowl, if I had to guess. This somewhat ironically means the loser of the the Cocktail Party this weekend is in a better position to go to a BCS bowl.
  • There is something to the argument the Fiesta could take, say, Utah but I think instead they'll take the safe bet of someone like Ohio State, who were not hit that bad in the rankings and should easily finish eligible for a BCS at-large.
  • The ACC saw a huge shakeup, with GT and VPI losing. This is bound to be the most volatile conference week-to-week.
  • Once again, the college football world will barely scrape by with enough bowl eligible teams. And I'm working under somewhat optimistic assumptions. I have yet to find any documentation on what the NCAA or bowls would do if there are not enough bowl eligible teams. Right now it's looking like a good payday for the WAC, MAC, and especially the Sun Belt.
  • Somewhat Non-Obvious Matchup of the Week: Car Care Bowl, Maryland vs. West Virginia. These two schools met every year from 1980 to 2007 but chose not to renew the rivalry in 2008. I don't know/remember if this is a named game or not, but nonetheless it should draw an enthusiastic crowd down in Charlotte.

Friday, October 24, 2008

This Weekend in College Football: Week 9

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong. And probably a little more hasty than usual.

  • Texas Tech @ Kansas (ESPN): I don't think it'll be terribly relevant if TTU misses all of their extra points, they should still win by a few scores.
  • Illinois @ Wisconsin (ESPN2): Wisconsin has been losing everywhere, and I doubt the skid will stop here. Though it's definitely hard to tell because UIUC lost at home to UMN last week, but I'll stick with them anyway.
  • Minnesota @ Purdue (ESPN Classic): I feel sorry for Joe Tiller. I've also heard there's some internal discord up in West Lafayette. Minnesota should roll.
  • Northwestern @ Indiana (BTN): Wooooo, another Big Ten game. Anyone notice that Northwestern is 6-1? It sufficies to say that they weill be 7-1 on Sunday.
  • Boston College @ North Carolina (Raycom/Gameplan): Big game for both teams. Can UNC recover from their loss last week and the loss of their key offensive player? Can BC stay afloat in the ACC Atlantic? No and yes, respectively.
  • Oklahoma @ Kansas State (FSN): Oklahoma is setting up nicely for a BCS run. Their next three games (this one, Nebraksa, TAMU) are very winnable, but at the end of the schedule be dragons in the form of TTU and Oklahoma State. I guess it goes without saying I like OU here.
  • Baylor @ Nebraska (Versus): Baylor showed some initial promise at the beginning of the year, but they've lately faltered. Then again, many teams will falter against the two schools with "Oklahoma" in their name. That said, this game is up in Lincoln and I've picked a lot of read teams so far so I'm going with the Huskers here.
  • Kentucky @ Florida (Raycom/Gameplan): Florida's already had a bad home loss this year. Hopefully for them they learned their lesson and take care of business going into the Cocktail Party next week.
  • Georgia @ Louisiana State (CBS): On paper, UGA should probably win this game. But there are several tangible factors, namely, 90,000 very drunk Cajuns. I'm going with the (admittedly) slight upset here and picking LSU.
  • California-Los Angeles @ California (ABC/Gameplan): Outside of USC and maybe Arizona (can't believe I just said that) this rest of the Pac-10 has been very unprediactable this year. That said, this is UCLA's 3rd road game of the year and they got blown out in their previous two. This might not be a blowout, but I will still take Cal.
  • Oklahoma State @ Texas (Gameplan/ABC): I don't really need to tell you how huge this game is, nationally and in the Big 12. Definitely no doubt that the Big 12 South is back after a couple years of the North domination. Now, as for the game, both these teams are good but Texas has some semblance of a defense, so I like them here.
  • Michigan State @ Michigan (ESPN2/ABC): MSU has not won in this series since 2001. A series of blowout and heartbreaks have followed, but if any year is going to be the year for the Spartans, I have to say this is it.
  • Virginia Tech @ Florida State (Gameplan/ESPN2/ABC): We (as in GT) badly need FSU to win here, even with FSU coming into Atlanta next week. That said, I'm not sure how confident I am picking either team. VPI has been winning their games with some combination of buggle gum and duct tape. FSU's rise to 5-1 hasn't been much better and they don't have a win significantly better than any of VPI's. There's not really any logical reason VPI should win here, but since I want FSU to win I'll take VPI.
  • Southern Methodist @ Navy (CBSCS): I was baffled when June Jones took the SMU job. I am even slightly more baffled now. Sure, SMU has more money, but in terms of college football prestige it's almost a lateral move. Needless to say, I'm picking Navy.
  • Virginia @ Georgia Tech (ESPNU): It's homecoming in the ATL, so naturally I went to the away game last week. Huge wins for both these teams last week. GT still looked disorganized on offense. Early in the 3rd quarter, they had a few chance to really salt the game away but failed, letting Clemson come all the back. But Tech did not fold (something that I saw pletny of the previous 4 seasons) and put together the winning drive. Will Tech be more consistent tomorrow against a resurgent UVA team? We shall see. Well, I probably won't since it's on das U but still.
6:30: Colorado @ Missouri (FSN): 1990 nevar forget!!! That said, despitre recent sturggle Mizzou should be heavy favorites here, and if hey are, I agree.

7:45: Alabama @ Tennessee (ESPN): Technically, tomorrow is the fourth Saturday in October, but nonetheless these two meet once again. A drubbing of Miss State last week has done little to reassure the orange-clad Volunteers, and for good reason. While I am not sure Alabama will finish undefeated, they should pull it out in Knoxville.

  • Pennsylvania State @ Ohio State (ABC): It's Penn State! It's Ohio State! It's Big Ten Primetime football! With that out of the way, I think OSU has a real chance here, especially with the game in Columbus. In my mind, this game is about a push. But if OSU falls behind early they are boned, in my opinion. That said, I think they have a real chance but I am picking PSU by the slimmest of margins.
  • Notre Dame @ Washington (ESPN2): I don't know if y'all noticed, but Washington is really bad this year. ND should have no trouble.
  • Southern Mississippi @ Memphis (CBSCS): Why does CBSCS show games like this? Can't they feature Tulsa or ECU or something? Seriously. Because I know nothing about these teams, I am taking Memphis.
10:15: Southern California @ Arizona (FSN): Is Arizona legitimite? They're certainly not terrible, though they feature losses to New Mexico and Stanford. Are they good enough to beat a USC that seems to have gotten their, er, stuff together? Probably not.

Bowl predictions should be on time this weekend. Enjoy your Saturday!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bowl Predictions, Week 1

Once again, the BCS standings are out and I've done my first bowl predictions of the season. Since this is the first week, I'll do a conference-by-conference breakdown of how I predict the bowls. After this, I'll just hit the high points.

Here's the direct link. Just open it up in another window and read the below as you go through the table.

Since it sets up everything else, I select the BCS teams first.
  • For the title game, I usually just pick the teams in the 1st and 2nd spots in that week's BCS standings unless I really, really think either of them will lose in the near future. At the moment, I have little reason to think either Texas or Alabama will lose.
  • The BCS slots conference champions into certain games. (Details are available on the bowls page.) Since the Fiesta and Sugar will lose their conference champions, they get first pick from the remaining auto-qualifiers and at-large teams. Though they went there last year, I am slotting Oklahoma into the Fiesta. They are a natural geographic fit and will auto-qualify if they win out. The Sugar goes next, and will probably take some sort of SEC team. The problem is picking which one. Here's the problem: the loser of the SEC Title Game will probably have 2, if not 3, losses. Say Florida wins the SEC East, for instance by winning out. This gives Georgia its second loss, but that will occur next week, giving them plenty of time to recover in the polls. If Alabama goes to the national title game, they will have to win the SEC, and in doing so will hand UF another loss, this time right before the BCS is selected. This puts Georgia and/or LSU in great position to recover - which makes this Saturday's game that much more important. I am, for now, projecting LSU to win that game and lock up a Sugar Bowl bid (provided they then lose to Alabama but otherwise win out).
  • The remaining conference champion auto-bids are slotted: VPI to the Orange, and Penn State and USC to the Rose. The Big East champion does not have an auto-bid and so is at the mercy of the remaining at-large selections.
  • At this point, there are two remaining auto-qualifiers (say, Pittsburgh and Utah) and 3 slots. The remaining bowls pick in reverse of when they are played, so the latest bowl goes first. This year, the order is 1) Fiesta 2) Sugar 3) Orange. Of course, with 3 remaining slots this means we need a BCS at-large team. Since each conference cannot have more than 2 teams in the BCS, this means that the SEC and the Big 12 cannot send another team to the BCS. So now any team in the top 14 of the standings with 9 wins can take a slot, and a well-traveling team that will probably be 10-2 and in the top 14 at the end of the year will be Ohio State. (If Penn State loses to OSU this weekend, just swap them here.) Next up is the Sugar, which will be stuck with what are, traditionally, the two least attractive auto-qualifiers - a mid-major and the Big East champion. Really Pitt and Utah could go either way here, but generally mid-majors have been picked last. At least they won't play each other this time around.
So, here's how the ACC breaks down:
  • I made a myraid of assumptions regarding the rest of the way for the ACC. There's too many to list here, but it mostly involves VPI winning out, and NC State losing out.
  • I am projecting a rematch of last year's ACC Title game, with BC losing again. Since the game is in Tampa this year, there should be less concern about a team going to Jacksonville twice. Once again, though, the "Peach" has the #2 pick of ACC teams and has what is probably their worst nightmare. I am projecting an optimistic win for GT, so they will have to pick from a small fanbase from the northeast that doesn't travel or a small fanbase from the South that doesn't travel well. (GT may actually travel "worse" from the Peach's persepctive because most Atlanta-based alums don't need hotel rooms.) While Tech has traditionally not performed well in Peach Bowls (I believe we are 0-3) I'm projecting us to go there anyway. (I selfishly generally want GT to go to the Music City or Peach since those are the closest available bowls when I'm at home for Christmas, but I digress.) Long story short, due to the ACC selection rules BC goes to the Gator.
  • Not so fast, though! The Gator gets its pick of the Big East, Big 12, or Notre Dame. If ND is bowl eligible I would bet they will go early this year. Since BC plays ND during the regular season, I am swapping GT and BC.
  • If my projections hold, Wake will go 6-2 in conference and earn a bid to the Champs Sports.
  • Now we get to the ACC 5/6/7 portion of this show, and I predict Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida State will all have 4-4 conference records. Withouth a naturally close bowl or decent traveling fanbase, Virginia gets exiled to San Francisco, and UNC makes an appearance in the Car Care Bowl and FSU makes a repeat appearance in the Music City Bowl.
  • This leaves 6-6 Miami and Maryland. Neither will travel well to Boise, but there is a bowl game in Washington, DC this year, so I'll send Miami to Boise and UMD to the new EagleBank Bowl to play Navy.
Big 12:
  • As explained above, I'm putting Texas and Oklahoma in the BCS. On a side note, let me just say I didn't project nearly as much as I did for the BCS and ACC.
  • Quickly, I put Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in the Cotton and Holiday Bowls. Yes, folks, the Big 12 South is back.
  • Missouri earns a trip to San Antonio and Kansas reclaims the Big 12's spot in the Sun Bowl this year, unless Notre Dame falls this far. (They probably won't, though.)
  • This leaves the last 3 teams from the Big 12 North likely to go at least 6-6: Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas State. K-State's schedule the rest of the way is brutal and they will need to pull a huge upset to get 2 more wins. So, the winner of Colorado-Nebraska will probably go to the Insight Bowl, with the loser going to Shreveport.
  • This also happens to leave me a team short for the Texas Bowl, unless something drastic happens (like ND dropping to the Sun with the Gator opting to take a Big East team). More on this later.
And now, the Big East:
  • This is not a conference I like to think about. With lots of non-conference games, it's hard to say where they will finish in the pecking order, and most of their bowls are terrible. Anyway, I projected Pitt to go to the BCS.
  • Since the Gator will probably take a bowl eligible Notre Dame and the Sun will take a Big 12 team, this leaves the 2nd place Big East team to float down to the Car Care Bowl. This is probably South Florida's spot to lose.
  • Let me reiterate that is is really hard to project a conference finish when the teams have hardly played each other. Like WVU is 2-0 in the Big East, but they played what are, by far, the two worst teams in the conference this year. Yet to most of us WVU has shown us nothing so far this year other than that Bill Stewart doesn't seem terribly competent. So just for the heck of it I am sending Cincinatti to Toronto.
  • This leaves UConn, WVU, and Lousiville as the likely other bowl eligible teams. I'll send them to St. Pete, Birmingham, and the at-large pool respectively.
Big Ten:
  • This conference is such a cluster**** that outside of Penn State and Ohio State it's nearly impossible to guess at this point who will beat whom. Minnesota and Northwestern are both 6-1, for crying out loud!
  • Michigan State seems like the 3rd best team in the league, so let's get them into the Capital One Bowl posthaste.
  • From here on out I am basically guessing because I am not really prepared to deal with a reality where Minnesota and Northwestern have 8 or 9 wins. Their game against each other will be really pivitol to their bowl position. I'll say UMN beats NU, so they go to the Outback and Alamo Bowls, respectively.
  • Even though they have yet to play other, Iowa and Illinois are the best bets to go at least 6-6 from the remaining teams, unless Wisconsin shows it can beat two other teams this year (I am assuming a win over Cal Poly).
  • This leaves the Big Ten without a team for the Motor City Bowl.
And now we come to Conference USA, with its shiny set of 6 bids this year:
  • Tulsa will probably challenge Utah for the mid-major bid this year, but Utah has momentum at the moment. But if they lose Tulsa and Boise are waiting in the wings. For now, I'll slot Tulsa into the Liberty.
  • So, of course, every other C-USA team has 3 losses. The conference has been the main beneficiary of the new bowls the NCAA keeps adding, though. so they need to fill spots.
  • I actually think Rice has a shot of going at least 7-5, and Houston as well. (Or 8-4 for one, 6-6 for the other, depends on who wins their game.) The problem is, I have no idea who else in this conference could go 6-6. I guess Memphis could, so I'll send them to New Orleans. Otherwise, if things go the way they're going C-USA will be two teams short.
The MAC:
  • Provided they run the table, and maybe even if they don't, Ball State can look forward to an at-large opponent up in Detroit.
  • After this, things get muddy. The MAC could really benefit from the other conferences' inability to field enough teams this year. Western and Central Michigan should qualify. Additional possibilites include Northern Illinois and Akron (and perhaps more, depending on how things shake out). For now, I'll slot the directional Michigans into the remaining MAC bids and keep NIU and Akron on stand-by.
The MWC:
  • The Mountain West is home to Utah, TCU, and BYU. If the Utes run the table they will probably be rewarded with a BCS bid.
  • Generally, contracts involving mid-major conferences don't really specify the place of the team, just the bowl pecking order. Sometimes bowls will trade amongst themselves to increase their attendance. For instance, it would not surprise me if TCU ends up in their own stadium for the Armed Forces Bowl no matter what, but for the time being I'll send them to Vegas.
  • This allows BYU to go to San Diego.
  • Air Force should be at least 7-5 and this end up in the aplty named Armed Forces Bowl. Where they went last year. (More reason for them to switch with TCU, I guess.)
  • New Mexico has a decent shot to get the 6-6 mark and play in, you guessed it, the New Mexico Bowl. Which is just fine by them. I doubt the MWC will produce any other 6-6 teams.
  • The Pac-10 will only send 1 team to the BCS this year unless USC sneaks back into the national title game, and even then no other Pac-10 team may be ranked high enough for the Rose to pick them.
  • Right now, 3 Pac-10 teams sit at 3-1: the two Oregon schools and perhaps the most improved team outside of Minnesota, Arizona. Of course, none of them have played each other yet. Based on history and bias alone, I'm going with Oregon, followed by Arizona, and then State.
  • From here, 3 more teams could possibly qualify: Cal, UCLA, and Stanford. I don't really see UCLA winning 3 more games, and Stanford has to beat Washington (doable) and Cal (somewhat less doable) to get to 6-6 without any major upsets. So I'm going with that for now because it makes my life easier.
  • This leaves the Poinsettia Bowl without a team.
Southeastern Conference:
  • I'm getting tired so let's make this quick. I already put Alabama and LSU into the BCS.
  • This leaves the runner-up from the SEC East, probably Georgia or Florida. Let's say it's Florida and stick them in the Capital One and send UGA to the Peach.
  • The problem now is who to send to the Outback and Cotton. There is a huge drop-off in prestige and/or bowl attractiveness after these first four. I generally like sending SEC West teams to the Cotton but I don't see any of the remaning SEC West teams finishing better than 6-6 unless Auburn stops sucking. So this leaves Vandy, South Carolina, or Kentucky. For now, I'll send USCe to the Cotton and Kentucky to the Outback.
  • This lets Vandy conviently fall to the Music City, and for now, Auburn to the Liberty.
  • This leaves us with two additional bowls to fill and a cast of very unlikely teams to make them: Arkansas, Ole Miss, Miss State, and Tennessee all need at least 3 more wins to get to 6-6. For now, I think the most likely candidate is Miss State, but mostly likely is they will all beat each other up and none will make it.
  • This leaves an opening for the papajohns.com bowl.
Sun Belt:
  • Troy had better win the damn thing this year, that's all I really have to say about that.
  • This year, the Sun Belt has agreements with the St. Petersburg, Papajohns.com, and Independence Bowls to provide backup teams. Which is good, since the first two won't have a team from C-USA or the SEC. For now, I'm predicting Arkansas State and UL-Lafayette to go at least 6-6 to fufill this criteria. If the Sun Belt can get some other 6-6 teams, they will probably go to bowls as well.
And finally, the WAC:
  • Boise State will probably win it this year, and if they don't make the BCS my guess is they will stay home in Boise (though there's precedent for them going elsewhere off a strong year, like if they want a nice, tropical vacation, for instance).
  • Next, San Jose State and Fresno State will fight over who goes to Hawaii or New Mexico. Either way, they should fufill the WAC's two remaining autobids. I'm sending Fresno to Hawaii so SJSU avoids a rematch with Stanford.
  • I need just 1 more 6-6 or better team at this point so we don't end up with a lack of bowl eligible teams. Who will prevail? At 4-3, Nevada needs only 2 more wins and with Hawaii and Louisiana Tech on the schedule they could definitely get it. Hawaii itself could also win 3 or 4 more games, which would get them a Hawaii Bowl bid and likely kick San Jose to the at-large world. For now, I think Navada has the path of least resistance. But like the MAC, the WAC could do pretty well for themselves this winter.
So this leaves us with 4 bowls without teams: Poinsettia, Motor City, Texas, and Armed Forces. The 4 teams I have to spare are Louisville, NIU, Akron, and Nevada. I like Nevada to stay on the West Coast, so I'll put them in San Diego. Since another MAC team can't go to Detroit, this leaves Louisville. And I think you can take it from here.

Anyway, that does it for week 1! Join me next week, as hopefully things will clear up just a little.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

There Goes Another Piece of My Childhood, Part 2

For most of the 90's, the Braves's "Big 3" was commonly thought of as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz.

In time, of course, the group aged and separated for various reasons. All are (for the time being) still in baseball, but the "era" of the Big 3 is definitely over.

Much less exalted was the quintet of announcers TBS employed for most of the 90's: Skip Caray, Joe Simpson, Pete van Wieren, and Don Sutton. They're listed in the order they were paired in, and this is important because when the Braves were still on TBS the pairs often switched from TV to radio (and vice versa) in the middle of the 5th inning. Skip and Pete were the play-by-play guys, with former ball players Joe and Don providing the color analysis.

This arrangement gradually died earlier this decade, as TBS let Don Sutton go (he's now stuck doing color for the Nationals). Also a factor in Don leaving was TBS taking in former Cubs play-by-play announcer Chip Caray, who was (in)famously let go. With Chip on-board, TBS gradually began reducing TV time for Skip and Pete, though fan demand eventually was able to bring Skip back.

The Braves were sold by AOL/Time Warner and TBS, eager to acquire those lucrative playoff games, agreed to MLB's demand to stop showing Braves games nationally, presumably to sell more MLB Season Ticket packages. The Braves's TV rights were bought up by FOX for syndication only throughout the South, and they only brought Joe Simpson with them. Skip got to keep doing games that were still on WTBS and its offspring, WPCH (Peachtree TV) before his departure earlier this year.

Despite these factors, I was still just a little surprised today to see that Pete was hangin' them up. Yes, I know that he says it wasn't because of any of those items I listed above. At any rate, this is a tremdous loss for broadcasting in Atlanta.

It's hard to quantify how much losing two play-by-play guys really means to me as a Braves fan. I've watched so many games in my short life it's probably safe to say I've listened to them more than anyone else outside my immediate family. Growing up, I would watch every game possible and if I couldn't watch it I'd try to listen to it. (As far as I know, the Braves still have the most extensive radio network of any baseball team. Heck, they even have an affiliate in the Virgin Islands.) On my drives to and from Tech each August and May I would look-up ahead of time which radio stations had the game on my route just to make sure I caught it. On Wednesdays when the games were on FSN (and before they got the current announcers) I'd sometimes even try to listen to the game on the radio.

It baffled me when I saw that Skip was not on the ballot for this year's Ford C. Frick award, and next year if neither Skip nor Pete are finalists I will really start to wonder what's going in the minds of the panelists and voters.