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!