Friday, September 30, 2011

This Weekend in College Football: Week 5

In honor of my trip to Vegas this weekend, I will actually pick against the spread. Spread values are as Friday morning, Pacific time. I should note that I probably won't actually bet on any of these.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong:

  • Air Force @ Navy (-3.5) (CBS): 3.5 points doesn't seem like nearly enough, as I really like Navy here.
  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (-2.5) vs. Arkansas (@Arlington, TX; ESPN): Both these times withered in their first real tests of the year, though I suffice to say I think Arkansas's was a little tougher than TAMU's. I like Arkansas to win outright, actually.
  • Northwestern @ Illinois (-10) (ESPN2): Northwestern gets their offense back in the form of Dan Persa this week, which is good for a team that lost to Army. Meanwhile, Illinois didn't lose, but they sure tried to in a 23-20 win over Western Michigan. If I were to bet on this for some reason, I'd take the points.
  • Texas Tech (-6.5) @ Kansas (FSN): I know Tommy Tuberville is at TTU and not Leach, but geez. I like Tech to cover.
  • Pennsylvania State (-15.5) @ Indiana (ESPNU): My only reservation about picking Penn State to cover here is that I'm not entirely sure they can actually score 16 points.
  • Tulane @ Army (-7) (CBSS): I think betting on this game would probably be a sign that you need help. Tulane has shown some ability to score this year, so I actually like them to win outright.
  • Minnesota @ Michigan (-20) (BTN): Yes, Minnesota really is that bad. Michigan should cover.
  • Mississippi State @ Georgia (-7) (SEC/FSN): I'm not sure which of these teams is a less inspiring 2-2. I would stay far away from this one, but if you can't for whatever reason, I would take Miss State and the points.
  • Kentucky @ Louisiana State (-30.5) (SEC): Kentucky is awful and all. I mean, really awful. But 30 points to LSU awful? Oh, right, they did beat WVU by 26. But still! 30 points in a SEC game! I would, very hesitantly, take Kentucky and the points.
12:30: Wake Forest @ Boston College (-1) (ACC): A person who is nominally a Boston College fan wrote the following sentence a couple weeks ago: "Duke was simply the better football team today." I'll take Wake outright.

2:30: Nevada @ Boise State (-27.5) (Versus): Nevada gave TTU all they wanted last week despite not really being the squad that upset Boise last year. Oh, right. Yeah... Boise might cover after all.

  • Michigan State @ Ohio State (-3.5) (ABC/ESPN): Neither of these teams has really played anyone to this point. Ohio State's best win is a 37-17 evisceration of a not-very-good Colorado team, while Sparty's best win to date is probably Central Michigan. So, uh, stay away from this one. Unless you want to take Ohio State to cover.
  • Georgia Tech (-10) @ North Carolina State (ESPN/ABC): This will be GT's first real road test, though as far as I can tell the only thing really going for NCSU at this point is a blogger with a good sense of humor. Personally, though, it always makes me kind of nervous when the opposing fanbase is preparing for a massacre. I've been a GT fan long enough now to know that nothing is a gimme, having seen losses to the Dukes, (bad) UNCs, and Kansases of the world. Oh, and we lost to NCSU last year, at home, 45-28. In other words, I generally expect the worst. That said, it's not like we don't have issues of our own. Defense is still sketchy and seems to disappear for halves at a time, with good performances the 2nd half against Kansas and the 1st half against UNC, but then allowing UNC to get back in the game. Special teams remain... special, as we miss Scott Blair on place kicks and seem to be lacking answers on kickoff coverage, kickoff returns, punting, and punt returns. To this point, we're basically some sort of anti-LSU, basically.
    For NC State, they miss Russell Wilson but Mike Glennon actually isn't terrible, but they have lots of issues running the ball and on defense. That said, if the GT defense disappears for a half again their rushing attack could suddenly look very potent.
  • Baylor (-4) @ Kansas State (ABC): This game will likely be loaded with offense, with K-State piling 28 on in their win at Miami and, well, let me tell you about Robert Griffin III, Baylor's soon to be all-everything quarterback. Actually, whole articles could probably be written about him, so I will just state this: Robert Griffin III has more touchdown passes (13) than incompetions (12). That's not a typo. That's not TD:INT. His TD:INT is undefined, actually. So, yes, after 82 attempts, he has more touchdown passes than incompletions. Amazing. I like Baylor to cover. Well, Robert Griffin to cover, anyway.
  • Arizona @ Southern California (-12) (FSN): Arizona's not good and all, but this isn't the USC juggernauts of the past, either. I'll take the points.
  • Bethune-Cookman @ Miami (ESPNU): Some books have lines on these games, but many don't. I won't either. Miami all the way.
  • Southern Methodist @ Texas Christian (-13) (CBSS): This isn't last year's TCU, but I still like them to cover against a SMU team that got blown out by the only other good team they've played this year (TAMU).
6:00: Clemson @ Virginia Tech (-7) (ESPN2): I like the building narrative of Clemson as a cheap knockoff of Auburn from last year. Basically, the narrative is something like this: powered by a singular talent on offense (well, and a good WR) plus a sketchy defense that makes 1 or 2 plays when it has to. Virginia Tech has mostly done its thing against lesser competition so far, but it also gets the Tigers in the infamously difficult environment at night in Blacksburg for their first road game of the year. Also, one of these teams is coached by Dabo Swinney and it isn't VPI. I think VPI will cover the 7 points.

  • Texas (-9.5) @ Iowa State (FX): Iowa State is 3-0, including what has to be a freak victory over in-state rival Iowa. That said, Texas got into a groove against UCLA on offense, so I think they will cover.
  • Washington @ Utah (-10) (FSN): 10 seems awfully high for this group of Utes. Yes, they did demolish BYU. No, Washington isn't that good this year. And yet, I feel one should take the points here.
  • Duke @ Florida International (-3.5) (ESPNU): FIU is decent and stuff, but I still think Duke should win outright.
  • Alabama (-4) @ Florida (CBS): I feel like this should be about Alabama by 7 or so, I think you can infer the rest.
  • Nebraska @ Wisconsin (-10) (ABC): I think I would take the points here. Wisconsin has played no one so we don't really know if their defense is really all that. I think this could be high scoring for both sides, a situation that has to favor Nebraska at least getting within 10.
  • Notre Dame (-12) @ Purdue (ESPN): Meanwhile, if Notre Dame can get out of their own way they should be able to cover against a bad Purdue team.
  • North Carolina (-7) @ East Carolina (CBSS): UNC should cover pretty easily. ECU is good and stuff, and sure they hung around with VPI, but everyone hangs around with VPI - it's what they do. Meanwhile, UNC has some real talent on both sides of the ball and should dominate both lines of scrimmage.
9:15: Mississippi @ Fresno State (-4) (ESPN2): Really, we should be placing bets on when Houston Nutt gets fired. Fresno covers.

10:30: California-Los Angeles @ Stanford (-21.5) (FSN): UCLA held on to beat a very depleted Beaver squad. Stanford is not depleted. Stanford should cover.

All right, folks, good luck and enjoy the weekend!

Friday, September 23, 2011

This Weekend in College Football: Week 4

Yarr, there be spelling and grammar mistake dragons here. But let's get down to it anyway, and it'll be ready more than 24 hours in advance, to boot!

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Notre Dame @ Pittsburgh (ABC): I should probably write something about realignment, but I don't really have the time right now. So I'll start here: Pitt, you need to start to win some games and not letting Iowa stage a 21-point rally in the last 16:16 of the game. That said, Notre Dame's demolishing of a superior defense in Michigan State last weekend might show they're ready now after an unsteady first two games, so I'll go with the Irish here.
  • North Carolina @ Georgia Tech (ESPN): It's always fun when your team scores 66 points. I almost hate to say it but the 2nd reminded me of the Stanford-Wake Forest game I went to last year out here, in terms of "dominating offensive performances". That said, Carolina does have an actual, real defense and some ability to move the ball, while GT's defensive performance in the first half against Kansas was, shall we say, lackluster. Additionally, I don't really feel good about the fact we decided to print t-shirts about beating Kansas.
  • Eastern Michigan @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN2): This will be a good recovery after what Alabama did to Penn State. Then again, they probably thought that going into the Temple game last weekend.
  • Southern Methodist @ Memphis (FSN): Memphis is still one of the worst teams in college football, but at least they didn't lose to Austin Peay. Anyway, Mustangs roll.
  • Central Michigan @ Michigan State (ESPNU): Speaking of recovery games, this might be exactly what Sparty needs after fizzling against Notre Dame.
  • San Diego State @ Michigan (BTN): For Wazzou, nothing had to be more deflating for prospects of "maybe this is the year we aren't a laughingstock anymore" than losing 42-24 to SDSU. That said, the Aztecs are more than capable of scoring points and may be able to keep this interesting into the second half.
  • Georgia @ Mississippi (SEC): Look, Georgia's not very good this year, but Ole Miss, well, that is a trainwreck in progress. If you tune into this one, you may be stuck in "horrifying yet can't look away" mode.
12:30: Temple @ Maryland (ACC): Temple was able to give Penn State a run for its money, but honestly that was probably a fluke. Terps should be able to take care of business.

  • Arkansas @ Alabama (CBS): Nick Saban vs. Bobby Petrino. This game is usually pretty fun, even if the Tide winds up winning in the end - which they probably will in this game.
  • Colorado @ Ohio State (ABC/ESPN2): Ohio State may have basically been an offensively non-entity in Miami, but playing the extremely lackluster Colorado defense should help make them look better this time around. And let's face it, the Buckeye backups are probably still better than Colorado's starters at this point.
  • Oklahoma State @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (ESPN2/ABC): Nothing like having your bye week in the first month of the season to ensure that you get most of the way to October with people still writing "well, we still don't know much about this team". I'm talking about TAMU here, as they've only played two games against SMU and Idaho. Points were scored, though, which seems a safe bet to carry into this game. I actually stayed up to watch part of that Oklahoma State-Tulsa game, and, well, it was kind of fun once but I won't exactly be pining for 10:00pm Pacific starts from the Big 12 in the future. Anyway, I think OSU wins in a shootout.
  • Florida State @ Clemson (ESPN): FSU should be able to bounce back against Clemson as long as they're not too bummed out about losing to Oklahoma. Also, Dabo Swinney is likely easily outfoxed by simple utensils, which gives a slight edge to most opposing coaches.
  • California @ Washington (FSN): Well, Washington got beat pretty bad by Nebraska, but that was expected. Cal is 3-0 but its best victory is an overtime win against Colorado, so at this point it would seem these teams are about evenly matched. In that case, I'll take Cal, where Jeff Tedford seems to have some of his offensive mojo back.
  • Virginia Tech @ Marshall (CBSS): By all rights, VPI should win this by 50, seeing as how Marshall is coming off a 44-7 loss to Ohio (as in, the university in Athens, Ohio). But seeing as how VPI only managed to beat ECU by 7 and Arkansas State by 19, expect the unexpected and take the under.
  • Kansas State @ Miami (ESNPU): Yeah, I have a feeling this won't end well for the Wildcats.
  • South Dakota @ Wisconsin (BTN): Wisconsin.
  • Southern Miss @ Virginia (ACC/FSN): I was tempted to pick the upset here, but looking at it, well, Virginia should probably win this one.
  • Florida @ Kentucky (ESPN): Kentucky just lost to Louisville, so, well, I feel pretty good about UF in this one.
  • Vanderbilt @ South Carolina (ESPN2): Vandy's 3-0 folks! Enjoy it while it lasts, Commodore fans.
  • Louisiana Tech @ Mississippi State (ESPNU): With all this realignment talk, I am still baffled by Louisiana Tech's continued presence in the WAC. Maybe C-USA will get raided and they can join them or something. Anyway, Miss State should be able to get back its offensive footing as long as they don't have some general aversion to all teams with "Louisiana" in their name.
  • North Dakota State @ Minnesota (BTN): Minnesota. Well, probably.
  • Florida Atlantic @ Auburn (SEC/FSN): Auburn. Definitely.
7:30: Nebraska @ Wyoming (Versus): I'm assuming Wyoming still has their nice brown home unis (well, "nice", anyway), which may give you a reason to tune into this one.

  • Louisiana State @ West Virginia (ABC): Will Morgantown survive the evening? WVU's got some talented players and an actual coach now, but LSU's defense should be able to keep them bottled up. But hey, it's college football's two rowdiest fanbases meeting up at night in a college town known for obscene t-shirts and a passion for furniture-based arson, which may be worth the price admission alone.
  • Missouri @ Oklahoma (FX): There'll probably be some points scored in this game, but the Sooners should prevail.
  • Tulsa @ Boise State (CBSS): Tulsa becomes the latest victims of the Boise State Death Machine, hopefully those kids got some sleep before having to travel west though.
  • Southern California @ Arizona State (ESPN): Arizona State lost to Illinois? Oof. Um, yeah, going to have to go with the Trojans here.
  • Oregon @ Arizona (ESPN2): Arizona has already given up 37 points each to Oklahoma State and Stanford. Need I say more?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

This Weekend in College Football: Week 3

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Auburn @ Clemson (ABC): It's Tigers v. Tigers once again. Tough to predict, though. Clemson hasn't really done much of anything at all. Auburn meanwhile has escaped by the skin of its teeth twice so far this season against bad teams (Utah State) and decent teams (Mississippi State). Coaching matchups don't help either, as I trust Dabo and Chizik about as far as I can throw them. Complete tossup to me - I'll give the edge to Auburn.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Temple (ESPN): Meanwhile, Pitt wonders what it has to do to get some love from the Nittany Lions.
  • Pittsburgh @ Iowa (ESPN2): Speaking of Pitt (seriously, I didn't even realize this was next) they'll take on a moribund Iowa squad that just lost to Iowa State. If the Big East will make any noise this year, it has to start with games like this. Personally, I don't think they can do it.
  • West Virginia @ Maryland (ESPNU): Well, at least Maryland will look less wacky this time around. WVU should roll.
  • Eastern Michigan @ Michigan (BTN): Given what we know now, which, granted, isn't much, at least Michigan is still playing an exciting brand of football. They shouldn't need any excitement or last minute heroics to beat Eastern Michigan, though.
  • Mississippi @ Vanderbilt (SEC): Every year it seems like this game is the game Ole Miss should win. And then they don't! That's why this is an underrated game to watch. That said, Ole Miss should still win though.
  • Duke @ Boston College (ACC): I think BC can manage to win this one. The fact I'm even having to think about it says a lot more about BC than it does Duke.
  • Kansas @ Georgia Tech (ACC/FSN): I tried briefly to think of a way to describe this game without drawing on last year's debacle. I can't. Allow me to play psychologist for a moment, though. Does drawing on a loss like that really work? Or do you get your players so worked up about avoiding another debacle on that scale that they screw up again, or perhaps in an even more horrific fashion than the previous time? I suppose there's only way to find out.
1:30: Colorado State vs. Colorado (@Denver, CO; FSN): This has to be one of the few mid-major vs. major rivalries out there, I would think. Or, at least one that forces the major portion of the equation to play it every year at a neutral site. Of course, having already suffered a 34-17 rout to a mid-major school, it's hard to go with the Buffs in this one.

  • Michigan State @ Notre Dame (NBC): I don't think Sparty's going to need any last minute shenanigans to prevail over the Irish.
  • Tennessee @ Florida (CBS): I might tune in to the start of this one just to hear the CBS intro music. Chills up my spine, every time. Anyway, as for the actual game, Florida's had a couple of walkovers and so has Tennessee. For no apparent reason, I like the Gators in each of these teams' first true test.
  • Washington @ Nebraska (ABC/ESPN): Speaking of revenge games, if there's anyone in this world who would be looking to avenge an embarrassing loss, it would be Bo Pellini. Nebraska wins going away.
  • Texas @ California-Los Angeles (ESPN/ABC): Texas found a semblance of an offense last weekend. UCLA hasn't had one of those in years.
  • Texas Tech @ New Mexico (Versus): I think even Tommy Tuberville can break 50 points in this one.
  • Virginia @ North Carolina (ESPNU): Both of these teams have close wins over shaky teams (Indiana and Rutgers, respectively) making this one hard to call. This should be a close slapflight of a game, probably breaking in favor of the Tar Heels.
  • Northwestern @ Army (CBSS): I've got a sinking feeling Army's going to straight to 0-3.
  • Miami @ Minnesota (BTN): Tune in to see Jerry Kill back on the sidelines for UMN, but otherwise this is the Miami in Ohio, so even the Gophers should be able to wax those guys.
4:00: Arkansas State @ Virginia Tech (ACC/FSN): Speaking of waxing, er, let's use another mataphor. Beatdown? That seems apropos for VPI, who won 17-10 last weekend at ECU. It'll be physical, and perhaps uncomfortably close, but VPI will get ahead and stay ahead sometime in the early 2nd half.

6:00: Navy @ South Carolina (ESPN2): South Carolina has the kind of defensive line that gives Paul Johnson derived offenses fits. Okay, in fairness, they'll give all sorts of offenses fits. Navy may try some unconventional tactics but I suspect Clowney will remind fans of the GT/Navy offense of the havok Da'Quan Bowers wrought for Clemson against Tech last year. Based on that, I don't think this one's going to be close.

  • Louisville @ Kentucky (ESPNU): I guess this used to be a mid-major vs. major rivalry, but let's face it, this is just a warmup for basketball season anyway. Especially since the Wildcats should win this pretty easily against a banged up, not very good Louisville team.
  • Arizona State @ Illinois (BTN): I have a feeling that this may get ugly, and not in a good way for Illinois.
  • Kent State @ Kansas State (FCS): Ah, the Flashes are just the sort of out-of-conference opponent Bill Synder loves.
  • Ohio State @ Miami (ESPN): First off, best nickname, far and away for this game: the Ineligibowl. With that out of the way, let's talk football. Both of these squads are depleted, yes, but only one of the managed to lose to Maryland two weeks ago and it wasn't Ohio State. Buckeyes should be able to get up for this one and prevail.
  • North Texas @ Alabama (SEC/FSN): Tide rolls.
  • Troy @ Arkansas (SEC): I love it when Troy plays the "plucky, hard-to-dispatch team from the Sun Belt" role but considering their shellacking from their game with Clemson it's hard to envision anything but a blowout against the Razorbacks
  • Oklahoma @ Florida State (ABC): Listen carefully, and you will hear the sound of a million TV remotes being pressed to their local ABC stations for this one. That said, this may be the best FSU team in 10 years. I may even root for them in the off-chance a win by them restores some measure of respect for the ACC. But realistically, Oklahoma will line up with advantages on both sides of the ball and two weeks to prepare. Thanks to home field advantage, it probably won't be an embarrassment like last year, but it's hard to see how the end result will be different.
  • Syracuse @ Southern California (FX): Gus Johnson will try his best, but I highly doubt even he can rescue this probably snoozer in the Trojans' favor.
9:15: Utah @ Brigham Young (ESPN2): So when both those 8:00 games are decided, flip over here for the Holy War. This game is usually a lot of fun to watch, and it's nice to see that at least for now the game was preserved. Hard to say who's going to win this year's edition, but I'll give the Stormin' Mormons a slight edge.

  • Oklahoma State @ Tulsa (FSN): I like these late night games, though of course I am on the West Coast so they're not really that late. What all three of these probably will be, though, are blowouts. This one probably has the best chance to not be a complete blowout.
  • Hawaii @ Nevada-Las Vegas (CBSS): For instance, you see this game and you think it might be a shootout. You'd be wrong, though, as UNLV is probably one of the five worst teams in the country.
10:45: Stanford @ Arizona (ESPN): Arizona already gave up 37 points to Oklahoma State last week. Andrew Luck and Co. might double that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

College Football Rule Changes and You: 2011 Edition

We last did this two years ago. With the publication of the 2009 rules, the NCAA moved to a 2-year cycle, so the next rulebook will not be issued until 2013. Therefore, this year's edition includes some of the most substantive changes since 2008, when the NCAA went to NFL-style timing rules.

As with past editions, the rule number and page number will be given. There are numerous small, mostly editorial changes to the rules, so we will only cover rules listed as "major changes" by the NCAA from the listing on page 6.
  • Rule 1-4-6-b (page 24): Gloves can now be any color.
  • Rule 1-4-11-Exc. (page 25): Monitors are now allowed in coaches' booths, as long as they only show the live telecast or webcast of the game.
  • Rule 3-4-4 (page 52): This rule is an overreaction to the events at the end of last year's Music City Bowl. I don't particularly care for it, and I think it is excessive. Anyway, this is the "Derek Dooley Rule":
    ARTICLE 4. a. With the game clock running and less than one minute remaining in either half, if a player of either team commits a foul that causes the clock to stop, the officials may subtract 10 seconds from the game clock at the option of the offended team. The fouls that fall in this category include but are not limited to:
    1. Any foul that prevents the snap (e.g., false start, encroachment, defensive offside by contact in the neutral zone, etc.);
    2. Intentional grounding to stop the clock;
    3. Incomplete illegal forward pass;
    4. Backward pass thrown out of bounds to stop the clock;
    5. Any other foul committed with the intent of stopping the clock.

    The offended team may accept the yardage penalty and decline the 10-second subtraction. If the yardage penalty is declined the 10-second subtraction is declined by rule.
    b. The 10-second rule does not apply if the game clock is not running when the foul occurs or if the foul does not cause the game lock to stop (e.g., illegal formation).
    c. After the penalty is administered, if there is a 10-second subtraction, the game clock starts on the referee’s signal. If there is no 10-second subtraction, the game clock starts on the snap. d. If the fouling team has a timeout remaining they may avoid the 10-second subtraction by using a timeout. In this case the game clock starts on the snap after the timeout.
    Remember, it is already illegal to commit fouls to purposely stop the clock (see Rule 3-4-3), usually resulting in the clock starting on the ready for play (i.e., when the ball is set). I think this rule is excessively punitive, as 10 seconds is a lot of time in end-of-half situations, and especially since it is not obvious (to me) that the confusion at the end of the Music City Bowl was designed to stop the clock. I think this may get revisited in 2013. At a minimum, it should be no more than 5 seconds. At best, it would be scrapped entirely.
  • Rule 3-5-3 (page 54): Clarification that if the offensive team breaks the huddle with more than 11 players or has more than 11 on the field or in the huddle for more than three seconds, or if the defensive team lingers too long with too many players, that play should be stopped immediately and the penalty called.
  • Rule 6-1-10 (page 63): This rule actually took effect last year. It outlaws the "wedge" formation, defining a wedge as "two or more players aligned shoulder to shoulder within 2 yards of each other", and further clarifies that it is illegal to form a wedge on kickoffs for the "purpose of blocking for the ball carrier". This is a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty. Note that this is not called if there a touchback or if "the kick is from an obvious onside kick formation".
  • Rule 6-3-14 (page 66): This is a new rule that clarifies on place kicks, it is illegal for three defensive players inside the blocking zone to block one offensive player.
  • Rule 7-1-3-b-2 (Deleted): Rule 7-1 was extensively rewritten. The former rule 7-1-3-b-2 does not appear in the new text, however, making "locking" legs with the snapper illegal. The written 7-1 also clarifies the offense must be still for 1 second before a snap, or else it is a false start.
  • Rule 7-3-2 (page 73): This changes intentional grounding rule in the book to the way it is usually called by eliminating the requirement that the eligible receiver in the area has a "reasonable opportunity to catch the pass". I would really like to see a definition of "an area" though.
  • Rule 9-1-4 (page 84): Clarification that contact to the head or neck of a defenseless player with the "helmet, forearm, elbow, or shoulder" is a foul.
  • Rule 9-1-6 (page 84): The entire section on blocking below the waist has been rewritten. To give an idea of the extent of the changes, the rule originally read "Blocking below the waist is permitted except as follows" and then listed conditions in which is it was not legal to block below the waist. It now reads that "There shall be no blocking below the waist" and then lists exceptions to this rule. The exceptions are:
    1. Against the runner.
    2. Players on the offensive team on the line of scrimmage who are within seven yards of the player in the middle of the line (i.e., in the tackle box), in the backfield outside the tackle box, or in motion may block below the waist along the long axis of the field (i.e., only forward or backward) or toward the sideline they are adjacent to the snap (i.e., it is legal to block below the waist toward the nearest sideline, this is usually is only applicable to receivers on the edge of the formation, preventing them from blocking a player below the waist from behind by coming back toward the middle of the field, sometimes known as a "crackback block").
    3. Offensive players inside the tackle box, either on the line of scrimmage or in the backfield.
    4. Defensive players in the blocking zone except against offensive players waiting to receive a backward pass. (The blocking zone is distinct from the tackle box, in that is is defined as 5 yards in either direction from the middle lineman in an offensive formation and 3 yards forward or back. It also ceases to exist when the ball leaves the zone.)
    Basically, this is a continued effort by the rules committee to clarify blocking below the waist. As far as I can tell comparing the old rule and the new, there are no substantive differences in the actual a
  • Rule 9-1-7-c (page 85): It is illegal for a player clearly out-of-bounds to block an opponent who is also out-of-bounds.
  • Rule 9-2-1 (page 87): The most famous rule change of the offseason, most likely. Essentially, this change makes unsportsmanlike conduct fouls that occur while the ball in in play enforceable as live-ball fouls. Whereas before all such fouls be administered after the result of the play, this means these fouls can now be enforced from the spot where the occur or from the previous line of scrimmage. The infamous part is where this is brandied about as "taking touchdowns off the board" since now a player highstepping into the end zone before getting there will be penalized 15 yards from the spot and the touchdown will not count. This almost happened at the end of the Utah-USC game last weekend, except that the unsportsmanlike conduct was on the USC bench (since they ran onto the field while the ball was in play after a blocked FG) and is therefore still supposed to be administered from the succeeding spot (in other words, the touchdown still counts).
    The vast majority of unsportsmanlike conduct flags for excessive celebration I've ever seen occur after the touchdown has been scored. Therefore, I think the impact of this rule has been vastly overstated and is probably somewhat unlikely to ever be called except in egregious cases. We shall see, though.
  • Rule  9-4 (page 93): Batting balls and illegal kicks are now 10 yard penalties instead of 15 yards.
  • Page 12-3-5 (page 103): This rule actually took effect last year. This allows officials, in some circumstances, to use instant replay to determine if the clock stopped inappropriately at the end of the half. This is the "Texas Rule": instant replay was used to put 1 second back on the clock at the end of the 2009 Big 12 Championship Game, allowing Texas the chance to kick the game winning field goal. 
And that's about it. I highly recommend downloading the rule book (linked back in the first paragraph). It's a handy reference and who knows, you might learn something.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

This Weekend in College Football: Week 2

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Oregon State @ Wisconsin (ESPN): So did you hear that Oregon State lost to Sacramento State last week? Yeah....
  • Florida Atlantic @ Michigan State (ESPN2): This may end up being closer than the other noon Big Ten game. Okay, probably not, but still.
  • Iowa @ Iowa State (FSN): I'm sure the Cyclones will give it the ole college try, but it's hard to see how they will prevail in the end.
  • Central Michigan @ Kentucky (ESPNU): Speaking of bad losses, did you see that Louisville lost to FIU last night? Yeah, anyway, Kentucky should still prevail here.
  • San Diego State @ Army (CBSS): Army's not off to a good start this season, and I doubt it will get better against the Aztecs.
  • Toledo @ Ohio State (BTN): Comparing their depth charts, Ohio State should be able to win this with 30 players, much less 85.
  • Mississippi State @ Auburn (SEC): So remember that time Auburn almost lost to Utah State? Oh, wait, that was last week. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs handled their mid-major patsy with easy, obliterating a hapless Memphis squad 59-14. Now, Auburn did rally in the 4th quarter and eventually get their act together, so presumably motivation will not be an issue in this first test of the Tigers' mettle. I still have to go with Miss State though.
12:30:  Rutgers @ North Carolina (ACC): My thoughts on this game: "eh". I think UNC will win.

  • Alabama @ Pennsylvania State (ABC): Okay, now things get interesting. Well, sort of. I'm going to roll with the conventional wisdom that between two teams with uncertain quarterback situations and the likely return of Alabama's stout 2009-style defense, this will be a slow scoring affair that ultimately ends in the Tide's favor.
  • Cincinnati @ Tennessee (ESPN2): I've been to both Cincy and Knoxville now, and I have to say, I don't really want to live in either. I think I liked Knoxville better though so I'll go with the Vols.
  • Nevada @ Oregon (FX): Last Saturday, Oregon entered the Les Miles Reality Distortion Field, waking up several hours later with no memory of where they had been or how they ended up with a 40-27 loss. However, someone told Chip Kelly that Chris Ault has all the answers, setting us up for a thrilling action movie style obliteration of the Wolfpack. 60+ points for the Ducks may not be out of the question.
  • Virginia Tech @ East Carolina (FSN): VPI was lauded last week for actually managing to beat their DI-AA opponent in convincing fashion. So that means this week it's back to Business as Usual for Beamerball. Hokies win 22-20 on a blocked PAT return.
  • Texas Christian @ Air Force (Versus): Yeah, so about that TCU being awesome thing. While Boise took care of business against the Bulldogs, TCU lost to Baylor and had their vaunted defense shredded in the process. (Well, technically they lost to Robert Griffin III, but anyway.) Maybe they did it on purpose to spite the Mountain West moving the TCU-Boise game from Fort Worth to Boise. Anyway, damage is now done. TCU's defense doesn't get a rest, however, switching gears to defending Air Force's custom triple option attack. They should come out on top this time, though.
  • Stanford @ Duke (ESPNU): What's the over/under on this game? Let's see.... ah, 110. I would take the over if I thought Duke would put up more than 10 points. Then again, that still might not be a bad idea.
  • Purdue @ Rice (CBSS): This is actually kind of a tossup. Which is more of a statement about Purdue than Rice. I mean, the Boilermakers should win, but this may be the pick I'll be the least sure about all day.
  • Eastern Illinois @ Northwestern (BTN): Thankfully, this one does not give me pause. NU wins.
  • North Carolina State @ Wake Forest (ACC): Some years, Wake Forest is a plucky, hard to deal with opponent that gives the rest of the ACC a run for it's money. I don't think this is one of them.
4:30: South Carolina @ Georgia (ESPN): By all rights, South Carolina should win. There is a strong trend I've seen on other sites of not really believing the situation and that the Gamecocks can stand up to the pressure. But know this: it would be so awesome if UGA is 0-2 after today.

  • Brigham Young @ Texas (ESPN2): Narrow, offensively-challenged 14-13 victories over Ole Miss do not inspire much confidence heading into Austin.
  • Texas-El Paso @ Southern Methodist (FSN): Let's see... UTEP had to go to OT to beat Stony Brook last week, meaning they should rout SMU this week.
  • New Mexico @ Arkansas (ESPNU): I think the most interesting aspect of this game is that's a home game at Arkansas's other stadium, War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
  • Fresno State @ Nebraska (BTN): I still admire Pat Hill's willingness to play anyone, anywhere, but I doubt after the welfare fraud thing that broke the other day that this game is going to improve his mood much.
  • Alabama-Birmingham @ Florida (SEC): BLAZERS. GATORS. FEEL THE EXCITEMENT. Well, excitement-like-substance anyway.
  • Utah @ Southern California (Versus): Oh, right, this is a conference game now. Well, Utes, you wanted to sit at the table with the big boys. Time to prove you belong. Trojans should still win.
  • Connecticut @ Vanderbilt (SEC): Well, they both beat their DI-AA opponents last week so I can't really tell how bad or not bad these two teams are. I'll go with Vandy 'cause I like them better.
  • Georgia Tech @ Middle Tennessee State (ESPN3): Meanwhile, mere miles outside of Nashville will be supposedly the first sellout in the history of MTSU DI-A football. GT still had plenty of mistakes last week. Bad snaps are one thing - I'm still mad about the sloppiness on special teams, including two boneheaded plays on punts on a blocked field goal. I find the carryover of one of last year's biggest problems a troubling concern. Outside of that, it was fun to see this, if only for a little while:

    Anyway, it's hard to make an overall judgement about the team at this point. Last year, this is where we faltered. Will we stand up to scrutiny this time?
  • Notre Dame @ Michigan (ESPN): This was supposed to be an EPIC CLASH and two midwestern powers RETURNED TO GREATNESS. A funny thing happened on the way here, though, namely that ND went and lost to South Florida. Whoops. The Wolverines dispatched their directional school opponent (though, in fairness, USF could beat Western Michigan every day and twice on Sundays) with ease. Notre Dame probably won't go down as easy, but it's hard to imagine the Irish getting the stops they need or the offense they need either. Brian Kelly may spontaneously combust, though. So there's a reason to watch.
  • Boston College @ Central Florida (CBSS): I have a bad feeling about this. You don't just walk into Bright House Networks Stadium and expect to leave without a fight. Also, UCF scored 62 points last year, which BC may not score for another 2 or 3 games.
Apologies for the lateness, it's been a busy week. For me, at least, this is my first full Saturday of football, and believe me, I am looking forward to it. For my musings as the day goes on, you could do worse than subscribe to my Twitter feed. Much worse. Until then.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

This Weekend in College Football: Week 1

So this is my quick look at each weekend's games. Note that this does not usually include Thursday and Friday games, as there are only a few games. (Since this is week one, I am listing all applicable games from Thursday to Monday, however.) My source for schedules is mostly Matt Sarz's website which is one of the most comprehensives sites of its kind around.

Regardless of what is one TV, I will only list contests involving Division I-A teams on national networks, with exceptions for ACC and SEC teams (since I care about them). Also, Georgia Tech is always listed, even if the game is not on TV. When a game is listed as being on two or more networks, the network showing the game in most of the country will be listed first, followed by the other networks in order. For instance, a common listing is "ABC/ESPN2", which means the game will primarily be shown on ABC stations nationwide, but if it is not on ABC in a particular area, it will be on ESPN2. Many ACC and SEC games are shown on regional syndication under the banners of the "ACC Network" and "SEC Network". I will list these games as "ACC" and "SEC" respectively, and these games are almost always available on For Big Ten Network games, these are listed as "BTN" and only the game being shown on most systems nationwide will be listed. Games listed as "FSN" will be shown on most or all Fox Sports Net affiliates nationally, including states owned by Comcast that are known as "Comcast Sports Net". "CBSS" refers to the cable channel formerly known as "CBS College Sports".

As for colleges, I use no nicknames or shortenings other than "Tech", even for those certain other Techs that are actually full-fledged universities. This season I am referring to the "University of Miami" and "Miami University" as "Miami". Yes, this seems contradictory when I type out "Agricultural and Mechanical" instead of "A&M".

I also make some statements and attempt to predict the outcome of each game. Which is why I always lead off with:

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

6:00: Murray State @ Louisville (ESPNU): This is in 20 minutes, but I feel pretty confident that the outcome of this isn't really in doubt. That said, watch it anyway because it's REAL ACTUAL LIVE FOOTBALL.

7:30: Western Carolina @ Georgia Tech (ESPN3): My other unwritten/written rule is that I don't predict the outcome of GT games. For this one, I just hope we have the backups in for the second half.

  • Nevada-Las Vegas @ Wisconsin (ESPN): This is the first "real" game on the list, as in it features two DI-A teams. That said, this is still an exhibition for Wisconsin to break in Russell Wilson and get the denizens of Madison used to this "forward pass" thing they've heard so much about.
  • Mississippi State @ Memphis (FSN): The only thing in doubt about this game is when Dan Mullen will call off his dogs.
9:15: Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky (@Nashville, TN; ESPNU): I think I said this twice during the schedule preview, but why on Earth are two teams from Kentucky playing a game in Tennessee? Well, I guess if I really cared that much I would just look it up. Anyway, Wildcats should roll, but it may be worth tuning in to see if Western Kentucky's mascot/nightmare fuel is present.

7:30: Youngstown State @ Michigan State (BTN): Sparty rolls.

8:00: Texas Christian @ Baylor (ESPN): It'll be up to Robert Griffin to keep the Bears competitive in this contest. Nonetheless, Baylor's lack of a defense should doom them in the end, though this could be an entertaining shootout.

  • Akron @ Ohio State (ESPN): This is not one of the games the Buckeyes are worried about.
  • Utah State @ Auburn (ESPN2): Auburn may be completely rebuilding this year, but the Aggies shouldn't give them any issues.
  • Miami @ Missouri (FSN): For as many times as I mentioned Miami University in my schedule preview, maybe I should see which mid-major teams have the most brutal OOC schedules somedays. Have to pay the bills somehow, I suppose.
  • Northwestern @ Boston College (ESPNU): By all rights, BC should win this game. But Northwestern actually attempts to play offensive football, which I think will give them an edge on this day.
  • Kent State @ Alabama (SEC): Somewhat appropriately, the Tide rolls in this game.
  • Indiana State @ Pennsylvania State (BTN): I was hoping the one game featuring two DI-A teams (MTSU @ Purdue) would be featured, but alas. A walk-over for Penn State.
12:30: Appalachian State @ Virginia Tech (ACC): I wish I were kidding when I said this may be Virginia Tech's toughest OOC game. Hokes get to 1-0 with ease.

  • South Florida @ Notre Dame (NBC): With easily the most hype they've had coming into a season in years, we'll get an early taste if it's deserved or not. Touchdown Jesus should be pleased, though.
  • Western Michigan @ Michigan (ESPN2/ABC): Hail to the victors, etc., etc.
  • California-Los Angeles @ Houston (FSN): If I recall correctly, UCLA's defense was pretty abysmal last year. I don't remember how many yards Case Keenum needs for the record, but, well, he might have a shot here. Unless it's like 2000, in which case probably not. (Um, no pun intended there.)
  • Louisiana-Monroe @ Florida State (ESPNU): FSU rolls.
  • Delaware @ Navy (CBSS): Navy rolls, and since they run the ball, this is somewhat more literal.
  • Tennessee-Chattanooga @ Nebraska (BTN): UTC is known as the "Mocs". I've been there a few times. That's really all I got.
  • James Madison @ North Carolina (ACC): UNC ought to win this.
4:45: Brigham Young @ Mississippi (ESPN): The Right Reverend Houston Nutt takes on the Stormin' Mormons in what should be a decent game. Ole Miss is probably the weakest team in the SEC West this year, and I think BYU could well win this.

  • Florida Atlantic @ Florida (ESPNU): Howard Schnellenberger's suspenders probably won't be enough for the Owls to overtake the Gators in this one.
  • East Carolina vs. South Carolina (@Charlotte, NC; SEC): Remember, East Carolina is not, in fact, a state, and refers to Eastern North Carolina. Marcus Lattimore rolls.
7:30: Elon @ Vanderbilt (SEC): I think even Vandy can feel good about this one.

  • Oregon vs. Louisiana State (@Arlington, TX; ABC): This is the game of the day. Two teams who could still be in the top 10 at the end of the year matching up at a neutral site in a huge game. Will Oregon's fast pace offensive juggernaut prevail, or will the Les Miles Effect be fully in... effect for this game? It's hard to say. But even though they do play defense, LSU's inability to move the ball (even before their starting QB got suspended) doesn't bode well for their chances.
  • Boise State vs. Georgia (@Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Kellen Moore and co. enter into what will probably be a very biased neutral site. For the sake of all that is good and right with the world, the Broncos must prevail.
  • Tulsa @ Oklahoma (FX): Yes, you probably get FX. Flip over when the other games are in a commercial break. But hey, at least Tulsa gets to play both OU and OSU this year.
10:00: Louisiana Tech @ Southern Mississippi (FSN): I think it kind of sucks that Central Time zone schools have to play these late starts so networks can fill these awkward late night timeslots. Doesn't affect me though, but still. Also USM should win.

10:15: Colorado @ Hawaii (ESPN2): Now this is real late night football. Every kickoff at 10 PM Eastern or later should feature a Pac-12 or WAC team, I think. Colorado should win this, but there is a rather distinct possibility they won't.

3:30: Marshall @ West Virginia (ESPN): This is technically a rivalry game. It's a rather lopsided rivalry, but still one nonetheless.

7:30: Southern Methodist @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (FSN): I wish I could come up with a logical reason for TAMU to leave the Big 12. I really can't, though. Which makes the whole thing harder to understand. SMU is hoping to take their spot I would guess, but they will probably get stomped here.

8:00: Miami @ Maryland (ESPN): Even with their depleted roster, Miami's backups are still probably better than Maryland's current starters. Year 1 of the Randy Edsall era probably won't get off to a very pretty start.

And there's week one! Hopefully next week I'll finally get a chance to talk about college football's rule changes. Until then...

Rating the 2011 Non-Conference Slate: Epilogue

The college football season, mercifully, starts today. But before getting into the schedule for the weekend, let's take a quick look back at the best, and worst, of this season's out-of-conference scheduling.

First, some dishonorable mentions: North Carolina State (2 DI-AA teams, the only ones to do so this year) and Kentucky (for scheduling a neutral site game with Western Kentucky in Tennessee).

But who had the worst overall schedules in college football? Well, here's a sample of all the teams that got a 0 for their scheduling:
  • Virginia Tech: Appalachian State, @East Carolina, Arkansas State, Marshall. This is really kind of embarrassing. Appy State could well be the best team on the list. Nonetheless, it's only the second or third worst schedule.
  • Washington State: Idaho State, Nevada-Las Vegas, @San Diego State. See, Wazzou is just kind of terrible, so this is at least understandable. As in, they're so bad that it's entirely possible they'll lose to SDSU.
  • Mississippi State: @Memphis, Louisiana Tech, @Alabama-Birmingham, Tennessee-Martin. Also embarrassing. Miss State used to be bad, yes, but they've gotten better. There's no reason to schedule like this anymore. Well, except for the four guaranteed wins I guess.
  • Texas Tech: Texas State, @New Mexico, Nevada. It's either these guys or Miss State that's the worst. I'm going to go with this, simply because Texas Tech has been on the "shame" list for three consecutive years now, and it's not like Tommy Tuberville's going to rock the boat in this regard.
 So who has the top schedule in all the land? Again, I am mostly considering not only score, but also interesting ineter-sectional matchups that aren't rivalry games. So, without further adieu, the top six OOC schedules for the 2011 season are:
6. Southern California: Minnesota, Syracuse, Notre Dame. Barely makes the list, but these are all major conference schools, technically. Er... maybe I should've just gone with a top 5. Anyway.
5. Maryland: West Virginia, Temple, Towson, N-Notre Dame. UMD and WVU do play a lot, but it's not an every-year sort of affair. Combined with the ND game and this is pretty decent.
4. Florida State: Louisiana-Monroe, Charleston Southern, Oklahoma, @Florida. @Florida being a rivalry game hurts this schedule a bit, but that will be the icing on the cake if the Seminoles somehow triumph over the Sooners.
3. Oregon State: Sacramento State, @Wisconsin, Brigham Young. Again, this is a good slate, with a cross-country road trip to Madison and a visit from the Stormin' Mormons.
2. Pittsburgh: Buffalo, Maine, @Iowa, Notre Dame, Utah. Feels like Pitt appears on this list every year, but at least they use the 5-game OOC schedule to their advantage. Yes, they play ND every year but Iowa is pretty underrated every year and Utah is Utah. Solid, and again, maybe a platform to do a little more than get to the Orange Bowl.
1. Louisiana State: N-Oregon, Northwestern State, @West Virginia, Western Kentucky. Oregon and WVU on the same schedule made this decision pretty easy. Especially coming from a conference usually accused of ducking interesting OOC games, LSU knocks it out of the park with two potentially great and interesting games.

And finally, let's close with the conference "legit" averages. That is, the average "legit"-ness of each conference's OOC schedule:
  1. Pac-12: 0.323
  2. ACC: 0.281
  3. Big East: 0.263
  4. Big 12: 0.25
  5. Big Ten: 0.203
  6. SEC: 0.203
The tie between the Big Ten and SEC was broken by the number of DI-AA teams played (10 vs. 12, respectively).

So, with that, let's talk some actual football! I'm excited, you're excited, we're all excited! Stay tuned for the weekend TV guide.

Rating the 2011 Non-Conference Slate: SEC

And it is time, finally, for the Southeastern Conference. Fun fact: every SEC team plays a DI-AA team this year.
  1. Louisiana State (2 legit, 1 DI-AA): N-Oregon, Northwestern State, @West Virginia, Western Kentucky. Mea culpa: apparently when I wrote the WVU preview I said that game would be in Baton Rouge. Well, it isn't. Flip everything around and what I wrote still applies, I think. As for the Oregon game, go look at the Pac-12 post.
  2. Georgia (1.5, 1): N-Boise State, Coastal Carolina, New Mexico State, @Georgia Tech. Man, I really hope Boise wins. That's all I got for this.
  3. Alabama (1, 1): Kent State, @Pennsylvania State, North Texas, Georgia Southern. A rare, but highly encouraged, SEC-Big Ten matchup with two traditional powers meeting. Always in favor of that. Also, at least this GSU won't be quite the punching bag the other one was.
  4. Arkansas (1, 1): Missouri State, New Mexico, Troy, N-Texas Agricultural and Mechanical. Even though it is part of a now long-running series, I still put Arkansas over Florida because the TAMU game isn't required.
  5. Florida (1, 1): Florida Atlantic, Alabama-Birmingham, Furman, Florida State. Unlike the Florida-Florida State game. This is pretty much a bare minimum schedule right here.
  6. Auburn (0.75, 1): Utah State, @Clemson, Florida Atlantic, Samford. Again, see the above, re: optional OOC games versus rivalry games.
  7. South Carolina (0.75, 1): N-East Carolina, Navy, Citadel, Clemson. East Carolina keeps fooling me. They should just join the Big East already.
  8. Mississippi (0.5, 1): Brigham Young, Southern Illinois, @Fresno State, Louisiana Tech. This is almost kind of a real schedule for Ole Miss. BYU and a road game to a west coast school? Almost downright unheard of.
  9. Tennessee (0.5, 1): Montana, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Middle Tennessee State. Not much to see here, moving on.
  10. Vanderbilt (0.5, 1): Elon, Connecticut, Army, @Wake Forest. Well, even Vandy has to start from somewhere, and at least they've got a schedule that they should at least break even with.
  11. Kentucky (0.25, 1): N-Western Kentucky, Central Michigan, Louisville, Jacksonville State. Note that the Louisville game is a rivalry game. Are these guys even trying? Note that the Western Kentucky game is at a neutral site: Nashville. I'm not sure who thought it'd be great for two Kentucky schools to play a game in Tennessee. For a long time I've joked that Memphis is actually the capital of Mississippi - maybe Nashville serves a similar role for their neighbors to the north?
  12. Mississippi State (0, 1): @Memphis, Louisiana Tech, @Alabama-Birmingham, Tennessee-Martin. I wonder someone hoodwinked the Bulldogs into thinking Alabama still plays a couple of home games at Legion Field every year and didn't realize they were going to play UAB until the schedule for this year had to be published.
Next up, some final thoughts. 

Rating the 2011 Non-Conference Slate: Pac-12

As per usual, the Pacific 12 leads the land in terms of scheduling out-of-conference teams. Somewhat bizarrely, though, they elected to keep the 9 game conference schedule despite now having 12 teams. I like having 9 conference games when that means the conference will play a full round-robin, but otherwise I'm not sure it makes sense. Yes, it produces more meaningful games, but otherwise there's not a meaningful upside.
  1. Southern California (1.5 legit, 0 DI-AA): Minnesota, Syracuse, @Notre Dame. USC always plays pretty decent OOC schedules, but this is about as low as you can currently go and say you schedule three BCS conference teams short of scheduling Vanderbilt and Duke.
  2. Oregon State (1.5, 1): Sacramento State, @Wisconsin, Brigham Young. Nonetheless, the three BCS teams are sufficient to beat out Oregon State's Wisconsin and BYU combo, though playing a DI-AA team certainly doesn't help.
  3. Stanford (1.25, 0): San Jose State, @Duke, Notre Dame. Well, they have Notre Dame on the schedule. In reality, their ticket to the national title game will probably be decided when they play Oregon.
  4. Colorado (1.5, 0): @Hawaii, California, N-Colorado State, @Ohio State. Yes, that's four non-conference games due to the Hawaii rule. Oh yeah, there's also that bizarre already scheduled Cal game that is now a non-conference conference game. Strangeness all around. Remember, though I show the raw "legit" score this ranking is actually based on the average, which means the extra OOC game is accounted for (and hence why they rank below Stanford).
  5. California-Los Angeles (1, 0): @Houston, San Jose State, Texas. This may actually be pretty tough for UCLA. Considering their defensive woes Case Keenum could well break the NCAA passing record in this game alone.
  6. Oregon (1, 1): N-Louisiana State, Nevada, Missouri State. Oregon-LSU has to be one of the top intersectional matchups of the year. Yes, there's also UGA-Boise State. That game, though, will lack Oregon's frenetic offensive pace up against the "they have no idea what the hell they're doing" pace of Les Miles and co.
  7. Washington (1, 1): Eastern Washington, Hawaii, @Nebraska. Washington's prospects in the return trip to Lincoln look, shall we say, dim.
  8. Arizona State (1, 1): California-Davis, Missouri, @Illinois. Funny how, in a year where Missouri and Illinois stop their renewed series, Arizona State manages to play both. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.
  9. Utah (1, 1): Montana State, @Brigham Young, @Pittsburgh. Utah will try to earn its newfound major conference cred by beating the team that arguably launched it to where it is today, Pitt.
  10. Arizona (1, 1): Northern Arizona, @Oklahoma State, Louisiana-Lafayette. I can't think of anything funny to say about this schedule, so moving on.
  11. California (0.25, 1): N-Fresno State, @Colorado, Presbyterian. Again, yes, that Colorado game is not a Pac-12 game. Whoops! Also, Presbyterian is located in Clinton, South Carolina, which is a heck of a long way from Berkeley in more ways than just distance, I would suspect.
  12. Washington State (0, 1): Idaho State, Nevada-Las Vegas, @San Diego State. Well, there's at least one win on this schedule for Paul Wulff and Co.
Next up, the SEC, and followed by a quick wrap-up.

Rating the 2011 Non-Conference Slate: Big 12

Now, finally, here is the Big 12. Well, hopefully. It could well cease to exist by the time I finish writing this.
  1. Oklahoma (1 legit, 0 DI-AA): Tulsa, @Florida State, Ball State. Oklahoma-Florida State may turn out to be one of the most pivotal games of the year for the preseason #1 team, because the rest of this OOC schedule won't be. Still, though, the single game in Tallahassee was enough to vault the Sooners over Texas for the #1 spot here.
  2. Texas (1, 0): Rice, Brigham Young, @California-Los Angeles. Quantity does not always beat quality. Though we did rate newly independent BYU this year, Texas should still handle them and moribund UCLA.
  3. Baylor (1, 1): Texas Christian, Stephen F. Austin, Rice. It's the Robert Griffin show down in Waco. Will it be enough to get them past TCU?
  4. Iowa State (1, 1): Northern Iowa, Iowa, @Connecticut. Well, at least Iowa and Iowa State will no longer be playing for that awful corn trophy. I have a feeling we kind of hated on the Hawkeyes in our ratings, but oh well.
  5. Kansas State (1, 1): Eastern Kentucky, Kent State, @Miami. Yes, this is that Miami. Otherwise this schedule is very Bill Synder-esque, which leads me to think that once Miami slides off the rotation we'll see the K-State schedules of old.
  6. Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (0.75, 1): Southern Methodist, Idaho, N-Arkansas. Once again, a school shuns the deafening environment of KIBBIE DOME by cowardly playing away from the CRUCIBLE OF POTATO PAIN. I still like the on-going series with Arkansas at Jerry Jones's Intergalactic Space Palace, though.
  7. Kansas (0.75, 1): McNeese State, Northern Illinois, @Georgia Tech. A good first step for KU would probably be to actually beat their DI-AA opponent this year. (No comment on the part where they beat us.)
  8. Oklahoma State (0.5, 0): Louisiana-Lafayette, Arizona, @Tulsa. In case you're wondering, it's about 71.4 miles from Stillwater to Tulsa. Google Maps also tells me it takes an 1:14 to drive there, which given the way these two teams will probably sling the ball around may be how long it takes to play each quarter.
  9. Missouri (0.5, 1): Miami, @Arizona State, Western Illinois. That's the Miami in Oxford, OH. There's also a game in Tempe, which is nice, I guess.
  10. Texas Tech (0, 1): Texas State, @New Mexico, Nevada. Last year, that Nevada game probably would've been fun. As far as New Mexico goes, well, the team's coach probably has a better chance of literally punching you in the mouth than his football team figuratively does.
Sorry if it feels like I'm a bit of a hurry, but well, that's because I am. Anyway, next up is the Pac-12!