Monday, October 29, 2012

Bowl Predictions 2012: Week 3

It's that time again. Predictions are up at the usual place. Things have changed a bit since the first two weeks. Heading into the final month of the season, most teams only have four games left and the picture starts to become clearer for many teams in hovering the 5 to 7 win mark. Of course, we also have new complications due to thinks like Oklahoma and USC losing again. So let's start with the BCS.

Like many other prognosticators, I still have Alabama and Oregon as my #1 and #2. Oregon's schedule (plus the Pac-12 title game) should help them out in the computers. Notre Dame should slip in the machine rankings over the final weeks of the season, especially if USC loses again (which they will at least once). Kansas State will be a tougher nut to crack, but Oregon will remain #2 in both human polls if they win out, and again, they have the benefit of playing a 13th game. (Though it is worth noting the Pac-12 title game and Kansas State will both be on Saturday, December 1, so there isn't a "one of the teams didn't play the past week" advantage.)

Florida may have actually improved their chances of going to a BCS game by missing out on the SEC title game. I still think they will win out, including a win over my predicted ACC champion Florida State. If Florida only has one loss and does not play in the SEC title game (thus meaning they won't lose to Alabama), I still like them to go to the Sugar.

The Rose Bowl is a bigger question. Nebraska's win over Michigan this past weekend makes them the Big Ten frontrunners, so I'll put them in the Rose. However, with an at-least two-loss Nebraska there, does the Rose gain anything by taking Notre Dame, or will they defer to the Fiesta and pick-up Oklahoma? Nebraska-Oklahoma was once one the biggest rivalries in the sport and the two teams have not played since 2010. Either way, with USC's loss to Arizona State this weekend, it does not look like there will be a Pac-12 runner up worthy of BCS consideration.

If the Rose does pass on an undefeated or 1-loss Notre Dame, then they will definitely snapped up by the Fiesta to play a jilted Kansas State. I actually have ND going undefeated now, but if everything breaks as explained above it won't matter.

New to the predictions this week is Boise State. Boise sits at #19 in the current BCS rankings, three spots away from the promised land provided they don't lose and finish ahead of the Big Ten champion (which they currently will). Boise is split in the human polls, with the coaches putting them at #14 and Harris at #17. It stands to reason they'll pick up a couple spots in the Harris poll if they don't lose, and maybe even pick up a couple more spots in some of the computers (two of which don't even have them in their top 25's). Either way, if Boise makes it them they will go to the Orange and Louisville will be in the Sugar.

Possibly even more interesting is what happens if Boise doesn't make it, however. I'm not entirely sure they will, and I very, very nearly put Clemson in the Sugar. It could happen, especially if they beat a now-depleted South Carolina in their last game of the season. The BCS feels almost like it was counting on always having at least two Big Ten and two SEC teams every year. With Ohio State and Penn State on probation and entirely too-many SEC teams at the top of the polls, this creates a logjam of teams near the fringes that could get in.

FSU is in the driver's seat of the ACC. Less clear is just who the heck will win the Coastal. I have Miami pulling it off, finally setting up the FSU-Miami ACC title game that the conference bigwigs envisioned all those years ago when they set up the divisions and picked Florida cities for the original title games. Even as title game losers, I like Miami for the Russel Athletic Bowl. Clemson and NC State should follow into the Chick-fil-a and Sun Bowls. I have three Coastal at 6-6, including Virginia Tech, Duke, and probably entirely too optimistically at this point, Georgia Tech. I put those three into the Belk, Independence, and Music City, respectively.

Big 12
I finally have to give up on my dream of Texas playing Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. I project Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to finish ahead of the Longhorns in the conference, which just makes the notion too infeasible at this point. I put TTU in the Cotton, and then the Cowboys into the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Texas is relegated to the Alamo. The Holiday Bowl could be fun again with my projected matchup of West Virginia and Southern Cal. I also have Iowa State and TCU making in at 6-6, but I put Baylor at 4-8.

Big East
Well, Louisville hasn't lost to a MAC team yet so they're the Big East frontrunners now. New this week is 6-6 Syracuse sneaking in, but I couldn't put them into the Pinstripe Bowl.

Big Ten
I have Nebraska going 10-2, but remember, Wisconsin just as easily win the Big Ten title game, which I have them entering at 8-4. Either way, the Badgers may be the only eligible team from the Leaders division that even makes it to 6-6 or better, though Indiana or Purdue could do it, at least in theory. The Legends compensates by getting everyone eligible, even Minnesota, which thanks to a generous schedule can go 2-6 in the Big Ten and still make a bowl.

USC's loss this past weekend makes it very difficult for me to project them beating Oregon and Notre Dame. I now have Arizona State winning the Pac-12 South. Stanford could finish 9-3 but I don't think losing to Oregon in November will help their BCS chances. I actually even have Utah sneaking in at 6-6, after upsetting Cal this past weekend.

I already talked about the very top of the SEC, so let's focus on the runners up. I don't have Georgia or South Carolina losing again, except for the former in the SEC title game. Nonetheless, I put Georgia in the Capital One Bowl because South Carolina played there last year. Everything else was pretty much going down the line. I do have Tennessee sneaking at 6-6. Hey, they've done it before.

That's pretty much it for this week. Next week I'll incorporate news into the projections, which especially helps sort out my guesses for bowls that won't get their contractually obligated teams (read: the Military and BBVA Compass bowls).

Saturday, October 27, 2012

This Weekend in College Football: Week 9

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Tennessee @ South Carolina (ESPN): Well, South Carolina basically went 0-2 in the two most important games of their season. Whoops. Either way, Tennessee should be their ticket back to a healthy winning streak.
  • Iowa @ Northwestern (ESPN2): Aw what the heck, Northwestern. They actually play offense.
  • Kentucky @ Missouri (ESPNU): I think this will be the time Mizzou gets their first SEC win. Maybe. Probably.
  • Texas @ Kansas (FSN): This game should be a respite for the Longhorns' shamble-tastic defense.
  • Ball State @ Army (CBSS): Army's only FBS win so far this year is over Boston College. I foresee it remaining that way.
  • Indiana @ Illinois (BTN): Both these teams are 0-3 in the Big Ten and 2-5 on the year. Yet, Indiana seems demonstrably less awful. I'll take the Hooisers.
  • Mississippi @ Arkansas (SEC): I actually like Ole Miss in this one.
12:30: North Carolina State @ North Carolina (ACC): I actually like Carolina in this one. UNC, for those of you who aren't familiar with the lingo.

  • California-Los Angeles @ Arizona State (FX): UCLA has only beaten teams that one would think are probably worse than they are. Arizona State does not seem worse than them. I like the Sun Devils.
  • Brigham Young @ Georgia Tech (ACC/FSN): Well, it's week 2 of the new defense, and this time against a much more credible offensive threat than Boston College. Considering how middling the BYU offense is, that's really saying something about BC, but anyway. Another hot topic for the Jackets has been "intensity" - from that of players on the sidelines to the guys on the field. The second half of the BC game definitely had the hallmarks of a team that had "taken their foot off the pedal", so to speak. Yes, it's easy to point to the kicking woes, but frankly if this offense were firing on all cylinders they would only need a guy that kicks extra points. Either way, on paper this one is pretty close, so it may come down to thinks like "focus" and "intensity".
  • Texas Tech @ Kansas State (FOX): This is your weekly reminder that Bill Synder is a wizard. K-State could easily lose any of their next five games, but a loss in any one would be a massive upset at this point.
  • Florida vs. Georgia (@Jacksonville, FL; CBS): This figures to be a low-scoring defensive battle. Florida's best offense really is their defense. Last week against South Carolina, all their touchdown drives started deep in South Carolina's territory off of turnovers. This does not figure to be an every game occurrence for the Gators, but the defense really is that suffocating. If UGA can get to 21 points I actually like their chances of winning, but I don't really see how that can happen.
  • Southern California @ Arizona (ABC/ESPN2): USC-Oregon is next week. Oregon plays Colorado this week, so they can maybe afford to not worry about that too much, but the Wildcats are just competent enough for the Trojans to worry about. Don't get me wrong, it should still be a walk-over for them, but they will need to at least pay attention.
  • Michigan State @ Wisconsin (ABC/ESPN2): I guess Wisconsin is sort-of kind-of good? At least by the standards of this year's Big Ten?
  • Duke @ Florida State (ESPNU): Duke may be able to keep up for a little while due to their passing offense, but as I've said elsewhere, their defense is still pretty much made up of the kind of guys that Duke can recruit. FSU should cruise to a win.
  • Texas Christian @ Oklahoma State (FSN): OSU has basically no defense (like, you know, almost everyone else in the Big 12) but the usual "hope your opponent can't keep up" strategy should be sufficient against TCU.
  • Boise State @ Wyoming (CBSS): Boise State's looking a little healthier against the bottom dwellers of the Mountain West. SDSU next week should provide a challenge, but really the biggest game for them will be the game at Nevada the last week of the season. Let's hope they're not looking ahead like I am.
  • Purdue @ Minnesota (BTN): Purdue and Minnesota are basically fighting to get one last bowl bid for the Big Ten. Of course, there's still enough games left neither of them could make it. Since the start of Big Ten play, Minnesota has lost three straight, and scored 13 points in all three. Purdue has scored, er, 13, 14, and 22. I have Minnesota winning, but that's just a wild guess.
5:30: Ohio State @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN): This game is thoroughly irrelevant. Sure, Ohio State can try for the AP poll win, but they won't get it due to their lackluster results the past couple weeks and because they're not better than any of the other candidates, and more importantly, won't get a chance to play them. Penn State just isn't really very good. At least when they're playing teams that aren't each other they affect the bigger picture in some way but other than it's hard to come up with a reason to care about this contest if you're not a fan of either team. Also, the Buckeyes should win, and I still think if that Ohio State pulls off the undefeated season Terry Bowden should invent a traveling trophy for "undefeated teams in probation" and send it to Urban Meyer.

  • Texas Agricultural and Mechicanical @ Auburn (ESPNU): Auburn is just awful. TAMU rolls.
  • Baylor @ Iowa State (FSN): Baylor has literally the worse scoring defense in the country. Can Iowa State exploit it? Well, yes, but likely not often enough.
  • Massachusetts @ Vanderbilt (SEC/FSN): They gotta have else on TV, I guess. Vandy.
  • Notre Dame @ Oklahoma (ABC): Well, this is the game of the week. I like Oklahoma here but if Notre Dame wins somehow (defense is good, but who's the quarterback?) I like their chances for the rest of the season.
  • Michigan @ Nebraska (ESPN2): Misdirected passes ahoy! I'll go with the Huskers.
  • Central Florida @ Marshall (CBSS): UCF is pretty much going all-in on this year, so it would behoove them to not suffer a letdown against the Thundering Hood.
8:30: Mississippi State @ Alabama (ESPN): Well, getting to 7-0 was fun I'm sure, but this isn't exactly an unstoppable force against an immovable object here. The Tide should roll.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bowl Predictions 2012: Week 2

They're available at the usual place.

No commentary this week, other than that I seemed to have less of a need for the emergency pool of teams. Will this hold up next week? We'll find out soon enough.

In the meantime, why yes, I will take my BCS jokes with a side of Blade Runner.

References: 1) 2011 Oklahoma State vs. Iowa State
2) 2007 Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia

Saturday, October 20, 2012

This Weekend in College Football: Week 8

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Purdue @ Ohio State (ABC/ESPN2): Ohio State is pretty clearly the best team in the Big Ten at this point, giving up 49 to Indiana notwithstanding.
  • Virginia Tech @ Clemson (ABC/ESPN2): It's funny to reflect back on the first game of the season, with all the implications we thought they had. As it turns out, both us and VPI were worse than everyone thought. I guess what I'm trying to say here is  expect Clemson to win.
  • Iowa State @ Oklahoma State (FX): Iowa State: not awful, but probably still not going to be Oklahoma State.
  • Louisiana State @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (ESPN): Boy howdy, this is going to be a fun one I think. I think TAMU will prevail simply by playing offense, though.
  • Minnesota @ Wisconsin (ESPNU): It's the Big Ten, so who knows? But I'm going with Wisky.
  • Auburn @ Vanderbilt (SEC): I've said for two weeks Auburn is going to lose this game. No going back now, no matter how weird it feels to pick Vandy in anything.
12:30: Wake Forest @ Virginia (ACC): Unless you root for one of these teams, I can't come with a reason to watch this. Picking UVA though.

  • Stanford @ California (FOX): It's The Big Game. This is also your reminder that Jeff Tedford has the best job in America, even if he loses this game by 30. They probably won't, but I can't see them winning.
  • Boston College @ Georgia Tech (ACC/FSN): When your season includes a loss to Middle Tennessee State, you can't really take anything for granted. Word on the street is that the athletes were considerably less enthused about Al Groh getting fired than the fanbase or media. Two out of three isn't bad, though. The way I look at it is this: someone has to get fired after you have three straight games where your opponents (including the aforementioned MTSU) converted two-thirds of their third downs. Watching the Clemson game two weeks ago I almost felt like that the Clemson offense wanted to get to third down, with the Clemson coaches and players saying to themselves "we've got you now!" Since this is college, you have limited resources and you can't really fire the players, so you almost have to start at the top. I get the feeling (well, I doubt this is really at all disputed) that Paul Johnson would prefer that he never even have to think about the defense, and that is what he hired Al Groh to do. This season he has had to think about he defense a lot, which maybe contributed to some of the inconsistent fourth down decisions we've seen this year. Even with the bye week to adjust to new realities, I'm not expecting any miracles. We'll see what happens.
  • South Carolina @ Florida (CBS): This is the game of the day. I liked Florida's chances to stop South Carolina in the same, and I like them even more now that Marcus Lattimore may not play, or will be limited if he does. A win here sets up the Gators for a shot at the title game against Alabama in Atlanta, and I think they'll come through. But make no mistake: this will not be a LSU-style domination, because South Carolina has a pulse on offense. But the result will not be in doubt.
  • Brigham Young @ Notre Dame (NBC): Independent teams have to stick together, you know? It's hard to envision how BYU has a chance against this Irish defense.
  • Nebraska @ Northwestern (ABC/ESPN2): I expect lots of running and lots of points, but also probably a Cornhusker victory in the end.
  • Texas Tech @ Texas Christian (ABC/ESPN2): I guess the Texas Tech defense is for real? That does not bode well for TCU's pedestrian (by Big 12 standards anyway) offense.
  • South Florida @ Louisville (ABC): One of these teams lost by 9 last week to Temple. Hint: it wasn't Louisville.
  • North Carolina State @ Maryland (ESPNU): Maryland is 4-2, which makes precisely zero sense until you look at their schedule. NCSU isn't some sort of offensive juggernaut or anything but unless they make a ton of mistakes it's hard to see how UMD will score enough to win.
  • Nevada-Las Vegas @ Boise State (NBCS): These teams almost have opposite records, but alas, Boise will need this game to record their sixth win. They'll probably get it.
  • Rice @ Tulsa (FSN): The country's 105th ranked scoring defense against the 13th ranked scoring offense. This does not bode well for one of these two teams; which is left as an exercise for the reader.
  • Indiana @ Navy (CBSS): I think this edition of Indiana may be unawful enough to beat Navy. Maybe.
  • Michigan State @ Michigan (BTN): It feels sort of weird that a game like this isn't on network television and Nebraska-Northwestern is. I have a hunch that maybe the Big Ten Network gets one of these a year or something. Anyway, both have well-above-average defense, but only one posses any sort of notable offense, so I'll go with Michigan.
  • Kansas State @ West Virginia (FOX): You may not realize this, but adjusted for the pace of their offenses, Kansas State and WVU score about the same number of points. Can K-State succeed in Morgantown the same way they did in Norman? Personally, I'm not sure, and leaning toward "no".
  • Alabama @ Tennessee (ESPN): I have no doubts about this game, however. As they say in the other football, it's a walk-over for Alabama.
  • Middle Tennessee State @ Mississippi State (ESPN2): For Georgia Tech fans looking for any solace in the MTSU loss, well, the week after beating us they lost by two touchdowns against UL-Monroe. I can't say I'm feeling good about their chances in Starkville.
  • North Carolina @ Duke (ESPNU): UNC is just too competent offensively and defensively for Duke to overcome, I think.
  • Kansas @ Oklahoma (FSN): The problem with scoring 63 against Texas is that everyone is then going to come out and say you'll be disappointing if you don't do the same against an awful Kansas team. I'd say that's a little bit true, but I mean, that's a lot of points. And besides, I'm sure the Sooners will want to get the starters rested for next week's Game of the Century of the Week next week against Notre Dame.
  • Marshall @ Southern Mississippi (CBSS): All indications, er, indicate that USM's disaster of a season will continue.
  • Georgia @ Kentucky (SEC/FSN): It's almost, okay, well, not really, a shame that Kentucky and Auburn don't play each other this year. Georgia rolls.
  • Baylor @ Texas (ABC): It'll be another shootout for the Longhorns most likely, but despite everything I actually like them here.
  • Florida State @ Miami (ABC): Another team looking to get right after a bad loss is FSU, and they should against one of their biggest rivals.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Iowa (BTN): It'd be shocked if either team breaks 21 points in this game. If Iowa finishes the game with a running back, they should win.
  • Utah @ Oregon State (ESPN2): The Beavers' surprisingly good season should continue against the Utes, but they can't get caught thinking about their bigger-name conference foes that await.
  • San Diego State @ Nevada (CBSS): Both these late games have a ton of potential to be fun to watch. This game features two teams with great running offenses and subpar defenses. I give a slight edge to Nevada, though.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bowl Predictions 2012: Week 1

It's that time of year again, folks! This is where I try to predict the future. For the next month-and-a-half I will attempt to tell you where your team will go. After that, I then try to predict all the games. It's difficult, but this is my 14th crack at this, so I like to think I know what I'm talking about.

Through the remainder of the fall, the predictions will always be available right here.

Anyway, let's start by looking at the BCS picture.

Figuring this out is always the tough part. It requires weighing a multitude of factors and attempting to predict the mindset two disparate groups of people and a set of formulas. What I usually do is I sit down late Saturday or Sunday and try to basically predict what every team is going to do for the rest of the season. For the non-BCS leagues, this usually doesn't impact anything unless there's a BCS buster, which it doesn't look like there will be (unless Boise State wins out, but I don't seem them doing that). For the six "AQ" conferences, this means figuring out their champion and runners-up to see if they will end up with two losses or less.

This year that proved to be difficult. From where I sit right now, I don't see any 1-loss major conference teams, other than Florida. I have Alabama and Oregon running the table, and thus, in the National Championship game. This means the Sugar and Rose bowls get first cracks at replacements from the pool of eligible teams. Notre Dame is the big prize, as they will likely be eligible as a BCS at-large for the first time in awhile as long as they have two losses or less. (I have them losing to Southern Cal and Oklahoma.) I would think the Sugar would jump at the chance to snag Notre Dame. The Rose will probably be able to pick from USC or Oregon State. Even though USC is local I have them going there for now. As the Big 12 champion, Oklahoma will go to the Fiesta Bowl, which has the first at-large team pick this year. I have Florida going there. The matchup for the Sugar is problematic. They will have to pick a team from the Big 12 since the ACC likely will not qualify two teams (and I doubt they would take them anyway) and the Big East is the Big East. For now, I have them taking my top 2-loss Big 12 team, West Virginia. From there, the Orange gets the ACC champ versus Big East champ yet again. Right now I have Florida State and Cincinnati penciled in.

With FSU winning the conference, that leaves Clemson as the clear second choice. It's been a year since the Tigers were in Atlanta, so I'll send them to the Chick-fil-a. (Also, the ACC bowl rules don't leave much of a choice.) From there, things drop off rapidly. I have NC State going 8-4 and heading to the Russell Athletic (formerly Champ Sports) Bowl, and then a pair if 7-5 teams in VPI and Miami going to the Sun and Belk Bowls. Right now I have GT squeaking in at 6-6 and going to the Music City. Maryland falls just sort at 5-7 and UNC is ineligible even though I have them at 10-2. But, wait, what's that? Yes, Duke is on the page. I have them going 5-7 and there's a new set of eligibility rules. I'll get to that in a bit.

Big East
I have Cincinnati winning the whole thing, followed by Louisville going to the Russell Athletic, and Rutgers going to the Belk. I bent over backwards to get UConn to 6-6 and put them in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Big Ten
As we all already know at this point, the Big Ten is a disaster this year. I have Ohio State winning out, but of course they're not eligible, so they're out. I also have Penn State going 6-6 but they're also ineligible. So I have Michigan coming out on top and heading to Pasadena, with the usual assortment of teams behind them.

Big 12
Thanks to generous out-of-conference scheduling, 8 of the Big 12's 10 teams will go bowling this year. I have Oklahoma going to the Fiesta and West Virginia going to the Sugar despite a late loss to Oklahoma. I know it seems unlikely right now but I still have Texas doing well over the rest of the season and going to the Cotton, while I'm not sure Kansas State is for real so I have them going to the Alamo.

Oregon and USC are probably BCS-bound, so that leaves out-of-nowhere 10-win Oregon State going to the Alamo. The most interesting matchup is probably Stanford-Baylor in the Holiday Bowl, which will be the "A Year Too Late Bowl" if that actually comes to pass.

I have Alabama and Florida going to the BCS. I think it's probably unlikely, but it was too hard to resist putting Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl against Texas. (If it's possible, I can't imagine them not doing it though.) I have both South Carolina and Georgia at 10-2 and currently in the Capital One and Outback Bowls. Since that's where they went last year, that could easily be flipped. I have Tennessee going 7-5, as well as Ole Miss and Vanderbilt going 6-6 to squeak in.

Everyone Else
I have Ohio running the table in the MAC, but unfortunately that won't be enough to get them into the BCS picture. Conference USA is just brutal this year. What is usually a plentiful source of teams may only have four teams make it to six wins, though UCF and Tulsa could both win 10 games. If you look at the table, you may notice "UTSA??" and "Duke??". What the double question marks mean is that they qualify under the new set of eligibility rules that area also detailed on the bowls page. Texas-San Antonio qualifies as a 6-6 or better team that is a transitional team, and Duke qualifies as a 5-7 team that finished in the top 5 of last year's APR. Otherwise, I will be two teams short.

So far the past couple years, everything has worked itself out such that I am not short of teams. Right now, however, it's hard to see how there will be enough teams without invoking the new rule.

As usual, everything will be different next week. The biggest game of the weekend, by far, is South Carolina-Florida. This will likely determine the SEC Champ and thus the SEC's second BCS team this year.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

This Weekend in College Football: Week 7

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

11:00: Louisville @ Pittsburgh (ESPNU): Louisville may be the sketchiest 5-0 team in the country, but nonetheless Pitt turned back into early-season Pitt by losing to Syracuse last week. I expect the Cardinals to get their first Big East win and, thus, stay undefeated.

  • Oklahoma vs. Texas (@Dallas, TX; ABC): It's the Red River Shootout! It's kind of nice these two are still playing, since both have lost rivalries in recent years (namely, Nebraska and Texas A&M). As for who will win? Well, I still like the Sooners better overall than the Longhorns, but not by much.
  • Kansas State @ Iowa State (FX): Reminder: Bill Synder is a wizard. Wildcats roll.
  • Iowa @ Michigan State (ESPN): The Big Ten is a trainwreck this year, but fortunately the style of football most of the conference plays makes it rather easy to look away. Anyway, I'll take the team that didn't lose to Central Michigan (read: Michigan State).
  • Northwestern @ Minnesota (ESPN2): Northwestern still has a legit shot at winning the Legends division. You can't make stuff like this up. (Of course, no one in the Big Ten has played more than two conference games, but work with me here.) Anyway, Minnesota got trounced (by Big Ten standards) by previously hapless Iowa last weekend, so I'll take NU.
  • Alabama-Birmingham @ Houston (FSN): Both these teams are terrible at defense and good at throwing the football. I think you can see where this is going. I'll guess that Houston has the ball last.
  • Kent State @ Army (CBSS): A week after losing by 20 to Stony Brook Army beat Boston College. Yeah. I would like Kent State's chances against BC as well, so I'll take them here.
  • Wisconsin @ Purdue (BTN): It took 6 games, but Wisconsin finally looked like Wisconsin last week against Illinois. It would've been hard to say Purdue was going to win, but that makes it even tougher.
  • Auburn @ Mississippi (SEC): This game may be either of these team's only chance to pick up a SEC win this year. No joke. Ole Miss at least seems to have some vague notion of an offense, which is more than the Tigers can say right now.
12:30: Duke @ Virginia Tech (ACC): VPI's trainwreck of a season continued last week unabated as they lost by 14 to UNC. Will they be able to stop shooting themselves in the foot long enough to gain some traction against Duke's defense? Because the Blue Devils will score on offense (though, it should be noted, the only above-average defense they've played so far this year is Stanford's, which held them to a season-low 13 points). It's hard to really pick Duke in this matchup, so I won't, but let's just say I won't be surprised if they escape Blacksburg with a win.

2:30: North Carolina @ Miami (ESPNU): Okay, so maybe a three-game winning streak that included two come-from-behind last-minute victories wasn't really that great after all. Also Miami's defense is awful. I expect Carolina to run all over them en route to a win.

  • Utah @ California-Los Angeles (FOX): Okay, Oregon State made sense, but losing to a previously winless in FBS Cal is one thing. Losing 41-7 to previously winless in FBS is quite another. That said, they should still beat Utah.
  • Maryland @ Virginia (ACC): This game could end 12-9, no joke. I'll take the Cavs at home.
  • Stanford @ Notre Dame (NBC): I think it's fair to say at this point Stanford is probably good this year but not great. However, a win here would put the Irish firmly on the map and possibly vault them into the national title discussion. I think they'll pull it off, at least here (remember, the Irish still go on the road to Norman and Los Angeles).
  • Alabama @ Missouri (CBS): Mizzou only scored 15 against Vanderbilt last weekend. This one's going to be ugly.
  • Oregon State @ Brigham Young (ABC/ESPN): This will be BYU's hardest test so far this year, against the out-of-nowhere #10 Beavers. I'll have to go with the conventional wisdom here.
  • West Virginia @ Texas Tech (ABC): So far this year TTU has lost to the teams they're supposed to and beat everyone else. No exception here.
  • Illinois @ Michigan (ABC/ESPN): The one constant in the Big Ten this year is that Illinois has been awful. I also expect this trend to continue.
  • Oklahoma State @ Kansas (FSN): It's been a mildly disappointing season for OSU this year, but they still have the best offense in the country. KU is 86th in points against. Yeah. The over/under for this game is 110. I was planning to make a "take the over even though KU may not even score a touchdown" but that seems a tad far-fetched. Well, maybe only a tad.
  • Fresno State @ Boise State (NBCS): Boise is ranked this week, just of the heck of it I guess. I don't think they'll beat Fresno.
5:30: Boston College @ Florida State (ESPN2): The clock struck midnight on the FSU potential national title run last week, with the last-minute loss to NC State. However, well, BC is just, well, really bad.

6:00: Florida @ Vanderbilt (ESPNU): File this under the standard "Vandy probably gives a valiant effort and goes into the half still in the game and then some call or bounce of the ball goes against their way late in the 3rd quarter and the game is out of reach by the middle of the 4th" sort of game. That said, Vandy could very well be favored in the rest of their games except maybe Tennessee.

  • Southern California @ Washington (FOX): Washington bore witness the full power of Oregon's fully-operational Death Star of an offense last week. USC is pretty good too, but they're not perfect and it may take awhile for them to get going, but it's hard to pick against the Trojans here.
  • Texas Christian @ Baylor (FSN): TCU will be, by far, the best defense Baylor has faced all year. This isn't really saying much but the Bears aren't putting up 70 in the game. I would like TCU to win but their QB is out of the year, but Baylor is still a bit of a reluctant pick for me.
  • Kentucky @ Arkansas (SEC/FSN): Arkansas I guess?
  • South Carolina @ Louisiana State (ESPN): Yeah, South Carolina also does the defense thing and more than a little of the offense thing. I like the Gamecocks here.
  • Southern Mississippi @ Central Florida (CBSS): Boy howdy USM sure isn't very good this year are they? I guess they'll show up a lot here because they were supposed to be good and had a lot of their games picked up by CBSS? We'll see as the season goes on.
  • Ohio State @ Indiana (BTN): Hey Urban, Akron's not that far away. Terry Bowden can tell you all about having great seasons while not being eligible for anything.
9:00: Tennessee @ Mississippi State (ESPN2): Mississippi State is the least talked about 5-0 team in the history for the SEC, I'd reckon. Of course, their best win is probably, um, Kentucky or maybe even Troy. I suspect they will soon quietly be 6-0.

9:15: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical vs. Louisiana Tech (@Shreveport, LA; ESPNU): There could be some fireworks in this late game (there's a later Pac-12 game but DirecTV hasn't picked up the Pac-12 Network yet), that's for sure, but TAMU's defense should help them take over the game at some point.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

This Weekend in College Football: Week 6

Due to circumstances, this will be quick. As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

11:30: Navy @ Air Force (CBS): Navy is 0-3 against FBS competition this year, including last week's 12-0 defeat to San Jose State. It's hard to see how they're going to beat Air Force.

  • Kansas @ Kansas State (FX): No wizardry should be needed for the Wildcats to prevail.
  • Northwestern @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN): Penn State has won three straight, which is probably three more than some would've predicted they'd win all year. Nonetheless, I think Northwestern will beat them.
  • Arkansas @ Auburn (ESPN2): This one has the potential to be awful. I'll take the Tigers, narrowly.
  • Connecticut @ Rutgers (ESPNU): I'm going with Rutgers because they didn't lose to Western Michigan this year.
  • Boise State @ Southern Mississippi (FSN): It's weird to say that a mid-major team has been disappointing, but that's how USM partisans are summing up this season. Boise had no great expectations this year, coming in with major college football's youngest roster. Both parties will be thankful that today's forecast does not call for any rain, unlike the deluge last weekend's game was in. Also, Boise should win.
  • Boston College @ Army (CBSS): Army is just plain bad this year. So bad even Boston College can beat them.
  • Michigan State @ Indiana (BTN): Sparty should pick up his first Big Ten win of the year down in Bloomington.
  • Mississippi State @ Kentucky (SEC): Once every few years, Kentucky fields a team capable of putting up a fight. This isn't one of them.
12:30: Virginia Tech @ North Carolina (ACC): VPI has had its struggles this year, but Carolina still has no legitimate victories this year, so I'll take the Hokies.

  • Arizona @ Stanford (FOX): Even with last week's upset at Washington, this is still a plenty capable Stanford team. And they have the capability to beat Arizona.
  • Virginia @ Duke (ACC): UVA has lost three straight, most recently losing to Louisiana Tech's spread attack. Duke also likes to spread 'em out and throw the ball, which does not bode well for UVA. Yes, folks, I am predicting Duke to win an ACC game.
  • Louisiana State @ Florida (CBS): I'm not sure anyone expected the Gators to get out of September 4-0, but here we are. That said, I think their luck runs out against LSU.
  • Illinois @ Wisconsin (ABC/ESPN2): Oof. Okay maybe we expected Illinois to be awful but Wisconin's best win so far this year is probably their narrow win over Utah State. Yeah. They should still beat Illinois though.
  • Oklahoma @ Texas Tech (ABC/ESPN2): Texas Tech's undefeated season ends here.
  • Georgia Tech @ Clemson (ESPN): What do you even say after getting run out of your own stadium by Middle Tennessee State? Anyway, the general rule for Tech-Clemson is "narrow GT win" or "Clemson blowout". Despite that, I think it's really anyone's guess what will happen up there later today. Not much else to say, really.
  • Wake Forest @ Maryland (ESPNU): Speaking of not much to say, uh, Maryland I guess.
  • Iowa State @ Texas Christian (FSN): I still like TCU to win here even minus their starting QB, but it will just be that much harder.
  • Tulsa @ Marshall (CBSS): While doing the bare minimum amount of research I do for these things, I discovered that Tulsa is 63rd nationally in passing but 12th in rushing, whereas Marshall is 3rd in passing and 65th rushing. Almost completely opposite of what I was expecting. That said, I still like the Golden Hurricane here.
4:00: Michigan @ Purdue (BTN): If this Michigan offense can't get better against Purdue, than who will they get better against? Reluctantly going with the Maize and Blue here.

  • West Virginia @ Texas (FOX): I hope you like points! That said, WVU is definitely more proficient at this scoring thing, while it feels like Texas is still getting the hang of it.
  • Georgia @ South Carolina (ESPN): Going with South Carolina here for reasons I don't fully understand.
  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ Mississippi (ESPNU): This one could get ugly for Ole Miss.
  • Vanderbilt @ Missouri (SEC/FSN): It looks like Mizzou will probably get their first SEC conference win against the Commodores, but I sort of hope they don't.
7:30: Miami @ Notre Dame (NBC): This suddenly became an interesting game once again in the past two weeks, as the Hurricanes seem to have found themselves a quarterback. If he's on his game, this will be by far the confident and competent offense the so-far stout Notre Dame defense has faced all year. I'm actually giving a slight edges to the 'Canes.

  • Nebraska @ Ohio State (ABC): Ohio State seems to be the spiritual successor of Auburn from 1993, where the Tigers were also on probation but went undefeated anyway. I like the Buckeyes here,
  • Florida State @ North Carolina State (ESPN2): I like FSU's chances to continue their rampage through the ACC here. It's just like the good ol' days. Well, if you're a FSU fan at least.
  • Hawaii @ San Diego State (CBSS): Neither of these teams is very good, but I'll take the one that didn't have to fly halfway across the Pacific.
10:30: Washington @ Oregon (ESPN): Washington attempts to make it two weeks in a row with a big upset. But this time, they'll be on the road in Eugene and facing the most well-oiled offensive machine in the country. I can't say I like their chances.