Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bowl Games 2013: Part V, New Year's Eve Edition

Tuesday, December 31
12:30: Boston College vs. Arizona (Advocare V100 Bowl @ Shreveport, LA; ESPN): Both these are going to want to rush the ball. The problem for Boston College is that Arizona is likely better able to defend against it. I'm expecting a comfortable Arizona win.
Previous meetings: Three, and they were all awhile ago. Texas Tech won the first meeting in 1961, 14-6. BC's only win was a 42-13 romp a year later, and then in 1971 Texas Tech won 14-6 once again.
Last bowl game: BC hasn't been to a bowl since the 2010 Fight Hunger Bowl, where they lost to Colin Kapernick and Nevada 20-13. Arizona's last bowl game was last year and also against Nevada, but they won the New Mexico Bowl 49-48.
Announcers: Tom Hart and John Congemi

2:00: Virginia Tech vs. California-Los Angeles (Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX; CBS): Virginia Tech has been one of college football's most maddeningly inconsistent teams over the course of the season, but losses to Duke, Boston College, and Maryland do not bode well for their recent body of work. (But in between those losses? A win over Miami. Go figure.) The defense remains a lone, but consistent, bright spot for VPI. UCLA meanwhile, had only three losses, and really those were the only three teams on the schedule that UCLA wasn't better than. (Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona State.) While UCLA doesn't have quite as good of a defense, they are still much more consistent on offense (as in, they actually have one), which means they should able to score the requisite 17-24 points it will take to beat the Hokies.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: VPI has made 21 straight bowl games, a streak dating back to the 1993 Independence Bowl, which they won 45-20 over Indiana. They technically won last year's Russell Athletic Bowl 13-10 over Rutgers. This is UCLA's third straight bowl game. Their mini-streak started with the 2011 Fight Hunger Bowl, which they lost to Illinois, 20-14. Last year they were massacred by Baylor in the Holiday Bowl, 49-26.
Announcers: Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson

4:00: Rice vs. Mississippi State (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ESPN): Miss State has some major problems on offense, ranking 80th in the country in scoring. That said, by all rights, Miss State should win this game, so this one of those bowls that could come down more to motivation than anything else.
Previous meetings: Just one, a 28-14 Miss State win back in 1975.
Last bowl game: Rice beat Air Force in last year's Armed Forces Bowl 33-14. This is Miss State's fourth straight bowl game. Their streak started with the 2010/2011 Gator Bowl, wherein they routed Michigan 52-14. Last season's Gator Bowl was somewhat less successful, though. They lost to Northwestern 34-20.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen and Rod Gilmore

8:00: Duke vs. Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (Chick-fil-a Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): I have this as my highest confidence pick on ESPN. I simply cannot fathom any way Duke wins this football game. Texas A&M's offense will simply be too much for Duke's undersized and undermanned defense. The only other offense they've faced that comparable is Florida State's and the Seminoles dropped 45 on them. The only possible chance they have is to make it a shoot-out, which isn't impossible cause TAMU's defense is inexcusably awful.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is the first time in the history of Duke's football team that they have gone to back-to-back bowl games. They lost last year's Belk Bowl 48-34. This is TAMU's fifth straight bowl game, a streak dating back to what is likely an otherwise forgettable game for A&M partisans, a 44-20 loss to Georgia. Last season they destroyed Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, 41-13.
Announcers: Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, and David Pollack

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bowl Games 2013: Part IV

Monday, December 30
11:45: Navy vs. Middle Tennessee State (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): I'm not terribly sure about this one. MTSU is about the caliber of teams that Navy has on its schedule, but they had a mixed record against those teams this year (losses to Western Kentucky and Toledo, wins over South Alabama and San Jose State). MTSU has not played any other option teams other than BYU, whom they lost to. In the end, I'm going with Navy, but just barely.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is Navy's second consecutive bowl, after appearing in last year's Fight Hunger Bowl, where they got blown out by Arizona State 62-28. MTSU was 8-4 last year but didn't go bowling, so their last appearance was the 2010-2011 godaddy.com Bowl, where they lost to Miami 35-21.
Announcers: Beth Mowins and Joey Galloway

3:15: Mississippi vs. Georgia Tech (Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN; ESPN): Probably the best preview I've seen for this game is Bill Callahan's. That said, he ultimately comes to the same conclusion I've had about this game: it's a toss-up. The main things Tech fans are worried about are the same they've been throughout the season: how well the offense runs and if the pass defense will be any good. Well, the former is potentially a weakness for Ole Miss and the latter is potentially a strength for them, which brings this game back up to the toss-up thing. The preview I linked above is focused on the statistics and draws that conclusion. The betting line I've seen on this game is Ole Miss by 3 or 4 points, so the bookies are calling this a toss-up too.
So what conclusion can we draw? Well, I'm going to be attending this one in person, which will be first Tech game in four years. I'm looking forward to the frigid temperatures either way.
Previous meetings: This is the fourth meeting between these two teams. The first was in 1946, which Tech won 24-7. The last two were in bowl games. Tech defeated Ole Miss 24-7 in the 1952/1953 Sugar Bowl. The last meeting was a 41-18 Ole Miss win in the 1971 Peach Bowl. "Wait", you're saying, "weren't Georgia Tech and Mississippi in the same conference from 1922 through 1963?" Yes, yes they were. But back then teams set their own conference schedules, and so like most reasonable people, John Heisman, William Alexander, and Bobby Dodd saw no reason to go to the state of Mississippi unless someone made them.
Last bowl game: Ole Miss went to last year's BBVA Compass Bowl, beating Pittsburgh 38-17. Georgia Tech is tied for football's 3rd-longest consecutive bowl streak, and this will be their 17th straight game. The streak started with a 35-30 win over West Virginia in the Carquest Bowl in 1997. In what will the be last time I ever get to say this, we beat Southern California 21-7 in the Sun Bowl last year.
Announcers: Mark Jones and Brock Huard

6:45: Oregon vs. Texas (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): By all rights, Oregon should be a massive favorite in this game. Then again, they were before they blew a shot at the national title and Pac-12 North in a 42-16 loss to Arizona back in November. Both teams have popular coaches retiring, with Oregon's long-time defensive coordinator leaving and Mack Brown being forced out. So motivation shouldn't be a question in this game. In that case, it comes down to strengths and weaknesses, and once again, those massively favor Oregon.
Previous meetings: Five of 'em, the first being a 71-7 Texas rout back in 1941. The most recent meeting was the 2000 Holiday Bowl, which was Oregon's first win of the series, with a 35-30 scoreline.
Last bowl game: This is Oregon's ninth straight bowl game, dating back to the 2005 Holiday Bowl, which they lost 17-14 to Oklahoma. Last season, they beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, 35-17. Texas now has a three game bowl streak, dating back to the 2011 Holiday Bowl, which they won 21-10 over California. They won last year's Alamo Bowl 31-27 over Oregon State.
Announcers: Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge

10:15: Arizona State vs. Texas Tech (Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): The Red Raiders won seven straight to start the season. Then they started playing games against teams that were just as good or better than then and it didn't go well. Five straight losses followed, and most of them weren't very close. Meanwhile, Arizona State is very good. It's hard to give TTU much of a chance here.
Previous meetings: Just one, a Sun Devil 31-13 win back in 1999.
Last bowl game: This is Arizona State's third straight bowl game. They appeared in the 2011 Las Vegas Bowl, losing to Boise State 56-24. They beat Navy 62-28 in last year's Fight Hunger Bowl. Texas Tech is in a bowl for the second year in a row. Last year they won the Car Care Bowl (Houston edition) over Minnesota, 34-31.
Announcers: Joe Tessitore and Matt Millen

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bowl Games 2013: Part the Third

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 28
Noon: Notre Dame vs. Rutgers (Pinstripe Bowl @ New York, NY; ESPN): I had this second in my confidence picks, so I guess I felt pretty good about Notre Dame at the time. Nonetheless, it's not like Rutgers is very good, so provided that Notre Dame's offense doesn't screw up too badly they should be able to see it through.
Previous meetings: Four, and Rutgers, in a testament to their historical ineptitude, has failed to win all of them. They first met in 1921 (a 48-0 Irish win) and then took a 75 year break. Notre Dame won that 1996 contest 62-0. 2000 saw the closest game in the series, a 45-17 Notre Dame win, and their last meeting was in 2002, when the Irish shut Rutgers out again, 42-0.
Last bowl game: The Irish have played in three straight bowls going back to the 2010 Sun Bowl, where they defeated Miami 33-17. Last year, they got routed by Alabama in the national title game, 42-14. This will be the third in a row for Rutgers. Back in 2011 they beat Iowa State 27-13 in this very same bowl. Last year they lost last year's dreadful Russell Athletic Bowl, 13-10 to Virginia Tech.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Jesse Palmer

3:20: North Carolina vs. Cincinnati (Belk Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): Generally picking a 9-3 team over a 6-6 team would be a slam dunk, but the hitch is Cincy's awful schedule that was literally one of the worst in the country. UNC has only one maybe "bad loss" (a 55-31 rout at the hands of East Carolina) but Cincinnati three losses are a blowout to an awful Illinois team, a close loss to a really bad South Florida team, and an overtime loss to the best opponent on their schedule, Louisville. So I basically feel about as bad about a 9-3 team over a 6-6 team as one can possibly be.
Previous meetings: Just two. The first was a 1979 win for Carolina, 35-14, and the second was in 1991, which the Tarheels also won, 51-16.
Last bowl game: Due to pre-emptive probation, the Tarheels didn't go bowling last year, killing a four-year streak. Their last bowl appearance was the 2011 Independence Bowl, which they lost to Missouri 41-24. This is the Bearcats's third straight appearance. They won last year's Belk Bowl over Duke, 48-34.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn and Danny Kanell

6:45: Louisville vs. Miami (Russell Athletic Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ESPN): These two schools have a lot in common. Well, at the very least, both their programs were built by Howard Schennellenberger and both will be in the ACC last year. Either way, this will arguably be Louisville's stiffest test of the season. While they still only had one loss, they did have some closer-than-they-should-have-been November games that raised a few eyebrows. Nonetheless, I'm sticking with the Cardinals here.
Previous meetings:  Louisville and Miami have met 11 times, and Louisville has only not lost twice. Why not lost? Well, there was a 13-13 tie back in 1950. Their first meeting was in 1933, a 33-7 Miami victory. The met regularly through the first half of the 80's, all Miami wins. Their last meeting was in 2006, and was also Louisville's first win in the series, by a margin of 31-7.
Last bowl game: This is Louisville's fourth straight bowl game, dating back to the 2010 Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl. They won that contest over Southern Mississippi 31-28. Last year, they appeared in the Sugar Bowl, wherein Teddy Bridgewater became a household name in a 33-23 defeat of Florida. Miami, like UNC, missed out on a bowl last year due to pre-emptive probation, as well as the year before, so this is their first bowl since the 2010 Sun Bowl, where they lost to Notre Dame 33-17.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen and Rod Gilmore

10:15: Kansas State vs. Michigan (Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl @ Tempe, AZ; ESPN): This game is basically a toss-up to me. If the Michigan offense that played against Ohio State shows up, they have a pretty good shot, but otherwise I think K-State guts out a close win.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is K-State's fourth straight bowl game, dating back to the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl, which they lost to Syracuse 36-34. They didn't stand much chance in last year's Fiesta Bowl, losing 33-17 to Oregon. This is Michigan's fourth straight game as well. Their current streak started in the 2010/2011 Gator Bowl, a 52-14 rout at the hands of Mississippi State. They lost last year's Outback Bowl, 33-28 to South Carolina.
Announcers: Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bowl Games 2013: This Is The Second Part

Bowl games really start to get into the swing of things here. We'll examine the next five bowls and then do Saturday's in another post.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Thursday, December 26
6:00: Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl @ Detroit, MI; EPSN): Bowling Green sports a 10-3 record and some gaudy defensive numbers, but one of those three losses was a 42-10 blowout at the hands of Indiana. I'm going with Pitt in this one, though it could be close.
Previous meetings: Three, all the in regular season. Pitt won back-to-back games in 1999 and 2000, but lost in 2008, 27-17.
Last bowl game: Bowling Green lost last year's Military Bowl to San Jose State, 29-20. Pitt is making their sixth bowl appearance in a row, dating back to 2008's Sun Bowl (most famous for being a 3-0 tragedy against Oregon State in which all of us lost, but especially Pitt). The lost last year's BBVA Compass Bowl to Ole Miss, 38-17.
Announcers: Dave Lamont and Ray Bentley

9:30: Utah State vs. Northern Illinois (Poinsettia Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): Both these teams are coming off winnable letdowns in their conference title games, though it was NIU that suffered the most grievously in their 47-27 rout against Bowling Green. That said, Jordan Lynch's final ride should be a success, though I don't now how much of one, or even if it'll be enough for the Huskies to win. I'm giving them a slight edge here.
Previous meetings: Only one, back in 1995. The Aggies won 42-7.
Last bowl game: Utah State is making their third bowl game in a row, and after two straight trips to Boise I'm sure they'll relish the weather in San Diego. They beat Toledo 41-15 last year. This is NIU's sixth bowl game in a row, dating back to a 17-10 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl. They lost 31-10 to Florida State in last year's Orange Bowl. The Huskies would have one of the nation's larger bowl streaks if it weren't for a lost 2-10 campaign in 2007 and not making a bowl in 2003 despite being 10-2. (Or, to be even more generous, they were 8-4 before that and 6-5 in 2000 and 2001.) That's a pretty good run for any team, much less one from the MAC.
Announcers: Joe Davis and Mike Bellotti

Friday, December 27
2:30: Maryland vs. Marshall (Military Bowl @ Annapolis, MD; ESPN): I picked Marshall here in what I'm guessing a slight upset. I guess another way of saying that is I don't think Maryland is very good.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is Maryand's first appearance in a bowl since the 2010 edition of this game, which was played at RFK Stadium. They beat East Carolina 51-20. This is Marshall's first bowl since the 2011 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, which they won 20-10 over Florida International.
Announcers: Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham

6:00: Syracuse vs. Minnesota (Texas Bowl @ Houston, TX; ESPN): I wouldn't expect a lot of offense in this one. Problem for Syracuse is that a) their offense is worse than Minnesota's and b) that their defense is a lot worse. This would seem to spell trouble for the Orange, but, well, there's a reason why I put that disclaimer at the top.
Previous meetings: Four, three of which have been won by Minnesota. The first meeting and only Orange victory was in 1995. They last met last year, where the Gophers won 17-10.
Last bowl game: Syracuse beat West Virginia 38-14 in last year's Pinstripe Bowl. Minnesota lost 34-31 to Texas Tech in last year's Car Care Bowl.
Announcers: Mark Jones and Brock Huard

9:30: Washington vs. Brigham Young (Fight Hunger Bowl @ San Francisco, CA; ESPN): It's generally not a good sign when you go back and look at your ESPN Bowl Pick 'Em picks and are surprised at who you picked. We'll roll with it anyway. At any rate, these are both teams that can run the bowl, but Washington has been more adept at offense over the season. Neither defense gives a lot of points, though, so BYU will definitely be hanging around. I think this game will be one of the closer, tighter ones, but I'm going to stick to my pick.
Previous meetings: Eight of 'em, and the series is evenly split between the two. They split back-to-back games in 1986 and 1987, but Washington won three of the four games played from 1996 to 1999. BYU has won the last three meetings, including a 23-17 victory in 2010.
Last bowl game: This is U-Dub's third bowl in a row, going back to 2010's Holiday Bowl. They lost to Baylor 67-56 in last year's defense optional Alamo Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Pasch and Brian Griese

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bowl Games 2013: Opening Slate

Once again, it's time for post-season football. (Note that I have predicted all winners and losers already, I just need to fill in the scores, which requires slightly more research. These will be up soon.)

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 21
2:00: Washington State vs. Colorado State (New Mexico Bowl @ Albuquerque, NM; ESPN): Wazzou makes it back to a bowl for the first time in the Mike Leach era. I think that excitement will translate into a slight win for the Cougars.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: Yes, it really has been 10 years since Wazzou last appeared in a bowl. They beat Texas 28-20 in the Holiday Bowl. After a five year drought themselves, the Rams make a return trip to this very game. The last time they were here in the post-season, they beat Fresno State 40-35.
Announcers: Mark Jones and Brock Huard

3:30: Southern California vs. Fresno State (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV; ABC): USC's defense will be, bar none, the best defense the prolific Fresno State offense has faced all year. I think that will be enough for the Trojans to hold them off, but it's kind of dicey because a) USC still has to adjust to the idea of playing in minor bowls b) DaCoachO was, by all accounts, very popular and resigned after USC hired Steve Sarkisian and c) depth.
Previous meetings: These two in-state foes have met only twice. The first meeting was in 1992, where the Trojans lost 24-7 in the Freedom Bowl. The last was more memorable, perhaps for Fresno's plucky performance at what was being called at the time the Team of the Century. USC would win 50-42, preserving their undefeated season so they could lose to Vince Young in the Rose Bowl.
Last bowl game: This will be the second to last time I get to say this, most likely: USC lost to Georgia Tech in last year's Sun Bowl, 21-7. Fresno lost last year's Hawaii Bowl to SMU, 41-10.
Announcers: Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, and David Pollack

5:30: Buffalo vs. San Diego State (Potato Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): In what is annually one of my favorite bowls for reasons mostly related to the name (it just feels right for bowls to be named after agricultural products, you know?). As for the game itself, I don't have a good feel for this at all. Looking at the stats, and then looking my predicted winner, I guess I'm basically just saying SDSU is going to get lucky. Again, because they did beat some solid Mountain West teams and almost knocked off Fresno State themselves.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: The Bulls haven't been to a bowl since their somewhat improbable run to a MAC championship in 2008, after which they lost to UConn in the International Bowl, 38-20. This will be the Aztecs' fifth fourth bowl. They lost last year at home in the Poinsettia Bowl to BYU, 23-6.
Announcers: Clay Matvick and Matt Stinchcomb

9:00: Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): Tulane has a surprisingly good defense, but they are inept offensively. The Ragin' Cajuns meanwhile have an okay defense and a good offense. These games, as one might suspect, are relatively hard to predict, but I gave a slight edge to the Cajuns.
Previous meetings: These in-state rivals have met only 26 times, and the Green Wave own the overall series 21-5. Lafayette won the last meeting last year, 41-13.
Last bowl game: This is Tulane's first bowl game since the 2002 Hawaii Bowl, where they beat their hosts 36-28. Meanwhile, this is Lafayette's third straight New Orleans Bowl. Last year they beat East Carolina 43-34. (The game is completely sold out, so apparently they're not tired of going back yet.)
Announcers: Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham

Monday, December 23
2:00: East Carolina vs. Ohio (Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl @ St. Petersburg, FL; ESPN): The nation's 11th ranked scoring offense against its 66th scoring defense does not augur good tidings for the Bobcats.
Previous meetings: Two of 'em, actually, in 1996 and 1998. East Carolina won both, 55-45 and 21-14.
Last bowl game: The Pirates lost to the aforementioned Ragin' Cajuns in last year's New Orleans Bowl, 43-34. The Bobcats, meanwhile, are playing their fourth straight bowl game. They beat UL-Monroe 45-14 in the Independence Bowl last year.
Announcers: Beth Mowins and Joey Galloway

Tuesday, December 24
8:00: Oregon State vs. Boise State (Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI; ESPN): Both these teams were rebuilding this year, so a trip to Hawaii after a pair of trying seasons has to be a bit of a relief. I think by the end of the year Boise was a slightly better team, so I have them as an appropriately slight winner.
Previous meetings: Seven times, with the Beavers holding a slight 4-3 edge. Boise has won the last two meetings, which were in 2006 and 2010. The 2010 win had a 37-24 margin.
Last bowl game: Oregon State lost last year's Alamo Bowl to Texas, 31-27. This is Boise's 12th straight bowl game, dating back to the 1999 Humanitarian Bowl, where they won 34-31. They also won last year's Las Vegas Bowl over a Pac-12 opponent, beating Washington 28-26.
Announcers: Steve Levy, Lou Holtz, and Mark May

Saturday, December 14, 2013

This Weekend in College Football: Week 16

Yep, it’s week 16. Why 16? Well, there was an extra week due to the calendar this year, which why teams had two bye weeks during the season.

Quick note: I won’t cover them here, but several more FCS playoff games are available online, including Eastern Washington’s blood-red field.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Noon: Coastal Carolina @ North Dakota State (NCAA Division I Quarterfinal; ESPN): North Dakota State is undefeated on the season, and it hasn’t really been close. Of the two games decided by less than a touchdown, one was the win over Kansas State and the other to fellow FCS power (though they had a down year this year) Northern Iowa. The Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina were also pretty dominant, but they did lose a game to a non-FCS opponent (South Carolina) and well I’m going with the Bison.

3:00: Army vs. Navy (@Philadelphia, PA; CBS): The 2nd and 3rd ranked rushing attacks in the country meet again, so don’t expect a lot of passing. That said, Navy was simply the better team on the year. Army struggled against other teams with strong rushing attacks (Boston College and Air Force) and in general their three wins were over some really lousy teams. It’s hard to see the USMA’s losing streak ending this year.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Bowl Predictions 2013: Final

Here are the final projections. I'll be tweaking them throughout the day as bids are announced. Here are the high points:
  • This is a good article about the sorts of things that are wrong with the bowl system, at least in terms of teams earning bids.
  • Most other projections have Oregon getting shut out of the BCS, so I decided to follow the trend. I still have no idea why Clemson is considered a BCS team, but people who know more than me about this stuff say they're in so I guess they're in.
  • Oklahoma's win over Oklahoma State is being projected to give them enough of a lift up into the top 14, where they will also go to the BCS for some reason. (Well, they'll sell a ton of tickets to the Sugar Bowl, that's why.)
  • Today's results, especially in the Big 12, robbed me of the interesting matchups I was projecting last week. So much for those Oklahoma-Nebraska and Oregon-Baylor games. Instead, you'll probably get to see Oregon put up 60 on Texas.
  • Speaking of predicted blowouts, most sources I saw put Duke in the Chick-fil-a Bowl against Texas A&M. TAMU's defense is pretty awful, but they should be able to beat Duke handily. I have no idea why the CFA would pick Duke over Miami. Or at least I didn't until I saw that their selection committee page said Miami's best win is over Georgia Tech. My initial reaction was "that can't possibly be right". It turns out it is.
  • I would rather see Alabama-Oregon and Ohio State-Oklahoma State than what we're getting, but that's the BCS for you, I guess. We'll know for sure at 8:30 PM tonight.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

This Weekend in College Football: Week 15

It's championship week!

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

7:30: Louisville @ Cincinnati (ESPN): A season of "what-ifs" for the Cardinals should wrap up with a win over Cincinnati.

8:00: Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green (Mid-American Conference Championship @ Detroit, MI; ESPN2): Bowling Green currently sports the country's 5th ranked scoring defense. However, it will take a Herculean effort on their part to stand-up to darkhorse Heisman candidate QB Jordan Lynch and his Huskies. (In their last game against Western Michigan, Lynch ran for 321 yards on 27 carries. That's 11.9 yards/carry. Yeah.) NIU should be able to secure a second consecutive trip to the promised land.

  • Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State (ABC): Against any team that has a pulse on defense, Oklahoma's offense has struggled, leading directly to their two losses (the disaster against Texas and the debacle against Baylor). Oklahoma State shredded the two teams Oklahoma lost to, putting up an average 43.5 points while giving up 30 (or an average of 15). Frankly, Oklahoma State looks like the better team at this point.
  • Central Florida @ Southern Methodist (ESPN): UCF has sealed the deal, so this is just the cherry on top. It would also deny SMU a bowl bid.
  • Marshall @ Rice (Conference USA Championship Game; ESPN2): Marshall appears to be a good team, in all honestly. I'm going with the Thundering Herd here. Will be interesting to see how many show up at the Rice Bowl, though.
3:30: Texas @ Baylor (FOX): Baylor's struggled in recent weeks with injuries and depth made me pause for a moment, but just for a moment. Going with the Bears here, in what will be the Big 12 championship if Oklahoma State loses.

4:00: Auburn vs. Missouri (Southeastern Conference Championship @ Atlanta, GA; CBS): Both of these teams bring dynamic offenses into the table. Missouri is slightly better on defense, and also James Franklin is a vastly better passer than Nick Marshall. Overall, I think Mizzou is a more well-rounded team and can pull this one out in the end.

7:30: South Florida @ Rutgers (ESPN2): Neither of these teams is very good, but Rutgers should be able to make it to 6-6 with a win against a slightly more awful USF.

7:45: Stanford @ Arizona State (Pac-12 Championship; ESPN): One on hand, this is easy, given that Stanford already trounced the Sun Devils back in September. But on the other, Arizona State is awesome at home and they haven't lost since October 5th. Both of these teams are very good and this could very well be the best game of the day. But, in the end, I've got the Cardinal here. If they lose, though, one could definitely see the Pac-12 pushing of a neutral site title game.

  • Michigan State vs. Ohio State (Big Ten Championship @ Indianapolis, IN; FOX): Michigan is the first team all year that came within 10 points of beating the Buckeyes, and while I agree that going for two was probably the right call, they were potentially an overtime away from taking their first loss. Meanwhile, the Spartans have a loss, and due to their style of play, several more close games. Their defense should provide the stiffest test for the Buckeyes so far, but unclear that even if Sparty holds the Buckeyes to 21 points that it'll be enough.
  • Florida State vs. Duke (Atlantic Coast Conference Championship @ Charlotte, NC; ABC): I would be shocked if this ends in anything other than a rout.
10:00: Utah State @ Fresno State (Mountain West Conference Championship; CBS): Fresno gets a week to try to pick up the pieces of a broken season after their shocking loss to San Jose State. Their defense let them down, but still the unit on the field with the highest potential to carry the day is David Carr and the Fresno State offense.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Bowl Predictions 2013: Week 7

What happened this past weekend? How about everything! Let's examine the repercussions on the national bowl picture.

First, Louisiana-Lafayette accepted a bid to the New Orleans Bowl, which allows them to join the company of BYU and Navy as the first teams to lock down bids. We may see a few other bids trickle out over the course of the week, but with the new-found uncertainty in the bowl picture it is likely we will have to wait until the BCS bowls make their picks Saturday night and Sunday morning before we find out anything else.

As usual, the full set of predictions can be accessed here.

  • The most notable thing now is Florida State and Ohio State at #1 and #2 and in the title. I project them both to defeat their foes in their conference title games.
  • Putting this to rest now: the odds of a 1-loss SEC Champion jumping an undefeated Ohio State are pretty much nil. Do not let the talking heads confuse you this week.
  • If Ohio State loses, well, then things get interesting. If Missouri beats Auburn, do they jump idle Alabama to the #2 slot? Okay, well, yes they do.
  • If Florida State loses, well, I pretty much refuse to contemplate that. But that's what you need for an Iron Bowl rematch. (Not that you really want it, Auburn fans: remember what happened the last time Alabama got to face a team twice?)
  • Elsewhere, after years of getting shafted, I am sure the Orange Bowl is really looking forward to this. They will get the first pick of the at-large pool, and they will pick Alabama.
  • The Rose gets the next pick. Tradition dictates that they will take Michigan State, but if for some reason the Orange doesn't take Alabama I think the Rose will. Heck, I think there's a shot at that anyway but I seem to be the only person who thinks so.
  • Speaking of things that only I seem to think, I initially had Baylor in the Orange Bowl, figuring that Clemson played its way out of the game by losing to the two best teams on its schedule. According to the rest of the Internet, this isn't the case - searching Google News for "orange bowl baylor" yields almost no relevant results. I'll bow to the rest of the world and put Clemson there, I guess.
  • Finally, if Northern Illinois does not lose the MAC title game, I have Central Florida facing Auburn in the Sugar Bowl and Northern Illinois facing Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Sun Belt

Speaking of things that I'm wrong about according to the Internet, I cannot find any evidence this year that the agreements I thought the Sun Belt had with the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, and the BBVA Compass Bowl remain in effect. This means that it is unlikely any Sun Belt team other than UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State will get a bowl bid.

Mountain West

With Fresno State now out of the BCS bowl picture, this means there are six teams for five spots. There is some talk of the conference trying to shop Boise State for an at-large bid, but I consider that unlikely. Therefore, the conference's last spot in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will likely be a toss-up between Colorado State, UNLV, and Boise State. I sent UNLV to Hawaii because they haven't been to a bowl in 13 years. I also saw while trawling for news that apparently the San Jose State AD used to work at Boise State and was integral to getting the original Humanitarian Bowl off the ground. Facts like that are why I look for news. As a result, I have the Rams getting left out.


The MAC will have at least three extra teams, four if Northern Illinois loses. The three teams most likely to go other than NIU are Bowling Green, Buffalo, and Ball State. This leaves Ohio, Toledo, and Central Michigan searching for bids.

Conference USA

The winner of Rice-Marshall will go to the Liberty Bowl, beyond that, it's very difficult to make heads or tails of anything. For now, I have Florida Atlantic losing out in a bid.


Assuming Florida State and Clemson make it, here's how the rest of the picture shakes out.
  • Chick-fil-a Bowl: technically Duke, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Georgia Tech are eligible for this spot. However, I think the only real players here are Duke and Miami. If Duke is competitive in the ACC title game, they're probably the pick here, but I think Florida State will wipe the floor with them. Despite the best season in school history, I think Duke will be passed over in favor of Miami.
  • Russell Athletic Bowl: I think Duke will get picked up here. GT is not in the running and VPI played the worst game of the bowl season here last year. If Duke is picked by the CFA Bowl, then Miami is the pick here.
  • Sun Bowl: Virginia Tech has a reputation of traveling well. Georgia Tech will not come here for a third year in a row. Duke will probably be picked by now, so that means all the 5-3 and 4-4 ACC schools are in the running. 
  • Belk Bowl: the Belk always prefers North Carolina teams. I would think they'd be okay with VPI too, but if VPI goes to the Sun then UNC is the pick here.
  • Music City Bowl: for once, the online consensus seems to be that Georgia Tech will make this game. Other candidates are the ACC's northern schools, with the strongest possibility being Boston College.
  • Advocare V100 Bowl: with the last 5-3 team out of the way, that opens this game to any of the remaining eligible ACC teams, which at this point are Syracuse, Boston College, Maryland, and Pittsburgh. For now, I've slotted Pitt here, but the other candidate would probably be Boston College.
  • Military Bowl: there's a lot of chatter putting Maryland in this game, but considering that Maryland is leaving for the Big Ten after this year and are currently being sued by the conference Tobacco Road may attempt to pull some favors and put Syracuse or Boston College here instead.
So by my calculations, that leaves Syracuse and Boston College out. However, that's not the end of the road for these two schools. We'll get to that in a moment.


The AAC teams appear likely to go in order: Louisville to the Russell Athletic, Cincinnati to the Belk, Houston to the Pinstripe, and Rutgers to the Compass. Rutgers could also go to the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.

Big 12

There is a potential windfall for the Big 12 only getting the conference champ into the BCS.
  • Cotton Bowl: the Cotton could take Baylor or Texas. I think they'll defer to all that burnt orange money and take the Longhorns. This could set up a potential match against Texas A&M, but most of the chatter I've seen puts LSU as the SEC opponent here.
  • Alamo Bowl: this is where it gets exciting. I've put Baylor here to stage a track meet with Oregon, but this could easily be Texas or Oklahoma.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: you know what would make this game truly wild? How about Oklahoma-Nebraska. The committee for this game has to be praying for this to happen. There's a chance we get Texas or Baylor here instead.
  • Holiday Bowl: after all that, Kansas State is a slam dunk choice over Texas Tech in the Big 12 pecking order.
  • Texas Bowl: Texas Tech is the only team left.
Big Ten

The B1G was already going to be short of teams, so Michigan State going to Pasadena doesn't really help that particular situation. We'll just have to make do, I suppose.
  •  Capital One Bowl: if some how the title game loser does not stay in the BCS, they will take them. Otherwise, Wisconsin is almost certainly the pick ehre.
  • Outback Bowl: this is where it gets a little more interesting, but the choices are probably Iowa or Nebraska. Considering the current issues up in Omaha, I'm going with Iowa.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: besides, if Nebraska goes to Tampa, that ruins my dream matchup with Oklahoma in this game. Minnesota has an outside shot at this game.
  • Gator Bowl: that said, Minnesota is still Minnesota, and they could well get screwed because Michigan is Michigan. That's what I'm going with here.
  • Texas Bowl: that puts the Gophers in the Texas Bowl.

The Pac-12 has too many teams for too few slots. This makes the picture at the bottom rather cludy, but I feel good about the picks at the top.
  • Alamo Bowl: the Pac-12 title game loser is also in the running here, but I think Oregon will be hard to pass up.
  • Holiday Bowl: that said, I don't see the Pac-12 title game loser falling past here. Also in the running are UCLA and USC.
  • Sun Bowl: after last year's debacle, Southern Cal probably won't be headed to El Paso again anytime soon. UCLA looks like a strong candidate here.
  • Las Vegas Bowl: this is where it starts to get a little dicey, but Southern Cal would probably get taken if they're available.
  • Fight Hunger Bowl: most of the chatter online points to Washington going here.
  • New Mexico Bowl: we're left with Arizona, Oregon State and Washington State. With Wazzou on the up-and-up after several bad seasons, they seem like a trendy pick to go here. Arizona has played in this game recently and it's been a bit of a lost season for the Beavers.
  • Capital One Bowl: this game looks poised to take the loser of the SEC Championship game, so  I'm putting Missouri here.
  • Outback and Cotton Bowls: nominally, the Outback is supposed to take a team from the SEC East and the Cotton a team from the West. Many reports have suggested that if the Capital One does not take the SEC title game loser, they cannot fall past the Cotton Bowl. It looks like to me that South Carolina will be making a repeat trip to the Outback (I'm sure there's some golf courses around Tampa Steve Spurrier hasn't played yet) and LSU will head to the Cotton.
  • Chick-fil-a Bowl: the Chick-fil-a will occasionally pick one of the local schools, but generally they prefer to fill hotel rooms with traveling fans. Also, they seem to be high on Johnny Maziel, so that shapes up with for Texas A&M if they are available.
  • Gator Bowl: Georgia winds up in Jacksonville again, it would appear.
  • Music City Bowl: the candidates here are Mississippi, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt. Of those three, the preference is probably for Ole Miss, despite the Egg Bowl loss last weekend.
  • BBVA Compass and Liberty Bowls: Miss State is likely headed to the former and Vandy to the latter.
At-large selections

According to the above, the following bowls will lack teams: the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, the Poinsettia Bowl, the Advocare V100 Bowl, and the Heart of Dallas Bowl. I should note that I already slotted Notre Dame in the Pinstripe Bowl.
  • Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl: the MAC has a secondary agreement with this bowl as well as the Poinsettia and Heart of Dallas bowls. However, there is at least one document that I've found that suggests only one of the MAC's various secondary bowls needs to take a team, and after that nothing is guaranteed. I'm going to go ahead and slot Toledo here.
  • Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl: this seems like a good landing spot for one of the ACC teams that needs a bid. The other possible landing spot for an ACC team would have to be the Heart of Dallas Bowl, so I'm going to with Syracuse here.
  • Poinsettia Bowl: this west coast bowl could well take a west coast team. 7-5 Arizona seems like a strong candidate.
  • Advocare V100 Bowl: an ACC team will be selected here, so that means they will likely be seeking another major conference team. I'm going to guess and put Oregon State here.
  • Heart of Dallas Bowl: finally, we're left with Boston College and several Sun Belt, MAC, and C-USA teams. Given most of what I'm reading online, this looks like a landing spot for a major conference team, meaning BC wins out. 
Bids themselves should trickle out this week, especially for the Sun Belt and Mountain West. For everything else, I'll do one last big update Saturday night.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/30

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

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

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

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

We ... are ... smarter.

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

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

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

This Weekend in College Football: Week 14

As usual, all times Eastern and predictions wrong.

  • Ohio State @ Michigan (ABC): Michigan isn't disaster at this point simply because Florida still makes them look good. Ohio State should win easily.
  • Florida State @ Florida (ESPN): Whoops!
    So yeah, not feeling good about UF's chances here.
  • Duke @ North Carolina (ESPN2): I hate Duke so much. I also hate all the teams that managed to lose to Duke for no apparent reason after Georgia Tech went and dismantled them. I don't have a very good idea who is going to win this game because I don't think Duke is that good, but Carolina has been pretty not... great this year. I'm begrudgingly picking Duke.
  • Kansas State @ Kansas (FS1): Kansas is still awful, K-State rolls.
  • Temple @ Memphis (ESPNEWS): I'll take Memphis's three wins over Temple's one.
  • Rutgers @ Connecticut (ESPNU): Again, I'll take the five win team (Rutgers) over the one win team.
  • Minnesota @ Michigan State (BTN): It's hard to see how things get any easier for Minnesota's 70th-ranked offense against Michigan State's defense of death.
  • Wake Forest @ Vanderbilt (SEC): Vandy is the superior team here.
12:30: Maryland @ North Carolina State (ACC): Maryland isn't very good, but NC State is worse, so...

2:00: Colorado @ Utah (Pac12): Utah has lost five straight games since beating Stanford, making that game even more inexplicable. Despite this, they still appear to be more solid than Colorado.

2:30: North Texas @ Tulsa (FSN): North Texas should put an end to one of college football's most disappointing outfits this season.

3:00: Brigham Young @ Nevada (CBSS): Nevada struggled much of the year before their upset last week over San Jose State. BYU had a wrenching loss to Notre Dame, but despite these factors, BYU is the better team.

  • Georgia @ Georgia Tech (ABC): Once again, we need play basically flawlessly. Everything has to go right for us and bad for them. But, above all: To Hell With Georgia.
  • Alabama @ Auburn (CBS): This should be a great time, for a time. Alabama, though, is just too good, too efficient. Auburn's strides since last season are nearly amazing, but I think this game will show how far they still have to go.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Wisconsin (ESPN): Wisconsin should roll as per usual.
  • Baylor @ Texas Christian (ESPN2): Baylor should be able to regain their mojo against a struggling TCU team.
  • Virginia Tech @ Virginia (ESPNU): UVA is awful, but that hasn't stopped VPI from taking bad losses so far this season. That said, UVA is one of the few teams with a worse offense statistically than VPI's, so they should be okay in this one.
  • Purdue @ Indiana (BTN): Once again, I'll take Indiana's four wins against Purdue's single win.
  • Boston College @ Syracuse (ACC/FSN): Syracuse needs this win for bowl eligibility, but I just don't think they'll get it.
4:00: Iowa State @ West Virginia (FS1): These teams are evenly matched. That's not really a good thing for WVU, who probably did not hire Dana Holgersen to run the nation's 90th ranked scoring offense. Does Holgo still have the mojo to beat Iowa State? It's probably going to be closer than many WVU fans would like.

  • Notre Dame @ Stanford (FOX): The nation's 75th ranked offense will be getting no favors from Stanford's defense. The Tree should roll, much like a log rolling downhill.
  • Clemson @ South Carolina (ESPN2): I think Clemson is the better team here. However, that doesn't mean I feel great about their chances. The ACC will almost certainly get two teams into the BCS first for the time ever if Clemson and Florida State win. More importantly for Clemson fans, they've lost four straight in this one. This is their best chance to overturn it so far.
  • Tennessee @ Kentucky (ESPNU): Tennessee's motto at this point could well be "well, at least we're not Kentucky".
7:45: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ Missouri (ESPN): TAMU has lost three games this year, and I think it's about to become four, and it's almost entirely because of their awful defense.

8:00: California-Los Angeles @ Southern California (ABC): Call me crazy, but I'm actually calling this for USC. Southern Cal and DACOACHO have started to play like, well, Southern Cal. Meanwhile, after failing to upset either of the Pac-12's top two teams, losing to Arizona State last week killed any chance for the preseason Pac-12 South favorites.

9:30: Arizona @ Arizona State (Pac12): Arizona's out-of-nowhere upset followed losses to UCLA and Wazzou. I like the Sun Devils, but these teams actually look pretty evenly matched. This one could be interesting.

10:15: New Mexico @ Boise State (ESPN2): This one, less so. Boise should roll.

10:30: San Diego State @ Nevada-Las Vegas (ESPNU): And finally, a day that is bound to be gut-wrenching for many wraps up with a little affair out in Vegas. At stake in this Mountain West clash? Not much, due to the Aztech's overtime loss to Fresno back in October. This should be close, at least for a bit, but SDSU should prevail.

Friday, November 29, 2013

THWG Thought of the Day: 11/29

Unfortunately, I have been way too busy to post these this year. So unfortunately it's not going to be THWG week this year so much as "THWG Friday and Saturday". So let's make up a little for lost time. And remember, To Hell With Georgia.

Like Wake Forest or Maryland or somebody...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

This Week in College Football: Week 14

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

7:00: Western Michigan @ Northern Illinois (ESPN2): One of these teams is 1-10. The other is 11-0. I think you guys got this one.

7:30: Texas Tech @ Texas (FS1): Texas Tech has come down in recent weeks from their loft undefeated start of the season, going from 7-0 to 7-4. (Of course, considering their awful non-conference schedule, this wasn't exactly a shock. Their best win on the season is probably SMU.) Texas started with a disaster of a season and managed to turn it around to something reasonable. The Longhorms are still in play for the title, and I think they'll remain so after this.

8:00: Mississippi @ Mississippi State (ESPN): Miss State needs this Egg Bowl win to get to 6-6, but their offense is struggling to a pretty high degree as of late, and they needed to overtime to beat a beyond moribund Arkansas team last weekend. I'm going with Ole Miss here.

  • Iowa @ Nebraska (ABC): Both of these teams struggled on offense, and Nebraska has had too many shaky wins against bad teams. Iowa's defense appears legit, and this could be a classic Frentez-win, you know, a 9-7 Iowa win or some such.
  • Southern Methodist @ Houston (ESPN2): Houston's been a slightly more well-rounded team over the course of the season. They've had three straight tough losses to the American's "best" teams, so if they can get over that they should be good enough to beat SMU.
  • East Carolina @ Marshall (CBSS): This is a tough, tight battle for the C-USA East crown. I like ECU better but I can't really explain why. This should be a good one if you get theCBS Sports network, though.
1:30: Bowling Green vs. Buffalo (@Orchard Park, NY; ESPNU): Did you know Bowling Green has the nation's sixth ranked scoring defense? It's true! I like them here.

2:30: Arkansas @ Louisiana State (CBS): Arkansas just isn't very good. I mean, LSU isn't great or anything, but they're good enough to win.

3:00: Florida International @ Florida Atlantic (FS1): FAU is 5-6 and FIU is 1-10, so FAU by default.

  • Washington State @ Washington (FOX): It feels like weird stuff always happens in the Apple Cup, but while Wazzou is improved, I think UDub is still just better.
  • Miami @ Pittsburgh (ABC): Miami has been extremely inconsistent, and honestly, that was true before they lost their best player. But the talent, man, the talent is still good enough to beat Pitt.
  • Fresno State @ San Jose State (CBSS): Living in San Jose, I know the local press have thought of this as something of a lost season for the Spartans. I've got two other reasons to pick against them, though. First, Fresno is pretty good. Second, they started running these awful TV ads last weekend that talked about the "tradition" of an inaugural edition of their "rivalry" with Fresno State. Wha?
7:00: Oregon State @ Oregon (FS1): The Ducks will be out for blood after last weekend. At least, they should be.

8:00: South Florida @ Central Florida (ESPN): USF's last two games are losses to SMU and Memphis. They scored a combined 16 points in those games. This should be a gimme for UCF.

Bowl Predictions 2013: Week 6

Oregon’s dismantling and Baylor’s first lost could cost them both dearly in the BCS picture. Which one gets left out?

  • Still sticking with Alabama and Florida State. If something does happen with Florida State’s QB, they should still win their remaining games and make it to the national title game.
  • I think yesterday’s results hurt Oregon more than Baylor. For starters, that makes it Oregon’s second loss. Second, Baylor gets to play two more game and show that they’re still okay, while Oregon has just one more game. I may be forced to revise this after the polls come out to see how far each falls, but that’s how I see it right now.
  • I think Clemson is a BCS lock if they beat South Carolina.
  • I like Auburn over Missouri for the obligatory second BCS team. For starters, the Sugar will be forced to take Central Florida, so they’re going to want the biggest name they can get, an that is probably still a 2-loss Auburn over a 2-loss Mizzou.
  • The other candidates for that Oregon/Baylor final alternate spot in the Orange Bowl are probably 11-2 Michigan State and 10-2 Wisconsin.
  • Non-AQ watch: UCF is close to jumping Fresno in the computers. Fresno has two more games, including the MWC title game which will be either Utah State or Boise State. Meanwhile, UCF’s games are decidedly less attractive: South Florida and SMU. UCF also trails in the human polls, but remember, all UCF has to do is pass Fresno and/or Northern Illinois and that will shut out both. [Late edit: the in the newest BCS standings, NIU passed UCF. I will update the predictions to reflect this if I get a chance.]
Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time to do a full run-down this week. Things will get really interesting starting this Saturday night anyway, so I'll have a full look at the whole picture on Sunday and Monday next week.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

This Weekend in College Football: Week 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Michigan State @ Northwestern (ESPN): Northwestern has had an awful time of it this season, and it doesn't look to suddenly be getting any better with Sparty's defense to contend with.
  • Duke @ Wake Forest (ESPN2): There often hasn't been a lot riding on this game, has there? It's hard to figure that Duke would lose here, no matter how much I'd like them to .
  • Oklahoma @ Kansas State (FS1): Even though they're, shall we say, offensively challenged these days the Sooners still pack enough punch to beat K-State.
  • Cincinnati @ Houston (ESPNEWS): Tobby Tuberville does nothing but win (against really bad teams, that is). Houston came up just short against the AAC's front runners in their past two games, so they have more than a good shot against the Bearcats.
  • Virginia @ Miami (ESPNU): When Miami lost to Duke last weekend, I wasn't happy or sad. I was angry. Mainly, I was angry that we pretty much went out and beat Duke like they're, well, Duke back in September, yet Miami and Virginia Tech manage to have the worst games of their seasons against the Blue Devils. Absolutely ridiculous. At any rate, Miami is still good enough to be able to easily beat Virginia.
  • Michigan @ Iowa (BTN): You could watch this game, but I don't really know why. I guess I'm going with Michigan.
  • Mississippi State @ Arkansas (SEC): Miss State should be able to earn that tantalizing fifth win here, putting it all on the line for the Egg Bowl next weekend.
  • Pittsburgh @ Syracuse (ACC): The ACC's newbies face off! However, the 'Cuse seems to be a much worse team at this point.
  • East Carolina @ North Carolina State (ACC): I've had NC State losing this game in the bowl predictions and such, but I'm not really sure how. ECU isn't great or anything, but NCSU is kind of bad. I'm sticking with the Wolfpack, but this feels like an upset is a brewin'.
1:30: Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical @ Georgia Tech (espn3.com): Last week, Clemson played their most complete game of the season against GT. The Tigers won every phase of the game except for the "Robert Godhigh" phase. But, nonetheless, GT must march on. This team is pretty aggressively mediocre: we've lost to everyone better than us and beat everyone worse than us. Anyway, this game. Alabama A&M is 4-7 this year with a 4-5 record in SWAC play. They actually have not played any other FBS opponents this season, so it's hard to compare exactly, but usually the level of play in the SWAC is not great. The key to this game are the same as they are to any opponent like this: don't let them get into it. Hopefully we do a much better job of executing on the plan than we did last Thursday.
  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ Louisiana State (CBS): I've been leaning toward TAMU on this one, but it is tough. You have TAMU's excellent offense against LSU's pretty good defense, and then LSU's okay offense against TAMU's awful defense. It's a matter of which one screws up first. Given that, still leaning TAMU.
  • Brigham Young @ Notre Dame (NBC): I think BYU is a pretty legitimate team and can score the "upset" against Notre Dame.
  • Oregon @ Arizona (ABC/ESPN2): Thanks to USC last weekend, Oregon is back in the driver's seat in the Pac 12 North, and this came shouldn't cause them to have to give it up again.
  • Indiana @ Ohio State (ABC/ESPN2): Ohio State needs all the help they can get, and it's likely even a blowout here will help that much.
  • Wisconsin @ Minnesota (ESPN): I suspect Minnesota's four game winning streak and good feelings will face a pretty stark reality check against the Badgers this weekend and Sparty next weekend.
  • Idaho @ Florida State (ESPNU): FSU.
  • Colorado State @ Utah State (CBSS): Utah State's only losses are still to BYU, Utah, Southern Cal, and Boise State. Those are all good teams. Colorado State, not so much.
  • Utah @ Washington State (Pac12): Wazzou can make a bowl if they win this game, but I actually don't think they will. Utah is pretty solid and I'm not sure Wazzou is quite there yet. I am dreading that pick, though.
  • Boston College @ Maryland (ACC/FSN): BC is 6-4 mostly from beating the Marylands of the world. I expect this trend to continue.
  • Nebraska @ Pennsylvania State (BTN): What is Nebraska at this point? I have no clue. I do like their chances to beat Penn State, though.
  • California @ Stanford (FS1): The Big Game doesn't feel quite so big when one of the teams is very, very bad. Stanford should roll.
  • New Mexico @ Fresno State (ESPNEWS): Fresno.
  • Arizona State @ California-Los Angeles (FOX): Until USC announced their intentions by beating Stanford last weekend, this looked like the battle in the Pac-12 South. For weeks in the bowl predictions I had been calling this game for UCLA, but I switched last week and I'm going to stick with the Sun Devils.
  • Vanderbilt @ Tennessee (ESPN2): This is one hard to pick, as Vandy is the better team but they always seem to have trouble with the Volunteers. I'm sticking with them anyway.
  • Kentucky @ Georgia (ESPNU): I think UGA's chances here.
  • Tulsa @ Louisiana Tech (CBSS): When CBS Sports picked this game, I'm guessing they were thinking that Tulsa might be a little better than 2-8. Both of these offenses rank in the 100's, and Tulsa's defense is down there too, so I'm going with LaTech.
7:45: Missouri @ Mississippi (ESPN): Mizzou continues their march toward a SEC East title with a win here. I think they'll get it.

  • Baylor @ Oklahoma State (ABC): Your Saturday forecast for Stillwater, OK: highs in the low 40's with game time temperature expected to be around freezing. Will that be enough to slow down Baylor? I've been expecting the Bears to take at least one loss in their last five games, and this is the last chance. Can Oklahoma State do it? At this point, if they can't, I doubt anyone can. But given the conditions and what feels like inevitability, I'm going with the Cowboys.
  • Kansas @ Iowa State (FS1): I'm picking Kansas to win a game? This feels like madness.
9:30: Southern California @ Colorado (Pac12): USC. (Can I take a second to continue to praise Rece Davis and the fact that he also uses the Internet's jokes about Ed Orgeron on air? Also can I just say that I support DaCoachO being USC's head coach because even though it will be a disaster it will be hilarious, well, at least if you're not a USC fan?)

  • Washington @ Oregon State (ESPN2): I think this is actually an interesting game, though UDub has a slight edge on paper. So I'm going with the Huskies, but this should be a good nightcap.
  • Boise State @ San Diego State (CBSS): This game could be okay, but if Boise gets going early (and they've gotten going to the tune of 90 points the last two weeks), then it will be an even stiffer test for the Aztecs.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2014 World Cup Update: 16 Playing for 8

Today and Wednesday are the last days of qualification for the World Cup finals. After that, all that remains is the draw on December 6th at 1:00 PM Eastern.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
Two games remain in the 3rd Round.
  • Ghana @ Egypt (11:00 AM): Bob Bradley and the Pharaohs face incredibly long odds down 6-1 on aggregate to Ghana.
  • Burkina Faso @ Algeria (3:15 PM): This one is close, as Burkina Faso is up 3-2 at the moment. However, the 1 goal margin means all sorts of crazy away goals rules are in play, so keep an eye out on this one.
Four games remain in the 2nd Round.
  • Greece @ Romania (2:00 PM, espn3.com): The Greeks got an important late goal to go up 3-1 at home, but a 2-0 win at home for the Romanians will put them through thanks to away goals.
  • Iceland @ Croatia (2:15 PM, espn3.com): Iceland can properly be described as “plucky” as they attempt to become the smallest nation to ever qualify for a World Cup. They held Croatia to a 0-0 draw at home, which makes their task on the return leg that much harder, but even a 1-1 draw would do thanks to away goals.
  • Portugal @ Sweden (2:45 PM, espn3.com): Ronaldo beat Zlatan with an 82nd minute header last week. More importantly, Portugal was the side that looked like more of a team with a superstar and just a one-man show.
  • Ukraine @ France (3:00 PM, espn3.com): The Ukrainians mostly outclassed the French last week on their way to a 2-0 home win. The French have a lot of work to do to avoid missing their first World Cup since 1994.
Inter-confederation Playoffs
Both these games take place on Wednesday.
  • Mexico @ New Zealand (1:00 AM, ESPN): Mexico finally looked like Mexico last week and soundly defeated an inferior opponent at the Azteca for the first time in away. That 5-1 drubbing makes it nearly impossible for the All Whites to make consecutive trips to the World Cup for the first time ever.
  • Jordan @ Uruguay (6:00 PM, espn3.com): Uruguay also took care of business last week, winning 5-0 in Amman. The return leg should be a victory lap for La Celeste.
That’s about it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bowl Predictions 2014: Week 5

Stanford’s loss to Southern Cal really mixed tings up. Let’s examine how. As usual, the full predictions are here.
  • Alabama and Florida State remain in their respective drivers’ seats. I, for one, am really looking forward to Duke losing by 80 to FSU in the ACC Championship Game.
  • With Stanford’s loss, Oregon is back in the driver’s seat for the Pac-12 title. This also really hurts the Pac-12’s chances of getting two teams in the BCS. Essentially, the last at-large spot came down to my 1-loss Baylor or Oregon. The best chance for the Pac-12 to get two teams in the BCS is probably for Baylor to win out and go to the Fiesta Bowl, as I don’t think Oklahoma State would get a BCS at-large bid over Stanford.
  • Non-AQ Watch: UCF is 18th in this week’s poll. If they make it to the top 16, then NIU or Fresno would need to finish 12th or higher to make it in with the big boys. This would also be a viable path for Stanford to get a BCS bid.
The rest
  • Stanford not being in the BCS also shook up things below them. I sent them to the Alamo Bowl, but if USC wins out to get to 10-wins, they could well end up there, or the loser of the Pac-12 title game if Oregon wins.
  • What to do with Duke? I think there’s a good chance they could lose one of their last two games, but the predictions instead reflect them getting demolished by FSU. I just can’t see how the Chick-fil-a Bowl would take them, so I put Miami there. ACC rules dictate the title game loser can’t fall past the Sun Bowl, but I sort of reluctantly put them in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
  • Rivalry revival of the week: Texas versus Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. This has a much better chance of happening if the Big 12 sends two teams to the BCS, otherwise either Oklahoma State or Baylor goes here. That said, if the Cotton Bowl can make this happen, I am pretty certain they will.
  • Georgia Tech watch: I still have GT in the Music City Bowl. Slot-wise, they could go to the Belk Bowl, but that game has a long-standing policy of taking North Carolina teams. I figure a 6-6 UNC gets taken over a 7-5 Georgia Tech. I don’t think we fall past the Music City because I doubt any of the other options are as appealing (Boston College, Maryland, or Pittsburgh).
  • I read the news today, oh boy: I’ve started doing research on what beat writers think about where their teams will go, but there’s not a whole lot out there yet. Though I was right on a couple of things I could find (Colorado State going to New Mexico and UNLV going to Hawaii).

Saturday, November 16, 2013

This Weekend in College Football: Week 12

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Ohio State @ Illinois (ESPN): I’m sure the Buckeyes will be able to figure out something against the nation’s 105th ranked scoring defense.
  • Indiana @ Wisconsin (ESPN2): I’m less sure about Indiana’s ability to put something together against the nation’s 6th ranked scoring defense, though.
  • Iowa State @ Oklahoma (FS1): Oklahoma figures to be out for blood after last week.
  • Cincinnati @ Rutgers (ESPNEWS): Cincy has generally be a much more consistent team so far this year; they should be able to get a win.
  • Troy @ Mississippi (ESPNU): Troy already lost 62-7 to Mississippi State this year, so…
  • West Virginia @ Kansas (FSN): West Virginia has been extremely inconsistent this season, but it’s hard to envision how bad they would need to be to lose to Kansas.
  • Purdue @ Pennsylvania State (BTN): Penn State would be bowl eligible after this if they were eligible to go a bowl.
  • Kentucky @ Vanderbilt (SEC): Speaking of bowl eligibility, the Commodores are 5-4 and close with Kentucky, Tennessee, and Wake Forest. I have to say I like their chances of going 8-4.


  • North Carolina @ Pittsburgh (ACC): Both these teams have lost to every competent opponent they’ve played this year, making this game a pretty even match. That said, Pitt did knock off Notre Dame last week and Carolina is riding a 3-game win streak. I’m giving a slight edge to Pitt, though.
  • Maryland @ Virginia Tech (ACC): Good Logan Thomas finally reappeared last week in last week’s easy win over Miami. However, thanks to Bad Logan Thomas’s loss to Duke, the Hokies don’t control their own destiny in the division.
  • North Carolina State @ Boston College (ACC/FSN): NC State is 0-6 in ACC play, and I don’t see that improving this week.

2:00: Washington State @ Arizona (Pac12): Wazzou is better this year than last, but they’re still not quite there yet.


  • Georgia @ Auburn (CBS): I’d say the tables are almost completely flipped for these two teams from where they were at the start of the season. Considering their injury situation, I just don’t see how UGA will be able to keep up with the Tigers.
  • Michigan State @ Nebraska (ABC/ESPN2): The risk for a team like Michigan State is always that one week, the defense just isn’t quite up to snuff and the offense is still as incompetent as ever. But that said, Nebraska is a 7-2 team that most people would probably describe as “struggling”, what with being a few plays away from 5-4 and all. I’ll stick with Sparty here.
  • Syracuse @ Florida State (ABC/ESPN2): Syracuse is… not good. Not good at all.
  • Miami @ Duke (ESPNU): On paper, this one shouldn’t be close. Miami is a team that can definitely shoot itself in the foot, but that’s really the only way the Blue Devils can win this game.
  • South Alabama @ Navy (CBSS): Navy isn’t awesome this year, but they don’t need to be against these guys.
  • Texas Christian @ Kansas State (FSN): TCU barely eked out a win over Iowa State last weekend, which does not bode well for their chances against the Wildcats.
  • Michigan @ Northwestern (BTN): Northwestern’s awful year doesn’t appear to be getting any better, but if they have a shot, it’s against this moribund Michigan squad.

4:00: Utah @ Oregon (FS1): This is sure to be yet another resounding defeat for the transitive property as it applies to college football.

5:30: California @ Colorado (Pac12): Going with Colorado, because why not?


  • Baylor vs. Texas Tech (@Arlington, TX; FOX): I figured Texas Tech might lose 4 of their last 5, but well, I didn’t really see them losing to Kansas State. Whoops. Things don’t look to be getting much better against Baylor.
  • Florida @ South Carolina (ESPN2): Florida is just so inept offensive that it is impossible to pick them to win this game.
  • Houston @ Louisville (ESPNU): Louisville’s best shot at the AAC crown looked to be Houston beating UCF last weekend, but that didn’t happen. The Cardinals may be out for revenge.
  • Louisiana Tech @ Rice (CBSS): Going with Rice here. They’re better, but it still feels weird.

7:45: Alabama @ Mississippi State (ESPN): There is almost no way I could purposely pick anyone to beat Alabama right now.

8:00: Stanford @ Southern California (ABC): DACOACHO GONNA GO OUT COACHA DA FOOTBAW ANNA LEADA THA TROWJANS TOA VICTORIE. Okay, probably not. Stanford is pretty good, folks.

9:30: Oregon State @ Arizona State (Pac12): This is an intriguing matchup of the Pac-12’s second tier, and, well, I’ve been calling this for Arizona State for weeks in the bowl predictions, so I’m going to stick to my guns.

10:15: Wyoming @ Boise State (ESPN2): Boise should be able to handle this.


  • San Diego State @ Hawaii (CBSS): The retro uniforms will be cool, but it’s hard to see the re-christened Rainbow Warriors having much of a chance here.
  • San Jose State @ Nevada (ESPNU): It’s been pretty bad for Nevada this year. Hard to see it getting much better against SJSU.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

2014 World Cup Update: Playoffs?!?

That’s right folks, in two weeks we will know who will occupy the remaining 11 spots in the 2014 World Cup Finals. Accordingly, I have updated my difficult-to-read-list of the status of all FIFA members. This table is organized by status and then date this time around. The massive image showing everyone’s route to the Finals has also been updated. (I also updated the CONCACAF and AFC guides.)

So let’s do our usual whip-around coverage thing, starting with the…

Inter-confederation playoffs

First up is Jordan vs. Uruguay. In a somewhat similar fashion to what happened in the previous World Cup cycle, Uruguay wasn’t quite good enough to qualify automatically out CONMEBOL. They shouldn’t really have any trouble with Jordan, though. The Jordanians only have one player that plays outside the Middle East, while Uruguay has guys like Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez. It’s hard to see how this will be close.

Next up is Mexico vs. New Zealand. Mexico shouldn’t have much trouble here either, as many of the All-Whites play in New Zealand’s semi-pro league. But, well, Mexico shouldn’t really even be here in the first place, and the latest lame duck coach isn’t even going to call in his European based players. Can El Tri finally get it done? Again, the odds say yes, but the odds also didn’t have them needing a stoppage time goal from their archrivals to save them from not qualifying at all.


The CAF Third Round will be decided this weekend. Remember, the away goals rule is in effect. If the fixture is tied regardless, then there will be two periods of extra time followed by a shootout.

  • Ivory Coast vs. Senegal: The Ivory Coast won the first leg 3-1 at home. The return leg will actually be played in Morocco, but regardless, if Senegal scores two without allowing any, the will advance on away goals. If they win 3-0 or better, they win automatically. Any win or draw on their part obviously works in the Ivory Coast’s favor. If Senegal win 3-1, then it will go to extra time. If Senegal win 4-2, they will actually lose, as Ivory Coast would have more away goals on aggregate. (This same logic applies to pretty much everything else.)
  • Ethiopia vs. Nigeria: Nigeria won the first leg 2-1, giving them a huge advantage on the return. They should qualify.
  • Tunisia vs. Cameroon: the first leg was a 0-0 draw, putting Tunisia in the position of winning any non-scoreless draw. So, 0-0 they go to extra time, Cameroon wins they go to the World Cup, and if Tunisia wins or draws 1-1 or better, they go to the World Cup.
  • Ghana vs. Egypt: the best story in international football was obliterated 6-1 last month. Barring an utter miracle, this will be Bob Bradley’s last game as Egypt’s coach (apparently he was almost fired after the match anyway).
  • Burkina Faso vs. Algeria: Burkina Faso won the first leg at home 3-2, so Algeria has a bit of a hill to climb on the return.


We’ll conclude with a quick preview of the UEFA playoff ties.

  • Portugal vs. Sweden: surprisingly, stadia were found that could contain both Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s egos.
  • Ukraine vs. France: the French had the misfortune of being in the same group as Spain. Presumably they won’t need a handball to get into the World Cup this time around, but the Ukrainians should be a pretty tough test in and of themselves.
  • Greece vs. Romania: I really don’t know any cracks I can make about either of these teams, so hopefully this turns out to be interesting soccer-wise. Greece was the top 2nd-place team and actually finished with a positive goal difference, so they probably have an edge here.
  • Iceland vs. Croatia: Iceland were the darlings of the UEFA qualification cycle, coming out of almost nowhere to finish 2nd in the group ahead of more established teams like Slovenia and Norway. They’ll face a better team that had a disappointing campaign in Croatia. This could be a fun one.

I’ll try to check in early next week with how everyone did. Until then!

Bowl Predictions 2013: Week 4

They're here, as usual. You may want to just go ahead and bookmark that, as I usually update it before writing the post. Anyway, the main happenings here are in the BCS, so let's get to it.

Florida State assumes sole control of its own destiny for the slot behind Alabama. This means that the Sugar and Orange bowls get the first shot at replacements.

Let me lay the whole thing out for you. In addition to Alabama and Florida State, the following teams automatically qualify: Ohio State (as Big Ten champion, goes to the Rose Bowl), Stanford (as Pac-12 champion, goes to the Rose Bowl), Baylor (as Big 12 champion, goes to Fiesta Bowl), Central Florida (as AAC champion, earns BCS bid), Fresno State (as Mountain West champion ranked in the top 16 and higher than UCF). This means there are effectively three BCS at-large slots available. The candidates, according to my projections, are:
  • a 1-loss Clemson
  • a 2-loss Auburn
  • a 2-loss Missouri (with the 2nd loss being in the SEC title game to Alabama)
  • a 1-loss Oregon
  • a 2-loss Oklahoma State (with the 2nd loss being to one of Texas, Baylor, or Oklahoma)
Remember, the selection order is Sugar, Orange, and then Orange again, followed by the Sugar again, and then the Fiesta. Those last two slots will almost certainly go to UCF and Fresno State in some order - the Orange took Northern Illinois last year and almost certain wants a marquee matchup this time around. The most appealing candidate for the Sugar is probably a 10-2 Auburn. This basically means the Orange can matchup whoever it wants. Right now I have Clemson and Oregon. Oregon hasn't been that far east for a bowl game since the 1960 Liberty Bowl (back when that game was in Philadelphia), and a matchup against Clemson would be a good recipe for a breakneck, fast-paced game (hopefully).

Some other observations from this week's predictions.
  • There will not be a shortage of teams this year. If you're wondering why I have some mid-major teams ahead of major conference teams for at-large spots, it's because usually those games have agreements in place.
  • The two major conference teams I'm having trouble placing are West Virginia and Utah.
  • With realignment, I have to think matching up old rivals is a priority for the management of any second or third-rate bowl game. Hence the Backyard Brawl being transported to Shreveport.
  • I have Georgia Tech in the Music City because don't think we'll go to the Russell Athletic Bowl if we win out, we will not go back to El Paso this year, and the Belk will probably take Duke because that's how they roll.
  • I try to avoid repeats if I can help it, but I'm sure the Ol' Ball Coach can find some golf courses around Tampa he hasn't played yet.

This Week in College Football: Week 12

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

7:30: Buffalo @ Toledo (ESPNU): [Editor's note: I meant to upload this before Tuesday's games. Whoops.] Buffalo finds themselves as one of the MAC frontrunners after defeating Ohio last week. They get a plenty game Toledo, though. I’ll take the Rockets due to their defense, home field, and for maximum MAC standings chaos.

  • Ball State @ Northern Illinois (ESPN2): The top two teams of the MAC West square off in a contest that will likely decide the division. Expect points to be scored in this game. Lots of points. Expect slightly more to be scored by Northern Illinois.
  • Miami @ Kent State (ESPNU): This game is the complete opposite of the other game, featuring the two bottom two teams from the MAC East. Kent State actually has two wins, so they’re the favorites against the Miamians from Ohio.
  • Georgia Tech @ Clemson (ESPN): This is always a tough one. Ever since I've been in school, this game seems to always be close or a blowout in Clemson's favor. Of course, past results shouldn't be influencing the present that much. So thinking about the present, well, it doesn't look good for Tech.
    This is a game where we will have to play almost mistake-free football to win. We will not be able to turn the ball over 3 times and win (well, unless they do the same). Their offense is every bit as potent as ours (if not more). Their defense is a little worse, but then again, they got blown out by FSU which probably affects things a little bit, and either way it's not much. Clemson is a very good football team. With the game on the road and at night, history aside, we will need all the help we can get. Hopefully we can avoid hurting ourselves.
  • Marshall @ Tulsa (FS1): In some quarters, it’s Tulsa that’s known as one of the most disappointing teams of 2013. Ranked in the low-100’s in both scoring offense and defense, it’s very difficult to see how they will be able to keep pace with the Thundering Herd.
9:00: Washington @ California-Los Angeles (ESPN2): U-Dub is enjoying what I would call a perfectly average season. They have beaten all the teams they are supposed to beat, and lost to all the teams they were supposed to lose to. Other than a win over Nebraska, UCLA hasn’t been much better, at least on paper. I would give the Huskies a very real chance in this game, and in fact, I’m calling the upset here.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

This Weekend in College Football: Week 11

Already this week I struck out on both of Thursday’s marquee games. So just keep in mind the below disclaimer.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Florida State @ Wake Forest (ABC): With a clear path to the national title game, can the Seminoles not trip up against a foe that… well, they’ve tripped up against before? I’m thinking no.
  • Kansas State @ Texas Tech (ABC): TTU was humbled a bit against Oklahoma State last week, but I doubt that K-State will be as effective against them.
  • Auburn @ Tennessee (ESPN): This game was probably a tossup going into the season, but now, well, it seems like an easy Auburn victory.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Minnesota (ESPN2): It feels really weird, but… I’m going with Minnesota in this? I’m so unsure that I put a question mark there.
  • Missouri @ Kentucky (ESPNU): Mizzou continues their march to Atlanta.
  • Texas Christian @ Iowa State (FSN): It’s been a disappointing season for TCU, mainly due to their extremely lackluster offense. But if TCU is lackluster, than Iowa State hasn’t even been acquainted with the very concept for “luster” at any point this season.
  • Western Kentucky @ Army (CBSS): Western Kentucky already beat Navy this year, and Army is much, much worse.
  • Iowa @ Purdue (BTN): There aren’t very many teams Iowa could reasonably expect to outscore entirely with their offense. Purdue, with the second worst scoring offense in the FBS, is one of them.
  • Vanderbilt @ Florida (SEC/FSN): Is Florida’s offense so inept and wracked by injuries that one could actually pick Vanderbilt as having a shot? The Gator defense is still legit, which means that one could be ugly and low scoring. Which is exactly what the Gators will need to win. I suspect they probably will.
  • Arkansas @ Mississippi (SEC): Arkansas is a disaster this season. Maybe John L. wasn’t that bad after all?

12:30: Virginia @ North Carolina (ACC): UNC has been lost on offense for most of this season, but by way of analogy UVA set off without having ever consulted a map in the first place. I like the Tar Heels here.

3:00: Southern California @ California (FOX): The Bears should probably start looking ahead to Colorado.


  • Mississippi State @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (CBS): Miss State’s offense isn’t quite competent enough to take advantage of TAMU’s awful defense, so the Aggies should be okay here.
  • Nebraska @ Michigan (ABC): Well, one of these teams actually beat Minnesota. That team was not Nebraska.
  • Brigham Young @ Wisconsin (ESPN): BYU is a pretty good team, and they should make the Badgers sweat, but ultimately the Stormin’ Mormons will probably come up short.
  • Hawaii @ Navy (CBSS): Navy.
  • Illinois @ Indiana (BTN): I feel a bit silly for having Illinois make a bowl game a couple weeks ago, but I don’t think it was entirely unreasonable at the time. It probably is now, though. But it is reasonable to have Indiana winning, like, ever? Sure, why not.
  • Syracuse @ Maryland (ACC/FSN): Neither of these teams is good or anything, but Syracuse is awful.


  • Kansas @ Oklahoma State (FS1): Oklahoma State.
  • North Carolina State @ Duke (ESPNU): I almost flippantly did the “team name with no description” thing here, but then I remembered that this is Duke we’re talking about it. But, well, the Blue Devils really are the better team at this point.
  • Arizona State @ Utah (Pac12): Arizona State is a pretty good team, while Utah has mostly wilted in Pac-12 play (except for that increasingly inexplicable win over Stanford).


  • Texas @ West Virginia (FOX): Texas has managed to remain relevant, and they should here. Then again, strange things can happen in Morgantown at night.
  • Virginia Tech @ Miami (ESPN): Provided they aren’t completely demoralized by getting blown away by FSU and losing their star running back, Miami still has a certain advantage over Virginia Tech: they have an offense. Of course, that presupposes Good Logan Thomas remains locked in a storage closet somewhere. That said, I’m still going with Miami.
  • Houston @ Central Florida (ESPN2): In my bowl predictions, I have consistently predicted UCF losing this game. Don’t let me down, Cougars.
  • Southern Mississippi @ Louisiana Tech (CBSS): Louisiana Tech.


  • Notre Dame @ Pittsburgh (ABC): So it turns out that Notre Dame probably isn’t really good or anything, but they should be sufficiently decent enough to handle Pitt.
  • Louisiana State @ Alabama (CBS): I know everyone has their hopes for this game, but… statistically Alabama is the superior team. Like, not by a ton, but it’s pretty clear-cut. Perhaps the closest comparison for a team LSU has faced this season is Florida, but only because of their defense. They toughed that one out 17-6, but as we know Florida’s offense is super inept. Now imagine a team that has a better defense than Florida, and oh yeah, a freaking idea of what they’re doing on offense, and you have Alabama. In other words, this Crimson Tide team, as loathe as I am to say it, is really good.
  • Utah State @ Nevada-Las Vegas (ESPNU): Utah State.
  • Colorado @ Washington (Pac12): Washington.

10:00: California-Los Angeles @ Arizona (ESPN): Arizona’s been quietly putting together a good season. Sure, they OOC schedule was a joke and they’ve pretty much only beaten the dregs of the Pac-12 (and Utah), but still, 6-2 is pretty good. But if they lose this, they’re not in good shape for the Pac-12. And, well, they’re probably going to lose.

10:15: Fresno State @ Wyoming (ESPN2): The most compelling thing here will probably be how ugly Wyoming’s uniforms are on this evening. And as I’ve said in the past, I mean that in an entirely good way, as making ugly uniforms was always my objective in the Create-A-School feature of the NCAA Football games.

10:30: San Diego State @ San Jose State (CBSS): And here’s your Mountain West nightcap. Two mediocre offense, but two awful defenses, should make for some occasionally fun viewing in this Aztech vs. Spartan battle. I like the Greeks here.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

This Week in College Football: Week 11

MACtion and important games special!

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.



  • Ohio @ Buffalo (ESPN2): This game features the top two teams in the MAC East and will likely decide that division. Statistically, the Bobcats are the superior team, but they already have a MAC loss to Central Michigan. I’ll stick with them anyway, mostly due to familiarity and consistent success, I suppose.
  • Bowling Green @ Miami (ESPNU): Bowling Green is okay, by MAC standards. Miami is awful by any standard. I’d suggest the other game.


8:00: Central Michigan @ Ball State (ESPN2): Central Michigan is sitting at 3-5 and trying to stay in the MAC bowl picture. A win here would help tremendously. Unfortunately for them, Ball State is pretty good – I’d even go as far to say that their 24-27 loss to North Texas in September was a fluke, considering the Cardinals have since beaten Virginia, Toledo, and all their other MAC foes so far.



  • Oklahoma @ Baylor (FS1): This the game of the week, other than the other games of the week. But hey, it’s first, and doesn’t that count for something? (Answer: not really.) Anyway, the thing that has struck me about Baylor’s schedule so far this season is that they have played absolutely nobody. Look it up. Their best win is probably West Virginia or Kansas State. I also still think the Sooners are the top team in the Big 12 and that the loss to Texas was a bit of a fluke. Hey, it’s entirely possible the Bears are legit – I bet the offense would be able to put points up against anyone. But they will lose either to these Sooners or to Oklahoma State, I am pretty sure. At the very least I am expecting they face adversity for the first time this season. For the purposes of my bowl predictions, I have pretty much put this down as a win for Oklahoma so far, so that’s what I’m going with. However, I think everyone would agree that Baylor continuing to roll is a much better story.
  • Troy @ Louisiana-Lafayette (ESPNU): The Cajuns have been raging through Sun Belt play so far, and I expect more of the same from Thursday night’s undercard.

9:00: Oregon @ Stanford (ESPN): Explosive Offense Runs Into Team That Actually Plays Defense (part 2). I don’t really expect a repeat of last year’s gritty 17-14 contest that saw the Ducks go to overtime, though. For starters, I don’t think this Stanford defense is as good, and I’m not sure their offense will be able to make enough plays to win. Right now I have this one going Oregon’s way. If it doesn’t, woo boy, the bowl predictions are going to get fun.


8:30: Louisville @ Connecticut (ESPN2): I like that since their standings page uses winning percentage, UConn is not actually dead least in the AAC standings because they’ve only played 3 conference games so far. Anyway, they’re awful, Louisville rolls.

9:00: Air Force @ New Mexico (ESPNU): This is a matchup of two really bad defenses. Unfortunately, Air Force’s offense is spectacularly inept this year, so it’s doubtful they’ll be able to stop the Lobos from getting their 3rd win on the year.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Bowl Predictions 2013: Week 3

They’re up at the usual place. Some quick hits:

  • I’m predicting a 3-way tie at the top of the AAC, so that’s why I have Louisville as that conference’s team in the BCS.
  • It looks pretty likely right now a non-AQ team will finish in the top 16 and ahead of the champion of the AAC. Fresno State is currently ranked higher, but I think Northern Illinois is a better team. (At the very least, they have a better “marquee” win in Iowa.) I think Fresno has a better chance to lose at some point. NIU’s better schedule may allow them to pass Fresno anyway.
  • Some folks have Notre Dame in the BCS, but I can’t see that happening unless they somehow beat Stanford. Also, I think BYU will give the Irish a hard time. But a 2-loss Notre Dame would probably knock Clemson out of the BCS.
  • As we barrel toward the end of the year, the remaining important matchups start to come to the fore, beginning this week. On Thursday alone we’ll have Oregon vs. Stanford and Oklahoma vs. Baylor, and then LSU vs. Alabama on Saturday.

So, stay tuned. I may even start looking for news next week!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

This Weekend in College Football: Week 10

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Virginia Tech @ Boston College (ABC/ESPN2): Once again, I’m going to say that the main goal for VPI here is to somehow, some way, figure out how to score 17 points, because that’s probably all they need to win.
  • Wisconsin @ Iowa (ABC/ESPN2): Both these teams posses good defenses, but only one has a competent offense. I’ll favor the Badgers in this one.
  • Illinois @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN): I’m going to lean very slightly toward Penn State in this one, but only very.
  • Army @ Air Force (ESPNU): Air Force looks awful this year. I think I’m actually picking Army.
  • Ohio State @ Purdue (BTN): Well, Ohio State forever reason has trouble against the Boilermakers. They actually lost to Purdue two years ago and needed overtime to win last year. Of course, that doesn’t really have any bearing on this Ohio State team, but then again, on paper the Buckeyes should pretty much always be favored, right?
  • Southern Mississippi @ Marshall (CBSS): I’m sure when this game was picked for TV, no one was really expecting Southern Miss to be the worth team in college football for the second straight year.
  • Mississippi State @ South Carolina (SEC): There’s some good teams in the SEC, and some really bad ones. Miss State somehow is just mediocre. Should be a win for the Gamecocks.


  • North Carolina @ North Carolina State (ACC): NC State, ‘cause why not?
  • Wake Forest @ Syracuse (ACC/FSN): If Wake isn’t too bummed out about their lost opportunity against Miami last week, I think they could actually have some success up in the Carrier Dome.


  • Florida vs. Georgia (@Jacksonville, FL; CBS): This game is going to be ugly, and probably not even in the entertaining way. At least Florida plays defense. While UGA did play offense earlier this season, last week’s loss to Vandy was mostly due to almost all their skill players other than Aaron Murray being hurt. The Gators could well win this one 6-3 or something.
  • Navy @ Notre Dame (NBC): Notre Dame.
  • Michigan @ Michigan State (ABC): Very cautiously going with Michigan in this one, but with these teams having wildly opposite strengths I also expect this one to be close. But Michigan can get to 17 or 21 points it’s hard to see how Michigan State is going to score enough to win.
  • Clemson @ Virginia (ESPN): UVA is awful, Clemson rolls.
  • Iowa State @ Kansas State (FS1): Iowa State is also awful, but K-State may not be good enough to completely roll them.
  • West Virginia @ Texas Christian (ESPNU): TCU can’t score, but somewhat surprisingly, neither can WVU. I’m not sure which way to roll on this one, so I’m going with the Horned Frogs.
  • Northwestern @ Nebraska (BTN): Northwestern has lost five straight Big Ten games, and I have a feeling it’s about to be five.
  • Arizona @ California (Pac12): Arizona.

4:00: Hawaii @ Utah State (CBSS): Utah State.

6:00: Auburn @ Arkansas (ESPN2): Arkansas has lost its last two games by a combined score of 104-7. That’s… not good. Meanwhile, Auburn has only scored less than 30 points once this season. This could get ugly.


  • Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech (FOX): That loss to West Virginia is looking more and more inexplicable as the season goes on, but that said, these teams otherwise appear to be pretty even, so I’ll give an edge to the home team.
  • Tennessee @ Missouri (ESPN): I’ve seen some bad losses in my time, but I’m not sure I’ve ever felt the impact of a gut wrenching loss for a team that isn’t my own than I did when I saw that ball clang off the uprights. That said, I don’t expect the transitive property to hold up (South Carolina lost to Tennessee two weeks ago), as Mizzou is just categorically better than the Volunteers.
  • Pittsburgh @ Georgia Tech (ESPNU): Last week’s win in Charlottesville may be the ugliest win I’ve ever seen by a Georgia Tech team. I’m still not sure how you can turn the ball over 5 times and escape with a victory, but we managed. So now our attentions turn to Pitt.
    So last weekend, Pitt lost at Navy. So there’s a couple ways this can go, and if you pay attention to GT sports, you can probably already guess the narratives. Quickly, they are something along these lines. Since Pitt played Navy last weekend, they’ve had an extra week to practice against our offense, and especially at full-speed. The retort is, of course, that hopefully our guys are a little more athletic and skilled than Navy’s. And, of course, we do have some shotgun/pistol looks in our pocket as well.
    Pitt is pretty middle-of-the-road statistically, though maybe slightly better than their 4-3 record. They’re definitely a better team than Virginia, and I can guarantee that we will not beat them if we turn the ball over five times again.

7:30: Colorado @ California-Los Angeles (FS1): So far, Colorado has not scored more than 20 or given up less than 40 in their Pac-12 games. This is not what one would call a formula for success, and indeed, success will likely remain elusive against the Bruins.


  • Miami @ Florida State (ABC): I figure the line for this game is mostly due to FSU’s pummeling of Clemson and Miami barely beating Wake Forest last weekend. I understand that, okay? And I still think FSU is going to win. But probably not by 3+ touchdowns.
  • Boise State @ Colorado State (CBSS): It’s definitely a down year for the Broncos, but they should still be good enough to win this one.

9:00: Texas-El Paso @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (ESPN2): Oh, what I would give to have this game be at UTEP. Alas, in the safe confines of Kyle Stadium even TAMU’s awful defense should be able to contain the 1-6 Miners. (Also, UTEP’s defense is actually worse than TAMU’s, so… yeah.)

10:30: Nevada @ Fresno State (ESPNU): Nevada just isn’t that good this year, unfortunately. They probably won’t provide that much of an impediment to Fresno’s BCS quest.