Monthly Archives: October 2013

This Weekend in College Football: Week 7

Bowl predictions will debut tomorrow!

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


  • Oklahoma vs. Texas (@Dallas, TX; ABC): Boy howdy Texas is in it for a bad way, aren’t they? I know I’m not exactly providing any new insight here when I say that it’s extremely difficult to see how in the world Texas is going to win this game. It may literally come down to avoiding an embarrassing loss to save Mack Brown’s job. Which makes me wonder: how do we reach these situations? By most accounts, it’s a matter of institutional rot, which I guess is the main way of trying to figure out how a guy goes from winning a national title and coming close several times to… this.
  • Missouri @ Georgia (ESPN): I’m not buying Mizzou, but even if they’re as improved as everyone thinks they are, they’re still not good enough to beat Georgia.
  • Indiana @ Michigan State (ESPN2): Michigan State’s defense is really good, which is fortunate for them because their awful is pretty much awful. They’ll need to retain these qualities to defeat what looks like to be a not terrible set of Hoosiers.
  • Iowa State @ Texas Tech (FS1): Texas Tech should pretty much be able to cruise to their showdown in Norman in two weeks, provided they leave such concepts to us.
  • Memphis @ Houston (ESPNEWS): Houston is 4-0 but hasn’t played anyone. We’ll like be able to revise that sentence to “5-0 but hasn’t played anyone” after this contest.
  • Pittsburgh @ Virginia Tech (ESPNU): Pitt only scored 14 points against UVA. I don’t see how they’re going to be able to do that against VPI.
  • Kansas @ Texas Christian (FSN): TCU.
  • Nebraska @ Purdue (BTN): Nebraska.
  • Eastern Michigan @ Army (CBSS): Army is very slightly less awful than EMU, so I’ll go with them.
  • South Carolina @ Arkansas (SEC): After getting TAMU and Florida in consecutive weeks, it’s not getting any easier for the Razorbacks.

12:30: Navy @ Duke (ACC): Duke bowl watch: they need to get a win here because after this I only really see two other wins on their schedule.


  • Florida @ Louisiana State (CBS): It feels weird to say this about LSU, but this will probably be the best offense Florida has faced all season. If LSU can actually move the ball, and I think they will, then I’m not sure how Florida will be able to score enough to keep the game within reach.
  • Baylor @ Kansas State (FOX): Baylor’s offensive numbers this season are downright obscene at this point, so I will refrain from posting them here. It will take some very potent magics from Bill Synder to be able to keep up in this one.
  • Northwestern @ Wisconsin (ABC/ESPN2): Northwestern is a great feel-good story, but they hadn’t really played anyone prior to last week. Considering that loss and home field advantage, I have to take Wisconsin here.
  • Boston College @ Clemson (ABC/ESPN2): Clemson.
  • Virginia @ Maryland (ESPNU): Ah, the Terrapin Conundrum: are they going to be the team that beat WVU 37-0 or the team that lost to FSU 63-0? Against UVA, I’m going with the former.
  • San Jose State @ Colorado State (CBSS): Living in San Jose, I can’t help but notice some of the attention that San Jose State has gotten so far this season. Specifically, negative attention as apparently more was expected of them this year. Unfortunately for them, I see the disappoint continuing in this one.
  • Syracuse @ North Carolina State (ACC/FSN): Losing to Wake Forest tells me that you’re probably not a very good team, NC State. Unfortunately, I have no read on Syracuse whatsoever because their three losses are reasonably but their two wins tell me nothing. I’ll stick with the team that didn’t lose to Wake Forest, though.

4:00: Oregon @ Washington (FS1): Washington looks pretty good this year, I have to say, but still not good enough to unseat Oregon. I just don’t see how they can keep up.

5:00: Michigan @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN): I can’t pick a team that lost to Indiana by 20, so that means I’m going with Michigan here, even with how shaky they’ve been in recent weeks.


  • Alabama @ Kentucky (ESPN2): Alabama feels like a pretty safe bet here.
  • Georgia Tech @ Brigham Young (ESPNU): Where to begin? I have no idea at this point. Something I have seen get virtually zero coverage is our now perilous bowl situation. Since we play two FCS teams this year, that means that one of those victories will not count for bowl eligibility. So in reality Tech needs three more wins from the group of BYU, Syracuse, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Clemson, and Georgia. So it’s not impossible yet, but we need to really get it into here. Unfortunately, this is a difficult contest to do so in. Last year, BYU took us to the woodshed at home, sort of like what they did to Texas earlier this year. BYU enjoys a substantial home-field advantage due to an unique, high altitude environment that they are accustomed to.
    Last week I said that we would need to force Miami to make mistakes, capitalize on those mistakes, and then not commit any of our own. We succeeded only on the first count. The same is true here, even if we do theoretically enjoy some physical advantages here (as opposed to against Miami).

7:30: Bowling Green @ Mississippi State (SEC/FSN): I got momentarily excited that Bowling Green was 5-1 (“hey, maybe they’ll be a challenge for Miss State!”) but that quickly dissipated when I saw that the loss was a 32 point loss to Indiana.


  • Tulsa @ Texas-El Paso (FS1): The only reason I can think of to watch a game featuring two 1-4 teams is that anything (anything!) can happen in El Paso at night. I also like UTEP here.
  • Boise State @ Utah State (CBSS): Minus their starting quarterback, I have to downgrade Utah State from a slight favorite to an underdog against Boise.

8:30: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ Mississippi (ESPN): TAMU.

10:00: Colorado @ Arizona State (Pac12): Arizona State.


  • California @ California-Los Angeles (ESPN2): UCLA seems pretty legit. Cal isn’t very good or anything this year, but this should still provide the Bruins a decent test before heading to Palo Alto next weekend.
  • Oregon State @ Washington State (ESPNU): Does Oregon State’s loss to Eastern Washington still have any bearing on this season? Well, it indicates that maybe that 4-0 run since then isn’t all that great. I’m going with Wazzou here.

2014 World Cup Update: Commentary and Selected Scenarios for 10/11

It’s that time again. In many confederations we’re now in the home-stretch of qualifying. So let’s go confederation-by-confederation as usual and breakdown what we’re looking at.

Before we begin, though, I have updated many of the resources on the site here, including the status of every member of FIFA and the “Everything” chart.


Last month, Jordan clinched advancement to the inter-confederation playoff by defeating Uzbekistan 9-8 in penalties after each side drew 2-2 on aggregate. It’s a disappointing result for the Uzbeks, as at one time they were leading their group and only lost out on qualifying directly on goal difference with South Korea. What will they be haunted by? The own goal in Seoul back in June that led to a 1-0 loss? Allowing Qatar to score before they realized that they needed goals, triggering a furious comeback but ultimately coming up short despite the 5-1 win? Or the two misses in penalties against Jordan?


Saturday and Sunday mark the beginnings of the final play-off matches for Africa. 5 ties for 5 spots in Brazil. The draw?

Cote d’Ivoire Senegal
Ethiopia Nigeria
Tunisia Cameroon
Ghana Egypt
Burkina Faso Algeria

It’s hard not to root for Egypt, and not just because that means if they advance the US can’t lose to Ghana again. And it’s not the Bob Bradley revenge angle either. It’s because, and SI’s Grant Wahl explains, Bradley is the right man for the job, even after he was no longer the right man for his homeland.


Costa Rica and the United States have clinched, and I still love watching these highlights from last month:

(I still get excited when I see the first Eddie Johnson header and see it get saved.)

So let’s look at the table and talk scenarios.

Team W D L GF GA Diff Pts
United States 5 1 2 10 6 +4 16
Costa Rica 4 3 1 11 5 +6 15
Honduras 3 2 3 10 10 0 11
Panama 1 5 2 7 9 -2 8
Mexico 1 5 2 4 6 -2 8
Jamaica 0 4 4 3 9 -6 4
  • Honduras will advance directly to the 2014 World Cup Final with a win and a Panama-Mexico draw. (This also means that Mexico and Panama would be able to do no better than qualify for the Inter-Confederation Playoff against New Zealand.)
  • Jamaica is completely eliminated with any draw or loss.

If there is a winner in Mexico City, then they are in good position to try to catch Honduras on goals on Tuesday, though Honduras will play Jamaica next week so that may still be difficult. Of course, if Costa Rica is following the same philosophy as the US, then Hondurans should have their work cut out for them even at home. Nonetheless, there’s a good chance the US game against Panama on Tuesday will matter, which leads to the question: who will be this cycle’s Jonathan Bornstein? (Let’s also snicker a little about how I asserted that Mexico will qualify. Whoops!)


I’m pretty sure the All Whites just want to know where they’re going to fly to already.


I’m not going to put the table here, but what you need to know is that Argentina has qualified and tat Colombia and Chile have clinched at least a spot in the play-off. Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay have all been eliminated. This leaves 4 teams vying for the three direct spots, plus Venezuela for the play-off spot.


  • Venezuela will be eliminated if Ecuador-Uruguay is a draw.
  • Venezuela will be eliminated if they lose or draw to Paraguay.
  • Colombia will directly qualify with a win over Chile.
  • Colombia will directly qualify with a win or draw against Chile and an Ecuador-Uruguay draw.
  • Chile will directly qualify with a win over Colombia and an Ecuador-Uruguay draw.


I’m just going to go group-by-group here.

Group A

  • Belgium will directly qualify with a win or draw over Croatia.

Group B

Italy has already qualified, leaving a 4-way fight for second place. Unfortunately, having to take the ranking of the 2nd-place teams into account makes things too complicated for me to be willing to figure out. The teams in question are Bulgaria, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Armenia. I will say I’d be pretty crestfallen if my Danish soccer-playing doppelganger doesn’t make it to Brazil.

Group C

  • Germany will qualify with a win or draw over Ireland.
  • Germany will qualify with a loss or draw by Sweden against Austria.

Group D

The Netherlands have already qualified, leaving Hungary, Turkey, and Romania fighting for second.

Group E

  • Switzerland will qualify with a win over Albania.
  • Switzerland will qualify with a draw and an Iceland loss or draw to Cyprus.

Group F

  • Russia will directly qualify with a win over Luxembourg and a Portugal loss to Israel.
  • Israel will be eliminated with a draw or loss to Portugal.

Group G

Both Bosnia and Greece have 19 points, so neither can clinch today. However, Bosnia is 15 goals better in the goal difference column, so Greece would need a ton of goals if they wound up tied in the end. Greece plays Slovakia while Bosnia gets Liechtenstein (and thus a really good chance for them to further pad that goal difference).

Group H

Only Moldova and San Marino have been eliminated in this group, so that means everything’s still in play. However, there is a scenario where one team can qualify directly.

  • England will clinch with a win over Montenegro and an Ukraine loss to Poland.

Group I

Spain and France are both sitting on 14 points, however, Spain has played one less game. They will play that one game today against Belarus, however, a win does not allow them to clinch just yet.

This Weekend in College Football: Week 6

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

11:30: Air Force @ Navy (CBS): This reminds me that I need to call and see if I can still do my Global Entry interview on Tuesday. Oh, and yeah, Navy looks like a much more solid squad this year.


  • Maryland @ Florida State (ESPN): Maryland? Competent? I’ve having trouble dealing with the subject. I’m getting the sneaking suspicion that reality will hit them pretty hard in this one.
  • Michigan State @ Iowa (ESPN2): This could well be a 5-3 final score. The scary thing is that both coaches might be okay with that. I’ll take Sparty to get the 5.
  • Texas Tech @ Kansas (FS1): Two weeks ago Kansas notched their first victory of a FBS school since 2011. Will the Jayhawks be able to win their first Big 12 contest since defeating Colorado 52-45 on Novebemer 6, 2010? Probably not.
  • Rutgers @ Southern Methodist (ESPNEWS): Not seeing a lot of hope for SMU in this one.
  • Illinois @ Nebraska (ESPNU): Two sets of typical October 3-1 teams here: three wins over inferior competition and one beatdown by the best team they’ve played. So I’ll fall back to pre-season convention wisdom, which held that Nebraska was okay but kind of unpredictable and that Illinois would be terrible.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Indiana (BTN): Boy howdy Indiana still isn’t very good, but this is a win they need if they’re going to get 6-6. So they probably won’t.
  • Ball State @ Virginia (ACC/FSN): I really wanted to pick 4-1 Ball State here, but I looked at the schedule and they lost to North Texas. Then again, UVA is pretty bad. So don’t count the Cardinals out. But for the sake of doing the thing where I pick someone I’m going with UVA.

12:30: North Carolina @ Virginia Tech (ACC): Well, VPI still can’t really score any points, but so far this season it’s not apparent Carolina can either. Combine that with VPI’s defense and this could be the most lopsided 17-3 game in history.


  • Georgia @ Tennessee (CBS): Managing to beat South Alabama by only a touchdown does not engender a great deal of confidence in the Voluneers’ ability to win this game. Not a great deal at all.
  • Clemson @ Syracuse (ABC/ESPN2): Well, unless they’re confused by having to play in a dome, I don’t think the Tigers are going to have a lot of issues here.
  • Minnesota @ Michigan (ABC/ESPN2): Losing to Iowa 23-7 is a pretty go way to earn the “worst 4-1 team in the country label”. The Gophers are probably looking to the Indiana, Penn State, and Michigan State games as their best shot to get those other two wins. That said, it turns out that this Michigan team maybe isn’t very good?
  • Kansas State @ Oklahoma State (ABC): The fact of the matter that so far this season Oklahoma State’s high-flying act has only really been on display against vastly inferior opponents. Against Mississippi State and West Virginia, they averaged 25.5 points, while against UTSA and Lamar they averaged 57.5. That said, it’s not apparently how K-State is going to be able to work enough magic to score 26.
  • Georgia Tech @ Miami (ESPNU): The sound the Georgia Tech offense made last week against VPI was something akin to a “thud”. I figure that was a 50/50 game: the loss was 50% our offense continually shooting itself in the foot and 50% VPI’s excellent defensive line. After all, “physical superiority cancels all theories”. The team other than the Hokies that has been adept the past few years at proving that point has been Miami, which a defense chock-full of prospects and blue-chippers. It still almost feels like karma for the beatdown Tech laid on Miami back in 2008, where we piled up 472 yards of rushing en route to a 41-23 win. We haven’t won since, the closest being last year’s overtime loss where in we frittered away a 4th quarter lead and turned it into a loss.
    The hopes against Miami come down to the usual things. Hoping that we can get any sort of rush on the passer and that the secondary will be good enough to cover their physical receivers. Hoping that their defense, full of those self-same blue-chip athletes, ignores their coaches and try to fly around to the ball, getting out-schemed by the offense. Hope that the line can do their job well enough for the option to work (which was the most glaring probably against VPI).
  • East Carolina @ Middle Tennessee State (FSN): The main thing ECU probably needs to worry about is not being hyped off coming off their 55-31 beatdown of UNC last week.
  • Rice @ Tulsa (CBSS): I guess I’m going to have to go with Rice here?
  • North Carolina State @ Wake Forest (ACC/FSN): I wonder how many times this year I will say something akin to “there are occasionally good Wake Forest teams, but this isn’t one of them”? Count this as one.

4:00: Washington State @ California (FS1): Considering the coaches involved, I suspect what many are hoping for a 55-50 explosion of offense. That said, there’s a couple factors here. First, it’s almost impossible to know how bad or good Cal actually is since all three of their losses have been to ranked teams (Northwestern, Ohio State, and Oregon). I’m tentatively going with Wazzou here.

6:00: Oregon @ Colorado (PAC12): Oregon.


  • Louisiana State @ Mississippi State (ESPN): LSU.
  • Arkansas @ Florida (ESPN2): I’m sure if he had his way, Will Muschamp would win games by having the other team score negative points, so he could win like 0 to –21. Either way, Florida will probably be good for somewhere around 20 points and the Razorbacks for less than that.
  • Mississippi @ Auburn (ESPNU): I don’t know why Ole Miss is ranked, but they’ll probably beat Auburn.
  • Texas Christian @ Oklahoma (FOX): I just don’t see how TCU is going to be able to score enough to keep up with the Sooners.


  • Arizona State vs. Notre Dame (@Arlington, TX; NBC): At this point, the evidence seems to show that ND is kind of mediocre this year. I like the Sun Devils here quite a bit.
  • Louisiana Tech @ Texas-El Paso (CBSS): Well, if you ever wanted to see a game between two teams with a combined 2-7 record, boy howdy does CBS Sports ever have the game for you! If LaTech had any semblance of last year’s offense they’d win easily, but they don’t and so they probably won’t.
  • Kentucky @ South Carolina (SEC/FSN): Hard to see this ending well for the Wildcats.


  • Ohio State @ Northwestern (ABC): May be the game of the day, but realistically, I’m sure that the Wildcats will put up a good fight but in the end come up short.
  • West Virginia @ Baylor (FS1): Try to follow along here: WVU scores zero points against Maryland one week, and then busts out for 30 against Oklahoma State and wins. Then again, 30 isn’t going to be enough to beat Baylor. The only question for the Bears is the fact they haven’t played anyone yet, so maybe they’ll only score 50 instead of 70.

10:30: Washington @ Stanford (ESPN): This is probably really the game of the day, a West Coast matchup between two undefeated teams with solid resumes. That said, it’s hard to shake the feeling of dominance that Stanford usually imparts on their victims. Hard to see how U-Dub will be able to come out on top of this one.