Yearly Archives: 2014

This Weekend in College Football: Week 16

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Chattanooga @ New Hampshire (Division I Football Championship Subdivision Quarterfinal; ESPN2): I like to do these games, because, hey, playoff football on TV, but I don’t know enough about the teams in question to really even give you a good breakdown, much less make picks. So I’ll let you know that the Mocs (that is, UT-Chattanooga) are 10-3 on the year and are a primarily run-oriented team, ranking 24th in the FCS in rushing. They have the 21st best scoring offense and 11th best scoring defense. The Wildcats are much more of a passing attack, ranking 13th in the FCS, but they’ll be going against one of the pass defenses in the nation. Should be a good one.

Noon: Coastal Carolina @ North Dakota State (Division I Football Championship Subdivision Quarterfinal; ESPN): The Bison (I think you can figure out which one is which) are of course semi-famous at this point for basically being the 11th member of the Big 12, having beaten Iowa State this year after beating Kansas State last year. They did suffer a lost to Northen Iowa, but they still boast one of the best defenses in the country and are playing at home. The Chanticleers boast a pretty balanced offense, but their defense is pretty average, which may get them into trouble.

3:00: Army vs. Navy (@Baltimore, MD; CBS): One of these days, I’ll get to make this post and Army will actually have a chance. But again, it’s hard to fathom just how they’ll be able to win here. Army is 4-7, so if one result had gone their way they could be playing for a bowl game. The tempting thing would be to say “oh, they shouldn’t have lost to Yale”. And that’s true, because while the win wouldn’t have counted for them (they also played FCS Fordham) the loss still does. This isn’t exactly a powerhouse edition of Navy, though, and both these teams lost to Western Kentucky over the course of the season. But again, based on everything else, I just can’t pick the USMA here.

Bowl Prections 2014: Final

It’s the final weekend of the season, and the last set of bowl predictions where in I predict who goes where are here. Of course, since the Committee will unveil their rankings at noon Eastern, most of you won’t see this, but those are the breaks I guess.

Let’s get down it.


Here’s that image again, one last time:

Here’s my projected top three:

  1. Alabama
  2. Oregon
  3. Florida State

So the problem is that number four slot. Based on the above, I consider TCU and Baylor to have virtually identical resumes, except for the part where Baylor, you know, beat TCU. The problem is that I have been saying that for as long as I’ve been doing these predictions this year, and the Committee has not agreed with me one bit.

Ohio State’s utter annihilation of Wisconsin makes them much more likely to jump into the #4 slot than previously slot. Also hurting TCU (and Baylor) is Oklahoma being upset by three touchdown underdog Oklahoma State.

The challenge here is thinking like the Committee. In a fair and just world where I rule over everything, Baylor is in. Since this world is unfair and cruel, Baylor almost certainly has no shot.

That leaves us with TCU and Ohio State. So let’s go to a tale of the tape:

Ohio State Texas Christian
Record 12-1 11-1
Best Win Michigan State Kansas State
Worst Loss Virginia Tech Baylor
vs. >.500 teams 7-0 4-1
Opponent win % 0.574 0.529
MOV vs. >.500 26.3 9.2
Yard Margin vs. >.500 186 9

The mental block for me is still Ohio State’s loss to Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech is not a team that should be a confused with a good one. Also, I still think Ohio State’s Big Ten competition was weaker than TCU’s competition, even considering that Ohio State faced more teams with winning records. (Worth noting that the Big Ten only has eight conference games compared to the Big 12’s nine, which means that Big Ten teams only need three conference wins to get to better than .500 rather than four.)

Frankly, based on the Committee’s votes so far, I have to predict that it will be TCU in the playoff. Florida State’s win over us should put them back at #3, but TCU has been consistently above Ohio State in every poll. I don’t really know what criteria they’re looking at, but at this point my gut says that they’re going to say it’s TCU.

As though that’s not confusing enough, there’s another issue. Regardless of what the top four looks like, the following teams are virtual locks to play in either the playoff or one of the access bowls:

  1. Alabama (SEC Champ)
  2. Oregon (Pac-12 Champ)
  3. Florida State (ACC Champ)
  4. Ohio State (Big Ten Champ)
  5. TCU (Big 12 Co-Champ)
  6. Baylor (Big 12 Co-Champ)
  7. Boise State (highest ranked Group of Five team)
  8. Georgia Tech (highest ranked non-playoff ACC team, Orange Bowl)
  9. Michigan State (Orange Bowl selects highest ranked Big Ten/SEC non-champ or Notre Dame)
  10. Mississippi State (ranked #10 this week and didn’t play)

There are two playoff bowl games and four access bowls for a total of 12 teams.

So I need two more teams. Arizona (#7 going into the week) was a pretty good bet, but they got blown out by Oregon. Kansas State was #9 and lost. Both these losses will almost certainly put Ole Miss (#12) into a game. Now the question is, how far does Arizona fall? Kansas State is probably out of the picture now. #13 was Wisconsin, but their demolition at the hands of Ohio State puts them out. Are #14 Georgia and #15 UCLA now also in play?

The Committee has executed large drops before. Ole Miss dropped 11 spots after getting blown out by Arkansas. Of course, Oregon is a slightly better opponent than Arkansas, and Arizona did beat them earlier in the season. I don’t think Arizona will be ranked behind Georgia. The worry for the Wildcats, though, is UCLA, who beat Arizona. UCLA also beat Arizona’s second-best win, Arizona State. However, UCLA was last seen losing in dominating fashion to a pretty mediocre Stanford team.

So with that, I’m going to stick with Arizona. I’ve placed them in the Fiesta against Boise State. The rest of the access bowls are pretty interesting. Ole Miss has been to the Cotton Bowl a couple times in the past five years, so I sent them to the Peach instead to face Ohio State, leaving Baylor to face Mississippi State in the Cotton. (Talk about two teams who wish their seasons had gone just slightly different.)


The top of the ACC is fairly orderly as long as nothing happens to Florida State. Since a Big Ten team will appear in the Orange Bowl, the ACC will take its slot in the Citrus Bowl, and that team would most likely be Clemson. This leaves Louisville to gobble up the Russell Athletic Bowl bid.

Did that seem too easy? Well, don’t worry, it gets weird. Apparently the ACC’s “first tier” bowls have entered a lottery to see which one gets Notre Dame. Oh boy. Drawing on some Internet “news”, it seems like the Pinstripe will take Duke. I put Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl, but since the drawing is random they could really end up anywhere. As a result of that, though, I sent Boston College to the Sun Bowl and NC State to go Belk it up.

I’d seen some news that a Virginia Tech-Cincinnati Military Bowl matchup was pretty likely, so I did that and pushed some of the other teams down a slot.

Big Ten

In Big Ten news, these two articles demonstrate the hard part of this business. The Minneapolis Star Tribune thinks that Nebraska and Wisconsin will occupy the Big Ten’s more prestigious bowl slots, while the Lincoln Star Journal thinks it’ll be Minnesota and Wisconsin. I wound up going with the Nebraska paper, and besides, Nebraska did just fire that coach while Minnesota is enjoying one of their best seasons ever.

Trying to figure out who went where in the Big Ten’s second tier bowls is a bit of a nightmare, especially since they’re short a bid with the Citrus Bowl going to an ACC team. Another way this hurts is that Illinois is forced to scrounge for an at-large bid somewhere, though that could just easily be Maryland. I did see some news, however, indicating that Penn State is a good bet for the Pinstripe Bowl.

Big 12

The Big 12 is pretty straightforward, and they even get to fill their Cactus Bowl slot thanks to Oklahoma State’s upset. I don’t think anything too wacky will happen here.


Note that this all hinges on Arizona getting an access bowl bid as detailed above. If UCLA gets you can swap Arizona for them, but if it goes to a team from another conference then all hell breaks loose in these predictions.

UCLA/Arizona is a good bet for the Alamo Bowl, which picks first. Next up is the Holiday Bowl, which apparently pretty badly wants USC, even at the expense of Arizona State, so it’ll probably happen. This puts the Foster Farms Bowl in a bit of a bind, as they’ve made it known they want Stanford. Apparently the Pac-12’s two-win rule applies to conference victories. Stanford is okay if Arizona State drops this far, but if Arizona does (by virtue of being left out and not getting picked earlier) they cannot fall past here.

The Internet tells me it’s pretty likely Washington falls to the Cactus Bowl, so that sends Utah to Vegas.


I don’t think Georgia will go to Orlando, as that would cause a re-match with Clemson, so I’ve slotted Mizzou there instead. Some news I found indicates that LSU is a strong possibility for the TaxSlayer Bowl. Some news I did find had UGA officials saying their preferred destinations were Orlando and Tampa, so I’ve somewhat reluctantly slotted them into the Outback Bowl, again. (At least they won’t face Nebraska this time.) I’ve slotted Auburn into the Music City Bowl, so I think that leaves South Carolina as a strong possibility to go Belking.

That leaves the Texas and Liberty Bowls and four teams: Florida, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Arkansas. Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl just has to happen, right? I’ll be very disappointed if it doesn’t, along with the rest of the Internet. I think that point Tennessee winds up in the Liberty.

Next up in the SEC’s pecking order is the Birmingham Bowl, which I’d guess would take Florida, leaving Arkansas for the Independence. But wait! I have Miami in the Independence Bowl. And Arkansas has definitely had a better end to their season, which may make them the more exciting bowl prospect. So, just for fun, I’ve switched the two around. We’ll see how it really shakes out pretty soon anyway.

Everyone Else

Some of the bids for the Mountain West, American, and other conferences are based on news, but a lot of it (more than usual) at this point is guesswork. Hopefully next year there’ll be more bowl officials leaking news like they used to.

There is one game that needs an at-large team, the Armed Forces Bowl. Their backup conference is normally the Big 12, but there is not an extra Big 12 team. I think it will be the extra Big Ten team, which in this case is Illinois.

That leaves the following teams eligible but without bids: Texas State, Temple, Middle Tennessee State, Ohio, and Alabama-Birmingham.

A quick aside on UAB: what happened this past week is awful. They’re bowl eligible for only the second time ever, but with the school pulling the plug (for frankly what I think are entirely petty political reasons), they’ve alienated Conference USA (so they’re unlikely to get one of the conference’s bids, even at the expense of another 6-6) team and there are not enough at-large slots otherwise. I’m predicting the Blazers have played their last game.

Well, we’ll see how wrong I am very shortly. Thanks for reading!

This Weekend in College Football: Week 15

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

7:30: Central Florida @ East Carolina (ESPN): This has wound up being a disappointing season for both these teams, but regardless I still think ECU is a pretty decent team. I like them here.

7:00: Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois (Mid-American Conference Championship @ Detroit, MI; ESPN2): The MAC title game has had some wacky upsets in its short history, but that’s what they are: upsets. Northern Illinois is 10-2 and hasn’t lost a game since early October, dispatching many of their MAC rivals with ease. I like them to do the same to Bowling Green.

9:00: Oregon vs. Arizona (Pacific-12 Championship @ Santa Clara, CA; FOX): This game is full of intrigue. Arizona has an outside shot at the playoff, while Oregon is pretty safely ensconced with a win. Of course, there’s also the tidbit about Arizona’s win earlier in the season. I don’t really expect a repeat of that game. Since then, Oregon has gotten healthier on the offensive line, which was their main downfall to the Wildcats back in October. With a healthy line, it’s hard to see how Arizona will be able to keep up this time around.


  • Iowa State @ Texas Christian (ESPN): Baylor fans at this point have to be hoping against hope that the Cyclones can keep this close, maybe repeat what Kansas did to the Horned Frogs two weeks ago. I’m, well, not optimistic.
  • Louisiana Tech @ Marshall (Conference USA Championship; ESPN2): Louisiana Tech is easily the best team Marshall will have played at this point. I still like the Herd to win, but after last week’s loss to Western Kentucky it’s not hard to see the wheels coming completely off.
  • Houston @ Cincinnati (ESPN/ESPN2): Since getting blown out by Memphis back in early October, Cincy has cruised to six straight wins against AAC competition. I think they’ll make it seven, but the Cougars are certainly game to make it a little more difficult.
  • Southern Methodist @ Connecticut (CBSS): UConn is really, really bad, but fortunately for them, SMU is worse.

3:30: Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma (FS1): Far from being Florida State’s best win, Oklahoma State has had a very disappointing season that looks like it’s about to be a 5-7 campaign unless something weird happens. Then again, this is Bedlam.

    4:00: Alabama vs. Missouri (Southeastern Conference Championship @ Atlanta, GA; CBS): Thanks to an incredibly soft SEC schedule that saw them miss all SEC West teams except a reeling Texas A&M and Arkansas, Mizzou wound up winning the SEC East despite such sins as getting blown out 34-0 by Georgia and losing to Indiana. It is very, very hard to see how they will keep up with the Crimson Tide, much less beat them.

    7:30: Temple @ Tulane (ESPN2): Like many great plans, Temple’s season has failed to survive contact with the enemy. The Owls have lost 5 of their last 6, with the win being that still flukey win over ECU. But their losses have all been to the other respectable teams of the American. Tulane is below .500 and should provide the springboard Temple needs to get to 6-6.

    7:45:  Kansas State @ Baylor (ESPN): The most intriguing game of the day, in my mind. Baylor not only needs to win now but win big. I’m still a Bears advocate and I think that if Baylor beats K-State than their resume will be largely similar to TCU’s. But it’s worth remembering that this will be a quality win for a reason.

    8:00: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech (Atlantic Coast Conference Championship @ Charlotte, NC; ABC): Where to even begin? It’s been odd this week as my team has essentially become America’s favorite team to dispose with the annoying, not-very-good Seminoles. The problem is that the latter is largely a matter of perception, as they’re still pretty good. Are there logical arguments that they’re not one of the top four teams in the country despite being undefeated? Yes. However, if they’re not one of the top four, they’re certainly one of the top eight or so. If they’ve won twelve games this year solely on luck, then they are either supremely lucky still really good and just a tad lucky. The latter seems more likely.
    This will be the best defensive line we’ve seen since the Clemson game. (After watching what we did to Georgia in the second half last weekend, I’ve got to say I wasn’t very impressed by UGA’s line play. We owned them.) They have at least two linemen that can get in and disrupt the exchange, which may limit the dive. Florida State is still fast on defense and can fly to the ball if they know where it’s going. That said, there should still be opportunities (see: the Boston College game) and Tech will have limit turnovers to have any chance. Our defense will need to continue to get turnover-lucky and I suspect we’ll need a +2 or +3 turnover margin. Winston has been obliging this season in that department, but he’s still a pretty good quarterback and I don’t think we should be banking on him through four interceptions again.
    I doubt we can win this one going away, which means we have to bank on it being a very interesting night in Charlotte. The keys for Tech are the usual: limit the amount of time the opposing offense is on the field, score (touchdowns) every time we have the ball, and try to get a turnover or three.

    8:00: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten Championship @ Indianapolis, IN; FOX): The main headline going into this game is the Ohio State quarterback situation. Are we quick to forget, though, that J.T. Barrett originally was the unproven backup? Of course, the counter-argument would be that it was Barrett who got the job and not the starter for this Saturday, so even if it is Ohio State it stands to reason that the third string quarterback going into the season may not be their best option. I honestly have no idea who will win this one, but I still feel somewhat irrational in that I’m picking the Buckeyes.

    10:00: Fresno State @ Boise State (Mountain West Conference Championship; CBS): And here’s your nightcap. Unfortunately, it features a Fresno squad that is likely to be overmatched against a Boise team that’s had a pretty good run of form lately.

    Bowl Predictions 2014: Week 7

    First off, once again, woo! We beat Georgia!

    Second, we’ll have an unprecedented week 8 of predictions this year, since everyone is so tight-lipped this year. I’ll have a new set up next Sunday before the new rankings are released.

    With that out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.


    I won’t post the image I’ve been posting again, but Miss State’s loss probably knocks them out of contention. My arguments for Baylor remain the same, but they definitely didn’t help themselves by struggling against Texas Tech on Saturday. I expect the committee’s top four tomorrow to be Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and TCU. If everything goes as expected Saturday, the main question will be if a Baylor win over Kansas State is enough to lift them over TCU. I think it should be, but I’m not entirely sure it will be. I’ll have to make that call again next week.

    The other teams in the top three also play this weekend, all in conference championship games. Oregon has a chance to avenge their loss to Arizona, and with a healthier offensive line and a now fully effective Marcus Mariota I’d say they’re poised to do just that. I don’t think Alabama will have any problem with Missouri. As for Florida State, well, anything can happen, huh?

    As for the other committee-affiliated bowls, Georgia Tech is pretty much in the Orange win or lose in the ACCCG (unless the committee really lowballs our ranking). The Orange then needs to select the next highest-ranked SEC or Big Ten team, which I think is going to be Ohio State. The other bowls are pretty much a guess in terms of what the teams are going to be ranked and how the committee will match them up. Yes, that is still three SEC teams. Also, Boise State pretty much has the Group-of-Five bid sewn up with Marshall and Colorado State losing last weekend.


    There was no news from any ACC school this week, but if Ohio State or Michigan State does indeed wind up in the Orange Bowl, this has the potential to trigger a situation where the Citrus Bowl must select an ACC team instead of a Big Ten team. This means I was able to slot Clemson into the Citrus instead of the Russell Athletic. I figure Louisville will slot above Duke in terms of desirability at this point. I then tried to place the above .500 teams next. Pitt’s upset of Miami also got them in, which means that if the Citrus Bowl thing doesn’t happen the ACC will have an extra team.

    Big Ten

    No news from Big Ten country either. Without the Citrus Bowl slot, I figure Wisconsin will get sent out west (that may happen anyway). This also has the knock-on effect of Illinois probably needing an at-large bid somewhere, but as an eligible team from a major conference they shouldn’t have an issue.

    Big 12

    The Big 12 is relatively easy. The only question is Texas-Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl will happen (probably everyone but the schools involved want it to happen, I’d guess), but that’s more on the SEC’s plate since there’s less play in terms of what Big 12 teams go where.


    The Pac-12 is pretty easy as well, though there’s some question in terms of how many teams they can get in to the access bowls (i.e., it could be Arizona State or UCLA instead of Ole Miss). There’s some shuffling that may go on between the 7-5 and 6-6 schools, which a situation that will bear watching throughout the week.


    Twelve of the fourteen SEC members are bowl eligible, and if the SEC gets three teams into the access bowls and/or playoffs, then they should be golden. Of course, an SEC team sure as heck isn’t going to be left out in the cold at the end of the bowl selection dance, but still. There is a bit of question of just where each team and the conference office will want particular teams to go at the end of the day. If you’re hoping against hope that Texas-Texas A&M will happen, then directing your prayers toward Birmingham on Sunday would be your best bet.

    That’s about it. Tune in again late Saturday/early Sunday for my last stab at this before Sunday evening. Now that I think about it, this is a bit more like bracketology now, though at least we have a couple decades of precedent in terms knowing how the NCAA basketball tournament committee thinks.