Saturday, November 26, 2016





THWG Thought of the Day: 11/26

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 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Michigan @ Ohio State (ABC) (41˚, clear): Once again, I'll be doing weather for each of these games, though I can go ahead and sum it up here: it'll be chilly-to-cold in most places but clear, with overcast conditions in the northeast and rain throughout most of the day on the West Coast.
    Anyway! Here's a wonderful demonstration of why having rivals in the same division is still pretty neat. Of course, it could be slightly neater if either Michigan or Ohio State were still undefeated, but what can you do? Either way, theses are still two of the best teams in college football, though each has their weaknesses. I personally think this game is going to be tight and low-scoring. Both teams sport pretty good defenses, and the best player on the field will be one of Michigan's linebackers (Jabrill Peppers). Both have had difficult with their offenses in the past few weeks, and Ohio State's run game has really been kind of lacking all year. I view this game as kind of a coin flip, and earlier in the week I picked Michigan. I'm not terribly convinced either way, though.
  • Kentucky @ Louisville (ESPN) (47˚, clear): In mid-September, I think most of us who follow college football thought Mark Stoops was going to get fired, but then the Wildcats put together a respectable season against the very soft underbelly of the SEC East. So, naturally, they get to face a frustrated Louisville after a close loss to Houston. Good luck with that!
  • Virginia @ Virginia Tech (ESPN2) (41˚, clear): Over in the other Commonwealth, VPI sort of won the Coastal by default, but that means the pressure is off and, yeah, I think they're going to pound UVA.
  • Kansas @ Kansas State (FS1) (55˚, clear): Like I said the other day, I still really miss KU-Mizzou, but I'm okay with this game being moved to rivalry week for now. But yeah, I think K-State's got this.
  • Purdue @ Indiana (ESPNU) (45˚, clear): Nothin' like playing Purdue to get that necessary sixth win...
  • Rutgers @ Maryland (ESPNEWS) (49˚, clear): [substitute "Purdue" with "Rutgers"]
  • Georgia Tech @ Georgia (SEC) (62˚, clear): To Hell With Georgia
  • Illinois @ Northwestern (BTN) (44˚, clear): So Illinois is slightly better than Purdue and Rutgers, but not by much. Northwestern should also get to 6.
  • Central Florida @ South Florida (CBSS) (78˚, clear): I think this one could be pretty tight, but USF is just on too much of a roll this year. Also, USF needs this game to stay in the AAC East title hunt.
12:30: Syracuse @ Pittsburgh (ACC) (40˚, overcast): At least Pittsburgh is holding up its end of the weather bargain. Shouldn't matter either way against the 'Cuse, though.

3:00: Boston College @ Wake Forest (ACC/RSN) (53˚, clear): BC's 30-0 win over UConn last weekend says a lot, lot more about the current state of UConn football than it does about the Eagles, who still struggle to score points, and that doesn't figure to change against Wake Forest.

  • Notre Dame @ Southern California (ABC) (60˚, rain): After this game Notre Dame will be 4-8 and it will be fantastic. But chin up, Domers, the Cowboys are good this year, and the Yankees are finally rebuilding a little bit!
  • Auburn @ Alabama (CBS) (63˚, clear): so my parents don't live in Alabama anymore, which means I'm not there this week like I usually am. I can't say I miss it too much, but one thing I do miss the absolutely frenzy about this game that engulfs the whole state. That said... I think this will probably be kind of a boring game? It's in Tuscaloosa and Alabama is just too dominant this year.
  • Michigan State @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN) (42˚, overcast): Sparty showed some signs of life in its past two games, pasting Rutgers the way everyone is pasting Rutgers this year and then losing a tight game to Ohio State. Will the Buckeyes be watching this game the lockers under Ohio Stadium, hoping for an upset? I'm not sure about that part, but I can say a little more definitively that the odds are pretty long here. Yeah, Penn State's schedule other than Michigan and Ohio State has been pretty easy, but they've also beat most of those opponents pretty soundly. I like the Nittany Lions here.
  • Duke @ Miami (ESPN2) (79˚, clear): Duke may be playing for bowl eligibility here (more on that later today or Sunday), but it doesn't look good against a rejuvenated Miami squad.
  • West Virginia @ Iowa State (FS1) (54˚, clear): Iowa State needs to be taken seriously, but as long as can do they should be able to take care of business in Ames.
  • Navy @ Southern Methodist (ESPNU) (62˚, partly cloudy): Navy's got the AAC West in the bag already, but they should be able to close out conference play with a statement and a potential shot at hosting the AAC title game (depending on who wins the East).
  • Mississippi State @ Mississippi (SEC) (55˚, clear): I think recent years have made us forget that this is was pretty much the norm for the Egg Bowl in most years. Losing 38-18 to Vandy is never a good look, but I still like the Rebels here.
  • Minnesota @ Wisconsin (BTN) (48˚, partly cloudy): Paul Bunyan's Axe is also for the Big Ten West there year, but let me be clear: if Minnesota wins this will be a huge upset.
  • San Jose State @ Fresno State (CBSS) (55˚, rain): Of all the games at this timeslot, this sure is a game that you could watch. I'm going with SJSU.
  • Tulane @ Connecticut (ESPNEWS) (46˚, clear): Tulane, mostly because I'd like to see them win.
  • Oregon @ Oregon State (Pac12) (47˚, rain): Well, this is probably the most low-key Civil War in several years (I'm not even sure I'll be able to watch it here, I should probably check that). At any rate, I'm picking the Beavers here, because why not?
5:30: Florida Atlantic @ Middle Tennessee State (beIN) (55˚, partly cloudy): Going with MTSU here.

  • California-Los Angeles @ California (ESPN2) (55˚, rain): UCLA has a litany of issues, yes, but frankly I think they're still probably a better team than Cal. Going with the Bruins over the Bears here.
  • Western Kentucky @ Marshall (ESPNU) (41˚, partly cloudy): This used to be one of those sneaky-good fun games, but the Thundering Herd are 3-8 on the year and 2-5 in Conference-USA, so the odds are not looking good for them.
  • Utah @ Colorado (FOX) (51˚, partly cloudy): If they gave "comeback of the year" awards to teams, the Buffs would win in a landslide. I think they'll complete their rise with a win here and a meeting with Washington next week in Santa Clara.
  • South Carolina @ Clemson (ESPN) (53˚, clear): I think Clemson is as good and as flawed as either, say, Michigan or Ohio State, but they're still miles ahead of a punchless South Carolina.
  • East Carolina @ Temple (ESPNEWS) (45˚, partly cloudy): If Temple wins this game, they'll be playing next week in Annapolis for the AAC title, otherwise Navy will have to go to Tampa. That said, I don't figure ECU to offer up much resistance.
  • Tennessee @ Vanderbilt (SEC) (46˚, clear): Well, Vandy sure did a good job of beating up a very injured Ole Miss team last weekend. Will lightning strike twice for the Commodores? I'm figuring no.
  • Florida @ Florida State (ABC) (57˚, partly cloudy): It's going to be completely up to the Gators' defense to keep them in this game, and I'm not sure they can really stave off FSU's attack for a full 60 minutes.
  • Rice @ Stanford (Pac12) (54˚, rain): Stanford.
9:00: Colorado State @ San Diego State (CBSS) (60˚, rain): If it weren't for their bizarre loss to South Alabama, the Aztecs would definitely be in play for the Group of Five bowl slot. Instead, they should be able to take care of business here.

  • Wyoming @ New Mexico (ESPN2) (48˚, clear): Speaking of taking care of business in the Mountain West, the Cowboys should be able to do so here.
  • Utah State @ Brigham Young (ESPNU) (41˚, chance of rain): Apparently this does have rivalry game name ("The Old Wagon Wheel"), but nonetheless the Cougars figure to roll.
I will try to get a bowl predictions update up late tonight or early Sunday, so stay tuned!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

This Week in College Football: Week 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

7:30: Louisiana State @ Texas A&M (ESPN): It's late November, which means if nothing else we'll start getting some fun weather conditions, so I'll be noting them for all games. (Keep in mind all forecasts will be as of early Thursday morning.) It'll be around 60 in College Station tonight. As for the game, well, it's not Texas-TAMU, and really, the story here may be the coaches more than anything else. (Especially since Leonard Fournette reportedly didn't even make the trip.) DACOACHO probably isn't going to be retained as head coach of LSU, and while I don't think A&M will fire Sumlin, his seat is getting a bit warm. All that said, I like the Bayou Bengals here.

  • Houston @ Memphis (ABC): (60 degrees, clear) Memphis was still respectable this week, but the Cougars have got their grove back after beating Louisville last weekend.
  • North Carolina State @ North Carolina (ESPN): (63 degrees, cloudy) While NC State pulling off the upset here would greatly help my bowl team predicament, I don't think they can quite hang with Carolina's offense.
  • Northern Illinois @ Kent State (CBSS): (40 degress, overcast) Not much at stake in this MAC matchups, but I like Huskies.
2:30: Arkansas @ Missouri (CBS): (48 degrees, clear) I... think it's rational to miss the KU-Mizzou rivalry? Either way, Arkansas hopes to, and should be able to, turn around a disappointing end of the season here.

  • Nebraska @ Iowa (ABC): (40 degrees, clear) Iowa is a slight favorite here, but I'm not buying it. I'm going with the 'Huskers.
  • Washington @ Washington State (FOX): (44 degrees, chance of rain) And this is what you're going to watch on Friday. The Apple Cup is fascinating for many reasons. For instance, not very mean years ago this game featured 1 win combined by these two teams. For another, I can't think of a more marked contrast between two teams' locales than between the gorgeous waterfront locale of Husky Stadium in Seattle and the relative moonscape that is the Palouse.
    Photo from the Seattle Times
    Tellingly, I couldn't find a decent aerial photo of Martin Stadium. Anyway, the point is, these two places couldn't be more different. I have hard time of thinking of any other intra-state rivals that are as distant. (I guess it depends on how you view the various California rivalries).
    As for the game itself, well, here's the situation. I still think Washington is in the playoff if they win out, i.e., this game and the Pac-12 title game against Colorado or USC. I also still think Washington is pretty good, dismantlings by USC nonwithstanding. On the other side, we have Wazzu, which as you know by now spent the beginning of the season losing to Eastern Washington and Boise State. They also lost to Colorado last weekend, but that's respectable this year.
    If there's another team in the Pac-12 the Huskies resemble, it's probably Colorado, even though they'll be missing one of their d-line stars, I still like them to win this one. The fact the game will kick off at 12:30 local time probably also helps them.
  • Texas Christian @ Texas (FS1): (65 degrees, clear) In perhaps the worst firing ever, just in terms of the process, Charlie Strong is out. Both teams are sliding into the end of the year and a bowl bid is on the line. With all the drama around Austin, Charlie Strong is either going to get carried off the field or actually fired after the game. I'm betting on the latter.
  • Boise State @ Air Force (CBSS): (54 degrees, clear) For Boise to have any shot at the Cotton Bowl, they need to win this game and hope Wyoming loses to New Mexico. I suspect they can take for business on their end.
4:00: Louisiana Tech @ Southern Mississippi (ESPNEWS): (72 degrees, clear) Southern Miss isn't, like, bad, this year, but they aren't very good either. LaTech should win. (But you'll have something to put on during halftime of the Apple Cup, at least.)

5:00: Toledo @ Western Michigan (ESPN2): (41 degrees, chance of rain) These are the two best teams in the MAC, and it's not even close. The question is whether Toledo is anywhere close to Western Michigan, who have beaten every opponent on their schedule (except for Northwestern) by at least two touchdowns.

6:00: Baylor vs. Texas Tech (@Arlington, TX): (dome) Texas Tech

8:30: Cincinnati @ Tulsa (ESPN2): (48 degrees, clear) I don't really see how Cincy will score enough to keep up here, or how Tommy Tuberville will retain his job.

9:30: Arizona State @ Arizona (ESPN): (69 degrees, clear) We'll wrap up with the Territorial Cup, which, well, the nicest thing I can probably say about this game is that Arizona probably only has any sliver of a chance because it's a rivalry game.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bowl Predictions 2016: Week 6

The new predictions are now up.

Provided I did the math correctly, there are currently 65 bowl eligible teams. That means we need 15 more, but where will they come from? Let's list out every team on the cusp.

I'll just go in order of the ESPN standings page.
  1. Southern Methodist (5-6): The Mustangs have to play at Navy this Saturday, the odds of them getting to 6-6 are pretty slim.
  2. North Carolina State (5-6): They play North Carolina on Friday, which isn't impossible for the Wolfpack, but again, I'm not feeling good about it.
  3. Texas Christian (5-5): TCU still has two games to play, against Texas and Kansas State. I think I'll win one but not the other, with my money on Texas.
  4. Texas (5-6): Since I have TCU beating Texas, well, that pretty much knocks the Longhorns out. Shouldn't have lost to Kansas!
  5. Indiana (5-6): If only all of the above teams could get to play Purdue with bowl eligibility on the line! I like the Hoosiers chances.
  6. Maryland (5-6): See above, but replace "Purdue" with "Rutgers".
  7. Northwestern (5-6): See above, but replace "Rutgers" with "Illinois".
  8. Texas-San Antonio (5-6): The Roadrunners appear to be pretty evenly matched with Charlotte, so it could be kind of a tossup. I'm giving UTSA the edge, though.
  9. North Texas (5-6): So the Mean Green wrap up with UTEP, which is two wins worse in C-USA than North Texas but not that obviously worse. I'm still giving them a slight edge.
  10. Southern Mississippi (5-6): The Golden Eagles will play Louisiana Tech on Friday, and I just can't favor USM over LaTech.
  11. Army (6-5): Army played two FCS teams this year, so one of the wins doesn't count toward bowl eligibility, so if they lose to Navy (as predicted) in a few weeks then their record for bowl eligibility will actually be 5-6. That said, they'd almost certainly get picked as a 6-6 team, if they want to.
  12. Arizona State (5-6): The Sun Devils will play their arch-rivals Friday night, but they should prevail. 
  13. Vanderbilt (5-6): The Commodores will end their season against Tennessee, but as one of the schools in the APR Top 5 they'll almost certainly get a bid at 5-7.
  14. Mississippi (5-6): I suspect Ole Miss are slight favorites in the Egg Bowl, and I imagine they'd get in at 5-7, but still, it'd make everything a lot easier if they win like they're supposed to.
  15. South Alabama (5-5): USA only needs to win one of their two remaining games against Idaho and New Mexico State, which, well, they should be able to win one of those.
So, yeah, that's exactly 15 teams, and the odds of all of them winning over the next two weeks are probably somewhere near zero. I have 9 of them as legitimate favorites, so that would still leave us, and everyone, short 6 teams. I supposed it's entirely possible all of these teams get bids, but so far I haven't done a lot of research for the potential 5-7 teams (other than Army and Vanderbilt).

In this week's edition, I also started doing Internet research to try to figure out what teams are favored to go where, but with so much uncertainty it's difficult right now. Next week should be a little more fruitful.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

This Weekend in College Football: Week 12

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Wisconsin @ Purdue (ABC): It doesn't get much easier for the Badgers, as they should continue to cruise through the non-Michigan/Ohio State portion of their schedule.
  • Ohio State @ Michigan State (ESPN): One upside of my trip to Columbus last weekend: being around a bunch of Ohio State fans as it gradually dawns on them that they no longer control their own destiny in the Big Ten East. Better hope Sparty finds a sudden burst of competence sometime after this game, Buckeyes!
  • Kansas State @ Baylor (ESPN2): Baylor.
  • Oklahoma State @ Texas Christian (FS1): Oklahoma State has made it tough on themselves as of late. Yes, they handled West Virginia, but since they've beaten K-State by 6 and Texas Tech on a missed extra point. (I don't mean they won by a point, which they did; the margin literally was a missed extra point on what was thought to be the tying touchdown by Texas Tech.) And now they roll into Forth Worth, where I still have them pegged as the favorite, but with major reservations.
  • Texas-San Antonio @ Texas A&M (ESPNU): Welcome to SEC Cupcake Weekend, where most of the SEC doesn't even play other FBS teams, unlike TAMU here. In accordance with our long-standing policy, I don't list FCS vs. FBS matchups, so this is one of the few SEC games listed here.
  • Maryland @ Nebraska (ESPNEWS): Fun fact: Maryland and Nebraska lost to Ohio State by the exact same score (62-3). I still have the Huskers here, though.
  • Louisiana-Lafayette @ Georgia (SEC): This is definitely a game that it taking place in Athens, Georgia this weekend. Yep.
  • Iowa @ Illinois (BTN): You know, I'm not sure I'd be much more inclined to watch the Big Ten Network, even if I did get it in HD. I'll go with Iowa here.
  • Virginia @ Georgia Tech (ACC): You can pick an number of recent events to point out that you didn't see that coming, but even considering its relative unimportance, last week's update of VPI was pretty shocking. Yes, Virginia Tech's offense was awful, but we did generate actual pressure on the defensive line; started three freshman offensive linemen, which then played its best game as a unit on the season; and, oh yeah, our backup short-yardage QB had a 50+ yard touchdown run. It was good, vintage stuff, though it makes me terrified of what might happen when we play the Hokies next year.
    As for this game, hoo boy, the potential for a let down feels high, eh? I don't know if I'd call it a trap game (can 6-4 teams really have trap games?), but I'd like to think the focus will be there on Senior Day. I don't expect the team to suddenly be a lot better than they've been over the course of the season, but let's hope something was learned in Blacksburg last wekeend.
  • Miami @ North Carolina State (ACC): I wrote last week that the Canes seemed to get their early-season mojo back, and sure enough, they beat Virginia by three scores. I expect the trend to continue here.
1:00: Florida @ Louisiana State (SEC): The odd timeslot and network placement for this game should tell you that yep, this was the game that was rescheduled. I still don't know what magic was worked to both make this game happen and at Baton Rouge, but we'll take it. Check your local listings to see if you get this instead of UL-Lafayette and Georgia. Also I like LSU.

2:00: Oregon @ Utah (Pac12): After two straight blowout losses to Southern Cal and Stanford, Oregon's at 3-7 and effectively done.

3:00: Duke @ Pittsburgh (ACC/RSN): Pitt's a good team! The only really shocking thing about their upset of Clemson was that they did in Death Valley, so I'll give them credit for that. About the only thing that could stop them against the Blue Devils is a let-down.

  • Missouri @ Tennessee (CBS): Tennessee.
  • Washington State @ Colorado (FOX): If I told myself back in September that this would be the late-season Pac-12 game you need to have circled on your calendar (along with the Apple Cup), I would've said you were a lot crazier than any of the scenarios presented in those Chick-fil-a "chicken for breakfast" commercials. Yet, here we are. With a win, Colorado also ensures the Pac-12 South comes down to their clash next week against Utah. I suspect there will be plenty of reasons to look forward to that one.
  • Virginia Tech @ Notre Dame (NBC): Okay, so yeah, losing to Georgia Tech isn't really the best look this season, but chin-up Virginia Tech! You're still much improved over last year, and you'll get a chance to soothe the sting of the loss by pasting the worst Notre Dame team in a decade.
  • Florida State @ Syracuse (ABC/ESPN2): I still have FSU running the table, so...
  • Texas @ Kansas (ABC/ESPN2): I don't think there's a number of points Texas could run up on the Jayhawks that would have any effect on Charlie Strong's job status after the season, and perhaps more damningly, I don't think Texas's dysfunctional offense is really capable of shellacking anyone anyway. (They're still going to win, though.)
  • Indiana @ Michigan (ESPN): I like the idea of Indiana as TEAM CHAOS as much as the next person, but they beat Maryland and Rutgers by a combined 12 points and lost to Penn State by two touchdowns. Also included are losses to Wake Forest and Northwestern. The Hoosiers are just, like, not really that good this year.
  • Texas Tech @ Iowa State (FS1): So Texas Tech needs to win out against Iowa State and Baylor to get to 6-6 and maybe keep Kliff Kingsbury employed. I'd say odds are good they win on or the other (and probably this one), but not both.
  • Buffalo @ Western Michigan (ESPNU): So Gameday's at this point, but who watches Gameday anymore? I still might if I lived in on the East Coast, I'm not getting up at 6:00 AM to watch 3 hours of people talking about football. At any rate, the boat will continue to be rowed.
  • Northwestern @ Minnesota (BTN): These teams have been excruciatingly similar in Big Ten play so far, mostly in that they're both 4-3 and have scored 201 and 199 points, respectively. Since it's at Minnesota, I'll give the edge of the Gophers.
  • San Diego State @ Wyoming (CBSS): And here's where Boise is pinning their hopes after Wyoming's triple overtime 69-66 loss to UNLV last weekend. San Diego State is probably actually the second best team in the Mountain West despite a bizarre loss to South Alabama (seriously, the Jaguars beat Mississippi State and SDSU and are 1-5 in the Sun Belt). I have them as the favorites here, which should get the Aztecs a match with Boise in a couple of weeks.
4:00: Navy @ East Carolina (ESPNEWS): Like the Florida-LSU game, this game was also pushed back due to Hurricane Matthew. Unlike that game, though, I don't have any doubts about who's going to win, and it's not going to go well for the Pirates versus the government.

  • Southern Mississippi @ North Texas (beIN): I'd say Southern Miss is just a touch better than UNT. A touch.
  • Stanford @ California (Pac12): It's the Big Game! Much like their last opponent, Cal also doesn't really have a defense, and Stanford put up 52 on Oregon. It doesn't figure to go much better for the Bears, but hey, it's a rivalry game, so there's always a wildcard factor.
  • Clemson @ Wake Forest (ESPN): Yes, Clemson lost to Pitt, and yes, the Tigers didn't really look great in the process, but like I said above, Pitt is pretty good. Wake, however, is just good, and it's going to cost them here.
  • Arkansas @ Mississippi State (ESPNU): A 38-10 loss pretty much has me saying "so much for Novembert" but I still like the Razorbacks here.
  • South Florida @ Southern Methodist (CBSS): I'm going to be honest: I don't like SMU's chances here.
7:30: Arizona State @ Washington (FOX): USC is enjoying a resurgent second half, Arizona State, not so much. Washington gets back into shape here.

  • Oklahoma @ West Virginia (ABC): Morgantown. Night. Right now (as of 7:30 AM, Eastern) the forecast for kickoff is 38 degrees with a 30% chance of snow. Football weather! I still like the Sooners, but boy howdy the conditions will be ripe to ignite some couches.
  • Tulsa @ Central Florida (ESPNEWS): If there were a "comeback team of the year" award, UCF would probably win it. I'm not sure it'll be enough against this high-flying Tulsa team, though.
  • Mississippi @ Vanderbilt (SEC): The only other conference game of the day in the SEC! Ole Miss rallied to beat Texas A&M after taking the redshirt of their freshman quarterback, who came into his own in the 4th quarter. The task will be easier against the Commodores.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Rutgers (BTN): The Big Ten Network apparently is the home of games that figure mostly to be akin to a trainwreck. Hopefully those rights fees are worth the brand dilution of having Rutgers in your league! (... they probably are, but still)
10:15: New Mexico @ Colorado State (ESPN2): If you, like me, prefer 6-6 teams in bowl games over 5-7 teams, you really need Colorado State to win this game.

  • Southern California @ California-Los Angeles (ESPN): Though there's basically nothing about UCLA's season to indicate this, I have a feeling the Bruins will be able to keep it close until USC pulls ahead in the 4th quarter. Also, this game is always worth a peek due to the color uniforms for both teams and the immaculate Rose Bowl field.
  • Air Force @ San Jose State (CBSS): If you're into bowl eligibility, well, this isn't the game for you, since Air Force is 7-3 and SJSU is 3-7. I think that's about what you need to know about this one.
  • Arizona @ Oregon State (Pac12): Seriously, the bottom of this column is particularly dire. These two teams have a combined 4-16 record. Oof. Uh, Beavers I guess?

Friday, November 18, 2016

2018 World Cup Update: Jurgen Klinsmann Memorial Edition

So it's three days since the US lost one of the most embarrassing games I can recall them playing, a 4-0 humiliation at Costa Rica. (And this is after I had flown to Columbus and back to watch them lose their first home qualifier in fifteen years.) The best thing I can say about this title is that I hope I'm wrong and we'll still qualify easily without having to fire the coach, but frankly I agree with... just about everyone now in saying that US needs a new face on the sidelines.

And in the future, let's maybe not assume a coach can survive nearly two full cycles. For whatever reason, it just doesn't seem to happen.

Anyway, I've updated the status of every team page with the latest results from this most recent international window. No one has been eliminated, but we could see a couple in March. Notably, though, no one is on the verge of qualifying. Depending on how things shake out in the AFC, we could see some teams qualify next June, but for everyone else it'll be around Labor Day next year.

Let's take a quick glance at each confederation.

The final twelve entrants from Asia are halfway through the qualification cycle. In Group A, it's race between the three favorites. Iran is currently topping the group with 11 points, followed by South Korea with 10, and then Uzbekistan with 9. Some combination of those three will make it through, but the question is which one will finish where.
  • Iran's five remaining matches feature three home games against China, Uzbekistan, and Syria. They'll be favorites in all three. However, they also have to go on the road to Uzbekistan and South Korea. I think they'll get at least 7 points from their home games, which puts them at somewhere between 18 and 24 points overall.
  • South Korea will play on the road three times, against China, Qatar, and Uzbekistan. They've already played all three at home and while they did win all those matches, it wasn't terribly convincing. The only gimme is the home game against Syria, as they also have Iran at home. They've been so inconsistent they could get somewhere between 3 and 15 points from these matches, I think. In other words, they may comfortably qualify, or they could wind up in Tashkent next September really needing a result.
  • Uzbekistan will also play on the road three times, versus Syria, Iran, and China. They'll be favorites in two of those three, but it will be really tough for them to get out of Tehran with any points. They also get Qatar and South Korea at home. I'd estimate they'll get somewhere been 4 and 12 points, but I feel a bit better about their chances than I do for South Korea.
Over in Group B it's not early as obvious how it's going to go down, but the favorites would seem to be in a bit of trouble. Right now Saudi Arabia and Japan are tied with 10 points, followed by Australia and the United Arab Emirates with 9. The Blue Samurai and Socceroos still have some time to make up some ground, but they also still have to play each other. We'll check back in on this in March.

There was some action in Africa this time around, but each team so far as only played 2 of 6 matches, so there's a ways to go, and qualifying there doesn't resume until next August. Some quick reactions, though:
  • Algeria is currently tied at the bottom of Group B with a single point.
  • In Group D, South Africa scored a pretty solid upset at home by beating Senegal 2-1.
  • In Group E, Egypt got some payback against the team that eliminated them last time around by beating Ghana 2-0 in Alexandria. The Pharaohs currently lead the group with 6 points, while the Black Stars have only 1.
You know about what happened to the US already, so let's talk about everyone else:
  • Last Friday every away team won their match, though the only one that was anything near a surprise was probably Panama 1, Honduras 0.
  • Los Canaleros then went back home and kept Mexico at bay, earning a 0-0 draw.
  • Trinidad and Tobago are so far playing the "sixth team that doesn't really belong" role with a 2-0 loss at home to Costa Rica and then a 3-1 loss on the road against Honduras.
Again, we're just two games into ten overall, so we'll have more in the spring.

Oceania's wacky qualification format means two teams didn't even play this time around. The most shocking thing was probably New Zealand's scoreless draw on the road against New Caledonia, but nonetheless the All-Whites should have this round wrapped up by the end of March. They'll meet the winner of Group B in August.

They Europeans have played only 4 matches of 10, so we'll see them again in March. A quick survey of the groups:
  • In Group A, it looks like the Dutch are back, just behind France's 10 points with 7 of their own. The question is if the Swedes will continue to stick around.
  • Group B is going to come down to Switzerland or Portugal. Right now the difference is Switzerland's win at home to start the campaign, The two won't meet again until the very last match of the round in October.
  • Germany remains completely in control of Group C, but hey, they at least put on a good show at San Marino last weekend (they won 8-0 in front of crowd of 3,500). Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan are fighting it out for the second spot, though the former did beat the latter 4-0.
  • In Group D, the Welsh have now drawn three straight games at Austria, versus Georgia, and versus Serbia. The group remains tight between Ireland, Serbia, and Wales.
  • In Group E, Montenegro's darkhorse qualification campaign suffered a 3-2 setback in Armenia. Poland continued to cruise and Denmark, 4 points behind and in third place, continues to fight to stay in the mix.
  • In Group F, England beat Scotland 3-0 and remains at the top of the group, but clustered right behind them are Slovenia, Slovakia, and Lithuania.
  • Yes, Israel is currently just a point behind Italy and Spain with 9 points, but that already includes a loss at home to the Italians and they have to play two three more times. Group G may come down to Italy's road game at Spain next September.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina stayed alive in Group H by picking up a point on the road against Greece, but this still Belgium's to lose.
  • Last but definitely not least, they're Group I, which remains the last predictable. Croatia did beat Euro 2016 darlings Iceland, but that was at home. There's still a lot of games to be played here.
 That's about it for now. Look for this column again in March!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Bowl Predictions 2016: Week 5

Get 'em while they're... only a couple days old?

Anyway, yes, at lot of stuff happened, but frankly most of the scenarios I outlined last week are still in play. Really, most of the changes you see in this week's predictions are because of two things. First, Texas A&M lost to Ole Miss. Second, Auburn lost to Georgia. So long, the SEC's best hope of getting three teams into the CFP-controlled bowls! (TAMU could still do it, but I don't see them beating LSU at this point.) Of course, that leaves me in the rather uncomfortable position of putting four (4!) Big Ten teams in those selfsame bowl games, so... check back next week when I hopefully have something more reasonable.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

This Weekend in College Football: Week 11

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • South Carolina @ Florida (CBS): Neither of these teams is especially, er, gifted offensively, but I have a hard time predicting success for South Carolina's very young quarterback against a reasonably good Florida defense.
  • Baylor @ Oklahoma (ABC/ESPN2): Sooners.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Indiana (ABC/ESPN2): The Hoosier's are the Big Ten's weekly trap game, and probably one of the hardest remaining contests for the Nittany Lions. That said, State's been playing at a high enough level that they should win.
  • Mississippi State @ Alabama (ESPN): Yes, the Bulldogs upset Texas A&M, but that's about where this train figures to stop.
  • West Virginia @ Texas (FS1): People are saying that this is a game that could save Charlie Strong's job, but I'm pretty sure around Texas it's thought that you should probably be beating West Virginia regardless. That said, I don't really see Texas winning here.
  • Cincinnati @ Central Florida (ESPNU): Speaking of fired, I think it's getting pretty close to the end of the line for Tommy Tuberville at Cincy.
  • Southern Methodist @ East Carolina (ESPNEWS): I don't have a read on this game at all, so I'm going to default to ECU.
  • Iowa State @ Kansas (FSN): Hey, it's a team Iowa State should probably actually beat!
  • Kentucky @ Tennessee (SEC): While I'd like to see Kentucky win the SEC East as much as anyone, realistically I have to go with the Vols.
  • Northwestern @ Purdue (BTN): Northwestern.
  • Tulsa @ Navy (CBSS): The Golden Hurricane can put their fair share of points, but I still like Navy here.
12:30: North Carolina State @ Syracuse (ACC): There's probably only a couple of teams that have had more confusing seasons than NC State, but I still like them here.

2:00: Miami @ Virginia (ACC/RSN): The Cavs should continue to help the Canes get their mojo back.

  • Army vs. Notre Dame (@San Antonio, TX; NBC): Notre Dame is super, really, not very good this year. Not even in the "oh, they're overrated" sense, they're bad. Army, meanwhile, is enjoying a pretty good season for Army. Unfortunately, I still have to go with the Domers in the Alamodome.
  • Auburn @ Georgia (CBS): It's the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, mostly because the South's Oldest Rivalry is between North Carolina and Virginia. All that said, goodness me Georgia is so very mediocre this year, while Auburn is suddenly a machine. This shouldn't be close.
  • Pittsburgh @ Clemson (ABC): Pitt has some good interior linemen and a couple of very good running backs, but none of this should present an obstacle to the Tigers.
  • Ohio State @ Maryland (ESPN): So I'm actually in Columbus, OH this week. I was here for the US-Mexico game which, uh, didn't go so well. But I will probably be watching this one on TV with a bunch of Buckeye partisans, and I suspect they'll at least go home happy with this one. That said, this Maryland team isn't as terrible as they've been the past few years.
  • Illinois @ Wisconsin (ESPN2): Wisconsin.
  • Texas Tech @ Oklahoma State (FS1): Both of these teams can score, and then add in that anyone can score against the Red Raiders, and, well...
  • Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech (ESPNU): Speaking of teams with no defense, it's us :(
    I don't really have anything against Paul Johnson. I think he's a good fit for this team and the school. But, practically speaking, I would understand if he got fired after this season, mostly because the main reason I don't think he'd get fired is that the athletic department is currently paying two people to not coach basketball for us. Unlike, say, Charlie Strong, I don't think Johnson is really even on the hotseat, but I would expect the heat to start getting turned if things don't go well against UVA next weekend.
    All that said, I do think Ted Roof is gone after the season, regardless. It was generally thought this year's defense couldn't be much worse than last year's, and we've been proven spectacularly wrong. Given that many issues seem to come down to coaching rather than talent (and remember, this is college, you can't fire the players), I don't see how he retains his position.
    So, yeah, this game! Well, VPI looks pretty good this year, but they've hit some occasional speedbumps that provide just a sliver of optimism up in Blacksburg. Just a sliver.
  • Vanderbilt @ Missouri (SEC): Am I actually about to pick Vandy in a SEC game. Yes I am!
  • Tulane @ Houston (CBSS): Houston.
4:00: Stanford @ Oregon (Pac12): I suspect there were many that circled this date on their calendar, and, well, things don't always go according to plan. I still like Stanford there, though.

  • Louisiana State @ Arkansas (ESPN): I've been learning a lot about the Golden Boot this week, namely, that the trophy is actually gold and it weighs a lot. Either way, I don't think effects of Novembert will really take hold here and I like LSU.
  • Wake Forest @ Louisville (ESPN2): Look, Wake is halfway decent this year, but the only drama in this game is when Louisville will pull Lamar Jackson.
  • South Florida @ Memphis (ESPNU): I've been predicting Memphis will win here in all my bowl projections, so let's stay consistent.
  • Boise State @ Hawaii (CBSS): The Broncos venture to Hawaii, hoping to stay relevant in the MWC Mountain division race. I think they will.
  • Southern California @ Washington (FOX): Game of the Week! USC has rapidly improved (almost as much as Auburn) and is the best team by pure talent that UDub will face the entire rest of the season. I think the Huskies will get past this, but their defensive chops will be truly tested.
  • Mississippi @ Texas A&M (SEC): Both these teams are now down a starting quarterback, but I still like TAMU here.
  • Minnesota @ Nebraska (BTN): Technically, these two rivals are tied in the Big Ten West, but I think Nebraska should win easily.
8:00: Michigan @ Iowa (ABC): Speaking of winning easily, oof this could get ugly.

9:00: Oregon State @ California-Los Angeles (Pac12): UCLA has to be one of the most disappointing teams of 2016, right? The schedule offers a bit of a reprieve, as they should still be able to beat Oregon State.

10:00: Colorado @ Arizona (FS1): The #pac12afterdark window kicks off with, well, a likely easy Buffs victory. But still!

  • New Mexico @ Utah State (ESPN2): I'm about to type that I'm picking New Mexico, which feels weird, but here we are: I'm picking New Mexixco.
  • Colorado State @ Air Force (ESPNU): I don't think the Falcons are really all that good this year, while I still like the Rams.
  • California @ Washington State (ESPN): Things figure to get trippy up on Pullman. Expect yards, expect points, but still expect a Wazzou victory.
  • San Diego State @ Nevada (CBSS): Aztecs.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Bowl Predictions 2016: Week 4

I'm going to avoid any snarky remarks about being better at this than some notable professionals in the predictions business and cut right to the chase.

I've always liked ESPN's Bubble Watch feature for the NCAA tournament, and in some ways, this is a similar exercise. So let's go conference-by-conference and assess their chances. The full predictions, as usual, are here.

Win and they're in the CFP:
  • Clemson (6-0 ACC, 9-0 overall): Clemson closes with Pitt, Wake Forest, and South Carolina. They would have to lose to both Pitt and Wake Forest to miss out on the ACC Championship Game, which would also deny them a chance at the playoff. If they win out, they're in.
CFP bubble:
  • Louisville (6-1, 8-1): they close with Wake Forest, Houston, and a potential SEC East champion Kentucky. They figure to win all three, but Clemson has to lose twice for them to have any shot at the ACCCG and, therefore, the playoff. They do, however, figure to take the ACC's spot in the Orange Bowl, so it's not all bad.
Bowling: Florida State, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, North Carolina

Work left to do:
  • Miami (2-3, 5-4): The Canes finally got out of their post-FSU funk by demolishing Pitt 51-28. They figure to win out against Virginia, NC State, and Duke.
  • Pittsburgh (2-3, 5-4): Pitt just needs to win one out of Clemson, Duke, and Syracuse, and, well, 7-5 looks pretty likely.
  • Georgia Tech (2-3, 5-4): we just need to win one of Virginia Tech, Virginia, Georgia. I'm not sure how good I feel about it, but I currently have us in.
  • Syracuse (2-3, 4-5): the Orange have to win two out of NC State, Florida State, and Pitt. I think they'll be lucky to win one.
  • North Carolina State (1-4, 4-5): their loss to Boston College really hurt their chances a few weeks back. I like them against Syracuse, but they close with Miami and North Carolina.
  • Boston College (1-5, 4-5): I should probably rank BC higher, because they might have the best chances of the 4-5 teams. Yeah, they'll lose to FSU, but then they get UConn and Wake Forest. That said, Wake is improved this year BC still has trouble generating offense. If they win in Winston-Salem, it'll be an upset.
  • Duke (0-5, 3-6): not dead yet, but that figures to no longer be the case after a visit from the Tar Heels Saturday.
Big 12
CFP bubble:
  • Oklahoma (6-0, 7-2): figures to be the Big 12's Sugar Bowl rep. Too many things have to happen in front of them to make it into the actual playoff.
  • Oklahoma State (5-1, 7-2): I'm currently projecting the Big 12 to only get one team into the CFP-controlled bowls. Provided neither lose before then, the Bedlam winner figures to make it into the Sugar Bowl.
  • West Virginia (4-1, 7-1): it's a long shot for the Mountaineers to make it to a CFP-controlled bowl. If they beat Oklahoma in Morgantown, they would then need the Sooners to turn around and win Bedlam in order for them to win as Big 12 champs.
Bowling: Baylor

Work left to do:
  • Texas Christian (3-3, 5-4): I like the Horned Frogs the best out of the group we're about to go over, but that mostly just means I like them to go 5-4 in-conference and not 4-5. But that'll be enough.
  • Kansas State (3-3, 5-4): K-State figures to make it to 6-6 since they get to play Kansas. Anything beyond that is a reach.
  • Texas (3-3, 5-4): See above, but they do also play TCU at home.
  • Texas Tech (2-4, 4-5): the Red Raiders need two, and they'll probably have to go through Iowa State and Baylor to do it. I think they can, but it'll be a close thing.
Big Ten
Win and they're in the CFP:
  • Michigan (6-0, 9-0): they'll get two more warmups, but then they'll have two tough games in quick succession. First, they're going to Columbus this year. If they get past the Buckeyes, they'll probably get to play Wisconsin again in the Big Ten Championship Game. They beat the Badgers 14-7 at home the first time around.
  • Ohio State (5-1, 8-1): if they beat Michigan, then they'll also have the same Badger issue. Either way, the loser of the Michigan-Ohio State game is going to the Rose Bowl.
CFP bubble:
  • Pennsylvania State (5-1, 7-2): since the Nittany Lions don't figure to lose again, I have them as slight favorites to get a 3rd spot for the Big Ten in one of the CFP-controlled bowls. 
  • Wisconsin (4-2, 7-2): of the three teams atop the West division, I like the Badgers the best to win out and clinch the division (since they beat the other two contenders). That said, it's an open question how the Committee would treat a 10-3 BTNCG loser against a 10-2 Penn State. I mean, after all, that means all three of Wisconsin's losses were to some combination of Michigan and Ohio State. It may depend on if and how they lose. Of course, the ultimate chaos scenario is if they win the BTNCG...
  • Nebraska (4-2, 7-2): to even be in this discussion, Nebraska needs Wisconsin to lose to one of Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota, and then for us to have selective amnesia about that time they lost 62-3 to Ohio State, and then for them to upset those selfsame Buckeyes or Michigan in the BTNCG. Yeah... 
Bowling: Minnesota

Work left the to do:
  • Iowa (3-3, 5-4): Iowa gets to play Illinois, which bodes well for them getting to 6 wins. Which is totally what they're paying Kirk Ferentz some unholy sum of money for, right?
  • Indiana (3-3, 5-4): they Hoosiers only need to win one more, but it's going to come down to the end, since they get to play Penn State and Michigan before finishing with Purdue.
  • Maryland (2-4, 5-4): that's right, the Terps! They fails a similar predicament, though, with Ohio State and Nebraska lined up before Rutgers.
  • Northwestern (3-3, 4-5): by far the easiest schedule, but they need to win two of Purdue, Minnesota, and Illinois.
  • Illinois (2-4, 3-6): at trip to Madison this weekend should end their hopes.
  • Purdue (1-5, 3-6): the Boilermakers would have to win out against Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Yeah, that's not happening.
Win and they're in the CFP:
  • Washington (6-0, 9-0): their bonafides will continue to improve with a visit from an improving USC team this weekend, but the real drama figures to be in Pullman. Sadly, I see that game has already been scheduled for 12:30 PM Pacific time. 
CFP bubble:
  • Colorado (5-1, 7-2): I don't think they can make the playoff, per se, but the Pac-12 championship loser figures to make the Rose Bowl (or the winner if they're not Washington, for that matter). 
  • Utah (4-2, 7-2): see above.
  • Washington State (6-0, 7-2): they can get to the Rose Bowl as Pac-12 champs, but that's about it.
Bowling: Southern California, Stanford

Work left to do:
  • Arizona State (2-4, 5-4): if they can survive playing Utah and at Washington, they'll be playing in Tuscon for a bowl bid.
  • California (2-4, 4-5): it's not impossible for the Bears, but they need to win two out of Washington State, Stanford, and UCLA. Which, again, it's not impossible, but it does feel unlikely.
  • Oregon (1-5, 3-6): the Ducks have to win out against an improving Stanford and then two straight road games against Utah and Oregon State. The odds of winning all three figure to slim.
  • California-Los Angeles (1-5, 3-6): they have to win out against Oregon State, Southern Cal, and Cal. This doesn't bode well.
Win and they're in the CFP:
  • Alabama (6-0, 9-0): considering the current state of the SEC East, the only game of any importance left on their schedule is the Iron Bowl. Considering the stakes, can we get it moved back to Legion Field one more time?
  • Auburn (6-1, 7-2): yeah, a two-loss SEC champ figures to crack the top four. Such is life.
CFP bubble:
  • Texas A&M (4-2, 7-2): remember, one of Auburn's two losses is to TAMU, but by blowing it against Miss State they also likely blew any chance of being able to win the SEC. They're still in a good spot to get a Sugar Bowl bid, though.
Bowling: Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas

Work left to do:
  • Louisiana State (3-2, 5-3): as it turns out, Alabama is pretty good! But the Tigers get to close out with a fading Arkansas team, and if that doesn't get them to 6, well, they were originally going to play Presbyterian, which, is that really that different from an SEC East team at this point?
  • Kentucky (4-3, 5-4): the Wildcats have only one more conference game, and that's at Tennessee. I'd say that's a toss-up at this point, but either way, they'll beat Austin Peay and then lose badly to Lamar Jackson and company. So their ceiling is pretty solidly set at 7 wins.
  • Georgia (3-4, 5-4): Georgia figure to be in good shape to get to 7-5, which is what they got Kirby Smart for, right?
  • South Carolina (3-4, 5-4): seriously, where does the tradition of SEC teams parking a FCS team the weekend before Thanksgiving come from? Either way, it'll get the Gamecocks bowling.
  • Mississippi (1-4, 4-5): well, the Rebels are down a Chad Kelly against Texas A&M this weekend. That's not good! But then they get to play Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.
  • Vanderbilt (1-4, 4-5): Vandy closes with Mizzou, Mississippi, and Tennessee. I figure they'll only win one of those, but thanks to their APR scores and general lack of enough teams that will be bowl eligible, I figure they'll go bowling at 5-7.
  • Mississippi State (2-3, 4-5): the odds of Miss State also pulling off upsets against two of Alabama, Arkansas, and Ole Miss are pretty slim. But there's a chance!
I'll cover the Group of Five, but in brief.

Bowling: Temple, South Florida, Navy, Houston, Tulsa, Memphis

Work left to do: Central Florida (3-2, 5-4), Cincinnati (1-4, 4-5), Southern Methodist (2-3, 4-5), East Carolina (1-4, 3-6), Tulane (0-5, 3-6)

Conference USA
Bowling: Western Kentucky, Old Dominion, Middle Tennessee State, Louisiana Tech

Work left to do: Texas-San Antonio (4-2, 5-4), Southern Mississippi (3-2, 5-4), North Texas (2-3, 4-5), Charlotte (3-2, 4-5), Texas-El Paso (1-4, 3-6)

Work left to do: Brigham Young (5-4), Army (5-4), Notre Dame (3-6)

CFP Bubble:
  • Western Michigan (6-0, 10-0): the Broncos currently lead... the Broncos of Boise State in the CFP Poll by one spot. I don't think Western Michigan is truly safe for the Group of Five spot unless they win out and Boise either loses again or doesn't make the Mountain West title game.
Bowling: Ohio, Toledo, Eastern Michigan

Work left to do: Akron (3-3, 5-5), Central Michigan (2-4, 5-5), Miami (4-2, 4-6), Ball State (1-5, 4-6), Northern Illinois (3-2, 3-6)

Mountain West
CFP Bubble:
  • Boise State (4-1, 8-1): Boise figures to be heavy favorites in their remaining games, but they need Wyoming to lose twice to make the Mountain West title game. The Cowboys do have a game against San Diego State, but they'd still need to drop the ball against UNLV or New Mexico for Boise to have a shot. If Boise makes the MWC title game and beats San Diego State, though, that still figures to give them a better resume than Western Michigan. 
Bowling: Wyoming, New Mexico, Air Force, San Diego State

Work left to do: Colorado State (3-3, 5-4), Hawaii (3-3, 4-6), Nevada-Las Vegas (2-3, 3-6), Utah State (1-5, 3-6), Nevada (1-4, 3-6)

Sun Belt
Bowling:  Appalachian State (5-0, 7-2), Troy (4-0, 7-1)

Work left to do: Arkansas State (4-0, 4-4), Idaho (3-2, 6-4), Georgia Southern (3-2, 4-5), South Alabama (1-5, 4-5), Louisiana-Lafayette (2-3, 3-5), Louisiana-Monroe (2-3, 3-6), New Mexico State (1-3, 2-6), Texas State (0-4, 2-6)

Overall, I was three teams short this week, but that includes a 5-7 Vanderbilt. If this threat continues to linger, we should start seeing some stories Thanksgiving week about what will happen. Until then...

Saturday, November 05, 2016

This Weekend in College Football: Week 10

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Notre Dame vs. Navy (@Jacksonville, FL; CBS): I don't think Ken Niumatalolo is really looking to leave the Naval Academy, but I'd like to think that a win here could catapult him to a major conference team. C'mon, Purdue, pick up the phone.
  • Wisconsin @ Northwestern (ABC): To me, the most agonizing about thing about this game was worrying that Wisconsin could conceivably win easily and shut out Northwestern without covering.
  • Vanderbilt @ Auburn (ESPN): College football, more than any other sport I can think of, can really see a team change its character over the course of 12 games, and perhaps no other team exemplifies that more than these Auburn Tigers. Seriously. I don't see anything other than the Commodores being incinerated here.
  • Louisville @ Boston College (ESPN2): Boston College won an ACC game last weekend! Yay! Enjoy it while it lasts, which isn't much longer.
  • Texas @ Texas Tech (FS1): The Longhorns defense isn't very good, but at least it exists.
  • Georgia Southern @ Mississippi (ESPNU): This Southern team isn't enough to make Ole Miss worry this year.
  • Michigan State @ Illinois (ESPNEWS): Uh, don't watch this. I'm not really sure I want to know the answer to this question. I guess I'll go with Sparty, though.
  • Texas A&M @ Mississippi State (SEC): This Miss State team is proving that Dak Prescott may have been the greatest college football player to ever live.
  • Indiana @ Rutgers (BTN): Indiana.
  • Air Force @ Army (CBSS): I think Army is improved, I just don't see this as a win for them. If they do pull it off, though, they'll probably go bowling.
  • Pittsburgh @ Miami (ACC): Is this the game where the Hurricanes can finally get their mojo back? Really, both of these teams have been disappointing this year, especially after promising starts for each. I'm going with the 'Canes once again, but probably not much longer if they drop this.
  • Georgia Tech @ North Carolina (ACC): This Georgia Tech defense would fit in in the Pac-12. Most of the issues I have with them just come down to coaching, which has to make me think that Ted Roof is on the way out. Unfortunately, Mitch Trubisky and company have the tools more than almost any other team in the ACC not named "Clemson" or "Louisville" to really feast on our defense. The best case scenario seems to be the shootouts that have peppered this series as of late, so as is often the case in these games, I hope we get the ball last.
3:00: Virginia @ Wake Forest (ACC/RSN): There has to be some sort of prophecy about Wake Forest being okay once every ten years or something.

  • Texas Christian @ Baylor (FOX): Thank you, Texas. TCU.
  • Florida @ Arkansas (CBS): Yeah, it'd be pretty fitting for one of the SEC East frontrunners to go get clobbered on the road against an SEC West team.
  • Oklahoma State @ Kansas State (ABC/ESPN2): I just don't see K-State being able to keep up here.
  • Syracuse @ Clemson (ABC/ESPN2): See above, except replace "K-State" with "Syracuse".
  • Maryland @ Michigan (ESPN): Okay, so, Maryland is, like, kinda okay this year? Look for them to lose by 20 or so instead of 30+.
  • Virginia Tech @ Duke (ESPNU): Boy howdy, this 3:30 slate is kind of bleak, isn't it? This might be the most exciting game on this list, and even I'm pegging VPI has prohibitive favorites.
  • Oregon State @ Stanford (FS1): I think Stanford can notch a Pac-12 win here? Maybe?
  • Purdue @ Minnesota (BTN): Seriously Boilermakers, run the option. Of course, the AD you just hired sort of didn't get along with our coach, so maybe he'll have a prejudice against option coaches? Then again, I suspect not a lot of people get along with Paul Johnson. Oh, and yeah, Gophers.
  • Brigham Young @ Cincinnati (CBSS): Tubs, you should've got while the gettin' was good. Stormin' Mormons roll.
  • Memphis @ Southern Methodist (ESPNEWS): Okay, SMU, good job on beating Houston and (maybe?) costing Tom Herman the Texas job. Wait, no, the other thing. I have Memphis here.
  • Missouri @ South Carolina (SEC): I feel like if I were making a "list of unwatchable major conference football games", this one would probably be near the top of the list. Uh, Gamecocks?
  • Arizona @ Washington State (Pac12): While I'm sure it'd be wonderful to see two 8-0 in the Pac-12 squads roll into the Apple Cup, I don't see it. I think Wazzou is going to pick up a random loss on the way, so why not here?
5:30: Florida International @ Western Kentucky (beIN): Oof. Hilltopers going to score some points, y'all.

  • Oregon @ Southern California (ESPN): USC has an upright quarterback among other things, which against this Oregon team is more than enough.
  • Kansas @ West Virginia (ESPN2): The flames will rise from the couches after taking a brief break due.
  • Florida State @ North Carolina State (ESPNU): I'm not going to hold losing to Boston College against NC State all that much because, hey, that happens sometimes. While I think they can offer some resistance to FSU, ultimately they're just too much to overcome.
  • Hawaii @ San Diego State (CBSS): Other than their (inexplicable) loss to the country's best worst team (South Alabama), the Aztecs have looked good this year. Hawaii's not as awful as past editions, but this game in particular figures to be too tough for them.
  • Georgia @ Kentucky (SEC): It would make my day if this is season where Georgia loses to both Vanderbilt and Kentucky, but, well, I just can't predict it.
  • Iowa @ Pennsylvania State (BTN): It seems about right that Penn State would drop this game coming off the big win over Ohio State.
  • Nebraska @ Ohio State (ABC): Speaking of the Buckeyes, at some point their offense has to get back on track, right? I like the odds of it happening here.
  • Alabama @ Louisiana State (CBS): Okay, so it took a large man with a very heavy Cajun accent to drag LSU's offense out of the stone age, and lo and behold, they look, well, like we all expected a properly functioning LSU offense to look. Go figure! Seriously, LSU, this is was the job DACOACHO was made for. If he doesn't get this, I hope he gets the Arkansas job or something where he'll play LSU every year just to spite them. That said... this Alabama team is, like, really good. I just can't bring myself to pick against them.
  • East Carolina @ Tulsa (ESPNEWS): The Alabama-LSU game is on CBS, so it'll probably just be getting to the half when this game is starting the 4th quarter. Then again, Tulsa is pretty pass-happy, so maybe... the third quarter.
  • Utah State @ Wyoming (ESPN2): The Aggies aren't that good this year, so if you're asking if Wyoming can make it two in a row, I say "why not?"
  • Nevada @ New Mexico (ESPNU): Did you know Bob Davie is still the head coach of New Mexico? Yeah, really! I might watch this just for that. (I also like the Lobos here.)
10:30: Washington @ California (ESPN): And finally, we get to #pac12afterdark. This one goes either one of two ways. One way is UDub comes out pissed at getting ranked 5th by the Committee and completely goes off on the Golden Bears and wins, like, 51-7. The other is that Washington starts to show some cracks, and the Bears keep it close until a few bounces go against them in the 4th quarter and the Huskies wind up winning by 10 or 14, which is a win but satisfies no one. Either way, I'm going with them.

Furthermore, Carthage must be destroyed.