Category Archives: college football

Bowl Predictions 2019: Final

Well, I stayed up late scouring the web for any news or hints as to how things will shake out this morning. My best guesses are here.

I’ll the hit high points:

  • I think Wisconsin will fall behind Penn State and Auburn in the rankings and miss a New Year’s Six game completely.
  • Consequently, I think the Citrus will pass up the Badgers to take Michigan to match them against Alabama.
  • With 4 SEC teams in the New Year’s Six/Playoffs, that makes the lower-tier SEC bowls pretty nervous. I found at least one reasonably convincing article that indicated Navy would head to the Liberty Bowl, for example.
  • I took that example even further, generally promoting AAC teams into missing spots and then using C-USA teams to fill in the AAC spots.

After I wake up in the morning, I’ll be trying to go through each announcement and re-arranging the dominoes for any picks I miss. As I’ve said before, the main thorn in my side while trying to predict these games is the bowls ESPN owns. ESPN can, has, and will move teams around to create more favorable matchups for TV despite whatever affiliations the bowl may actually have. The potential for weirdness is ripe.

Of course, my projections are also hosed if Wisconsin winds up in the Rose or Cotton Bowls. So we’ll see!

This Weekend in College Football: Week 15

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Friday

8:00: Oregon vs. Utah (Pac-12 Conference Championship @ Santa Clara, CA; ABC): Well, it’s not quite the matchup of 1-loss teams the Pac-12 was so desperately hoping for. Instead, the Pac-12 needs the Utes to pull through to have any shot of getting anyone into the playoff, and even then it’s not obvious they’d get in over, say, Oklahoma. Utah appears to be a better team, but I also think Oregon will stress their (very good) defense the most since they played (and lost to) USC. So it’s not a walk for the Utes at all, who could definitely use an impressive victory.

Saturday

Noon:

  • Baylor vs. Oklahoma (Big 12 Conference Championship @ Arlington, TX; ABC): Oklahoma’s defense will probably keep this interesting, but I like the Sooners here in the neutral-site rematch.
  • Louisiana-Lafayette @ Appalachian State (Sun Belt Conference Championship; ESPN): The Cajuns are sure to be Ragin’, but I think App State is just as good and they’re at home.
  • Miami vs. Central Michigan (Mid-American Conference Championship @ Detroit, MI; ESPN2): CMU should win this one easily, but given the history of MAC championship games that means this could go either way.

1:30: Alabama-Birmingham @ Florida Atlantic (Conference USA Championship; CBSS): Go Blazers!

3:30: Cincinnati @ Memphis (American Athletic Conference Championship; ABC): It’s one thing when you’ve got a Baylor-Oklahoma situation, where the first game was over a month ago. Things have changed since then. Meanwhile, these two met last week, and Memphis won easily at home. I think they’ll be able to pull that off again.

4:00:

  • Georgia vs. Louisiana State (Southeastern Conference Championship @ Atlanta, GA; CBS): At no point in UGA’s 52-7 drubbing of us last week did I think to myself “you know, Jake Fromm looks like a competent, poised passer”. Georgia’s best bet is that their defense shuts LSU down and that they can keep it close and win like 17-3. Otherwise I think LSU enters the half with a slim lead and then expands it in the second half.
  • Hawaii @ Boise State (Mountain West Conference Championship; ESPN): This game is either going to be close, fun, and pointsy (with a Boise win), or Boise will win easily since it figures to be cold and wet for this one.

7:30: Clemson vs. Virginia (Atlantic Coast Conference Championship @ Charlotte, NC; ABC): Clemson’s going to be able to name their own score in this one.

8:00: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten Conference Championship @ Indianapolis, IN; FOX): Wisky figure to offer Ohio State slightly more resistance than Virginia will to Clemson, but not much. Yeah, on this day the interesting games are early, y’all.

 

Bowl Predictions 2019: Week 6

Well, it was definitely an interesting final weekend of the regular season, including an upset that definitely made these predictions harder without knowing how the Committee will act.

The good news is that there’s definitely enough teams, but just barely. 79 teams are eligible for bowl games, but only 78 will be able to play into December and/or January.

None of the Power 5 conferences will be able to fill all their bids, so I had to improvise a fair bit. I generally moved AAC teams up where I felt like I could, and then filled in the gaps that left in the lower-tier bowls.

So let’s start with the play-off. I am operating under the assumption that Ohio State, LSU, and Clemson will win their conference championship games. So that’s easy. The hard part essentially boils down to: if Utah beats Oregon to win the Pac-12, can they get in over a 2-loss Georgia or 1-loss Oklahoma? From attempting to read the tea leaves of the committee rankings so far, I think they will. I don’t necessarily agree with it, as I’d rather see Oklahoma there, but alas.

So the next crucial question is: how far does Alabama drop this week, and if Georgia loses, how far do they drop in relation to Alabama? Whoever is ranked higher will be the Sugar Bowl bid. Similarly, how much will their loss hurt Minnesota? Penn State now has to be the favorite for the Rose Bowl, shutting out both Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Let’s examine some other talking points real quick:

  • With four SEC teams in the New Year’s Six collection of bowls, we’re looking at some interesting decisions the lower-tier SEC bowls will have to make. The Birmingham, Liberty, Music City, and Independence all get left out in my reckoning. I sent UCF to play Oklahoma State in the Liberty and Cincinnati to the Music City. I don’t know what these bowls will actually do, but pulling up the strong AAC teams was my best guess. The other thing I may need to do is refer back to the list of ESPN-owned bowls, as that provides many opportunities for surprise re-arrangements.
  • The bowl game I’ve decided I really need to happen the Redbox Bowl. In computer science circles, Illinois and Cal are known as UIUC and Berkeley, respectively, and between them they were/are responsible for many of the most important innovations in computing. Among other things, the first successful Web browser was originally developed at UIUC; Berkeley developed BSD, which plays a major role in the history of computer operating systems that aren’t Windows (which, with the advent of smartphones, is the vast majority of OSes running the wild today).
  • Otherwise, I may need to edit these predictions later this week, based on the Committee rankings. There’s a few bowl slots already confirmed, but otherwise I will try to get the last set of projections out late Saturday/early Sunday.

This Weekend in College Football: Week 14

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Noon:

  • Georgia @ Georgia Tech (“Clean, Old Fashioned Hate”; ABC): TO HELL WITH GEORGIA.
  • Ohio State @ Michigan (“The Game”; FOX): As much as Michigan’s offense has improved since September (and I believe it’s a legitimate improvement” it’s still hard to fathom how they will operate against Ohio State. That said, the Wolverines figure to provide the stiffest test the Buckeyes have yet faced, though that may not be saying much since last week’s 11 point win over Penn State is by far the closest margin they’ve had all year (the previous closest game was 24, in blowouts where OSU took their foot off the gas). So yeah, Michigan could still lose by two scores and be as close to beating Ohio State as anyone this year.
  • Clemson @ South Carolina (“The Palmetto Bowl”; ESPN): Speaking of probable blowouts, hopefully the Tigers destroy the Gamecocks with such ruthlessness that the Powers That Be remember that this South Carolina team beat Georgia.
  • Indiana @ Purdue (ESPN2): The battle for the Old Oaken Bucket is joined once again, but for once it’s the Hooisers who are prohibitive favorites.
  • Northwestern @ Illinois (FS1): Illinois figures to get the Land of Lincoln trophy based solely on the fact that scoring three touchdowns is not a foreign concept for the Illini.
  • Tulsa @ East Carolina (ESPNU): Well, this isn’t a rivalry game in any sort of way that I could figure, and given that there’s not much else going for this game, I can’t recommend watching. That said, this a matchup of two of the AAC’s teams that tend to play to the level of their opposition, which makes predicting this one a real headscratcher. I’ll take ECU I guess?
  • Louisville @ Kentucky (SEC): These two play for The Governor’s Cup, which I think is the most common rivalry trophy name. Anyway, Kentucky’s been Kentucky for most of the second half the season, while Louisville has looked… better? With signs of life? So yeah, I’ll take the Cardinals here.
  • Florida International @ Marshall (CBSS): Good thing FIU beat Miami last week, because otherwise I didn’t have them making a bowl game. I still don’t have them winning this game.
  • Texas State @ Coastal Carolina (ESPN+)

12:30: Wake Forest @ Syracuse (ACC/RSN): A woeful year for the Orange will close off with a loss, and a long central New York winter to think about what went wrong after an all-around good season in 2018.

2:00:

  • Wyoming @ Air Force (Stadium/Facebook)
  • Charlotte @ Old Dominion (ESPN+)
  • Middle Tennessee State @ Western Kentucky (“100 Miles of Hate”; ESPN+)
  • New Mexico State @ Liberty (ESPN+)

3:30:

  • Wisconsin @ Minnesota (ABC): Paul Bunyan’s Axe is on the line once again. After a long stretch of dominance by the Badgers, the Gophers finally broke through last year and did the deed, felling Wisconsin’s 14 game losing streak. I personally think Minnesota will cap off one of the greatest seasons in their history, though whether it remains that way after playing Ohio State next week is TBD.
  • Alabama @ Auburn (“The Iron Bowl”; CBS): Given the status of Alabama’s all-everything starting quarterback, the Tua-less Iron Bowl feels like it should have an asterisk next to it. In particular, Auburn’s defensive line figures to cause problems for Mac Jones (whose name I had to look up just now). Also, Bama has lost two consecutive games against names nicknamed the “Tigers”, including a time when they were so desperate for points they ran a fake field goal with the kicker as a lead blocker. So yeah, I like Auburn here. It’s science!
  • Baylor @ Kansas (ESPN): This is certainly a game you could watch other than the first two listed here, but I cannot fathom why. Baylor figures to roll.
  • Miami @ Duke (ESPN2): In the past couple of years, I would’ve figured that Duke would pile upon Miami’s misery after the Canes suffered a huge upset loss, but… yeah this Duke team is almost as bad as the Canes. Again, don’t watch this. And I like the Canes.
  • Maryland @ Michigan State (FS1): This is also a certainly a game that will happen starting at 3:30 PM Eastern Standard Time. Seriously, this scheduling to avoid Wisky-UMN and the Iron Bowl has to be intentional. Sparty figures to roll here.
  • Southern Mississippi @ Florida Atlantic (NFL): This might be the most intriguing 2nd-tier game in this time slot, but FAU figures to roll.
  • Rutgers @ Pennsylvania State (BTN): You have got to be kidding me. Penn State.
  • Connecticut @ Temple (CBSS): Seriously? Temple.
  • Boston College @ Pittsburgh (ACCN): Well, it’d work a lot better for my bowl predictions if BC were to pull off a win, so I like Pitt here.

4:00:

  • Notre Dame @ Stanford (FOX): The Irish have blown out three straight opponents and this game doesn’t figure to be much different.
  • Tulane @ Southern Methodist (ESPNU): Well, Willie Fritz’s crew have lost four of their last five, but the games were all close (except for Memphis) and they did soundly beat a Tulsa team that has befuddled other AAC teams. That said, SMU just figures to be a tier above and I like them at home, but I hope no one sours on a Tulane team that exceeded all expectations this season.
  • Vanderbilt @ Tennessee (SEC): This game doesn’t appear to have a name or moniker, but it’s a rivalry nonetheless. But the Vols have one four straight and Vandy, well, not so much. The Commodores offensive struggles figure to continue, and the Vols figure to roll.
  • Oregon State @ Oregon (“The Civil War”; Pac12): I just verified that I still get Pac-12 Network through my Comcast subscription even though I’m at my parent’s house, which will allow me to second screen the heck out of this game. The atmospheres in both Eugene and Corvallis are outstanding for this game, and Oregon State has definitely had a good season so far. But they need this game to get to 6-6, and with it in Eugene, I just like the ducks too much.
  • Alabama-Birmingham @ North Texas (Stadium): Go Blazers!

6:00: Georgia State @ Georgia Southern (“Modern Day Hate”; ESPN+)

7:00:

  • Texas A&M @ Louisiana State (ESPN): My prediction: this will go to slightly less than the 7 overtimes last year’s game did. But there could definitely be some chippiness, but regardless, LSU will roll.
  • Navy @ Houston (ESPN2): Navy finishes off a disinterested Houston team.
  • Iowa State @ Kansas State (“Farmageddon”; FS1): This game figures to be slightly in Iowa State’s favor, but with the game in the Little Apple I figure it’s about even. Ah, what the heck, I’ll pick K-State.
  • North Carolina @ North Carolina State (ACCN): NC State lost to us last week, so I’m picking UNC.

7:30:

  • Colorado @ Utah (“The Rumble in the Rockies”; ABC): I’m on Eastern time for the weekend, so that means at these games will be after dinner, instead of before. Anyway, while the digestion is going, let’s evaluate this night slate. We’re starting… not so hot, as Colorado didn’t figure to have much of a chance in this game regardless of venue, much less the cauldron of despair known was RICE-ECCLES STADIUM. (Fun fact that I know just because I wanted to look up whether I spelled the name correctly: it was the main stadium for the 2002 Winter Olympics, which means that it’s in a pretty small group of college football stadiums that have hosted the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies. The other two I can think off the top of my head are the LA Coliseum and what is now known as Georgia State Stadium.) At any rate, Colorado is kinda bad and the Utes aren’t, so the full effect of the Cauldron probably won’t be needed and the Utah figures to roll. Probably.
  • Louisiana-Monroe @ Louisiana-Lafayette (“The Battle on the Bayou”; ESPNU): John Fogerty wrote the song “Born the Bayou”. Having been born and raised in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, he was not, suffice it to say, born on the Bayou, but he apparently admitted this interviews. At any rate, ULL are 3 touchdowns favorites, so yeah, I like them here.
  • Florida State @ Florida (“The Sunshine Showdown”; SEC): Florida State looks a little better after firing their coach mid-season, but the Gators are just more organized and figure to roll.

8:00: Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State (“Bedlam”; FOX): As most probably know by now, despite the series’s nickname, Oklahoma is 88-18-7 all-time and have now win 4 straight, 6 of the last 7, and 14 of the last 16. As the joke I heard on of my podcasts a few weeks ago goes: “Something crazy will happen, and Oklahoma will win.” Sounds about right.

9:00: Brigham Young @ San Diego State (CBSS): I generally like the Aztecs most times, and despite the Cougars being favorites, I’ll stick to that.

10:00: Arizona @ Arizona State (“The Duel in the Desert”; ESPN): The Sun Devils scored a huge upset last week in defeating Oregon, can they remain focused and beat a rival they’re heavily favored against? In a word: yes.

10:30:

  • Fresno State @ San Jose State (“The Valley Cup”; ESPN2): Fresno has struggled this year, but SJSU is, well, at the historical level of San Jose State Spartans football. I like Fresno here.
  • California @ California-Los Angeles (“The Bear Bowl”; FS1): Well, it hasn’t been a good evening slate so far, and… yeah, this doesn’t do much to improve things. UCLA appeared to take some steps backward against USC and Cal’s defense and somewhat rejuvenated offense don’t figure to give them much of a reprieve.

12:30: Army @ Hawaii (CBSS): And finally, we conclude the last full Saturday of the college football season with Army traveling to what figure to be their bowl game. Hawaii actually won the Mountain West West division this year, and will play in Boise next week. As long as the Rainbow Warriors aren’t looking forward to that trip too much, I think they’ll probably beat Army.