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Archive for November, 2007

In a year where it seems that there has been a significant set of upsets every week, it seems fitting to think that the season’s championship weekend won’t provide a last minute twist on everything. Let’s review these all important games and see where upsets may be hiding.

MAC CHAMPIONSHIP: MIAMI (OH) (6-6) vs. CENTRAL MICHIGAN (7-5)

Ok, I’m sure most of you have never heard of these teams, unless you happen to live in their respective college towns, but keep in mind that come NFL draft day, you’ll hear MAC teams repeatedly mentioned. Miami(OH) comes into the championship through the back door, having beat Bowling Green (8-4) earlier in the season. In addition, these Red Hawks are coming off a rather poor stretch of losing 3 of their last 5 games to end at 6-6, Couple that with the fact that they are going to hampered with injuries and the prospects don’t look good. The Chippewas come into the matchup on a high note, completing a single loss conference schedule. Last week, Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour accounted for 514 yards of total offense (382 passing, 132 rushing) in a 35-32 victory at Akron last week, and both of his top receivers, Antonio Brown (92 catches) and Bryan Anderson (78), surpassed what was CMU’s single-season reception record this season. I have to think that when two teams are going in opposite directions, the one going the RIGHT way, usually wins, so I’ll take Central Michigan.

CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONSHIP: UCF (9-3) vs. TULSA (9-3).

Central Florida comes into the championship riding a 6-game winning streak, impressive in any conference. Their running back, Kevin Smith, has over 2100 yards on the season, and in those last 6 games he’s scored 15 touchdowns. Earlier in the year the Knights crushed Tulsa 44-23 on almost 500 yards of total offense. The Golden Hurricanes, behind QB Paul Smith have run off 5 straight after that loss to UCF. Smith ranks third in the nation in total offense, but it was his 4 interceptions in the 1st game that might haunt him here. It’s always a decent bet to go with a good running team, as it tends to wear down the other team, and keeps the hot hand on the bench. I’m going with UCF here possibly in a high scoring game.

ACC CHAMPIONSHIP: BOSTON COLLEGE (10-2) vs. VIRGINIA TECH (10-2)

BC (ranked #12 in the BCS) comes into the game as somewhat of an enigma. There was a time that QB Matt Ryan was riding high as possibly the hands-on Heisman candidate, carrying the Eagles to #2 in the BCS. Then a rainy night loss to Florida State ended that, followed the next week by losing to lowly Maryland. However they have ended the season with two victories, one against Clemson, so it seems they may have righted the ship. But the Hokies (ranked #6 in the BCS) come in riding a 4-game winning streak, having lost only once in the last 10 games (against BC by the way, 14-10). This game surely has the potential to be every bit the bruising game it was the first time. But, VT is playing at the top of their game defensively, and actually led 10-0 with around 2 minutes to play in the first game, before Ryan put on his last minute heroics. I think that the Hokies play a full 60 minutes this time, and win in a tight game, but if Matt Ryan can put together a terrific game, this might upset alot of bowl choices, as the winner goes to the Orange Bowl.

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP: LSU (10-2) vs. TENNESSEE (9-3)

This is a very odd game to analyze, and has major implications in the bowl lineup. It also matches a couple of teams that have all sorts of things going on. LSU (BCS #5) seemed invinceable during most of the season, until Les Miles made a decision in an OT game against Kentucky that cost him #1. However, they battled back even with key injuries, and fought their way to the top again, only to be booted out the last game of the regular season by Darren McFadden and the Arkansas Razorbacks. Now they come into the championship game as a team that not only seems to be trying to find itself, but also the center of media buzz over possible coaching changes for both Miles and Bo Pelini. But make no mistake about it, LSU is a top team, and they WILL be ready to play. The biggest question in my mind is if QB Matt Flynn can shake off a really bad game he had against Arkansas, where he tried to single handedly take the game into his hands, and failed miserably. Tennessee’s QB Eric Ainge is flying high after a huge game last week against Kentucky (397 yards, 7 TDs). Its not likely that he’ll have that kind of day again, but this is a team that beat Georgia, Alabama, and those Razobacks that tore LSU apart. I think this game, on paper, should go to LSU, but I believe Tennessee (BCS #14) might just play great defense along with LSU, making the big difference the play of the QBs, and I like Ainge over Flynn right now. I’m gonna go with Tennessee in a very close game for the upset.

BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP: OKLAHOMA (10-2) vs. MISSOURI (11-1)

This game has all the makings of THE banner game of the year. It might be better than even the potential National Championship game. It’s really hard to try to put a stake in the ground here. Oklahoma (BCS #9) probably should have been vying for a #1 slot right now, but for an ill-advised tackle by QB Sam Bradford in the Texas Tech game that knocked him out of the game. But all is well now, and so are the Sooners who rolled 49-17 over a very offensively-powered Oklahoma State team last week. But its not really hard to set aside the fact that they allowed Tech to amass almost 500 yards of passing one week (when Bradford was hurt) and then shut down OSU the next. OU’s offense is a juggernaut and can make defenses look silly, and against Missouri’s 60th ranked defense in the country, this could spell disaster. However, the Tigers (BCS #1) are no stranger to offense. It’s hard to imagine any QB playing on a higher level than Chase Daniels right now. He’s thrown 10 touchdowns in his last 3 games, and zero interceptions. His 40-of-49 performance in last Saturday’s victory over Kansas included 361 passing yards and three touchdowns alone. Missouri also has so many skilled players, including running back Tony Temple and two very stud tight ends that always play a major role. We won’t even discuss the impact of Jeremy Macklin who was somewhat quiet in the Kansas game. All in all, I wasn’t particularly impressed with Missouri beating Kansas, because I didnt really think KU was that good. In close games like this, there are two things that always make the difference: defense and defense. OU has the better, faster defense, so I think that they might come away with the upset. However, if OU has a lapse like they did against Tech, this could be a Tiger runaway.

Well thats my take on the games, I hope you enjoy your weekend!

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Bowl Projections – Take 2

So with a few things settled, and a few upsets, its time to re-do our bowl projections based on the key wins over the weekend. First we’ll update each conference, and again look at key matches to see where things lie, then re-evaluate possibilities for bowl games. Note that the records listed below are respective conference record, then overall record. The BCS ranking is as of the CURRENT (not projected) BCS as of 11/25.

THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE (ACC)

Settled, is the ACC Title game between Virginia Tech and Boston College. The winner here will go to the Orange Bowl, the loser, traditionally goes to the Chick-Fil-A bowl. Other bowl eligible teams, in order of probable preference:

Virginia Tech (8-1) (11-2) (BCS #6)
Boston College (6-3) (11-2) (BCS #11)
Clemson (5-3) (9-3) (BCS #16)
Virginia (6-2) (9-3) (BCS #22)
Wake Forest (5-3) (8-4)
Florida State (4-4) (7-5)
Georgia Tech (4-4) (7-5)
Maryland (3-5) (6-6)

Games to Play: ACC Title Game VT v. Boston College.
Teams eligible: 8

THE BIG-12 CONFERENCE

Things are pretty simple here now that Missouri beat Kansas. Texas lost, Oklahoma won over Thanksgiving, so that sets up OU-Missouri for the Big-12 Championship, and will decide who goes to the National Championship. If Missouri wins, they go to the title game against West Virginia, if OU wins, Ohio State will face the Mountaineers. However there are more nuances here.

If Missouri should beat Oklahoma, Missouri would win the Big-12 and go to the title game. However this might not mean that OU gets the automatic bid to the Fiesta. Oklahoma is currently 9th in the BCS rankings and Missouri #1. Should the Tigers win, the Sooners would probably have to depend on LSU, USC, Virginia Tech, or Hawaii to lose also to really be assured of a BCS bowl. Two years ago, in 2005, Texas won the Big-12 and went to the title game, and runner up Colorado who was bowl eligible at 7-5 went to the Champs. The Fiesta skipped over them and chose Notre Dame and Ohio State who were both higher ranked and had 9-2 records. This is a bit different tho, since OU could, by all intents and purposes still be in the top 10 even if they lose to Mizzou. However, Kansas might get the nod to the Fiesta because of a better record, and a higher rank in the BCS despite the loss to Mizzou.

I look for a battle royal in that title game. Both OU and Missouri can move the ball well. But for an injury to Sam Bradford in the Texas Tech loss, OU might be challenging for the National Title. Make no bones about it, OU with Bradford is a dominant top 5 team. So this really isnt 1 vs 9, but more like 1 vs 3. Also, it should be noted that Mizzou only beat Kansas by 6, the margin of the two missed field goals thay the Jayhawks missed. So I am not quite riding the Mizzou hype at this point. In fact, on a neutral, climate controlled, artificial turf field, Oklahoma is a better team because of their speed. And, lets face it, I really like Bob Stoops as the superior coach. So my edge here is OU.

That happening, the Big-12 looks like this:

Oklahoma (7-2) (11-2) (BCS #9)
Missouri (7-2) (11-2) (BCS #1)
Kansas (7-1) (11-2) (BCS #5)
Texas (5-3) (9-3) (BCS #20)
Texas Tech (4-4) (8-4)
Texas A&M (4-4) (7-5)
Colorado (4-4)(6-6)
Oklahoma State (4-4)(6-6)

Games to play: Big-12 Championship OU vs. Missouri
Teams eligible: 8

THE BIG EAST CONFERENCE

The Big East really didn’t change much since last week, only that West Virginia knocked off UConn for the outright title. Cincinnati and South Florida both won also. WVU has one last game against Pitt to play, which they should win handily.

The seedings would then look like this:

West Virginia (6-1) (10-1) (BCS #2)
South Florida (4-3) (9-3) (BCS #21)
Cincinnati (4-3) (9-3) (BCS #23)
UConn (5-2) (9-3)
Rutgers (3-3)(7-4)

Games to Play: WVU v Pitt
Teams eligible: 5

BIG-10 CONFERENCE

The Big-10 is done and just waiting for their bids, so the seedings havent changed. Ohio State, however, can get to the National Title if Oklahoma beats Missouri in the Big-12 Championship. In any case, they will get a BCS Bowl game most likely. Final seedings:

Ohio State (7-1) (11-1) (BCS #3)
Illinois (6-2) (9-3) (BCS #15)
Wisconsin (5-3) (9-3) (BCS #18)
Michigan (6-2) (8-4)
Penn State (4-4) (8-4)
Indiana (3-5)(7-5)
Michigan State (3-5) (7-5)
Purdue (3-5)(7-5)
Iowa (4-4)(6-6)
Northwestern (3-5) (6-6)

Games to play: None
Teams Eligible: 10

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE (SEC)

All thats left is the SEC Championship which has a little less meaning now that LSU lost to Arkansas. The winner of the LSU-Tennessee game will go to the Sugar Bowl, and the loser most likely to the Cotton. I think LSU will put a great game together and beat the Vols, so I think the seedings look like this:

LSU (7-2) (11-2) (BCS #7)
Georgia (6-2) (10-2) (BCS #4)
Florida (5-3) (9-3) (BCS #10)
Tennessee (6-3) (9-4) (BCS #14)
Auburn (5-3) (8-4) (BCS #24)
Arkansas (4-4) (8-4)
Kentucky (3-5) (7-5)
Mississippi State (4-4) (7-5)
Alabama (4-4) (6-6)
South Carolina (3-5) (6-6)

Games to Play: SEC Championship LSU v. Tennessee
Teams Eligible: 10

PACIFIC 10 CONFERENCE (PAC-10)

USC’s upset of Arizona State coupled with Oregon’s loss to UCLA, puts the Trojans in the driver’s seat for the conference title and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Oregon could still get in if they are able to beat Oregon State and Arizona State and USC both lose. This isnt particularly likely. USC ends up with UCLA, while Arizona State plays at Arizona. The Ducks just arent the same team without Dennis Dixon, and as such couldnt muster a single point against UCLA. Arizona State should prevail against the Wildcats while I look for USC to try to pile it on UCLA for knocking them out of the title game last year. So I think the Pac-10 ends up as follows:

USC (7-2) (10-2) (BCS #8)
Arizona State (7-2) (10-2) (BCS #13)
Oregon State (6-3) (8-4)
Oregon (5-4) (8-4)
California (4-5) (7-5)
UCLA (5-4) (6-6)

Games to play: USC v. UCLA, Arizona State v. Arizona, Oregon v. Oregon State
Teams Eligible: 5

WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE (WAC)

Hawaii won the WAC title outright with an impressive win over Boise State. Their last game will be at home against Washington, to attempt to complete a perfect 12-0 season. If they do, they must be invited to a BCS bowl since they are sitting at #12 or higher. However, Washington is no pushover. Boise State is done, while Fresno State must still play New Mexico State. Louisiana Tech has a game left against Nevada, the winner of which becomes bowl eligible at 6-6. In those games I’ll take Hawaii, Fresno State and Nevada to win, with the final seedings being as follows:

Hawaii (8-0) (12-0) (BCS #12)
Boise State (7-1) (10-2)
Fresno State (6-2) (8-4)
Nevada (4-4) (6-6)

Games to Play: Hawaii v. Washington, Fresno State v. NM State, La Tech v. Nevada
Teams Eligible: 4

MOUNTAIN WEST ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

They aren’t quite done in the MWAC, but BYU has won the title outright. They’ll conclude against San Diego State University next Saturday, and probably win. The seedings then are as follows:

BYU (8-0) (10-2) (BCS #19)
Air Force (6-2) (9-3)
Utah (5-3) (8-4)
New Mexico (5-3) (8-4)
TCU (4-4) (7-5)

Games to Play: BYU v. SDSU
Teams Eligible: 5

CONFERENCE USA (C-USA)

The C-USA is done, except for their Championship next week between UCF and Tulsa, both 9-3 teams and worthy of note. I like UCF here in a very close game. The seedings then follow:

UCF (8-1) (10-3)
Tulsa (6-3) (9-4)
Houston (6-2)(8-4)
East Carolina (6-2) (7-5)
Memphis (6-2) (7-5)
Southern Miss (5-4)(7-5)

Games to Play: C-USA Championship: UCF v. Tulsa
Teams Eligible: 6

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE (MAC)

Left is the MAC Championship next week which will pit Miami (OH) against Central Michigan. Both will go based on tiebreakers against their co-division champions. Miami defeated Bowling Green earlier in the year, while Central Michigan defeated Ball State. I like Miami in a close game here. This puts the seedings as follows:

Miami (OH) (6-2) (7-6)
Bowling Green (6-2)(8-4)
Central Michigan (6-2) (7-6)
Ball State (5-2) (7-5)
Ohio (4-4) (6-6)

Games to Play: MAC Championship: Miami (OH) v. Central Michigan
Teams Eligible: 5

SUN BELT CONFERENCE

The Sun Belt Title is up for grabs next weekend when Troy battles FAU for the title, both winners this weekend. The winner of this game goes to the New Orleans Bowl, and chances are, no other bowl considerations are possible. I tend to like Troy.

INDEPENDENTS

As we covered last week, Navy will go to the Poinsettia Bowl automatically, and thats it.

BCS PROJECTIONS

So, with all the above predictions, again we try to second guess the BCS computers and pollsters. I certainly need to really remember that the pollsters will always be swayed by the hype of the game, so since the SEC and Big-12 Championships will be the last thing they see, the winners there will get a bigger than normal bump.

So in the final games and Championships I’m taking OU over Mizzou, LSU over Tennessee, Virginia Tech over Boston College, Hawaii over Washington, USC over UCLA, Arizona State over Arizona, and Oregon State over Oregon. This would probably get the BCS to look like this:

1. West Virginia (10-1)
2. Ohio State (11-1)
3. Georgia (10-2)
4. Virginia Tech (11-2)
5. LSU (11-2)
6, Oklahoma (11-2)
7. Missouri (11-2)
8. USC (10-2)
9. Kansas (11-2)
10. Florida (9-3)
11. Hawaii (12-0)
12. Arizona State (10-2)
13. Illinois (9-3)
14. Boston College (11-2)
15. Clemson (9-3)
16. Tennessee (9-4)
17. Wisconsin (9-3)
18. BYU (10-2)
19. Texas (9-3)
20. South Florida (9-3)
21. Virginia (9-3)
22. Cincinnati (9-3)
23. Auburn (8-4)
24. Boise State (10-2)
25. Arkansas (8-4)

AUTOMATIC BCS SELECTION RULES

Now lets review the BCS Rules for automatic selection, because these become very important when determining the teams to play in a BCS bowl game. Most people just assume that you take the top 10 teams and thats it. But its not nearly that simple. There are 5 bowl games and the auto selections are chosen with the following rules:

1. #1 and #2 teams play in the National Championship. Thats the EASIEST choice of teams.

2. The ACC, Big East, SEC, Big-12, Pac-10 and Big-10 champions all get automatic bids to a BCS bowl game, if not superceded by #1 above.

3. The Champion of the C-USA, WAC, MWAC, Sun Belt, or MAC can get an automatic selection to a BCS bowl game if one of two things is true:

a, The champion is ranked #12 or higher in the BCS, or
b. A champion is ranked in the top #16 in the BCS AND is ranked ABOVE a conference champion of the abovementioned group that gets an automatic bid.

Only one team in this area can qualify for an AUTOMATIC bid. If there is more than one, then the highest ranked team gets the auto-bid, and any others are included in the at-large pool.

4. Notre Dame gets an automatic bid if it is ranked 8th or higher in the BCS.

At this point we begin to consider at-large teams, which gets really confusing.

An at-large team, is defined as a team that hasn’t gotten an “automatic” bid, but meets the following standards:

a. Is bowl eligible
b. Has won at least 9 regular season games.
c. Is ranked in the BCS at 14 or higher.

SO now to process the at-large teams we continue:

5. If any of the 10 slots remain open after applying 1-4, and an at-large team from a conference with an annual automatic berth for its champion is ranked No. 3 in the final BCS Standings, that team will become an automatic qualifier, provided that no at-large team from the same conference qualifies for the national championship game.

6. If any of the 10 slots remain open after application of provisions 1 through 5, and if no team qualifies under paragraph No. 5 and an at-large team from a conference with an annual automatic berth for its champion is ranked No. 4 in the final BCS Standings, that team will become an automatic qualifier provided that no at-large team from the same conference qualifies for the national championship game.

7. At no time will there be more than 2 teams from any conference playing in a BCS bowl game.

Confused yet?

Lets apply the rules and see where we get. Remember that you have 10 spots to fill: National Title, Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, and Orange. We first take the #1 and #2 and fill the Title game (thats WVU and Ohio State in our scenario). This leaves 8 teams left, and remember only 1 more team from the Big East or the Big-10 can get in (see rule 7)

So lets pull the auto-bids:

ACC: Virginia Tech
SEC: LSU
Big-12: Oklahoma
Pac-10: USC
Big-10: at-large cuz Ohio State goes to the title game
Big East: at-large cuz WVU goes to the title game.

Ok so we now have 4 more automatic bids. Thats 6 of the 10, with 4 left. We move to rule 3. Hawaii is the only team that gets the auto-bid because they are a conference champion, and they are ranked above 12. Now we are down to 3 spots left.

Rule 4 does not apply since Notre Dame isnt ranked in the top 8.

Rule 5 now comes into play. We need to look at the qualifying at large teams now. These are teams that won 9 regular season games, and are ranked in the top 14 of the BCS. This includes the following teams that havent already qualified in BCS order:

Georgia, Missouri, Kansas, Florida, Arizona State, Illinois and Boston College.

Now we have only 3 spots left to fill and Georgia specifically falls under rule 5, so they get an automatic bid. Down to 2.

Rule # 6 does not apply, since Virginia Tech (the #4 BCS) is already there as conference champion.

So now we look at the remaining at-large teams and see how to choose the last 2. Well, Missouri is the highest BCS team, and at this point we have only one Big-12 team with a bid (Oklahoma), so they get an automatic bid. Unfortunately, Kansas gets kicked out of a BCS because of rule 7 (since OU and Mizzou are both chosen already). This brings us to Florida who gets kicked out for the same reason (LSU and Georgia are previously selected). That takes us to Arizona State who would get the final BCS bowl bid by virtue of the fact that only one Pac-10 team would have been chosen.

So we have our Championship Game: WVU – Ohio State, and the other Bowl Games are selected from:

Virginia Tech, LSU, Oklahoma, USC, Hawaii, Georgia, Missouri, Arizona State.

BOWL SELECTION RULES

Now with all these chosen, there are specific rules that govern what bowls certain champions play in.

1.Regardless of Conference, top 2 teams go to the National Title Game.

2. Certain Champions of conferences are chosen as “host” teams for a respective BCS Bowl:
ACC Champion goes to the Orange Bowl.
Big Ten Champion goes to the Rose Bowl.
Big 12 Champion goes to the Fiesta Bowl.
Pac 10 Champion goes to the Rose Bowl.
SEC Champion goes to the Sugar Bowl.

So based on our scenarios we immediately see that Virginia Tech will go to the Orange Bowl, Oklahoma will go to the Fiesta Bowl, USC goes to the Rose Bowl, and LSU goes to the Sugar Bowl. Note that since Ohio State is in the National Title Game, this leaves a gap in the Rose Bowl.

3. By rule, since the Rose Bowl lost an automatic selection (Ohio State) to the National Title, they get to fill their opponent first from the list of qualified teams. So, the Rose can choose from Hawaii, Georgia, Missouri, or Arizona State. By rule, Arizona State cannot be chosen since they are also in the same conference as USC. So the Rose would choose between Hawaii, Georgia or Missouri.

4. At this point there are no other choice selection rules, so the remaining bowls then choose their opponents in a pre-set order: Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl.

BOWL PROJECTIONS

With all that said, on this Thanksgiving Sunday, here’s my idea of how it all goes down.

National Championship (January 7): West Virginia (BCS #1) vs. Ohio State (BCS#2).

Orange Bowl (January 3): Virginia Tech (BCS #4) vs. Missouri (BCS #7).
By virtue of the fact that Orange gets to choose first, they’ll take the highest at-large on the board which will be Missouri.

Fiesta Bowl (January 2): Oklahoma (BCS #6 vs. Arizona State (BCS #12)
The Big-12 champion normally gets one spot here and Hawaii will get the nod based on the fact that they’ll be ranked above 12. The Fiesta cant choose Missouri here, so that narrows to Hawaii and Arizona State. Whoever is left goes to the Sugar.

Rose Bowl (January 1): USC (BCS #8) vs. Georgia (BCS #3).
Because the Rose loses one of its host teams, they get the first choice of the at-large teams, so they’ll take the highest on the board, which is #3 Georgia. This should be quite a game!

Sugar Bowl (January 2): LSU (BCS #5) vs. Hawaii  (BCS #12).
Sugar gets what’s left over which means they get Hawaii.

OTHER JAN 1 BOWL GAMES

Capital One Bowl (Big-10 #2 / SEC #2): Illinois vs. Florida

Gator Bowl (Big 12 #4 / ACC #3): Texas Tech vs. Virginia.

Cotton Bowl (Big 12 #2 / SEC): Missouri vs. Arkansas

Outback Bowl (Big 10 #3 / SEC 3/4: Wisconsin vs. Tennessee

OTHER BOWL GAMES

GMAC Bowl (January 6)(C-USA #2 vs MAC): Tulsa vs Miami(OH).

International Bowl (Big East vs MAC): Rutgers  vs. Central Michigan

Chick Fil-A Bowl (SEC #5 / ACC #2): Auburn vs. Boston College

Insight Bowl (Big Ten #6 / Big 12 #6): Michigan State vs. Texas A&M

Music City Bowl (SEC vs ACC 5/6/7):  Mississippi State vs. Florida State

Sun Bowl (Pac-10 #3 / Big East #2) – Oregon State vs. South Florida

Humanitarian Bowl (WAC / ACC #8): Boise State vs. Maryland

Armed Forces Bowl (Pac 10 #6 / MWAC): UCLA vs. Air Force

Independence Bowl (Big 12 #7 / SEC): Colorado vs. South Carolina

Alamo Bowl (Big Ten 4/5 / Big 12 #5): Penn State vs. Oklahoma State

Liberty Bowl (C-USA #1 / SEC 6): Central Florida vs. Kentucky

Meineke Car Care Bowl (ACC 5/6/7 / Big East #3): Wake Forest vs. UConn

Emerald Bowl (ACC 5/6/7 / Pac-10 #4) – Georgia Tech vs. Oregon

Texas Bowl (Big 12 #8 / C-USA #6): TCU  vs.  Houston
(note TCU replaces the Big12 #8 because there were not enough qualifying teams)

Champs Sports Bowl (ACC #4 / Big Ten 4/5): Clemson vs. Indiana

Holiday Bowl (Pac-10 #2 / Big 12 #3): Oregon vs. Kansas

Motor City Bowl (Big 10 #7 / MAC): Purdue vs. Central Michigan

Hawaii Bowl (WAC / C-USA #5): Fresno State vs. East Carolina

Las Vegas Bowl (Pac-10 #5 / MWAC #1): California vs. BYU

New Mexico Bowl (MWAC / WAC): Utah vs. Nevada

PapaJohns Bowl (Big East / C-USA #3): Southern Miss  vs.  Cincinnati

New Orleans Bowl (Sun Belt / C-USA): Troy vs. Memphis

Poinsettia Bowl (MWAC /Navy or at large): New Mexico vs. Navy

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The long Thanksgiving holiday always plays home to many rivalry games. This year these rivalry games are helping to boost or eliminate teams from BCS Bowl consideration, and will, in all likelihood, shape the National Title game.

Earlier in the weekend we saw Arizona State go down to a resurgent USC team, eliminating what was to be a certain opportunity to move into a prime position to challenge for the title game. LSU lost to a Darren McFadden, Heisman performance day for Arkansas, eliminating the Tigers from any title hopes. Texas had a chance to go to a BCS bowl, if they could beat Texas A&M, and hope that Oklahoma State beat OU. Their hopes died early by losing to the Aggies 38-30. Hawaii against took care of business, perhaps unexpectedly soundly defeating Boise State 39-27 thanks to 5 TD passes from Colt Brennan, who holds just about every passing stat created by the NCAA.

So moving into Saturday, there were still lots of questions to be answered.The Virginia Tech  -Virginia game would decide the winner of the ACC Coastal division and thus would produce Boston College’s opponent in the ACC Title game. Virginia Tech prevailed in a very physical game. Also at stake on Saturday was the other berth in the SEC Championship. Despite its loss, LSU will still represent the SEC West, but the East was still in doubt. Tennessee needed only to win on the road against a very tough Kentucky team, and it seemed they were in control most of the game. However, Andre Woodson, the Kentucky QB phenom, put on a passing clinic to tie the game and send it to overtime. The Volunteers prevailed by a 2-point conversion to earn the trip to Atlanta to play LSU next Saturday.

Of course the much anticipated game of #2 Kansas vs. #4 Missouri certainly had its moments, though the Tigers seemed in control most of the game. However the game really wasn’t decided until a failed on-side kick, and even then, the Jayhawks got the ball back with around 17 seconds to play, but suffered a safety. Neither team was particularly strong, though I think Missouri had a few more offensive weapons, and benefitted from 2 missed field goals by Kansas, and an interception.

So next Saturday we’ll have Championship Weekend featuring the ACC, SEC and Big-12 Championships, two of which will feature rematches.  In the ACC, Boston College will play Virginia Tech, who earlier prevailed against the Hokies 14-10. In the SEC Championship, Tennessee will match up against LSU, for the honors to go to the Sugar Bowl.  In the Big-12 Championship, Missouri and Oklahoma will reprise their earlier matchup won by the Sooners 31-21.

The BCS will probably look like this come tomorrow:

1. West Virginia
2. Missouri
3. Ohio State
4. Georgia
5. Virginia Tech
6. LSU
7. Kansas
8. Oklahoma
9. Florida
10. USC

Nothing has really changed all that much except some of the bowl game implications, which we’ll discuss later in the week.

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Well we aren’t even to Saturday yet and the whole entire bowl picture has changed. Three games, three upsets and the whole post season has been knocked on its proverbial rear end.

On Thursday night, USC showed everyone that they are certainly deserving of high bowl honors by crushing #4 Arizona State 44-24. What was really impressive was the Trojan defense, holding Rudy Carpenter and the ASU offense down most all of the game, except when it didnt really matter. This really puts the pressure on Oregon this weekend to defeat UCLA, to avoid being knocked out of the Rose Bowl.

On Saturday, the Texas A&M Aggies ruined the hopes of Texas fans everywhere by making the Longhorns look silly. The Aggie victory gives the Big-12 South to the Oklahoma Sooners no matter what they do against Oklahoma State on Saturday, so they’ll go to San Antonio to ace the winner of the Kansas-Missouri game. (More on that later).

Also on Friday night, congratulations to Hawaii for whooping up on Boise State to capture their first WAC champion ship.  A win next week at home against Washington will complete a perfect, undefeated season, and most likely get them a BCS bowl game.

The real shocker, was #1 LSU going down to Arkansas in overtime 50-48. Matt Flynn proved he was selfish, irresponsible, and generally a poor clutch quarterback, while the vaunted Tiger defense couldn’t stop Arkansas most of the game, allowing huge plays, including 2 TDs of 40 yards or greater. LSU will still go to the SEC championship game, but the best they can do now is a Sugar Bowl berth, as Arkansas becomes the 12th unranked team to take down a top 5 team this year.

This certainly changes the outlook and especially grateful will be West Virginia, who now is almost a lock for a slot in the Title game (pending a victory over UConn tomorrow), and Ohio State who will be thanking its lucky stars that they don’t play any more games. The whole post season really comes down to the two remaining, huge Big-12 games. In each of the two likely scenarios, the winner of the KU/Missouri game has their destiny in their hands, and ultimately the Big-12 Championship game decides who plays in the National Title game.

Basically its really simple if West Virginia beats UConn – there is little chance they dont get to the title game. At that point its just what happens to KU and Missouri, with Oklahoma playing the spoiler. Whoever wins the KU-Missouri game has their title hopes in their hands. If they beat OU they will go to the title game, If OU beats either team, then Ohio State will go to the Championship against WVU. Its really that simple.

However, for fun, lets consider what could happen if UConn were to beat West Virginia. This would result in the winner of the KU-Missouri game taking the #1 spot for at least a week. Moving up would be Georgia (if they beat Georgia Tech) and Virginia Tech (if they beat Virginia):

1. Kansas/Missouri
2. Ohio State
3. Georgia
4. Virginia Tech
5. Missouri/Kansas
6. LSU
7. Oklahoma
8. USC

Now, if OU beat KU or Missouri, that would put Ohio State and Georgia in the Title Game. Otherwise KU/Mizzou plays Ohio State.

Should be fun…stay tuned tomorrow night!!

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Up to now, I think its been a little bit ridiculous to be prognosticating bowl matchups. And to be honest, it probably still is seeing that there are some pivotal games this week and the next, that decide conference champions and places in the BCS standings, but with only a couple of real weeks left, we can attempt to predict a few key games and then see what happens in the final standings of the conferences and then see how that affects the BCS and bowl pairings. OK lets get started. Lets remember two things however. One is that in order for a 6-6 team to get invited to a bowl game, there must NOT be a 7-5 team eligible to come to that bowl, Secondly, bowl committees (and the BCS) are not necessarily obligated to choose teams in order of conference record. So its possible that an 8-3 team could be selected over a 9-2 team if that bowl committee seemed to think it might make a better matchup or the 8-3 team was “hotter” than the 9-2. A good example of this, unfortunately, could be Kansas, who could feasibly finish 12-1 and be passed over for a BCS game because the BCS committee thought someone else might be more attractive (this sux by the way).

THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE (ACC)

In the Atlantic Division we have the following bowl eligible teams (records reflect conference record and overall record):

Boston College (5-2, 9-2), Clemson (5-3, 8-3), Wake Forest (5-3, 7-4), Florida State (4-4, 7-4)

BC concludes with Miami, so that should take them to 6-2, 10-2. Clemson ends with South Carolina, a tough game to predict, but I’ll edge toward Clemson (its not a conference game anyway) so they’ll end up 5-3, 9-3. Wake Forest must travel to Vanderbilt to play a non-conference game that I think they might lose, finishing the season 5-3, 7-5. Finally Florida State must go to the swamp to end the regular season against Florida. This is always a challenge, so I think they’ll probably lose, but its non-conference anyway, so they’ll end up 4-5, 7-5. This puts BC in the ACC Title Game. Last but not least I think that Maryland beats NC State in the final week to become bowl eligible at 6-6.

In the Coastal Divsion of the ACC we have the following bowl-eligible teams:

Virginia (6-1, 9-2), Virginia Tech (6-1, 9-2), Georgia Tech (4-4, 7-4)

Note here that Miami is (2-5, 5-6) so with an unexpected win over Boston College could become bowl eligible (not likely).

Virginia and Virginia Tech play for the Coastal title this coming week, which I’m going to hand to the Hokies and thus send them to the ACC Title game against BC. Georgia Tech plays a non-conference game against SEC state rival Georgia, and Im going to edge toward the Dawgs here.

The title game affects the overall BCS position, so I’ll choose the Hokies to win it all and get the Auto bid.

1. Virginia Tech (7-1, 10-2) * ACC Title Game Winner – Orange Bowl
2. Boston College (6-2, 10-2)
3. Virginia (6-2, 9-3)
4. Clemson (5-3, 9-3)
5. Wake Forest (5-3, 7-5)
6. Georgia Tech (4-5, 7-5)
7. Florida State (4-5, 7-5)
8. Maryland (3-5, 6-6)

THE BIG-12 CONFERENCE

Certainly the Big-12 has been one of the most dominant conferences this year. They, like the ACC, have a dual division alignment with a championship game. Let’s break it down.

Starting with the South, which is simpler, barring a total collapse (like happened at Texas Tech), Oklahoma should win the South with a win at home against state rival Oklahoma State. However if they are unable to do so, Texas would slide into the Big-12 Championship with a win this week over Texas A&M. We’ll go with the more likely scenario, which shows the following lineup at end of regular season for those teams bowl eligible:

1. Oklahoma (6-2, 10-2)
2. Texas (6-2, 10-2)
3. Oklahoma State (4-4, 6-6)
4. Texas Tech (4-4, 8-4)
5. Texas A&M (3-5, 6-6)

The Big-12 North is a bit simpler in a way, especially with regard to BCS implications. Kansas and Missouri will play to the North title this next week. The winner most likely plays Oklahoma for the Big-12 Championship. I’ll give the edge to Kansas to beat Mizzou next week (it could easily go either way). All the remaining teams in the North are currently not bowl eligible. Colorado plays Nebraska this week and the winner becomes bowl eligible. Kansas State concludes its season against Fresno State, a non-conference game. So that depicts the North as follows:

1 Kansas (8-0, 12-0)
2. Missouri (6-2, 10-2)
3. Colorado (4-4, 6-6)

Combining these we have the following Big-12 Seeding:

1. Kansas (8-0, 12-0)
2. Oklahoma (6-2, 10-2) – Conference Champion and Fiesta Bowl
3. Missouri (6-2, 10-2)
4. Texas (6-2, 10-2)
5. Oklahoma State (4-4, 6-6)
6. Texas Tech (4-4, 8-4)
7. Colorado (4-4, 6-6)

Its not likely that Colorado makes it to a bowl game at 6-6 and if Colordo lost to Nebraska, its not likely Nebraska makes it to a bowl game at 6-6.

THE BIG EAST CONFERENCE

With no bifurcated alignment, the Big East is a little easier to address. Simply, the winner of the Big East championship goes to a BCS Bowl game, and everyone else kinda battles for spots. This should come down to this week’s game between West Virgina (#4 in the BCS) and UConn. I am reasonably sure that the Mountaineers will take care of business there and also finish out defeating Pitt. This would give them a 6-1, 11-1 record and keep them pretty high in the BCS. Consider that if LSU and/or Kansas slip along the way (as I predict that OU beats Kansas, WVU is in the National Championship, which I think will happen. South Florida will finish strong against Pitt to claim a tough-luck 4-3, 9-3 season record, while Rutgers’ defense should gain the victory over Louisville in the last week. Therefore the Big East eligibles are the following:

BCS. West Virginia (6-1, 11-1) BCS #2 – National Championship Game
2. UConn (5-2, 9-3)
3. Cincinnati (4-3, 9-3)
4. Rutgers (4-3, 8-4)
5. South Florida (4-3, 9-3)

Note that if Louisville sneaks a win in here, they become bowl eligible.

THE BIG-10 CONFERENCE

The Big 10 is done now, and there is no playoff here. So, this is the easiest seeding of all:

BCS. Ohio State (7-1, 11-1) – Automatic BCS bid to the Rose Bowl.
2. Michigan (6-2, 9-3)
3. Illinois (6-2, 9-3)
4. Wisconsin (5-3, 9-3)
5. Penn State (4-4, 8-4)
6. Iowa (4-4, 6-6)
7. Indiana (3-5, 7-5)
8. Michigan State (3-5, 7-5)
9. Purdue (3-5, 7-5)
10. Norhwestern (3-5, 6-6)

Its not likely that Northwestern will make it to a bowl game at 6-6.

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE (SEC)

The SEC has long been the unofficial home of the best college football according to some critics, but has, in 2007, been a bit of a disappointment. It is a bifurcated conference (East and West) and therefore requires an SEC Championship game to determine its BCS representative.

In the West, LSU (6-1, 10-1) has already won the trip to the SEC Championship and currently sits atop the BCS Standings as the #1 team in the nation. They have only one more game against Arkansas, then the SEC Title match against either Georgia or Tennessee. They are the odds on favorite to win both and make it to the National Championship game. Auburn (4-3, 7-4) and Alabama (4-3, 6-5) will square off in their annual showdown this week (edge to Auburn). Arkansas (3-4, 7-4) is done after their loss to LSU, while Mississippi State (3-4, 6-5) holds hope to further their bowl choice by beating Ole Miss this weekend. So the West looks like this at the end of regular season:

1. LSU (7-1, 11-1)
2. Auburn (5-3, 8-4)
3. Alabama (4-4, 7-5)
4. Mississippi State (4-4, 7-5)

The East has drama all the way to the bitter end. Tennessee (5-2, 8-3) controls its destiny. A win at Kentucky (3-4, 7-4) this weekend and they pack up for a trip to the SEC Championship against LSU. A loss would send Georgia (6-2, 9-2) to the title game regardless of how they do against Georgia Tech (non-conference game. Florida (5-3, 8-3) plays host to a non-conference opponent, Florida State, a win, bolstering their appeal to bowl committees. South Carolina (3-5, 6-5) would love to beat non-con Clemson, just to pop their overal to 7-5 instead of an iffy 6-6. Vanderbilt (2-6, 5-6) has an outside change to get bowl eligible if they can beat Wake Forest. I like the Vols to find a way to beat Kentucky, Georgia to beat Tech, and Florida to beat Fla State. I also like Clemson and Wake Forest, which puts the West thusly:

1. Tennessee (6-2, 9-3)
2. Georgia (6-2,, 10-2)
3. Florida (5-3, 9-3)
4. Kentucky (3-5, 7-5)
5. South Carolina (3-5, 6-6)

I certainly favor LSU over either Georgia or Tennessee, so the final SEC lineup looks as follows:

1. LSU (8-1, 12-1) * SEC Champion, #1 seed, National Championship Game
2. Georgia (6-2, 11-2)
3. Tennessee (6-3, 9-4)
4. Florida (5-3, 9-3)
5. Auburn (5-3, 9-3)
6. Alabama (4-4, 7-5)
7. Mississippi State (4-4, 7-5)
8. Kentucky (3-5, 7-5)
9. South Carolina (3-5, 6-6)

THE PACIFIC-10 CONFERENCE (PAC-10)

There are several possible scenarios that play out in the Pac-10, and with All-American and Heisman hopeful Dennis Dixon out of the Oregon lineup, it could bring disastrous ending to a beautiful season. At present Arizona State (6-1, 9-1) leads the conference with their only loss to Oregon (5-2, 8-2) so the Sun Devils have the Pac-10 in their own control if they win out against USC (5-2, 8-2) and Arizona (4-4, 5-6), something that just might be hard to do. Closely on their tail is Oregon who needs to win out against UCLA (4-3, 5-5) and Oregon State (5-3, 7-4) and hope that ASU loses a game. Those are also strong odds. USC has a chance also, if they can beat Arizona State and UCLA, the need only for Oregon to lose once. California (3-5, 6-5) would like to close out the season against Stanford with a win to move to the magic 7-5 and a good bowl possibility. So there are lots of permutations an combinations to think about.

What I think will happen, is that Arizona State will in fact win out, giving them an 8-1,11-1 season and the Pac-10 crown. USC will split their last two, while a Dixon-less Duck team will lose their last two. Cal will beat Stanford, so the final outlook might be the following:

1. Arizona State (8-1, 11-1) *Auto BCS bid
2. USC (6-3, 9-3)
3. Oregon State (6-3, 8-4)
4. Oregon (5-4, 8-4)
5. UCLA (5-4, 6-6) * Not likely to get a bowl game at 6-6
6. California (4-5, 7-5)

THE WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

The WAC should be live with four teams in the bowl season, but all provide explosive offenses that will give other teams fits. Hawaii (7-0, 10-0) and Boise State (7-0, 10-1) play each other this week essentially for the WAC title, even though Hawaii will play one more game afterward against Pac-10 Washington. Fresno State (5-2, 6-4) finishes out against non-conference Kansas State and conference rival New Mexico State. Louisiana Tech(4-3, 5-6) will play Nevada (3-4, 5-5) in their final game in an effort to go bowl eligible, while Nevada has another game sandwiched in against San Jose State. My visioning sees Boise State a last minute winner over Hawaii, but Hawaii coming back to beat Washington. I think Fresno will win out, shocking K-state to be very attractive to bowl committees. I think Nevada also wins out to finish up a very respectable 5-4, 7-5, and also becoming very appealing. Unfortunately, the WAC gets no automatic BCS bid, but it will be very hard to deny the winner of BSU/Hawaii a BCS bid considering their record. A win by Hawaii in fact coupled with losses the last couple of weeks in the top 10 could make that decision easier.

1. Boise State (8-0, 11-1)
2. Hawaii (7-1, 11-1)
3. Fresno State (6-2, 8-4)
4. Nevada (5-4, 7-5)

MOUNTAIN WEST ATHLETIC CONFERENCE (MWAC)

The Moumtain West already has five bowl eligible teams, all likely to be 7-5 or better (the only question is TCU who is currently at 6-5 with one to play. This is conference that becomes a bit of a spoiler for all those 6-6 teams in the other conferences. By rule, bowl selection committees cannot chose a 6-6 team to go bowling if there is a 7-5 team available, so believe it or not, if TCU finishes 7-5 with a win over San Diego State, then they will have the edge over teams such as Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Colorado, Northwestern, South Carolina, and UCLA. Brigham Young (6-0, 8-2) is an odds-on favorite to win out against Utah and San Diego State which would conclude a 9 game win streak and a 10-2 overall mark. Air Force (6-2,9-3) has finished its season with 6 wins in its last 7 games. Utah should lose its finale against BYU to finish 5-3, 8-4 and grab a bowl spot in a MWAC committed bowl. Surprising New Mexico should dispose of UNLV to finish 5-3, 8-4. This then shapes up as follows:

1. BYU (8-0, 10-2) * won 9 in a row
2. Air Force (6-2, 9-3) * 6-1 in last 7 games
3. Utah (5-3, 8-4)
4. New Mexico (5-3, 8-4)
5. TCU (4-4, 7-5)

CONFERENCE-USA (C-USA)

Of the FBS (formerly Div I-A) schools, the C-USA and Mid-America (MAC) conference seems to always get slighted no matter how good they are. Still, the C-USA is home to 12 teams in two divisions that vie for spots in conference sponsored bowl games. The C-USA currently offers up 6 of those 12 that are already bowl eligible with 6 wins. The C-USA is bifurcated with a championship game, so lets quickly review how it may stack up:

C-USA EAST-

1. Central Florida (7-1, 9-3) * should beat UTEP to close out with a 6-game win streak
2. East Carolina (6-2, 7-5) * should beat Tulane in finale
3. Memphis (6-2, 7-5) * should beat SMU in finale
4. Southern Miss (5-3, 7-5) *should win against Ark St.

C-USA West-

1. Tulsa (6-2, 9-3) * beats Rice, finishing with a 5-game win streak
2. Houston (6-2, 8-4) * should beat Tex Southern to conclude 6-1 in last 7 games

I like UCF as the conference champion.

MID-AMERICA CONFERENCE (MAC)

The MAC is another bifurcated conference that plays home to 13 teams that vie for specific conference associated games. Things are a bit interesting here, in that there are 5 teams that could be bowl eligible, only one (Bowling Green) that is in a position to definitely claim a bid at present, already having 7 wins. Let’s take a look at how this might play out at the end though:

MAC-EAST

1. Miami (OH) (7-1, 7-5) * Should beat Ohio U to win the East and end with a 3-game win streak.
2. Bowling Green (6-2, 8-4) *Should beat Toledo, finishing 5-1 in last 6.

MAC-WEST

1. Central Michigan (6-1, 7-5) *Should beat Akron in final game
2. Ball State (5-2, 7-5) *Should beat Northern Illinois in final game

I like Miami(OH) to win the MAC crown over Central Michigan.

SUN BELT CONFERENCE

The only thing that really matters here is who wins this conference, as they get an automatic bid to the New Orleans Bowl. Troy (5-0, 7-3) currently are locked into this position, but have Middle Tennessee (4-2, 5-6) and FAU (4-1, 5-5) yet to play. FAU must play FIU before Troy, while Middle Tennessee must play La-Lafayette in addition to Troy. By losing to Troy, MTS drops out of bowl contention.

Almost anything goes here, so lets consider the following:

1. Troy (7-0, 9-3) *Finish out with wins over MTS and FAU and a 3-game win-streak.
2. FAU (5-2, 6-6) * Not likely to be chosen for other bowl games
3. La-Monroe (4-3, 6-6) *Not likely to be chosen for other bowl games.

INDEPENDENTS

In most any other year, Notre Dame would be playing a considerable role in the BCS becuase of their special considerations. However, with a 2-9 record they will be at home this year watching all the bowl games. This isnt true of Western Kentucky (7-4) who concludes against North Texas, and Navy (7-4) who concludes against Army. Navy automatically goes to the Pointsettia Bowl if eligible, so that’s the earliest bowl bid that’s a lock. Western Kentucky, finishing at 8-4 could have grabbed a small bowl game somewhere, except that they are on probation (thanks for that info by Dusky).

BCS PREDICTIONS

Well, after all this prognostication, we now have to consider how the BCS will look at the end of the season when they begin filling these bowl positions. Let’s go a bit out on a limb and try to envision this:

1. LSU – winning out gets them the #1 seed and trip to the Title game
2. West Virginia – Losses by Mizzou and Kansas thrust the Mountaineers to New Orleans
3. Ohio State – OU beats KU for the Big-12 and OSU benefits
4. Arizona State – Winning out, plus KU/Mizzou topple pops them to the top 5
5. Georgia – Going 10-2 and finishing with a 6-game win streak gets them an easy BCS bid
6. Oklahoma – Winning the Big-12 over then #2 Kansas will get OU to the Fiesta
7. Kansas -Beating Mizzou wasnt enough, but playing OU close will keep them here.
8. Virginia Tech – Winning the ACC over Boston College lands them in the Orange Bowl.
9. Florida – With USC and Oregon losing, and Gators beating FSU, they move up.
10. Texas – Beating Texas A&M, closing out a 6-game win streak gets the Lonhorns here
11, Missouri – Losing to Kansas hurts, with others moving down also.
12. Illinois – Ron Zook might be Coach of the Year
13. Boise State – BSU beats Hawaii, so up they go. Could they steal a BCS Bid?
14. Boston College – ACC Title loss moves them down
15. Wisconsin – Not a bad finish, for an unfortunate year
16. USC – Loss to Arizona State sinks them a little, but not bad considering
17. Tennessee – Expected loss to LSU will keep then hovering here
18. BYU – a nice finish nets the Cougars a decent bowl
19. Hawaii – Lack of defense against Boise State costs them a BCS
20. Virginia – The Hokies crush cavalier dreams
21. South Florida – The Bulls salvage their season in the top 25
22. Cincinnati – Bearcats finish in top 25 for first time in a while
23. Clemson – Strong finish keeps the Tigers in the list
24. Oregon – Losing Dixon is devastating
25. UConn – WVU sends the Huskies to the cellar

With that, lets try to capture the main BCS Games:

National Championship (January 7): LSU vs. West Virginia – No discussion, just happens

Orange Bowl (January 3): Virginia Tech vs. Kansas – Typically this is reserved for the ACC Champ and the Big East Champ. However, West Va goes to the title game, leaving the backup as #25 UConn which aint gonna happen. It will be tempting to choose Florida, to get a regional flavor for the game, but a one loss Kansas team will be too hard to pass up.

Fiesta Bowl (January 2): Oklahoma vs. Boise State. The Sooners come off their Big-12 Championship win over Kansas, in a rematch of last year’s barn burner. Here’s why. OU automatically gets a BCS bid by winning the Big 12 and the Big-12 always goes to the Fiesta. Now if we look down the list of BCS candidates, Florida, Missouri and Texas cant be chosen because that would put them over the allotted conference count. Illinois will probably accept to the Sugar. So next in line is Boise State. Oh man!

Rose Bowl (January 1): Ohio State vs. Arizona State – With my prediction of ASU beating USC and UCLA, coupled with Oregon’s collapse without Dixon, should set up Arizona State in a really good matchup with the Buckeyes.

Sugar Bowl (January 1): Georgia vs. Illinois. This is a really tough one to call. Even though Tennessee goes to the SEC Championship, the Bulldogs are a much more attractive choice from the SEC sitting at #5 in the BCS, plus finishing strong with 6-game win streak. Their opponent cant be Florida by rule, so the next best attraction is Texas, However, Texas will get nixed by a BCS rule saying that you cant have more than 2 teams from any single conference in BCS games. This also eliminates Missouri. So the next logical choice is Illinois.

Now for the rest of the Bowl Games – remember this is really speculative. Remember that when it says “#2” or “#3” this does NOT mean that its the #2 seed in that conference, only the 2nd most desirable team there.

Other January 1 Bowl Games

Capital One Bowl (Big-10 #2 / SEC #2): Michigan vs. Florida. I’d say that this is pretty much a lock as long as Florida beats Florida State.

Gator Bowl (Big 12 #4 / ACC #3): Texas Tech vs. Virginia. Texas Tech gets the nod here for having a better record than Oklahoma State and beating #4 Oklahoma in its finale. Virginia is the #3 choice here, both for regionality, and the next best choice after Boston College.

Cotton Bowl (Big 12 #2 / SEC): Texas vs. Tennessee. Texas misses out on a BCS berth because OU and Kansas get them, so their choice, most likely will be the Cotton or the Holiday Bowl. We’ll bet the Cotton Bowl will want the hotter team, and a local favorite. Tennessee, being the SEC runner up and SEC East Champ would come to Dallas for the All Orange showdown.  However, Missouri could also get the nod here, if the Holiday guns for a USC-Texas rematch, and the Cotton wants a top 10 team.

Outback Bowl (Big 10 #3 / SEC): Wisconsin vs. Auburn. OSU, Michigan and Illinois would be spoken for so the Badgers become the logical choice here. Similarly, Auburn would become the obvious choice from the SEC.

Other Bowl Games

GMAC Bowl (January 6)(C-USA #2 vs MAC): Tulsa vs Miami(OH).

International Bowl (Big East vs MAC): South Florida vs Bowling Green.

Chick Fil-A Bowl (SEC #5 / ACC #2): Alabama vs. Boston College

Insight Bowl (Big Ten #6 / Big 12 #6): Michigan State vs. Colorado

Music City Bowl (SEC vs ACC 5/6/7): Mississippi State vs. Florida State

Sun Bowl (Pac-10 #3 / Big East #2) – Oregon State vs. UConn

Humanitarian Bowl (WAC / ACC #8): Fresno State vs. Maryland

Armed Forces Bowl (Pac 10 #6 / MWAC): UCLA vs. Air Force

Independence Bowl (Big 12 #7 / SEC): Texas A&M vs. South Carolina

Alamo Bowl (Big Ten 4/5 / Big 12 #5): Penn State vs. Oklahoma State

Liberty Bowl (C-USA #1 / SEC 6): Central Florida vs. Kentucky

Meineke Car Care Bowl (ACC 5/6/7 / Big East #3): Georgia Tech vs. Cincinnati

Emerald Bowl (ACC 5/6/7 / Pac-10 #4) – Wake Forest vs. Oregon

Texas Bowl (Big 12 #8 / C-USA #6): New Mexico vs. E. Carolina
(note New Mexico replaces the Big12 #8 because there were not enough qualifying teams)

Champs Sports Bowl (ACC #4 / Big Ten 4/5): Clemson vs. Indiana

Holiday Bowl (Pac-10 #2 / Big 12 #3): USC vs. Missouri

Motor City Bowl (Big 10 #7 / MAC): Purdue vs. Central Michigan

Hawaii Bowl (WAC / C-USA #5): Hawaii vs. Southen Mississippi

Las Vegas Bowl (Pac-10 #5 / MWAC #1): California vs. BYU

New Mexico Bowl (MWAC / WAC): Utah vs. Nevada

PapaJohns Bowl (Big East / C-USA #3): Rutgers vs. Houston

New Orleans Bowl (Sun Belt / C-USA): Troy vs. Memphis

Poinsettia Bowl (MWAC /Navy or at large): TCU vs. Navy

I would welcome any feedback or ideas. Remember alot of this weill clear up next weekend, so we’ll revisit it all again then.

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Week 12: The Setup Week

I apologize for not giving my typical preview for week 12, as I was quite busy. However, this was to be a very pivotal week with regard to positioning for the final week of the season, and possibly have ramifications for conference titles.

Ohio State took care of business to gain a trip to (at least) the Rose Bowl, while Oregon lost its Heisman QB to a torn ACL, and its title hopes at the same time. Instead of a National Championship, they could be going to the Rose Bowl against Ohio State instead, well… maybe.

Both Kansas and Hawaii took care of business staying undefeated setting up their show downs with Missouri and Boise State respectively. BSU-Hawaii will be for the WAC title, while KU-Mizzou will be for a trip to the Big-12 Championship.

And this week recorded the 10th and 11th time that a top 5 team was beaten by an unranked team this year, with both Oregon and Oklahoma going down to Arizona and Texas Tech respectively.

So with these games under our belt, we move into the Thanksgiving week looking at the following top 25 for me:

1. LSU (10-1). Defeated Ole Miss 41-24. Next Game: Friday 11/23 home v. Arkansas.
The Tigers weren’t exactly at their best, and the score was a little lopsided due to late turnovers by Ole Miss in the last 3 minutes. LSU’s All-American DL Glenn Dorsey seems to be hurt, the extent of which is unknown, so watch this story develop. The Tigers have their berth in the SEC title game pocketed, and await either Georgia or Tennessee. LSU must win the SEC to get to New Orleans for the National Championship.

2. Kansas (11-0). Defeated Iowa State 45-7. Next Game: Saturday 11/24 v Missouri in KC.
A neutral site, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City will host the Big 12 North title game between KU and Missouri. The winner of which will go to the Big-12 Championship. Under story here is QB Todd Reesing’s ankle injury. He played most of the game v ISU and was very effective, but he’ll need to be tip-top to keep up with an explosive Mizzou offense. Watch this.

3. Missouri (10-1) Defeated Kansas St. 49-32. Next game: Saturday 11/24 vs. Kansas at KC.
Missouri has so many offensive weapons that its really easy to see their game versus Kansas being high scoring. Troubling for both KU and Mizzou, is that both teams seem to have defenses that are prone to lapses. This week Mizzou’s defense got lit up for 32 points. That kind of effort against the Jayhawks will result in bad news for the Tiger fans.

4. West Virginia (9-1). Defeated Cincinnati 28-23. Next game: Saturday 11/24 vs UConn at home.
The Mountaineers certainly looked every bit the Big East Champion for 3 quarters of the game, but slipped up in the 4th and had to hold off a Bearcat rally. WVU now gets UConn at home to try to put away the Big East for good. However, they must finish up against Pitt, so still lots of football left here. WVU will be watching LSU’s fate over the next few weeks. If LSU falls, WVU could have a National Title hope. But they’d need lots of help along the way.

5. Ohio State (11-1). Defeated Michigan 14-3. Next Game: None.
Good news, bad news for OSU. Good news is they outright win the Big 10, and clinch at least a bid to the Rose Bowl. Bad news is that they play no more games, so they stay put pretty much no matter what happens. OSU has an extreme outside shot for a chance at the National Title, only if LSU and West Virginia lose. This year, thats not totally out of the question. But likely the Buckeyes to to Pasadena to meet Oregon, USC or Arizona State.

6. Arizona State (9-1). Did not play this week. Next Game: Thursday 11/22 vs USC at home.
The Sun Devils have a chance to gain a trip to the Rose Bown by winning out against USC and Arizona. Everyone else needs for them to lose. Its doutful ASU can hope for anything better.

7. Virginia Tech (9-2). Defeated Miami 44-14. Next Game: Saturday 11/24 at Virginia.
The Hokies get my nod over Georgia this week as they manhandle Miami to set up the showdown next week with the Cavaliers for the ACC Coastal title and a trip to the ACC Championship against probably Boston College. This will be a rematch of an earlier game that BC won 14-10.

8. Georgia (9-2). Defeated Kentucky 24-13. Next Game: Saturday 11/24 at Georgia Tech.
The Bulldogs have made a miraculous recovery from a disastrous start, but the damage was done in week 6 when they lost to Tennessee 35-14. Unfortunately, Georgia has completed SEC play and the game against Georgia Tech means nearly nothing. The Dawgs have to hope that Kentucky can beat Tennessee to allow them a trip to the SEC Championship against LSU.

9. Oklahoma (9-2). Lost to Texas Tech 34-27. Next Game: Saturday 11/24 vs Okla St at Home.
The Sooners title hopes vanished when Sam Bradford went down in the first quarter with a concussion. Tech scored at will, but still had to hold off a strong Sooner finish. OU made too many errors and couldnt make key plays in the 4th quarter. However, a BCS bown is still well within sight with a victory over state rival Oklahoma State and then winning the Big-12 Championship over either Kansas or Missouri.

10. Florida (8-3). Defeated FAU 59-20. Next Game: Saturday 11/24 vs Florida State at home.
The Gators cant get to the SEC championship, so they may have to settle for a tier 2 bowl because BCS rules wont allow another SEC team the BCS even if they do well against the Seminoles. Tim Tebow probably has locked up the Heisman, as he because the first QB in NCAA history to run for 20 TDs and throw for 20 TDs in a single season.

11. Hawaii (10-0). Defeated Nevada 28-26. Next Game: Friday 11/23 vs Boise State at home.
The Warriors join Kansas as the only other undefeated team with a come from behind victory over Nevada, where the Warrior kicker had to kick a 45 yard field goal twice, because the jerk Nevada coach called two time outs on the game winning kick. What a jackass. Serves him right tho. We might add that this victory was entirely (save 2 plays) without Heisman candidate QBColt Brennan who was still recovering from a concussion. Matt Graunke steered the team almost without missing a beat. Hawaii gets Boise State at home next Friday for the WAC championship and perhaps a BCS at large bid.

12. USC (8-2). Did not play. Next Game: Thursday 11/22 at Arizona State.
The Trojans have been resurgent after the return of John David Booty, but will need to summon an extra measure of defense against the Sun Devils. USC would like nothing better than to win against them, and follow it with a victory over UCLA which would give them a 7-2 record. Even doing this, however, won’t get them to the Rose Bowl unless Oregon falls to either UCLA or Oregon State, a real possibility without Dennis Dixon.

13. Boise State (10-1). Defeated Idaho 58-14. Next Game: Friday 11/23 at Hawaii.
As previously mentioned the Broncos next game will be for the WAC Championship and probably a BCS at large bid. BSU certainly has the firepower, to keep up with the Warriors but lack the defense to shut Hawaii down, so this game could last 5 hours and have an over/under of 90.

14. Illinois (9-3). Defeated Northwestern 41-23. Next Game: None.
2007 must be considered to be a tremendously successful year for Ron Zook’s team. Illinois went 9-3, knocked Ohio State out of the National Championship (likely), and finished tied for second with Michigan in the Big Ten (technically they finished 3rd since they lost to UM). This surely gets Illinois to a top tier bowl such as the Outback or Capital one, depending on a few things. Congrats!

15. Boston College (9-2). Defeated Clemson 20-17. Next Game: Saturday 11/24 v Miami at home.
After two straight losses that dropped BC from #2 to 15,  BC got back on track winning a tough game to clinch  the ACC Atlantic crown and a trip to the ACC Championship versus the winner of the Virginia Tech-Virginia game. If BC wins the conference, they automatically get a BCS Bowl game, which might be deserved if they CAN win out.

16. Texas (9-2). Did not play, Next Game: Friday 11/23 at Texas A&M.
The Longhorns have been an enigma all year winning games they didnt deserve to win. Yet they find themselves only a little luck away from possibly stealing the Big-12 South if Oklahoma comes up short against Oklahoma State next week.  However when you travel to Kyle Field to play the Aggies throw away the standings, cuz this gets personal.  The Longhorns should prevail but you never know. In any case they’ll likely grab a decent Bowl game.

17. Virginia (9-2). Did not play. Next Game: Saturday 11/24 vs Va Tech at home.
The Cavaliers might not have grabbed alot of love from people this year, but that could all change drastically if they can win out against the Hokies, which would put them in the ACC Championship against Boston College. Winning there would get them a BCS Bowl birth. Perhaps then people would take notice?

18. Tennessee (8-3). Defeated Vanderbilt 25-24. Next Game: Saturday 11/24 at Kentucky.
The SEC East all comes down to this game next week. If the Vols win, they have an SEC Championship date against #1 LSU. If not, they get a second level bowl game. The Vol defense will have its hands full!

19. UConn (9-2) Defeated Syracuse 30-8. Next Game: Saturday 11/24 at West Virginia.
Another simple scenario. If UConn wins against WVU, they win the Big East and an automatic BCS bowl bid. If not, they’ll probably be bowling elsewhere. In any case, the Huskies must consider this year a major success. Kudos!

20. Wisconsin (9-3). Defeated Minnesota 41-34. Next Game: None.
While the Badgers end up tied for 3rd in the Big 10, they probably can look back and wonder what might have been. But for the loss of P.J. Hill, would they be 9-3?  But this is a high character club finishing strong with wins aginst Michigan and Minnesota. They’ll be bowling as the Big-10 # 4 seed which should get them to the Alamo or Champs Sports Bowl.

21. Cincinnati (8-3). Lost to West Virginia 28-23. Next Game: Saturday 11/24 at Syracuse.
The Bearcats have nothing to be ashamed of this year. They almost came back and beat WVU, and did beat Rutgers, South Florida and UConn. A win at Syracuse next week should get them a nice bowl game such as the International, Sun or PapaJohns Bowl.

22. Clemson (8-3). Lost to Boston College 20-17. Next Game: Saturday 11/24 at So Carolina.
The Tigers just couldn’t hold on versus BC which cost them dearly in a bid for a BCS bowl. Clemson will need desperately to beat So Carolina in order to rise on the bowl ladder.

23. South Florida (8-3). Defeated Louisville 55-17. Next Game: Saturday 11/24 at Pitt.
The Bulls are another team that can look back and just ponder what might have been. Sitll this is a good, storng club and should get a respectable bowl game such as the PapaJohns or Meineke Car Care Bowl.

24. BYU (9-2). Defeated Wyoming 35-10. Next Game: Saturday 11/24 v Utah at home.
BYU has quietly rolled to a very respectful 9-2 with a possibility of going 11-2. With a win of the Mountain West (going undefeated in conference play), they could be considered for an at large BCS bid, but its likely the committee would go WAC before MWAC. Still BYU should get a bid to at least the Pioneer Bowl.

25.Air Force (9-3). Defeated San Diego State 55-23. Next Game: None.
The Falcolns probably wish they could have that close loss to New Mexico 34-31 erased, so that their season might have been more palatable.  Its likely they get the nod to go to the Armed Forces Bowl which would be a good accomplishment for them.

Dropped Out: Penn State, Michigan

Most Impressive This Week:  LSU, Kansas, Missouri, Florida

Least Impressive This Week: Oregon, Oklahoma, Penn State,

Have a great week, and a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sounds like the name of a new game show doesn’t it?

The fact is that this year so many things have happened, that it has been exceptionally difficult to get a bead on who does and who does NOT have the inside track to this year’s National Championship Title game in New Orleans. Each week seems to bring a new #1 or new #2 or both. So the question at hand becomes: is there a way to handicap this now that we are only about 3 weeks out? Well, to be honest, probably not, but we can try to get a handle on it. To do this we must first understand how the BCS system works. And that part is the challenge because there are many misconceptions based on earlier calculation formulas. So lets examine the calculations that are in effect now.

While there used to be several tweaking factors regarding points given for quality wins, for beating teams in the top 10 or top 25, the newest BCS formula in effect this year, really is quite straightforward. There is still some mystery however. The current version basically uses 3 components:

Point Total in the Harris Interactive Poll
Point Total in the Coaches Poll
Rankings in the 6 Selected Computer Ranking Systems after throwing out the best and worst for each team.

The computer rankings that are used are:

Jeff Anderson-Chris Hester
Richard Billingsley
Wes Colley
Kenneth Massey
Jeff Sagarin
Peter Wolfe

Its important to understand that the exact formula used by the above systems is not known. However, without getting into gaming theory, predictive algorithms, and other boring mathematical analysis, suffice it to say that the various systems look at the team’s wins and losses, compares that against the relative strength of the opponents, and rewards the team if they beat a stronger opponent. Each system usually calculates a predictive margin of victory (or loss) (PMV), and the team is judged how they live up to that PMV. So if you are a top 10 team that should beat an unranked team by 21, and you win by 50, you get greatly rewarded. Likewise is you should win by 21 and only win by 3, you are somewhat penalized. There is a factor called the “law of diminishing returns” that is also applied, so that neither of these is solely determinable. For instance a Team A that plays a very poor Team B, and wins 35-0, will be rewarded roughly the same as if Team C beat Team B 70-0. In other words you get rewarded up to a certain point and it levels out. Oklahoma beating Baylor 45-10 wouldn’t reward OU anymore than it would reward Texas for beating Baylor 52-7. However if OU only beat Baylor 7-6 thats quite different than Texas winning 35-0,

So now we go back to the point totals. The Harris Interactive Poll was created in 2005 when the AP decided that it did NOT want to be part of the overall BCS System. The Harris Poll is comprised of former players, coaches, administrators, and current and former media who submit votes for the top 25 teams. Each of the 114 panel members (chosen at random before the beginning of the season by a computer from nominations) rank the college teams from 1 to 25 each week, giving the top team 25 points, the second team 24, etc. These votes are tabulated and compiled to get the aggregate top 25, This becomes 1/3 of the input into the BCS weekly ranking.

The Coaches Poll is comprised of 63 Division I coaches who similarly rank the teams each week. This list is then compiled/tabulated by USA Today and published. These totals then become 1/3 of the BCS system.

So, what we see is that basically we have three groups weighing in. Its important to understand that two of these (the polls) are purely subjective for the most part. Those rankings are going to be based on how that person feels, what he’s seen or read, and how they have been influenced by media. Only 1/3 of the ranking is actually done empirically and objectively. This is critical to understanding the BCS system of ranking. While there are 6 computer systems, they aggregately only account for 1/3 of the score.

Now, currently, after week 11 we have the following BCS team order:

1. LSU (9-1) – SEC West
2. Oregon (8-1) – Pac 10
3. Kansas (10-0) – Big 12 North
4. Oklahoma (9-1) – Big 12 South
5. Missouri (9-1) – Big 12 North
6. West Virginia (8-1) – Big East
7. Ohio State (10-1) – Big 10
8. Arizona State (9-1) – Pac 10
9. Georgia (8-2) – SEC East
10. Virginia Tech (8-2) – ACC Coastal

We list the top 10 but not all of these teams realistically have a change at the title. But note that we have listed the record and the conference. This is very important in some cases, because conferences such as the Big 12, the SEC, and the ACC have 2 divisions, where their respective winners play an extra game at the end of the season for the conference championship. This becomes very significant as it offers another week of voting and evaluation. This can help a team like Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri or LSU for instance, but work against a team like Oregon that has no opportunity to play for a conference title. We’ll see why in a moment.

So lets now evaluate each of the BCS teams and their National Championship potential. We’ll start at the top and discuss remaining games, positional influence, and overall assessment.

LSU – The Tigers are atop the SEC West comfortably over Auburn and Alabama with only two regular season games remaining against Ole Miss and Arkansas. both of which have losing records in the SEC. However the SEC affords LSU another week for the SEC Ttitle game, against either #10 Georgia (likely) or possibly #20 Tennessee. Either or both of these title opponents could move up in the rankings within 3 weeks, but not substantially. Plainly said, if LSU wins out, they probably would go to the National Title game. The only exception to this would be if they unexpectedly have a difficult time with Ole Miss and/or Arkansas, while Oregon rolls over their last 3 opponents by big margins. But even then, winning the SEC Title game, even in a close match, would probably sway the subjective vote. However, where this gets iffy, is the three games remaining. Ole Miss probably offers token resistance, but Arkansas provides Heismann candidate Darren McFadden and a decent, fast defense. In a mock SEC Championship, LSU would most likely play Georgia, a top 10 team which would be formidable also. So, my guess is that winning out against all three opponents is certainly better than 50-50.  Barring any major letdown, its a good bet LSU is in the National Title Game.

Oregon – The Ducks have three games left also, against Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon State. Only Arizona has a losing record, so the path to glory is a bit more tenuous.  Oregon has dominated the Pac-10 however, and they shouldn’t have any problems with their opponents, However, Oregon needs to be cognizant of margin of victory.  With no Pac-10 championship,  Kansas,Oklahoma and Missouri loom behind the Ducks. Kansas and Missouri play in 2 weeks for the Big 12 North title, and then that winner will play OU for the Big-12 Championship. You pic’em. Unless Oregon is absolutely convincing in their final three games, meaning high double digit wins in all three games, its a decent chance that both polls and the computers favor the Big-12 for the #2 spot (especially if Kansas ends up 13-0).  Oregon’s best shot here for a title game, is for LSU to stumble,

Kansas – The Jayhawks National Title hopes are very simple. They really are in control of their own destiny. They need no help from anyone. If Kansas beats Iowa State, Missouri and then beats OU for the Big 12 Championship they are 13-0 and nobody in the country would deny them a National Title game.  No other scenario gets it done for KU.

Oklahoma –  The Sooner scenario could be as simple as Kansas’.  Win out against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State ( both bowl teams this year) and then beat either KU or Mizzou for the Big-12 Championship, and you’ll probably sneak past Oregon. Things would be simpler is Mizzou beats Kansas and Oregon or LSU stumble.

Missouri – For the Tigers to get to New Orleans, they’ll need to win out and probably rely on the pollsters to pull them through.  This means they must beat Kansas State, beat unbeaten #3 Kansas and then turn around the next week and beat another #3 Oklahoma (who beat them earlier this year).  Even then, they need for Oregon or LSU to lose or be unimpressive to gain the poll vote to push them to 2.
Its a real long road for the Tigers.

West Virginia – Could they actually have a shot?  Absolutely, but they really arent much in control. First, as a prerequisite, the Mountaineers must beat Cincinnati, UConn and Pittsburgh to end at 11-1. Since the Big East has no championship game, they’ll need lots of help along the way.  And I mean ALOT.  They’ll need for 2 of the top 4 to lose in their final games to have a chance.  They get at least part of that wish since KU and Mizzou must play prior to the Big-12 Championship.  But they’ll need Oregon or LSU to lose AND Oklahoma to lose prior to the Big-12 Championship (i.e. to Texas Tech or Oklahoma State).  Thats a tall order.

Frankly the chance of anyone below West Virginia making it to the title game, is miniscule and would be vastly unlikely.

For what its worth, what I think will happen, is that LSU will probably win out to get to the SEC Title game.  I think they win this in a close battle and go to the Title game.

And I think that Oregon will win out also.

However, I think that Oklahoma wins out, wins the Big-12 against KU or Mizzou, and the computers and pollsters push OU up enough to where the computers sneaks them by Oregon.  Its LSU-Oklahoma for the National Championship.

I should know better than to predict in a year like this.

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