Archive for November, 2008

Thanksgiving Post #2

Well, its pretty much set now.

The BCS has placed OU above Texas, and by that action, sends OU to the Big-12 Championship game where they will almost assuredly destroy Missouri who got beat by Kansas this weekend.

USC beat Notre Dame, while Oregon State lost to Oregon.  This means that USC must only beat UCLA next weekend to lock up its berth against Penn State in the Rose Bowl.

Conference Championship games were decided this weekend also:

BIG-12:  OU vs. Missouri

ACC: Virginia Tech  vs. Boston College

SEC:  Alabama  vs. Florida

The BCS now is set as:  Alabama, OU, Texas, Florida, USC, Utah, Texas tech, Penn State, Boise State, Ohio State, TCU, Ball State, Cincinnati, Oklahoma State.

If Florida and Oklahoma win,  most likely, OU and Florida will be 1 & 2.  OU by virtue of winning, and Florida will jump Texas for beating #1 Alabama.  If Alabama manages to win, then the BCS stays the way it is now.

This means that its looking more and more like:

National Title: Florida-OU

Rose Bowl: USC – Penn State

Fiesta Bowl:  Texas – Utah

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Boise State or Ohio State

Orange Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Boston College

It’s also looking more and more like a Texas Tech – Mississippi Cotton Bowl.

The rest of the bowls we’ll examine at another time.  But this week, bids will begin to fly.

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Thanksgiving Update #1

Because of the holidays, we arent putting together a full predictions/analysis this week, but we’ll return hopefully on Sunday night to wrap up the games of the weekend, and by then, we should have a pretty good idea what’s going down in the BCS, or at least, we’ll be able to make some educated guesses.

All this year we’ve been putting our own rankings together, but as the bowl games approach, we’ll be gradually shifting to the order of the BCS, mainly because that’s what will govern the placement of most of the games, along with the corresponding team records.

Through Friday:

Texas routed Texas A&M to keep their Big-12 Championship and possibly National Title claims alive. but alot has to happen. It’s pretty simple tho:

If Texas Tech loses to Baylor on Saturday, the Longhorns get the KC date with Missouri, no matter how OU-Oklahoma State turns out.

If OU loses to Oklahoma State on Saturday, Texas Tech gets the Missouri showdown for the Championship.

If OU and Texas Tech BOTH win, then Missouri’s opponent will be left to the pollsters and the BCS computers.  Whichever of Texas or OU is higher in the BCS, gets the chance against Missouri.

West Virginia lost to Pittsburgh 19-15, and as such handed the Big East to Cincinnati (9-2), so the Bearcats join Penn State as a lock for a BCS bowl.  Cincy can lose to Syracuse on Saturday and still get the bowl bid, because they beat West Virginia, Pitt and Rutgers earlier in the season.

Other major games to watch:

#4 Florida (10-1) at #20 Florida State.  Obviously the game means more to the Gators, to stay in the hunt for a national title. Texas has already won, so they are likely to stay ahead of the Gators no matter what.  OU is still to play.  Gators must blow out FSU impressively to keep the pollsters interested enough.  However, the ultimate game for Florida (if they beat FSU) is the SEC Championship against Alabama.  Look for a tug of war early in the game, but for the Gators to gain control and win comfortably.

A Boston College victory over Maryland on Saturday claims the ACC Atlantic title over FSU by virtue of their win two weeks ago over FSU.

#3 Oklahoma at #12 Oklahoma State.  We already discussed the ramifications here. The big question is what the pollsters will do if OU wins.  The BCS computers have Texas ranked over Oklahoma, but both the Harris and USA Today polls have OU over Texas. So its anyone’s guess how this ends up. OU needs a slaughter the likes of the Texas Tech scale to put it all to rest.  This probably won’t happen because OSU won’t want to be embarassed again (as they were by TTU), plus they are playing in Stillwater. Look for an OU victory, but perhaps by 2 TDs or less, forcing the pollsters to make the decision.

#23 Oregon vs. #17 Oregon State.  Plain and simple, if Oregon State wins, they lock up the Rose Bowl against Penn State, probably sending USC to the Fiesta (if they win out).  If Oregon wins, USC gets the bid (if they beat UCLA next week).

Notre Dame at #5 USC – USC has to beat Notre Dame, especially if  Oregon State wins.  If Oregon State loses, all USC has to do is beat UCLA the following week to get the Rose Bowl.

Enjoy the Games!

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As expected, week 13 had earth shattering effects on the BCS and the bowl post season.

Texas Tech proved to be a not-ready-for-primetime player as they were completely dominated by a truly National Title contender Oklahoma. Utah and Penn State both dominated their opponents also, assuring their presence in the BCS season.

The way it sits right now, it surely looks like the BCS ranking will MORE than determine the teams to the National Championship.  There are for all practical purposes, 4 teams in play according to the BCS: Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida.  With the final regular season week coming up,  you’d think thats what it would all be about.  But there are a few more teams that might have a say in it.

Just this week, Oklahoma must get by Oklahoma State in Stillwater, which historically has been a real bloodbath for OU. Texas must get by Texas A&M, which any other year would be a toss up. Let’s not forget that Alabama plays Auburn this week also, which again, you can throw the records of the two teams out. Finally Florida hosts a very much improved Florida State, which could easily throw a wrench in the works.

Any slip ups of these could dash national title hopes.

Example:  If Oklahoma were to lose to Oklahoma State, Texas Tech would move on to the Big-12 Championship (at #7) and play Missouri (at #13), the winner of which goes to a BCS bowl. Not to mention the fact that OU would drop in the standings.

Let’s assume that all four teams do their job and win. It now puts the choice of not only the national title teams in the hands of the BCS, but also the Big-12 Championship.  That’s right. Currently Texas and OU are separated by 0.0084 in the standings. So if both teams win against their opponents, Oklahoma would most likely get the nod to move up because they would be playing a ranked team (#12 Oklahoma State).  It seems just a little bit tacky that all this doesn’t get settled on the field, but thats the way the Big-12 rules read for tiebreakers.  Even though, officially, Texas, TTU, and OU would be co-champions.

We’re not done.  Let’s say after this week, its Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas and Florida in the BCS. We now move into Championship week. We now need to look at what possibly could happen as a result of the Big-12 and SEC Championships.  there are only 4 possible results of the two games, and as such each has its corresponding effect on the BCS:

Alabama and Oklahoma Win:  This would be the easy scenario.  They would play for the National Title.

Alabama and Missouri Win:  Possible BCS result?  Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida? Alabama-Texas for the National Title.

Florida and Oklahoma Win:  Would this result in Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, Alabama?? Probably.  That gets us OU-Florida.

Florida and Missouri Win:  Easy.. that gets you Florida – Texas.

Well enough of hypothesizing.  Let’s take a look at OUR new rankings:

#1 Alabama (11-0). Did not play. Next week: Auburn (5-6) at home. Bama still must take care of business this Saturday against an underachieving Auburn to make their date with Florida in the SEC Championship a National Title Qualifier game.  All bets are off with this rivalry!

#2 Florida (10-1). Defeated The Citadel (4-8) 70-19 at home. Next week: #20 Florida State at home. As predicted this was no contest. Tim Tebow, who may now be the leading Heisman candidate, threw for 201 yards and three TDs.  The Gator offense generated over 700 yards of offense, 394 yards of it on the ground. RB Chris Rainey had  142 yards on 7 carries while Emanuel Moody had 13 carries and 116 yards.

#3 Texas (10-1). Did not play. Next week: Texas A&M (4-7)  at home. We give the benefit of the doubt here to Texas above Oklahoma, seeing that they beat OU soundly earlier in the year. Depending on the next two games, this could change.

#4 Oklahoma (10-1). Defeated #7 Texas Tech (10-1) 65-21 in Norman. Next week: #11 Oklahoma State (9-2) in Stillwater. There certainly was no doubt of the better team in Normal this past week end, as the OU rushing attack exposed a not-so-improved Texas Tech defense.  Add with this the fact that the Raiders couldm’t execute on offense, it added up to a complete domination by the Sooners. OU QB Sam Bradford was 14/19 for 304 yards while RB DeMarco Murray ran for 125 yards and two TDs

#5 USC (9-1) Did not play. Next week: Notre Dame (6-5) at home. The Trojans fate is in the hands of Oregon State, even if they win out. If Oregon State beats Oregon this weekend, USC will go to the Fiesta Bowl probably against either Texas or OU (whoever doesnt go to the national title).

#6 Penn State (11-1) Defeated  #20 Michigan State 49-18 at home. Next week: Idle. If there was any doubt about who should win the Big-10, it was laid to rest in Happy Valley.  The PSU defense throttled Javon Ringer and harassed Brian Hoyer all night long, while QB Daryll Clark threw for 341 yards and 4 TDs. Yeah that ought do it.  Rose Bowl bound!

#7 Texas Tech (10-1) Lost to #4 Oklahoma (10-1) 65-21. Next week: Baylor (4-7). See above.  The Red Raiders are on their way, most likely, to the Cotton Bowl against Mississippi unless Oklahoma loses. Then who knows.

#8 Utah (12-0) Defeated #17 Brigham Young (10-2) 48-24 at home. Next week: Idle. The Utes came to play on Saturday and play they did. QB Brian Johnson was 30/36 for 303 and four TDs, while the Utah defense sparked 6 Cougar turnovers. Ouch!  Utah is probably on the way to the Sugar Bowl against the loser of the SEC Championship.

#9 Ohio State (10-2) defeated Michigan (3-9) 42-7 at home. Next week: Idle. It used to be you could always count on a great game between these two, even if one or the other was having an off year. This, however was no contest and was almost like a controlled scrimmage.  Beanie Wells had 134 yards rushing to pace the 434 total offensive yards for the Buckeyes. Next stop, perhaps the Capital One Bowl vs Georgia.

#10 Boise State (11-0) defeated Nevada (6-5) 41-34 at Nevada. Next week: Fresno State (7-4) at home. The broncos needed the whole game to get the victory as a last minute hail mary was batted down. The star of the game was BSU’s Austin Pettis who had 9 receptions for 126 yards and 2 TDs. QB Kellen Moore threw for 414 yards. You gotta feel for the Broncos, probably an undefeated season, and no better than the Humanitarian Bowl agianst maybe a Maryland or Wake Forest team with 3 losses.

#11 Oklahoma State (9-2) did not play. Next week: #4 Oklahoma (10-1) at home. The whole world’s watching this battle next week, because the ramifications could be profound.

#12 Missouri (9-2) did not play. Next week: Kansas (6-5) at Arrohead Stadium. The traditional end to the season is a bit of a moot point.  Missouri is going to the Big-12 Championship against well, either OU or Texas Tech depending on the OU-Oklahoma State game.

#13 Georgia (9-2) did not play. Next week: #22 Georgia Tech (8-3) at home. The Bulldogs look like prime candidates for the Capital One Bowl probably against Ohio State.

#14 TCU (10-2) defeated Air Force (8-4) 44-10 at home. Next week: Idle. The Horned Frogs held Air Force to just seven first downs and 161 yards of total offense, whilethey amassed 504 yards of total offense in the rout. TCU will probably get a bid to the Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl possibly against Arizona.

#15 Ball State (11-0) defeated Central Michigan (8-3) 31-24 at C. Mich. Next week: Western Michigan (9-2) at home (Tuesday). It’s an early week season finale for the Cardinals against Western Michigan, coming off their come from behind win over Central Michigan. MiQuale Lewis was the leader of the Cards in this game rushing for 177 yards.  A victory over Western Michigan sends Ball State to the MAC Championship against Buffalo.

#16 Cincinnati (9-2) defeated #25 Pittsburgh (7-3) 28-21 at home. Next week: Syracuse (3-8) at home. Despite all adversity this year, the Bearcats find themselves one win away from a BCS bowl game. Their home victory over Pittsburgh puts them a game up on West Virginia, who they defeated earlier this year. QB Tony Pike threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns.

#17 Brigham Young (10-2) Lost to #8 Utah (12-0) 48-24 at Utah. Next week: Idle. See above.  The Cougars are likely headed to the Armed Forces or Poinsettia Bowl.

#18 Oregon State (8-3) defeated Arizona (6-5) 19-17 at Arizona. Next week: #19 Oregon (8-3) at home. The Beavers needed a last second, literally, field goal to beat Arizona, and to keep their dream season alive.  Justin Kahut’s 24-yard field goal won the game and allowed him to get redemption after missing an earlier extra point that would have tied the game. OSU needs only to beat Oregon next week to get an invitation to the Rose Bowl against #6 Penn State. Hmm #18 vs #6 or #5 vs #6. We wonder who the Rose Bowl is rooting for?

#19 Oregon (8-3) did not play. Next week: At #18 Oregon State (8-3). See above.

#20 Florida State (8-3) defeated Maryland 37-3 at Maryland. Next week: At #2 Florida (10-1). The Seminoles’ offense had almost 12 minutes more possession time, which allowed the defense to hold Maryland to 252 yards of total offense. Maryland turned the ball over 4 times, which usually spells defeat for most teams. A loss by FSU this weekend against Florida opens the door for Boston College to win the ACC Atlantic if they can beat Maryland.

#21 Michigan State (9-3) Lost to #6 Penn State (11-1) 49-18 at State College, PA. Next Week: Idle. See above.  The Spartans are probably looking at an Outback Bowl appearance against South Carolina.

#22 Boston College (8-3) defeated Wake Forest (6-5) 24-21 at Wake. Next Week: Maryland (7-4) at home. DeLeon Gause picked off Christian Ponder in the end zone in the fourth quarter with BC leading 24-17 which sealed the game late for the Golden Eagles. Montel Harris rushed 25 times for 121 yards and a touchdown, while the defense picked Chris Ponder off 3 times. BC needs to beat Maryland next week for the ACC Atlantic title.

#23 Georgia Tech (8-3) defeated Miami (7-4) 41-23 at home. Next week: At Georgia (9-2). Just when we thought Miami was the thing, up pops the GT offense for 518 yards and puts the Hurricanes in their place. The Jackets rushed for 472 yards in the game, the most that Miami has ever allowed. Even though GT is done, they must wait for the winner of the Virginia-Virginia Tech game to see their fate.  A win by VT gets them to the ACC Championship, otherwise the Jackets go.

#24 Northwestern (9-3) did not play. Next week: Idle. Northwestern had a most successful year, and is most likely on their way to the Alamo Bowl (probably against Oklahoma State).

#25 West Virginia (7-3) defeated Louisville (5-6) 35-21 at Louisville. Next week: At Pittsburgh (7-3). QB Pat White was a one man army, rushing for 200 yards on 21 carries amd three touchdowns. He also threw for another 122 and 2 touchdowns.  West Virginia still has a bowl shot but its a long one, as Cincinnati would need to lose to Syracuse, and the Mountaineers would need to beat both Pittsburgh and South Florida.

WORTH NOTING: The Abilene Christian Wildcats beat West Texas A&M 93-68 in Division II qualifying play.  Yes folks, thats a football score. ACU running back Bernard Scott ran for 292 yards while Quarterback Billy Malone threw over 400 yards in the record setting event (47 records were surpassed at the NCAA D1 and D2 levels). The Wildcats generated 810 yards of offense. Next up for ACU is NW Missouri State who ACU defeated earlier in the season 44-27.

Dropping out: Miami, Maryland

On the bubble: Mississippi, Iowa

Most Impressive: Oklahoma, Penn State, Utah, Florida State

Least Impressive: Texas Tech

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (5), Big-10 (4), SEC (3), Pac-10 (3), MWAC (3), ACC (3), Big East (2), MAC (1), WAC (1)

BCS Bowl Projections:

National Title:  Florida  v.  Oklahoma

Rose Bowl: Oregon State  v. Penn State

Sugar Bowl:  Utah v. Alabama

Orange Bowl:  Cincinnati v. Florida State

Fiesta Bowl: USC v. Texas

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Triskaidekaphobia – irrational fear of the number 13.

This being the 13th week of the season, it seems a bit fitting that the biggest games of the season are being played this week end. No other weekend so far has had the potential to set the direction of the BCS as this one. It also seems rather superstitious that so many teams (7) scheduled idle weeks. Something to this number 13?

Of course, the paramount game of the week will be Texas Tech-Oklahoma. A few weeks ago the Texas Tech-Texas game in prime time was big (largest TV audience to ever view a non-bowl game, and the 5th most watched in college TV history), just wait till Saturday at 8pm ET. The winner of this game, providing they cane win their final game, has the inside track to the national title game against the winner of the SEC.

Lest we not be too biased, there are several other games that have lesser overall impact, but certainly are important in shaping the BCS bowl picture. Penn State-Michigan State could clinch the Rose for the Nittany Lions or send Ohio State or get Michigan State the bid. Utah and BYU will inevitably battle fot MWAC supremacy, while TCU and Air Force try to throw a monkey in the works.

So here are the games and our analysis/predictions:

#1 Alabama (11-0). Idle.

#2 Texas Tech (10-0) at #4 Oklahoma (9-1). This one should be a doozy. Two offensive juggernauts go after it in primetime. Oklahoma averages 51 point per game while TTU averages 48. Never mind those worthless stats that TTU has won 2 of the last 3 meetings, or OU is 50-2 at home. With this level of a game, and these players, they only serve as mere oddities. The facts are, plain and simple, OU hasn’t played a competitive team all year except Texas, and lost to them, a team that Tech dominated in the first half, and then rallied to win all too easy in the last 1:29. Tech has had the harder schedule and prevailed with the best defense in the Big-12. However, let’s not kid ourselves. Both teams WILL score on each other. Well, that’s what we thought in the Tech-Oklahoma State game, too. The game will be won on the lines. If Texas Tech can control the line of scrimmage, as they have the last two games, and are able to drop the two DBs back, that could spell an 11th win, and a Big-12 conference South title. If not, this game decays into an offensive aerial attack and turnovers or lack of execution will rule the day. All the intangibles seem to lean toward OU, the home field advantage, coaching experience, etc, but we think that OU just won’t be able to score enough. Red Raiders by 7.

#3 Florida (9-1) hosts The Citadel (4-7). Florida is 13-0 against The Citadel all time. The Gators have finished SEC play until they meet Alabama in the Championship. They also have one more game after The Citadel where they must play Florida State. Does anyone really give the Bulldogs a chance? Well, no. Gators by 39.

#4 Oklahoma (9-1) hosts #2 Texas Tech (10-0). See above. Texas Tech by 7.

#5 Texas (9-1) . Idle.

#6 USC (9-1). Idle.

#7 Utah (11-0) hosts #15 Brigham Young (10-1). Quite simply, the game means everything for both of these teams. BYU got thumped hard a few weeks ago by TCU, thus dashing their hopes to be the BCS buster. Now The Cougars could return the favor against Utah. BYU, with Max Hall, is playing at the top of his game now, and is hard to stop. Utah on the other hand took care of TCU, barely, and now needs THIS game to assure them of a BCS Bowl. Right off the bat, we’re putting this one on Upset Watch, because Utah just hasn’t seen an attack like BYU’s. However, BYU probably hasn’t played much against a good solid defense like Utah. We’re gonna go out on a limb and pick the upset here this week. BYU by 3.

#8 Penn State (10-1) hosts Michigan State (9-2). Another game with huge BCS implications. The Nittany Lions need only to win at home to gain a trip to the Rose Bowl. If not, its nip and tuck where they go. This was probably the best they could ask for this year, even had they been undefeated. If MSU pulls the upset, then Ohio State goes to the Rose Bowl instead. We think that the Lions will gather all motivation and dominate in this game. MSU does have a stretch. If they do manage to win and do their part, they must hope Michigan beats Ohio State, which would send the Spartans to Pasadena. Unlikely tho. Penn State by 17.

#9 Ohio State (9-2) hosts Michigan (3-8). Never mind the records. Never mind Rich Rodriguez’ quips to the fans, or what’s gone on this year. When these two teams meet, they both might as well be 12-0, because they’ll play like it. Michigan is coming off the worst season since maybe Noah and the Ark. OSU has won 4 straight over Michigan, but has NEVER won 5 in their school history. Don’t think for a moment it couldn’t happen. Ohio State’s offense still is sputtering, but what will keep them equalized is their defense. We can’t see the Wolverines suddenly finding and executing the new offense they’ve tried all season. So, we’ll still side with the Buckeyes. Ohio State by 10.

#10 Boise State (10-0) at Nevada (6-4). Actually this could be quite an interesting game, if Nevada executes. First, BSU has great history against Nevada, winning 69-67 last year. Secondly, the game isn’t being play on the Smurf Turf, which is decidedly pro-Bronco. But BSU just plain rules the WAC, and in order to stay in the hunt for a BCS Championship, they have to win. If so, they almost certainly get a bid to the Orange or Sugar Bowl as an at large entry, since they are head and shoulders above two BCS conference champs. We’re pretty sure the score won’t get that high this year, and it wont be that close. Boise State by 17.

#11 Oklahoma State (9-2). Idle.

#12 MIssouri (9-2). Idle.

#13 Georgia (9-2). Idle.

#14 TCU (9-2) hosts Air Force (8-3). TCU has played extremely well this year, losing only to Oklahoma early, and Utah. In all practical purposes, they are headed for the Armed Forces Bowl. A BYU win over Utah would most certainly move the Cougars up over them, and Utah would probably not drop that far. The Falcons own the nation’s No. 4 rushing attack, but will face the country’s stingiest defense against the run. On the line for Air Force is a possible share of the MWC title. TCU leads the all-time series with Air Force 4-2-1, but that means little. We are putting this one on Upset Watch, and think there’s a decent chance Air Force might catch the Frogs sleeping. The Frogs still may want to prove something so that and the home field have us leaning that way. TCU by 6.

#15 Brigham Young (10-1) at #7 Utah (11-0). See above. BYU by 3.

#16 Michigan State (9-2) at #8 Penn State (10-1). See above. Penn State by 17.

#17 Ball State (10-0) at Central Michigan (8-2), As in past years, this is a battle for the MAC West title, well, for Central Michigan it is. If the Cheppewas win they win the West by virtue of beating both Western Michigan and Ball State. If the Cardinals win, however they must win the next week against W. Mich, to take the title. C. Mich has been the traditional power house here, but all the attention has been on Nate Davis and the Cardinals being ranked in the top 20. But the Chippewas have quite a talented QB also, Dan LeFevour. Played in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, this one should be quite a battle, but we’re pretty sure Ball State will prevail in a close one. Cardinals by 7.

#18 LSU (7-3) hosts Mississippi (6-4). Wow! Almost any other year we’d already be trying to figure out how Ol Miss could keep close, but this year’s version fo the Bayou Bengals just isnt as ferocious, especially on offense. It’s anyone’s guess how he might perform from week to week. Even in the good years, its been tough for LSU. The Tigers have taken six in a row against the Rebels overall, but won the past three at home by a combined seven points. So, this year it could be close. We’ll still give the edge to the home team, with an Upset Watch but wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers have to struggle again like they did against Troy last week. LSU by 2.

#19 Pittsburgh (7-2) at #20 Cincinnati (8-2). And here comes the home stretch for the Big East. Both Pitt and Cincy can’t win the East by winning this game, but they are certainly on the inside track if they do. Pitt has won all seven meetings with Cincinnati, including three games since the Bearcats joined the Big East. The Bearcats have been nothing short of miraculous in piecing a team together after some key injuries. Statistically you compare the two teams and its nearly identical. Total yards per game average is within 1/10th of a point. Our intuition moves us to nod toward Cincy, perhaps because of their passing game recently. Cincinnti by 3.

#20 Cincinnati (8-2) hosts Pittsburgh (7-2). See above. Cincinnati by 3.

#21 Oregon (7-3) Idle.

#22 Miami (7-3) at Georgia Tech (7-3) Thursday. The streaking Hurricanes (winner of their last 5) invade Atlanta to try to move a step closer to an ACC Coastal title. The Yellow Jackets are in a must-win situation to stay in contention for the title. They have won three straight against the Hurricanes and lead the all-time series 9-4. But this is a new year and a new mindset in Miami under Randy Shannon, who very well could be considered coach of the year should he get to a BCS Bowl by winning the ACC. Before then, he and his team must stop a GT team thats surely talented, but inconsistent (Lost to Virginia, beat Florda State, then lost to North Carolina). The Jackets continue to have a decent defense, but the speed of the Miami defense is amazing. We’re reasonably confident that the boys from Florida will extend their streak. Miami by 8.

#23 Oregon State (7-3) at Arizona (6-3). Plain and simple. every game is a must game for the Beavers who are looking for their first trip to the Rose Bowl since the late 60’s. To do so, they must beat Arizona and then win out against Oregon. This is a daunting task. Arizona, who is bowl eligible, has played all Pac-10 opponents tough. They lost their conference losses by a grand total of 18 points (6 pts per game). History is on the side of the Beavers, however, as they’ve won the past 9 meetings. We’re putting this one on Upset Watch, and think there is a really good chance for a Wildcat win. However, if the Beavers can establish a running game, Arizona will be playing catch up all night. Oregon State by 4.

#24 Maryland (7-3) hosts Florida State (7-3). Maybe Maryland should pretend Florida State is ranked. After all, the Terps have won four games this season against ranked foes. And with two more victories, Maryland will be ACC Atlantic champion. Florida State leads the all-time series with Maryland 16-2, and desperately needs to win after getting popped by Boston College last week. Maryland has the ability to put points on the board and we think that’s the way it goes. Terapins by 14.

#25 Boston College (7-3) at Wake Forest (6-4). It’s Wake’s passing game versus BC’s rushing attack, which is hard for us to say, but only because we still are looking for Matt Ryan when the Eagles take the field. We are putting this one on Upset Watch. because of this obvious battle. When WF has stumbled, its been the pass not the run that’s sunk them. We think that the Demon Deacons could very well force BC into a passing game with a 50% passer…and thats not good. Wake Forest by 4.

Enjoy the Games!!

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As we alluded earlier this week, the 12th week games showed many teams either resting or playing under-achievers.  While there were some lackadaisical performances,  there were few things to get excited about. As per usual, the bottom tier teams jostled around a bit, but overall, not much has changed.  But whoa boy wait till next week!

Here’s our top 25 for the12th week:

#1 Alabama (11-0). Defeated Mississippi State (3-8) 32-7. Next week: Idle. While Miss State had one the last two against an ailing Bama team, this outing was much different. The game started slow, and State was actually up 7-5 at one point. But this Tide team is much to good, everywhere, to keep the lid on for too long.  Alabama lingered around at 12-7 until Javier Arena returned a punt 80 yards to start the runaway. While the Tide offense took the night off for the most part, the defense  gets the game ball by holding Mississippi State to just nine first downs and 167 yards of total offense, and only 1.6 yards average per rush.

#2 Texas Tech (10-0). Did not play.  Next week: At #4 Oklahoma (9-1).

#3 Florida (9-1). Defeated #24 South Carolina 56-6 at home. Next week: The Citadel (4-7) at home. We’re almost sure that Florida could easily be the #1 team in the nation, and will eventually get there after the SEC Championship game, where they will almost certainly beat Alabama by 3-4 touchdowns. But for now, we’re left with the memories of a total annihilation of Spurrier’s Gamecocks. For the most part this game was close until  South Carolina played stupid for about 3 minutes toward the end of the 1st quarter and found themselves down 21-0. Two interceptions and a dump kickoff lateral play did the trick. We’re disappointed with Spurrier. Florida’s Percy Harvin, who could jump into the Heisman race this week, rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. Right now we can’t see anyone that can beat Florida.

#4 Oklahoma (9-1). Did not play. Next week: #2 Texas Tech (10-0) at home.

#5. Texas (9-1). Defeated Kansas (6-5) 35-7 at Kansas. Next week: Idle. Kansas has been such a let down this year after a phenomenal BCS year last year. The Longhorns were up 14 at half and blew the 3rd quarter open with 21 Texas QB Colt McCoy passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 78 yards and a score.Texas’ fate is not in their control. They sit at #3 in the BCS Standings behind Alabama and Tech and just ahead of Florida. Texas must have a few complicated things happen if they are to get to a title game.  Tech has to lose to Oklahoma, and then OU must lose to Oklahoma State the following week, while Texas would need to beat A&M and then go to to Big-12 Championship and beat Missouri. Anything less probably punches their ticket to the Fiesta Bowl against Utah.

#6 USC (9-1). Defeated Stanford (5-6) 45-23 at Stanford. Next week: Idle. Well Stanford did their best to buck all the trends.  They scored 23, against a defense that has been averaging 4, and they stuck with the Trojans, mixing up their defense just enough to keep the SC offense sputtering. They were down only 24-17 going into the 4th Quarter, but by this time, the Cardinal defense was shot and tired. As such, the balanced USC offense kicked into gear for 21 4Q points to run away. Stafon Johnsons, USC RB  rushed 14 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score late in the third quarter. Stanley Havili caught a 50-yard TD pass from Mark Sanchez to give USC a 38-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter putting an un reconcilable distance between the Trojans and Stanford.  USC is in a unique situation that could get them to a National Championship, while losing the Pac-10.  If Oregon State wins out, and USC does also… and Texas, Oklahoma and Tech all lose, USC could possibly garner some points to get to the title game (its doubtful that this could happen tho, on many levels).

#7. Utah (11-0). Defeated San Diego State (1-10) 63-14 in San Diego. Next week: #15 Brigham Young (10-1) at home. This one was never in doubt, as we expected. Utah QB Brian Johnson threw for 283 yards and five touchdowns. Utah’s season is on the line against BYU next week.  A win by the Utes will get them, in all likelihood, to the Fiesta Bowl. A loss could throw the MWAC into a three way tie between Utah, BYU, and TCU.  This would really be disastrous for the MWAC, as most likely Boise State would get the non-BCS autobid, and then Ball State would be in line for a possible invitation to a BCS. All MWAC teams would go to thei respective bowl games (BYU to the Las Vegas Bowl, Utah to the Poinsettia Bowl, and TCU to the Armed Forces Bowl.  Ugh.

#8 Penn State (10-1). Defeated Indiana (3-8) 34-7 at home. Next week: #16 Michigan State (9-2) at home. As we predicted, the Nittany Lions were eager to get back home and put on a nice performance to prove that the Iowa loss was an irregularity. QB Daryll Clark passed for 240 yards and two touchdowns, while the PSU defense held Indiana to only six first downs. PSU needs only to beat Michigan State at home next week to seal a bid to the Rose Bowl. A loss, sends Ohio State.

#9 Ohio State (9-2). Defeated Illinois (5-6) 30-20 at Illinois.  Next week: Michigan (3-8) at home. Both Tyrellle Pryor and Beanie Wells ran for more than 100 yards in carrying the Buckeyes to an easy victory. Illinois scored a late TD to make the score more respectable.  OSU will be rooting for Michigan State next week in hopes of going to the Rose Bowl, otherwise, its probably the Capital One Bowl.

#10 Boise State (10-0). Defeated Idaho (2-9) 45-10 at Idaho. Next week: At Nevada (6-4). No problems, as expected against Idaho for Boise State. RB Jeremy Avery ran for 156 yards on 11 carries and 2 TDs.  BSU has Nevada and Fresno State, then waits to see what BCS Bowl they go to (Orange or Sugar most likely),

#11 Oklahoma State (9-2). Defeated Colorado (5-6) 30-17 in Colorado. Next week: Idle. The Cowboys come off their drubbing by Texas Tech, with a solid win over the Buffaloes on the road. QB Zac Robinson threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 61 yards and another score. The win marked the first time the Cowboys have had 9 wins in a season since 2003.  Unless something very unusual happens, OSU is probably headed for the Alamo Bowl, perhaps against Michigan State.

#12 Missouri (9-2). Defeated Iowa State (2-2) 52-20 at Ames, IA.  Next week: Idle. QB Chase Daniels was 32-of-40 passing for 328 yards and two touchdowns. Daniel’s two touchdowns gave him 102 total TDs for his career (92 passing, 10 rushing), tying him with Brad Smith for the Tigers’ all-time record.  More importantly, the win locks the Big-12 North title for them. The Tigers end their season in two weeks against Kansas.  They’ll wait patiently to see who they’ll play for the Big-12 Championship.

#13 Georgia (9-2). Defeated Auburn (5-6) 17-13 at Auburn. Next week: Idle. The Bulldogs escaped a come back victory by Auburn by the skin of their teeth. Auburn QB Kodi Burns overthrew RB Ben Tate in the end zone with one second left to allow Georgia to escape. Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno torched the Tigers for 134 yards and caught a touchdown pass. The Bulldogs are going through the motions right now, ending their season in two weeks against Georgia Tech.  The ‘dogs are eying a possible Cotton Bowl bid.

#14 TCU (9-2). Did not play. Next week: Air Force (8-3) at home. TCU needs the win over AF and for Utah to lose, to have a choice in bowl games.

#15 Brigham Young (10-1). Defeated Air Force (8-3) 38-24 at Air Force Academy, Colorado. Next week: At #7 Utah. QB Max Hall was 28 of 37 for 354 yards and 2 TDs while RB Harvey Unga had another 88 yards and 2 TDs. BYU’s super bowl comes next week as they will attempt to derail Utah’s chance for a BCS bid.

#16 Michigan State (9-2) did not play. Next week: At Penn State (10-1). Unfortunately, the Spartans can’t really play for anything definitive next week when they travel to Happy Valley. One month ago, MSU lost badly to Ohio State 45-7 which hurt their chances for a possible Rose Bowl berth.  However, anything can happen MSU must win and hope for a Michigan upset of Ohio State to gain that berth now.

#17 Ball State (10-0). Defeated Miami (OH) (2-8) 31-16 at Oxford, OH. Next week: At Central Michigan (8-2). QB Nate Davis threw for 289 yards and a TD, while RB MiQuale Lewis had 216 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs.  The Cardinals end up the next two weeks against their closest foes in the MAC West, Central Michigan and Western Michigan.

#18 LSU (7-3). Defeated Troy (6-4) 40-31 at home. Next week: Ole Miss (6-4) at home. As the 3rd Quarter wound down to 2:00 left , the Tigers gazed at the scoreboard in disbelief, down to Troy 31-3. But Jarrett Lee, the much maligned QB led a 30 point 4th quarter comeback, taking advantage of a muffed punt and 3 turnovers along the way.  Lee, who was benhed in the first half, eventually went 20/34 for 216 yards and a TD. It was the largest come from behind victory at home for the Tigers in the history of the program.

#19 Pittsburgh (7-2). Did not play. Next week: At #20 Cincinnati. Show down time in the Big East next week. A win against Cincy next week would be the first step on a tough road to get the Big East Crown. They would still need to beat West Virginia and Connecticut in the following weeks.

#20 Cincinnati (8-2). Defeated Louisville (5-5) 28-20 at Louisville. Next week: #19 Pittsburgh (7-2) at home. We are constantly amazed how a team riddled with injuries can continue to flourish. The Bearcats get their 3rd conference win in a row by gutting out a 4th quarter TD with six minutes remaining.  Junior QB Tony Pike went 19/33 for 250 yards and  2 TDs as part of a 400+ yard offensive night. The Bearcats put it all on the line next week when then play Pittsburgh. A win there and win the following week against Syracuse, would hand Cincy the Big East Crown.

#21 Oregon (7-3). Defeated Arizona (6-4) 55-45 at home. Next week: Idle. The score looks close, but Oregon had a 45-17 halftime lead and cruised in the second half, though Arizona QB Willie Tuitama did his best to bring the Wildcats back, throwing for 2 TDs on a 328 yard night.  Oregon allowed Arizona 527 yards of total offense, but also put up 507 of its own. Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli threw for a career-high 298 yards and accounted for five Oregon touchdowns,  rushing for three touchdowns and throwing for two more, all in the first half. The Oregon-Oregon State finale could be a big one, should USC trip up and lose to either Notre Dame or UCLA.  That would put Oregon, Oregon State and USC at two losses.  A win by Oregon in the last week, would send them to the Rose Bowl under those circumstances.

#22 Miami (7-3). Defeated Virginia Tech (6-4) 16-14 at home. Next week: At Georgia Tech (7-3) Thursday. Randy Shannon’s team got a hard fought victory at home over the weekend, and in doing so, racked up their 5th straight win, 3 of which over conference opponents. Miami did the trick defensively, holding VT’s rushing game to a total of 77 yards, forcing them into an uncomfortable passing game. VT used both Glennon and Tyrod Taylor and still managed only 173 yards total for the game, Miami finishes with Georgia Tech and North Carolina State, the former of which will decide the ACC Coastal Division Champion.

#23 Oregon State (7-3). Defeated Cal (6-4) 34-21 at home. Next week: At Arizona (6-3). Cinderella Oregon State, who beat #6 USC early in the season, continues to roll on to a possible Rose Bowl bid. However, they will need lots more effort the last two weeks to do so. Getting by California this past week was a major step however. The Beavers did it on the ground, as they usually do. RB Jacquizz Rodgers chewed up 145 yards on the ground and got 1 TD.  The trouble facing Oregon State in the next 2 weeks is a road game to Arizona, and then home to Oregon, both teams playing well. Arizona has an excellent run defense, but not a particularly great passing defense. Oregon, has an amazing passing offense.  Both bode ominous for Oregon State.

#24 Maryland (7-3). Defeated #25 North Carolina (7-3)  17-15 at home. Next week: Florida State (7-3) at home. With the current condition of the ACC Atlantic, next week’s game with FSU should decide the division rep to the ACC Championship game. Both Florida State and Maryland have not been able to puta string of victories together. The Terps. however, scratched out a victory over previously favored NC through the gutsy play of QB Chris Turner who threw for only 141 yards but engineered a 19-play, 73-yard drive that led to the go-ahead field goal. By doing so, Maryland set a school record with its sixth consecutive win over a ranked opponent.

#25 Boston College (7-3). Defeated Florida State (7-3) 27-17 at FSU. Next week: At Wake Forest (6-4). Boston College gets into the T25 by virtue of beating Florida State. Well for right now. The Eagles intercepted FSU QB Christian Ponder three times, the fifth time this season they’ve forced at least three INTs in a game. BC back Montel Harris chewed up 121 yards on the ground to spark the Eagles offensive attack. By winning out against Wake and Maryland, the Eagles could really throw the Atlantic Division of the ACC  into a mess. Then it depends on what Florida State does.

Dropped Out: Florida State, Tulsa, South Carolina

On the Bubble: North Carolina (7-3), Florida State (7-3), Northwestern (8-3)

Most Impressive Teams: Florida, Miami

Least Impressive Teams: Florida State, North Carolina

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (5), SEC (4), Big-10 (3), Pac-10 (3), ACC (3), MWAC (3), Big-East (2), MAC (1), WAC (1)

BCS Bowl Projections This Week:

National Title: Florida vs. Texas Tech

Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. USC

Fiesta Bowl:  Utah vs. Texas

Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Boise State

Orange Bowl: Pittsburgh  vs.  Maryland

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There will be a bit of a quiet knell in College Football as many teams have either played their pivotal games, or are off for the week. There is only one Top 25 match-up this week in fact, Florida v. South Carolina.

It’s very hard for young men to keep their eyes on the prize this time of year, and not be thinking ahead about a big rivalry game another week or two away.  Actually, they can concentrate fairly easily on the next opponent; but all their friends, classmates, media, etc, speculate endlessly, and the players themselves can’t escape it when it surrounds them.  Strange as it sounds, the practice field is the refuge of last resort, because that’s the only place where players are surrounded by coaches and teammates focused solely on the upcoming game, no matter the opponent.  We don’t always think about these things week to week, but as the season winds down, keep in mind that there are lots of things on their minds each week.

On to the games:

#1 Alabama (10-0) hosts Mississippi State (3-6). Suffice it to say, that if Bama can’t take care of business at home against M-state, well that could be real trouble for the BCS.  The Tide already has a date with Florida for the SEC Championship and a berth in the National Title game, so perhaps it might be easy to overlook such a lower opponent. However, Bama should be on guard. The Tide have lost to the Bulldogs in each of the past two seasons and have not scored an offensive TD in these teams’ past three games. That has to be a bit troubling if not in just thought.  LSU gave them all they could hope for last week, in an emotionally charged game where turnovers caused Alabama to protect itself for much of the time. Saban’s bunch should however, be able to defensively control  this game, and force turnovers. Look for Bama to pour it on, if given the chance. Crimson Tide by 17.

#2 Texas Tech (10-0) is idle.

#3 Florida (8-1) hosts #24 South Carolina (7-3). Florida, also, has a free pass to the SEC Championship, but like Alabama, can’t afford a cheap loss, especially at home. However, of the Gator’s remaining game, the Gamecocks could be the most challenging.  The game boasts two teams that are on a winning tear. Steve Spurrier returns to the Swamp, leading a team that has won six of its past seven games after a 1-2 start. Florida, meanwhile, has won five straight since losing to Ole Miss in September. So, there’s all the motivation in the world for both to play well.  SoCar has had trouble at time mustering enough offense to get ahead and stay ahead, while Florida’s offense of late has had no problems at all doing so.  We think that this game could be close at the outset, but Florida should run away in the 2nd half and hide.  Big question: if Florida wins big here, do they jump Texas Tech to #2? Maybe in the AP poll, but probably not in the BCS. Gators by 18.

#4 Oklahoma (9-1) is idle.

#5 Texas (9-1)  at Kansas (6-4). The Longhorns lie peacefully in wait for the showdown next week between OU and Texas Tech, rooting hard for the Sooners (competition makes strange bedfellows). Kansas has been a bit of an enigma this year, but has managed to keep their Big-12 North hopes alive with #12 Missouri. The Jayhawks are one game behind the Tigers, so a win against Texas would give them the opportunity to play for a Big-12 Championship spot the final week, so there is no lack of motivation.  Texas, on the other hand, also must win out, to have any Big-12 South hope, and for that matter, a trip to a BCS bowl. We think that Kansas can score against Texas, and score often, but at the same time, we question they can keep Texas under wraps.  This could be a rather high scoring game, with Texas emerging late, perhaps on turnovers.  Longhorns by 10.

#6 USC (8-1) at Stanford (5-5). In a nation full of lots of offense, the Trojans, uncharacteristically, have bucked that trend. Whatever the criticism of the Pac-10 competitiveness, USC has racked up six straight wins since losing to Oregon State early in the year. In those 6 games the Trojans defense has allowed a total of 23 points (avg of less than 4 points/game), and recorded 3 shutouts and only 1 offensive TD in the last 5 games.  We don’t care what conference you are in, that’s total defensive domination.  Unfortunately, USC’s offense has been sporadic, and “enough” to get by and outscore the opponents. There have been signs of the offense gelling of late, especially in the running game. Stanford on the other hand hasn’t had a bad season, and are 4-3 in conference play.  That may seem far out there, but this year, its not. We can’t see Stanford doing something that the other teams (such as Arizona, Arizona State and Cal) have been unable to do…score points.  We’ll stick with the Trojans.  USC by 14.

#7 Utah (10-0) at San Diego State (1-9). Not a lot of mystery here. San Diego State is averaging giving up 36 pts per game, while scoring only 17. Utah is almost exactly the opposite. This should be no contest. Utes by 24.

#8 Penn State (9-1) hosts Indiana (3-7). It was a tough week for PSU in losing to Iowa, but by all intents and purposes, there was very little hope for a National Title. They simply need to regroup, win their last two games against Indiana and Michigan State, and  they automatically get the Rose Bowl. Anything else sends Ohio State. The Nittany Lions need to worry about their offense of late, scoring only 36 pts total in the last two games. Defense can take you a long way, but Indiana can put points on the board, but unfortunately they give up alot of points too, like 55 to both Wisconsin and Illinois. We think that Clark and company get the O back on track this week to gain some momentum for the final championship game vs. Michigan State. Penn State by 20.

#9 Ohio State (8-2) at Illinois (5-5). The Buckeyes still have a lot of game in them, and if they don’t get to the Rose Bowl, they are probably headed for the Capital One Bowl. OSU needs to win out against Illinois and Michigan, both of whom can surprise on any given week. If they do, a Penn State lost puts them in the Rose.  The first order of duty is silencing and containing Juice Williams, the talented Illinois QB.  Illinois’ offense averages a Big Ten-best 438 yards/game, while Ohio State tops the league in total D (285 ypg). It may boil down to how well the OSU offense is operating that day. They’ve been inconsistent at best.  However, we’ll count that the Buckeyes can put their usual excellent defense together and hold down the Illini enough to where the O can prevail.  Ohio State by 8.

#10 Boise State (9-0) at Idaho (2-8). We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, BSU owns the WAC.  Idaho averages giving up 42 points per game while BSU averages giving up only 10.  This could be ugly.  Broncos by 28.

#11 Oklahoma State (8-2) at Colorado (5-5). It’s really not clear what happened to the Cowboys last week against Texas Tech, especially in light of the fact that they beat Missouri and played to within 4 of Texas. Losing 56-20 was something that no one expected. As a result, Oklahoma State is playing for pride now, and it starts this week against the Buffaloes, who can, at any time, put together a complete game. Colorado has lost its past three conference games against ranked teams by a margin of 126-28, and the Buffs have won four of the past six meetings with OSU, but the teams haven’t met since 2005. We think that OSU will get back on track, and beat Colorado to set up the showdown in the season finale against rival Oklahoma. Cowboys by 10.

#12 Missouri (8-2) at Iowa State (2-8). The Tigers have the Big-12 North title in their sights, and the Cyclones, who have lost 8 straight, seem to only be a small bump in the road. Chase Daniels should have a field day.  Tigers by 32.

#13 Georgia (8-2) at Auburn (5-5). The Bulldogs need to finish strong to possibly get a tier 2 bowl like the Cotton. Auburn has lost 4 of their last 5 games (they won last week against Tenn-Martin), and pretty much have looked bad in all cases. Georgia, still boasts a great defense and more than adequate offense. Matt Stafford is already weighing his options for NFL draft time (with the weak QB class this year he could easily go in the first 5 picks). A couple of great performances against Auburn and Georgia Tech woud look really good on his resume.  Thats alot of motivation.  Georgia by 24.

#14 TCU (9-2) is idle.

#15 Brigham Young (9-1) at Air Force (8-2). This should turn out to be one of the more enjoyable games of the day. There’s something about Air Force that brings out the best in BYU. The Cougars have won the past four meetings by an average margin of almost 21 points. BYU isnt any weaker this year, but Air Force is a stonger team.  Nevertheless, BYU’s loss to TCU ruined what could have been a BCS kind of year, so the Cougars are looking to look good late.  We think that should happen.  BYU by 18.

#16 Michigan State (9-2) is idle.

#17 LSU (6-3) hosts Troy (6-3). LSU is just going through a tough time this year. While the defense has been, for the most part, admirable, the offense just has been dismal. We keep reminding ourselves that Jarret Lee, the Sophomore QB from Brenham, TX, has had limited time behind the the LSU offense that lost so many talented players to the NFL.  But, the numbers sure dont favor Troy in the game. LSU has won 24 straight nonconference games in Tiger Stadium. It has also won 17 consecutive nonconference games overall. But, because of the LSU offense, we just have to pull back on our tendency to think this will be a run away.  LSU by 10.

#18 Ball State (10-0) defeated Miami (OH) (2-8) 31-16 in Ohio. In rare Tuesday night game, this game has already been played.  No surpise that Ball State won. They’ll play again next Wednesday against Central Michigan.

#19 North Carolina (7-2) at Maryland (6-3). NC has been up and down this year, but still has managed to work themselves to the top of the ACC Coastal Division, a game ahead of Virginia Tech. But all signs point to a possible upset.  The Terps have been tough at home this season with a perfect 5-0 mark, outscoring teams by a 153-82 margin. They’re also 3-0 against the Top 25. This bodes no good for the Tar Heels.  This game seems to be perfect for an Upset Watch game, and we’re going so far as to say Maryland pulls it off. Terps by 6.

#20 Pittsburgh (7-2) is idle.

#21 Florida State (7-2) hosts Boston College (6-3). Here’s another ACC showdown  FSU, like North Carolina, precariously finds itself at the top of its Atlantic Division only a game ahead of Wake Forest, Maryland and Boston College. A BC win here coupled with a Terp win, could reall hose things up really good for the ACC. The running game should decide this one. BC is allowing a shade less than 102 rushing ypg, but Florida State owns one of the nation’s best rushing offenses (205 ypg).  This one also goes on Upset Watch, but we’ll take the Seminoles and the home field.  Florida State by 4.

#22 Cincinnati (7-2) at Louisville (5-4). The Big East seems to be the conference of the also rans this year.  No team has managed to set a winning streak, with the possible exception of Pittsburgh lately. Now come the Bearcats and their lineup of the day charging into Papa John’s Park to face an ever unpredictable Louisville team that at any moment can nail an opponent to the wall like they did to South Florida. The Bearcats haven’t had much success against Louisville in recent seasons. The Cards have won nine of the past 10 meetings against Cincinnati, including five straight. Another Upset Watch game here where literally anything could happen.  Cincy by 4.

#23 Tulsa (8-1) at Houston (5-4). Tulsa won the C-USA’s West Division in 2005 and 2007, while the Cougars won it in 2006. The winner of this game should get the inside track to clinching the West. Tulsa is just playing better, and with the top rated offense in the country, should have little trouble with Cougars.  Tulsa by 17.

#24 South Carolina (7-3) at #3 Florida (8-1). See analysis above.  Florida by 18.

#25 Virginia Tech (6-3) at Miami (6-3). Its anyone’s guess how the ACC Coastal will go, with no fewer than four of the six teams are still in contention. The Hokies are playing much better ball here right now, despite losing 2 of their last 3.  Does that tell you how its going in the ACC-C ? Miami is on a 4-game winning streak including victories over Wake Forest and Virginia. It should turn out to be Miami’s passing game against VT’s rushing attack.  So would we put the Hokies in the T25 and pick against them the following week?  Yep.  Miami by 10.

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Week 11 Results and Analysis

Perhaps the 2008 campaign will prove out to be vastly different from the 2007 campaign, in that, for the most part, the top 10 pretty much did its job this week, with only one upset.  This differs  quite drastically from last year when each week was a nightmare for someone in the top 5!

The lone exception this week was Penn State’s gaffe at Iowa, losing on a last second FG to lose their first game of the season and pretty much eliminate any talk of a National title there. They were already on shaky ground anyway, taking into account their weak schedules compared to the other top 5 teams. But the loss pretty much assures no title game, and, in fact, makes the upcoming Michigan State-Penn State game even more important. More about this later.

Alabama pulled through by nipping a hard-fighting LSU Tiger team in Baton Rouge. LSU’s lack of QB was the key to their loss, as their defense played magnificently. Throwing an interception in overtime is inexcusable, and we can’t imagine this QB not having the sense to know this. However, we have to keep reminding ourselves that Lee is a freshman, and as such,  will do dumb things from time to time.  He’ll be back, but don’t be surprised if some HS hotshot we’re unaware of takes his starting job away next fall.

Texas Tech didn’t struggle with top ten Oklahoma State, rolling to a 56-20 shellacking. Heisman front-runner Graham Harrell took center stage and showed the nation, yet again, why Tech should be ranked as high as they are. Just as a matter of note, there is the possibility that the Big-12 South could end in a 3-way tie, if Tech is unable to beat OU in 2 weeks, and then TTU, OU, and UT win the last week.  In that case, the winner of the South is determined by who would have the highest BCS ranking. Our researcher, Jason Kathman, tells us that it would most likely be Oklahoma getting the boost from beating a #2 team, as opposed to Texas, even though UT beat OU earlier in the season.  In that case, if OU went on to beat Missouri for the Big-12 title, we’d most likely see an OU-Florida National Championship, and both Texas and Texas Tech would be up for a BCS bowl game. Most likely it would be Texas, and Tech would get the Holiday Bowl against the runner up in the Pac-10 (USC or Oregon State). But there is absolutely no telling as to what might happen.

Florida continued its winning ways, and combined with the victory of Alabama over LSU, set the SEC Championship game as early in the season as we can remember. Florida is hitting on all cylinders, both offensively and defensively, and could be playing as good or better than most any team in the nation now. But just to show you how convoluted things could get, consider this. The Florida-Alabama SEC title game is shaping up to be a blockbuster, and just as the SEC and their TV partners envisioned it, as a truly pinnacle end-of-season performance. But, the Big 12 is holding a series of title games, all among 4 B-12S schools.  A kind of round robin title format.  Though the Cowboys are on the outside looking in, they can still have a direct impact on the championship picture.  Even if OU beats TTU, if they are ambushed again in Stillwater, TTU gets to the B12 title game.  If Florida beats Alabama, OU gets TTU but is whacked by OkSt., we still have PSU, USC, Florida, Alabama, Texas, and Tech with a single loss.  So the national championship game becomes Utah vs who? Probably Fl by virtue of their (presumed) win over #1 ‘Bama, but remember, Tech owns a win over then #1 Tex, and their loss would be to Top 5 OU rather than unranked Ol’ Miss. However, remember also, pollsters have a VERY short memory.

So, with that synopsis, let’s get to the rankings!

#1 Alabama (10-0). Defeated #17 LSU (6-3) 27-21 in overtime at Baton Rouge. Next week: Mississippi State (3-6) at home. It wasn’t a particularly pretty game for Alabama, but considering the Saban-return dynamic, playing on the road in Baton Rouge, and that LSU overachieved, we’re willing to keep the Tide where they are at #1 this week. QB John Parker Wilson threw for 214 yards and rushed for two scores. Alabama intercepted Jarrett Lee four times with Rashad Johnson picking off three passes himself, including one in the end zone on LSU’s opening drive in overtime. Right now Bama is #1, but we are skeptical they’ll be there at the end of the season.

#2 Texas Tech (10-0), Defeated #11 Oklahoma State (8-2) 56-20  at home. Next week: Bye. Fresh off their last second heroics in beating #1 Texas last week, there was skepticism, whether Tech just lucked out.  Even Lee Corso predicted the Raiders would lose “big” against OSU. As he often is, Lee was dead wrong.  Tech bobbled a snap in their first series, giving up a quick TD. They they proceded to run off seven, yes seven straight touchdown drives. The only thing that stopped them was the band at halftime. Graham Harrell was 40/50 for 456 yards and 6 TDs. OSU, one of the best defensive teams in the country allowing an average of just over 320 yards per game, had allowed over that in the first half. In the end, they would allow 629 yards against the Raiders.  Tech now has an off week, before traveling to Norman for the game of their lifetime. Tech’s path is pretty clear, if they beat OU and Baylor, then win the Big-12 Championship, no one keeps them from the National Title game. Any thing less, and they don’t even get a BCS bowl game without OU or Texas losing the final game of their season.

#3 Florida (8-1). Defeated Vanderbilt (5-4) 42-14 at Vanderbilt. Next week: South Carolina (7-3) at home. One time darling Vanderbilt, just couldn’t stay on the same field with so much speed and talent. We have to give the game ball to QB Tim Tebow who rushed for 88 yards and two TDs and passed for 171 yards and three TDs, which seemed to us more like his Heisman-winning stats from a  year ago. Florida ends up with SC, Citadel and non-conference Florida State.  There are some hard games in there, not the least of which will be next week (but SC goes to Talahassee), and then FSU is always a toughie. However, we can sure begin to see a National title invitation being written to Urban Meyer’s group in a few weeks if they beat Alabama in the SEC Championship game.

#4 Oklahoma (9-1). Defeated Texas A&M (4-6) 66-28 at College Station. Next week: Bye. This was pretty much expected, seeing that OU’s pass offense is as prolific as Texas Tech’s and A&M’s passing defense is, well, non-existant.  QB Sam Bradford found four different receivers for touchdowns and passed for 320 yards and generated 653 yards of total offense. We can only shutter as to what happens in two weeks when Tech comes to town.

#5 Texas (9-1). Defeated Baylor (3-7) 45-21 in Austin. Next week: At Kansas (6-4). The Bears became the target of vengeance this week, as the Longhorns battered Baylor to get the bad taste out of their mouths resulting from the previous week’s last second loss to Tech. Colt McCoy overcame two first-half interceptions to end up with 5 TDs and 300 yards passing. Texas may find it hard to cheer for OU or Texas Tech in the next few weeks, but they may have to. Side note here, Bears are showing signs of becoming competitive.  In a couple of more years for Baylor and A&M to grow up,  the Big 12 South will be a bloodbath like even the SEC isn’t!

#6 USC (8-1). Defeated California (6-3) 17-3 at home. Next week: At Stanford (5-5). Without a doubt, USC has the best defense in the country, and against proved it Saturday holding the Cal Bears to 3 points and only 165 total yards of offense. This now makes a total of 13 points allowed in the last 5 weeks. Unlike LSU, however, USC does have enough ball-control offense to win. Mark Sanchez was 18/29 for 238 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions. USC still has Notre Dame and UCLA at the end of their schedule, and still has to wait for Oregon State to lose to seal the Rose Bowl bid. The Beavers still have the hardest part of their schedule left:  California at home, at Arizona, and Oregon at home.

#7 Utah (10-0). Defeated #12 TCU (9-2) 13-10. Next week: At San Diego State (1-9). So ok, we give up.  Utah is better than TCU, although, not by much.  Actually we shouldn’t move Utah up so much, as move TCU down, but that would be unfair.  TCU can’t kick a field goal. Plain and simple. Two attempts went left and right that should have, at the very least, sent the game to OT. Credit a fiesty Utah defense however. Utah QB Brian Johnson passed for 230 yards and threw the game-winning TD with 47 seconds left. Projecting that Utah will probably be in the Fiesta Bowl, we can’t think of any BCS team that wont outscore Utah 3-4 TDs in that game.

#8 Penn State (9-1). Lost to Iowa (6-4) 24-23 at Iowa. Next week: Indiana (3-7) at home. Penn State’s promising season derailed on Saturday in an uncharacteristically sloppy performance against Iowa.  We talk alot about how good teams dont lose focus against mediocre teams (ala Georgia).  The Nittany Lions did just that.  They tried to walk through the game, and ended up on the wrong end of the score, eliminating them from title contention.  Now they’ll need every ounce of effort to get to the Rose Bowl, by beating Michigan State in a few weeks. Daryll Clark perhaps was the biggest bust, going only 9/23 for 86 yards and an interception. whew. All four of the Hawkeye’s losses to date were by a total of 12 pts, so if the passing attack showed any signs of life, Iowa had a chance, and that’s exactly what happened.

#9 Ohio State (8-2). Defeated Northwestern (7-3) 45-10 at NW. Next week: At Illinois (5-5). We kinda wonder what this noise is about putting Boise State above several teams here. Again, we think that the pollsters many times are on drugs, or never watch any games. Ohio State may right now be the best Big-10 team, yes even better than PSU who beat them by a TD just 1 week ago. Terrelle Pryor, the OSU freshman QB has to get the game ball after giving the Buckeyes a confidence booster with a huge rebound from last week’s painful loss to Penn State. Right now we’re not sure if PSU can get by MSU, so guess who is in the driver’s seat?  If MSU beats PSU, Ohio State goes to the Rose Bowl, if they win out, by virtue of the Buckeyes 45-7 win over MSU on 10/18.

#10 Boise State (9-0). Defeated Utah State (2-8) 49-14 at home. Next week: At Idaho (2-8). The Broncos have a chance to get to a BCS Bowl as an at-large bid, if they can continue to dominate their conference. The Utah State Aggies were no hurdle as BSU QB Kellen Moore was 27/36 for 362 yards and 2 TDs. The Bronco defense caused 6 Aggie turnovers also. BSU ends up with Idaho, Nevada and Fresno State.

#11 Oklahoma State (8-2). Lost to #2 Texas Tech (10-0) 56-20 in Lubbock. Next week: At Colorado (5-5). See above.  The Cowboys could still play a spoiler when they play Oklahoma the last week of the regular season.

#12 Missouri (8-2). Defeated Kansas State (4-6) 41-24 at home. Next week: At Iowa State (2-8). Despite a mediocre night for Chase Daniels (24/36, 271 yards, 2 TDs. 2 INTs), the team racked up 511 yards of total offense against KSU. Missouri no longer can just sit back and relax. The season ender with Kansas could result in the Big-12 North Champion.  Whoever that is, they’ll be at least a double-digit underdog to ANY Big-12 South opponent.

#13 Georgia (8-2). Defeated Kentucky (6-4) 42-38 at KY. Next week: At Auburn (5-5). The Bulldogs, yet again, lost focus, but this time were able to pull out a come-back victory with a last minute TD and then subsequent INT.  It was the big three that came through in the clutch for Georgia: QB Matthew Stafford threw for a career-high 376 yards, Mohamed Massaquoi had a career-high eight catches for 191 yards and a score and Knowshon Moreno ran for 123 yards and three TDs. Georgia can only really affect anything, by playing spoiler in a couple of weeks against rival Georgia Tech.

#14 TCU (9-2). Lost to #7 Utah (10-0) 13-10. Next week: Bye. See above. TCU lost its chance to get to a BCS, unless  BSU or Utah stumbles. Even then it would be climb.

#15 Brigham Young (9-1). Defeated San Diego State (1-9) 41-12 at home. Next week: At Air Force (8-2). There just isn’t much BYU can do at this point except try to win out and get a good post-season bowl game.  They could definitely play spoiler in the MWAC if they were to beat Utah in the last game of the season, though. This week however, it was no surprise, QB Max Hall who completed 25 of 30 passes for 317 yards and three TDs. Three SDSU fumbles and an interception didn’t help either.

#16 Michigan State (9-2). Defeated Purdue (3-7) 21-7 at home.  Next week: Bye. We were impressed with the Spartans against Purdue, even though it was a home game. Purdue, even despite its record, has played everyone very tough, especially defensively.  While MSU isn’t going to really knock you over with offense, their defense in this game was admirable allowing less than 200 total yards. Javon Ringer played the power back and accumulated 121 yards on 31 carries and 2 TDs. MSU gets its chance in two weeks against Penn State. How much passing offense can MSU generate to loosen up PSU’s run defense?  If they can’t do something like what Iowa did, Ringer will have an 80 yd day and MSU ends 9-3.

#17 LSU (6-3). Lost to #1 Alabama (10-0) 27-21 in overtime at Baton Rouge.  Next week: Troy (6-3) at home. See above.  A valiant effort, but with no Quarterback, LSU is doomed this year.

#18 Ball State (9-0).  Defeated Northern Illinois (5-4) 45-14 at home. Next week: At Miami (OH) (2-7). The Cardinals keep rolling on toward a end of season showdown with Central Michigan for the Mac West in two weeks. Junior QB Nate Davis was 18/22 for 300 yards and 4 TDs.

#19 North Carolina (7-2). Defeated Georgia Tech (7-3) 28-7. Next week: At Maryland (6-3). And we now come to the highest ranked ACC team. We can’t remember that a BCS Conference had its leading team ranked so low. Of course this opens the door for such teams as Utah and Boise State.  However, this was an impressive and somewhat surprising win by the Tar Heels. Three fourth-quarter TDs sealed the Tar Heels’ seventh win, the first time they’ve reach that mark since 2001. Georgia Tech seemed to have no answer, and continues to be week to week.

#20 Pitt (7-2). Defeated Louisville (5-4) 41-7 at home. Next week: Bye. The Panthers put it all together this week in crushing Louisville, breaking the Heinz Field curse. Pitt exploded on defense causing 5 Cardinal turnovers (3 fumbles 2 interceptions) and had a big 21-point 4th quarter to run away. Pitt’s path to the Big East Championship starts big in 2 weeks when they travel to Cincinnati to play the Bearcats.  The end of the season against West Virginia and Connecticut, could come into play depending on how other games go.

#21 Florida State (7-2). Defeated Clemson (4-5) 41-27 at home. Next week: Boston College (6-3) at home. The Seminoles are precariously atop the ACC Atlantic, but can’t afford a slip up.  In this game it was the FSU running game that was the spotlight, as five different backs accounted for 266 yards on the ground (shades of USC).  With an earlier loss to Wake Forest, and an upcoming game against Maryland, FSU can’t afford even the slightest of let downs, but the road is tough… Boston College at home, and at Maryland will decide their fate.

#22 Cincinnati (7-2). Defeated West Virginia (6-3) 26-23 in OT at WV. Next week: At Louisville (5-4). The Bearcats keep surprising many people, playing well despite a bevvy of injuries that would have derailed most any other team. Cincy went out early in this game and held a 20-7 lead until 1:11 left in the game, when they ran out the back of the end zone for a safety (20-9). On the ensuing West Virgina possession, they scored and got a 2pt conversion with 19 seconds remaining (20-17). An onside kick was recovered, and WV kicked a tying FG with no time remaining to send it into overtime, at which time Cincy got the TD after WV got a FG.  Cincy’s destiny is in its own hands, with games against Louisville, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Winning out would get them a BCS Bowl as the Big East Champion.

#23 Tulsa (8-1). Did not play.  Next week: At Houston (5-4). Tulsa sports the #1 offense in the country, yes ahead of Texas Tech. QB David Johnson has an overall rating of 198.25, and has thrown for almost 3000 yards and 33 touchdowns (comparatively, Graham Harrell has thrown for 4,077 yards, 36 touchdowns and has a rating of 169.18).  The Golden Hurricane ran into difficulty last week against Arkansas and lost by a TD. However, they are still on track to win the C-USA west if they can get by Houston this week, then Tulane and Marshall.

#24 South Carolina (7-3). Defeated Arkansas (4-6) 34-21 at home. Next week: At #3 Florida. Very systematically, the ‘Ol Ball Coach has built a great program at South Carolina winning 6 of the last 7 games. We’ll remind everyone that the Gamecocks have lost to Georgia, Vanderbilt and LSU by only 7 points each time. So we’re not talking a fluke here.  The Gamecock defense picked 3 interceptions in the Arkansas game and outscored the Razorbacks 14-7 in the 4th quarter to hold on to the victory. The game against Florida shouldn’t be taken lightly, even tho its in the Swamp.

#25 Virginia Tech (6-3). Defeated Maryland (6-3) 23-13 at home. Next week: At Miami (6-3). In and out of the T25 all year, the Hokies do seem to be playing their best team football right now. They entered the game averaging 280 yards per game,  but exploded for 400, mostly behind RB Darren Evans who ran for a school-record 253 yards and a TD.  The road is easy for VT…if they win out against Miami, Duke and Virginia they win the ACC Coastal by virtue of the fact they beat North Carolina earlier in the year.

Dropped out: Maryland, Ga Tech, Northwestern, West Virginia. California

Bubble: Kansas Minnesota, Wake Forest

Most Impressive: Texas Tech, Ohio State, Pitt

Least Impressive: Penn State, TCU, LSU

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (5), SEC (5), Big-10 (3), ACC (3), MWAC (3), Big East (2), Pac-10 (1), WAC (1), C-USA (1), MAC (1)

This weeks Projected BCS Bowl Games:

National Championship:  Florida vs. Oklahoma

Rose Bowl:  USC  vs. Penn State

Fiesta Bowl:  Texas  vs.  Utah

Sugar Bowl: Boise State vs. Alabama

Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs Pittsburgh

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Week 11 games find many crucial conference match-us that could begin to shape the BCS and Bowl Picture. Beginning next week, we’ll be starting to look at possible BCS Bowl alignments and who might have inside tracks.  In the meantime, lets take a look at the games!

#1 Alabama (9-0) at #13 LSU (6-2). We could make some major case of this being the “Battle of the Week”, but in all reality it really won’t be.  That’s not to say there isn’t something on the line however.  When you are #1, every game is an ambush, and this one won’t be any different.  It’s Saban-bowl 2008, which is certain to foster not-so-great feelings in Baton Rouge.  However, Bama has a commanding lead in a division that boast them and not much else. The Tide has played extremely well, and with relative consistency, though their resume this year boasts very little competition (Georgia and Clemson both have proven to be nothing of what was promised). LSU is the last partial test. But the Tigers haven’t fared well all season. The once touted LSU defense has proven to be overly pourous against ranked teams, allowing 50+ points against both Florida and Georgia. Granted a great deal of this is due to a poor, under-performing offense.  LSU does seem to fare well when they can control the ball on the ground. This happens when the O-Line can dominate the opponent’s D-line as they did against Tulane (231 yds rushing), South Carolina (164 yards), and North Texas (216 yards). LSU has struggled all season long with consistent QB play also.  Bama can put points on the board at times, but usually does so only when opportunity presents itself… the offense would rather play a steady ball-control offense, which plays against LSU here.  To beat Alabama, LSU will have to push the Bama line around, on both sides of the ball, which we think isn’t possible. Barring sloppy play by the Tide, we think this is a rather ho-hum game.  Alabama by 14.

#2 Texas Tech (9-0) hosts #8 Oklahoma State (8-1). Easily the game of the week in the country, not only for both teams, but for the top 10.  Tech showed a remarkable defense last Saturday against Texas, and against perhaps the best defense in the Big-12, was able to move pretty much at will, including taking only 1:29 at the end of the game to score the winning TD. However, let’s also remember that Texas didn’t play with usual intensity and came back and almost won the game.  The key to beating Tech is, and always has been, offensive ball control.  We’re pretty convinced that in a normal game situation, Tech can/will score when they have to. So, Oklahoma State’s key to this game is to buck with last year’s strategy (outscore TTU) and control the ball in large globs of time, to wear out the TTU defense and reduce the number of possessions. One thing that OSU brings to the table is a mobile QB in Zac Robinson, and a great running game.  Tech will need a huge game from their defensive tackles to shut down the running game, put pressure on Robinson, and get turnovers.  Tech MUST win this game to have any chance to get to a BCS game, since their next game is against Oklahoma IN Norman. The biggest question we have is if the Tech defense can put together 2 great games in a row, or will defensive coach Ruffin McNeil choose to play a loose, bend-but-not-break defense and tempt OSU to get out of a ball-control offense.  In their game against Texas in a losing effort, OSU held the Longhorns to 28 points.  They’ll assuredly mix up their defenses  and need turnovers.  On the basis of the uncertainty of the Tech defense, we have to put this game on Upset Watch, however, we like the play making ability of Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree, and the TTU offense to win out in the end.  Red Raiders by 7.

#3 Penn State (9-0) at Iowa (5-4). The Nittany Lions got the week off, and found themselves down a spot. However, there’s little they can do, because of the relative ease of conference and non-conference opponents.  We think that while Iowa has the ability defensively to cause PSU trouble, the question is if they can muster the offensive punch to get it done against a very daunting PSU defense who allows only 11 points per game. Penn State’s lack of schedule forces their hand from here on out, and they’ll have to bury their opponents and hope for a miracle to get them in National Title Contention. So, look for PSU to run the score up when possible.  Penn State by 16.

#4 Oklahoma (8-1) at Texas A&M (4-5). Certainly on paper, this looks like a lopsided victory for the Sooners, and it may well be. However, We remind folks that A&M actually outperformed Texas Tech in the first half of their game earlier this season and led Tech at halftime. A&M has a powerful rushing game, and a decent passing game, when given time to throw. The A&M defense plays with intensity and at home in Kyle Field, its a perfect scenario for a trap game as OU might look past A&M to #2 Tech.  However, Bob Stoops is no fool, and he’ll instill the discipline needed.  OU QB Sam Bradford will just have too many weapons for the A&M secondary to keep up with.  This has the potential to get ugly. Sooners by 28.

#5 Florida (7-1) at Vanderbilt (5-3). The Gators have been perhaps the most consistently improving team of the 2008 campaign.  Since their week 4 loss to Mississippi, they have outscored their opponents 201-43 in those four ensuing games, which averages out to a 50-10 victory/game.  They’ve not only shown a potent offense, but an amazing defense that qualifies them as a front runner for a BCS or National Title game participant.  After starting 5-0, Vanderbilt has gone the other way, however, losing three straight and scoring no more than 14 pts/game.  This one probably will be a blow out.  Gators by 27.

#6 Texas (8-1) hosts Baylor (3-6). Alot has been made about the lack of Texas to play its game in the first half last week against Texas Tech, but let’s not forget that the Longhorn’s fought back and came within 1:29 of winning the game. All of this after a grueling slate of top 25 games. Now Texas can relax and watch everyone else beat up on each other as they get a bit of a break.  However, how big a break?  Baylor’s record might not be completely indicative of the quality of their team.  Last week, the Bears nearly straight-up beat Missouri, except for a last minute field goal. The Freshman QB sensation, Robert Griffin was 26/35 for 283 yards and 2 TD’s last week against the Tigers. There’s no reason why he can’t do the same against Texas, as Zac Robinson (OSU) and Graham Harrell (TTU) had absolutely no problem exploiting the Longhorn defensive secondary.  However, we’re pretty sure that since this game is in Austin, and Texas would like to wash the taste of last week out of its mouth, Baylor might be in for a long afternoon.  Longhorns by 31.

#7 USC (7-1) hosts #22 California (6-2). Almost stealthily, the Trojans have risen from the ashes, after their week 3 embarrassment to Oregon State, and have emerged, not as the offensive juggernaut of the past, but arguably the best defensive team in the country.  In the 5 games following the Beaver loss, USC has allowed 20 points, and recorded 3 shutouts.  Now folks, we don’t really care who those teams are, if you average giving up 4 pts a game over 5 games that’s really good. Now, if the offensive side could just gain a little composure and chemistry.  USC had chosen lately to go back to basics and get it done on the ground, and why not?  They have a stable full of backs, including C.J. Gables and Stafon Johnson who both average over 5 yds/carry. Mark Sanchez still needs some work with control. The Cal Bears have equally been quiet as they have worked their way into contention in the Pac-10. The Trojans are 24-0 in November under Pete Carroll. Cal has won four of its past five games, including a win over No. 24 Oregon last week. We love the former stat and think that continues.  USC by 10.

#8 Oklahoma State (8-1) at #2 Texas Tech (9-0). See above.  Tech by 7.

#9 Ohio State (7-2) at Northwestern (7-2). We must admit that we’re putting our necks on the line by ranking a 2-loss team so high in the rankings. This week will tell where  Ohio State really is. The Buckeyes have been consistently getting better, and sports a very fast, scary-good defense that held Penn State to only 13 points. In fact OSU has held opponents to around 7 pts/game in the past 3 games. The trouble with the Buckeyes has been putting together a consistent offensive attack. Freshman QB Tyrelle Pryor, has worked hard all season to lead the offense, and performed well in a come-back role against Wisconsin.  Northwestern, on the other hand, has been terribly inconsistent, splitting their last 4 games, losing to Michigan State (understandable) and lowly Indiana (not understandable).  The Wildcats stole the game from the Gophers last week on a last second interception return for a TD, so that, too, was a bit disconcerting. We think that the Buckeyes might be way too much for Northwestern on both sides.  Ohio State by 17.

#10 TCU (9-1) at #12 Utah (9-0). Most likely, this match-up will go a long way in deciding who the BCS Buster will be this year.  In the BCS, TCU actually sits 3rd behind Utah and Boise State, with Utah somehow making it to #8 in the country. Utah has played no ranked teams, and barely got by New Mexico last week.  There’s no doubt that the Ute offense can put points up, but the Frog defense doesn’t allow many of those. In the 5 games since their loss to Oklahoma, TCU has allowed 7 points in 4 of the 5, and just 14 last week on the way to a 44-14 romp.   This one is on Upset Watch, as we think that this one could be close, but that the TCU defense will be the deciding factor.  Frogs by 6.

#11 Boise State (8-0) hosts Utah State (2-7). BSU might find going undefeated wont be enough this year, especially if TCU beats Utah.  With no remaining ranked teams on their schedule, and the only ranked win was Oregon, who has since departed the T25, the Broncos have their work cut out for them to get to a BCS bowl this year  They’ll need to take apart their remaining opponents with big numbers and large win margins to overtake Utah/TCU.  Against Utah State, this should easy, especially at home.  Boise State by 23.

#12 Utah (9-0) hosts #10 TCU (9-1). See above.  TCU by 6.

#13 LSU (6-2) hosts #1 Alabama (9-0). See above.  Bama by 14.

#14 Missouri (7-2) hosts Kansas State (4-5). The Tigers are just trying to get through the remainder of their season, and gear up for a final challenge against the winner of the Big-12 South. Their remaining schedule will offer them little in the way of movement up, unless there is mass chaos above them. But at 14th in the BCS, that will be difficult to get to a BCS bowl unless they do win the Big-12. Kansas State should offer very little resistance, and may offer Chase Daniels a chance to pad his stats.  Look for an opportunity to run the score up to help in BCS points.  Missouri by 32.

#15. Georgia (7-2) at Kentucky (6-3). Next year, when we are tempted to YET AGAIN, put Georgia in the top 10, please remind us that every year they start there and end up around 15-16.  The Dawgs travel to Lexington to take on a pretty good Kentucky team that’s managed to do well overall, but is 2-3 in SEC East play meaning that while bowl eligible, they stand no change for anything in the SEC. Georgia needs Florida to lose twice to have any shot at the SEC Championship but that’s not likely. The Dawg defense has been thumped twice this year now, once by Florida and once by Alabama. However, the rest of the time, it’s held up quite well.  We think that this could be the deciding factor in the game. Kentucky gave up 63 to Florida, so we don’t have alot of confidence that it can stop Matt Stafford.  Georgia by 17.

#16 Brigham Young (8-1) hosts San Diego State (1-8). Not much analysis here. SD State’s defense is just dismal giving up 41 to TCU, 35 to Air Force, 38 to Colorado State, and 70 to New Mexico.  BYU QB Max Hall should have a field day.  Cougars by 35.

#17 Michigan State (8-2) hosts Purdue (3-6). Now here’s something to think about.  If the Spartans, Penn State and OSU all finish with one loss, MSU will take the Big Ten on a tiebreaker. Purdue, which has won its past two visits to East Lansing, needs to win its final three games to become bowl-eligible. To do this they will need to try to snap an 18-game losing streak to ranked opponents. Ouch. We’d take this a little more seriously, if they were playing at Purdue..but they aren’t.  Purdue is tough against the run, and thus Javon Ringer may find the going a bit tough. This will put a bit more pressure on QB Brian Hoyer who had only a 91.29 rating against Wisconsin last week.  We’re putting this one on Upset Watch, but are giving home field advantage to MSU.  Spartans by 3.

#18 Ball State (8-0) hosts Northern Illinois (5-3). The Cardinals have beaten the nation’s top-ranked rushing offense, the Indiana Hoosiers’ fast-paced, no-huddle strategy and everyone else’s attempt to play keep the ball away from their own potent attack. The next daunting challenge for Ball State comes Wednesday night, when the Cardinals face the Mid-American Conference’s best defensive team in Northern Illinois. Since by the time you read this, the game will be over,  our prediction might be a bit untimely, but we think that Ball State is really LOTS better than people think they are.  They will prove this against No Illinois.  Cardinals by 18.

#19. North Carolina (6-2) hosts #23 Georgia Tech (7-2). The two leading teams in the ACC Coastal meet to gain an inside track to the division title. A Tar Heels win would guarantee a winning season for the first time since 2001. The Yellow Jackets are 8-1 in the past nine meetings between the schools. This makes the meeting all the more interesting. It was thought that Tar Heels QB T.J. Yates might be able to return for the game (he fractured his ankle against Virginia Tech on 9/20), but he won’t be playing. Junior Cameron Sexton will remain at the helm. and perhaps that’s good. He went 19/30 last week against Boston College for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets are off a hard fought victory against Florida State last week 31-28. It should be a great game.  A game obviously on Upset Watch, our take on it is that GT probably has the better defense here and in close games its a good way to go.  Georgia Tech by 6.

#20 Maryland (6-2) at Virginia Tech (5-3). Another ACC battle, this time cross divisional. Maryland is in a tie with Florida State for the lead in the Atlantic Division, and has a tough row to hoe in the next few weeks: Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Florida State.  The Terrapins have gotten back on track since a 31-0 pounding 3 weeks ago by Virginia, while the Hokies are tying to stop a 2-game skid. Maryland is 3-0 against ranked foes this season but just 3-2 versus unranked schools. Defense, again, will play a pivotal role, and we think that at home, that makes the difference for VT, and so this one goes on Upset Watch also.  Hokies by 4.

#21 West Virginia (6-2) hosts Cincinnati (6-2). It’s a battle of quarterbacks in West Virginia, where Pat White hosts whomever Cincinnati has healthy. The Bearcats have gone through three quarterbacks, with Tony Pike playing the past two despite a broken non-throwing arm. West Virginia has won three straight against Cincinnati and leads the all-time series 14-1-1. There’s not much discussion here we think, as the Mountaineers should prevail easily. West Virginia by 17.

#22 California (6-2) at #7 USC (7-1). See above. Trojans by 10.

#23 Georgia Tech (7-2)  at #19 North Carolina (6-2). See above. Georgia Tech by 6.

#24 Northwestern (7-2) hosts #9 Ohio State (7-2). See above. Ohio State by 17.

#25 Pittsburgh (6-2) hosts Louisville (5-3). Ironically, Pittsburgh has played like a Top 25 team on the road this season, going 4-0 including a win over a top 10 opponent. However, inside Heinz Field,  it hasn’t looked nearly as comfortable. Pitt comes off a come-from-behind, 4-OT win over Notre Dame, but the week before got thumped by Rutgers 54-34. Louisville junior wide receiver Scott Long tore his right ACL in practice on Tuesday night and is out for the season, so call that a major blow before a big conference game.  We think Pitt is just playing better right now, and if they can put together enough defense, they’ll break the Heinz curse.  Pittsburgh by 4.

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Last year, in 2007, the upsets began the first week of November and continued through to the end of the season.  It looks as if we are in for another down to the wire run again this year too. Everything is getting bunched up early and its for sure that the BCS system will again come under fire when all is said and done.

Week 10 of 2008 will go down as a week of great games and great performances. It started early with Florida’s impressive, unexpected, 49-19 blowout of Georgia. It has seemed now for a few weeks that Florida was emerging as one of the best 1-loss team in the nation and they proved it.  Northwestern intercepted a pass with time running out, to snatch a victory over a recently charging Minnesota.  Georgia Tech did the same against Florida State, and even some non T25 games were thrilling, such as last minute wins by Purdue over Michigan and Illinois over Iowa.

Of course the game of the week, was the shootout in Lubbock between two undefeated Big-12 teams, #1 Texas and #5 Texas Tech. We’ll own up to the fact we thought this game was way overhyped, but we and most of the world had no idea that TTU’s defense would play the game of their lives, and Texas would totally underperform.  The win by Tech will most certainly get them to the top 3 in the country, and from there, they are in control of their destiny. The variations on just the Big-12 South are unbelievable.  There are scenarios that could see three teams be 11-1 at the end of the regular season. We aren’t even exactly sure how they break that tie, but four Big-12 South Teams all have shots at not only a BCS Bowl Game but also a National Championship.

A handful of games seem to point the way to the remainder of the season.  Texas Tech has Oklahoma State and Oklahoma on it schedule the next 2 weeks. If they run the table, there’s a compelling case for title bid, since they would have beat, in succession #23, #1, #8 and # 4.   We don’t know how the pollsters or BCS computers could keep them out of a title bid if they also beat Missouri in the Big-12 championship. However things could shape up to be very scrambled, should TTU beat Oklahoma State and lose to OU (and beat Baylor), and both OU and Texas win out.  That would put 3 Big-12 South teams at 11-1. Or consider if OU beats Tech, and loses to Oklahoma State?  The mind boggles!

Penn State and Michigan State will lock up in a few weeks, that could position the Nittany Lions for a Title invitation, but chances are, they’d need some help to get there, even if they were undefeated, due to their non-competitive schedule. Florida, Texas Tech, and probably Alabama would all have to lose for PSU to be considered for a title bid. Not out of the question, however.

Florida, after trouncing Georgia, now has clear sailing to the SEC Championship from the East side, while Alabama has some work to do against LSU in Baton Rouge next week and then Mississippi State and Auburn.  If Alabama runs the table (including the SEC Championship) there’s no one going to keep them out of a title bid.

Oklahoma and Texas both have paths to BCS Bowls, with possible title game hopes. OU gets Texas Tech in Norman. However they must end with Oklahoma State in Stillwater, and anything could happen there. Because of the prior loss to Texas, OU would need for Texas to lose once more, which is unlikely against very mediocre teams. So, Texas has the easiest freeway to the Big-12 Championship against Missouri.

So with all the hubbub, let’s take a stab at the new rankings.

#1 Alabama (9-0). Defeated Arkansas State (4-4) 35-0 at home. Next week: At #13 LSU (6-2). On a day that saw most all the top 10 teams perform well, the Tide did their job in workman-like manner. Alabama improved to 9-0 for the second time in the last four years (2005). Dating back to their bowl game last season, the Crimson Tide has won 10 straight games. It is the 21st double-digit winning streak for Alabama, an NCAA record. Alabama freshman RB Mark Ingram rushed for 113 yards on just 12 carries, his first career 100-yard game. Freshman RB Mark Ingram rushed for 113 yards on just 12 carries, his first career 100-yard game.

#2 Texas Tech (9-0). Defeated #6 Texas (8-1) 39-33 at home. Next week: #8 Oklahoma State (8-1). Tech gets to 9-0 for the first time since 1938 on the strength of a brutal defense in the first half, and riding the Harrell-Crabtree train in the final 1:29. The numbers in the game were staggering on both sides, as 854 yards of offense were put up.  Harrell ended up 36/53 for 474 yards and 2 TD, while Michael Crabtree had 10 receptions for 127 yards and the game winning TD. Special recogntion goes to Texas WR Malcolm Williams who had 4 receptions for 182 yards and a 91-yard TD. The Tech running duo of Shannon Woods and Baron Batch accounted for 122 yards rushing. The Tech defense had better put equal effort next week against OSU.

#3 Penn State (9-0). Did not play. Next week: At Iowa (5-4). Playing in a weak conference with no conference championship game will hurt the Nittany Lions down the road, even if they finish undefeated. Probably just as hurtful was their non-conference schedule. Too many other teams, if successful, will keep PSU out of any title hopes barring some freakish circumstances.

#4 Oklahoma (8-1). Defeated Nebraska (5-4) 62-28 at home. Next week: At Texas A&M (4-5). Despite his defensive prowess at LSU, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini must be wondering what his team can do to show up against ranked opponents.  OU put up 14 points inside the first 3 minutes of the game on the way to a 35-point 1st quarter, and never looked back. QB Sam Bradford put up 311 yards and 5 TDs. OU has a narrow path to a title bid, but they would need to run the table (against 2 Top 10 teams) and hope that Texas loses. Best bet for them is a BCS bowl game, but thats only guaranteed if they win out.

#5 Florida (7-1). Defeated #15 Georgia (7-2) 49-10 at Georgia. Next week: At Vanderbilt (5-3). Any other day in college ball, the Gators would be headed upward. Clearly we have a log jam of 1-loss teams now that could easily be ranked in all 6 possible permutations.  Florida, however, has to be playing the best overall and improves more each week. Heisman winner Tim Tebow accounted for 5 TDs (3 Passing, 2 Running), and the Gator defense just hounded Georgia all day.  Florida does have a problem down the stretch, playing very marginal opponents, so the BCS system won’t be kind to them. However, it looks more and more like an Alabama-Florida SEC Championship, the winner, going to the National Title game.

#6 Texas (8-1). Lost to #3 Texas Tech (9-0) 39-33 in Lubbock. Next week: Baylor (3-6) at home. The road gets much easier for Texas now, who could be in the driver’s seat while they stand back and watch OU, Tech and Oklahoma State beat up on each other the next few weeks.

#7 USC (7-1). Defeated Washington (0-8) 56-0 at home. Next week: California (6-2) at home. It wasn’t a great miracle that the Trojans rolled over the Huskies, but the fact is that they did win big, which was vital to their possible title hopes. Like Penn State, they are a victim of a weak conference, and as such, will have a tough time moving up unless they put lots and lots of points up against the weaklings. SC did the job against Washington mostly on the ground, using 7 different backs to rush for 297 of their 485 yards of offense. C.J. Gables lead the way with 108 yards and 2 TDs. By the way, don’t look now, but the Trojans have recorded shutouts in 3 of the last 4 games.  That’s a pretty impressive stat. They look Rose Bowl bound.

#8 Oklahoma State (8-1). Defeated Iowa State (2-7) 59-17 at home. Next week: At #3 Texas Tech (9-0). the Cowboys took a 28-10 halftime lead and rode that to an easy victory. QB Zac Robinson had 395 yards passing and 5 TDs on the night, while RB Kendall Hunter ran for 104 yards on 13 carries. OSU stll can get to a Big-12 Championship, but it wont be easy.  They’ve alrady lost to Texas, so if both win out, Texas gets the nod. So, OSU must win out to go 11-1, then they must hope that Texas loses. A pretty remote possibility. However, if they DO win out (over TTU and OU) they’ll probably get a BCS bid.

#9 Ohio State (7-2). Did not play. Next week: At Northwestern (7-2). We might be the only rankings that place OSU ahead of a a few non-BCS teams, but we’re still pretty sure that Ohio State has what it takes to finish out in a good position for a bowl bid.  Keep in mind that Penn State must still get by Iowa and Michigan State to get to the Rose Bowl. So, things aren’t over yet in the Big-10.

#10 TCU (9-1). Defeated UNLV (3-6) 44-14 at UNLV. Next week: At #12 Utah (9-0). Again we break with tradition here and put the 1-loss Frogs ahead of a couple of undefeated teams. We simply think that TCU is just a better overall team than BSU and Utah, but we’ll see next week. In the meantime, TCU  used its powerful running game and stifling defense to easily tame the Rebels. Next week’s game v. Utah could be the biggest game of TCU’s history, and a ticket to a BCS bowl, but probably only if the pollsters somehow fall out of love with Boise State.  However, a Frog win over a ranked Utah team, might bolster them in the BCS rankings enough to get by, as BSU has no ranked teams remaining on their schedule.

#11 Boise State (8-0). Defeated New Mexico State (3-5) 49-0 in Las Cruces, NM. Next week: Utah State (2-7) at home. BSU keeps on track for a bowl bid, and perhaps even a BCS bowl, if Utah and TCU both fail down the stretch.  QB Kellen Moore threw for 246 yards and 3 TDs.

#12 Utah (9-0). Defeated New Mexico (4-6) 13-10 at NM. Next week: #10 TCU (9-1) at home. This week was a good example as to why we still don’t get on board the Ute bandwagon. Were it not for a last minute tackle to end a driving New Mexico, Utah could easily have come to an abrupt end. However, that being said, there’s little doubt that next week’s game against TCU will be a BCS bowl-qualifier for one of the two teams.

#13 LSU (6-2). Defeated Tulane (2-6) 35-10 at home. Next week: #1 Alabama (9-0) at home. The Tigers pretty much walked their way to a victory over their cross-town rival.  LSU generated almost 2/3rds of their offense on the ground, with RB Charles Scott running for 114 yards on 12 carries, but highlighting the continual problems with their QB situation.  Defense was solid, but after getting torched by Georgia and Florida for over 50+ each, an improvement was in order!  We’re wondering if Alabama will hang 50 on LSU next week?

#14 Missouri (7-2). Defeated Baylor (3-6) 31-28 in Waco. Next week: Kansas State (4-5) at home. Perhaps one of the tragic stories of the year. The Tigers will probably win the Big-12 North, but only because they play in a division that’s the weakest of any teams in the country.  They are now 1-2 against their South opponents, and had a tough time getting by an ever-improving Baylor Bear team. The Tigers needed a late FG, and a good defensive effort to thwart a comeback. Once Heisman worthy Chase Daniels threw for over 300 yards, and 3 TDs, but keeping with recent trends, had 2 interceptions. Mercifully, Missouri has a breeze schedule to get to the Big-12 Championship game against either Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech or Oklahoma State. Ouch.

#15 Georgia (7-2). Lost to Florida (7-1) 49-10 at home. Next week: At Kentucky (6-3). It was a nightmare come true for the Bulldogs.  It was clear from post-game comments, that the little (very little) stunt last year that Georgia coach Mark Richt orchestrated by having his entire team storm the field after their 1st TD, was remembered and remembered with a vengeance. There’s no place in College Football for a no-class organization, and Urban Meyer’s group went to Georgia, laid them in ruins like Sherman did. Maybe Richt will think twice about the shenanigans and concentrate on trying to get his team to avoid choking, as they’ve done the last two years.

#16 Brigham Young (8-1). Defeated Colorado State (4-5) 45-42 in Colorado. Next week: San Diego State (1-8) at home. The Cougars again had to rally with a 17 yard TD to Dennis Pitta with 22 seconds left to beat the Rams, again showing some signs of vulnerability as they did when TCU took them to the woodshed 3 weeks ago. However, this one turned out a bit different. QB Max Hall had a huge night, going 28/35 for 389 yards and 5 TDs.

#17 Michigan State (8-2). Defeated Wisconsin (4-5) 25-24 at home. Next week: Purdue (3-6) at home. Spartan kicker Brett Swenson kicked a 44-yard field goal with 7 seconds left to give the Spartans a come from behind win in a thriller. Wisconsin out-offensed MSU, but sheer determination won this game for MSU. WR Blair White had the big day with 7 receptions for 164 yards.  Javon Ringer was held to 54 yards, but scored twice.

#18 Ball State (8-0).  Did not play. Next week: Northern Illinois (5-3) at home.

#19 North Carolina (6-2). Did not Play. Next week: #23 Georgia Tech (7-2) at home.

#20 Maryland (6-2). Did not Play. Next week: At Virginia Tech (5-3).

#21 West Virginia (6-2). Defeated Connecticut (6-3) 35-13. Next week: Cincinnati (6-2) at home. Its taken a while, but the Mountaineers came up with a great game against the Huskies, and are vying for the Big East Title again. QB Pat White ran for two TDs (109 rushing yards) and threw for one (121 passing yards).

#22 California (6-2). Defeated Oregon (6-3) 26-16. Next week: At USC (7-1). Nate Longshore was the star of the game going 13-for-27, 136 yards and a TD, and filled in for the injured Kevin Riley. With a driving rainstorm prevailing most of the game, it was a slop-fest where there were a combined 8 turnovers.

#23 Georgia Tech (7-2). Defeated Florida State (6-2) 31-28 at home. Next week: At #19 North Carolina (6-2). In another thriller, the Yellow Jackets snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, when  FSU’s Marcus Sims fumbled on second-and-goal and the ball was recovered by Tech in the end zone with 0:45 left. GT will have a bit of a showdown next week against NC for possibly a trip to the ACC Title game representing the Coastal division.

#24 Northwestern (7-2). Defeated Minnesota (7-2) 24-17 in Minnesota. Next week: #9 Ohio State at home. Another thrilling ending to go along with many this weekend. Minnesota had controlled the game, but Northwestern fought back to tie. As the clock wound down in regulation, Northwestern’s Brendan Smith returned an interception 48 yards for a TD with 12 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats the win. Give the game ball, tho, to NU’s backup QB, Mike Kafka who ran for 217 yards and threw for 143 yards and 2 TDs.

#25 Pittsburgh (6-2). Defeated Notre Dame (5-3) 36-33 in 4 overtimes at South Bend. Next week: Louisville (5-3) at home. In still another nailbiter, the Panthers took 4 OT’s to beat an inspired Notre Dame team that lead most of the game.  RB LeSean McCoy had 169 yards rushing on the night and a TD. The Panthers won, despite committing 3 turnovers.

Dropped out: Oregon, Connecticut, Minnesota, Tulsa, Florida State

On the Bubble: Florida State, Kansas, Minnesota.

Most Impressive:  Texas Tech, Florida.

Least Impressive: Missouri, Georgia.

Top 25 Composition: Big-12 (5), SEC (4), Big-10 (4), ACC (3), MWAC (3), Big-East (2), Pac-10 (2), WAC (1), MAC (1)

Personal Authors Notes:  The ACU Wildcats haven’t been able to lay claim to a Lone Star Conference championship in football since 1977. Saturday night in Javelina Stadium, the second-ranked Wildcats won at least a share of the title with a 42-17 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville.  The Wildcats are now 9-0 overall for the first time since 1950, but more importantly improved to 8-0 in the LSC and 5-0 in the LSC South Division.

The Wildcats – ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division II Super Region Four – can clinch the program’s first outright LSC football championship since 1973 next Saturday when they close out the regular season at 2 p.m. at home against Midwestern State.  ACU can win the title with a win over the Mustangs or a Tarleton State win over West Texas A&M.

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