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Posts Tagged ‘Bowl Games’

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

THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE (ACC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BIG-12 CONFERENCE

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

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

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

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

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

Combining these we have the following Big-12 Seeding:

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

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

THE BIG EAST CONFERENCE

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

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

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

THE BIG-10 CONFERENCE

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

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

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

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE (SEC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE PACIFIC-10 CONFERENCE (PAC-10)

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

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

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

THE WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

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

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

MOUNTAIN WEST ATHLETIC CONFERENCE (MWAC)

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

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

CONFERENCE-USA (C-USA)

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

C-USA EAST-

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

C-USA West-

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

I like UCF as the conference champion.

MID-AMERICA CONFERENCE (MAC)

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

MAC-EAST

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

MAC-WEST

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

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

SUN BELT CONFERENCE

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

Almost anything goes here, so lets consider the following:

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

INDEPENDENTS

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

BCS PREDICTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other January 1 Bowl Games

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

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

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

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

Other Bowl Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just when I think a weekend is going to be boring, it turns out to be anything but. Games that I thought might be sleepers, turned the top 25 on end, yet again. With this year, I should know better.

Ohio State proved that they were anything but invincible as an inspired Illinois team, led by QB Juice Williams, humbled the Buckeyes in their own house. Barring some superhuman fluke (which could occur), this drops OSU out of the National Championship race, and sets up next week their showdown with Michigan (who also lost to an upstart Wisconsin team) for a trip to the Rose Bowl. What it also did was put LSU and Oregon in the driver’s seat for the top 2 slots. But the season is winding down and lots of things can happen.

By the way, Boston College lost again this week, this time to lowly Maryland, proving yet again that the East Coast writer block failed to assess talent as they should when they voted them in the top 5 and top 10. Now they will be in the bottom 10. Here’s the way I see them now:

1. LSU (9-1). Defeated La. Tech 58-10. Next Week: At Ole Miss.
These Tigers must have been pretty fired up after seeing Ohio State lose, and therefore took care of business properly so there would be NO decision on who should be #1. In my mind, Oregon gets a little bit hurt this week because they didn’t play. LSU still doesnt have a cake walk tho. They must beat a surprising Ole Miss team next week, then finish against Arkansas, before taking on (likely) Georgia for the SEC Championship. My advice to Les Miles, look at this year and don’t get comfy at this spot.

2. Oregon (8-1). Idle this week. Next Week: At Arizona (Thurs)
The timing really couldn’t have been worse for the Ducks, as they had an off week when #1 falls and LSU rolls. Still, the Ducks are in a most advantageous driver’s seat. They have a decent final schedule (at Arizona, at UCLA, home against Oregon State) which pits them against 3 unranked teams. Its true that 2 are on the road, but also in their favor there’s no Pac-10 championship game, so if they can win out, they could be sitting at #1. But lots of things could happen between now and then before they punch a ticket to New Orleans.

3. Oklahoma (9-1). Defeated Baylor 52-21. Next Week: At Texas Tech.
The Sooners find themselves in a similar predicament as LSU, but perhaps a little more difficult. OU must win out against two very high scoring teams in Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, which gets them to the Big 12 Championship game against either Missouri or Kansas. The BCS then goes to work for them if that happens. Figure that Mizzou or Kansas will be in the top 5 when one of them goes to the Big 12 Champioship game in San Antonio, and that pits #3 against #4 0r 5. The Sooners win that game, the BCS computers might just reward them with a trip to the National Championship.

4. West Virginia (8-1). Defeated Louisville 38-31. Next Week: At Cincinnati.
The Mountaineers have a real tough road ahead to hope to vie for a National Title, and it will take alot of luck as well as work. First, they must travel to Cincy and beat a Bearcat team thats on a roll after demolishing both South Florida and UConn. Then they get back-to-back home games against UConn and Pitt to win the Big East and an automatic BCS bid. Thats doable and within the range of this high powered offense. However, the writers dont seem to be very cordial to WVU, ranking them 6th or 7th last week. They’ll likely move up a spot with the OSU loss, but still undefeated Kansas and possibly even Mizzou might garner more “puter-points”. WVU needs for alot of things to happen ahead of them to get them in the mix, but first they have to take care of business.

5. Georgia (8-2). Defeated Auburn 45-20. Next Week: Kentucky at home.
Yep you dont need to do a double take. I raised the Dawgs up after their VERY impressive showing against Auburn. I was all ready to push these guyz down, as I thought Auburn might upset, but Georgia would have NONE of that. The Dawgs aren’t home free yet by any stretch of the imagination. They must play Kentucky next week, then on the road to finish against Georgia Tech. Keep in mind that one of Georgia’s two losses was to Tennessee, who is only one game behind them in the SEC East. That means ONE slip up by the Dawgs and they go from SEC Championship to a tier 2 bowl game. Now a fantasy scenario for them is that they do win out, beat LSU in the SEC Championship and get help above them to get to a possible National Championship. Thats pretty much to ask tho.

6. Kansas (10-0). Defeated Oklahoma State 43-28. Next Week: Iowa State at home.
This KU team, I think, gets a little bit shortchanged, but I can see why. Here’s my take. First, I think right now its a toss up between KU and Mizzou for this spot, but the fact that KU did very well against a high-powered offense like Oklahoma State, makes me feel comfy giving them the edge. However, lets face it. While teams ranked 1-5 above have played formidable opponents, Kansas hasn’t play a single Top 25 tea. This makes me a bit suspicious if they should be ranked this high at all. However, they are one of only two undefeated teams (Hawaii is the other one), and that deserves some merit until they show us they dont belong. That test will be in 2 weeks against Mizzou. Could KU get to the Natiional Championship? Absolutely. The BCS has them at #4 last week and probably #3 this week. If they win out, which would mean beating OU, they might garner enought BCS points to push LSU or Oregon out.

7. Missouri (9-1). Defeated Texas A&M 40-26. Next Week: At Kansas State.
As discussed above, these Tigers are pretty much tied for #6. At leat Mizzou can boast playing not only a top 25, but a top 5 team (Oklahoma). They lost that contest by 10, mostly on turnovers. However, similarly, they havent beaten a top 25 yet either. More cause for worry. This all shakes out against Kansas in 2 weeks for the Big 12 North title, and a trip to San Antonio to most likely play OU for the Big 12 Championship. Mizzou would need lots of help to get to New Orleans tho.

8. Ohio State (10-1). Lost to Illinois 28-21. Next Week: At Michigan.
Enough said – the Buckeyes failed to keep their eyes on the prize and stumbled badly against Illinois. So what’s next? Probably a Rose Bowl bid, if they can beat Michigan on the road next week. Given past history, thats a good bet. I’ll doubt that the pollsters will put the Buckeyes this low, but they certainly deserve it.

9. Virginia Tech (8-2). Defeated Florida State 40-21. Next Week: Miami at home.
The Hokies got a big win over the Seminoles the week after FSU knocked off Boston College. Va Tech will need to dispose of Miami next week, then turn their sites on rival Virginia to win the ACC Coastal.

10. Arizona State (9-1). Defeated UCLA 24-20. Next Week: Idle.
The Sun Devils gutted it up against a formidable opponent this week, and this was a great character builder after losing a tough game last week to Oregon. Closing wins against USC and Arizona, will get them a very high non-BCS bowl game. But USC has re-emerged, so look for a tough game.

11. Hawaii (9-0). Defeated Fresno State 37-30. Next Week: At Nevada.
I expected a tough game here, and it started out as a cakewalk. The Warriors took a 21-0 lead and I thought that they would just run away with it. However, Fresno St hung in, and took advantage of an injury to Colt Brennan to get close. However, kudos to the Hawaii defense for rising up at the end. Hawaii suffers from the same fate as Kansas in that they just dont play anyone. However, Hawaii still has a very tough road game against Nevada, but then must finish at home against Boise State and Washington.

12. Boise State (9-1). Defeated Utah State 52-0. Next Week: Idaho at home.
Quietly, Boise State has put up some terrific numbers and look to be headed for a showdown with Hawaii for the WAC Title. We all remember the fireworks last year between Oklahoma and BSU, and who knows… a similar match up might be in a future bowl game.

13. Florida (7-3). Defeated South Carolina 51-31. Next Week: FAU at home.
The Gators took care of business this week, something they just haven’t decided to do this year much. I’m a little uncomfortable putting them this high with 3 losses, but a 3-loss SEC team might be as good or better than a 1 or 2 loss team anywhere else.

14. USC (8-2). Defeated California 24-17. Next Week: Idle.
The Trojans seem to be resurgent with John David Booty now healthy. Lest we forget that their two losses this year have been for a combined 8 points, this is still a very good team Assuming that Oregon can win out and go to the National Championship, USC’s next game against Arizona State on 11/22 could be for a Rose Bowl bid, and I wouldn’t count them out with those stakes in play.

15. Texas (9-2). Defeated Texas Tech 59-43. Next Week: Idle.
Texas seems to just find ways to win every week, and even though the Longhorn defense was shredded for almost 500 yards in passing by Graham Harrell, they still prevailed. Texas hasnt got many options really. They have a day after Thanksgiving date with A&M, and then on to a tier 2 bowl game.

16. Virginia (9-2). Defeated Miami 48-0. Next Week: Idle.
The Cavaliers certainly continue to impress week after week, but they havent played a top 25 team this year yet, and wont until their matchup with Virginia Tech on 11/24 for the ACC Coastal title and a possible trip to the ACC Championship. The road victory against Miami this week was a good show of power that’s got to give the Hokies alot to worry about.

17. Boston College (8-2). Lost to Maryland 42-35. Next Week: At Clemson.
This week was disgraceful for the Golden Eagles, to be honest. I think I might be being too nice to them ranking them this high. A really good character team would have bounced back after the tough loss to FSU, and dominated a mediocre 4-5 (now 5-5) team like Maryland. Instead BC wimps out for a second week in a row. They need to really gut check this week against Clemson, as this will most likely be for the ACC Atlantic title and a trip to the ACC Championship to play Viriginia, or Va Tech, both of which are playing better than BC right now.

18. Michigan (8-3). Lost to Wisconsin 37-21. Next Week: Ohio State at home.
This loss to Wisconsin just is an enigma. Chad Henne starts the game, but leaves early. Mike Hart never enters. Most writers are writing off the Wolverines, but I’m not ready to do that quite yet. They mounted a heck of a come back in the 4th Quarter without the heart and soul of the team, so it shows me they haven’t given up. If Henne and Hart can get healthy for the last game, I think they have a chance, otherwise a Rose Bowl berth isnt likely.

19. Clemson (8-2). Defeated Wake Forest 44-10. Next Week: Boston College at home
These Tigers roll off 4 victories to open the season, then lose back-to-back against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, but have since gone on a 4-0 run again. With Clemson playing better, and Boston College on a downslide, this could be a very interesting matchup for, presumably, the ACC Atlantic Title and a trip to the ACC Championship game.

20. Tennessee (7-3). Defeated Arkansas 34-13. Next Week: Vanderbilt at home.
The Vols continue to hang in the SEC East race with Georgia, and in fact, remain a threat to drail them since they have defeated them earlier this year. Any slip up by Georgia, and Tennessee goes to the SEC Championship – well, if they can close out against Vandy and Kentucky (no small feat).

21. Cincinnati (8-2). Defeated UConn 27-3. Next Week: West Virginia at home.
Suddenly Cincy is looking at a possible automatic BCS berth. Yes you read that right. It’s as simple as defeating the Mountaineers at home – well if you can call keeping Pat White, Steve Slayton, et al in check. But the goal is clear and defined. There’s no dependence on anyone else – they are in control.

22. Illinois (8-3). Defeated Ohio State 28-21. Next Week: Northwestern at home.
Ron Zook and his team made the definitive statement over the weekend, defeating the #1 team in the nation and killing the Buckeyes’ hopes for a National Championship. At stake now is a 9-win season, and a trip to a very nice bowl game if they can prevail over Northwestern.

23. UConn (8-2). Lost to Cincinnati 27-3. Next Week: Syracuse at home.
The Huskie Big East hopes went down the tube with their underwhelming performance against Cincy. However, the Huskies will probably get a decent bowl bid if they can defeat Syracuse this week and play West Virginia close at the end.

24. Penn State (8-3). Defeated Temple 31-0. Next Week: At Michigan State.
The Nittany Lions, but for a few lapses this year, could be in the mix in the Big 10, but such has not been their destiny. However, a final win against MSU will give them a very respectable 9 win season and a good post season bowl game.

25. Wisconsin (8-3). Defeated Michigan 37-21. Next Week: At Minnesota.
The Badgers just have some of the best character of any team I’ve seen this year. Banged up and without All-American RB P.J. Hill, they battle Michigan and hold off a 4Q charge to win – thats just great character. A final win against Minnesota gives the Badgers, like Penn State and Illinois, a 9 win season, and a reasonable bowl game.

Dropped Out: Florida State, Alabama, Auburn

On the Bubble: BYU (7-2), South Florida (7-3)

Most Impressive Teams This Week: LSU, Georgia, Illinois, Va Tech, Cincinnati

Least Impressive Teams This Week: Ohio State, Boston College, UConn

Have a Great Week – we’ll be back on Wednesday to preview Week 12.

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