Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

01 Dec 2005

Seventh Day Adventure: Championship Week

by Vinny Gauri and Russell Levine

Russell: No time for pleasantries as our audience is no doubt awaiting our MAC title game pick. Let's get right to it.

Akron (+12.5) vs. Northern Illinois
MAC Championship at Detroit, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: No jokes from me this year about playing championship games in Detroit ... with a return trip to Detroit for the winner. Heck, even the NFL is bringing the Super Bowl to good ol' Day-twa this year. Besides, this game is almost guaranteed to be more entertaining than the performance the Lions put on at Ford Field on Thanksgiving day.

Vinny: I think even an episode of HBO's "Arliss" is more entertaining than the Lions were last week.

Russell: This is a true championship game in the sense that the winner gets a bowl bid (the Motor City, back at Ford Field) and the loser's year ends. Akron (6-5) played a cupcake schedule and beat just two teams that ended the year with winning records, but one of those was over NIU, a 48-42 overtime win back in September. Northern Illinois trailed by 21 points in that game before rallying to send it to overtime.

Vinny: Having seen the Huskies in person this year (they played Michigan in the season opener for both teams), I can attest to the ability of tailback Garret Wolfe. The little guy -- he's listed at 5-foot-7 and that's generous -- has great vision and seems to be at top speed within a couple strides of getting the ball. There are some very good backs in the Big Ten, but I think Wolfe could hang with them.

Russell: NIU has better talent, including Wolfe, but the Huskies couldn't stop Akron quarterback Luke Getsy, who threw for 406 yards in the first meeting. NIU has payback on its mind. I think they'll get it in the form of a win, but not a cover. I'll take Akron and the points.

Vinny: After missing three games with a sprained knee, Wolfe has run for over 450 yards in the Huskies' last two wins, including a big win over their "El Guapo," the Toledo Rockets. I like NIU but I agree -- this line is way too high in what figures to be another barnburner. I'll take the Zips also.

Tulsa (+1) at Central Florida
C-USA Championship, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: Central Florida, under noted career planner George O'Leary, is one of the best turnaround stories in America this season. The Knights, who went 0-11 last year -- won the C-USA East division with a 7-1 mark (8-3 overall), earning O'Leary some national coach of the year consideration.

Vinny: I'm going to resist the opportunity for another resume joke here.

Russell: UCF gets the Golden Hurricane on its home field, which has to be an advantage, especially given that the Knights are such a young team (only 10 seniors on scholarship).

Vinny: UCF quarterback Steven "Miss" Moffet has relied equally on receivers Brandon Marshall (56 receptions, 876 yards, 8 TDs) and Mike Walker (64 receptions, 855 yards, 9 TDs) this year.

Russell: Tulsa was the surprise champ of the C-USA West division after UTEP dropped its last two games. The Golden Hurricane is also a great comeback story after finishing 3-8 last year. Look for Tulsa to force some turnovers on defense (30 takeaways this season) and get the ball to standout tight end Garrett Mills on offense. They keep it close, but I like UCF at home.

Vinny: This is a coin flip, but give me the Golden Hurricane (I'm not sure if I just ordered a drink on Bourbon Street or something moderately expensive in a Bangkok brothel).

Russell: Uh, no comment.

Colorado (+28) vs. #2 Texas
Big XII Championship at Houston, 1 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: This scenario has to look (unpleasantly) familiar to the Longhorns and their fans. In 2001, Texas played Colorado in the Big XII title game. Thanks to some upsets, a win would put the Longhorns in the national title game at the Rose Bowl. If this game were being played at Texas Stadium in Dallas instead of Reliant in Houston, Mack Brown might have the night sweats.

Vinny: I still can't get over the giant egg the Buffs laid at home last week against Nebraska. And the way the CU students reacted, they won't get over it either. Just embarassing for everybody in Boulder. Gary Barnett analogizes the Buffs backing in to the conference title game to the guy who finishes last in his med school class -- according to Barnett, if you can still call that guy "Doctor," you can call CU the Big XII North champs. Except I don't call those guys "Doctor" -- I call them my former college housemates.

Russell: Well, Brown and the UT fans might be nervous, but I don't think the players are, not with Colorado coming in off back-to-back losses to close the regular season. Texas certainly didn't look sharp against Texas A&M last Friday, but I think the 'Horns will be focused and ready to play. This program has been waiting four years to get this close to another national-title shot, and they won't waste the opportunity.

Vinny: It's funny how Brown may be erasing his legacy as a John Cooper type and may soon be accorded the kind of stature that Bobby Stoops has reached. He's not there yet, but the demons are slowly falling by the wayside.

Russell: I'm sure Barnett will have that 2001 tape cued up, but Texas doesn't have human turnover machine Chris Simms at quarterback this time around (just kidding, Chris ... go Bucs!). Vince Young will polish up the Heisman resume. I hate laying the huge points, but I could see this one ending up 56-3. Texas is the pick.

Vinny: Rodrique Wright & Co. should shut down the run again, as they did in their 42-17 trouncing of Colorado back in October. The 'Horns roll.

Army (+5.5) vs. Navy (at Philadelphia), 2:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Vinny: Russ, the Commander in Chief's trophy is up for grabs -- literally.

Russell: Newsflash -- they found it. Thank goodness.

Vinny: Aaron Polanco has finally graduated, so this is Navy quarterback Lamar Owens' first appearance in the big game. Of course, when you're talking about Annapolis and West Point, these kids don't face pressure on the playing field compared to what they deal with off it.

Russell: No argument from me. That's one of the things that makes this game so special.

Vinny: Army switched to a 4-3 defense this year and it seems to have worked. The Cadets are hoping to finish the year on a five-game winning streak -- the Army seniors had won only four games total coming into this season. I think they'll do it. Army wins outright for its first victory in the series since 2001.

Russell: I hate to put the hex on Army by picking them as well, but I'd really like to see the Cadets take this one. The series is so close over the years and it's been tough to see Army get dominated in recent seasons. But I believe Bobby Ross can pull it off, despite the Vinny-Russell curse. Go Army. Beat Navy.

#12 UCLA (+21.5) at #1 USC, 4:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: Funny how there's five conference championship games on the schedule this weekend, but USC-UCLA might be the best matchup. These teams average a combined 88.5 points per game, so this will probably be a 13-10 squeaker.

Vinny: I'm pretty sure that won't be the case. But I can't remember the last time two teams had this much time to prepare for a rivalry game. Maybe the Florida-Florida State matchup for the national title in the 1997 Sugar Bowl.

Russell: USC is vulnerable on defense -- Fresno State was the latest team to make that point, by scoring 42 on the Trojans two weeks ago -- but UCLA is worse. This should be a day where all the stars, quarterbacks Drew Olson and Matt Leinart and running backs Reggie Bush and Maurice Drew, can pad their stats.

Vinny: Drew sprained his knee against Stanford a few weeks ago but claims he's completely pain-free now. And Karl Dorell is toying with the idea of using Drew to return kickoffs for the Bruins. Meanwhile, Trojans back LenDale White hurt his left shoulder in practice over the weekend. It's a rivalry game, so you know he'll give it a go, but I would be surprised to see White play much. Maybe Snoop still has some eligibility.

Russell: UCLA will get some points early, but USC has answered every challenge this year. Fresno put a scare into the Trojans, but I don't think USC will have to sweat this one quite as much. Still, the line is too high for my blood, not in a rivalry game where you know UCLA has the ability to score. USC wins, but UCLA gets the cover.

Vinny: I think UCLA's smallish defensive front will get pancaked most of the day. Bruins linebacker Spencer Havner will feel like he's all alone out there, but he's probably used to that. I like the Trojans here.

#4 LSU (-1.5) vs. #13 Georgia
SEC Championship at Atlanta, 6 p.m. ET, CBS

Russell: Seems like a long time ago that LSU was last discussed in the national-title picture. That talk pretty much ended after they collapsed against Tennessee in the second half of a Monday-nighter in September. Yet the Tigers have a chance to go 11-1 and if Texas or USC gets upset, they could leapfrog Penn State into the Rose Bowl.

Vinny: Seems like all the ridicule directed at Les Miles since the Tennessee game has also subsided though. And as much as he'd like a do-over against the Vols, he's done pretty well. I'm looking forward to watching two of the better punt returners in the college game: Georgia's Thomas Flowers and LSU's Skyler Green. And I'm surprised Green hasn't been more involved as a deep threat in LSU's offense; he's averaging less than nine yards per catch.

Russell: The difference between these two teams is close games. LSU has five wins by four points or less this season, while Georgia's two losses -- to Florida and Auburn -- came by a total of four points.

Vinny: LSU should come with the same defensive approach they had against Alabama. Georgia clearly has more playmakers (and a better offensive line) than the Tide, but they couldn't run the ball (only 68 yards) against a good Georgia Tech defense last week. Now the Bulldogs face an even better LSU defense. D.J. Shockley will be seeing blitzers (including safety LaRon Landry) all day, so the emerging Mohamed Massaquoi should be singled-up quite a bit against the LSU corners.

Russell: He's not always pretty, but I really like the way ginormous LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell has played this season. When the Tigers have really needed him, he's come up with some huge throws -- against Arizona State and Alabama, for instance. The defenses are pretty much a wash in this one, but I like LSU's grit in a close game. I'll lay the 1.5 on the Tigers.

Vinny: Russ, you had me at "ginormous." LSU covers (my Fred Edelstein Lock).

#11 West Virginia (-9) at South Florida, 7:30 p.m. ET

Russell: It's a shame that South Florida froze up in the snow at UConn last week, preventing this from being a winner-take-all game for the Big East's BCS bid. Nobody's more disappointed than the anti-BCS set, who would love to see a zero-pedigree program like USF picking up a big bowl appearance check.

Vinny: South Florida coach Jim Leavitt just received a contract extension to 2012 -- isn't that a Rush album? Leavitt is a former Kansas State assistant, so the university wanted to lock him up and avoid any speculation that he was headed to Manhattan (the one in Kansas).

Russell: West Virginia may have things sewn up, but the Mountaineers still have plenty to prove. They want to hammer the Bulls, finish 10-1, and prove they're deserving of their BCS spot. Quarterback Pat White is coming off a monster game against Pitt, in which he ran for 220 yards, a record for a Big East quarterback.

Vinny: South Florida is undefeated at home, but the only really impressive win was a 45-14 shellacking of Louisville. Still, I think the Bulls will make this a game. South Florida covers.

Russell: South Florida has had a good year in its first season in the BCS, and is likely headed to its first-ever bowl win or lose. The Bulls have plenty of athletes and plenty of speed, including tailback Andre Hall, but I think they'll be a bit flat after the disappointment of last week. I like West Virginia, and I'll make this my Fred Edelstein Lock.

#5 Virginia Tech (-13.5) vs. Florida State
ACC Championship at Jacksonville, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: Raise your hand if you're fired up for this one. Anyone? Bueller?

Vinny: (arms folded)

Russell: Let's see. Florida State has never lost four games in a row under Bobby Bowden. Neither Frank Beamer (0-6) nor Virginia Tech (0-13) has ever beaten Bowden. That favors the Seminoles, right? Uh, not so much. FSU has been downright awful during the losing streak, mostly because its defense has fallen apart. More importantly, the 'Noles appear to be sleepwalking through games as if they've accepted their fate.

Vinny: This has "rout" written all over it. The 'Noles have again shuffled their offensive line, this time because guard Cornelius Lewis is suspended for the first half after getting involved in a fourth quarter fracas against Florida. I never knew you could be suspended for half a football game, but that's the NCAA rule for fighting.

Russell: VaTech has bounced back nicely since the debacle against Miami for its only loss, routing Virginia and North Carolina. VaTech can win this game -- and cover the spread -- without a big performance from Marcus Vick, as long as he takes care of the ball. The line below two touchdowns is a sign of respect for Bowden, but his team's mailing it in. I like the Hokies.

Vinny: Ditto. Hokies defensive end Darryl Tapp should get to know Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee fairly well. VaTech coasts to an easy victory.

The Picks
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" in

bold)

Game Vinny says Russell says
Akron (+12.5) vs. Northern Illinois Akron Akron
Tulsa (+1) at Central Florida Tulsa Central Florida
Colorado (+28) vs. #2 Texas Texas Texas
Army (+5.5) vs. Navy Army Army
#12 UCLA (+21.5) at #1 USC USC UCLA
#4 LSU (-1.5) vs. #13 Georgia LSU LSU
#11 West Virginia (-9) at South Florida South Florida West Virginia
#5 Virginia Tech (-13.5) vs. Florida State Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week"
record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
Vinny 3-5 (0-1) 43-56-4 (5-8)
Russell 4-4 (1-0) 39-60-4 (8-5)

Posted by: on 01 Dec 2005

113 comments, Last at 10 Dec 2005, 5:28pm by Trogdor

Comments

1
by Kevo (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 10:57pm

As a loyal Penn State student and fan, I'm hoping the Vinny-Russell curse hits the Longhorns hard this weekend. Stranger things have happened, right?

2
by peachy (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 11:23pm

And of course there was the inaugural Big XII title game in '96, which saw undefeated #3 Nebraska (the defending national champs, no less) get hugely and horrifyingly upset by Texas (naturally), thus losing its shot to play FSU in the Sugar Bowl and opening the door for Florida to win its only national title (hooray! Big thanks also to Ohio State for knocking off undefeated ASU, and the good folks at the Rose Bowl for preventing FSU and ASU from meeting up. Man, I miss the old days.)

3
by admin :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 11:28pm

If a conference championship game has a 28-point spread, shouldn't they just cancel the stupid thing?

4
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 12:33am

When betting opened on the USC/UCLA game, the line was like 19.5 points.

It's since moved to beyond 21 points.

To me, this is completely baffling. Now every frequent reader of college threads here knows where my loyalties lie for this game, just like where we know where Pat's or Trogdor's or Russell's or Vinny's or (etc.) lie in games involving certain teams. But even given that, UCLA is what, #10? #12? And the game was a nailbiter last year, where USC needed a school-record five field goals, and a big game from Bush, to win? And USC and Fresno State played a close game two weeks ago? And that last year's game was close desite Maurice Drew being severely injured? And UCLA has had three weeks to gameplan? And it's a rivalry game? And UCLA has had little trouble piling up points this season (save against Arizona)?

And yet somehow the money is so heavily in favor of USC that the line has shifted nearly two points since it opened? More than three touchdowns?

It makes no sense to me whatsoever.

T.

5
by Russell Levine :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 1:19am

Just watched the MAC title game and ... wow. What a finish. Akron receiver pulls a Kirk Gibson and comes off the bench with for one play and catches the game-winning bomb with 10 seconds left. Great finish.

6
by james (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 1:22am

T,
I'm thinking same thing. However line spreads usually pair off. Texas losing huge as a 28 last week gives me confidence that at least one of the will cover.

7
by Jon Fuge everybody (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 1:47am

Is west virginia the worst team ever to get a BCS bowl?

I think you guys might do a better job of picking against the spread(you're truly awful) if you run DVOA on college football.

8
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 1:55am

I think Pittsburgh last year has a bigger claim on that one..

9
by big_adventure (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 7:39am

Rush album = 2112. We are the priests...

-Sean

10
by JonL (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 12:03pm

As much as I enjoy these columns and hate to criticize...

you refrained from making a George O'Leary/resume joke, but you lead off with an Arliss reference? What is this, 1998?

11
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 12:38pm

I think at the moment one could simply award the Big East the annual "Worst Team in the BCS" award eternally.

Next year, when non-BCS-conference teams are guaranteed at least one spot, perhaps you'd have competition for that award. But I'd generally take the position that the best non-BCS-conference team in any given year is likely better than most of the Big East.

I also agree with Erasmus, I think Pittsburgh last year was worse than West Virginia this year (although had South Florida not choked against UConn, and managed to upend West Virginia, then they might well have taken the title).

If I had to pick one between USC and Texas to cover, I'd take Texas. I believe USC will win, if only because UCLA has its share of bad drives, but Colorado isn't on a hot streak going into the game like it was a few years back - instead, it had two chances to get into the game, choked both, and backed in. Not good.

T.

12
by Dave Glass (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 1:14pm

Tarrant,

I'm with you..the line on the USC game is REALLY strange. 14 points I could see, but 21 seems WAY excessive..and like you said, seeing the line move TOWARDS USC is even stranger. Then again, no top-15 team laid an egg this year like UCLA did vs. UofA...that has to rank as one of the biggest upsets in recent memory when you allow for the way they just got mauled.

13
by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 1:26pm

Arliss has somehow just been syndicated, so I've stumbled upon it while channel surfing lately.

14
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 2:00pm

ESPN Classic (insert snide comment here) is now airing Arli$$; that's probably how it got stuck in Vinny's head.

I remember nothing about the series except for Sandra Oh, who is definitely worth remembering. I don't think I've cheered so loud at a DVD as I did for a certain scene in Sideways ........

15
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 2:01pm

Ok, one last go-round at the Bowl Bubble Watch.

There's 2 outstanding issues: 1)UConn can still be eligible with a win against Louisville, and 2)the second BCS at-large team, which cancels out a conference tie-in. That could come from the Big 10, the Pac-10, or, in theory, the Big 12 (that'd mean a Texas loss, and even then it might not happen). So here's the scenarios as far as I can judge:

1)Second at-large is a Big 12 team.
Open Bowl: Fort Worth Bowl
Bid Goes to: New Mexico (They had a conditional deal until Kansas pulled the upset to take the tie-in.)

2)Second at-large is a Pac-10 team.
Open Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl
Bid Goes to: Nevada, which opens the Hawaii Bowl WAC tie-in, which can only go to Louisiana Tech.

1A/2A)Connecticut beats Louisville. Probably takes the Meineke Car Care Bowl bid, regardless of what USF does, and the Bulls get bumped.

3)Second at-large berth is a Big 10 team, Connecticut loses. (Most likely scenario.)
Open Bowl: Motor City Bowl
Bid Goes to: Memphis/Houston

3A)Second at-large berth is a Big 10 team, Connecticut wins.
Open Bowl: Motor City Bowl
Bid Goes to: South Florida

I honestly can't figure out which C-USA team would get the short straw if the Motor City berth isn't there. It should be Houston, but there seem to be projections out there with Memphis getting bumped.

In summary, among the bowl-eligible teams:
Out: Louisiana-Laffayette, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Bowling Green, Northern Illinois

Slim Chance: New Mexico, Louisiana Tech

On the Bubble: Memphis, Houston, South Florida

16
by admin :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 2:17pm

Two comments.

Re: 7, I've mentioned this before, but coming up with some sort of DVOA-like system for college football is a big off-season project we hope to pull off.

Re: 5. I went to see my brother's band play somewhere in Allston last night and they had this game on a TV at the end of the bar. Is it just me or were the stands like 10% full?

17
by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 2:56pm

Aaron: No, they we completely empty. Is it still a championship game if no one sees it? I watched the last 5 minutes, and enjoyed a good rally and game-winning TD by the underdog. But I felt bad for the players since they had no one to share it with...

Barring major upsets (Colorado over Texas, UCLA over USC), the other non-Notre Dame at-large berth will go to: Big-10(11) Ohio State, Pac-10 Oregon, SEC Auburn, ACC Miami with the current running in that order. UCLA is the only other team in the top-12 of the BCS, but they don't really have much of a shot. USC has already secured the conference title, so they will get the Pac-10 BCS bowl bid. But if UCLA pulls off the upset, they could make a tempting at-large pick for the Fiesta. But that won't happen, so this is an academic argument. The ACC championship is rather moot, if VaTech wins, they get a "deserving" BCS bowl bid, if FSU wins they get an "undeserving" BCS bowl bid, neither VaTech nor Miami will get an at-large selection. I know I'm just piling on, but man, without USC-UCLA this weekend, these conference championships aren't looking too hot. LSU-Georgia is the only mildly interesting game.

18
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 3:03pm

The games I like:

UCLA (+21.5)
FSU (+14.5)
UConn (+16)

19
by JonL (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 3:59pm

Everyone knows what this means, right? A team both Russell and Vinny picked actually won.

20
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 4:01pm

Akron did not cover, though, so the overall losing record remains.

T.

21
by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 4:04pm

Clarification on the NCAA rule for fighting (Rule 9-5): you're ejected if it happens in the first half, but if it happens at halftime or during the 2nd half, you're gone and also miss the first half of your next game.

22
by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 4:09pm

Akron was the underdog, so they did cover. And the VRUC can be overcome (see, e.g., USC several times this year, and both West Virginia and Wisconsin just last week).

23
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 4:19pm

Oh yes. I'm a moron. For some reason I was think Akron being favored by 12, not getting points.

Although USC often failed to cover when struck by the Curse.

T.

24
by James Gibson (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 6:01pm

Worst ever BCS team? Pitt last year definitely has it over West Virginia this year. Syracuse '97 got in my head, too, but I guess that was the Bowl Alliance, not the BCS. The Big East has had some bad champions, especially when Miami was in their down years, so the BCS instituted that "average ranking of the conference champion over 4 years must be at least 12th," but for some reason the Big East gets to count Louisville from last year, and West Virginia this year is currently 11th, so it doesn't seem like the Big East is in danger of losing their automatic bid.

25
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 6:48pm

Granted, I'm a fan of a Big East team, but I don't think it's unreasonable to count the year-end rankings of all the schools currently in the conference, especially if the idea is to measure how good the conference is in the future. (Now, if they're using Louisville's ranking from last year AND Miami's from 2 years ago, that's not right.)

26
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 9:08pm

In using Louisville's from last year, they also aren't using Pittsburgh from last year.

That's the big switch the Big East managed. Not only are they still counting the rankings of the BCS teams that left (Miami), and are counting the rankings of teams that joined that didn't go to BCS bowls (Louisville), they managed to get thrown out the BCS ranking of their team that did go to the BCS last year, and is still in the conference! (Pittsburgh).

Their autobid isn't going away, but if they have a few years of humiliating losses by Big East teams, it'll be looked at even given the 12-in-4 rule.

T.

27
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:46am

Bad BCS bowl teams haven't been limited to the Big East. Other not-so-great BCS teams:

Stanford, 1999: 8-4, lost 17-9 to Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Did not finish in BCS top 15.
Seasonal lowlights: Lost opener 69-17 to Texas, lost 44-39 at home to San Jose State. Only non-conference win was 40-37 at home against 5-7 Notre Dame.
Conference: Best team overall was Oregon, 9-3. Pac-10 was 1-4 in bowl games.

Purdue, 2000: 8-4, lost 34-24 to Washington in the Rose Bowl. Did not finish in BCS top 16.
Season
al lowlights: Non-conference wins were home games vs. 1-10 Kent and 2-9 Central Michigan. Lost 30-10 at 5-6 Michigan State and 22-20 at 5-7 Penn State.
Conference: Best team overall was Michigan, 9-3. Big-10 was 2-4 in bowl games.

Florida State, 2002: 9-5, lost 26-13 to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Finished 12th in BCS.
Seasonal lowlight: Lost at 26-20 at 7-6 Lousiville. Also lost to three different 10+ win teams.
Conference: Best teams overall were Maryland and North Carolina st., both 11-3. ACC was 4-3 in bowl games.

Kansas State, 2003. 11-4, lost 35-28 to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Not ranked in BCS top 15.
Seasonal lowlights: Non-conference schedule consisted of home games vs. I-A newcomer Troy State, I-AA McNeese State, I-AA Massachusetts, and Marshall (a 27-20 loss), plus a "neutral-field" game vs. Cal in Kansas City. Qualified for BCS game with shocking conference championship game win vs. Oklahoma.
Conference: Best team overall was Oklahoma, 12-2. Big-12 was 2-6 in bowl games.

28
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 12:52pm

Hey, anyone remember when Fresno was supposed to be good?

29
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 2:54pm

Yeah, Fresno's play the last two games has me really questioning how USC could go down to the wire against them. I have felt for a while now that Notre Dame got too much credit for almost beating USC, and Fresno almost beating USC bolster's that point, I think.

So Ron Price becomes coach at Kansas State and becomes the fourth black coach in Division I-A. Is there anything that exposes the hypocrisy of university presidents better than the lack of black head coaches at major schools? Sure, those university presidents are all about diversity -- as long as that means having enough black students that you're sure to see some when you walk through the Quad. But when they're actually choosing the employee who will become the most public face of their school, nearly every university chooses a white face.

30
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 3:54pm

Darn good tackle by that Colorado O-lineman (77) after the blocked kick. Somehow I don't think Colorado's going to pull off the upset today. They are moving the ball well, but can't convert on anything - Klatt had the man open on 3rd, but didn't lead him and let the LB/S break it up, they've had the kick blocked, etc. You can't miss opportunities like that if you're going to pull off such a major upset.

31
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 3:55pm

And now they have it inside the 5 after the pick. They need a TD here, desperately.

32
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 4:08pm

Settle for a field goal? Check.
Allow a big kick return? Check.
Take a silly late hit penalty? Check.
Allow them to march right back down inside the 5? Check.

Colorado's "How to make sure we have absolutely no chance" list is looking pretty good.

33
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 4:45pm

Well, I expected this game to be pretty dull, and I was right. And my Illini are getting killed, too. At least I enjoyed North Carolina-Kentucky, but overall not much of an early Saturday in the world of sports.

34
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 4:54pm

Dang, I forgot Army/Navy was starting and missed the introduction. Oh well, at least I got to see a little more of Texas destroying Colorado. Whoopee.

Outstanding play by Army's ST to down the ball at the 1. The Navy returner probably should've made the fair catch at around the 15, but let it bounce and it looked like it would get to the end zone. Tremendous hustle, and three players collaborated to down it. Screw you, Big 12, the TV is staying on CBS for a while.

35
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:21pm

Can the Big 12 ban Colorado from their championship game? 42-3 last year (and the game was even more lopsided than the score would indicate), and already 49-3 this year.

36
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:21pm

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the triple option? That's definitely one reason I like watching Army/Navy so much.

37
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:26pm

Blocked punt, 56-3. If Barnett doesn't get fired after this, he's bulletproof.

38
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:34pm

63-3 Texas, 9:59 left in the 3rd half. If you ran a bowl game, wouldn't you be too embarrassed to invite Colorado?

39
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:42pm

But then, who do you take? Central Michigan? That's probably my biggest beef with bowl season now, is that there are so many games (and nearly all have the automatic tie-ins) that bad teams - not just mediocre, but bad - are guaranteed bowl spots. Last year every team that was eligible (except Akron) played in a bowl. This year it will be all but what, five? Does C-USA really deserve five automatic bowl berths? Does the Big 12 deserve eight? It's just insane.

But since I'm a big-time free-market capitalist, hey, if the market's there to have all these crappy, worthless games, well, more power to 'em. I can't blame the teams for going, and if the bowl committees make enough money (or don't lose too much) to justify it, go ahead. I'm free to not watch if I think it's crap.

40
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:43pm

70-3, Texas, 7:30 left in the 3rd quarter.

In the 3rd quarter so far, Colorado has had the ball for 7 plays. On those plays, they've fumbled twice and had a punt blocked.

41
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:49pm

OK, there is one thing and one thing only that Texas can do to make this game worth watching in the fourth quarter: Make a real effort to score 100. C'mon, Mack Brown. Gary Barnett deserves it.

42
by Larry (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:50pm

As I turned off the TV and went to read this, it was 56-3 Texas, and I decided Russel was a genius. But, apparently, in the time it took to walk to the computer and load the column, Texas scored again. Good grief.

43
by Larry (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:51pm

And, apparently, in the time it took me to read the column, they scored again.

44
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 5:54pm

Personally, I'm rooting for Barnett to get fired and the football team to implode, leading to Colorado declining the bowl bid. I douybt that will happen, however.

Texas is repeatedly blitzing up 70-3, and has knocked the Colorado QB out in the process. Look for some reporter to seize upon that as proof that Texas runs up the score.

45
by Derek (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 6:06pm

Does anyone think Iowa State would have put up more of a fight had they not blown it against Kansas?

Here's hoping USC-UCLA and Georgia-LSU are more entertaining.

46
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 6:12pm

Not trying to turn this into BasketballOutsiders, but:

I'm very pleased with the Illini. They overcame a horrid start to beat a good Xavier team, and on Tuesday they won at North Carolina, and the Tar Heels won at Kentucky today. They lost three good seniors, but this team could be dangerous in March.

Now, really, Texas, get back to work. I think the most points I've ever seen scored in any football game was 84 by Kansas State back when Snyder used to love to post blowouts against cupcakes. I'd love to see someone outdo that in a conference championship.

47
by Ferg (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 6:27pm

What a mess. At this rate, Colorado won't even come in second.

Next year, if Colorado makes the champsionship game again, maybe they can put together a Big 12 North all-star team to take their place.

Bring on UCLA-USC!

48
by Jon (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 6:39pm

Anyone else rooting for UCLA? A year without a BCS controversy is like a day without sunshine.

49
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 6:55pm

That wouldn't be a good enough controversy for me. What we need is for Penn State to jump over Texas, with a few voters moving Texas down to 8th and the computers dropping them to 12th to make it happen. That, combined with Congress getting involved, might actually bring about some good changes. But probably not.

50
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 7:05pm

4th and 5 from the USC 35, UCLA decides to punt. This doesn't bode well for the rest of the game.

51
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 7:11pm

At least they went for it on 4th and an inch earlier in the drive.

UCLA must have some pretty good coverage, because Leinart has tons of time but keeps dumping it off for short passes. I take it that isn't the norm for the Moks? Then again, they're getting absolutely no pressure, so who can say.

52
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 7:12pm

1 touchback and 8 offensive plays later, USC scores a touchdown. Let's see if UCLA realizes that its defense won't win the game.

53
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 7:32pm

This game is over. Let the month of hype commerce.

54
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 7:39pm

Is it too soon to sit Bush and Leinart? No reason to risk an injury that could cost them the Texas game or millions from the NFL, especially considering that the way USC's o-line is dominating UCLA's front four, I think any walk-on could get four yards a carry out there.

55
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 7:57pm

Maybe a line of 21 points was reasonable after all...

56
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 8:05pm

"At some point, he's got to strike the pose, don't you think, Keith?"

"No, he's got too much class and dignity to do that."

Ouch. I never knew Keith Jackson thought Desmond Howard lacked class and dignity.

57
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 9:11pm

He's an Ohio native who played for Michigan, so maybe Jackson has a point.

58
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 9:20pm

Please tell me USC didn't actually go for it on 4th and 8 while up by like 4 TDs.

59
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 9:21pm

Is UCLA the worst 9-2 team in major conference history? Their two losses will be by about a combined 80 points, most of their wins are from 4th quarter comebacks, and their most impressive win was against a reeling Oklahoma team at home. Can anyone think of a more extreme case?

60
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 9:23pm

I continue to say that the Dr. Pepper "I Would do Anything for Love" commercial is the best I've seen in a long time. Great setup, and, unlike the song itself, a great finish. (Have you ever actually listened to that song all the way through to find out what the "that" Meat Loaf refers to is? It's an aggravating experience.)

These are the things that go through my mind as I realize that all the games I looked forward to are going to be blowouts.

61
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 9:37pm

Travis, I'd put 2004 Wisconsin in the same category. Started off 9-0 with an easy schedule, then got crushed in the last two games and lost the bowl game. That's the only other team I can think of that has as weak a 9-2 finish as UCLA.

62
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 9:42pm

MDS:

I love that commercial. Of course, the song is 11 minutes long and tremendously repetitive...I'd guess that almost any adult (straight) male has gone through some of the moments catalogued in that commercial (or something similar).

Touchdown, USC. 59-6. Sheesh. If you had UCLA+50, you're losing right now.

T.

63
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 9:46pm

Yeah, that Wisconsin team did collapse last year, but they did win at then-undefeated Purdue and at Ohio State in consecutive weeks.

64
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 9:57pm

They just pointed out that there's never been a three-peat in major college football. I've pointed out in the past that Alabama was No. 1 in 1964 and '65, and was the only undefeated, untied major team in '66, but the voters put them at No. 3. A lot of people say that's because voters were penalizing Alabama because it hadn't integrated, and the No. 1 and No. 2, Notre Dame and Michigan State, had.

Here's what I want to talk about: The voters were wrong if they were playing politics, but weren't they most certainly right that there was no way Alabama was as good as the top integrated teams? I don't know for sure, but I believe every team Alabama played all three years was all-white. I know Alabama lost its first game to an integrated team (Penn State in the Liberty Bowl), and the Tide famously got crushed by an integrated USC team in '70, which persuaded a lot of Alabamians to grudgingly accept black players. Just something I've been thinking about.

65
by Russell (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 10:15pm

Re: Fresno

I do think losing in the manner they did to USC took something out of Fresno. Games don't happen in a vacuum -- and teams aren't always as good one week as the next. I think they emotionally fell apart after that USC loss.

66
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 10:20pm

It's embarrassing that UCLA couldn't do more against USC. What happened to Drew, Drew, and the car?

67
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 10:20pm

The fact that Fresno State accepted their bowl bid after the USC loss (making all other games completely meaningless) also may have taken some of the motivation away. Sort of like an NFL team that wraps up the #1 seed and then, even though the starters are in, is obviously taking the day off, Fresno didn't beat USC, and their bowl situation was finalized...so what was the point?

T.

68
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 10:24pm

Re Alabama:
Alabama beat Nebraska in bowl games after both the 1965 and 1966 seasons. I'm pretty sure, but not positive, that Nebraska had black players at the time.

Re USC's three-peat:
This continues to bug me. Strickly speaking, the designated 2003 national championship was the BCS, won by LSU.
Did Andrew Jackson win three consecutive presidential elections?

Instead, USC is going for three consecutive AP #1 finishes, which no team has ever done.

Numerous teams have won three consecutive college football championships of one poll or rating, as listed in the NCAA's official record book. These include Princeton, 1872-75; Princeton, 1877-81; Yale 1879-84; Princeton 1884-86; Yale 1891-95; Michigan, 1902-04; Yale, 1905-07; Cal, 1920-1923; Cornell, 1921-23; Minnesota, 1934-36; Army, 1944-46; Oklahoma 1955-57; Alabama, 1964-66; Ohio St., 1968-70; Alabama, 1977-79; Nebraska, 1980-84; Miami (FL) 1986-91; Florida St., 1992-94; and Nebraska, 1993-95.

69
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 10:27pm

RE: 68

I have no problem with calling it a 3-peat. I don't care what the BCS says. I'll go with the AP.

70
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 10:35pm

Re: #69.

If you go to the BCS homepage, http://www.bcsfootball.org/ , the BCS does indeed list and acknowledge a split championship for 2003. If you read the 2004 recaps on the BCS homepage, they will say that USC won a second consecutive title.

The BCS awards the Coaches Poll championship, nothing more. There is no "BCS national championship" per se - the trophy they award is the Coaches Poll national championship trophy (and it says so on the trophy).

T.

71
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 10:35pm

Re 69:

I don't have a problem calling a three-peat, so long as either the AP caveat is given or the other teams are credited.

72
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 10:43pm

In fact, reading the 2003 recaps on the BCS homepage it says "In 2003, there were two champions - LSU wins the Coaches poll, while USC wins the Associated Press poll." So the BCS acknowledges the split and the wrinkle between the two polls.

That said, I don't recall, in the past, any time where a team won a split and then a consensus title and it wasn't referred to as a repeat. Generally the consensus titles are considered equal to the splits. Saying USC is going for a three-peat doesn't change the fact that LSU was also a national champion in 2003.

T.

73
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 10:48pm

I agree with all of the above points. I wonder, though, if the BCS page would list USC as a co-champion in 2003 if they hadn't be so successful the following season.

74
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 10:54pm

Re: 74.

The BCS listed USC as a co-champion prior to the beginning of the 2004 season. Whether they would have changed that had USC not done well in 2004 is another issue.

T.

75
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 11:09pm

I just did some archive searching on the bcsfootball.org site. Linked is the 2003-04 media guide.

There are many references to the "BCS National Championship Game," "BCS title game," and the "national championship," with no reference to the polls except with regards to the calculation of the BCS standings.

76
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 11:12pm

But, having said all that, let's be honest here.

The BCS had no intention of ever recognizing a split championship in 2003. Prior to the bowls in 2003, after the team slotting (leaving USC out of the Sugar Bowl), BCS officials made it quite clear to the public that, in their eyes, the BCS champion was the champion, period, end, no discussion. They said that the formula was great and would not be changed after the season. ABC (but not ESPN) even mandated that its announcers, across the board, refer to USC as "#3 USC", the Sugar Bowl as the lone national title game, etc.

I'm sure the BCS Powers That Be were hoping at that point that USC would lose the Rose Bowl and everything would work out nicely.

Unfortunately they didn't. Even come Jan. 1st, prior to the Rose, the BCS commissioner (at the time, I believe, it was Tranghese, the Big East commissioner) pointed out that the Rose was simply another bowl, and would mean nothing as far as titles were concerned.

But after the Rose, there was too much pressure. Every other channel (including Disney's own ESPN) and web site proclaimed USC at least a half-national champion after the Rose. And so it began. First, the ABC announcers cracked. At the Orange or Fiesta Bowl (whichever one was on the 2nd), the ABC announcers constantly pointed out that LSU and Oklahoma could, at best, only capture the Coaches Poll - despite requests from the BCS not to point out that fact (that the BCS only has ever awarded half the title, and that the AP has always been free to vote for whomever they wanted). Then the Sugar Bowl cracked, with the Sugar Bowl director giving a less-than-enthusiastic interview before the game where he was constantly asked about "USC USC USC" and never about, you know, his game.

And the BCS knew it was over and that it lost the "war of public opinion." They had to essentially admit they had the wrong team in the game (which they in essence did when they completely changed and changed and changed the formula until they had one that would have left Oklahoma out of the title game, despite saying prior to the bowls that there was no way they'd change the formula), and acknowledge the split championship. It was the pressure brought on by the media and college football 'world' that forced their hand, and brought the BCS of today.

T.

77
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 11:13pm

Travis:

Check "Historical Timeline" on the BCS site for the writeups of the matchups I referenced above.

T.

78
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 11:14pm

Re 76:

Exactly.

79
by Travis (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 11:18pm

My general point is not that USC wasn't a national champion in 2003, but rather that there have been other teams that have been recognized as "national champions" in 3 consecutive years, via one system or another. Unless I-A football finally institutes a playoff of some kind, this kind of confusion will always take place.

80
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 11:21pm

MDS:

In defense of WI injuries had gutted the team of many of its best players. Anthony Davis didn't play against Iowa in the season finale. Erasmus James never really recovered from that cut block against Purdue and was playing on pretty much one leg the remainder of the season. Antaj Hawthorne was hurt. The other DE, Jonathan Welsh, missed most of the MSU and all of the Iowa game. The backup running back, Booker Stanley, was nursing a bad turf toe making him all but useless resulting in 275 FB Matt Bernstein being the primary running back.

And after two ugly losses WI did lose by only 3 points to a solid GA team. And if the UW coaching staff had understood that the two-time SEC defensive player of the year might actually be able to play a little maybe WI sneaks off with the game.

How anyone could go into that game and expect a TE to block David Pollack defies explanation..........

81
by Andrew (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 11:45pm

Well, LSU just screwed the pooch.

Good for Penn State.

82
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 11:49pm

Va Tech/FSU is a close game. Not much offense, but at this point any competitive game is a breath of fresh air.

83
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 11:49pm

As a Big Ten admirer, I admit tremendous bias. But I think USC-Penn State would be a better game than USC-Texas.

You will definitely see a lot of points in the Rose Bowl.

But the idea of Reggie Bush and Co. trying to move the ball against that PSU front seven appeals to me. And while Michael Robinson has his limitations as a QB I think the Lions could do quite nicely against the Trojan defense.

Alas, it is not to be............

84
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 12/03/2005 - 11:56pm

I'm watching the ACC game myself. It is indeed nice to see a game that wasn't over well before halftime. Not that it's a great game - while the defenses have been good, it's also been really sloppy. But at least it isn't essentially over.

T.

85
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 12:02am

Anyone watching the ACC game, for this halftime contest?

The guy is doing one of those "throw the football through the hoop to win" things...and whenever they do that, there's always some celebrity that is "assisting" or "training" the person...and in this case...

"Gino Toretta, Heisman winner, has been advising you."

That's the best they could do?

T.

86
by Travis (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 12:10am

Re 85:

I guess they needed a QB with an ACC (or Miami, VT, or BC) lineage who was no longer in the NFL. The best alternatives I can think of would be Charlie Ward or Bernie Kosar.

Toretta must have done a decent job; the guy won $100,000 and was on line, but high on his million-dollar throw.

87
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 12:12am

God damn it.

FSU returns a punt for a TD, and we miss half the punt return (the interesting parts at the beginning) because the announcers were touting some sponsored 'Player of the year' contest.

T.

88
by Travis (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 12:29am

Thanks to the ACC and the SEC championship games, it doesn't look like the Big East is in danger of losing its automatic bid any time soon. West Virginia (11) has a higher BCS ranking than both Georgia (13, likely to improve, and better than the ranking indicates) and FSU (not in the top 25).

89
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 1:35am

Will someone from Va Tech PLEASE catch a pass?

90
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 1:37am

Thank you, Mr. Morgan. Hey, FSU...you might want to cover the deep receiver.

91
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 2:09am

I love long college football games, but the number of instant replay reviews in this FSU/Va Tech game is pushing it beyond even my tolerance.

92
by C (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 3:06am

ESPN is reporting that UVA's offensive coordinator, Ron Prince, is going to accept the K-State job. And that UVA's defensive coordinator, Al Golden, has been offered the Temple job.

What the hell did the Cavs do to get all those hot assisstants?

93
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 3:27am

Regardless of the National Championship game... the BCS is still broken!

Thank you to USC and Texas... it's clear you guys are the #1 and #2 teams and we deserve to see you guys play against each other.

As for the rest of the mess according to BCS rankings:
#3 Penn State (Big 10), #11 West Virginia (Big East) and #25+ Florida State (ACC) get the automatic bids.

Going down the rankings... #4 LSU and #5 Virginia Tech should be eliminated from BCS consideration for laying eggs today.

Thus the next two at larges most deserving are... #6 Ohio State, and #7 Oregon. Strictly by fairness, these two teams should get picked up... yet we all know that #8 Notre Dame is going to pick up the spot that Oregon should have. That's just shenanigans.

(20 minutes later)
After thinking it over... I suppose it is fair. Oregon didn't really have a tough schedule, and lost to USC... Notre Dame gets a bump from beating Michigan... but then again they should be hit for not taking care of Michigan State... I'm flip-flopping right here... so I'll assume Notre Dame wins out anyway.

(Continued Next Post)

94
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 3:56am

These are how the Bowls look prior to any picks, from what I understand by reading the complicated BCS site. I forgot to mention Georgia in the above post... they got the SEC automatic bid. Also the rankings will change after this week... #4 and #5 will fall behind Oregon.

Rose Bowl: #1 USC vs. #2 Texas
Fiesta Bowl: #2 Texas (Pick) vs. Pick
Sugar Bowl: #13 Georgia vs Pick
Orange Bowl: #25+ Florida State vs. Pick

Since Fiesta lost #2 Texas, they get to replace Texas. I think they will choose #3 Penn State to host.

Now the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange have to submit a list of 3 eligible teams they would prefer to have. #11 West Virginia must be in the top 2 preference.

I predict all three bowls will read:
1. Notre Dame
2. West Virginia
3. Ohio State

In that case, the tie-break is how much money is being paid out. If this is tied, the order of choice is: 1) Orange 2) Fiesta 3) Sugar. I don't think the Orange would skimp on payouts just so the Sugar can get preference, and I don't think the Fiesta would do so to lose prefernce to the Sugar, so I'll assume that is the "tie-break" order. Thus leaving us with:

Notre Dame - Orange
West Virginia - Fiesta
Ohio State - Sugar

(continued on next post)

95
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 4:04am

Thus... my prediction for the 2005 Season BCS Bowls, to be played in January 2006 are:

Rose Bowl: #1 USC vs. #2 Texas
Fiesta Bowl: #3 Penn State vs #11 West Virginia
Sugar Bowl: #13 Georgia vs. #6 Ohio State
Orange Bowl: #25 Florida State vs. #8 Notre Dame.

Sorry folks, I hate to break the news to you. Everyone would love to see Penn State vs. Notre Dame in the Fiesta, but I don't see it happening under the rules.

I think the BCS *could* do that... but the commissioners are pure evil, as we all know.

96
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 4:18am

My #2 projection swaps Penn State and Notre Dame (this would happen if Fiesta chose Notre Dame to replace Texas).

Because Notre Dame and Penn State both played Ohio State, I don't see a rematch happening in any bowl game.

97
by Zac (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 5:51am

Can anyone explain how/why everyone's talking about Notre Dame/Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl? My impression was that the Fiesta Bowl would be stuck with West Virginia.

98
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 6:01am

The real trick will be who the Fiesta chooses as their host... and Ohio State vs. Penn State won't be allowed as a matchup. So in essence West Virginia will be forced into the Fiesta, unless Fiesta selects Oregon or Auburn as #1 preference over West Virginia.

Scenario 1: Fiesta host is Notre Dame or Ohio State.
When the bowls turn in their preferences, they must have West Virginia and Penn State at #1 and #2, 99.9% chance Penn State will be #1. Thus PSU goes to the Orange vs. FSU, Fiesta is forced to take WVU, and OSU goes to the Sugar.

Scenario #2: Fiesta chooses Penn State. In this case Orange would take Notre Dame, and Fiesta would have to select Oregon or Auburn ahead of West Virginia, and West Virginia slides to Sugar.

I'm assuming that Notre Dame and Ohio State get the at larges due to traveling well.

99
by James Gibson (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 9:32am

Matthew - I think the Fiesta will take Notre Dame with their first pick; the Orange will take Penn State; the Fiesta will take Ohio State and the Sugar will be forced into West Virginia.

Notre Dame will be picked by the Fiesta over Penn State because it has more national appeal and because they will want Ohio State has their second team which picking Penn State will prevent. And the Orange will be happy to pick up Bowden vs. Paterno, although they would have been happy with Va. Tech vs. Penn State since the two had never played each other.

It may also be that LSU and V-Tech's loss have moved Ohio State and ND into automatic BCS teams. If any team from one of the 6 BCS conferences is 4th or better, they're in (and Ohio State was 6th, behind VTech and LSU). ND has a deal that says if they're 6th or better they're in (also given to the non-BCS conferences), and they were 8th. If LSU and V-Tech fall far enough, they're automatic. Not that I don't think they'd be the first at-large choice anyway.

100
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 12:29pm

I will say this about Virginia Tech - at least they remained classy in defeat. They only got what, four personal fouls while FSU was running out the clock? In a situation like that, the officials should warn them that they'll call any of that garbage fighting, and they'll have to sit out at least half of the bowl game. That was freaking ridiculous. Imagine if FSU didn't keep their cool, and it turned into another Clemson/SC. After seeing that classy display, I'm glad those jackasses lost. Screw Tech.

101
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 1:00pm

Virginia Tech is the worst coached team with great talent that I've ever seen.

Seriously. They had something like four fumbles, and all of them were caused by ridiculously poor ball control. That is, the runners were holding the ball with one arm, nowhere near their body. One runner (the WR who complained about being open, and then promptly dropped a TD pass) actually shifted the ball into that position.

And the constant whining, and stupid personal fouls? Come on - a head coach has to stop this sort of stupid crap.

Geh. In both of Virginia Tech's losses this year, they've looked horribly coached. Whenever they start falling behind, they start falling apart.

102
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 1:23pm

I forgot to mention, Vick came way too close to becoming the new Gus Frerotte. If only his ankle had bent a little more during his silly "we're still down three scores but I'm gonna celebrate anyway because I'm so great" jumping spike, I would be laughing at his dumb ass for years. As it was, it looked like it hampered his mobility enough for a good laugh (but since FSU consistently allowed them to pick up 12 yards on safety valve passes on 3rd and 10, it didn't really come into play).

I hadn't seen VT play much this year, but I came out of that game decidedly not impressed.

Oh, I also caught a little bit of Louisville last night. Anyone else remember when they were the only team considered a lock for a BCS bid (even USC could conceivably lose to Oregon/ASU)? Those were good times. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we'll have any ugly Petrino recruiting this offseason. Too bad, that's always a highlight of the bowl/offseason. Maybe next year.

103
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 1:59pm

I lost count of the number of times yesterday that Virginia Tech wide receivers had a pass knocked away from them and they stayed on the ground for another 5 seconds or so throwing their hands up at the referee while yelling and screaming "I wuz robbed!"

I realize that every wide receiver alive does that now and then, claims they were interfered with (just like every wide receiver alive claims they're always open). And I also recognize that maybe in some cases there really is interference that isn't called. But come on. It just makes them look like childen when they run to the referees after every single incomplete pass.

VT lost the game when they allowed that punt return and seemingly completely lost all composure as a result (and kudos to the production crew for now letting us see the punt return live, because they were talking up some meaningless sponsored play-of-the-year award).

The score of the game was close only really because of the 15-yard "12 men on the field" penalty on FSU on the VT punt. And that's not even mentioning the classless personal fouls brought up by Trogdor and Pat, while Frank Beamer looked on baffled from the sideline.

T.

104
by admin :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 2:01pm

Once again, in all this discussion of how fukakta'd it is that Florida State is playing in one of the top four bowl games, I would like to point out that THE PROBLEM WITH THE BCS IS NOT THE CONCEPT OF COMPUTER RANKINGS. In fact, computer rankings are pretty much the only thing NOT screwed up about the BCS.

105
by Michael David Smith :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 2:02pm

Yeah, I haven't been impressed with Virginia Tech this year either. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I just don't see what other people see in Roy Mexico. Every time I watch him he looks like he just chucks it up there and hopes his receiver comes down with it. And my general rule of thumb is if you have to celebrate a touchdown, at least wait until you score one that gives your team the lead.

But has there ever been a defense that turns it on and off more than Florida State this season? When they feel like playing hard, they shut down Miami and Virginia Tech. When they don't, they get blown out by Clemson and Florida.

106
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 2:15pm

James Gibson,
I wasn't aware that OSU would be a guaranteed at large if they were ranked 4th... but yup it looks like you are right. I didn't see anything on Notre Dame reading the BCS Media Guide.

Any BCS bowl game(s) still remaining unfilled will submit a listing of its top three team selections to fill its at-large slot. Any team that is guaranteed a berth in a BCS bowl game and that has not already placed in such a game must be listed among such bowl game's first two selections. Each BCS bowl will then be given its highest preference of teams.

So if Fiesta chooses Notre Dame than OSU, PSU and WVU will all be unpicked eligibles and OSU can be picked ahead of WVU. That is if OSU is at #4 in the BCS rankings.

107
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 3:17pm

OSU will almost certainly reach #4 in the BCS Standings. Depending on how far LSU falls, it is likely that Notre Dame will reach #6.

If that's the case, we'll have our Fiesta as OSU vs. Notre Dame. Oregon will be #5 and left out as current BCS #11 WVU, #13 Georgia, and unranked (but likely ranked after yesterday) FSU take the other three BCS spots.

I think that this season seems to have the lowest overall average BCS ranking of all the BCS teams. Many years you get like, #1-6 or so, then maybe #8, and one in the teens. This year there will be thee teams beyond #8 (assuming neither WVU nor Georgia improve to #8 or higher).

T.

108
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 3:17pm

I went 2-1 ATS. Nice week. My pick of FSU even won outright!

109
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 3:18pm

Russell and Vinny went 2-3 on games they agreed on. Pretty good. I stopped tracking the overall record, though.

110
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 12/04/2005 - 6:22pm

MDS:

I don't really agree that FSU was playing all that good defense - Virginia Tech shut themselves down.

Vick was constantly forcing balls into coverage. While that might make you think the Seminoles were playing good defense, the truth is that Vick had plenty of running room on almost every play, because the Seminoles after the first quarter or so were often in nickel, and sometimes dropping linemen back into coverage. Point to note: Vick was doing okay in the first quarter, when the Seminoles were in man-to-man. After that, when the Seminoles dropped into zone for almost the rest of the game, Vick just looked utterly confused. He's got a lot of improving to do as a quarterback.

Plus Vick, whenever he scrambled, still threw whenever he neared the line of scrimmage. The confusing thing is that in almost all of those cases, he had at least three yards running room, and usually only one guy to beat.

It's almost like Virginia Tech decided "you know what, we're just gonna continue running all the plays that didn't work earlier." Couple that with the fact that Virginia Tech completely avoided the running game in the second half, and it was a pretty easy assignment for the Seminoles.

111
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 12:16pm

I hope everything's OK with Russell. I missed Confessions this week.

1-AA championship game last night. Tied at 37, Texas St. got the ball back after UNI tied it. There was 1:27 left on the clock, and they had all three timeouts for an offense that had put up 37 points. They knelt to send it to OT. Wow. If you even need to ask if they lost...

112
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 2:53pm

Ladies and gentlemen, we have an Ingle Martin sighting. He's the QB for 1-AA power Furman, after transferring from Florida.

The announcer (Bill Curry?) just made an interesting point before a FG attempt. It was from the right hash, and he said right-footed kickers miss more from that hash, and left-footed from the left. I was wondering if there was any statistical evidence of that, but anecdotally I'd guess it's true. Thoughts?

Another thing they've mentioned is that some of the 'star' players in this game were originally recruited to bigger schools, but got hurt and dropped. That's always been a great way for 1-AA teams (and even smaller 1-A teams) to get prime talent that otherwise would never be available. If FSU is recruiting four top-flight WRs, and one tears an ACL as a senior, he's getting dropped for the healthy ones. Why wouldn't a school like Central Florida swoop in and grab him? Just wait a redshirt year, and you've basically gotten someone who was good enough to play for FSU, albeit slightly damaged. You see the same thing with 'problem' or 'borderline character' guys. Sounds like a solid way to supplement traditional recruiting. You don't want to base everything on it, or you'll have major problems, but taking a flyer on one or two guys a year can really lift a program.

113
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 5:28pm

I love the playoffs. Furman/Appalachian was one of the best games I've seen this year. Back and forth, close the whole way, freaking intense, and very well-played. I can't imagine how horribly awful it would be to see this kind of action at 1-A.