Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

HackenbergChr15.jpg

» SDA: From Death Valley to Happy Valley

While Saturday won't give us an answer to which is the best one-loss team, it is still a big week for conference races across the country.

06 Nov 2008

7th Day Adventure: Examining the Big 12

by Russell Levine


The SDA Podcast

 

 

It's a good thing nothing much happened while I was away.

Let's see ... down for a week with home networking problems, I sat by idly as Texas Tech moved into position to play for the national championship behind Alabama, a statement that would have sounded ridiculous at the beginning of September; as Georgia failed to show up -- again -- in a big game and was embarrassed by Florida in the Cocktail party; as Michigan scored 42 points AND LOST to a team starting a quarterback who was a running back a few weeks ago; oh, there was something about a power transfer in the most powerful nation on earth too, I don't know, I wasn't paying attention.

I also learned that I cannot function without broadband Internet. You have no idea how entwined in your life something has become until it's gone. For the better part of a week, my ISP functioned at no better than dial-up speed. I could barely get online, meaning no research to do any writing, no bandwidth for Skype to record a podcast, no watching a second game during Sunday Ticket on my laptop, no home phone (I use VOIP), no printing (I use a print server), no streaming music throughout my house, no online Guitar Hero battles (OK, I really don't do much of that, just an example) and perhaps worst of all, no Dora the Explorer games for my daughter. You try explaining that to a six-year-old every day for a week.

But I'm happy to report that all is well, one router, one cable modem, one VOIP adapter and about 15 customer-service phone calls later. This Michigan football season is less painful than that process was.

This Week's Guest

Bill Connelly authors the Varsity Numbers college football column every Friday on FO (and he also capably filled in for me on SDA last week). He also authors the Missouri Blog Rock M Nation and is a former contributor to the brilliant Sunday Morning QB site.

As a Missouri guy, he's a close observer of the Big 12, and we spent some time chatting about the rise of Texas Tech, the Red Raiders' game against Oklahoma State, and how Missouri might fare against the eventual South champ in the Big 12 title game. Also, Bill offers some thoughts on the Big 12-SEC comparison, plus which Big 12 coaches might be on the move following the season.

I hope you'll listen in.

This Week's Games

No. 12 TCU (-2.5) at No. 8 Utah, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET, CBS CSTV

Somewhat lost among the early BCS discussion is that there are currently three schools from non-BCS conferences in the top 12 of the standings -- the position at which a BCS berth becomes automatic. That number will drop to two after TCU faces Utah Thursday night in one of the more important games in Mountain West Conference history. Non-BCS league schools in position to qualify for a BCS bowl have been the norm since the series added a fifth game two years ago -- but having a team potentially qualify without going undefeated is something entirely new. It helps, of course, that TCU's only loss came to then-No. 1 Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs were largely forgotten after losing to the Sooners, but re-emerged on the national scene after thumping then-unbeaten BYU. TCU's stout defense will be tested by the Utah run game and the play of spread-option quarterback Brian Johnson.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Utah | RUSSELL: TCU

No. 20 Georgia Tech (+4.5) at No. 19 North Carolina, 12 p.m. ET, GamePlan

It certainly hasn't been the best conference, but the ACC has been among the most interesting. Clemson went from preseason favorite to firing its coach at midseason, and in the interim, no fewer than half of the conference's schools have shown the potential to win the league title. North Carolina is the conference's highest-ranked team in the BCS standings, yet sits in a tie for fourth place in the Coastal Division. There is a five-way tie in the loss column in the Coastal (with the caveat that there are only six teams) with Georgia Tech currently atop the list by virtue of its four conference wins. It is an understatement to say that every game down the stretch is pivotal. The winner of this game remains very much alive for the conference title game, while the loser drops to last place in the division. Georgia Tech could be in trouble if quarterback Josh Nesbitt can't go with an ankle injury. North Carolina possesses one of the ACC's better run defenses, and there is a large drop-off from Nesbitt to his back-up, freshman Jaybo Shaw.

THE PICKS -- FEI: North Carolina | RUSSELL: Georgia Tech

No. 1 Alabama (-4) at No. 16 LSU, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Alabama moved atop the BCS standings last week thanks to Texas's loss, but questions about the Tide remain because of what has happened to some of its opponents. Alabama burst into the title picture by destroying Clemson on opening night, but that was when Clemson was considered a national-title contender. Today, the Tigers are 4-4 and have an interim coach. The Tide's next move came courtesy of a shocking road win at Georgia -- shocking in that Alabama piled up a 31-0 halftime lead and cruised after intermission. But Georgia was most recently seen being outclassed by Florida in the Cocktail Party last week, leading many to wonder just how good the Bulldogs really are. An impressive win over LSU would go a long way to proving Alabama's worth, and its ability to win the bigger tests ahead. The Tigers are the defending national champs, but they haven't exactly been world-beaters this year. LSU gave up 50-plus points in losses to Florida and Georgia and has struggled to play consistently. Alabama's formula is simple: Get an early lead, then use its punishing offensive and defensive lines to salt the game away. So far, so good, as the Tide has yet to trail in any game this year. Oh, there's also some small matter about the Alabama coach and a game in Baton Rouge. Whatever.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Alabama | RUSSELL: Alabama

No. 3 Penn State (-7.5) at Iowa, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN

SEVENTH DAY ADVENTURE
IS NOW ON FACEBOOK!

Listen to the podcast, answer the question of the week, post photos. Check us out!

Find us on Facebook

Fret not, Penn State fans. Your Nittany Lions may be third in the BCS standings, but they have the easiest path to the title game. All Penn State needs to do is win its final three games, with Michigan State looking like the only realistic potential stumbling block, and get a single loss from either Texas Tech (with games against Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and the Big 12 championship left) or Alabama (LSU and the SEC title game left). Still, it wouldn't hurt to get back to the blowouts that marked Penn State's 8-0 start and not the defensive nail-biter the Lions claimed over Ohio State two weeks ago. One thing to watch: Penn State struggled when Michigan went to a power-run game three weeks ago, recovering once they figured out the Wolverines had nothing else with which to threaten its defense. Iowa possesses one of the nation's most underrated backs in Shonn Greene, who has gone over 100 yards in nine straight contests, and he'll see the ball plenty against what is sure to be a loaded box. Penn State shut down Ohio State's Beanie Wells, so Iowa will have to do more than just pound the ball to have any hope of winning.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Penn State | RUSSELL: Penn State (Edelstein Lock)

Cincinnati (+8) at No. 25 West Virginia, 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Order has finally been restored in the Big East, with West Virginia comfortably back atop the conference standings at 3-0 in league play. After a sloppy start to the season, the Mountaineers seemed to find themselves in a come-from-behind win over Auburn two weeks ago and went on to crush Connecticut last week. Pat White is healthy and once again playing like the best running option quarterback in America. Cincinnati has been a bit of a giant-killer ever since Brian Kelley took over, but the Bearcats' offense has suffered along with the injuries to its quarterbacks this year. Tony Pike is back from a broken arm and coming off one of his better performances, but could struggle against the Mountaineers defense. The Big East needs West Virginia to keep winning in order to avoid the embarrassment of sending an unranked team to the BCS, a distinct possibility should West Virginia pick up one more loss.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Cincinnati | RUSSELL: West Virginia

No. 9 Oklahoma State (+3) at No. 2 Texas Tech, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

I'm not sure we could create a metric to measure a team's performance the week after "the biggest win in program history," but recent college football seasons are rife with examples of letdowns. Oddly, the most prominent examples all involve the Big East, which might say more about that conference than it does about any particular theory. Still, just for fun, there was Louisville in 2006. The Cardinals beat West Virginia only to lose to Rutgers the following week. Rutgers trumped that win by falling at Cincinnati. Last year, South Florida beat West Virginia to get itself into the thick of the BCS chase, only to lose to Rutgers the next week. This week, it is Texas Tech, fresh off a stunning, last-second upset of Texas, that must guard against emotional letdown against a very good Oklahoma State. The Cowboys, too, gave Texas all it could handle a couple weeks ago and have an offense that is nearly as explosive as the Red Raiders'. The marquee players in this matchup are a pair of NFL-ready receivers, Tech's Michael Crabtree and Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant. An Oklahoma State win would throw the Big 12 South standings into chaos, and bring the specter of a tiebreaker that involves the BCS standings into play.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Texas Tech | RUSSELL: Oklahoma State

No. 21 California (+18.5) at No. 7 USC, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

At least USC didn't let the disappointment of its shocking loss at Oregon State -- which still ranks as the upset of the college football season in my book -- linger. Five games since that contest have produced three shutouts and a composite score of 207-27. All those big scores are great, but the Trojans need to keep it up in order to have a prayer of getting back into the title-game mix. Cal is probably the best remaining team on the USC schedule (although Notre Dame will get more attention) so the Trojans need to keep the pedal down. Unfortunately, Texas Tech's upset last week has forced them to share this week's spotlight with a smaller regional audience. Cal has quietly won four out of five and could make this game competitive no matter whether Kevin Riley or Nate Longshore starts at quarterback. Riley, recovering from a concussion, may just want to pass on the assignment given the presence of probably eight high NFL draft picks on the Trojans' starting defense.

THE PICKS -- FEI: USC | RUSSELL: USC

No. 5 Florida (-24) at Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2

If USC isn't the hottest team in the country, than Florida certainly is, as the Gators, too, have been killing flies with a sledgehammer ever since their lone loss, to Ole Miss. Four games since have been decided by an average of 39.5 points. Unlike USC, Florida's path to the title game is fairly straightforward. Win out, and get a little help from Texas Tech, and the Gators will be in Miami. The first step comes Saturday night in Nashville, where the Gators can clinch the SEC East with an 18th straight win over Vanderbilt. There have been close games between the teams in recent years, particularly in Nashville, but this has all the makings of a mismatch. Vandy has dropped three straight after opening 5-0 and remains one win away from clinching an elusive bowl berth. Don't look for it to come this week, not unless Florida suffers a massive letdown after its cathartic, rub-their-nose-in-it, bullying blowout of Georgia last week. Still, it's tough to imagine that scenario with a trip to the conference championship to be claimed.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Vanderbilt (Edelstein Lock) | RUSSELL: Florida

Picks Table

The Picks
(* - "Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week")
Visitor Spread Home FEI Says Russell Says
TCU -2.5 Utah Utah TCU
Georgia Tech +4.5 North Carolina North Carolina Georgia Tech
Alabama -4 LSU Alabama Alabama
Penn State -7.5 Iowa Penn State Penn State*
Cincinnati +8 West Virginia Cincinnati West Virginia
Oklahoma State +3 Texas Tech Texas Tech Oklahoma State
California +18.5 USC USC USC
Florida -24 Vanderbilt Vanderbilt* Florida
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
FEI: 4-4-0 (0-1-0) 33-44-2 (3-6-1)
Russell: 3-5-0 (0-1-0) 34-43-2 (2-8-0)

Posted by: Russell Levine on 06 Nov 2008

46 comments, Last at 10 Nov 2008, 5:13pm by DragonFireKai

Comments

1
by Tom Gower :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 7:18pm

2-6 (0-1) last week brings me down to 26-28-2 (3-4) on the year after a decent start. This week, give me TCU, North Carolina, LSU, Penn State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, USC (Edelstein), and Vanderbilt.

2
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 7:40pm

I sat by idly as Texas Tech moved into position to play for the national championship behind Alabama,

For people who enjoy hilarity, it is quite possible for both Texas Tech and Alabama to win next week, and Penn State to move up in the BCS rankings and pass Texas Tech. While both TT and Alabama have stronger opponents, Penn State really only needs to pass Texas/Florida in 2 statistical polls to pass Texas Tech, which is possible.

I also really wonder if people realize that the reason they have so much more faith in Alabama than Penn State is entirely because of their opinion of the SEC, since Alabama's out of conference schedule was godawful. Because if they do realize that, then I wonder what people would do with their opinion of Alabama if Georgia loses again.

4
by Geer (not verified) :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 8:53pm

Coastal Carolina, Syracuse, and Temple are GODAWFUL. And Michigan is the worst of the bunch. Their schedules simply do not compare.

5
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 9:04pm

"Coastal Carolina, Syracuse, and Temple are GODAWFUL"

One... two... three... wait a second. The Big Ten only plays 8 in conference games. Penn State plays 12 teams this year, which means there are 4 out of conference games (Last time I checked, they hadn't kicked Michigan out of the Big Ten and into the MAC yet, and I'm only talking about out-of-conference games).

Oh yeah. That's right. You conveniently forgot the one that beat one of the top 10 ranked teams in the country.

Seriously, the best out of conference team that Alabama played was Clemson. A Clemson-Temple game would be close. Oregon State is so much better than any of those teams that it's not even funny.

6
by Kevin Eleven :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 10:27pm

Pat, the bad news is that there's a good argument for a one-loss SEC or Big-12 team against an undefeated Penn State.

The good news is that it won't matter. Penn State is IN IN IN unless Bama and Tech go undefeated, and they won't.

If they get past MSU.

9
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 11:39pm

There's a good argument for a one-loss Big 12 team - Texas. I would love to hear someone try to defend a one-loss SEC team over an undefeated Penn State. The only option left is Florida (if Florida beats Alabama, I doubt anyone would put Alabama in after losing their conference championship) and I'm sorry, it's just blatantly ridiculous to suggest that a team that lost, at home, to Ole Miss "deserves" to be in a national championship game compared to a team with a roughly equal top-level resume (likely one top 10, one top 15, one top 25 for both, or at least close) who didn't lose to a mid-level team at home.

Can we please stop this random SEC love? A team loses at home to a 5-4 team, and people are ready to crown them the best thing since sliced bread. Yeah, Florida's been winning impressively, but they still lost to an average team. Florida might be the "stronger" team right now, but Penn State's been the more consistent team. You can't lust after Florida's "high" while ignoring their "low."

11
by Felton (not verified) :: Fri, 11/07/2008 - 9:41am

If I'm a Florida fan, I would dearly love to get Penn State on a football field. Any football field will do.

19
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 11/07/2008 - 6:15pm

The last team from Florida that wished that didn't exactly get what they hoped for.

Penn State is not Ohio State. They do not have a history of falling short on the field in high-profile situations. Quite the opposite.

12
by sam :: Fri, 11/07/2008 - 10:14am

The SEC-lovin' isn't "random" - you think it might have something to do with winning 3 of the last 5 BCS title games? Whether that's the right criteria is moot - it's not random if it's based on something.

Florida lost to Ole Miss largely based on bad luck (3 lost fumbles in Ole Miss territory after drives down the field and a missed XP). They have a 1-point loss and they've been everybody else by 23 points or more.

--
sam! or the original sam from the old FO

13
by tide182 :: Fri, 11/07/2008 - 11:27am

i would imagine that florida would be about a 7-point favorite over penn state on a neutral field. so would texas. alabama maybe a pick'em. would you really bet penn state over the former two teams on that list given the spread?

the question is, do you take the "best" teams or the teams who have been "most consistently good?" if you want the "best" it would be hard to argue for penn state over florida or texas... or even texas tech/alabama if they win out. regardless, there is still plenty of season left and as has been discussed ad infinitum penn state probably still has the best chance of getting to the championship game.

also, food for thought re: that "big" win over oregon state, oregon st. is all of 1-3 on the road this year with that 1 being a thoroughly unimpressive 34-13 win at washington. just saying.

17
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 11/07/2008 - 3:46pm

would you really bet penn state over the former two teams on that list given the spread?

As a seven point underdog? Hell yes. All of the available data right now suggests that Penn State would be competitive with Florida, Texas, and Alabama.

I think you're also in a strange dreamland regarding the point spread: most of the projected point spreads for Texas/Penn State, Florida/Penn State are in the 4 point range, and in Penn State's favor for Alabama.

the question is, do you take the "best" teams or the teams who have been "most consistently good?"

The most consistently good. You're evaluating their season, not projecting forward. Would you suddenly disqualify a team from the national championship if their starting QB was injured the day after their last game?

20
by Eric (not verified) :: Fri, 11/07/2008 - 11:05pm

the question is, do you take the "best" teams or the teams who have been "most consistently good?""

The answer is... neither. You take the teams that most deserve to play for the championship. The biggest problem with the polls today is that a bunch of sportswriters spend all their time trying to figure out the "best" team, using some mix of raw talent, on-field performance, and final scores. Results are always weighted towards teams that looked the best in the most recent game (see: it's better to lose early). What they should be doing (and what the computers do) is debating who deserves to be playing for the championship.

Personally, I'd say the two best teams in college football right now are USC and Florida. Despite their recent loss, I'd put Texas at third. But if you ask which teams are most deserving, Alabama, Penn State and Texas Tech are undeniably the top three. Why? Because they won their games. USC and Florida shouldn't get a free pass for crapping their pants against mediocre teams. They should be punished for failing to do what they knew they were supposed to do at the beginning of the year. Until one of the top three deserving teams makes a similar mistake, they belong on top. If you lose a game, you have no right to gripe about being left out.

18
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 11/07/2008 - 3:53pm

you think it might have something to do with winning 3 of the last 5 BCS title games? Whether that's the right criteria is moot - it's not random if it's based on something.

Having a bias for a set of teams because of something that completely different teams did is completely random. Seriously, 3 of the last 5?! You're including a game 5 years ago?!

3 lost fumbles in Ole Miss territory

This is not even remotely true.

Two occurred in Florida territory, one occurred in Ole Miss territory. One led to a TD, one led to a FG. One of them led to a punt, and I'm sure that one made a huge difference in the game. This story just keeps getting more impressive for Florida, as now you're adding "after drives down the field."

What's next? The fumbles occurred on the 1-yard line due to Tebow's muscles flexing as he crashed the goal line and popping the ball loose? Harvin fumbling because the glint from all of the trophies and rings the coaches have got in his eyes? Like I said: random SEC love.

22
by Kibbles :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 5:46am

How about the fact that the SEC as a whole has the most bowl wins over the last _____ years? Or that it has the most BCS bowl wins over the last ____ years? Or that it has the most National Championships over the last _____ years? I deliberately left the timeframe blank so that you could feel free to fill in whatever length of time you feel is least arbitrary and random, because I'm confident that whatever length of time you deem most significant, those statements will still be true.

Then again, maybe it's the fact that, in a sport that is dominated by coaching to arguably a greater degree than any other, there's no question that the SEC has the best coaches in the nation? Or the fact that unbiased computer rankings support the love for the SEC?

Or maybe it's like you say. Maybe it's just completely random. Maybe everybody rolled a 6-sided die to see which BCS conference they'd tout, and through a bizarre statistical improbability, 90% of the time the die came up "SEC".

26
by sam :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 2:14pm

My mistake. I *may* have been drinking... um, a little... during the game and I didn't bother to look it up. Regardless of what Ole Miss did with the turnovers, they killed Florida drives.

Regardless, even if a fan's rationale is faulty it doesn't make their belief "random."

--
sam! or the original sam from the old FO

32
by MC2 :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 11:17pm

There was an article on FO last year that rated the top "football factories" in terms of producing quality NFL players (or maybe it was the year before; I'm too lazy to search for it). Anyway, something like 6 out of the top 10 were SEC schools. So maybe the reason people are so in love with the SEC has something to do with the fact that year in and year out, SEC teams boast substantially more talent than teams from other conferences.

Then again, maybe Pat's right, and all the NFL scouts and GMs are simply part of some vast, diabolical conspiracy to overrate the SEC.

3
by Justin Zeth :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 8:30pm

Yay. Michigan fan Russell does what he can to help Penn State get upset by slapping the Edelstein Lock Tag of Death on them.

Biggest challenge of the season for Penn State right here, IMO.

7
by td (not verified) :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 10:28pm

Its going to be irrelevant, because Texas Tech isn't going to beat both OU and Oklahoma State. One could make an argument that Penn State doesn't deserve to be in the national championship game, but as long as they go undefeated, they'll be there. There is no conference transitive power- those Ohio State teams were the same players. Penn State has answered every test, and it isn't their fault that Michigan and Syracuse cratered. I see a hell of an argument at the end of the season between Florida, Texas, and USC.

8
by lionsbob :: Thu, 11/06/2008 - 11:39pm

The big news is that Bama will likely get Terrence Cody back this Saturday, shutting down LSU's ground game will make a win much easier and Cody plays a large role in that.

10
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Fri, 11/07/2008 - 2:43am

I will never understand why a loss at Oregon State is considered a bigger loss than losing at home to Ole Miss. Oregon State was a team you yourself picked to suprise people, and then you're surprised when they suprise people? Huh?

16
by td (not verified) :: Fri, 11/07/2008 - 3:14pm

It isn't that the Oregon State loss is that bad, it's that none of their wins is that good (beating Ohio State the week after they struggled with Ohio without their best player just isn't that impressive)

21
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 1:12am

But if USC's resume isn't that good, and the loss wasn't that bad, why would Levine still rank it as THE upset of the year? I found the Ole Miss win over Florida in the Swamp to be much more shocking.

14
by Travis :: Fri, 11/07/2008 - 12:27pm

For what's it's worth, Utah's schedule hasn't been significantly weaker than Penn State's (Colley Comparison). (Note that this comparison doesn't include Utah's victory over #11 TCU last night nor its future game against BYU; Penn State's doesn't include its future game vs. Michigan State.) Both played Michigan and Oregon State.

That said, Utah hasn't been as dominant as Penn State; 5 of their games have been in doubt in the final minutes. Had Utah's margins of victory been better, would they be a title game contender?

15
by PETE (not verified) :: Fri, 11/07/2008 - 1:10pm

According to Saragin, Penn State has had the 65th toughest schedule in the nation, Alabama the 55th and Texas Tech the 64th. The Big 10 and SEC both have the same amount of teams in the top 50 in the country (8). The media love for the SEC this season is completely unsubstantiated in present reality. There is no receiving corps in the country significantly better than Penn State's. Their defense has proven to be as stout as ever. The question of this team is whether or not their young, unproven qb can put up 35 points in a big spot. If you want to say penn state is weak at the qb and that is why they are number 3, fine. Just dont say it is because of a weak conference.

23
by Kibbles :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 7:35am

The precedent has been set to include a 1-loss team in the championship over an undefeated team. Hell, last year a TWO-LOSS team made the championship over undefeated Hawaii, and it was generally considered an acceptable decision (furthermore, the results of the bowls only further reinforced the decision). It seems to me that almost everyone agrees that under certain circumstances, it's okay for a 1-loss team to jump an undefeated team... we're just arguing over what those circumstances are.

24
by Kevin Eleven :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 12:59pm

Okay, I officially dislike FO's new site. Of all of the sites I visit, this is the slowest, by far.

My picks this week. I'm 9 - 12 so far this year.

Vanderbilt +24 over Florida
Minnesota -7 1/2 over Michigan

Kibbles, there has been no precedent set- no undefeated team from a major conference has ever been passed over by a one loss team. No reasonable person would have put put Hawaii in the championship game over LSU in 2007, or Boise State in ahead of Florida in 2006. You'll always have the "I'll bury my head in the sand and ignore everything but the win-loss record because if I do this I think they'll have a playoff" crowd, but even they know they're wrong.

28
by Kibbles :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 8:40pm

No, a precedent has been set. A two-loss team made it in over an undefeated team- and we all agree that it was a good decision. There is therefore a precedent for a team with losses to make the championship over a team with no losses.

Now, you added the MAJOR CONFERENCE caveat to that, which is what I meant when I said we're just arguing over the circumstances. Apparently you believe that being from a BCS conference makes it unreasonable for an undefeated team to be passed over for a one-loss team. That's fine if you feel that way, although I'd counter by pointing to the Big East this year. Sure, it's a BCS conference, but it's worse than at least one NON-BCS conference. I would argue that I could easily see a situation where a 1-loss SEC or Big 12 champ would deserve to be in over an undefeated Big Least champion.

As I said, we all agree that it's okay for one-loss teams to go in over undefeated teams, we're just arguing about exactly what circumstances allow for it.

25
by Travis :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 1:55pm

Be sure to join a star-studded cast of your favorite FO posters for IRC football chat! cognet.catch22.org, channel #fo

Brief tutorial for the IRC-shy:

- Download mIRC from mIRC.com
- type /server cognet.catch22.org into the status window
- type /join #fo

27
by Kevin Eleven :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 7:58pm

Well, no one is going to be able to say they were robbed of a shot at the National Championship this year.

Penn State vs Iowa was an outstanding exhibit for why I'm against a playoff.

Cheer up, Penn State fans- coming into the season you'd be happy to have an excellent chance to finish 11-1.

29
by navin :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 9:22pm

Why? I don't understand how you can pick between a 1 loss Florida (assuming they win the SEC), a 1 loss Penn State, and a one loss Southern Cal for a potential second spot in the title game.

Sure, you can use whatever argument you want to select the "most qualified" one loss team, but it will never be as fair as a playoff. I suggest an eight team playoff with the champions of the six BCS conferences plus to at larges ONLY for champions of smaller conferences.

31
by Kevin Eleven :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 10:31pm

That system gives this year's Big East and ACC champions the same shot as the Big-12 or SEC champs.

It'll be an interesting next few weeks, but if both the SEC and Big-12 have one-loss champions, no other team will have a real argument. Sorry USC, but the Pac-10 can't compare.

Now if one of those conferences have a two loss champion, we'll have an interesting debate. An undefeated Utah will and should be considered. Boise State should not.

30
by Kibbles :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 10:18pm

Wow, that was a really egregious replay review in the UF/Vandy game. Ruling on the field is fumble recovered by Vanderbilt. Replay reviews clearly show that the "fumble" was caused by the ball hitting the ground, which means it was down by contact. Moreover, the ball hit the ground *ACROSS THE GOAL LINE*, which means even if the ground COULD cause a fumble, it wouldn't be a fumble anyway, because the second the ball broke the plane, it was a TD. Two different angles each gave new meaning to the term "indisputable video evidence". It's almost certainly going to be wholly irrelevant in terms of the outcome of the game, and even in terms of any "style points" UF might win, but it's scary that a booth could blow such an obvious call. It's shades of that Oklahoma/Oregon onsides kick or Troy Polamalu's interception, albeit without any real consequences.

33
by peachy (not verified) :: Sat, 11/08/2008 - 11:25pm

I'm really starting to think that the officials just flip a coin in the booth. That was a real 'riot in the streets' call, too - though yeah, it's very unlikely to matter in the context of the game. Still, heads should roll.

43
by Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 11/10/2008 - 3:13pm

I think they were trying to offset the bad call on the spot/no-call (holding) from the Cocktail (Keg) party.

The other really bad call, IMO, was the play where the Vandy player gained control of the ball while his arm was lying out of bounds. That was somewhat less clear than the non-fumbled (actually TD).

I wonder if a system like FEI can accommodate bad officiating. (this should have been a success for the Gators)

UC_Rommel

34
by Kevin Eleven :: Sun, 11/09/2008 - 12:47am

1. Texas Tech
2. Alabama
3. Texas
4, Florida- right now, I'm picking UF to win it all when all is said and done.
5. Oklahoma- and I favor OU to be Florida's opponent in Miami.
6. Utah- If either the Big-12 or SEC champ has two losses, Utah has a real chance to play for the National Title. This is a far better team than last year's Hawaii team or Boise State's 2006 or 2008 teams. Beating BYU is not a given, but the MWC is a beast this year.
7. Southern Cal
8. Penn State
9. Oklahoma State
10. Ohio State
11. Missouri- huge gap between #11 and everyone else.
12. North Carolina
13. Georgia
14. Boise State
15. TCU
16. Michigan State
17. BYU
18. LSU
19. South Carolina
20. Pittsburgh
21. Florida State
22. Ball State
23. Cincinnati- the Big East sucks again.
24. Air Force
25. California

35
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Sun, 11/09/2008 - 1:20am

How is this year's Utah team "far better" than 2006 Boise State? I'm not sure they're the best team in their own conference right now. They were just dominated by TCU two nights ago. 2006 Boise State blew out a 10-win Oregon State team that year as well as the victory over Big XII champ Oklahoma (a game they dominated for the first 3 quarters before the late game heroics).

The 2008 MWC is certainly tougher than the 2006 WAC, but that doesn't mean the best team in the WAC is worse than the best team in the MWC.

36
by Solomon (not verified) :: Sun, 11/09/2008 - 1:42am

Saturday went well for me, as Ohio State took it to Northwestern, Penn State went down, and Alabama won (since OSU cannot win it all, I decided to pull for Bama to do so). Pryor had an excellent all-around game, and Wells played solidly as well. I was a bit diappointed in OSU's run defense, at least in the first half. NW's offense was as follows: QB draw, QB draw, QB draw, QB scramble, QB draw, etc. It took OSU longer than I expected to figure the NW offense out. It looked like over half the crowd was OSU fans. Tressel called a successful fake punt in the fourth quarter while up by 21. Needless to say, no one expected it.

If people want to dog the Buckeyes for losing the title games, fine. But give them credit for WINNING the title game in the 2002 season. They have had a few ugly recent losses, but they have won some big games too (every win vs. Michigan is big to me). Other Big Ten fans cannot complain, because their teams were weaker than OSU the last two years. The Bucks were somewhat competitive vs. Louisiana State but made too many mistakes. The Florida game was a head-scratcher -- they should have been more competitive but instead seemed lost.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Iowa knock off Penn State. This seemed to be Penn State's most realistic chance for a loss in its remaining games (IU won't do it). This means if OSU wins out, it can win a share of the Big Ten crown. If Michigan State can upset Penn State (maybe a 10% chance?), then OSU can play in Pasadena. Otherwise, it will likely head to the Orange/Sugar/Fiesta Bowl.

I predict the four at-large BCS bids go SEC, Big 12, Big 10, and Utah or Boise State. Remember, a conference cannot send more than two teams to the BCS, and the ACC and Big East are unlikely to place two teams. This means Oregon State needs to lose again as well.

Early in the Bama/LSU game, a Bama player had a near touchdown stopped when a defender knocked the ball through the end zone for a touchback. I hate this rule -- give the offense the ball at the spot of the fumble, as if it were fumbled out of bounds. Loss of possession seems too harsh a penalty. I also hate the rule in baseball where a hitter can go to first after a passed ball on strike three, but I digress.

Florida-Alabama should be a great game in a few weeks, with the winner likely playing for the national title.

Hopefully, the Colts upset the Steelers on Sunday, but I would not bet on it.

Enough rambling for now.

37
by Sid :: Sun, 11/09/2008 - 4:53am

1)Alabama
2)Texas Tech
3)Florida
4)Texas
5)Oklahoma

going according to how people use polls and the impressiveness of each of their wins, there's no movement except Penn State getting knocked out of the top 5 (and behind USC and maybe even Utah).

of course, as I said last week, I think Florida is the best team in the country.

Anyway, I watched Texas Tech on Saturday Night Football back to back weeks. Two comments:

1)People tend to ignore them with all the on air fellatio going on with Harrell/Crabtree, but if you want to know what impresses me about Texas Tech besides the great coaching, it's the offensive line and Whitlock (the great defensive tackle). We've seen the story over and over again, and people always ignore the real issues and focus on the skill players. Of course Harrell is a really good player for the system and Crabtree is talented (not to mention the other receivers and even one of their RBs), but their offensive line is amazing for what they're doing. And for a guy who isn't on the field every play, Whitlock makes an impact on every game, seemingly (admittedly I haven't seen all their games).

2)Brent Musberger is washed up and awful. He's constantly confusing words, numbers, everything. He never bothers to correct himself. Ever. He claims something happened that didn't (that somehow Harrell threw the ball, it magically deflected back to him, and then he completed a pass) and then never corrects himself. It's called a pump fake, you washed up announcer.

38
by WesM :: Sun, 11/09/2008 - 10:51am

So in the case were both USC (likely) and Oregon State (not so much) run the table - OSU is the Pac-10 champ. [And we get stuck with an awful re-match game in the Rose Bowl.] Utah is likely to be guaranteed a BCS bid - how many open slots are left?

Does USC end up in the Holiday bowl? (Which, against the Big 12 #3, would be better than some of the BCS bowls...)

39
by Kevin Eleven :: Sun, 11/09/2008 - 11:49am

USC could conceivably end up in the Holiday if they go 11-1, but it's more likely they'd be selected as an at-large for a BCS spot.

The Beavs play Cal, Arizona, and Oregon. They're not that good, and unlikely to run the table. Still, I agree that a Penn State vs Oregon State rematch is something no one outside of Corvalis wants to see.

41
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Sun, 11/09/2008 - 4:07pm

Sounds like someone has only seen one Oregon State game this year, and I can guess which one.

The Beavers get Cal in Corvallis. Then Arizona in Tucson. They close with Oregon in Corvallis, where the ducks haven't won in 12 years. The Beavers are going to be favored in every one of those games. It entirely possible that they run the table.

The Beavers have the leading rusher and reciever in the conference, and would have the leading passer if Lyle Moevao hadn't gotten hurt. As it stands, they have the #1 passing offense in the Pac 10.

OSU is a team that traditionally starts slow, and becomes a much better team in the end. The Beavers began 2006, 2007, and 2008 with a 2-3 record, and an embarassing road loss. 42-14 to Boise State in 2006, 34-3 to Cinncinatti in 2007, 45-14 to Penn State this season. However, they've finished strong each of thse seasons. Going undefeated at home after those starts, and currently have a record of 25-11 over the course of those seasons. Only USC has a better record in Pac 10 games over that span. They're also undefeated in Bowl games under Mike Riley. Basing your judgement on the Beavers based on their early season performance on the road would be a drastic mistake.

44
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/10/2008 - 3:14pm

I saw some of the Utah game.

Ten days ago OSU scraped by a bad ASU team 27-25. I look at their record and I see little ot get excited about. They're a 6 - 3 team that pulled a big upset, lost to Stanford, and now has three big games coming up. I don't see them running the table- in fact I see them finishing 7 - 5.

Of course, I could be wrong. That's why they actually play the games.

46
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Mon, 11/10/2008 - 5:13pm

Watching the games helps. Yes, Oregon State scraped by a bad ASU team 27-25. They did so with their starting QB, who was leading the Pac 10 in passing yards, knocked out of the game after attempting 6 passes.

Just wondering, which two games do you see OSU dropping?

40
by td (not verified) :: Sun, 11/09/2008 - 1:35pm

The SEC champ is in, unless Florida loses to the other USC or FSU. The Big 12 champ is in, unless it's from the North.

42
by hrudey (not verified) :: Mon, 11/10/2008 - 10:35am

Now if only the Sugar could get hold of the #2 SEC and Big XII teams, that would be awesome.

45
by Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 11/10/2008 - 3:39pm

I think the computers could help to put Texas Tech against Texas in the championship... After all, the only loss for Texas was against TT in an away game. In a neutral site the result could be different.

However, I still think the best 2 teams may be USC and Florida Gators. If Oregon State somehow wins out, won't they go to the Rose Bowl (rematch against Penn State) and leave USC as an at large team (going to the Sugar Bowl)?