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02 Dec 2010

SDA: It's Championship Weekend!

by Bill Connelly, Brian Fremeau, and Robert Weintraub

Cam Newton's eligible! Auburn and Oregon are one dodged landmine away from the national title game! Newton might win the Heisman after all! We enter championship week thinking we know where we stand for the first time all season. But do we? Can Oregon escape Corvallis with just its second win there since 1996? Can Auburn count on another dramatic comeback if South Carolina were to happen to jump out ahead again? Just when we think we know the answers, the questions change entirely.

Meanwhile, the 12-team Big 12 goes out with one last classic match-up, Florida State yearns to say "We're back!", and Connecticut yearns to say "We're here!" There are conference championships on the line in the MAC and Conference USA as well, mismatched though they may be. Despite a small slate of games, so much remains to be decided this weekend, including a final push to finish above .500 on our season picks. Join us for a walk through of a handful of games worthy of your undivided attention, plus a few more that might be worth a look.

Previews

Arizona State +6 at No. 23 Arizona (Thursday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When Arizona State
Has the Ball ...
When Arizona
Has the Ball ...
Category Arizona St.
(5-6)
Arizona
(7-4)
Arizona St.
Off
Arizona
Def
Arizona St.
Def
Arizona
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 41 37 58 50 30 31
2010 FEI Rk 41 42 65 75 40 19
2010 S&P+ Rk 37 36 49 32 31 34
2010 FPA Rk 54 71
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 79 20 7 75
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 41 44 74 25
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 63 28 25 46
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
53.7% Run
(95th)
51.6% Run
(104th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 50 68 60 10
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
22.8% Run
(111th)
18.8% Run
(116th)

It wasn't supposed to be like this for Arizona. As October turned to November, the Wildcats were 7-1 and ranked 15th in the country. Their defense ranked among the best in the country, and their offense had only scored fewer than 24 points once. They traveled to Palo Alto for a Pac-10 elimination game of sorts ... and they got drubbed, 42-17. Then they lost at home to USC. They hung tough with Oregon last week in Eugene, but they eventually fell to the Ducks. The game was close for well over two quarters, but eventually Oregon won by 19 and handed the Wildcats their third consecutive loss. The weapons are still there, but their confidence (and their ratings) have slipped. They are on pace for potentially their third-straight 8-5 season, and while that is still pretty good compared to what Mike Stoops inherited in 2004, this was supposed to be a season for advancement. Arizona hosts an Arizona State team good enough to hang tough with Oregon, Wisconsin, and Stanford (they lost to those three teams by a combined 16 points) and bad enough to get destroyed by California. The Sun Devils need an upset win to become bowl eligible. Can they overcome what looks like a severe disadvantage on pass defense and run offense to get the job done?

No. 25 Northern Illinois -17 vs Miami (OH) (Friday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

OVERALL When N. Illinois
Has the Ball ...
When Miami
Has the Ball ...
Category NIU
(10-2)
Miami
(8-4)
NIU
Off
Miami
Def
NIU
Def
Miami
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 46 103 30 81 64 105
2010 FEI Rk 38 110 30 99 60 112
2010 S&P+ Rk 58 93 42 75 64 95
2010 FPA Rk 7 84
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 25 87 64 96
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 65 65 68 97
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 44 81 85 92
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
73.3% Run
(10th)
51.1% Run
(106th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 21 102 49 102
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
42.1% Run
(15th)
27.3% Run
(95th)

By our numbers, the Redhawks of Miami (Ohio) aren't a good team. They rank 103rd in F/+ and have won four more games than a team with their rating would be expected to win. How in the world did they get to 8-4 and win the MAC East? Imbalanced cross-divisional conference scheduling for one -- Miami had the good fortune of playing (and escaping) the worst two teams in the MAC West by only a touchdown apiece. Secondly, the Redhawks have kept opponent scoring in check with 29 takeaways on the season, eighth-most in the nation. That will be critical if they want to hang with NIU on Friday, as the Huskies have averaged 65 points per game in the last three weeks. Northern Illinois rushed for 544 yards last week against Eastern Michigan, and seven different rushers averaged at least 10 yards per carry in the effort.

Illinois -5 at Fresno State (Friday, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

OVERALL When Illinois
Has the Ball ...
When Fresno St.
Has the Ball ...
Category Illinois
(6-5)
Fresno St.
(7-4)
Illinois
Off
Fresno St.
Def
Illinois
Def
Fresno St.
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 27 71 57 55 14 84
2010 FEI Rk 30 83 49 77 21 92
2010 S&P+ Rk 28 64 52 39 13 84
2010 FPA Rk 32 57
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 44 73 10 83
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 59 23 21 81
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 58 40 16 89
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
74.2% Run
(eighth)
63.2% Run
(42nd)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 54 86 19 61
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
46.8% Run
(seventh)
37.0% Run
(36th)

This is easily one of the least consequential games of the weekend as both teams are already bowl eligible and the Ron Zook hot seat temperature gauge seems to be busted. But it's worth a mention if for no other reason than to fondly remember last year's Illinois-Fresno game in Champaign, a 53-52 thriller that ended with a deflected 2-point conversion pass by the Bulldogs that fell into the arms of offensive lineman Devan Cunningham for the win. Fresno's defense has led the way for the Bulldogs this year -- they have forced three-and-outs or worse on 43 percent of opponent possessions, the seventh best rate in the country. The last time we saw Illinois, they were running wild (in one direction) against Northwestern. Mikel Leshoure poured in 330 yards on 33 carries that day but was one-upped by Wrigley Field in most accounts of the game. Fresno State's rush defense is a weakness, so he may have a field day again.

SMU +9.5 at Central Florida (Saturday, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN2)

OVERALL When SMU
Has the Ball ...
When C. Florida
Has the Ball ...
Category SMU
(7-5)
UCF
(9-3)
SMU
Off
UCF
Def
SMU
Def
UCF
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 58 45 63 44 57 51
2010 FEI Rk 69 40 51 41 48 67
2010 S&P+ Rk 49 50 59 51 44 46
2010 FPA Rk 100 1
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 56 51 49 42
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 55 56 41 45
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 67 61 65 41
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
42.3% Run
(118th)
74.2% Run
(seventh)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 32 53 18 95
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
36.9% Run
(37th)
44.7% Run
(11th)

With zombies taking over for vampires as the monster metaphor of the moment, it is a good time for June Jones and SMU to be in the Conference USA title game. The Mustangs' program, dead as Dillinger after treating the NCAA violations rule book like something found on the stable floor in the 1980s, is back under the leadership of Jones. Granted, SMU has taken advantage of Houston's collapse (thanks to Case Keenum's injury), but a division championship is a division championship. For SMU to win its first conference title since 1984, it will have to defeat Central Florida on the Knights home field. That won't be easy. UCF's powerful offensive line, led by Jah Reid, has punched holes in enemy defenses all season, allowing the running game to pile up nearly 200 yards per game. SMU, despite Jones' penchant for throwing it all over, also relies on a strong ground game, led by Zach Line, who leads the conference in rushing.

No. 2 Oregon -16.5 at Oregon State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

OVERALL When Oregon
Has the Ball ...
When Oregon St.
Has the Ball ...
Category Oregon
(11-0)
Ore. St.
(5-6)
Oregon
Off
Ore. St.
Def
Oregon
Def
Ore. St.
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 12 34 15 48 22 26
2010 FEI Rk 6 43 16 81 18 59
2010 S&P+ Rk 20 22 24 29 27 20
2010 FPA Rk 5 15
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 26 27 31 28
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 19 33 26 13
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 17 31 35 28
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
67.4% Run
(26th)
58.1% Run
(76th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 34 45 16 20
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
49.1% Run
(sixth)
25.2% Run
(107th)

Kicking off 30 minutes ahead of the SEC championship game, Oregon can punch the first ticket to the BCS title game by taking care of business in Corvallis in the 114th Civil War. The game has been a high-scoring affair lately, with the winner averaging 46 points per game in the last six years, three games won by each team. The Beavers limp into this won off a schizophrenic last few weeks -- they lost to Pac-10 weakling Washington State by 17 points, crushed USC 36-7, then were pummeled by Stanford 38-0. Maybe the pendulum will swing back in their favor on Saturday, but Oregon's purported vulnerabilities have only been exposed for a full 60 minutes once this season. The Ducks trailed Arizona last week at the half, then ripped off five-straight touchdown drives to put the game away. They've followed a similar script multiple times in 2010. Oregon State hasn't had a second-half comeback victory yet this year, but hasn't given up a halftime lead either.

No. 1 Auburn -4.5 vs. No. 19 South Carolina (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, CBS)

OVERALL When Auburn
Has the Ball ...
When S. Carolina
Has the Ball ...
Category Auburn
(12-0)
S. Caro.
(9-3)
Auburn
Off
S. Caro.
Def
Auburn
Def
S. Caro.
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 2 8 1 13 40 11
2010 FEI Rk 1 10 1 16 13 6
2010 S&P+ Rk 4 6 1 6 43 12
2010 FPA Rk 48 8
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 1 2 35 22
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 1 22 42 8
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 1 13 45 20
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
76.0% Run
(sixth)
66.4% Run
(28th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 1 10 21 8
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
43.9% Run
(12th)
30.9% Run
(76th)

A week after upsetting then-No.1 Alabama, South Carolina did the expected, losing to Kentucky. But since then, the season has unfolded in most un-Gamecockian fashion, as Spurrier's crew has won five of six. They won behind the dominating running game of freshman sensation Marcus Lattimore. It seems likely that the Gamecocks can move the ball against Auburn -- after all, they did so back in September during a 35-27 loss on the Plains. During that game, South Carolina gave away a big lead thanks to two factors. One was turnovers by quarterback Stephen Garcia, a facet of his game he has mostly eliminated in a run of stellar play down the stretch. The other factor, of course, was the unstoppability of Cam Newton. Unfortunately for South Carolina, that factor has only gotten more potent, as evidenced by Newton's sensational performance against Alabama. The Gamecocks will be loose, fast, and a dangerous opponent, but the Tigers do seem to be sprinkled with magic dust this season, and it's hard to imagine them coming up empty this close to the BCS title game.

No. 21 Florida State +4 vs No. 15 Virginia Tech (Saturday, 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When Florida State
Has the Ball ...
When Virginia Tech
Has the Ball ...
Category Fla. St.
(9-3)
Va. Tech
(10-2)
Fla. St.
Off
Va. Tech
Def
Fla. St.
Def
Va. Tech
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 17 9 8 19 39 13
2010 FEI Rk 17 5 8 9 34 11
2010 S&P+ Rk 15 13 11 19 33 22
2010 FPA Rk 21 3
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 4 57 39 17
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 15 6 27 22
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 18 17 26 27
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
59.5% Run
(62nd)
68.2% Run
(24th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 4 20 41 27
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
37.3% Run
(34th)
40.6% Run
(18th)

Here's a fun oddity for you: Only one of this year's conference title games features a rematch of a game from earlier in the season (Auburn-S.C.). For the ACC, which seemed like it was featuring eight Virginia Tech-Boston College games per season near the end of the last decade (OK, it wasn't that bad), this isn't a bad thing. When Miami joined the conference in 2004, folks expected the Seminoles and Hurricanes to fight it out every season in the title game. Instead, Miami has yet to make a title game appearance, and Florida State is playing in its first since 2005, when it beat Virginia Tech. In the preseason, Christian Ponder was mentioned as a potential Heisman candidate; he fought through injuries to have a decent year (6.9 yards per pass, 20 touchdowns), but the quarterback's main job this season has been to give the ball to one of a trio of outstanding running backs. Chris Thompson, Ty Jones, and Jermaine Thomas have combined for almost 1,700 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, and they fill take on a vulnerable Virginia Tech run defense. On the Hokies' side of the ball, the questions are a) Can the Hokies exploit a somewhat iffy Florida State defense? and b) Can they send quarterback Tyrod Taylor off into the sunset with one more BCS bowl appearance? His senior season started in nightmarish fashion -- a dramatic comeback foiled against Boise State and an equally dramatic egg-laying against James Madison -- but the Hokies haven't lost since JMU left town on September 11.

No. 13 Nebraska +3.5 vs. No. 9 Oklahoma (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC)

OVERALL When Nebraska
Has the Ball ...
When Oklahoma
Has the Ball ...
Category Nebraska
(10-2)
Oklahoma
(10-2)
Nebraska
Off
Oklahoma
Def
Nebraska
Def
Oklahoma
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 16 10 29 11 12 16
2010 FEI Rk 13 11 24 7 8 14
2010 S&P+ Rk 19 9 30 11 16 18
2010 FPA Rk 11 21
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 24 14 32 41
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 43 14 4 10
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 24 15 29 23
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
77.2% Run
(fifth)
56.5% Run
(84th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 53 4 6 28
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
45.4% Run
(10th)
22.3% Run
(112th)

Some rivalries become huge because of geographic or historical circumstances. Some do just because two teams have played so many big games over the years. Johnny Rodgers. Keith Jackson. Eric Crouch. Keith Jackson again. While the battles have become more sporadic and less meaningful over the years, there is certainly some amount of poetry to the last game of the 12-team Big 12 pitting these two Big 8 powers against each other. And there are some very interesting questions and conundrums. How healthy are Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez and Oklahoma running back Demarco Murray? How does Oklahoma prepare for an offense possibly led by Martinez, Cody Green, Zac Lee, or running back/wildcat quarterback Rex Burkhead? Do the Sooners throw as much on passing downs, even though the Huskers have one of the best pass defenses in the country, or do they throw a lot of the diamond formation (with or without Murray) at Nebraska's shaky run defense? With so many complete unknowns, it is impossible to get a grasp for how this game might play out. But even with no national title aspirations in the balance, you should take the time to enjoy these two storied helmets slamming into each other one last time until at least 2020.

Connecticut +1 at South Florida (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

OVERALL When Connecticut
Has the Ball ...
When S. Florida
Has the Ball ...
Category UConn
(7-4)
S. Fla.
(7-4)
UConn
Off
S. Fla.
Def
UConn
Def
S. Fla.
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 54 43 67 28 53 69
2010 FEI Rk 50 34 78 23 38 70
2010 S&P+ Rk 67 56 66 56 61 68
2010 FPA Rk 23 37
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 34 47 71 51
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 92 47 58 69
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 52 21 57 56
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
67.2% Run
(27th)
68.6% Run
(19th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 83 105 29 82
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
39.8% Run
(22nd)
36.4% Run
(42nd)

A month ago, the Huskies were 3-4 and looking to 2011. But four-straight wins and the overall craptaculartude of the Big East has left UConn on the verge of a BCS bid. All that remains is defeating South Florida down in the Sunshine State. The Bulls are coming off a gutty win over Miami that severed Randy Shannon from the Hurricanes' headset for good. Backup quarterback Bobby Eveld took over for injured starter B.J. Daniels and is likely to play Saturday against the Huskies. Whoever takes the snaps, the key to the Bulls winning is stopping UConn back Jordan Todman. Todman ran roughshod over Cincy last week with 175 yards and three scores, giving him 14 on the season. With Zach Frazier doing a solid job taking over from dismissed starting quarterback Cody Endres, the Huskies have found an identity. If they can keep it for 60 more minutes, it will mean an improbable appearance in a major bowl game.

USC -6.5 at UCLA (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, FSN)

OVERALL When USC
Has the Ball ...
When UCLA
Has the Ball ...
Category USC
(7-5)
UCLA
(4-7)
USC
Off
UCLA
Def
USC
Def
UCLA
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 29 73 22 49 45 87
2010 FEI Rk 28 81 40 72 63 100
2010 S&P+ Rk 33 65 27 53 41 73
2010 FPA Rk 9 64
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 15 75 54 39
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 37 39 35 109
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 16 56 43 48
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
55.0% Run
(92nd)
68.5% Run
(22nd)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 41 43 52 119
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
34.4% Run
(56th)
37.8% Run
(30th)

When UCLA hired Rick Neuheisel a few years ago, the Bruins' new head man insisted that USC's dominance of City of Angels football was over. Turns out, he was right, but its not because of his brilliance or a return to the days of Gary Beban. Instead, USC has descended to UCLA's level, thanks to the hubris of empire. So this year's collision in the Rose Bowl should be close. USC couldn't beat its usual pigeons, Notre Dame, a week ago. Losing to UCLA too would be disastrous for Lane Kiffin, who had the Trojans playing inspired, who-cares-about-probation football until Oregon dropped the hammer on them in late October. Since then, Southern Cal has gone through the motions, not helped by an injury to quarterback Matt Barkley, who was having a superb season. He will play Saturday, and even a hobbled Barkley is better than any passer UCLA has. The pistol offense hasn't hit many targets under Norm Chow, and the defense, which collapsed against Arizona State, is atrocious. The word out of Westwood is that all the coaches' jobs are safe, but a win against their cross-town Big Brother would go a long way toward keeping the resumes stored in the desk drawer for another year.

Storylines of the Week

Robert Weintraub: Oregon vs. Wisconsin. Stanford vs. Auburn. Two pretty great matchups, right? Those might just have been the semifinals of an eight-game playoff, the system we should have. On the other hand, it would also have been the Rose and Sugar Bowls under the pre-BCS system. Remember the bad old days? So if Oregon and Auburn won those games, there would have been no showdown, no scoreboard lighting, no crystal ball and at least some closure, imperfect as it is. Just co-national champions, and suck on it until the kickoff classic next season. At least this way, we can go to sleep on the night of January 10 at least 92 percent certain we have the best team with the trophy. Of course, if South Carolina hangs on to a big lead this time, or the Civil War goes the way it might have had Lee's army seized the high ground at Gettysburg, then it's yet another conversation.

Brian Fremeau: Can the UConn Huskies really win the Big East? They're the sixth-best team in the conference according to FEI. Can Miami (Ohio) really win the MAC? They're the 11th-best team in the conference according to FEI. South Carolina is the fifth-best team in the SEC. SMU is the fourth-best team in Conference USA. Either these teams have very little chance to win this weekend, or the FEI data is missing the boat here, or there is an unusual disconnect between division strengths, or between conference and non-conference play for some of these teams. It's probably a combination of all of these factors. Final weekend chaos may or may not rear its head in the chase for the BCS championship, but it could still turn our rating systems upside down for many teams in the middle of the pack.

Bill Connelly: Is it me, or did the NCAA's ruling regarding the current eligibility of Cameron Newton feel amazingly rushed? I know we all wanted this to be remedied as soon as possible, what with national title spots on the line and all, but ... we also wanted an actual remedy. The NCAA's "Newton's dad definitely did something bad, but we can't prove that Cam did or didn't know anything about it so that makes it OK even though this opens up an enormous loophole" announcement did nothing but allow Newton to play on Saturday and make Auburn feel 1 percent safer that a potential national title might not be vacated at a later date. With the amount of digging the they still need to do, I'd have preferred if the NCAA had not said anything, even if that meant another week, or month, of uncertainty. It meant that anyway, so what's the point of saying something now?

Picks

The Picks
(* - "Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week")
Visitor Spread Home Rob F/+
Arizona St. +6 Arizona Arizona St. Arizona St.
N. Illinois -17 Miami (OH) N. Illinois N. Illinois
Illinois -5 Fresno St. Illinois Illinois*
SMU +9.5 C. Florida C. Florida SMU
Oregon -16.5 Oregon St. Oregon* Oregon St.
Auburn -4.5 S. Carolina Auburn Auburn
Florida St. +4 Va. Tech Va. Tech Va. Tech
Nebraska +3.5 Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma
Connecticut +1 S. Florida UConn S. Florida
USC -6.5 UCLA UCLA USC
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
Week 13 Season Total
Rob: 7-3 (1-0) 64-62-4 (7-6)
F/+: 7-3 (0-1) 63-63-4 (3-10)

Posted by: Bill Connelly on 02 Dec 2010

22 comments, Last at 14 Dec 2010, 12:46pm by UConn football tickets

Comments

1
by TV_Pete (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 6:10pm

Robert, Playoff ain't gonna happen any time soon. Life doesn't always go just like you would dream. Deal with it.

On the other hand, what COULD happen if the relevant parties wanted it:

Classic Plus One

Run the bowls just like you do now (or did, with PAC-10 and Big 10 in Rose Bowl)
Decide who plays in the championship on January 2nd or January 3rd
Hold the championship about a week later (just like now)

This lets the classic bowls tie in (Rose Bowl teams will veto anything else) and forms something like a single round of playoffs. This year, Wisconsin plays against Oregon in Rose Bowl. Auburn (probably) plays against TCU in Sugar Bowl.

This only adds a single game for two teams and doesn't take any more time away from school for anyone. Tickets and travel could be a little problematic, but I bet lots of people buy them ahead of time and then lots of alumni/students scramble to go grab the remaining tickets.

5
by Anonymus (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 9:48pm

TV_Pete,

I would just say that! The old Bowls, plus a National Champioship Game, that's the best option.

But I do believe it's possible to put a playoff taste on this if:

a) the best two ranked teams at the end of the season (including Bowls), considering eligibility, would play the National Championship Game;

b) are eligible to play at the National Championship Game only those teams that are Conference champions (or the independent with best record) AND Bowl winners; and

c) Army-Navy is to be considered a Bowl game for the sake of rule "b".

The "playoff taste" would come by the fact that losing a Conference Championship Game or a Bowl game would rule out any team for the NCG.

And, perhaps, as a bonus, the "weaker" Coneferences would get more attention.

7
by JonFrum (not verified) :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 12:26am

"On the other hand, what COULD happen if the relevant parties wanted it:"

A playoff could happen if the relevant parties wanted it. If plus one was the simple solution, we would have had plus one a decade ago.

9
by Jetspete :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 10:53am

On the topic of playoff, i make this point every year. imagine if this was basketball, and every major conference champion gained access to the BCS National Playoff instead a BCS Bowl. All of a sudden Neb/OU, FSU/VT and Uconn/SF become marquee games, and Oregon/OSU goes back to being a rivalry game on FSN (which is where it belongs).

10
by Kal :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 11:26am

Because you'd rather watch UConn/South Florida instead of the longest running rivalry in the nation?

The hell?

Also, you'd rather have 3 games that are important to get to a BCS game instead of the four we actually have this year? How does that make sense?

14
by zlionsfan :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 8:05pm

A playoff will happen as soon as someone pushes a large enough pile of money at the interested parties ... either that or the BCS will eventually collapse under the weight of the crap they've been shoveling for years and the NCAA will take control of postseason play.

And by playoff, I mean an actual tournament, not some closed party where two or four top teams do some kind of square dance at season's end. All that would do is take the remaining excitement out of the "major" bowls ... if there's much left now. Traditionalists don't have much left to watch, and hell, only one of those five games is the "championship" now. The other four are just killing time.

3-7 (1-0) last week, 57-62-4 (9-3) overall. Northern Illinois (lock), Illinois, Central Florida, Oregon, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, South Florida, USC.

15
by cfn_ms :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 8:17pm

Playoffs will happen around the same time as 1-A gets cut down to around 80 teams or so and everyone else is permanently barred from joining the party. Since there's not a whole lot of appetite for that fight these days, a playoff isn't about to happen.

2
by Tom Gower :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 6:16pm

Not just you, Bill. The quick Cam Newton clearance feels like the NCAA wanted to sweep it under a rug and not risk vacating something big.

Thursday/Friday "guaranteed" to be wrong picks made while still at work: Arizona, NIU, Illinois, and I'll make the Wildcats my Edelstein.

6
by JonFrum (not verified) :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 12:19am

If Auburn wins out, they are national champions - won on the field. Whatever happens after that is of interest to blowhard writers and the losing team. Cam Newton didn't take steroids to get stronger - he's just better than everyone else. How many fans will watch the game, and make an adjustment ten years from now to account for any investigation? Newton is the best player in football this year - at least of ballhandlers who always get the credit. The rest is old lady's gossip.

17
by Tom Gower :: Sat, 12/04/2010 - 3:12pm

Whee, an excellent 0-3 (0-1) start to the week. No pick for SMU-UCF, in progress. Other games: Oregon, Auburn, VaTech, Oklahoma, UConn, and USC.

No picks last week, but I was 7-2-1 (0-1) two weeks ago, 58-57-2 (4-8) on the year entering this week. I'm 16-14 counter-consensus, and all Rob-F/+ consensus picks are 38-39-1 assuming I did my math right.

21
by Tom Gower :: Sun, 12/05/2010 - 11:06pm

Just so I don't have to do it later: 5-4 (0-1) this week, 63-61-2 (4-9) on the year. I went 0-1 counter-consensus to finish the regular season 16-15 in the category (12-6 on non-locks!), while all Rob-F/+ consensus picks were 4-2 last week to move to 42-41-1 on the year.

3
by JoeHova :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 8:06pm

Actually, under the old non-BCS rules, Michigan State would be playing in the Rose Bowl. The Big Ten's tiebreaker used to go to the team that had the longest Rose Bowl drought, which this year would be MSU.

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by mm (not verified) :: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 8:49pm

Looks like some good bowl lineups this year! Well, maybe not the one involving the Big East champ.

"The Sun Devils need an upset win to become bowl eligible"

Unless some sort of waiver was issued, Arizona State will be ineligible because 2 of their 5 wins so far have come against FCS opposition.

The Pac 10 bowls are going to have several empty spots to fill. Maybe Boise will play one of the 5 Big 12 division co-champs in the Holiday Bowl?

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by Jeff Fogle :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 1:45am

Think I want to nominate Arizona for scam team of the year. They ranked as high as 9th in the AP, and were still ranked coming into tonight's game (congrats to FEI and S+P for having them lower).

Crushed by Nebraska in bowl last season...then

WINS (F+ Rankings)
Iowa 21 (and I personally don't have Iowa at 21 off the last month)
Washington 56
Cal 68 (by only 1 at home to a bad road team)
UCLA 73
Toledo 89
Washington State 96
Citadel off the scale

LOSSES (F+ Rankings)
By 25 points to #5 Stanford
By 19 points to #12 Oregon
By 3 points at home to #29 Southern Cal
By 2 points at home to #34 Oregon State
In OT at home to #41 ASU

Feels like they're about 50th now, but frontloaded the wins and created illusions that got them as high as #9 in a poll.

Pac 10 didn't impress in the postseason last year. Wonder if that's going to mean anything in a few weeks...

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by cfn_ms :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 4:42pm

Of course, it's worth pointing out that F+ is probably underrating the Pac-10 generally; certainly they're wildly underrating Oregon. While we're at it, Washington at 56, Cal at 68, and UCLA at 73 all seem WAY off to me.

Let's say you start with the theory that Arizona is really about 25th best in the country. Arizona has lost fairly convincingly to a pair of top five teams on the road... not great, but hardly unexpected for a top 25 team.

They're 2-3 against squads I'd consider top 40 (IMO U-Dub is a clear include there), with the three losses all being REALLY close, and a 30-pt win over Washington is (IMO) quite impressive.

They also completely lit up Toledo on the road (39-pt win against them is pretty solid I think), won at UCLA (who's certainly better than 73rd), and won pretty comfortably at Wazzu (who I think is better than 96th... though probably not wildly better).

Honestly, I think that's a pretty solid resume. Probably not top 25... but not far off either. Other than some tough luck in close games and a downward trend as of late, I really don't see anything wrong with their resume.

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by Jeff Fogle :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 5:16pm

Let's say you start with the theory that Arizona is really about the 25th best team in the country. How many teams in the 20-30 range...in our lifetimes...have gone 1-3 straight up at home in league play vs. teams who were ranked worse than that range? With the one win coming by one point.

Losing heartbreakers is tough. Good teams don't do that at home in this volume, nor make it one of the key themes of their season. Combine that with the road blowouts to quality...and it strikes me as more like 50th than 25th. Though, we're coming from different places on how we rank the conferences. Wasn't impressed in the bowls last year (particularly with Arizona against Nebraska)...didn't see anything pre-conference that would change my mind...Arizona hasn't come near passing the eyeball test when I've seen them.

Looks much more to me like a "runs up the score on bad teams but can't execute with the game on the line vs. anyone average or better" framework. Home field is supposed to be worth something, particularly in the conferences that are spread out geographically. Negative 4 at HOME at the end of regulation in point differential composite vs. Cal, Oregon State, USC, and ASU isn't 25th best in my view.

I'll give them credit for rallying from a combined 50-21 first half deficit in those four games (!!!). Top 25 teams don't average 5.2 points per first half at home in league play as favorites. Bad first halves...rally...can't execute with the game on the line...not 25th when it's Cal/Oregon State/USC/ASU representing the opposition.

They did execute with the Iowa game on the line, as Northwestern and Minnesota did...I'll make Arizona and Iowa co-frauds, with their early meeting helping to create illusions for both...

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by cfn_ms :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 7:10pm

wait... USC was in that 20-30 range by F+. Trick question! :P

(and to be honest I can EASILY justify Oregon St and/or Arizona St in the 20-30 range too, but your point is taken)

Of course, by F+ numbers Arizona went 5-2 against teams under rank 30 for the year, it just so happened that the two losses were at home. Does that make it somehow worse than if the two losses were on the road instead? I don't see why it would... I'd also disagree with your "can't execute w/ game on the line" comments given the Iowa and Cal wins, where they did exactly that. Three "can't execute" games, two "can execute" games... seems like about even on that front, and I'm guessing the general FO perspective is that it's BETTER to lose close (or "can't execute in close games") than it is to lose handily.

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by Jeff Fogle :: Fri, 12/03/2010 - 8:54pm

It can be tough when we're all using different scales, which I realize. Between S+P, FEI, F+, what's in your head, what's in my head, and the oddsmaker's scale I use for guidance when comparing to the market...things can get jumbled.

I'm mostly in line with the market, which doesn't have USC in the top 40, or Oregon State in the top 40, or Cal in the top 40, and only Iowa in the top 40 (currently 26) of the teams Arizona defeated. I think it's very tough to make the case that Oregon State or ASU can be put in the 20-30 range, particularly "EASILY." At the very least, that's a minority view (though not solely yours because Sagarin's numbers have respect for the Pac 10). Those teams are not being priced like they're top 40, and they're not doing well vs. expectations in general.

They did execute late vs. Iowa, after throwing an interception that was returned for a TD that tied the game. And, they did execute late vs. poorly rated Cal, whose other road games were losses of 52-31 at Nevada, 48-14 at USC, 35-7 at Oregon State, and a 20-13 road win at lowly Washington State as a 14-point favorite. They didn't execute late vs. Oregon State, USC, or Arizona State despite playing at home. And, to me, and the markets...there's a BIG difference between losing home games and losing road games. Home field is typically worth 3 points (6-point differential between home and road), and has shown in some studies to be worth more in conferences that are spread out geographically.

In terms of "signature significance" of the event...it's not something top 25 caliber teams do...going 1-3 straight up at home in conference play against opponents rated below them. This isn't an SEC West team losing tough home games to Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas. It's the team that got crushed by Nebraska in a neutral field showcase game the last time they played a highly regarded non-conference opponent away from home...then bringing many key contributors back the next year to go 1-3 at home in league play vs. teams rated below them...with the win coming by 1 point against an opponent who was awful on the road this year.

Looks like how one perceives Arizona is influenced strongly by how one perceives the Pac 10 as a whole. I'm okay with how the market's take...

edit: I should probably think of a better way to explain "not executing late," because AZ did score a late TD vs. ASU before missing the PAT...and scored a TD with a minute left vs. USC to cut a 10-point deficit to 3. More like "not doing enough to win when the game was on the line" is what I was driving at...

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by Raiderjoe :: Sat, 12/04/2010 - 8:18pm

sorry doubler

also had to edit other postw ehn saw accidentally made Ducks dirty word byt typign error

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by Raiderjoe :: Sat, 12/04/2010 - 8:17pm

Thr Duiucks all over the Beavers in game today. Up 37-20 nwo. this one over. Goign to click on cbs now where Tigers beating the Cocks. Woudl be very itneretsung to see a duck vs beaver fight in rela animal life in a closed ring. Duck would probably win beucuase beaver woudl be ground wole time. Duck would fly around and peck at the beaver and win thta wya. Tiger bvs cock true mistacth. Tiger wopuld beat cock in like 20 sdeocnds

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by Raiderjoe :: Sat, 12/04/2010 - 7:54pm

going to toot for Ucla big time tonight. ging with the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for this oen. Want to see USC coach/jerk L. Kiffin get a good beatdown

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by UConn football tickets (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 12:46pm

I’m a Uconn lover, but I get bored of my son who’s not a fan but a crazy fan. He follows the games of Huskies, but he keeps counting days for the first January. No, not to celebrate the day of the year, but to watch the game of Connecticut vs Oklahoma in Fiesta Bowl. U can’t imagine how crazy my son is!