Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features


» 2018 Free Agency Cost-Benefit Analysis

Is Kirk Cousins the best free-agent quarterback in recent memory? Should Trumaine Johnson or Malcolm Butler have gotten the larger contract? And what makes a free-agent contract good or bad, anyway?

24 Nov 2005

Seventh Day Adventure: Turkey Bowl

by Vinny Gauri and Russell Levine

Russell: Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Here's some college picks to aid your (or more likely, give you) indigestion.

Pittsburgh (+13) at #11 West Virginia, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: This is another of those rivalry games that doesn't get the same publicity as Michigan-Ohio State or Auburn-Alabama, but the "Backyard Brawl" is as nasty as they come.

Vinny: I've heard that before, but I still don't believe it.

Russell: There are plenty of compelling storylines this year, as West Virginia tries to keep its BCS hopes alive, and at the same time, pay back Pitt for costing the Mountaineers a BCS bid last season.

Vinny: The Mountaineers are averaging 43 points per game in their last three wins over Louisville, Connecticut and Cincinnati. Most of the firepower has been provided by the ground game, namely freshman tailback Steve Slaton and quarterback Pat White.

Russell: It's been a rough year for Wanny back at his alma mater, but at least he has things pointed in the right direction after a miserable start. I'm tempted to take the points, but I don't trust Tyler Palko on the road after he has regressed this season. Plus, you know West Virginia will get every close call because the Big East simply can't afford a Mountaineer loss. I'll take West Virginia.

Vinny: Come on Russ, do you honestly believe that's true? I never figured you for a conspiracy guy. Pitt hasn't exactly faced a murderers' row of opponents (to the extent there are even any jaywalking offenders in the Big East), but I'm impressed Wanny got the ship righted somewhat. I thought they were headed for something like a 2-9 record at one point. Still, West Virginia should dispatch Pitt rather easily.

Russell: Vin, those things happen! Just ask Mark Mangino.

#2 Texas (-26) at Texas A&M, Friday, 12 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: Wow, what has happened to A&M this season? This was supposed to be the year Dennis Franchione put things together in his third season in College Station. Instead, the Aggies have fallen apart and Alabama fans are laughing at him for ditching the Tide.

Vinny: The Aggie defense has been a disappointment, especially lately (yielding 134 points to Iowa State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma the last three weeks). And with Reggie McNeal possibly nursing a bad ankle behind a young offensive line, this game could get ugly very quickly.

Russell: You have to think that Texas quarterback Vince Young will be geeked up for this one. Everyone pretty much declared Reggie Bush the Heisman winner after his ridiculous performance against Fresno State, but I have a feeling Mr. Young would still like to have a say in the race.

Vinny: Young has done everything you could ask of a Heisman winner. I thought he was steadily gaining on Bush in recent weeks, but it really is all but over after Bush ran amok last Saturday night.

Russell: This is an awful big number to lay on the road in a rivalry game, but I view this contest much like last week's Virginia Tech smackdown of Virginia. Texas will put the pedal don't and won't let up until there's a 50 on the scoreboard. Hook 'em Horns!.

Vinny: Texas has been an absolute steamroller this season, with an average margin of victory of 35.8 points. After the close call in Columbus, the only team to get within 25 points of the Horns has been Colorado. I still think the best thing that happened to Texas coming into the season was defensive coordinator Greg Robinson somehow landing the Syracuse job. I'm still trying to figure that one out (but "welcome to exciting, hard-hitting football, Orangemen fans!"). Texas cruises to a cover.

Arizona (+9) at Arizona State, Friday, 3 p.m. ET, FSN

Russell: Arizona State, to me, provides an interesting study in how schedule strength is evaluated, and why some merit should be given to a team's ranking at the time a given game is played. The Sun Devils all but beat LSU back in September and had USC on the ropes, but absolutely fell apart after USC came back to beat them. Does that mean they were a mediocre team at the time they played those two games? I don't think so.

Vinny: You can't blame Rudy Carpenter for the Devils' problems. Carpenter has been superb (13 TDs, 2 INTs) since taking over for the injured Sam Keller a month ago. It will be tough for Keller to win his job back next year, especially if he misses spring practice, as expected.

Russell: Things have gotten so bad for the Sun Devils this season that there's talk of coach Dirk Koetter being fired if he loses this game. Arizona coach Mike Stoops, meanwhile, didn't appear to be making all that much progress in year two in Tucson until his Wildcats walloped then-unbeaten UCLA a few weeks back.

Vinny: But then the Wildcats turned around and got hammered 38-14 at home by ...Washington.

Russell: I don't like the mentality of Arizona State right now. The players appear to have packed things in at midseason, and I'm not sure they can rally even for a rivalry game. Stoops will have his team fired up. I think Arizona can at least cover the number, if not win outright.

Vinny: Arizona doesn't do anything particularly well. The Wildcats mostly stick with a soft zone defense, and I think Carpenter will find receiver Derek Hagans roaming free all day long. I like the Devils to cover in a track meet.

Nebraska (+14) at Colorado, Friday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Vinny: The Buffs are still smarting from a 30-16 loss to Iowa State two weeks ago. But Colorado can still secure its fourth appearance in the Big XII title game in five years with a win over the Huskers on Friday (or an Iowa State loss to Kansas).

Russell: There was a time when this was the best rivalry in the Big Eight/Big XII, but no more thanks to Nebraska's growing pains as it attempts to develop at least a 20th-century offense. Still, there's a healthy dislike between these clubs and some strange things have happened in their annual day-after-Thanksgiving showdown.

Vinny: Both Nebraska and Colorado are more effective through the air. I never thought I would live to see the day when Joel Klatt ends his career, and it's almost here. (But then I thought I would never live to hear of anything as awful as the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.) Klatt has bounced back for a solid senior year (2437 yards, 14 TDs, 6 INTs).

Russell: At least the teams in that game get a trip to San Diego out of the deal. Nothing says "reward for a good season" like a holiday trip to Boise or Detroit.

Vinny: I don't expect Nebraska back Cory Ross to have much luck against the nation's No. 2 rushing defense. So it's up to Taylor to get it done for the Huskers. So I'm going with the Buffs.

Russell: I'll go with Bill Simmons on this one -- never back a shaky QB on the road. I'm pretty sure I've been burned every time I've picked the Huskers this year. If not for Bill Callahan, I might have a fighting shot at hitting 40% of my picks this season. You know what they say, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, can't get fooled again." I'll take Colorado.

#17 Wisconsin (-6) at Hawaii, Friday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Russell: There's some legitimate concern as to whether Wisconsin will be up for this game two weeks after the home letdown against Iowa in Barry Alvarez's final game at Camp Randall.

Vinny: Brian Calhoun was finally shut down in Wisconsin's final two Big Ten games (both losses) against Penn State and Iowa (a total of 56 yards on 35 carries). Hawaii will obviously try to make John Stocco beat them, like every other team that faced the Badgers this year.

Russell: I recall Michigan being in a similar situation out in the islands against a bad Hawaii team back in 1998 (yes, I made the roadie). The Wolverines were coming off a loss to Ohio State, but they still treated it as a business trip. I expect Alvarez's club to do the same.

Vinny: This trip should allow Wisconsin to get some positive vibes going into their bowl game (probably the Capital One Bowl in Orlando). The Badgers cover.

Russell: This hasn't been one of June Jones's better years in Honolulu, as his team tries to move on following the 17-year career of Timmy Chang. Unless Wisconsin is served up a bad batch of poi, the Badgers will run, run, and run some more on the Warriors with Calhoun and that big O-line. Expect some huge numbers from Calhoun as the Badgers roll. This is my Fred Edelstein lock.

Ole Miss (-3) at Mississippi State, Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET

Vinny: Is this the first time we've talked about a game between two teams that are a combined 5-15?

Russell: No doubt, but when those 5-15 teams play in a game called the "Egg Bowl," it's allowable.

Vinny: Both teams are downright anemic on offense, but the Ole Miss defense has kept it in a couple games, including a 13-10 loss to Alabama. Junior linebacker Patrick Willis leads the SEC with 12.7 tackles per game.

Russell: You know, I kind of thought Ole Miss made a little too big a deal of the Eli Manning era when he graduated, but given that the program has fallen apart since then, I guess they were right.

Vinny: The Rebels have outscored the Bulldogs 51-3 over the last two games in this series. I look for that trend to continue, as Ole Miss walks to its fourth straight over Mississippi State (my Fred Edelstein Lock).

Russell: I still think MSU's Sylvester Croom is a quality coach, but he's fighting an uphill battle in trying to get recruits, and he's dealing with NCAA sanctions from the Jackie Sherrill administration as well. I'm not sure if he can last long enough there to turn things around. This line does seem a little low, but I'm going to resist the temptation to take the Bulldogs. Ole Miss is the pick.

#24 Florida State (+6) at #23 Florida, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Russell: It's been an up-and-down year for first-year Florida coach Urban Meyer, but he still has a shot at a three-game sweep of Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida State, which would at least keep him from getting run out of town on a rail.

Vinny: The Gators shot themselves in the foot in the loss at South Carolina last week, racking up 11 penalties for 86 yards and the game's only turnover. Florida is second only to LSU with nearly 70 penalty yards per game.

Russell: Florida State looked really flat against Clemson two weeks ago. Former Seminoles' great Derrick Brooks said he was shocked by the lack of effort and focus he saw from FSU while watching the game on TV. Has Papa Bowden lost his touch? Maybe it's time to give him the JoePa treatment. It's a good thing Penn State heeded all the fan complaints and got the old man out of there. Oh, wait, that didn't happen.

Vinny: The Seminoles are coming off a bye week and that should help heal some injuries, as well as some psyches. Tailback Leon Washington should be ready to compliment Lorenzo Booker on Saturday.

Russell: This rivalry is not what it was in the mid- to late-90s, but it's still plenty intense. Florida's at home, and I think Meyer really needs this one, whereas Florida State looks like it's mailing things in a little bit (the 'Noles are going to the ACC title game despite three conference losses). I like Florida to win in the Swamp by at least a touchdown.

Vinny: I don't know if Drew Weatherford can come through in the clutch, but I like the 'Noles to at least cover.

#15 Georgia (-3) at #21 Georgia Tech, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: This could be the most interesting game of the weekend as the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets tee it up in Atlanta for the Governor's Cup. (Not every rivalry game can have a cool title like the "Egg Bowl.") Georgia Tech is a tough team to figure. They won at Auburn to open the year and knocked off Miami at the Orange Bowl last Saturday, but dropped three games in between, in part because QB Reggie Ball went down with a serious illness.

Vinny: Tech defensive coordinator John Tenuta likes to bring the blitz with safety Chris Reis and linebackers Gerris Wilkinson and Phillip Wheeler. And defensive end Eric Henderson has forced four fumbles in his six sacks.

Russell: I know this is a rivalry game, but I question how much Georgia has to play for here. The Bulldogs have already locked up a berth in the SEC title game next week, and they know their only shot to reach a BCS game is to win that contest, not this one.

Vinny: I beg to differ. I think Georgia will be focused on this contest, especially after Tech's upset of Miami. David Pollack, Thomas Davis, Odell Thurman and former defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder are all in the NFL now. But Georgia's defense hasn't had much of a drop-off thanks in part to defensive end Quentin Moses (nine sacks), safety Greg Blue and first-year coordinator Willie Martinez.

Russell: Georgia has won four straight in the series, but I think the streak ends here. The defensive line will get after Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley the same way they got after Miami's Kyle Wright last week (seven sacks). Ball hits Calvin Johnson -- who just might be the best receiver in America -- for a touchdown and the Jackets win it outright at home.

Vinny: Except Shockley is very elusive, unlike Wright, and is the top-rated passer in the SEC to boot. I think Shockley will stand up to the pressure. Georgia covers on the road.

The Picks
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" in bold)
Game Vinny says Russell says
Pittsburgh (+13) at #11 West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia
#2 Texas (-26) at Texas A&M Texas Texas
Arizona (+9) at Arizona State Arizona State Arizona
Nebraska (+14) at Colorado Colorado Colorado
#17 Wisconsin (-6) at Hawaii Wisconsin Wisconsin
Ole Miss (-3) at Mississippi State Ole Miss Ole Miss
#24 Florida State (+6) at #23 Florida Florida State Florida
#15 Georgia (-3) at #21 Georgia Tech Georgia Georgia Tech
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
Vinny 6-2 (1-0) 40-51-4 (5-7)
Russell 4-4 (1-0) 35-56-4 (7-5)

Posted by: on 24 Nov 2005

42 comments, Last at 02 Dec 2005, 12:27am by young curmudgeon


by Adam (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 2:01pm

Pitt-West Virginia is a brutal rivalry.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 2:28pm

OK, for anyone who's interested, the maximum number of teams that can be bowl-eligible is 70, and the minimum is 57. (There's 55 qualified so far, and 2 win&in/lose&out games). So, I figured I'd try and track whose bubbles burst as the weekend goes along. There's 56 bowl game slots, so 1 team's already out.

Out: Central Michigan
On the Bubble: Western Michigan, Miami(Ohio), Louisiana Tech, Utah, New Mexico

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Thu, 11/24/2005 - 2:36pm

Oops, my mistake, Utah's in. They're going to the Emerald Bowl.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 12:48am

Devin: You're reminding me of the old ESPN selection show when they used Bob Goulet as "The Man" -- a Charlie's Angel-like voice that comes over the speaker phone to decide who gets into the NCAA Hoops tournament.

"Villanova?" asks Chris Fowler.

"IN!" declares The Man.

"Eastern Michigan?" asks Digger Phelps.

"OUT!" says The Man.

That was also the season they used Goulet in their college hoops commercials: "IN-DI-ANA! That team is one class act! He will part your hair, or throw a chair, if you give him ... any slack!" Good stuff. Anyway, I look forward to your tracking of the bowl bubble this weekend. Seriously.

Sorry, I'm rambling, but I'm at my folks' place for T-giving, and my dad has taken over the remote. So we're forced to watch C-SPAN2's special on Politics, Humor and the Presidency. I think I'm going to finish off the rest of that Cabernet...

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 1:47am

And they rejoice on the Banks of the Old Raritan! It would now take something seriously bizarre to keep Rutgers out of a bowl game, even if they lose this week (which they won't).

Bubble Update:
Minimum # of bowl-eligible teams: 58
Maximum # of bowl-eligible teams: 69

Out: Central Michigan, Western Michigan
On the Bubble: Miami (Ohio), MAC Championship Loser, Louisiana Tech, Bowling Green, New Mexico

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 9:19am

First things first: What Big Wisconsin Offensive Line? The line has been the problem almost the entire second half of the season for UW. For those of us who actually watch the games it's understood that Wisconsin's game vanished after the MN game. Illinois doesn't count as U of I had no defense whatsoever. The O-line couldn't block the run and once teams began to do crazy things like stunting and twists the line literally collapsed. The injuries to the defensive line and the dreadful offensive line puts the Hawaii game very much in doubt. Wisconsin is a battered and bruised team. Expect a close game and don't be surprised by the upset as UW simply may not have anything left in the tank.

Now, I really must vent on the writers selection of Brett Basanez for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year as well as first team quarterback.

What games were those morons watching???

Basanez had a nice little season playing in NW's spread offense which is geared around timing and tom foolery. He rang up big games against Wisconsin, Purdue, Michgan State, and Iowa.

But wait, were any of those teams serious contenders in the Big Ten? Hmmmm, let's check the list again.

Versus Penn State BB had 229 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. And if he leads his team to a single first down in the last umpteen minutes of the game Penn State doesn't pull of the comeback.

Versus Michigan Basanez did get his yards (326) but the two interceptions weren't very helpful as the Mildcats were waxed.

NW was humiliated by Ohio State as BB had his worst game of the season with 121 yards in passing and an interception.

Ya'know, I think I saw a quarterback in the conference play a wee bit better when it counted.

Michael Robinson was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and any other selection should be grounds for having the voter stripped naked and dragged across hot coals.

Robinson passed when it mattered, ran when it mattered, and led the offense which finished second in the conference in scoring by getting big play after big play. And while BB wilted when the heat was on Robinson thrived. In PSU's only loss Robinson had led the Lions to the go ahead touchdown in their final series before the defense had its only major lapse of the season.

Robinson may not be a quarterback but that isn't the name on their award. He was the focal point of what was the best offense in the league no matter how you slice it. To review the season and determine that Brett Basanez was a better offensive player defies understanding.

As for First Team Big Ten Quarterback, I can think of three other guys I would rather have than BB: Troy Smith, Robinson, and John Stocco.

If anyone has read this far I thank you for your patience.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 2:35pm

Isn't Pitt out of bowl contention also?

And didn't the B10 coaches make Robinson their offensive player of the year but only named him to the 2nd team for all-conference? I would rank Tate and Henne (even with his disappointing year) ahead of Stocco.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 4:33pm


The coaches did name Robinson. My post was taking the writers who allegedly follow the Big Ten to task.

John Stocco led the drive to win the Michigan game, kept WI in the NW game, kept them close enough to win the MN game at the end thanks to the Gophers inability to snap the ball on a punt, passed them to the win against Purdue when Calhoun was shut out on the ground, and stood tall in the blitzkrieg that was the Penn State rush (where Stocco was sacked 9 times yet passed for over 300 yards).

Tate is emotional. Great when things are going well. Melts down when things go bad. Henne certainly has loads more talent than Stocco. Stocco has far more leadership ability.

I thought Stocco would be one of the weak links in the WI attack this season. By the end of the season he, Calhoun, and Brandon Williams were the only players keeping the team competitive.

That offensive line absolutely collapsed in the last four games. If Big Ten refs called holding honestly WI would have drawn a dozen flags a game........

by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 5:07pm

These ABC announcers really need to stop calling Texas "The Aggies." If you can't keep straight which school has which nickname, well, you're probably in the wrong profession.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 5:32pm

I don't doubt Stocco's heart and leadership, just his ability. He definitely stepped it up this year though.

A&M's McGee just fumbled on a play-action pass on 3rd and short. I didn't like that tight formation A&M was in there against a (usually, but not today) strong Texas defense. Spread it out and then let him make a play with his legs (or arm if there's any easy throw).

by Rocco (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 8:47pm

Texas is lucky that A&M isn't very good. They looked pretty ugly today on both sides of the ball. I think VY more or less handed the Heisman to Reggie Bush.

I flipped away from Nebraska-Colorado, and I come back to see the game delayed and Tirico on his soapbox. What did I miss? Also, how did NU lose to Kansas with as well as they've played today? I don't see many Big 12 games- are they erratic, and this is just a good game, or what? Hopefuly Iowa St. wins tomorrow- I don't think they can stay within 30 of Texas, but I know that CU can't after watching this stinkbomb today.

by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 9:40pm

They halted the game and cleared the student sections at Colorado when students started throwing things on the field.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 11/25/2005 - 10:23pm

Pathetic "effort" (used loosely) by Colorado. Knowing all they needed was a win for a Big XII title game berth, they lay that egg, at home? Simply awful. That's two weeks in a row that all Colorado needed was a win to lock up the Big XII North, and they flopped.

I don't condone what the students did, but I certainly can empathize with their utter disgust at what Colorado showed on the field today. Simply awful.

Big comeback by ASU against Arizona. Down 17-5 at the half, and 20-5 in the 3rd quarter, gets the necessary two touchdowns plus a two-point conversion to tie it up in the fourth quarter, allowing a win on a last-second field goal.


by Derek (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 12:53am


This is why people talk smack about the Big 12.

After Colorado's loss, will Iowa State blow it against Kansas tomorrow? I can't wait to hear the announcer (Musberger?) try to sell the underdog in the Big 12 Championship.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 1:40am

Friday Night Bowl Bubble Update

(Just to clarify, the "Out" teams are the ones that are bowl-eligible, but, as far as I can tell, won't be getting bids)

Minimum # of Bowl-Eligible Teams: 59
Maximum # of Bowl-Eligible Teams: 68

Out: Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Miami (Ohio)
On the Bubble: MAC Championship Loser, Louisiana Tech, Bowling Green, New Mexico

by Slippery Pete (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 1:46am

As an Iowa State fan, I'm pretty ecstatic about CU's stinkbomb. All they gotta do is beat KU tomorrow, which on paper should be easy. But then I remember last year when all they had to do was beat a 4-6 Missouri team at home to win the North, and they blew it.

Big XII North football. It's faaaaaaaaaantastic!

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 4:55pm

Kansas has 4th and 8 on the ISU 35, down 8, and they haven't moved the ball well all day.

Boom goes the punt, into the end zone.


by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 5:07pm

Mario Williams of North Carolina State has pretty much sealed his spot in the top half of the first round of the draft today. Four sacks, and the game isn't over yet. I think he'd look good in a Lions uniform.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 5:13pm

He better start pushing himself as a WR, then, since we know Millen doesn't look at anyone else in the 1st round...

Kansas just tied it up. 14-14 in the 4th quarter. Could Iowa State choke the title away to Colorado? Stay tuned...


by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 5:15pm

Kansas went for it with a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal, and the only people who had a harder time finding the ball than the officials were the announcers. The quarterback was over the goal line with the initial surge, then got pushed back, then stretched the ball over the goal line again, and yet neither the TV announcers nor the officials saw it. Fortunately, a replay review correctly ruled it a touchdown. (That's the first time all year I've said anything positive about replay.) Then Kansas ran a sweet play for the two-point conversion, rolling the quarterback to the right to draw the defense and then having him throw across his body toward an open receiver on the left side of the end zone. Will Iowa State blow this and miss out on the Big 12 title game?

What's with all the PSAs on this game? We had Jimmy Carter endorsing pancreatic cancer research followed immediately by Dennis Franz speaking out for PETA.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 5:23pm

I'm seeing a lot that I like in Maryland-N.C. State. Vernon Davis definitely looks like the best tight end I've seen this season, better than Mercedes Lewis.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 6:05pm

And Kansas wins over Iowa State in overtime! Iowa State fumbles the Big XII North title to Colorado, after Colorado twice choked its chances away.

In the process, Kansas becomes bowl eligible.


by Derek (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 6:25pm

I wish I could say I'm suprised by the Big XII but a slightly different version of this happened last year. I'm an Iowa fan and it still sucks to see the Cyclones lose ANOTHER must win game.

Here's hoping Colorado beats Texas just to screw everything up.

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 7:06pm

I really wish the officials would make an effort to call excessive celebration penalties consistently. Virginia receiver scores a TD, runs into the end zone all alone, and points to the crowd. Official throws flag. Later, Miami receiver scores a TD, runs into the end zone all alone, and points to the crowd. Official walks up to him and (presumably) tells him to knock it off, which he does. How come one guy gets a 15-yard penalty and the other guy gets a warning, when they did the exact same thing?

by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 7:10pm

Surprised to see the FSU braintrust play for halftime with the ball on their own 40 and 31 seconds left in the 2nd quarter. I know the offensive line is getting carved up, but you have to at least try to set up for 3 points with that kind of field position.

by Russell Levine :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 7:32pm

Looks like Ole Miss is getting the Vin/Russ universe altering treatment today, just as Colorado took it like a lead pipe yesterday.

At halftime of the FSU-UF game, they were talking about rumors of Arkansas wanting to defect from the SEC to the Big XII North -- did anyone hear anything of this? Is it just rampant specualation? A joke?

by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 8:07pm

I didn't see the halftime report, but I would have to assume it's a joke. Arkansas is well established in the SEC, and I don't know how the Big 12 would add Arkansas without screwing up its schedule.

I'm not as impressed with D'Brickashaw Ferguson as I thought I would be. It's not that he gets beaten often, it's just that he doesn't dominate people the way he should. He looks like he's satisfied to do the bare minimum necessary to beat his man.

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 8:12pm

6:00 PM Bowl Bubble Update

Minimum # of Bowl-Eligible Teams: 63
Maximum # of Bowl-Eligible Teams: 67

Out: Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Miami (Ohio), MAC Championship Loser, Bowling Green, Arkansas St. (unless La-Monroe mounts a comeback), Louisiana Tech.

On the Bubble: New Mexico, Memphis*

(*All the projections seem to have Memphis behind S. Miss and Houston, although it doesn't make sense to me.)

Oh, and the Rutgers game today was very nice indeed. When was the last time they WON a laugher? (1-AA games don't count, although for Rutgers they probably should.)

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 8:16pm

The Wake Forestization of the FSU program is something to behold

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/26/2005 - 8:35pm

Florida State has looked absolutely anemic this game. They're laughably bad. And they're facing VT in a week in the ACC champsionship game? That could be a rout.


by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sun, 11/27/2005 - 1:20am

I've been thoroughly underwhelmed with Notre Dame tonight.

I caught the end of the Fresno/Nevada game, and well... The cool thing was, the clock broke with about six minutes to go, so they had to guess how much time was left between updates from the stopwatch dude. That was awesome.

Nevada runs what they called the "wing T" offense. Very cool, probably as close as we'll get to seeing a true single wing offense in modern football. I believe Delaware runs something very similar, so if they made the 1-AA 'playoffs' (it's an unfamiliar term for college fans, look it up if you need to) be sure to check them out. Ah, the joys of small college trickeration.

So anyway, Nevada up 11, about 1.5-2 minutes left. While the announcers are congratulating them on the win, Fresno is putting together the easiest-looking 2-minute drill I've ever seen. Something like 5 plays, 70-some yards, and leaves just over a minute and two timeouts. Way to play defense, Wolfpack! They make the 2, down by 3. Nevada recovers the onside kick at about the 30 (it took a crazy bounce off a Nevada player's helmet, and shot back about 15 yards).

Remember, it's a 3-point game, about a minute left, and Fresno has two timeouts. So Nevada runs a regular play - and the announcers go crazy because they didn't just kneel. Huh? Do some quick football math - if they kneel, they either have to try a long FG (to only go up 6), or punt it back with ~25 seconds left. But let's not let the facts get in the way of our outrage, gentlemen.

Then, on 2nd down, the Nevada runner (who already has 3 TDs on the night) breaks free, and has a clear path to the end zone. If he scores, that would leave almost 50 seconds on the clock, and they'd have to give the ball back with 1 TO left and up 10. But he does the smart thing, and slides before he gets to the end zone, so they can kneel and end it.

From the announcers' reaction, you would have thought he just unveiled the secret ingredient to both cold fusion and the cure for cancer. They both declared that they had never seen or heard of anything like that before (which must mean they don't watch much football, or discuss endgame strategy at all), and one made the comment that "Well, you might be able to argue that it was a smart play. But he probably should have scored his fourth touchdown." Let me get this straight. The play that guarantees a win, and a share of the conference championship, *might* be a smart play. Not as smart as going for personal glory and giving the other team a chance, apparently. Wow. Just, wow.

by Michael David Smith :: Sun, 11/27/2005 - 2:17am

I was rooting for Stanford, and while I wasn't expecting them to win, I was disappointed that the defense didn't even look like it was trying on Notre Dame's final drive. The Irish just marched down the field without breaking a sweat. Then, as Stanford tried to drive without a minute left, Notre Dame got consistent pressure despite rushing three and dropping eight. Stanford had every chance to win and didn't capitalize.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/27/2005 - 4:56am

Wasn't around for Thanksgiving weekend. I know it's kind of stupid now, but I did like Texas A & M when I saw that spread. I like situations like that, with rivals getting a lot of points at home. Plus, Russell and Vinny picked Texas.

by Russell Levine :: Sun, 11/27/2005 - 9:14am

Sid, that's another rousing pick. Did I mention I loved the Pats in Super Bowl 36? I like totally told one my friends and everything!

by Michael David Smith :: Sun, 11/27/2005 - 1:30pm

Picking games is never easy. I thought Stanford getting 48.5 in the 1902 Rose Bowl was a lock.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/27/2005 - 2:08pm

RE: Russell

Unfortunately, I had to visit family over Thanksgiving and I couldn't post it here myself.
I liked the Rams in Super Bowl 36. ;)

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Sun, 11/27/2005 - 4:53pm

Almost Final Bowl Bubble Update (stupid UConn!)

Minimum # of Bowl-Eligible Teams: 64
Maximum # of Bowl-Eligible Teams: 65

Out: Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Bowling Green, MAC Championship Loser, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico, Louisiana-Laffayette (I screwed that one up on the last update. My apologies to all the Sun Belt fans out there.)

On the Bubble: Memphis

This is assuming Ohio State gets the BCS at-large bid, which means the last available slot is in the Motor City Bowl. If Oregon gets the bid, then the open slot is in the Las Vegas Bowl, and I'm not sure which way they'd go. (Also in that case, if USF loses to West Virginia and UConn beats Louisville, it's possible UConn could get the 4th Big East bid, and USF gets bumped. But that won't happen.)

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 12:22am

Okay, after watching the Texas-Texas A&M game, I'm now convinced that Ohio State should've beaten Texas handily, had Tressel not been a dope and played Zwick as much as he did.

Honestly, that was flat out ridiculous. A&M ran the option so much that it's pointless to even consider that they ran anything else, and it still worked. Texas's linebackers/secondary were way too aggressive all day.

Sigh. Oh well, here's hoping that USC falls to UCLA, and Penn State sneaks into the Rose Bowl. That'd be a fun game to watch (Actually, it'd be freaky weird - considering a large fraction of Penn State's playbook this year came from Texas).

by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 11/28/2005 - 11:18pm

Vinny--if you are not aware of the intensity of the Pitt-WVU rivalry, you are underqualified as a football commentator. I'm not sure these rivalries mean what they once did, and the intensity for most of them is very local, but a few decades ago there were plenty of people who, if offered the choice between going 9-1 but losing this game or going 1-9 but winning it, would have had to stop and think a long time before deciding.

by judolphin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/30/2005 - 12:16pm

Re: #31 (taking a dive the last play of the game):
I am not surprised by anything commentators say. Of course it was the right play; he sealed the victory by not scoring. No-brainer.

Re: #39
I agree... Vinny, if you don't know how intense a rivalry Pitt-WVU is, shame on you as an expert. I am an FSU alum, have lived in Morgantown, and live in Jacksonville. As big as Florida-Georgia, FSU-Florida, FSU-Miami, etc. are here, none hold a candle to the intensity and sheer rabid nature of Pitt-WVU.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Thu, 12/01/2005 - 9:26pm

Fair enough. I'm not trying to knock the teams or the rivalry itself; I just have my own opinions about the intensity of other rivalry games I've been to (UM-OSU, Army-Navy, Florida-Tennessee, etc.). And I certainly don't hold myself out as an expert (just take a look at my picks!), just a big fan of college football. I'll have to add WVa-Pitt to my list of rivalry games to attend.

by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Fri, 12/02/2005 - 12:27am

Re 41: good response, Vinny. Note that I said "underqualified," not "unqualified." I wasn't trying to flame you, and you didn't take it as a flame. Pitt-WVU would be a great game for you to take in one of these years.