Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bowl Picks - Conclusion

Well, here's the last of the true college football action for the 2011 season. By January 10th, we will have crowned this year's BCS champ, know who won what, and be picking over the final polls. I do love bowl season, but I hate to see it come every year, as it brings the end of the season, and I really hate to see it go, leaving us college football-less once again. I've put the GoDaddy.com and Compass bowls first - I think we all know why - and then picked the New Year's games and lastly, the BCS bowls. It's the last official prognostication from FTS for this season, so enjoy.

Compass Bowl - May as well be the Inconsistency Bowl. With what's happened in Pittsburgh, it would make sense to take SMU, but remeber June Jones' 'just the tip' moment with Arizona State. I think the Panthers will be angry - very angry - and will have enough in them to top the 'Stangs. Pitt 27, SMU 20.

GoDaddy.com Bowl - Don't overlook this one. Granted, I do hate the middies sneaking their bowls up in the schedule, but that won't dampen the fireworks. These are to streaking teams and logic says to go with the Wolves, but my gut says take the firepower from up north. No.Ill 33, Arkansas State 28.

New Year's Bowls:

Ticket City - Wow. Even with Sumlin leaving Houston, it's hard to go with the dumpster fire in State College. There's going to be chaos on both sidelines, but, for some reason, I'm going with the skill of Keenum. Despite the skill of Penn State's defense, I think the Cougs can still put up enough points. Houston 29, Penn State 28.

Outback - I know both teams lost their conference championship games, but I think one's taking it better than the other. While Sparty was still talking about how close they were to the Rose Bowl, the Georgia players were already enjoying their Outback blowout and talking about how much fun Tampa was gonna be. Michigan State has a more than capable defense, but so does Georgia, and I think it'll be harder to stop Murray than Cousins. Take the Dawgs to cover, Georgia 30, Michigan State 16.

Capital One - This is a tough, tough, game to pick. Without Lattimore, South Carolina's a scary pick. But, there's something else to this game. I don't see either team really setting off the offensive fireworks, which means it could be a hard-fought, low-scoring affair. And nobody can drag an opponent down into the muck and beat 'em like South Carolina. Look for a key defensive TD to tun things for the Gamecocks, South Carolina 21, Nebraska 19.

Gator - Another tough one to pick. Originally, I was using Ohio State's performance against Michigan as my measurement for picking the Bucks. But then I remembered 2006. So, even though I promised I wouldn't do it, I'm calling for the SEC sweep on Jan. 2, Florida 21, Ohio State 20.

Cotton -  And the sweep will continue through Jan. 6...but be careful of that 8 point spread. I'm taking the Hawgs, but close: Arkansas 32, Kansas State 27.

BCS Bowls:

Rose - I love Russel Wilson and Montee Ball; look for the two of them to give Oregon's defense fits. However, while the Badger defense has been solid all year, I don't see them being able to slow down the Ducks' high-powered run game. It'll be fun to watch early, but Oregon will pull away late, Oregon 37, Wisconsin 29.

Fiesta - Stanford has talent and Andrew luck is an able leader, but the Cardinal is just not as battle tested as the Cowboys. It ought to be a shootout, but I'm taking the Poke's resume to life them, Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 31.

Orange - Be wise, take the points. Clemson 28, West Virginia 27.

Sugar - While the Orange Bowl is probably the least interesting match-up, this one is the most questionable. VA Tech's limping in after being embarrassed by Clemson and Michigan slides in with two-losses and without having played in their conference title game. Clemson is the only team we've seen beat Va Tech, but we've seen Michigan come out flat on occasion, as well. I'm hoping both come out hot, but calling for three shootouts in five BCS bowls is wishful thinking. Look for defenses to overshadow the contest, Virginia Tech 19, Michigan 17.

BCS Championship - The Rematch. LSU's had a tougher slate down the stretch and could be more prepared for the big game, but it's hard for me to pick against Alabama. They outplayed the Tigers offensively last time, but came up short on special teams - don't look for that to happen twice. Look for more than 15 points in this one and never give Nick Saban a second chance: Alabama 21, LSU 16.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Look Back - BCS Bowl Predictions

Here's a simple one to kill some yule-time this morning. How did my predicted BCS bowl bids compare to the actual match-ups? Take a look:



Well, the rematch threw everybody off, I'd bet, since most folks put the second best SEC team in the Sugar Bowl. Of the ten teams that get BCS bids, I got five of them right: LSU, 'Bama, VA Tech, Oregon, and Wisky - but Alabama and Wisconsin were the only teams I got in the right spot. The fact there was no BCS-buster shot me (picking Houston) and everybody else (picking Boise State) in the foot. And who really thought the ACC would get two BCS bids?

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM FTS!

A Look Back - Conference Predictions

So far, we've reviewed how my summer preseason picks stacked up to the actual season results. Today (well, actually a couple days ago, as this post is scheduled for Xmas and I won't be blogging that day), we'll look at how accurate my prognostications were in the conference blasts. The easiest way I could think of was to make a table matching my picks against the actual end-of-the-year conference standings. I'll comment below:


Now for the commentary.
  • The Big East: Pretty much the only thing I got right was West Virginia being in the mix. I had the 'Neers getting edged by the Bulls in the end, though. Louisville and Cincy were both surprises, as I had them near the bottom of my preseason standings.
  • The Big 12: What a LOL-fest. First, I had Texas winning, but in August I finalized my pick with Oklahoma winning the league. Still wrong. I put too much faith in Texas A&M (even giving them a good shot at an at-large bid) and not enough in OK State who really stepped up this season. Once again, there were two surprises: Kansas State and Baylor, who I had at 5th and 8th, respectively.
  • ACC Atlantic: Close enough...except for Wake.
  • ACC Coastal: More than close enough. I mean, who saw this Virginia team coming?
  • B1G Legends: Sparty did a much better job building on 2010 than I predicted. I thought Nebraska would have a much better season, maybe even getting an at large BCS bid. Instead, Michigan - who I picked for five losses - snuck into the Sugar Bowl.
  • B1G Leaders: NAILED IT.
  • PAC-12 South: OK, but who saw that weird shit coming? /Neuheisel'd.
  • PAC-12 North: Again, NAILED IT.
  • SEC West: This whole rematch business helps me out a bit, because I did call for 'Bama in the BCS title game. But I did not see LSU beating the Tide in T-town. I'd call it close enough if weren't for the gross overvaluing of Dan Mullen and Chris Relf; the Other Bulldogs really let me down.
  • SEC East: HAHAHA. I picked Georgia to start 2-0 and then fall apart. Then the opposite happened while Florida skidded through at 6-6. Meanwhile, Tennessee took a step back and Vandy surged forward. I was all kinds of wrong.
My Big-12 and SEC East picks were just straight dumpster fires. Beyond that, it's not too terrible. Next up, we'll finish up the look-backs by comparing the FTS Preseason Top-25 to the final AP rankings...should be fun!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Look Back - Big Game Predictions II

Yesterday, we looked back at how accurate my summer non-conference predictions were for ten big games. They weren't too bad overall, but I definitely missed out on some big ones . Today, we're gonna revisit the preseason picks I made in twelve big conference clashes. The original post is here if you wanna re-familiarize yourself with what I said back in June.

Oregon at Stanford - original pick: Oregon 34, Staford 24 - actual outcome: Oregon, 53-30.
- Right pick, but with the wrong supporting details. Obviously, I thought Oregon was going to be better in '11 than they've turned out to be - I had them picked for the title game. And I didn't think Stanford would end up with just one loss. But, everything in this game just screamed a Ducks win...even way back in June.

LSU at Alabama - original pick: Alabama 27, LSU 19 - actual outcome: LSU, 9-6.
- Wrong pick, but right about one thing: 'Bama playing in the BCS CG. I don't think anyone was picking this game to be touchdown-less, but my score prediction way as well have been 40-38.

Nebraska at Wisconsin - original pick: Wisky 23, Nebraska 20 - actual outcome: Wisconsin, 48-17.
- I saw Wisconsin being good; I didn't see them being this good in this game.

Texas-Oklahoma (Dallas) - original pick: Texas 30, Oklahoma 20 - actual outcome: Oklahoma, 55-17.
- By far the worst pick I made and it concerns the team I put the most misplaced faith into, Texas. Not only was I wrong about the winner and way off on the score, I was wrong about personnel. Back in June, I said, "Gilbert will be comfortable by the RRR." Wow, what a terrible, terrible prediction. This game was a massacre and I completely whiffed on it. I did predict Oklahoma fairly accurately, though.

TCU at Boise St - original pick: Boise State 20, TCU 17 - actual outcome: TCU, 36-35.
- Wrong. It did come down to the kick game, though.

Arkansas-Alabama - original pick: Alabama 31, Arkansas 23 - actual outcome: Alabama, 38-14.
Right, but I was scared to call for Arkansas to score lower than 20 points. This 'Bama defense is good.

Clemson at Virginia Tech - original pick: VA Tech 31, Clemson 20 - actual outcome: Clemson, 23-3.
- Wrong, but who honestly saw Clemson starting the season 7-0? I think this is one my most regrettable lines from all of the preseason picks: "The Hokies could be a very serious contender next year." Lol.

Arizona State at UCLA - original pick: UCLA 23, Arizona State 21 - actual outcome: UCLA, 29-28.
- Right! And who else was giving the Bruins any credit this preseason? It was pretty obvious this would decide the Pac-12 South, since USC was banned, but I honestly thought both teams would have slightly better records. Oh well.

Michigan State at Nebraska - original pick: Wisconsin 37, Michigan State 20 - actual outcome: Sparty, 37-31.
- Wrong. Damn you, Hail Marys.

West Virginia at USF - original pick: USF 30, WVU 26 - actual outcome: WVU, 30-27.
- Wrong. But only a fool puts faith in any Big East picks, preseason or otherwise.

Florida State at Clemson - original pick: Clemson 16, FSU 14 - actual outcome: Clemson, 35-30.
- Right. I might not have seen Clemson's early season success coming, but I did see the 'Noles slipping in this one...granted, I thought it would be because of their big heads coming after beating Oklahoma (see yesterday's post).

Utah at USC - original pick: USC 40, Utah 20 - actual outcome: USC, 23-14.
- Not the beatdown I predicted, but it still counts.

So, 6-6 overall. Ouch. My preseason thoughts on Texas have to be, by far, the biggest dud from my summer predictions and it showed in the RRR pick. In fact, the Big 12 was really the weakest of all the prognostication I did back in june and July, but we'll get more into that in the next few days.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nice.

A Look Back - Big Game Predictions

Every summer, I do my pre-season picks, predictions, and polls in preparation for the upcoming season. And at the end of every regular season, I look back through it and laugh at how terrible I am at all of this. I always mean to officially revisit it in a blog post to wrap up the year, but either forget or lose the energy. Well, I think I've found the perfect solution. I'm going to break down my preseason prognostications into several blog posts, looking back on big non-conf. game predictions in this one, conf.-games. in one, conference standings in another, and my preseason poll in the last.

Back in June, I posted two sets of picks, one calling the big non-conference games for 2011 and another where I did conference games. Let's start with the nonconference games, first.

1. Oklahoma at Florida State - original pick: FSU 30, Oklahoma 24 - actual outcome: Oklahoma 23-13
- Wrong. Both teams ended up with disappointing years; I saw OU's coming, but apparently drank the kool-aid flowing out of Tallahassee.

2. Oregon-LSU (Arlington, TX) - original pick: Oregon 29, LSU 27 - actual outcome:Oregon 40-27
- Super wrong. I obviously didn't see the Tigers' season coming before this game kicked-off. The defense out-athleted an fast Oregon squad and created enough turnovers to keep the Ducks out of it. It only took this game for most of us to see how scary LSU was going to be.

3. Boise State-Georgia (Atlanta) - original pick: Georgia 34, Boise State 24 - actual outcome: Boise State, 35-21
- Wrong again. OK, I admit it, I rode the homer wagon to this pick. I would like another shot at the Broncos now, though...

4. Alabama at Penn State - original pick: Bama 27, Penn State 6 - actual outcome: Alabama, 27-11
- Pretty dead on, actually. And NO ONE saw the news that was about to break out of State College a few weeks later.

5. Arkansas - Texas A&M (Arlington, TX) - original pick: Arkansas 38, Texas A&M 30 - actual outcome: Arkansas, 42-38
- Not bad.

6. Auburn at Clemson - original pick: Clemson 29, Auburn 24 - actual outcome: Clemson, 38-24
- Here we go, picking up some steam now. Admittedly, I didn't foresee Clemson having the start to their season that they did, but I did call Auburn's loss.

7. LSU-WVU - original pick: LSU 20, West Virginia 13 - actual outcome: LSU 47-21
- Technically right. But, once again, I wasn't picking the Tigers to be the beasts they turned out to be this year.

8. Arizona at Oklahoma State - original pick: OK State 37, Arizona 24 - actual outcome: Oklahoma State, 37-14
- Not too bad, I just gave Arizona too much credit. I think a lot of people did, actually.

9. San Diego State at Michigan - original pick: Michigan 34, SDSU 27 - actual outcome: Michigan, 28-7
- Why I thought this was one of the ten biggest games is beyond me now. I knew Shoelace was going to be great again this year, but I didn't think some of the other parts would click so quickly.

10. Texas at UCLA - original pick: Texas 21, UCLA 13 - actual outcome: Texas, 49-21
- Once again, technically right. I just underestimated the firepower.

So, 7-3 overall. Not too bad at first glance, but I was obviously off when it came to the tone of some of these match-ups or how successful some of these teams would be. Tomorrow, we'll revisit the games I picked as the biggest conference clashes of the year.

Bowl Picks, Part II

So far, I'm 2-3 in my bowl picks, but I've been pretty successful in calling the tone of the games. I went with the favorites by one point margins in Utah State and SDSU and they ended losing by one and two points respectively. Not only that, but I've been fairly spot-on in what the scores have been. So, I'm close; I've just been scared to pull the upset trigger, I guess. Well, not anymore. Below is the bowl slate through New Year's Eve. Most of the spreads are sub-3.5, so we're talking glorified pick 'ems, here. It's been a challenge to my prognostication skills, but I've made picks for each match-up...some of them pretty 'out there' picks, too. By the way, had I been betting against the spread this bowl season, I'd by 5-0...keep that in mind if you're looking for some gambling advice this holiday season.

Independence Bowl - Everett Withers' bags are packed and his caps set for Columbus. Larry Fedora's waiting in the wings. The Tar Heels are somewhere in the middle, most likely distracted. Missouri, on the other hand, has some positive excitement around their team. They're riding in on four straight wins and almost knocked off RGIII and Baylor the week before the streak began. Plus, I like them to make a statement headed into their new conference, Missouri 29, North Carolina 24.

Little Caesar's Bowl - Ah, beautiful Detroit (/dodges stray gunfire). Purdue has had some solid wins this year...but they had some dreadful losses, too. It's always hard to go against the big boy when you get to these kids of match-ups, but I'm not ready to say the Boilermakers have turned the corner yet and Western Michigan can actually be a pretty good team at times, too. Their air raid usually runs like a dream under Alex Carder and their defense should be able to hang with a Purdue offense missing their leading rusher. The Broncos get their first bowl win, Western Michigan 30, Purdue 21.

Belk Bowl - Charlie Strong has done a great job with the Cardinals, taking a team predicted for last in the Big East and almost getting to a BCS game. Tom O'Brien is an idiot who ran-off Russell Wilson but whose team somehow fell ass-backwards into seven wins. Talent wise, the Wolfpack have the edge, but Louisville is the definition of pesky and they love to cover. It's only a 2.5 point spread, so you might want to go all out on the Cardinals. I won't though; call it cowardly, but I'' take the 'Pack, NCSt. 27, Lousiville 26.

Military Bowl - Neither Toledo nor Air Force will meet their ridiculous scoring averages in this game. Triple options are easier to figure out with extra time to prepare, but Tim Beckman already has his ticket punched to Champaign and I don't see his charges being too focused. Not only that, but Air Force should be able to keep the ball away from the Rockets long enough to disrupt Toledo's rhythm. Air Force reps the bowl's namesake well, AF 20, Toledo 16.

Holiday Bowl - All signs here point to Cal: Texas is very young, the 'Horns struggle at QB, the game's in Cali, and the Bears have played well the last four games, including taking Stanford to the wire. But I'm not reading the signs. The young Longhorns and their two new coordinators have had three weeks to prepare and McCoy has emerged as the go-to kid. Cal's simply out of excuses. Tedford has done some great things in Berkeley, but you've got to wonder if it's enough for the new Pac-12. I'll take the mistake prone young 'uns over the mediocre and unmotivated west-coasters, Texas 24, Cal 17.

Champs Sports Bowl - OH MY GOD, THE DREAM MATCH-UP, FSU-NOTRE DAME! Oh yeah, it's not 1992 anymore. Sorry. These teams have become fairly irrelevant the past decade, so it's fitting they'd get matched-up in a bowl. In a showdown to see who's more insignificant, I'll take the better defense. The Noles should hassle Rees and contain Wood en route to a boring win. At least one of the 'Noles few TD's will come of a pick-six, FSU 21, Notre Dame 17.

Alamo Bowl - You know how Heisman winners sometimes lay an egg in the bowl? Well, not this time. Washington is a scrappy team and the Shark has the, at least turned in the right direction, but none of that can make up for the lack of talent in that 115th ranked secondary. RGIII should have a field day. The Bears D isn't great either, but I'll take the man in the Superman socks in a shootout, Baylor 38, Washington 30.

Armed Forces Bowl - Nothing pays homage to our armed forces like Mormons and Okies. I have no real 'feel' for this game. My gut went Tulsa first, but the Hurricane have wilted against any true test this season and BYU's had some impressive wins down the stretch. I know it will be high scoring, but beyond that, I'm very unsure. I'd flip a coin, but I don't have one on me, so I'll go with the 'Cougs no.19 defensive ranking, BYU 31, Tulsa 28. 

Pinstripe Bowl - How is Rutgers favored in this bowl? Surely it's not the 'home' field advantage of NYC, is it? Does Rutgers have any real fans who go to games? If so, do they really want to see this game? Despite the time zone, cold weather, 'hostile' crowd, or whatever the bookies dreamed up as the Knights' advantage, I'll go with the battle hardened boys from Ames. They played three ranked teams in a row to end the season (including the upset win over OK State), and will be ready for this bowl. Rutgers does have a solid D, but their resume doesn't hold up. Take the Cyclones and the points, Iowa State 27, Rutgers 17.

Music City Bowl - I don't have much to say about this snoozer other than go with the SEC for the win, but take the seven points, MSU 20, Wake 17.

Insight Bowl - Which Oklahoma team will show up? If it's the focused Sooners, they'll cruise. If Big Game Bob's had too much time to get in their heads, they'll limp to a win. Needless to say, I don't ever put my faith in a Stoops and 16 points is a ridiculous spread with a ground and pound team like Iowa. The Hawkeyes are outclassed, but Marcus Coker could keep them in it at least through halftime. Sooners win, but take the points, OU 30, Iowa 20.

Meineke Car Care Bowl - Kevin Sumlin will give A&M the shot in the arm they need...just not in time for the bowl. Northwestern is not a team to overlook (ask Auburn) and Persa should be completely healthy and ready for the showdown. He's a 70+% passer who takes care of the ball and will keep his team in it late. I will say that I don't see a Sherman-esque second half collapse in this one for A&M, but 11 points is too big for this game. Aggies end on a high-note, but it'll be hard fought, Texas A&M 30, Northwestern 23.

Sun Bowl - Always go against Tech when the opponent gets time to prepare. Utah 20, Georgia Tech 19.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl - Is there any motivation here? Illinois fell apart after a good start and they showed Zook the door. UCLA stumbles into a bowl with a 6-7 record and is also newly coach-less. Both programs have made hires to fill their respective voids, but it won't be enough to take effect by NYE. In the end, I like the Illini defense and the play of QB Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois 27, UCLA 19.

Liberty Bowl - I like Vandy in this one. Sure, Cincy has a good defense and a great QB, but they also came too close to a BCS bid to get fired up for this one. The 'Dores, though, don't get that many pre-season shots and they'll be damned if they blow this one. James Franklin has changed the attitude  in this program and they'll be ready to show out down the road in Memphis. I'm taking a pumped-up, battle-tested Vandy squad, Vanderbilt 27, Cincinnati 22.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl - I'd like to pick Auburn, but it's a risky call here.Their QB situation is shaky, their best rusher is suspended for the game, their OC is bound for Arky State, their DC is at home in Orlando, and their defense is ranked 80th in cfb. Mix that with a upstart and excited opponent like Virginia, and it could be a long day for the Tigers. BUT, Virginia's not a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination. They're mediocre in pretty much every category and the last time we saw them play they were torched by VA Tech, 38-0. I know I've touted focus and motivation in a lot of these picks, but this one's a nod to athleticism, of which Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason have tons. Look for long runs and kick/punt returns to boost the Tigers; call me crazy, Auburn 27, Virginia 24.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bowl Picks, Part I

SO MANY GAMES...

 It's that time of year again: Bowl Season - the wild and wonderful - sometimes disappointing and confusing - way we wrap up the college football season. Sure it has it's flaws, but I don't see it changing anytime soon, so we may as well embrace the insanity. Personally, I think this year's slate is one of the better sets of bowls we've had in recent memory. Admittedly, there are some undeserving - or just plain uninteresting - teams in the mix, some weak spots schedule wise, or games that we already know will be boring affairs, but I do love the sport and I'll take it any way I can get it...especially with so much time to fill in the next couple of weeks. In the next week or so, I'll have up the second set of picks, but for now, here's what I'm thinking about the games between now and Christmas Eve.

New Mexico Bowl - Don't make fun, this is actually a nice starting match-up. Temple is a traditional ground-and-pound team with a great back in Bernard Pierce, while Wyoming's Brett Smith is a fun to watch, dual-threat QB. It should be a good game early, but I think the Owls can control the clock, keep the ball away from the Pokes for huge chunks of time late in the game, and maybe force a desperate mistake or two. Look for the run-game and a fourth quarter turnover to be the difference: Temple 30, Wyoming 21.

Idaho Potato Bowl - Here's another underrated gem. Ohio is a good football team - at least by MAC standards - led by another exciting dual-threat QB, Tyler Tettleton. They came up short in the MAC CG, so they should be fired up to get the win. Utah State's an up and down, albeit exciting, season; starting with the near-upset of Auburn to kickoff the season and including eight games decided by five or less points. They lost their star freshman half way through the year, but have a ground-churner in Rob Turbin. It'll be spread vs. spread, but I'll take the Aggies to pull it out, Utah State 27, Ohio 26.

New Orleans Bowl - San Diego State's a five point favorite here and RB Ronnie Hillman is a big reason why. He's a yardage machine and Louisiana-Lafayette will have a hard time containing him. But, the Ragin' Cajuns are playing in their own backyard and there could see some home-cooked voodoo in the air. I'll give it to the Aztecs, but take the points, SDSU 28, UL-L 27.

Beef O'Brady's Bowl - Another five-point spread. Honestly, Florida International and Marshall are two teams that it is very hard for me to get psyched-up about. Cristobal's done a great job with the Panthers program, but I've only seen them play once. The Hilton kid's a beast at receiver, but don't overlook the Herd's ability to clamp down defensively. It should be a lower scoring affair and is probably a game you could pass on, FIU 21, Marshall 19.

Poinsettia Bowl - Not even the nouveau riche Frogs should sleep on this Louisiana Tech squad. The Bulldogs started 1-4 (including a two-pointer to Southern Miss, a one-pointer to Houston, an overtime loss on the road at Mississippi State), but have won seven straight (including a win at Ole Miss) and are looking to pull a huge upset to get win number nine. TCU on the other hand might be a little upset about being left out of a big-boy bowl. That could either mean they'll be angry and focused or disappointed and sluggish. I'll call for the latter and say it'll take the Frogs a while to finally out the pesky Tech'ers away, TCU 30, LA Tech 20.

Las Vegas Bowl - Here we have yet another possibly disappointed and unfocused upset candidate. Boise State's one kick away from a possible BCS Title game berth and you can't tell me that's not hanging around the back of all the players' minds. I think the Broncos are definitely bitter. Will that be a motivator or a handicap? With a leader like Kellen Moore at the helm, I'll call it a wash. If Arizona State wasn't on a four-game skid or wasn't welcoming a new coach, I'd like the Devils' chances a bit more. As it is, though, take the Broncos. Boise State 37, Arizona State 20.

Hawaii Bowl - Ring in the birth of sweet little baby Jesus with this Christmas Eve classic between Southern Miss and Nevada. The Eagles are a six point fave, but their house is in total disarray and nothing quite appeases the volcano gods and island trash storms like an upset. The Eagles' coach has gone to baby blue-er pastures and their athletic director is on his way out; they might have superior talent, but they won't have any focus. I'm calling for the upset, Nevada 29, Southern Miss 27.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Heisman Ballot

The biggest award night is here and the five finalists are in NYC, awaiting the big announcement. This field is as good as I remember recently. From the Heisman website:
"For the fourth straight year, two Heisman finalists will face each other in the BCS National Championship Game as Tyrann Mathieu will go up against Trent Richardson on January 9, 2012.

Montee Ball is leading the nation with 1,759 rushing yards as well as 32 rushing touchdowns for Wisconsin.  He holds second place all-time at UW with 60 career touchdowns and 54 career rushing touchdowns.  He has the opportunity to join two other Badgers in this elite fraternity: Ron Dayne (1999) and Alan Ameche (1954).   

Robert Griffin III has the opportunity to be the first player from Baylor to receive The Heisman Memorial Trophy. The junior quarterback is ranked second in the nation in total offense with 387 yards per game.  This season he threw 36 touchdowns and passed for 3,998 yards.  Griffin and former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow are two of four players in major college history with at least 9,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing in a career.  

Andrew Luck is looking to be the second Cardinal to take home The Heisman Trophy after Jim Plunkett won in 1970.  The red-shirt junior passed for 3,170 yards and 35 touchdowns this season.  Luck leads the Pac-12 in passing efficiency with 167.5 and broke Stanford's records for career touchdown passes and single-season touchdown passes.  While leading the Cardinals to an 11-1 record, he rushed for 153 yards and scored 2 touchdowns.  

Tyrann Mathieu is looking to be the second LSU Tiger to win The Heisman Memorial Trophy after Billy Cannon won in 1959. The sophomore had 71 tackles, 5 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions this year.  He also gained 420 yards and 2 touchdowns in punt returns during LSU's 13-0 season.  If Mathieu wins, he will be the second cornerback to be inducted into this group of outstanding college football players joining Charles Woodson (1997).   

Trent Richardson rushed for 1,583 yards and had 20 touchdowns this season for Alabama.  In nine of his twelve games, the running back rushed for over 100 yards for the 11-1 Crimson Tide.  If awarded the Heisman, Richardson will only be the second player from Alabama to receive the trophy after 2009 winner, Mark Ingram, Jr."   
To me,  the decision comes down to RGIII or Mathieu. The Honey Badger is the definition of playmaker and certainly deserves to be in the running for the most outstanding player in the country. I think the fact he never really plays offense is going to hurt him, though. We love gamebreakers, but, deep-down, we prefer our Heisman to be on the offensive side of the ball. I think that's why I've gotta lean toward Robert Griffin. Thirty-six touchdowns in 4,000 yards passing? I'll take it every time. What's truly outstanding, though, is that he only threw 6 INTS and finished up with a disgusting 72.4 completion percentage. He might not be as pure of a quarterback as Luck, but he's been more exciting to watch.

If I had to rank the five, I'd go with:
  1. Robert Griffin III
  2. Tyrann Mathieu
  3. Trent Richardson
  4. Andrew Luck
  5. Montee Ball

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Awards Night

It's that bittersweet time of year again: Awards Night. It's nice to see these kids win awards, celebrate their accomplishments, and gear up for the big trophy Saturday night. But awards season also marks one of the most depressing things: the end of the college football season. Our Saturdays are now dreary and dull again. The pomp and pageantry quieted, the drama dialed down for a spell, and nothing left to get us through but bowl season. The full slate of award-winners will be announced on ESPN tonight, but here's who I think should win - at least for some of the trophies, anyway. 

Biletnikoff Award (Wide Receiver) - Justin Blackmon
I don't really need to qualify this, do I?

Doak Walker (Running Back) - Montee Ball
If I'm just assessing these running backs on their 'running back-ness', it's hard to overlook Ball. He's an almost unstoppable force, has rushed for more yards than anyone else, and has a whopping 32 touchdowns. Even Richardson doesn't rate that high by simple RB numbers. Ball might not be as transcendent as the Tide back on the field, but he's done more than enough for the Walker.

Chuck Bednarik Trophy Defensive Player of the Year - Tyrann Mathieu
This kid has earned his nickname. He's a ball hawk, a hidden yardage wizard, and blitzes like a linebacker. He picks, sacks, and forces fumbles; he has a football homing device Ronnie Lott would envy and hits just as hard. Not to beat a dead meme, but he just don't care. That kind of playstyle is rare and needs to be honored when it appears. To me, he's the best overall player in the nation - Maxwell-style, not Heisman style - and the clear-cut Bednarik winner.

Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award - Andrew Luck
For pure quarterbacking, you're not getting better than Luck. He might not have the flash and flair we look for in a Heisman winner, but you can't deny his skills. He pretty much runs the offense, Peyton-style, on the field - something almost unheard of in college - and is a lock for the number one pick in the draft. He has the mechanics, the power, the accuracy, the leadership, the decision-making, the everything. Robert Griffin III might have been more outstanding overall, but if I'm choosing a QB to build a team around, I'm picking Luck. And, to me, anyway, that's the definition of this award.

Jim Thorpe Award (Defensive Back) - Too Tough To Call, but I Guess Morris Claiborne
David Amerson's absolutely disgusting. He has 11 picks; those are video game numbers, man. But Claiborne's just a beast. I think he's more athletic than Amerson and has probably faced bigger, tougher receivers. Speaking of beasts, I can't really discount Barron, either. He doesn't have the numbers, but he's got the hits. Fierce, disruptive, drive-killing hits. Gun to my heard, I go Claiborne...but it's close, with Amerson's gaudy stats edging out Barron's physicality.

Maxwell Award (Best All-Around Player) - Trent Richardson
I honestly would have voted Mathieu here, as well, but he wasn't a finalist. Instead, my nod goes to Richardson. I know it seems odd to go with him here when I didn't even give him his own position award, but I feel he did better 'all-around' things than either of the two QB's nominated. Skill is an integral part of college football, no doubt, but so is lore...and Richardson has ingrained himself in a program steeped in the stuff. His juke against Ole Miss and the monster game against Auburn are enough to qualify him...the 1500 yards and 20 touchdowns don't hurt, either. He might not have the same numbers other backs do, but nobody has done it the same way Richardson has. For that, he should get the Maxwell.


Kicker Awards - I don't really know...or care that much. I'm still upset that LSU's Wing didn't get a finalist nod.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wednesday Top-25 and the BCS Title Game

Here it is, the last poll heading into the post-season and, with it, my vote for the BCS title game. I think we all agreed LSU was number one and a CG lock after going 13-0 in such an impressive fashion. Where the big debate raged was the number two spot; should it be Alabama or Oklahoma State? Alabama is 11-1, their only blemish against LSU - a game that was tied after four quarters. Okie State is also 11-1, but their loss came on a coughed up 17-point lead at Iowa State. Sure, Stanford was a possibility with their 11-1 record, but they'd been sliding a bit recently and the Pokes truly made it a two-team conversation by throttling rival OU in Bedlam while the Cardinal were inactive. So, who would it be? Oklahoma State or Alabama; the upstart or the rematch? Well, we found out Sunday night that the system went with the rematch...and a lot of people were not happy. But, most of these people were expressing their outrage by having the wrong discussion. Many wanted OK State to get that second spot, not because they honestly think that the Cowboys are better than the Crimson Tide, but because Alabama has already had its head-to-head shot at LSU and lost. I do understand that sentiment, honestly, I do. It just doesn't fucking matter. Like, at all. The BCS exists to match up the number one and number two teams in coleege football. Period. And that's what it did. Look at my poll. Alabama's still at number two. Oklahoma State rose a spot to number three. Just becasue the Tide stayed home Saturday doesn't mean I have to drop them. And just because the Pokes dominated the Sooners doesn't mean they get a free ride past a team that I honestly think is better. I still feel that Alabama is the second best team in the country...and that's what the system's there for: to match #1 and #2. We shouldn't fudge the facts just to feed the narrative we want. If you're not happy with the rematch, your argument shouldn't be based on what you want, or what should happen, or what's fair. Your argument should be that the system sucks. You want Oklahoma State to have a shot? Or one-loss Boise? Or Stanford? Or anyone else? Then we need a playoff.Or a seeded, plus-one. Or something. But, until then, you'll be hard pressed to convince me - and most of the other voters, apparently - that Alabama isn't deserving of the number two spot. And as the #2, they get a ticket to the big dance. It's just how it is. Case closed. You really want to bitch about something? what's up with that VA Tech bid...? Anyway, the top-3 was pretty clear cut. Beyond that, it's as wrecked as an urban war zone and probably more confusing and chaotic. 

Early Lean.

Um, Navy. I guess. Sigh, I can't believe it's over.

/looks for something else to occupy time
/finds bourbon

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wrap-Up and Monday Night QB

There's not much to say about the SEC CG. The first half was great - unexpectedly so, with some great coaching calls - but the Dawgs still made their typical mistakes: dropped passes, poor blocking, missed field goals, and bad kick coverage. So, even with the defense holding the mighty Tigers to 30 yards and no first downs, Georgia only led 10-7 at the half. I didn't get to watch the second half - can you believe there are some people for whom college football is not the center of the universe? - but did listen to it on the way out of town to dinner. And, honestly, I'm glad I didn't see it fall apart. LSU is so ruthlessly efficient when it comes to finishing a team off and I probably would have burned my friends' house down had I seen the pick-six coup de gras. Instead, I read it on gametrax while stuffing my face with fired catfish. That certainly helped some. It's hard to be too upset, though, and we saw a lot to make us feel good for next year. Now it's time to focus on getting ready for Sparty down in Tampa on Jan. 2.

As for the rest of the games, my attention was pretty hit or miss (seriously, who are these people who plan social outings during BIG GAMES?!). I was too drunk Friday night to really remember much of the second half of the PAC-12 game. Then I was hungover for the early games Saturday and gone for most of the first half of the night games. So, while I could write you a review of Bonner's Triple B Restaurant, I'll just re-visit my weekly picks and look to see just where I went wrong...

1. Prediction: West Virginia 30, SoFla 23; Actual score: 30-27. Not too bad here. It was a pretty tough game to really get into, especially considering it was competing with Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, It's Always Sunny, and The League.

2. Prediction: Northern Illinois 38, Ohio 34; Actual score: 23-20. I remeber not one minute of this game.

3. Prediction: Oregon 49, UCLA 10; Actual score: 49-31. I at least got the Ducks' score right. After the impotent showing the Bruins gave against USC, I didn't see them scoring. Granted, one TD came very late and I was already very inebriated.
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4. Prediction: Houston 31, So. Miss 21; Actual Score: SoMiss, 49-28. UPSET. And I must confess, i napped through most of it.

5. Prediction: Texas 29, Baylor 27; Actual score: Baylor, 48-24. Only saw a little of this before the SEC CG started. But I do think this game locked up my Heisman vote for RGIII.

6. Prediction: LSU 34, Georgia 17; Actual score: 42-10 - see above.
 
7. Prediction: Oklahoma 34, OK State 26; Actual score: OK State, 44-10. In my fucking face. I saw the second half and was surprised to see the run game be the truly deciding factor for a team featuring Wheedon and Blackmon. The Sooners looked absolutely flat and pathetic and State took advantage of every careless moment. Too bad the Pokes couldn't keep that lead in Ames three weeks ago...

8. Prediction: VA Tech 27, Clemson 24; Actual score: Clemson, 38-10. - In my face, again. I didn't watch as much of this as I did Bedlam and the B1G CG. Too bad it didn't mean anything...the Hokies got a better bowl out of the ass-whooping. It's a fact: in the BCS era, Sugar>Orange.

9. Wisconsin 34, Michigan State 20; Actual score: 42-29 - I Gametrax'd the first half at dinner because there was a Michigan State fan out with us (Once again, who are these people? A Georgia fan and a Sparty fan missing conference championship games? For dinner? People eat dinner every day, for christ's sake). It looked bad early, but State turned some things around in the second corner and missed most of it on the road back home. The second half was good, but I'm now I'm a little scared of Michigan State heading into the Outback Bowl and I wonder if Oregon has a plan to keep Montee Ball out of the endzone.

So, I predicted terribly, coming in at 4-5. Too bad there's only one game to pick for this weekend...the season flies by so quickly. On a more serious note, I was happy to miss a little football and celebrate with an old friend - had a great time, too!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nicely Put.

If you don't read EDSBS's Spencer Hall's weekly 'The Alphabetical' over at SBNation, then you're an idiot. Sorry to be so blunt, but if you love cfb, then you should also love EDSBS and Spencer/Orson. Anyway, while lamenting the final chapter of what we know will likely unfold this season, Spencer summed up the last five years thus:
"E is for Endpoint. So where, if anywhere, is this leading? The same place we usually end up in college football: nowhere. Consider, if you will, how carefully we edit endings to make them anything like sense.
  • 2005: Two undefeateds! And one dead Sooners team in the swamps of Miami.
  • 2006: Florida sneaks in to be walloped by an undefeated Ohio State! And the Big Ten's been cringing ever since.
  • 2007: A two-loss LSU team wins. We're still not really sure how this happened besides saying "Les Miles," and then making laser noises while waving our hands like a magician.
  • 2008: Another Oklahoma'ing, this time by Florida.
  • 2009: Alabama just sort of sits on Texas until they cough up a piece of Colt McCoy's shoulder and a win. Hey, remember Garrett Gilbert playing really well in relief? Neither do we, but it happened.
  • 2010: Oregon quits on a victory by one unpursued tackle on Auburn's Michael Dyer. TO THE WHISTLE, BOYS. ALWAYS TO THE WHISTLE."
Fantastic. Sometimes we forget how easily some of these BCS title games could have turned. And sometimes we forget that Florida wasn't "supposed" to be in that '06 game and Michigan "was." Then the Gators blasted the Bucks 41-14....while Big Blue got rolled by USC. I love that BCS title game; it was the dawning of the era of the SEC. And, if my Bulldogs play their cards (and dice, and battleship pieces, and brass knuckles) right, they could be the champions of a league that will claim six BCS champs in-a-row.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Weekly Picks

West Virginia 30, SoFla 23 - I've closed the gap in the score a little here. I do like Holgo's offense over the Bulls' D, but it's the Big East. And I never trust my gut with the Big East.

Northern Illinois 38, Ohio 34 - I know the Huskies are favored, but I also don't like counting Solich out here. The more I think about it, though, the more I like this game turning into a shootout. And the Bobcats aren't beating the boys from the 'Burbs in a shootout.

Oregon 49, UCLA 10 - Yep, I changed the score in this one, too. The Bruins have been granted some amnesty for mediocrity, with the NCAA approving UCLA's bowl petition waiver. This means the Bruins can go bowling because they did win 6 games...even though they'll likely have a losing record after this CG. So, just like last week, with nothing to play for, look for the Bruins to come out flat and get even flatter by the fourth quarter. If that 50-0 shellacking they took from SC is any indicator, it'll be a long night for the boys in baby blue. I know it sounds insane with a spread as big as 31, but take the Ducks to cover.
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Houston 31, So. Miss 21 - I hope the Cougs don't get too cocky. Keenum is rewriting all the record books and he and Patrick Edwards might be a better tandem than Wheeden-Blackmon. But that won't overcome hubris and we've seen Sumlin's team suffer from that a time or two this season. If Houston comes out as focused as they did last week against Tulsa, they'll make short work of the Eagles. But, I think they've got BCS bowl bids dancing in their eyes, and it'll be a quarter or two before they snap out of it.

Pitt 25, Syracuse 24 - Narrowed the score here a bit, too. BIG EAST FOOTBAW.

Texas 29, Baylor 27 - Griffin's probable, and his recovery gives me pause, but something about this Texas team, and this league in general, make me feel something wacky in the wind.

This crazy sumbitch should probably be COTY.
LSU 34, Georgia 17 - I hate typing this. But I know, if any other team were playing LSU here, I'd call for the Bayou Bengals to win, no questions asked. Instead, the Tigers are playing my team, and that does, I hate to admit, give me some Homer-ish pause. There are a hundred ways Georgia could win this game, and I will be thrilled if they did - and maybe not that surprised - but, I just can't, in good conscience, call for the upset of a team as good as this LSU squad. They've efficiently dispatched highly ranked foes all season long, and won a toe-to-toe slugfest with Alabama in T-town. True, Georgia's won 10-straight, has a top-10 defense, and should not be overlooked. But the Tigers have won 13-straight, have the number two defense, and a top-20 run game. I'll be pulling for the Dawgs with every ounce of my being, but I won't be laying any money down.


Oklahoma 34, OK State 26 - The Sooners take Bedlam. It'll be a rough night for Poke fans; they'll say goodbye to Blackmon before the game and then watch their outside BCS title shot fade away in the next three quarters. Yes, there will be big plays from Wheedon to Blackmon, but not enough to push State by their in-state rivals.

VA Tech 27, Clemson 24 - Take the points, but don't doubt the Hokies. Clemson's faltering, losing three of four, and Tech seems a lot more confident now than they did in September. I know there's a lot of athleticism on this Tigers squad, especially offensively with Boyd and Watkins, but they didn't really call down the lightning against Georgia Tech, NC State, or South Carolina and I don't see them finding it this weekend against the surging Hokies. Side note: How empty will the stands in Charlotte be this year?

Wisconsin 34, Michigan State 20 - No Hail Marys this time. Sparty does have a great D...and they're gonna need it against Montee Ball and Russell Wilson. I just can't see the Badgers coming into this one unfocused and sloppy again. Rather, I see them rolling in pissed off and ready to prove a point. Wilson might use this as a stage for some last-minute Heisman love, or Ball might use to tack onto his staggering TD tally (29!), or both.

Leach to Wazzou - Makes Sense.

I'm glad Mike LEach found a new home. And I'm glad it wasn't the rumored move to Ole Miss. You see, to me, Mike Leach to Washington State makes sense. Ole Miss taking him did not. The dread pirate needed to re-emerge at a spot like Pullman and work his way back to up the ladder. Oxford is not, despite the recent stretch, a necessarily bad place to coach and they should get a solid coach who can start to re-establish the Rebels in the SEC West pecking order. It'll be hard in that division, of course, which is why I wouldn't gamble on a wild card like Leach...I'm not sure anyone in the SEC should. The Cougs, on the other hand, are absolutely OK taking Leach. The whole Apple State needs a shot in the arm; the Magnolia state - right in the heart of dixie - can find a quicker path to recovery. I've said before that top-level football in Washington State might be kaput. The weather, fan bases, and resources set a certain glass ceiling for how successful a program can be. The right coach, developing the right three star players (of which there are a plethora in Oxford) could turn the corner for the Battlin' Black Bears without a bunch of unsubstantial flash and fireworks. Honestly, either way, these teams are clawing to get out their respective divisional cellars and can probably only hope to make the middle of the pack - but getting there means very different things in each league, and there are very different needs that need to be addressed for that to happen. Leach can probably make it happen sooner than later at Wazzou...he'd be hard pressed to do it at Ole Miss.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Top-25

Not gonna lie, this was a tough one to cobble together. One and two were obvious, and I knew who I was going to honorably mention at 24. and 25., but parsing out the in-between was rough. I had a good idea who I was going to put in, but I knew fuck all where I was going to put them.

For the three spot, I went with Virginia Tech over Oklahoma State. Losing at home is bad, but losing to Iowa State is a shade worse. Throw in the fact that I think the Hokies will take their rematch with Clemson this weekend and the Pokes will fall to the Sooners, and this was a pretty easy call. Keeping Arkansas in the top-5 was not so easy, but I wanted them ahead of the PAC-12 knot. The Trojans get to lead said knot, as they've looked the most impressive the last few weeks. Stanford is demoted to the 8-spot because they've looked borderline mediocre.

Consider 9- and 10- almost head-to-head. I'll give the Broncos the nod right now, mainly because that win over Georgia keeps looking better and better. South Carolina and Georgia get in the top-15, mainly because I'm not excluding from 10-win SEC teams from the top-tier, no matter how fortunate their scheduling is. I did split the Cocks and Dawgs, though, with the B1G contenders, but see Wisky holding that spot alone after Saturday night.

Michigan and Kansas State hold down the next two spots. The Wolverines just wrapped up an impressive 10-2 campaign that could help sneak them into a BCS Bowl. The 'Cats need a win against Iowa State this Saturday to hit double digit wins...but their conference is too top heavy for them to pull a bid to the BCS. Baylor keeps its slight lead on TCU based on their early head-to-head showdown.

Penn State didn't climb too high here before that Badger beat-down they just suffered, so they're back at home in the bottom five. Clemson has dropped a long way down to 22 after losing three of their last four...and I'm thinking that'll be four out of five after the ACC CG. The last three spots are odd balls. I knew I wanted SoMiss and Arky State to close out the poll, but mainly as an honorable mention. I don't honestly think either team could beat some of the big conference members who are nursing 4- or 5- losses (think Auburn vs. Arkansas State). That left me with an empty 23 spot. After a lot of thought, I went with a 3-loss team in BYU instead of some of the other 4-loss options out there, even though some of those bigger boys could probably easily beat the Cougs.

Early Leans - Championship Week

The MAC, PAC, ACC, B1G, and SEC all have their conference championships this weekend, while the Big East, Big 12, and some mid-majors wrap-up their regular season play. There are some big games, contests that should be a lot of fun to watch, and more than one that could be a blowout. I'll have the final picks locked-in Thursday, but until then, here are the early leans:

West Virginia 31, SoFla 20
Ohio 24, No. Illinois 23
Oregon 41, UCLA 16
Houston 31, So. Miss 21
Pitt 27, Syracuse 24
Texas 29, Baylor 27
LSU 34, Georgia 17
Oklahoma 34, OK State 30
VA Tech 27, Clemson 24
Wisconsin 34, Michigan State 20

Monday, November 28, 2011

Don't Blame the Pac-12

We are going to get a terrible, terrible contest Friday night, but it should have been one of the marquee match-ups of cfb's last regular-season weekend. Of course, I'm talking about Rick Neuheisel's death march into Eugene. The Ducks and Bruins are slated for the newly expanded league's first championship game, which should be about as competitive as Balboa-Lang I. Oregon is certainly the deserving representative from the North; they beat Stanford - pretty decisively - and only have one conference loss. But UCLA is a terrible rep from the South. They are 6-6, coming off of blowouts losses in two of their last three games, and lugging around a lame duck head coach who never truly got his team to buy-in what he was selling.* But don't blame the PAC-12 for this; this is not a problem arising from a lack of competitive teams. It's a problem of misplaced sanctions in NCAA punishments. Pete Carroll presided over Reggie Bush when Bush was receiving crazy amounts of improper benefits. Yes, that is wrong and should be punished. But, no, that's not what the NCAA did. Instead, they punished a group of kids who had nothing to do with anything during the Bush-era. It's the current Trojans who have been banned from the post-season, while Carroll and Bush rake in millions in the NFL. It's these kids who suffer from the actions of shady adults. And it's these kids, these current Trojans, who truly deserve a shot at the inaugural PAC-12 title. They're 10-2, took Stanford to the wire, and beat Oregon in Eugene - you can't tell me they wouldn't make a better opponent than UCLA (a team they just crushed 50-0). If you watch any of the game Friday night, save the 'west coast football is overrated' and '[insert team A] could easily win that conference' arguments, and place the blame where the blame is due: the antiquated way with which the NCAA deals with amateur football in this country.

"What'd you expect? I'm Rick Fuckin' Neuheisel. Lawyered."
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* Of course, he was selling the coaching equivalent of flea-market quality knock-offs being hocked out of the back of a dirty rape-van.

Urban Renewal

It's official, Urban Meyer's headed to Ohio State. While it's unfortunate for Fickell, it makes sense. Fickell was an interim coach at best and the gig in Columbus is too good for a big name coach to pass up. And, let's be honest, if you were rebuilding a program and had a dual threat like Miller, what available coach would you want? Urban's a perfect fit. Now, hopefully for the Buckeye faithful, all of his heart and family issues are squared away (or never existed if you believe the conspiracy theorists in Gainesville). If they are, and he puts all his talent an focus in the job - and why wouldn't he? - then things will pick up quickly for Ohio State. Brady Hoke, you are officially on alert...



By the way, who else is hoping for an Ohio State-Florida Gator bowl, now?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Night QB

The weekend got kicked off Thanksgiving night with a great Lonestar State showdown. Texas won on a last second FG, capping another A&M second half collapse. It was exciting, though, and great way to say goodbye to the rivalry...at least for a while. I don't see this one getting shelved for too long; it's too important to the people in the state and it's too great of a rivalry for the sport as a whole to lose.

This is just cruel: according to Pete Thamel's twitter, "Akron Coach Rob Ianello got the call he was fired while driving to NY for his mother's funeral." Christ, that's awful.

I was wrong about the Tulsa upset of Houston. Very wrong. The Cougs rocked the Hurricane, 48-16. That's more impressive than Oklahoma's, Oklahoma State's, and Boise's wins over Tulsa. I know they don't really play 'anyone', but they dispatch these guys with as much - if not more - ruthless efficiency than the big boys. If they do it again in the CUSA CG, I'll be fine with them getting their BCS bid. Hell, I think they're more qualified than whoever's going to come out of the dumpster fire that is the Big East.

After Clean, Old-Fashined Hate (Go Dawgs!), I tuned in for the end of The Game. I checked in early, and Michigan looked like they were going to cruise. But then they were down by one at half and it seemed the Buckeyes were going to steal this one. The last few minutes were fun to watch, at least for someone who's not a big fan of either team, as Denard and Co. had a shot to put it away, had a TD called back, had to settle for a FG and a six-point lead, and give their rival the ball with a minute-and-a-half left. Miller sailed a sure TD on first down, spiked the ball for some reason that's still unclear, and then threw a pick to seal it. Miller says the coaches' told him to kill it on second down, but after an incompletion, there was nothing to kill. Terrible way to lose a down in a game like that. Maybe it is time for some Urban renewal in Columbus.

Kentucky finally beat Tennessee. It was an U-G-L-Y game all around, the 'Cats edging the Vols, 10-7. Neither team will qualify for a bowl, but, hey, at least they're not Ole Miss. Vandy, on the other hand, locked up a bowl by routing Wake Forrest. I'll feel a little bit better when James Franklin's gone on to greener pastures.

Florida State and Florida hate offensive football. Don't let the final score fool you, nothing offensive happened in this game. if you didn't see any of it, really get in there and explore the box-score. It's horrific.

In other ACC-SEC action, South Carolina stuck it to Clemson. Quote of the weekend: "We aren't LSU, and we aren't Alabama. But we sure ain't Clemson." - Steve Spurrier.

There were a few crazy minutes to end the first half in the Baylor-Texas Tech game. Tuberville got into it with some officials, RGIII took a brutal hit, and there was a little skirmishing on the field. We found out later that Griffin actually suffered a concussion, but not before he checked back in and scored a TD on a keeper up the middle. He didn't pay in the second half. The medical team wouldn't clear him after, as Coach Briles said, "We got in at halftime, he had a little trouble remembering what was going on." So that last TD was just some concussed read-optioning. Christ, that's impressive. The Bears did go on to win 147-132...or something like that.

To the Pac-12:

Is it just me, or has Stanford not looked that impressive the last few weeks. Luck looks good - maybe not Heisman-level impressive - but, overall, they're not helping their case to edge out the other one-loss teams. That Notre Dame team is not very good and the Cardinal should have crushed them.

You know who has looked Heisman caliber the last few weeks? Matt Barkley. He went for 423 yards and 6 TD's last night, as the Trojans completely thrashed UCLA, 50-0. USC, due to all the infinite wisdom of the NCAA, cannot play in the post-season, including the Pac-12 CG. So, the Bruins were already a lock to face Oregon heading into last night's game. Wow. What an inaugural championship game the NCAA has blessed this conference with. A USC-Oregon rematch would have been amazing.

Final Note:

I've been against the idea of a 'Bama-LSU rematch, but I'm starting to think there's no better option. Alabama stated their case yesterday, throttling Auburn on the Plains. And I'll say having one overtime loss to the number one team in the country makes you a better team than one who lost at Iowa State. I mean, how do you, in all honesty, compare losses to Iowa State and LSU and decide the ISU one is more forgivable? If the system is set up to match-up the two highest ranked teams. the best teams, then that's what it should do, whether or not it's the game I want to see. And that's what we forget, it's not about what we want, but what the system decides. And I hope the system, with all its algorithms and computer polls, is smart enough to tell the difference between losing to LSU and losing to Iowa State, because I imagine most humans will drop the ball on this one if OSU wins Bedlam. Even if LSU loses to Georgia, they'd deserve to play in the Title game. They'd have one-loss to a top-15 team, and that's still better than losing to Iowa State. Would that rematch be what I want? Probably not. Would it be what's right? Probably so.

Tech Wrecked...and a Career Saved


When Georgia started 0-2, Mark Richt was definitely on the hot seat. But the heat switch had been thrown two seasons earlier when talented Bulldog teams underachieved, the defense was almost non-existent, and a general malaise had seemed to settle over the entire program. And make no mistake, the responsibility for that kind of funk lands directly at the head coach's feet. And responding to that challenge, Richt went 6-7 and lost to UCF in the Liberty Bowl, making some seriously cowardly calls along the way. So let's not soften things up, Richt's seat was thermonuclear heading into this season and justifiably so. That first loss only kicked the heat up a notch, but the second one felt like a slight reprieve; it wasn't coaching that burned us, but execution from a young team that put up 42 points but managed to give away 28. It was a start - a corner turned heading into an easy FCS game and then the meat of the easiest SEC draw of a schedule. Richt had time.

And he used it. The young guys came together on offense, Bobo called plays that matched their strengths, the defense gelled, and some transfers asserted their dominance. Sure there was Murray overthrowing everybody at UT, Bobo's ridiculous Wildcat calls at Vandy, and the failure stopping the run against the same Dores squad. But, overall, things were good; Georgia went 5-0 headed into the bye week, and the heat under Richt had been turned down some. Then we beat Florida. Florida is not very good this year, but beating them means more than simply outperforming them on the field. The Gators live in our heads. They dominate our gridiron psyches like a puppet master and overcoming that meant way more than a 4-point win over a .500 team. It gave us confidence. We closed out the year with 5 more wins, riding the high from that Florida win into thrashings of NMSU and Auburn. We played poorly against Kentucky, but still won and sealed the SEC East, stealing a CG bid from SoCar, the Gamecocks cursed with a road trip to Arkansas that dropped them out of contention. And then we capped ten wins in a row with a road victory over our in-state rival - a great way to end a regular season.

Yesterday wasn't as particularly dominant as I wanted it to be (of course, it'll probably never be 100-0), nor was it as dominant as it could have been. We still really don't have much of an answer for the triple option, giving up 245 on the ground. And, while that's almost a hundred yards below Tech's average, it's way higher than our 81 ypg heading into the game. I really detest playing this offense, too. I've stated before how much I hate cut-blocking and the entire system at Tech revolves around it. It's also very difficult to coach against modern offenses all season and then try to implement anti-flexbone option techniques in a week. It all just adds up to a dangerous, dangerous game - for the scoreboard, records, bowl bids, and people's knees. All you can do is hope to contain it and outscore it when you've got the chance.

Despite those few shortcomings against the offense, though, I felt pretty good about the defense overall. There weren't nearly as many pays of 25 yards+ as they've gouged us for in the past and we created more third and longs than the Bees are comfortable with. Also, remember how much people lauded the passing part of the offense earlier this season? Well, it was almost non-existent yesterday. Tevin Washington was knocked around in the pocket and threw two picks, as Tech, trying to climb out of 3 score deficit, only put up 80 yards of offense in the second half. I'll take that every time.

Offensively, things were a little more shaky for us. Aaron Murray looked a little rough early, but settled into a great game overall, with his 250 yards and 4 TD's erasing the early INT. But I'm not comfortable with having to rely on him. Something has got to give in our run game - soon. Crowell was hurt and didn't play. Thomas looks like he's not even part of the team anymore. Samuel's still recovering from his ankle injury. Harton and Malcome just aren't talented enough to carry the workload. Smith and Boykin are speedster options at best and won't work as every down backs (just look at the long sack in the third quarter as evidence of what happens when you use a CB to block on third and long). We need a running game solution and we need to find it before next week.

I do like the game plan we went with once we realized we had to work around our porcelain run game. We saw passes work on first down and ran a lot on second down to set up later play-actions. The only questionable call I saw was using Smith at RB on the third and long. It led to Tech's only sack and knocked Georgia out of field goal range. Now, play-action certainly wouldn't have worked there, but I don't think we needed to give up protection, either. Now, speaking of special teams...ugh, Blair Walsh. Boykin had a great return and our kick-off coverage was solid, but Walsh gives the whole unit a black eye every time he misses. This kid was a Groza finalist - what the fuck happened? Much like the run game, kicking will need to get sorted out before next week.

In the end, though, it was a win. And a rivalry win at that. But it was so much more, too. It was the tenth win in a row for a team that started 0-2. It was a great confidence builder headed into the SEC title game. And, perhaps most importantly, it was a win that warmed the faithful back up to Mark Richt, but certainly cooled his seat off for a while.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

James Franklin and Chop-Blocking

I pretty much like everything James Franklin's done so far at Vanderbilt. He's led them to five wins, taken three SEC teams to the wire in his six losses, instilled some pride and respect in a program that needed it, and has just generally changed the overall attitude in Nashville. But now he's gone on record with something I vehemently disagree with: defending chop blocking. He hides behind the cut block as technique pro forma, but it honestly isn't - and he should know that. Cut-blocking is semi-acceptable, but when it becomes your team's de rigueur, you're in a gray area that's one bad decision away from a personal foul penalty...or worse, severely injuring another player. Chop-blocking is just dangerous football. And, if you ask me, it's actually done more harm than good for Vandy; they had two huge plays in late drives called back on cheap blocks against Florida and Tennessee, two close losses that might have had a better chance to go the other way without the flags. If he wants to move to the next level, then he needs to get beyond cheap tricks on the O-line and move away from something as questionable and cowardly as openly supporting chop-blocking.

Happy Thanksgiving from FTS

The love and thankfulness I feel today has no chance of overcoming the Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate I've carried in my heart all week. Happy Thanksgiving and WRECK TECH!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Weekly Picks

Ohio 30, Miami (OH) 17 - I think we've all forgotten how good of a coach Frank Solich can be.

Texas A&M 27, Texas 26
- I like A&M here in a close one. They're playing for a strong close to the season, while the 'Horns still have a showdown with Baylor left next weekend. Call the Aggies more focused on Turkey Day.

Tulsa 36, Houston 35 - UPSET ALERT Tulsa has three losses, but they're all to top-10 teams (Boise, OU, OK St.). I think they have the firepower to score with Houston and I wouldn't be surprised if they catch the Cougs day-dreaming about a BCS bid.

Nebraska 29, Iowa 17 - Picking Iowa games is like picking the Big East.

LSU 24, Arkansas 21 - UPSET ALERT (kind of) I think it will be close, but the Tigers will pull it out. Arkansas has certainly chosen the best time to start streaking, but I don't see them being able to do enough against the Tigers. There will be a late score that will stir things up a bit, but Les' boys survive to roll into ATL the next weekend unscathed.

Oklahoma 41, Iowa State 27 - Don't look for another upset from the Cyclones. I'll take a pissed off Oklahoma team in Norman all day long.

Georgia 28, Georgia Tech 27 - UPSET ALERT - The Bulldogs are excited about their SECCG bid, probably a little too excited. I've heard more about the showdown in the Dome in two weeks than I have about the Tech game this weekend. If our players and coaches are taking the same approach, look for the Bees and their triple option to blast the unfocused Dawgs. I'll take the better athletes on Georgia's sideline, but it'll be close.

Michigan 31, Ohio State 24 - The streak-breaker. The Wolverines can end eight years of Buckeye dominance and, in doing so, build a lot of support for the Hoke regime.

Alabama 27, Auburn 20 - Closer than the experts think, but I've still got 'Bama.

Virginia Tech 27, Virginia 24 - UPSET ALERT The Hokies had better be very careful.Mike London has done a great job in C'ville and the Cavs have one point left to prove: Beat the Hokies.

Wisconsin 30, Penn State 17 - Why is Penn State winning this game such a foregone conclusion? I know they're tough, solid on D, and riding a wave of emotion, but that doesn't automatically equal being able to stop Montee Ball and Russel Wilson. The Badges are still hurting from two hail mary losses and I don't see them giving up another in Camp-Randall.

South Carolina 21, Clemson 16 - Because it would just make sense now.

Florida State 27, Florida 15 - That loss to Virginia stung the 'Noles a lot more than we realize and there's no better place to exercise demons than in an in-state rivalry game. State realeased a lot of pent up frustration with last year's big win and could be overlooking the Gators, but I won't call the upset.

Stanford 29, Notre Dame 19 - Notre Dame would have been a great upset pick if the Cardinal were rolling in 11-0, but Luck and Co. are 10-1 and carrying a bit of a chip on their shoulder.

Top-25

Well, this one was certainly tough to compile. After the carnage of last weekend, the whole poll feels like a train wreck and no one really looks like they deserve their ranking except the top-3 teams...and maybe only the top-two. How high do rank the upsetters? How far do we drop the upsetees? Were some of those losses truly upsets? I'll give you Iowa State over Okie State, but Baylor just out-deuled Oklahoma and USC took it to the Ducks right away. It was certainly a lot to contemplate in compiling these rankings, and, in the end, I'm not sure if the extra thought produced a better product than just throwing all the names in a hat. Let the dumpster fire commence:

I did go with the SEC West at 1-2-3. I've got Virginia Tech at four, but I don't feel too good about that. I kept Oklahoma State in the top-5, but that probably won't last very long, either, with Bedlam coming up soon. I have Houston over Boise State by way of the loss column.

I have Stanford much lower than the other polls; that win over Cal was ugly and because of that, I've got them at the end of the three-way Pac-12 knot to close out the top-10. USC leap-frogged a ton of teams in front of them to crack the top-10, and with their win I gave them the nod for the top of that west coast jumble.

Oklahoma dropped to twelve, behind the highest-ranked B1G team on the ballot, Sparty. South Carolina and Georgia are neck-and-neck inside the top-15 with Wisconsin and Michigan hot on their heels. Clemson dropped the furthest of any of this weekend's losers, ending up behind the sliding doors at no. 17.

Baylor re-emerges in my poll at no. 19, but I will acknowledge that they could be much higher. I have TCU right behind them based on h-2-h. A reeling Nebraska falls to 21, a spot higher than the Penn State squad they squeaked by two weeks ago. Georgia Tech hangs solidly in the bottom-5, with two newcomers appearing to close things out, Virginia and Tulsa. Both the Cavs and the Golden Hurricane could make some serious noise with their games next week against VA Tech and Houston, respectively.

Monday, November 21, 2011

RIP To A Damn Good Dawg



He's calling games from the press box in the clouds, now.

Early Leans

Here we go, the early leans for Thanksgiving Week. I've got some teams on upset alert who will need to bring their A-game and make sure they're not overlooking their opponents. I've been pretty spot on calling for the close ones, but not always accurate with who I picked puling it out.The final picks will be up Wednesday, so call that first MAC pick locked-in.

Ohio 30, Miami (OH) 17
Texas A&M 27, Texas 26
Tulsa 36, Houston 35 - UPSET ALERT
Nebraska 29, Iowa 17
LSU 24, Arkansas 21 - UPSET ALERT (kind of)
Oklahoma 41, Iowa State 27
Georgia 28, Georgia Tech 27 - UPSET ALERT
Michigan 31, Ohio State 24
Alabama 27, Auburn 20
Virginia Tech 27, Virginia 24 - UPSET ALERT
Wisconsin 30, Penn State 17
South Carolina 21, Clemson 16
Florida State 27, Florida 15
Stanford 29, Notre Dame 19

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Morning QB

I wish I had been watching this live:



It was just that kind of weekend, I guess.

Oklahoma State lost at Iowa State Friday night, the first step in making a LSU-Alabama rematch even more likely. With only one undefeated team left, the computers will become even more important in deciding who will get the top-2 BCS spots. The microchips love the Big 12, but Baylor did everyone that's not a Sooner fan a favor by knocking off Oklahoma in a shootout. Southern Cal pushed Oregon out of contention, surviving the Ducks furious 4th quarter comeback. And Clemson showed themselves the door by overlooking NC State, then paying dearly for that mistake in a blowout loss. What we're left with is a good chance that the top-3 spots in the BCS standings will be owned by SEC West teams, LSU, 'Bama, and Arkansas. The Sooners could further the chances of an SEC rematch by giving Oklahoma State a second loss in Bedlam next week, an outcome that would likely keep a Big 12 team out of the top-2 spots. Christ, the SEC West is dominant.

Conversely, the SEC East looked pathetic yesterday. Tennessee and Vanderbilt bitch-slapped each other all the way to overtime while Georgia and Kentucky put on a clinic of ineptitude. Meanwhile, Florida and South Carolina struggled to dispatch their respective FCS foes. I guess it's fitting that a team that played as bad as Georgia did yesterday would emerge as the winner of this division.

In the Big Ten, Michigan State clinched their spot in the B1GCG by crushing the life out of hapless Indiana. Michigan cruised against an straight-up outplayed Nebraska team, but it wasn't enough for the Wolverines to overcome the head-to-head loss they suffered to the Spartans earlier this season. Sparty will play the winner of next week's Penn State-Wisconsin game.

Remember when I almost picked Texas to win the Big 12? lolz

That Oregon-USC game was a good one. We've talked about LaMichael James and his Heisman chances, but where's the love for Matt Barkley? He went for 323 and 4TDs in the upset win, starting out an insane 12/13 for 2 scores in the first quarter. His ratio for the season now stands at 29/6. For comparison, Andrew Luck's ratio heading into the Cal game was 29/7.

6-5 Louisville leads the Big East. Also, the Big East makes no sense.

In the ACC, Clemson still has the Atlantic locked-down, despite that turd they laid in Raleigh. The Coastal, though, will come down to next week's Virginia Tech-Virginia in Charlottesville. And nobody saw that shit coming back in August. London's done a great job with the Cavs, but I doubt it'll be enough to knock-off the surging Hokies who really want another shot at the Tigers. 

There were some ridiculous stats in that Oklahoma-Baylor game. RGIII passed for 480 yards and 4 scores, adding 70 more on the ground. Landry Jones threw for 450 and Blake Bell, the Sooners' goal line QB, rushed for 4 TDs. Throw in the drama of that last minute and it made for a hell of a game.

Ticket Punched.

Well, despite the big question marks and a ton of sloppy play, Georgia finally earned an SEC championship berth with Saturday's win over Kentucky. But our execution was so bad, the team so unfocused looking, that I wonder how good of news that actually is. If this team that played today - and I use the word 'played' loosely here - shows up next week against Tech or the next weekend in the Dome, things could get ugly, fast. First, we need to address our run game concerns. Crowell went out after his second carry and we didn't see him again all day. His sturdiness is now just as questionable as his character, and I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't go next week at Tech. Carlton Thomas didn't play today for "personal reasons", and while that could mean any number of things, I get the sneaking suspicion he's fucked up again and had to sit out. This could have been his game, instead we had to rely on Brandon Harton and Ken Malcome, neither of whom is premier enough of a back to handle the workload effectively. With Samuel still recovering from an ankle injury, there's more questions than answers in the backfield.

Because of the lacking run game, we weren't able to get a whole lot of offense going today. Murray, who had finally started living up to his potential, failed to find a rhythm and we resorted to settling field goals throughout the first half. I HATE settling for field goals. It's become symptomatic of an overall failure of the offense to perform effectively and with the struggles we've had in the kick game this season, I cringe every time the field goal team trots out on the field. But, much to my pleasant surprise, Blair Walsh was perfect on the day (Georgia's lone missed FG was on Bogotay). Hopefully, he can build off of it, restore his confidence, and return our kicking game to it's place as a reliable team strength and not the crap-shoot it's become in 2011.

We finally scored a touchdown in the third quarter and it looked like the game was going to turn big time in favor of us, but we just couldn't stay on the gas pedal. Even with great field position after key turnovers, we saw Murray and the boys coming off the field after third down time and time again. This has got to be cleaned up before we go on the road to Bobby Dodd next Saturday.

Defensively, today was a continuation of the impressive resurgence the Dawgs have had this season. His personality faults aside, Grantham has done a fine job implementing his scheme and the addition of some key personnel has the defense playing as a top-5 unit. Jarvis Jones has emerged as the star of the unit and led the way against the Wildcats, racking 2.5 sacks and forcing a key fumble. He even made an impact after the game, when after he was asked about leaving for the NFL, he answered, “I am definitely coming back. Like I’ve said before, I’ve got a great coach and our whole defense is coming back next year." While it's great he'll be around in 2012, I just want to make sure he and the rest of the D bring the intensity they've been packing the last few games to Atlanta the next two weekends.

Kentucky did rack up 65 yards on a good looking first drive, but that was pretty much it for the Wildcats. They settled for a FG then and scored a TD on a short field after a turnover, but they were smothered the rest of the game, earning only one first down in the second half. The Kentucky defense was a little better, as Georgia only put up a little over 300 yards, but most of that was due more to the Dawgs ineptitude than the 'Cats' dominance.

But, a win's a win and it put us into the SECCG. Also, Coach Richt making out with his wife made ESPN.

Get some.
Heading into next week, the season finale at Tech, Georgia needs to be on guard for several things. They need to make sure Crowell gets healthy. They need to make sure Thomas gets his shit straightened out. They need to make sure the offensive game plan is conducive to helping Murray find a rhythm. They need to make sure the D brings their fire and intensity. And, perhaps most importantly, they need to make sure that all this SEC Championship hoopla doesn't have the guys overlooking their in-state rivals. /WreckTech!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Back to Work

I know it's been pretty barren here this week - no top-25, Sunday QB, early leans, news, picks, or commentary - but I just couldn't bring myself to get into the world of cfb the past few days. I think it's mainly the Penn State scandal that has been watering down my interest; every time I sat down to write-up anything, it was all I could think about and it just turned me off. That a thing like this ever happens is sickening, that it occurred in the arena of college football is depressing, and that there are still victims out there dealing with the pain is just unfair. So unfair, depressing, and tragic that it was all I could think of when my fingers hit the keys, and I simply didn't want to deal with it anymore. Now, though, with the week behind me and a football Saturday under my belt, the last tailgate done and packed away, my Bulldogs on their way to the Dome, and the conference races wrapping-up, I feel ready to be a part of this world again. So, it's back to work tomorrow with commentary on today's ugly win over Kentucky and the Sunday morning QB. See you then -

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Building Confidence

Well, that was quite the big win between the hedges yesterday and it feels like it's a continuation of a general trend that's been building since the bye week. The defense suffocated Florida in the second half and we did enough to win, that win gave us a little pep in our step, a little extra confidence in ourselves and our game plans. We have since then dispatched New Mexico State and Auburn with extreme prejudice, both games already being decided by the half. I think the well placed bye gave us a rest at the perfect time and the win over Florida gave us the mental push we needed to actually benefit from everything we've invested in the program this season. If play like this carries into next week against Kentucky, we should have no trouble locking-up the SEC East and cruising into Atlanta on a nine-game streak the next weekend. As for yesterday's game itself, there's not much to say, so I'll just leave you with this screen-grab of the box score from ESPN:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It Took A While,

but Penn State's beginning to do the right thing. I do not think Joe Paterno is a bad person, I think he made a huge error in judgement. And now, it's cost him his job as head coach - something that needed to be done in light of the grand jury testimony. I think heads need to continue to roll today, too, though; that school needs to clean house and remake their leadership from scratch. I'm sure there will be more news coming out of State College throughout the day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Weekly Picks

Thursday

Georgia Tech 24, Virginia Tech 21 - I think would just make sense with these teams in this conference. I do think the Hokies are a better team, but you just know Tech's gonna make a little more noise headed into Clean, Old Fashioned Hate and the ACCCG.

Houston 44, Tulane 17 - Cougs roll, Keenum keeps the record books open.

Friday

South Florida 22, Syracuse 21 - BIG EAST FOOTBAW.

Saturday

Oklahoma State 39, Texas Tech 21 - Man, have the Raiders fallen off after their big OU-upset, or what? I think they can make it a game early, but this won't be Okie State's slip-up...but mark my words, they will lose.

Nebraska 27, Penn State 21 - I want the Huskers to STEAMROLL the Nits in Happy Valley, but there's going to be some serious energy bouncing around that place. It'll be confusing and emotionally conflicting and create an atmosphere that JoePa's team might feed off of, but I'm taking truth and justice in the end, even if that comes in the form of Bo Pelini. Question: If you're Pelini, do you give Paterno the basic coach-respect of pregame chats and post-game handshakes? I don't know if I would.

Florida 21, South Carolina 19 - C'mon, Gators. Honestly, I was leaning towards South Carolina, but with Shaw being so questionable health-wise, I'm gonna take Muschamp and Co. to get it done in an ugly way.

Texas 31, Missouri 21 - The Longhorns are a quietly rising two-loss team. Missouri will give them all they can handle - much like they've done all season - but it won't be enough to stop a UT team that's good and getting better.

Michigan State 23, Iowa 20 - It will be close. It will be weird. It will be B1G time football...take that for what it's worth.

Auburn 27, Georgia 24 - The Moviegoer described this one perfectly (paraphrasing): "If it's close, Auburn wins because Georgia can't trust its kicking game. If it's a blowout, it'll be all Georgia, judging by the way Auburn's played on the road." I agree. I also don't see Georgia bringing a blowout into this one. I hate to say it, but the Tigers steal one in Sanford.

Alabama 24, Mississippi State 13 - I think the Tide have a little let-down after last week's OT loss; god knows the players are still feeling that game int heir bones. It'll be slow going for 'Bama to build up a head of steam offensively, but even sleep walking, this D will smother Miss. State.

Oregon 34, Stanford 31 - Shoot-out, classic Pac-12 style. I love Andrew Luck and I know the Cardinal will score points, but I'm wondering if Stanford can stop the Oregon offense at full speed. James and Thomas will not only be fully healthy, but I think they'll be focused, pumped, and primed for this match-up. I know it's on the road, but I'm taking the Ducks.

Not Enough.

So JoePa has made the decision to retire at the end of the season. This is how we reward what happened under his watch at Penn State? Allowing him to set his own terms on leaving, letting him set his own timeline for adulation-filled farewells, keeping him in-place to coach this Saturday against Nebraska in a setting that's likely to become a pro-Joe pep-rally, televising a man living his life unchanged under a program reeling from scandal while the victims get to sit at home and watch? Pathetic. I rarely say this, but in this situation, I don't care about the legal system. Sometimes just the legal responsibility is not enough; sometimes you have to do what's right. With something as bad as child molestation, there is no middle ground, no c-y-a and move on, and to me, anyway, no second chances. Reading the grand jury testimony, following the timeline of events, hearing from the victims, it's all too much to take-in today and be satisfied that Joe got to pick his time to go. Paterno, Mr. "Success with Honor" himself, is now a figurehead for a program that allowed one of the worst things that can happen to go on; as such, he - and everything remotely connected to his administration - should be let go. Immediately. Letting him go out on his own terms, allowing him to stick it out to season's end, giving him his last month on the sideline (or, in the press box, actually)is simply not enough. 'Not enough' - a phrase that, in the end, sums up the cowardly effort these individuals put into one of our most basic responsibilities as human beings, protecting children.