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 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. 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?


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


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


 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.
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.