Saturday, November 30, 2013

Week 14 wrap up

I really thought I had posted a wrap up for week 13.  Anyway, all of the conference title games are set, and the conferences without title games are setting up for big showdowns next week.

Atlantic winner - Florida State
Coastal winner - Duke

The Wheel of Destiny has stopped spinning.  Now, let's wrap our heads around the thought that Duke will be in a primetime game on ABC next weekend.

West winner - Auburn
East winner - Missouri

The Tigers will win the SEC.  And major kudos to Auburn for the thrilling way they beat Alabama.

Leaders winner - Ohio State
Legends winner - Michigan State

North winner - Stanford
South winner - Arizona State

Big 12
This conference likes to upset itself the week before Thanksgiving.  I need to remember that next year.  In fact, last week, they almost set up scenarios of ACC proportions.

Last week, there were 16 possible outcomes based on four games that controlled the conference.  Oklahoma State won 12 of those; Baylor and Texas each got two.  Now there's only three outcomes.  Either Oklahoma State wins against Oklahoma, or they lose and the Baylor/Texas winner takes the conference.

All three teams in contention are 7-1 in conference.

Oklahoma (6-2) is out.  Last week, it looked like they had the record to force a 3 or 4 way tie, but they didn't own enough tiebreakers.  Now, they're out based solely on record.  We already know that the Baylor/Texas winner will end up at 8-1, which means anyone with more than one conference loss is eliminated.

Still don't care that much, I think UCF is most likely to win.  They either need to win their final game, or have Louisville beat Cincinnati.  Not sure what would happen if those games go the other way.

Just for fun, let's see what the average ranking of each conference championship is.

SEC:  4
(3) Auburn vs. (5) Missouri

B1G:  6
(2) Ohio State vs. (10) Michigan State

Pac-12:  9
(7) Stanford vs. (11) Arizona State

ACC:  10.5
(1) Florida State vs. (20) Duke

At least all of them have two ranked teams.

ACC Wheel of Destiny: Final Spin 2013

It all comes down to today, and we're down to three scenarios.

Since Miami beat Pitt yesterday, Georgia Tech is out.

If Duke wins, they're in.  If they lose, then all eyes turn to the VT/UVA game.

If VT wins, they're in.  Otherwise, Miami goes.

Duke @ UNC on ESPN2 at noon, VT @ UVA on ESPNU at 3:30.  Let the drama commence.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

BCS Predictions: Thanksgiving edition

I might have gotten a few things wrong last week.  Here are the updated predictions.

National title:  Alabama (SEC champ, #1) vs. Florida State (ACC champ, #2)
We could still get an upset with these two, but that would open an even bigger debate of who should take over.

Rose Bowl:  Ohio State (B1G champ) vs. Arizona State (Pac-12 champ)
I kind of like Michigan State better in the B1G, but I can't quite bring myself to pull the trigger on them yet.  Meanwhile, Arizona State is in a grudge match against Stanford, and most likely it will be on their turf.  They want it more.

Orange Bowl:  Clemson (ACC, at-large) vs. Michigan State (B1G, at-large)
If Michigan State upsets Ohio State in the B1G title game, then they could swap bowl spots.  Also, if the Orange Bowl just goes down the rankings and picks the highest ranked eligible team, that spot could go to Baylor.  Baylor doesn't have to worry about a conference championship game, so they could remain ranked higher if MSU loses the B1G title game.

Sugar Bowl:  Missouri (SEC, at-large) vs. UCF (American champ)
In this scenario, Missouri wins the SEC East but loses to Alabama in the title game.  While I think Louisville is the most attractive team in the American conference, I no longer feel confident that they will catch the necessary breaks to win the conference.  UCF also has a closer fanbase more likely to travel.

Fiesta Bowl:  Oklahoma State (Big 12 champ) vs. Northern Illinois (non-AQ)
NIU has jumped Fresno as the highest ranked non-AQ, but I don't think they will be attractive to anyone, and will therefore fall to whoever picks last.  I also don't see Oklahoma State losing to Oklahoma, so all of the other Big 12 scenarios don't really matter.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Under the Radar Games: Week 14

Obviously, this weekend's meant for rivalries and the high-impact matchups.  Nevertheless, here are five games that might be worth checking in on, even if conference championshps and BCS bids aren't necessarily on the line (or, at least, directly on the line).

1. Texas Tech at Texas.  The Longhorns have made Thanksgiving evening theirs, and this time around, it's the Red Raiders that come to town for the Turkey Day clash.  Even though Oklahoma State can clinch the Big 12's BCS spot with a win over the Sooners next Saturday, Texas or Baylor can still pull off a conference co-championship by winning out.  Baylor hosts Texas in the finale at Floyd Casey Stadium next Saturday, which could be a matchup for a split championship with the Cowboys (or an outright Big 12 title and Fiesta Bowl bid should the Sooners win the Bedlam game).

2. Iowa at Nebraska.  Hawkeye fans were feeling frustration at the beginning of the year, while the Cornhusker faithful were feeling hopeful of a division or conference crown.  Well, the Big Ten Legends isn't on the line here, but these two programs seem to be trending in opposite directions.  Can Iowa knock off Nebraska, accomplish a 4-game improvement from a year ago, and send Nebraska into bowl seasons with questions to consider?  This could also give a little BCS computer boost to Northern Illinois, who beat Iowa back in Week 1, who continues to need the computer love to offset Fresno's human poll edge over the Huskies.

3. South Florida at Central Florida.  Yes, the Bulls are terrible this season and should be a complete mismatch with the BCS-seeking UCF Knights.  However, the ESPN Black Friday night game has brought us some surprises over the years - none more memorable than the 2010 stunner of Nevada over Boise State.  Now, that Nevada team (who had Colin Kaepernick and finished 13-1) was a lot better than this USF team.  But with the institutional rivalry between these two schools (Orlando vs Tampa, large student bodies, former Big East vs Conference USA), I'll be interested to see just how this winds up.  This is the kind of loss that could turn into 2 for UCF and allow Louisville or Cincy right back into the BCS race!

4. Penn State at Wisconsin.  Last year, a winning record for the Nittany Lions was initially unfathomable (particularly after losing to a mediocre Ohio and awful UVA to start off 2012).  But, they pulled off a spectacular 8-4 with an impressive win against Wisconsin in the finale.  This time around, the game is in Madison, and the Badgers have their sights set on their 4th straight BCS Bowl (though Ohio State and Michigan State may have something to say about that).  In order to have any shot, it's a must-win for Wisconsin.  For Bill O'Brien and Penn State, it's their season finale once again, and they'd love nothing more than to close out at 7-5 and secure a winning record once again.

5. Boston College at Syracuse.  A win against Syracuse would complete a fantastic BC turnaround from 2-10 to 8-4...props to Steve Addazio!  Also, some folks are tabbing BC's Andre Williams as a serious Heisman candidate; a quality performance could wrap up Andre's invitation to New York.  A win for the Orange, however, would secure them bowl eligibility once again, and it would let the ACC be the first conference to have 11 bowl-eligible teams!

Chaos Theory #2

What if Auburn beats Alabama?

First thought is that we would get FSU vs. Ohio State in the title game.  Alabama at 11-1 would probably get picked by the Orange Bowl as an at-large, because who wouldn't jump at the chance to pick Alabama for their bowl game?  (Hmm...if we combine this with Chaos Theory #1, though...looks like Chaos Theory #3.)

The SEC title game would be 11-1 Auburn vs. 11-1 Missouri, or 10-2/9-3 South Carolina.

Now, what if FSU or Ohio State loses as well?  That would open up a spot in the national championship game.  Auburn and Missouri are currently #4 and #5.  If Auburn beats Alabama, I'm sure they would move to #3, and Missouri would be either #4 or #5, depending on how the BCS feels about Alabama.  That would almost certainly guarantee the SEC winner to be #3, waiting in the wings for FSU or Ohio State to lose.  (Unless South Carolina wins the East, and somehow wins the conference, but I don't see them pulling both of those off.)

Games to Watch: Week 14

It's Thanksgiving, and rivalry week, and all of the conference races are coming to a head.  Do you really need reasons to watch games?

On Thursday, if you're not into NFL action, ESPN has Ole Miss at Mississippi State, while Fox Sports 1 has Texas Tech at Texas.

2:30 PM
Arkansas at LSU, CBS.  Always a fun one, and this is like a 3:30 Saturday game on CBS.

3:30 PM
Miami at Pitt, ABC.  ACC Coastal Wheel of Destiny, part 1.  As we enter this weekend, there are four teams with a chance of winning the ACC Coastal, and three games key to the division title.  At least one team will be eliminated after each game.  If Miami loses this one, then Georgia Tech stays alive.

Duke at North Carolina, ESPN2.  ACC Coastal Wheel of Destiny, part 2.  I wonder if ESPN is betting on Duke losing this game.  If Duke wins, they win the Coastal.  If they lose, we have to keep watching for Virginia Tech to make the final determination.

Florida State at Florida, ESPN.  Probably a much more lopsided matchup than anyone could have predicted.

Ohio State at Michigan, ABC.  This is one of the biggest rivalry week games every year.

3:30 PM
Alabama at Auburn, CBS.  Winner goes to the SEC Championship.

Virginia Tech at Virginia, ESPNU.  ACC Coastal Wheel of Destiny, part 3.  If Duke loses, then this game will determine the ACC Coastal winner.  A VT win would put them in the title game, but a loss would put either Miami or GT, based on Friday's outcome.  If Duke wins, then we're only looking at this as another Commonwealth Cup matchup.

7 PM
Clemson at South Carolina, ESPN2.  Both are making cases for the BCS.

7:45 PM
Texas A&M at Missouri, ESPN.  Two years ago, a Big 12 matchup.  Now, an SEC tilt that will determine the SEC East champion.  If Missouri wins, they go.  If they lose, they send South Carolina.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chaos Theory #1

Now that we're down to the last two weeks, it's fun to think of ways for the entire national championship and BCS picture to get completely upended.

Since it's highly unlikely that Florida State will face any competition from Florida, their big chance of getting upset is in the ACC title game.

There are still four teams from the Coastal division with a shot at getting to that game, with potential final records ranging from 8-4 to 10-2.  Only one of those teams is ranked at the moment.

What if Florida State loses the ACC title game?

Assuming that there's no other major upsets, then they definitely lose out on the national title, which would most likely be Alabama vs. Ohio State.

But Florida State could very well miss out on the BCS completely.  Since the Orange Bowl would then take the ACC Champion (either Duke, VT, Miami, or GT in this scenario), they wouldn't pick a second ACC team as the at-large, especially if it would just be a rematch of the ACC title game.

Since the Orange Bowl has first pick of the at-large teams, the Sugar and Fiesta Bowls are stuck with the American and non-AQ teams.  With the Orange Bowl's recent history, they have no incentive to pick either one of those teams.  Although, if the ACC winner is VT, and somehow Louisville wins the American, then maybe the Orange Bowl would bite the bullet and pair those teams together.  It's the best matchup that can be created out of the available teams.  In that case, FSU would be available for the Sugar or Fiesta Bowls.

Perhaps FSU could back into the Rose Bowl if they only fall to #3 or #4?  The 3/4 Rule would take effect, and FSU would have to go to a BCS game.

But even in those two scenarios, a lot has to happen for FSU to get consideration in the BCS.  So, could a 12-1 FSU seriously  miss out on the BCS?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

BCS Thoughts: Two Weeks to Go

Rivalry week is upon us, and several games this weekend will have such a direct impact on this year's BCS picture.  Plus, the rivalries in and of themselves just make college football such a fantastic sport!

National Championship Game
Another week, another undefeated gone.  I really thought Baylor had something special, but Oklahoma State showed it was truly the better team in Stillwater.  Now, we're left with Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State - pretty firmly in that order should they all win out. 

If one of the three stumble, then the other two play for the national title.  If two stumble, things get interesting.  I'm highly interested in the SEC this week, with both the Iron Bowl and the Mizzou-A&M games going a long way to set the one-loss stage. 

I'll get into a serious discussion next week about one-loss teams - and we'll see if Clemson, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Michigan State can find a way to become a dark horse in the discussion.

Non-AQ Berth
The computers just love Northern Illinois...the Huskies average 7th.  It's good enough to allow them to rank higher than Fresno State, even though the Bulldogs are several spots ahead in the Coaches and Harris polls.

Last week, I was convinced that Fresno was simply too far ahead.  Now, I think it'll really come down to the wire.  And will the computers continue to anchor down the American teams, and allow #16 to be the cutoff (or, will NIU or Fresno hit #12 and make the American a moot point)?

At-Large Berths
I think it's safe to say that the SEC will get one of the At-Large spots in one of two ways: (1) Alabama goes to the Title Game and is replaced in the Sugar by Missouri or Auburn; (2) Alabama loses to Auburn or SC/Missouri and becomes the At-Large.  If Missouri wins against A&M but loses to Alabama, I'll be interested in seeing whether 11-2 Missouri or 10-2 Auburn gets the Sugar Bowl nod.

In the ACC, it all comes down to the Battle for the Palmetto State.  If Clemson can take back its edge and beat the Top 10 Gamecocks, the Tigers could finish as high as #4 - netting an Automatic "3/4 Rule" berth (though the Orange Bowl would surely take a 5 or 6 Clemson team to replace NCG Participant Florida State).  If Clemson happens to lose, particularly if the loss is respectable, there's still a chance the Orange Bowl takes a 10-2 Clemson due to the lack of other "fantastic" options.

Things are looking good for the Big Ten, which should have a whale of a Championship Game.  I personally think Michigan State is good enough to beat Ohio State and finally get back to the Rose Bowl.  If that happens, the Buckeyes should be a shoo-in for the Orange Bowl spot.  Otherwise, it'll be a nail-biter waiting to see whether MSU or Wisconsin gets it.  Like I said last week, I think it'll come down to how the Spartans lose to the Buckeyes.  If they "look" better than the Badgers, I say let the boys in green into the BCS.  If not, give it to the men from Madison.  Of course, all three of these teams had better get past this last regular-season week.

The PAC-12 and Big 12 have played themselves out of an At-Large, in my opinion.  Either Stanford or Arizona State will go to the Rose Bowl, the loser will have one loss too many, and Oregon has shown it doesn't care if it's not a championship.  Oklahoma State controls its Auto-BCS destiny, but a loss to the Sooners would be one too many.  Baylor, even with just the one loss doesn't have the "name" to get chosen as an at-large.  I suppose one of these teams could get a chance if Clemson loses big, and allvthree leading Big Ten teams all stumble during rivalry week.

Next week will answer a lot of questions, and should set up one final round of what "could" happen before the final reveal in 2 weeks of what "will" happen.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

ACC Wheel of Destiny: Week 13 wrap up

After just two games being played this week, we have gone from 17 scenarios down to five.  Meanwhile, all eyes are on three games next week that are key for determining the Coastal champion:  Duke @ UNC, Miami @ Pitt, and VT @ UVA.

Duke is also the only team that can outright win the division.  Everyone else will rely on tiebreakers.

Duke, GT, and UNC are required to be in every tie scenario.  GT has already finished their conference season.  If UNC beats Duke, then both teams would sit at three losses.  However, UNC does not have enough tiebreakers to win the division.

Scenario #1:  Duke finishes 6-2
Setup:  Duke wins
Outcome:  Duke wins Coastal, best record.

Three way ties at 5-3:

Scenario #2:  Duke/GT/UNC
Setup:  Duke, VT, and Miami lose
Outcome:  GT wins, head-to-head.

Four way ties at 5-3:

Scenario #3:  GT/Duke/Miami/UNC
Setup:  Miami wins, VT and Duke lose.
Outcome:  Miami wins Coastal.  Among the four teams, Miami and GT would be 2-1, while Duke and UNC would be 1-2.  Miami then beats GT on direct head-to-head.

Scenario #4:  GT/Duke/VT/UNC
Setup:  Miami and Duke lose, VT wins
Outcome:  VT wins Coastal.  Among the four, VT and GT would be 2-1, Duke and UNC 1-2, VT beats GT on direct head-to-head.

Five way tie at 5-3:

Scenario #5:  GT/Duke/VT/Miami/UNC
Setup:  VT and Miami win, Duke loses.
Outcome:  VT wins Coastal.  Among the five teams, VT would be 3-1.  Duke, GT, and Miami would be 2-2, and UNC would be 1-3.

I was going to make a chart, but with only five scenarios it is really easy.  Here is what each team needs.

Duke:  win.
Virginia Tech:  win + Duke loss.
Miami:  win + Duke loss + VT loss.
GT:  Duke loss + VT loss + Miami loss.

Bowl eligible:  Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Boston College, UNC, Pitt
Last game determines bowl status: Syracuse
Not bowl eligible:  UVA, NC State, Wake Forest

Friday, November 22, 2013

BCS Predictions pre-Thanksgiving

Here are my slightly too early BCS bowl predictions.

National title:  Alabama (SEC champ) vs. Florida State (ACC champ)
As much I would love to see an upset in the SEC, and see one of the other hopefuls creep up into the top two, I can't logically pick against Alabama until that happens.  Also, can we come up with a bowl name for this game already?

Rose Bowl:  Ohio State (B1G champ) vs. Oregon (Pac-12 champ)
There are still chances for upsets in the conference title games, though, as the leaders of all four divisions look really good.

Orange Bowl:  Clemson (ACC, at-large) vs. Michigan State (B1G, at-large)
I think the Orange Bowl will stick with an ACC team to replace Florida State.  The only two options are an 11-1 Clemson or a 10-3 Duke, and Clemson gets the edge.  Clemson is also an attractive option despite their conference affiliation.  For the at-large opponent, since the Orange Bowl gets the first pick, I think they might just look down the BCS standings and find the highest ranked team that is qualified.  Currently, Stanford is above MSU, but I could see Michigan State jumping them as they keep winning.  Also, geography could play a role.

Sugar Bowl:  Missouri (SEC, at-large) vs. Louisville (American champ)
I'm assuming that Missouri will win out and play in the SEC championship game.  If not, Auburn would be an attractive option as well.  I'm taking a chance that Louisville can win the conference, but they are clearly the most attractive team in the American.  The other big question is if UCF would be more attractive than the non-AQ.

Fiesta Bowl:  Baylor (Big 12 champ) vs. Fresno State (non-AQ)
I'm going with Fresno as the non-AQ at this point since they are currently ranked higher.  I really think that these bowls play a game of hot potato with the American champ and the non-AQ.  It could work out in the Fiesta Bowl's favor, though, as they could have another matchup of undefeated teams not playing in the national title.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Games to Watch: Week 13

Next week is rivalry week, so this week is much more subdued.  In most cases, we either have non-marquee conference matchups or cupcake out of conference games. 

Duke at Wake Forest, ESPN2.  By itself, this game isn't all that great, but it has great consequence on the ACC Coastal race.  If Duke wins, 9 of the 17 scenarios presented earlier become obsolete.  If they lose, then 6 scenarios become obsolete.

Virginia at Miami, ESPNU.  Again, nothing great by itself, but worth keeping an eye on for the Coastal race, and to see how bad either team is.  UVA has been winless since September, and Miami has a three game losing streak.

3:30 PM
Texas A&M at LSU, CBS.  Since the state of Alabama has the SEC West locked up, this game means nothing for conference titles.  But A&M still has an outside chance at a BCS spot, and this game could get crazy.

7 PM
Arizona State at UCLA, FOX.  It's the battle of the Pac-12 South.  Arizona State will clench the division with a win, but UCLA can keep it a three way battle if they win.  That sets up an interesting final weekend, where the USC/UCLA game could determine the division title.

7:45 PM
Missouri at Ole Miss, ESPN.  If Missouri loses, then South Carolina wins the SEC East.  If they win, they still need to win next week to clench the division.

8 PM
Baylor at Oklahoma State, ABC.  The battle for the top of the Big 12.  While this game is important, I don't think it will determine anything at this point.  Both teams are known for their offenses, so if you like shootouts, watch this one.

Monday, November 18, 2013

BCS Thoughts: Three Weeks to Go

With the end of the season so close, I've decided to make this a weekly affair.  Here's where things stand, as far as I can tell, regarding the final round of the BCS.

National Championship Game
Alabama and Florida State appear to control their destiny.  While Alabama's road is certainly tougher, FSU had better make sure to keep going strong against its remaining opponents. 

Baylor and Ohio State sit patiently behind, seeing if a slip-up occurs.  If so, then the fun begins, debating whether the Buckeyes or the Bears deserve that coveted #2 slot.

Non-AQ Berth
I was surprised at how little respect Northern Illinois got for beating a respectable Ball State team.  I'm now convinced that Fresno will get the necessary poll support to remain the leading candidate, but NIU should still be in position should the Bulldogs trip up.

Anything can happen...2010 Boise State/Nevada, or 2011 Boise State/TCU are quite memorable.  Perhaps the Broncos can be on the other side of a BCS-busting upset if they meet up with the Bulldogs.

2008 Buffalo/Ball State a bit less so, when the Bulls beat the 12-0 Cardinals.  It didn't affect the BCS, but I point this out because it could be Buffalo that once again has a chance to knock off an unbeaten in the MAC Championship Game in Northern Illinois.  And if Fresno loses too, then this most certainly would affect the BCS.

At-Large Spots
Instead of simply listing teams that have the potential to finish with 1 or 2 losses, I'll list a handful of teams that appear in the best shape.  I'm done listing Louisville, or a second non-AQ team: I've come to accept that it's just not gonna happen.

It's simple: beat the Gamecocks!  It's been 5 years, the Tigers are certainly due.  Should FSU make it into the NCG, the Orange Bowl spot's got Clemson's name written all over it.  Even if Clemson loses, it's possible the Tigers remain in the Top 14 at 10-2 and get chosen anyway to replace the Seminoles.

Texas A&M, Auburn, Missouri
Of all the possible SEC teams, only the Aggies are truly aiming for the "at-large" spot at this moment.  Auburn has its winner-take-all showdown with Alabama coming up, while Missouri and South Carolina still have the SEC East in its sights (Mizzou needing 2 wins, SC needing a single Mizzou loss). 

If Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M win its last 2 against LSU and Missouri, I'd like to think they'll be the prime candidate for the Sugar Bowl (barring an Alabama loss in the SEC CG).  If the Aggies lose, however, then Missouri (10-2 by splitting Ole Miss/A&M, or 11-2 by losing in the SEC CG) or Auburn (10-2 with loss to Bama, or 11-2 with loss to SC/Mizzou) should work just fine.

Michigan State/Wisconsin
With Stanford losing to USC, it appears the Big Ten is in great position to get a second BCS spot, and at the PAC-12's expense.

I'm surprised at how low the Spartans remain in the BCS Standings, even after impressive wins against Michigan and Nebraska.  I think Mark Dantonio & Co. can actully win the whole thing and make "at-large" a moot point.  But should MSU go 11-1 and then lose to the Buckeyes, I think theythe Orange Bowl will still give them a serious look.

 I personally like Michigan State more than Wisconsin, but some voters and TV personalities seem to prefer the Badgers.  If MSU indeed loses to Ohio State to finish 11-2, compared to Wisconsin's 10-2 (with many believing the loss to Arizona State shouldn't have happened), it'll be a real toss-up to see who can get that Orange Bowl spot against Clemson.  It may come down to MSU's performance against the Buckeyes and a comparitive "eye test".

The best shot at the PAC-12 (or Big 12) getting an At-Large spot are (i) losses by the unbeatens that allows their conference champ to go the NCG, and/or (ii) losses by NIU and Fresno to take the non-AQ out of the picture.  Stanford, despite its ugly loss to Utah and upset by now-ranked USC, remains a Top 10 team in the BCS and would love to make it to a 4th straight.  But it'll be tough to overcome other eastern/southern-oriented teams with the Orange and Sugar picking before the more western-oriented Fiesta.

I don't really see the Big 12 getting an at-large, and even 11-1 non-champion Baylor could get left out due to its "new-ness" to the national stage.  But if Baylor does win out, as does Oklahoma, then it's possible the Sooners find themselves in position to compete with Michigan State/Wisconsin (or Clemson if they slip up against the Gamecocks) for that second Orange Bowl spot.

Under the Radar Games: Week 13

It's the penultimate week of November, and this time of year's made for the big-time matchups.  Even so, here are five that could play a significant role in ensuring the "big-time" nature of the final few weeks.

1. Rutgers at UCF.  Rutgers gave Louisville a run for its money earlier this year, beat Arkansas (though the Razorbacks are truly dreadful this year in the SEC), and came oh-so-close to beating Fresno State to start the season.  UCF needed a rally to beat pathetic Temple!  A loss to Rutgers wouldn't take UCF out of the BCS driver's seat, but it would almost certainly ensure that the American champ will be low-enough ranked to allow #16 to be the non-AQ champion threshold (personally, I don't think that matters...a 12-0 Fresno or 13-0 Northern Illinois should be able to clear the "truly least for the highest one" #12 spot).

2. UNLV at Air Force.  No conference championship or BCS implications here.  But a fairly long bowl drought may come to an end.  UNLV hasn't been to a bowl since 2000, but if they can pull off a road win against winless-in-conference Air Force, then the Rebels will once again be bowl eligible. 

3. Duke at Wake Forest.  Not really that far off the radar, but I've included it here nonetheless.  With Duke ranked in the Coaches and Harris polls, I'm guessing the Blue Devils missed out on its first-ever BCS ranking to Minnesota by a razor-thin margin.  I think that can be rectified if Duke prevails against a rather poor Wake Forest team.  It would tie a school-record 9 wins and most importantly, it keeps Duke in the driver's seat for the ACC Championship Game.  Nice choice for an ESPN2 Noon game! 
Now here's the true under-the-radar part: Duke would clinch at least a share of the Division with this win.  Let me repeat that: Duke Football would have an ACC Coastal Division co-Championship (and an outright one if it also beats UNC)!  I say put Cutcliffe up there for National Coach of the Year consideration, along with Art Briles and Gus Malzahn!

4. East Carolina at NC State.  Could the Pirates knock off UNC and NC State in the same season?  How big would that be for that program!  If they succeed, as does Duke, then I would absolutely love to see a way for the Pirates and the Blue Devils to meet up in a bowl game - possibly the Belk Bowl - for a "best of NC" showdown.  That would require some crafty bowl negotiating, perhaps a little to much to be realistic, but a man can surely dream.

5. Utah at Washington State.  Despite impressive upsets of Stanford and USC, these two teams are badly in need of this win in order to become bowl eligible.  For Utah, it's a must-win; the Utes have already reached 6 losses and can afford no more.  Washington State hasn't been to a bowl in a decade, and they are now "this" close.  At home in Pullman for Senior Day, this could truly be a memorable moment (and a disastrous one for Utah, which would be missing out on a bowl for the 2nd straight year).

Week 12 wrap up

As we rapidly approach the end of the season, I've condensed most of the conferences down into one weekly post.  The ACC still gets their own post, because they always have a crazy finish.

I'm leaving out the teams that are obviously out.

Alabama (7-0) and Auburn (6-1) are set up for a winner take all match in the Iron Bowl.

Missouri (5-1) is still in the lead and controls their destiny.  However, they cannot clench a spot in the SEC title game until they win both of their remaining games.

South Carolina (6-2) is done with conference play, and needs Missouri to lose a game.  SC holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Georgia (4-3) got eliminated this week by losing, and South Carolina winning.

Ohio State (6-0) is in charge here, and can clench with one more win.

Wisconsin (5-1) is just behind them, but needs Ohio State to lose two games.

Michigan State (6-0) leads this division, and can clench with just one win.

Minnesota (4-2) has a slight chance.  They play MSU in the final week of the season, so if MSU loses next week, then they set up a winner take all match.

Nebraska (4-2) is out, because they have lost to both MSU and Minnesota, so they would lose any tiebreakers.

Oregon (6-1) jumped back into the lead this weekend following Stanford's loss.  They can clench with one win and a Stanford loss, or two wins.

Stanford (6-2) clenches with a win and an Oregon loss.

Oregon State (4-3) is out.  Stanford has head-to-head tiebreakers over both Oregon schools, so even if Oregon State was able to force a three way tie at 6-3 (including a win over Oregon), they would come out at the bottom.

Arizona State (6-1) leads.  They can clench with a win over UCLA in their next game.

UCLA (5-2) has yet to play either team around them. If they win both of their remaining games, they win the division.  If they lose to USC and Arizona State also loses their final game, then UCLA still can take the division.

USC (5-2) can win the division by winning out, if Arizona State loses out.

Big 12
This conference is still a few matchups away from anybody clenching.  The earliest anyone can clench is Thanksgiving weekend, but most likely, it will come down to the Baylor/Texas game on December 7.

Baylor (6-0) leads.

Oklahoma State (6-1) controls their destiny, because they play Baylor next week.

Texas (6-1) lost to Oklahoma State, and has yet to play Baylor.  So they need Oklahoma State to lose a game.

Oklahoma (5-2) looks to be out.  If they win out, the best they would be able to do is force a three way tie of 7-2 teams (and that assumes that Baylor and/or Texas lose additional games), which would include Oklahoma State and the Baylor/Texas winner.  In this scenario, OK State would have wins over Baylor and Texas.  The three tied teams would be 1-1 against each other, so we go to the next tiebreaker or record against the next highest placed team, which would most likely be the Baylor/Texas loser.  OK State and the winner already have wins over the loser, and Oklahoma doesn't.  Now, I might be missing something, and there's some possibility that I'm missing.

Kansas State (4-3) is out.  The best record they can achieve is 6-3, and since the current 6 win teams have yet to play, we know that at least one of them will get at least 7 wins.

You know what?  I just don't care about this one anymore, and I don't think you do either.  Yes, they are still a BCS conference, but only for another two months, and then the BCS goes away, and the big 6 are turned into the power 5.  Probably the two biggest name teams in the conference (Louisville and Rutgers) are both leaving for other conferences next season.  The winner of this conference is probably going to be in a battle with the non-AQ team for who gets picked last for a BCS bowl.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

ACC Wheel of Destiny Week 12 wrap up

The Coastal division is taking this race down to the last week. 

Pitt (2-4) and UVA (0-6) are out.  UNC (4-3) is also out, but can factor into a few tie situations.

The easiest path to win the division is Duke (4-2) winning out.  They would only have two losses, which is better than everyone else.  So all they have to do is win against Wake Forest and UNC.


Scenario #1:  Duke finishes 6-2
Setup:  Duke wins out
Outcome:  Duke wins Coastal, best record.

But if Duke loses, a whole lot of possibilities open up, so let's go through them by tier.  Because GT has finished conference play at 5-3, they are involved in all ties.

Single team at 5-3:

Scenario #2:  GT
Setup:  Duke and VT lose out, Miami loses at least one game.
Outcome:  GT wins Coastal, best record.

Two way ties at 5-3:

Scenario #3:  Duke/GT
Setup:  Duke, Miami, and VT all lose one game.
Outcome:  GT wins, head-to-head.

Scenario #4:  GT/VT
Setup:  Duke loses two, Miami loses at least one, VT wins out.
Outcome:  VT wins, head-to-head.

Scenario #5:  GT/Miami
Setup:  Duke loses two, VT loses, Miami wins out.
Outcome:  Miami wins, head-to-head.

Three way ties at 5-3:

Scenario #6:  Duke/GT/VT
Setup:  Duke loses one, VT wins, Miami loses at least one.
Outcome:  VT wins on divisional record, as each team is 1-1 against each other.

Scenario #7:  VT/GT/Miami
Setup:  Duke loses two, VT wins, Miami wins out
Outcome:  VT wins, head-to-head.

Scenario #8:  Duke/GT/UNC
Setup:  Duke beats WF, loses to UNC, VT and Miami lose
Outcome:  GT wins, head-to-head.

Scenario #9:  VT/GT/UNC
Setup:  Duke loses two, VT wins, Miami loses at least one.
Outcome:  VT wins, head-to-head

Scenario #10:  GT/UNC/Miami
Setup:  Duke loses two, VT loses, Miami wins out.
Outcome:  Miami wins, head-to-head.

Scenario #11:  GT/Duke/Miami, option 1
Setup:  Duke beats WF but loses to UNC, Miami wins out, VT loses.
Outcome:  Miami wins.  These three teams are 1-1 against each other.  Duke would have 3 divisional losses vs. GT and Miami's 2, and then Miami wins head-to-head.

Scenario #12:  GT/Duke/Miami, option 2
Setup:  Duke loses to WF but beats UNC, Miami wins out, VT loses.
Outcome:  Duke wins Coastal.  The first two tiebreaker steps don't work.  I've seen a couple of different interpretation of the third tiebreaker, but all of them have Duke winning.  The interpretation I'm going with is that they will look at how the tied teams did against the team that is immediately under them, which would be VT.  Duke is the only one of the three to beat VT, so they win.

I think that takes care of three way ties.

Four way ties at 5-3:

Scenario #13:  GT/Duke/Miami/VT
Setup:  Miami wins out, VT wins, Duke loses to WF but beats UNC.
Outcome:  Duke wins Coastal.  On head-to-head among the four teams, Duke and VT would be 2-1, where Miami and GT would be 1-2.  Duke then beats VT on direct head-to-head.

Scenario #14:  GT/VT/Miami/UNC
Setup:  Duke loses out, Miami and VT win out.
Outcome:  VT wins, head-to-head.

Scenario #15:  GT/Duke/Miami/UNC
Setup:  Miami wins out, VT loses, Duke beats WF but loses to UNC.
Outcome:  Miami wins Coastal.  Among the four teams, Miami and GT would be 2-1, while Duke and UNC would be 1-2.  Miami then beats GT on direct head-to-head.

Scenario #16:  GT/Duke/VT/UNC
Setup:  Miami loses, VT wins out, Duke beats WF, UNC beats Duke.
Outcome:  VT wins Coastal.  Among the four, VT and GT would be 2-1, Duke and UNC 1-2, VT beats GT on direct head-to-head.

Five way tie at 5-3:

Scenario #17:  GT/Duke/VT/Miami/UNC
Setup:  VT and Miami win out, Duke beats Wake, UNC beats Duke.
Outcome:  VT wins Coastal.  Among the five teams, VT would be 3-1.  Duke, GT, and Miami would be 2-2, and UNC would be 1-3.

I think these 17 scenarios cover all of the possibilities. 

Of the four possible teams that can win the Coastal, here are their chances:
VT 7/17
Miami 4/17
GT 3/17
Duke 3/17

Isn't that the most ACC thing ever?  The only team that controls their destiny actually has the fewest winning scenarios.

We're beyond looking at situations to gain control.  I believe this is the bare minimum for what each team needs to win the division:

Duke:  win out.
VT:  beat UVA + a Duke loss + another Duke loss OR Miami loss
GT:  Duke loss + VT loss + Miami loss
Miami:  win out + Duke loss + another Duke loss OR VT loss

There is a chance I've missed something.  I know there are some posts floating around the internet saying there are 32 scenarios for the Coastal, but that is based on an individual game by game outcome.  Many of those scenarios overlap, because for most teams, it doesn't matter who they lose to if they lose.  Also, if Miami loses one game, they're out, so their second game doesn't matter.

Bowl eligible:  Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Boston College
One win away: Syracuse, Pitt, UNC
One loss away from not going:  Wake Forest
Not bowl eligible:  UVA, NC State

Thursday, November 14, 2013

ACC Wheel of Destiny: Week 12 update

The race for the Coastal division got one step closer to the end, but I'm not sure it got any clearer.  After all, the number crunchers at ESPN are saying there were over a thousand different possibilities for the Coastal race prior to Thursday's game.

With Georgia Tech losing, they end their conference campaign at 5-3.  While that does not officially knock anyone out of contention, it does shift control of the division over to Duke (3-2).

This means all eyes shift over to Duke's game against Miami (3-2) on Saturday.  Now, with GT losing, this game is not an elimination game, but it is a destiny decider.

With only 3 teams left at 2 losses, and one of those guaranteed to lose on Saturday, the only tie scenarios for 2 loss teams is VT being tied with the Miami/Duke winner.  As we've already pointed out, VT has a the tiebreaker over Miami, but Duke has it over VT.

So, Duke controls their destiny.
Virginia Tech needs a Duke loss.
Miami needs a VT loss.
Georgia Tech is done with conference play, and has ceded control.
Pitt and UNC are both hoping that VT and the winner of Miami/Duke loses another game.

Perhaps we can start looking at clenching scenarios following this weekend.  The Miami/Duke game controls so many possibilities that once we get past it, the road to Charlotte should be much clearer.

BCS replacement teams

Tony brought up a good point in his latest BCS post, and that is about conference loyalty from the BCS bowls when a team is selected for the national championship.  So I thought I would look at the history of the BCS since the invention of the fifth bowl game following the 2006 season.

Of course, that is the year in which the current SEC dominance started, so obviously, the first place to look is the Sugar Bowl, which has not had the SEC champion play since the 2006 game, which was for the 2005 season.

The only year that the Sugar Bowl did not feature an SEC team was the 2012 (2011 season) matchup between Michigan and Virginia Tech.  That was also the year that Alabama and LSU played for the national title (ironically, in a game hosted by the Sugar Bowl).  Since the BCS only allows two teams from any given conference in the bowls, the national championship took up the SEC allotment, so the Sugar Bowl had to go with two at large teams.  And it was a heck of a game, too, except for the poor officiating at the end.  (Danny Coale caught the ball, dammit.)

From here on out, any years I refer to are the seasons, which means the bowls were played in the following January.

In 2006 and 2007, Ohio State was the losing team in the national championship.  Of course, the Rose Bowl does everything it can to preserve the Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup, so a replacement Big Ten team was chosen in both cases.

In 2008, the Fiesta Bowl chose Texas, since Big 12 champion Oklahoma was chosen for the SEC slaughter.

2009 gave us an interesting bowl season, since Texas was in the national championship.  The Fiesta Bowl opted to go with two non-AQ teams in TCU and Boise State.

In 2010, Oregon appeared in the national championship, opening up a spot in the Rose Bowl.  However, the BCS had implemented a rule that the first year that a Pac-12 or Big Ten team was selected for the national championship and there was a qualified non-AQ team, the Rose Bowl had to select the non-AQ team as the replacement.

We already went over 2011 above, where 2 SEC teams played for the national title.  In 2012, Notre Dame was the second NC participant, so there was no need for another bowl to not have their champion.

To sum it up, it looks like the only two times that a team was not chosen from the same conference as a replacement were in 2009 and 2010, when non-AQ teams were selected.  We know that 2010 was an obligation.

It looks like a safe bet that the BCS bowls will choose replacements from their own conferences.   Let's look at the teams at the top of the polls.

Ohio State and Stanford are in Rose Bowl conferences.  If a Pac-12 or Big Ten team goes to the national title game, the runner up in either conference knows they have a rosy future.

If Baylor can make it in, there's no telling what the Fiesta Bowl will do.  They have a history of going outside the box for their matchups, and they have the last pick of the at-large teams this year.  So, the Big 12 or replacement team is most likely going to be their marquee team.

The only way Alabama doesn't go to a BCS bowl is if they just don't win anymore, and that seems highly unlikely at this point.  Even if they lose a game and miss out on the SEC and/or national title game, they will still have a good enough record for an at-large spot.  If they do completely melt down, there will be plenty of SEC teams with only 1 or 2 losses that the Sugar Bowl will be willing to select.

Florida State and the ACC can be tricky.  The Orange Bowl already has ratings problems, as it usually ends up with the lowest ranked teams in the BCS bowls.  Fortunately, they have first pick of the at-large teams this year.  More than likely, Clemson will be the FSU replacement, as they are the only team in the ACC that can have only 1 loss.  The Coastal division is spinning the Wheel of Destiny so fiercely that the only chance any of them have for getting to the Orange Bowl is by beating FSU in the ACC title game.  The only team that is attractive from a tourism point of view is Virginia Tech, but they have been very uneven the last two years, and only have a 1-3 record in the Orange Bowl.  Even if Miami somehow wins the division and ends with a 10-3 record (assuming a second loss to FSU), they are literally the home team, and can barely bring fans in during the regular season.  They certainly wouldn't be a tourism draw for the area.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Games to Watch: Week 12

We're getting close to the end, folks.  There's actually a few teams that end their conference schedule this week.

7:30 PM
Georgia Tech at Clemson, ESPN.  This cross-divisional game has been fierce several times, and even found itself in a rematch in an ACC championship game once.  This year, no team in the Coastal division controls their destiny, but GT could change that.  Ironically, they would not gain control of their destiny, but win or lose, they would help other teams.  Instead, GT will be a lame duck after this game, as it is their last conference game of the season.

12:30 PM
Maryland at Virginia Tech, ACC Network.  Nothing overly spectacular here, but VT needs to win to stay alive in their division.  Hopefully, the Hokies can find more of that offense that they found in Miami.  Meanwhile, Maryland continues their farewell tour of the ACC.  It's been going well for them.

3:30 PM
Georgia at Auburn, CBS.  If Auburn wins, they guarantee a winner take all game against Alabama.  Georgia looked like a contender 12 weeks ago, but they're beat up.  They might be wishing for a mercy killing.

Oklahoma State at Texas, FOX.  Both teams still control their destiny in the Big 12.  But a loss for OK State would drop them way back.

Miami at Duke, ESPNU.  Who would have thought that this game would be the biggest ACC Coastal game of the week?  The loser could be out of contention.  If GT wins on Thursday, the loser definitely is out of contention.

4 PM
Utah at Oregon, FS1.  This is an interesting Pac-12 matchup.  Utah beat Stanford, the current North division leader.  They also played Arizona State (the current South leader) extremely close, only losing by one.  So they seem to step it up against the "big" teams in the conference.  Even though Oregon isn't a leader in the conference at the moment, they are still a high profile team.

7 PM
Texas Tech vs. Baylor, FS1.  A more intriguing matchup a few weeks ago, where it looked like it could be a battle of unbeatens.  Instead, a Baylor win would most likely eliminate TTU from anything.

Florida at South Carolina, ESPN2.  This will have some implications in the next couple of weeks in determining the SEC East winner.  Basically, it will determine how soon anybody can clinch the division.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Under the Radar Games: Week 12

The chill is in the air, and the feel of "late season" is upon us.  With such a slate of high-profile, high-impact games last week, we got one more calm before the final surge this week.  Some high-impact games are clear (Michigan State-Nebraska, Texas Tech-Baylor), some a bit less-so.

1. Ball State at Northern Illinois.  I almost didn't put this one on here, figuring the impact was too obvious.  But of course, a lot of folks don't follow the MAC (or the specifics of the yearly non-AQ race).  Ball State has a great record - only one loss.  This figures to provide a nice boost in NIU's computer resume if the Huskies emerge victorious at home, and it could ease the gap with Fresno State in the BCS rankings.  A loss to the Cardinals, however, and gone will go the ranking, MAC contention, and most importantly, BCS Bowl contention.  But no pressure, Huskies!

2. Washington at UCLA.  A Friday night matchup...and it looks to be a good one.  UCLA is aiming for a South Division showdown with Arizona State, but a loss to these pesky Huskies could derail that plan.  Washington, meanwhile, looks to get back to its early-season ranked ways (before its brutal stretch of Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona State) out, and a 10-3 season can become a huge stepping stone for this not-unrecently-horrid program.

3. Florida Atlantic at Southern Miss.  Hard to believe that Southern Miss has lost 21 straight...with a 12-win season just before!  With Florida Atlantic in an interim coach situation, and looking pretty bad themselves, this unfortunate and bizarre streak could come to an end this weekend.

4. Michigan at Northwestern.  Hard to believe that the Wildcats were once in the Top 20, with a ten point lead against Ohio State.  Or that the Wolverines were on the verge of the Top 10, after an exciting Chicken-Dancing win over Notre Dame.  My, how the tables have turned.  What once looked like a possible division showdown has become a survival game, especially for Northwestern.  Games are running out, and the Wildcats are now in serious danger of becoming bowl-ineligible.  Michigan, meanwhile, has lost its last two, and with Ohio State not too far away, cannot afford to lose focus now.

5. Houston at Louisville.  Another survival/elimination game.  Houston is most likely out of the BCS is Louisville.  But the winner remains alive in desperate hope that it can win out and UCF can lose two of its remaining games.  On a more positive note, the winner of this game, even without a BCS Bowl, has a serious shot at an 11-win season and a final Top 25 ranking if it can win out.

BCS Thoughts: Mid November

Just a few more weeks to go, and there's still so much room for chaos.  So, without further ado, here's my latest take on how the final BCS is shaping up.

National Championship Game
The major-conference unbeatens are down to 4, with two distinct "tiers". 

In Tier 1, we'll find Alabama and Florida State.  For the Tide and Seminoles, it's simply win and get in.  But they'll both be sure to get their opponents' best - including road games against bitter in-state rivals (Auburn, Florida respectively).

In Tier 2, we'll find Ohio State and Baylor.  It seems that these teams need a loss by a "Tier 1" team to jump into Tier 1 themselves.  What's not clear is who makes the jump if only one of FSU or Bama lose.  Although Stanford is currently positioned ahead of Baylor in the  BCS standings, I believe the Bears will pass the one-loss Cardinal with another good win (possibly after this weekend's neutral-site matchup with Texas Tech).

A few one-loss teams in contention include Stanford (with their lofty current #4 ranking), Auburn, and Missouri.  I wonder if we'll even need to get serious about the one-loss teams.  But of course, as always in November, never underestimate the possibility for chaos.

Non-AQ Berth
I've also been keeping an eye on Fresno State and Northern Illinois, and it's exciting to see this wind up as a race till the end.  The polls seem to favor Fresno, but NIU could get a computer edge in the next couple weeks with matchups against a one-loss Ball State and decent Toledo team.  Should one stumble, the path should be clear for the other...if it can win out!  I still say it's too close to call, however, should both teams win out.

BCS At-Large
Best shot: Clemson (beat GT, take back the state from the Gamecocks, hello 11-1)
Other possibilities: 12-1 FSU (upset in ACC Championship Game)

Best shot: 10-2 Texas A&M, Missouri, or Auburn
Other possibilities: 10-2 South Carolina (beats SC but misses SEC Championship Game)

Big Ten
Best shots: 10-2 Wisconsin or 11-2 Michigan State
Other possibility: 12-1 Ohio State (loss in B1G Championship Game)

Big 12
Best shot: 10-2 Oklahoma/Oklahoma State winner
Other possibility: 11-1 Baylor (loss to Oklahoma State or Texas)

PAC 12
Best shot: 11-1 Oregon
Other possibility: 10-2 Stanford (second loss to USC or Cal)

11-1 Louisville
Undefeated non-automatic Northern Illinois or Fresno State

As long as it's possible, I suspect the BCS bowls remain loyal to their host conferences.  In other words, if Alabama-FSU is the NCG matchup, I believe Clemson and an SEC team are shoo-ins (provided they take care of business).  With four BCS spots not taken by AQ Conference Champs, it'll be interesting to see how this shakes up. 

What If....?

It's ironic that this year, we're playing the what if game...what if it was next season and we had playoffs?

What's more ironic is that at this point in time, it looks like we need 4 slots and we'd still be arguing over two or three teams to fill the last spot.

Obviously, no one is arguing against Alabama and Florida State at numbers 1 and 2, which is where the BCS has placed them.  I would almost make an argument for FSU to be #1.  They have only had one game that even looks "close", and that was a 14 point win against Boston College.  Meanwhile, Alabama started off with a game against VT that should have ended 14-10 if it wasn't for their special teams, and then a shootout with Texas A&M, where they started off down 14, and only won by 7.

The other two spots are a little more difficult to fill.  Ohio State (#3 BCS) hasn't lost a game since Urban Meyer took over, but they've seemed a little shaky this season.  Stanford (#4 BCS) has a loss to Utah, of all teams, but they have the inside track to win their conference after slaughtering Oregon.

But the most impressive team outside of the top two has to be Baylor, currently sitting at #5.  Their lowest score this season has been 35 points.  Granted, they don't have the competition that the other teams have, but it is safe to say that RG3 was the start of something at Baylor, and not a one time fluke.

I'd love to see Oregon (#6) in the mix, but after they stunk it up last week, I can't endorse them in any sort of playoff right now.  Besides, I am in the camp that prefers conference champions over random wildcards, at least while we have so few playoff teams.

I chuckle at the Tiger trifecta at 7-8-9:  Auburn, Clemson, and Missouri.  Two of those Tiger teams might have a shot at knocking Alabama out of the picture.  The other had their shot at FSU, but failed miserably. 

So, the four teams I "endorse" at this time in this hypothetical situation are Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, and Baylor.  It's hard to argue with undefeated teams in the top five conferences (It's a "what if" scenario about next year, so the former Big East doesn't count...not that I counted it in the first place).  It's not Baylor's fault that the Big 12 isn't performing to their usual standards this year, but with the offensive production out of that team, does it even matter?

As for the one-loss teams, Oregon is completely out of the picture while Stanford remains ahead of them.  But, I can't overlook Stanford's loss to Utah.

But, all four of those teams still have to get out of their conferences first, and also worry about rivalry week.  Auburn is going to be extra hungry this year if the Iron Bowl is set up to be a winner take all into the SEC championship game.  Even though the teams in the ACC Coastal have been uneven all year, that is a dangerous mix, because whoever comes out of that divisional could have one of those nights against FSU in Charlotte.

It is November, a month known for surprises in college football.  There's a good chance we could be looking a new top four, or even top two next weekend.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Week 11 wrap up: everyone else

It's time that I start paying attention to the races in the other conferences, and I'll probably start condensing all of the conferences into one weekly post starting next week.

We're at the part of the season where we have a few teams still contending, a few teams definitely out, and then a few teams that are probably out, but still have a shot based on very deep tiebreakers.  I don't care much for those teams.

This conference is unique, in that they play 9 conference games, and have a championship game.

On the North side, Stanford (6-1) and Oregon (5-1) lead the pack, with Stanford getting an impressive tiebreaker this week.

Oregon State (4-2) is a game back.  They've lost to Stanford, and have yet to play Oregon.  So, in theory, Oregon State needs Stanford to lose two.

Based on their record, Washington (3-3) looks like they might have a chance, but when you look closer, they are out.  They have already lost to Stanford and Oregon, so the only way they could be in the mix is if there is a 4 way tie with 3 losses.  But, Stanford has already played all 5 teams within their division and beat them all, so no one can beat them on that tiebreaker.

Washington State (2-4) and Cal (0-7) are both out.

In the South, Arizona State (5-1) leads.

UCLA (4-2) still controls their destiny, since they have yet to play Arizona State.  Also, their two losses come from the North division, so they still have an edge in that tiebreaker.

USC (4-2) has already lost to Arizona State, so they need the Sun Devils to lose again.

Arizona (3-3) needs Arizona State to lose another game before they meet in the season finale.  They also need UCLA and USC to lose at least one more, but two would help them more.

Utah (1-5) and Colorado (0-6) are out.

Since they can't count anymore, we'll just go with a G instead of a 0, 2, or 4.

Ohio State (5-0) leads the Leaders.

Wisconsin (4-1) needs an Ohio State loss.

Indiana (2-3) is surprising me that they are not at the bottom.  Beyond that, they need 3 Ohio State losses and 2 Wisconsin losses.  They also play both schools in the next two weeks.

Illinois (0-5) and Purdue (0-5) are out.  Penn State isn't eligible for the next three years, so it doesn't matter how they're doing.

Michigan State (5-0) leads the Legends.

Nebraska (4-1) still controls their destiny because they have yet to play Michigan State.

Minnesota (4-2) needs 2 Nebraska losses and a Michigan State loss.  They play Sparty at the end of the season.

Iowa (3-3) and Michigan (2-3) are far enough back that they're probably not in contention, but haven't been mathematically eliminated.

Northwestern (0-5) is out.

American (formerly Big East)
I'm still following this conference this year, since it is their last as one of the big boys, and so they have one final guaranteed bid.  I'm not following the conference too closely, especially as the nature of their scheduling has a lot of teams bunched together in the standings.  There are 10 teams, but each team plays 8 conference games, so they all miss out on one other team.

UCF (4-0) controls their destiny.

Louisville (4-1), Cincinnati (4-1), and Houston (4-1) all need UCF to lose at least one.  More than likely, they need 2 UCF losses, and losses from each other.

Rutgers (2-2), South Florida (2-2), and SMU (2-2) are not mathematically out, but are long shots.

Memphis (0-4), UConn (0-4), and Temple (0-5) are out.

Big 12 Roulette: Week 11 wrap up

Texas controls the cutoff with 6 victories, meaning anyone with 4 or more losses is out.

Baylor (5-0) and Texas (6-0) still control their own destinies, headed towards a potential conference title match in the final week of the season.

Oklahoma State (5-1) only has the one loss from West Virginia, so they don't have to worry about that being a tiebreaker. 

Oklahoma (4-2) needs Texas and Baylor to lose two, possibly more.

Texas Tech (4-3) is closer to out than in.  They play Baylor next.

Kansas State (3-3) is just barely in based on record.  However, their losses come from Baylor, Texas, and Oklahoma State, so they probably don't have any significant tiebreakers.  One more Texas win would officially eliminate Texas Tech and K-State.

West Virginia (2-5), TCU (2-5), Kansas (0-6), and Iowa State (0-6) are officially out.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

SEC Road to Atlanta: Week 11 wrap up keep it close for a while, but then roll over?  At least you made it much clearer in the SEC West.  The's kind of clear, but there's still the "any given Saturday" rule in effect.

Missouri (5-1) still controls their destiny.
Georgia (4-2) needs 2 Missouri losses.
South Carolina (5-2) needs a Georgia loss and a Missouri loss.
Florida (3-4), Tennessee (1-4), Vanderbilt (1-4), and Kentucky (0-4) are officially out.

Currently, any three way ties are going to have to go beyond head-to-head, since Missouri, Georgia, and SC are 1-1 against each other.  The next step in the tiebreaker is divisional record.  Missouri's remaining two games are cross-divisional, which means that they can't have more than 1 divisional loss.  Georgia and SC both have 2 divisional losses.  Georgia has 1 divisional game and 1 cross divisional game, while SC only has 1 divisional game left.

Regardless of if the three way tie comes with 2 or 3 losses, Missouri would win based on divisional record.

Missouri still needs to win at least one game to clench the division (although they are off next week).  If SC wins and Georgia loses next week, then Missouri would still need to win both games to clench the division.

Georgia's only chance is to win out and have Missouri to lose out.  Then, they would have fewer losses than Missouri, and the SC/Florida game wouldn't matter, because Georgia has the head-to-head over SC.

If SC loses next week, they can still win the division with a Georgia loss and two Missouri losses.  However, with a win, they just need one loss from each team.  If Georgia wins out, SC is done, regardless of how Missouri or SC does beyond this point.

Alabama (6-0) and Auburn (5-1) control their destiny.
Texas A&M (4-2) is officially out, as they don't own any tiebreakers against Alabama or Auburn.
LSU (3-3), Ole Miss (3-3), Mississippi State (1-4), and Arkansas (0-6) are officially out based on record.

Key games for the SEC:

November 16
Georgia @ Auburn
-Both teams need this for any chance of keeping hope alive in their own division.

Florida @ South Carolina
-The relevance of this game won't be apparent until the following two weeks.

Alabama @ Mississippi State
-This game only matters if Auburn loses, because Alabama would then clinch with a win here.  However, if the upset occurs, then the Iron Bowl would still be a winner-take-all affair, regardless of the Auburn outcome.

November 23
Missouri @ Mississippi
-This could be the clincher for Missouri, or it could keep hope alive for others in the East.

November 30
Alabama @ Auburn
-If Auburn wins next week, this game will determine the West champion.

Texas A&M @ Missouri
-Even though it's a cross divisional game, I have a feeling it will determine the East champion.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

ACC Wheel of Destiny: Week 11 wrap up

Florida State won the Atlantic.  Now, all that is left is to decipher the Coastal, which VT and Miami helped to make a very interesting (and entertaining) place tonight.

At this point, it's a four way battle of the two loss teams, none of which controls their own destiny at the moment:  Georgia Tech (5-2), Virginia Tech (4-2), Miami (3-2), and Duke (3-2).

It is impossible for a four way tie, since Duke and Miami play next week, and therefore, one team will be at 3 losses.

GT lost to VT and Miami, but beat Duke.
VT lost to Duke, but beat GT and Miami.
Miami lost to VT, beat GT, and has yet to play Duke.
Duke lost to GT, beat VT, and has yet to play Miami.

VT and Miami have the edge in multi-way tiebreakers because their second losses came from the Atlantic division, so they would have a better division record.  Duke's second loss was to Pitt.

What also makes this race interesting is that GT still has a measure of control over the division, since they only have one conference game left, even though they will still need help from two other teams.  If they win, then they eliminate any team with 3 or more losses.

If GT wins on Thursday, we have two possibilities for a three way tie, based on the Miami/Duke game:
Miami/VT/GT:  VT wins on head-to-head.
Duke/VT/GT:  VT wins based on division record.

If two of those teams lose another one, here are the scenarios for a two way tie at 2 losses:
VT/Miami:  VT wins head-to-head.
VT/GT:  VT wins head-to-head.
VT/Duke:  Duke wins head-to-head.
GT/Miami:  Miami wins head-to-head.
GT/Duke:  GT wins head-to-head.

So, looking at that, here is what each team needs to gain control of their destiny:
Virginia Tech - a GT win OR a Duke loss.
Georgia Tech - a VT loss AND a Miami loss.
Duke - a GT loss.
Miami - a VT loss.

Pitt and UNC are both sitting back with three losses, hoping to see everyone else stumble.  Regardless of what GT does on Thursday, one of these teams will definitely be eliminated by the end of Saturday, since they play each other.  Of the two, I think only Pitt even has a chance, since UNC has lost to three of the current 2 loss teams.

UVA (0-6) has been officially out for a while now.

Bowl eligible:  Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Duke, Georgia Tech
One win away: Maryland, Syracuse, Boston College, Pitt
One loss away from not going:  Wake Forest, NC State
Not bowl eligible:  UVA

The Road to the ACC Championship Game:

November 14:
Georgia Tech @ Clemson
-This game will give control to a team in the Coastal division, but not GT.

November 16:
Miami @ Duke
-This game will break one of the ties in the division.

Maryland @ VT
-By itself, this game doesn't mean much.  But, based on the outcome of the other games, this game could be the final nail for somebody.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Games to Watch: Week 11

I think this is the first time I've seen a Thursday night schedule seem more full than Saturday.

7:30 PM
Oklahoma at Baylor, FS1.  A key Big 12 game that will determine a champion.

9 PM
Oregon at Stanford, ESPN.  I believe this matchup has caused problems for both teams in the last few years, preventing both teams from reaching a title match, whether it be conference or national.

Florida State at Wake Forest, ABC.  FSU clinches a berth in the ACC Championship game with a win.

3:30 PM
Mississippi State at Texas A&M, CBS.  With the big prime time game this week, this matchup is definitely a second thought to CBS.  The only reason I'm putting it on the list is because of how crazy this time slot has been, and there is a slight chance Miss State could pull an upset.

7 PM
Virginia Tech at Miami, ESPN.  The ACC Coastal race may not come down to this game, but it sure will be heavily influenced.  This is one of those big time rivalries that has no reason for existing.  VT and Miami have nothing in common other than one color, and conference affiliation, so why the hate?  Because these two teams have gotten in each other's way for over 20 years now.  From the Big East to the ACC, the Hurricanes and the Hokies have traded blows, with only one able to emerge.

8 PM
LSU at Alabama, CBS.  It's LSU's last chance at staying relevant this season.  I'm sure every other conference is pulling for LSU to help their #1 team to have a better shot at the national title game.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Under the Radar Games: Week 11

Well, the season-defining week appears to be upon us.  Compared to LSU-Bama, Oregon-Stanford, and Oklahoma-Baylor, all of the other games this week could be considered "under the radar".  I'll up the ante - no broadcast TV games or Top 10 teams...but these should still be good and/or meaningful in some way or another.

1. Central Michigan at Ball State.  MACtion's back!  With Fresno State and Northern Illinois in the thick of a BCS-Buster battle, there also exists one non-AQ team with a single loss: Ball State.  Their showdown with NIU is just around the corner, and NIU would love nothing more than for the Cardinals to enter Dekalb with just that one early-season loss to North Texas (huh?!?!?) and subsequent smashing of UVA.  Can the Cardinals avoid an obvious look-ahead, and handle an obviously inferior Chippewas squad?

2. NC State at Duke.  The Wolfpack are winless in the ACC, while the Blue Devils still have a shot at winning their division.  One might think this is a bizarre type of statement, but consider two things: one, Duke has an all-time winning record vs NC State (40-36-5); two, Duke has a more recent ACC Championship (1989) than NC State (1979).  Duke has already clinched bowl eligibilty for the 2nd straight year, and a win this week would secure their first winning season since 1994.

3. ODU at Idaho.  With the Commonwealth of Virginia getting a third FBS team in ODU, this is their last "official" year of being an FCS team (they'll be a transitional FBS team next year, and able to contend for a bowl game in 2015).  This is probably their best shot at beating a full-fledge FBS team this year, and Idaho is not a good team!  With a possible NFL quarterback lining up for the Monarchs, I'll be interested to see if the FCS-over-FBS count goes up by one this late in the season, and if ODU can keep the momentum going as a still-relatively-young program.

4. Houston at UCF.  A huge matchup in the American Conference - both teams with no league losses!  Almost no chatter about this one, and it will be opposite LSU-Alabama in Primetime, but this game is absolutely pivotal in determining one of the ten BCS Bowl spots!  Plus, with UCF already having a win over Louisville, it'll be almost impossible for the Knights not to take the league title...and its automatic BCS Bowl spot.

5. Fresno State at Wyoming.  With so much focus on the National Championship chase this week, this is also a key weekend throughout the BCS (see Houston-UCF above).  Laramie, WY is not an easy place to play (Fresno is 0-3 all time there) - certainly a big geographical change from Fresno, CA.  And the Cowboys know how to score some points (4-4 record, with at least 21 points scored in all 8 games).  I suspect the Bulldogs roll, but I'm curious to see if they can continue to handle the inevitable target on their backs as they continue to get the best out of their Mountain West competition.

Big 12 Roulette: Week 10 wrap up

With Texas winning and getting to 5-0, that means that no one can have more than 4 losses and hope to stand a chance.

Baylor (4-0) and Texas (5-0) control their own destinies.  They also happen to play each other on the final weekend of the season.

Oklahoma State (4-1) is the only team with a loss that controls their own destiny, since they have yet to play the teams above them, or with equal loss records.

Oklahoma (4-1) needs Texas to lose two.

Texas Tech (4-2) has yet to play the undefeated teams, and has lose to the two Oklahoma schools.  They need everyone ahead of them to lose 1 or 2 games.

Kansas State (2-3) and West Virginia (2-4) are still a ways back.

TCU (1-5), Kansas (0-5), and Iowa State (0-5) are officially out.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

ACC Wheel of Destiny: Week 10 wrap up

The Atlantic is almost decided.  The Coastal is a little murkier, which is usually how it rolls.

This division is simple.
FSU (6-0) clenches with their next win.
Clemson (6-1) needs FSU to lose two games.  They would also beat out Syracuse if it came down to a three way tie of 2-loss teams, based on division records (which would eliminate FSU), and then head-to-head.
Syracuse (2-2), Wake Forest (2-4), BC (2-3), Maryland (1-3), and NC State (0-5) are out of contention.

CoastalIt's taken some time to untangle this division.  There are a lot of possibilities in this division, and it's hard for some teams to find a clear cut way to control their destiny.  While there are several chances of 2 or 3 team ties, there is no 4 way tie with only 2 losses.  And it's still too early to get into hypotheticals for 3 loss ties.
Miami (3-1) controls their destiny.
Virginia Tech (3-2) either needs a Duke loss or a GT win against Clemson to force a three way tie.
Duke (2-2) needs a GT loss.
Georgia Tech (5-2) needs 2 Miami losses, and 1 VT loss.
Pitt (2-3) and UNC (2-3) both need everyone in front of them to lose 1 or 2 games.  They play each other on 11/16, and the loser is officially out.
UVA (0-5) is out. 

Bowl eligible:  Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Duke, Georgia Tech
One win away: Maryland
Two wins away: Wake Forest, Pitt
Not bowl eligible:  UVA

The Road to the ACC Championship Game:

November 9:
Florida State @ Wake Forest
-If FSU wins, they clench the division.

Virginia Tech @ Miami
-This winner of this game stays alive.

November 14:
Georgia Tech @ Clemson
-The outcome of this game could affect tiebreakers in the Coastal division.

November 16:
Miami @ Duke
-This is the game that is throwing a monkey wrench into all of the predictions above, because both teams are very much in the mix.

SEC Road to Atlanta: Week 10 wrap up

There are teams on both sides with 5 wins, which means that any team with more than 3 losses is out.

Missouri (4-1) still controls their destiny.
South Carolina (5-2) needs a Georgia loss and a Mizzou loss.
Georgia (4-2) each need 2 Missouri losses.
Florida (3-3) needs 3 Missouri losses, and 2 Georgia losses.
Tennessee (1-4), Vanderbilt (1-4), and Kentucky (0-4) are officially out.

Alabama (5-0) and Auburn (4-1) control their destiny.
LSU (3-2) needs an Auburn loss, and an additional Alabama loss.
Texas A&M (3-2) needs 3 Alabama losses and 2 Auburn losses.
Mississippi State (1-3) and Ole Miss (2-3) are probably out.
Arkansas (0-5) is officially out.

Key games for the SEC:

November 9
LSU @ Alabama
-This is pretty much LSU's last chance to stay relevant in the division.  If Alabama wins, at least three teams get knocked out of contention.

November 16
Florida @ South Carolina
-SC's last conference game, and Florida's last chance at hope.

 November 30
Alabama @ Auburn
-If certain things hold out, this could determine the West champion.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Games to Watch: Week 10

We're already past Halloween, and in the double digit weeks now.

12:00 PM
Virginia Tech at Boston College, ABC/ESPN2.  This matchup has not always gone well for the Hokies.  Even last year, when it was needed to keep hopes of bowl eligibility alive, it came down to overtime in a sloppy game.  After losing to Duke last week, no one knows what to expect from VT for the rest of the season.

3:30 PM
Georgia vs. Florida, CBS.  The battle for second place in the SEC East.  The winner of this game can get back in contention if Missouri slips again.

Michigan at Michigan State, ABC.  An in-state rivalry, and a key game in conference play.   I didn't realize how good Michigan State has been this year, but they've been quietly coasting at 7-1, while being undefeated in conference play.

Clemson at Virginia, ESPN.  I'm a little surprised this one got on ESPN.  UVA's been going down the toilet all season.  This game doesn't mean much in the overall scheme of things, although if UVA pulls off an upset, it would be noticed.

7:00 PM
Tennessee at Missouri, ESPN.  Hopefully Missouri can bounce back from that overtime loss (laces out, dude!).  If not, then they might lose control of the SEC East.

8 PM
Miami at Florida State, ABC.  This is the game.  Probably for the first time since Miami joined the ACC, this game is relevant.  These are the two teams that some ACC officials want to play in the championship game every year, which is why they are in opposite divisions.  Both are undefeated, but this game probably has bigger implications for a national title than a conference title.