Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Games to Watch: Week 1

It's time for everyone's favorite post of August, because it means that it's time to start watching football!

The TV landscape has changed, with the launch of the SEC Network.  I think this will benefit more than just the SEC, because now that there is another outlet for SEC games, that opens up those timeslots on the other ESPN channels.  CBS still gets first pick of SEC games, but it's no longer exclusive in the timeslot.

Wednesday, August 27
7 PM
Abilene Christian at Georgia State, ESPNU.  Honestly, I know nothing about these teams, and I don't really care.  But after eight months of no college football, I feel obligated to alert you to the first televised game of the season.

Thursday, August 28
6 PM
Texas A&M at South Carolina, SEC Network.  Look at this, a marquee matchup in week one!  Well, it's a ploy to get the cable companies to pick up the new network, and also to get people to watch it, proving that they're not just dumping the bottom of the barrel games that CBS and ESPN didn't want.  It also gets the nod as the official start of the season, since no one is going to care about that Georgia State game.

8 PM
Boise State vs. Ole Miss, ESPN.  It's another year of a Chick-Fil-A Kickoff doubleheader, although this year, it's on Thursday and Saturday.  This is the chance to see exactly what kind of team Boise State is now in the post-Chris Petersen era.  I see potential for some sort of surprise.

Friday, August 29
There's a few games on this night, but nothing that really stands out.  Just interesting enough for me to flip around the main sports channels to see what might turn out to be interesting.

Saturday, August 30
8:30 AM
Penn State vs. UCF, ESPN2.  Who cares about the teams?  It's in Ireland, and it's being played in the morning.  This means, with some Pac-12 games kicking off at 10:30 PM, that we can get 17 solid hours of college football.  And this one should be finishing just in time to switch over to Gameday to see the headgear pick.

UCLA at UVA, ESPN.  This is going to be a butt kicking.  If you thought the Sun Bowl beatdown of VT was bad, then this one is going to be worse for Tech's in-state rivals.  UVA is a total mess, and is the only team in the ACC Coastal who is not picked to at least be in contention for the division title.  Although, I'll probably be hoping for an upset because 1.) #goACC, and 2.) anything for the Zima drinkers to get to enough wins to keep Mike London's job.  It's working out so well for us down in Blacksburg.

Appalachian State at Michigan, ESPN2.  2007, that is all.

Ohio State at Navy, CBS Sports Network.  This will be interesting to see exactly what kind of teams we're getting from these two programs this year, even moreso with the Braxton Miller injury.  And is Navy going to be a contender, or even competitive?

3:30 PM
West Virginia vs. Alabama, ABC/ESPN2.  I'm wondering about the prestige of the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Game.  First, it lost out on it's primetime ABC slot.  Then, it slipped out of prime time, kicking off at 5:30 last year.  This year, it's just another mid-afternoon game, and it's being subjected to the reverse mirror.  Still, should be an interesting game as both teams are trying to pick themselves up.

4 PM
William and Mary at Virginia Tech, ESPNews.  If I wasn't a Tech fan, this wouldn't even register.  Still, it's nice to see the new AD in charge.  A year ago, this would have been a 1:30 ESPN3 deal.  Instead, it was originally scheduled for 3:30 (on ESPN3), but bumped to 4 when ESPN decided to move it to television.

Arkansas at Auburn, SEC Network.  How will the SEC champ rebound from losing the national championship?

5:30 PM
Clemson at Georgia, ESPN.  This was arguably the biggest non-neutral site week one game last year, and it was highly entertaining.  This year, Clemson is a bit more of an unknown quantity as Tajh Boyd has moved on from the QB position.

8 PM
Florida State vs. Oklahoma State, ABC.  It's the kickoff at Jerryworld, featuring last year's champions.

9 PM
Wisconsin vs. LSU, ESPN.  It's a new kickoff game in Houston.  Two teams that should be contenders in their respective conferences, but with several question marks across their roster.

Sunday, August 31
Just a couple of games to fill in the gap between the NFL preseason and regular season.

Monday, September 1
8 PM
Miami at Louisville, ESPN.  What a way to welcome a new member to the conference but giving them the Labor Day Monday night game?  And against a team they helped replace in the Big East, no less.

Monday, August 25, 2014

2014 NCAA Scorecard

The Mega Realignment of 2010-2015 is still chugging along, but the dust is starting to settle with only a few changes in the Power 5 conferences.  The Big Ten has the most changes, with two new teams being added, and a complete realignment of divisions.  Gone are Legends and Leaders, replaced with the much less controversial East and West.  The ACC remains the only conference with non-geographic divisions, but that is largely due to the fact that a hypothetical North division would be most of the old Big East teams plus UVA and would end up dividing the NC schools, which makes no one happy.

So, here's the scorecard to keep the conferences and divisions straight in the Power 5 conferences for 2014.  Teams are listed in no particular order.

SEC, Pac-12, and Big 12 fans, no worries for you, as there are no changes in your conferences.

Florida State
Boston College
NC State
Wake Forest
Louisville (new)

Virginia Tech
Georgia Tech
North Carolina

South Carolina

Ole Miss
Mississippi State
Texas A&M

Penn State (still on restrictions)
Michigan State
Ohio State
Maryland (new)
Rutgers (new)


Oregon State
Washington State

Arizona State

Big 12
Texas Tech
Oklahoma State
Iowa State
Kansas State
West Virginia

Notre Dame (except for the 5 guaranteed ACC games)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Chip's Predictions

I already made my playoff predictions, now I'm predicting the conference championship games.

Florida State (Atlantic) vs. Virginia Tech (Coastal).

Alabama (West) vs. South Carolina (East).

Michigan State (East) vs. Wisconsin (West).

UCLA (South) vs. Oregon (North).

Big 12
Oklahoma will win the conference.  But I think Oklahoma, Baylor, and one other surprise team will go 1-1 against each other, keeping it close until the very end.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Rankings - how do they change?

This season hasn't even started, and there's already an interesting topic for debate:  Rankings.

The preseason rankings are already in, and Ohio State was expected to play with Braxton Miller as their starting QB.  As a result, they were ranked very highly in the polls, in the 5-6 range.

Now that Miller is out for the season with an injury, opinions of Ohio State are reasonably different.  If the rankings were redone, Ohio State would not quite get such a high ranking.

So how is this going to play out over the course of the season?  I'm sure that by midseason, the ranking will even out.  Either Ohio State will win most or all of their games, justifying a high ranking, or they'll lose a few and drop accordingly.

But what about after week 1?  If Ohio State beats Navy, will they stay in their 5-6 spot (assuming all of the teams ahead of them also win in week 1) or could they possibly drop a few spots to better reflect voters' opinions of the team?

The preseason rankings are huge in the outcome of the season, since a large reason for movement in the polls is simply attrition by losing.  Most teams in the middle of the top 25 usually need the teams above them to lose in order to move upward in the polls.

It should be interesting to see how this shakes out.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tony's CFP Picks

With the new postseason set to debut this year, I'm as excited as anyone to see it unfold. Just who will those last four teams be that get to fight it out in the Rose/Sugar Bowls and then near Dallas?

Pre-season prediction: Final Four

As we approach the 10 day countdown to the 2014 season, I thought I would make a quick post to list my predictions for the four teams to get to the College Football Playoff.

In no particular order:
-Florida State (ACC)
-UCLA (Pac-12)
-Michigan State (B1G)
-Alabama (SEC)

I think the Big 12 will find themselves beating each other up late in the year to lose out on the fourth spot.  It will probably come down to Oklahoma, Baylor, and one surprise team, who will all go 1-1 against each other.

But, I would not be surprised if the SEC gets left out.  Several teams there are stepping up, and could make the SEC start spinning the Wheel of Destiny.  However, if both the SEC and Big 12 start playing that game, then the SEC would beat out the Big 12.

I was hesitant to go with Alabama, especially since they flopped at the end of last season, and they have an unknown quantity at quarterback.  But they've been able to reload like no other team over the last five or six years.  And I can't count on another kick-6 by Auburn this year.

The ACC will still be spinning the Wheel of Destiny on the Coastal side, but Florida State will run over everyone on the Atlantic side.  Their biggest challenge will probably come in the ACC Championship game.

Now, I don't expect to be 100% right, and it'll probably be more fun this season if I'm not.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Football on TV

As the new season approaches, we're here to give you a quick rundown on where you might find your game on television.  When in doubt, start with ESPN, and they will probably be able to direct you to the right place.

In the lists below, when we refer to ESPN, we're referring to the entire company, which means the games could show up on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, or ABC, or online only on ESPN3.  ESPN also controls the SEC Network, but that will usually get its own mention.  They also have several regional broadcasts for various conferences (usually branded with "conference name" Network).

Fox Sports has certainly expanded in the last year, with the launch of Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2.  These channels are also supplemented by coverage on the main Fox network, and various regional channels.  Fox also has a minority interest in the Big Ten Network.

CBS and NBC also have their own cable sports channels, and NBC even has a regional presence through Comcast SportsNet.

Of course, all rights are based on the conference of the home team.

The ACC has the easiest TV deal.  ESPN controls everything.  They sublicense one or two games to Raycom for the 12:30 ACC Network syndicated broadcast.  There is also a late afternoon game that is produced by Fox Sports for regional sports channels (which could be Fox or Comcast).

CBS gets the first choice of SEC games, but ESPN controls everything else.  The SEC Network will have three games each Saturday.  The syndicated SEC TV has been cancelled.

Big Ten
ESPN and the Big Ten Network show all regular season games.  Fox has the rights to the championship game.

Big 12
Split between ESPN and Fox.  Texas also has the Longhorn Network.

Split between ESPN, Fox, and the Pac-12 Network.  The championship game alternates between ESPN and Fox, and should be on Fox this year.

Notre Dame is on NBC.  BYU is with ESPN and their own BYU channel.  Army and Navy are with CBS Sports.

Conference USA
Split between CBS and Fox, mostly staying on the cable channels.

Mountain West
Split between CBS and ESPN.

Most other conferences and teams are with ESPN.  Some FCS conferences have deals with NBCSN, which can expand to Comcast SportsNet.

All bowl games are on an ESPN channel, except for the Sun Bowl on CBS.

For an idea of who you might be listening to during ESPN broadcasts, click here.