Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Under the Radar Games: Week 6

As the calendar turns to October, it's great to see the story of the season start to take shape. And we've finally hit a weekend with several great matchups throughout the different conferences. A lot of eyes will be on the multitude of ranked matchups, and rightly so. But here are some games that could become interesting in their own little way.

Revisiting predictions: End of September

We're a month into the season, and we hardly know anything.

These are the four teams I picked for the Playoffs:
-Florida State (ACC)
-UCLA (Pac-12)
-Michigan State (B1G)
-Alabama (SEC)

It's too early in the season for me to change my predictions, because the sample size is so small, and mostly consists of lesser matchups.  Besides, everyone has been inconsistent.

Of those four teams, UCLA has had the poorest showing.  Despite having a perfect record at this point, they have looked really sloppy, and just barely got away with wins in multiple contests.  I was ready to start leaning towards USC after their victory at Stanford, but then they got beat by Boston College.

Oregon was impressive in their victory against Michigan State, but I'm not ready to jump on their bandwagon.  If they can get through October unbeaten, then I might look closer at them.  As I said before the season, they usually get a little too full of themselves and drop a game that they shouldn't late in the season.

I thought Florida State could throw a monkey wrench in the system when they suspended Jameis Winston, but Clemson did everything they could to give that game away.  If FSU stumbles, I'm not sure if there is a next man up in the ACC, though.  Clemson looks like they have taken a step up with their quarterback switch, but they're still not quite the Tajh Boyd-led Tigers.  Louisville could be a contender in the Atlantic, but then they lost to UVA. Over on the Coastal side, Virginia Tech looked like they were ready for a fight after beating the Buckeyes in Ohio, but then rolled over for two weeks.  While Georgia Tech currently holds the lead in the Coastal, I don't see them being able to run the table.

Over in the SEC, I'm starting to lead towards Texas A&M, but again, there's just not enough overwhelming evidence to change my pick at this point.

Meanwhile, the independents are making a case to completely screw up the playoffs.

Back to the conference championships:

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

FSU survived a QB suspension and a spunky NC State team who seems to primarily exist to be a thorn in the side of the Seminoles.  Since they already have the tiebreaker over the team I would place as #2 in the division, I see no reason to bump them out.

The Coastal is already starting to be it's usually twisty self.  At this point, all seven teams each have a valid chance of reaching the conference game.

then:  Alabama (West) vs. South Carolina (East).
now:  Alabama (West) vs. Georgia (East)

I like Texas A&M in the west, but they have to play at Alabama.  So, no strong evidence to change the pick now.

The East is a little more interesting.  It was a close call to choose Georgia or Missouri to replace South Carolina.  Taking the Gamecocks out of the prediction was easy, especially after they rolled over for A&M in week one.  Georgia nearly got a lock on it after seeing their running game, but then they lost to South Carolina, which brought up some questions.

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

Because the B1G likes to save their conference games for last, I don't have a large enough sample to consider a change.

UCLA (South) vs. Oregon (North).

UCLA started off weak, but could be getting back on track.  I think the South will come down to the USC/UCLA game in November.

Big 12
Original prediction:  Oklahoma will win the conference, but Oklahoma, Baylor, and one other surprise team will go 1-1 against each other, keeping it close until the very end.

I think K-State has made a case to be that "surprise" team.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

2014 Season Thoughts: End of September

It's hard to believe the regular season roughly a third of the way finished...wow, how time flies!

Just as Chip discussed with the various conference races, I thought I'd give some thoughts on this season thus far...and maybe do a little College Football Playoff / New Year's Six speculation.

Surprise Teams
(that is...a positive surprise)

- TCU. After 2 years in the Big 12, where things seemed to get worse than the year before, I was quick to dismiss the Horned Frogs as a program that had peaked. But with a solid start to this season, including an impressive win over Minnesota, I think TCU might be able to move back into the upper half of the conference standings...and perhaps, give one of the "big boys" (Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas State) a scare.

- Texas A&M. Many were ready to write off 2014 as a rebuilding year for the Aggies, what with Johnny Football gone and everything. But then the first night of the season happened! The game against Arkansas showed that A&M is not invincible, but with the way things have gone so far, I now believe the Aggies are right there in the SEC West mix.

- Virginia. The only team of 7 not to receive a single vote for Preseason ACC Coastal winner. I'd have to say that right now, the Cavaliers are playing the best of anybody in the Division. Despite two losses (to high-quality non-conference teams, both by close margins), UVA's defense looks to be one of the best around. I question some of the in-game coaching decisions, but if they can keep things rolling, there's no reason the boys in Charlottesville can't get back to a bowl game...at the least!

Disappointing Teams
- South Carolina. With a Top 10 preseason ranking, the first thing the Gamecocks did was flop a big one in Columbia. Now, after an ugly win against Vandy and a close loss against Missouri, I wonder if SC will even finish as a ranked team. Road games at Auburn, at Florida, and at Clemson could all spell doom...not to mention a possible trip-ups against rebuilding Kentucky or Tennessee.

- North Carolina. Must be a Carolina thing. Another preseason ranked team, coming into 2014 with a ton of momentum. For some reason, UNC's defense is having some issues - 120 points total in 2 games type of issues. I'll have a chance to see these guys in person on Saturday, during my annual Hokie Road Trip. It'll certainly be interesting to see how the Tar Heels perform after two disastrous outings.

- Michigan. Now, I don't think anyone was actually expecting a Big Ten Championship out of these guys. But given the awful performances against Notre Dame and Minnesota (and the awful result of the Utah game...despite decent play), I imagine the folks in Ann Arbor are working the DEFCON scale. If things continue to tumble...say, to a bowl-ineligible point with thousands of empty seats, I don't see how the Wolverines and Brady Hoke can continue together.


College Football Playoff

The committee has a few weeks before releasing anything for the first time, and I'm not going to pretend to know their inner thoughts. But I will try to tackle some of the discussion points that could come into play.

- Odd Man Out. With a 4-team playoff and 5 "power conferences", (at least) one of these conferences is guaranteed not to be represented. After a lackluster Week 2 for the Big Ten, the media was ready to dig dirt on their grave. The ACC's struggles against Akron, Colorado State, and ULM haven't helped that conference. But in actuality, it seems that all five conferences are alive and well, and the race should be a thriller all the way to Championship Saturday.

- Two from One Conference. While most talk has centered around the SEC seeking to get two in, I remain in the "believe it when I see it" camp. Yes, a bunch of SEC West teams are highly ranked right now. But just how will they fare once they're all done playing each other? Same thing with other conferences with highly ranked teams "right now".

- Independents. Notre Dame and BYU have both made it to October undefeated, and with thoughts of contending for it all. For the Irish it's easy: win and they're in (too many impressive games for a 12-0 ND team to NOT be considered). For the Cougars, the schedule might be one notch too low for immediate consideration. But, should some things go their way (a Texas rebound, an impressive UVA season), BYU might be able to find themselves needing just a few late-season breaks. Now how crazy would it be if BOTH of these teams made it in...we could find a bigger playoff in less time than it took to implement this one!


New Year's Six
The committee's other task will be to get the remaining four bowls lined up. Two of my favorite improvements over the BCS at-large system are: (i) no limit on conferences - in other words, the best teams will play; and (ii) guaranteed access to the highest "Group of Five" conference champ - games and opportunities that can help define an up-and-coming program.

Orange Bowl
If FSU can make it into the CFP, the ACC will be guaranteed a replacement spot here in the Orange Bowl. Right now, Clemson seems to be in the driver's seat with a team that could continue getting better as the season progresses. As for the other opponent, all three possible parties (SEC, Big Ten, and Notre Dame) could still find their way to be the ACC's opponent. At this point, I'd probably lean toward an SEC-ACC tilt...but the others are definitely right there in the mix.

At Large Spots
All three bowls with at-large spots will be in play this year - meaning six at-large spots. Some of them may be taken by a displaced SEC/B1G/Big 12/PAC-12 champ...one of them WILL be taken by a "Group of Five" conference champ. With so much season left to go, it's hard to say who the leading contenders are. But here are my first thought as to some possible contenders:

- Power Conferences: At this point, I would say that all 5 power conferences are still in contention for an At-Large (though the ACC's hopes I would imagine are the dimmest due the possibility of a CFP/Orange Bowl combo). I'll explore this in greater detain in my "end of October" write-up.

- "Group of Five" Champ: It seems to be a two-horse race in the American between East Carolina and Cincinnati for the automatic "Group of Five" spot. The Pirates and Bearcats will meet up on a November Thursday night in Cincy, possibly with neither having suffered a league loss. Should either team finish 11-1, I would envision that team being the front-runner. Unbeaten Marshall is right there in contention as well. I'll be curious to see if BOTH the AAC and Marshall can get in...possibly Marshall as an at-large??

- ND or BYU: Even if 11-1 Notre Dame or 12-0 BYU aren't playoff bound, I would be hard-pressed to find either team outside the Top 8 in such a scenario going into the bowls.

Depending on how things go exactly, the Power Conferences might have very little representation within these At-Large spots.  At this point, it's possible (though not likely...and certainly not my prediction) that five of the six non-Orange Bowl spots could be taken up by: Displaced Power Conference Champ, 11-1 AAC Champ, 13-0 Marshall, 12-0 BYU, and 11-1 Notre Dame. 

"Who's In?" indeed!

Week 5 wrap up - Part 2: the number conferences

The conferences with numbers in their names have had a slow start to conference play this year, but have finally started to take steps to separate.


-Maryland (1-0) has a tiebreaker over Indiana.
-Penn State (1-1) has a tiebreaker over Rutgers and a cross divisional loss.
-Michigan (0-1) has a cross divisional loss.
-Rutgers (0-1) needs a Penn State loss.
-Indiana (0-1) needs two Maryland losses.
-Michigan State and Ohio State have yet to play in conference.

-Nebraska (1-0) has a tiebreaker over Illinois.
-Iowa (1-0) has a tiebreaker over Purdue.
-Northwestern and Minnesota (both 1-0) have cross-divisional wins.
-Illinois (0-1) needs two Nebraska losses.
-Purdue (0-1) needs two Iowa losses.
-Wisconsin has yet to play in conference.


-Oregon (1-0) is leading the division with a tiebreaker against Washington State.
-Stanford (1-1) has a cross-divisional loss, and a tiebreaker over Washington.
-California (1-1) and Oregon State (0-1) only has a cross-divisional loss.
-Washington State (1-1) needs 2 Oregon losses.
-Washington (0-1) needs a Stanford loss.

-Arizona (1-0) and USC (2-0) have cross-divisional wins.
-UCLA (1-0) has a tiebreaker over Arizona State.
-Arizona State (1-1) needs 2 UCLA losses, but has a tiebreaker over Colorado.
-Colorado (0-2) needs 2 Arizona State losses and 3 UCLA losses.

The Big 12 doesn't have divisions, so they just play round robin.
-Oklahoma (1-0) has a tiebreaker over West Virginia.
-Kansas State (1-0) and Baylor (1-0) both have a tiebreaker over Iowa State.
-Oklahoma State (1-0) has a tiebreaker over Texas Tech.
-Texas (1-0) has a tiebreaker over Kansas.
-Kansas (0-1) needs two Texas losses.
-Texas Tech (0-1) needs two Oklahoma State losses.
-Iowa State (0-2) needs 3 losses from both Kansas State and Baylor, plus additional losses by everybody else.
-TCU has yet to play in conference.

Week 5 Wrap-Up - Part 1: ACC and SEC

The first month of the season is complete, and most teams are finally done with their non-conference games (outside of rivalries).  It's still too early to say if anyone is truly out of contention for their conference title, but a few teams are trying their hardest either way.

I'm typing this up in the early first hour of Sunday morning, so the west coast teams are still playing, hence the multi-part wrap up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Under-the-Radar Games: Week 5

Ah, Week 5. Time for some of those 4-0 (or 3-0 with a bye...or 2-0 Cincy) teams to actually step into a challenge! It seems the number of ranked matchups has been lacking a bit this season so far, leaving me to rack my brain for what could really be some meaningful "under the radar" games. So, as always, here we go!

Games to Watch: Week 5

There are plenty of other interesting games going on this weekend, but for me, they will probably be interesting after the fact.  It's still too early to solidify any positions in any conference race, but several teams could end up in deep holes.  If any of the teams that only have a cross-divisional loss take a second loss, then the wrap up will get interesting.

Saturday, September 27
Vanderbilt at Kentucky, SEC Network.  It's almost the toilet bowl for the SEC East already.  The loser of this game will be in a very deep hole, especially if Vandy finds itself on the wrong end of the score again.

12:30 PM
Western Michigan at Virginia Tech, ACC Network.  We're back to only caring because I'm a VT fan.  It's homecoming against a directional Michigan school.

3:30 PM
Arkansas at Texas A&M, CBS.  I think this could be a showcase for A&M.

7 PM
Missouri at South Carolina, ESPN.  First, it's an interesting conference matchup, and one that played a huge role in determining the SEC East last year.  But also, it's the ESPN Primetime game, called by Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge.  The last three games they have called have all been big upsets (VT over Ohio State, BC over USC, and Mississippi State over LSU).  I am now going to be including any game they call on this list, as they seem to be following some fun games.

UNC at Clemson, ESPNU.  I have a bad feeling this will be a horrible comedy of errors.

7:30 PM
Duke at Miami, ESPN2.  The battle for the ACC Coastal could take a major step right here.

8 PM
Notre Dame vs. Syracuse, ABC.  This is the first game of the "not quite a member" deal with the ACC.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week 4 wrap up

We finally get a decent slate of conference games, and the SEC goes into upset mode.

(Unless otherwise stated, all records indicate conference record only.)

This early in the season, no team has played more than 2 conference games, so we're far away from determine who can win a division or conference.  Instead, we're only able to keep track of who controls their own destiny.  Keep in mind that any team that has a cross-divisional loss can still run the table in their own division, and would therefore own any head-to-head tiebreakers.

The ACC Wheel of Destiny started spinning on both sides today.

-Florida State (1-0) still controls their destiny, with a tiebreaker over Clemson.
-Louisville (1-1) and Boston College (0-1) also control their destiny, since their losses come from the other division.
-Clemson (0-1) needs two FSU losses.

-Georgia Tech (1-0) has a tiebreaker over VT.
-Pitt and UVA (both 1-0) control their destiny, but both wins are over Atlantic opponents.
-Miami (0-1) also controls their destiny, due to a cross-divisional loss.
-Virginia Tech (0-1) needs 2 GT losses.

The SEC almost started spinning their own wheel, of upsets.

-South Carolina (2-1) dodged a bullet, and now own tiebreakers over Georgia and Vanderbilt.  Their loss is cross-divisional.
-Florida (1-1) still controls their destiny, due to a cross-divisional loss.  They have a tiebreaker over Kentucky.
-Georgia (0-1) needs 2 SC losses.
-Kentucky (0-1) needs 2 Florida losses.
-Vanderbilt (0-2) needs 2 SC losses, plus an additional loss by both Missouri and Tennessee (both 0-0 in conference).  In this scenario (assuming Vandy wins out), SC would have 3 losses and all of the other teams would have 2 losses, with Vandy having the tiebreakers over everyone else.  Obviously, this would require a lot of lucky breaks and an ACC-like season for the SEC.

-Texas A&M, Alabama, and Ole Miss are all 1-0 with cross-divisional wins.
-Mississippi State (1-0) owns a tiebreaker against LSU.
-Auburn (1-0) owns a tiebreaker over Arkansas.
-Arkansas (0-1) needs two Auburn losses.
-LSU (0-1) needs two Mississippi State losses.

The B1G still only has had one conference game, with Penn State winning over East rival Rutgers.

The Big 12 is also slow to get started.  Oklahoma has a tiebreaker over West Virginia, and Kansas State has a tiebreaker over Iowa State.

Both of those conferences should be close to 100% conference mode next week.


-Oregon (1-0) is leading the division with a tiebreaker against Washington State.
-California and Stanford (both 0-1) have cross-divisional losses.
-Washington State (0-1) needs 2 Oregon losses.

-Arizona (1-0) and USC (1-0) have cross-divisional wins.
-Arizona State (1-0) has a tiebreaker over Colorado.
-Colorado (0-1) needs 2 Arizona State losses.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Games to Watch: Week 4

We're finally to the point of the season where conference play starts in earnest.  But for a lot of teams, it's still the final out of conference game.

There are probably several games where I'd be more interested if it was later in the season.  Right now, though, when teams have only played one or two conference games, there's not a lot of separation in the races.

Thursday, September 18
7:30 PM
Auburn at Kansas State, ESPN.  A rare SEC appearance on Thursday night as they travel to the Big 12.  This game could shift national perception of the winning conference.

Saturday, September 20
Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, ESPN.  The ACC Wheel of Destiny will take a hard and fast spin this week.  We already know that in most years, the winner of this game takes the Coastal Division.

3:30 PM
Florida at Alabama, CBS.  This should show us a lot about both teams.

UVA at BYU, ESPN.  UVA has been surprising so far this season.  But, if BYU runs the table this season, they could make the playoff discussion very interesting.

8 PM
Clemson at Florida State, ABC.  The last couple of years, this game has determined the ACC Atlantic.  But with Jameis Winston out for the first half, will FSU find themselves in a hole that they have to climb out of in the second half?

Miami at Nebraska, ESPN2.  Another one of those games that was bigger in the 80s and 90s.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Under-the-Radar Games: Week 4

Another week, another batch of games. What a great time of year! As always, below are five games that might not be as high-profile, yet could impact the season in some interesting ways.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week 3 wrap up

Well, there's gonna be some fight in the college football world this year.  A few upsets got into final scoreboard.  Still, I'm hesitant to consider anyone truly out of the running for the playoffs after only three weeks.  Unless they're 0-3, in which case, they probably won't be getting any better.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Under-the-Radar Games: Week 3

The first two weekends featured a lot of favorites winning (very few upsets...and my Hokies over Ohio State happened to be one of them!!!), but with surprisingly close scores against lesser competition. Will that trend continue into Week 3, as some teams really get rolling? Let's take a look at five games without the high profile but with the potential to help shape the season.


Games to Watch: Week 3

We're skipping the week 2 wrap up this week due to time.  I was still going on a celebratory high after the Virginia Tech win against Ohio State on Saturday night, so I wouldn't have been able to put together too many coherent thoughts.

No one's had more than 1 conference game, if any, so the conference races haven't even really started.  And since the CFP is brand new, there's no telling if any team has truly been eliminated yet.

In week 3, we start to see some storylines emerge.  We even have one conference give us two divisional games.

Saturday, September 13
East Carolina at Virginia Tech, ESPN.  VT's back in the rankings, and hopefully the Hokies do better than they did with their two week stint last season.  After a big win in the Horseshoe last week, this game has suddenly become the most important game of the season.  ECU is no foe to be overlooked though.  The Pirates have played the Hokies close several times in this series, and have given fits to other ACC and SEC teams in recent years.

Kent State at Ohio State, ABC/ESPN2. I'm interested to see how Ohio State bounces back after a huge letdown last week.  In some ways, it's the first "normal" game of the season for them, following Navy's triple option offense, and VT's in-your-face-blitz-all-night defense.

12:30 PM
Louisville at UVA, ACC Network.  I'm not sure what to make of UVA this year.  They acted completely inept in week 1, but still played UCLA close.  Then, they just demolished Richmond last weekend.  Louisville is expected to be a major player in the ACC Atlantic.

3:30 PM
Georgia at South Carolina, CBS.  This is where we find out where the power in the SEC East is.

7:30 PM
Kentucky at Florida, SEC Network.  Maybe we can finally figure out if we're getting good Florida or bad Florida this year.  By the end of this game, though, we'll start to see the SEC East picture take shape.

8 PM
Tennessee at Oklahoma, ABC.  Another marquee non-conference game, with probably more on the line for Oklahoma than Tennessee.

USC at Boston College, ESPN.  This just seems kind of random to me, with east meets west.

UCLA vs. Texas, Fox.  Talk about two teams who have underperformed.  While UCLA has at least won both games so far, it's been very unconvincing.

What is RSN for the ACC games?

On the TV schedules for ACC football teams, there is often a network called "RSN".  What is RSN?

RSN stands for Regional Sports Network.  Basically, ESPN has sublicensed one or two ACC games a week to the regional Fox Sports to produce.  The games are then broadcast on regional sports channels across the country.  Most of them are Fox Sports Net channels, but there are a few areas that Fox Sports Net doesn't cover, so the games are picked up by other regional channels, like Comcast SportsNet.

Most of these games air at 3 PM, but sometimes they air at noon.  Occasionally, the RSN game will be the alternate ACC Network game.  Meaning, if two games are listed at the same time on the ACC Network, one will be on the local affiliates, and the other will be on RSN.

I found this list on the ACC website.  It was primarily from the Kansas at Duke game from September 2014, but can probably be applied to most weeks.

  • FOX Sports Carolinas (FS Carolinas) - covers the states of North Carolina and South Carolina.
  • FOX Sports South (FS South) - covers six states in the southeastern portion of the country: Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky.
  • SUN Sports (SUN) or FOX Sports Florida (FS Florida) - both cover the state of Florida.
  • Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic (CSN Mid-Atlantic) - covers the states of Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, and parts of Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
  • New England Sports Network (NESN) - covers the New England states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
  • Package can also air on regional sports networks outside the ACC footprint. This carriage will vary on a week to week basis.

    Games are also available online at ESPN3, but subject to blackout.

    Wednesday, September 3, 2014

    Games to Watch: Week 2

    Week 2 is always a little rough.  You have the teams that played in the big neutral site openers back home against cupcakes, or you have teams with their marquee non-conference games.  There's a few conference matchups thrown in to keep things interesting, though.

    Since I'll be out of town for most of the day Saturday (until the primetime games), and Tony already found decent under the radar games, this week's list is a bit on the short side.

    Friday, September 5
    7 PM
    Pitt at Boston College, ESPN.  Already mentioned as under the radar, but I'm interested in the cross divisional matchup from the ACC.  Could be two teams in the middle or bottom of their divisions, but it helps the conference picture take shape.

    Saturday, September 6
    3:30 PM
    USC at Stanford, ABC.  This is the marquee conference matchup of the day.  I'm a little surprised that the Pac-12 is offering it so soon, since they traditionally like to get all of their non-conference games out of the way.  Even though both of these schools need to make room for Notre Dame later on, the Pac-12 usually waits until week 3 or 4 to start conference games.  Either way, I'm all for conference games that help shape the conference picture at this point.

    Richmond at UVA, ESPN3.  I'm interested in this from the local perspective.  UVA's defense scared me a little last week, since I wasn't expecting much.

    7:30 PM
    Michigan at Notre Dame, NBC.  This classic rivalry plays out for the final time (for now) in a rare night game at Notre Dame.

    8 PM
    Virginia Tech at Ohio State, ESPN.  This is the big test for VT this season, and is the big non-conference matchup of the day.  Both teams have something to prove with new QBs, and this is where we find out exactly what kind of teams we have here.

    Tuesday, September 2, 2014

    Week 1 wrap-up

    We finally have a week of games in the books.  Unfortunately, with it only being week one, there's not a lot of conference races taking shape.

    In the Power 5 conferences, only the ACC and SEC had conference games, and both of them were cross divisional.  So, Miami and South Carolina aren't out of their respective divisional races yet, but they don't have the safety net that the rest of the teams have.

    Week 1 was marked by errors, though.

    First, in the Texas A&M-South Carolina game, A&M might have gotten a touchdown on the opening kickoff if the returner hadn't been tackled by his own teammate.

    Then, we had to deal with inept refs in the UCLA/UVA game.  Apparently, in Charlottesville, the clock keeps running after a first down.  And the ref even makes an announcement that the clock is not wrong.  Sorry, guys, but that is not the way to get back at the Pac-12 from the Sugar Bowl incident.

    And the most personal faux pas...Louisville's big entry to the ACC, and they steal "Enter Sandman" from Virginia Tech.  But seriously, guys, if you're gonna steal an entrance song, then do it right.  What was up with that half assed clapping crap?  When "Sandman" blares,  you jump.

    I'm starting to question some of my preseason predictions.  Of my Final Four, only Michigan State really looked ready.

    Over in the SEC, South Carolina didn't look nearly as good as they were hyped to be.  Georgia seems to be the power in the East, but that's all due to Todd Gurley.  Take him out of the game, and Clemson would have won.

    Under the Radar Games to Watch: Week 2

    Oh, how great it is to be watching and discussing games once again! As I did last year, I'll be highlighting five games each week that might not be high-profile but could end up helping to shape the season. 

    Without any further ado, let's see what we can find!

    Arizona at UTSA

    While FOX Sports 1 didn't take ESPN's approach and just skip this Thursday night (to avoid competing with the NFL's opening night game), this could end up being an interesting one to check in during Packers/Seahawks commercials. UTSA dominated Houston in Week 1, while Arizona took care of business against UNLV. This is UTSA's first year of bowl eligibility, and a big win against a PAC-12 team could help the Roadrunners (and Conference USA...especially if 12-0 Marshall meets a double digit-win UTSA) move towards that bowl being of the "New Years Six" variety (though a tough test against Oklahoma State still remains).


    Pittsburgh at Boston College

    After watching Wake, Syracuse, and NC State perform horribly in Week 1, I wonder if the ACC Coastal could be the better division this year. While FSU from the Atlantic may still be the best team, the other side could end up being deeper (though with Louisville beating Miami, the Atlantic is 1-0 against the Coastal in 2014). Pitt and BC both took care of business in their openers, and this Friday night cross-division game could indeed start to showcase the overall strength of the two divisions.


    Missouri at Toledo

    Kudos for Toledo getting a ranked SEC team to come visit. It definitely helps that Gary Pinkel's first head coaching job was at Toledo. I suspect the Tigers will roll, but there have been some interesting things happen in the Glass Bowl - particularly when the visiting team was ranked. After a good-but-not-great first week, Missouri had better not overlook these Rockets!


    Richmond at Virginia

    Now why would I put an FCS-FBS game on here? Well, of all the teams that lost in Week 1, I think UVA has the widest range of possibilites moving forward. Was the close loss to UCLA an inspiration that provided some confidence, or was it the beginning of some finger-pointing that could lead to another awful season - and possibly the last for Mike London. With a good FCS team (and Mike London's former team) coming to town, we should get our answer pretty quickly.


    Colorado State at Boise State

    Both teams looked pretty good in their openers, though it seems the Rams got better as their game against Colorado went on (while Boise crumbled in the 4th quarter after a close 3 quarters). With the Mountain West being seen as one of the better "Group of 5" conferences, the winner of this game (especially if it's Colorado State) can move forward with a "New Years Six" bowl still in its sights.