Monday, June 29, 2015

Looking forward to 2015: B1G

Tony and I collaborated to bring you this look at the 2015 season for the B1G.  Since VT plays two teams from this conference, I thought I had a decent enough head start.  I tried to just look down each's teams schedules and find a game that popped out, but for some teams, it was harder with limited knowledge of their standing in the conference.

Indiana - It could be a battle for the bottom of the division against Rutgers, as both teams figure to contend for bowl eligibility.  This mid-season matchup could be the one that makes or breaks that goal. The Hoosiers have been lauded for their offense, and it will take winning the mid-tier games like this in order to truly grow as a program. 

Rutgers at Indiana, October 17.

Maryland - The Big Ten team formerly of the ACC will go to play a Big 12 team, formerly of the Big East.  It looks like it'll be two middle of the road teams in either conference, but it's a decent out of conference scheduling attempt.

Maryland at West Virginia, September 26.

Michigan - Big Blue has a decent nonconference schedule, and a brand new head coach.  But there's too much uncertainty to know if we'll be getting a Michigan team that returns to form.  So, we'll take the cop-out and say Ohio State.  Harbaugh vs Meyer, Round 1.  And with the Buckeyes coming off a potentially huge matchup against the Spartans, this edition of "The Game" could become a classic in the making.

Michigan at Ohio State, November 28.

Michigan State - They get a rematch in week 2 against the team that knocked them out of national title contention.  A battle of all green!

Oregon at Michigan State, September 12.

Ohio State - As a Hokie fan, this one's easy.

Ohio State at Virginia Tech, September 7.

Penn State - While Ohio State could be a huge game nationally, it'll be the game against Rutgers that shows just how far Penn State has come since their squeaker of a win last year.  Winning's one thing; can the Nittany Lions win impressively?

Penn State at Rutgers, September 19.

Rutgers - Ditto.  This should be a great revenge game, after coming oh-so-close last year.  It's early, too, which could help Rutgers in pulling the upset. Another close game could really help fuel this border state series into the makings of a rivalry.

Penn State at Rutgers, September 19.

Illinois - The Illini made strides last year, until ultimately falling in their bowl game to Louisiana Tech from C-USA.  This matchup with UNC is the nonconference game that will tell Illinois just where they stand in 2015, and should go a long way in determining the "ACC-Big Ten Football Challenge" winner.

Illinois at UNC, September 19.

Iowa - The last 2 times Iowa and Pitt have played, Iowa overcame multi-score defecits to pull off the win.  I would love to see Pitt turn it around, especially with Pat Narduzzi around (who had done briliantly on defense against Iowa the last couple times as Michigan State's DC) .

Pitt at Iowa, September 19.

Minnesota - The Gophers are usually the forgotten team of the B1G.  But they do manage to cause a bit of a splash by hosting TCU on the first Thursday of the season.

TCU at Minnesota, September 3.

Nebraska - The Cornhuskers have a nice week three non-conference matchup against the U.  While it might lack the luster that such a meeting would have provided even ten years ago, it is nice to see a home and home series between two Power 5 teams.

Nebraska at Miami, September 19.

Northwestern - It was a toss up between Stanford and Duke, but Tony thinks that Duke and NW are more evenly matched, and will need a win more from this game.

Northwestern at Duke, September 19.

Purdue - The only reason this team has any bright spot on this schedule is that they're playing our home team.  Go Hokies.

Virginia Tech at Purdue, September 19.

Wisconsin - The team that Ohio State beat to get to the CFP faces off against the team that lost to them in the first round.  This will be the prime primetime game on the first Saturday.

Wisconsin vs. Alabama at AT&T Stadium, September 5.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 Look-Ahead: Back to a Bowl (Power 5 Edition)

When predicting bowl matchups, I’ve seen instances where the teams from the previous year were simply copied, pasted, and shuffled to be consistent with preseason rankings. And often with rational explanations. But looking through some recent history, I cannot agree with an approach that simple. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

What if? An 8 team CFP

Now that we have a Playoff in college football, what is left for fans to lament?

Well, the big issue now is the number of teams in the CFP.  The next logical expansion would be 6 or 8 teams.  The only difference in the two scenarios is that the #1 and #2 teams would get a bye in round one.  Of course, the caveat is that maybe the rankings would be slightly different if the committee was seeding for 8.

Round One
#1 Alabama (SEC, 12-1) vs. #8 Michigan State (B1G, 10-2)
#2 Oregon (Pac-12, 12-1) vs. #7 Mississippi State (SEC, 10-2)
#3 Florida State (ACC, 13-0) vs. #6 TCU (Big 12, 11-1)
#4 Ohio State (B1G, 12-1) vs. #5 Baylor (Big 12, 11-1)

That gives us 2 teams each from the SEC, Big 12, and B1G; with one team each from the Pac-12 and ACC.

Round Two
Alabama/Michigan State vs. Ohio State/Baylor
Oregon/Mississippi State vs. Florida State/TCU

Maybe the Playoff would have ended the same way.  At the very least, we would have had four more games to watch.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Looking forward to 2015: ACC

We're in the part of the offseason where everyone is making lists, including "the 10 biggest games of the season".  Instead of following that trend, we're looking at the one game from each team that we're most looking forward to.  Now, some of these could be due to potential title implications, and some could just be due to intriguing matchups or locations.

First up, the Atlantic Coast Conference.  I'm trying my best to not just pick the VT game for every team, but in some cases, it really is the most intriguing game on a schedule (to me).

Duke - This one is a toss up between the two Techs.  While Duke plays GT earlier in the season as the conference opener, I'm going to lean towards the VT matchup in October.  Duke should go 3-1 at worst in non-conference games, and GT is always a toss up because of their own system.  I think the Duke at VT game will let us know what kind of shot Duke has at contending for the division title.

Duke at Virginia Tech, October 24.

Georgia Tech - While I'm interested to see if GT can repeat against in-state rival Georgia, I really want to see Bud Foster's defense wipe that smug look off of Coach Chinball's face.

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech, November 12.

Miami - The U has a nice week three non-conference matchup against Nebraska.  While it might lack the luster that such a meeting would have provided even ten years ago, it is nice to see a home and home series between two Power 5 teams.

Nebraska at Miami, September 19.

UNC - The season opener against South Carolina is the biggest marquee game that the Tar Heels have this year.  At best, I think UNC will be a minor annoyance to the contenders of the Coastal, being right on the edge of contention until November.

North Carolina vs South Carolina in Charlotte, September 3.

Pitt - As a Hokie fan, I can't stand Pitt.  They've been a thorn in our side for far too long, and there's really only two games on their schedule that stand out to me:  VT and Notre Dame.  As a VT fan, I'm leaning towards that game, since I know I'll actually be making an attempt to watch it.

Pitt at Virginia Tech, October 3.

UVA - As much as this team sucks, they really do try when it comes to scheduling.  Unfortunately for them, they got overconfident and just cannot survive the murderer's row of non-conference games that they have set up in recent years.  The ACC deal with Notre Dame isn't helping them this year either.  Their matchup with Boise State might have been interesting about three years ago.  They do have a season opening rematch against UCLA, which was a closer game last year than it had any right being.  While I should probably put the season finale on the list, I will admit to checking out the UCLA game to get a feel for this year's team.

UVA at UCLA, September 5.

Virginia Tech - This one is the easiest on the list.  The Labor Day opener against Ohio State is easily the biggest ticket in Lane Stadium in at least a decade.  The only matchups that come close are the 2003 and 2005 contests with Miami.

Ohio State at Virginia Tech, September 7.

Boston College - They play a game in a baseball stadium this year.  That sounds like fun.

Boston College vs. Notre Dame at Fenway Park, November 21.

Clemson - It's the game that has broken the Tigers' season the last two or three years, but this year could turn the tide.  An added bonus is that it's later in the season, so it might keep the Atlantic interesting a little longer.

Florida State at Clemson, November 7.

Florida State - The Seminoles have a few interesting quirks in their schedule.  Their week 2 game against USF kicks off at 11:30 am on ESPN (shortening Gameday).  Later on in the season, they scheduled NC State for homecoming in November.  Really?  A late homecoming against the one divisional team that gives you the most fits?  NC State may or may not be good in any given season, or any given game.  But the one constant is that they do not play by the script, and do not make for a good homecoming opponent.  If you're going to wait until November for homecoming, why not just wait an extra week when you play Chattanooga as your cupcake before the rival finale?  Still, I think I'm going with the Louisville game, as it could be a passing of the torch in the Atlantic.

Louisville at Florida State, October 17.

Louisville - I'm going with easily the best non-conference game on their schedule.

Louisville vs. Auburn at the Georgia Dome, September 5.

NC State - Like I said in the FSU writeup, NC State is a pain in the ass for the ACC.  They always seem to play FSU a lot closer than paper would indicate.  And this year, FSU decided to make the Wolfpack the homecoming foe?  With FSU on a possible decline, this could make for an interesting late season game.

NC State at Florida State, November 14.

Syracuse - They play LSU?  I wonder when this deal was made.

LSU at Syracuse, September 26.

Wake Forest - Last year, WF's only claim to mediocrity was winning an overtime game that ended regulation in a 0-0 tie.  Since that game isn't being rematched this year, there's no conference game that jumps out.  The only team that is keeping Wake Forest's non-conference slate from the absolute bottom of the dogheap is Notre Dame, but even that was forced upon them by the conference.  The rest of the slate includes Elon (obligatory FCS), and perennial bottom feeders of Army and Indiana.  I can't even pick a game in good conscious here.