The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 17, 2014

PiRate Ratings College Football Playoffs and Bowl Projections

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How many points is Alabama worth in home field advantage at Bryant-Denny Stadium? Would you say that five points is about right? If so, then The Crimson Tide and Mississippi State are dead even on a neutral field, correct?

The brains that vacuum large pots of money out of the books in Las Vegas, Reno, and offshore would tell you this is true, but the elite that select the teams for the playoffs may not see it that way. There is precedent for not seeing the forest for all the trees.

Let’s go back to 2006. Number one Ohio State, 11-0, hosted number two Michigan, also 11-0, at the giant horseshoe in Columbus. Ohio State’s home field advantage was worth at least four and as much as six points, and the Buckeyes had to hold on to edge the Wolverines by three points. In essence, on a neutral field, Michigan figured to be marginally better than Ohio State, and these two teams should have been slotted to face each other for the national championship a month and a half later. It would have been the greatest National Championship Game of the BCS era, but the BCS rankings dropped Michigan down and elevated Florida up into the number two slot.

Florida exploded to embarrass Ohio State in the title game, while a dejected Michigan team failed to show up in the Rose Bowl against a quality USC team. Had there been a playoff that year, these would have been the four teams, so in the end, Florida and USC would have advanced to the title game.

Back to 2014, what say the college football nation should Mississippi State and Alabama both win out? The Bulldogs are most likely going to edge out any 11-1 Big 12 team, as well as a possible 12-1 Ohio State team. In our opinion, any one-loss SEC West team must be in the playoffs, especially since Arkansas is now one win away from making all seven SEC West teams bowl eligible. There are no Iowa State’s, Kansas’s, or Texas Tech’s in the SEC West. There are no Purdue’s, Illinois’s, or Indiana’s in the SEC West. There are no Colorado’s or Washington State’s in the SEC West.

There are still a bevy of tricky games left that could shake up both the playoff race and the bowl projections.

In the ACC, Georgia Tech is one Duke loss away from facing Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. The Seminoles want no part of the spread option of the Yellow Jackets, as one or two breakdowns on defense could be the difference of 14 points. What if GT got an early lead? Can FSU come from behind against the best time-consuming offense there is?

In the Big Ten, Wisconsin might be strong enough to beat Ohio State in a possible conference championship game. The Badgers still have tough games left against Iowa and rival Minnesota.

In the Big 12, Baylor faces an Oklahoma State team this week that must win this game or upset Oklahoma to become bowl eligible. The Cowboys are probably looking at 5-7, but they may force the Bears to extend themselves. Baylor still has a date with Kansas State in December.

TCU has an even tougher assignment coming up on Thanksgiving. The Horned Frogs face a coming-on-strong Texas Longhorns team in Austin. We see that as a tossup as of today.

The Pac-12 could be interesting as well. The South Division is a mess with six of the seven teams still in contention for the division flag. UCLA controls its own destiny, and the Bruins will face Oregon in the conference championship game if they down USC and Stanford, both games to be played at the Rose Bowl. There is a chance for a five-team tie at 6-3, in which case Utah would emerge as the division champion.

In the race for the one Big Six Bowl invitation guaranteed to a Group of Five team, it is Marshall’s to lose. The Thundering Herd has a little bit of a tricky game this week at UAB, but we believe MU will come through. The likely opponent in the Conference USA Championship Game is Louisiana Tech, but Marshall looks like the class of this league, and coach Doc Holliday will be on the short list on many head coaching openings. Should Dana Holgersen get the offer at Florida or Michigan, or any other school that will get him out of West Virginia, then Holliday will be the next coach in Morgantown. If Marshall finishes 13-0, look for the Herd to play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

Should Marshall fall, Colorado State is the team in waiting, but only if the Rams can win at Air Force. At 11-1, the Rams would likely be in the Fiesta Bowl against a Baylor or TCU.

Here is a look at each conference and where we project the teams to go.

Records shown are our projections for where the teams will finish.

[ Team ] Indicates an at-large invitee

Group of 5 Conferences

American Athletic Conference
Coach Justin Fuente has greener pastures in his future after he has brought the Memphis Tigers back from the lowest of the lows to within two wins of a conference championship. The Tigers have home games against South Florida and Connecticut, and they figure to win both games by double digits. Unfortunately, at 9-3, Memphis has no real chance of falling into a Big Six bowl.

Temple appears to be in serious trouble in the bowl hunt. The 5-5 Owls must win out to have any chance to earn a spot, because at 6-6, their fan base is not strong enough to earn an at-large bid, as they cannot average 30,000 per game at Lincoln Financial Field.

1. Birmingham Bowl: Memphis (7-1/9-3) vs. Florida
2. St. Petersburg Bowl: Central Florida (6-2/8-4) vs. Miami (Fla.)
3. Miami Beach Bowl: Cincinnati (7-1/9-3) vs. B Y U
4. Military Bowl: East Carolina (6-2/9-3) vs. Virginia Tech
5. Armed Forces Bowl: Houston (5-3/7-5) vs. [ California ]

Also Bowl Eligible—Temple 4-4/6-6

Conference USA
As we mentioned above, Marshall has a clear path to a 13-0 finish, which will secure the automatic Group of Five bid to a Big Six Bowl. CUSA will get an extra bowl spot because of this, and the league will still have a surplus of bowl eligible teams. There is a secondary bowl tie-in, but we believe the bowl in question will choose to take a much more prestigious school from out West rather than a 6-6 CUSA team that averages less than 10,000 fans per home game in attendance.

In the West Division Louisiana Tech is not a lock for the top spot. The Bulldogs play at Old Dominion this week, and the Monarchs are in a must-win situation to become bowl eligible. If ODU wins, then LT must defeat Rice in two weeks to win the division title. If Rice beats UTEP this week, and ODU beats LT, then the November 29 game between the Owls and Bulldogs would decide the division title.

1. Big 6—Peach Bowl: Marshall (8-0/13-0) vs. Georgia
2. Hawaii Bowl: Louisiana Tech (8-0/9-4) vs. Air Force
3. Bahamas Bowl: Rice (5-3/7-5) vs. Bowling Green
4. Boca Raton Bowl: Middle Tennessee (5-3/6-6) vs. Northern Illinois
5. New Mexico Bowl: U T E P (5-3/7-5) vs. Utah St.
6. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Western Kentucky (3-5/6-6) vs. Maryland
Also Bowl Eligible: UAB 4-4/6-6

Mid-American Conference
Northern Illinois’s win over Toledo throws the West Division up for grabs with four teams still in the race. Western and Central Michigan join the other two in contention for the division crown. In the East, Bowling Green has already clinched the division title. The Falcons have a tough road game against an angry Toledo team Wednesday night. BGU’s lone conference loss came against Western Michigan, and the Broncos totally shut down the Falcons’ offense in the second half of that game.

The MAC figures to have two extra bowl eligible teams, both at 6-6, and neither will be lucky enough to earn an at-large invitation.

1. Bahamas Bowl: Bowling Green (6-2/9-4) vs. Rice
2. Boca Raton Bowl: Northern Illinois (6-2/9-3) vs. Middle Tennessee
3. Idaho Potato Bowl: Toledo (7-1/8-5) vs. San Diego St.
4. Camellia Bowl: Western Michigan (6-2/8-4) vs. South Alabama
5. GoDaddy Bowl: Central Michigan (6-2/8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Also Bowl Eligible: Ohio 4-4/6-6 & Akron 4-4/6-6

Mountain West Conference
For awhile Saturday night, it looked like the Mountain Division representative in the MWC Championship Game was about to be Colorado State, as San Diego State shot out to a nice lead over Boise State, before the Broncos charged back to win. The top four teams remain Mountain Division schools, as the West Division currently has a three-way tie at 3-3, with one of the co-leaders, Fresno State, mired at 4-6 overall.

The league has six bowl tie-ins and will produce six bowl eligible teams. Should Colorado State edge out Marshall for the Big Six bowl bid, it will force a the Idaho Potato Bowl to search for an at-large team, which most likely would come from the Pac-12.

1. Las Vegas Bowl: Boise St. (7-1/11-2) vs. Utah
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Colorado St. (7-1/11-1) vs. Navy
3. Hawaii Bowl: Air Force (5-3/9-3) vs. Louisiana Tech
4. New Mexico Bowl: Utah St. (6-2/9-4) vs. U T E P
5. New Orleans Bowl: Nevada (5-3/8-5) vs. Arkansas St.
6. Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego St. (4-4/6-6) vs. Toledo

Sunbelt Conference

Louisiana-Lafayette clinched the top seed in the bowl order, but the Ragin’ Cajuns have not clinched the conference championship. Georgia Southern is also undefeated in conference play, but the Eagles are not bowl eligible this year unless there are not enough bowl eligible teams (which there will be by quite a few). ULL has been in a rut, playing in three consecutive New Orleans Bowl games. We think it is about time, they leave the state in December.

This will be an interesting bowl race among the rest of the field. Arkansas State and South Alabama are already bowl eligible, while Texas State and Appalachian State are one win away.

1. GoDaddy Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette (8-0/9-3) vs. Central Michigan
2. New Orleans Bowl: Arkansas St. (5-3/7-5) vs. Nevada
3. Camellia Bowl: South Alabama (5-3/6-6) vs. Western Michigan

Also Bowl Eligible: Texas St. 5-3/7-5

Independents (Notre Dame included in ACC bowl tie-ins)
Army’s loss to Western Kentucky officially eliminates the Black Knights from their Armed Forces bowl tie-in. BYU clinched their Miami Beach Bowl berth with a win over UNLV, while Navy has two chances left to win one more game and earn their Poinsettia Bowl invitation.

1. Miami Beach Bowl: B Y U (7-5) vs. Cincinnati
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Navy (7-5) vs. Colorado St.

Power 5 Conferences

Atlantic Coast Conference
Whew! That’s what ACC Commissioner John Swofford must have mouthed late Saturday night when Florida State pulled out yet another dramatic finish to stay undefeated. The Seminoles will not make the playoffs if they lose any remaining game, and Swofford needs something positive for his conference with an academic fraud investigation hanging over his head at North Carolina (he was formerly the AD at UNC), as well as numerous rumors about the Florida State program.

Virginia Tech’s upset of Duke opens the door for Georgia Tech to win the Coastal Division title, and the Yellow Jackets will back into that game should North Carolina beat Duke this weekend. FSU will be rooting heavily for the Blue Devils to win that game.

1. PLAYOFFS—Rose Bowl: Florida St. (8-0/13-0) vs. Oregon
2. Big 6—Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech (6-2/9-4) vs. Wisconsin
3. Russell Athletic Bowl: Duke (5-3/9-3) vs. West Virginia
4. Gator Bowl: Clemson (6-2/8-4) vs. Ole Miss
5. Belk Bowl: Notre Dame (8-4) vs. L S U
6. Sun Bowl: Louisville (5-3/8-4) vs. Arizona St.
7. Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College (4-4/7-5) vs. Rutgers
8. Military Bowl: Virginia Tech (4-4/7-5) vs. East Carolina
9. Independence Bowl: North Carolina (5-3/7-5) vs. South Carolina
10. Quick Lane Bowl: North Carolina St. (2-6/6-6) vs. Northwestern
11. St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami (Fla.) (5-3/8-4) vs. Central Florida

Big Ten Conference

Ohio State is still squarely in the playoff race, but after this past Saturday’s games, we now seriously doubt that they can win the Big Ten Championship. After watching Wisconsin run through Nebraska, and remembering what happened the last time OSU and UW faced off, we believe the Badgers might be a little too strong for Ohio State’s run defense if these two face off for the title.

Wisconsin still must earn their spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, and that will be no easy task. The Badgers have a road game against Iowa and a home game for Paul Bunyan’s Axe against Minnesota. Weather could easily play a factor in both games, so it is not guarantee that UW will even make it to Indianapolis.

We have made one change in the bowl eligibility list this week. With Northwestern’s comeback win at Notre Dame, we now move the Wildcats over Illinois.

1. Big 6-Orange Bowl: Wisconsin (7-1/11-2) vs. Georgia Tech
2. Big 6-Cotton Bowl: Ohio St. (8-0/11-2) vs. T C U
3. Big 6-Fiesta Bowl: Michigan St. (7-1/10-2) vs. Baylor
4. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Nebraska (5-3/9-3) vs. Missouri
5. Outback Bowl: Iowa (5-3/8-4) vs. Auburn
6. Holiday Bowl: Minnesota (4-4/7-5) vs. Arizona
7. Music City Bowl: Penn St. (2-6/6-6) vs. Tennessee
8. San Francisco Bowl: Michigan (4-4/6-6) vs. U S C
9. Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers (2-6/6-6) vs. Boston College
10. Quick Lane Bowl: Northwestern (4-4/6-6) vs. North Carolina St.
11. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Maryland (4-4/7-5) vs. Western Kentucky

Big 12 Conference

It has been quite apparent for some time that the Big 12 will not supply enough bowl eligible teams to meet all of its bowl obligations. This will be a certainty if both Baylor and TCU win out. Oklahoma State is now on the outside looking in, as the Cowboys are 5-5 with games remaining against Baylor and Oklahoma.

Texas is the key to this league’s bowl projections. The Longhorns have a legitimate chance to knock off TCU and throw a large monkey wrench into the works. For now, because it makes things much too difficult to rearrange, we are going to go with TCU and Baylor to win out.

1. Big 6-Cotton Bowl: T C U (8-1/11-1) vs. Ohio St.
2. Big 6-Fiesta Bowl: Baylor (8-1/11-1) vs. Michigan St.
3. Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma (6-3/9-3) vs. U C L A
4. Russell Athletic Bowl: West Virginia (6-3/8-4) vs. Duke
5. Liberty Bowl: Texas (5-4/6-6) vs. Arkansas
6. Cactus Bowl: Kansas St. (6-3/8-4) vs. Washington

Pac-12 Conference

Oregon has already clinched the North Division title, but the Ducks have two tough games that must be victories if they are going to make the playoffs. They end the regular season at rival Oregon State, and the Beavers will probably be 5-6 needing a win to earn a bowl bid. Of course, the Pac-12 Championship Game will be tough, and the Ducks will not know their opponent until late on November 29.

We have already written about the South Division title race. If UCLA wins out, the Bruins are in the title game. However, if UCLA loses to either USC or Stanford (or both), there are numerous tie-breaker possibilities that can give USC, Arizona, Arizona State, or Utah the flag.

There are seven teams already bowl eligible, and three teams need just one more win to get there. We believe two of the three will get that sixth win, meaning nine teams will be bowl eligible. We project two of the nine will have to sweat out at-large invitations, and being the top two available at-large candidates, they will secure the projected two at-large available spots.

1. PLAYOFFS-Rose Bowl: Oregon (8-1/12-1) vs. Florida St.
2. Alamo Bowl: U C L A (7-2/10-3) vs. Oklahoma
3. Holiday Bowl: Arizona (6-3/9-3) vs. Minnesota
4. San Francisco Bowl: U S C (6-3/8-4) vs. Michigan
5. Sun Bowl: Arizona St. (6-3/9-3) vs. Louisville
6. Las Vegas Bowl: Utah (6-3/9-3) vs. Boise St.
7. Cactus Bowl: Washington (4-5/8-5) vs. Kansas St.
8. Texas Bowl (at-large): [ Stanford ] (4-5/6-6) vs. Texas A&M
9. Armed Forces (at-large): [ California ] (3-6/6-6) vs. Houston

Southeastern Conference

If Kentucky can beat rival Louisville, and if Arkansas can beat either Ole Miss or Missouri, the SEC will end up with an amazing 13 bowl eligible teams. We are going with 12, and this will be just enough to satisfy all the bowl tie-ins for the king of college conferences.

Read above to reinforce why we believe the SEC will win out over the Big 12 and Big Ten in the one-loss race to the playoffs.

If, by chance, Ole Miss wins the Egg Bowl and Georgia knocks off Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, then it is going to be a very difficult choice for the Playoff Committee to take any SEC team if there are still four teams that have zero or one loss. Imagine if Georgia wins out to finish 11-2. How could the Bulldogs jump over TCU and Baylor, if both finish 11-1? Even a 12-1 Ohio State team would finish ahead of UGA.

Now, let’s say there are five two-loss SEC teams (Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Missouri), and then losses to TCU, Baylor, and Ohio State leave a dozen two loss teams in the mix. The real winner in this scenario would be Novartis, the owner of Maalox, because 12 influential elites would come down with the first case of mass heartburn.

For the sake of Condaleeza Rice’s stomach, let’s stick with the Tide and Bulldogs winning out.

Note—with the SEC’s decision to place conference teams where they can best capitalize on the bowl matchups, we have made some very interesting bowl games thanks to maneuvering like we expect the league will do.

1. PLAYOFFS-Sugar Bowl: Alabama (7-1/12-1) vs. Mississippi St.
2. PLAYOFFS-Sugar Bowl: Mississippi St. (7-1/11-1) vs. Alabama
3. Big 6-Peach Bowl: Georgia (6-2/10-3) vs. Marshall
4. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Missouri (5-3/8-4) vs. Nebraska
5. Outback Bowl: Auburn (4-4/8-4) vs. Iowa
6. Gator Bowl: Ole Miss (4-4/8-4) vs. Clemson
7. Belk Bowl: L S U (4-4/8-4) vs. Notre Dame
8. Music City Bowl: Tennessee (4-4/7-5) vs. Penn St.
9. Texas Bowl: Texas A&M (3-5/7-5) vs. [ Stanford ]
10. Liberty Bowl: Arkansas (3-5/7-5) vs. Texas
11. Independence Bowl: South Carolina (3-5/7-5) vs. North Carolina
12. Birmingham Bowl: Florida (4-4/6-5) vs. Memphis

November 11, 2014

PiRate Ratings College Football Playoffs and Bowl Projections

The College Football Playoff Committee had a couple of surprises in their release of their rankings Tuesday night, when they moved Oregon ahead of Florida State and TCU ahead of Alabama.

The Crimson Tide will move into the top four next week, possibly jumping the rest of the field to number one if they shellac Mississippi State this weekend. Of course, a loss to the Bulldogs probably puts Alabama into the Orange Bowl or even Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, depending on what happens in the Iron Bowl.

The sixth-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils sit pretty as well. If ASU wins out, which is a tough if with a home finale at Arizona needing to be won before a Pac-12 Championship Game against Oregon, they will most certainly be one of the top four.

Ohio State and Baylor need a lot of help, and Nebraska and Duke are one-loss teams with no chance at making it to the playoffs.

The race for the best Group of Five team and recipient of a Big Six bowl invitation is a three-team race between Marshall, Colorado State, and Boise State. The Rams have been moving up every week, but it with New Mexico and Air Force left on the schedule, CSU cannot leapfrog over an undefeated Marshall team.

Here is our bowl outlook per conference. Note, that this outlook was written before Tuesday night’s games were played.

Note: Records shown are projected final regular season records, with conference record followed by total record.

Group of Five

American Athletic Conference
Memphis won at Temple last week, and the Tigers now have the championship in their site. Cincinnati, East Carolina, and Central Florida are still in contention, while Houston suffered a big loss at Tulane.

Since the champion of this league is not guaranteed any particular bowl, the probably bowl teams are merely playing for the trophy. The bowl bids will go to the teams that make the most sense for each bowl.

With Temple’s loss last week, the Owls are likely looking at being left out of the bowl picture unless they upset Penn State or Cincinnati.

1. Birmingham Bowl: Memphis 7-1/9-3 (vs. Florida)
2. St. Petersburg Bowl: Central Florida 6-2/8-4 (vs. Miami)
3. Miami Beach Bowl: Cincinnati 7-1/9-3 (vs. BYU)
4. Military Bowl: East Carolina 6-2/9-3 (vs. Virginia Tech)
5. Armed Forces Bowl: Houston 5-3/7-5 (vs. South Alabama [at-large])

Also Bowl Eligible: Temple 4-4/6-6

Conference USA
Marshall will get a bit of a test at home this week against a hot Rice team, and they could have a trap game at UAB a week later, but the Thundering Herd appears to be somewhat safe in getting into the CUSA Championship Game with a 12-0 record. Louisiana Tech could be a tough opponent, but MU should be able to sneak by and earn a Big Six Bowl bid. One loss will probably doom those chances.

Louisiana Tech must get by Rice on November 29 to win the West Division, but that game is in Ruston, so the Bulldogs will be a hefty favorite.

1. Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Marshall 8-0/13-0 (vs. Michigan St.)
2. Hawaii Bowl: Louisiana Tech 8-0/9-4 (vs. Utah St.)
3. Bahamas Bowl: Rice 5-3/7-5 (vs. Toledo)
4. Boca Raton Bowl: Middle Tennessee 6-2/7-5 (vs. Northern Illinois)
5. New Mexico Bowl: U T E P 5-3/7-5 (vs. Air Force)
6. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Western Kentucky 3-5/6-6 (vs. Michigan)
7. Independence Bowl (at-large): U A B 4-4/6-6 (vs. North Carolina)

Mid-American Conference
Reminder: This review was written prior to kickoff of the two MAC games Tuesday night.

The MAC is out of the Big Six Bowl picture this year. The Toledo-Northern Illinois winner will still be too far behind the other contenders from the AAC, CUSA, and Mountain West.

As of this writing, it looks like seven MAC teams will be bowl eligible, but only five teams will receive invitations.

1. Bahamas Bowl: Toledo 8-0/10-3 (vs. Rice)
2. Boca Raton Bowl: Northern Illinois 5-3/8-4 (vs. Middle Tennessee)
3. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Bowling Green 6-2/8-5 (vs. Nevada)
4. Camellia Bowl: Central Michigan 6-2/8-4 (vs. Texas St.)
5. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Western Michigan 6-2/8-4 (vs. Louisiana-Lafayette)

Also Bowl Eligible: Akron 5-3/7-5 & Ohio 4-4/6-6

Mountain West Conference
Boise State and Colorado State are two MWC teams that nobody in a Power Five conference wants to play at this point. The Broncos and Rams are capable of defeating a 9-3 team from any of the big conferences.

All of the strength in this league lies in the Mountain Division, as the West Division should be won with a 5-3 conference mark, while three from the other division will be 6-2 or better. With the top two teams headed to possible 11-win seasons, this league deserves better bowl destinations, but they probably will not get them.

1. Las Vegas Bowl: Boise St. 7-1/11-2 (vs. Stanford)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Colorado St. 7-1/11-1 (vs. Navy)
3. Hawaii Bowl: Utah St. 6-2/9-4 (vs. Louisiana Tech)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Air Force 4-4/8-4 (vs. UTEP)
5. New Orleans Bowl: San Diego St. 5-3/7-5 (vs. Arkansas St.)
6. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Nevada 5-3/8-5 (vs. Bowling Green)

Sunbelt Conference
We erred in recent weeks. Georgia Southern is not eligible for a bowl this season unless there are not enough FBS teams bowl eligible. There will be more than enough, so GSU is playing simply for the pride of becoming co-champs of the SBC.

Louisiana-Lafayette figures to be the other co-champ, and the Ragin’ Cajuns have been to the New Orleans bowl so many years in a row, the Sports Information Department in Lafayette can almost place this game on the schedule on their media guide.

Because we believe ULL would like to go somewhere else this year, we are placing them in another bowl.

1. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette 8-0/9-3 (vs. Western Michigan)
2. New Orleans Bowl: Arkansas St. 6-2/8-4 (vs. San Diego St.)
3. Camellia Bowl: Texas St. 5-3/7-5 (vs. Central Michigan)
4. Armed Forces Bowl (at-large): South Alabama 5-3/6-6 (vs. Houston)

Independents (not including Notre Dame)
BYU is a lock to become bowl eligible, while Navy should get there as well. Army is not yet eliminated from bowl eligibility, but the Black Knights must eliminate Western Kentucky from bowl eligibility this week, or else the season will end against Navy.

1. Miami Beach Bowl: B Y U 7-5 (vs. Cincinnati)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Navy 7-5 (vs. Colorado St.)

The Power Five Conferences
Atlantic Coast Conference
Florida State looks less and less impressive every week, and another poor first half performance this week against Miami could be too difficult to overcome. The Seminoles falling to number three in the Playoff rankings should wake the team up, and FSU could go out and play their best game of the season this weekend.

Duke is not getting any respect at 8-1, and even ACC pundits believe Virginia Tech could upset the Blue Devils this week.

Clemson remains in contention for a Big Six Bowl, but if Duke goes 11-2, the Tigers will have to settle for the best of the rest.

Virginia, Syracuse, and Wake Forest figure to miss out on bowls, while the loser of this week’s North Carolina-Pittsburgh game will probably join that trio.

1. PLAYOFFS—Rose Bowl: Florida St. 8-0/13-0 (vs. Mississippi St.)
2. Orange Bowl: Duke 7-1/11-2 (vs. Ohio St.)
3. Russell Athletic Bowl: Clemson 7-1/10-2 (vs. Kansas St.)
4. Gator Bowl: Notre Dame 9-3 (vs. Ole Miss)
5. Belk Bowl: Georgia Tech 5-3/8-4 (vs. LSU)
6. Sun Bowl: Louisville 5-3/8-4 (vs. Arizona)
7. Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College 4-4/7-5 (vs. Rutgers)
8. Military Bowl: Virginia Tech 3-5/6-6 (vs. East Carolina)
9. Independence Bowl: North Carolina 4-4/6-6 (vs. UAB [at-large])
10. Quick Lane Bowl: North Carolina St. 2-6/6-6 (vs. Illinois)
11. St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami 5-3/8-4 (vs. Central Florida)

Big Ten Conference
Ohio State might be a contender for national champion if they had not fallen to a mediocre Virginia Tech team. We believe the Buckeyes are strong enough today to compete against any of the four top teams.

If Michigan State wins out to finish 10-2, the Spartans should be in good shape for a Big Six bowl. If Sparty falls again, then either Nebraska or Wisconsin could sneak into the bonanza.

If Nebraska goes 10-2, the Cornhuskers could bully their way over many others into a Big Six Bowl.

Michigan is now just one win away from bowl eligibility, and the Wolverines must beat Maryland to get that bid, because upsetting Ohio State does not look possible. So, this Saturday’s game with the Terps could be Brady Hoke’s last win in Ann Arbor.

Illinois is just 4-5 with three games to go, but we believe the Illini will win two more games to give this league 11 bowl eligible teams.

1. Orange Bowl: Ohio St. 8-0/12-1 (vs. Duke)
2. Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Michigan St. 7-1/10-2 (vs. Marshall)
3. Cotton Bowl: Nebraska 6-2/10-2 (vs. TCU)
4. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Wisconsin 7-1/10-3 (vs. Auburn)
5. Outback Bowl: Iowa 4-4/7-5 (vs. Georgia)
6. Holiday Bowl: Minnesota 4-4/7-5 (vs. USC)
7. Music City Bowl: Penn St. 2-6/6-6 (vs. Tennessee)
8. San Francisco Bowl: Maryland 4-4/7-5 (vs. Washington)
9. Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers 2-6/6-6 (vs. Boston College)
10. Quick Lane Bowl: Illinois 3-5/6-6 (vs. North Carolina St.)
11. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Michigan 4-4/6-6 (vs. Western Kentucky)

Big 12 Conference
TCU has moved into the top four of the most recent rankings, and we believe the Horned Frogs will win out to finish 11-1, but we do not have TCU in our playoff predictions. We also believe Baylor will finish 11-1 and not get into the playoffs. Alabama can beat Mississippi State and Auburn to win the SEC West, and then after dismissing Florida in the SEC Championship Game, the Tide could actually end up ranked number one. Losing on the road against the top team would not be enough to drop Mississippi State out of the playoff race, and if Oregon and Florida State keep winning, we believe TCU will be the team falling out of the top four.

We have moved Texas into the bowl probables at the expense of Oklahoma State. Texas Tech, Iowa State, and Kansas are not in the picture.

1. Cotton Bowl: T C U 8-1/11-1 (vs. Nebraska)
2. Fiesta Bowl: Baylor 8-1/11-1 (vs. Arizona St.)
3. Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma 6-3/9-3 (vs. UCLA)
4. Russell Athletic Bowl: Kansas St. 7-2/9-3 (vs. Clemson)
5. Liberty Bowl: West Virginia 5-4/7-5 (vs. Missouri)
6. Cactus Bowl: Texas 5-4/6-6 (vs. Utah)

Pac-12 Conference
Arizona State’s win over Notre Dame was a shot in the arm for the entire conference. If the Sun Devils don’t overlook a weakening Oregon State team in Corvallis and then take care of business against Washington State, the regular season finale at Arizona will be the most important game for this team since the 1997 Rose Bowl or 1975 Fiesta Bowl.

Arizona State is not automatically going to win the Pac-12 South. UCLA, USC, and Arizona still have shots to get into the conference championship game.

In the North, Oregon is already assured of the division title, and if they win out, they will get a chance to play for the national title for the second time in five seasons.

We have dropped Oregon State from the bowl probable list this week. The Beavers would have to win two out of their final three to get to 6-6, and their final three come against Arizona State, Washington, and Oregon. We believe 0-3 is likely.

1. PLAYOFFS—Sugar Bowl: Oregon 8-1/12-1 (vs. Alabama)
2. Fiesta Bowl: Arizona St. 8-1/11-2 (vs. Baylor)
3. Alamo Bowl: U C L A 7-2/10-2 (vs. Oklahoma)
4. Holiday Bowl: U S C 6-3/8-4 (vs. Minnesota)
5. San Francisco Bowl: Washington 4-5/8-5 (vs. Maryland)
6. Sun Bowl: Arizona 6-3/9-3 (vs. Louisville)
7. Las Vegas Bowl: Stanford 5-4/7-5 (vs. Boise St.)
8. Cactus Bowl: Utah 4-5/7-5 (vs. Texas)
9. Texas Bowl (at-large): California 3-6/6-6 (vs. Texas A&M)

Southeastern Conference
If Alabama wins this week against Mississippi State, which we believe they will, and if Mississippi State recovers to beat Ole Miss, while the Crimson Tide beat Auburn and win the SEC Championship Game, we cannot see how the committee cannot take both teams.

Nobody else in the league has a chance to sneak into the top four without about seven or eight other teams losing. Auburn and LSU played their way out of the tournament last week, while Georgia did so the week before.

Kentucky was once 5-1 and looking like a lock to make it to a bowl game for the first time in four seasons. But, four consecutive losses have UK at 5-5 with Tennessee and Louisville remaining on the schedule. We have the Wildcats out.

South Carolina must beat either Florida or Clemson to earn a bowl bid, and we do not see the Gamecocks doing so.

1. PLAYOFFS—Sugar Bowl: Alabama 7-1/12-1 (vs. Oregon)
2. PLAYOFFS—Rose Bowl: Mississippi State 7-1/11-1 (vs. Florida St.)
3. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Auburn 5-3/9-3 (vs. Wisconsin)
4. Outback Bowl: Georgia 5-3/9-3 (vs. Iowa)
5. Gator Bowl: Ole Miss 5-3/9-3 (vs. Notre Dame)
6. Belk Bowl: L S U 5-3/9-3 (vs. Georgia Tech)
7. Texas Bowl: Texas A&M 4-4/8-4 (vs. California [at-large])
8. Liberty Bowl: Missouri 5-3/8-4 (vs. West Virginia)
9. Music City Bowl: Tennessee 4-4/7-5 (Penn St.)
10. Birmingham Bowl: Florida 5-3/7-5 (vs. Memphis)

November 4, 2014

PiRate Ratings College Football Playoffs and Bowl Projections

For the projected bowl matchups, as well as ratings and predicted spreads for both college and pro, go to our website at:

http://www.piratings.webs.com

There are 38 bowls plus the National Championship Game, meaning 76 teams out of the 128 total playing in the FBS. As of today, we project 79 teams to become bowl eligible, so just three 6-6 teams will be left out of the postseason party.

All won-loss records shown are predicted final records and not current records.

The Group of Five

These five conferences are the leagues competing for one guaranteed spot in a Big Six Bowl (actually one of the four NewYear’s Eve/Day big bowls not involved in the playoffs, since no Group of Five team will qualify for the playoffs).

As of today, Marshall from Conference USA figures to be the highest rated Group of Five team, as East Carolina fell out of contention with their loss to Temple. Central Florida’s loss at UConn knocked the AAC from consideration. Should Marshall stumble, the door is now open for both Boise State and Colorado State to sneak into the top position. Boise would be there already had the Broncos not lost at Air Force, while CSU might have placed themselves on the cuff of contention for the playoffs had they won their game at Boise and stood at 9-0 today.

American Athletic Conference
The AAC balloon has deflated with the upset losses of both East Carolina and Central Florida. While the league is out of the Big Six picture for now, it promises to be possibly the most incredible finish of the conference races. Our prognosticators here now believe there is a credible chance that this league could end in a six-way tie for first at 6-2 in conference play between Central Florida, East Carolina, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, and Temple. The league has five guaranteed bowl bids, so one of these six would have to earn an at-large bowl invitation. The AAC should have no problem placing that sixth bowl eligible team in a bowl.

1. Birmingham Bowl: East Carolina (6-2/9-3)
2. Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl: Central Florida (6-2/8-4)
3. Miami Beach Bowl: Cincinnati (6-2/8-4)
4. Military Bowl: Temple (6-2/8-4)
5. Armed Forces Bowl: Houston (6-2/8-4)
6. Independence Bowl (at-large invitation): Memphis (6-2/8-4)

Conference USA
Doc Holliday may be the best college football recruiter in America, and his Marshall Thundering Herd may be the best CUSA team in the league’s history. Marshall has five games remaining in November and December standing in its way of a probable Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl bid. A November 22 game at UAB could be tricky, and a probable CUSA Championship Game tilt against Louisiana Tech is the biggest obstacle in the Herd’s trampling of their schedule.

We have removed Western Kentucky from the prospective bowl eligible teams and added UTEP. Rice is making another second half of the season run like Coach David Bailiff’s Owls have done the last two seasons. To run the table the rest of the way in 2014, Rice will have to pull off major upsets on the road against Marshall and Louisiana Tech and handle an improving UTEP team at home.

With Marshall expected to earn the Big Six Bowl invitation, this conference will have six bowl bids, and we predict there will be six bowl eligible teams.

1. Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Marshall (8-0/13-0)
2. Hawaii Bowl: Louisiana Tech (8-0/9-4)
3. Bahamas Bowl: UTEP (6-2/8-4)
4. Boca Raton Bowl: Middle Tennessee (6-2/7-5)
5. New Mexico Bowl: U A B (4-4/6-6)
6. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Rice (5-3/7-5)

Mid-American Conference
This is a down season of sorts in the MAC, mostly because there is a lot of parity and no dominant team. Northern Illinois is rebuilding, and Toledo and Bowling Green are not quite up to the standards of a typically dominant NIU team. This league figures to produce a glut of bowl eligible squads, probably two more than there is space avaialable in the bowl party.

1. Bahamas Bowl: Toledo (7-1/9-4)
2. Boca Raton Bowl: Northern Illinois (5-3/8-4)
3. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Western Michigan (6-2/8-4)
4. Camellia Bowl: Central Michigan (6-2/8-4)
5. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Akron (6-2/8-5)
6. Birmingham Bowl (at-large invitation): Bowling Green (5-3/7-5)

Also Bowl Eligible
Ohio (4-4/6-6)
Ball St. (5-3/6-6)

Mountain West Conference
This league does not have the notoriety it did when TCU was a member and earning trips to the Rose Bowl. Still, there are some quality teams in the MWC, namely Boise State and Colorado State. Utah State, Air Force, and Nevada add to the quality.

Fresno State has been a big disappointment this season, and we have now removed the Bulldogs from the probable bowl eligible list. Wyoming and San Jose State are both in contention, but their schedules are not favorable, so we have not included them in the privileged list.

That leaves six bowl eligible teams in a league with six bowl tie-ins.

1. Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State (7-1/11-2)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Colorado State (7-1/11-1)
3. Hawaii Bowl: Utah State (6-2/9-4)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Air Force (4-4/8-4)
5. New Orleans Bowl: Nevada (5-3/8-5)
6. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego State (5-3/7-5)

Sunbelt Conference
We will probably know in two weeks whether or not this league will have undefeated co-champions. Louisiana-Lafayette should have little trouble at New Mexico State this week, but a road game against rival Louisiana-Monroe is not going to be easy, especially since the Warhawks will need to win that game to get to 6-6.

Georgia Southern plays a tough Texas State team in San Marcos and may be looking ahead a week to a trip to Navy. Should the Eagles win this week, and UL-Lafayette wins next week, the two top teams should both finish 8-0 in league play.

Besides the previously mentioned Texas State Bobcats, Arkansas State will finish bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive season with four different head coaches. South Alabama is probably headed to a 6-6 finish and no bowl invitation.

1. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Georgia Southern (8-0/9-3)
2. New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette (8-0/9-3)
3. Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State (6-2/8-4)
4. Armed Forces Bowl (at-large invitation): Texas State (5-3/7-5)

Also Bowl Eligible: South Alabama (5-3/6-6)

Independents (Notre Dame is included in the ACC)
Army must win out to become bowl eligible, and the Black Knights cannot even take Fordham lightly, as they already have a loss to Yale. This will not be the year the men from West Point get back to a bowl. Thus, the Armed Forces Bowl will need to find a replacement team.

BYU is one win away from bowl eligibility and will get that sixth win, if not November 15 against UNLV, then definitely the following week against Savannah State.

Navy still has some work to do. The Midshipmen are 4-5. All three of their final games are tricky, as Georgia Southern and South Alabama are sneaky good, while even a winless Army team would be tough to beat much less this 2-win squad. However, Navy has a week off between each of these games and should win at least two if not all three to gain their automatic bowl bid.

1. Miami Beach Bowl: B Y U (7-5)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Navy (7-5)

The Power 5

We do not use the current rankings to set our playoff and bowl pairings. “If the season ended today” is only good when the season actually ends today. We look into the future to try to predict where the teams will be on December 7.

This week presents multiple contests which serve as eliminator games. It is like a Round of 64 and 32 NCAA Basketball weekend, where by Sunday morning, there will be a Sweet 16.

Here are the top games that will affect the Power 5 rankings this week:

Baylor at Oklahoma: The Bears are still in the thick of the playoff race, while Oklahoma is merely playing for a Cotton Bowl or Fiesta Bowl bid. Baylor won 41-12 last year and outgained the Sooners by more than 220 yards. OU will be ready to play its best game of the season.

Notre Dame at Arizona St.: Call this a pure elimination game for sure. The loser has no chance, while the winner stays in contention from near the back of the pack, but if the winner wins out, they will have a shot at playing in the Rose or Sugar Bowl. Even if the winner misses out on the playoffs, they are sure to get one of the other Big Six bowls.

The Sun Devils need Oregon to keep winning until the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Kansas State at TCU: The winner of this game has an excellent shot at finishing 12-1. The Big 12 may not be as highly ranked as in past years, but a 12-1 team here will have a nice resume.

Alabama at LSU: This is never a gimme game for the Crimson Tide. A loss here would just about end ‘Bama’s chances to make the playoffs but not totally eliminate them. With wins over Mississippi State and Auburn, Coach Nick Saban’s squad could still sneak in as the number four team. A win Saturday combined with wins over Mississippi State, Auburn, and the SEC East champion probably moves the Tide to number two and host of the Sugar Bowl in the playoffs.

LSU would need a lot of help to sneak into the playoffs. The Bengal Tigers would have to beat ‘Bama by double digits and then easily dismiss Arkansas and Texas A&M on the road. Then, Mississippi State would have to lose to both Alabama and Ole Miss, and the champions of the Big Ten and Big 12 would have to lose a second game as well.

Ohio State at Michigan State: This is a pure playoff eliminator. The winner can earn a playoff spot if they finish 12-1, and still it could be tough. The Spartans still have to jump at least one SEC school plus TCU and Oregon, and that loss to the Ducks will keep the quack attack ahead of them if both finish 12-1.

Ohio State needs a lot of help and could still finish on the outside looking in at 12-1.

Oregon at Utah: The Utes are done and can only hope for an Alamo or Holiday Bowl bid as a consolation prize or else settle for a lesser bowl. Oregon is still very much in the playoff picture and should make the final four if they win out. They will not sniff the playoffs with one more loss.

Atlantic Coast Conference
Florida State reminds our founder of the 1958 Kentucky basketball team that won the national championship. That group of Wildcats were known as the “Fiddlin’ Five.” They just fiddled around for 25-30 minutes before going on one big run at the end to win.

Can the Seminoles continue this style of fiddlin’ for 2 ½ quarters before scoring three touchdowns in a five to seven-minute span and win the National Championship for a second consecutive season?

We don’t know the answer, but FSU probably can play this way the rest of the regular season and finish 13-0. The game at Miami on November 15 could be close for awhile, and maybe if Duke wins the Coastal Division, the Blue Devils can make a Championship Game rematch much closer than 2013, when the Seminoles won 45-7.

Elsewhere in the league, we have removed Virginia from bowl eligible likelihood, and this places Coach Mike London back on that hot seat. In the Cavaliers’ place, we have added North Carolina State back into the bowl mix.

Even though three league members might finish 6-6, the entire trio will have bowl preference over a possible 8-4 Miami Hurricanes. If they cannot put 10,000 fans in their home stadium, they aren’t likely to bring many to a bowl game.

In the past, Boston College has not sent many fans to its bowl games, but we believe a site closer to home will help the Eagles sell more tickets.

1. PLAYOFFS—Rose Bowl: Florida State (8-0/13-0)
2. Orange Bowl: Duke (7-1/11-2)
3. Russell Athletic Bowl: Clemson (6-2/9-3)
4. Gator Bowl: Notre Dame (9-3)
5. Belk Bowl: Georgia Tech (6-2/9-3)
6. Sun Bowl: Louisville (4-4/7-5)
7. Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College (5-3/8-4)
8. Military Bowl: North Carolina (4-4/6-6)
9. Independence Bowl: Virginia Tech (3-5/6-6)
10. Quick Lane Bowl: North Carolina State (2-6/6-6)
11. Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami (5-3/8-4)

Big Ten Conference
Who would have ever thought that a Nebraska team could go 12-1 in the regular season and just be an afterthought in the NCAA Championship picture? You have to figure that had they stayed in the Big 12, the Cornhuskers would have been a cinch to make the playoffs at 12-1. That shows how far the Big Ten has fallen in prestige. Could it be that this league is now more of a basketball power than football power? Of course, this league has been the bridesmaid in the Final Four since Michigan State won that title more than a dozen years ago.

All eyes will be looking in at East Lansing Saturday, when Michigan State and Ohio State settle the East Division title. The Buckeyes have a huge revenge factor in this game, as they were 12-0 when MSU knocked them out of the BCS Championship picture last year with a stunning 34-24 upset win.

We have removed Penn State and Northwestern from the bowl picture this week, and we have kept Illinois and added Michigan to the mix. With nine bowls guaranteed and ten bowls likely with two league teams playing in Big Six bowls, there will be space for all bowl eligible clubs.

1. Orange Bowl: Ohio State (8-0/12-1)
2. Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Michigan State (7-1/10-2)
3. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Nebraska (5-3/9-3)
4. Outback Bowl: Iowa (6-2/9-4)
5. Holiday Bowl: Wisconsin (6-2/9-3)
6. Music City Bowl: Maryland (4-4/7-5)
7. San Francisco Bowl: Minnesota (4-4/7-5)
8. Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers (2-6/6-6)
9. Quick Lane Bowl: Michigan (4-4/6-6)
10. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Illinois (3-5/6-6)

Big 12 Conference
TCU, Baylor, and Kansas State all still hold playoff hopes, but they will all need some help. Even with one SEC team assured of falling out of the top four, Oregon is still in front of this trio, and the Ducks will have defeated Michigan State, UCLA, Stanford, Utah, and probably Arizona State if they finish 12-1.

This league is almost a lock to place two teams in Big Six bowls, even if no team makes the playoffs. With two Big Six bowls plus six other bowl tie-ins, there needs to be eight bowl eligible teams to fill the slots. We believe there will only be six bowl eligible teams, so there will be room for two at-large invitations courtesy of the Big 12.

1. Cotton Bowl: T C U (8-1/11-1)
2. Fiesta Bowl: Baylor (8-1/11-1)
3. Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma (6-3/9-3)
4. Russell Athletic Bowl: West Virginia (7-2/9-3)
5. Liberty Bowl: Kansas State (6-3/8-4)
6. Cactus Bowl: Oklahoma State (4-5/6-6)

Pac-12 Conference
Oregon controls its own destiny in our opinion. If the Ducks win out, at 12-1, they have about a 97% chance of finishing in the top four.

Arizona State needs help to move into the top four even if they win out by defeating Notre Dame, Oregon State, Arizona, and Oregon. Coach Todd Graham may be the best coach under the radar, as he has built winners at Rice, Tulsa, and Pittsburgh prior to coming to Tempe. Arizona State is the largest undergraduate university in FBS football, and the means are there for Graham to make this one of the top programs in the nation.

The Pac-12 has only seven guaranteed bowl bids, because a proposed bowl at the Los Angeles Coliseum around Christmas never materialized. This conference will be the top banana in the at-large priority mix. We believe there will be room for one Pac-12 to accept an at-large bowl bid.

1. PLAYOFFS—Sugar Bowl: Oregon (8-1/12-1)
2. Fiesta Bowl: Arizona State (8-1/11-2)
3. Alamo Bowl: U S C (7-2/9-3)
4. Holiday Bowl: U C L A (6-3/9-3)
5. San Francisco Bowl: Washington (5-4/8-4)
6. Sun Bowl: Arizona (5-4/8-4)
7. Las Vegas Bowl: Utah (5-4/8-4)
8. Cactus Bowl: Stanford (5-4/7-5)
9. Texas Bowl (at-large invitation): California (3-6/6-6)

Southeastern Conference
The “Good Ole Boys” down South would argue that the top four teams in the SEC should be the four playoff teams, and with Alabama, Mississippi State, and Auburn this season, they might be 75% correct.

However, we see no possibility where three SEC teams will make the playoffs in year one. If it were to happen, there would be hell to pay by the other leagues.

In all honesty, the playoffs should be eight deep, and we believe this will happen in the next five or six years, thus allowing for automatic bids for all the Power 5 conference champions.

When Alabama has something to play for in November, you never bet against the Crimson Tide. They may be out of favor following their loss to Ole Miss and narrow win over Arkansas, but they are still Alabama, just like Kentucky in basketball.

Auburn is probably a little better in 2014 than they were last year when they advanced to the National Championship Game, but the Tigers still must face the Tide in Tuscaloosa.

Mississippi State is only the top-rated team in the land, but the Bulldogs have a November 15 date in Tuscaloosa and figure to end their reign at the top that day. Even a dejected Ole Miss squad could spoil the Maroons playoff chances at the Egg Bowl.

LSU’s season is on the line this Saturday night, and you know the Tigers have that magic at Tiger Stadium when the moon is out.

The East is a mess now with Florida knocking Georgia out of the playoff picture. If Georgia loses to Auburn, which is now a good bet, and Missouri falls at Texas A&M or Tennessee, which is also a high probability, and Florida beats South Carolina and Vanderbilt, which is highly probable, then there will be a three-way tie for first in the division. Let’s look at the tiebreaker system to see which team would be fodder for the West Division champion.

1. Head-to-Head: all three teams will be 1-1 against each other.
2. East Division Records: Georgia would be 4-2; Florida would be 5-1; and Missouri would be either 5-1 or 4-2 depending on whether they lost to A&M or UT. If Missouri lost to the Aggies and beat the Vols, then they would lose in the SEC Championship Game. If the Tigers lost to the Vols instead, then Florida would lose in the SEC Championship Game. For now, we believe the Gators will be that unfortunate team, and it will be hard to can Will Muschamp if he take UF to Atlanta on December 6.

With three teams playing in Big Six bowls, the league will not meet its bowl obligations, probably falling short by two, because we believe Kentucky will lose out to finish 5-7, and South Carolina will come up one game short as well.

1. PLAYOFFS—Sugar Bowl: Alabama (7-1/12-1)
2. PLAYOFFS—Rose Bowl: Mississippi State (7-1/11-1)
3. Cotton Bowl: Auburn (6-2/10-2)
4. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Missouri (5-3/9-3)
5. Outback Bowl: L S U (5-3/9-3)
6. Gator Bowl: Ole Miss (5-3/9-3)
7. Music City Bowl: Tennessee (4-4/7-5)
8. Liberty Bowl: Georgia (5-3/9-3)
9. Belk Bowl: Florida (5-3/7-5)

See more at http://www.piratings.webs.com

October 29, 2014

PiRate Ratings College Football Playoffs and Bowl Projections

For the projected bowl matchups, as well as ratings and predicted spreads, go to our website at:

http://www.piratings.webs.com

The committee has anted up and thrown out its opening bid, and the public is ready to call its bluff. The three of a kind known as the SEC West will not be the ultimate winning hand in this revolving poker game.

If you haven’t seen the opening ratings for the college football playoffs, it goes like this:

1. Mississippi State
2. Florida State
3. Auburn
4. Ole Miss
5. Oregon
6. Alabama
7. T C U
8. Michigan State
9. Kansas State
10. Notre Dame
11. Georgia
12. Arizona
13. Baylor
14. Arizona State
15. Nebraska
16. Ohio State
17. Utah
18. Oklahoma
19. L S U
20. West Virginia
21. Clemson
22. U C L A
23. East Carolina
24. Duke
25. Louisville

If the season ended today, there would be omelets served in New Orleans on New Year’s Day, as Ole Miss and Mississippi State would hook up to make the Sugar Bowl, the Egg Bowl, part deux. Florida State and Auburn would hook up in the Rose Bowl.

Of course, the season did not end Saturday, and these ratings are going to change, as these teams lose games. Ole Miss and Mississippi State will play in the real Egg Bowl, producing one loser. Ole Miss and Auburn play this week. Alabama still must play LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn. Auburn and Georgia must play. These teams will cannibalize each other, and it could end up with all the SEC teams suffering two losses.

Florida State has a trap game tomorrow night at Louisville, and the Seminoles may or may not have a legitimate running back able to play, while former Auburn star back Michael Dyer just emerged from a two year sabbatical to torch North Carolina State for 173 yards.

In the Big Ten, Michigan State and Ohio State must still face off in a couple weeks, and the winner of this game could face a one-loss Nebraska team in the Big Ten Championship Game, although we are not ready to say the Cornhuskers are headed to an 11-1 finish.

Oklahoma must still play Baylor in the Big 12, while Baylor must also still play Kansas State. TCU has games remaining against West Virginia and Kansas State. There could be no one-loss teams left here by December 7.

Out West, the Pac-12 is very competitive, and there are still one-loss teams in Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, and Utah. UCLA, USC, Stanford, Washington, and Oregon State could all play spoiler.

Notre Dame still has one loss, but the Irish have tough road games against Arizona State and USC.

For those fans that want an eight-team playoff, you really have a chance to consider the rest of the season a 16-team playoff, because any of the top 16 could possibly move up into the top four depending on how all these crucial games turn out.

Let’s take a look at how we see the rest of the season playing out. It is surely not going to be this way, but we want to make it interesting to read, while still looking possible.

All won-loss records shown are predicted final records and not current records.

The Group of Five

These five conferences are the leagues competing for one guaranteed spot in the New Year’s Eve/Day Big Four Bowls (Orange, Fiesta, Cotton, Peach). As of today, East Carolina from the American Athletic Conference is the highest only rated team, but we believe the Pirates will stub their toe one more time this year and allow another team to pass them. Marshall, Central Florida, and Boise State appear to be the only two other teams capable of moving into the top spot.

American Athletic Conference
UCF lost two games early, but the Knights have run off five straight wins and look to be on a roll. Their season-ender at ECU will decide the league title, and we are going to stick with George O’Leary’s squad until somebody beats them.

East Carolina has a couple of tough games to play before hosting UCF on December 4. They venture to Temple this weekend and follow that up with a road game at Cincinnati after a bye week.

Cincinnati, Houston, and Memphis still hold feint hopes of backing into the crown, while Temple is looking for bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011, and the Owls have a tough closing schedule.

1. St. Petersburg Bowl: Central Florida (8-0/10-2)
2. Miami Beach Bowl: East Carolina (7-1/10-2)
3. Armed Forces Bowl: Houston (6-2/8-4)
4. Military Bowl: Cincinnati (6-2/8-4)
5. Birmingham Bowl: Memphis (6-2/8-4)

Also Bowl Eligible: Temple (4-4/6-6)

Conference USA
Marshall has a better than 50-50 chance of running the table, and we believe the Thundering Herd has the best chance of winning the big prize for the Group of 5 teams. A road game against mediocre UAB and the conference title game, most likely against Louisiana Tech, are the only two possible road blocks. Coach Doc Holliday figures to be a key player in the Power 5 coaching carousel, as he may be the best recruiter in the business. He could be a wildcard in the Florida coaching search.

It looks like as many as seven CUSA teams will become bowl eligible for five guaranteed bids, but three will be mired at 6-6. Geography may help the league place all their bowl eligible teams in bowls if Marshall garners the big prize.

1. Peach Bowl: Marshall (8-0/13-0)
2. Hawaii Bowl: Louisiana Tech (7-1/8-5)
3. Bahamas Bowl: U T E P (5-3/7-5)
4. Boca Raton Bowl: Middle Tennessee (5-3/7-5)
5. New Mexico Bowl: Rice (4-4/6-6)
6. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Western Kentucky (3-5/6-6)
7. Independence Bowl (at-large invitation): U A B (4-4/6-6)

Mid-American Conference
Toledo is the highest-rated team, but the Rockets are too far down in the pecking order to contend for a New Year’s Big Four Bowl. Until a MAC team beats Toledo, we are going to call for the Rockets to run the table in the regular season. But, like in more than half the seasons, we believe the upset could send the underdog team to the top bowl.

The parity among the rest of the league means that as many as eight teams could get to six wins this year. The MAC is only allotted five bowls, so three teams could be left jilted at the end of the year, unless a Midwestern or Northeastern Bowl needs an at-large team.

1. Bahamas Bowl: Bowling Green (6-2/9-4)
2. Boca Raton Bowl: Toledo (8-0/9-4)
3. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Western Michigan (6-2/8-4)
4. Camellia Bowl: Central Michigan (6-2/8-4)
5. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Northern Illinois (4-4/7-5)

Also Bowl Eligible
Akron (5-3/7-5)
Ball State (5-3/6-6)
Ohio (4-4/6-6)

Mountain West Conference
Boise State’s loss at Air Force on September 27 is the only reason the Broncos are not the leading candidate from the Group of 5 leagues to make a New Year’s bowl. Their other loss is to Ole Miss, which is much better than East Carolina’s lone loss to South Carolina. If ECU loses again, and Marshall loses at all, the Broncos can earn the big bowl by winning out. A season finale against Utah State and a conference championship game against a weaker opponent is all that stands in their way of going 11-2.

Colorado State has just one loss this year, but it was to Boise State. The Rams could easily run the table and finish 11-1, and even with a win at Boston College, CSU does not figure to pass Boise State if the Broncos do not lose. Backroom politics could provide the Rams or Boise a shot at moving up to a better bowl even though there are no real rules for such a thing to happen. It has happened in the past.

1. Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State (7-1/11-2)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Colorado State (7-1/11-1)
3. Hawaii Bowl: Utah State (6-2/9-4)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Air Force (4-4/8-4)
5. New Orleans Bowl: Nevada (5-3/8-5)
6. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego State (5-3/7-5)
7. Cactus Bowl (alternate affiliate): Fresno State (5-3/6-6)

Sunbelt Conference
The Sunbelt Conference is perpetually the weakest overall league, but it most frequently produces surplus bowl eligible teams that get selected to Southern bowls needing at-large teams. Look for more of the same this year, as there will be at least five bowl eligible SBC teams for just three bowl tie-ins. We believe four of the five bowl eligible teams will be playing late in December or early in January.

Louisiana-Lafayette and Georgia Southern do not play each other this season, and chances are decent that they both will finish unbeaten in league play to split the title. ULL has been to the New Orleans Bowl three years running, and they might as well start putting this game on their regular schedule, because the folks in the Big Easy would like nothing more than to invite the Ragin’ Cajuns for a fourth straight year.

1. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Georgia Southern (8-0/10-2)
2. New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette (8-0/9-3)
3. Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State (6-2/8-4)
4. Independence Bowl (at-large invitation): South Alabama (5-3/6-6)

Also Bowl Eligible: Texas State (5-3/7-5)

Independents
Notre Dame is part of the Power 5 and not included in this section. Army, BYU, and Navy are all guaranteed specific bowls if they become bowl eligible. BYU is fading fast, but the Cougars should get that sixth win with UNLV and Savannah State still on the schedule. Navy might need an unbelievable 13th consecutive win over Army to get to six wins, but as of this week, we believe the Midshipmen will do it. Army will not get there this year, as the Black Knights have losses to Yale and Kent State. Navy will be their bowl game on December 13 in Baltimore.

1. Miami Beach Bowl: B Y U (6-6)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Navy (6-6)

The Power 5

Atlantic Coast Conference
Florida State can ill afford to drop an ACC game and expect to stay ahead of a host of other one-loss teams. The Seminoles have a lot of outside interference getting in their way at the present time, and a Thursday night nationally televised game at Louisville looks tricky at the moment. FSU must consider this game their “Sweet 16” round game in the playoffs, with their “Elite 8” game coming in the ACC Championship Game.

Duke is still technically alive for the Playoffs, but the Blue Devils would have to run the table and then handily defeat a 12-0 FSU team to have even a remote chance of finishing in the top four. A Duke team at 11-2 and as the highest ranked ACC team after Florida State, could force the Orange Bowl to invoke their clause, where they could invite Big Ten and SEC opponents, forcing Duke into the Buffalo Wild Wings (formerly Capital One) Bowl.

Notre Dame is included in the ACC grouping, and the Irish need to finish 11-1 or 10-2 to earn a Big Four New Year’s bowl. We believe they will.

Clemson is still in the mix for an Orange Bowl bid, but the Tigers must handle arch-rival South Carolina and still have a tricky game at Georgia Tech. We aren’t sure CU has the horses this year to win both games.

Louisville has a lot riding on their big game tomorrow night against Florida State. If the Cardinals win, they could possibly get on a roll, win at both Boston College and Notre Dame and finish 10-2 to get into the mix for the Orange Bowl. If they lose a heartbreaker, things could go the other way, and UL could be 6-5 when they host Kentucky on November 29.

The Coastal Division is looking more and more mixed up. Duke controls their own destiny, while the other six teams could all finish 6-6 or better. We believe one team will sink in the sunset while allowing the other teams to get bowl eligible. Virginia has suffered some disheartening losses this year, and we believe the Cavaliers will fall apart and fail to get to six wins.

Even with Notre Dame included in the bowl tie-ins, because both the Irish and Florida State appear to be headed to games outside the ACC contracts, this league will fall two teams shy in their obligations to bowls, opening up room for two other Southern bowl eligible teams to gain tickets to the waltz.

1. PLAYOFFS—Rose Bowl: Florida State (8-0/13-0)
2. Cotton Bowl: Notre Dame (10-2)
3. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Duke (7-1/11-2)
4. Russell Athletic Bowl: Clemson (7-1/9-3)
5. Gator Bowl: Georgia Tech (5-3/8-4)
6. Belk Bowl: Louisville (4-4/7-5)
7. Sun Bowl: Virginia Tech (4-4/7-5)
8. Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College (4-4/7-5)
9. Military Bowl: North Carolina (4-4/6-6)
10. Quick Lane Bowl: Miami (5-3/8-4)

Big Ten Conference
The Michigan State and Ohio State winner should sneak up into the top four if that team wins the Big Ten Championship Game as well. We believe that will happen, and the loser of the OSU-MSU game will still earn a Big Four New Year’s bowl with two losses.

With two teams expected to play in part of the overall Big Six bowl games, the Big Ten may not have enough bowl eligible teams for all their allotted spots. Teams like Maryland, Rutgers, Illinois, and Northwestern still have work to do to get to six wins. Indiana and Purdue are not included as possible bowl eligible teams at this point. For sanity’s sake, and to provide a surplus of one team to become an a quality at-large bowl invitee, we will call for UM, RU, IU, and NU to all finish 6-6.

1. PLAYOFFS—Rose Bowl: Michigan State (8-0/12-1)
2. Orange Bowl: Ohio State (7-1/10-2)
3. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Nebraska (5-3/9-3)
4. Outback Bowl: Wisconsin (6-2/9-4)
5. Holiday Bowl: Iowa (5-3/8-4)
6. Music City Bowl: Penn State (3-5/7-5)
7. San Francisco Bowl: Minnesota (4-4/7-5)
8. Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers (2-6/6-6)
9. Quick Lane Bowl: Illinois (3-5/6-6)
10. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Maryland (3-5/6-6)
11. St. Petersburg Bowl (at-large invitation): Northwestern (5-3/6-6)

Big 12 Conference
This is the league where a one-loss team has the unfortunate best chance to miss out on the playoffs to a one-loss Big Ten team. TCU and Baylor may not garner the same prestige as Michigan State and Ohio State, and thus the loser of this political game may have to settle for a Cotton Bowl bid, while a second Big 12 team winds up in the Fiesta Bowl, and a third team could go to Atlanta in the Peach Bowl against the Group of 5 invitee.

Texas, Texas Tech, Iowa State, and Kansas are virtually out of contention for bowl eligibility. With three teams expected to play in New Year’s bowls and just six probably bowl eligible teams, this league will not meet its obligations to supply seven bowls with teams.

1. Cotton Bowl: T C U (8-1/11-1)
2. Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma (7-2/10-2)
3. Peach Bowl: Baylor (7-2/10-2)
4. Alamo Bowl: Kansas State (6-3/8-4)
5. Russell Athletic Bowl: West Virginia (6-3/8-4)
6. Liberty Bowl: Oklahoma St. (4-5/6-6)

Pac-12 Conference
The Pac-12 still has four one-loss teams in both Arizona’s, Utah, and Oregon. We believe one team will emerge at 12-1, but because we are picking Arizona to be that team, the Wildcats would have to leapfrog Michigan State, after the Spartans beat Ohio State and either Wisconsin or Nebraska.

Oregon may find itself a victim of geographical circumstances if the Ducks do not win out and finish 12-1. At 11-2, Oregon might take a backseat to two-loss teams more than 1,000 miles closer to bowls available.

If no team from this league makes the playoffs, there will be surplus bowl eligible teams, and this league will be at the top in priority when other bowls start to look for at-large invitees.

1. Fiesta Bowl: Arizona (8-1/12-1)
2. Alamo Bowl: Oregon (7-1/11-2)
3. Holiday Bowl: Arizona St. (7-2/10-2)
4. San Francisco Bowl: U C L A (6-3/9-3)
5. Sun Bowl: U S C (6-3/7-5)
6. Las Vegas Bowl: Washington (4-5/8-5)
7. Cactus Bowl: Stanford (5-4/7-5)
8. Texas Bowl (at-large invitation): Utah (4-5/7-5)
9. Armed Forces Bowl (at-large invitation): Oregon State (3-6/6-6)

Southeastern Conference
The league that perpetually wears the black hat or is like rooting for the Yankees once again appears to be the strongest of all, but cannibalization in November is going to remove at least one of the projected three playoff spots.

Mississippi State is number one and undefeated, but we do not believe the Bulldogs have a snowball’s chance of winning three incredibly tough games they would have to win to be 13-0 on December 7. With Alabama, Ole Miss, and a possible SEC Championship Game bout with Georgia lurking ahead in the next five weeks, nobody could be expected to win all three.

Alabama is the enigma. The Crimson Tide is not a juggernaut and cannot be expected to totally shut down opponents with their defense like in past years. However, their offense is capable of looking more like the Denver Broncos. Alabama has tough games left against LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn, and we believe they will stub their toe at least once and miss out on the SEC Championship Game.

Auburn also has three tough games in their way of making it to the SEC Championship Game, and it is too tough for the Tigers to beat Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama.

Ole Miss could easily lose to Auburn this week and Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl to finish 9-3. They could also beat both teams to make it to the SEC Championship Game, but Georgia’s defense looks like it could stop the Rebels’ offense.

Somebody from the West must win the division flag and advance to the Championship Game, so we will go with Alabama for now, but we will also call for the Tide to lose to Georgia.

Georgia, the team from the East with little remaining resistance, looks to have a huge advantage to work out the kinks in their offense, get Todd Gurley back in November, and run the table, including winning the SEC Championship Game to sneak into the Playoffs. They will not be battered and bruised like the SEC West Champ.

In other bowl developments, look for Florida to miss out and finish 5-6. The Gators might try to arrange some type of backroom deal to get an invitation because they did not get to play Idaho, which would have been a for sure win to make them 6-6, but until the political stiffs come to that conclusion, we will leave the Gators out of the picture.

Kentucky and Tennessee are the two teams to watch. The Wildcats looked like a possible Buffalo Wild Wings or Outback Bowl contender two weeks ago, but consecutive losses to LSU and Mississippi State have put the Blue and White at the back of the pecking order. If the ‘Cats lose at Missouri this week, it is going to get iffy for the Blue Mist at 5-4. With games against Georgia, Tennessee, and Louisville, 5-7 is very possible.

As for Tennessee, the Volunteers are definitely the best 3-5 team in America with four top 20 losses. The schedule eases up quite a bit for the Big Orange in November, and it isn’t impossible that UT will win all four to finish 7-5. We believe 6-6 is almost assured, and Butch Jones will guide his squad into a bowl.

1. PLAYOFFS—Rose Bowl: Georgia (7-1/12-1)
2. PLAYOFFS—Sugar Bowl: Mississippi State (7-1/11-1)
3. Orange Bowl: Alabama (7-1/11-2)
4. Outback Bowl: Auburn (5-3/9-3)
5. Gator Bowl: Ole Miss (5-3/9-3)
6. Music City Bowl: L S U (5-3/9-3)
7. Belk Bowl: South Carolina (4-4/8-4)
8. Liberty Bowl: Tennessee (3-5/6-6)
9. Texas Bowl: Texas A&M (3-5/7-5)
10. Birmingham Bowl: Missouri (4-4/7-5)

October 21, 2014

PiRate Ratings College Football Playoffs and Bowls Coverage

For October 21, 2014

Note: You can find our award-winning ratings at http://www.piratings.webs.com

You can find numerous bowl projection sights on the Internet, so we see no reason to just put forth our projections like 100 others. The PiRate Ratings have always been a little different than other ratings. Our computer ratings use a system other than the actual scores of the games, using unique statistical data to come up with a truer score of every game before adjusting the ratings. Likewise, our bowl projections do not use the same criteria as other projectors.
We try to use our ratings to look forward and determine what the standings will look like on December 7. Then, we try to surmise the “political” nature of the bowls. For instance, you know that the ACC bowls would prefer to invite anybody other than Miami if they have a chance. When you cannot put 5,000 fans in your stadium for a home game against Cincinnati, another likely bowl team, it is not going to give a bowl like the Sun Bowl much faith that the Hurricanes will bring 20,000 fans to El Paso. Likewise, a 10-2 Auburn team is going to garner one of the big Bowl games not in the playoffs (Fiesta, Orange, Peach, or Cotton this year) before a 10-2 Washington team.

What we will do here is cover the bowls by conference. If you want to see the projections like 100 other sites, go to our website at the link below.

http://piratings.webs.com/bowlprojections.htm

Here is where we see the conferences and bowl possibilities for October 21, 2014.
Note: An Asterisk (*) means this is an at-large selection because the conference cannot meet its bowl tie-in obligation due to lack of bowl eligible team.

The Playoffs as we see it today

Sugar Bowl: #1 Ole Miss vs. #4 Ohio St.

Rose Bowl: #2 Florida St. vs. #3 Alabama

Group of 5 Conferences

American Athletic Conference
East Carolina controls its own destiny to become the first Group of 5 conference member to play in one of the Four New Year’s Eve/Day Big Bowls. At 11-1, the Pirates would top a 13-0 Marshall team. ECU has three potential possible upset games yet to play, but the Pirates are clearly better than anybody left on their schedule. Those three tough games to come are against Temple in Philadelphia on November 1; at Cincinnati on Thursday night, November 13; and a Thursday night regular season finale at home against Central Florida.

Central Florida should be on a roll when the Knights roll into Greenville for that big December 4 game. UCF should win nine games, and the Knights figure to be the second bowl selection out of the AAC.

Houston started the season with some trouble, but the Cougars have begun to play their best football of the season in the last few weeks. UH does not face ECU, so chances are slim that Coach Tony Levine’s team can sneak up and take the conference crown.

Cincinnati, Memphis, and Temple all should be bowl eligible, and there will be enough conference bids for all three.

1. Peach Bowl: East Carolina (vs. Notre Dame)
2. Birmingham Bowl: Memphis (vs. Kentucky)
3. St. Petersburg Bowl: Central Florida (vs. Miami)
4. Miami Beach Bowl: Cincinnati (vs. BYU)
5. Military Bowl: Temple (vs. Virginia)
6. Armed Forces Bowl: Houston (vs. Rutgers)

Conference USA
Marshall has a clear path to a 13-0 season, but the Thundering Herd still must get past UAB on the road and a possible tough Louisiana Tech team in the C-USA Championship Game. Marshall needs an ECU loss to occur in order to sneak into a possible Peach Bowl invitation.

Louisiana Tech appears to be the class of the West Division, but Bulldogs are no cinch with games still remaining against UAB on the road and Rice at home.

Middle Tennessee is on pace to win seven games and a mild upset over a swooning BYU Cougars team could lift that number to eight and make the Blue Raiders the third choice in the conference bowl pecking order.

The rest of the bowl invitations will go out to the three teams that can get to 6-6. As of today, we predict Rice, UAB, and Florida Atlantic will be those three teams. Failure to get three to 6-6 will help the Sunbelt or MAC.

1. Hawaii Bowl: Marshall (vs. Utah St.)
2. Bahamas Bowl: Louisiana Tech (vs. Toledo)
3. Boca Raton Bowl: Middle Tennessee (vs. Northern Illinois)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Rice (vs. Air Force)
5. Heart of Dallas Bowl: U A B (vs. Arkansas St. *)
6. Independence Bowl: Florida Atlantic * (vs. Georgia Tech)

Mid-American Conference
Toledo appears to be the top team at this point, but the Rockets are not a for-sure selection to win the MAC Championship, as there is some parity in the league this year.

Because there is not dominant team like an undefeated Northern Illinois team, there will definitely be many more bowl eligible teams than bowl spots. We foresee eight bowl eligible MAC teams with three not receiving bowl bids.

Politics and financial priorities will allow a team like Ohio to beat out Buffalo or Central Michigan if they all finish 7-5. Choosing between Ohio and Bowling Green will be tough, but we will take the Bobcats.

1. Bahamas Bowl: Toledo (vs. Louisiana Tech)
2. Boca Raton Bowl: Northern Illinois (vs. Middle Tennessee)
3. Idaho Potato Bowl: Akron (vs. Nevada)
4. Camellia Bowl: Western Michigan (vs. South Alabama)
5. Go Daddy Bowl: Ohio U (vs. Georgia Southern)

Mountain West Conference
Boise State’s upset loss to Air Force has kept the Broncos down at number three or four in the Group of 5 teams vying for the New Year’s Eve/Day bowl bid. The Broncos only other loss it to Ole Miss, which looks a lot better now than it did on August 28. BSU’s only bump in the road ahead is a home finale against Utah State on November 29.

Utah State, Colorado State, and Air Force are certainly going bowling from the Mountain Division. In the West Division, it looks like three teams could finish tied at 5-3. One of the three, Fresno State as of this week, is likely not to receive a bowl bid.

1. Las Vegas Bowl: Boise St. (vs. Stanford)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Colorado St. (vs. Oregon St. *)
3. Hawaii Bowl: Utah St. (vs. Marshall)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Air Force (vs. Rice)
5. New Orleans Bowl: San Diego St. (vs. Louisiana-Lafayette)
6. Idaho Potato Bowl: Nevada (vs. Akron)

Sunbelt Conference
This is the only Group of Five conference with zero chance of having a team play in a New Year’s Eve/Day bowl. Georgia Southern had their chances, blowing second half leads to North Carolina State and Georgia Tech. The Eagles appear to be the class of the league this year, with Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State just behind. GSU does not play either team this year and should run the table in league play.

UL-Lafayette and Arkansas State should receive some form of bowl invitation, be it from a conference tie-in or as an at-large. (Note—this was written before these two teams faced off Tuesday night.)

South Alabama may finish a game or even two behind Louisiana-Monroe and may finished tied with Texas State, but the Jaguars figure to earn the Camellia Bowl bid just up the road in Montgomery with six or more wins.

Texas State could luck into an at-large bowl invitation, since it appears there will be some Lone Star State bowl games needing an at-large team.

1. Go Daddy Bowl: Georgia Southern (vs. Ohio U)
2. New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette (vs. San Diego St.)
3. Camellia Bowl: South Alabama (vs. Western Michigan)
4. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Arkansas St. * (vs. U A B)
5. Texas Bowl: Texas St. * (vs. Texas A&M)

Independents
For Notre Dame, please see the Atlantic Coast Conference

The Army artillery has come up a mile short of its target this year, so the Black Knights will once again fail to achieve bowl eligibility. The Navy’s ship is taking on water quickly and appears headed to the bottom of the ocean floor. Look for the Armed Forces and Poinsettia Bowls to look elsewhere.

BYU is sinking in quicksand since the loss of their star quarterback, but the Cougars already had enough wins in the bank to see bowl eligibility.

1. Miami Beach Bowl: B Y U (vs. Cincinnati)

Power 5 Conferences

Atlantic Coast Conference (& Notre Dame)
Florida State has two tiny hurdles left to cross before waltzing into the playoffs. The Seminoles play at Louisville a week from Thursday, and they will more than likely face Duke in the ACC Championship Game. FSU has the best chance of any FBS team of running the table this season.

Notre Dame might lose to USC, but we believe the Fighting Irish still earn a New Year’s Eve/Day bowl bid at 10-2. Clemson will not be so lucky if the Irish end up 10-2, for a 10-2 Tiger team would not get into one of the Big Six bowls.

Duke could repeat as Coastal Division champions, but the Blue Devils still appear to be a two to three touchdown underdog to FSU. Any of the six Coastal teams could finish bowl eligible, and we believe six of the seven will. The bowl representatives hope the one that doesn’t is Miami, but the Hurricanes have the look of a 6-6 team. This week, we select North Carolina to finish 5-7.

1. Rose Bowl: Florida St. (vs. Alabama)
2. Peach Bowl: Notre Dame (vs. East Carolina)
3. Russell Athletic Bowl: Duke (vs. Kansas St.)
4. Capital One Bowl ^: Clemson (vs. Mississippi St.)
5. Gator Bowl: Louisville (vs. South Carolina)
6. Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech (vs. Tennessee)
7. Sun Bowl: Pittsburgh (vs. Arizona St.)
8. Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College (vs. Penn St.)
9. Military Bowl: Virginia (vs. Temple)
10. Independence Bowl: Georgia Tech (vs. Florida Atlantic *)
11. Quick Lane Bowl: North Carolina St. (vs. Maryland)
12. St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami (vs. Central Florida

^: If a Big Ten team plays in the Orange Bowl as the SEC opponent, the Capital One Bowl can issue a bid to an ACC Team

Big Ten Conference
Michigan State and Ohio State are headed to a major clash in East Lansing on November 8, and the winner can back into a playoff spot if they win out and finish 12-1. Nebraska has a minor chance to sneak in if the Cornhuskers run the table and beat the Michigan State-Ohio State winner in the conference title game.

We have removed one team from the total here this week, as we now believe that Northwestern could lose to Purdue, and neither team will win six games. Indiana and Illinois appear to have too much left to do to get to six wins. Michigan is not even among the possibilities.

1. Sugar Bowl: Ohio St. (vs. Ole Miss)
2. Orange Bowl: Michigan St. (vs. Georgia)
3. Outback Bowl: Nebraska (vs. Auburn)
4. Holiday Bowl: Wisconsin (vs. Arizona)
5. Music City Bowl: Minnesota (vs. L S U)
6. San Francisco Bowl: Iowa (vs. U C L A)
7. Pinstripe Bowl: Penn State (vs. Boston College)
8. Quick Lane Bowl: Maryland (vs. North Carolina St.)
9. Armed Forces Bowl: Rutgers (vs. Houston)

Big 12 Conference
That hissing sound you heard the last two weeks was the sound of the Big 12 Conference balloon losing all its playoff air. TCU fell out of the picture when they blew a 21-point lead to Baylor. Then Baylor and Oklahoma fell out of the race with bad losses last week.

Kansas State could sneak into the picture if the Wildcats run the table, beating TCU and Baylor, both on the road. We don’t see that happening.

Because Texas and Texas Tech do not have favorable remaining schedules and appear to be headed to losing seasons, the Big 12 will only have six bowl eligible teams, and even though none will make the playoffs, two should earn Big Six bowl bids. That will leave two bowls Texas and Armed Forces) looking for at-large invitees.

1. Fiesta Bowl: T C U (vs. U S C)
2. Cotton Bowl: Baylor (vs. Oregon)
3. Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma (vs. Washington)
4. Russell Athletic Bowl: Kansas St. (vs. Duke)
5. Liberty Bowl: West Virginia (vs. Missouri)
6. Cactus Bowl: Oklahoma St. (vs. Utah)

Pac-12 Conference
It is going to be very tough for a Pac-12 team to make the playoffs this year. Oregon could do so by running the table, but the Ducks seem to have a defensive breakdown once a month, and we see one more loss in their future. Utah and Arizona still have just one loss, but we see multiple losses ahead for both.

USC may be the best team on the coast, but the Trojans have two losses and appear to have no chance to earn a spot in the playoffs. UCLA, Washington, Arizona State, Stanford, and Oregon State should join the others mentioned in a bowl. One will have to receive an at-large invitation, but there will be one available for sure.

1. Fiesta Bowl: U S C (vs. T C U)
2. Cotton Bowl: Oregon (vs. Baylor)
3. Alamo Bowl: Washington (vs. Oklahoma)
4. Holiday Bowl: Arizona (vs. Wisconsin)
5. San Francisco Bowl: U C L A (vs. Iowa)
6. Sun Bowl: Arizona St. (vs. Pittsburgh)
7. Las Vegas Bowl: Stanford (vs. Boise St.)
8. Cactus Bowl: Utah (vs. Oklahoma St.)
9. Poinsettia Bowl: Oregon St. * (vs. Colorado St.)

Southeastern Conference
The league everybody else likes to hate can seriously stake a claim to having the top four teams in the nation and possibly top five teams. We do not believe Florida State could finish in the top half of the West Division standings this year.

In fact, our Mean ratings this week have Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn, and Mississippi State as the top four teams. The SEC will get no more than two teams into the playoffs, because the rest of the FBS leagues would pick up their marbles and go home if more than two make it.

Our ratings show Ole Miss to be the hands-down best team in the nation at the present time, and Alabama is right there just behind. Auburn lost at Mississippi State, and the Bulldogs are still undefeated, but our ratings believe the Maroon and White will lose to both Alabama and Ole Miss.

Georgia is the wildcard in the hunt, as the Bulldogs need only beat Auburn to avoid another loss. At 7-1/11-1, UGA is one win away from a playoff spot.

Last week, Kentucky showed signs of a possible upcoming swoon, where the Wildcats could have to claw to that sixth win. Tennessee will be looking at a November where the Vols must go 3-1, but the schedule gives the Orange and White four winnable November games.

South Carolina and Missouri have shown numerous weaknesses but both teams will become bowl eligible. LSU and Texas A&M will join this group in the lower pecking order.

Florida appears to be headed to a 5-6 season, and the cancelled game with Idaho will not be made up, so Will Muschamp will go out with consecutive losing seasons in Gainesville, and the Gators will look hard at trying to lure Art Briles away from Baylor. And, it will mean that there will be one bowl (Independence) available to another team as an at-large selection.

1. Sugar Bowl: Ole Miss (vs. Ohio St.)
2. Rose Bowl: Alabama (vs. Florida St.)
3. Orange Bowl: Georgia (vs. Michigan St.)
4. Capital One Bowl: Mississippi St. (vs. Clemson)
5. Outback Bowl: Auburn (vs. Nebraska)
6. Gator Bowl: South Carolina (vs. Louisville)
7. Music City Bowl: L S U (vs. Minnesota)
8. Liberty Bowl: Missouri (vs. West Virginia)
9. Texas Bowl: Texas A&M (vs. Texas St. *)
10. Belk Bowl: Tennessee (vs. Virginia Tech)
11. Birmingham Bowl: Kentucky (vs. Memphis)

Teams that should be bowl eligible but not invited to bowls: Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Fresno St., and Louisiana-Monroe

October 15, 2014

PiRate Ratings College Football Playoffs and Bowls Coverage

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , — piratings @ 5:09 am

Note: You can find our award-winning ratings at http://www.piratings.webs.com

You can find numerous bowl projection sights on the Internet, so we see no reason to just put forth our projections like 100 others. The PiRate Ratings have always been a little different than other ratings. Our computer ratings use a system other than the actual scores of the games, using unique statistical data to come up with a truer score of every game before adjusting the ratings. Likewise, our bowl projections do not use the same criteria as other projectors.

We try to use our ratings to look forward and determine what the standings will look like on December 7. Then, we try to surmise the “political” nature of the bowls. For instance, you know that the ACC bowls would prefer to invite anybody other than Miami if they have a chance. When you cannot put 5,000 fans in your stadium for a home game against Cincinnati, another likely bowl team, it is not going to give a bowl like the Sun Bowl much faith that the Hurricanes will bring 20,000 fans to El Paso. Likewise, a 10-2 Auburn team is going to garner one of the big Bowl games not in the playoffs (Fiesta, Orange, Peach, or Cotton this year) before a 10-2 Washington team.

What we will do here is cover the bowls by conference. If you want to see the projections like 100 other sites, go to our website at the link below.

http://piratings.webs.com/bowlprojections.htm

Here is where we see the conferences and bowl possibilities for October 15, 2014.

Note: An Asterisk (*) means this is an at-large selection because the conference cannot meet its bowl tie-in obligation due to lack of bowl eligible team.

Non Big 5 Conferences

American Athletic Conference
East Carolina is the leader in the pack to be the guaranteed Big Bowl invitee from a non Big 5 automatic qualifying conference. The four big bowls not involved in the playoffs this year are the Fiesta, Orange, Peach, and Cotton. It will not be easy, since there are tough road games left at Temple and Cincinnati, as well as a Thursday, December 4 game at home against Central Florida, who could also be undefeated in conference play when they face off in Greenville.

Houston, Memphis, Cincinnati, and Temple should all gain bowl eligibility. If ECU earns the big bowl invitation, there will be six spots available. We believe there will be six bowl eligible teams, so if the Pirates do not earn this spot, one AAC team will not be guaranteed a bowl.

1. Peach Bowl: East Carolina (vs. Notre Dame)
2. Birmingham Bowl: Memphis (vs. Kentucky)
3. St. Petersburg Bowl: Central Florida (vs. Miami)
4. Miami Beach Bowl: Houston (vs. B Y U)
5. Military Bowl: Temple (vs. Virginia)
6. Armed Forces Bowl: Cincinnati (vs. Northwestern *)

Conference USA
CUSA allows its champion to select its bowl destination from among the five tie-ins. It is a safe bet that the champion will choose either the Hawaii or Bahamas Bowl.

Marshall is undefeated at 6-0, and the Thundering Herd has a legitimate path to running the table and hoping that East Carolina will fall and drop below them in the rankings. However, we PiRates are a little different. At the moment, we are not even picking Marshall to win the division. A September 20 win at Akron has been their only impressive victory to date. We believe MU will stumble in a November 22 game at UAB, and the surprising Blazers will sneak through as division winners. UAB took current number one Mississippi State deep into the game before losing and has just one semi-tough conference road game yet to play.

The West Division looks like Louisiana Tech’s for the taking. The Bulldogs should take advantage of North Texas and UTSA having subpar seasons and outlast Rice for the division flag.

1. Bahamas Bowl: Louisiana Tech (vs. Toledo)
2. Hawaii Bowl: Marshall (vs. Air Force)
3. Boca Raton Bowl: U A B (vs. Northern Illinois)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Western Kentucky (vs. Utah St.)
5. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Rice (vs. Utah *)

Independents
We do not include Notre Dame in the Independents section, since they caucus with the ACC. The other three Indies all have bowl tie-ins, but only BYU figure to be bowl eligible, as neither Army nor Navy show promise to get to six wins.

1. Miami Beach Bowl: B Y U (vs. Houston)

Mid-American
This is one year where the MAC will not have a highly-ranked team. Northern Illinois has already lost twice, and Toledo has fallen thrice in nonconference play. Still, five teams will receive invitations, and seven should be bowl eligible with a slim possibility that a sixth team earns an at-large spot.

Akron has the most impressive non-league win at Pittsburgh, but the Zips have lost to Penn State and Marshall.

The West should be decided this weekend when Central Michigan travels to Toledo.

1. Bahamas Bowl: Toledo (vs. Louisiana Tech)
2. Boca Raton Bowl: Northern Illinois (vs. UAB)
3. Idaho Potato Bowl: Akron (vs. San Diego St.)
4. Camellia Bowl: Bowling Green (vs. South Alabama)
5. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Central Michigan (vs. Georgia Southern)

Mountain West
It has been five seasons since Boise State played in a big bowl. It will be six, as the Broncos have two losses this year. The Broncos only chance is to run the table and hope both Marshall and East Carolina stub their toes. Boise finishes the regular season at home against Utah State, and the winner of that game should take the Mountain Division title, although Colorado State is still in the mix.

In the West Division, we believe 5-3 will get a team a share of the division flag, and we believe three teams will finish with that mark. San Diego State, Nevada, and Fresno State appear to be headed toward a three-way tie, but FSU will have just one non-league victory, while the other two will have two and seven total wins.

1. Las Vegas Bowl: Boise St. (vs. Stanford)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Colorado St. (vs. Arizona St. *)
3. Hawaii Bowl: Air Force (vs. Marshall)
4. New Mexico Bowl: Utah St. (vs. Western Kentucky)
5. New Orleans Bowl: Nevada (vs. Louisiana-Lafayette)
6. Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego St. (vs. Akron)

Sunbelt
This may be the weakest overall FBS conference, and many of its former better members have fled to Conference USA, but the SBC should produce six bowl eligible teams, and five should end up in bowls.

Georgia Southern may be in its first year as an official FBS member, but the Eagles look to be the top team in the league. They do not play Louisiana-Lafayette, and the only tough conference opponent left on their schedule is a home finale against Louisiana-Monroe.

Arkansas State continues to play well with yet another first-year coach, and we expect the Red Wolves to play in a bowl for the fourth consecutive season.

Louisiana-Lafayette did not look particularly strong in September, but losses to Ole Miss and Boise State look a little different in October. The blowout win at Texas State last night showed that the Ragin’ Cajuns are the top competitor to Georgia Southern. A road game at Louisiana-Monroe could be the deciding factor.

1. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Georgia Southern (vs. Central Michigan)
2. New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette (vs. Nevada)
3. Camellia Bowl: South Alabama (vs. Bowling Green)
4. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Louisiana-Monroe * (vs. Rice)
5. Texas Bowl: Arkansas St. * (vs. Florida)

Big Five Conferences

Atlantic Coast
We might be able to see into the near future when it comes to the schedule, but we cannot do the same for the police blotter. Therefore, until there is news that might affect the outcome of this conference, we will assume that no Heisman Trophy quarterbacks will miss any games.

With Jameis Winston under center, Florida State has a clear path to 13-0 and a spot in the playoffs. Without Winston, games at Louisville and at home with Virginia and Boston College are going to be losable. Of course, a home game this weekend against Notre Dame could be tough with Winston at QB. Clemson, Louisville, and Boston College will join the Seminoles in bowls, while North Carolina State and Syracuse appear to be just a little short in talent.

The Coastal Division can be taken once again with a 6-2 conference record, and after last week, we believe Duke is capable of being that team once again. Six of the seven Coastal representatives should be bowl eligible.

Notre Dame is included in the ACC when bowl bids are handed out, and the Fighting Irish are looking at 10-2, 11-1, or even 12-0. We believe at 10-2, the Irish will jump over many other teams to get a Big Bowl bid.

1. Playoff (Sugar Bowl): Florida St. (vs. Baylor)
2. Peach Bowl: Notre Dame (vs. East Carolina)
3. Russell Athletic Bowl: Duke (vs. Kansas St.)
4. Gator Bowl: Clemson (vs. Texas A&M)
5. Belk Bowl: Virginia Tech (vs. South Carolina)
6. Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech (vs. Oregon St.)
7. Pinstripe Bowl: Boston College (vs. Rutgers)
8. Military Bowl: Virginia (vs. Temple)
9. Independence Bowl: Pittsburgh (vs. Missouri)
10. Quick Lane Bowl: Louisville (vs. Maryland)
11. St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami (vs. Central Florida)

Big Ten
The Big Ten was given up for dead by October 4 when by then Ohio State had lost to Virginia Tech, Michigan State had lost to Oregon, Nebraska had lost to Michigan State, and Wisconsin had lost twice. However, we are not ready to give up on this league. Ohio State and Michigan State face off in East Lansing on November 8, and the winner of that game should win out to end the regular season at 12-1. With the SEC cannibalizing itself and with the Pac-12 looking to be the odd conference out, a 12-1 Big Ten champion should sneak into the playoff.

With 14 members and nine bowls, we believe 10 league teams will be bowl eligible. This will not be a problem, because we believe that the Big Ten will place one team in the playoffs and one team in a Big Bowl, allowing all 10 bowl eligible teams to play in a bowl.

1. Playoff (Rose Bowl): Ohio St. (vs. Ole Miss)
2. Orange Bowl: Michigan St. (vs. Auburn)
3. Capital One Bowl: Iowa (vs. Alabama)
4. Outback Bowl: Wisconsin (vs. Georgia)
5. Holiday Bowl: Nebraska (vs. Arizona)
6. Music City Bowl: Minnesota (vs. Tennessee)
7. San Francisco Bowl: Penn St. (vs. UCLA)
8. Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers (vs. Boston College)
9. Quick Lane Bowl: Maryland (vs. Louisville)
10. Armed Forces Bowl: Northwestern (vs. Cincinnati)

Big 12
The possibility is there for Baylor, Oklahoma, and TCU finishing 8-1/11-1. Baylor faces Oklahoma in Norman on November 8. For now, we are going to take the Bears all the way to the finish line, but that is not a solid choice.

Even if both Oklahoma and TCU lose a second game, it is close to a lock that a second Big 12 team will get one of the other four Big Bowl games. Because both Texas and Texas Tech look like they are headed to losing records, and Kansas and Iowa State are virtual locks to do the same, there will be just six bowl eligible teams here. Figuring that the league will send a second team to one of the Big Bowls, there will be six teams for eight spots, meaning the Texas and Heart of Dallas Bowls will have to find at-large invitees.

1. Playoff (Sugar Bowl): Baylor (vs. Florida St.)
2. Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma (vs. U S C)
3. Alamo Bowl: T C U (vs. Washington)
4. Russell Athletic Bowl: Kansas St. (vs. Duke)
5. Liberty Bowl: Oklahoma St. (vs. LSU)
6. Cactus Bowl: West Virginia (vs. Utah)

Pac-12
Arizona’s loss to USC puts the Pac-12 in a position where no team will finish 12-1, as the league is too balanced this year. USC’s loss at Boston College will prevent the Trojans from getting in. Oregon still has tough road games against Utah and Oregon State, and we believe the Ducks will drop one of these games. Washington has just one loss, but the Huskies still face Oregon at Autzen Stadium. We believe of the four Big 5 conferences, this league will be the odd man out in the playoffs in year one.

Nine teams should become bowl eligible, and the Pac-12 only receives seven guaranteed bowl bids. We believe the Pac-12 will place two teams in the Big Bowls of December 31/January 1. While losing out in the playoff chase, the conference will definitely trump all others and supply two at-large bowl bids and still come up one team short in their allotments.

1. Fiesta Bowl: U S C (vs. Oklahoma)
2. Cotton Bowl: Oregon (vs. Mississippi St.)
3. Alamo Bowl: Washington (vs. TCU)
4. Holiday Bowl: Arizona (vs. Nebraska)
5. San Francisco Bowl: U C L A (vs. Penn St.)
6. Sun Bowl: Oregon St. (vs. Georgia Tech)
7. Las Vegas Bowl: Stanford (vs. Boise St.)
8. Cactus Bowl: Utah (vs. West Virginia)
9. Poinsettia Bowl: Arizona St. * (vs. Colorado St.)

Southeastern
It has been repeated ad nauseum that the SEC West could supply all four playoff teams this year. Mississippi State and Ole Miss currently rank one and three nationally, and these two undefeated teams could both still lose twice! We don’t see that happening, as we believe one team will run the table and be the top-seeded school in the Playoff.

Alabama, the consensus choice to be the SEC’s first playoff representative has one loss and is still in the hunt, but we don’t see the Crimson Tide running the table from here. ‘Bama faces Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn in the weeks to come, and a second and possible third loss await the boys from Tuscaloosa.

The East is considerably weaker again, and Georgia benefits here. There is a chance the Bulldogs can run the table, if their defense can continue to play like it did at Missouri last week. There is also a chance UGA could lose at Arkansas this week and prove that the bottom team in the West is still better than the top team in the East.

Kentucky is one missed referee’s call from being 6-0, but we are not yet ready to buy in on the Wildcats being a Top 10 team. The Blue Mist is not even ranked at 5-1, so Coach Mark Stoops’ troops will have to earn respect by defeating a ranked team. UK gets that opportunity, because three of their next four games come against LSU, Mississippi State, and Georgia. Road contests against Missouri, Tennessee, and Louisville are not sure things, so there is still a remote possibility that Kentucky can drop six games in a row to finish out of the bowl picture. We do not see that happening.

Missouri and Tennessee still need to complete some unfinished business. Neither team has shown a propensity for playing tough on both sides of the ball in the same game. Missouri has four winnable games left and should get to six wins. Tennessee will need one upset in their final six. Ole Miss and Alabama look like sure losses, so the Vols will have to take care of South Carolina or Kentucky and defeat both Missouri and Vanderbilt to become bowl eligible. We are picking the orange and white to get that sixth win for now.

1. Playoff (Rose Bowl): Ole Miss (vs. Ohio St.)
2. Orange Bowl: Auburn (vs. Michigan St.)
3. Cotton Bowl: Mississippi St. (vs. Oregon)
4. Capital One Bowl: Alabama (vs. Iowa)
5. Outback Bowl: Georgia (vs. Wisconsin)
6. Gator Bowl: Texas A&M (vs. Clemson)
7. Music City Bowl: Tennessee (vs. Minnesota)
8. Liberty Bowl: L S U (vs. Oklahoma St.)
9. Texas Bowl: Florida (vs. Arkansas St. *)
10. Belk Bowl: South Carolina (vs. Virginia Tech)
11. Birmingham Bowl: Kentucky (vs. Memphis)
12. Independence Bowl: Missouri (vs. Pittsburgh)

The following six teams figure to be bowl eligible but jilted this season: Buffalo, Florida International, Fresno St., Middle Tennessee, Texas St., and Western Michigan

August 26, 2014

Special Bulletin!

Filed under: 1 — Tags: , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:36 am

Due to issues beyond our control, namely WordPress choosing to make it difficult to paste tabular data from Microsoft Excel, the PiRate Ratings will no longer publish their weekly ratings to this site.

 

Please visit our webpage at:  http://www.piratings.webs.com

 

June 1, 2014

PiRate College and Pro Football Coverage for 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — piratings @ 6:02 am

Welcome back to the PiRate Ratings.  We have enjoyed our little respite from rating college and pro football and NCAA basketball, and we are ready to start up again for the 2014-15 season.

Due to heavy workloads, we will streamline our coverage some this year.  The August previews will basically just be statistical looks at the preseason without long-winded previews.

During the regular season, we will issue ratings and other tidbits, but we will no longer select games against the spread, since we do not have the 20-30 hours a week it takes to find our selections.

Look for our first conference reviews to run around Saturday, August 16, and our first NFL review to run around Wednesday, August 27.

We are considering adding a new twist this year.  Since we are members of both the Massey Comparison Rankings and The Prediction Tracker (links available to the side), we might create a new rating based on the most successful computer ratings, as sort of the Dow Jones Industrials of football ratings.

 

 

 

April 6, 2014

PiRate Ratings Preview of NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship

This has been one of the most interesting NCAA Tournaments in many years.  Never have both title game participants both enter the game with eight or more losses.  Kentucky with 10 and Connecticut with 8 make for the most total losses by title contenders at 18.  The same goes for highest combined seeds (UK-8/UConn-7).  Both teams failed to play in the NCAA Tournament at all last year, although Connecticut was ineligible due to academic progress issues.

 

The most interesting part of this equation for us involves the Huskies.  Connecticut has become the first team ever to make the Championship Game with a negative R+T rating.  R+T is a statistic that we invented.  It is similar to park-adjusted On-Base Plus Slugging Percentage in baseball.  It is a one-for-one adjustment to the number of extra scoring opportunities a team should expect to obtain in a game due to rebounds and turnovers, but with a higher emphasis on offensive rebounds and steals, which most frequently lead to easy scoring chances.

 

These schools squared off in the Final Four in 2011, which just so happened to be played in the Lone Star State.  Connecticut edged Kentucky by one point at Reliant Stadium in Houston.  No current Kentucky player was on the 2011 roster, while three Husky players saw action in that game.

 

Here is our look at the starting lineups.

 

Point Guard:

Kentucky—Andrew Harrison   #5        6-6, 215 Fr.

Connecticut—Shabazz Napier #13      6-1, 180 Sr.

Shooting Guard:

Kentucky—Aaron Harrison   #2        6-6, 218 Fr.

Connecticut—Ryan Boatright  #11      6-0, 168 Jr.

Small Forward:

Kentucky—James Young  #1        6-6, 215 Fr.

Connecticut—Niels Giffey #5        6-7, 205 Sr.

 

Power Forward:

Kentucky—Julius Randle    #30      6-9, 250 Fr.

Connecticut—DeAndre Daniels  #2    6-9, 195 Jr.

 

Center:

Kentucky—Dakari Johnson  #44      7-0, 265 Fr.

Connecticut—Phillip Nolan   #0        6-10, 212 So.

 

Reserves

Kentucky—Alex Poythress    #22      6-8, 239 So.

Kentucky—Marcus Lee     #00      6-9, 215 Fr.

Kentucky—Jarrod Polson  #3        6-2, 182 Sr.

Kentucky-Dominique Hawkins  #25      6-0, 193 Fr.

 

Connecticut—Lasan Kromah #20      6-6, 201 Jr.

Connecticut—Amida Brimah #35      7-0, 217 Fr.

Connecticut—Tyler Olander   #10      6-10, 230 Sr.

Connecticut—Terrence Samuel  #3        6-4, 190 Fr.

 

Here is our special statistical look at the game.

 

Stat Kentucky Connecticut
FG 986 949
FG-Att 2168 2109
3-Pt 198 281
Effective FG% 50.0 51.7
Def FG 911 860
Def FG-Att 2218 2195
Def 3-pt 216 236
Def Effective FG% 45.9 44.6
Offensive Reb 564 379
Opp. Def. Reb 768 863
Reb Rate 42.3 30.5
Opp. Off. Reb 429 482
Defensive Reb 1011 983
Opp. Reb Rate 29.8 32.9
Turnovers 468 447
Free Throw Attempts 1122 819
Turnover Rate 14.8 15.2
Opp. Turnovers 418 505
Opp. FT-Attempts 826 777
Opp. Turnover Rate 13.8 16.5
Free Throws Made 768 634
Free Throw Rate 29.5 24.7
Opp. FT-Made 567 519
Opp. FT Rate 21.8 20.1
Possessions/Game 66.8 65.8
R + T Rating 14.3 -1.1
Road/Neutral W-L 13-8 16-5
Strength of Schedule .5825 .5735
FG% Margin Score 3.54 6.13
Reb Rate Score 3.12 -0.59
TO Margin Score -0.37 0.49
FT Rate Score 1.27 0.77
PiRate Criteria Score 7.57 6.80
Predicted Score 69 67

 

April 4, 2014

PiRate Ratings Final Four Criteria Preview

We only made it to North Texas with one of our Final Four participants, and we did not pick Florida to win the National Championship, so this year is a bust. Nevertheless, we will go ahead and preview the remaining games.

Overall, we are 43-17 (72%) in the prediction of tournament games to this point.

Here is our preview of the National Semifinal round.

Time (ET) Team vs. Team
6:09 PM #1 Florida (36-2) vs. #7 Connecticut (30-8)
8:49 PM #2 Wisconsin (30-7) vs. #8 Kentucky (28-10)

Florida vs. Connecticut–Criteria Components
Strength of Schedule: Tie
Field Goal % Margin: Florida by 0.7
Rebound Margin: Florida by 13.6
Turnover Margin: Florida by 2.3
Steal Margin: Florida by 0.1
R+T Rating: Florida by 12.4

PiRate Criteria: Florida by 7 criteria points
Estimated Spread: Florida by 17
Predicted Score: Florida 75 Connecticut 58

Kentucky vs. Wisconsin—Criteria Components
Strength of Schedule: Wisconsin by 0.9
Field Goal % Margin: Wisconsin by 2.0
Rebound Margin: Kentucky by 11.5
Turnover Margin: Wisconsin by 3.4
Steal Margin: Wisconsin by 0.1
R+T Rating: Kentucky by 13.2

PiRate Criteria: Kentucky by 2 criteria points
Estimated Spread: Kentucky by 4
Predicted Score: Kentucky 71 Wisconsin 67

 

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