The Pi-Rate Ratings

November 30, 2009

PiRate Ratings and Spreads For College Football–November 30-December 12

It’s The Week We’ve All Been Waiting For


It seems like just last week the college football season kicked off, and here it is the end of the regular season.  A handful of games can potentially scramble the bowl bids that will go out Sunday.  With the holidays bringing the five PiRates together under the same roof in northwest Wisconsin for too much turkey and other booty, we stayed up late gathering information for this special bowl edition.  We think through hard work and phone calls to contacts in multiple locations, we have one of the best views of the bowl games.

This edition will not be a speculative one.  We are actually trying to use information we have gathered to report where we believe the bowls are looking with six days to go.

The BCS Bowls

National Championship Game:  Obviously the winner of this week’s Alabama-Florida game in the SEC Championship will finish number one.  If Texas wins, then everything is rather easy.  The Longhorns will finish number two.  Here’s where things get dicey.  If Texas loses, there will be controversy no matter which team makes it to Pasadena.  TCU would be the logical choice, but Cincinnati could edge ahead of the Horned Frogs with a convincing win over Pittsburgh.  And, if Alabama were to edge Florida by a point or win in overtime, there is still a possibility that Alabama and Florida could meet in a rematch.  Remember something; part of the BCS equation is human voting.  The fourth estate has never been confused for being honest and just.  All it takes is for a few voters to move TCU down one spot, and the fix would be in.

We believe Nebraska’s lack of offense will make this all superfluous.  Texas will win by double digits this week and face the SEC winner for the national championship.  We’ve taken a vote here in the Northwoods; one of us believes Florida will win this week.  One of us believes Alabama will win, and the other three consider it a tossup.  It should be the next “greatest game,” in the mold of Ohio State and Michigan in 2006, Florida State and Florida in 1996, Notre Dame and USC in 1988, and the two greatest late season matchups of #1 vs. #2—Oklahoma and Nebraska in 1971 and Notre Dame and Michigan State in 1966. 

Orange Bowl: The winner of this week’s Clemson-Georgia Tech game for the ACC Championship will automatically go to Miami.  We believe Clemson has a better than 50% chance of pulling off the upset.  In their regular season game, Clemson’s comedy of errors led to the Yellow Jackets getting a big lead.  The Tigers made a great comeback and almost pulled it off.  We thing CU gets revenge this week and heads to Miami with a weak 8-4 record.  The Orange Bowl will get the third selection in the at-large draft if Texas wins.  The Sugar and Fiesta Bowls will have already picked because they will have lost teams to the National Championship Game.  With Alabama or Florida and Iowa already taken off the board, this pick will come down to either the Big East champion, Boise State, or TCU.  If Cincinnati beats Pittsburgh, we don’t see the Bearcats being chosen even though they would be 12-0.  Cincinnati played in Miami last year.  It would come down to TCU and Boise State.  Believe it or not, Boise’s fans travel better, so we will go with Boise State here.

If Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati, the Panthers will probably wind up here, and Boise State would head to the Fiesta Bowl.

Fiesta Bowl: Assuming Texas wins, the Fiesta Bowl will get the second and fourth picks in the at-large draft.  The SEC loser will be off the table, and we believe the best choice for this bowl will be Iowa.  After the Orange Bowl picks Boise State, TCU becomes the logical choice.  If Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati, then Boise State would land here.

Sugar Bowl: Without a doubt, the loser of the SEC Championship will play here if both SEC teams don’t play again in Pasadena.  The Sugar Bowl gets the first pick to replace the number one team being lost to the National Championship Game.  The Sugar Bowl also gets the last pick in the at-large draft.  Since this cannot be a Hobson’s Choice, Cincinnati would land here as the only option if the Bearcats beat Pittsburgh.  If Pittsburgh wins this week, then TCU would land here.

Rose Bowl: Ohio State is already assured of playing here.  The winner of Thursday night’s Oregon-Oregon State game will be the opponent.  There can be no other options this year.

The Top-Tier Non-BCS Bowls


Capital One Bowl: LSU seems to be a shoo-in for this bowl after Ole Miss fell to Mississippi State.  Penn State will land here if Iowa is chosen over the Lions for a BCS Bowl.  We see no reason for Penn State fans to believe they can beat out Iowa, especially if the bowl in question is the Fiesta Bowl.

Outback Bowl: The top remaining SEC East team is supposed to play here, while the top remaining SEC West team is supposed to play in the Cotton Bowl. Ole Miss played in Dallas last year, and there was talk that there could be a trade-off with Ole Miss heading to Tampa.  However, late news seems to support the Rebels playing in the Cotton Bowl again, so Tennessee looks like the choice here.  The Big Ten representative will be Wisconsin unless the Badgers lose in Hawaii this weekend.  If that happens, it changes a lot of other bowls. 

Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State should receive this invitation, since the Cowboys have the second best record, but Nebraska or over Oklahoma could leapfrog them.  For now, we will stick with the most politically correct pick and go with Oklahoma State.  According to late-breaking news, the SEC representative will be Ole Miss. 

Gator Bowl: Notre Dame’s fold means the Big East gets this spot.  The loser of the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game will end up in Jacksonville.  We believe Georgia Tech will lose to Clemson this week, so the Yellow Jackets will play here.  Our pick then is Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh.  If the Yellow Jackets win the ACC, then it appears that Miami would be the ACC representative.

Holiday Bowl: Southern Cal will get this bid if Oregon beats Oregon State.  If the Beavers beat the Ducks, then Oregon will drop to this bowl.  Nebraska is the logical Big 12 choice for this game.

Chick-fil-A Bowl: Georgia’s win over Georgia Tech will put the Bulldogs at the top of the list for this game, but a second year in a row of fewer hotel rooms needing to be booked (Georgia Tech played here last year) probably sends the Bulldogs somewhere else.  The likely ACC opponent will be Virginia Tech, and the SEC will try to find the best opponent.  Auburn would be the best choice, providing a match-up of offense against defense, but most of their fans can drive to this game.  We’re going with Auburn because officials from this bowl repeatedly attended their games.  Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

The Mid-Level Bowls


Las Vegas Bowl: Even though they have been to this bowl four years in a row, it looks like Brigham Young is headed here again.  The Mountain West would like Utah to go here, but BYU will sell their allotment for this one, while the Utes will not.

The Pac-10 opponent could be a host of teams, but we think it will be either Stanford or Oregon State.  One of those two will play here, while the other plays in the Emerald Bowl.  We’ll go with Stanford here.  If Oregon State beats Oregon, then Southern Cal or California might fall to this game.

Meineke Car Care Bowl: This bowl will have a choice of Florida State or Boston College.  With Bobby Bowden announcing his retirement tomorrow, the Seminoles will jump over the Eagles.  Rutgers should get the Big East invitation in this game.

Music City Bowl: This could be an interesting rivalry game.  How about North Carolina facing South Carolina?  Since the Gamecocks joined the SEC in 1991, these two teams have played just once.

Liberty Bowl: Arkansas looks like the best option here.  The Razorbacks will fill up the stadium.  The Conference USA champion automatically plays here, so that means either Houston or East Carolina will be the opponent.  Houston and Arkansas would make this a 100-pass, 4-hour game with maybe 100+ points scored.

Sun Bowl: If Oregon wins Thursday, we believe California will be the Pac-10 representative.  Oklahoma looks like the best fit for the Big 12.

Champs Sports Bowl: If Clemson wins over Georgia Tech, Miami should fall to this bowl.  If Georgia Tech wins over Clemson, then Miami moves up to the Gator and Clemson falls here.  Northwestern should be the Big 10 opponent, but if Wisconsin loses to Hawaii, NU could move up and the Badgers could fall here.

Alamo Bowl: Texas Tech should receive this bid, and their opponent should be Michigan State.  It could take 40 points to win this game.

The Bottom Tier


St. Petersburg Bowl: This second year bowl has a chance to make a big splash by bringing together two in-state teams that played each other the last four years but not this year.  Central Florida and South Florida could sell this game out.  We think it is a strong possibility, but the chances for this dream game have dropped some the last few days.

New Mexico Bowl: Unless some back room deals are made, the Mountain West opponent will be Wyoming.  There could be some wheeling and dealing to bring an at-large team here and ship Wyoming to the Humanitarian Bowl, but for now, we’ll keep the Cowboys here.  The WAC opponent will be either Nevada or Fresno State.  If Hawaii upsets Wisconsin, then there will be one extra WAC team available.  For now, we’ll stick with Nevada.

New Orleans Bowl: Troy won the Sunbelt Conference Championship and earns the automatic bid here.  There is a rule where the SBC champion could move to a higher-paying bowl, but for that to happen, the SBC must supply two additional seven-win teams.  There are only two of these teams, so Troy will play here barring some “exception.”   The C-USA opponent should be Southern Mississippi.

Poinsettia Bowl: All signs point to BYU playing here, but we just don’t see the Las Vegas bowl passing over the Cougars for Utah.  So, we’re going against the grain and picking Utah to end up in San Diego.  Arizona looks like the Pac-10 opponent.  If the Wildcats upset USC, then there is a small chance they could move up.

Hawaii Bowl:  Here’s where a giant monkey wrench could be thrown into the bowl games.  Hawaii will get this bid with a win over Wisconsin.  We might be biased, but we think the Badgers can pull this one out.  So, in that case, Fresno State should be the WAC representative.  The hot CUSA choice is SMU, which would bring June Jones back to the island.  Since this bowl desperately wants a Hawaii-SMU game, look for this week’s Hawaii-Wisconsin game to be one of the most partially-biased officiated games.

Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl: This bowl could be in for a mess.  Central Michigan played here last year, so it looks like the Chippewas are headed to Mobile, Alabama.  A bigger problem is that there will not be a Big 10 team available for this game.  Because the at-large pool must take all the seven-win teams before any 6-6 team can be selected, this bowl might have to invite two MAC teams, neither of which are the conference champion.

Ohio U should be the official MAC selection.  This bowl would love to bring Notre Dame here, but even if one 6-6 team can be chosen, it looks like the Irish will vote not to play in any bowls.  Middle Tennessee, at 9-3, would be the best at-large option, but we believe the Blue Raiders will be invited somewhere else first.  So, this bowl will have to look for two MAC teams that have not played.  That leaves Northern Illinois against Bowling Green.

Emerald Bowl: Boston College will be the last available ACC team, and they will fortunate to sell half of their ticket allotment.  Oregon State or Stanford will be the opponent here, and since we pegged Stanford for the Las Vegas Bowl, we’ll put the Beavers here.

Independence Bowl: This bowl is tired of having teams that don’t want to be here, but it will be the case once again with the SEC.  Georgia could very well end up here if the Chick-fil-A looks elsewhere.  The Big 12 representative will come down to either Texas A&M or Iowa State.  If Georgia is chosen to play in Atlanta, then this bowl will jump at the chance to pit Auburn with Iowa State for obvious reasons (Auburn coach Gene Chizik was at Iowa State and Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads was at Auburn).  Under the assumption that Auburn will play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, we’ll slate Georgia here against Texas A&M.

Eagle Bank Bowl: This second year bowl faces the possibility that neither of its two tie-ins will be able to supply a team.  Army has to beat Navy to earn their bid.  We believe that will happen, and the Cadets will make life easier for this bowl.  The ACC will definitely not have an available team for this bowl, so an at-large team will be selected.  Temple will be making its first bowl trip in almost two decades, so the Owls will be a good choice.  If Army loses to Navy, then a 6-6 team will end up here.  Since Notre Dame will not be available if they vote not to go to a bowl, Marshall may get this bid, even though Coach Mark Snyder just resigned.

Humanitarian Bowl: With Boise State almost assured of making it to a BCS Bowl if Texas beats Nebraska, this bowl will look to Idaho to replace the Broncos.  With TCU earning a BCS bowl, the MWC will not have an available team for this game.  With all the seven-win teams coming from over 1,500 miles away from Boise, it looks like UCLA could become the one 6-6 bowl team and play here.

Armed Forces Bowl:  The MWC team should be Air Force, as it is a no-brainer to have a service academy playing here.  The C-USA opponent should be the loser of the ECU-Houston game this week.  Houston would be a great counterpart.

Texas Bowl: Navy has already secured one of these spots.  Iowa State or Texas A&M will be the opponent depending on which way the Independence bowl goes. Bowl: Minnesota will be the last Big Ten team in the bowl pecking order, so the Gophers will get this bid.  Missouri is the likely Big 12 opponent.

International Bowl:  Connecticut is the logical choice as the Big East representative.  Ohio U may be shipped here, as they cannot play in the Pizza Bowl against either Bowling Green or Northern Illinois (they beat both). Bowl: Kentucky should be the last available SEC team, and the Wildcats will travel well to Birmingham.  West Virginia would be an excellent opponent here.

NCAA Top 25 For November 30, 2009
Rank Team PiRate Won Lost
1 Texas 134.2 12 0
2 Florida 133.2 12 0
3 Alabama 128.0 12 0
4 T C U 125.4 12 0
5 Oklahoma 124.0 7 5
6 Boise State 120.9 12 0
7 Virginia Tech 120.5 9 3
8 Oregon 119.7 9 2
9 Georgia Tech 119.3 10 2
10 Texas Tech 117.9 8 4
11 Penn State 117.7 10 2
12 Southern Cal 117.7 8 3
13 Ohio State 117.6 10 2
14 Miami (Fla) 117.4 9 3
15 Stanford 116.9 8 4
16 Nebraska 116.1 9 3
17 Arkansas 115.5 7 5
18 Iowa 114.8 10 2
19 California 114.6 8 3
20 Cincinnati 114.4 11 0
21 Pittsburgh 114.2 9 2
22 Oklahoma State 113.9 9 3
23 Ole Miss 113.2 8 4
24 L  S  U 112.5 9 3
25 Oregon State 112.1 8 3
Note: Ratings rounded to one decimal point
even though I rank them to two decimal points
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Clemson 6-2 8-4 111.8
Florida State 4-4 6-6 107.6
Boston College 5-3 8-4 107.1
Wake Forest 3-5 5-7 104.8
North Carolina State 2-6 5-7 102.7
Maryland 1-7 2-10 93.0
Coastal Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Virginia Tech 6-2 9-3 120.5
Georgia Tech 7-1 10-2 119.3
Miami-FL 5-3 9-3 117.4
North Carolina 4-4 8-4 110.9
Duke 3-5 5-7 98.4
Virginia 2-6 3-9 94.8
Big East Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Cincinnati 7-0 11-0 114.4
Pittsburgh 5-1 9-2 114.2
West Virginia 4-2 8-3 105.9
Connecticut 2-4 6-5 105.8
Rutgers 3-3 8-3 102.2
South Florida 3-3 7-4 101.8
Syracuse 1-6 4-8 93.9
Louisville 1-6 4-8 90.5
Big Ten
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Penn State 6-2 10-2 117.7
Ohio State 7-1 10-2 117.6
Iowa 6-2 10-2 114.8
Wisconsin 5-3 8-3 105.3
Michigan State 4-4 6-6 101.5
Northwestern 5-3 8-4 99.3
Purdue 4-4 5-7 99.0
Minnesota 3-5 6-6 97.9
Michigan 1-7 5-7 96.6
Illinois 2-6 3-8 96.2
Indiana 1-7 4-8 90.9
Big 12
North Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Nebraska 6-2 9-3 116.1
Missouri 4-4 8-4 104.8
Kansas 1-7 5-7 103.9
Kansas State 4-4 6-6 99.4
Colorado 2-6 3-9 97.4
Iowa State 3-5 6-6 94.9
South Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Texas 8-0 12-0 134.2
Oklahoma 5-3 7-5 124.0
Texas Tech 5-3 8-4 117.9
Oklahoma State 6-2 9-3 113.9
Texas A&M 3-5 6-6 103.4
Baylor 1-7 4-8 96.6
Conference USA
East Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Central Florida 6-2 8-4 104.1
East Carolina 7-1 8-4 103.9
Southern Mississippi 5-3 7-5 100.9
Marshall 4-4 6-6 92.4
U A B 4-4 5-7 91.0
Memphis 1-7 2-10 83.4
West Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Houston 6-2 10-2 108.7
Tulsa 3-5 5-7 91.6
U T E P 3-5 4-8 90.8
S M U 6-2 7-5 88.4
Rice 2-6 2-10 76.4
Tulane 1-7 3-9 71.1
Team   Overall Rating
Notre Dame   6-6 105.9
Navy   8-4 100.6
Army   5-6 82.0
Mid American Conference
East Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Temple 7-1 9-3 100.7
Ohio U 7-1 9-3 95.0
Buffalo 3-5 5-7 92.4
Bowling Green 6-2 7-5 91.4
Kent St. 4-4 6-6 84.7
Akron 2-6 3-9 81.5
Miami (O) 1-7 1-11 76.3
West Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Central Michigan 8-0 10-2 108.9
Northern Illinois 5-3 7-5 95.1
Toledo 3-5 5-7 87.1
Western Michigan 4-4 5-7 86.2
Ball State 2-6 2-10 83.0
Eastern Michigan 0-8 0-12 74.2
Mountain West Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating
T C U 8-0 12-0 125.4
B Y U 7-1 10-2 111.1
Utah 6-2 9-3 107.7
Air Force 5-3 7-5 100.7
Wyoming 4-4 6-6 87.9
UNLV 3-5 5-7 86.8
Colo. State 0-8 3-9 86.1
S. D. State 3-5 5-7 85.2
New Mexico 1-7 1-11 77.8
Pac-10 Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Oregon 7-1 9-2 119.7
Southern Cal 5-3 8-3 117.7
Stanford 6-3 8-4 116.9
California 5-3 8-3 114.6
Oregon St. 6-2 8-3 112.1
Arizona 5-3 7-4 111.4
U C L A 3-6 6-6 105.3
Arizona St. 2-7 4-8 102.1
Washington 3-5 4-7 97.6
Wash. St. 0-9 1-11 70.8
Southeastern Conference
East Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Florida 8-0 12-0 133.2
Tennessee 4-4 7-5 110.9
South Carolina 3-5 7-5 110.9
Georgia 4-4 7-5 110.4
Kentucky 3-5 7-5 104.4
Vanderbilt 0-8 2-10 93.1
West Division      
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Alabama 8-0 12-0 128.0
Arkansas 3-5 7-5 115.5
Ole Miss 4-4 8-4 113.2
L S U 5-3 9-3 112.5
Auburn 3-5 7-5 107.7
Mississippi State 3-5 5-7 104.2
Sunbelt Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Troy 8-0 9-3 99.0
Middle Tennessee 7-1 9-3 96.2
Louisiana-Monroe 5-3 6-6 86.8
Arkansas State 2-5 3-8 86.2
U. of Louisiana 4-4 6-6 83.7
Florida Atlantic 4-3 4-7 83.2
Florida International 3-4 3-8 81.7
North Texas 1-7 2-10 76.4
Western Kentucky 0-7 0-11 73.3
Western Athletic Conference
Team Conf. Overall Rating
Boise State 7-0 12-0 120.9
Nevada 7-1 8-4 108.6
Fresno State 6-2 7-4 99.0
Louisiana Tech 2-5 3-8 97.2
Utah State 3-5 4-8 91.9
Idaho 4-4 7-5 89.6
Hawaii 3-5 6-6 87.7
San Jose State 1-6 2-9 81.1
New Mexico State 1-6 3-9 71.0
This Week’s Games–PiRate & Mean Ratings
Home Team in CAPS (N) Denotes Neutral Site      
Thursday, December 3   PiRate Spread    
Favorite Underdog Score Mean
Arkansas State WESTERN KY. 10.2 34-24 9
OREGON Oregon State 10.3 38-28 9
Friday, December 4   PiRate Spread    
Favorite Underdog Score Mean
Central Michigan  (Det.) Ohio U 14.9 35-20 7
Saturday, December 5   PiRate Spread    
Favorite Underdog Score Mean
CONNECTICUT South Florida 7.3 27-20 7
PITTSBURGH Cincinnati 2.8 24-21 0
West Virginia RUTGERS 0.7 28-27 0
Houston EAST CAROLINA 1.8 37-35 5
ILLINOIS Fresno State 0.7 31-30 -3
LOUISIANA TECH San Jose St. 19.1 40-21 16
BOISE STATE New Mexico St. 53.4 63-10 44
SOUTHERN CAL Arizona 10.6 24-13 6
Florida (Atlanta) Alabama 5.2 21-16 2
California WASHINGTON 14.0 35-21 8
FLORIDA INT’L Florida Atlantic 0.5 27-26 1
Texas (Dallas) Nebraska 19.6 27-7 14
Wisconsin HAWAII 13.6 38-24 11
Saturday, December 12   PiRate Spread    
Favorite Underdog Score Mean
Navy  (N-Philadelphia) Army 18.6 35-16 8

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