The Pi-Rate Ratings

December 11, 2017

PiRate Ratings 2017-18 College Football Bowls & Playoffs Preview

2017-18 Bowls & Playoffs Schedule

All times are EST

Saturday, December 16

New Orleans Bowl: 1:00 PM on ESPN

North Texas (9-4) vs. Troy (10-2)

 

Cure Bowl: 2:30 PM on CBSSN

Western Kentucky (6-6) vs. Georgia St. (6-5)

 

Las Vegas Bowl: 3:30 PM on ABC

Boise St. (10-3) vs. Oregon (7-5)

 

New Mexico Bowl: 4:30 PM on ESPN

Marshall (7-5) vs. Colorado St. (7-5)

 

Camellia Bowl: 8:00 PM on ESPN

Middle Tennessee (6-6) vs. Arkansas St. (7-4)

 

Tuesday, December 19

Boca Raton Bowl: 7:00 PM on ESPN

Akron (7-6) vs. Florida Atlantic (10-3)

 

Wednesday, December 20

Frisco Bowl: 8:00 PM on ESPN

SMU (7-5) vs. Louisiana Tech (6-6)

 

Thursday, December 21

Gasparilla Bowl: 8:00 PM on ESPN

Temple (6-6) vs. Florida Int’l. (8-4)

 

Friday, December 22

Bahamas Bowl: 12:30 PM on ESPN

UAB (8-4) vs. Ohio U. (8-4)

 

Idaho Potato Bowl: 4:00 PM on ESPN

Central Michigan (8-4) vs. Wyoming (7-5)

 

Saturday, December 23

Birmingham Bowl: 12:00 PM on ESPN

South Florida (9-2) vs. Texas Tech (6-6)

 

Armed Forces Bowl: 3:30 PM on ESPN

Army (9-3) vs. San Diego St. (10-2)

 

Dollar General Bowl: 7:00 PM on ESPN

Toledo (11-2) vs. Appalachian St. (8-4)

 

Sunday, December 24

Hawaii Bowl: 8:30 PM on ESPN

Houston (7-4) vs. Fresno St. (9-4)

 

Tuesday, December 26

Heart of Dallas Bowl: 1:30 PM on ESPN

West Virginia (7-5) vs. Utah (6-6)

 

Quick Lane Bowl: 5:00 PM on ESPN

Duke (6-6) vs. Northern Illinois (8-4)

 

Cactus Bowl: 9:00 PM on ESPN

Kansas St. (7-5) vs. UCLA (6-6)

 

Wednesday, December 27

Independence Bowl: 1:30 PM on ESPN

Florida St. (6-6) vs. Southern Miss. (8-4)

 

Pinstripe Bowl: 5:15 PM on ESPN

Boston College (7-5) vs. Iowa (7-5)

 

Foster Farms: 8:30 PM on Fox

Purdue (6-6) vs. Arizona (7-5)

 

Texas Bowl: 9:00 PM on ESPN

Texas (6-6) vs. Missouri (7-5)

 

Thursday, December 28

Military Bowl: 1:30 PM on ESPN

Navy (6-6) vs. Virginia (6-6)

 

Camping World Bowl: 5:15 PM on ESPN

Oklahoma St. (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (9-3)

 

Holiday Bowl: 9:00 PM on FS1

Michigan St. (9-3) vs. Washington St. (9-3)

 

Alamo Bowl: 9:00 PM on ESPN

TCU (10-3) vs. Stanford (9-4)

 

Friday, December 29

Belk Bowl: 1:00 PM on ESPN

Wake Forest (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)

 

Sun Bowl: 3:00 PM on CBS

North Carolina St. (8-4) vs. Arizona St. (7-5)

 

Music City Bowl: 4:30 PM on ESPN

Kentucky (7-5) vs. Northwestern (9-3)

 

Arizona Bowl: 5:30 PM on CBSSN

Utah St. (6-6) vs. New Mexico St. (6-6)

 

Cotton Bowl: 8:30 PM on ESPN

Ohio St. (11-2) vs. USC (11-2)

 

Saturday, December 30

Taxslayer Bowl: 12:00 PM on ESPN

Louisville (8-4) vs. Mississippi St. (8-4)

 

Liberty Bowl: 12:30 PM on ABC

Iowa St. (7-5) vs. Memphis (10-2)

 

Fiesta Bowl: 4:00 PM on ESPN

Penn St. (10-2) vs. Washington (10-2)

 

Orange Bowl: 8:00 PM on ESPN

Wisconsin (12-1) vs. Miami (Fla.) (10-2)

 

Monday, January 1

Outback Bowl: 12:00 OM on ESPN2

Michigan (8-4) vs. South Carolina (8-4)

 

Peach Bowl: 12:30 PM on ESPN

Auburn (10-3) vs. Central Florida (12-0)

 

Citrus Bowl: 1:00 PM on ABC

Notre Dame (9-3) vs. LSU (9-3)

 

New Year’s Day Playoffs

Rose Bowl: 5:00 PM on ESPN

Oklahoma (12-1) vs. Georgia (12-1)

 

Sugar Bowl: 8:45 PM on ESPN

Clemson (12-1) vs. Alabama (11-1)

 

Monday, January 8

National Championship Game: 8:00 PM on ESPN

Rose Bowl Winner vs. Sugar Bowl Winner

 

PiRate Rating Spreads for Bowls/Playoffs

Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
North Texas Troy -12.5 -11.2 -11.8
Georgia St. Western Kentucky -6.6 -6.9 -7.3
Boise St. Oregon -6.6 -5.7 -5.9
Marshall Colorado St. -10.4 -8.0 -8.7
Middle Tennessee Arkansas St. -5.9 -5.7 -5.7
Florida Atlantic Akron 15.2 14.8 16.4
SMU Louisiana Tech 11.7 10.5 11.1
Florida Int’l. Temple -5.8 -6.1 -5.2
UAB Ohio U -14.7 -16.3 -13.6
Wyoming Central Michigan 0.4 -0.8 -1.4
South Florida Texas Tech 3.8 3.2 4.5
San Diego St. Army 2.4 2.3 3.2
Appalachian St. Toledo -5.9 -7.1 -7.7
Fresno St. Houston -3.5 -4.5 -2.7
West Virginia Utah 0.2 0.7 0.2
Northern Illinois Duke -14.7 -13.8 -12.8
UCLA Kansas St. -7.7 -8.5 -8.4
Southern Miss. Florida St. -29.4 -27.4 -27.3
Boston College Iowa -0.3 -1.0 0.5
Arizona Purdue 0.8 -0.3 -0.8
Texas Missouri 4.2 6.3 5.5
Navy Virginia -1.1 0.5 -1.2
Oklahoma St. Virginia Tech 1.9 1.8 2.6
TCU Stanford -1.3 -1.2 -0.6
Washington St. Michigan St. 5.8 3.1 4.2
Wake Forest Texas A&M 6.4 6.6 7.4
Arizona St. North Carolina St. -8.3 -8.7 -8.4
Kentucky Northwestern -8.4 -7.9 -9.9
New Mexico St. Utah St. -9.1 -9.6 -8.8
Ohio St. USC 11.6 10.4 12.2
Mississippi St. Louisville -5.6 -4.5 -5.8
Memphis Iowa St. 4.0 3.1 3.9
Washington Penn St. -2.4 -3.5 -2.7
Miami (Fla.) Wisconsin -3.4 -2.1 -3.6
South Carolina Michigan -8.3 -8.6 -8.6
Auburn Central Florida 15.8 12.5 14.8
Notre Dame LSU -3.1 -1.8 -3.6
Oklahoma Georgia -2.4 -3.2 -1.8
Alabama Clemson 2.8 2.4 1.7

 

 

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December 3, 2017

PiRate Ratings College Football Final Regular Season Polls

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:08 am

The PiRate Poll has been updated after the Conference Championship Games, and our ratings show something different from what the Playoff Committee will decide later today.

Our Retrodictive Ratings are our closest approximation to merit based rewards.  It only factors who you beat, where you beat them, when you beat them, and in minimal fashion how you beat them.  Here are our final Retro Ratings prior to the bowls and playoffs.

PiRate Retrodictive
# Team
1 Clemson
2 Georgia
3 Oklahoma
4 Alabama
5 Ohio St.
6 Wisconsin
7 Central Florida
8 Penn St.
9 Auburn
10 Washington
11 Miami (Fla)
12 USC
13 Notre Dame
14 TCU
15 Virginia Tech
16 Oklahoma St.
17 Stanford
18 Michigan St.
19 Michigan
20 Washington St.
21 Northwestern
22 Memphis
23 LSU
24 North Carolina St.
25 Iowa
26 Louisville
27 Mississippi St.
28 Boston College
29 South Florida
30 Iowa St.
31 Boise St.
32 Toledo
33 Wake Forest
34 South Carolina
35 San Diego St.
36 Oregon
37 Florida Atlantic
38 Florida St.
39 Arizona St.
40 Texas A&M
41 Texas
42 West Virginia
43 Purdue
44 Georgia Tech
45 Kansas St.
46 Missouri
47 Arizona
48 Fresno St.
49 UCLA
50 Navy
51 Troy
52 Houston
53 Texas Tech
54 Utah
55 Army
56 Kentucky
57 Duke
58 SMU
59 Northern Illinois
60 Indiana
61 Virginia
62 North Texas
63 California
64 Ole Miss
65 Ohio
66 Pittsburgh
67 Central Michigan
68 Minnesota
69 Florida
70 Syracuse
71 Maryland
72 Wyoming
73 Marshall
74 Appalachian St.
75 Colorado
76 Colorado St.
77 Temple
78 Nebraska
79 Western Michigan
80 Tulane
81 Arkansas St.
82 Florida Int’l.
83 Akron
84 Southern Miss.
85 Vanderbilt
86 Buffalo
87 Arkansas
88 UAB
89 Tennessee
90 Utah St.
91 North Carolina
92 Eastern Michigan
93 Rutgers
94 Air Force
95 Louisiana Tech
96 Middle Tennessee
97 UTSA
98 Miami (O)
99 Cincinnati
100 Western Kentucky
101 Tulsa
102 UNLV
103 Baylor
104 New Mexico St.
105 BYU
106 East Carolina
107 Nevada
108 Georgia St.
109 Massachusetts
110 Connecticut
111 Illinois
112 Old Dominion
113 UL-Monroe
114 Bowling Green
115 New Mexico
116 Idaho
117 South Alabama
118 UL-Lafayette
119 Oregon St.
120 Hawaii
121 Coastal Carolina
122 Georgia Southern
123 Kansas
124 Kent St.
125 Ball St.
126 Rice
127 Charlotte
128 Texas St.
129 San Jose St.
130 UTEP

While our ratings show that Alabama should be chosen ahead of Ohio State, we believe there will be too much pressure to take two SEC teams and leave out the Big Ten and Pac-12, especially when the Rose Bowl is one of the semifinal games.

Our ratings reflect a 34-point loss by Ohio State at a mediocre Iowa team combined with a home loss to Oklahoma, which slightly offsets their wins over Michigan State, Penn State, and Wisconsin.  Alabama’s best wins were not as impressive as the Buckeyes, but as a whole, they did beat more decent teams, and the SEC is several points better than the Big Ten.  Plus, their one loss was at Auburn, a team that had just blown Georgia off the Jordan-Hare Field.  Truth be told, if the Committee deferred to the smart guys in Nevada, Alabama would be the number one seed in the playoffs.

Our Predictive ratings back us up on this point.  However, the predictive ratings show that Ohio State is one of the four best teams at this point of the season.  We are scratching our heads on why Oklahoma is so low in the predictive ratings, because they have been improving week by week.  Unfortunately, they may have fallen between the cracks in how we update.  We have a mechanical update based on statistics and the point in which an easy win was already guaranteed, and maybe OU kept missing out on extra points due to a few yards here or there.

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 135.6 132.3 134.3 134.1
2 Clemson 132.8 129.9 132.6 131.8
3 Ohio St. 132.0 129.9 132.3 131.4
4 Georgia 130.6 129.9 131.2 130.6
5 Auburn 129.4 127.3 129.6 128.8
6 Penn St. 129.0 127.9 129.3 128.7
7 Oklahoma 128.2 126.7 129.4 128.1
8 Washington 126.6 124.4 126.6 125.9
9 Wisconsin 125.7 123.2 124.8 124.6
10 Oklahoma St. 120.6 119.9 121.0 120.5
11 U S C 120.4 119.5 120.1 120.0
12 Stanford 120.7 119.1 120.1 120.0
13 Miami 119.3 118.1 118.2 118.5
14 L S U 119.1 116.7 119.6 118.5
15 Virginia Tech 118.7 118.1 118.5 118.4
16 Louisville 117.9 116.9 117.8 117.5
17 T C U 117.9 116.4 118.0 117.4
18 Florida St. 116.9 115.9 115.4 116.1
19 Notre Dame 116.0 115.0 116.0 115.6
20 N. Carolina St. 115.9 115.1 115.7 115.6
21 Michigan 115.8 115.5 115.1 115.5
22 Northwestern 115.6 114.4 115.7 115.2
23 Central Florida 113.6 114.8 114.8 114.4
24 Iowa 114.1 114.4 113.3 114.0
25 Memphis 113.5 112.7 114.4 113.5
26 Iowa State 112.5 112.6 113.5 112.9
27 Boston College 112.8 112.4 112.9 112.7
28 Washington St. 113.3 111.2 112.8 112.4
29 Mississippi St. 112.4 112.4 112.0 112.3
30 Texas 111.8 112.1 112.4 112.1
31 Kansas St. 111.8 111.8 111.8 111.8
32 Wake Forest 112.2 110.5 112.3 111.7
33 Oregon 112.3 110.2 111.7 111.4
34 Duke 110.4 109.4 109.5 109.8
35 Georgia Tech 110.2 108.4 108.7 109.1
36 South Florida 109.0 108.2 109.3 108.8
37 Missouri 109.6 107.9 108.9 108.8
38 West Virginia 108.4 109.0 108.5 108.6
39 Pittsburgh 108.8 108.1 108.7 108.5
40 Utah 108.2 108.3 108.3 108.3
41 Michigan St. 107.5 108.1 108.6 108.1
42 Arizona St. 107.6 106.4 107.3 107.1
43 S. Carolina 107.5 106.8 106.5 106.9
44 Texas A&M 107.8 105.9 106.9 106.9
45 Indiana 105.5 105.6 105.9 105.7
46 Ole Miss 106.3 105.0 105.4 105.6
47 Purdue 105.4 105.3 105.9 105.5
48 Kentucky 106.2 105.5 104.8 105.5
49 Arizona 106.2 105.0 105.1 105.4
50 Florida 105.7 105.4 105.1 105.4
51 Boise St. 105.7 104.5 105.8 105.3
52 Texas Tech 105.2 104.9 104.8 105.0
53 Toledo 103.6 103.6 105.6 104.3
54 California 105.3 103.2 103.8 104.1
55 U C L A 104.1 103.3 103.5 103.6
56 Colorado 104.5 103.4 102.4 103.4
57 Virginia 103.1 102.1 103.4 102.9
58 San Diego St. 102.4 102.3 103.5 102.7
59 Houston 102.4 102.1 102.5 102.3
60 N. Carolina 102.9 102.0 102.0 102.3
61 Syracuse 102.0 100.8 101.1 101.3
62 Florida Atlantic 99.9 101.4 101.8 101.0
63 Colo. State 101.3 100.3 101.1 100.9
64 Navy 100.2 100.8 100.4 100.4
65 Minnesota 100.3 101.2 99.2 100.2
66 Vanderbilt 100.8 99.8 99.7 100.1
67 Army 99.8 99.8 100.1 99.9
68 Troy 99.3 99.4 99.3 99.3
69 Arkansas 99.4 98.5 99.2 99.1
70 Fresno St. 98.9 97.6 99.8 98.8
71 Baylor 98.1 99.4 98.2 98.6
72 SMU 97.5 98.0 97.8 97.8
73 Appalachian St. 97.7 96.5 97.9 97.4
74 Ohio U 96.3 97.9 97.1 97.1
75 Temple 96.3 96.8 96.7 96.6
76 Tennessee 97.3 95.9 95.3 96.2
77 Northern Illinois 95.7 95.6 96.7 96.0
78 Western Michigan 95.8 95.2 96.5 95.8
79 Arkansas St. 95.0 96.1 96.0 95.7
80 Central Michigan 95.1 95.4 96.0 95.5
81 Nebraska 94.9 95.4 94.4 94.9
82 Wyoming 95.5 94.6 94.6 94.9
83 Eastern Michigan 94.7 94.8 95.1 94.9
84 Maryland 94.5 95.8 93.9 94.7
85 Utah St. 95.0 94.3 94.7 94.7
86 Tulane 94.2 94.4 94.6 94.4
87 Tulsa 93.1 92.8 92.7 92.9
88 Air Force 92.2 92.5 92.2 92.3
89 Marshall 90.9 92.3 92.4 91.9
90 Rutgers 91.1 91.1 90.7 91.0
91 Middle Tennessee 89.2 90.3 90.3 89.9
92 BYU 90.0 89.9 89.9 89.9
93 Florida Int’l. 89.5 89.7 90.5 89.9
94 Nevada 88.9 90.5 90.0 89.8
95 Miami (O) 88.7 90.7 89.9 89.8
96 Oregon St. 90.0 89.9 88.4 89.4
97 Massachusetts 88.9 88.4 89.0 88.8
98 U T S A 87.6 90.0 88.4 88.6
99 Buffalo 87.3 89.3 89.3 88.6
100 Akron 87.7 89.6 88.4 88.6
101 Louisiana Tech 87.3 88.9 88.1 88.1
102 Southern Miss. 87.5 88.5 88.1 88.0
103 Illinois 87.9 89.0 86.8 87.9
104 W. Kentucky 87.5 87.9 88.0 87.8
105 N. Texas 86.8 88.2 87.5 87.5
106 U N L V 86.2 87.7 86.3 86.8
107 N. Mexico St. 85.8 84.7 85.9 85.5
108 Connecticut 84.5 86.3 84.8 85.2
109 Cincinnati 83.9 85.7 84.6 84.7
110 New Mexico 84.4 84.4 84.9 84.6
111 East Carolina 83.2 84.5 83.3 83.7
112 Kansas 81.8 85.1 80.5 82.5
113 UAB 81.6 81.6 83.5 82.2
114 Bowling Green 81.5 82.6 81.8 82.0
115 Hawaii 81.8 82.9 81.1 81.9
116 UL-Monroe 81.9 82.8 81.0 81.9
117 S. Alabama 81.1 83.0 81.3 81.8
118 Idaho 80.8 81.6 81.7 81.3
119 Old Dominion 80.3 82.7 80.5 81.2
120 Georgia St. 80.9 81.0 80.6 80.9
121 UL-Lafayette 79.3 80.5 79.0 79.6
122 Georgia Southern 79.1 80.4 78.5 79.3
123 Coastal Carolina 74.5 75.7 75.3 75.2
124 Kent St. 73.9 75.4 74.2 74.5
125 Rice 72.6 74.1 73.0 73.2
126 San Jose St. 72.3 72.4 71.6 72.1
127 Texas St. 70.3 72.5 69.4 70.7
128 Charlotte 69.5 71.8 69.7 70.3
129 U T E P 67.9 70.7 67.9 68.9
130 Ball St. 65.7 67.7 66.4 66.6

Ratings by Conference

American Athletic Conference
East Division            
Team AAC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Central Florida 8-0 12-0 113.6 114.8 114.8 114.4
South Florida 6-2 9-2 109.0 108.2 109.3 108.8
Temple 4-4 6-6 96.3 96.8 96.7 96.6
Connecticut 2-6 3-9 84.5 86.3 84.8 85.2
Cincinnati 2-6 4-8 83.9 85.7 84.6 84.7
East Carolina 2-6 3-9 83.2 84.5 83.3 83.7
             
West Division            
Team AAC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Memphis 7-1 10-2 113.5 112.7 114.4 113.5
Houston 5-3 7-4 102.4 102.1 102.5 102.3
Navy 4-4 6-5 100.2 100.8 100.4 100.4
SMU 4-4 7-5 97.5 98.0 97.8 97.8
Tulane 3-5 5-7 94.2 94.4 94.6 94.4
Tulsa 1-7 2-10 93.1 92.8 92.7 92.9
             
AAC Averages     97.6 98.1 98.0 97.9
             
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division            
Team ACC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Clemson 7-1 12-1 132.8 129.9 132.6 131.8
Louisville 4-4 8-4 117.9 116.9 117.8 117.5
Florida St. 3-5 6-6 116.9 115.9 115.4 116.1
N. Carolina St. 6-2 8-4 115.9 115.1 115.7 115.6
Boston College 4-4 7-5 112.8 112.4 112.9 112.7
Wake Forest 4-4 7-5 112.2 110.5 112.3 111.7
Syracuse 2-6 4-8 102.0 100.8 101.1 101.3
             
Coastal Division            
Team ACC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Miami 7-1 10-2 119.3 118.1 118.2 118.5
Virginia Tech 5-3 9-3 118.7 118.1 118.5 118.4
Duke 3-5 6-6 110.4 109.4 109.5 109.8
Georgia Tech 4-4 5-6 110.2 108.4 108.7 109.1
Pittsburgh 3-5 5-7 108.8 108.1 108.7 108.5
Virginia 3-5 6-6 103.1 102.1 103.4 102.9
N. Carolina 1-7 3-9 102.9 102.0 102.0 102.3
             
ACC Averages     113.1 112.0 112.6 112.6
             
Big 12 Conference
Team B12 Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 8-1 12-1 128.2 126.7 129.4 128.1
Oklahoma St. 6-3 9-3 120.6 119.9 121.0 120.5
T C U 7-2 10-3 117.9 116.4 118.0 117.4
Iowa State 5-4 7-5 112.5 112.6 113.5 112.9
Texas 5-4 6-6 111.8 112.1 112.4 112.1
Kansas St. 5-4 7-5 111.8 111.8 111.8 111.8
West Virginia 5-4 7-5 108.4 109.0 108.5 108.6
Texas Tech 3-6 6-6 105.2 104.9 104.8 105.0
Baylor 1-8 1-11 98.1 99.4 98.2 98.6
Kansas 0-9 1-11 81.8 85.1 80.5 82.5
             
Big 12 Averages     109.6 109.8 109.8 109.8
             
Big Ten Conference
East Division            
Team BTen Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Ohio St. 8-1 11-2 132.0 129.9 132.3 131.4
Penn St. 7-2 10-2 129.0 127.9 129.3 128.7
Michigan 5-4 8-4 115.8 115.5 115.1 115.5
Michigan St. 7-2 9-3 107.5 108.1 108.6 108.1
Indiana 2-7 5-7 105.5 105.6 105.9 105.7
Maryland 2-7 4-8 94.5 95.8 93.9 94.7
Rutgers 3-6 4-8 91.1 91.1 90.7 91.0
             
West Division            
Team BTen Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Wisconsin 9-0 12-1 125.7 123.2 124.8 124.6
Northwestern 7-2 9-3 115.6 114.4 115.7 115.2
Iowa 4-5 7-5 114.1 114.4 113.3 114.0
Purdue 4-5 6-6 105.4 105.3 105.9 105.5
Minnesota 2-7 5-7 100.3 101.2 99.2 100.2
Nebraska 3-6 4-8 94.9 95.4 94.4 94.9
Illinois 0-9 2-10 87.9 89.0 86.8 87.9
             
Big Ten Averages     108.5 108.3 108.3 108.4
             
Conference USA
East Division            
Team CUSA Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Florida Atlantic 8-0 10-3 99.9 101.4 101.8 101.0
Marshall 4-4 7-5 90.9 92.3 92.4 91.9
Middle Tennessee 4-4 6-6 89.2 90.3 90.3 89.9
Florida Int’l. 5-3 8-4 89.5 89.7 90.5 89.9
W. Kentucky 4-4 6-6 87.5 87.9 88.0 87.8
Old Dominion 3-5 5-7 80.3 82.7 80.5 81.2
Charlotte 1-7 1-11 69.5 71.8 69.7 70.3
             
West Division            
Team CUSA Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
U T S A 3-5 6-5 87.6 90.0 88.4 88.6
Louisiana Tech 4-4 6-6 87.3 88.9 88.1 88.1
Southern Miss. 6-2 8-4 87.5 88.5 88.1 88.0
N. Texas 7-1 9-4 86.8 88.2 87.5 87.5
UAB 6-2 8-4 81.6 81.6 83.5 82.2
Rice 1-7 1-11 72.6 74.1 73.0 73.2
U T E P 0-8 0-12 67.9 70.7 67.9 68.9
             
CUSA Averages     84.2 85.6 85.0 84.9
             
FBS Independents
Team   Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame   9-3 116.0 115.0 116.0 115.6
Army   8-3 99.8 99.8 100.1 99.9
Massachusetts   4-8 88.9 88.4 89.0 88.8
BYU   4-9 90.0 89.9 89.9 89.9
             
Indep. Averages     98.7 98.3 98.7 98.6
             
Mid-American Conference
East Division            
Team MAC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Ohio U 5-3 8-4 96.3 97.9 97.1 97.1
Miami (O) 4-4 5-7 88.7 90.7 89.9 89.8
Buffalo 4-4 6-6 87.3 89.3 89.3 88.6
Akron 6-2 7-6 87.7 89.6 88.4 88.6
Bowling Green 2-6 2-10 81.5 82.6 81.8 82.0
Kent St. 1-7 2-10 73.9 75.4 74.2 74.5
             
West Division            
Team MAC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Toledo 7-1 11-2 103.6 103.6 105.6 104.3
Northern Illinois 6-2 8-4 95.7 95.6 96.7 96.0
Western Michigan 4-4 6-6 95.8 95.2 96.5 95.8
Central Michigan 6-2 8-4 95.1 95.4 96.0 95.5
Eastern Michigan 3-5 5-7 94.7 94.8 95.1 94.9
Ball St. 0-8 2-10 65.7 67.7 66.4 66.6
             
MAC Averages     88.8 89.8 89.7 89.5
             
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division            
Team MWC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Boise St. 7-1 10-3 105.7 104.5 105.8 105.3
Colo. State 5-3 7-5 101.3 100.3 101.1 100.9
Wyoming 5-3 7-5 95.5 94.6 94.6 94.9
Utah St. 4-4 6-6 95.0 94.3 94.7 94.7
Air Force 4-4 5-7 92.2 92.5 92.2 92.3
New Mexico 1-7 3-9 84.4 84.4 84.9 84.6
             
West Division            
Team MWC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 6-2 10-2 102.4 102.3 103.5 102.7
Fresno St. 7-1 9-4 98.9 97.6 99.8 98.8
Nevada 3-5 3-9 88.9 90.5 90.0 89.8
U N L V 4-4 5-7 86.2 87.7 86.3 86.8
Hawaii 1-8 3-9 81.8 82.9 81.1 81.9
San Jose St. 1-7 2-11 72.3 72.4 71.6 72.1
             
MWC Averages     92.0 92.0 92.1 92.1
             
Pac-12 Conference
North Division            
Team P12 Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Washington 7-2 10-2 126.6 124.4 126.6 125.9
Stanford 7-2 9-4 120.7 119.1 120.1 120.0
Washington St. 6-3 9-3 113.3 111.2 112.8 112.4
Oregon 4-5 7-5 112.3 110.2 111.7 111.4
California 2-7 5-7 105.3 103.2 103.8 104.1
Oregon St. 0-9 1-11 90.0 89.9 88.4 89.4
             
South Division            
Team P12 Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
U S C 8-1 11-2 120.4 119.5 120.1 120.0
Utah 3-6 6-6 108.2 108.3 108.3 108.3
Arizona St. 6-3 7-5 107.6 106.4 107.3 107.1
Arizona 5-4 7-5 106.2 105.0 105.1 105.4
U C L A 4-5 6-6 104.1 103.3 103.5 103.6
Colorado 2-7 5-7 104.5 103.4 102.4 103.4
             
Pac-12 Averages     109.9 108.6 109.2 109.3
             
Southeastern Conference
East Division            
Team SEC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Georgia 7-1 12-1 130.6 129.9 131.2 130.6
Missouri 4-4 7-5 109.6 107.9 108.9 108.8
S. Carolina 5-3 8-4 107.5 106.8 106.5 106.9
Kentucky 4-4 7-5 106.2 105.5 104.8 105.5
Florida 3-5 4-7 105.7 105.4 105.1 105.4
Vanderbilt 1-7 5-7 100.8 99.8 99.7 100.1
Tennessee 0-8 4-8 97.3 95.9 95.3 96.2
             
West Division            
Team SEC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Alabama 7-1 11-1 135.6 132.3 134.3 134.1
Auburn 7-1 10-3 129.4 127.3 129.6 128.8
L S U 6-2 9-3 119.1 116.7 119.6 118.5
Mississippi St. 4-4 8-4 112.4 112.4 112.0 112.3
Texas A&M 4-4 7-5 107.8 105.9 106.9 106.9
Ole Miss 3-5 6-6 106.3 105.0 105.4 105.6
Arkansas 1-7 4-8 99.4 98.5 99.2 99.1
             
SEC Averages     112.0 110.7 111.3 111.3
             
Sunbelt Conference
Team SBC Overall PiRate Mean Bias Average
Troy 7-1 10-2 99.3 99.4 99.3 99.3
Appalachian St. 7-1 8-4 97.7 96.5 97.9 97.4
Arkansas St. 6-2 7-4 95.0 96.1 96.0 95.7
N. Mexico St. 4-4 6-6 85.8 84.7 85.9 85.5
UL-Monroe 4-4 4-8 81.9 82.8 81.0 81.9
S. Alabama 3-5 4-8 81.1 83.0 81.3 81.8
Idaho 3-5 4-8 80.8 81.6 81.7 81.3
Georgia St. 5-3 6-5 80.9 81.0 80.6 80.9
UL-Lafayette 4-4 5-7 79.3 80.5 79.0 79.6
Georgia Southern 2-6 2-10 79.1 80.4 78.5 79.3
Coastal Carolina 2-6 3-9 74.5 75.7 75.3 75.2
Texas St. 1-7 2-10 70.3 72.5 69.4 70.7
             
Sun Belt Averages     83.8 84.5 83.8 84.1

 

PiRate Ratings By Conference
# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 ACC 113.1 112.0 112.6 112.6
2 SEC 112.0 110.7 111.3 111.3
3 BIG 12 109.6 109.8 109.8 109.8
4 PAC-12 109.9 108.6 109.2 109.3
5 BIG TEN 108.5 108.3 108.3 108.4
6 INDEP. 98.7 98.3 98.7 98.6
7 AAC 97.6 98.1 98.0 97.9
8 MWC 92.0 92.0 92.1 92.1
9 MAC 88.8 89.8 89.7 89.5
10 CUSA 84.2 85.6 85.0 84.9
11 Sun Belt 83.8 84.5 83.8 84.1

Look for our bowl and playoff spreads following next week’s Army – Navy game.

If you didn’t see our Army-Navy spread last week, it is:

Philadelphia PA PiRate Mean Bias
Army (n) Navy -0.4 -1.0 -0.3

Why the unique color purple?

This is what we call Love Purple.  You can replicate it with the RGB of 69-0-169 and the Hex Code of 4500A9.

Love purple is the official logo color of our mom and pop company in Nashville.  We are highly appreciative of all our supporters here, and we wish you a loving and joyous holiday season.

 

 

 

August 21, 2016

2016 Big 12 Conference Football Preview

The Big 12 has been teetering on the brink of unplanned obsolescence for the last couple of years. As the only Power 5 Conference without a postseason Conference Championship Game, the league powers have been a little paranoid that other predators from the West Coast, the Deep South, and the Upper Midwest, might pillage them and leave them without a job. The Pac-12 is anxious to change its name to the Pac-16. The SEC and Big Ten realize that it is easier to work with 16 rather than 14 teams. The ACC has 15 in all sports except football, but even in football, Notre Dame plays basically five conference games per year.

What does a league do with just 10 members? It cannot play a conference title game until it has 12. Obviously, the league must expand by two to six teams, or else, their members will be searching for greener futures and high payouts.

In the meantime, the Big 12 continues to provide some of the most exciting football on the planet. The quasi-renegade league provides the alternative to the SEC’s and Big Ten’s blood and guts play, just like the old American Football League of the 1960’s sold itself as the more entertaining league to the NFL. The AFL had all the razzle dazzle stars like Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Daryle Lamonica, John Hadl, Cookie Gilchrist, Lance Alworth, and others, while the NFL was all about bruising fullbacks running between the tackles and halfbacks running power sweeps behind pulling guards.

The Big 12 is the pass-happy league with wide open offenses, blitzing and gambling defenses, and no game secure even if a team has scored over 50 points. Who can forget the day in 2014 when undefeated TCU led undefeated Baylor by 18 points in the fourth quarter and lost 61-58? You could have watched Alabama beat Arkansas 14-13 that day. Michigan beat Penn State 18-13.

2016 promises to be an interesting season in the Southwest. Oklahoma represented the league in the NCAA Playoffs, after two 11-1 teams failed to earn a spot the year before. The Sooners quickly bowed out in a semifinal loss to Clemson, but OU is loaded this season and in contention for the top overall spot.

The Sooners will not receive a free pass to the playoffs this year. Their schedule is tricky with a pre-conference matchups with Houston at NRG Stadium to start the season and Ohio State on September 17. Then following a bye week, OU has a road game with TCU, and the annual Red River Shootout with Texas the following Saturday. If Coach Bob Stoops can guide his squad to a 5-0 start, a 7-0 finish is very likely.

A group of four teams figure to be the main challengers to the Sooners, or in a probable case, a quartet fighting for a Sugar Bowl berth as the league runnerup. Oklahoma State, TCU, and Baylor figure to be on most pundits’ lists, but the PiRates believe that Coach Charlie Strong will bring the Texas Longhorns back to near the top of the standings this year and even give Oklahoma a run for its money. If he doesn’t, the UT alumni may be advertising for a new coach in 2017.

For the Longhorns, the season kicks off with a Sunday tilt at home against Notre Dame, and a win in the opener could give the burnt orange a shot in the arm. A road game against Oklahoma State precedes the fight with the Sooners at the Texas State Fair the following week, and pulling off back-to-back wins over their rivals to the north is most unlikely. Thus, we believe that Texas can win 10 games and vie for the Sugar Bowl bid, but they cannot win 11 or 12 and contend for a playoff spot.

TCU begins the season ranked ahead of Texas in our ratings and actually within shouting distance of Oklahoma, but the Horned Frogs have to rebuild on offense due to heavy losses, including their star quarterback, running back, and wideout. The defense is still solid, but they may be on the field for too many plays in crucial games. Road games at Baylor and Texas could eliminate any gain made by possibly upsetting Oklahoma ar Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Oklahoma State is flying a little under the radar to begin the season. The Cowboys were 10-0 last year, before losing to Baylor, Oklahoma, and Ole Miss to end the year at 10-3. Their offense could top 42 points per game this year with experience and depth returning, while the defense should be on par with last year’s defense. OSU wins games by outscoring opponents, so scores like 45-31 are frequent happenings, and this team can win double digit games again while giving up 30+ points per game.

Baylor faced a minor rebuilding project heading into this season, but off the field events have wounded the Bears enough to where second half of the season depth issues could cause a minor fold. We do not expect BU to contend for the Big 12 crown, and we would not be shocked if the losses began to mount beginning with a trip to Austin on October 29.

Kansas State, West Virginia, and Texas Tech represent the next wave. In most years, KSU plays one of the softest non-conference slates, guaranteeing themselves of three wins before taking the field, and thus needing just a 3-6 conference mark to earn a bowl bid. However, the Wildcats will begin the season 0-1 with a Friday night game at the Farm against Stanford. The likely 3-6 conference record will leave the guys from the Little Apple home for the holidays.

Texas Tech faces a similar situation. The Red Raiders are looking at 3-6 or even 2-7 in league play, as they must play Kansas State and Iowa State on the road. Playing at Arizona State in September could prevent TTU from going bowling as well.

West Virginia may actually be a tad weaker than the previous two teams, but the Mountaineers have the favorable schedule that could give them the three wins they need to pair with a 3-6 conference mark and finish 6-6.

Iowa State is not ready to compete for bowl eligibility this year, but the Cyclones are moving upwards slowly. They could even sneak into a tie for 7th if the ball bounces their way, but they should win more than one conference game this year.

Kansas still has basketball season to await. The Jayhawks are likely destined for yet another last place finish, but this year KU should at least win a game after finishing 0-12 in 2015. The season opener with Rhode Island is the only for sure winnable game, but the Jayhawks might be confident enough to pull off the mild upset over Ohio the following week. It looks like another 0-9 league mark for the Jayhawks, but then by the time they host Texas on November 19, all will be okay with the Rock Chalkers at Allen Fieldhouse.

Here is how the Big 12 Media predicted the 2016 order of finish.

2016 Big 12 Conference Media Poll
# Team 1st Pl. Total
1 Oklahoma 24 258
2 TCU 2 222
3 Oklahoma St. 0 202
4 Baylor 0 156
5 Texas 0 151
6 Texas Tech 0 141
7 West Virginia 0 126
8 Kansas St. 0 88
9 Iowa St. 0 59
10 Kansas 0 27

Here are the initial 2016 PiRate Ratings for the league.

Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 125.6 122.1 125.6 124.4
Oklahoma St. 117.5 118.8 117.5 117.9
Texas 114.4 118.0 114.4 115.6
TCU 113.3 115.6 113.2 114.0
Baylor 109.4 109.7 110.6 109.9
West Virginia 106.6 106.1 106.0 106.2
Kansas St. 103.1 107.5 102.5 104.4
Texas Tech 104.9 102.3 102.7 103.3
Iowa St. 99.8 99.2 98.7 99.2
Kansas 88.3 96.1 85.9 90.1

The PiRate Ratings are meant to be used only to predict the outcomes of the next week of games, and are not best used to predict beyond that point. Because we use algorithms that include automatic adjustments by each team based on depth and experience, two different teams can win by the exact score we predict, and their new ratings might change differently.

Thus, using our ratings to predict won-loss records and bowl projections is a bit comical, but then we all need some laughs every now and then. So, laugh away at our projected standings and bowls, and notice that this league will not provide the needed number to fill all of its obligations, thus benefiting other leagues like the Big Ten and Pac-12, who both may have extra bowl eligible teams this year.

Big 12 Conference Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Oklahoma 9-0 12-0 Playoffs/Fiesta
Oklahoma St. 7-2 10-2 Alamo
Texas 7-2 10-2 Sugar
TCU 6-3 9-3 Russell Athletic
Baylor 6-3 9-3 Texas
West Virginia 3-6 6-6 Liberty
Kansas St. 3-6 5-7  
Texas Tech 2-7 4-8  
Iowa St. 2-7 4-8  
Kansas 0-9 2-10

Coming Monday, August 22: The Pac-12 Conference with wide open races in both divisions.  Is there a surprise team ready to emerge as the new league beast, or is it more of the same old fare?

December 31, 2014

PiRate Ratings FBS Playoffs Computer Simulation–Simper Bowl VIII

We apologize for not having this post published when it was supposed to come out.  Major computer issues with substantial losses of data forced us to run an end around play to get back online.

Today, we are combining our annual Simper Bowl computer simulated playoffs (not like the actual playoffs–read prior postings under this category for a complete explanation) with the 100 simulations run for both actual Playoff games.

First, let’s start with our Simper Bowl Results.

In Simper Bowl VIII, #3-seed TCU squared off against #5-seed Baylor in our version of our 12-team playoff.  The game was played in Arlington, TX, and due to the proximity of both clubs, no home-field advantage was added, as we felt that both teams would have an equal amount of fans, and TCU was not all that much closer to the stadium to earn any extra advantage.

AND YOUR 2014 SIMPER BOWL VIII CHAMPION IS……………………

TCU!  Congratulations to the Horned Frogs, the team the computer simulator judged to be the best team in the nation.

Final Score: TCU 38  Baylor 26

STATS

First Downs: TC 27  BA 20

Rushing: TC 45-203  BA 23-67

Passing: TC 226  BA 291

Passes: TC 20-32-0  BA 28-51-1

Play-Yds: TC 77-429  BA 74-358

After 1st Qtr.: TCU 10  Baylor 6

Half: TCU 17  Baylor 16

After 3rd Qtr.: TCU 31  Baylor 19

********************************************

100 Sims of Actual Rose and Sugar Bowls

We simulated both Playoff games 100 times.  Here are the results.

Rose Bowl

#2 Oregon vs. #3 Florida St.

Outright Wins: Florida St. 57  Oregon 43

Average Score: Florida St. 24.9  Oregon 22.5

Outlier A: Florida St. 40  Oregon 22

Outlier B: Oregon 45  Florida St. 20

Sugar Bowl

#1 Alabama vs. #4 Ohio St.

Outright Wins: Alabama 89  Ohio St. 11

Average Score: Alabama 32.6  Ohio St. 21.7

Outlier A: Alabama 44  Ohio St. 13

Outlier B: Ohio St. 29  Alabama 23

December 19, 2014

2014-15 Computer Simulated College Football Playoffs—Final Four

The semifinal round of the 2014-15 College Football Computer Simulated Playoffs has been run through the simulation program, and we now know who will play for the Simper Bowl title. If you have not read our entry from December 8 explaining how and why we perform this computer simulation, read here:

https://piratings.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/2014-15-computer-simulated-playoffs/

In the first round, seeds 5-12 faced off on the higher seeds’ home fields, while seeds 1-4 received byes. In that opening round, #5 Baylor defeated #12 Kansas State 38-24; #6 Florida St. edged #11 Auburn 30-28; #7 Ole Miss beat #10 Georgia 31-28 in 2 ot; and #8 Mississippi St. trounced #9 Michigan St. 45-17.

In the quarterfinal round, #1 Alabama knocked off #8 Mississippi St. 30-17; #7 Ole Miss upset #2 Oregon 24-22; #3 TCU dismissed #6 Florida St. 42-24; and #5 Baylor won at #4 Ohio St. 40-38/
The format for the Final Four is identical to the actual FBS Playoffs. In today’s simulation, we have #7 Ole Miss facing #3 TCU in the Rose Bowl, followed by #1 Alabama and #5 Baylor facing off in the Sugar Bowl.

Without further adieu, here are the results of those games.
Rose Bowl
#3 TCU 27 #7 Ole Miss 10

Stats
First Downs: TC 19 OM 13
Rushing: TC 37-149 OM 32-89
Passing: TC 197 OM 239
Passes: TC 19-33-0 OM 21-39-4
Play-Yds: TC 70-346 OM 71-328
After 1st Qtr: TC 0 OM 0
Half: TC 7 OM 7
After 3rd Qtr: TC 20 OM 7

Sugar Bowl
#5 Baylor 26 #1 Alabama 24

Stats
First Downs BA 20 AL 19
Rushing: BA 26-79 AL 35-243
Passing: BA 419 AL 238
Passes: BA 35-53-1 AL 19-34-3
Play-Yds: BA 79-498 AL 69-481
After 1st Qtr: AL 10 BA 3
Half: AL 17 BA 16
After 3rd Qtr: BA 19 AL 17

And lo and behold, look who will be facing off in Simper Bowl VIII? It’s the two Big 12 teams that were not invited to the real inaugural playoffs. The simulator says that TCU and Baylor are the two best teams. As Former Texas Governor Rick Perry might say, “Oops!”

Return to this site on Tuesday, December 23 for the results of the simulation for the National Championship between Baylor and TCU.

December 1, 2014

PiRate Ratings College Football Playoffs and Bowl Projections

Thanksgiving weekend proved to be the biggest mover and shaker of the FBS standings of any week so far, as the Playoff Four lost one team, multiple Power Five Conference races were affected, and the top two leading contenders in the Group of Five conference race for a Big Six Bowl were upset.

Thus, a majority of the bowls see new teams gracing their predicted path. Let’s review all the changes from the weekend.

The ACC showed the SEC for one weekend who their daddy was, as the league went 4-0 against the bully. Georgia Tech may have earned a slot in a Big Four bowl even if the Yellow Jackets lose to Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. Louisville and Clemson both could have moved ahead of Duke in the selection order with wins over their in-state rivals.

Pittsburgh won at Miami to become bowl eligible, and the ACC now has 11 bowl eligible teams. Unless two ACC teams receive Big Six Bowl invitations, the league will have one too many bowl eligible teams. Miami and Boston College will be the two contenders to not receive a bid, if Georgia Tech fails to earn a Big Six Bowl.

The Big Ten saw Wisconsin defeat Minnesota to win the West Division flag, but two other major news items will affect the bowl bids from this league. Ohio State dismissed rival Michigan, but it came at a very costly price. Losing quarterback J. T. Barrett for the season in the final half is something the Buckeyes probably won’t be able to overcome with one week to prepare for the Badgers. Cardale Jones has limited playing experience, mostly in a mop-up role, and the sophomore was passed on the depth chart by the freshman Barrett.

Additionally, the Buckeye nation will deal with the tragic suicide of Kosta Karageorge.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini was served his walking papers Sunday, and he will not be around to coach his team in the Cornhuskers’ bowl. The home loss to Minnesota was unforgivable to NU fans that believe that the days of Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne can be replicated in the 21st Century. A 66-27 record was not good enough. Frank Solich left Nebraska with a 58-19 record, as the fans in Lincoln felt that was not good enough. Remember Bill Callahan? He replaced Solich and took NU to a 27-22 record, including memorable losses to Texas Tech by 60 points and surrendering 76 points to Kansas.

Rumors have it that the Nebraska football players are quite agitated over this move, and there could be implications in the postseason. Interim Head Coach Barney Cotton will not have a chance to become the ne head coach, but Cotton should not be unemployed for long. He is one of the best offensive line coaches and a very credible offensive coordinator, producing great results everywhere he has been, including producing very successful offenses at schools like New Mexico State and Iowa State. When even your punter is making public statements against this firing, you know there is fire. Rumor also has it that many committed recruits are now backing out of their commitment, and the program could be on the verge of other programs that saw negative reactions like this bring a program down for a decade.

Baylor’s narrow win over a weak Texas Tech team may keep the Bears out of the Final Four, even though they beat TCU and will be the Big 12 Champions if they defeat Kansas State in Waco this week. The Horned Frogs demolished Texas doing what the selection committee calls “controlling the game for 60 minutes.”

Arizona emerged as the Pac-12 South winner after UCLA’s offense stagnated against Stanford, while the Cardinal offense accumulated plus 200 yards both on the ground and through the air. California and Oregon State both failed to win their sixth game, leaving the conference with eight bowl eligible teams. Since the Pac-12 Championship Game loser should still earn a Big Six Bowl bid, this league will not have an extra team available to go elsewhere as an at-large bowl substitute.

The SEC came away the loser of the weekend. With Mississippi State losing to Ole Miss, the SEC now can only hope to put one team in the Playoffs. Should Missouri upset Alabama in the conference title game, the SEC could actually be shut out of the Playoffs if Florida State, Oregon, TCU, and Baylor win.

With Tennessee defeating Vanderbilt, the league finishes with 12 bowl eligible teams. There will most likely be one extra team remaining after bowl bids go out, and obviously any SEC team still without a bowl will become the leading at-large candidate, regardless of any secondary bowl agreements with lesser leagues.

The Group of Five conferences now looks to Boise, Idaho, this weekend. If Boise State takes care of business and dismisses a 6-6 Fresno State team in the Mountain West Conference Championship Game, the Broncos will most likely head to the Fiesta Bowl. Should the Bulldogs pull off the big upset, then Memphis might be the leader in the clubhouse for a possible Peach Bowl bid. The Tigers finished up their regular season with a 9-3 record and share of the AAC Championship.

Our conference-by-conference bowl look continues. Won-loss records shown are our projections.

[  ] indicates a team is an at-large selection for the bowl for which we have projected.

Group of Five Conferences

American Athletic Conference
As mentioned previously, Memphis concluded the regular season with a 41-10 romping over Connecticut. The Tigers are assured of a tie for the AAC title with a 7-1 mark. If Boise State beats Fresno State, the Tigers’ reward might be a trip to Birmingham. The league champion deserves a better fate than playing in a run-down, falling apart stadium. What’s worse is that Coach Justin Fuente might be leaving the Bluff City for ritzier football climes, like Lincoln, Nebraska for instance.

Cincinnati, Central Florida, East Carolina, and Houston will earn bowl bids, while Temple must beat Tulane in New Orleans to become bowl eligible. We believe the Owls will win but find no bowl invitations forthcoming.

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. Pittsburgh)
5. Armed Forces Bowl: Houston 5-3/7-5 (vs. [ South Carolina ])

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

Conference USA
What a losing week for CUSA! First, Marshall’s upset home loss to Western Kentucky rearranged the entire bowl order for this league. The Thundering Herd will not move up to a Big Six Bowl, and now there will be a glut of bowl eligible teams for this league’s guaranteed five bowl bids. With eight bowl eligible teams, three will most likely be left out of the postseason bonanza. Definitely, one of that sad trio will be UAB, as the Blazers will be shutting down their football program this week, the first FBS school to do so since Pacific almost 20 years ago.

1. Hawaii Bowl: Marshall 7-1/12-1 (vs. Air Force)
2. Bahamas Bowl: Louisiana Tech 7-1/8-5 (vs. Northern Illinois)
3. Boca Raton Bowl: Rice 5-3/7-5 (vs. Toledo)
4. New Mexico Bowl: UTEP 5-3/7-5 (vs. Utah St.)
5. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Western Kentucky 4-4/7-5 (vs. [ Texas St. ])

Also Bowl Eligible: Middle Tennessee 5-3/6-6, Old Dominion 4-4/6-6, UAB 4-4/6-6

Mid-American Conference
Northern Illinois won at Western Michigan to clinch the West Division title, while Bowling Green was the only East Division team with a plus .500 conference mark. The West has the top four teams in NIU, Toledo, WMU, and CMU.

Ohio was a leader for an at-large bowl bid until the SEC’s lost weekend more than likely created an extra at-large bowl bid for the top league.

The Huskies would be 11-2 with a win over BGU in the MAC title game, but that probably would not be enough to move NIU into the Big Six Bowl picture.

1. Bahamas Bowl: Northern Illinois 7-1/11-2 (vs. Louisiana Tech)
2. Boca Raton Bowl: Toledo 7-1/8-4 (vs. Rice)
3. Idaho Potato Bowl: Western Michigan 6-2/8-4 (vs. Fresno St.)
4. Camellia Bowl: Central Michigan 5-3/7-5 (vs. Appalachian St.)
5. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Bowling Green 5-3/7-6 (vs. Arkansas St.)

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

Mountain West Conference
Of the Group of Five teams, Boise State now has the most spectacular resume. The Broncos lost to Ole Miss and Air Force, two definite bowl teams. So, if BSU defeats Fresno State this week in the league title game, Boise should be headed to Tempe, Arizona, for the Fiesta Bowl, or possibly Arlington, Texas, for the Cotton Bowl. If this happens, then all seven bowl eligible teams will go bowling.

If Fresno State loses at Boise, the Bulldogs will finish 6-7, but it appears that FSU would still be bowl eligible in this case, as has happened in the past with other teams, most notably UCLA in 2011.

1. BIG SIX—Fiesta Bowl: Boise St. 7-1/11-2 (vs. Arizona)
2. Las Vegas Bowl: Colorado St. 6-2/10-2 (vs. Stanford)
3. Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego St. 5-3/7-5 (vs. Navy)
4. Hawaii Bowl: Air Force 5-3/9-3 (vs. Marshall)
5. New Mexico Bowl: Utah St. 6-2/9-4 (UTEP)
6. New Orleans Bowl: Nevada 4-4/7-5 (vs. Louisiana-Lafayette)
7. Idaho Potato Bowl: Fresno St. 5-3/6-7 (vs. Western Michigan)

Sunbelt Conference
The SBC finished with five bowl eligible teams for three bowl tie-ins. We believe that one of the extra bowl eligible teams will garner the last available at-large bid.

Georgia Southern technically is the sixth bowl eligible team, but the Eagles are in their final transition season before earning total FBS membership. GSU won the SBC title, but they failed to receive a waiver to become bowl eligible. An appeal was filed, but don’t count on this team getting into a bowl, even though they are clearly the titan of the league this year with near wins over bowl eligible Georgia Tech and North Carolina State teams.

Louisiana Lafayette is the top actual bowl eligible team, and the Ragin’ Cajuns have appeared in three consecutive New Orleans Bowl games. Technically, the GoDaddy bowl gets first choice of SBC teams, and they have selected Arkansas State three years running. We had switched the teams last week, but we are going back to selecting the trend to continue.

1. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Arkansas St. 5-3/7-5 (vs. Bowling Green)
2. New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette 7-1/8-4 (vs. Nevada)
3. Camellia Bowl: Appalachian St. 6-2/7-5 (vs. Central Michigan)
4. Heart of Dallas Bowl: [ Texas St. ] 5-3/7-5 vs. (Western Kentucky)

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

Independents (not including Notre Dame)
Not much changed here this week. BYU had already clinched their Miami Bowl berth. Navy officially clinched their Poinsettia Bowl bid, while Army had already been eliminated from bowl eligibility.

1. Miami Beach Bowl: BYU 8-4 (vs. Cincinnati)
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Navy 7-5 (vs. San Diego St.)

Power Five Conferences

Atlantic Coast Conference
Florida State’s resume gained a little clout this week with Louisville, Clemson, and Georgia Tech defeating SEC rivals. Should the Seminoles beat the Yellow Jackets in this week’s conference title game, FSU is without a doubt in the initial College Football Playoffs.

With Georgia Tech at 10-2 and Louisville, Clemson, and Duke at 9-3, odds are very good that the ACC will receive the Gator Bowl bid over the Big Ten, while the Big Ten is stuck with the Music City Bowl.

It will be interesting to see how far Notre Dame falls in the bowl pecking order, as they concluded the season on a four-game losing streak and 1-5 in the second half of the season. It figures the Irish will get into a tier 2 ACC bowl, but it will be a lower tier 2. They cannot pass any 9-3 team in bowl selections.

1. PLAYOFFS—Rose Bowl: Florida St. 8-0/13-0 (vs. Oregon)
2. BIG SIX—Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech 6-2/10-3 (vs. Wisconsin)
3. Russell Athletic Bowl: Clemson 6-2/9-3 (vs. Kansas St.)
4. Gator Bowl: Louisville 5-3/9-3 (vs. Georgia)
5. Belk Bowl: Duke 5-3/9-3 (vs. Auburn)
6. Sun Bowl: Notre Dame 7-5 (vs. Washington)
7. Pinstripe Bowl: North Carolina St. 3-5/7-5 (vs. Rutgers)
8. Military Bowl: Pittsburgh 4-4/6-6 (vs. East Carolina)
9. Independence Bowl: North Carolina 4-4/6-6 (vs. Texas A&M)
10. Quick Lane Bowl: Virginia Tech 3-5/6-6 (vs. Illinois)
11. St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami 3-5/6-6 (vs. Central Florida)
12. Texas Bowl: [ Boston College ] 4-4/7-5 (vs. LSU)

Big Ten
Ohio State has now had three significant quarterback injuries in two seasons. In 2013, Braxton Miller missed time early in the season. Kenny Guiton filled in and performed like an All-American with an even higher QB rating than Miller and an ability to run the ball almost as competently as the Heisman Trophy contender.

Once again, Miller sustained an injury this season, missing the entire campaign. Guiton was no longer around, so the backup roll fell in the hands of redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett, who merely came in and performed like an All-American just like Guiton last year.

Now, Barrett is out for the season. Can Coach Urban Meyer find All-American quarterback play in a third stringer that was passed on the depth chart by Guiton last year and Barrett this year? Cardale Jones is not an All-American caliber signal caller. He is better than the average sub, but in baseball terminology, his value over a replacement player is small.

Wisconsin is playing its best ball in November, dismissing their top three contenders in consecutive weeks to earn the West Division crown. A punishing ground game makes the mediocre passing game a little more potent, while the defense is better than average but not great. The difference in this game is that Joel Stave has significant big game experience, and we believe the Badgers will win the game this week and earn a trip to the Orange Bowl, beating out an SEC team for the privilege.

Illinois earned bowl eligibility while preventing rival Northwestern from earning that honor, while Michigan came up short in their upset bid over Ohio State.

1. BIG SIX—Orange Bowl: Wisconsin 7-1/11-2 (vs. Georgia Tech)
2. BIG SIX—Cotton Bowl: Ohio St. 8-0/11-2 (vs. Baylor)
3. BIG SIX—Peach Bowl: Michigan St. 7-1/10-2 (vs. Mississippi St.)
4. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Nebraska 5-3/9-3 (vs. Missouri)
5. Outback Bowl: Minnesota 5-3/8-4 (vs. Ole Miss)
6. Holiday Bowl: Iowa 4-4/7-5 (vs. UCLA)
7. Music City Bowl: Maryland 4-4/7-5 (vs. Tennessee)
8. San Francisco Bowl: Penn St. 2-6/6-6 (vs. USC)
9. Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers 3-5/7-5 (vs. North Carolina St.)
10. Quick Lane Bowl: Illinois 3-5/6-6 (vs. Virginia Tech)

No League Team Available for the final bowl tie-in (Heart of Dallas or Armed Forces)

Big 12 Conference
Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is adamant that he will play against Kansas State this week after suffering a mild concussion against Texas Tech, said injury causing headaches, double vision, and other issues. Even if Petty plays, Kansas State is not a pushover, and this game could be close with the visiting Wildcats definitely in contention.

TCU has conference bottom feeder Iowa State in Ft. Worth, and the Horned Frogs have two extra days preparation for this game, so it figures that TCU will win with ease to finish 11-1.

Oklahoma State still has slim bowl eligibility chances, but the Cowboys must win at Oklahoma this week. If the Sooners win, the Big 12 will definitely come up shy in its obligations to supply teams to at least seven bowls, and realistically eight bowls, since two league teams will be in Big Six Bowls.

1. PLAYOFFS—Sugar Bowl: TCU 8-1/11-1 (vs. Alabama)
2. BIG SIX—Cotton Bowl: Baylor 8-1/11-1 (vs. Ohio St.)
3. Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma 6-3/9-3 (vs. Arizona St.)
4. Russell Athletic Bowl: Kansas St. 7-2/9-3 (vs. Clemson)
5. Liberty Bowl: Texas 5-4/6-6 (vs. Arkansas)
6. Cactus Bowl: West Virginia 5-4/7-5 (vs. Utah)

No League Team Available for the final two bowl tie-ins (Texas and Heart of Dallas or Armed Forces)

Pac-12 Conference
Oregon has lost three games in two seasons. Two of those three losses came at the hands of Arizona, the Ducks’ Pac-12 Championship Game opponent. If OU can figure out how to beat the Wildcats, the Ducks will be swimming in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. If Arizona wins again, the Wildcats have an infinitesimal chance of moving into the Final Four, needing Ohio State, Baylor, and Florida State or Alabama to lose.

Oregon State and California were eliminated from bowl eligibility, and with chances likely that the loser of the Championship Game will end up in Tempe, this league no longer appears to have an extra team for at-large bowl possibilities.

1. PLAYOFFS—Rose Bowl: Oregon 8-1/12-1 (vs. Florida St.)
2. BIG SIX—Fiesta Bowl: Arizona 7-2/10-3 (vs. Boise St.)
3. Alamo Bowl: Arizona St. 6-3/9-3 (vs. Oklahoma)
4. Holiday Bowl: UCLA 6-3/9-3 (vs. Iowa)
5. San Francisco Bowl: USC 6-3/8-4 (vs. Penn St.)
6. Sun Bowl: Washington 4-5/8-5 (vs. Notre Dame)
7. Las Vegas Bowl: Stanford 5-4/7-5 (vs. Colorado St.)
8. Cactus Bowl: Utah 5-4/8-4 (vs. West Virginia)

Southeastern Conference
The SEC West cannibalized itself this season, as all seven teams went undefeated outside of conference play but beat each other up to the point where only Alabama emerged with a chance to make the Final Four. If the Crimson Tide do the unthinkable and lose to Missouri, then the SEC just might be left out of the first Big Dance on the gridiron.

Mississippi State should still receive a Big Six Bowl, probably in Atlanta, where the Bulldog fans hopefully will show up and not take it as a door prize. If Missouri beats Alabama, the Tigers will then knock Wisconsin out of the Orange Bowl, but we are sticking with the Tide to win.

There are going to be excellent opportunities to make some very interesting and competitive bowl games with all the bowl eligible teams. Because the league wants no part of pairing Texas A&M and Texas, the Aggies will be placed in a bowl where Texas cannot be the opponent. However, in doing so, it may open up the chance to pit old rivals Texas and Arkansas against each other. Also, Missouri could be paired against Nebraska in an old rivalry game.

There is going to be one extra bowl eligible team from the SEC, but that team will be the number one choice when the at-large invitations are doled out.

1. PLAYOFFS—Sugar Bowl: Alabama 7-1/12-1 (vs. TCU)
2. BIG SIX—Peach Bowl: Mississippi St. 6-2/10-2 (vs. Michigan St.)
3. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Missouri 7-1/10-3 (vs. Nebraska)
4. Outback Bowl: Ole Miss 5-3/9-3 (vs. Minnesota)
5. Gator Bowl: Georgia 6-2/9-3 (vs. Louisville)
6. Belk Bowl: Auburn 4-4/8-4 (vs. Duke)
7. Texas Bowl: LSU 4-4/8-4 (vs. [ Boston College ])
8. Music City Bowl: Tennessee 3-5/6-6 (vs. Maryland)
9. Liberty Bowl: Arkansas 2-6/6-6 (vs. Texas)
10. Independence Bowl: Texas A&M 3-5/7-5 (vs. North Carolina)
11. Birmingham Bowl: Florida 4-4/6-5 (vs. Memphis)
12. Armed Forces Bowl: [ South Carolina ] 3-5/6-6 vs. Houston

November 25, 2014

PiRate Ratings College Football Playoffs and Bowl Projections

This will be the penultimate week of College Football’s regular season. The current top 4 teams, Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Mississippi State, will probably not be the same top four teams by the time the committee meets again and issues the actual four teams in the playoffs in December, maybe more than a little different thanks to games this week.

There are numerous teams with 5-6 records needing to win their final game; some will lose and miss out on a bowl. Some will win and earn a trip to an “also-ran” bowl. Yet others will win but not be selected for a bowl.

The race to see which Group of 5 Conference top team will receive a bid to a Big Six Bowl could be decided this week, as Marshall hosts improving Western Kentucky, while Colorado State plays at in-state rival Air Force. Boise State clings to life hoping that the Thundering Herd and Rams both lose. Should Marshall lose either this week or next week in the Conference USA Championship Game, and both Colorado State and Boise State lose, then the door might be slightly ajar for a Cincinnati or Memphis to back into the Peach Bowl.

There are still playoff spots up for grabs in the conference championship game races.

In CUSA, the winner of this week’s Louisiana Tech-Rice game in Ruston, LA, will get the privilege of facing Marshall for the conference title.

There are still three teams alive in the MAC-West trying to advance to the conference championship game against Bowling Green. If Northern Illinois beats Western Michigan, the Huskies earn the nod. Should Western Michigan prevail, then Toledo would win the division if the Rockets take care of lowly Eastern Michigan. If EMU upsets Toledo, then Western Michigan would earn the spot if the Broncos beat NIU.

Both divisions of the Mountain West Conference are up for grabs. In the Mountain Division, Boise State controls their destiny. The Broncos win the division title with a win at home over Utah State. If the Aggies upset the Broncos, then they would take the division if Air Force beats Colorado State, but the Rams would win the division title if they beat the Falcons in Colorado Springs.

In the West Division, it’s almost ashamed that any team can still win this race, when CSU could finish 11-1 and not get into the championship. San Diego State and Fresno State are currently tied at 4-3 in league play. If both win this week, Fresno State would claim the division flag with a 6-6 overall record. Obviously, if one wins and one loses, the winner goes to the MWC Championship Game.

If the Aztecs and Bulldogs both lose to finish 4-4, then Hawaii will also be 4-4 by virtue of defeating Fresno State. Nevada can also get to 4-4 with a win over rival UNLV. In a four-way tie like this, Nevada would win the division based on best head-to-head record among the four tied teams. If Nevada loses to UNLV, and Hawaii wins over Fresno State, then the flag goes to Fresno due to their win over Nevada (and filtering through three prior tiebreakers to get to this point).

The Big Ten West goes to the team that claims Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Babe the Blue Ox wears number 25 for Wisconsin, and Minnesota may need axes to beat the Badgers in Madtown.

The Big 12 is still a three-team race. Baylor plays Texas Tech at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Bears control their own destiny and finish the regular season at home against Kansas State.

TCU plays a real trap game in Austin against Texas, and the Longhorns are a team nobody looks forward to playing in late November. TCU closes with a home game over Iowa State the following week.

Kansas State needs a little help to win the Big 12. The Wildcats should dismiss Kansas this week, and they need a Texas win over TCU. If that happens, then their game at Baylor would decide the Big 12 title.

The Pac-12 South is still a three-team race. USC and Utah were eliminated last week. If UCLA defeats Stanford in Pasadena Friday, the Bruins win the division. If Stanford wins, then the winner of the Arizona-Arizona State game Friday in Tucson advances to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Remember that Arizona penned the lone loss on North Division champion Oregon.

Finally, in the Southeastern Conference, both division races are yet to be decided. In the East, if Missouri beats Arkansas, the Tigers win the East with a 7-1 record. If Arkansas wins, then Georgia claims the title. In the West, if Alabama beats Auburn or Ole Miss beats Mississippi State, the Crimson Tide wins the division crown. If Auburn beats Alabama and Mississippi State wins The Egg Bowl, then Mississippi State wins the division title.

Should the West Division champion lose to Missouri or Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, the committee will have a difficult time selecting a two-loss SEC champion over any of the one-loss teams in the other Power 5 conferences.

Here is our current look at Playoff and Bowl Projections by conference.

If a team is bracketed thusly, [ Team ], they are an at-large selection.

Group of 5 Conferences

American Athletic Conference

Central Florida has a tough game at East Carolina remaining, and we believe the Pirates will prevail. Cincinnati has a tough game at Temple remaining, but we believe the Bearcats will win in Philly. Memphis has just one game left to play, at home against Connecticut. A win over the lowly Huskies gives the Tigers the AAC Championship. Unfortunately, winning the AAC Title may only get the Memphians a trip down US 72 to Birmingham.

Temple is likely headed to a 6-6 record, and there will not be a contracted spot for the Owls. We believe Temple has little chance to earn an at-large bowl invitation, as the bowls most likely to need a replacement team are all several hundred miles away from the Keystone State.

1. Birmingham Bowl: Memphis (7-1/9-4) vs. South Carolina
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. North Carolina St.
5. Armed Forces Bowl: Houston (5-3/7-5) vs. [ Ohio U ]

Bowl Eligible but no bowl: Temple (4-4/6-6)

Conference USA

Marshall fans were nervous for awhile last week as UAB gave the Thundering Herd all they could handle. A home finale against Western Kentucky might be an interesting high scoring game, but we believe MU will win by double digits. The CUSA Championship Game might be interesting for a quarter to a half, but MU looks to strong for any league opponent. We are sticking with Doc Holliday and his troops to be the initial Group of 5 Conference team to earn a Big Six Bowl bid.

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

Bowl Eligible but no bowl: Old Dominion (4-4/6-6), UAB (4-4/6-6)

Mid-American Conference

Fortunately, the Buffalo-Kent State game had no postseason implications as both teams had already been eliminated from bowl eligibility. It appears that there will be seven bowl eligible teams from the MAC for five guaranteed bowl bids. We believe one of the two other teams will earn the last bowl invitation. The MAC has been a little down this year, but it would not surprise us if the league goes 5-1 or even 6-0 in the bowls.

1. Bahamas Bowl: Toledo (7-1/9-4) vs. Rice
2. Boca Raton Bowl: Northern Illinois (6-2/9-3) vs. Middle Tennessee
3. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Bowling Green (6-2/8-5) vs. Nevada
4. Camellia Bowl: Western Michigan (7-1/9-3) vs. South Alabama
5. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Central Michigan (5-3/7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
6. Armed Forces Bowl: [ Ohio (4-4/6-6) ] vs. Houston

Bowl Eligible but no bowl:Akron (4-4/6-6)

Mountain West Conference
We are going to go with Boise State over Utah State this week to secure the Mountain Division title, and then take the Broncos to win the Conference Championship Game the following week. We also believe Colorado State will win at Air Force. Regardless these four teams are the top quartet in the league and will receive the four

1. Las Vegas Bowl: Boise St. (7-1/11-2) vs. Arizona St.
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. U T E P
5. New Orleans Bowl: San Diego St. (5-3/7-5) vs. Arkansas St.
6. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Nevada (4-4/7-5) vs. Bowling Green

Note: Fresno State is projected to win the West Division and lose to Boise State to finish 6-7. In the past, special waivers have been made for 6-7 teams like this to accept a bowl invitation. Fresno could trump Ohio for an at-large bowl invitation in this instance, but we will leave the Bulldogs out this week.

Sunbelt Conference

Georgia Southern could win the Sunbelt with a perfect 8-0 conference record and a 9-3 overall record, but the Eagles will not get a bowl invitation. GSU can only earn a bowl bid if there are not enough bowl eligible teams to fill all the bowls, and their will be more than enough teams this year.

Louisiana-Lafayette lost to a very hot Appalachian State team last week, but the Ragin’ Cajuns will still receive the top bowl offer from the SBC, due to Georgia Southern’s ineligibility. The New Orleans Bowl has selected ULL three years in a row, while the GoDaddy.com Bowl has become Arkansas State’s annual 13th game. This year, we believe the bowls might like to have a little variation. There will be two extra bowl eligible teams, and we are certain that at least one bowl needing an at-large representative will choose a team from this league.

1. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette (7-1/8-4) vs. Central Michigan
2. New Orleans Bowl: Arkansas St. (5-3/7-5) vs. San Diego St.
3. Camellia Bowl: South Alabama (5-3/6-6) vs. Western Michigan
4. Heart of Dallas Bowl: [ Texas St. (5-3/7-5) ] vs. Western Kentucky

Bowl Eligible but no bowl: Appalachian St. (6-2/7-5) and very deserving

Independents

Notre Dame is included in the Atlantic Coast Conference bowl tie-ins, and the Irish are dropping fast. A loss to USC could place Notre Dame in El Paso or Nashville in December.

BYU is the first team to know for sure where they are headed. The Cougars will play in the Miami Beach Bowl won or lose against California.

Navy needs one more win and has two chances. We believe the Middies will win out and finish 7-5, and their reward will be a possible Top 15 opponent.

1. Miami Beach Bowl: B Y U (8-4) vs. Cincinnati
2. Poinsettia Bowl: Navy (7-5) vs. Colorado St.

Power 5 Conferences

Atlantic Coast Conference

Florida State is creeping closer and closer to the edge on slippery ground. The Seminoles cannot keep winning ugly like this and expect to remain in the Top Four if Baylor, TCU, and even Ohio State win big. A regular season finale against rival Florida is going to be a real fight, and the Seminoles then have to deal with Georgia Tech’s option offense in order to get to the Playoffs.

The Orange Bowl might prefer Florida State to lose to Florida and win the ACC Championship Game, because the Seminoles would head to Miami instead of the Playoffs and sport a 12-1 record. If FSU makes the Playoffs at 13-0, then a possible four-loss Georgia Tech team could end up in the Orange Bowl over three-loss Duke and Louisville teams and possible four-loss Clemson team.

Pittsburgh can still gain bowl eligibility with a mild upset win at Miami, while the Virginia-Virginia Tech game is a bowl qualifier for the winner and eliminator for the loser.

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

Big Ten

While we do not project Ohio State to make the Playoffs, mainly because we have the Buckeyes losing to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, we do believe that three league teams will receive Big Six Bowl invitations.

Not much has changed in the bowl pecking order here. We have removed Michigan from the bowl list, because a loss to Ohio State will leave the Wolverines at 5-7. The winner of the Illinois-Northwestern game in Evanston will decide the last league bowl representative.

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

Big 12

Should Texas beat TCU and Kansas State beat Baylor, the Big 12 will lose all chances to place a team in the Playoffs. If both TCU and Baylor win out, then there is a chance one or even both could end up playing for all the marbles. What hurts the Big 12 is not having a conference championship game (which could hurt an 11-1 Mississippi State team if Alabama wins the SEC West).

Because of the likelihood that both Baylor and TCU will at least earn Big Six Bowl bids, and because four league teams, instead of the usual two or three, will fail to earn bowl eligibility, the Big 12 will not meet its obligations to supply enough teams to the contracted bowls. In fact, we believe two bowls will be forced to find alternatives.

1. Big Six—Cotton Bowl: T C U (8-1/11-1) vs. Ohio St.
2. Bix Six—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: Kansas St. (7-2/9-3) vs. Duke
5. Liberty Bowl: Texas (5-4/6-6) vs. Arkansas
6. Cactus Bowl: West Virginia (5-4/7-5) vs. Utah

Pac-12 Conference

Oregon slipped in November last year with a loss to Arizona that cost the Ducks any chance to finish in the top two of the final BCS standings. This year, they are playing for their Playoff lives. The Ducks should win their Civil War battle against Oregon State, but the game is at Reser Stadium, where the Beavers can be tough. The Pac-12 Championship Game then must be won to guarantee Oregon a spot in the Final Four.

U C L A was supposed to contend for a Playoff spot, but the Bruins lost one too many games to stay in the chase. Even if the SEC finishes with four two-loss teams, and Ohio State loses to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, it will be difficult for an 11-2 Bruins team to sneak into the Final Four.

California is 5-6 with a home game against BYU this week. The Bears have a chance to get to 6-6 and take the final at-large bowl bid away from Ohio, but we believe the Cougars will score 35-40 points and keep the Bears out of a bowl.

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 (7-2/10-2) vs. Minnesota
4. San Francisco Bowl: U S C (6-3/8-4) vs. Northwestern
5. Sun Bowl: Washington (4-5/8-5) vs. Notre Dame
6. Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona St. (6-3/9-3) vs. Boise St.
7. Cactus Bowl: Utah (5-4/8-4) vs. West Virginia
8. Texas Bowl: [ Stanford (4-5/6-6) ] vs. L S U

Southeastern Conference

There are three questions this week with the SEC. The first one is the more important one. What happens to Mississippi State if the Bulldogs beat Ole Miss, while Alabama beats Auburn to earn the West Division flag? The Committee has indicated that conference champions will be given higher priority over non-conference champions. Mississippi State is still number four, but The Committee cannot place another team past the Bulldogs with the understanding that Baylor, TCU, or Ohio State could be a conference champion. Might the Big 12 Champion or Ohio State pass an idle Bulldog team in the final poll?

Question number two involves two teams still attempting to become bowl eligible. Tennessee is 5-6 with what amounts to a home game on their rival’s home field. The Volunteers should handle Vanderbilt easily to earn a bowl bid. Kentucky was once 5-1 and the sexy choice for contention for a Big Six bowl. At 5-1, we wrote that the Wildcats could easily lose their final six games and not go to a bowl. UK is one loss to Louisville away from making us soothsayers.

Question number three involves the SEC not wanting to give the Big 12 a chance to move Texas into the Texas Bowl against Texas A&M. The SEC most definitely will arrange for the Aggies to go to a bowl that cannot invite a Big 12 team. Thus, we believe another interesting matchup is possible. Look below at our Liberty Bowl projection.

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 Six—Peach Bowl: Georgia (6-2/10-2) vs. Marshall
4. Buffalo Wild Wings (Citrus) Bowl: Missouri (7-1/10-3) vs. Iowa
5. Outback Bowl: Auburn (4-4/8-4) vs. Nebraska
6. Gator Bowl: Ole Miss (4-4/8-4) vs. Louisville
7. Texas Bowl: L S U (4-4/8-4) vs. [ Stanford ]
8. Belk Bowl: Florida (4-4/6-5) vs. Clemson
9. Music City Bowl: Tennessee (3-5/6-6) vs. Maryland
10. Liberty Bowl: Arkansas (2-6/6-6) vs. Texas
11. Birmingham Bowl: South Carolina (3-5/7-5) vs. Memphis
12. Independence Bowl: Texas A&M (3-5/7-5) vs. Virginia

November 17, 2014

PiRate Ratings College Football Playoffs and Bowl Projections

See the PiRate Ratings and Spreads for college and pro football at: http://www.piratings.webs.com
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)

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