The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 24, 2011

2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Preview

2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Preview

 

Last year, Virginia Tech and Florida State met in the ACC Championship Game for the second time in the history of the game.  The Hokies won to advance to the Orange Bowl, where they ran into the new “greatest quarterback ever” in Andrew Luck and Stanford.

 

This year, it looks like a strong possibility that the two powers will once again meet in the ACC Championship Game.  Both teams are national title contenders as well.  Florida State appears to be the stronger team as the season starts, but Virginia Tech doesn’t have a Boise State or Alabama at the start of the schedule this year.  Two teams, North Carolina and Miami, were hit with summer news that could greatly affect their showing this season.  Butch Davis was fired at North Carolina, while Miami may be looking at a possible death penalty.  This could be the season where some of the former bottom feeders move up at the expense of programs in trouble.

 

ATLANTIC DIVISION

 

Florida State

 

OFFENSE

Quarterback

E. J. Manuel takes over as starter for Christian Ponder.  He started twice last year and completed 70% of his passes and passed for an excellent 9.3 yards per attempt.  Manuel is also a much better runner than Ponder, so this position will actually be as strong or even stronger this year—as long as Manuel stays healthy.

 

Receivers

Had Taiwan Easterling not decided to become a future Chicago Cub, this might have been one of the 10 best in the nation.  It will still be one of the two best in the ACC.  Bert Reed is an excellent possession receiver; he led the Seminoles with 58 receptions.  Willie Haulstead is more of a deep threat; he led the ‘Noles with 15.4 yards per reception and six touchdowns.  Tight end Beau Reliford caught just 19 passes, but he should contribute more this season.

 

Running Backs

The situation is in limbo here.  Starter Chris Thompson has a bad back, and he is not getting many reps in practice and has missed multiple practices.  Last year, he led FSU with 845 yards while averaging 6.3 yards per carry.  Backups Ty Jones and Jermaine Thomas are both capable.  Jones has been a number one back in the past. 

 

Offensive Line

This is Coach Jimbo Fisher’s only concern on this side of the ball, and it really isn’t much of a concern.  Tackle Zebrie Sanders is recovering from a groin injury, and center David Spurlock has missed time and only recently began practicing in full pads.  Tackle Andrew Datko is the star of this unit.

 

 

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

Simply, this is the best front four in the ACC and one of the top five nationally.  End Brandon Jenkins finished second in the league with 13 ½ sacks and 21 ½ tackles for loss.  If he goes pro, he could be the first defensive lineman taken in the 2012 NFL Draft.  Tackles Jaccobi McDaniel and Everett Dawkins make it difficult for enemy backs to run between the tackles.  As a unit, FSU led the nation with 48 sacks.

 

Linebackers

Nigel Bradham is the only returning starter to this unit.  Bradham led the Seminoles with 98 tackles and recorded five sacks and five passes defended.  Christian Jones has the potential to be an all-conference player in his sophomore season.

 

Secondary

All four starters return, but not all are guaranteed a starting spot this year.  The two-deep is hands down the best in the league.  Cornerbacks Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes teamed for 33 passes defended.  Lamarcus Joiner will start at one of the safety spots, meaning either Terrance Parks or Nick Moody will drop to second team.

 

OTHER

Punter Shawn Powell and place kicker Dustin Hopkins are the best in the ACC at their positions.  Hopkins has enough leg to connect from 60 yards.  Reid is one of the best punt returners in the nation.

 

SUMMARY

We believe FSU will score 35-40 points and gain 400-425 yards per game, while yielding about 17 points and 325-350 yards per game.  Their schedule has one big obstacle in it—a rematch with number one Oklahoma at Doak Campbell Stadium.  In league play, the Seminoles must visit Clemson and Boston College.  The finale with Florida may not be the tough game it has been in the past.

 

It is a big if to expect FSU to beat Oklahoma, but it is possible.  If they win that one, then their destination could easily be New Orleans, and we are not talking the Sugar Bowl.  11-1 headed into the ACC Championship is very possible.

 

Clemson

 

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Coach Dabo Swinney’s best recruiting effort may have taken place after the season.  Chad Morris comes in from Tulsa to take over at Offensive Coordinator.  So, expect a move to a no-huddle, hurry-up offense.  Can new starter Tajh Boyd impersonate G. J. Kinne?  Behind him are two true freshmen.  Boyd played in seven games and completed just 52% of his passes as a freshman.

 

Receivers

Wideout DeAndre Hopkins and Tight end Dwayne Allen give Boyd a couple of quality targets, but after that, the book is out on the rest of this group.  Hopkins led CU with 52 receptions, 637 yards, and four touchdowns.  Allen could compete for a final spot on the Mackie Award list.  True freshman Sammy Watkins could be the difference in making this a great unit or a better than average unit.

 

Running Backs

The Tigers lose Jamie Harper, who is now a Tennessee Titan.  Andre Ellington returns after starting six games and rushing for 686 yards and 10 touchdowns.  If he stays healthy, he could double that amount this year.

 

Offensive Line

The biggest concern here is the learning curve.  Four starters return from last year, but all the blocking schemes will be radically different.  Center Dalton Freeman has the talent to receive votes for the Rimington Award.  Guard Antoine McClain and tackle Landon Walker could appear on one of the postseason all-conference teams.

 

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

This is going to be a liability and the reason why CU will not compete with Florida State for the ACC Atlantic Division title.  Da’Quan Bowers and his 26 tackles for loss is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.  Jarvis Jenkins is now a Washington Redskin.  The new replacements are not in their league.  The two returning starters are good ones, but neither will record 26 tackles for loss, and they probably will not combine for that many.  Andre Branch is good enough to become a star end in the ACC.  Brandon Thompson is a quality tackle, but this unit will take a big step backward.

 

Linebackers

Middle linebacker Corico Hawkins is the only returning starter to this unit.  He came up with 10 stops for loss last year, but he did not help much versus the pass.  A couple of true freshmen could see considerable playing time this year.  For now, sophomore Quandon Christian and Jonathan Willard will flank Hawkins.

 

Secondary

Xavier Brewer is the star of this unit.  The cornerback defended 10 passes last year.  Coty Sensabaugh was a late signee four years ago, and now the senior will finish his career as a starter.  Rashard Hall returns at one safety, while Jonathan Meeks will be the new starter at the other safety position.  Overall, this is an above average secondary but not a great one.

 

OTHER

Clemson’s schedule gives the Tigers an excellent chance to start 3-0 prior to hosting Florida State on September 24.  Home games with Troy, Wofford, and Auburn give CU a great chance to go 3-0.  Then, the Tigers host FSU and play at Virginia Tech in back-to-back weeks.

 

SUMMARY

Clemson averaged just 24 points per game and 335 yards per game last year.  With the new offense, CU should score 30-35 points per game and gain around 400 yards.  However, the new offense will make things harder for the green defense.  CU gave up just 19 points per game last year, but we see the Tigers giving up about a touchdown more in 2011.  Clemson should win eight or nine games and go bowling once again.

 

Boston College

 

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Chase Rettig is the clear number one this season, as the three quarterbacks that saw action last year all return.  Rettig passed for 1,238 yards and six touchdowns, but he threw nine interceptions and completed just 51% of his passes last year as a freshman.

 

Receivers

Boston College has been known for its tight ends, and Chris Pantale is the current star.  He caught 31 passes last year and could top that number this season.  Alex Amidon and Bobby Swigert return after combining for 55 receptions and six touchdowns.  There is a lot of experienced depth here, but it is not the most talented.

 

Running Backs

Montel Harris rushed for 1,243 yards and eight touchdowns last year, but he is going to miss some time at the start of the season due to a knee injury.  Backup Andre Williams is also a little banged up, so the Eagles are thin at this position as they start the season.  Rolandan Finch will get first crack at filling this spot until Williams and Harris are ready to go.  BC has averaged less than four yards per rush every year since Derrick Knight graduated as the all-time rushing leader in 2003.

 

Offensive Line

The Eagles have been known for developing excellent lines, but this year’s OL will be a liability for 3rd year coach Frank Spaziani.  Only two starters return, and one of those two will miss the start of the season.  Guard Nathan Richman has a back injury and will not be ready for the start of the season.  Tackle Emmett Cleary is a titan at 6-07 and 300 pounds.

 

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

The Eagles must start over almost from scratch in the trenches.  Three of the four starters from 2010 have left the building; BC gave up just a little over 80 rushing yards per game last year, and that number was not inflated by a lot of sacks.  Only tackle Kaleb Ramsey returns.  Ramsey made 7 ½ stops behind the line and finished with 39 tackles.  Max Holloway was a part-time starter last year.  He will start full-time at one end spot after leading the team with 14 tackles for loss and four sacks.

 

Linebackers

This is where the defense shines, and the reason the Eagles have a chance to repeat as the number two defense in the league.  It starts with return of consensus All-American Luke Kuechly, who led the nation with 183 tackles.  He also intercepted three passes and batted away three others.  Nick Clancy has been impressive in August drills, and he could become the new starter at the Sam position, while Kevin Pierre-Louis returns to the Will position.  Pierre-Louis was a Freshman All-American last year after recording 93 tackles.  If Clancy can repeat in games what he has done in scrimmages, this could become a top three unit.

 

Secondary

As optimistic as things are at linebacker, the secondary is almost as much pessimistic.  The dismissal of expected starting safety Okechukwu Okoroha and the back injury to cornerback Donnie Fletcher has left BC thin in the backfield.  Fletcher will miss the opening of the season.  The new safety figures to be Spenser Rositano, a true freshman.  Jim Noel started eight games last year and picked off four passes.  He will start at the other safety spot.  Cornerback Al Louis-Jean, a true freshman, will replace Fletcher until he is ready to return, while redshirt freshman Dominique Williams figures to start at the other corner spot.

 

OTHER

Boston College has yielded less than 20 points per game six of the last seven years and his not given up more than 333 yards in any of those seasons.  They have surrendered just 92 rushing yards per game in the last six seasons.

 

SUMMARY

This is a tricky season to predict Boston College’s outcome.  The Eagles could be as much as a touchdown weaker than normal to start the season due to key injuries, and their opener comes against Northwestern, a team that can beat them.  In week two, they have a trap game at Central Florida, before opening conference play in Chestnut Hill against an improved Duke team.  BC could be 3-0, 2-1, or 1-2 by this time, and that will give an excellent barometer for what will happen at the back end of the schedule.  Games four and five are as close to sure wins as they will have (hosting UMass and Wake Forest). The Eagles end the season on the road against Notre Dame and Miami.  Road games against Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Maryland will make for a tough October stretch.  If BC is to go bowling for the 13th consecutive season, they need to start 4-1 at the least.

 

North Carolina State

 

OFFENSE

Quarterback

There will be a drop-off from what they had to what they will get this year out of this position.  Russell Wilson left Raleigh with the thoughts of playing professional baseball.  He ended up playing college football in Madison, Wisconsin.  Mike Glennon takes over after completing nine passes for 78 yards last year.  Glennon saw action in three games last year, but he did play in seven as a freshman.  He won’t replicate Wilson’s numbers, but he will have some good games—and some bad games.  His mobility is a question at this point; he is not a dual threat like Wilson.

 

Receivers

The Wolfpack must replace their top two receivers from 2010.  Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams teamed for 112 receptions and 1600+ yards.  T. J. Graham should become the go-to guy this year.  He caught 25 passes and scored four touchdowns.  Coach Tom O’Brien is concerned with this position, because the talent level drops off quite a bit after Graham.  Tight end George Bryan will be called on to be a primary receiver after catching 35 passes last year.  Look for more dropped passes and fewer yards per reception.

 

Running Backs

Mustafa Greene led NCSU with 597 rushing yards last year, but a foot injury will keep him from playing until October.  O’Brien will choose from among four contenders to replace Greene for the first month.  James Washington, Brandon Barnes, Curtis Underwood, and Anthony Creecy could all see action.  Washington and Underwood have the most experience, but Creecy has the best moves.

 

Offensive Line

What was already a concern became something a bit more concerning after the ‘Pack saw one guard leave the program and two others suffer knee injuries that will keep them out for at least the first month of the season.  Nobody on the roster will earn an all-conference award this year.  Center Camden Wentz, guard Zach Allen, and tackle R. J. Mattes at least have experience on their side.  NCSU only averaged 3.5 yards per rush last year, and the OL gave up 39 sacks with a mobile quarterback under center.

 

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

There’s more bad news on this side of the ball.  The one star in the trenches, J. R. Sweezy, is out six weeks with a foot injury.  That leaves end Jeff Rieskamp as the only player with real experience.  Rieskamp only picked up two QB sacks, but he did force 17 QB hurries. 

Linebackers

This trio is second in the conference in talent only to the group at Boston College.  Audie Cole recorded five sacks and picked up 10 ½ tackles for loss last year.  Terrell Manning added five sacks and 11 tackles for loss.  Rickey Dowdy figures to be the new starter after moving from defensive end.  The Wolfpack will miss Nate Irving, who led the team with 97 tackles and 20 ½ tackles for loss.

 

Secondary

All four starters return from 2010, but this unit is not a major plus.  Cornerback C. J. Wilson led the team with 10 passes defended, but his counterpart, David Amerson, only had one.  Safety Earl Wolff finished third on the team with 91 tackles and proved to be an effective safety blitzer.  Brandon Bishop led the team with four interceptions.

 

OTHER

O’Brien’s four years in Raleigh have seen his teams post 5-7 seasons in the odd years and advance to bowls in the even years.  The ease of the schedule could give him a chance to break that string.  After scoring almost 32 points per game and gaining more than 400, we do not see the Wolfpack matching those numbers this year.  Call it 22-26 points and 350-375 yards.  The defense could come close to matching last year’s record of 21 points and 340 yards. 

 

SUMMARY

Home games with Liberty, South Alabama, Central Michigan, and North Carolina plus a road games with Wake Forest and Virginia give NCSU a great shot for six wins.  A game at Cincinnati on Thursday, September 22, could be the best shot at a seventh win.  Do not expect another nine-win season.

 

Maryland

 

OFFENSE

Quarterback

New head coach Randy Edsall brought in former BYU head coach and LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton to run the Terp offense.  Crowton has an excellent quarterback to work with and an up and coming backup.  Danny O’Brien completed 57% of his passes last year for 2,438 yards and 22 touchdowns.  C. J. Brown shows promise, and if O’Brien falters or is injured, he is more than capable of playing for extended time.

 

Receivers

The Terps lost their top two receivers from a year ago, including Torrey Smith.  Smith caught 67 passes for 1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns.  The new group of receivers should improve as the season progresses, but the road could be bumpy early.

 

Quintin McCree, Ronnie Tyler, and Kevin Dorsey combined for just 44 receptions and 524 yards.  There is some depth here with true freshman Marcus Leak a highly-prized recruit.  Tony Logan could challenge for a starting nod, and Kenny Boykins should contribute.

 

Tight end Matt Furstenburg added a dozen receptions but led the team with 17.2 yards per catch.

 

Running Backs

Davin Meggett takes over full-time here after splitting time with Da’Rel Scott last year.  Meggett rushed for 720 yards, seldom losing yardage.  He should go over 1,000 this year.

 

Offensive Line

Three starters return, but there are no stars on this unit.  The dismissal of guard Justin Lewis and the double broken legs of tackle Pete DeSouza from a motorcycle accident makes this a thin unit. Center Bennett Fulper, guard Andrew Gonnella and tackle R. J. Dill are the experienced veterans.

 

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

All four starters from 2010 return this year, but end Justin Anderson has an injured foot.  He had lost his starting spot to Isaiah Ross.  The strength of this unit is at tackle.  A. J. Francis and Joe Vellano teamed for 107 tackles and 17 ½ stops for loss.  True freshman Keith Bowers could see the field early.

 

Linebackers

There is no depth at linebacker, so the three starters better stay healthy and be able to play for long stretches.  Kenny Tate moves to linebacker from safety after he made 100 tackles with 8 ½ for loss.  He intercepted three passes and broke up four others.  Demetrius Hartsfield finished third on the team with 88 tackles.

 

With no real depth here, Edsall moved Avery Graham from cornerback to a backup linebacker spot.  Graham is 5-10 and weighs just 195 pounds.

 

Secondary

Cornerbacks Cameron Chism and Trenton Hughes return after recording 18 passes defended, but only one interception.  Matt Robinson and Eric Franklin will not be able to match the efforts by last year’s safeties.

 

OTHER

Logan is an excellent punt returner.  In 2010, he took two punts to the house while averaging 18.1 yards per return.

 

SUMMARY

Edsall has a chance to send the Terps to a bowl this year, but the team will not match last year’s results.  The schedule offers them no favors.  Out of the league, the Terps host West Virginia, Temple, and Towson.  They face Notre Dame at Fedex Field (Washington Redskins home), which is basically a home game.  It looks like Maryland will go 2-2 in those games.  Maryland will have to break even in the league just to get to 6-6.

 

Wake Forest

 

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Tanner Price edged out Ted Stachitas in the spring.  As a freshman, Price led the Demon Deacons with 1,349 passing yards and seven touchdowns.  He completed 56.8%, but he only averaged 5.6 yards per attempt.  True freshman Kevin Sousa is the top incoming recruit, but he may not see the field this year.

 

Receivers

This unit is not all that strong, but it has to be an improvement over last year, when WF averaged just 144 passing yards per game.  Chris Givens returns after leading the Deacs with 35 receptions and four touchdowns.  However, Givens has a hamstring injury, and his status for the start of the season is unclear.  Danny Dembry (8 receptions) may start in his place.  Michael Campanero should more than double his number of catches in 2011, but he only caught 10 last year.  Tight end Andrew Parker is more of a run-blocker, while Cameron Ford is the better route runner.

 

Running Backs

The Demon Deacons averaged more than four yards per carry last year for the first time in five years.  Josh Harris returns after gaining 720 yards and scoring seven times.  He averaged 5.7 yards per rush.  Two quality backs will back him up.  Brandon Pendergrass and Nick Knott should both see action this season.

 

Offensive Line

Four starters return to the line, so this unit should fare better this year.  However, they are prone to giving up sacks.  Four of the five are seniors, so this unit will keep mistakes to a minimum.  Guard Joe Looney is the one candidate likely to appear on an all-conference ballot. 

 

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe switched the team from a 4-3 to a 3-4 in the middle of last year’s season.  It made Nikita Whitlock a nose guard instead of a defensive tackle.  Semantics aside, Whitlock recorded 10 ½ tackles for loss.  He got better as the season progressed.  Zach Thompson and Tristan Dorty will be the two new starters at end.  Dorty was a linebacker last year and made 7 ½ tackles for losses.

 

Linebackers

Kyle Wilber figures to be the star of this unit.  He comes off a season in which he led the team with 14 ½ stops behind the line and six sacks.  He also got his paws in on four balls to send them harmlessly to the ground.  Scott Betros, Justin Jackson, and Joey Ehrmann figure to make up the rest of the quartet.  Wilber has been nursing a sore hamstring, and in his absence, Zachary Allen has been subbing for him.  While not overpowering, this unit should improve this year if Wilber can get healthy.

 

Secondary

Three starters return, led by safety Cyhl Quarles, who recorded 71 stops last year.  Kenny Okoro and Merrill Noel will start at the corners, while Joe Bush starts at the other safety spot.  This unit has room for improvement after giving up 238 passing yards per game in 2010.

 

OTHER

Kicker Jimmy Newman was almost perfect last year.  He connected on all of his PAT attempts and was 12 of 13 in field goal attempted.

 

SUMMARY

The non-conference part of the schedule is Jekyll and Hyde.  Wake Forest plays at Syracuse and hosts Notre Dame, two games the Deacons figure to lose.  They host Gardner-Webb, the only sure thing on the schedule this year.  They host Vanderbilt in the season finale, and that game should be a close one.  Wake Forest will go 2-2 or 1-3 in those four games.  In the ACC, the Deacs host North Carolina State and Maryland, the two teams that figure to be just above them in the preseason polls.  Road games with North Carolina and Duke could be winnable based on how WF has performed leading up to those games.

 

There are not enough winnable games on the schedule to see any way Wake Forest could get to six wins.  Four wins seem about right.

 

COASTAL DIVISION

 

Virginia Tech

 

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Replacing all-time leading passer Tyrod Taylor will be tough.  Taylor passed for 2,743 yards with a 24/5 TD/int ratio, while rushing for more than 900 yards (sacks removed).

 

Logan Thomas is big and mobile.  At 6-6 and almost 250 pounds, he is built like a tight end and was recruited to Tech as an H-Back.  Thomas saw limited action as a freshman, completing 12 of 26 passes for just 107 yards, while rushing for 29 yards on five carries. 

 

Receivers

Coach Frank Beamer has three receivers capable of challenging for all-conference honors.  Jarrett Boykin leads the way after grabbing a team-high 53 receptions in 2010.  He averaged 16 yards per catch.  Danny Coale averaged nearly 19 yards on his 39 receptions, while former QB Marcus Davis added 19 receptions.  Chris Drager has moved from tight end to defensive end and back to tight end. Eric Martin shows promise and could be used in a double tight end formation.

 

Running Backs

David Wilson has 1,000-yard potential, and the Hokies will not miss much of a beat after losing two key backs, one of whom signed with the Arizona Cardinals.  Three players are competing for the backup position.  Josh Oglesby is the leader, followed by Tony Gregory and Michael Holmes.

 

Offensive Line

This shaped up to be one of the best in the country until injuries hit two starters.  Guard Greg Kosal suffered a shoulder injury, and tackle Blake DeChristopher went down with a pectoral injury.  Both players are well-ahead of schedule in their return, but neither may be ready for the season-opener.  David Wang is working as Kosal’s replacement, and Nick Becton, Michael Via, or Vinston Painter will fill in at tackle.

 

Center Andrew Miller takes over the starting role after seeing extensive playing time as a freshman.  He is a former high school state wrestling champion and the strongest player on the line.  Guard James Brooks made the 2nd team all-conference squad last year.

 

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

Defensive coordinator Bud Foster has been at VT for a quarter century.  Last year, a young defensive line led to the Hokies giving up more than 20 points per game and 300 yards per game for the first time since 2003.  This year’s defensive line is a concern once again with three new starters.

 

The one holdover is tackle Antoine Hopkins.  His brother Derrick will start opposite him.  The new ends are James Gayle and J. R. Collins, with redshirt freshman Zack McCray and true freshman Luther Maddy backing them up.  The potential is there for this unit to be tougher to run on than last year and with an equal pass rush.

 

Linebackers

The Hokies have both quality and quantity here, as they can go two-deep with little drop-off in talent.  Bruce Taylor is a probably 1st team All-ACC middle linebacker.  He led VT with 91 tackles and 15 ½ for loss last year with six sacks and 12 QB hurries.  He also showed his worth as a pass defender, separating the receiver from the ball four times.  Telvion Clark and Tariq Edwards are competing for one outside spot, while Jeron Gouveia-Winslow is competing with Nick Dew for the other spot.

 

Secondary

The Hokies have excellent talent, but they are not as deep here as Beamer would like to be.  Cornerback Jayron Hosley is the best in the league at his position.  He led the ACC with nine interceptions and finished tied for first with 17 passes defended.  Kyle Fuller replaces all-star Rashad Campbell; Fuller had six passes defended as a reserve last year.

 

Safeties Antoine Exum and Eddie Watley switched positions this summer, with Exum moving to free safety and Whitley moving to rover.  

 

OTHER

This is a much easier schedule for VT than the last two.  Appalachian State replaces Boise State and Alabama as the season opener.  Road trips to East Carolina and Marshall book-end a home game with Arkansas State.  The Hokies get Clemson, Miami, and Boston College at home and avoid Florida State.  They could easily run the table in the regular season.  One loss will eliminate them from any national championship talk.  They have to go 13-0 and hope two other big name teams do not do so as well.

 

SUMMARY

We believe Thomas will emerge as an excellent quarterback, but he will not be as consistent as his predecessor.  His percentage will be lower, but his yards per reception could be higher.  Look for VT to average 28-30 points per game and 375-400 yards per game.  On defense, the Hokies will recover from last year’s aberration and give up less than 20 points and 300 yards again.  A 12-0 regular season is a strong possibility, but remember this team has lost some early games to teams they should have beaten handily.  Remember James Madison last year and East Carolina in 2008?

 

Miami

Note: The PiRate Ratings have not been able to adjust for the recent news that emerged from Miami.  School President Donna Shalala revealed that 15 current players are being investigated for receiving illegal benefits from Miami booster and convicted felon Nevin Shapiro.  Those names were not release, but Shapiro implicated 12 players.  Since we do not know at this point just how involved things are, we cannot begin to deduct points from their rating.  We can try to put a number on the intangible destruction of the program as a whole, but for now, their PiRate Rating shows them as the second best team in the Coastal Division.

 

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Miami quarterbacks were a bit too generous with the ball last year, throwing 26 interceptions (2/game, almost 6% of all passes).  New head coach Al Golden faces an additional headache because the projected starter is one of the 12 current Hurricanes implicated by Shapiro.  Jacory Harris may or may not get to suit up this year for his senior season.  Harris has quite an arm, but he has not been accurate.

 

Sophomore Stephen Morris will inherit the position if Harris is declared ineligible.  Morris started the four times last year and posted stats similar to Harris—54% completions 6% interceptions.  He did average better than 15 yards per completion. 

 

Receivers

Again, it is unsure if this position will be decimated with ineligibility.  Travis Benjamin and Aldarius Johnson combined for 58 receptions and 900 yards last year; both were accused by Shapiro.  That would leave LaRon Byrd as the only experienced receiver.  He caught 41 passes, but Byrd does not have the elusiveness of the other two.  True freshman Phillip Dorsett could be thrust into action immediately.

 

The top two tight ends, USC transfer Blake Ayles and Chase Ford, have both missed practices with injuries.  Ayles was a 5-star recruit when he entered Trojanland four years ago.

 

Running Backs

Lamar Miller is a speedster, who can break open a long gain with the slightest of daylight.  He averaged six yards per carry and scored six times.  Mike James will back him up.

 

Offensive Line

This unit has a lot of depth, even with the loss of tackle Seantrel Henderson, who underwent back surgery and should miss the season.

 

Guard Brandon Washington made the 1st Team All-ACC squad, while center Tyler Horn earned 3rd Team honors.  Harland Gunn will start at guard.  Joel Figueora is a sixth year senior who can play either guard or tackle.  Redshirt Malcolm Bunche could start at tackle, while Jermaine Johnson and Jon Feliciano will provide depth.

 

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

This area is going to take a major hit if its five implicated players are declared ineligible.  Projected starting tackle Marcus Forston, starting ends Marcus Robinson and Olivier Vernon, and key backups Adewale Ojomo and Dyron Dye are the heart and soul of the line.  Forston, Vernon, and Ojomo represent 114 tackles, 14 sacks, 30 tackles for loss.

 

Tackle Micanor Regis was not implicated by Shapiro.  He made 42 tackles with eight for loss.  True freshman Anthony Chickillo could join seldom used Andrew Smith at end.

 

Linebackers

One player was accused from this unit, but he is the best defender on the team.  Sean Spence finished second on the team last year with 111 tackles, 17 for loss.  Spence also knocked away six passes.  If he becomes ineligible, outside linebacker Ramon Buchanan will become the leader of this unit.  The vacant middle linebacker spot will go to Jordan Futch, with true freshman Gionni Paul providing backup.

 

Secondary

75% of the expected starting defensive backfield is on Shapiro’s List.  Cornerback JoJo Nicolas and Safeties Ray Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque combined for 173 tackles and 15 passes defended.  This unit will become a major liability if these players are declared ineligible, and Miami will give up at least 100 extra yards through the air than they would have with the three starters in the lineup.

 

OTHER

Shapiro accused 12 players, but the university is investigating 15.  Aside from the possible loss of eligibility, the total repercussions are greater than just the loss of 12 or 15 players.  Others will “quit” on the team, and the situation will steamroller into a catastrophe.  The Hurricanes were in line to achieve 10 to 12 wins this year if the quarterbacks could cut down on interceptions.  It could get ugly in Coral Gables, and “The U” could be looking at a losing season.

 

SUMMARY

The schedule offers few breathers.  Miami begins the season playing at Maryland on Labor Day.  Then, the ‘Canes host Ohio State in what will receive some sarcastic billing as convicts vs. convicts.  A home game with Kansas State now becomes a losable game.  Bethune-Cookman is the only sure win if all the players are lost.

 

With all the players available, Miami could go 10-2.  Without them, the Hurricanes could finish with four or five wins.  They are somewhere between 17 and 25 points weaker per game if the players are declared ineligible.  Golden inherits a mess, and we would not be surprised if he leaves after just one season.

 

North Carolina

Here is another situation, but it pales in comparison to the one in Miami.  Butch Davis was fired as head coach late in the off-season, and defensive coordinator Everett Withers was appointed as interim head coach.

 

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Bryn Renner gets first crack at replacing T. J. Yates.  Yates completed 67% of his passes for 3,418 yards and 19 touchdowns last year, topping the eight-yard per attempt mark.  Renner threw two passes, completing one for 14 yards.  The Tar Heels passed for 264 yards per game in 2010, and it would be a stretch to think Renner can match that number.  Look for a considerable decline here.

 

Receivers

Renner has the top two receivers returning from 2010.  Dwight Jones led the club with 62 receptions and 946 yards.  Erik Highsmith finished second with 348 yards.  Jheranie Boyd is the wildcard here.  He took a pass from Yates and ran 97 yards for a score against LSU in last year’s opener, en route to a 221-yard night.  He was only 8 for 89 after that.  He also was used to run the wide reverse and gained 62 yards on 10 attempts.  This unit is loaded.

 

Running Backs

This unit loses its top three players from last year.  It welcomes back Ryan Houston, who missed last year with an injury.  Houston is not fast, but he requires two or more defenders to bring him down.  Houston will remind some fans of Jerome Bettis.  However, he has not participated in contact drills due to his shoulder surgery earlier this year.  The roster is thin after Houston with redshirt and true freshmen backing him up.

 

Offensive Line

This is where the Carolina offense needs to improve the most.  The Tar Heels’ line gave up 37 sacks last year.  Three starters return this year—center Cam Holland, guard Jonathan Cooper, and tackle James Hurst.  Cooper was a 2nd Team All-ACC player, while Hurst earned Freshman All-American accolades.  Travis Bond started against Tennessee in the Music City Bowl, and he will man the vacant guard position, while Brennan Williams will take over at tackle.

 

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

What could have been the top DL in the nation last year turned into an average line due to the ineligibility of two top players.  End Quinton Coples took advantage of his chance to start and bankrolled it into a spot on the All-ACC first team.  He finished third in the league with 10 sacks and was credited with 12 QB Hurries.  Donte Paige-Moss starts at the other end spot.  Moss recorded 13 ½ stops behind the line.  Withers can count on three players to rotate at the tackle positions.  Tydreke Powell, Sylvester Williams, and Jordan Nix are all listed as 1st string players.  While not as talented as what 2010 could have been, this is one of the best lines in the league.

 

Linebackers

Two starters return from last year; Kevin Reddick and Zach Brown finished one-two in tackles with 74 and 72 respectively.  Reddick has all-conference potential.  Darius Lipford will be the new starter.  This unit is about average for the ACC.

 

Secondary

A hand injury to expected starting cornerback Jabari Price will keep him out for at least all of September.  Charles Brown will miss the opener after having to sit out a game, so two new cornerbacks will start at the beginning of the season.  Safety Tre Boston might start at cornerback until Brown and Price are back.  Matt Merletti will start at one safety position.  Wide receiver Todd Harrelson moves to cornerback to fill in, and true freshman Tim Scott might start the opening game.

 

Brown is the star of this unit, but UNC will sorely miss Da’Norris Searcy and Deunta Williams.  Opponents will find holes in the Carolina secondary.

 

OTHER

There is only one cupcake on the schedule, and James Madison must be taken seriously; just ask Virginia Tech!  The remainder of non-league games include home games with Rutgers and Louisville and a trip to East Carolina.  UNC will be fortunate to go 3-1 in those four games.  UNC draws Virginia, Clemson, and North Carolina State from the Atlantic and avoids Florida State.  It looks like a 4-4 conference mark will be their limit this year; interim coaches are hit or miss.

 

SUMMARY

The Tar Heels will try to rely on more lengthy drives rather than trying to make quick touchdowns.  They averaged just 25 points per game but gained close to 400 yards per game.  The yardage definitely will drop, but the scoring could be about the same and not much less if any.

 

Defensively, the ‘Heels will go as far as their front four will take them.  The back seven is a little suspect, especially in the secondary.  Opponents will complete 60% of their passes and gain more than 200 yards through the air.  We believe UNC will surrender about as many points as they score.  It looks like another so-so season in Chapel Hill, but cheer up Carolina Fans—basketball season is not that far away.

 

Duke

 

OFFENSE

Quarterback

If Harris is ineligible at Miami, Duke’s Sean Renfree will be the only returning quarterback in the Coastal Division.  Renfree is on the cusp of breaking out into Coach David Cutcliffe’s next star passer.  He tutored a couple of guys with the last name of Manning, so he knows how to develop passers.

 

Renfree threw for more than 3,100 yards and completed better than 61% of his passes last year.  14 of those passes went for touchdowns, but 17 went into the wrong pair of hands.  If he can reduce his mistakes this year, we could be looking at an All-ACC performer.

 

Receivers

Renfree has some quality players to pass to.  Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner could both finish in the top five in the league in receptions and yardage after combining for 133 catches for 1,709 yards last year.  Brandon Braxton will at least double his amount of receptions this year after grabbing 14 passes in 2010.  Tight end Cooper Helfet added 34 receptions, so this group has talent. Keep an eye on true freshman Jamison Crowder.

 

Running Backs

At Duke, 110 yards per game is an exemplary amount of rushing yards.  It was the most in five seasons in Durham.  Desmond Scott, Josh Snead, and Juwan Thompson all return after sharing the load last year, and the Duke running game should top 100 yards again this season.  The quartet will also top four yards per carry, making this unit abnormally strong in 2011—at least for Duke.

 

Offensive Line

This is the major question mark on this side of the ball.  The Blue Devils’ offensive line has been rather offensive in recent years.  The loss of starting center Brian Moore for an indefinite amount of time (fractured forearm) clouds the issue even more.

 

Cutcliffe has recruited well the last couple of years, and we have a sneaky suspicion that the offensive line will improve to mediocrity this season.  At Duke, mediocre is a milestone.

 

Dave Harding was an outstanding freshman last year in a part-time starter role.  He will move in from guard and take over at center.  Perry Simmons and Kyle Hill will protect the flanks and open up holes at their tackle positions.

 

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

The biggest addition to the defensive line will not suit up once this season.  He is new defensive line coach Rick Petri.  Petri has over 30 years of successful experience.

 

Petri will mold a defensive line that improves on the 200+ yards allowed rushing and only 12 sacks.  Duke switches to a 4-2-5 defense this year.  Sydney Sarmiento and Charlie Hatcher return to the inside.  Sarmiento shows promise and could emerge as a star in the next couple of years, while Hatcher is a two-gap plugger.  He finished second on the team last year with 7 ½ tackles for loss.  End Kenny Anunike is nursing a bad ankle and could miss the opener, but redshirt freshman Dezmond Johnson could step in and produce for the Blue Devils.

 

Linebackers

This is the biggest liability on the team.  Mike linebacker Kelby Brown is smaller than some safeties, and he is coming back from a knee injury.  Austin Gamble will team up to form a rather weak two-man tandem. Brown hustles and makes a lot of plays, but frequently backs get an extra yard or two.

 

Secondary

Three starters return to a unit that is not that far from respectability.  Safety Matt Daniels is the star of this unit.  He played admirably against both the run and pass last year, coming up with six stops behind the line and batting away seven passes with an interception.  Lee Butler returns at a safety position after posting nine passes defended.  August Campbell will take on the new hybrid safety/linebacker position.

 

Ross Cockrell led the Blue Devils with three interceptions.  He returns at one cornerback spot, while Zach Greene figures to start at the other spot.

 

OTHER

Duke missed a seven-win season by a thin margin last year.  Close losses to Wake Forest, Maryland, Boston College, and North Carolina left Duke at 3-9 instead.  If the offense improves by four to five points, and the defense does the same, Duke could be looking at its first six-win season since 1994.

 

SUMMARY

We admit here at the PiRate Ratings that we have the highest esteem for Coach Cutcliffe and believe he will guide Duke back to a bowl game—if not this year, then next.  Duke can win six games this year.

 

The schedule has become somewhat easier since the start of summer.  Duke’s opening game against Richmond got a lot easier when the Spiders had to replace their coach following his DUI arrest less than two weeks before the game.  The Blue Devils also face Miami and North Carolina, two more teams facing dilemmas.

 

Add Tulane and Florida International as well as home games with Georgia Tech and Wake Forest and a road game with Virginia, and you can make a case for six wins.

 

Virginia

 

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Uh-oh!  Virginia is in a bit of a mess here.  It’s nice to have four options at quarterback, but Coach Mike London is having to choose from a weakness and not a strength.  The loss of Marc Verica will cause UVA to drop drastically in the passing game. 

 

Sophomore Michael Rocco appears to hold a slight edge at this point after throwing 25 passes last year.  True freshman David Watford could eventually be the man under center, while Michael Strauss and Ross Metheny are in the mix.  Whoever ends up playing, expect a possibility of 100 less passing yards this season.

 

Receivers

The Cavs must replace their top play-maker from 2010.  Dontrelle Inman averaged 18 yards on his 51 receptions, and there is nobody on the roster capable of matching those numbers.

 

Kris Burd actually led in receptions with 58, but he is the only receiver capable of becoming a breakaway threat.  True freshman Darius Jennings could emerge as a key player in his first season.

 

Running Backs

Perry Jones was a co-primary option last year and rushed for 646 yards and a touchdown.  The absence of Keith Payne and his ability to convert on third and short and at the goal line will cost more than his 750 rushing yards.

 

Offensive Line

The only reason for optimism on offense this year is a rather decent and experienced offensive line.  Four starters return, including tackle Morgan Moses, who stood out as a freshman last year.  Center Anthony Mihota, guard Austin Pasztor, and tackle Oday Aboushi are the other three returning starters.  This unit is the only real plus on the 2011 offense.

 

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

Virginia could not stop enemy backs last year and was torched for more than 200 rushing yards per game and better than five yards per rush allowed.  The pass rush only produced 19 sacks, so there is a lot of room for improvement.

 

London will play three tackles in a rotation.  Matt Conrath, Nick Jenkins, and Will Hill will split time inside.  At end, Jake Snyder and Cam Johnson will start.  Johnson is the stud of this unit; he led the Cavs with 6 ½ sacks and 14 ½ tackles for loss.  Expect some improvement in the trenches.

 

Linebackers

This is the major liability on this side of the ball, even though all three starters return from 2010.  Middle linebacker Steve Greer, Will linebacker LaRoy Reynolds, and Sam Linebacker Aaron Taliaferro are competent but not spectacular.  The trio made 161 stops last year but only 1 ½ sacks on blitzes.

 

Secondary

The back line is quite talented, and with the addition of some quality recruits, it will have depth this year as well.  Cornerback Chase Minnifield led the Cavs with 10 passes defended including six interceptions. Safety Rodney McLeod provided excellent run support, but he needs to improve in the passing game.  True freshman Tra Nicholson takes over at the other cornerback spot.  Three other true freshmen, cornerback Brandon Phelps and safeties Anthony Harris and Darius Lee will see playing time.

 

OTHER

Virginia’s schedule will give them a chance to top last year’s four wins.  The Cavaliers should be favored in three of their four non-ACC games.  They host William & Mary in the opener, but UVA lost to W&M two years ago.  The Tribe will be tough to beat.  Virginia travels to Indiana and hosts Southern Miss and Idaho.  It is a tricky non-league slate; the Cavs could win all or lose all, but we believe they should go 3-1 or 2-2.  In ACC play, Virginia must play at Miami and North Carolina, the two schools with predicaments. If those games had been at Scott Stadium, then UVA might be figured to win both. 

 

SUMMARY

The Cavaliers return 17 starters, but three of the four missing were the top three players on offense.  We believe the new offense will have a tough time exceeding last year’s offense.  The defense will definitely be better, but the question remains: how many more plays will the stop side have to defend if the offense does not gel?

 

We believe Virginia is looking a repeat of last year.

 

Georgia Tech

 

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Joshua Nesbitt was known only for his running skills, but he ran the option like a magician.  He was on pace for a 1,000-yard rushing season before he went out for the season against Virginia Tech in game nine.  Tevin Washington started the last three regular season games plus the bowl game, and he put up similar numbers to Nesbitt.  Look for Washington to lead the team in rushing, but his passing may be no better than Nesbitt.  Tech completed just 38.1% of their passes in 2010, numbers that sound like the 1940’s and 1950’s.

 

Receivers

The top four receivers return to the fold.  Okay, the top four receivers caught a grand total of 40 passes, so this position is more about downfield blocking and getting open deep when the defense thinks you will decoy or block yet again.  Stephen Hill got open and led the team with 15 receptions; he averaged close to 20 yards per catch.

 

Running Backs

The Yellow Jackets will miss Anthony Allen, who led the ACC with 1,316 yards.  The new B-Back (fullback) is former quarterback David Sims.  He has won the job after being fourth on the depth chart in spring.  Don’t expect 1,300 yards from this position, but Sims will get the job done and force an extra defender into the box to prevent him from gaining three, four, and five yards with consistency.

 

Both starting A-backs (slot backs) return this year.  Orwin Smith and Roddy Jones combined for 869 yards, averaging 8.3 yards per carry, mostly on pitches from Nesbitt. 

 

Tech must cut down on the high number of fumbles this year.  They were -6 in turnover margin because of the numerous fumbles in the option plays.

 

Offensive Line

Even though option offenses can cover up liabilities in the blocking corps, this is still a big concern.  Two players expected to start will not be available at the beginning of the season.  Will Jackson and Phil Smith are out with injuries.  Jackson was selected as a Freshman All-American last year.  Backup guard Ryan Bailey is also out with an injury, so GT has some issues here. 

 

True freshman Trey Braun will start at one of the guard spots.  Omoregie Uzzi, the top blocker, will start at the other guard spot.

 

In the option offense, the line must make a lot of calls prior to the snap, and it requires a lot of thinking prior to reacting.  With the line in despair, this could be a problem early in the season.

 

DEFENSE

Defensive Line

This is the only area on this side of the ball that does not have a lot of holes to fill.  As it is, the defensive line is average at best.

 

All three starters return.  Nose tackle Logan Walls can adequately plug the middle.  He only made 23 tackles, but he kept blockers away from the inside linebackers.  Ends Izaan Cross and Jason Peters combined for 11 ½ tackles for loss, and Cross knocked away four passes.  This group is not the best pass rushing trio, and they allowed enemy runners to average 4.5 yards per carry.

 

Linebackers

Two starters return, but it is new starter Jeremiah Attaochu that should become the star of this mediocre quartet.  As a freshman in a reserve role, the outside linebacker registered 23 tackles with three sacks.  Steven Sylvester will man the other outside linebacker spot, while Julian Burnett and Daniel Drummond will start on the inside.  Sylvester led the Techsters with 10 ½ tackles for loss.

 

Secondary

This unit is in shambles, and it is the reason the PiRate Ratings list them as the last place team in the Coastal Division to start the season.

 

Not having much depth to start with, GT lost two players that were expected to contribute.  Fred Holton tore his Achilles tendon and is done for the season, while Ryan Ayers transferred to Liberty.

 

Louis Young will start at one cornerback.  In limited action in 2010, he made 10 tackles.  Rod Sweeting takes over at the opposite corner after recording eight passes defended.  Safeties Rashaad Reid and Isaiah Johnson have some experience, but neither will be able to replace Dominique Reese, who was tough against both the run and pass.  Look for GT to give up more than 225 yards per game through the air.

 

OTHER

Tech’s special teams were not that special last year.  They had trouble covering punts, and there was virtually no help with punt returns.  Expected kick returner B. J. Bostic begins the season in street clothes and may be a medical redshirt.

 

SUMMARY

Georgia Tech led the nation in rushing with an averaged of 323 yards per game, and they could lead the nation again this season.  However, teams will put eight and nine in the box and force Tech to pass.  An option team needs to be able to average over eight yards per pass attempt to scare defenses into staying honest; Tech averaged just 6.5 yards and will more than likely do no better this year.  It adds up to some stagnation on offense, so we do not see the Yellow Jackets equaling their offensive production of 2010 (26 points and 407 yards).

 

Defense is going to be a sore spot, and second year coordinator Al Groh has a short fuse that could cause some dissension if early problems develop.  We do not like the prospects for this program in 2011.

 

Only an easy September schedule could save the season.  GT hosts Western Carolina to start the season and then visits Middle Tennessee.  They return to host Kansas and North Carolina to close out the month.  The Jackets need to be 4-0 if they plan on going to a bowl game, because the schedule is tough once October arrives.  If GT starts 2-2, then they will finish with four or five wins.

 

2011 Atlantic Coast Conference Media Poll

Team

1st Place Votes

Points

Atlantic Division

 

 

Florida State

65

420

Clemson

4

286

N. C. State

 

270

Boston College

2

224

Maryland

 

211

Wake Forest

 

80

 

 

 

Coastal Division

 

 

Virginia Tech

66

421

Miami

4

328

North Carolina

 

287

Georgia Tech

1

226

Virginia

 

132

Duke

 

96

 

 

 

ACC Championship

 

Florida State

 

50

Virginia Tech

 

18

Clemson

 

2

Boston College

 

1

 

 

2011 Big East Conference PiRate Ratings

Team

PiRate #

Prediction

Atlantic Division

 

 

Florida St.

123.3

8-0/13-0 *

Clemson

110.3

5-3/8-4

Boston Coll.

109.7

3-5/6-6

N.C. State

109.1

4-4/7-5

Maryland

106.5

4-4/6-6

Wake Forest

98.5

1-7/3-9

   

 

Coastal Division  

 

Va. Tech

116.1

8-0/12-1

Miami

115.2

3-5/5-7 ^

N. Carolina

106.8

4-4/7-5

Duke

99.8

3-5/6-6

Virginia

97.9

2-6/4-8

Georgia Tech

97.5

3-5/6-6

   

 

* Florida State picked to beat Va. Tech
in the ACC Championship Game

 

 

 

 

^ This prediction based on possibility of 12
to 15 players being declared ineligible.
If they play, Miami is picked to win 9 games.

 

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March 12, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 12 Update

Bucknell Joins The Dance Party

The Bucknell Bison earned the Patriot League’s automatic bid Friday with a 72-54 victory over Lafayette.  Versatile big man Mike Muscala led the Bison with 18 points while sharpshooter Bryson Johnson added 15.

 

Bucknell improved to 25-8 on the season.  They project to be a 12 or 13-seed.

 

12 More Bids To Go Out Saturday

 

This is the busiest day of the tournament schedule.  13 conferences will crown their champion, and four other conferences will conduct semifinal rounds.  All told, every single one of the 21 games scheduled will be televised nationally.  Do you have enough televisions and a good high-speed computer?

 

Here is a conference-by-conference look at all the action.

 

All Game Times EST

 

Atlantic Coast Conference—Greensboro, NC

Quarterfinal Round

#1 North Carolina  61  #9 Miami  59

#4 Clemson  70  #5 Boston College  47

#2 Duke  87  #7 Maryland  71

#6 Virginia Tech  52  #3 Florida State  51 

 

Semifinal Round

#1 North Carolina (25-6)  vs. #4 Clemson (21-10)  1:30 PM  ESPN 

#2 Duke (28-4)  vs. #6 Virginia Tech (21-11)  3:45 PM  ESPN

 

All four teams are safely in the NCAA Tournament.  The Hokies secured a spot in the Dance with the nail-biting win over the Seminoles.

 

America East Conference

Championship Round

#5 Stony Brook (15-16)  at #2 Boston U (20-13)  12 Noon  ESPN2

 

Boston U won both regular season meetings.  The Terriers won 67-62 at home and 62-49 on the road.  They win with their defense, as they only shoot 40.6% from the field.

 

Atlantic 10 Conference—Atlantic City, NJ

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Dayton  68  #1 Xavier  67

#12 St. Joseph’s  93  #4 Duquesne  90  ot

#2 Temple  96  #10 LaSalle  76

#3 Richmond  55  #6 Rhode Island 45

 

Semifinal Round

#9 Dayton (21-12)  vs. #12 St. Joseph’s (11-21)  1 PM  CBS College

#2 Temple (25-6)  vs. #3 Richmond (24-7)  3:30 PM  CBS College

 

The Bubble teams will have to sweat it out all the way until Sunday.  At least one long shot will advance to the Championship Game.  Neither St. Joe’s nor Dayton is getting an at-large bid, and one of the two will be playing for an automatic bid Sunday.  Both Temple and Richmond are in the Dance.

 

Big 12 Conference—Kansas City

Semifinal Round

#1 Kansas  90  #5 Colorado  83

#2 Texas  70  #3 Texas A&M  58

 

Championship Game

#1 Kansas (31-2)  vs. #2 Texas (27-6)  6 PM  ESPN

 

The Jayhawks are still playing for the overall number one seed, while Texas is probably locked in on a number two seed.  However, with Notre Dame losing, a Longhorn win could put them in the conversation, especially if Duke does not win the ACC Tournament.

 

Big East Conference—New York City

Semifinal Round

#9 Connecticut  76  #4 Syracuse  71  ot

#3 Louisville 83  #2 Notre Dame  77  ot 

 

Championship Game

#3 Louisville (25-8)  vs. #9 Connecticut (25-9)  9 PM  ESPN

 

Connecticut becomes the first team ever to play five games in five days in modern college basketball history.  Will they have anything left in the tank next week when it really counts?  Louisville’s win more than likely killed any chance for the Irish getting a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.

 

Big Ten Conference—Indianapolis

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Ohio State  67  #8 Northwestern  61 ot

#4 Michigan  60  #5 Illinois  55

#7 Michigan State  74  #2 Purdue  56

#6 Penn State  36  #3 Wisconsin 33

 

Semifinal Round

#1 Ohio State (30-2)  vs. #4 Michigan (20-12)  1:40 PM  CBS

#6 Penn State (18-13)  vs. #7 Michigan State (19-13)  4 PM  CBS

 

Michigan State has now earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament.  Penn State might move from the Bubble to in the tournament with a win over the Spartans.

 

Big West Conference—Anaheim

Semifinal Round

#1 Long Beach State  74  #7 UC-Riverside  63

#5 UC-Santa Barbara 83  #3 Cal State Northridge 63

 

Championship Game

#1 Long Beach State (22-10)  vs. #5 UC-Santa Barbara (17-13)  8 PM  ESPN2

 

Long Beach State won both meetings against the Gauchos in the regular season, and neither game was close.  The 49ers are not going to become another Butler or even repeat the exploits of Northern Iowa last year, but they could scare a favored team in the first round.  If UCSB wins, then they will make a quick exit in the first round.

 

Conference USA—El Paso, TX

Semifinal Round

#4 Memphis  76  #8 East Carolina  56

#3 U T E P  66  #2 Tulsa  54

 

Championship Game

#3 UTEP (25-8)  vs. #4 Memphis (24-9)  11:30 AM  CBS

 

The host Miners blew Memphis off the floor 74-47 in their only regular season meeting.  That game took place on this court.

 

Ivy League Playoff

Harvard (23-5)  vs. Princeton (24-6)  at Yale University  4 PM  ESPN3.com 

 

If Princeton wins a close game, there is an outside chance that the Ivy League could get two bids.

 

Mid-American Conference—Cleveland

Semifinal Round

#6 Akron  79  #2 Western Michigan  68

#1 Kent State 79  #4 Ball State 68

 

Championship Game

#1 Kent State (23-10)  vs. #6 Akron (22-12)  6 PM  ESPN2

 

The winner goes dancing, while the loser can only hope for a trip to Madison Square Garden in late March.

 

M E A C—Winston-Salem, NC

Semifinal Round

#4 Morgan State  61  #1 Bethune-Cookman  48

#2 Hampton  85  #6 Norfolk State  61

 

Championship Game

#2 Hampton (23-8)  vs. #4 Morgan State (17-13)  2 PM  ESPN2

 

Morgan State goes for a four-peat.  The Bears beat Hampton in the regular season 78-72.

 

Mountain West Conference—Las Vegas

Semifinal Round

#1 B Y U  87  #5 New Mexico  76

#2 San Diego State  74  #3 UNLV 72

 

Championship Game

#1 B Y U  (30-3)  vs. #2 San Diego State (31-2)  7 PM  Versus

 

Is the third time the charm for San Diego State?  The Aztecs’ two losses were to the Cougars.  If they can hold Jimmer Fredette under 35 points, we have a feeling that SDSU will cut down the nets. 

 

Both teams are legitimate threats to make it to the Sweet 16 and possibly a round or two farther.

 

Pac-10 Conference—Los Angeles

Semifinal Round

#1 Arizona  67  #4 Southern Cal  62

#3 Washington 69  #7 Oregon 51

 

Championship Game

#1 Arizona (27-6)  vs. #3 Washington (22-10)  6 PM  CBS

 

This should be an exciting game, even though it will not greatly affect the NCAA Tournament seedings.

 

The two teams split the season series, but the Huskies came close to sweeping.  UW won by 17 at home and fell by a single point in Tucson.  We think this is a tossup game.

 

Southeastern Conference—Atlanta

Quarterfinal Round

1W  Alabama 65  4E Georgia 59  ot

2E  Kentucky  75  3W  Ole Miss 66

1E  Florida  85  5E  Tennessee  74

3E  Vanderbilt  87  2W  Mississippi State  81

 

Semifinal Round

1W  Alabama (21-10)  vs. 2E  Kentucky (23-8)  1 PM  ABC

1E  Florida (25-6)  vs.  3E  Vanderbilt (23-9)  3:30 PM  ABC

 

Alabama played themselves into position to get one of the final at-large bids.  The Crimson Tide fans need to route against a Dayton or St. Joseph’s tournament championship in the Atlantic 10, because there is still little room for error for ‘Bama.

 

Kentucky looks unstoppable at times and then looks like a team that doesn’t belong in the tournament at others.  That’s what you get with a bunch of underclassmen and with no depth.

 

We believe this game will be close for most of the day, but the Wildcats will enjoy one nice spurt in both halves to hold off the Tide by six to 12 points.

 

Florida is playing about as well as either of their two National Champion teams.  It is hard to stop a team with five guys capable of scoring 20 points.  The Gators’ have few weaknesses.

 

Vanderbilt is a lot like Florida, but not as talented.  The Commodores have excellent outside shooters, but they cannot create their own shot like Florida’s outside shooters.  They have a couple of excellent inside scorers, but they can disappear against Florida’s inside players.  We look for the Gators to dominate this one from the beginning and win by double digits.

 

Southland Conference—Katy, TX

Championship Game

#1 McNeese State (21-10)  vs. #7 UT-San Antonio (18-13)  4 PM  ESPN2

 

S W A C—Garland, TX

Semifinal Round

#4 Alabama State  73  #1 Texas Southern  66

#6 Grambling  81  #2 Jackson State  75  ot

 

Championship Game

#4 Alabama State (16-17)  vs. #6 Grambling (12-20)  8:30 PM  ESPNU

 

The winner of this game can definitely plan on heading to Dayton for a First Four game.

 

W A C—Las Vegas

Semifinal Round

#1 Utah State  58  #8 San Jose State  54

#2 Boise State 81  #3 New Mexico State  63

 

Championship Game

#1 Utah State (29-3)  vs. #2 Boise State (20-11) 10 PM  ESPN2

 

Utah State is definitely in the Dance, so if the Broncos can pull off the big upset, another bubble will burst somewhere else.

 

Note: St. Mary’s defeated Weber State Friday night 77-54 in a non-conference game that was scheduled only two months ago.  The Gaels appear to be safe as an at-large team.

March 11, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 11 Update

Patriot League Championship—4:45 PM EST On ESPN2

#6 Lafayette (13-18)  at #1 Bucknell (24-8)

 

Lafayette makes an appearance in the conference championship game for the second consecutive year.  The Leopards fell to rival Lehigh last season and were tabbed the best team in the league in the preseason.  They took a step backward and tumbled to sixth in the league.

 

Bucknell closed 2010 with an 8-2 finish and returned all five starters and most of their key reserves.  The Bison continued to play top-notch ball and ran away with the Patriot League title.  Bucknell is on fire, having won nine games in a row by an average of 72-60 and 22 of their last 24 games.

 

The Bison swept the series against their Keystone State rival, winning 75-56 in Lewisburg and 74-69 in overtime at Easton.  Tonight’s game is on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, so Bucknell will enjoy the home court advantage.

 

In the earlier game in Lewisburg, Bucknell began the second half of a close game by going on a 20-3 run to put the game out of reach.  The Bison held Lafayette to 37% shooting and controlled the boards by 14.  In the game at Lafayette, Bucknell led 61-50 with four and a half minutes to go, but the Bison did not score another point in regulation.  Lafayette scored 11 consecutive points to force overtime and then briefly took a 64-61 lead at the start of the extra period.  The Leopards shot under 40% again and were outrebounded once again.

 

Bucknell goes just seven-deep, and all seven contribute to the offense.  Muscular big man Mike Muscala leads the way with 14.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.  The 6-11 Muscala has recorded six double-doubles in the last 15 games.  Bryson Johnson is an excellent long-range shooter, and he shoots 47% from three-point range.  As a team, Bucknell shoots 40.6% from behind the arc.

 

Lafayette led the entire game at Holy Cross in the conference tournament quarterfinal.  The Leopards placed five players in double figure scoring, and they stole the ball nine times to knock off the Crusaders.  In the semifinal round at number two seed American, the Leopards trailed by two points in the final seconds when Jim Mower buried a three-pointer as the clock expired to seal a double overtime victory.

 

If the Leopards are to pull off the big upset and advance to a First Four game in Dayton next week, big man Jared Mintz will have to neutralize Muscala.  Mintz gives away two inches in height, but he has the power to hold his own inside.  Mintz leads the Leopards with a 15.8 point scoring average and 5.8 rebound average.  Mower averages 12.4 points per game.

 

Thursday’s Results And Friday’s Games With NCAA Tournament Repercussions

All Times EST

Atlantic Coast Conference—Greensboro, NC

1st Round

#9 Miami  69  #8 Virginia  62

#5 Boston College  81  #12 Wake Forest  67

#7 Maryland  75  #10 North Carolina State  67

#6 Virginia Tech  59  #11 Georgia Tech  43

 

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Miami (19-13)  vs. #1 North Carolina (24-6)  12 Noon  ESPN2

#5 Boston College (20-11)  vs. #4 Clemson (20-10)  Approx. 2:15 PM  ESPN2

#7 Maryland (19-13)  vs. #2 Duke (27-4)  7 PM  ESPN2

#6 Virginia Tech (20-10)  vs. #3 Florida State (21-9)  Approx. 9:15 PM  ESPN2

 

North Carolina, Duke, Florida State, Clemson, and Boston College are in.  Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Miami are on the bubble.  Miami and Maryland must win today, or they are NIT-bound.  Virginia Tech is in a near must-win situation.  They are on the middle of the bubble.

 

Atlantic 10 Conference—Atlantic City, NJ

No Games Played Thursday

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Dayton (20-12)  vs. #1 Xavier (24-6)  12 Noon  CBS College

#12 St. Joseph’s (10-21)  vs. #4 Duquesne (18-11)  2:30 PM  CBS College

#10 LaSalle (15-17)  vs. #2 Temple (24-6)  6:30 PM  CBS College

#6 Rhode Island (19-12)  vs. #3 Richmond (24-7)  9 PM  CBS College

 

Xavier, Temple, and Richmond are in.  Duquesne must win the tournament to get in, so the bubble teams will be pulling for Dayton or Xavier to stop them in the semifinals.  Keep an eye on Rhode Island.  The Rams are capable of upsetting Richmond and Temple to get to the finals.

 

Big 12 Conference—Kansas City

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Kansas  53  #9 Oklahoma State  52

#5 Colorado  87  #4 Kansas State  75

#2 Texas  74  #10 Oklahoma  54

#3 Texas A&M  86  #6 Missouri  71

 

Semifinal Round

#1 Kansas (30-2)  vs. #5 Colorado (21-12)  7 PM

#2 Texas (26-6)  vs. #3 Texas A&M (24-7)  9:30 PM

 

Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, Kansas State, and Colorado are in.  The Buffalos secured their bid yesterday, so the rest of this tournament is all about the seedings.

 

Big East Conference—New York City

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Connecticut  76  #1 Pittsburgh  74

#4 Syracuse  79  #5 St. John’s  73

#2 Notre Dame  89  #7 Cincinnati  51

#3 Louisville  81  #11 Marquette  56

 

Semifinal Round

#9 Connecticut (24-9)  vs. #4 Syracuse (26-6)  7 PM  ESPN

#2 Notre Dame (26-5)  vs. #3 Louisville (24-8)  Approx. 9:15 PM  ESPN

 

11, yes 11, teams will receive invitations Sunday evening.  This is the strongest league not just this year, but maybe since the Big East placed three teams in the Final Four in 1985.  This should be a great finish to the tournament, and Notre Dame has a chance to move to a number one seed if the Irish win it.  Any one of these four could still be playing in late March.

 

Big Ten Conference—Indianapolis

1st Round

#8 Northwestern  75  #9 Minnesota  65

#7 Michigan State  66  #10 Iowa  61

#6 Penn State  61  #11 Indiana  55

 

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Ohio State (29-2)  vs. #8 Northwestern (18-12) 12 Noon  ESPN

#4 Michigan (19-12)  vs. #5 Illinois (19-12)  Approx 2:20  ESPN

#2 Purdue (25-6)  vs. #7 Michigan State (18-13)  6:30 PM  Big Ten Network

#3 Wisconsin (23-7)  vs. #6 Penn State (17-13)  Approx. 8:45  Big Ten Network

 

Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Illinois are in.  Michigan State can definitely punch a ticket with an upset over Purdue today, and they are still on the highest part of the bubble if they lose.  Northwestern and Penn State must win the tournament to get in, although the Nittany Lions could get in the discussion with a loss in the finals.  We would not be all that surprised if the Wildcats play Ohio State a close game, at least for 30 to 32 minutes.

 

Big West Conference—Anaheim

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Long Beach State 79  #8 UC-Irvine  72

#5 UC-Santa Barbara  79  #4 Pacific  67

#7 UC-Riverside  70  #2 Cal Poly  66  ot

#3 Cal State Northridge  75  #6 Cal State Fullerton  54

 

Semifinal Round

#1 Long Beach State (21-10)  vs. #5 UC-Santa Barbara (16-13)  9:30 PM  ESPNU

#3 Cal State Northridge (14-17)  vs. #7 UC-Riverside (12-18)  12 Midnight  ESPNU

 

The champion is the only team that will advance.  Long Beach State has a minimal at best chance of winning a first round game if they are the champion.

 

Conference USA—El Paso, TX

Quarterfinal Round

#8 East Carolina  75  #1 U A B  70  ot

#4 Memphis  66  #5 Southern Miss.  63

#3 U T E P  77  #6 Marshall  65

#2 Tulsa  81  #7 Rice  72

 

Semifinal Round

#2 Tulsa (19-12)  vs. #3 U T E P  (24-8)  3 PM 

#4 Memphis (23-9)  vs. #8 East Carolina (18-14)  5:30 PM

 

At this point, no team is guaranteed a spot in the Big Dance.  UAB played their way to the bottom half of the bubble with a loss to ECU.  Memphis and UTEP could possibly get into the conversation if they both advance to the championship game.  For now, we are projecting just the champion to make it into the tournament.  The host Miners enjoy a large home court advantage and should top Tulsa in a thriller today.

 

Mid-American Conference—Cleveland

Quarterfinal Round

#2 Western Michigan 67  #7 Bowling Green  56

#6 Akron  82  #3 Miami (O)  75  2ot

#1 Kent State  73  #8 Buffalo  62

#4 Ball State  76  #5 Ohio U  73  ot

 

Semifinal Round

#2 Western Michigan (20-11)  vs. #6 Akron (21-12)  7 PM

#1 Kent State (22-10)  vs. #4 Ball State (19-12)  9:30 PM

 

The MAC has been down in recent years, but the eventual champion of this tournament could be a formidable opponent as a number 13 or 14 seed for a better team in the first round. 

 

M E A C—Winston-Salem, NC

Quarterfinal Round

#4 Morgan State  77  #5 North Carolina A&T  59

#6 Norfolk State  55  #3 Coppin State 53

 

Semifinal Round

#1 Bethune-Cookman (21-11)  vs. #4 Morgan State (16-13)  6 PM

#2 Hampton (22-8) vs. #6 Norfolk State (12-19)  Approx. 8:15 PM

 

These teams are playing for a probable spot in the First Four.  The first semifinal will be a thriller; the top-seeded Wildcats face the three-time defending champion Bears.

 

Hampton has been a surprise team, and they should have an easier contest and be more rested for the championship.

 

Mountain West Conference—Las Vegas

Quarterfinal Round

#1 B Y U  64  #9 T C U  58

#5 New Mexico  67  #4 Colorado State 61

#2 San Diego State  64  #7 Utah  50

#3 U N L V  69  #6 Air Force 53

 

Semifinal Round

#1 B Y U (29-3)  vs. #5 New Mexico (21-11)  9 PM  CBS College

#2 San Diego State (30-2)  vs. #3 U N L V  (24-7)  11:30 PM  CBS College

 

BYU, San Diego State, and UNLV are in.  Colorado State played themselves into the NIT with the loss yesterday to New Mexico.  As for the Lobos, with a third win over BYU today, they could get into the conversation, but they probably need to earn the automatic bid to go dancing.

 

Pac-10 Conference—Los Angeles

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Arizona 78  #9 Oregon State  69

#4 Southern Cal  70  #5 California  56

#7 Oregon  76  #2 U C L A  59

#3 Washington 89  #6 Washington State 87

 

Semifinal Round

#1 Arizona (26-6)  vs. #4 Southern Cal (19-13)  9 PM  Fox Sports

#3 Washington (21-10)  vs. #7 Oregon (16-16)  11:30 PM  Fox Sports

 

Arizona, UCLA, and Washington are in.  Oregon must win this tournament to get in.  As for Southern Cal, the Trojans might work their way into one of the final bubble spots with an upset over the top-seeded Wildcats tonight.  Last night’s battle of the Evergreen State was one of the most exciting of the tournament season with the Huskies coming from behind to knock off arch-rival Washington State by two.

 

Southeastern Conference—Atlanta

1st Round

#4E  Georgia  69  #5W  Auburn  51

#3W  Ole Miss  66  #6E  South Carolina  55

#5E  Tennessee  74  #4W  Arkansas  68

#3E  Vanderbilt  62  #6W  L S U  50

 

Quarterfinal Round

#1W  Alabama (21-10)  vs. #4E Georgia (20-10)  1 PM

#2E  Kentucky (22-8)  vs. #3W Ole Miss (20-12)  3:30 PM

#1E  Florida (24-6)  vs. #5E  Tennessee (19-13)  7:30 PM

#2W Mississippi State (17-13)  vs. #3E  Vanderbilt (22-9)  10 PM

 

Florida, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt are definitely in.  Tennessee is probably in and would only be out if a lot of surprise winners win the remaining conference tournaments.  The Vols would safely secure a spot with a win over the Gators. 

 

The big game in all of college basketball today is the Georgia-Alabama game.  Call this an extra play-in game.  The winner survives to the Dance, while the loser will be hosting an NIT game next week.

 

Southland Conference—Katy, TX

Semifinal Round

#1 McNeese State  91  #4 Texas State  83

#7 UT-San Antonio  79  #3 Sam Houston State 70

 

Championship Game on Saturday

 

S W A C—Garland, TX

Quarterfinal Round

#4 Alabama State  81  #5 Alabama A&M 61

#6 Grambling  65  #3 Mississippi Valley  62

 

Semifinal Round

#2 Jackson State (17-14)  vs. #6 Grambling (11-20)  3:30 PM

#1 Texas Southern (19-11)  vs. #4 Alabama State (15-17)  9 PM

 

The Champion will probably be forced to play in the First Four.  Jackson State is on a mission after losing in the first round last year as the number one seed.

 

W A C—Las Vegas

Quarterfinal Round

#8 San Jose State  74  #4 Idaho 68

#3 New Mexico State  66  #6 Nevada  60

 

Semifinal Round

#1 Utah State (28-3)  vs. #8 San Jose State (17-14)  9 PM

#2 Boise State (19-11)  vs. #3 New Mexico State (16-16)  11:30 PM  ESPN2

 

Utah State is in and should be the higher seed in their first round game.  If the Aggies are upset, then one more bubble will burst.  The one WAC team that beat USU (Idaho) was knocked out of the conference tournament yesterday.

March 10, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 10 Update

Two Newest Dance Participants

 

Northeast Conference Championship

Long Island  85  Robert Morris  82 ot

 

In what may have been the most exciting championship game of the season, the home-standing Blackbirds and visiting Colonials exchanged leads all night.  Two missed three-point shots in the final seconds, one at the buzzer, was all that prevented this game from going to double overtime.

 

LIU opened with a cold shooting hand, and RMU took the lead.  Once the Blackbirds started hitting their shots, this became a game of runs.  LIU had the hot hand in the second half, but RMU kept getting enough offensive rebounds to keep the Colonials in the game.

 

Jamal Olasewere had a game-high 31 points to go with 11 rebounds; he scored seven points in the overtime.  Team leader Julian Boyd was held to just seven points, but the Blackbirds had excellent showings off the bench.  Jason Brickman tossed in 15 points and dished out eight big assists, while Kenny Onyechi added 13 points.

 

Russell Johnson and Velton Jones teamed up for 42 points for the losers.

 

LIU will be a formidable opponent for their favored foe in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  Their style of play could cause severe matchup problems for a bigger, slower team, especially if that team is not the strongest ball-handling team.  If they were to be bracketed against BYU in the first round, it would be the thriller of the first round. 

 

Big Sky Conference Championship

Northern Colorado  65  Montana  60

 

This game was anticlimactic following the NEC Championship.  Montana kept the pace slow, and the Grizzlies shot out to a 7-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes.  UNC made a run to take its first lead at 17-16 on a three-point shot by Tate Unruh.

 

The lead switched hands several times the remainder of the half with the buzzer sending the teams to the locker tied at 31-31.

 

Montana maintained a small lead for most of the second half, until star guard Devon Beitzel took over.  His three-pointer at the 4:56 mark gave the Bears the lead for good.  Beitzel continued shooting and then forced Montana to foul him, and the Bears hung on to win.

 

Beitzel did not score until late in the first half, but the Big Sky Conference’s leading scorer finished with 27 points.

 

Montana center Brian Qvale hit a layup with 16 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 62-60, but following two made Beitzel free throws, Art Steward committed a turnover to seal the game. 

 

Steward led the Grizzlies with 16 points, while Qvale added 11.

 

Northern Colorado will be one of those teams that will be glad just to be there at the NCAA Tournament.  The Bears should make a quick exit in game one, unless they are chosen as one of the First Four #16 seeds.

 

13 Automatic Qualifiers To Date

Team Conference Record
Arkansas-Little Rock Sunbelt 19-16
Belmont Atlantic South 30-4
Butler Horizon 23-9
Gonzaga West Coast 24-9
Indiana State Missouri Valley 20-13
Long Island Northeast 27-4
Morehead State Ohio Valley 24-9
Northern Colorado Big Sky 21-10
Oakland Summit 25-9
Old Dominion Colonial 27-6
St. Peter’s Metro Atlantic 20-13
UNC-Asheville Big South 19-13
Wofford Southern 21-12

 

No Championship Games Are Scheduled For Thursday

 

Wednesday’s Results/Thursday’s Schedule

All Times EST

Atlantic Coast Conference—Greensboro, NC

1st Round

#8 Virginia (16-14)  vs. #9 Miami (Fla) (18-13)  12 Noon

#5 Boston College (19-11)  vs. #12 Wake Forest (8-23)  Approx. 2:15 PM

#7 Maryland (18-13)  vs. #10 North Carolina State (15-15)  7 PM  ESPN2

#6 Virginia Tech (19-10)  vs. #11 Georgia Tech (13-17)  Approx. 9:15 PM

 

Big 12 Conference—Kansas City

1st Round

#9 Oklahoma State  53  #8 Nebraska  52

#5 Colorado  77  #12 Iowa State  75

#10 Oklahoma  84  #7 Baylor  67

#6 Missouri  88  #11 Texas Tech  84

 

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Oklahoma State (19-12)  vs. #1 Kansas (29-2)  12:30 PM on ESPN2

#5 Colorado (20-12)  vs. #4 Kansas State (22-9)  3PM

#10 Oklahoma (14-17) vs. #2 Texas (25-6)  7 PM

#6 Missouri (23-9) vs. #3 Texas A&M (23-7)  9:30 PM

 

Big East Conference—New York City

2nd Round

#9 Connecticut  79  #8 Georgetown 62

#5 St. John’s  65  #13 Rutgers 63

#7 Cincinnati  87  #15 South Florida 61

#11 Marquette  67  #6 West Virginia  61

 

Quarterfinal Round

#9 Connecticut (23-9)  vs. #1 Pittsburgh (27-4)  12 Noon  ESPN

#5 St. John’s (21-10)  vs. #4 Syracuse (25-6)  Approx. 2:15 PM  ESPN

#7 Cincinnati (25-7)  vs. #2 Notre Dame (25-5)  7 PM  ESPN

#11 Marquette (20-13)  vs. #3 Louisville (23-8)  Approx. 9:15 PM  ESPN

 

Big Ten Conference—Indianapolis

1st Round

#8 Northwestern (17-12)  vs. #9 Minnesota (17-13)  2:30 PM  ESPN2

#7 Michigan State (17-13)  vs. #10 Iowa (11-19)  4:50 PM  ESPN2

#6 Penn State (16-13)  vs. #11 Indiana (12-19)  7:30 PM  Big Ten Network

 

Big West Conference—Anaheim

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Long Beach State (20-10)  vs. #8 UC-Irvine (13-18)  3 PM

#4 Pacific (16-14)  vs. #5 UC-Santa Barbara (15-13)  5:20 PM

#2 Cal Poly (15-14)  vs. #7 UC-Riverside (11-18)  9 PM

#3 Cal State Northridge (13-17)  vs. #6 Cal State Fullerton (11-19)  11:20 PM

 

Conference USA—El Paso, TX

1st Round

#8 East Carolina  78  #9 Central Florida  60

#5 Southern Miss.  63  #12 Tulane  47

#6 Marshall  97  #11 Houston  87

#10 Rice  58  #7 S M U  57

 

Quarterfinal Round

#8 East Carolina (17-14)  vs. #1 U A B  (22-7)  1PM  CBSC

#5 Southern Miss (22-9)  vs. #4 Memphis (22-9)  3:30 PM  CBSC

#6 Marshall (22-10)  vs. #3 U T E P  (23-8)  7:30 PM  CBSC

#10 Rice (14-17)  vs. #2 Tulsa (18-12)  10 PM  CBSC

 

M A C—Cleveland

Quarterfinal Round

#7 Bowling Green (14-18)  vs. #2 Western Michigan (19-11)  12 Noon

#6 Akron (20-12)  vs. #3 Miami (O) (16-15)  2:30 PM

#8 Buffalo (18-12)  vs. #1 Kent State (21-10)  7 PM

#5 Ohio U (18-14)  vs. #4 Ball State (18-12)  9:30 PM

 

M E A C—Winston-Salem, NC

Note: The MEAC has a unique scheduling format which rewards its top three seeds.  Thus, yesterday, there were both first round and quarterfinal round games scheduled.  The quarterfinal round concludes today.

 

1st Round

#6 Norfolk State  68  #11 Howard 53

 

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Bethune-Cookman  66  #9 South Carolina State 50

#2 Hampton  77  #10 Maryland-Eastern Shore  55

 

Quarterfinal Round Continues

#4 Morgan State (15-13)  vs. #5 North Carolina A&T (15-16)  8 PM

#3 Coppin State (16-13)  vs. #6 Norfolk State (11-19)  7 PM

 

Mountain West Conference—Las Vegas

1st Round

#9 T C U  70  #8 Wyoming  61

 

Quarterfinal Round

#9 T C U (11-21)  vs. #1 Brigham Young (28-3)  3 PM

#5 New Mexico (20-11)  vs. #4 Colorado State (19-11)  5:30 PM

#7 Utah (13-17)  vs. #2 San Diego State (29-2)  9 PM

#6 Air Force (15-14)  vs. #3 U N L V  (23-7)  11:30 PM

 

Pac-10 Conference—Los Angeles

1st Round

#9 Oregon State 69  #8 Stanford 67

#7 Oregon 76  #10 Arizona State 69

 

Quarterfinal Round

#4 Southern Cal (18-13)  vs. #5 California (17-13)  3 PM  Fox Sports

#1 Arizona (25-6)  vs. #9 Oregon State (11-19)  5:30 PM  Fox Sports

#2 U C L A  (22-9)  vs. #7 Oregon (15-16)  9 PM  Fox Sports

#3 Washington (20-10)  vs. #6 Washington State (19-11)  11:30 PM  Fox Sports

 

Southeastern Conference—Atlanta

1st Round

#4E  Georgia (20-10)  vs. #5W  Auburn (11-19)  1 PM

#3W  Ole Miss (19-12)  vs. #6E  South Carolina (14-15)  3:30 PM

#4W  Arkansas (18-12)  vs. #5E  Tennessee (18-13)  7:30 PM

#3W  Vanderbilt (21-9)  vs. #6E L S U  (11-20)  10 PM

 

Southland Conference—Katy, TX

Quarterfinal Round

#1 McNeese State 61  #8 Nicholls State 54

#4 Texas State 72  #5 Southeastern Louisiana 68

#7 Texas-San Antonio 97  #2 Northwestern State (LA) 96

#3 Sam Houston State 61  #6 Stephen F. Austin 45

 

Semifinal Round

#3 Sam Houston State (18-12)  vs. #7 Texas-San Antonio (17-13)  7 PM

#1 McNeese State (20-10)  vs. #4 Texas State (16-15)  9:30 PM

 

S W A C–Garland, TX

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Texas Southern 50  #8 Arkansas-Pine Bluff 45

#2 Jackson State 50  #7 Prairie View 38

 

Quarterfinal Round Continues

#3 Mississippi Valley (13-18)  vs. #6 Grambling (10-20)  12:30 PM

#4 Alabama State (14-17)  vs. #5 Alabama A&M (13-14) 9 PM

 

W A C—Las Vegas

1st Round

#8 San Jose State 75  #5 Hawaii 74

#6 Nevada 90  #7 Fresno State 80

 

2nd Round

#4 Idaho (18-12)  vs. #8 San Jose State (16-14)  3 PM  ESPNU

#3 New Mexico State (15-16)  vs. #6 Nevada (13-18)  5:30 PM  ESPNU

September 15, 2009

PiRate Ratings and Spreads for College Football–September 17-19, 2009

Week 3—September 17-19, 2009

 

Another one bites the dust!  Of course, somebody had to lose when Southern Cal played Ohio State, but the Buckeyes weren’t the only losers coming out of the game.  The entire Big 10 took a blow.  Penn State, Michigan, and Iowa could still conceivably find a way to run the table, but unless the Pac-10 and Big 12 see every team lose at least one time, the Big 10 is going to be shut out in the national championship picture this year.

 

Charlie Weis added fuel to the fire that heats his hot seat by ordering two passing plays.  Weis may earn the Dick Jauron Award for finding ways to pull defeat out of the jaws of victory.  Throw Ralph Friedgen into the hot seat watch.  His Maryland Terrapins almost lost to James Madison.  He joins Virginia’s Al Groh from the ACC.

 

There are a handful of games promising to be exciting this week.  Let’s start with the Weeknight games.  Georgia Tech plays at Miami on Thursday and Boise State visits Fresno State on Friday.  A Miami win sets up two key Saturdays for the U.  The Hurricanes face Virginia Tech in Blacksburg next week and then host Oklahoma on October 3.  All of a sudden those games don’t look impossible if Miami can handle Georgia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets’ schedule isn’t all that difficult, so a road win this week could set them up for a possible run similar to 1990.

 

On Saturday, the key games are Texas Tech vs. Texas, Nebraska vs. Virginia Tech, Auburn vs. West Virginia, Tennessee vs. Florida, and Cincinnati vs. Oregon State.  However, the contest that may affect the standings the most is the Brigham Young-Florida State game.  If the Cougars can thoroughly manhandle the Seminoles, it should solidify them high enough in the rankings to guarantee the eventual Mountain West Champion a spot in a BCS bowl, as long as that champion is undefeated.  TCU and Utah could move up high enough by defeating BYU and taking the league crown.

 

Here is this week’s PiRate Ratings Top 25 Ranking.  Remember that this list does not try to rank teams based on what they have done so far.  The PiRate Ratings are always looking ahead, so these rankings are based on what we expect of these teams this week. 

 

NCAA Top 25 For September 14, 2009

Rank

Team

PiRate

Won

Lost

1

Florida 

142.5

2

0

2

Texas

132.5

2

0

3

Oklahoma

130.0

1

1

4

Southern Cal

128.1

2

0

5

California

123.4

2

0

6

Alabama

122.6

2

0

7

Ole Miss

120.6

1

0

8

Penn St.

117.9

2

0

9

Va. Tech

117.9

1

1

10

Okla. St.

115.7

1

1

11

B Y U

115.6

2

0

12

Iowa

115.0

2

0

13

Texas Tech

114.7

2

0

14

Georgia Tech

114.1

2

0

15

L S U

113.7

2

0

16

Kansas

113.4

2

0

17

N. Carolina

113.2

2

0

18

T C U

112.7

1

0

19

Boise St.

112.4

2

0

20

Ohio St.

112.2

1

1

21

Clemson

112.1

1

1

22

Pittsburgh

112.0

2

0

23

Nebraska

111.6

2

0

24

Notre Dame

110.9

1

1

25

Miami (Fla.)

110.8

1

0

     

 

 

Note: Ratings rounded to one decimal point

even though I rank them to two decimal points

 

Here are the PiRate Ratings for all 120 teams, arranged by conferences.

 

Atlantic Coast Conference

Atlantic Division

 

 

 

Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Florida State

0-1

1-1

112.8

Clemson

0-1

1-1

112.1

Boston College

0-0

2-0

109.8

North Carolina State

0-0

1-1

107.2

Wake Forest

0-0

1-1

105.9

Maryland

0-0

1-1

93.6

 

 

 

 

Coastal Division

 

 

 

Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Virginia Tech

0-0

1-1

117.9

Georgia Tech

1-0

2-0

114.1

North Carolina

0-0

2-0

113.2

Miami-FL

1-0

1-0

110.8

Virginia

0-0

0-2

94.5

Duke

0-0

1-1

96.5

 

Big East Conference

 

 

 

 

Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Pittsburgh

0-0

2-0

112.0

Cincinnati

1-0

2-0

110.4

South Florida

0-0

2-0

104.9

West Virginia

0-0

2-0

103.0

Connecticut

0-0

1-1

100.6

Rutgers

0-1

1-1

100.5

Louisville

0-0

1-0

94.2

Syracuse

0-0

0-2

93.8

 

Big Ten

       
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Penn State

0-0

2-0

117.9

Iowa

0-0

2-0

115.0

Ohio State

0-0

1-1

112.2

Michigan

0-0

2-0

105.2

Michigan State

0-0

1-1

101.9

Purdue

0-0

1-1

101.2

Minnesota

0-0

2-0

100.9

Illinois

0-0

1-1

100.6

Wisconsin

0-0

2-0

99.4

Northwestern

0-0

2-0

96.6

Indiana

0-0

2-0

88.2

 

Big 12

North Division      
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Kansas

0-0

2-0

113.4

Nebraska

0-0

2-0

111.6

Missouri

0-0

2-0

107.6

Kansas State

0-0

1-1

94.6

Colorado

0-0

0-2

94.1

Iowa State

0-0

1-1

89.7

       
South Division      
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Texas

0-0

2-0

132.5

Oklahoma

0-0

1-1

130.0

Oklahoma State

0-0

1-1

115.7

Texas Tech

0-0

2-0

114.7

Baylor

0-0

1-0

109.9

Texas A&M

0-0

1-0

97.0

 

Conference USA

East Division      
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Southern Mississippi

1-0

2-0

101.2

East Carolina

0-0

1-1

100.2

Marshall

0-0

1-1

93.6

U A B

1-1

1-1

88.8

Central Florida

0-1

1-1

88.1

Memphis

0-0

0-2

87.6

       
West Division      
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Houston

0-0

2-0

106.6

Tulsa

1-0

2-0

103.8

U T E P

0-0

0-2

89.6

S M U

1-0

2-0

85.7

Rice

0-1

0-2

85.6

Tulane

0-1

0-2

73.4

 

Independents

       
Team

 

Overall

Rating

Notre Dame  

1-1

110.9

Navy  

1-1

100.4

Army  

1-1

83.4

 

Mid American Conference

East Division      
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Buffalo

0-0

1-1

97.1

Bowling Green

0-0

1-1

91.8

Temple

0-0

0-1

90.6

Akron

0-0

1-1

88.6

Ohio U

0-0

1-1

88.1

Kent St.

0-0

1-1

86.6

Miami (O)

0-0

0-2

73.3

       
West Division      
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Central Michigan

0-0

1-1

102.2

Toledo

0-0

1-1

94.7

Western Michigan

0-0

0-2

89.7

Eastern Michigan

0-0

0-2

89.3

Northern Illinois

0-0

1-1

88.2

Ball State

0-0

0-2

82.7

 

Mountain West Conference

       
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

B Y U

0-0

2-0

115.6

T C U

0-0

1-0

112.7

Utah

0-0

2-0

107.2

Air Force

0-0

1-1

99.7

Colo. State

0-0

2-0

95.6

UNLV

0-0

1-1

93.3

S. D. State

0-0

1-1

90.9

Wyoming

0-0

1-1

88.5

New Mexico

0-0

0-2

79.2

 

Pac-10 Conference

       
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Southern Cal

0-0

2-0

128.1

California

0-0

2-0

123.4

Stanford

1-0

1-1

108.9

Arizona

0-0

2-0

108.9

Oregon St.

0-0

2-0

107.4

U C L A

0-0

2-0

106.2

Arizona St.

0-0

1-0

103.3

Oregon

0-0

1-1

103.2

Washington

0-0

1-1

99.0

Wash. St.

0-1

0-2

78.7

 

Southeastern Conference

East Division      
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Florida

0-0

2-0

142.5

Georgia

1-0

1-1

111.8

Tennessee

0-0

1-1

107.3

South Carolina

0-1

1-1

105.0

Vanderbilt

0-1

1-1

104.7

Kentucky

0-0

1-0

102.4

       
West Division      
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Alabama

0-0

2-0

122.6

Ole Miss

0-0

1-0

120.6

L S U

1-0

2-0

113.7

Auburn

1-0

2-0

108.2

Arkansas

0-0

1-0

107.9

Mississippi State

0-1

1-1

89.7

 

Sunbelt Conference

       
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Troy

0-0

0-2

93.8

Arkansas State

0-0

1-1

89.9

Middle Tennessee

0-0

1-1

88.7

Florida International

0-0

0-1

88.0

Louisiana-Monroe

0-0

0-2

87.5

Louisiana

0-0

2-0

85.8

Florida Atlantic

0-0

0-1

82.2

North Texas

0-0

1-1

79.7

Western Kentucky

0-0

0-2

73.8

 

Western Athletic Conference

       
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Boise State

0-0

2-0

112.4

Utah State

0-0

0-1

96.2

Fresno State

0-0

1-1

96.8

Nevada

0-0

0-1

95.6

Louisiana Tech

0-0

0-2

91.5

San Jose State

0-0

0-2

89.9

Hawaii

0-0

2-0

89.0

Idaho

1-0

1-1

78.2

New Mexico State

0-1

1-1

73.3

 

Here is a list of this week’s games with both the PiRate and Mean ratings.  Please note that we at the PiRate Ratings don’t recommend you using these ratings when trying to determine how you will make your selections.  We offer that service for the ridiculously low price of $5 a week and deliver the picks to your e-mail at 1PM Eastern Time on Thursdays.  For more info on how to get our selections, please go to: www.piratings.webs.com.

 

This Week’s Games–PiRate & Mean Ratings

Home Team in CAPS (N) Denotes Neutral Site

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

Thursday, September 17  

 

 

 

Favorite Underdog

PiRate

Score

Mean

Georgia Tech MIAMI (FL)

0.3

35-35 ot

-4

   

 

 

 

Friday, September 18  

 

 

 

Favorite Underdog

PiRate

Score

Mean

Boise State FRESNO STATE

12.1

28-16

15

   

 

 

 

Saturday, September 19  

 

 

 

Favorite Underdog

PiRate

Score

Mean

ARMY Ball State

3.7

28-24

2

PURDUE Northern Illinois

16.5

41-24

10

MICHIGAN Eastern Michigan

18.4

35-17

25

PITTSBURGH Navy

14.6

42-27

12

SYRACUSE Northwestern

0.2

27-27 ot

-6

CLEMSON Boston College

5.8

34-28

4

PENN STATE Temple

29.8

37-7

27

NORTH CAROLINA East Carolina

15.5

37-21

12

WESTERN MICHIGAN Miami (O)

18.9

28-9

15

VANDERBILT Mississippi State

17.5

35-17

12

COLORADO Wyoming

8.1

35-27

3

IOWA Arizona

10.1

24-14

4

AKRON Indiana

2.9

20-17

6

KANSAS Duke

20.9

42-21

19

SOUTHERN MISS. Virginia

9.7

31-21

7

Utah OREGON

1.0

28-27

-2

Southern Cal WASHINGTON

26.1

38-12

29

UCLA Kansas State

15.1

27-12

12

VIRGINIA TECH Nebraska

9.8

31-21

4

NOTRE DAME Michigan State

12.5

37-24

7

Ohio State Toledo   (CLEVELAND)

18.5

33-14

21

AUBURN West Virginia

9.2

35-26

2

FLORIDA Tennessee

39.7

49-9

27

S m u WASHINGTON STATE

4.0

31-27

1

San Diego State IDAHO

10.2

30-20

3

COLORADO STATE Nevada

2.5

27-24

6

MARSHALL Bowling Green

4.3

28-24

-8

California MINNESOTA

18.5

38-19

11

Buffalo CENTRAL FLORIDA

5.5

27-21

0

OKLAHOMA STATE Rice

33.6

44-10

25

OKLAHOMA Tulsa

28.7

52-23

16

BAYLOR Connecticut

13.3

27-14

6

TEXAS A&M Utah State

4.3

24-20

12

KENTUCKY Louisville

10.2

34-24

14

Iowa State KENT STATE

0.6

24-23

-1

B Y U Florida State

6.8

38-31

12

Georgia ARKANSAS

0.4

27-27 ot

3

Air Force NEW MEXICO

18.0

42-24

12

U t e p NEW MEXICO STATE

14.3

31-17

10

TEXAS Texas Tech

20.8

45-24

10

U N L V Hawaii

7.3

31-24

5

STANFORD San Jose State

21.5

42-20

15

OREGON STATE Cincinnati

1.5

28-26

-1

RUTGERS Florida International

16.0

30-14

14

ALABAMA North Texas

47.4

47-0

35

MARYLAND Middle Tennessee

8.4

24-16

9

SOUTH CAROLINA Florida Atlantic

26.3

33-7

19

TROY U a b

7.0

28-21

7

L S U Louisiana Lafayette

31.4

38-7

23

ARIZONA STATE Louisiana Monroe

20.3

27-7

20

September 1, 2009

2009 Big 12 Conference Preview

2009 Big 12 Conference Preview

A PiRate Look

If Rip Van Winkle had awakened in a wheat field in Kansas from his 20-year slumber last year, he might have been able to understand all the big changes throughout the world in his score-long slumber.  He might have been able to predict the coming of the Internet, the election of an African-American as President, even another Major League baseball team in Washington, D.C. occupying the cellar once again.  However, he would have never recognized the Big 12 Conference state of affairs on the gridiron.

He might have been confused and believed that when he saw Oklahoma’s football passing stats and read 349 yards passing and 25 completions that he was looking at their yardage from the entire season.  He’d see that Texas passed for 308 yards on 26 completions and say to himself that the Longhorns must really be running that wishbone to such perfection that they only needed to throw the ball 34 times all year.  Then, when he discovered these yardages were the average per game for these two teams, he would have sworn he was no longer in Kansas.  Then, just to fool around with him, you could tell him that Kansas State had been one of the most successful programs in college football while he slept, but they had fallen back on hard times and hired their 70-year old former head coach.  It’s hard for us who have been awake the entire time to believe the complete 180 degree turnaround in this conference.

Here are the preseason PiRate ratings for the league.  The ratings have been rounded to the nearest whole number even though we calculate them to two decimal places.  Thus, when you see multiple teams with the same rating, they are not actually exactly even.  To understand what the rating means, it is set so that 100 is average.  Thus, a rating of 90 means the team is 10 points weaker than the average team in the FBS.  The average of all 120 FBS teams should round to 100 if the math has been successfully calculated.

For those who have not followed the PiRate Ratings before and wonder about the home field advantage, we do not assign set in stone advantages.  These are assigned on a game-by-game basis.  For instance, if Nebraska hosts Oklahoma a week before taking on Kansas for what could be the North Division title, the Cornhuskers’ home field advantage might be as little as two points.  However, if that same Nebraska team takes on Louisiana-Lafayette a week after scoring a huge upset over a top 10 team, they could enjoy a seven to 10 point home field advantage.  The PiRates think it’s ridiculous to issue a blank home field advantage for all teams or even assign a range of set home field advantages.

 

Big 12 Conference Preseason PiRate Ratings

   
   

 

Prediction *

   
  Team

PiRate

Big 12

Overall

 
  North

 

 

 

 
  Kansas

110

5-3

9-4

#
  Nebraska

109

5-3

8-4

 
  Missouri

105

2-6

4-8

 
  Colorado

102

4-4

7-5

 
  Kansas State

97

4-4

7-5

 
  Iowa State

92

0-8

3-9

 
   

 

 

 

 
  South

 

 

 

 
  Oklahoma

136

8-0

13-0

#
  Texas

135

7-1

11-1

 
  Oklahoma State

118

6-2

10-2

 
  Texas Tech

112

3-5

7-5

 
  Baylor

109

4-4

6-6

 
  Texas A&M

94

1-7

4-8

 
               

 

Big 12 North

Kansas: This actually came as a surprise to us at first.  Three of us actually originally believed KU was headed to a lower division finish.  The other two figured third or possibly second at best for the Jayhawks.  When the PiRate formula kicked out the data showing Kansas a point better than Nebraska, we began to look more closely at their roster.

The Jayhawks have excellent offensive skill position players.  Quarterback Todd Reesing returns for his final season after completing 66.5% of his passes for 3,888 yards and 32 touchdowns.  In a league with four or maybe five sure future NFL draft picks, it’s debatable whether Reesing will hear his name called on the second day in 2010.  At 5-11, the NFL evaluators discount all his other abilities.  At the collegiate level, he’s as dangerous as any conference peer.

KU returns two receivers who topped 1,000 yards in receptions in 2008.  Former quarterback Kerry Meier (97 receptions in ’08) may be the only player ever to pass for more than 1,000 yards in a season and catch more than 1,000 yards in passes.  Dezmon Briscoe (92-1,407/15 TD) is the stud and future starter on an NFL roster. 

The ‘Hawks use a running back by committee approach, and all the key components from last year return.  Jake Sharp led the way with 860 yards and 12 touchdowns.  He’s a threat coming out of the bullpen on passing plays as well.

KU’s offense average 33.4 points and 432 total yards per game last year, and those numbers could be surpassed, but only if the offensive line comes through.  For Kansas to realize their division winning potential, they have to open more running lanes.  They won’t win the division with a rushing average under four yards per carry.

The Jayhawk defense must also improve for the record to improve by the two extra games needed to be moved from the loss column to the win column.  It’s a mystery how the linebackers will perform.  All three starters have graduated.  Arist Wright has a little starting experience in three years in Lawrence, and he will anchor the unit from the middle.

The defensive line is in better shape with three starters returning from a year ago.  Jake Laptad had seven sacks, and Caleb Blakesely and Jamal Greene took up a lot of space in the middle allowing the linebackers to be heroes.

The secondary is the strength of this side of the ball.  Kansas used 5 defensive backs a lot last year, and all five return!  Darrell Stuckey intercepted five passes and knocked down seven more.  Justin Thornton knocked down 11 balls.  There’s some fine depth behind this group. 

Kansas gave up 28.8 points and 397 yards per game, with 274 of those yards coming through the air.  If they can lower the pass defense to 250 yards and get 30 sacks, it just might be enough to get to the Big 12 Championship Game.  If not, the Jayhawks are still going bowling for the fifth time in seven seasons.  As an impartial quintet of observers, we must admit we tend to pull for Coach Mark Mangino and the terrific bunch of KU fans.  Two of us have tailgated with them in the past and loved hearing stories about Pepper Rodgers, Bobby Douglass, and John Riggins.

Nebraska: Coach Bo Pelini turned the Cornhuskers around in one year, and now he’s ready to begin the transformation back to dominance in Lincoln.  After a season in which the average score of their games was 35-29, expect to see a drop on both sides of the scoreboard.  Yes, the black shirts are on their way back.

The defensive line will be a strength, second in the league to the Sooners.  We expect the ‘Huskers to dump enemy quarterbacks more than 35 times and hold opposing running backs to about 3.2 yards per rush.  Maybe the most exciting defensive tackle in years plays in this line.  Ndamukong Suh became the first defensive lineman to lead the Cornhuskers in tackles since 1973.  He made 76 tackles, 7 ½ sacks, 11 ½ additional tackles for loss, batted down three passes, and picked off two more.  You want more?  He hauled both of those interceptions back for touchdowns, and then he auditioned for “Dancing With The Network Stars” by doing his “Ducky Dance.”  Who needs Emmitt Smith?  Hey Ndamukong: Do you have Kelly Pickler for a Twitter follower?

The defensive backfield will be much improved this season.  They gave up 233 yards per game and 57.7% completions, which in this league is well above average.  Safeties Larry Asante and Matt O’Hanlon teamed for 119 tackles and nine deflected passes.  Third safety Rickey Thenarse gives this unit great depth.  The same can be said for nickel back Mathew May.  He backs up two great cornerbacks in Prince Amukamara and Anthony West.

The one weak spot on the defense is the second line.  The linebackers are not as talented as the other two units.  This unit will have to grow up quickly, because NU must win by holding down the great offenses in the league.

The Cornhusker offense is going to be more like the dinosaur offenses of the old Big Eight.  Nebraska will rely on a power running game to eat up the clock and wear down opposing defenses.  Running back Roy Helu rushed for 803 yards last year, and he will need to add about 400 yards to that total this year.  The depth behind him is questionable, and true freshman Rex Burkhead will be the principle backup.  Helu rushed for more than 150 yards against Oklahoma, so he’s capable of challenging for the league rushing title.

Joe Ganz used up his eligibility last year, and NU will be breaking in a new set of quarterbacks.  Projected starter Zac Lee has one completed pass for five yards for experience.

The wide receivers are not up to the standards of the big hitters in this league after losing the top two receivers from 2008.  Tight end Mike McNeill is the best player on this unit; he comes off a season where he caught 32 passes for 442 yards and six scores.

The offensive line has had some shuffling since practice began in August, and there has been a question of health with one projected starter, but we think this unit will be just fine.  Center Jacob Hickman will contend for all-conference honors. 

An added offensive weapon is kicker Alex Henery.  He connected on 18 of 21 field goal attempts including a 57 yarder.  Two of those three misses were from beyond 50 yards.

It may be the schedule that prevents NU from winning the North Division.  They play Kansas in Lawrence and Colorado in Boulder in their division and must host Oklahoma from the South.  We expect NU and KU to finish tied in the standings, but the Jayhawks will win the key game against the Cornhuskers.

Missouri: That whistling sound you hear is the Missouri Tiger football team coming down like a bomb released over London during WWII.  The team was wiped out by graduation.  Included in the decimation were quarterback Chase Daniel, tight end Chase Coffman, wide out Jeremy Maclin, tackle Colin Brown, linebacker Michael Keck, safety William Moore, and defensive tackles Ziggy Hood and Stryker Sulak, all of whom were taken in the NFL Draft.  A Tiger squad that averaged 42.2 points and 484 yards per game will see a major drop in those numbers.

Sophomore Blaine Gabbert is the new quarterback. He completed five of 13 passes for 43 yards and no touchdowns, and he is being asked to replace the overwhelming all-time passing leader in Columbia, who threw for 4,335 yards and 39 scores last year.  Gabbert will be at a further disadvantage because Mizzou’s top three receivers, who accounted for 264 catches for 3,080 yards and 30 scores are no longer around.  Jared Perry will be the top man after finishing fourth last year with 41 receptions.

The one big holdover weapon is running back Derrick Washington.  He rushed for 1,036 yards and 17 touchdowns in ’08.  Depth here is a concern, and true freshman Kendial Lawrence could see significant action.

The offensive line welcomes back three starters, led by all-league candidate Kurtis Gregory at guard.  The OL should provide enough blocking for the Tiger backs to top four yards per carry and enough protection to give Gabbert a fair shot to find the open receiver.

On the defensive side, MU was mediocre last year, giving up 27.2 points and 412 yards per game.  We’ll give them some credit because they faced Juice Williams, Colin Kaepernick, Joe Ganz, Zac Robinson, Colt McCoy, Josh Freeman, Todd Reesing, Sam Bradford, and C. J. Bacher—Whew! The numbers could improve simply because the offense runs more clock when they have the ball.

Actual talent improvement is evident at linebacker.  Sean Weatherspoon is the best player on the team and the best linebacker in college football; he should take home the Butkus Award this year.  Last year, he registered an unbelievable 155 tackles with five QB sacks, 13 ½ additional tackles for loss, seven passes knocked away, and three interceptions.  He’ll make his two partners better players, because opponents will go to great lengths to try to eliminate him from the play.

The defensive line and the secondary have issues.  Three starters are gone from both units.  It’s for this reason that we cannot see Missouri competing in the North Division.  In fact, we don’t see how they can forge a winning record.  Not enough pass rush and too many big plays allowed by a green secondary cannot be hidden in this league.

Colorado: Coach Dan Hawkins begins his fourth season in the People’s Republic of Boulder, and he could be exiled if the Buffs fail to make it to a bowl this year.  It’s going to be a touch and go situation.  CU has some real talent in places and big holes in other places.  Only four starters return on defense, and it was defense that allowed the Buffs to win five games last year.

When CU won big under former coach Gary Barnett, they did so with a bruising running game.  This Buffalo team will try to revert back to those days, because every running back who contributed in 2008 is back this year.  Rodney Stewart has sneaky speed and quickness and can hit a small hole quickly.  His small frame makes him vulnerable to injury, and he missed time last year.  Darrell Scott is more of a north-south runner, but he too missed time due to injury. 

After the first couple of weeks of August practice, Hawkins had yet to name a starting quarterback.  His son Cody was the starter for most of the last two seasons, but he may be on the verge of losing his spot to Tyler Hansen, a better runner.  If Hansen wins the job, that is a sign that CU will rely more on the run than the pass.

The rebuilding defense is strongest at linebacker.  Shaun Mohler and Jeff Smart return after finishing one-two in tackles (215 combined).  The secondary has one star-in-the-making in cornerback Cha’Pelle Brown, who knocked away 10 passes.

Up front, the defensive line will be the reason CU doesn’t compete in the North Division title race.  No full-time starters return, and three untested sophomores will be pressed into action.

Colorado had troubles with their kicking game last year, and that’s an anomaly kicking in the 5,400 feet elevation of Folsom Field.

An improved offense that can control the ball against average defenses combined with a schedule that includes eight or nine winnable games gives CU a decent shot of getting to seven wins and a bowl game.

Kansas State: Old with the new, and in with the old.  Soon to be 70-year old Bill Snyder returns to the Little Apple after a three-year retirement.  Combining his final two years, where the Wildcats bounced under .500, with the three forgettable seasons of Ron Prince, K-State has gone 26-33 the last five years.  Snyder picked a great time to return, because the ‘Cats have the chance to win a couple extra games this year and return to a bowl.

The defense should be one of the most improved units in the nation.  Yes, you can say it cannot get worse.  Last year, KSU gave up 35.8 points and 479 total yards per game.  Nebraska and Texas Tech topped 600 total yards against them.  Kansas State returns its top six tacklers.  Three starting defensive linemen return, but Brandon Harold is going to miss some games with a leg injury.

State will go almost exclusively with a 4-2-5 defense, and it’s a smart move.  They have much more depth in the secondary than they do at linebacker.  Linebackers Alex Hrebec and John Houlik may not make even Honorable Mention All-Big 12, but their 2009 performance will be much better than 2008.

The secondary will benefit from having all the depth, but without a better pass rush up front, enemy QBs will pick them apart.

The offense will struggle early, as it has to break in a new quarterback.  Carson Coffman and Grant Gregory were still competing for the starting job at the time of this writing.  Whoever wins the job will benefit from having star receiver Brandon Banks return after grabbing 67 passes for 1,049 yards and nine touchdowns.  Tight end Jeron Mastrud ranks only behind Oklahoma’s Jermaine Gresham for best in the league.

2008 Leading running back Lamark Brown has been moved back to receiver, but he didn’t have much success carrying the ball and can easily be replaced.  Keithen Valentine should surpass Brown’s season total by the sixth or seventh game.

The offensive line suffered a blow when senior guard Brock Unruh was lost for the season due to injury.  That leaves two starting holdovers in the trenches.  Tackle Nick Stringer will land a spot somewhere on the All-Big 12 team.

With non-conference contests with Massachusetts, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Tennessee Tech, the worst KSU can do in the pre-conference is 3-1.  If they upset UCLA and enter conference play at 4-0, they have it made in the shade in the bowl picture.  Even at 3-1, the Wildcats have an excellent shot at getting to 6-6.  They get Texas A&M and Missouri at home and play Iowa State in Kansas City.  

Iowa State: In what looked like a trade, Auburn sent defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads to Ames for Coach Gene Chizik.  Rhoads got the short end of the stick in that one, but at least he inherits a nice bunch of holdovers from last year.  Iowa State will more than likely remain in the basement of the North Division, but the gap to the other teams will shorten this year.

He won’t be confused for a Bradford, McCoy, Robinson, Griffin, or Reesing, but quarterback Austen Arnaud is a poor man’s Seneca Wallace.  He passed for 2,792 yards and 15 touchdowns (61.6% completions) last year.  His top receiver from last year, R. J. Sumrall has picked up his sheepskin, but all the other key contributors from last year are back.  Junior college transfer Darius Reynolds has earned a spot in the starting lineup.

Alexander Robinson rushed for 703 yards (4.6 avg) and scored six times, and he has help this year.  Former Florida Gator Bo Williams was supposed to come in and assume the starter’s job, but he won’t even be second team when the season begins.  Redshirt freshman Jeremiah Schwartz’s stock is on the rise, and he is a great fit in the new spread offense.

The offensive line may have a few tough times in the early part of the schedule, but they should be okay once the players get uses to multiple shifts in positions.  ISU averaged 25.3 points and 387 yards per game last year, and we can see those numbers climbing to 28 points and 400 yards in 2009.

A porous 2008 defense gave up almost 36 points and 453 yards per game, and the numbers could be just as weak or even weaker this year.  The defensive line and secondary may take a step back, while the linebackers move forward a tad.  Safety James Smith has the best shot of earning post-season accolades.  He led ISU with 85 tackles last year.

Middle linebacker Jesse Smith leads the one not-so-weak area.  He registered five tackles for loss and six deflected passes last year.

The Cyclones have a decent chance to open 3-1 with a non-conference schedule that includes North Dakota State, Iowa, Kent State, and Army.  For the second year in a row, ISU may not win a conference game, but they will lose them by fewer points per game.

Big 12 South

Oklahoma:  The Big 12 will be a two-team race this year.  Oklahoma and Texas should combine for either 22 or 23 regular season wins.  The two could play each other 12 times and split them six to six.  The PiRate formula says OU begins the season one point better than Texas.  By the seventh week of the season, who know?

Let’s start with the supposed weakness this year.  Everybody is saying the offensive line is going to cause the offense to fall backward just enough to finish second.  We say, hogwash!  We’ve studied the OL in depth, and we’re here to tell you this line is more underrated than former NBA coach Bill Sharman.  Trent Williams is a top-rate tackle.  He could have been a first day draft pick in the NFL this spring.  When center Ben Habern recovers from his lower back injury, he will be one of the top snappers in the league.  Brian Simmons will team with Williams on the left side to provide exceptional leadership.  This unit will dedicate themselves to top performance much in the way Florida did so after the loss to Ole Miss.  Expect total effort and attention to details.

The receivers may not be as talented this year, but if that’s OU’s only real weakness, Coach Bob Stoops will be smiling as his team takes the field in Pasadena in the second week in January.  Tight end Jermaine Gresham is the favorite for the Mackey Award this year after catching 66 passes for 950 yards and 14 touchdowns.  He should top 1,000 yards and 15 scores this year.

We’ve saved the best parts of the offense for last.  The Sooners return two 1,000 yard rushers who combined for 34 touchdowns.  Chris Brown (217-1,220) and DeMarco Murray (179-1,002) have an excellent chance to repeat the feat and even increase those numbers.

So, what can Mr. Heisman Trophy do for an encore?  He can copy Tim Tebow and follow it up with the National Championship.  It doesn’t seem possible that Bradford could improve on 4,720 passing yards, 50 touchdowns, 67.9% completions, and just eight interceptions.  He doesn’t need to have a season equal to last.  In fact, it might be to OU’s advantage to hold onto the ball a little longer this year and allow the defense to star.  Sooner games lasted an average of 151 plays per game, while Florida games lasted an average of only 127 plays per game.

The defense was not up to championship standards last year, but it should be this year.  After giving up 24.5 points and 368 yards per game, an improvement to 20 points and 340 yards should be enough to put Oklahoma in Pasadena.

The one slightly vulnerable area on this side of the ball is the secondary, where two new safeties will start.  Cornerback Dominique Franks picked off four passes and batted away 10 passes.  He could be a 1st Team All-Big 12 this year.

The top linebacker this year is Travis Lewis, who led the team in tackles in 2008 with 144, 12 total tackles for loss.  He intercepted four passes.  Keenan Clayton and Ryan Reynolds make it the best linebacker unit in the conference.

Up front, OU will be downright stingy against the run and a nightmare to opposing quarterbacks.  End Jeremy Beal had 8 ½ sacks and another seven tackles for loss.  Gerald McCoy, Auston English, and Adrian Taylor were nearly as tough.

It all comes down to the Red River Shootout on October 17.  Yes, Oklahoma State could give the Sooners a good game, and Texas Tech will be out for revenge, but we just don’t see any team other than Texas competing with them.  They will either go 13-0 and qualify for the National Championship Game, or go 11-1 and end up in a BCS Bowl.

Texas:  This isn’t the number two team in the division, so don’t take that impression from them being here.  No, we aren’t saying Texas will disappoint.  We are saying that OU is 1A and UT is 1B.

Texas is a decent running back from being unstoppable.  If Fozzy Whittaker or Vondrell McGee can supply a little more relief for McCoy, defenses will not be able to slow this offense down.

Colt McCoy is due to win the Heisman Trophy.  He completed an insane 76.7% of his passes last year.  These were not glorified handoffs.  He averaged 11.6 yards per completion and almost nine yards per attempt.  McCoy’s TD/INT ratio was 34/8.

Quan Cosby and his 92 receptions, 1,123 yards and 10 touchdowns has moved on, but the Longhorns still have Jordan Shipley, who hauled in 89 passes for 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns.  Keep an eye on flex tight end Dan Buckner.  He has big play potential and will not command the tough coverage given to Shipley.

The offensive line has three all-stars.  Center Chris Hall, guard Charlie Tanner, and tackle Adam Ulatoski will play for pay next year.

The defense was better than Oklahoma’s last year, and it was the difference in their game.  The Longhorns have a little bit of housekeeping to do up front, where only tackle Lamarr Houston returns from last season.  Kheeston Randall is big and agile, and it’s only a matter of time before he becomes a star.

Texas is set at linebacker, where Sergio Kindle dumped enemy quarterbacks 10 times last year.  In the secondary, safeties Earl Thomas and Blake Gideon broke up 24 passes last year. 

The kicking game is so strong, there are two potential star placekickers and two punters who contribute.  John Gold is the regular punter, and Justin Tucker is the rugby-style punter.

Texas Tech will bear the brunt of Texas’s wrath when the Red Raiders visit September 19.  The Longhorns must face Oklahoma State in Stillwater, but this year looks like a two-team race.

Oklahoma State:  We’re not saying it will happen, but can you remember back to 1971?  Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Colorado, all of the Big Eight Conference, finished one-two-three in the final poll.  Oklahoma State could easily finish 10-2 this year with a scoring margin of 20 points per game.

The Cowboys’ offense is every bit as good as the two titans ahead of them in the league.  Quarterback Zac Robinson passed for 3,064 yards and 25 touchdowns and ran for 562 yards and eight more scores.  Running back Kendall Hunter rushed for 1,555 yards and 16 touchdowns, and backup Keith Toston added another 686 yards (6.7 avg).  Receiver Dez Bryant caught 87 passes for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns.  All these skill players return this year.  To make matters worse, for opponents that is, the Cowboy offensive line returns three very competent starters and adds two very highly-rated newcomers in reserve.  OSU gained 5.5 yards per rush in 2008, and there’s no reason to think they won’t continue with that success.

Defensively, the ‘Pokes are just an average team looking to improve to respectability.  Their front four and back four have a lot of gaping holes.  OSU surrendered 28.1 points and 406 yards per game last year, and those numbers will only marginally improve in 2009.  The Cowboys use a variation of the 4-3, and Star linebacker Andre Sexton returns after leading the team with 100 tackles.  Middle linebacker Orie Lemon added 90 and batted away eight passes.  Third linebacker Patrick Lavine recorded 70 tackles. 

Oklahoma State has excellent kick and punt returners.  Bryant scored twice on punt returns last year, and Perrish Cox took two kickoffs back for touchdowns.

If the Cowboys can win the opener at home with Georgia, they will possibly move into the Top Five.  We can see them competing and even winning the Georgia game, but we don’t see them beating Texas or Oklahoma.

Texas Tech: Red Raider coach Mike Leach keeps plugging in new pieces to his intricate offense in Lubbock.  Graham Harrell has left the building after ending his senior season with 5,111 passing yards and 45 touchdowns.  Top receiver Michael Crabtree is busy not accepting contract offers with the San Francisco 49ers these days.  Back Shannon Woods is no longer around, as are three offensive line starters.  Yet, Texas Tech should score 35-40 points per game and gain 450-500 yards.

New quarterback Taylor Potts has already received accolades from Leach who called him the best quarterback he’s ever coached.  Potts saw limited action last year and passed for 260 yards on 63.9% completions.

Baron Batch split time with Woods and returns to the backfield after rushing for a team leading 758 yards and seven scores last year.

The offensive line has its strengths and its weaknesses.  Guard Brandon Carter and tackle Marlon Winn are seasoned vets, while center Shawn Byrnes and guard Mickey Ofafor have limited experience. 

The defense returns enough starters to keep improving.  It will be strongest up front with nose tackle Colby Whitlock returning.  Linebacker isn’t a strong area, but it’s no great liability.  Brian Duncan led the team from his middle ‘backer spot with 94 stops.

The secondary features cornerback Jamar Wall, who batted away 11 passes and took away two more.

Tech should win all four out-of-conference games (North Dakota, Rice, Houston, and New Mexico), but games at Texas, at Nebraska, at Oklahoma State and at home with Oklahoma should be losses.  The season ender against Baylor at the Mistake on the Turnpike, AKA Cowboys Stadium, could be a tossup, and the Bears could be playing for bowl eligibility.  Call it an eight or nine win season in Lubbock.  

Baylor: This is the year if the Bears are ever going to get over the hump and pick up that elusive sixth win.  Coach Art Briles has 16 starters returning.

Quarterback Robert Griffin is in the next wave of signal callers after the big three.  He comes off a season in which he passed for 2,091 yards with 15 touchdowns versus just three interceptions and ran the ball for 843 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Griffin has a wealth of returning talent at the receiver positions.  Kendall Wright and David Gettis combined for 79 catches and 1,040 yards.  Tight end Justin Akers isn’t an every down player because Baylor frequently spreads the field and goes four wide, but when he’s in the game, he is hard to bring down after the catch.

Jay Finley led the Bears with 865 rushing yards and could possibly top 1,000 if the offense moves to the next level.  He may be used more as a receiver this year, because he’s tough to stop in the open field.

The one fly in the ointment is the offensive line.  There will be three new starters up front.  If they don’t continue the success that last year’s line enjoyed when they opened holes that led to 4.9 yards per rush, then BU won’t be playing in December or January.

 

On the defensive side, the top four tacklers and six of the top seven return.  The question mark is on the defensive line where two new starters will need to step up and keep blockers away from the linebackers.

Those linebackers are the best trio in years.  Antonio Jones, Joe Pawelek, and Antonio Johnson teamed up to make 271 stops intercept six passes (all Pawelek), and break up 10 more.

The back line features three returning starters who did not perform up to Big 12 standards last year.  BU allowed 67.4% of enemy passes to be caught for 255 yards per game. 

Baylor opens at Wake Forest, and it should be a great game.  We’ll call that a Demon Deacon win.  Connecticut comes to Waco, and that won’t be an easy win.  Northwestern State and Kent State should be cinch wins.  If they win three of these first four games, they will still need three conference wins to gain bowl eligibility.  They will have to pull of one upset.  It’s a 50-50 chance.

Texas A&M: Since R. C. Slocum was shown the door after winning consistently for two decades, this program has fallen off the map, going 36-37 since then.  Second year coach Mike Sherman may not be given much time to turn things around in College Station, and the alumni could demand action this year if A&M finishes 5th or 6th in the division.  We say the Aggies will do just that.

10 starters return to the offense, led by quarterback Jerrod Johnson.  Johnson has talent, but in this division, he’s a distant 6th among the QBs.  The once proud running game here disappeared as the Aggies rushed for just 89 yards per game.  Cyrus Gray averaged 4.8 yards per carry last year, but he only carried the ball 94 times. 

A&M returns their top three and five of their top six receivers.  Ryan Tannehill may not start after leading the team in receptions with 55.  Jeff Fuller and tight end Jamie McCoy should see more touches after bringing in 50 and 43 passes respectively.

The offensive line is the best part of this side of the ball.  The addition of LSU transfer Matt Allen, and the emergence of tackle Danny Baker means there will be much more depth here this year.  Look for the Aggies to improve their rushing numbers back into the low triple digits and pass for 260-285 yards.

The defense will be weaker overall this year with very little pass rush and very little ability to stop the passing attacks of the other five South Division rivals.  The Aggies lost too much on this side of the ball to contend for any wins inside the division.  They better defeat Iowa State at Kyle Field, or else they could go 0-8 in Big 12 play.

Next up: The Southeastern Conference where football definitely is a religion, and The Gators, led by the great leader Tebowses, are the chosen people.

August 28, 2009

2009 Western Athletic Conference Preview

2009 Western Athletic Conference Preview

A PiRate Look

In the fourth in our series of conference previews, we take a look at the Western Athletic Conference, where Boise State has dominated this loop like no other team has dominated their conference in the 21st Century.  The Broncos have never lost a home game in the WAC, and they have won six of seven conference titles.  It took a 12-0 Hawaii team in 2007 to edge them in Honolulu to prevent them from a total skunking of the league.  The 2009 WAC preview was the first conference where the staff at the PiRate Ratings had to discuss at length before issuing predictions.  The raw preseason ratings gave Utah State the third best beginning rating, but none of us believed the Aggies will finish there, even though we all agree they are very much improved this year.

Here are the preseason PiRate ratings for the league.  The ratings have been rounded to the nearest whole number even though we calculate them to two decimal places.  Thus, when you see multiple teams with the same rating, they are not actually exactly even.  To understand what the rating means, it is set so that 100 is average.  Thus, a rating of 90 means the team is 10 points weaker than the average team in the FBS.  The average of all 120 FBS teams should round to 100 if the math has been successfully calculated.

For those who have not followed the PiRate Ratings before and wonder about the home field advantage, we do not assign set in stone advantages.  These are assigned on a game-by-game basis.  For instance, if New Mexico State was to get really lucky and host Texas or Oklahoma, it would be expected that the Longhorn or Sooner fans would find a way to get to Las Cruces and make it a home game for the visiting team.  However, if that same Aggie team hosted Army a week after Army played at Air Force, then the Aggies could enjoy as much as five points in home field advantage.  The PiRates think it’s ridiculous to issue a blank home field advantage for all teams or even assign a range of set home field advantages.

   

Western Athletic Conference Preseason Ratings

     

 

Prediction *

 
    Team

PiRate

WAC

Overall

 
    Boise State

109

7-1

10-2

 
    Nevada

98

7-1

9-3

 
    Utah State

96

4-4

5-7

 
    Fresno State

95

6-2

7-5

 
    Louisiana Tech

94

5-3

7-5

 
    San Jose State

92

4-4

5-7

 
    Hawaii

86

1-7

3-10

 
    New Mexico State

78

1-7

2-10

 
    Idaho

75

1-7

1-11

 
     

 

 

 

 
    *  Predictions not based on PiRate Rating but  
    on expected changes to rating during the year  

 

Boise State: Can the Broncos run the table in the regular season yet again?  This year, we think that won’t happen for two reasons.  They have non-conference games against Oregon and Tulsa, and we think they will lose one of them.  Also, we believe Fresno State has an excellent shot to pull off the upset in conference play.  Now, we’re still picking BSU to win the conference, but we think it will be with one conference loss.

Quarterback Kellen Moore is already the second best passer in the WAC as a sophomore, and he should top 3,000 yards passing with 25-30 touchdown passes this year.  His percentage (69.4% in ’08) could drop a little because his receiving corps has less experience this season.  The running game could regress without former star Ian Johnson and with a question mark in the offensive line.

Defensively, there is a great deal of rebuilding to do in the front seven, where only two starters return.  The secondary is the strength of the team with safeties Jeron Johnson and George Iloka and cornerbacks Brandyn Thompson and Kyle Wilson leaps and bounds more talented than the next best WAC secondary.

Nevada: The Wolf Pack could play at Boise State on Black Friday with a chance to steal the conference championship.  If the game was played at Mackay Stadium, it might be a 50-50 proposition.  Nevada should have its best team this decade with most of the key elements returning to the defending top offense in the league and one of the best in the nation (509 total yards per game in ’08).

It all starts under center where quarterback Colin Kaepernick is the king of the WAC.  Last year, he rushed for 1,130 yards and passes for 2,849 yards, accounting for 39 touchdowns!  Factor out quarterback sacks, and he averaged over eight yards per rush.  He may rush less and pass more this year because Nevada returns the WAC’s top running back, a sure-handed wide receiver, and a tight end with great hands.  Add to it a strong recruiting class where one or two freshmen receivers could supply great depth.

That top running back is Vai Taua, who rushed for 1,521 yards with 15 touchdowns last year.  Taua reminds us some of Green Bay Packer Ryan Grant.  Behind Taua is a stable of able backs, so the Wolfpack should rush for 275-300 yards per game and could easily top six yards per rush again this season.

There are some new receivers this year, but they will be greatly aided by the fact that defense must try to stop or slow down the run first.  Look for Kaepernick to pass for around 250 yards per game.

The offensive line returns two excellent tackles.  Mike Gallett and Alonzo Durham both earned 2nd team All-WAC honors last year and both could make it to the first team this year.

Defensively, Nevada has liabilities, but they should be able to hold most opponents under 35 points.  With a team capable of easily topping 40 points per game, giving up 30 could be enough to challenge for the league crown.  The strength lies in the terminals as ends Kevin Basped and Dontay Moch combined for 36 tackles behind the line of scrimmage (21 ½ sacks).

The schedule may keep Nevada from a top 25 finish.  The Wolf Pack play at Notre Dame to open the season, and this game could be interesting for most of the day.  A road game at Colorado State could be the pivotal game.  Nevada can still have a decent year if they start 0-2, but they won’t challenge for the conference title after that.  A home game with a rebuilding Missouri team gives them a good shot at an upset, and the following game against UNLV should be exciting.  Unfortunately, the game with Boise State is on the field of blue, and we don’t believe Nevada is up to the task.  It looks like a second place finish and nine regular season wins.

Utah State: We double and triple-checked our statistical formula to make sure this rating was correct; it was.  The PiRate formula believes USU will be one of the five most improved teams in FBS football.  Personally, we believe they will be a better team, but not the third best in the WAC.

Gary Andersen takes over as head coach after serving as the defensive coordinator at Utah for five years.  The Aggies will shift to a no-huddle spread offense from the shotgun, and they have the talent on offense to make it go. 

Quarterback Diondre Borel isn’t as talented as the top passers in this league, but he should be able to approach 2,500 yards and 15-20 touchdowns.  A poor man’s Colin Kaepernick, Borel could approach 800 yards rushing as well.

Borel will have a boatload of average receivers at hand.  While none of them will be all-conference performers, the depth will allow Andersen to shuttle them in and keep them fresh.  Borel will need three of the receivers to step up because he has very little help in the backfield.

The offensive line will be stronger this season, and center Brennan McFadden will receive first place votes for all-WAC.  Look for the Aggies to rush for about 125 yards per game and pass for about 225.  It should give them a great shot at averaging more than 25 points per game for the first time in eight years.

The defense was really weak in 2008, and they face an added obstacle trying to improve this year.  USU games averaged 136 plays per game last year, and with the new offense, they will probably average close to 150 plays this year.  That should lead to about seven more defensive plays, so the Aggies will yield 30-35 points and 400 total yards per game again this year.

What will keep State from posting a winning record is their killer schedule.  Out of conference, they travel to Utah, Texas A&M, and BYU.  Only a home game with Southern Utah will give them a win prior to conference play.  What hurts more is that the weakest conference opponents host the Aggies, while the strongest teams come to Logan.  USU will not upset Boise State or Nevada at home, but Idaho, Hawaii, and New Mexico State cannot be counted as automatic wins.  It adds up to another losing season, but the Aggies could pull off an upset along the way.

Fresno State: The Bulldogs are almost always a tough team to beat, but they always lose to somebody they should have beaten.  That’s why FSU has always been the bridesmaid and never the bride in the WAC.  This year, Coach Pat Hill has enough talent on hand to play head-to-head at home with Boise State, but they could also lose to teams like San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, and even Utah State.

What’s keeping the Bulldogs from seriously challenging Boise State is an experienced quarterback.  Hill has stated that three different players will see playing time early in the season.  Whoever ends up as the regular will have one of the league’s top receivers as well as three other really good receivers at the other end of those passes.  Look for Seyi Ajirotutu to appear on the nation’s receiving leaders.  He could top 1,000 yards in receptions.

Three running backs who each topped 600 yards rushing return this year.  Anthony Harding, Lonyae Miller, and Ryan Matthews combined for 2,250 rushing yards and 19 scores, and they should top that mark this year.

The offensive line needs two new tackles, and with a new quarterback, that could mean a few extra sacks and interceptions. 

The Bulldog defense surrendered 31 points and 411 yards per game in 2008, and those figures are going to drop this season.  We see them coming in at 26 points and 380 yards.  The top four tacklers return from last year, as well as the top two pass defenders.  Look for middle linebacker Ben Jacobs to play for pay in two years.  He made 113 tackles and broke up five passes in 2008.  He’ll be an excellent Tampa 2 defender.

The schedule is manageable, and if the ball bounces the right way, Fresno could pull off a couple of road upsets against teams from BCS conferences.  We don’t see them winning at Illinois, but Cincinnati and Wisconsin are not impossible this year.  UC Davis provides an easy opening win, and all three quarterbacks could get some positive game experience.  The Boise State game is at Bulldog Stadium on Friday night, September 18.

Louisiana Tech: Long-time Georgia football coach Vince Dooley won more than 200 games in a quarter century in Athens.  Most of those teams moved the football by the rush.  Now, his son Derek is following in his footsteps.  Louisiana Tech may line up in the one back offense like most teams these days, but they still deliver the goods by running the ball more than 60% of the time.  Running back Daniel Porter rushed for 1,164 yards and nine touchdowns last year, and he’ll be running behind an offensive line that returns intact from last year.  He could top 1,500 yards this year.

The Bulldogs will not challenge for the WAC title this year unless the passing game improves by 50% or more.  Returning quarterback Ross Jenkins completed just 52.9% of his passes last year for only 1,155 yards and seven scores.  He needs to increase that number to 1,700 yards or more or else the offense will bog down against the WAC teams with good run defenses.  Phillip Livas is the best receiver on the team, but he will need some support.

Defensively, the Bulldogs will be tough again up front.  After allowing just 104 rushing yards per game in 2008, there’s a good chance that number will drop to double digits this season.  All four starting defensive linemen return as does three of the second team quartet.  The problem for LT is that they couldn’t stop an average passing attack last year, and unless some new secondary members become stars, the Bulldogs could give up 275 passing yards per game again this year.

The schedule begins with road games against Auburn and Navy.  The Bulldogs could start 0-2 and just as easily could start 2-0.  If they upset the Tigers and handle the Midshipmen, they should be 4-0 when they play Nevada in Reno on Friday night, October 9.  Boise State is a home game also played on a Friday night.  The only certain loss on the schedule this year is a game at LSU on November 14.  If the Bulldogs come up with any semblance of a passing game and pass defense, they could contend for the conference title.  Of course, conference titles are rather common in the Dooley family, with papa Vince and Uncle Bill owning a bundle of them.

San Jose State: Until the Spartans learn how to move the ball and score points, they will remain in the middle of the pack in the WAC.  SJSU averaged a paltry 283 total yards per game last year and less than 20 points per game.  The defense stayed on the field too long, and it collapsed late in the season.

The Spartans could only gain 87 rushing yards per game in 2008, and to make matters worse, they lost their only decent rusher.  That number should move into triple digits this year, even with a raw set of backs toting the pigskin.  All five starting offensive linemen from last year return.

Quarterback Kyle Reed could be one of the most improved quarterbacks in the league this year.  If a couple of competent receivers can be found, and if tight end Terrance Williams can continue to improve, we project that Reed could pass for more than 200 yards per game with a better TD/INT ratio this year (9/6 in ’08).  If the receivers don’t come through, then SJSU will continue to falter with an anemic offense.

The Spartan defense returns a top-flight front seven, but the back four could be suspect.  End Carl Ihenacho will compete for 1st team All-WAC honors this year after recording 18 ½ tackles behind the line with seven sacks last year.  Brother Duke Ihenacho anchors the second line of defense.  He recorded 5 ½ tackles behind the line, intercepted five passes, and broke up six others.

The secondary surrendered just 170 passing yards last year, but with three new starters, that number could inflate by 35-50 yards per game.

The schedule is the big bugaboo for the Spartans.  An opening game at Southern Cal, followed by a home game with Utah and a game up the road at Stanford could leave them at 0-3.  Fresno State, Boise State, and Louisiana Tech are also road games, so San Jose State would have to beat everybody else on their schedule to repeat the 6-6 record of last year.

Hawaii: June Jones is now two seasons removed from Hawaii, and the downslide in Honolulu will continue.  The Warriors no longer have the devastating passing game that can outscore opponents regardless of how porous the defense might be.  Now, the defense will be even weaker, while the offense is run of the mill.  It all adds up to a major drop in the standings.

The Warriors return just a pair of starters from a defense that yielded 29 points and 361 total yards per game.  Expect those numbers to climb to 35 points and 425 yards allowed.  The secondary will be torn to shreds by Moore, Kaepernick, Borel, and a few others.  Nary a player on the roster has ever started a game in the defensive backfield.

The front seven is only marginally more experienced as end John Fonoti and linebacker Brashton Satele return, but they were not major contributors last season.

The offense is pedestrian at best.  Without Jones and the great passing of Colt Brennan, Hawaii’s numbers fell from 43 to 25 points and 512 to 346 total yards per game.  Quarterback Greg Alexander returns after sharing starting duties last year.  Alexander has experience and depth in his receiving unit, so the Hawaii passing numbers should jump from about 250 to near 300 yards per game this year.

The running game needs improvement, but it’s doubtful those numbers will increase this year.  We figure Hawaii will be forced to pass more due to having to attempt to come back from deficits, and the offensive line may not be up to the task to open enough running lanes.

Another major problem this year are the special teams.  UH couldn’t keep a kicker on campus and didn’t know who would start until Scott Enos arrived late from a junior college.  A true freshman will be the punter.

The schedule is always tough when every road game travels from two to five time zones.  The road games this year find Hawaii travelling to Washington State, UNLV, Louisiana Tech, Idaho, Nevada, and San Jose State.  We believe they will go 0-6 in these games.  Navy, Wisconsin, and Central Arkansas visit Honolulu, as well as conference foes Fresno State, Boise State, Utah State, and New Mexico State.  It looks like the Warriors could be headed to double digit losses this year.

NOTE: Satele out for the season with a shoulder injury

New Mexico State: The Hal Mumme era is over in Las Cruces, and the Aggies could do no better than 4-8 during his tenure.  Enter DeWayne Walker, the former defensive coordinator at UCLA.  Walker’s Bruin defense held Southern Cal to nine points in a 2006 upset, and he coached UCLA in the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl after Karl Dorrell left.

Walker made some major changes when he assumed control.  Gone is the spread passing formation replaced by a more balanced attack.  With NMSU career passing leader Chase Holbrook gone, the job will be inherited by junior college transfer Jeff Fleming.  Expect the Aggie passing attack to shrink from over 300 passing yards per game to just over 200 yards per game.  Running backs Marquell Colston, Tommy Glenn, and Ronald Opetaia will get more carries this year after combining for 683 yards last year.  They will be running behind a line with about the same experience as last year’s line, but the extra rushing attempts (and the reduction in sacks from 44 by almost half) should add up to about 100 rushing yards per game compared to an NCAA 2nd worst 55.

The defense will begin to make strides toward respectability this year.  After surrendering 34 points and 380 yards per game last year, even with massive losses on the stop side.  A fine duo at linebacker returns in Jason Scott and Nick Paden.  The front four has no returning starters, so the pass rush and defense against the run should suffer some early until Walker can “coach ‘em up.”

The schedule gives NMSU a chance to get off to a fast start, and the Aggies could gain some confidence early.  They open at home against Idaho, and that game should be a toss-up.  Next, they host Prairie View.  That will be the last game where they will be favored to win.  Road trips to Ohio State, Boise State, and Louisiana Tech should be unpleasant.

Idaho: Coach Robb Akey’s Vandals doubled their win total last year from the year before, but unfortunately that meant a 2-10 record after a 1-11 record in 2007.  Idaho has not finished over .500 since 1999, and that streak will not end this year.

Quarterback Nathan Enderle returns this year after passing for more than 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns last year.  He also tossed 17 interceptions, but he often had to run for his life due to poor pass blocking.  The pass blocking may actually be weaker this year, so expect another year of turnovers.

The running backs may take some of the heat off the passing game.  Donte Jackson and Princeton McCarty combined for 1,176 yards, and Jackson has the potential to be a 1,000 yard rusher.

The passing game could suffer due to the loss of top receiver Eddie Williams, who had more than double the receptions of anybody else on the squad.

The defense was horrible last year, giving up 43 points and 472 yards per game!  Don’t expect much improvement this year, because three of the five decent defenders from last year have graduated.  The defensive line has no pass rushing threats, and the linebacking unit took a major hit.  The secondary returns three starters, but none of them would start at most of the other WAC schools.

The schedule is a killer for this team, and if the Vandals fail to win at New Mexico State in the season opener, it’s going to be a hard road to find a win on the schedule.  A home tilt against Hawaii could be the only other winnable game this year.

Next up: A look at Conference USA. Can this conference finally supply an at-large participant in a BCS Bowl?

December 9, 2008

PiRate Ratings For College Football–Week of: December 9, 2008

NCAA Regular Season Summation

 

Congratulations go to Oklahoma and Florida, and my condolences go to Texas, Southern Cal, and Penn State, and Alabama.  Some biased poll voters, a couple of computer geeks, and a couple of sports elitists have determined that the Sooners and Gators are a couple hundredths of a percentage point better than the rest of the pack and deserve to play for the national title.

 

Florida lost their one game at home.  Oklahoma lost their one game on a neutral field to one of the other teams up for consideration.  Alabama’s loss on a neutral field to Florida is the exact same situation.  Texas lost on the road to an undefeated Texas Tech team on the final play of the game.  Southern Cal lost on the road at Oregon State with one late play figuring greatly in the outcome.  Penn State lost on the road at Iowa on the final play of the game.  So, the computers can tell us that Florida and Oklahoma are the two most deserving? 

 

Here are the final regular season PiRate Top 25 and the PiRate Ratings by conference:

 

NCAA Top 25 For 2-Dec-2008

Rank

Team

PiRate

Won

Lost

1

Florida 

140

12

1

2

Oklahoma

139

12

1

3

Southern Cal

131

11

1

4

Texas

128

11

1

5

Ohio St.

127

10

2

6

Alabama

125

12

1

7

Penn St.

125

11

1

8

Ole Miss

121

8

4

9

Texas Tech

120

11

1

10

Boise State

120

12

0

11

T C U

120

10

2

12

Oregon

120

9

3

13

Utah

118

12

0

14

Iowa

117

8

4

15

Rutgers

117

7

5

16

California

116

8

4

17

Georgia 

115

9

3

18

Oklahoma St.

114

9

3

19

Arizona

114

7

5

20

Clemson

113

7

5

21

Oregon State

113

8

4

22

Missouri

113

9

4

23

Florida State

112

8

4

24

Pittsburgh

112

9

3

25

Cincinnati

110

11

2

     

 

 

Note: Ratings rounded to nearest whole number

even though I rank them to two decimal points

 

Atlantic Coast Conference

Atlantic Division

 

 

 

   
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Clemson

4-4

7-5

113

68

45

Florida State

5-3

8-4

112

70

42

North Carolina State

4-4

6-6

106

70

36

Boston College

5-3*

9-4

104

63

41

Wake Forest

4-4

7-5

104

56

48

Maryland

4-4

7-5

101

62

39

 

 

 

 

   
Coastal Division

 

 

 

   
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Virginia Tech

5-3*+

9-4

109

67

42

Georgia Tech

5-3

9-3

109

68

41

North Carolina

4-4

8-4

105

66

39

Miami

4-4

7-5

102

60

42

Virginia 

3-5

5-7

100

58

42

Duke

1-7

4-8

93

60

33

 

Big East Conference

 

 

 

 

   
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Rutgers

5-2

7-5

117

70

47

Pittsburgh

5-2

9-3

112

66

46

Cincinnati

6-1

11-2

110

64

46

West Virginia

5-2

8-4

110

65

45

South Florida

2-5

7-5

106

68

38

Connecticut

3-4

7-5

102

64

38

Louisville

1-6

5-7

91

57

34

Syracuse

1-6

3-9

89

56

33

 

Big Ten

           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Ohio State

7-1

10-2

127

71

56

Penn State

7-1

11-1

125

76

49

Iowa

5-3

8-4

117

72

45

Wisconsin

3-5

7-5

107

71

36

Northwestern

5-3

9-3

105

64

41

Michigan State

6-2

9-3

104

64

40

Purdue

2-6

4-8

103

67

36

Illinois

3-5

5-7

102

65

37

Michigan

2-6

3-9

96

57

39

Minnesota

3-5

7-5

92

58

34

Indiana

1-7

3-9

79

54

25

 

Big 12

North Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Missouri

5-3*

9-4

113

74

39

Kansas

4-4

7-5

109

67

42

Nebraska

5-3

8-4

108

70

38

Colorado

2-6

5-7

95

57

38

Kansas State

2-6

5-7

92

67

25

Iowa State

0-8

2-10

86

57

29

South Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Oklahoma

7-1+

12-1

139

97

42

Texas

7-1

11-1

128

82

46

Texas Tech

7-1

11-1

120

85

35

Oklahoma State

5-3

9-3

114

71

43

Baylor

2-6

4-8

106

68

38

Texas A&M

2-6

4-8

90

56

34

 

Conference USA

East Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

East Carolina

6-2+

9-4

99

62

37

Southern Miss.

4-4

6-6

97

64

33

Memphis

4-4

6-6

92

61

31

Marshall

3-5

4-8

89

58

31

Central Florida

3-5

4-8

88

46

42

U A B

3-5

4-8

84

51

33

West Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Tulsa

7-1*

10-3

103

72

31

Rice

7-1

9-3

97

66

31

Houston

6-2

7-5

97

67

30

U T E P

4-4

5-7

87

59

28

S M U

0-8

1-11

78

57

21

Tulane

1-7

2-10

69

50

19

 

Independents

           
Team

 

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Navy  

8-4

104

61

43

Notre Dame  

6-6

98

58

40

Army  

3-9

82

46

36

 

Mid American Conference

East Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Bowling Green

4-4

6-6

103

68

35

Buffalo

5-3+

8-5

101

68

33

Temple

4-4

5-7

96

57

39

Ohio U

3-5

4-8

91

51

40

Kent State

3-5

4-8

89

58

31

Akron

3-5

5-7

89

60

29

Miami (O)

1-7

2-10

81

54

27

           
West Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Ball State

8-0

12-1

109

73

36

Western Michigan

6-2

9-3

100

63

37

Northern Illinois

5-3

6-6

98

59

39

Central Michigan

6-2

8-4

97

68

29

Eastern Michigan

2-6

3-9

88

59

29

Toledo

2-6

3-9

85

55

30

 

Mountain West Conference

           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

T C U

7-1

10-2

120

68

52

Utah

8-0

12-0

118

70

48

Brigham Young

6-2

10-2

106

67

39

Air Force

5-3

8-4

95

58

37

Colorado State

4-4

6-6

93

60

33

New Mexico

2-6

4-8

93

56

37

UNLV

2-6

5-7

85

56

29

Wyoming

1-7

4-8

85

51

34

San Diego State

1-7

2-10

76

49

27

 

Pac-10 Conference

           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Southern Cal

7-1

11-1

131

72

59

Oregon

7-2

9-3

120

77

43

California

6-3

8-4

116

73

43

Arizona

5-4

7-5

114

75

39

Oregon State

7-2

8-4

113

74

39

Stanford

4-5

5-7

106

64

42

Arizona State

4-5

5-7

103

63

40

U C L A

3-6

4-8

100

57

43

Washington

0-9

0-12

81

54

27

Washington State

1-8

2-11

74

49

25

 

Southeastern Conference

East Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Florida 

7-1+

12-1

140

86

54

Georgia 

6-2

9-3

115

73

42

South Carolina

4-4

7-5

108

63

45

Tennessee

3-5

5-7

107

62

45

Kentucky

2-6

6-6

102

62

40

Vanderbilt

4-4

6-6

100

55

45

West Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Alabama

8-0

12-1

125

69

56

Ole Miss

5-3

8-4

121

74

47

L S U

3-5

7-5

106

68

38

Arkansas

2-6

5-7

102

68

34

Auburn

2-6

5-7

102

56

46

Mississippi State

2-6

4-8

97

55

42

 

Sunbelt Conference

           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Troy

6-1

8-4

105

69

36

Florida Atlantic

4-3

6-6

90

61

29

Middle Tennessee

3-4

5-7

90

58

32

Arkansas State

4-3

6-6

89

59

30

Florida International

3-4

5-7

89

58

31

Louisiana-Lafayette

5-2

6-6

88

66

22

Louisiana-Monroe

3-4

4-8

87

56

31

* Western Kentucky

0-0

2-10

79

49

30

North Texas

0-7

1-11

70

55

15

           
* Western Kentucky will become eligible in 2009      
Their games will not count in the SBC Standings in 2008    

 

Western Athletic Conference

           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Boise State

8-0

12-0

120

74

46

Nevada

5-3

7-5

102

73

29

Louisiana Tech

5-3

7-5

94

56

38

Utah State

3-5

3-9

93

57

36

Hawaii

5-3

7-6

93

55

38

Fresno State

4-4

7-5

88

61

27

San Jose State

4-4

6-6

85

53

32

New Mexico State

1-7

3-9

74

48

26

Idaho

1-7

2-10

73

57

16

 

Here is the bowl schedule

 

Date

Time EST

Bowl

City

Team

Team

D. 20

11:00

Eagle Bank

Washington DC

Wake Forest

Navy

D. 20

2:30

New Mexico

Albuquerque

Colorado State

Fresno State

D. 20

4:30

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg

South Florida

Memphis

D. 20

8:00

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

B Y U

Arizona

D. 21

8:15

New Orleans

New Orleans

Troy

Southern Miss.

D. 23

8:00

Poinsettia

San Diego

Boise State

T C U

D. 24

8:00

Hawaii

Honolulu

Hawaii

Notre Dame

D. 26

8:00

Motor City

Detroit

Central Michigan

Florida Atlantic

D. 27

1:00

Meineke Car Care

Charlotte

North Carolina

West Virginia

D. 27

4:30

Champs Sports

Orlando

Florida State

Wisconsin

D. 27

8:00

Emerald

San Francisco

California

Miami (Fl.)

D. 28

8:15

Independence

Shrevport

Louisiana Tech

Northern Illinois

D. 29

3:00

PapaJohns

Birmingham

N. C. State

Rutgers

D. 29

8:00

Alamo

San Antonio

Northwestern

Missouri

D. 30

4:30

Humanitarian

Boise

Nevada

Maryland

D. 30

8:00

Texas

Houston

Western Michigan

Rice

D. 30

8:00

Holiday

San Diego

Oregon 

Oklahoma State

D. 31

12:00

Armed Forces

Ft. Worth

Air Force

Houston

D. 31

2:00

Sun

El Paso

Oregon State

Pittsburgh

D. 31

3:30

Music City

Nashville

Vanderbilt

Boston College

D. 31

5:30

Insight

Tempe

Kansas

Minnesota

D. 31

7:30

Chick-fil-a

Atlanta

Georgia Tech

L S U

J. 1

11:00

Outback

Tampa

Iowa

South Carolina

J. 1

1:00

Capital One

Orlando

Georgia 

Michigan State

J. 1

1:00

Gator

Jacksonville

Clemson

Nebraska

J. 1

4:30

Rose

Pasadena

Southern Cal

Penn State

J. 1

8:30

Orange

Miami

Virginia Tech

Cincinnati

J. 2

2:00

Cotton

Dallas

Texas Tech

Ole Miss

J. 2

5:00

Liberty

Memphis

East Carolina

Kentucky

J. 2

8:00

Sugar

New Orleans

Alabama

Utah

J. 3

12:00

International

Toronto

Connecticut

Buffalo

J. 5

8:00

Fiesta

Glendale

Texas

Ohio State

J. 6

8:00

G M A C

Mobile

Tulsa

Ball State

J. 8

8:00

Nat’l Championship

Miami

Florida 

Oklahoma

December 1, 2008

PiRate Ratings For College Football–Week of: December 3-6, 2008

NCAA Week 15: The Postseason Falls to BieCeS

 

With one weekend remaining in the regular season, the dreadful BCS has suffered from yet another snafu.  Oklahoma is in the Big 12 Championship Game because a computer or two has deemed the Sooners to be a tiny bit better than the Longhorns even though Texas beat them by 10 points on a neutral field.  The Big 12 should have never used BCS ranking to break three-way ties, but then again the BCS shouldn’t be there in the first place for the Big 12 brass to be dumb enough to use it as its tiebreaker.

 

I don’t advocate that Texas should be in that title game instead of Oklahoma or even Texas Tech.  I don’t believe the BCS system to be credible; the vote of Oklahoma over Texas is ridiculous, and if Texas had been voted in by a miniscule amount, it would have been just as ridiculous.

 

If Oklahoma wins this week over an inferior Missouri squad, the Sooners will play for the national title against the winner of the Alabama-Florida game.  Southern Cal, Texas Tech, and Penn State, as well as Utah, Boise State, and Ball State among other top contenders will get no chance to compete for all the marbles.

 

The Top 25 had very little movement after this past weekend.  The bowl situations started to come into focus, as information started to leak out on which bowls want which teams if they are available.  So, when you read the bowl section below, realize that these are not just predictions now; some of the teams are slotted based on leaked information from bowl scouts.

 

Personally, I believe Florida and Southern Cal are the two best teams in the nation.  The Gators’ offense is as good as any college team in 13 years, while the Trojans’ defense is the best college defense in 16 years.

 

NCAA Top 25 For 2-Dec-2008

Rank

Team

PiRate

Won

Lost

1

Florida 

141

11

1

2

Oklahoma

134

11

1

3

Southern Cal

132

10

1

4

Texas

128

11

1

5

Ohio St.

127

10

2

6

Penn St.

125

11

1

7

Alabama

124

12

0

8

Ole Miss

121

8

4

9

Texas Tech

120

11

1

10

Boise State

120

12

0

11

T C U

120

10

2

12

Oregon

120

9

3

13

Utah

118

12

0

14

Missouri

118

9

3

15

Iowa

117

8

4

16

Georgia 

115

9

3

17

Ball State

114

12

0

18

California

114

7

4

19

Oklahoma St.

114

9

3

20

Clemson

113

7

5

21

Oregon State

113

8

4

22

Florida State

112

8

4

23

Rutgers

112

6

5

24

Cincinnati

111

10

2

25

Arizona

111

6

5

     

 

 

Note: Ratings rounded to nearest whole number

even though I rank them to two decimal points

 

PiRate Ratings By Conference

Atlantic Coast Conference

Atlantic Division

 

 

 

   
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Clemson

4-4

7-5

113

68

45

Florida State

5-3

8-4

112

70

42

Boston College

5-3*

9-3

107

65

42

North Carolina State

4-4

6-6

106

70

36

Wake Forest

4-4

7-5

104

56

48

Maryland

4-4

7-5

101

62

39

 

 

 

 

   
Coastal Division

 

 

 

   
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Georgia Tech

5-3

9-3

109

68

41

Virginia Tech

5-3*

8-4

106

65

41

North Carolina

4-4

8-4

105

66

39

Miami

4-4

7-5

102

60

42

Virginia 

3-5

5-7

100

58

42

Duke

1-7

4-8

93

60

33

 

Big East Conference

 

 

 

 

   
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Rutgers

4-2

6-5

112

67

45

Cincinnati

6-1

10-2

111

65

46

West Virginia

4-2

7-4

111

66

45

Pittsburgh

4-2

8-3

109

65

44

Connecticut

3-3

7-4

105

65

40

South Florida

2-4

7-4

105

68

37

Louisville

1-5

5-6

96

59

37

Syracuse

1-6

3-9

89

56

33

 

Big Ten

           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Ohio State

7-1

10-2

127

71

56

Penn State

7-1

11-1

125

76

49

Iowa

5-3

8-4

117

72

45

Wisconsin

3-5

7-5

107

71

36

Northwestern

5-3

9-3

105

64

41

Michigan State

6-2

9-3

104

64

40

Purdue

2-6

4-8

103

67

36

Illinois

3-5

5-7

102

65

37

Michigan

2-6

3-9

96

57

39

Minnesota

3-5

7-5

92

58

34

Indiana

1-7

3-9

79

54

25

 

Big 12

North Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Missouri

5-3*

9-3

118

75

43

Kansas

4-4

7-5

109

67

42

Nebraska

5-3

8-4

108

70

38

Colorado

2-6

5-7

95

57

38

Kansas State

2-6

5-7

92

67

25

Iowa State

0-8

2-10

86

57

29

South Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Oklahoma

7-1

11-1

134

93

41

Texas

7-1

11-1

128

82

46

Texas Tech

7-1

11-1

120

85

35

Oklahoma State

5-3

9-3

114

71

43

Baylor

2-6

4-8

106

68

38

Texas A&M

2-6

4-8

90

56

34

 

Conference USA

East Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

East Carolina

6-2

8-4

98

62

36

Southern Miss.

4-4

6-6

97

64

33

Memphis

4-4

6-6

92

61

31

Marshall

3-5

4-8

89

58

31

Central Florida

3-5

4-8

88

46

42

U A B

3-5

4-8

84

51

33

West Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Tulsa

7-1*

10-2

104

73

31

Rice

7-1

9-3

97

66

31

Houston

6-2

7-5

97

67

30

U T E P

4-4

5-7

87

59

28

S M U

0-8

1-11

78

57

21

Tulane

1-7

2-10

69

50

19

 

Independents

           
Team

 

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Navy  

7-4

100

60

40

Notre Dame  

6-6

98

58

40

Army  

3-8

86

49

37

 

Mid American Conference

East Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Bowling Green

4-4

6-6

103

68

35

Buffalo

5-3

7-5

96

64

32

Temple

4-4

5-7

96

57

39

Ohio U

3-5

4-8

91

51

40

Kent State

3-5

4-8

89

58

31

Akron

3-5

5-7

89

60

29

Miami (O)

1-7

2-10

81

54

27

           
West Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Ball State

8-0

12-0

114

75

39

Western Michigan

6-2

9-3

100

63

37

Northern Illinois

5-3

6-6

98

59

39

Central Michigan

6-2

8-4

97

68

29

Eastern Michigan

2-6

3-9

88

59

29

Toledo

2-6

3-9

85

55

30

 

Mountain West Conference

           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

T C U

7-1

10-2

120

68

52

Utah

8-0

12-0

118

70

48

Brigham Young

6-2

10-2

106

67

39

Air Force

5-3

8-4

95

58

37

Colorado State

4-4

6-6

93

60

33

New Mexico

2-6

4-8

93

56

37

UNLV

2-6

5-7

85

56

29

Wyoming

1-7

4-8

85

51

34

San Diego State

1-7

2-10

76

49

27

 

Pac-10 Conference

           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Southern Cal

7-1

10-1

132

73

59

Oregon

7-2

9-3

120

77

43

California

5-3

7-4

114

72

42

Oregon State

7-2

8-4

113

74

39

Arizona

4-4

6-5

111

74

37

Arizona State

4-4

5-6

106

65

41

Stanford

4-5

5-7

106

64

42

U C L A

3-5

4-7

99

57

42

Washington

0-8

0-11

83

55

28

Washington State

1-8

2-11

74

49

25

 

Southeastern Conference

East Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Florida 

7-1

11-1

141

87

54

Georgia 

6-2

9-3

115

73

42

South Carolina

4-4

7-5

108

63

45

Tennessee

3-5

5-7

107

62

45

Kentucky

2-6

6-6

102

62

40

Vanderbilt

4-4

6-6

100

55

45

West Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Alabama

8-0

12-0

124

69

55

Ole Miss

5-3

8-4

121

74

47

L S U

3-5

7-5

106

68

38

Arkansas

2-6

5-7

102

68

34

Auburn

2-6

5-7

102

56

46

Mississippi State

2-6

4-8

97

55

42

 

Sunbelt Conference

           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Troy

5-1

7-4

104

68

36

Middle Tennessee

3-3

5-6

92

58

34

Arkansas State

4-2

6-5

90

60

30

Florida Atlantic

4-3

6-6

90

61

29

Louisiana-Monroe

3-4

4-8

87

56

31

Louisiana-Lafayette

4-2

5-6

86

64

22

Florida International

3-4

4-7

86

57

29

* Western Kentucky

0-0

2-9

82

51

31

North Texas

0-7

1-11

70

55

15

           
* Western Kentucky will become eligible in 2009      
Their games will not count in the SBC Standings in 2008    

 

Western Athletic Conference

           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Boise State

8-0

12-0

120

74

46

Nevada

5-3

7-5

102

73

29

Louisiana Tech

5-3

7-5

94

56

38

Utah State

3-5

3-9

93

57

36

Hawaii

5-3

7-5

91

54

37

Fresno State

4-4

7-5

88

61

27

San Jose State

4-4

6-6

85

53

32

New Mexico State

1-7

3-9

74

48

26

Idaho

1-7

2-10

73

57

16

 

 

This Week’s Games–PiRate Ratings

Home Team in CAPS (N) Denotes Neutral Site

 

 

   

 

 

Wednesday, December 3  

 

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Spread

Approx. Score

Middle Tennessee LA.-LAFAYETTE

3

34-31

   

 

 

Thursday, December 4  

 

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Spread

Approx. Score

RUTGERS Louisville

19

31-12

   

 

 

Friday, December 5  

 

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Spread

Approx. Score

Ball State            (Detroit) Buffalo

18

42-24

   

 

 

Saturday, December 6      
Favorite Underdog

Pred. Spread

Approx. Score

Pittsburgh CONNECTICUT

1

24-23

TULSA East Carolina

9

40-31

Navy Army

14

21-7

Boston College Virginia Tech

1

21-20

CALIFORNIA Washington

34

44-10

Florida Alabama

17

31-14

Southern Cal U C L A

30

30-0

FLA. INT’L Western Ky.

7

28-21

TROY Arkansas State

17

38-21

ARIZONA Arizona State

8

35-27

WEST VIRGINIA South Florida

9

30-21

Oklahoma Missouri

16

49-33

Cincinnati HAWAII

16

26-10

 

This Week’s Games–Mean Ratings

Home Team in CAPS (N) Denotes Neutral Site

 

Wednesday, December 3  

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Score

LA.-LAFAYETTE Middle Tennessee

27-24

   

 

Thursday, December 4  

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Score

RUTGERS Louisville

34-21

   

 

Friday, December 5  

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Score

Ball State            (Detroit) Buffalo

37-24

   

 

Saturday, December 6  

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Score

Pittsburgh CONNECTICUT

21-21 to OT

TULSA East Carolina

42-34

Navy             (Philadelphia) Army

35-24

Boston Coll.   (Jacksonville) Virginia Tech

20-17

CALIFORNIA Washington

42-10

Florida                 (Atlanta) Alabama

27-17

Southern Cal U C L A

34-7

FLA. INT’L Western Ky.

30-20

TROY Arkansas State

34-24

ARIZONA Arizona State

28-20

WEST VIRGINIA South Florida

24-19

Oklahoma    (Kansas City) Missouri

44-31

Cincinnati HAWAII

27-17

 

Bowl Outlook By Conference

 

Teams in all CAPS have already accepted invitations to that bowl.

 

ACC

After having a new team at the top of each division for multiple weeks, Boston College and Virginia Tech both won last week when they had to win.  Now, the winner of their game will advance to the Orange Bowl, while the loser probably drops to the Champs Sports Bowl.

 

With Georgia Tech’s win over Georgia, their hometown bowl will be glad to take the Yellow Jackets.  That bowl prefers a ranked team coming off a win, and Tech fits that bill.

 

Florida State will get the Gator Bowl invitation regardless of how the ACC title game turns out.  The Gator Bowl does not want to have the loser of the title game returning to Jacksonville three weeks later.

 

1. Orange Bowl-Boston College 10-3 vs. Cincinnati

2. Chick-fil-a-Georgia Tech 9-3 vs. L S U

3. Gator-Florida State 8-4 vs. Nebraska

4. Champs Sports-Virginia Tech 8-5 vs. Wisconsin

5. Music City-North Carolina 8-4 vs. Vanderbilt

6. Meineke Car Care-Miami 7-5 vs. West Virginia

7. Eagle Bank-Wake Forest 7-5 vs. NAVY

8. Emerald-Clemson 7-5 vs. California

9. Humanitarian-Maryland 7-5 vs. Nevada

10. Hawaii (at-large)-N.C. State 6-6 vs. Southern Miss.

 

Big East

Cincinnati has clinched a BCS Bowl spot.  The Bearcats are more than likely headed to the Orange Bowl.

 

Notre Dame’s loss to USC means the Irish may not seize one of this league’s bids.  If Rutgers beats Louisville, then there will be six, seven-win bowl eligible teams for six bowls; Notre Dame would not be eligible for a Big East Bowl, so they would become the top 6-6 at-large possibility.  Should Louisville win this week, then Notre Dame will be headed to El Paso.

 

1. Orange-Cincinnati 11-2 vs. Boston College

2. Sun-Rutgers 7-5 vs. Oregon State

3. St. Petersburg-South Florida 7-5 vs. East Carolina

4. Meineke Car Care-West Virginia 8-4 vs. Miami (Fla)

5. International-Connecticut 8-4 vs. Buffalo

6. Papa John’s-Pittsburgh 8-4 vs. Middle Tennessee State

 

Big Ten

Ohio State is almost assured to get the final BCS Bowl bid over Boise State, so the Big Ten will not have enough bowl-eligible teams for their seven allotted bids.  That may open the Motor City Bowl for a possible match of undefeated teams.

 

Although not technically official, Penn State has been mathematically eliminated from moving into the National Championship Game.  Thus, I have them “officially” in the Rose Bowl.

 

1. Rose-PENN STATE 11-1 vs. Southern Cal

2. Fiesta-Ohio State 10-2 vs. Texas

3. Capital One-Michigan State 9-3 vs. Georgia

3. Outback-Iowa 8-4 vs. South Carolina

4. Champs Sports-Wisconsin 7-5 vs. Virginia Tech

5. Alamo-Northwestern 9-3 vs. Missouri

6. Insight-Minnesota 7-5 vs. Kansas

7. Motor City-No qualifying team

 

Big 12

Missouri is being overlooked by everybody but Oklahoma this week, so I expect the Sooners to drill the Tigers.

 

With two teams headed to BCS Bowls, and with Colorado failing to upset Nebraska, this league will fall two teams short.

 

1. BCS National Championship-Oklahoma 12-1 vs. Florida

2. Fiesta-Texas 11-1 vs. Ohio State

3. Cotton-Texas Tech 11-1 vs. Ole Miss

4. Gator-Nebraska 8-4 vs. Florida State

5. Holiday-Oklahoma State 9-3 vs. Oregon

6. Alamo-Missouri 9-4 vs. Northwestern

7. Insight-Kansas 6-6 vs. Minnesota

8. Independence-No Qualifying Team

9. Texas-No Qualifying team

 

C-USA

Tulsa and East Carolina are the two divisional champions, and I believe the Golden Hurricane will win the title game this week.  Rice is the best team in this league as the season ends, but the Owls will not be at the top of the list for those remaining bowl-eligible teams.  Expect to see Rice fall to the Texas Bowl.

 

Unless another bowl chooses them first, Houston may wind up in Ft. Worth playing Air Force in a rematch of a game played in the regular season.  I think Rice would be a better opponent, but the Cougars are the better drawing team. 

 

1. Liberty-Tulsa 11-2 vs. Kentucky

2. St. Petersburg-East Carolina 8-5 vs. South Florida

3. G M A C-Southern Miss. 6-6 vs. Central Michigan

4. Armed Forces-Houston 7-5 vs. Air Force

5. Texas-Rice 9-3 vs. Notre Dame

6. New Orleans-Memphis 6-6 vs. Troy

 

Independent

Navy is headed to the Eagle Bank Bowl regardless of their outcome with Army this week.  We know for sure that Maryland will not be their opponent in a possible in-state rivalry game.  The Terps have final exams that week, and they will not accept a bowl bid during exam week.

 

Notre Dame will still be invited to a bowl at 6-6.  They will be the first 6-6 team invited as an at-large team.  I believe they will be headed to Houston.

 

1. Texas (at-large)-Notre Dame 6-6 vs. Rice

2. Eagle Bank-NAVY 7-5 vs. Miami (Fla.)

 

M A C

Ball State should handle Buffalo this week.  If they do, I expect the Motor City Bowl to make a deal with the WAC to release Boise State to come to Detroit in a battle of the unbeatens.  It will thus become the top non-BCS bowl.

 

The MAC will benefit from the failure of other conferences not being able to fulfill their bowl quotas.  Three more teams (Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and Buffalo) have seven wins, so there will be one extra bowl invitation for the MAC.  I have Western Michigan playing in an at-large bowl, but there is no news leaks about where they might be headed.  I have them headed west based on the fact that Boise State won’t be selected by the Poinsettia Bowl as they have that right.

 

1. Motor City-Ball State 13-0 vs. Boise State

2. International-Buffalo 8-5 vs. Connecticut

3. G M A C-Central Michigan 9-3 vs. Southern Miss.

4. Poinsettia (at-large)-Western Michigan 9-3 vs. T C U

 

Mountain West

Utah is officially a BCS bowl invitee.  It appears that they are headed to the Big Easy to play in the Sugar Bowl.

 

BYU has been to the Las Vegas Bowl the last three years, and I believe the folks in sin city will invite the Cougars a fourth consecutive time.  TCU is still a possibility, but in this time of economic turmoil, I’m guessing it will be a number’s game that comes up craps for the Frogs.

 

1. Sugar-Utah 12-0 vs. Alabama

2. Las Vegas-B Y U 10-2 vs. Arizona

3. Poinsettia-T C U 10-2 vs. Western Michigan

4. New Mexico-Colorado State 6-6 vs. Fresno State

5. Armed Forces-Air Force 8-4 vs. Houston

 

Pac-10

Oregon made the Rose Bowl officials happy when they defeated Oregon State.  Now Southern Cal needs to defeat UCLA to return to Pasadena for another game.

 

Arizona State can still become bowl-eligible with a win at Arizona, but I think the Wildcats have a huge revenge motive that will end the season for the Sun Devils.  Thus, I have the Pac-10 falling two spots shy of fulfilling its obligations.

 

 

1. Rose-Southern Cal 11-1 vs. Penn State

2. Holiday-Oregon 9-3 vs. Oklahoma State

3. Sun-Oregon State 8-4 vs. Rutgers

4. Las Vegas-Arizona 7-5 vs. B Y U

5. Emerald-California 8-4 vs. Wake Forest

6. Poinsettia-No qualifying team

7. Hawaii- No qualifying team

 

S E C

What happens if Florida beats Alabama in overtime or by one point in regulation?  Might there be a rematch in a month for the National Championship?  It’s not going to happen for two reasons.  First, a loss of any kind will put Alabama behind both Oklahoma and Texas.  Second, I believe Florida will win this week by double digits.  No matter which team loses, it will be headed to New Orleans.  A Florida-Utah game would be interesting because of Urban Meyer.

 

There is a rumor going around that the Capital One Bowl could take Ole Miss over Georgia.  I think that rumor has merits, but I don’t expect the Rebels to end up in Orlando.

 

1. National Championship-Florida 12-1 vs. Oklahoma

2. Sugar-Alabama 12-1 vs. Utah

3. Capital One-Georgia 10-2 vs. Ohio State

4. Outback-South Carolina 7-5 vs. Michigan State

5. Cotton-Ole Miss 8-4 vs. Texas Tech

6. Chick-fil-a-L S U 7-5 vs. Georgia Tech

7. Music City-Vanderbilt 6-6 vs. North Carolina

8. Liberty-Kentucky 6-6 vs. Tulsa

9. Independence-No qualifying team

10. Papa John’s-No qualifying team

 

Sunbelt

Troy should beat Arkansas State this weekend to wrap up the SBC title.  They will be the only seven-win team in the league, but it is likely that two six-win teams will receive at-large bids.  The winner of the UL-Lafayette-Middle Tennessee game will likely wind up in Birmingham, while either Arkansas State or Florida Atlantic will take the Independence Bowl bid.  I’m guessing ASU will be picked over FAU.  Of course, if ASU beats Troy, they will head to New Orleans.  Troy would then head to Birmingham, and ULL or MTSU will end up in Shreveport.

 

1. New Orleans-Troy 8-4 vs. Memphis

2. Independence (at-large) Arkansas State 6-6 vs. La. Tech

3. Papa John’s (at-large) Middle Tennessee 6-6 vs. Pittsburgh

 

W A C

The Boise State-Ball State mini-dream game is still full of potential pitfalls.  The Humanitarian Bowl wants to host this game, but Ball State doesn’t want to play Boise State on the blue turf.  Boise State may think Detroit is too close to Muncie, Indiana.  The Independence Bowl has been mentioned as a possible site since it will have to find two at-large teams, but the Independence Bowl is supposed to take a Sunbelt team if they don’t have an SEC team.  Louisiana Tech is a great bet to be the other at-large team in Shreveport.  I believe the Motor City Bowl is the best option.  That will allow the Humanitarian Bowl to take Nevada and cause no further bowl interruptions.  If the big game ends up in Boise, then the ACC will have to be compensated.  They have more than enough eligible teams to meet their obligations. 

 

1. Motor City-Boise State 12-0 vs. Ball State

2. Humanitarian-Nevada 6-6 vs. Maryland

3. New Mexico-Fresno State 7-5 vs. Colorado State

4. Hawaii-Hawaii 7-6 vs. North Carolina State

5. Independence (at-large)-La. Tech 8-4 vs. Arkansas St.

 

 

November 24, 2008

PiRate Ratings For College Football–Week of November 25-29, 2008

NCAA Week 14: Oh What A Mess!!!

 

The conclusion of the 2008 FBS regular season begins this week and finishes next week.  There are multiple problems with the postseason as of now, and I don’t believe these problems will all be resolved by Saturday, December 6.

 

The national championship will produce controversy no matter which two teams are picked for the game.  Eight or more teams could conceivable have realistic arguments in favor of their being one of the final two.  The system is set up for failure, especially this season.  Except for 2005, this inept method of picking teams has “gotten it wrong” just about every season since its inception.

 

The non-BCS bowl situation couldn’t be more messed up today.  Six bowl will more than likely need at-large entries as the conferences which with they have agreements will not provide enough bowl eligible teams.  The poor Independence bowl will have to find two at-large teams unless a couple of miracle upsets occur this week.

 

NCAA Top 25 For 25-Nov-2008
Rank Team PiRate Won Lost

1

Florida 

140

10

1

2

Oklahoma

133

10

1

3

Southern Cal

132

9

1

4

Texas

128

10

1

5

Ohio St.

127

10

2

6

Penn St.

125

11

1

7

Texas Tech

122

10

1

8

Missouri

121

9

2

9

Alabama

120

11

0

10

T C U

120

10

2

11

Georgia 

119

9

2

12

Utah

118

12

0

13

Oregon State

118

8

3

14

Ole Miss

117

7

4

15

Iowa

117

8

4

16

Boise State

116

11

0

17

Oklahoma St.

115

9

2

18

Oregon

115

8

3

19

California

114

7

4

20

Ball State

113

11

0

21

Florida State

113

8

3

22

Rutgers

112

6

5

23

West Virginia

112

7

3

24

Cincinnati

111

9

2

25

South Carolina

111

7

4

Note: Ratings rounded to nearest whole number even though I rank them to two decimal points

 

PiRate Ratings By Conference

 

Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division          
Team Conf. Overall Rating Off Def
Florida State

5-3

8-3

113

70

43

Clemson

4-4

6-5

110

66

44

Boston College

4-3

8-3

108

65

43

N. Carolina State

3-4

5-6

106

70

36

Wake Forest

4-4

6-5

102

56

46

Maryland

4-3

7-4

100

61

39

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coastal Division

 

 

 

 

 

Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Virginia Tech

4-3

7-4

106

65

41

Georgia Tech

5-3

8-3

105

64

41

North Carolina

3-4

7-4

105

66

39

Miami

4-3

7-4

102

60

42

Virginia 

3-4

5-6

100

58

42

Duke

1-6

4-7

93

60

33

 

Big East Conference
           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Rutgers

4-2

6-5

112

67

45

West Virginia

4-1

7-3

112

67

45

Cincinnati

5-1

9-2

111

65

46

Pittsburgh

3-2

7-3

108

65

43

Connecticut

3-3

7-4

105

65

40

South Florida

2-4

7-4

105

68

37

Louisville

1-5

5-6

96

59

37

Syracuse

1-5

3-8

89

56

33

 

Big Ten
           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Ohio State

7-1

10-2

127

71

56

Penn State

7-1

11-1

125

76

49

Iowa

5-3

8-4

117

72

45

Wisconsin

3-5

7-5

107

71

36

Northwestern

5-3

9-3

105

64

41

Michigan State

6-2

9-3

104

64

40

Purdue

2-6

4-8

103

67

36

Illinois

3-5

5-7

102

65

37

Michigan

2-6

3-9

96

57

39

Minnesota

3-5

7-5

92

58

34

Indiana

1-7

3-9

79

54

25

 

Big 12
North Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Missouri

5-2

9-2

121

75

46

Nebraska

4-3

7-4

109

70

39

Kansas

3-4

6-5

106

66

40

Colorado

2-5

5-6

94

56

38

Kansas State

2-6

5-7

92

67

25

Iowa State

0-8

2-10

86

57

29

South Division

 

 

 

 

 

Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Oklahoma

6-1

10-1

133

90

43

Texas

6-1

10-1

128

82

46

Texas Tech

6-1

10-1

122

85

37

Oklahoma State

5-2

9-2

115

69

46

Baylor

2-5

4-7

104

66

38

Texas A&M

2-5

4-7

90

56

34

 

Conference USA
East Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Southern Miss.

3-4

5-6

97

64

33

East Carolina

5-2

7-4

94

59

35

Central Florida

3-4

4-7

92

50

42

Memphis

3-4

5-6

89

59

30

Marshall

3-4

4-7

87

56

31

U A B

2-5

3-8

80

51

29

West Division

 

 

 

 

 

Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Tulsa

6-1

9-2

106

73

33

Houston

6-1

7-4

99

67

32

Rice

6-1

8-3

95

64

31

U T E P

4-3

5-6

91

61

30

S M U

0-7

1-10

78

57

21

Tulane

1-6

2-9

72

50

22

 

Independents
           
Team  

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Notre Dame  

6-5

98

58

40

Navy  

6-4

97

60

37

Army  

3-8

86

49

37

 

Mid American Conference
East Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Buffalo

5-2

7-4

99

66

33

Bowling Green

3-4

5-6

98

66

32

Temple

3-4

4-7

94

57

37

Akron

3-4

5-6

91

62

29

Ohio U

2-5

3-8

89

49

40

Kent State

2-5

3-8

86

57

29

Miami (O)

1-6

2-9

83

55

28

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Division

 

 

 

 

 

Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Ball State

7-0

11-0

113

74

39

Western Michigan

6-1

9-2

101

64

37

Northern Illinois

5-3

6-5

101

62

39

Central Michigan

6-1

8-3

100

68

32

Toledo

2-5

3-8

90

58

32

Eastern Michigan

1-6

2-9

84

55

29

 

Mountain West Conference
           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

T C U

7-1

10-2

120

68

52

Utah

8-0

12-0

118

70

48

Brigham Young

6-2

10-2

106

67

39

Air Force

5-3

8-4

95

58

37

Colorado State

4-4

6-6

93

60

33

New Mexico

2-6

4-8

93

56

37

UNLV

2-6

5-7

85

56

29

Wyoming

1-7

4-8

85

51

34

San Diego State

1-7

2-10

76

49

27

 

Pac-10 Conference
           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Southern Cal

7-1

9-1

132

73

59

Oregon State

7-1

8-3

118

75

43

Oregon

6-2

8-3

115

73

42

California

5-3

7-4

114

72

42

Arizona

4-4

6-5

111

74

37

Stanford

4-5

5-7

106

64

42

Arizona State

3-4

4-6

105

64

41

U C L A

3-4

4-6

100

57

43

Washington

0-8

0-11

83

55

28

Washington State

1-8

2-10

73

49

24

 

Southeastern Conference
East Division          
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Florida 

7-1

10-1

140

87

53

Georgia 

6-2

9-2

119

73

46

South Carolina

4-4

7-4

111

65

46

Tennessee

2-5

4-7

105

61

44

Kentucky

2-5

6-5

104

63

41

Vanderbilt

4-4

6-5

102

57

45

West Division

 

 

 

 

 

Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Alabama

7-0

11-0

120

68

52

Ole Miss

4-3

7-4

117

71

46

L S U

3-4

7-4

107

68

39

Auburn

2-5

5-6

106

58

48

Mississippi State

2-5

4-7

102

57

45

Arkansas

1-6

4-6

101

67

34

 

Sunbelt Conference
           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Troy

5-1

7-4

104

68

36

Arkansas State

3-2

5-5

93

61

32

Middle Tennessee

3-3

5-6

92

58

34

Florida Atlantic

3-3

5-6

92

61

31

La.-Monroe

3-4

4-8

87

56

31

La.-Lafayette

4-2

5-6

86

64

22

Fla. International

3-3

4-6

84

55

29

* Western Ky.

0-0

2-9

82

51

31

North Texas

0-6

1-10

67

53

14

           
* Western Kentucky will become eligible in 2009

Their games will not count in the SBC Standings in 2008

 

Western Athletic Conference
           
Team

Conf.

Overall

Rating

Off

Def

Boise State

7-0

11-0

116

72

44

Nevada

4-3

6-5

102

73

29

Louisiana Tech

5-2

7-4

94

56

38

Hawaii

5-3

6-5

92

55

37

Fresno State

4-3

7-4

92

63

29

Utah State

2-5

2-9

88

55

33

San Jose State

4-4

6-6

85

53

32

New Mexico State

1-6

3-8

79

51

28

Idaho

1-7

2-10

73

57

16

 

This Week’s Games–PiRate Ratings

Home Team in CAPS (N) Denotes Neutral Site

 

 

   

 

 

Tuesday, November 25  

 

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Spread

Approx. Score

BALL STATE Western Michigan

15

38-23

NORTHERN ILLINOIS Navy

7

27-20

   

 

 

Thursday, November 27  

 

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Spread

Approx. Score

TEXAS Texas A&M

41

48-7

   

 

 

Friday, November 28  

 

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Spread

Approx. Score

West Virginia PITTSBURGH

1

21-20

OLE MISS Mississippi State

18

27-9

Ohio U MIAMI (O)

3

20-17

EAST CAROLINA U t e p

6

30-24

TEMPLE Akron

6

28-22

Central Michigan EASTERN MICHIGAN

13

37-24

BUFFALO Kent State

16

37-21

L s u ARKANSAS

3

31-28

NEBRASKA Colorado

18

35-17

Bowling Green TOLEDO

5

31-26

BOISE STATE Fresno State

27

44-17

ARIZONA STATE U c l a

8

21-13

   

 

 

Saturday, November 29      
Favorite Underdog

Pred. Spread

Approx. Score

ALABAMA Auburn

17

20-3

TEXAS TECH Baylor

21

49-28

Florida FLORIDA STATE

24

42-18

Oklahoma OKLAHOMA STATE

15

42-27

GEORGIA Georgia Tech

17

34-17

North Carolina DUKE

9

31-22

CINCINNATI Syracuse

25

35-10

WAKE FOREST Vanderbilt

3

13-10

CLEMSON South Carolina

2

21-19

BOSTON COLLEGE Maryland

11

28-17

N.C. STATE Miami-Fl

7

28-21

VIRGINIA TECH Virginia

9

23-14

TENNESSEE Kentucky

4

20-16

Missouri        (Kansas City) Kansas

15

35-20

MEMPHIS Tulane

20

38-18

Arkansas State NORTH TEXAS

23

44-21

Nevada LA. TECH

5

35-30

Houston RICE

1

35-34

UTAH STATE New Mexico St.

12

28-16

Southern Miss. S M U

16

41-25

Tulsa MARSHALL

16

40-24

CENTRAL FLORIDA U a b

15

21-6

FLA. ATLANTIC Fla. International

11

35-24

OREGON STATE Oregon

6

34-28

SOUTHERN CAL Notre Dame

35

35-0

HAWAII Washington State

23

33-10

 

This Week’s Games–Mean Ratings

Home Team in CAPS (N) Denotes Neutral Site

 

Tuesday, November 25  

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Score

BALL STATE Western Michigan

31-20

Navy NORTHERN ILLINOIS

31-31 to OT

   

 

Thursday, November 27  

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Score

TEXAS Texas A&M

49-14

   

 

Friday, November 28  

 

Favorite Underdog

Pred. Score

PITTSBURGH West Virginia

27-24

OLE MISS Mississippi State

28-10

Ohio U MIAMI (O)

28-26

EAST CAROLINA U t e p

38-30

TEMPLE Akron

31-29

Central Michigan EASTERN MICHIGAN

33-20

BUFFALO Kent State

30-14

L s u ARKANSAS

35-30

NEBRASKA Colorado

44-27

Bowling Green TOLEDO

30-27

BOISE STATE Fresno State

41-19

ARIZONA STATE U c l a

31-23

   

 

Saturday, November 29    
Favorite Underdog

Pred. Score

ALABAMA Auburn

30-7

TEXAS TECH Baylor

52-26

Florida FLORIDA STATE

35-21

Oklahoma OKLAHOMA STATE

42-35

GEORGIA Georgia Tech

37-28

North Carolina DUKE

30-24

CINCINNATI Syracuse

32-10

WAKE FOREST Vanderbilt

17-12

CLEMSON South Carolina

28-26

BOSTON COLLEGE Maryland

31-21

Miami-Fl N.C. STATE

31-28

VIRGINIA TECH Virginia

21-12

TENNESSEE Kentucky

17-16

Missouri        (Kansas City) Kansas

42-28

MEMPHIS Tulane

37-24

Arkansas State NORTH TEXAS

38-21

Nevada LA. TECH

38-35

RICE Houston

35-34

UTAH STATE New Mexico St.

27-22

Southern Miss. S M U

34-21

Tulsa MARSHALL

40-28

CENTRAL FLORIDA U a b

24-14

FLA. ATLANTIC Fla. International

38-33

OREGON STATE Oregon

31-24

SOUTHERN CAL Notre Dame

34-7

HAWAII Washington State

42-23

 

 

Bowl Outlook by Conference

 

Another week of games have been played, and nothing was really determined bowl-wise.  Instead of knowing where some of the teams are headed, the picture is actually more clouded than it was last week.  A couple of teams were eliminated from the bowl picture, but we’re talking about UNLV and Illinois.  As we enter the Thanksgiving holiday, we only know for sure that Navy is in the inaugural Eagle Bank Bowl.  Penn State is all but assured of a spot in the Rose Bowl, but it isn’t official yet.

 

Teams in all CAPS have already accepted invitations to that bowl.

 

ACC

Another week, another couple of frontrunners are ripe for upset losses.  Miami and Maryland controlled their own destinies last week, but both were blown out.  Now Virginia Tech and Boston College have the easiest roads to the title game.  If the Eagles beat Maryland in Chestnut Hill this week, they are headed to Atlanta.  If Virginia Tech beats Virginia, the Hokies are joining the Eagles.

 

The overall mediocrity of this league actually could help the ACC get an extra team in the bowl discussion.  If North Carolina State beats Miami or Virginia beats Virginia Tech, the league will have 10 bowl eligible teams.  Should both the Wolfpack and Cavs win, then 11 of the 12 teams will be bowl eligible.

 

1. Orange Bowl-Boston College 10-3 vs. Cincinnati

2. Chick-fil-a-North Carolina 9-3 vs. South Carolina

3. Gator-Florida State 8-4 vs. Nebraska

4. Champs Sports-Virginia Tech 8-5 vs. Northwestern

5. Music City-Georgia Tech 8-4 vs. Vanderbilt

6. Meineke Car Care-Miami (Fla) 7-5 vs. West Virginia

7. Eagle Bank-Clemson 7-5 vs. NAVY

8. Emerald-Maryland 7-5 vs. Notre Dame

9. Humanitarian-Wake Forest 7-5 vs. Boise State

10. Texas (at-large)-N.C. State 6-6 vs. Southern Miss.

 

Big East

Cincinnati is a win away from securing a BCS Bowl bid, and it looks like they would be headed to Miami.  Coach Brian Kelly will be very popular Sunday morning if the Bearcats win, and he could be the head coach at a larger school before December 15.

 

Once Cincinnati wraps up the Orange Bowl berth, the dominoes should begin to fall.  I believe the bowls will possibly sacrifice won-loss record for distance.  With the economy in shambles, fans may be reluctant to travel great distances and spend a lot of money.  Thus, I am picking South Florida to stay at home for their bowl.  I am going with West Virginia to stay close to home.  I am sending Connecticut north of the border.

 

With Notre Dame losing to Syracuse, the Irish are no longer in the Gator Bowl picture, and I don’t think the Sun Bowl will be able to select them as the Big East representative because they will finish 6-6 and six Big East teams will win seven or more games. 

 

I have Louisville out of the picture.  The Cardinals have been a major disappointment for the second consecutive year.  Coach Steve Kragthorpe’s seat is getting hot.

 

1. Orange-Cincinnati 11-2 vs. Boston College

2. Sun-Pittsburgh 8-4 vs. Arizona

3. St. Petersburg-South Florida 7-5 vs. East Carolina

4. Meineke Car Care-West Virginia 8-4 vs. Miami (Fla)

5. International-Connecticut 8-4 vs. Buffalo

6. Papa John’s-Rutgers 7-5 vs. Middle Tennessee State

 

Big Ten

Illinois was eliminated from bowl contention last week, but I now have Ohio State slated to miss out on an at-large BCS bowl bid.  So, this league will have seven teams for seven bowls.

 

Even thought Minnesota fell mightily in November, I have the Gophers ahead of Wisconsin because it appears that the Badger fans do not plan on supporting their team en masse this year.  In a poll in the Milwaukee paper, a plurality of fans voted their opinion that UW should not even go to a bowl this year.

 

1. Rose-Penn State 11-1 vs. Oregon State

2. Capital One-Ohio State 10-2 vs. Georgia

3. Outback-Michigan State 9-3 vs. L S U

4. Champs Sports-Northwestern 9-3 vs. Virginia Tech

5. Alamo-Iowa 8-4 vs. Oklahoma State

6. Insight-Minnesota 7-5 vs. Kansas

7. Motor City-Wisconsin 7-5 vs. Ball State

 

Big 12

Missouri is definitely in the Big 12 Championship Game next week.  The other side of the league is still a three-team race.  If Oklahoma wins at Oklahoma State, then the Sooners should jump ahead of Texas in the BCS standings, even if the Longhorns beat Texas A&M 56-0.  If Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma, then Texas Tech will back in to the title game if they beat Baylor.  I think Texas can only get into the Big 12 title game if Texas Tech loses to Baylor.  However, the Longhorns still have a chance to make it to the National Championship Game if Missouri beats Oklahoma in the conference title game and Southern Cal doesn’t jump ahead of them.

 

Colorado still has an outside chance of becoming bowl-eligible.  They have to win at Nebraska.  I don’t give the Buffs much chance of doing that, and I believe Coach Dan Hawkins is riding down a slippery slope in the Rockies.

 

The Cornhuskers may cut in line in the bowl pecking order.  The Gator Bowl will probably take them ahead of a 10-3 Missouri or 9-3 Oklahoma State team.

 

1. BCS National Championship-Oklahoma 12-1 vs. Florida

2. Fiesta-Texas 11-1 vs. Southern Cal

3. Cotton-Texas Tech 11-1 vs. Ole Miss

4. Gator-Nebraska 8-4 vs. Florida State

5. Holiday-Missouri 10-3 vs. California

6. Alamo-Oklahoma State 9-3 vs. Iowa

7. Insight-Kansas 6-6 vs. Minnesota

8. Independence-No Qualifying Team

9. Texas-No Qualifying team

 

C-USA

There is still unfinished business in this conference.  East Carolina has won the East Division, but the West is still a three-team race.  Tulsa has a tough road game at Marshall, while Houston plays across town at Rice.  If Rice and Tulsa finished ties, Tulsa wins.  If Tulsa loses to Marshall, the winner of the Rice-Houston game wins.  All three will go to bowls.

 

UTEP and Memphis must win their final games to become bowl-eligible.  Memphis has an easy game against lowly Tulane, but UTEP must play at East Carolina.  Should the Tigers lose, Coach Tommy West could be in trouble.

 

1. Liberty-Tulsa 11-2 vs. Kentucky

2. St. Petersburg-East Carolina 8-5 vs. South Florida

3. G M A C-Rice 8-4 vs. Central Michigan

4. Armed Forces-Houston 8-4 vs. Air Force

5. Texas-Southern Miss. 6-6 vs. N.C. State

6. New Orleans-Memphis 6-6 vs. Troy

 

Independent

Navy is the only team that definitely knows what bowl it will be playing in this year.  The Midshipmen have already accepted a bid to the first Eagle Bank Bowl. 

 

Notre Dame will still be invited to a bowl after USC slaughters them to drop them to 6-6.  They will be the first 6-6 team invited as an at-large team.  Whether they accept the bid is another story, but I’m selecting them here.

 

1. Emerald (at-large)-Notre Dame 6-6 vs. Maryland

2. Eagle Bank-NAVY 7-5 vs. Clemson

 

M A C

Ball State has a big home game with Western Michigan Tuesday night.  Then, they would have to beat Buffalo in the MAC Championship Game and hope Boise State, Alabama, and Southern Cal all lose just to have a minute chance at getting an at-large bid to a BCS bowl.  It looks like the Motor City Bowl is the best they can hope for.  I would love to see some arrangement made to pit a 13-0 Ball State team against a 12-0 Boise State team.  A lot of deals would have to be made.

 

Central and Western Michigan should easily receive bowl bids.  Buffalo is a virtually guaranteed a bowl as well thanks to them picking up their seventh win last week.

 

Northern Illinois will become the fifth bowl team if they defeat Navy.  Even if they lose, they could still have a shot at 6-6, since their fans travel well.

 

1. Motor City-Ball State 13-0 vs. Wisconsin

2. International-Buffalo 8-5 vs. Connecticut

3. G M A C-Central Michigan 9-3 vs. Rice

4. Hawaii (at-large)-Western Michigan 9-3 vs. Hawaii

 

Mountain West

Utah is officially a BCS bowl invitee.  It appears that they are headed to the Big Easy to play in the Sugar Bowl.

 

BYU has been to the Las Vegas Bowl the last three years, and I believe the folks in sin city will invite the Cougars a fourth consecutive time.  TCU is still a possibility, but in this time of economic turmoil, I’m guessing it will be a number’s game that comes up craps for the Frogs.

 

1. Sugar-Utah 12-0 vs. Alabama

2. Las Vegas-B Y U 10-2 vs. Oregon

3. Poinsettia-T C U 10-2 vs. Boise State

4. New Mexico-Colorado State 6-6 vs. Fresno State

5. Armed Forces-Air Force 8-4 vs. Houston

 

Pac-10

Oregon State won at Arizona, and now the Beavers need to take care of business at home against Oregon.  If they win, they head to the Rose Bowl for the first time in more than four decades!  They would get a chance to redeem themselves against Penn State.

 

Southern Cal could still climb up to second in the BCS if Oklahoma and Texas both lose again this season.

 

Arizona State could still become bowl eligible by beating both UCLA and Arizona.  It could happen, but for now I am picking Arizona to end that dream.

 

 

1. Rose-Oregon State 9-3 vs. Penn State

2. Fiesta (at-large) Southern Cal 11-1 vs. Texas

3. Holiday-California 8-4 vs. Missouri

4. Sun-Arizona 8-4 vs. Pittsburgh

5. Las Vegas-Oregon 8-4 vs. B Y U

6. Emerald-No qualifying team

6. Poinsettia-No qualifying team

7. Hawaii- No qualifying team

 

S E C

Florida continues to move farther and farther ahead of the pack in college football.  I have the Gators at least a touchdown ahead of any other team.

 

Alabama is still number one in the official polls.  What if the Crimson Tide destroys Auburn and loses to Florida in overtime on a missed two-point conversion?  Might we see the same two teams play again for the national title?  Could it happen?  I think the Gators will take ‘Bama by more than two touchdowns to make it a moot point.

 

Arkansas was eliminated from the bowl talk last week, and I expect Auburn to go away this week.  If Auburn fires Tommy Tuberville, the Tigers deserve to rot into the basement in the SEC West for years.  Tuberville is a class act, and he knows how to coach.  I don’t think there is a savior out there who can do any better.

 

Kentucky and Vanderbilt will probably both finish 6-6, and that presents a mismatch problem if Tulsa wins the C-USA title.  The Golden Hurricane would be a prohibitive favorite over both teams.  Might the Liberty Bowl decide to allow the Independence of Papa John’s Bowl to take one of these 6-6 and then go after an undefeated Ball State team as an at-large opponent?  It’s something to consider, but I believe the Wildcats will travel to Memphis.  If Rice wins the C-USA title, then Kentucky will definitely be the opponent, since Vandy has already played the Owls.

 

1. National Championship-Florida 12-1 vs. Oklahoma

2. Sugar-Alabama 12-1 vs. Utah

3. Capital One-Georgia 10-2 vs. Ohio State

4. Outback-L S U 8-4 vs. Michigan State

5. Cotton-Ole Miss 8-4 vs. Texas Tech

6. Chick-fil-a-South Carolina 7-5 vs. North Carolina

7. Music City-Vanderbilt 6-6 vs. Georgia Tech

8. Liberty-Kentucky 6-6 vs. Tulsa

9. Independence-No qualifying team

10. Papa John’s-No qualifying team

 

Sunbelt

Troy has all but wrapped up the New Orleans Bowl berth.  It looks highly likely that no other SBC team will finish 7-5, but as many as three will finish 6-6.  Because I see at least four and possibly five 6-6 teams being required to fill out the at-large spots, two at-large bids could go to this league. 

 

The Sunbelt has side bets with three other bowls, and two of them will be needing to find alternative invitees.  So, I am going with the two teams I believe will travel the best here.

 

1. New Orleans-Troy 8-4 vs. Memphis

2. Independence (at-large) Arkansas State 6-6 vs. La. Tech

3. Papa John’s (at-large) Middle Tennessee 6-6 vs. Rutgers

W A C

Boise State should take care of business against Fresno State this week and finish the regular season at 12-0.  They won’t get a sniff at an at-large BCS bowl bid.  Their only hope is if Oregon State loses to Oregon, Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State, Texas loses to Texas A&M, and Texas Tech loses to Baylor (or if Missouri wins the Big 12 title).

 

The WAC has a provisional agreement with the Poinsettia Bowl should the Pac-10 not have a team available.  They won’t this year, and that could allow Boise State to go there.  Economics may trump this theory as the Humanitarian Bowl will want the Broncos to stay home.  For now, I am selecting Boise to head south and west to play a better opponent than they would face on the blue field.

 

San Jose State looks like the odd man out this year, unless the Poinsettia Bowl would prefer them to Boise State.  Then, Nevada might be the odd man out.  If the Wolf Pack take care of business this week at Louisiana Tech, then they will take a bid away from a 6-6 team.

 

1. Poinsettia (at-large) Boise State 12-0 vs. T C U

2. Humanitarian-Nevada 6-6 vs. Wake Forest

3. New Mexico-Fresno State 7-5 vs. Colorado State

4. Hawaii-Hawaii 7-6 vs. Western Michigan

5. Independence (at-large)-La. Tech 8-4 vs. Arkansas St.

 

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