The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 15, 2017

2017 Mid-American Conference Preview

Today, the PiRate Ratings kicks off its annual college football conference previews with the Mid-American Conference.  Last year, the MAC was a sneaky little league.  Very few so-called experts picked this league to produce the automatic New Year’s 6 Bowl participant, but when Western Michigan ran the table in the regular season, and then the Broncos beat Ohio in the MAC title game, it was WMU that ventured down to Jerry World to play in the Cotton Bowl.

There is a slight chance that this league could produce the special Group of 5 team again this season, but we won’t expect it this time around.  Not only is there no overpowering team in this league. the schedule for the best team just won’t allow for an undefeated season and most likely not a one-loss season.

2017 looks to be the year where college football begins to look more and more like the NFL, and the teams with experienced and talented quarterbacks, quick receivers, quick defensive backs, and above-average linemen in that order will dominate the land.  It is certainly true in this league, where the top two QBs belong to the two teams we are picking to win the divisional races–Logan Woodside at Toledo and Gus Ragland at Miami of Ohio.

Because the Poinsettia Bowl went bust, there is one less bowl game this season.  The MAC figures to be the league that suffers the most from this cancellation.  We believe there will be two bowl eligible teams in the league that do not receive bowl bids.  At least, we do not foresee a 5-7 team having to fill in as an at-large, at least until another bowl replaces the defunct Poinsettia.  There could be one set for Wrigley Field in Chicago in the future, and that most assuredly would be good news for this league.

Here is how the MAC Media picked the teams to finish the season.

MAC East Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Ohio U 11 131 0
2 Miami (O) 12 129 1
3 Bowling Green 1 88 1
4 Akron 0 79 0
5 Buffalo 0 41 0
6 Kent St. 0 36 0
         
MAC West Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Toledo 22 142 21
2 Western Michigan 1 107 1
3 Northern Illinois 1 89 0
4 Eastern Michigan 0 74 0
5 Central Michigan 0 62 0
6 Ball St. 0 30 0

The PiRate, Mean, and Bias Ratings differ slightly, but not all that much.  Remember that the PiRate Ratings are really only predictive for the next week’s schedule, and they cannot be used to look forward past that week.  Because, we set certain factors into each teams’ future to account for depth or lack thereof, these ratings can change even if a team wins by the exact amount predicted.

Here are the PiRate, Mean, and Bias Ratings for the pre-season

Mid-American Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Miami (O) 94.3 96.6 96.8 95.9
Ohio U 90.3 92.0 91.2 91.2
Akron 84.3 88.5 84.5 85.8
Kent St. 83.7 85.3 84.9 84.6
Bowling Green 82.4 82.6 83.7 82.9
Buffalo 79.7 83.7 81.6 81.7
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Michigan 102.1 98.4 103.8 101.4
Toledo 99.3 99.1 100.9 99.8
Eastern Michigan 93.5 93.1 93.6 93.4
Central Michigan 90.4 90.6 90.8 90.6
Northern Illinois 85.7 85.8 85.9 85.8
Ball St. 78.2 80.5 79.7 79.5
         
MAC Averages 88.7 89.7 89.8 89.4

This is our not so scientific attempt to predict the won-loss records and bowl projections.  As we stated above, our ratings do not look past the next week’s schedule.

Mid-American Conference Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
East Division      
Miami (O) 6-2 9-4 Camellia
Ohio U 5-3 8-4 Idaho Potato
Akron 4-4 5-7  
Kent St. 2-6 3-9  
Bowling Green 2-6 3-9  
Buffalo 2-6 3-9  
       
West Division      
Toledo 8-0 11-2 Bahamas
Western Michigan 6-2 8-4 Dollar General
Eastern Michigan 5-3 6-6 eligible
Central Michigan 5-3 6-6 eligible
Northern Illinois 2-6 4-8  
Ball St. 1-7 3-9  
       
Toledo to win MAC Title Game

Coming tomorrow–Conference USA

 

 

 

 

 

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October 24, 2016

College Football Ratings & Spreads For October 27-29, 2016

End of the Month Conference Inventory & Bowl Outlook
A big turn of events over the weekend changed the landscape of the projected playoffs, as Penn St. put Ohio St. in major jeopardy. Should Ohio St. beat Michigan, and the three teams finish in a tie for first place, and Nebraska loses a game prior to the Big Ten Championship Game, the league could see itself left out in the cold. Let’s take a look at all the conference races, starting with the Group of 5 leagues.

American Athletic Conference
Following a win at Central Florida, Temple’s victory over South Florida on Saturday puts the Owls in the driver’s seat in the Eastern Division. TU could win out to finish the regular season at 7-1 in the league and 9-3 overall, advancing to the conference championship game.

USF and UCF will most likely decide second place in the East when the two rivals face off at the end of the year. Cincinnati is still in contention for bowl eligibility, but the Bearcats have a difficult final month and could lose out against a slate featuring Temple, Central Florida, and Tulsa on the road and BYU and Memphis at home. Cinti must win two of these games to get to 6-6, and for now we are picking the Bearcats to fall short. Connecticut and East Carolina don’t have enough winnable games remaining to get to 6-6.

In the West, Houston is almost out of the race now after SMU shocked them in Dallas. Navy is in the driver’s seat with its win over Memphis, while Tulsa is the only serious contender to the Midshipmen. Tulsa must win at Memphis this weekend to make the game with Navy on November 12 the division title game.

Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 7

Conference USA
Both divisions are very much up for grabs with multiple teams still alive in the race to the conference title game. In the East, Western Kentucky hung 52 first half points on Old Dominion to knock the Monarchs off the perch as the last CUSA unbeaten team. Now, WKU, ODU, Middle Tennessee, and Florida Int’l. all have a conference loss. Middle Tennessee plays at FIU this week; Western plays at Florida Atlantic, and ODU plays at UTEP. If the three favorites win as we think they will, it will make this division a three-team race in November, and all three teams could win out at that point. For now, we will take the Hilltoppers to win the division.

The West is just as interesting as the East with Louisiana Tech, Southern Mississippi, and North Texas all with one conference loss. The schedule favors the Mean Green, and North Texas looks like the strongest team in the division at this point. Coach Seth Luttrell is in his first year in Denton, after serving as an assistant at Texas Tech, and he should be the easy Coach of the Year in this league after his team was picked to finish last.

Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 6

Independents
What looked like three for sure bowl spots going to Independents now could be reduced to just one. BYU is in good shape to gain bowl eligibility and earn their basically automatic bid to the Poinsettia Bowl. Army was on the way to bowl eligibility, but the Black Knights have fallen on hard times in recent weeks. At 4-3, the Cadets must get to 7-5 to be bowl eligible due to their playing two FCS teams this year. This means, they must win twice from among Wake Forest, Air Force, Notre Dame, and Navy plus Morgan State to go bowling. Of course, there is the caveat that if they should fall one win short at 6-6 but not enough teams earn bowl eligibility, they could still get a bowl bid as an alternate before any 5-7 teams are considered.

Notre Dame looks like a 5-7 team at best. The question is, “would the school accept a bowl bid at 5-7, if their high APR score allows them to qualify for a bowl as an alternate?” For now, we are going with the Irish to accept a bowl at 5-7 if they are so needed to fill out the field of 80.

Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 1 but with Army and Notre Dame receiving bids as non-qualifying alternates

Mid-American Conference
It’s all about the Broncos, no trouble. Western Michigan looks like the odds-on favorite to run the table to finish the season 13-0 and take the Group of 5 automatic bid to a New Year’s 6 Bowl. Coach P.J. Fleck could receive national coach of the year consideration, and WMU could see a top 10 regular season finish in the rankings before the Cotton Bowl bid they would receive. The Broncos own wins at Northwestern and at Illinois this year, so they will not be a pushover for a possible 11-1 opponent from a Power 5 league.

The race in the Western Division is not done just yet. Toledo is still undefeated in league play, and the Rockets close the regular season playing at WMU on Black Friday. The entire Western Division is still alive for bowl eligibility, but it looks like four of the six will make it, while two don’t. Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan are the two most likely to top six wins.

The Eastern Division is down to two teams in contention for both the divisional crown and bowl eligibility. Ohio and Akron might be the sixth and seventh best teams in the MAC, but the winner of their contest on November 22 at Peden Stadium in Athens will decide which team gets to be fodder for WMU in the conference championship game.

Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 6

Mountain West Conference
Boise State is the current leader for the Group of 5 NY6 Bowl bid, but the PiRates believe the Broncos are going to stub their toes somewhere before December 3. In fact, the way BSU has played in recent weeks, we can see a scenario where they do not even win the division.

Wyoming is the team playing well enough to knock BSU off the perch. The Cowboys are riding a powerful offense and an opportunistic defense under Coach Craig Bohl and sit with a 3-0 league mark. Boise State plays the Cowboys in Laramie this week, and the winner should take the division flag.

The entire Mountain Division could finish 6-6 or better overall. Air Force started hot and has fallen on hard times in October, but the Falcons need just two more wins and have Fresno State and San Jose State on the remaining schedule. Colorado State and New Mexico also need just two more wins to get to 6-6, and that is what we believe both will get. Utah State is 3-4 and needs three more wins, but the Aggies might be fortunate with just two more wins. At 5-7, USU could still earn a bowl as an alternate due to their acceptable APR score.

The West Division looks cut and dry at this point. San Diego State can already start preparing for the MWC Championship Game. The Aztecs’ only competitor for the division crown is Hawaii, and the game between the two teams will be at Qualcomm Stadium in two weeks.

With a home loss to Colorado State, UNLV is now most likely out of the bowl picture. A 5-7 record won’t work for the Rebels due to a low APR score.

The MWC gets six bowl bids, and if Boise State does not earn the NY6 bowl bid, there will be one extra team available as an at-large candidate for another bowl. Most likely, this will be a bowl east of the Mississippi.

Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 7 with Utah State a possible 5-7 alternate

Sun Belt Conference
This is the one league where more bowl eligible teams should be produced than conference bowl tie-ins. The SBC has four bowl guarantees, and they could provide a fifth team as a fill-in for another bowl. As of today, we believe that five teams will become bowl eligible, and the fill-in spot will not be available. So,thanks to geography, this means one team from this league will be at the top of the chain when at-large contenders are selected prior to the 5-7 teams getting their shots.

Troy looks like the strongest team this year, and the Trojans are our favorite to win the league and accept the New Orleans Bowl bid that goes to the league champion. Arkansas State, Appalachian State, and Georgia Southern are all still in contention and should be bowl eligible, although

Arkansas State has little room for error. We believe Idaho still has a good chance to get to 7-5, but we do not hold out a lot of hope for Louisiana-Lafayette or South Alabama.

Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 5

POWER 5 CONFERENCES
The race for the four playoff spots looks much clearer today, but we believe there are going to be some big upsets still. Our bowl projections could still have wide swings, so what you see today is just one wacky way the season could wind up. If the season ended today, Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, and Washington would be your four playoff teams.

We are predicting that two of these four will lose before the season ends, and one from this list will not make the playoffs. For this week’s entry, we are going to project Clemson losing to Florida State or to the Coastal Division Champion in the ACC title game. The Tigers are missing something on both sides of the ball this year, and we believe they will stumble one time. If CU loses to Florida State this week and then wins out to finish 12-1, the Tigers might still crack the playoffs as the #4 seed. What happens with Louisville in this scenario? The Cardinals could be 11-1, and because they would still not qualify for the ACC Championship Game if they finished tied with Clemson, they would be looking at an Orange Bowl bid or Cotton Bowl bid.

The team that concerns us as of this week if Washington. The Huskies play three very tough road games before the season concludes. They might get by Utah in Salt Lake City this week, and they should win at Cal in two weeks, but the season finale against rival Washington State is the perfect setup for the Cougars to upset the Apple Cup cart. If Washington State loses just one conference game and beats Washington on Black Friday, WSU will earn the Pac-12 North title, and UW will be out of the playoff race with no extra game to build back their resume.

The Big 12 still has two undefeated teams in Baylor and West Virginia. Both have fine squads, but we do not see either going 12-0, and 12-0 is what it will take for either to get to the Playoffs this year. The Big 12 decided not to expand, and that basically was an edict from the big state school in Austin, Texas. That decision could keep this league as the fifth best Power 5 league more years than not.

The Big Ten is not done just yet. Michigan still has to win at Ohio State, and the Buckeyes are not ready to roll over and let that team up north come into the Giant Horseshoe and leave undefeated. As of today, we believe the Wolverines will claw their way to a win in Columbus for the first time since 2000. If Ohio State wins, the East could finish with a three-way tie between the Buckeyes, Wolverines, and Penn State.

Nebraska currently leads the West with by a game over Northwestern and two over Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. We believe the Cornhuskers are about to experience a tough final five weeks of the regular season with three losses possible. That opens the door for Wisconsin and Northwestern. The winner of the Badgers-Wildcats game on November 5 could emerge as the division winner if Nebraska does lose three times.

The SEC looks like an obvious play toy for Alabama. The Crimson Tide has a week off before facing LSU in Baton Rouge in two weeks. We believe the Tide will win by 17 or more points in this game. A closing game with Auburn could be interesting if the Tigers continue to play like they did against Arkansas on Saturday. However, we believe that was an anamoly, and Auburn will be lucky to lose by less than 14 to Alabama.

Texas A&M should not get too down for losing at Bama by 19 points. The Aggies are still alive in the Playoff picture. If A&M wins out, and the expected losses to teams we believe will lose actually happen, then TAMU could sneak into the playoff field at 11-1.

Atlantic Coast Conference
Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 10 with a possible 11th as a 5-7 alternate

Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Miami, Georgia Tech
Syracuse can earn a bid at 5-7.

Big 12 Conference
Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 6

Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, TCU
We have Texas Tech at 5-7 and Texas at 4-8 as of today.

Big Ten Conference
Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 10

Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Iowa, Minnesota

Pac-12 Conference
Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 8

Washington, Washington State, California, Stanford, USC, Colorado, Utah, Arizona State
We have Oregon at 5-7 and UCLA at 4-8 as of now. UCLA can jump into the alternate bowl mix at 5-7, but the Ducks will be out of luck.

Southeastern Conference
Projected Bowl Eligible Teams: 9

Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee
As of this week, we have four teams (Kentucky, South Carolina, Missouri, and Vanderbilt) in contention to finish 5-7. We believe three of these teams will finish 5-7: Kentucky, South Carolina, and the winner of the Missouri/Vanderbilt game in Columbia on November 12. Should Vanderbilt win this game, they will move to the number one spot in the 5-7 bowl teams (assuming Duke finishes 4-8 and Minnesota is bowl eligible). Should Missouri win that game, then South Carolina will move into the fourth slot of 5-7 teams and have a decent shot of getting a bid.

 

The 5-7 Mess

As the season progresses, the number of mediocre teams has increased rather than decreased. As of today, it looks like at least four bowl spots will have to be awarded to 5-7 teams, and this includes a 6-6 Army team that actually needs seven wins to gain bowl eligibility.
The way the at-large bowl spots are filled out are not necessarily loved by the bowls themselves. For instance, if a 7-5 Idaho team is available for a bowl, while Notre Dame or Oregon sits at 5-7, it is the Vandals that must fill that bowl slot before the two powers can be considered. Imagine if you are the Birmingham or Indepedence Bowl, and you are faces with inviting a 7-5 team from almost 2,000 miles away and one which will soon be dropping out of FBS football. That’s the breaks, and it is what happens when there are about 10 too many bowls.
One solution that has not been discusses is allowing FCS teams to fill bowls. What if an undefeated Sam Houston State could get an Armed Forces Bowl Bid rather than play in the FCS Playoffs? Might an undefeated Citadel team be a better choice for the Birmingham Bowl than a 5-7 team from out West?

Our complete Bowl Projections follow below.

This Week’s PiRate Ratings

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 135.6 128.8 135.5 133.3
2 Michigan 129.6 127.1 130.1 128.9
3 Louisville 130.0 124.8 130.1 128.3
4 Washington 129.0 121.6 129.1 126.6
5 Clemson 126.6 119.3 125.6 123.8
6 Ohio St. 123.0 122.7 123.5 123.1
7 LSU 124.5 119.5 124.1 122.7
8 Auburn 122.7 120.6 122.7 122.0
9 Oklahoma 119.8 118.0 119.4 119.1
10 Virginia Tech 118.9 117.5 119.3 118.6
11 Tennessee 119.0 115.9 118.4 117.8
12 Texas A&M 117.3 115.3 117.1 116.6
13 Florida St. 119.0 112.6 118.0 116.5
14 North Carolina 118.1 111.7 118.0 115.9
15 Colorado 117.2 112.7 117.0 115.7
16 Wisconsin 115.7 113.7 116.5 115.3
17 USC 117.2 112.7 114.9 114.9
18 Miami 116.6 110.6 116.2 114.5
19 Baylor 114.1 114.4 114.7 114.4
20 Florida 114.0 116.3 112.3 114.2
21 Oklahoma St. 113.8 115.1 113.4 114.1
22 Pittsburgh 115.2 111.5 114.4 113.7
23 Western Michigan 112.6 111.5 114.3 112.8
24 Ole Miss 115.0 109.5 113.9 112.8
25 West Virginia 113.2 111.9 112.9 112.7
26 Washington St. 113.2 110.3 113.3 112.3
27 Nebraska 112.6 109.6 112.4 111.5
28 Stanford 113.5 107.4 112.9 111.3
29 Iowa 111.8 109.2 111.6 110.9
30 Notre Dame 112.3 108.7 110.6 110.5
31 Texas 110.0 111.3 109.2 110.2
32 Houston 109.9 108.5 111.5 110.0
33 Penn St. 109.2 110.8 108.4 109.5
34 UCLA 109.9 108.4 109.2 109.2
35 Boise St. 108.1 109.1 109.3 108.8
36 Utah 111.2 105.9 109.3 108.8
37 South Florida 108.6 106.8 109.1 108.2
38 Georgia Tech 109.8 105.6 108.9 108.1
39 Georgia 108.5 107.7 107.8 108.0
40 TCU 107.3 108.8 106.6 107.6
41 Northwestern 109.3 105.2 108.1 107.5
42 Arkansas 109.6 104.9 107.7 107.4
43 Kansas St. 106.6 109.0 106.5 107.4
44 BYU 109.3 103.8 108.9 107.3
45 Mississippi St. 107.8 106.3 106.7 106.9
46 North Carolina St. 107.0 104.0 106.6 105.9
47 Arizona St. 105.8 104.7 104.6 105.1
48 Oregon 105.9 104.1 104.9 105.0
49 Toledo 103.8 103.2 104.5 103.8
50 Wake Forest 104.4 102.0 104.1 103.5
51 Minnesota 104.1 103.1 103.4 103.5
52 Temple 103.4 102.8 103.6 103.3
53 San Diego St. 103.0 101.5 105.0 103.2
54 Indiana 102.6 104.6 102.2 103.1
55 Maryland 102.8 105.1 101.3 103.1
56 Texas Tech 103.8 103.0 102.1 103.0
57 Memphis 103.9 101.3 102.6 102.6
58 Navy 102.8 101.9 102.6 102.5
59 Michigan St. 103.3 102.9 101.1 102.4
60 Syracuse 103.7 100.5 102.3 102.2
61 California 105.1 98.0 102.8 102.0
62 Western Kentucky 102.1 99.3 103.1 101.5
63 Duke 101.4 101.6 100.5 101.2
64 Virginia 101.8 99.5 101.1 100.8
65 Tulsa 99.7 101.8 100.6 100.7
66 Arizona 101.2 99.1 99.7 100.0
67 Vanderbilt 101.4 98.2 100.1 99.9
68 Kentucky 99.1 100.1 98.3 99.2
69 Missouri 99.4 99.0 98.9 99.1
70 Appalachian St. 98.1 98.6 99.9 98.9
71 Iowa St. 98.6 98.1 97.9 98.2
72 Cincinnati 97.9 98.2 98.1 98.1
73 Central Michigan 97.2 98.9 97.8 98.0
74 Boston College 98.3 97.6 97.8 97.9
75 South Carolina 97.2 97.1 96.6 97.0
76 Middle Tennessee 96.2 96.9 96.8 96.6
77 Central Florida 95.6 97.3 96.1 96.3
78 Illinois 97.4 93.9 96.6 96.0
79 New Mexico 94.6 96.9 95.5 95.7
80 Louisiana Tech 94.5 96.3 96.0 95.6
81 Air Force 95.1 96.3 95.1 95.5
82 Connecticut 96.0 94.4 95.8 95.4
83 SMU 94.6 93.9 96.9 95.2
84 Troy 92.8 97.5 94.8 95.1
85 Northern Illinois 93.9 95.3 95.2 94.8
86 Army 90.5 98.7 93.3 94.2
87 Utah St. 93.3 96.0 93.1 94.1
88 Purdue 94.6 92.6 93.5 93.6
89 Oregon St. 95.6 91.1 93.9 93.5
90 Ohio 89.5 96.2 90.0 91.9
91 East Carolina 91.2 93.2 91.3 91.9
92 Southern Mississippi 91.5 92.0 91.9 91.8
93 Georgia Southern 90.5 90.7 92.5 91.3
94 Colorado St. 89.8 91.6 90.7 90.7
95 Rutgers 91.8 89.4 90.4 90.6
96 Akron 87.9 93.4 89.5 90.3
97 Wyoming 89.5 89.8 90.3 89.9
98 Arkansas St. 88.1 90.1 89.8 89.3
99 Eastern Michigan 86.9 89.1 87.3 87.8
100 Old Dominion 86.3 89.7 86.7 87.6
101 UNLV 86.3 89.6 86.6 87.5
102 Ball St. 85.2 87.7 86.3 86.4
103 Tulane 84.7 88.9 85.2 86.3
104 South Alabama 83.5 90.3 84.8 86.2
105 Nevada 85.1 87.5 85.7 86.1
106 Kent St. 85.2 87.2 85.7 86.1
107 Miami (O) 85.0 86.0 86.3 85.8
108 Hawaii 86.1 84.9 85.9 85.6
109 Kansas 84.0 89.5 81.5 85.0
110 Georgia St. 82.7 87.2 84.6 84.8
111 Marshall 82.9 86.3 83.8 84.3
112 UTSA 81.0 88.0 83.4 84.2
113 North Texas 82.4 85.2 83.2 83.6
114 Rice 81.0 87.8 81.2 83.3
115 Massachusetts 80.1 86.4 81.2 82.6
116 Bowling Green 82.2 82.6 82.2 82.3
117 San Jose St. 82.0 81.8 81.3 81.7
118 Idaho 79.3 84.6 80.9 81.6
119 Fresno St. 80.0 83.7 79.7 81.1
120 Florida International 78.7 83.5 78.8 80.3
121 UL-Lafayette 77.5 83.6 79.3 80.2
122 Florida Atlantic 77.0 81.9 80.2 79.7
123 Buffalo 73.1 80.2 73.5 75.6
124 Charlotte 73.5 78.8 74.2 75.5
125 UTEP 72.1 76.7 73.4 74.1
126 New Mexico St. 71.8 74.9 72.7 73.1
127 UL-Monroe 67.4 72.3 67.7 69.1
128 Texas St. 67.3 69.5 68.1 68.3

 

American Athletic Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
South Florida 108.6 106.8 109.1 108.2
Temple 103.4 102.8 103.6 103.3
Cincinnati 97.9 98.2 98.1 98.1
Central Florida 95.6 97.3 96.1 96.3
Connecticut 96.0 94.4 95.8 95.4
East Carolina 91.2 93.2 91.3 91.9
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Houston 109.9 108.5 111.5 110.0
Memphis 103.9 101.3 102.6 102.6
Navy 102.8 101.9 102.6 102.5
Tulsa 99.7 101.8 100.6 100.7
SMU 94.6 93.9 96.9 95.2
Tulane 84.7 88.9 85.2 86.3
         
AAC Averages 99.0 99.1 99.4 99.2
         
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Louisville 130.0 124.8 130.1 128.3
Clemson 126.6 119.3 125.6 123.8
Florida St. 119.0 112.6 118.0 116.5
North Carolina St. 107.0 104.0 106.6 105.9
Wake Forest 104.4 102.0 104.1 103.5
Syracuse 103.7 100.5 102.3 102.2
Boston College 98.3 97.6 97.8 97.9
         
Coastal Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Virginia Tech 118.9 117.5 119.3 118.6
North Carolina 118.1 111.7 118.0 115.9
Miami 116.6 110.6 116.2 114.5
Pittsburgh 115.2 111.5 114.4 113.7
Georgia Tech 109.8 105.6 108.9 108.1
Duke 101.4 101.6 100.5 101.2
Virginia 101.8 99.5 101.1 100.8
         
ACC Averages 112.2 108.5 111.6 110.8
         
Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 119.8 118.0 119.4 119.1
Baylor 114.1 114.4 114.7 114.4
Oklahoma St. 113.8 115.1 113.4 114.1
West Virginia 113.2 111.9 112.9 112.7
Texas 110.0 111.3 109.2 110.2
TCU 107.3 108.8 106.6 107.6
Kansas St. 106.6 109.0 106.5 107.4
Texas Tech 103.8 103.0 102.1 103.0
Iowa St. 98.6 98.1 97.9 98.2
Kansas 84.0 89.5 81.5 85.0
         
Big 12 Averages 107.1 107.9 106.4 107.2
         
Big Ten Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Michigan 129.6 127.1 130.1 128.9
Ohio St. 123.0 122.7 123.5 123.1
Penn St. 109.2 110.8 108.4 109.5
Indiana 102.6 104.6 102.2 103.1
Maryland 102.8 105.1 101.3 103.1
Michigan St. 103.3 102.9 101.1 102.4
Rutgers 91.8 89.4 90.4 90.6
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Wisconsin 115.7 113.7 116.5 115.3
Nebraska 112.6 109.6 112.4 111.5
Iowa 111.8 109.2 111.6 110.9
Northwestern 109.3 105.2 108.1 107.5
Minnesota 104.1 103.1 103.4 103.5
Illinois 97.4 93.9 96.6 96.0
Purdue 94.6 92.6 93.5 93.6
         
Big Ten Averages 107.7 106.4 107.1 107.1
         
Conference USA
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Kentucky 102.1 99.3 103.1 101.5
Middle Tennessee 96.2 96.9 96.8 96.6
Old Dominion 86.3 89.7 86.7 87.6
Marshall 82.9 86.3 83.8 84.3
Florida International 78.7 83.5 78.8 80.3
Florida Atlantic 77.0 81.9 80.2 79.7
Charlotte 73.5 78.8 74.2 75.5
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Louisiana Tech 94.5 96.3 96.0 95.6
Southern Mississippi 91.5 92.0 91.9 91.8
UTSA 81.0 88.0 83.4 84.2
North Texas 82.4 85.2 83.2 83.6
Rice 81.0 87.8 81.2 83.3
UTEP 72.1 76.7 73.4 74.1
         
CUSA Averages 84.6 87.9 85.6 86.0
         
FBS Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame 112.3 108.7 110.6 110.5
BYU 109.3 103.8 108.9 107.3
Army 90.5 98.7 93.3 94.2
Massachusetts 80.1 86.4 81.2 82.6
         
Independents Averages 98.1 99.4 98.5 98.7
         
Mid-American Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Ohio 89.5 96.2 90.0 91.9
Akron 87.9 93.4 89.5 90.3
Kent St. 85.2 87.2 85.7 86.1
Miami (O) 85.0 86.0 86.3 85.8
Bowling Green 82.2 82.6 82.2 82.3
Buffalo 73.1 80.2 73.5 75.6
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Michigan 112.6 111.5 114.3 112.8
Toledo 103.8 103.2 104.5 103.8
Central Michigan 97.2 98.9 97.8 98.0
Northern Illinois 93.9 95.3 95.2 94.8
Eastern Michigan 86.9 89.1 87.3 87.8
Ball St. 85.2 87.7 86.3 86.4
         
MAC Averages 90.2 92.6 91.0 91.3
         
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Boise St. 108.1 109.1 109.3 108.8
New Mexico 94.6 96.9 95.5 95.7
Air Force 95.1 96.3 95.1 95.5
Utah St. 93.3 96.0 93.1 94.1
Colorado St. 89.8 91.6 90.7 90.7
Wyoming 89.5 89.8 90.3 89.9
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 103.0 101.5 105.0 103.2
UNLV 86.3 89.6 86.6 87.5
Nevada 85.1 87.5 85.7 86.1
Hawaii 86.1 84.9 85.9 85.6
San Jose St. 82.0 81.8 81.3 81.7
Fresno St. 80.0 83.7 79.7 81.1
         
MWC Averages 91.1 92.4 91.5 91.7
         
Pac-12 Conference
North Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Washington 129.0 121.6 129.1 126.6
Washington St. 113.2 110.3 113.3 112.3
Stanford 113.5 107.4 112.9 111.3
Oregon 105.9 104.1 104.9 105.0
California 105.1 98.0 102.8 102.0
Oregon St. 95.6 91.1 93.9 93.5
         
South Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Colorado 117.2 112.7 117.0 115.7
USC 117.2 112.7 114.9 114.9
UCLA 109.9 108.4 109.2 109.2
Utah 111.2 105.9 109.3 108.8
Arizona St. 105.8 104.7 104.6 105.1
Arizona 101.2 99.1 99.7 100.0
         
Pac-12 Averages 110.4 106.4 109.3 108.7
         
Southeastern Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Tennessee 119.0 115.9 118.4 117.8
Florida 114.0 116.3 112.3 114.2
Georgia 108.5 107.7 107.8 108.0
Vanderbilt 101.4 98.2 100.1 99.9
Kentucky 99.1 100.1 98.3 99.2
Missouri 99.4 99.0 98.9 99.1
South Carolina 97.2 97.1 96.6 97.0
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Alabama 135.6 128.8 135.5 133.3
LSU 124.5 119.5 124.1 122.7
Auburn 122.7 120.6 122.7 122.0
Texas A&M 117.3 115.3 117.1 116.6
Ole Miss 115.0 109.5 113.9 112.8
Arkansas 109.6 104.9 107.7 107.4
Mississippi St. 107.8 106.3 106.7 106.9
         
SEC Averages 112.2 110.0 111.4 111.2
         
Sunbelt Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Appalachian St. 98.1 98.6 99.9 98.9
Troy 92.8 97.5 94.8 95.1
Georgia Southern 90.5 90.7 92.5 91.3
Arkansas St. 88.1 90.1 89.8 89.3
South Alabama 83.5 90.3 84.8 86.2
Georgia St. 82.7 87.2 84.6 84.8
Idaho 79.3 84.6 80.9 81.6
UL-Lafayette 77.5 83.6 79.3 80.2
New Mexico St. 71.8 74.9 72.7 73.1
UL-Monroe 67.4 72.3 67.7 69.1
Texas St. 67.3 69.5 68.1 68.3
         
Sun Belt Averages 81.7 85.4 83.2 83.5

 

PiRate Ratings By Conference
# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 SEC 112.2 110.0 111.4 111.2
2 ACC 112.2 108.5 111.6 110.8
3 Pac-12 110.4 106.4 109.3 108.7
4 Big 12 107.1 107.9 106.4 107.2
5 Big Ten 107.7 106.4 107.1 107.1
6 AAC 99.0 99.1 99.4 99.2
7 Independents 98.1 99.4 98.5 98.7
8 MWC 91.1 92.4 91.5 91.7
9 MAC 90.2 92.6 91.0 91.3
10 CUSA 84.6 87.9 85.6 86.0
11 Sun Belt 81.7 85.4 83.2 83.5

 

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

 

This Week’s Games–October 27-29
         
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Thursday, October 27      
Pittsburgh Virginia Tech -0.7 -3.0 -1.9
Buffalo Akron -12.8 -11.2 -14.0
Toledo Ohio U 16.8 9.5 17.5
Georgia Southern Appalachian St. -4.6 -4.9 -4.4
USC California 15.1 17.7 15.1
         
Friday, October 28      
South Florida Navy 8.8 7.9 9.5
Utah St. San Diego St. -6.7 -2.5 -8.9
Fresno St. Air Force -12.1 -9.6 -12.4
         
Saturday, October 29      
Central Michigan Kent St. 15.0 14.7 15.1
Houston Central Florida 17.3 14.2 18.4
East Carolina Connecticut -1.8 1.8 -1.5
Georgia Tech Duke 11.4 7.0 11.4
Virginia Louisville -25.2 -22.3 -26.0
Missouri Kentucky 3.3 1.9 3.6
Iowa St. Kansas St. -5.0 -7.9 -5.6
Oklahoma St. West Virginia 3.6 6.2 3.5
Illinois Minnesota -3.7 -5.2 -3.8
Michigan St. Michigan -24.3 -22.2 -27.0
Purdue Penn St. -11.6 -15.2 -11.9
North Carolina St. Boston College 11.7 9.4 11.8
Temple Cincinnati 8.5 7.6 8.5
Florida Atlantic Western Kentucky -22.1 -14.4 -19.9
Georgia (N) Florida -5.5 -8.6 -4.5
Texas Baylor -1.1 -0.1 -2.5
Wake Forest Army 16.9 6.3 13.8
Notre Dame Miami (Fla.) -1.3 0.9 -2.6
Utah Washington -14.8 -12.7 -16.8
Indiana Maryland 2.8 2.5 3.9
TCU Texas Tech 6.5 8.8 7.5
Ohio St. Northwestern 16.7 20.5 18.4
Eastern Michigan Miami (O) 4.9 6.1 4.0
Tulane SMU -7.4 -2.5 -9.7
South Alabama Georgia St. 3.8 6.1 3.2
Oregon Arizona St. 3.1 2.4 3.3
Wyoming Boise St. -15.6 -16.3 -16.0
Louisiana Tech Rice 16.5 11.5 17.8
Southern Miss. Marshall 11.6 8.7 11.1
UTSA North Texas 1.1 5.3 2.7
Florida Int’l. Middle Tennessee -14.5 -10.4 -15.0
Arkansas St. UL-Monroe 23.7 20.8 25.1
Oklahoma Kansas 38.8 31.5 40.9
Wisconsin Nebraska 6.1 7.1 7.1
Ole Miss Auburn -4.7 -8.1 -5.8
South Carolina Tennessee -18.8 -15.8 -18.8
Texas A&M New Mexico St. 48.5 43.4 47.4
UTEP Old Dominion -11.2 -10.0 -10.3
Memphis Tulsa 7.2 2.5 5.0
Florida St. Clemson -4.6 -3.7 -4.6
San Jose St. UNLV -1.3 -4.8 -2.3
Oregon St. Washington St. -14.6 -16.2 -16.4
Arizona Stanford -9.3 -5.3 -10.2
Hawaii New Mexico -4.5 -8.0 -5.6
FBS vs. FCS Week 9  
Home Visitor PiRate
Massachusetts Wagner 17
Mississippi St. Samford 19

 

This Week’s Bowl Projections

Bowl Conferences Team vs. Team
New Mexico MWC CUSA New Mexico vs. Sou. Miss.
Las Vegas Pac-12 MWC Arizona St. vs. San Diego St.
Cure AAC SBC South Florida vs. Arkansas St.
Camellia MAC SBC Akron vs. Ga. Southern
New Orleans CUSA SBC La. Tech vs. Troy
Miami Beach AAC MAC Houston vs. Toledo
Boca Raton AAC CUSA Memphis vs. W. Kentucky
Poinsettia MWC BYU Air Force vs. BYU
Idaho Potato MAC MWC Central Mich. vs. Boise St.
Bahamas AAC/CUSA MAC/CUSA Temple vs. Eastern Mich.
Armed Forces Navy Big 12 Navy vs. [Idaho]
Dollar General MAC SBC Ohio U vs. Appy St.
Hawaii CUSA MWC North Texas vs. Hawaii
St. Petersburg AAC ACC/ND Tulsa vs. Miami (Fla.)
Quick Lane ACC/ND Big Ten {Notre Dame} vs. Indiana
Independence SEC ACC/ND {S.Carolina} vs. Georgia Tech
Heart of Dallas Big Ten CUSA Maryland vs. Middle Tenn.
Military ACC/ND AAC N. Carolina St. vs. Central Fla.
Holiday Big Ten Pac-12 Northwestern vs. Utah
Cactus Big 12 Pac-12 {Utah St.} vs. California
Pinstripe ACC/ND Big Ten Wake Forest vs. Iowa
Russell Athletic ACC/ND Big 12 Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma St.
Foster Farms Big Ten Pac-12 Minnesota vs. USC
Texas Big 12 SEC Kansas St. vs. Arkansas
Birmingham AAC SEC [Army] vs. {Syracuse}
Belk ACC/ND SEC N. Carolina vs. Georgia
Alamo Big 12 Pac-12 Oklahoma vs. Colorado
Liberty Big 12 SEC TCU vs. LSU
Sun ACC/ND Pac-12 Pittsburgh vs. Stanford
Arizona CUSA/SBC MWC/SBC Old Dominion vs. Wyoming
Music City ACC/ND/B10 SEC Nebraska vs. [Colorado St.]
Orange ACC/ND B10/SEC Louisville vs. Baylor
Citrus ACC/ND/B10 SEC Wisconsin vs. Auburn
TaxSlayer ACC/ND/B10 SEC Florida St. vs. Ole Miss
Peach Semifinal Semifinal Michigan vs. Texas A&M
Fiesta Semifinal Semifinal Alabama vs. Clemson
Outback Big Ten SEC Ohio St. vs. Florida
Cotton At-Large At-Large Western Mich. vs. Washington
Rose Big Ten Pac-12 Penn St. vs. Wash. St.
Sugar Big 12 SEC West Virginia vs. Tennessee
Championship Semifinal Winners Alabama vs. Michigan
           
[Team] At-Large Selection
{Team} At-Large Selection of projected 7-Loss Team

The APR Score Rankings

If one or more 5-7 teams are needed to fill vacant bowl slots, they will be filled in order of highest APR score.  For instance, if there are five spots to be filled by 5-7 teams, the highest five 5-7 teams in APR score will automatically earn those spots.  Then, in order of APR score, the teams will choose which bowl bid to accept.  Here is the ranking of the teams.  If there are five spots to be filled, then it could go down to the 40th best APR score or lower, because few teams will actually be 5-7.

APR Scores
1 Duke
2 Northwestern
3 Minnesota
4 Wisconsin
5 Vanderbilt
6 Army
7 Michigan
8 Georgia Tech
9 Air Force
10 North Texas
11 Clemson
12 Stanford
13 Central Florida
14 Utah
15 Auburn
16 Boise St.
17 Navy
18 Illinois
19 Louisville
20 Boston College
21 Nebraska
22 Indiana
23 Alabama
24 Florida
25 Michigan St.
26 Missouri
27 Utah St.
28 Maryland
29 Kansas St.
30 Notre Dame
31 Middle Tennessee
32 Rice
33 Toledo
34 Virginia
35 Washington
36 Syracuse
37 UTEP
38 Rutgers
39 UCLA
40 South Carolina
41 Mississippi St.
42 Temple
43 Ohio St.
44 Hawaii

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 17, 2016

College Football Ratings & Spreads For October 20-22, 2016

Another Hot Seat Burns

Purdue dismissed Darrell Hazell as head coach yesterday, even though the Boilermakers are off to a 3-3 start and have been more competitive in their games this year than in recent seasons. This brings to three the number of coaches that were replaced in the first half of the season (Les Miles–LSU & Ron Turner–Florida International), not counting Art Briles and Baylor.

Firing a coach in mid-season allows a school to officially, but quietly, begin its coaching search ahead of the schools that have already decided to go with a new regime but have yet to make the announcement official. LSU, FIU, and Purdue can now begin reaching out to agents of prospective coaches to feel out the situation. Coach X, who is 5-1 at a Group of 5 School this year would never say he was interested in any job other than the one he currently has, but Coach X’s agent, Johnny Slickster, has already begun to talk to schools about interviewing his client as well as telling them in a general manner what basic details would have to be included in a contract.

Prime Candidates

The three schools with openings for 2017 will no doubt balloon to seven to 12 schools by the time we exchange our Christmas and Hanukkah gifts this year, so who are the prime candidates to see their incomes climb from six to seven figures?

Basically, three types of candidates earn head coaching jobs in college football–head coaches at smaller schools than the one in question, top coordinators from successful schools, and NFL coaches that have recently lost their jobs. Occasionally, a smaller Group of 5 program will hire a coach from FCS ranks, and a former head coach will get another chance to come back into coaching, but most of the available jobs go to one of the three types described above. Today we will look at the head coaches at smaller schools.

In the past, Miami of Ohio was called “The Cradle of Coaches.” This MAC program produced a Hall of Fame class in its own. Among the legends that coached at the Oxford, Ohio, school were Paul Brown, Sid Gillman, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Ara Parseghian, Weeb Ewbank, Sean Payton, John Harbaugh, Jim Tressel, Bill Mallory, John Pont, and Colonel Red Blaik.

While the Red Hawks are not producing legends any more, their conference has become a breeding grounds for Power 5 teams. It should be no different this year, as Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck could be the top candidate for multiple jobs. Fleck has stated that he believes too many coaches fail to see how good they have it where they currently are and make a mistake moving up. Other than Al McGuire, who stayed at Marquette for years after being offered multiple jobs every season, there are not too many American males that have turned down the doubling or tripling of their salary to remain in a smaller job. Kalamazoo, Michigan, is a nice northern town, but places like Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Austin, Texas, or Los Angeles, are very livable too, especially when they come with four million dollar contracts.

Jason Candle at Toledo, John Bonamego at Central Michigan, and Chris Creighton at Eastern Michigan could all be on the radar as well. Creighton has maneuvered the EMU into position to go to a bowl this year, and the Eagles have only been bowling one time, back in 1987.

The Sun Belt Conference has chiefly supplied coaches from Arkansas State in recent years, and the guys they sent on to bigger places have done quite well, including Gus Malzahn, Hugh Freeze, and Bryan Harsin. It’s time to spread the wealth of wizards to other locations, and there are some prime candidates this year. Scott Satterfield at Appalachian State could get some feelers. Troy’s Neal Brown will draw interest, and Idaho’s Paul Petrino will be on some schools’ lists, especially since his program will drop to FCS in two years.

In Conference USA, Jeff Brohm is a hot commodity at the present, but there are other potential candidates in this league. Marshall’s Doc Holliday may only have an interest in one other job, which is not about to become open any time soon, but his recruiting ability could earn him a look at Purdue. Bobby Wilder from Old Dominion could be an option for a larger school, while North Texas’s Seth Littrell is probably a couple years away from becoming a hot commodity.

In the Mountain West, Tony Sanchez is a Las Vegas man, so he may not be ready to leave UNLV after two years. The Rebels have not completely turned the corner, but a sneaky bowl-eligible season when they were picked to finish near the bottom could put Sanchez on some radar screens. The coach that appears to be a rising star from the MWC is Wyoming’s Craig Bohl.  Bohl built North Dakota State into the Alabama of the FCS, and he could get some offers from the Big 12, Pac-12, and even Big Ten.
Then, there is the American Athletic Conference, where Houston’s Tom Herman could be the leading candidate at multiple big-time programs. Herman could stay in Houston if the Cougars were told they were going to be selected by the Big 12, but at this point in time, it is starting to look like the Big 12 will stay as they are. South Florida’s Willie Taggart and Temple’s Matt Rhule should get opportunities to talk to bigger schools.

There are three other Group of 5 coaches that could draw specialty interest if certain jobs became available. Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo, Tulane’s Willie Fritz, and Army’s Jeff Monken may not get the opportunity to interview at a big-time state school, because these three coaches are triple option coaches. There are not many schools in the Power 5 Conferences that would consider going to the archaic system of running the ball 85% of the time, but a place like Purdue, Vanderbilt, or Kansas might be willing to try it out. You cannot ask for too much more from Paul Johnson, who has guided Georgia Tech to seven bowls in eight years, including a top 10 finish and Orange Bowl win.

We will add two more men that could probably go to a Power 5 team and win, but that we feel will not get the opportunity to do so. Akron’s Terry Bowden and New Mexico’s Bob Davie once coached at big-time programs. Bowden led Auburn to multiple SEC West championships, while Davie took over for Lou Holtz at Notre Dame.

How Good is Bama

We frequently get asked by people that know us to compare a team with team’s from the past. Recently, an Alabama fan asked us how good this Tide team was compared to those from the past. He was only asking to compare to past Tide teams, but we like to go one further. How good is this Alabama team among all the teams in college football history?

The obvious answer is that the 2016 Alabama team would beat the 1962 Green Bay Packers or the 1970 Pro Bowl teams, just like today’s Cleveland Cavaliers would run the Boston Celtics of the Red Auerbach era out of the gym, and many high school sprinters of today could win the Gold Medal in the 1896 Olympics.

However, we could say it another way. LeBron James might only have grown to 6 foot 4 had he lived 50 years ago. Compared to Elgin Baylor or Connie Hawkins, he might have been a bench-warmer back then. Had Jesse Owens been born in 1994, he might make Usain Bolt look slow. You have to compare talent to its historical time frame.

So, with the above caveat, where does Alabama currently rank among all-time teams? We can use our PiRate formula to determine how they rank among teams since about 1970. The formula has been tweaked through the years, but we have kept records to know how to compare a rating from 1979 with a rating from today. To be considered great, a team in our PiRate and Bias ratings needs to top 135.0, and in the Mean rating, 130.0. Alabama tops 135 in the PiRate and Bias, but they are a tad under 130 in the Mean. 135 means that a team is 5 touchdowns better than the average team.

Very few teams have finished the season five touchdowns better than the average team. Since 1970, that group is limited to:

1971–Nebraska
1972–Southern Cal
1974–Oklahoma
1995–Nebraska
2001–Miami
2004–Southern Cal
2005–Texas

The 1995 Nebraska team remains the top ever in our PiRate Ratings’ history. USC in 1972 and Nebraska in 1971 are close behind in a tie for second (The 1971 Oklahoma team almost made this list).

There are no doubt other teams prior to our ratings that are as good or even better than the teams we have listed. Army in 1944 and 1945 was much like an all-star team. Notre Dame between 1946 and 1949 stocked the NFL with more than 30 players. Oklahoma once won 47 games in a row in the middle 1950’s and went 107-8-2 over an 11-year span.

If the season ended today, this Alabama team would rank 6th all-time in our PiRate Ratings, behind 1995 Nebraska, 1972 USC, 1971 Nebraska, 2001 Miami, and 2004 USC. Check below to see how we rate the Tide against unbeaten Texas A&M this week.

PiRate Ratings

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 135.6 128.6 135.5 133.2
2 Michigan 129.3 126.8 129.8 128.6
3 Washington 128.5 121.1 128.6 126.1
4 Ohio St. 125.6 124.9 126.5 125.7
5 Louisville 126.5 121.3 126.4 124.7
6 Clemson 126.3 119.0 125.3 123.5
7 LSU 123.8 119.1 123.2 122.0
8 Oklahoma 120.2 118.3 120.1 119.5
9 Auburn 118.5 116.6 118.7 117.9
10 Tennessee 118.7 115.6 118.1 117.5
11 Virginia Tech 117.2 116.4 117.5 117.0
12 Texas A&M 117.3 115.5 117.1 116.6
13 Miami 118.8 112.2 118.5 116.5
14 Florida St. 118.7 112.3 117.7 116.2
15 Colorado 116.5 112.3 116.8 115.2
16 Wisconsin 115.3 113.4 116.0 114.9
17 USC 116.9 112.4 114.6 114.6
18 North Carolina 116.6 110.1 116.4 114.4
19 Oklahoma St. 114.1 115.1 113.9 114.4
20 Houston 114.3 112.6 116.1 114.3
21 Baylor 113.8 114.1 114.4 114.1
22 Ole Miss 116.2 110.4 115.3 114.0
23 Florida 113.7 116.0 112.0 113.9
24 Pittsburgh 114.9 111.2 114.1 113.4
25 Western Michigan 113.1 111.7 115.0 113.3
26 Washington St. 113.2 110.1 113.3 112.2
27 Nebraska 113.0 109.9 113.0 112.0
28 Stanford 114.2 107.8 113.1 111.7
29 Iowa 112.2 109.5 112.1 111.3
30 Texas 110.9 112.1 110.2 111.1
31 UCLA 111.6 110.2 111.1 111.0
32 West Virginia 111.4 110.1 110.9 110.8
33 South Florida 111.3 109.0 112.0 110.8
34 Arkansas 112.8 107.9 110.7 110.5
35 Notre Dame 112.0 108.4 110.3 110.2
36 TCU 109.6 111.1 109.1 109.9
37 North Carolina St. 110.2 107.2 110.0 109.1
38 Boise St. 108.1 109.3 109.4 108.9
39 Georgia Tech 109.5 105.3 108.6 107.8
40 Mississippi St. 108.8 106.7 107.8 107.8
41 Georgia 108.2 107.4 107.5 107.7
42 Utah 110.1 104.7 108.0 107.6
43 Penn St. 107.1 109.1 105.9 107.4
44 BYU 109.3 103.6 108.8 107.2
45 Northwestern 109.2 104.5 107.9 107.2
46 Kansas St. 106.4 108.9 106.2 107.2
47 Minnesota 105.7 104.5 105.2 105.1
48 Arizona St. 105.8 104.9 104.6 105.1
49 Oregon 105.9 104.3 104.9 105.0
50 Michigan St. 105.4 104.4 103.3 104.4
51 Memphis 105.8 102.4 104.6 104.3
52 Indiana 103.0 105.6 102.7 103.8
53 Toledo 103.4 102.8 104.0 103.4
54 Wake Forest 104.1 101.7 103.8 103.2
55 Texas Tech 103.4 102.7 101.4 102.5
56 Virginia 103.0 100.8 102.4 102.1
57 California 105.1 97.8 102.8 101.9
58 Maryland 101.4 104.3 99.5 101.7
59 Syracuse 103.1 99.8 101.5 101.5
60 San Diego St. 101.2 99.9 103.3 101.5
61 Missouri 101.6 100.9 101.1 101.2
62 Duke 101.1 101.3 100.2 100.9
63 Navy 100.9 100.8 100.6 100.8
64 Temple 100.7 100.6 100.7 100.7
65 Vanderbilt 101.6 98.4 100.3 100.1
66 Tulsa 99.1 101.3 99.9 100.1
67 Arizona 100.9 98.8 99.4 99.7
68 South Carolina 99.5 99.0 98.9 99.2
69 Appalachian St. 98.4 98.6 100.3 99.1
70 Boston College 99.2 98.6 98.9 98.9
71 Western Kentucky 99.1 96.2 99.9 98.4
72 Central Michigan 97.6 99.3 98.3 98.4
73 Air Force 97.7 98.9 97.9 98.2
74 Kentucky 97.8 99.4 96.9 98.0
75 Iowa St. 98.3 97.8 97.6 97.9
76 Cincinnati 97.7 98.0 97.8 97.9
77 Army 93.3 101.7 96.3 97.1
78 Connecticut 97.6 95.4 97.5 96.9
79 Illinois 97.4 93.9 96.6 96.0
80 Troy 92.8 97.4 94.8 95.0
81 Middle Tennessee 94.5 95.5 95.1 95.0
82 Central Florida 94.0 96.3 94.4 94.9
83 Louisiana Tech 93.9 95.3 95.4 94.9
84 Utah St. 93.2 95.7 92.9 93.9
85 Oregon St. 95.6 91.1 93.9 93.5
86 Northern Illinois 92.7 94.0 93.8 93.5
87 New Mexico 92.2 94.6 92.9 93.3
88 Purdue 94.2 92.3 92.9 93.1
89 East Carolina 91.9 93.9 92.1 92.6
90 Georgia Southern 91.6 91.5 93.8 92.3
91 Ohio 89.4 96.4 89.8 91.9
92 SMU 91.2 90.8 93.3 91.8
93 Southern Mississippi 91.3 91.8 91.7 91.6
94 Old Dominion 89.0 92.5 89.6 90.4
95 UNLV 88.5 91.8 88.8 89.7
96 Arkansas St. 87.9 89.9 89.6 89.1
97 Wyoming 88.9 88.9 89.5 89.1
98 Akron 86.6 92.6 88.1 89.1
99 Rutgers 90.2 88.0 88.6 89.0
100 Colorado St. 87.3 89.1 88.2 88.2
101 Ball St. 86.5 88.5 87.7 87.6
102 Marshall 85.8 88.9 87.0 87.2
103 Nevada 85.7 88.4 86.5 86.9
104 Tulane 85.3 89.4 85.9 86.9
105 South Alabama 83.5 90.4 84.8 86.2
106 Kent St. 85.3 87.0 85.9 86.1
107 Eastern Michigan 85.1 87.6 85.3 86.0
108 UTSA 82.6 89.6 85.3 85.9
109 Kansas 83.7 89.5 81.0 84.8
110 Georgia St. 82.5 87.0 84.4 84.6
111 Bowling Green 84.3 84.4 84.2 84.3
112 Miami (O) 83.4 84.7 84.8 84.3
113 San Jose St. 84.3 83.9 83.5 83.9
114 Hawaii 84.0 82.8 83.6 83.5
115 Rice 80.7 87.5 80.9 83.0
116 Fresno St. 80.4 84.3 80.2 81.6
117 Idaho 79.0 84.6 80.5 81.4
118 Florida International 79.3 84.5 79.4 81.1
119 Massachusetts 78.3 85.0 79.4 80.9
120 North Texas 79.1 81.7 79.7 80.2
121 Florida Atlantic 76.8 81.7 80.0 79.5
122 UL-Lafayette 76.0 82.8 77.6 78.8
123 Buffalo 74.8 82.0 75.4 77.4
124 Charlotte 71.1 76.7 71.5 73.1
125 UTEP 70.5 75.1 71.5 72.4
126 New Mexico St. 70.7 74.1 71.4 72.1
127 UL-Monroe 69.8 74.6 70.3 71.6
128 Texas St. 69.1 70.6 70.1 69.9

 

American Athletic Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
South Florida 111.3 109.0 112.0 110.8
Temple 100.7 100.6 100.7 100.7
Cincinnati 97.7 98.0 97.8 97.9
Connecticut 97.6 95.4 97.5 96.9
Central Florida 94.0 96.3 94.4 94.9
East Carolina 91.9 93.9 92.1 92.6
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Houston 114.3 112.6 116.1 114.3
Memphis 105.8 102.4 104.6 104.3
Navy 100.9 100.8 100.6 100.8
Tulsa 99.1 101.3 99.9 100.1
SMU 91.2 90.8 93.3 91.8
Tulane 85.3 89.4 85.9 86.9
         
AAC Averages 99.2 99.3 99.6 99.3
         
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Louisville 126.5 121.3 126.4 124.7
Clemson 126.3 119.0 125.3 123.5
Florida St. 118.7 112.3 117.7 116.2
North Carolina St. 110.2 107.2 110.0 109.1
Wake Forest 104.1 101.7 103.8 103.2
Syracuse 103.1 99.8 101.5 101.5
Boston College 99.2 98.6 98.9 98.9
         
Coastal Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Virginia Tech 117.2 116.4 117.5 117.0
Miami 118.8 112.2 118.5 116.5
North Carolina 116.6 110.1 116.4 114.4
Pittsburgh 114.9 111.2 114.1 113.4
Georgia Tech 109.5 105.3 108.6 107.8
Virginia 103.0 100.8 102.4 102.1
Duke 101.1 101.3 100.2 100.9
         
ACC Averages 112.1 108.4 111.5 110.7
         
Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 120.2 118.3 120.1 119.5
Oklahoma St. 114.1 115.1 113.9 114.4
Baylor 113.8 114.1 114.4 114.1
Texas 110.9 112.1 110.2 111.1
West Virginia 111.4 110.1 110.9 110.8
TCU 109.6 111.1 109.1 109.9
Kansas St. 106.4 108.9 106.2 107.2
Texas Tech 103.4 102.7 101.4 102.5
Iowa St. 98.3 97.8 97.6 97.9
Kansas 83.7 89.5 81.0 84.8
         
Big 12 Averages 107.2 108.0 106.5 107.2
         
Big Ten Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Michigan 129.3 126.8 129.8 128.6
Ohio St. 125.6 124.9 126.5 125.7
Penn St. 107.1 109.1 105.9 107.4
Michigan St. 105.4 104.4 103.3 104.4
Indiana 103.0 105.6 102.7 103.8
Maryland 101.4 104.3 99.5 101.7
Rutgers 90.2 88.0 88.6 89.0
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Wisconsin 115.3 113.4 116.0 114.9
Nebraska 113.0 109.9 113.0 112.0
Iowa 112.2 109.5 112.1 111.3
Northwestern 109.2 104.5 107.9 107.2
Minnesota 105.7 104.5 105.2 105.1
Illinois 97.4 93.9 96.6 96.0
Purdue 94.2 92.3 92.9 93.1
         
Big Ten Averages 107.8 106.5 107.1 107.2
         
Conference USA
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Kentucky 99.1 96.2 99.9 98.4
Middle Tennessee 94.5 95.5 95.1 95.0
Old Dominion 89.0 92.5 89.6 90.4
Marshall 85.8 88.9 87.0 87.2
Florida International 79.3 84.5 79.4 81.1
Florida Atlantic 76.8 81.7 80.0 79.5
Charlotte 71.1 76.7 71.5 73.1
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Louisiana Tech 93.9 95.3 95.4 94.9
Southern Mississippi 91.3 91.8 91.7 91.6
UTSA 82.6 89.6 85.3 85.9
Rice 80.7 87.5 80.9 83.0
North Texas 79.1 81.7 79.7 80.2
UTEP 70.5 75.1 71.5 72.4
         
CUSA Averages 84.1 87.5 85.2 85.6
         
FBS Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame 112.0 108.4 110.3 110.2
BYU 109.3 103.6 108.8 107.2
Army 93.3 101.7 96.3 97.1
Massachusetts 78.3 85.0 79.4 80.9
         
Indep. Averages 98.2 99.7 98.7 98.9
         
Mid-American Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Ohio 89.4 96.4 89.8 91.9
Akron 86.6 92.6 88.1 89.1
Kent St. 85.3 87.0 85.9 86.1
Bowling Green 84.3 84.4 84.2 84.3
Miami (O) 83.4 84.7 84.8 84.3
Buffalo 74.8 82.0 75.4 77.4
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Michigan 113.1 111.7 115.0 113.3
Toledo 103.4 102.8 104.0 103.4
Central Michigan 97.6 99.3 98.3 98.4
Northern Illinois 92.7 94.0 93.8 93.5
Ball St. 86.5 88.5 87.7 87.6
Eastern Michigan 85.1 87.6 85.3 86.0
         
MAC Averages 90.2 92.6 91.0 91.3
         
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Boise St. 108.1 109.3 109.4 108.9
Air Force 97.7 98.9 97.9 98.2
Utah St. 93.2 95.7 92.9 93.9
New Mexico 92.2 94.6 92.9 93.3
Wyoming 88.9 88.9 89.5 89.1
Colorado St. 87.3 89.1 88.2 88.2
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 101.2 99.9 103.3 101.5
UNLV 88.5 91.8 88.8 89.7
Nevada 85.7 88.4 86.5 86.9
San Jose St. 84.3 83.9 83.5 83.9
Hawaii 84.0 82.8 83.6 83.5
Fresno St. 80.4 84.3 80.2 81.6
         
MWC Averages 91.0 92.3 91.4 91.6
         
Pac-12 Conference
North Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Washington 128.5 121.1 128.6 126.1
Washington St. 113.2 110.1 113.3 112.2
Stanford 114.2 107.8 113.1 111.7
Oregon 105.9 104.3 104.9 105.0
California 105.1 97.8 102.8 101.9
Oregon St. 95.6 91.1 93.9 93.5
         
South Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Colorado 116.5 112.3 116.8 115.2
USC 116.9 112.4 114.6 114.6
UCLA 111.6 110.2 111.1 111.0
Utah 110.1 104.7 108.0 107.6
Arizona St. 105.8 104.9 104.6 105.1
Arizona 100.9 98.8 99.4 99.7
         
Pac-12 Averages 110.4 106.3 109.3 108.6
         
Southeastern Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Tennessee 118.7 115.6 118.1 117.5
Florida 113.7 116.0 112.0 113.9
Georgia 108.2 107.4 107.5 107.7
Missouri 101.6 100.9 101.1 101.2
Vanderbilt 101.6 98.4 100.3 100.1
South Carolina 99.5 99.0 98.9 99.2
Kentucky 97.8 99.4 96.9 98.0
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Alabama 135.6 128.6 135.5 133.2
LSU 123.8 119.1 123.2 122.0
Auburn 118.5 116.6 118.7 117.9
Texas A&M 117.3 115.5 117.1 116.6
Ole Miss 116.2 110.4 115.3 114.0
Arkansas 112.8 107.9 110.7 110.5
Mississippi St. 108.8 106.7 107.8 107.8
         
SEC Averages 112.4 110.1 111.7 111.4
         
Sunbelt Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Appalachian St. 98.4 98.6 100.3 99.1
Troy 92.8 97.4 94.8 95.0
Georgia Southern 91.6 91.5 93.8 92.3
Arkansas St. 87.9 89.9 89.6 89.1
South Alabama 83.5 90.4 84.8 86.2
Georgia St. 82.5 87.0 84.4 84.6
Idaho 79.0 84.6 80.5 81.4
UL-Lafayette 76.0 82.8 77.6 78.8
New Mexico St. 70.7 74.1 71.4 72.1
UL-Monroe 69.8 74.6 70.3 71.6
Texas St. 69.1 70.6 70.1 69.9
         
Sun Belt Averages 81.9 85.6 83.4 83.7

 

PiRate Ratings By Conference
# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 SEC 112.4 110.1 111.7 111.4
2 ACC 112.1 108.4 111.5 110.7
3 Pac-12 110.4 106.3 109.3 108.6
4 Big 12 107.2 108.0 106.5 107.2
5 Big Ten 107.8 106.5 107.1 107.2
6 AAC 99.2 99.3 99.6 99.3
7 Independents 98.2 99.7 98.7 98.9
8 MWC 91.0 92.3 91.4 91.6
9 MAC 90.2 92.6 91.0 91.3
10 CUSA 84.1 87.5 85.2 85.6
11 Sun Belt 81.9 85.6 83.4 83.7

 

This Week’s Spreads

This Week’s Games–October 20-22
         
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Thursday, October 20      
Virginia Tech Miami (Fla.) 1.4 7.2 2.0
South Alabama Troy -7.3 -5.0 -8.0
Boise St. BYU 1.8 8.7 3.6
         
Friday, October 21      
Temple South Florida -7.6 -5.4 -8.3
San Diego St. San Jose St. 19.9 19.0 22.8
California Oregon 2.2 -3.5 0.9
         
Saturday, October 22      
Army North Texas 17.2 23.0 19.6
South Carolina Massachusetts 24.2 17.0 22.5
Connecticut Central Florida 6.6 2.1 6.1
Toledo Central Michigan 8.8 6.5 8.7
Bowling Green Miami (O) 2.9 1.7 1.4
Northwestern Indiana 8.7 1.4 7.7
Iowa Wisconsin -0.1 -0.9 -0.9
Louisville North Carolina St. 19.3 17.1 19.4
Kansas Oklahoma St. -27.4 -22.6 -29.9
Kansas St. Texas -1.5 -0.2 -1.0
Minnesota Rutgers 18.5 19.5 19.6
Boston College Syracuse -0.9 1.8 0.4
Kent St. Ohio U -2.1 -7.4 -1.9
Air Force Hawaii 17.2 19.6 17.8
Ball St. Akron 2.9 -1.1 2.6
Stanford Colorado 0.7 -1.5 -0.7
Virginia North Carolina -10.6 -6.3 -11.0
Navy Memphis -1.9 1.4 -1.0
Michigan Illinois 34.9 35.9 36.2
Nebraska Purdue 21.8 20.6 23.1
West Virginia TCU 4.8 2.0 4.8
Appalachian St. Idaho 22.9 17.5 23.3
Northern Illinois Buffalo 20.9 15.0 21.4
Alabama Texas A&M 21.3 16.1 21.4
Western Michigan Eastern Michigan 30.0 26.1 32.7
Tulsa Tulane 16.8 14.9 17.0
UCLA Utah 4.5 8.5 6.1
Missouri Middle Tennessee 10.1 8.4 9.0
UNLV Colorado St. 4.2 5.7 3.6
Marshall Charlotte 17.7 13.4 18.5
Auburn Arkansas 8.7 11.7 11.0
Washington Oregon St. 35.9 33.0 37.7
Florida Int’l. Louisiana Tech -11.6 -7.4 -13.0
Western Kentucky Old Dominion 13.1 6.7 13.3
UTSA UTEP 14.6 17.0 16.3
Cincinnati East Carolina 8.8 7.1 8.7
SMU Houston -20.9 -19.3 -20.3
Texas St. UL-Lafayette -4.4 -9.7 -5.0
Maryland Michigan St. -1.0 2.9 -0.8
Kentucky Mississippi St. -8.0 -4.3 -7.9
New Mexico St. Georgia Southern -17.9 -14.4 -19.4
Penn St. Ohio St. -15.5 -12.8 -17.6
Texas Tech Oklahoma -13.8 -12.6 -15.7
LSU Ole Miss 9.1 11.2 10.4
New Mexico UL-Monroe 25.4 23.0 25.6
Arizona St. Washington St. -4.4 -2.2 -5.7
Utah St. Fresno St. 15.8 14.4 15.7
Nevada Wyoming -0.2 2.5 -0.1

 

FBS vs. FCS Week 8  
Home Visitor PiRate
Georgia St. UT-Martin 15
Rice Prairie View 14
Vanderbilt Tennessee St. 25

Bowl Projections

This week, we project 78 teams to be bowl eligible, necessitating two 7-loss teams falling into bowl games.  A 6-7 Hawaii team trumps all other 7-loss teams.

Bowl Conferences Team vs. Team
New Mexico MWC CUSA New Mexico vs. Sou. Miss.
Las Vegas Pac-12 MWC Utah vs. Boise St.
Cure AAC SBC South Florida vs. Ga. Southern
Camellia MAC SBC Akron vs. S. Alabama
New Orleans CUSA SBC Old Dominion vs. Troy
Miami Beach AAC MAC Tulsa vs. Central Mich.
Boca Raton AAC CUSA Houston vs. Western Ky.
Poinsettia MWC BYU Air Force vs. BYU
Idaho Potato MAC MWC Eastern Mich. vs. Wyoming
Bahamas AAC/CUSA MAC/CUSA Memphis vs. Toledo
Armed Forces Navy Big 12 Navy vs. [Idaho]
Dollar General MAC SBC Ohio U vs. Appy St.
Hawaii CUSA MWC Middle Tenn. vs. {Hawaii}
St. Petersburg AAC ACC/ND Temple vs. Miami (Fla.)
Quick Lane ACC/ND Big Ten Georgia Tech vs. Indiana
Independence SEC ACC/ND {Boston Coll.} vs. [Florida Int’l.]
Heart of Dallas Big Ten CUSA Maryland vs. North Texas
Military ACC/ND AAC N. Carolina St. vs. Central Fla.
Holiday Big Ten Pac-12 Penn St. vs. Arizona St.
Cactus Big 12 Pac-12 [UNLV] vs. California
Pinstripe ACC/ND Big Ten Pittsburgh vs. Minnesota
Russell Athletic ACC/ND Big 12 Florida St. vs. TCU
Foster Farms Big Ten Pac-12 Iowa vs. Wash. St.
Texas Big 12 SEC Kansas St. vs. Ole Miss
Birmingham AAC SEC [Arkansas St.] vs. [Ball St.]
Belk ACC/ND SEC Wake Forest vs. Georgia
Alamo Big 12 Pac-12 Oklahoma vs. USC
Liberty Big 12 SEC Oklahoma St. vs. LSU
Sun ACC/ND Pac-12 N. Carolina vs. Stanford
Arizona CUSA/SBC MWC/SBC La. Tech vs. San Diego St.
Music City ACC/ND/B10 SEC Northwestern vs. [Army]
Orange ACC/ND B10/SEC Clemson vs. Tennessee
Citrus ACC/ND/B10 SEC Wisconsin vs. Arkansas
TaxSlayer ACC/ND/B10 SEC Virginia Tech vs. Auburn
Peach Semifinal Semifinal Ohio St. vs. Washington
Fiesta Semifinal Semifinal Alabama vs. West Virginia
Outback Big Ten SEC Nebraska vs. Florida
Cotton At-Large At-Large Louisville vs. Western Mich.
Rose Big Ten Pac-12 Michigan vs. Colorado
Sugar Big 12 SEC Baylor vs. Texas A&M
Nat’l Champ. Semifinal Winners Alabama vs. Ohio St.
           
[Team] At-Large Selection
{Team} At-Large Selection of projected 7-Loss Team

 

 

 

October 3, 2016

College Football Ratings & Spreads For October 5-8, 2016

5-7 Bowl Teams Could Increase This Year

Last year, Minnesota, Nebraska, and San Jose State finished with 5-7 regular season records but received bowl bids when only 77 FBS teams were bowl eligible at the end of the season.  These three schools held the three highest Academic Progress Rate (APR) Scores of the teams finishing 5-7.  As luck would have it, all three schools won their bowl games.

This year, the number of teams failing to reach 6-6 or better records could be fewer than last year’s 77.  It could be as low as 71 or 72, meaning there could be bowls where both teams are 5-7, and there could be bowls that have to invite teams with fanbases so small, they could arrive at the bowl in a bus.

The logical reply is that there are too many bowls, and this is quite obvious to all with half a brain.  The actual reply is that these bowls exist to make money for the sponsors, or at least to attempt to make money for the sponsors (advertising plays a major part in making money for a corporation).

The intelligent thing to do would be to expand the playoffs to eight teams, and use seven bowls to play these games.  Then, cap the number of bowls so that there can be no more than 40 in a single season.  With seven of the 40 being used for the Playoffs, and with eight teams qualifying for the Playoffs, 66 additional teams would receive bowl bids, removing the bottom six of the current 80 without a bowl.  In most years, there should be 66 bowl eligible teams after the Playoff spots had been awarded.

Best of all, with an expansion to eight Playoff teams, all five Power 5 Conference Champions could be guaranteed an automatic spot in the Playoffs.  It would leave room for three at-large teams with the top Group of 5 team getting one of those three bids.

With a need for up to six to eight 5-7 teams to fill bowl spots this year, the APR scores could go quite low, because maybe a dozen schools will finish 5-7.  Let’s take a look at the possible contenders for 5-7 bowl invitations.

Power 5 Leagues

Atlantic Coast Conference

Boston College, Duke, North Carolina St., and Virginia are battling it out for bowl eligibility, and Wake Forest and Georgia Tech could fall back into this pack.  Syracuse is on the outside, looking in, but the Orangemen cannot be eliminated, as Dino Babers creates major headaches for defensive coordinators.

The ACC should have 10 Bowl Eligible participants, counting Notre Dame as one of the 10.  Clemson is an odds-on team to make the Playoffs, while Louisville should earn a New Year’s 6 Bowl.  Miami, North Carolina, or Virginia Tech could sneak in as a third conference member playing in a NY6 bowl, and the league has 10 bowl allotments to fill.  This would leave two bowls without ACC bowl eligible teams, likely the Quick Lane and St. Petersburg Bowls.  The ACC voted in the Spring to require 7-5 records for bowl eligibility, but this is just a ceremonial rule until the rest of the FBS follows suit.  There will be 6-6 teams in this league playing in bowls.

Big 12

Texas now appears headed to a probable 5-7 record, and Charles Strong will not survive such a performance in Austin.  Kansas State and Texas Tech are most likely going to be bowl eligible, while Iowa State and Kansas are sure not to be.  That leaves seven bowl eligible teams.  The league most likely will be out in the cold in the Playoff race, as Oklahoma won’t get in with two wins, and neither Baylor nor West Virginia do not look like 12-0 teams.

However, it is possible and actually probable that the number two team in this league will end up in the Cotton Bowl, as one of the NY6 selections.  This means seven bowl eligible teams will come up one short for the Big 12’s seven bowl bids.  The Armed Forces Bowl would be the odd-bowl out.

Big Ten

The Big Ten may not be as strong overall as the SEC, but the top half surely is right there at the top.  Ohio State, Michigan, and Nebraska remain undefeated overall, as some expected, but Maryland is now 4-0 under first year coach D.J. Durkin, the former assistant to Jim Harbaugh and before that Urban Meyer.  Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan State figure to become bowl eligible, while Iowa, Illinois, and Northwestern will compete for bowl eligibility.  Looking at the schedules, it is our current opinion that Iowa and Northwestern will finish 5-7, while Illinois loses at least eight games.

The Ohio State-Michigan winner is an odds-on favorite to claim the number one or number two overall seed in the Playoffs after disposing of the West Division champion in the Big Ten Championship Game.  The loser of this game should head to Pasadena, while the third best team in the league competes with the third best ACC team for the final NY6 Bowl spot.

We see nine league teams gaining bowl eligibility, and for now, we are going with just two making NY6 appearances.  This would require 10 bowl eligible teams, so the Heart of Dallas Bowl would be forced to find a replacement.

Pac-12

This is where there could be a lot of interesting happenings.  Who thought that Oregon might not be bowl eligible this season?  The Ducks have the look of 5-7.  Washington State, California, Arizona, and the UCLA-USC loser will contend for the final bowl spots, with three of the four probably gaining bowl eligiblity.  At the moment, we have Arizona as the odd team out.

The key in the Pac-12 is Washington.  Can the Huskies run the table, win the Pac-12 Championship Game, and make the Playoffs at 13-0?  The PiRates believe this league is too tough to win out on the road, and UW has road games remaining against Oregon, Utah, Cal, and Washington St.  It is our belief that the Huskies will go 12-1 and miss out on the Playoffs if Houston runs the table.

Because of this, UW would then play in the Rose Bowl.  Due to the parity, we do not foresee a second Pac-12 team receving a NY6 Bowl bid, and the league only has seven bowl tie-ins.  With nine probably bowl eligible teams, two of them would be shipped to other bowls as at-large invitees.  Not to worry, because there will be ample spots available and a team like Cal or Washington State would be at the top of the priority list.

SEC

Assuming Alabama continues to add to their dynasty, put the Crimson Tide in the Playoffs as one of the top two seeds.  The winner of this week’s Texas A&M-Tennessee game could finish with 11 wins and definitely receive the Sugar Bowl bid, while the loser could receive the Orange Bowl bid.

Now, look at the bottom.  In the East, South Carolina, Missouri, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt, and in the West, Mississippi State will all contend for 5-7 records.  One of these five should be exactly 5-7, and there is a strong possibility that one of the 5-7 teams will earn a bowl bid.

Considering just bowl eligible teams, the SEC is looking at nine getting to 6-6 or better.  When you remove the NY6 invitees, it leaves six schools for the remaining nine bowls, so the Independence, Birmingham, and Music City Bowls are likely to invite at-large teams.

Group of 5 Leagues

AAC

Will Houston run the table, including a win over Louisville?  If so, the Cougars stand a 50-50 chance of making the Playoffs.  Remember, that game with the Cardinals is in Houston.  Houston is virtually guaranteed at least a NY6 bid to the Cotton Bowl if they do not make the Playoffs, so the AAC will need nine bowl eligible teams to satisfy its bowl allotments.

Our crystal ball says that seven AAC teams will become bowl eligible, so there will be two more bowl openings for at-large invitees.  Since this league does not prioritize their bowls, and only Navy is really tied to one bowl, it is a pure guess to select the unfortunate bowls that will have to find replacement teams.

As for 5-7 possibles, it would not surprise us if UConn finishes with that record.  Cincinnati could fall into that category as well.  We had Central Florida in that boat last week, but we now believe UCF will get to 6-6.

CUSA

Conference USA is out of any NY6 consideration this year, so it is a cut and dry six bowl bids with a possible seventh with a secondary allotment at the Independence Bowl.  It looks like six schools will be bowl eligible, so once again the Independence Bowl sponsors will be burning the Midnight oil trying to find teams.

MAC

In past years, the Mid-American Conference has benefited from the lack of bowl eligible teams elsewhere and sent one or two extra teams to bowls.  We see more of the same this year, as the league has five bowl tie-ins and it looks like seven teams will be bowl eligible.

It is a long shot, but Western Michigan could sneak into the Cotton Bowl if the Broncos run the table and Houston and Boise State both lose a game.  For now, we say WMU wins the MAC with a 12-1 record and possibly 13-0.  At 13-0, some back room deals could be made to take the Broncos out of a MAC bowl and pair them up with a possible undefeated team from another Group of 5 league.

Pay close attention to the Eastern Michigan-Northern Illinois game in Mid-November.  The winner is likely to squeeze in as the seventh bowl eligible team in the league.  If EMU can win this game, it would be the first time the Eagles make a bowl since 1987.

MWC

San Diego State’s losing to South Alabama hurt Boise State’s chances to pad a resume in the event that Houston loses a game this year.  The Broncos could go 13-0 and not make a New Year’s 6 Bowl.  They still must get past Air Force, and the Falcons have yet to lose this year.

This league is very muddled at this point, and there could be more teams with seven losses than in any other conference.  In the Mountain Division, the bottom four teams could all finish 5-7, but the odds are that one of the four will get to 6-6.  As of today, we are going to tap Wyoming to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2011 and make Coach Craig Bohl a top candidate in Power 5 Conference coaching vacancies in December.  Bohl turned North Dakota State into the Alabama of FCS football.

Colorado State, Utah State, and New Mexico look like 5-7 teams.  The Aggies might be the luckiest ducks in football if they finish 5-7 this year.  See below to the end of this commentary to discover why.

In the West Division, the key is Hawaii.  The Rainbow Warriors will receive a ticket to the front of the seven-loss line if they lose seven games, because they will be 6-7 and not 5-7.  The NCAA guidelines state that a 6-7 team trumps any 5-7 team in bowl prioritization.  If UH finishes 5-8 or worse, then a host of other 5-7 teams will breathe minor sighs of relief.

The other part of the equation in the West Division is what happens with the two teams from the Silver State.  Nevada and UNLV are as mysterious as Area 51 this year.  The Wolf Pack played well at Notre Dame and then laid an egg in Hawaii.  The Rebels look to be on the cusp of turning things around with future star coach Tony Sanchez.  For our own sanity, we will give both schools promotions to 6-6, but that could change in a week.

Sun Belt

Like CUSA, the SBC is not a contender for a New Year’s 6 Bowl.  The league has four bids with a secondary fifth bid, and in all likelihood, there will be four bowl eligible teams.

Independents

We count Notre Dame as an ACC team, since they are open to appear in the ACC’s bowls and can leapfrog over any ACC team with a one game better record.

Massachusetts is not a bowl contender this year, but the Minutemen are an improved school and could be in contention in the next two years.

Army and BYU are the other two independent schools, and the Black Knights of West Point are going to end their bowl drought this year.  BYU is on the bubble.  The Cougars are going to have to fight and claw their way to a 6-6 record.  BYU is guaranteed a spot in the Poinsettia Bowl if they get to 6-6.  Army does not have a bowl tie-in this year due to their failure to compete for a bowl for the last several years, but the Cadets will definitely get a bowl bid with a 6-6 or better record.  They should be at least 7-5, and who knows: they could even win that 12th regular season game this year.

The Academic Progress Rate

The APR decides which 5-7 teams get bowl bids and which do not if there are openings remaining after all bowl eligible teams have been selected.  We believe this week that four 5-7 teams will receive bowl invitations with just 76 teams reaching bowl eligibility.  With four bowl openings, the top four 5-7 teams according to APR scores would receive those bids.  It does not matter if Oregon or Iowa is 5-7 and gets overlooked as a school like Duke or Boston College is also 5-7.  Here is the list of probable 5-7 teams ranked in order of APR score.  Because so many of the top APR scores belong to teams that figure to already be bowl eligible, it could take the 75th best APR score to fill a bowl.

  1. Duke
  2. Northwestern
  3. Vanderbilt
  4. Georgia Tech
  5. Central Florida
  6. Illinois
  7. Boston College
  8. Missouri
  9. Utah St.
  10. South Carolina

What this means is that if Duke finishes 5-7 and there is at least one bowl spot open, the Blue Devils automatically receive that bid.

The rules state that the 5-7 teams that qualify for bowls get to select the remaining bowls that are open in the order of their APR ranking.  For example, let’s say there are four bowl spots remaining and Duke, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and Georgia Tech all finish 5-7.

Duke would select which of the four bowls that they wish to accept an invitation.  Northwestern would then select which of the remaining three bowls that they wish to accept.  Vanderbilt would then select from the remaining two bowls, and Georgia Tech would receive what was left.

Our wacky bowl selections are at the conclusion of this commentary.

Here are This Week’s PiRate Ratings

Predictive

For newcomers to this site, we supply two types of ratings.  Predictive ratings look forward to the next week’s games and do not act as rankings.  You will see that Louisville is rated ahead of Clemson in our Predictive Ratings, because we believe that if the two teams played this week on a neutral field, Louisville would win.

We look at each game and re-create a logical score of each game based on the statistical and play-by-play data.  Two 28-14 scores can be totally different.  In one instance, the game could have been 28-0 with five minutes left to play, and the second string of the losing team scored two late TDs.  In another instance, the score could be 21-14 with a few minutes left to play, and the trailing team driving in the Red Zone for the tying score, before a pick six at the end makes the game 28-14 rather than 21-21.  Our ratings differentiate between these two outcomes.

We have three separate Predictive Ratings, each using a different logarithm to come up with a power rating number.  We then supply an average for the three.

PiRate Ratings
# Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 Alabama 131.2 124.1 131.0 128.8
2 Ohio St. 126.6 125.7 128.1 126.8
3 Louisville 127.6 121.9 127.7 125.7
4 Michigan 124.5 122.0 125.0 123.8
5 Washington 124.4 116.9 124.3 121.9
6 Clemson 124.8 116.8 123.8 121.8
7 LSU 123.6 118.4 122.8 121.6
8 Tennessee 121.7 118.3 121.4 120.5
9 Oklahoma 120.3 117.8 120.3 119.5
10 Miami 120.9 113.9 120.9 118.6
11 Houston 118.3 116.2 120.6 118.4
12 Virginia Tech 116.6 116.2 117.1 116.6
13 Florida St. 118.8 112.0 117.9 116.2
14 North Carolina 118.1 111.5 117.8 115.8
15 Texas A&M 116.2 114.7 115.9 115.6
16 Auburn 115.8 114.2 115.8 115.3
17 Oklahoma St. 114.9 115.7 114.9 115.2
18 Stanford 117.7 110.7 116.6 115.0
19 Ole Miss 117.1 110.9 116.6 114.9
20 Wisconsin 114.4 112.4 114.9 113.9
21 Colorado 114.8 110.4 115.2 113.5
22 Pittsburgh 114.8 111.2 114.1 113.4
23 TCU 113.1 114.2 112.8 113.4
24 Florida 112.4 115.0 110.6 112.7
25 USC 114.7 110.5 112.0 112.4
26 UCLA 112.7 111.2 112.4 112.1
27 Nebraska 112.9 109.3 112.9 111.7
28 Notre Dame 113.1 109.7 111.6 111.5
29 Baylor 111.1 111.2 111.7 111.3
30 South Florida 111.9 109.2 112.9 111.3
31 Western Michigan 110.9 109.8 112.8 111.2
32 Mississippi St. 112.0 109.8 111.1 111.0
33 Iowa 112.2 109.1 111.5 110.9
34 Texas 110.0 111.7 109.0 110.2
35 Arkansas 112.5 108.1 109.9 110.2
36 Michigan St. 110.2 109.6 108.5 109.4
37 Boise St. 108.1 109.2 109.6 109.0
38 Washington St. 109.5 106.7 109.4 108.6
39 Georgia 108.9 108.3 108.3 108.5
40 Oregon 109.0 107.5 108.2 108.2
41 Kansas St. 106.9 109.8 106.8 107.8
42 Utah 110.3 104.7 108.0 107.7
43 Georgia Tech 109.4 105.1 108.3 107.6
44 BYU 109.5 103.6 109.1 107.4
45 North Carolina St. 108.1 105.8 107.6 107.2
46 West Virginia 107.6 106.5 107.0 107.0
47 Maryland 106.4 109.7 104.4 106.8
48 Arizona St. 107.0 106.5 105.8 106.5
49 Texas Tech 107.2 106.1 105.3 106.2
50 Northwestern 107.5 102.6 106.0 105.4
51 Penn St. 104.7 106.6 103.5 104.9
52 Toledo 104.8 103.2 105.8 104.6
53 Memphis 106.5 102.3 104.8 104.6
54 Minnesota 103.8 102.5 103.5 103.3
55 Indiana 101.9 105.3 101.2 102.8
56 Arizona 103.8 101.5 102.7 102.7
57 Air Force 102.3 102.7 102.9 102.6
58 California 105.8 98.2 103.7 102.6
59 Virginia 103.3 101.0 102.8 102.4
60 Missouri 102.7 101.7 102.3 102.3
61 San Diego St. 101.5 99.1 103.9 101.5
62 Boston College 101.4 101.2 101.3 101.3
63 Wake Forest 101.8 100.2 101.1 101.1
64 Vanderbilt 102.5 98.6 101.2 100.8
65 Temple 100.4 100.7 100.9 100.7
66 Tulsa 98.9 101.2 99.6 99.9
67 Western Kentucky 100.9 96.5 102.0 99.8
68 Syracuse 101.3 97.7 99.6 99.6
69 Central Michigan 98.8 100.2 99.7 99.6
70 South Carolina 99.9 99.2 99.4 99.5
71 Duke 99.6 99.9 98.2 99.2
72 Cincinnati 98.5 98.9 98.7 98.7
73 Appalachian St. 97.3 96.8 99.1 97.7
74 Navy 97.8 97.9 97.2 97.7
75 Iowa St. 97.9 97.5 97.1 97.5
76 Kentucky 96.4 98.7 95.3 96.8
77 Army 92.8 101.2 95.8 96.6
78 Illinois 97.8 94.5 97.0 96.5
79 Connecticut 96.7 94.5 96.4 95.9
80 Utah St. 94.4 96.7 94.3 95.1
81 Troy 92.9 97.5 94.9 95.1
82 Southern Mississippi 94.4 94.9 95.3 94.9
83 Middle Tennessee 94.1 95.5 94.6 94.7
84 Central Florida 93.7 96.1 94.0 94.6
85 Ohio 91.5 99.7 92.3 94.5
86 Rutgers 95.6 93.2 94.2 94.4
87 New Mexico 92.5 95.2 93.2 93.7
88 Northern Illinois 92.0 93.5 92.9 92.8
89 Purdue 93.2 91.5 92.2 92.3
90 Georgia Southern 91.5 91.3 93.8 92.2
91 Oregon St. 94.2 90.1 92.2 92.2
92 East Carolina 91.3 93.6 91.3 92.1
93 Marshall 90.0 92.7 91.7 91.5
94 Louisiana Tech 90.0 92.3 91.1 91.1
95 UNLV 89.0 93.4 89.2 90.5
96 SMU 89.9 89.6 91.9 90.5
97 Old Dominion 88.1 91.5 88.5 89.4
98 Akron 86.9 92.7 88.4 89.3
99 Nevada 87.5 90.6 88.5 88.9
100 Arkansas St. 87.5 89.5 89.0 88.7
101 San Jose St. 87.5 87.9 87.8 87.7
102 Ball St. 85.8 87.6 86.6 86.7
103 South Alabama 83.8 90.9 85.2 86.6
104 Tulane 84.8 89.2 85.5 86.5
105 Wyoming 85.4 85.7 85.8 85.7
106 Colorado St. 84.6 86.9 84.9 85.5
107 Miami (O) 84.4 85.5 86.1 85.3
108 Kansas 83.7 90.1 80.8 84.9
109 Kent St. 83.8 85.3 84.0 84.4
110 Bowling Green 84.2 84.0 83.6 83.9
111 Georgia St. 81.7 86.4 83.6 83.9
112 Massachusetts 80.6 87.5 81.9 83.3
113 Eastern Michigan 81.7 85.3 82.6 83.2
114 Rice 80.7 87.5 80.7 83.0
115 UTSA 79.0 86.5 81.6 82.4
116 Florida Atlantic 79.7 84.3 82.1 82.0
117 Fresno St. 80.2 84.5 79.6 81.4
118 Buffalo 78.0 85.8 79.1 81.0
119 Florida International 78.5 83.9 78.2 80.2
120 Hawaii 80.7 79.4 79.8 80.0
121 UL-Lafayette 76.7 84.2 78.4 79.8
122 Idaho 76.6 82.4 77.9 79.0
123 North Texas 75.3 78.1 75.5 76.3
124 New Mexico St. 73.2 76.4 74.1 74.6
125 UTEP 71.7 75.9 73.1 73.6
126 UL-Monroe 69.6 74.5 70.1 71.4
127 Charlotte 68.7 75.0 69.8 71.2
128 Texas St. 70.1 71.3 71.1 70.8

Retrodictive Ratings

Retrodictive Ratings are more like the poll rankings you see in the media, such as the AP and Coaches Polls.  These ratings attempt to rank from best to worst based on what the teams have done so far this year.  They are not meant to predict outcomes of future games.  Wins and schedule strength matter in these ratings, and whether a team deserved to win because they dominated a game or lucked out by winning a game they would have lost nine times out of 10, doesn’t affect their rating.

PiRate Ratings By Conference

American Athletic Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
South Florida 111.9 109.2 112.9 111.3
Temple 100.4 100.7 100.9 100.7
Cincinnati 98.5 98.9 98.7 98.7
Connecticut 96.7 94.5 96.4 95.9
Central Florida 93.7 96.1 94.0 94.6
East Carolina 91.3 93.6 91.3 92.1
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Houston 118.3 116.2 120.6 118.4
Memphis 106.5 102.3 104.8 104.6
Tulsa 98.9 101.2 99.6 99.9
Navy 97.8 97.9 97.2 97.7
SMU 89.9 89.6 91.9 90.5
Tulane 84.8 89.2 85.5 86.5
         
AAC Averages 99.1 99.2 99.5 99.2
         
Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Louisville 127.6 121.9 127.7 125.7
Clemson 124.8 116.8 123.8 121.8
Florida St. 118.8 112.0 117.9 116.2
North Carolina St. 108.1 105.8 107.6 107.2
Boston College 101.4 101.2 101.3 101.3
Wake Forest 101.8 100.2 101.1 101.1
Syracuse 101.3 97.7 99.6 99.6
         
Coastal Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Miami 120.9 113.9 120.9 118.6
Virginia Tech 116.6 116.2 117.1 116.6
North Carolina 118.1 111.5 117.8 115.8
Pittsburgh 114.8 111.2 114.1 113.4
Georgia Tech 109.4 105.1 108.3 107.6
Virginia 103.3 101.0 102.8 102.4
Duke 99.6 99.9 98.2 99.2
         
ACC Averages 111.9 108.2 111.3 110.5
         
Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 120.3 117.8 120.3 119.5
Oklahoma St. 114.9 115.7 114.9 115.2
TCU 113.1 114.2 112.8 113.4
Baylor 111.1 111.2 111.7 111.3
Texas 110.0 111.7 109.0 110.2
Kansas St. 106.9 109.8 106.8 107.8
West Virginia 107.6 106.5 107.0 107.0
Texas Tech 107.2 106.1 105.3 106.2
Iowa St. 97.9 97.5 97.1 97.5
Kansas 83.7 90.1 80.8 84.9
         
Big 12 Averages 107.3 108.1 106.6 107.3
         
Big Ten Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Ohio St. 126.6 125.7 128.1 126.8
Michigan 124.5 122.0 125.0 123.8
Michigan St. 110.2 109.6 108.5 109.4
Maryland 106.4 109.7 104.4 106.8
Penn St. 104.7 106.6 103.5 104.9
Indiana 101.9 105.3 101.2 102.8
Rutgers 95.6 93.2 94.2 94.4
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Wisconsin 114.4 112.4 114.9 113.9
Nebraska 112.9 109.3 112.9 111.7
Iowa 112.2 109.1 111.5 110.9
Northwestern 107.5 102.6 106.0 105.4
Minnesota 103.8 102.5 103.5 103.3
Illinois 97.8 94.5 97.0 96.5
Purdue 93.2 91.5 92.2 92.3
         
Big Ten Averages 108.0 106.7 107.3 107.4
         
Conference USA
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Kentucky 100.9 96.5 102.0 99.8
Middle Tennessee 94.1 95.5 94.6 94.7
Marshall 90.0 92.7 91.7 91.5
Old Dominion 88.1 91.5 88.5 89.4
Florida Atlantic 79.7 84.3 82.1 82.0
Florida International 78.5 83.9 78.2 80.2
Charlotte 68.7 75.0 69.8 71.2
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Southern Mississippi 94.4 94.9 95.3 94.9
Louisiana Tech 90.0 92.3 91.1 91.1
Rice 80.7 87.5 80.7 83.0
UTSA 79.0 86.5 81.6 82.4
North Texas 75.3 78.1 75.5 76.3
UTEP 71.7 75.9 73.1 73.6
         
CUSA Averages 83.9 87.3 84.9 85.4
         
FBS Independents
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Notre Dame 113.1 109.7 111.6 111.5
BYU 109.5 103.6 109.1 107.4
Army 92.8 101.2 95.8 96.6
Massachusetts 80.6 87.5 81.9 83.3
         
Independents Averages 99.0 100.5 99.6 99.7
         
Mid-American Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Ohio 91.5 99.7 92.3 94.5
Akron 86.9 92.7 88.4 89.3
Miami (O) 84.4 85.5 86.1 85.3
Kent St. 83.8 85.3 84.0 84.4
Bowling Green 84.2 84.0 83.6 83.9
Buffalo 78.0 85.8 79.1 81.0
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Michigan 110.9 109.8 112.8 111.2
Toledo 104.8 103.2 105.8 104.6
Central Michigan 98.8 100.2 99.7 99.6
Northern Illinois 92.0 93.5 92.9 92.8
Ball St. 85.8 87.6 86.6 86.7
Eastern Michigan 81.7 85.3 82.6 83.2
         
MAC Averages 90.2 92.7 91.2 91.4
         
Mountain West Conference
Mountain Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Boise St. 108.1 109.2 109.6 109.0
Air Force 102.3 102.7 102.9 102.6
Utah St. 94.4 96.7 94.3 95.1
New Mexico 92.5 95.2 93.2 93.7
Wyoming 85.4 85.7 85.8 85.7
Colorado St. 84.6 86.9 84.9 85.5
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
San Diego St. 101.5 99.1 103.9 101.5
UNLV 89.0 93.4 89.2 90.5
Nevada 87.5 90.6 88.5 88.9
San Jose St. 87.5 87.9 87.8 87.7
Fresno St. 80.2 84.5 79.6 81.4
Hawaii 80.7 79.4 79.8 80.0
         
MWC Averages 91.1 92.7 91.6 91.8
         
Pac-12 Conference
North Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Washington 124.4 116.9 124.3 121.9
Stanford 117.7 110.7 116.6 115.0
Washington St. 109.5 106.7 109.4 108.6
Oregon 109.0 107.5 108.2 108.2
California 105.8 98.2 103.7 102.6
Oregon St. 94.2 90.1 92.2 92.2
         
South Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Colorado 114.8 110.4 115.2 113.5
USC 114.7 110.5 112.0 112.4
UCLA 112.7 111.2 112.4 112.1
Utah 110.3 104.7 108.0 107.7
Arizona St. 107.0 106.5 105.8 106.5
Arizona 103.8 101.5 102.7 102.7
         
Pac-12 Averages 110.3 106.3 109.2 108.6
         
Southeastern Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Tennessee 121.7 118.3 121.4 120.5
Florida 112.4 115.0 110.6 112.7
Georgia 108.9 108.3 108.3 108.5
Missouri 102.7 101.7 102.3 102.3
Vanderbilt 102.5 98.6 101.2 100.8
South Carolina 99.9 99.2 99.4 99.5
Kentucky 96.4 98.7 95.3 96.8
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Alabama 131.2 124.1 131.0 128.8
LSU 123.6 118.4 122.8 121.6
Texas A&M 116.2 114.7 115.9 115.6
Auburn 115.8 114.2 115.8 115.3
Ole Miss 117.1 110.9 116.6 114.9
Mississippi St. 112.0 109.8 111.1 111.0
Arkansas 112.5 108.1 109.9 110.2
         
SEC Averages 112.4 110.0 111.5 111.3
         
Sunbelt Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Appalachian St. 97.3 96.8 99.1 97.7
Troy 92.9 97.5 94.9 95.1
Georgia Southern 91.5 91.3 93.8 92.2
Arkansas St. 87.5 89.5 89.0 88.7
South Alabama 83.8 90.9 85.2 86.6
Georgia St. 81.7 86.4 83.6 83.9
UL-Lafayette 76.7 84.2 78.4 79.8
Idaho 76.6 82.4 77.9 79.0
New Mexico St. 73.2 76.4 74.1 74.6
UL-Monroe 69.6 74.5 70.1 71.4
Texas St. 70.1 71.3 71.1 70.8
         
Sun Belt Averages 81.9 85.6 83.4 83.6

 

PiRate Ratings By Conference
# League PiRate Mean Bias Average
1 SEC 112.4 110.0 111.5 111.3
2 ACC 111.9 108.2 111.3 110.5
3 Pac-12 110.3 106.3 109.2 108.6
4 Big Ten 108.0 106.7 107.3 107.4
5 Big 12 107.3 108.1 106.6 107.3
6 Independents 99.0 100.5 99.6 99.7
7 AAC 99.1 99.2 99.5 99.2
8 MWC 91.1 92.7 91.6 91.8
9 MAC 90.2 92.7 91.2 91.4
10 CUSA 83.9 87.3 84.9 85.4
11 Sun Belt 81.9 85.6 83.4 83.6

This Week’s Spreads

This Week’s Games–October 5-8
         
Home Visitor PiRate Mean Bias
Wednesday, October 5      
Arkansas St. Georgia Southern -1.0 1.2 -1.8
         
Thursday, October 6      
Louisiana Tech Western Kentucky -7.9 -1.2 -7.9
Memphis Temple 9.1 4.6 6.9
         
Friday, October 7      
Boston College Clemson -20.4 -12.6 -19.5
Central Florida Tulane 11.9 9.9 11.5
Tulsa SMU 12.0 14.6 10.7
New Mexico Boise St. -12.6 -11.0 -13.4
         
Saturday, October 8      
Connecticut Cincinnati 1.2 -1.4 0.7
North Carolina St. Notre Dame -2.0 -0.9 -1.0
Mississippi St. Auburn -0.8 -1.4 -1.7
Penn St. Maryland 1.3 -0.1 2.1
Florida LSU -8.2 -0.4 -9.2
Minnesota Iowa -5.4 -3.6 -5.0
UTSA Southern Miss. -12.9 -5.9 -11.2
Kansas TCU -26.9 -21.6 -29.5
Texas (N) Oklahoma -10.3 -6.1 -11.3
South Florida East Carolina 23.6 18.6 24.6
Pittsburgh Georgia Tech 8.4 9.1 8.8
Ohio Bowling Green 9.3 17.7 10.7
Eastern Michigan Toledo -20.6 -15.4 -20.7
Navy Houston -17.5 -15.3 -20.4
Akron Miami (O) 4.5 9.2 4.3
Texas A&M Tennessee -2.5 -0.6 -2.5
North Carolina Virginia Tech 4.5 -1.7 3.7
Florida Atlantic Charlotte 23.5 11.8 14.8
Buffalo Kent St. -3.3 3.0 -2.4
Georgia St. Texas St. 14.1 17.6 15.0
Wyoming Air Force -13.9 -14.0 -14.1
Oklahoma St. Iowa St. 20.0 21.2 20.8
Ohio St. Indiana 27.7 23.4 29.9
Michigan St. BYU 3.7 9.0 2.4
Illinois Purdue 7.1 8.5 7.3
Duke Army 9.8 1.7 5.4
Central Michigan Ball St. 16.0 15.6 16.1
Kentucky Vanderbilt -3.1 2.9 -2.9
USC Colorado 2.9 3.1 -0.2
San Jose St. Hawaii 10.8 12.5 12.0
Old Dominion Massachusetts 10.0 6.5 9.1
Western Michigan Northern Illinois 21.9 19.3 22.9
Rutgers Michigan -25.9 -25.8 -27.8
Arkansas Alabama -15.7 -12.3 -18.1
Kansas St. Texas Tech 2.7 6.7 4.5
North Texas Marshall -11.7 -11.6 -13.2
Nevada Fresno St. 10.3 9.1 11.9
UL-Monroe Idaho -4.0 -4.9 -4.8
Wake Forest Syracuse 3.5 5.5 4.5
South Carolina Georgia -7.0 -7.1 -6.9
Oregon Washington -12.4 -6.4 -13.1
Miami (Fla) Florida St. 4.1 3.9 5.0
UTEP Florida Int’l. -4.3 -5.5 -2.6
Oregon St. California -8.6 -5.1 -8.5
Utah Arizona 9.5 6.2 8.3
Colorado St. Utah St. -6.8 -6.8 -6.4
San Diego St. UNLV 15.5 8.7 17.7
Arizona St. UCLA -2.7 -1.7 -3.6
Stanford Washington St. 11.2 7.0 10.2

 

Bowl Projections

Bowl Conferences Team vs. Team
New Mexico MWC CUSA Nevada vs. Louisiana Tech
Las Vegas Pac-12 MWC USC vs. Boise St.
Cure AAC SBC [Army] vs. Appalachian St.
Camellia MAC SBC Akron vs. South Alabama
New Orleans CUSA SBC Marshall vs. Troy
Miami Beach AAC MAC Central Florida vs. Ohio U
Boca Raton AAC CUSA Memphis vs. W. Kentucky
Poinsettia MWC BYU San Diego St. vs. BYU
Idaho Potato MAC MWC Central Mich. vs. Wyoming
Bahamas AAC/CUSA MAC/CUSA Tulsa vs. Western Mich.
Armed Forces Navy Big 12 Navy vs. {Boston Coll.}
Dollar General MAC SBC Toledo vs. Ga. Southern
Hawaii CUSA MWC Southern Miss. vs. Air Force
St. Petersburg AAC ACC/ND South Florida vs. Georgia Tech
Quick Lane ACC/ND Big Ten [Ball St.] vs. Indiana
Independence SEC ACC/ND [Washington St.] vs. {South Carolina}
Heart of Dallas Big Ten CUSA {Northwestern} vs. Middle Tenn.
Military ACC/ND AAC Wake Forest vs. Temple
Holiday Big Ten Pac-12 Minnesota vs. Colorado
Cactus Big 12 Pac-12 Kansas St. vs. UCLA
Pinstripe ACC/ND Big Ten Pittsburgh vs. Maryland
Russell Athletic ACC/ND Big 12 North Carolina vs. West Virginia
Foster Farms Big Ten Pac-12 Michigan St. vs. Utah
Texas Big 12 SEC TCU vs. Auburn
Birmingham AAC SEC [N.Illinois] vs. {Utah St.}
Belk ACC/ND SEC Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas
Alamo Big 12 Pac-12 Oklahoma St. vs. Stanford
Liberty Big 12 SEC Texas Tech vs. Florida
Sun ACC/ND Pac-12 Notre Dame vs. Arizona St.
Arizona CUSA/SBC MWC/SBC Old Dominion vs. UNLV
Music City ACC/ND/B10 SEC Penn St. vs. [California]
Orange ACC/ND B10/SEC Louisville vs. Tennessee
Citrus ACC/ND/B10 SEC Wisconsin vs. Ole Miss
TaxSlayer ACC/ND/B10 SEC Florida St. vs. LSU
Peach Semifinal Semifinal Alabama vs. Houston
Fiesta Semifinal Semifinal Ohio St. vs. Clemson
Outback Big Ten SEC Georgia vs. Nebraska
Cotton At-Large At-Large Baylor vs. Miami (Fla.)
Rose Big Ten Pac-12 Michigan vs. Washington
Sugar Big 12 SEC Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M
Nat’l Championship Semifinal Winners Alabama vs. Ohio St.
[Team] At-Large Selection
{Team} At-Large Selection of projected 5-7 team

 

 

 

 

August 16, 2016

2016 Mid-American Conference Football Preview

The Mid-American Conference has been for years breeding grounds for rising head coaches. Miami of Ohio was once referred to as the “Cradle of Coaches” for producing incredible future stars such as Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Paul Brown, Sid Gillman, Ara Parseghian, and more than a dozen additional coaches that achieved fame and championships elsewhere.

In recent years, the MAC has sent multiple head coaches to power five conferences, such as: Dave Clawson to Wake Forest; Dave Doeren to North Carolina St.; Dino Babers to Syracuse; Matt Campbell to Iowa St.; and Darrell Hazzell to Purdue.

There is a reason for the coaching promotions. MAC teams have a storied history of beating Power Conference teams, especially their big brothers of the Big Ten. In the last four seasons alone, MAC teams have 16 wins over Power 5 teams, 11 of those 16 against current Big Ten members.

The MAC is the only league with a change in membership this year, as Massachusetts has left and become an independent school. That makes the league balanced again with six teams in both divisions.

The West had the most exciting race among any divisions in FBS football last year, as Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and Toledo tied for the division flag with 6-2 conference marks. NIU won the tiebreaker and fell to East Division champ Bowling Green in the MAC title game.

Babers has left BGU for Syracuse, but new coach Mike Jinks comes in and promises to keep the wide-open up-tempo offense that allowed the Falcons to average better than 42 points and almost 550 total yards per game. Jinks comes from a similar style at Texas Tech.

Frank Solich begins his 12th season at Ohio U, and the Bobcats should contend in the East with BGU. The Bobcats have been bowl eligible for seven consecutive seasons, and they should make it eight this year.

The West should be another interesting affair this season, as last year’s quartet of co-champions should compete again, and another co-championship is highly likely. The top three quarterbacks in the league belong to Central Michigan (Cooper Rush), Northern Illinois (Drew Hare), and Western Michigan (Zach Terrell). Brogan Roback at Eastern Michigan might be as good as this group, but playing for the Eagles can be hazardous to a QB’s health.

The MAC Media believe the East Division is a toss-up, while the West Division is rather cut and dry.

Official MAC Media Preseason Poll

MAC East Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Bowling Green 12 136 1
2 Ohio U 10 134 0
3 Akron 4 107 1
4 Buffalo 0 75 0
5 Miami (O) 0 52 0
6 Kent St. 0 42 0
MAC West Division
# Team 1st Pl. Total Champ.
1 Western Michigan 19 144 19
2 Toledo 2 113 2
3 Northern Illinois 3 112 2
4 Central Michigan 2 98 1
5 Ball St. 0 44 0
6 Eastern Michigan 0 35 0

The PiRate Ratings agree closely with the media to start the season.

Initial PiRate Ratings for the Mid-American Conference

Mid-American Conference
East Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Bowling Green 96.7 94.7 97.3 96.2
Ohio 88.7 98.2 90.1 92.4
Akron 84.8 92.6 86.5 88.0
Buffalo 80.8 90.1 82.2 84.4
Miami (O) 82.2 84.0 82.9 83.0
Kent St. 82.3 84.5 82.2 83.0
         
West Division        
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Michigan 101.8 100.7 103.7 102.1
Toledo 101.8 99.7 102.6 101.4
Central Michigan 98.7 101.7 99.7 100.1
Northern Illinois 97.1 98.7 98.2 98.0
Ball St. 83.5 85.5 83.7 84.3
Eastern Michigan 78.0 83.5 79.4 80.3
         
MAC Averages 89.7 92.9 90.7 91.1

The PiRate Ratings are best used just to look forward to the next week game schedule.  These ratings cannot really be used to predict won-loss records, so with that caveat, here are the projected won-loss records based on the ratings alone.

Mid-American Conference Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
East Division      
Bowling Green 6-2 8-5 Idaho Potato
Ohio U 5-3 7-5 GoDaddy
Akron 4-4 5-7  
Buffalo 3-5 4-8  
Miami (O) 2-6 3-9  
Kent St. 0-8 2-10  
       
West Division      
Western Michigan 7-1 10-3 * Miami Beach
Toledo 7-1 8-4 Bahamas
Central Michigan 6-2 8-4 [Boca Raton] ^
Northern Illinois 6-2 8-4 Camellia
Eastern Michigan 1-7 4-8  
Ball St. 1-7 2-10  
       
* WMU wins MAC Title      
^ CMU’s  bowl is at-large       

Next Preview: Thursday, August 18–Mountain West Conference

 

 

 

 

 

August 12, 2015

2015 Mid-American Conference Preview

It’s been three years since Northern Illinois sneaked into a BCS Bowl, losing to Florida State in the 2013 Orange Bowl, and since that time, the Mid-American Conference has fallen a few spots in the conference ladder, just barely beginning the 2015-16 season ahead of Conference USA and the Sun Belt Conference.

There are talented teams in both MAC divisions, but overall, the league has gotten a few points weaker in recent years.  In the past three seasons, this league is just 4-13 in bowl games, many of those losses to mediocre opponents.  And, last year, MAC teams went 4-20 against teams from Big 6 conferences.  Those four beaten big boys were Pittsburgh, Indiana, Purdue, and Northwestern.  Among the 20 losses were Big Six Conference lightweights Colorado and Vanderbilt, as well as the aforementioned Purdue Boilermakers.  Additional losses to the likes of Eastern Kentucky and Army (twice) knocked this league down a few more notches.

2015 brings a new outlook for the Big Ten’s stepbrother.  The league will produce a few future NFL players, and we believe this might be the season where the MAC breaks even or even finished above .500 in the bowl picture.

The East Division figures to be four deep in contenders, with Bowling Green leading the way.  Second year coach Dino Babers won the division in his first year at the helm, as the Falcons found a way to win close games.  However, a three-game losing streak to close out the regular season spoiled a possible repeat of 2013.  This year, Babers’ squad is loaded on offense and should score up to 35 points per game, but the defense may be just as generous.  The key is the BGU secondary, which is thin to start the season.

Frank Solich once had his alma mater, Nebraska, at the number one spot in the nation and on the cusp of becoming another national champion like the 1997, 1995, 1994, 1971, and 1970 teams.  An unbelievable upset blowout loss at Colorado on Black Friday of 2001 basically started the ball rolling to his dismissal in Lincoln, and led to his arrival in Athens, Ohio, where Solich has guided the Ohio Bobcats to a 72-56 record and six bowl trips in his ten-year tenure.  Solich’s Bobcats figure to be right on Bowling Green’s heels this year, and the Wednesday night, November 4 game at BGU could determine which East team will play in the MAC Championship Game.

Our sleeper team in the league this year is UMass.  The Minutemen have yet to challenge in their first three years in the league, but we have a sneaky suspicion that Coach Mark Whipple’s crew is going to matter in the East Division race this year.  The UMass offense is going to be lethal at times this season with the league’s top quarterback and two of the top receivers.  Whipple’s Minutemen will not be a one trick pony.  The defense should improve by as much as a touchdown per game, and we believe UMass will be bowl eligible.  The bowl invitation may not arrive, but a 6-6 season would be enough to create a lot more support in Amherst.

Akron has become a “sexy” pick among the MAC Media, as they believe Coach Terry Bowden is about to turn the corner in the land of rubber.  We believe the Zips will vie with UMass for third place, but any of the top four in this division could make it to the Championship Game.  Former Louisville wideout Michaelee Harris could be the added ingredient that proves the media to be a modern day Nostradamus.

Kent State is not that far behind the four contenders, but the Golden Flashes have a killer schedule that includes road games against Illinois, Minnesota, Toledo, Ohio, and Akron, and a home game against Marshall.  Basically, to make it to .500, the Flashes will have to win the rest of their games, and since the rest of their games include Bowling Green, there is not a path to bowl eligibility this season.

Buffalo and Miami (O) will fight it out in an attempt to avoid the cellar, as these two teams will be out of bowl contention before November.  Buffalo actually has some decent talent, but the Bulls don’t have enough to compete with the top four in the MAC East.  Miami must be fortunate to draw an opening home game against Presbyterian.  A loss to the Blue Hose would mean the Redhawks would be 0-9 when Eastern Michigan comes to Oxford.

The West Division has three very talented squads that are no more than a field goal apart in our ratings to start the season.  Any of the top three could state an excellent case as to why they are the best of the trio.

To start 2015, we rate Western Michigan as the best in the division and the league.  Coach P. J. Fleck was on a possible hot seat after a 1-11 innaugural season.  In year two, the Broncos put together a six-game winning streak that finally ended in the season finale against Northern Illinois in a game that had WMU won, would have been enough to take a piece of the division title.  With the bulk of the team that surprised with an 8-4 regular season mark returning, including quarterback Zach Terrell, star runnning back Jarvion Franklin, and just about every receiver that caught a pass last year, look for WMU to be the team to beat in the MAC and possibly one to scare Michigan State for a half in the season opener.

Toledo is not as talented as WMU, but the Rockets have a huge advantage over the Broncos.  TU hosts WMU as well as Northern Illinois, while WMU must finish out the regular season with back-to-back road games against the other two contenders.  Running back Kareem Hunt may be the best back in the league, and he returns as well as quarterback Phillip Ely.  The one problem with the Toledo offense is a green blocking quintet.  If the young offensive linemen improve enough by November, then TU will become the favorite to win the division flag.  If the group never puts it together, then even hosting the other two contenders may not matter.

As for Northern Illinois, the Huskies may have the best defense of the three contenders, but the offense is the weakest of the three contenders.  It could be trouble for NIU having to play at Ohio State and at Boston College in back-to-back weeks, and injuries could accumulate and cause the Huskies trouble the following week, when they continue their road trip at Central Michigan.

Ball State coach Pete Lembo has done an admirable job in Muncie, Indiana, in his four years there.  He took over a program that had dropped to the cellar in the West Division, even falling below Eastern Michigan, and he has produced 6-6, 9-4, 10-3, and 5-7 records.  This year’s Cardinals squad should be considerably better than last year’s team, but the schedule is not all that favorable.  Among their four non-conference games, BSU plays at Texas A&M and at Northwestern.  There is still a good chance that Lembo can guide this squad back to bowl eligibility.

There was a time when Central Michigan was the class of the league under former coaches Butch Jones and Brian Kelly.  The last three years, Coach Dan Enos took the Chippewas to two bowl games and had a bowl eligible team the other year.  However, Enos did not receive a lot of support in Mt. Pleasant, so after last year’s 7-6 season, he resigned to accept the offensive coordinator’s position at Arkansas.  New coach John Bonamego has the unenviable task of starting over with a thinned group of Chippewas, and we believe CMU will fall back in the pack just barely ahead of perennial cellar-dweller Eastern Michigan.

Eastern Michigan has suffered through three consecutive 2-10 seasons, and a rebuilding offense will keep the Eagles at two or even fewer wins this year.

Here is a look at the MAC Media Preseason Poll.

Mid-American Conference Media Poll
Pos. Team 1st Place Total
MAC East Division
1 Bowling Green 18 160
2t Akron 2 118
2t Ohio U 1 118
4 Massachusetts 3 113
5 Buffalo 0 70
6 Miami (O) 0 47
7 Kent St. 0 46
MAC West Division
1 Toledo 11 121
2 Western Michigan 8 120
3 Northern Illinois 4 113
4 Ball St. 0 66
5 Central Michigan 1 56
6 Eastern Michigan 0 28
2015 MAC Championship Game Winner: Toledo (9);
Western Michigan (8); Northern Illinois (6); Central Michigan (1).

The MAC Media did not vote on an official preseason All-Conference Team, so we have included the highest-rated players at each position according to our PiRate Ratings formula.

Conference USA Preseason All-Conference Team
Offense Player School
Quarterback Blake Frohnapfel Massachusetts
Running Back Kareem Hunt Toledo
Running Back Javion Franklin Western Michigan
Running Back Anthone Taylor Buffalo
Running Back Travis Greene Bowling Green
Wide Receiver Roger Lewis Bowling Green
Wide Receiver Tajae Sharp Massachusetts
Wide Receiver Corey Davis Western Michigan
Wide Receiver Ron Willoughby Buffalo
Tight End Rodney Mills Massachusetts
Offensive Line Andrew Ness Northern Illinois
Offensive Line James Kristof Western Michigan
Offensive Line Alex Huettel Bowling Green
Offensive Line Willie Beavers Western Michigan
Offensive Line Steven Bell Ball St.
Defense Player School
Defensive Line Trent Voss Toledo
Defensive Line Tarell Basham Ohio U
Defensive Line Perez Ford Northern Illinois
Defensive Line Pat O’Connor Eastern Michigan
Defensive Line Orion Jones Toledo
Linebacker Great Ibe Eastern Michigan
Linebacker Jatavis Brown Akron
Linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox Massachusetts
Defensive Back Paris Logan Northern Illinois
Defensive Back Randall Jette Massachusetts
Defensive Back Ronald Zamort Western Michigan
Defensive Back Nate Holley Kent St.
Defensive Back Tony Annese Central Michigan
Defensive Back Marlon Moore Northern Illinois
Special Teams Player School
Kicker Tyler Tate Bowling Green
Punter Anthony Melchiori Kent St.
Kick Returner Darius Phillips Western Michigan
Punt Returner Ryan Burbrink Bowling Green
Long Snapper Wyatt Pfeifer Western Michigan

Here is how our three PiRate Ratings and the average of the three look to begin the season.

Mid-American Conference
East Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Bowling Green 93.6 100.1 95.7 96.5
Ohio 89.7 94.1 91.0 91.6
Massachusetts 86.5 90.1 88.3 88.3
Akron 82.2 89.6 83.7 85.2
Kent St. 83.3 87.1 84.6 85.0
Buffalo 78.6 86.1 80.6 81.8
Miami (O) 75.8 83.1 75.9 78.3
West Division
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Western Michigan 96.7 98.1 97.9 97.6
Toledo 95.7 94.1 96.6 95.5
Northern Illinois 91.8 95.1 92.2 93.0
Ball St. 87.4 89.8 88.6 88.6
Central Michigan 80.1 86.6 81.9 82.9
Eastern Michigan 72.7 84.1 72.6 76.5
MAC Averages 85.7 90.6 86.9 87.7

Here is our PiRate Rating Predictions and Bowl Projections.

PiRate Ratings Predicted Records
Pos Team Conf. Overall Bowl
East Division
1 Bowling Green 7-1 7-6 ^ Boca Raton
2 Ohio U 5-3 7-5 Idaho Potato
3 Massachusetts 5-3 6-6 Bowl Elig.
4 Akron 5-3 6-6 At-Large
5 Kent St. 3-5 4-8 None
6 Buffalo 1-7 2-10 None
7 Miami (O) 1-7 2-10 None
West Division
1 Western Michigan 7-1 10-3 * GoDaddy
2 Toledo 6-2 9-3 Bahamas
3 Northern Illinois 6-2 8-4 Camellia
4 Ball St. 4-4 6-6 Bowl Elig.
5 Central Michigan 2-6 3-9 None
6 Eastern Michigan 0-8 1-11 None
* Wins Title Game
^ Loses Title Game
Bowl Elig. means the team will probably be left out of the bowls.

Coming up next: The Mountain West Conference

 

August 19, 2012

2012 Mid-American Conference Preview

From the 1970’s through the 1990’s, the Western Athletic Conference usually featured the most wide-open, exciting offenses in college football.  In the 21st Century, it is the Mid-American Conference that has wrested that title away.

 

Welcome to the most exciting conference in college football.  Look at the list of quarterbacks that have graced this conference this century:

 

Akron: Charlie Frye

Bowling Green: Tyler Sheehan

Buffalo: Drew Willy

Kent State: Josh Cribbs

Miami (O): Ben Roethlisberger and Josh Betts

Ball State: Nate Davis

Central Michigan: Dan LeFevour

Northern Illinois: Chandler Harnish

Toledo: Bruce Gradkowski

Western Michigan: Tim Hiller

 

Remember also that Marshall was once a member of this league, and Byron Leftwich was the star quarterback of the league at the beginning of the century.

 

2012 should reinforce the image that the MAC is now the most wide-open passing league in FBS football. 

 

This league has been rather balanced as well.  10 of the 13 teams (including Temple) earned bowl bids in the last four seasons, and six different schools appeared in the MAC Championship Game.  Only Eastern Michigan, Kent State, and Akron failed to earn a bowl bid in the last four years; it will be awhile before the Zips are bowl eligible again, but EMU and Kent State could both challenge for those honors in 2012.

 

There has been one defection and one addition to the league this year.  Temple left to return to the wounded Big East.  Massachusetts moves from FCS to FBS.  UMass has competed with BCS opponents in recent years, losing close games to Kansas State and Michigan, but the Minutemen enter FBS play in a rebuilding mode.

 

At the conference’s media days, the preseason pollsters believed the East Division was rather cut-and-dry, while the West was a three-way race for first.

 

 

MAC East

Votes

 

Rank

Team

1st Place

Total

 

1

Ohio U

17

119

(5)

2

Bowling Green

0

91

 

3

Miami (O)

0

84

 

4

Kent State

0

76

 

5

Buffalo

0

52

 

6

Akron

0

31

 

7

Massachusetts

0

23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAC West

Votes

 

Rank

Team

1st Place

Total

 

1

Toledo

7

87

(3)

2

Northern Illinois

5

83

(1)

3

Western Michigan

4

79

(1)

4

Ball State

0

42

 

5

Eastern Michigan

0

34

 

6

Central Michigan

1

32

(1)

 

 

 

 

 

Number in ( ) indicates votes to win MAC title game

 

The PiRate Ratings see this as a much more open race, with three legitimate contenders in both divisions with four more teams talented enough to compete for bowl eligibility.

 

PiRate Ratings

Rank

MAC East

PiRate

1

Ohio U

94.8

2

Miami (O)

93.5

3

Bowling Green

93.0

4

Kent State

88.7

5

Buffalo

82.6

6

Massachusetts

69.5

7

Akron

69.2

 

   

Rank

MAC West

PiRate

1

Western Michigan

94.6

2

Toledo

93.6

3

Northern Illinois

92.1

4

Central Michigan

89.3

5

Ball State

88.6

6

Eastern Michigan

87.2

 

 

The PiRate Vintage Ratings are a happy medium.  These ratings concur that the East Division could be a one-team race, but these ratings also show the West to be a real dogfight where all six teams will enjoy some happy and some sad days, as the half-dozen beat up on themselves.

 

Vintage Ratings

Rank

MAC East

Vintage

1

Ohio U

98

2

Miami (O)

93

3

Bowling Green

92

4

Kent State

87

5

Buffalo

87

6

Akron

84

7

Massachusetts

79

 

   

Rank

MAC West

Vintage

1

Western Michigan

96

2

Toledo

94

3

Northern Illinois

92

4

Central Michigan

91

5

Eastern Michigan

90

6

Ball State

88

 

 

East Division

Team

Akron Zips

               
Head Coach

Terry Bowden

               
Colors

Blue and Gold

               
City

Akron, OH

               
2011 Record              
Conference

0-8

Overall

1-11

               
PiRate Rating

69.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

124

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Rating

84

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

116

               
2012 Prediction              
Conference

1-7

Overall

2-10

 

Terry Bowden returns to the FBS head coaching ranks after 14 seasons.  Former North Carolina State head man Chuck Amato comes with him as his defensive coordinator.  That will be worth a couple thousand more sold tickets, but at most just one more victory this year.

 

Bowden shook things up immediately during the Spring.  He promoted Dalton Williams, a transfer from Stephen F. Austin with knowledge of the offense Bowden uses, to number one quarterback; returning starter Clayton Moore transferred to Jackson State.  Williams put up good numbers in the Southland Conference, but he was a three-year backup at the FCS level.

 

The Zip receiving corps was going to be rather strong, but one of the key targets, A. J. Price, lost his battle with the books and is ineligible.  Keith Sconiers and Marquelo Suel teamed up for 81 receptions and 1,056 yards last year, but there is little depth behind the big two.

 

The running game has not set the woods on fire in the last three years, and even with the return of top rusher Jawon Chisholm, we believe the running game will continue to disappoint.  Expect the Zips to struggle to reach triple digits in rushing average this season, especially since the offensive line figures to be a little weaker than it was in 2011.

 

The defense could not force turnovers last year, and the Zips stayed on the field far too long (52% of the scrimmage plays).  Akron surrendered more than 200 yards on the ground and through the air, and opponents averaged better than 38 points per game against them.

 

Middle linebacker Troy Gilmer is the star on this side of the ball.  He could register 100 tackles this year, but unfortunately many will be five or more yards past the line of scrimmage.

 

The pass rush was appalling last year, dumping enemy quarterbacks just 11 times.  In half the games, the Zips never got to the QB.  It will be tough to improve by much, because the player that recorded 32% of the teams’ sacks has used up his eligibility.

 

Akron hosts UMass four days after the Presidential election.  That game may decide if the Zips are to register a vote in the conference win column.  A September home game with FCS opponent Morgan State will guarantee them at least one win.

 

Team

Bowling Green Falcons

               
Head Coach

Dave Clawson

               
Colors

Orange and Brown

               
City

Bowling Green, OH

               
2011 Record              
Conference

3-5

Overall

5-7

               
PiRate Rating

93.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

82

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Rating

92

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

93

               
2012 Prediction              
Conference

5-3

Overall

7-5

 

Fourth year head coach Dave Clawson knows how to go with the flow and recognize the theme of the MAC.  His Falcons can pass the ball all over the field, and with junior quarterback Matt Schilz back in the fold, BGU should gain better than 250 passing yards per game for the third time in Clawson’s four years in Bowling Green.

 

The question is, “who will be on the other end of those passes?”  Last year’s top two receivers are gone, and the two combined to catch more than 57% of the completed passes, score 75% of the passing touchdowns, and gain more than 60% of the receiving yards.  This new unit will rely more on possession receiving and less on breaking long gainers.  Tight end Alex Bayer should be called on to contribute more this year after grabbing 20 passes a year ago.

 

The running game returns Anthon Samuel, last year’s key runner.  Samuel rushed for 844 yards, averaging almost six yards per carry.  If it weren’t for a deep stable of reserves, Samuel could top 1,000 yards.  Keep an eye on former Pitt back Andre Givens.

 

The reason the Falcons should contend for the East Division crown is a much improved defense with loads of returning experience.  Of course, BGU must improve on last year’s poor defensive showing (29 points/406 yards) in order to compete for the division title.

 

Middle linebacker Dwayne Woods and outside linebacker Paul Swan should team for about 180-200 tackles.  Where those tackles are made will be the key to how improved this defense can be.  Woods made 14 stops for negative yardage last year, while Swan added just 1.5.

 

Considering the pass rush was not all that stellar, the secondary did a good job, holding opponents to less than 57% completions.  There is some depth here, so look for the defense to improve its passing yardage allowed by as much as 25 yards per game.

 

Bowling Green figures to be in contention for the East title heading into a Wednesday night game at Ohio U in November.  That could be the game that decides who advances to the championship game.

 

 

 

Team

Buffalo Bulls

               
Head Coach

Jeff Quinn

               
Colors

Royal Blue and White

               
City

Buffalo, NY

               
2011 Record              
Conference

2-6

Overall

3-9

               
PiRate Rating

82.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

110

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Rating

87

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

109

               
2012 Prediction              
Conference

2-6

Overall

3-9

 

The Bulls have not been a MAC juggernaut since joining the league, but at least they won the conference championship four years ago, which is better than their similar-nicknamed professional team from their town.

 

Buffalo is one of a handful of MAC teams that does not have a tested quarterback that can toss the ball all over the field.   Alex Zordich will begin the year as the starter under center, but redshirt freshman Joe Licata is likely to eventually emerge as the starter after he broke all kinds of passing records in the Western New York high school ranks; however, the Empire State is not a hotbed for defensive backs.  Expect more mistakes from two untested players.

 

The receiving corps has some talent, but not enough for the MAC.  Alex Neutz and Fred Lee need to step up, or else the new quarterbacks are going to have a lot of mediocre Saturdays.

 

The running game features the leading returning MAC rusher in Brandon Oliver (1,395 yards and 13 TD), but if the passing game does not keep defenses honest, Oliver will not repeat those numbers.  Backup James Potts has never lived up to his potential, as he was expected to star for the Bulls.  This could be his year to emerge as a capable backup.

 

One thing in the Bulls’ favor is a decent offensive line with experience and depth, albeit no real stars.

 

The Buffalo defense is in better shape than the offense.  If the offense can hold onto the ball or eat the clock to limit defensive reps, the stop troops could yield around 24-26 points and 350-375 yards per game, which in the MAC means it is good.

 

Former Illinois head coach Lou Tepper takes over as the defensive coordinator.  Tepper uses a 3-4 defense, and he has an exceptional pass rusher in outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who tied for the MAC lead in tackles for loss with 20 ½.  The defensive front sounds like a government committee with the ends named, “Way and Means.”  The duo form a strong bond, but the Bulls need a reliable nose tackle to stuff the “A” gaps and keep pressure off the linebackers.

 

Buffalo has a tough non-league slate with just one winnable game, so this team will not challenge for bowl eligibility this year.  In fact, if the Bulls do not improve on their 3-9 record of last year, third year coach Jeff Quinn could be feeling a little fire in his seat.

 

Team

Kent State Golden Flashes

               
Head Coach

Darrell Hazell

               
Colors

Navy and Gold

               
City

Kent, OH

               
2011 Record              
Conference

4-4

Overall

5-7

               
PiRate Rating

88.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

98

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Rating

87

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

110

               
2012 Prediction              
Conference

4-4

Overall

5-7

 

40 years!  That’s how long it’s been since the Golden Flashes made their one and only bowl appearance.  It’s been so long that current Alabama coach Nick Saban and Missouri coach Gary Pinkel were teammates on that team, and longtime NFL coach Dom Capers was a green assistant coach.

 

There is a chance that the 40-years sojourn outside of the “land of bowldom” could end this year, but only if Coach Darrell Hazell can find some weapons on offense.

 

Kent State led the league in defensive yardage allowed last year, but their offense finished dead last, gaining just 254 yards per game.

 

Spencer Keith returns at quarterback for his senior season, but he is not assured of retaining his starting spot.  Keith completed just 51% of his passes and averaged just 5.2 yards per attempt.  Newcomers David Fisher, a junior college transfer, and true freshman Colin Reardon are in the mix.

Tyshon Goode is one of the few MAC-worthy players on this side of the ball.  The senior caught just 24 passes last year, and he needs to double that total this year if KSU is to contend for bowl eligibility.

 

Trayion Durham rushed for 630 yards and four scores last year, but he averaged just 3.4 yards per rush.  Look for those number to improve this year, because the offensive line returns four starters and welcomes a surprise fifth starter.  Guard Pat McShane left Indiana two years ago and gave up football.  The KSU coaching staff did not even know he had enrolled and was on campus, until he came into their offices in late Spring and told them he wanted to return to the game.  He has performed so well, he has ascended to the top of the depth chart.

 

As good as the Golden Flashes’ defense was in 2011, it should be even better in 2012, and that is why they have to be considered a contender for bowl eligibility and even a dark horse in the East Division race.

 

Eight of the top nine tacklers return this year.  The most talented unit is the secondary, where Kent State has quality good enough to play in the Big Ten.  The quartet of Norman Wolfe and Sidney Saulter at cornerback and Calvin Tiggle and Luke Wollet teamed up for 10 interceptions and nine more passes knocked away.  Even with the loss of stud cornerback Josh Pleasant, this will be the top secondary in the league, possibly the only one capable of yielding less than 180 passing yards per game.

 

The defensive line and linebackers are equally competent for MAC standards.  Middle linebacker Luke Batton and outside linebacker C. J. Malauulu finished one-two in stops, teaming for 185 tackles and 16 ½ for losses.

 

Up front, Jake Dooley and Roosevelt Nix teamed for 27 ½ tackles for loss.  Nix is also a plus dropping off in pass coverage.

 

Kent State’s schedule gives the Flashes a chance to sneak into division title contention.  They face the three teams figured to contend for the title in the final three games.  By then, Miami, Bowling Green, and Ohio could all have penned losses on each other, and KSU could have the upper hand.  It’s possible, but not all that probably.  Still, this is the best team in Kent in many years.  The season starts out with nine days off between game one and two; 11 days off between games two and three; and 10 days off between games three and four.

 

 

 

Team

Massachusetts Minutemen

               
Head Coach

Charley Molnar

               
Colors

Maroon and White

               
City

Amherst, MA

               
2011 Record              
Conference

FCS Member

Overall

5-6

               
PiRate Rating

69.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

123

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Rating

79

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

122

               
2012 Prediction              
Conference

1-7

Overall

1-11

 

A first year head coach takes over the reins of a first year in FBS team, and there is a lot of rebuilding to do at the same time.  2012 does not appear to be a banner year for UMass.  The Minutemen will be underdogs in all 12 games this year, as they do not face a FCS opponent.

 

Quarterback Kellen Pagel is the son of former Cleveland Browns QB Mike Pagel.  He began his career at Bowling Green and returns to the MAC to lead the Minutemen.  UMass will run a no-huddle hurry-up offense similar to what Hugh Freeze ran at Arkansas State last year.  Expect UMass’s pass attempts per game to increase by 5-10 this year.

 

The rest of the skill positions will be manned by new starters.  The Minutemen must replace a 1,000-yard rusher as well as their top five pass receivers.  There is experience returning in the trenches, but the starting quintet is far from being FBS caliber.

 

Things are a little bit brighter on the defensive side, but there are no players capable of earning first team All-MAC honors.  Middle linebacker Perry McIntyre registered 116 tackles with 11 ½ going for losses, and he anchors an experienced trio at linebacker.

 

The Minutemen play at Akron on November 10, and this could be there best chance to break through with a win.  Anything more will be an exceptional accomplishment.

 

Team

Miami (Ohio) Redhawks

               
Head Coach

Don Treadwell

               
Colors

Red and White

               
City

Oxford, OH

               
2011 Record              
Conference

3-5

Overall

4-8

               
PiRate Rating

93.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

81

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Rating

93

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

92

               
2012 Prediction              
Conference

5-3

Overall

6-6

 

Coach Don Treadwell comes from two excellent coaching trees.  He assisted former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio.  Treadwell believes in old-fashioned football with the establishing of a running game to set up the pass.  He had to call an audible last year in his first season in Oxford.  Miami averaged just 73.8 yards per game rushing.  The number was skewed by an inordinate number of sacks, but still this team’s leading rusher, Erik Finklea, rushed for just 328 yards.

 

The Redhawks made up for the lack of a running game with one of the best passing attacks in college football.  Zac Dysert passed for more than 3,500 yards and 23 touchdowns, while connecting on close to 2/3 of his pass attempts.  If he stays healthy, he should pass Ben Roethlisberger as the school’s all time leading passer some time in late October or early November.

 

One of the top receivers in the league returns to provide Dysert an excellent target.  Nick Harwell caught 97 passes for 1,425 yards and nine touchdowns. 

 

If the running game is to improve enough to put Miami over the top, the offensive line has to gel early this year.  Four starters return, but the one starter lost was the best blocker on the team.

 

The defense was not as strong as Kent State, but the Redhawks performed admirably on this side of the ball, limiting opponents to 23 points and 364 yards per game.  While the top three tacklers used up their eligibility, there is quality talent remaining.

 

Cornerback Dayonne Nunley earned 1st team all-conference accolades last year after intercepting three passes and batting away 13 others.  He is equally proficient against the run.

 

Up front, end Jason Semmes and tackle Austin Brown will contend for all-conference honors. 

 

The schedule is a bit difficult and does not do the Redhawks any favors.  Miami starts the season at Ohio State and plays at Boise State in game three.  They also must play at Cincinnati in early October.  They face Bowling Green on the road but get Ohio and Kent State at home.  Miami must be considered a serious contender, but the rushing attack must top 100 yards per game for the first time in four seasons.  Dysert needs some help.

 

Team

Ohio Bobcats

               
Head Coach

Frank Solich

               
Colors

Green and White

               
City

Athens, OH

               
2011 Record              
Conference

6-2

Overall

10-4

               
PiRate Rating

94.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

76

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Rating

98

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

72

               
2012 Prediction              
Conference

6-2

Overall

10-3*

* Picked to win MAC Championship Game

 

Frank Solich went 58-19 (75.3%) in six seasons at Nebraska, and he was shown the door.  In the eight years since, the Cornhuskers have yet to win 75% of their games in any season.  Solich came to Athens, and in his time here, he has guided the Bobcats to multiple MAC East titles and trips to four bowls.  Ohio owns 27 wins in the last three seasons, and Solich’s team should continue to dominate in the league again this season.

 

Quarterback Tyler Tettleton returns for his junior season after completing 64% of his passes for better than 3,300 yards and 28 touchdowns as a sophomore.  Tettleton also ran for 658 yards and 10 scores.

 

The rest of the skill positions need a quick infusion of new talent.  A two-headed monster appears to be set at running back.  Ryan Boykin will be backed up by Beau Blankenship.  The duo teamed for 897 rushing yards in reserve roles last year.

 

There could be a slight drop-off in the passing game with the graduation of the top two receivers, but Donte Foster and tight end Jordan Thompson form a solid nucleus here.

 

The offensive line has no equals in the league, especially inside. 

 

Ohio has one of the top three defensive lines and defensive backfields in the league, and if the linebacking unit can develop and improve, Ohio will run away with the league title this year.

 

The top stud on this side of the ball is cornerback Travis Carrie, who intercepted four passes and knocked away 13 others in 2011.  He is also one of the top punt returners. 

 

The four starters in the trenches include all-league end Tremayne Scot who recorded eight tackles behind the line last year. 

 

Ohio gets the first crack at Penn State this year, facing off in Happy Valley on September 1.  The Bobcats could contend for the upset.  If they happen to pull it off, they could be 7-0 when they face Miami at the end of October.  If they should happen to be 8-0 after that game, they could even run the table.  We can see this team winning no fewer than 10 games if they stay healthy.  We bet the folks in Lincoln, Nebraska would love to see their beloved team win 80% of their games for the first time since Solich was coaching there.

 

West Division

Team

Ball State Cardinals

               
Head Coach

Pete Lembo

               
Colors

Red and White

               
City

Muncie, IN

               
2011 Record              
Conference

4-4

Overall

6-6

               
PiRate Rating

88.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Rating

88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

106

               
2012 Prediction              
Conference

3-5

Overall

3-9

 

Ball State has improved from two to four to six wins in the last three seasons.  Can they get to eight wins this year?  We believe that is highly unlikely.  The Cardinals suffered heavy losses on the defensive side of the ball, including seven of their top 11 tacklers from a year ago.  Additionally, this year’s schedule is tough; BSU will be an underdog in all four non-conference games (at Clemson, at Indiana, South Florida, and at Army).

 

The defensive line returns just one starter.  Nathan Ollie earned 2nd team All-MAC honors at tackle last year with six sacks and 10 total tackles for loss.  A couple of transfers from big time programs will try to plug the holes.

 

Middle linebacker Travis Freeman returns after finishing second in the league with 134 tackles.  He too earned 2nd team All-MAC accolades.

 

There are questions in the defensive backfield with limited experience returning at safety. 

 

Ball State gave up 35 points and 510 total yards per game last year (three times giving up over 600 yards in a game).  Those numbers will not win football games, even in the wide-open MAC.

 

BSU finished 4-4 in the conference and 6-6 overall even though they gained 130.9 fewer yards per game.  That’s because they won five of their games by 2, 3, 3, 4, and 7 points and lost games by 30, 42, and 56 points.

 

Keith Wenning returns at quarterback for the Cardinals, after he broke single season records in Muncie as a sophomore.  Wenning completed 64% of his passes for 2,786 yards and 19 touchdowns.

 

Wenning won’t have his top two receivers from a year ago, but BSU does return an all-conference caliber receiver in Jamill Smith, who should see his receptions rise from 40 to as much as 70 this season.

 

Jahwan Edwards rushed for close to 800 yards last year, and with a solid offensive line, he could threaten the 1,000 yard mark this year.  The offensive line is actually the biggest asset on this team.

 

Ball State could increase its offensive production to 28 points and 400 total yards this year, but the Cardinals are going to take a step back in the won-loss record.

 

Team

Central Michigan Chippewas

               
Head Coach

Dan Enos

               
Colors

Maroon and Gold

               
City

Mt. Pleasant, MI

               
2011 Record              
Conference

2-6

Overall

3-9

               
PiRate Rating

89.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

96

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Rating

91

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

100

               
2012 Prediction              
Conference

3-5

Overall

4-8

 

The media gives CMU little respect this year (except for one voter that placed them first in the MAC West).  Third year coach Dan Enos welcomes back 16 starters this year, and this team did upset conference champion Northern Illinois last year.

 

The Chippewas have an excellent quarterback to contribute to the MAC riches at this position.  Ryan Radcliff passed for nearly 275 yards per game last year, picking up 25 touchdowns.  He welcomes the return of four of his top receivers from a year ago, including a game-changer in Titus Davis.  Davis averaged close to 19 yards on his 40 receptions a year ago, and defenses will not be able to concentrate their efforts on stopping him.  Cody Wilson is likely to catch 55-60 passes this year, while Courtney Williams and Jeery Harris provide quality at the other wideour.

 

No back stood out last year, so new starter Anthony Garland will not be much of a step back at this position.  In fact, once Garland began to see more action last season, he proved to be the best runner on the team.  Look for him to double his yardage (378) of a year ago.

 

The defense is not as talented as the offense, but that can be said for at least half if not more of the MAC.  CMU yielded 33.3 points and 428.8 yards per game last year, and those numbers should improve ever so slightly this season.

 

The one concern here is at linebacker where only one starter returns.  Shamari Benton is a serviceable middle linebacker, but he won’t appear on any all-conference watch lists.

 

The secondary is the strongest unit on this side of the ball, with safeties Jahleel Addae and Avery Cunningham returning after finishing one-two in tackles with 186 combined stops.  Addae picked off four passes last year and made the All-MAC first team.

 

The defensive line did not do its job of getting to the quarterback last year, and CMU recorded just 1.1 sacks per game.  Tackle Matt Losiniscki led the Chips with just two sacks.

 

CMU has two important home games back-to-back in mid-October.  They host Navy on a Friday night and Ball State the following week.  If they win those two games, then the Chippewas will see their record improve by a game or two.  If they lose both games, then Coach Dan Enos will be on the hot seat, because CMU will suffer through its third consecutive three-win season, or worse.

 

Team

Eastern Michigan Eagles

               
Head Coach

Ron English

               
Colors

Dark Green and White

               
City

Ypsilanti, MI

               
2011 Record              
Conference

4-4

Overall

6-6

               
PiRate Rating

87.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

103

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Rating

90

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

102

               
2012 Prediction              
Conference

4-4

Overall

6-6

 

Ron English looks like a miracle worker in Ypsilanti after moving east a couple dozen miles from Ann Arbor in 2009.  His Eagles have improved from zero to two to six wins in his first three seasons, and if the breaks can go their way, EMU could sneak into bowl eligibility this season with a much-improved offense.

 

EMU’s contribution to the league’s exceptional QB talent pool is Alex Gillett.  Gillett passed for just a little over 1,500 yards last year, but English is from the old school and prefers to grind it out on the ground.  The Eagles ran the ball nearly 75% of the time last year.  Gillett’s yards per pass attempt (7.6) placed him in the middle of the pack in the league.

 

Gillett has a big target at his stead in tight end Garrett Hoskins.  At 6-2 and 255, Hoskins can cause matchup problems for safeties when he splits the seams in the middle zones.  His route running on play-action helped delay run support by opposing secondaries.

 

Gillett led the team in rushing with 736 yards (factoring out sacks, he rushed for more than 850).  Three other backs that topped 500 rushing yards return this year, so the Eagles will pound the ball on the ground with efficiency once again.  Look for EMU to rush for 225-250 yards per game.

 

An improved offensive line returns all five starters from a year ago with quality talent at every position.

 

The defense improved by leaps and bounds last season, chopping the points allowed by almost 20 and yards allowed by more than 100.  There are concerns in the defensive line, where three starters must be replaced, including the top pass rusher. 

 

The second line of defense will be spearheaded by outside linebacker Justin Cudworth, who led the Eagles with 83 tackles last season.

 

English must come up with two new starting safeties, but he welcomes the return of both starting cornerbacks from a year ago.  Marlon Pollard and Marcell Rose teamed up for 13 passes defended, with Pollard landing on the All-MAC third team.

 

The Eagles have a big special teams’ weapon in Demarius Reed.  Punters will try to punt away from him, and even when he cannot return punts, he will help give the Eagles better field position by forcing punts to angle toward the sidelines.

 

EMU has a critical non-league tilt at home with Army in October.  They must win this game to have a shot at bowl eligibility, because they definitely will lose two other non-MAC games playing on the road against Purdue and Michigan State.  In league play, they have winnable games against Ball State, Kent State, and Central Michigan.  They need to take care of business in these three and then pull off one upset to become bowl eligible.  Last year, the Eagles shocked Western Michigan by winning as a double-digit underdog, so this team is more than capable of getting a sixth win.  Unlike last year, when they defeated two FCS schools to finish with six wins, if they replicate the record this year, they will be eligible to bowl.

 

Team

Northern Illinois Huskies

               
Head Coach

Dave Doeren

               
Colors

Red and Black

               
City

Dekalb, IL

               
2011 Record              
Conference

7-1

Overall

11-3

               
PiRate Rating

92.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

85

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Rating

92

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

94

               
2012 Prediction              
Conference

6-2

Overall

8-4

 

Coach Dave Doeren took over the reins in DeKalb after moving 70 miles south from Madison, Wisconsin, where he proved to be an excellent defensive coordinator for the Badgers.  In his first year as the leader of his own team, Doeren merely won the conference championship and the GoDaddy.com bowl to finish with an identical 11-3 record left by prior coach Jerry Kill.

 

NIU is not the clear-cut favorite in the tough West Division, namely because they are one of a handful of league schools without an experienced quarterback.  Chandler Harnish (led team with 1,379 yards rushing and passed for 3,216 yards) will be tough to replace, and the fact that only three starters return to this side of the ball will make it all the more difficult for new starter Jordan Lynch.

 

The Huskies have to start over at running back as well.  Trying to replace Jasmin Hopkins and his 956 rushing yards will be Akeem Daniels.  Daniels actually averaged a little more per attempt than Hopkins.  Leighton Settle and Jamal Womble will provide depth.

 

The news is a little better at receiver with the return of leading pass-catcher Martel Moore as well as two other key players in Perez Ashford and Da’Ron Brown.

 

With the unfortunate leg fracture to guard Logan Pegram, nary a starter returns to the offensive line, leaving this unit with just two career starts.  This will force the offense to bog down against the better teams on the schedule, and it would not surprise us if the Huskies fall to about 25-27 points per game after averaging better than 38 last year.

 

NIU can still compete in the MAC this year because the defense is going to be much improved.  The Huskies won the league title despite surrendering more than 30 points and 400 yards per game.  Of course, NIU gave up 60 points to Toledo and still won the game!

 

When the defense lines up at Soldier Field in game one, ten players will have starting experience.  The defensive line is the best in the division.  Ends Alan Baxter and Sean Progar teamed for 11 sacks and 23 ½ total tackles for loss.

 

The back seven are not quite as talented as the front four, but neither the linebackers nor the defensive backs should be considered liabilities.  Linebacker might be a concern, but Tyrone Clark could help solve the riddle if he can shake off the rust after missing last season.

 

The four returning starters in the back line teamed for 31 passes defended with nine interceptions.  Being a year older bodes well for this unit and when combined with a stronger pass rush, expect NIU’s pass defense to be better this year.

 

Northern Illinois will contend for the MAC West title, and they could repeat even with two conference losses.  This division is deep with talent, so don’t expect the Huskies to win 11 games for the third consecutive season.

 

Team

Toledo Rockets

               
Head Coach

Matt Campbell

               
Colors

Midnight Blue and Gold

               
City

Toledo, OH

               
2011 Record              
Conference

7-1

Overall

9-4

               
PiRate Rating

93.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

79

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Rating

94

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

88

               
2012 Prediction              
Conference

5-3

Overall

6-6

 

What can you say about a football team that at times scored more points than its basketball team?  Toledo looked more like an Arena League team last year.  The Rockets gave up 63 points in back-to-back games and almost won both games!

 

Overall, UT’s offense scored more than 42 points per game and gained more than 480 yards per game last year.  Down the stretch, the Rockets averaged an incredible 558 yards per game (277 rushing and 281 passing)!

 

The Rockets could regress by 50-75 yards per game this year, because the offense suffered heavy graduation losses.  Fortunately,  both quarterbacks Terrance Owens and Austin Dantin return.  The duo will continue to split reps after teaming for better than 3,400 passing yards and 33 touchdowns.  As crazy as this league is, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if Coach Matt Campbell finds a way to get both passers into the game for a surprise formation.

 

Running back David Fluellen is expected to be the new starter and keep the Toledo ground game rolling along, but he has been nursing a foot injury in preseason practice.  This could become a concern if he isn’t ready to go in September.

 

Toledo lost a lot of pass catching talent, but they had so much depth here last year, there is enough talent returning to keep the passing game strong.  Bernard Reedy is one of those diminutive, speedy threats that defenses hate to face.  He grabbed 40 passes last year and averaged 19 yards per catch with nine touchdowns.  The rest of the receiving corps is inexperienced but talented.

 

There is rebuilding to do in the offensive trenches.  Two starters return, and both earned honors last year, but this unit will give up more sacks in 2012.

 

Defense has been an afterthought at the Glass Bowl in recent years.  UT has given up an average of 34 points and 400 yards per game for the past five seasons.  With only three of the top 11 tacklers returning this year, it could be another rocky road for the Rockets.

 

If there is a team strength on this side of the ball, it is at linebacker.  Dan Molls and Robert Bell teamed for 148 stops and eight tackles for loss in 2011. 

 

Up front, the line relies on lone returning starter T. J. Fatinikun at end.  He is the leading returning sack man, but he only registered 2 ½ sacks.

 

The secondary returns just one starter, and with all the fantastic quarterbacks in this league, expect UT to be lit up again in 2012.

 

The schedule could be detrimental to the Rockets’ chances this year.  Opening on the road at Arizona and Wyoming, UT then hosts Bowling Green.  It isn’t unlikely, that Toledo could be 0-3 when they host Coastal Carolina in game four.  They then must play at Western Michigan, so a 1-4 start is possible.  If they are 2-3 instead, then Toledo should rebound to reach bowl eligibility.

 

Team

Western Michigan Broncos

               
Head Coach

Bill Cubit

               
Colors

Brown and Gold

               
City

Kalamazoo, MI

               
2011 Record              
Conference

5-3

Overall

7-6

               
PiRate Rating

94.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

77

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Rating

96

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Rating

79

               
2012 Prediction              
Conference

7-1

Overall

9-4

 

Western Michigan has been close several times, but the Broncos have not won the MAC West Division since 2000, and they have not won a MAC Championship Game.  That all could change this year, but only if Coach Bill Cubit can find a way to stop all the great passers in this league.

 

WMU surrendered 29 points and 435 yards per game last year, giving up 117 points to the other two top division contenders (Northern Illinois and Toledo).

 

The defensive line has a pair of quality ends in Freddie Bishop and Paul Hazel, who teamed for eight sacks and 14 ½ total stops for loss.  The loss of tackle Drew Nowak and his league-leading 20 ½ total tackles for loss will be hard to make up, and the Broncos will rely on their defensive tackles to plug gaps and keep blockers away from the linebackers.

 

WMU employs a new 3-3-5 defense, and linebacker is the biggest problem.  Hopefully, an infusion of talent from the Juco ranks will help improve this unit.

 

The back line features the leading returning tackler in Johnnie Simon.  Simon filled up the stat sheet last year with 114 tackles, 3 ½ sacks, 10 ½ total stops for loss, and nine passes defended.

 

If the defense can trim the points allowed to 25, then WMU stands a terrific chance of winning the West.  The reason for this is the Broncos have the best quarterback in a league full of great quarterbacks.

 

Alex Carder could be the next NFL star to matriculate from the MAC.  In his junior season, Carder completed 65.7% of his passes for 3,873 yards and 31 touchdowns.  If he remains healthy, he will more than likely top 4,000 yards through the air (he missed one game last year).

 

Carder will sleep comfortably this season knowing he has a talented, experienced, and deep offensive line protecting him.  Added to four returning starters up front is the transfer of former Michigan State guard John Deyo.

 

The only question on this side of the ball is at receiver, after the Broncos graduated their top three receivers from a year ago, including Jordan White and his 140 receptions, 1,911 yards, and 17 touchdowns.  What’s left is a deep unit of better than average but not spectacular receivers.

 

At running back, Tevin Drake leads a quartet of backs that should all see action.  Drake is more of an all-around threat as a runner and pass catcher.  Antoin Scriven is a between the tackles north-south runner who can pick up three yards on third and two.  Brian Fields and Dareyon Chance are speedsters that can get to the corner and pick up a lot of yards if there is daylight.  This quartet will improve upon last year’s rushing numbers.  Look for WMU to top 130 yards per game on the ground and average better than four yards per attempt.

 

One concern is with the kicking game.  Freshmen could start at placekicker and punter after the Broncos lost a pair of quality kickers.

 

The non-conference slate is manageable.  It isn’t impossible for WMU to go 4-0 against Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Minnesota, and Connecticut, although we believe they will split these four games.  The Broncos benefit in the conference schedule, as they now host Northern Illinois and Toledo after having to play them both on the road in 2011.  Road games against Central Michigan and Kent State could be tricky, but Coach Bill Cubit should finally get the monkey off his back and advance to the MAC Championship Game.

 

Coming Monday, August 20: The Mountain West Conference.  There could be some surprises this season.

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

March 9, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 9 Update

Filed under: College Basketball — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — piratings @ 8:25 am

Three More Tickets Punched

Horizon League Championship

Butler 59  Milwaukee 44

 The Bulldogs held Milwaukee to 30% shooting from the field, and Matt Howard connected on seven of nine shots to pace Butler with 18 points, as the defending National Final runner-up earned another spot in the Big Dance.

 Summit League Championship

Oakland 90  Oral Roberts 76 

The Golden Grizzlies displayed a great offensive show with the aid of numerous first half steals by Drew Valentine and Reggie Hamilton to build a double-digit lead by the break.  After withstanding an early second half run by the Golden Eagles, Oakland pulled away to win the automatic bid.  

Keith Benson topped Oakland with 28 points and 14 rebounds.  Hamilton added 25 with six assists, while Will Hudson recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

 

Sunbelt Conference Championship

U A L R  64  North Texas  63 

The Trojans won their first Sunbelt Championship and earned their first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 1990.

 

SBC Player of the Year Solomon Bozeman drove from the backcourt to the left side of the top of the key and drained a three-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining to give UALR the decisive points.  Bozeman scored a game-high 20 points. 

North Texas had led by seven points with less than two minutes to go, but the Mean Green wilted under the Trojan pressure defense.  With one last chance to try to win, UNT committed a turnover on the inbounds pass. 

11 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
Morehead State  Ohio Valley  24-9
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

 

Two Tickets To Be Punched Tonight

Big Sky Tournament Championship @ 9PM ET On ESPN2

#2 Montana (21-9) at #1 Northern Colorado (20-10)

 

Semifinal Round

Montana 57  Weber State 40

Northern Colorado 73  Northern Arizona 70

 

These two split their regular season series with Northern Colorado winning 63-45 in Greeley, and Montana winning 55-42 in Missoula.  Tonight’s game will be played at Butler-Hancock Hall in Greeley, so Northern Colorado will enjoy the home court advantage. 

This game is a great study in contrasts.  Northern Colorado is a quicker team, but Montana is a stronger team.  Northern Colorado has one exceptionally dominant player, while Montana has more, albeit less exceptional, weapons.

 

The Bears’ offense runs through 6-1 senior guard Devon Beitzel.  Beitzel averages a league-best 21 points per game, and he is deadly at the free throw line, where he connects on 91% of his tosses. 

The rest of the team collectively shoots under 41% from the field and commits more turnovers than assists, so if the Grizzlies can stop Beitzel, or at least limit his touches, they have a chance of defending their crown.

 

Montana has the dominant big man in the conference in 6-11/260 senior center Brian Qvale.  If the Grizzlies can keep this game a half-court affair, they stand a great chance of winning with Qvale plugging the middle on defense and controlling the boards at both ends of the court.  Qvale averages 15 points and nine boards a game, and he had a double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds in the semifinal round.  Montana likes to limit possessions, so those numbers are even more impressive than they look. 

In the win over UNC, Montana held the Bears to 23.3% shooting, while they shot just 32.6% in the loss at Greeley.

 

It is our opinion that the visiting number two seed will pull off the mild upset over the host numbone seed, but it is not a strong feeling. 

 Northeast Conference Tournament Championship @ 7PM ET On ESPN2

#3 Robert Morris (18-13) at #1 Long Island (26-5)

Semifinal Round

Long Island 69  Central Connecticut 67

Robert Morris 64  Quinnipiac 62

Brooklyn has not been this excited over one of their own sports teams since the Dodgers won the 1955 World Series.  Long Island is one of the most exciting teams in the nation, and their 26-5 record has throngs of Brooklynites cramming into the Wellness, Recreation, and Athletic Center.  The WRAC holds just 2,500 seats, but you can bet that more than that amount will find their way into the game tonight, as they “Pack the WRAC.” 

Those fans will be converging to the corner of Ashland and Dekalb tonight, dressed in all white, to watch what could be a blowout win for their team.   

LIU is on a roll.  The Blackbirds have won 12 games in a row (longest current streak in the nation) and 20 of their previous 21 games.  They average almost 83 points per game.  The Blackbirds have exceptional depth with eight players capable of scoring 15 or more points. 

 

The Blackbirds pose difficult matchups with their roster, as they rely on quick guards and medium-sized forwards with great leaping ability to play at a fast pace.  There is no center on the roster, but the two 6-7 forwards have controlled the boards in most games this year. 

Those forwards are Julian Boyd and Jamal Olasewere, who team up for 25.4 points and 15.7 rebounds per game.

 5-10 backup guard Jason Brickman plays just 22 minutes per game, but he leads the team with 5.3 assists per game.  When he comes in the game, the pace picks up, and the Blackbirds shoot a lot of threes in transition.

 

Robert Morris is definitely not cannon fodder.  The Colonials are the two-time defending NEC Tournament champions, and they believe they can three peat even on the road in hostile conditions. 

The Colonials have won eight games in a row, relying on a stellar defense that limits possessions and pressures the guards.  They are missing their leading scorer, as 5-9 guard Karon Abraham’s season ended two weeks ago with a torn Achilles Tendon.  On the positive side, Abraham missed RMU’s win at LIU on December 2, as he was serving a multi-game suspension. 

Velton Jones and Russell Johnson will have to shine tonight for the Colonials to pull off the upset.  The duo are the only double figure scorers left, but both shoot less than 39% from the field. 

Without Abraham, RMU shoots just 33.7% from behind the arc, so the only way they can possibly win tonight is to replicate the formula that was successful more than three months ago—control the tempo and prevent LIU from getting off any uncontested three-pointers. 

We believe this game will begin slowly with RMU taking the lead in the early stages.  Somewhere in the first half, LIU will go on one of their patented runs and gain the lead.  Then, a second spurt will give them a commanding lead.  RMU might cut into that lead, but we believe in the end, the Blackbirds will be celebrating at the WRAC.  We do not believe the Brooklynites will be crying “Wait ‘Til Next Year.”  This will be like October of 1955 in the borough.

 

Yesterday’s Other Tournament Results

Atlantic 10 Conference

First Round

LaSalle 75  St. Bonaventure 73  2ot

St. Joseph’s 71  George Washington 59  ot

Rhode Island 70  St. Louis 61

Dayton 78  U Mass 50

 

Big East Conference

First Round

Connecticut 97  DePaul 71

Rutgers 76  Seton Hall 70 ot

South Florida 70  Villanova 69

Marquette 87  Providence 66 

M A C

First Round

Bowling Green 74  Northern Illinois 54

Ohio U 74  Toledo 57

Akron 67  Eastern Michigan 53

Buffalo 64  Central Michigan 50

 

M E A C

First Round

MD-Eastern Shore 87  F A M U 85  2ot

S. C. State 64  Delaware State 59 

Ivy League Playoff Set

Princeton defeated rival Penn 70-58 last night in Philadelphia, forcing a one-game playoff for the Ivy League’s automatic berth.  Princeton (24-6) will take on co-champion Harvard (23-5) Saturday afternoon at 4PM Eastern Time.  The game will be played at Yale University in New Haven, CT, and it can be seen live on ESPN3.com.

Princeton has appeared in all seven Ivy League tiebreaking playoff games in the history of the league.  This is Harvard’s first Ivy League basketball championship of any kind.  The Crimson last appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 1946. 

There is a chance that the loser of this game could hold a slim chance of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.  Harvard is ranked #35 in the RPI, while Princeton is ranked #49.  Harvard has two wins over top 50 teams as well as three losses.  Their biggest win was at Boston College.  Princeton has just one win against the top 50 and two losses.  For the Ivy to earn two bids, the Tigers have to win Saturday and hope Harvard’s high RPI is enough to earn the second bid. 

Conference Tournaments In Action Today

Big 12 Conference

Tournament Site: Kansas City

1st Round Games

#8 Nebraska (19-11) vs. #9 Oklahoma State (18-12)  12:30 PM ET

#5 Colorado (19-12) vs. #12 Iowa State (16-15)  3 PM ET

#7 Baylor (18-12) vs. #10 Oklahoma (13-17)  7PM ET

#6 Missouri (22-9) vs. #11 Texas Tech (13-18) 9:30 PM ET 

Big East Conference

Tournament Site: New York City

2nd Round Games

#8 Georgetown (21-9) vs. #9 Connecticut (22-9)  12 Noon ET on ESPN

#5 St. John’s (20-10) vs. #13 Rutgers (15-16)  Approx. 2:15 PM ET on ESPN

#7 Cincinnati (24-7) vs. #15 South Florida (10-22)  7 PM ET on ESPN

#6 West Virginia (20-10) vs. #11 Marquette (19-13)  Approx. 9:15 PM ET on ESPN 

Conference USA

Tournament Site: El Paso, TX

1st Round Games

#8 East Carolina (16-14) vs. #9 Central Florida (19-10)  1 PM ET

#5 Southern Miss (21-9) vs. #12 Tulane (13-16)  3:30 PM ET

#6 Marshall (21-10) vs. #11 Houston (12-17)  7:30 PM ET

#7 S M U (17-13) vs. #10 Rice (13-17)  10 PM ET 

M E A C

Tournament Site: Winston-Salem, NC

Note: The MEAC has a unique way of scheduling their tournament.  As a result, one first round game will be played today as well as two quarterfinal round games.  The other two quarterfinal round games will be played Thursday. 

1st Round

#6 Norfolk State () vs. #11 Howard ()  3 PM ET

Quarterfinal Round

#1 Bethune-Cookman (20-11) vs. #9 South Carolina State (10-21)  7 PM ET

#2 Hampton (21-8) vs. #10 Maryland-Eastern Shore (9-21)  9:30 PM ET 

Mountain West Conference

Tournament Site: Las Vegas

1st Round

#8 Wyoming (10-20) vs. #9 T C U (10-21)  5 PM ET 

Pac-10 Conference

Tournament Site: Los Angeles

1st Round

#8 Stanford (15-15) vs. #9 Oregon State (10-19)  9 PM ET on Fox Sports Net

#7 Oregon (14-16) vs. #10 Arizona State (12-18)  11:30 PM ET on Fox Sports Net 

Southland Conference

Tournament Site: Katy, TX (Houston Area)

Quarterfinal Round

#2 Northwestern State (LA) (18-13) vs. #7 Texas-San Antonio (16-13)  1 PM ET

#3 Sam Houston (17-12) vs. #6 Stephen F. Austin (18-10)  3:30 PM ET

#1 McNeese State (19-10) vs. #8 Nicholls State (14-13)  7 PM ET

#4 Texas State (15-15) vs. #5 Southeastern Louisiana (15-13)  9:30 PM ET 

S W A C

Tournament Site: Garland, TX (Dallas-Ft. Worth Area) 

Quarterfinal Round

#2 Jackson State (16-14) vs. #7 Prairie View (10-21)  12:30 PM ET

#1 Texas Southern (18-11) vs. #8 Arkansas-Pine Bluff (7-23)  9 PM ET

W A C

Tournament Site: Las Vegas

1st Round

#5 Hawaii (18-11) vs. #8 San Jose State (15-14)  3 PM ET

#6 Nevada (12-18) vs. #7 Fresno State (14-16)  5:30 PM ET

March 8, 2011

NCAA Basketball Conference Tournaments–March 8 Update

 

The Four Newest Dance Invitees

Did you see those conference championship games last night?  Was this the Monday Night Fights or basketball?  There were more cut men and cut women than in your average boxing card.

 

When it is all or nothing for these smaller conferences, you get what we saw last night—teams playing like their lives were on the line.

 

Colonial Athletic Association

Old Dominion 70

Virginia Commonwealth 65

 

Old Dominion 27-6

 

The Monarchs are capable of making a semi-surprise run in the Big Dance.  They lead the nation in rebounding margin, and they can score points in the paint. 

 

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

St. Peter’s 62

Iona 57

 

St. Peter’s 20-13

 

The Peacocks beat Alabama earlier in the season, and their defense could keep them within striking defense in an opening round game, but we cannot see SPC advancing to the second round.

 

Southern Conference

Wofford 77

College of Charleston 67

 

Wofford 21-12

 

The Terriers finally beat the Cougars (we predicted this yesterday), and they will not roll over and play dead in the first round.  This team returns to the Dance for the second consecutive season, and they will not back down.  They may not advance, but they will not be in awe of their heavily favored first round opponent.

 

West Coast Conference

Gonzaga 75

Saint Mary’s 63

 

Gonzaga 24-9

 

This edition of Zags may not be the most talented in the Coach Mark Few era, but they are playing their best ball at the right time.  It will depend on their bracket, but this team has Sweet 16 potential.

 

Three More Invitations Go Out Tonight

By 11:15 PM Eastern Time tonight, we will know the names of three more NCAA Tournament participants.  Let’s break down these games.

 

Horizon League Championship @ 9PM ET on ESPN

Butler (22-9)  at  Milwaukee (19-12)

 

Butler defeated Cleveland State in the semifinal round Saturday evening, while Milwaukee topped Valparaiso.  During the regular season, Milwaukee swept the Bulldogs, winning 76-52 at home and 86-80 in overtime on the road.  The top-seeded Panthers host this game.

 

Both teams are red hot coming into this title match.  Milwaukee has gone 10-1 in their last 11 games, and the only loss was in the Bracketbuster to Buffalo.  Their defense is what got them here, as they shoot only 43% from the field and 65% at the foul line.

 

Three Panthers average double figures in scoring, led by Anthony Hill.  Hill averages just under 16 points per game, but he broke out with a 24-point, 11-rebound performance in the semifinal game against Valpo.  Kaylon Williams is the X-factor for Panthers.  He can score when needed, rebound with the big men, and run the offense.  He recorded a triple-double earlier in the season against Butler (10 points-10 rebounds-10 assists), and he added a double-double in the second win over the Bulldogs.

 

Butler missed Gordon Hayward even more than most experts predicted.  The Bulldogs played a tough pre-conference schedule and limped into February.  With their backs against the wall, they reeled off eight consecutive victories to get to the title game tonight.

 

Most basketball fans know Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack from last year’s team that made the surprise run to the National Championship Game.  The duo has teamed for 32 points and 6.5 rebounds per game this year.  However, it has been the emergence of 6-11 sophomore center Andrew Smith that has allowed Butler to turn things around and look like a force to be reckoned with once again.  Smith averaged 11 points per game over the second half of the season.  In the eight game winning streak, he has averaged 32 minutes per game and pulled down close to eight rebounds per game.  His 63% field goal percentage has forced defenses to stop him first, giving Howard and Mack more room to get open.  Smith was a non-factor in the two games against Milwaukee, and he is the key to tonight’s game.  If he plays 32 minutes and gets double figure points and eight rebounds, Butler will be cutting down the nets yet again.

 

Summit League Championship @ 9PM ET on ESPN2

Site: Sioux Falls, SD

Oakland (24-9)  vs. Oral Roberts (19-14)

 

If you like high-scoring, fast-paced games, you will definitely clear your schedule to view this one.  Oakland is the second best offensive team in the nation, averaging 86 points per game (92 ppg in their last 10 games).  The Grizzlies connect on close to 50% of their field goal attempts, and they tend to hit spurts where they score 10 points in two minutes.  Oral Roberts averages 81 points per game and has no qualms running with Oakland.

 

Both teams are riding major winning streaks entering tonight’s title game.  Oakland has won 17 of their last 18 games, while the Golden Eagles have won 10 in a row.  In the regular season, Oakland won both high-scoring games, but both were nail-biters that went down to the wire. 

 

Oakland has a tall and short combination that has done a lot of the damage on opponents.  6-11 center Keith Benson is the best player in the league.  Benson averages 17.7 points and 10 rebounds per game.  He showed he can do it against the big schools, as he had 17 points and 12 rebounds in a close loss to Michigan State and 26 points and 10 rebounds in a big win at Tennessee. 

 

5-11 guard Reggie Hamilton is a threat to top 20 points any night.  He is quick and can get open without help from screens.

 

Oral Roberts has a star in its own right.  Dominique Morrison averages just under 20 points per game, and he doesn’t need to heave up 25 shots per game to get those points.  Morrison shoots 51.3% from the field, 40% from behind the three-point line, and 78.4% at the foul line.  He scored 56 points in the two games against Oakland.

 

This should be a great game, and we don’t believe Oakland is that much of a favorite.  ORU has been to the Big Dance four times in the last six years, while Oakland is the defending tournament champion.  We expect the winner to top 90 points in this game, and it is too close to call.  We say Oakland has about a 54% chance and Oral Roberts a 46% chance of winning.

 

Sunbelt Conference Championship @ 7PM ET on ESPN2

Site: Hot Springs, AR

 

North Texas (22-10)  vs. U A L R (18-16)

 

On paper this looks like a mismatch, even though the teams finished one game apart in the regular season.  North Texas finished fourth in the West with an 8-8 league mark, while Little Rock finished fifth at 7-9.

 

North Texas was one of the biggest underachievers this season.  The Mean Green returned four starters from their 2010 conference champion team and were expected to win again this year with the best backcourt and one of the best frontcourts in the league.  Instead, a 3-9 swoon in the middle of the season placed them out of contention for the West crown.  Since that awful slide, UNT has recovered with five consecutive victories.

 

6-5 senior guard Tristan Thompson has led the way for the Mean Green in the tournament, scoring 80 points in the first three games.  He has done a lot of the damage at the foul line, where he is 31-35 in Hot Springs, including an unbelievable 20-20 performance in the win over top-seed Florida Atlantic.  Thompson combines a quick move to the basket with a sweet shot from outside.  Beefy forward George Odufuwa averages 11 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, and UALR has a tough matchup problem against him.

 

The Trojans dropped both regular season games to North Texas, mostly because they could not compete under the basket.  Their chance to win this game will come down to limiting possessions and trying to win 55-50.  They have won three games in the tournament by getting to the foul line and hitting foul shots, while using the clock and taking 30 seconds to shoot on most possessions.  UALR’s big star in this tournament has been senior guard Solomon Bozeman.  Like Thompson, Bozeman has gotten to the free throw line and made the most of his opportunities.  He has connected on 37 of 42 attempts including an eye-popping 19 of 22 against Middle Tennessee last night.

 

We expect a low-possession, low-scoring game.  There may be fewer than 100 field goal attempts tonight.  North Texas has been there before, while UALR has never won the Sunbelt Conference Tournament.  We think that trend will continue, but it wouldn’t surprise us if this game stays relatively close for the entire 40 minutes.  We could see North Texas winning 60-54.

 

The Other Tournaments In Action Today

 

Atlantic 10 Conference

First Round At Higher Seed Home Court

 

#9 Dayton (19-12) at #8 U Mass (15-14)  9PM ET on CBSC

#12 St. Joseph’s (9-21) at #5 George Washington (17-13)  7PM ET on CBSC

#10 LaSalle (14-17) at #7 St. Bonaventure (16-13)  5 PM ET on CBSC

#11 St. Louis (12-18) at #6 Rhode Island (18-12)  7 PM ET no TV

 

Big East Conference

Madison Square Garden in New York City

 

#16 Depaul (7-23) vs. #9 Georgetown (21-9) 12 Noon ET on ESPN2

#13 Rutgers (14-16) vs. #12 Seton Hall (13-17) Approx. 2:15 PM ET on ESPN2

#15 South Florida (9-22) vs. #10 Villanova (21-10) 7PM ET on ESPNU

#14 Providence (15-16) vs. #11 Marquette (18-13) Approx 9:15 ET on ESPNU

 

Big Sky Conference

Semifinal Round At Higher Seed Home Court

#3 Weber State (18-11) at #2 Montana (20-9)

#4 Northern Arizona (19-11) at #1 Northern Colorado (19-10)

 

Mid-American Conference

1st Round At Higher Seed Home Court  All Games At 7PM ET

 

#10 Northern Illinois (9-20) at #7 Bowling Green (13-18)

#11 Eastern Michigan (9-21) at #6 Akron (19-12)

#9 Central Michigan (10-20) at #8 Buffalo (17-12)

#12 Toledo (4-27) at #5 Ohio U (17-14)

 

Mideastern Athletic Conference

Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, NC

 

#9 South Carolina State (9-21) vs. #8 Delaware State (9-20)  9PM ET

#10 Maryland-Eastern Shore (8-21) vs. #7 Florida A&M (12-19)  6:30 PM ET

 

Note: One more 1st round game Wednesday plus two quarterfinal games

 

 

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