C.O.W., Part 2 - 10 Bold 2nd Half Calls

Posted Oct 12, 2010

Who'll play for the national title? Who'll win the Heisman? How will the big conference races go? Here are a few bold calls thrown to the wall to see if they stick, in part two of the Week 6 Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Oct. 12 - Week Six, Part 2

By Pete Fiutak

- Oct. 12,  Cavalcade of Whimsy, Part One. Why the Brett Favre situation matters

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
The ten second half of the season predictions I'm throwing to the wall to see if they stick …

10. Michigan will hit a wall
I know everyone is supposed to root against Michigan because of the whole snooty, arrogant, Leaders & Best thing, along with the I-didn't-really-want-to-go-to-Northwestern-or-an-Ivy-anyway alumni base, but college football is better when Michigan, and all the traditional superpowers, are great, and this is a fun team to watch. Also, when the Rich Rodriguez offense is humming, it's among the most entertaining things in all of sports. However, the lack of a consistency up front on defense, the nation's second-worst pass defense, and a real, live schedule will mean the wins are going to be hard to come by with Iowa, Wisconsin, and a trip to Ohio State left to deal with. Because of the defense there are no gimmes, but with Penn State, Illinois, and Purdue still left to play, the Wolverines will go to a decent bowl. Even so, for a team that was thinking big last week at this time, it'll be happy to win two of its final six games.

9. Stanford will win the Pac 10 title
Oregon is as much fun as anyone in the country, but it has also showed some flaws. As good as the Ducks have been, in the improved Pac 10, and with teams getting time to prepare for the spread, it'll be next to impossible to get through clean. That's nothing against Oregon; the league has been that good. The defense is fine, but the secondary can be beaten and the run defense has faced just two teams, Tennessee and Stanford, that can pound the ball, with each having success. USC gets two weeks off to prepare for the huge home game, as does Arizona for the date in Eugene. The Trojans and Wildcats have the firepower to win wild shootouts, while Stanford should be able to roll through Washington State and Washington over the next few weeks before a nasty November with road games at Arizona State and Cal and home against Arizona and Oregon State. Because of the offensive line, the physical all-around play, the attitude from the coaching staff, and the most talented player in college football under center (Andrew Luck), the Cardinal will survive test after test to get to Pasadena for the first time since the 1999 season.

8. Utah will beat TCU
TCU is 1-3 in its last four games against Utah, is 2-5 all-time, and has never won in Salt Lake City. While the Horned Frogs have received the national title attention and focus so far, Utah has hummed along and is improving each week hitting its stride at just the right time scoring a whopping 180 points over the last three games. The special teams are playing as well as any in America, the passing game is ultra-efficient (helped by a line that has allowed just one sack), and the defense is a brick wall against the run. Granted, facing UNLV, New Mexico and San Jose State is nothing more than target practice, but beating Pitt and whacking Iowa State 68-27 is solid. In a war between two unbeaten teams, the Utes will throw a wrench into the season with a win reminiscent of the 13-10, last-second classic win in 2008.

7. The SEC champion will have two losses
Everyone in the East but South Carolina already has two losses, and the Gamecocks still have difficult road games at Kentucky, Florida, and Clemson to deal with, not to mention home dates against Tennessee and Arkansas. There will be one slip along the way. In the West, Auburn and LSU are still unbeaten while Alabama and Arkansas each have just one loss, but soon, everyone will start picking each other off.

As shaky as Bama was against Arkansas on the road, and with the double-digit loss to South Carolina, there might be a hiccup at Tennessee if all the planets are aligned correctly, and going to LSU is going to be fun. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Auburn are all just decent enough to pull off an upset on the right day. Even if LSU beats the Tide, do you really believe that the team that struggled so much throughout the first half of the season will get through trips to Auburn and Arkansas unscathed? Arkansas still has to go to Auburn, South Carolina, and Mississippi State, and has home games against Ole Miss and LSU, and Auburn still has Arkansas, LSU, at Ole Miss, Georgia, and at Alabama to deal with.

6. It'll be a three-way tie for the Big Ten title, but …
The Buckeyes will go to the Rose Bowl. Michigan State and Ohio State don't play this year, and if both are unbeaten late into October, there will be at least three articles written about the idea of the two playing for the national title. However, MSU will lose at Iowa, but will roll through Illinois, at Northwestern, Minnesota, Purdue, and at Penn State, with the loss to the Hawkeyes coming after Ohio State's one blemish, a loss at Wisconsin this week. OSU will beat Iowa in Iowa City to be ranked highest of the three in the BCS standings to win all the tie-breakers.

5. West Virginia will blow through the Big East schedule
The Mountaineers might not be perfect, and they might not have the explosive offense of some of the better teams that went to the BCS, but they're night-and-day better than anyone else in the Big East. The road games are at Connecticut, Louisville, and Pitt, and while each has enough in the bag to pull off an upset, they're going to have to be perfect. Cincinnati and Rutgers will provide a push in Morgantown, and USF will be more than a speed bump, but West Virginia will be 11-1 and, out of the blue, a marquee team to watch in the BCS.

4. Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz will be the best player in the WAC, and won't get first or second-team all-conference honors.
It'll be a coin-flip between Boise State's Kellen Moore and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick for the First Team All-WAC quarterback slot, and Moore will win it and will end up being in New York as a Heisman finalist. But it'll be Moniz, the Hawaii junior quarterback, who'll do more for his team and will be the best player in the conference. He'll finish the year in the top three nationally in total offense, and with over 300 passing yards per game against everyone but USC (and that was only because he was knocked out for a stretch), and with 18 touchdowns so far and just four interceptions, he's one of the nation's hottest passers and will keep being a major playmaker for an attack that keeps on putting up numbers like the June Jones days.

3. The Heisman finalists
It'll be a dogfight down the stretch in one of the closest Heisman races ever, and there will be at least five viable candidates fighting it out for votes. Denard Robinson will fall out of favor over the second half of the season, but his final numbers will be too amazing to ignore and he'll get several No. 3 votes after a scintillating performance against Ohio State. Nebraska's Taylor Martinez will struggle a bit against Texas, but he'll lead the Huskers to the Big 12 title game getting votes in a top-player-on-a-top-team way. Terrelle Pryor won't have the numbers, and he'll be out of the hunt for a little while after struggling this week against Wisconsin, but he'll make up for it in a win over Iowa. Oregon's LaMichael James will end up leading the nation in rushing, and he'll just miss out on the 2,000-yard mark to finish in everyone's top three. Those on the West Coast will give Kellen Moore a few votes, but no one on the right side of the Mississippi will have him on the ballot. Auburn's Cam Newton will deserve more respect, but he'll struggle in his spotlight game in Alabama to ruin his bid (but he'll be THE guy going into next year). Ryan Mallett and Andrew Luck will get a few votes from those going with the Most Talented Player Theory, but they won't get enough to get an invite to New York. So, to make the call, it'll be …

1) Pryor, 2) James, 3) Martinez, 4) Robinson, 5) Moore, 6) Newton, 7) Luck, 8) Mallett

2. Boise State and Utah will be two of three teams that will finish the year unbeaten.
Boise State will get a wee bit of a push from Nevada in Reno, and the Hawaii game will be fun for about a half, but there's no stopping the machine. The Broncos will go 12-0, and it'll do it with flair. The Utes will have just enough of a fight on its hands at Air Force and at either Notre Dame or San Diego State to give voters justification (at least in their minds) to keep them out of the BCS Championship, but if they beat TCU, they'll finish the regular season 12-0. Despite being unbeaten, they'll be out of the title discussion because …

1. Nebraska will play Boise State for the national title
Schedule, schedule, schedule, schedule, schedule. The SEC champion will have at least one loss (likely two), Ohio State will lose a road game either at Wisconsin or Iowa, and Oregon will drop at least one game with so many tough battles left to be had. Oklahoma, who has been way too shaky so far, will lose a road game against either Missouri, Texas A&M, or Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, Nebraska has one of the most manageable schedules of any national title contender. Going to Oklahoma State and Texas A&M will be tough, but any team good enough to play in the BCS Championship has to roll through those games, while the battles with Texas and Missouri are at home. The Huskers will face Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship and will win a classic. And then will come the weeping and gnashing of teeth.

No one's going to have a beef with Nebraska going to Glendale, but if Alabama wins the SEC Championship with one loss, then Boise State could be out of the picture. Ohio State fans will also be screaming, as will Oregon's if their team only has one loss, but just enough pollsters will keep Boise State high to just barely give the WAC champion its shot at the title.

Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn't feel like writing bigger blurbs for.

- Everyone, do NOT overreact to Boise State being ranked in the top two of the first BCS rankings. Remember, the computers take into account the entire season, and the formulas don't fully kick in until the regular season is over.

- In case you didn't see it -- and why would you have? -- there was a minor brouhaha late in the Minnesota – Wisconsin game. The Badgers were up 41-16 with 6:39 to play and went for two. Badger head coach Bret Bielema later said he was just going by the chart, but Gopher head man Tim Brewster didn't buy it, sensing there was a bit of rubbing it in rivalry-style. You don't get to whine about anyone running up the score if you refuse to go for an onside kick down 18 with over five minutes to play, like the Gophers did.

- Between Favre, the ESPN body issue, and trying to Google any image whatsoever, I need a break from unsolicited nudity. For two weeks, world, keep your clothes on.

- Yeah, USC's defense isn't all that great, and the pass defense is 116th in the nation, but it has faced Hawaii's Bryant Moniz, the nation's leader in total offense; Minnesota's Adam Weber, who stinks but will be in an NFL camp; and, probably, the top two picks in the 2011 NFL Draft. Jake Locker completed 24-of-40 passes for 310 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 110 yards, two weeks ago, while Andrew Luck completed 20-of-24 passes for 285 yards and three scores, and ran for 40 yards last week. And Matt Barkley has been every bit as good. He has flown under the radar, but Barkley is playing like the star he was supposed to be as the No. 1 recruit in the country completing 65% of his throws for 1,517 yards and 15 touchdowns and four picks, with all of the interceptions coming in wins over Minnesota and Washington State.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Boise State looking for its third straight 50+ point game … Underrated: TCU looking for its third straight shutout
2) Overrated: Getting the Jake Locker promotional postcard after the USC game … Underrated: The Jake Locker promotional postcards being put on hold after the Nebraska game
3) Overrated: Stephen Garcia ... Underrated: Alshon Jeffery
4) Overrated: Penn State's team meeting ... Underrated: The Illinois defense
5) Overrated: "The Decision" ... Underrated: A 75-minute BCS standings analysis show

"Tracy did mention we shouldn't let him gamble. Or drink too much."… Really? South Florida LOSES at home to Syracuse?! No one loses at home to Syracuse. Michigan State was found money over Michigan, and LSU was a bit of a gift considering it was going to be a tight game. … Week 6 Results: 1) Michigan State +5 over Michigan (W, MSU 34-17), 2) LSU +7.5 over Florida (W, LSU 33-29), 3) South Florida -7.5 over Syracuse (L, SU 17-9) ... Record So Far ATS: 10-5

This week's picks: 1) Florida -7 over Mississippi State, 2) Texas +9.5 over Nebraska, 3) Iowa -3.5 over Michigan

If the college football season ended right now, this would be my Heisman ballot cast for the Most Outstanding College Football Player in the United States for 2010. … 1) Cam Newton, QB Auburn, 2) LaMichael James, RB Oregon, 3) Taylor Martinez, QB Nebraska

Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … I tried to stop it, but LSU WR Terrence Toliver dragged it 12 yards into the end zone.

- Oct. 12,  Cavalcade of Whimsy, Part One. Why the Brett Favre situation matters