C.O.W., Part 2 - Analyzing Every Conf. Race
Michigan State RB Edwin Baker
Michigan State RB Edwin Baker
Posted Nov 9, 2010

Analyzing, predicting, and breaking down every conference race in Part 2 of the Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Nov. 9 - Week Ten, Part 2

By Pete Fiutak

 Nov. 9, Cavalcade of Whimsy, Part One. The Hosing of Boise State

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
The 11 conference races (from clearest to messiest) and how they're going to turn out (trying to keep it as easy as possible) …

11. WAC
Boise State still has four conference games left, and Fresno State and Nevada should be battles, but it's going to take a mega-clunker from the Broncos to not leave the WAC with another title before joining the Mountain West. The key to the conference race will be Nevada's date with Fresno State to determine the No. 3 spot, considering both teams lost to Hawaii. The Warriors aren't going to lose to San Jose State or New Mexico State.

Predicted Final Pecking Order: 1. Boise State, 2. Hawaii, 3. Nevada. 4. Fresno State, 5. Louisiana Tech, 6. Idaho, 7. Utah State, 8. New Mexico State, 9. San Jose State

10. Mountain West
It's not going to get the coverage of TCU-Utah, but all of a sudden, San Diego State-TCU this weekend might be for the Mountain West title. If the Aztecs pull off one of the biggest wins in school history, not only do they ruin the Horned Frog national title hopes, but the Mountain West will be theirs if they beat Utah and UNLV at home to close. Most likely, SDSU will be fighting Utah for second in a fun battle two weeks from now. Meanwhile, BYU, who was left for dead a few weeks ago, has a shot at finishing second in the conference by winning out, thanks to a win over San Diego State a few weeks ago.

Predicted Final Pecking Order: 1. TCU, 2. Utah, 3. Air Force, 4. BYU, 5. San Diego State, 6. Colorado State, 7. UNLV, 8. New Mexico, 9. Wyoming

9. SEC
It's simple. If Auburn wins one of its final two games against Georgia or Alabama, it plays for the SEC championship. Auburn has to lose twice to open the door for LSU, who'd have to beat Ole Miss and Arkansas, or Arkansas who has to beat Mississippi State and LSU, or Mississippi State, who has to beat Alabama, Arkansas, and Ole Miss. And then there's Alabama. If Auburn loses to Georgia, then the Iron Bowl gets the Tide into the mix and makes things very interesting depending on whether or not LSU wins its final two games. If Auburn loses twice and LSU loses once, the main tie-breaker (depending on who's involved) goes to the one with the best record within the division, and Alabama would catch a huge break with one of its losses coming to South Carolina. The East is down to the South Carolina-Florida showdown this week.

Predicted Final Pecking Order: East: 1. Florida, 2. South Carolina, 3. Georgia, 4. Kentucky, 5. Tennessee, 6. Vanderbilt
West: 1. Auburn. 2. LSU, 3. Alabama, 4. Arkansas. 5. Mississippi State, 6. Ole Miss

8. Pac 10
If Oregon wins two of its last three games, it wins the Pac 10 title no matter what and goes to the Rose Bowl (though it's obviously gunning for Glendale). Stanford is a firm No. 2, but it needs to win out and needs Oregon to lose twice to go to Pasadena. Arizona's only chance is to win out, get one other Oregon loss, and get another Stanford loss. Oregon State goes to the Rose Bowl by winning out and getting one other Oregon loss.

Predicted Final Pecking Order: 1. Oregon, 2. Stanford, 3. Arizona, 4. Oregon State, 5. USC, 6. California, 7. UCLA, 8. Arizona State, 9. Washington, 10. Washington State

7. Big East
This might not be as cut and dry as it might appear, considering Pitt is unbeaten and everyone else has two losses. The Panthers play three of their last four games on the road at Connecticut, South Florida, and Cincinnati, with the West Virginia home date mixed in. Everyone is still alive, but it would require winning out and hoping for Pitt to start losing for anyone else to have a shot. Assuming the Panthers don't lose three of their last four games, Louisville, Rutgers, and Syracuse are all but out of it.

The Mountaineers have to go to Pitt, but thanks to a win over South Florida, they have a solid shot of winning the tie-breakers if the Panthers lose one other game. The team with the best chance of winning the Big East other than Pitt is UConn, getting the Panthers at home and playing at South Florida, and with a win over West Virginia already in the bag. However, the Huskies just aren't good enough to run the table. It's going to be a messy finish with lots of tie-breakers involved for the bowl games.

Predicted Final Pecking Order: 1. Pitt, 2. West Virginia, 3. South Florida, 4. Syracuse, 5. Connecticut, 6. Louisville, 7. Cincinnati, 8. Rutgers

6. Conference USA
If UCF beats Southern Miss at home this weekend, it just has to win one of its final two games against Tulane and Memphis on the road. Neither game should be a problem and the East should be in the bag. If East Carolina loses one of its final three games at UAB, at Rice, and SMU, then UCF would have to totally collapse to lose the East. The West should come down to the Tulsa-Houston game this weekend. If the Cougars win, they'll win the West. If Tulsa wins, then SMU is involved.

The Mustangs beat the Golden Hurricane, and if Tulsa wins out, and if SMU beats Marshall and East Carolina, and if Houston beats Southern Miss, it'll create a three-way tie, and then it comes down to Tulsa and Houston because they'd have better records than SMU within the division. Essentially, everything revolves around this week's game Houston-Tulsa game.

Predicted Final Pecking Order: East: 1. UCF, 2. East Carolina, 3. Southern Miss, 4. Marshall, 5. UAB. 6. Memphis
West: 1. Houston, 2. Tulane, 3. Tulsa, 4. UTEP, 5. Tulane, 6. Rice

5. Big 12
The North would've gotten weird if Nebraska had choked away the loss overtime game at Iowa State last week, but now, it would take losses in two of the final three games against Kansas, at Texas A&M, and Colorado to give Missouri any sort of a shot, and it would take a total Husker collapse to allow anyone else to play for the title.

The South is a lot more fun. Texas and Texas Tech are out, but the other four teams are still alive. Oklahoma State wins the South by winning out at Texas, at Kansas, and against Oklahoma. Oklahoma wins the South by beating Texas Tech, at Baylor, and at Oklahoma State, and getting a Texas A&M loss. Texas A&M wins by getting one Oklahoma State loss and winning at Baylor, beating Nebraska, and at Texas. Baylor needs two Oklahoma State losses and must beat Texas A&M and Oklahoma. If there's a three-way tie, the records of the three teams will be compared to each other, and then it goes to the division wins, and then it gets really crazy. The best guess? Oklahoma wins out, Texas A&M loses to Nebraska, and the Sooners get in.

Predicted Final Pecking Order: North: 1. Nebraska, 2. Missouri, 3. Kansas State. 4. Iowa State, 5. Kansas. 6. Colorado
South: 1. Oklahoma, 2. Oklahoma State, 3. Texas A&M, 4. Baylor, 5. Texas, 6. Texas Tech

4. ACC
The Coastal isn't a problem. Virginia Tech's win over Georgia Tech last week all but ended the fun, and not winning the division would take two losses in the final three games going to North Carolina and Miami before finishing up with Virginia. Miami needs to beat the Hokies, needs another Virginia Tech loss, and needs to beat Georgia Tech this week. North Carolina needs to beat Virginia Tech, NC State, and win at Duke, and it needs Miami and Virginia Tech to lose one more. But all that's a stretch if the Hokies take care of business.

The Atlantic is going to take some work. Maryland is in great shape, needing to beat Virginia this weekend and with Florida State and NC State at home. If the Terps win out, they win the Atlantic. NC State, thanks to the win over the Noles, will win the division if it beats Wake Forest and wins at North Carolina and at Maryland. Florida State needs a little help, and it shouldn't have a problem getting it. It needs to beat Clemson and has to win at Maryland, while needing an NC State loss. Clemson, surprisingly, has a decent shot despite being a game back, needing to win at Florida State and at Wake Forest, and needing Maryland and NC State to each lose once. If the Tigers win in Tallahassee, they'll have beaten the three teams ahead of them in the division.

Predicted Final Pecking Order: Atlantic: 1. Florida State. 2. Maryland, 3. NC State. 4. Clemson, 5. Boston College, 6. Wake Forest
Coastal: 1. Virginia Tech, 2. Miami, 3. North Carolina, 4. Georgia Tech, 5. Duke, 6. Virginia

3. MAC
The West is cut and dry. The Toledo-Northern Illinois game tonight determines the division title unless the winner gags away their final two games. Neither one should be threatened in the last two weeks with NIU playing at Ball State and at Eastern Michigan, and Toledo getting home layups against Bowling Green and Central Michigan. And then there's the East.

Kent State made it a little easier last week by getting trounced by Temple, so now it's a three-way race between Temple, Ohio, and Miami. After beating Miami a few weeks ago, Ohio wins the division by beating Temple next week. If Temple wins, it has to win at Miami to win the East, or MU has to lose at Bowling Green or at Akron to make the regular season finale against the Owls meaningless. If the RedHawks win out and there's a three-way tie, then the West is awarded to the team whose cross-division opponents had the best cumulative conference winning percentage. That's way, way too messy to even begin to dive into. Temple's the best team of the lot, and Miami could lose before the showdown against the Owls.

Predicted Final Pecking Order: East: 1. Temple, 2. Ohio, 3. Miami University, 4. Kent State, 5. Buffalo, 6. Bowling Green, 7. Akron
West: 1. Northern Illinois, 2. Toledo. 3. Western Michigan. 4. Ball State, 5. Central Michigan, 6. Eastern Michigan

2. Sun Belt
It's not like the Sun Belt has a huge following, but it's the wackiest conference race still going. It seemed like it was over a few weeks ago, and then Troy came up with a shockingly strange performance in a loss to ULM, didn't play defense against North Texas, and now everything appears to be wide open with seven of the nine teams still alive for a shot at a piece of the title. Troy is still the class of the bunch, and it'll win the conference title if it beats FIU, Western Kentucky, and at Florida Atlantic. However, FIU is just decent enough, especially on defense, to be a factor and could throw a wrench into things at Troy this week. The Golden Panthers win the Sun Belt title by winning out.

Arkansas State gave Troy a run, and it's good enough to get an at-large bowl bid. The Red Wolves need Troy to lose twice and they need to beat Western Kentucky and win at FIU. Middle Tennessee has been a mega-disappointment, but it's still alive needing to win its final four games against North Texas, at WKU, Florida Atlantic, and at FIU, and it needs Troy to lose twice and Arkansas State once to win outright. ULM, FAU, or Louisiana-Lafayette can win a piece of the title by winning out and getting a ton of help, but they're still players in the race.

Predicted Final Pecking Order: 1. Troy, 2. Arkansas State, 3. FIU, 4. Middle Tennessee, 5. ULM, 6. Florida Atlantic, 7. Louisiana-Lafayette, 8. North Texas, 9. North Texas

1. Big Ten
If Michigan State beats Purdue and wins at Penn State, it'll go to the Rose Bowl … maybe. There are four key players in the Big Ten race: Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Iowa. Penn State is still alive for a piece of the title, but that would require the top four teams all losing at some point, including MSU at home against Purdue, and the Nittany Lions would have to win at Ohio State, at Indiana, and at home against Michigan State. It's not going to happen.

Realistically, the Big Ten all comes down to Ohio State's date at Iowa in two weeks. If Michigan State wins out, and if Wisconsin beats Indiana, wins at Michigan, and beats Northwestern, and if the Iowa/Ohio State winner doesn't lose, that would create a three-way tie. Here's how it breaks down if …
- Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State all tie. Wisconsin would likely go to the Rose Bowl because the tie-breaker is the highest BCS ranking. However, there's a chance Ohio State would get the nod if it blows out Iowa and moves up the charts.
- Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa all tie. Then the tie-breakers kick in since MSU beat UW, UW beat Iowa, and Iowa beat MSU, meaning the representative shall be determined on the percentage basis of all games played. That means Michigan State will go to the Rose Bowl because Iowa lost to Arizona.

Wisconsin goes to the Rose Bowl by winning out and being the highest ranked Big Ten team in the BCS, or if Michigan State loses to either Purdue or Penn State, however, one Badger loss all of a sudden opens the door for Ohio State. The Buckeyes go to the Rose Bowl by getting a UW loss and beating Penn State, winning at Iowa, and beating Michigan. The Spartans and Buckeyes don't play each other, so if the two are tied, it comes down to which team is ranked higher in the BCS rankings. That's Ohio State (9th) at the moment (MSU is 11th). In other words, MSU has to get its Wisconsin red pom-poms out.

Iowa goes to the Rose Bowl by winning at Northwestern, beating Ohio State, and winning at Minnesota, and getting a Wisconsin loss. Alright, so to make a call, Wisconsin wins out, Michigan State loses at Penn State, and the Badgers go to the Rose Bowl.

Predicted Final Pecking Order: 1. Wisconsin, 2. Ohio State, 3. Iowa, 4. Penn State, 5. Michigan State, 6. Illinois, 7. Michigan, 8. Northwestern, 9. Purdue, 10. Indiana, 11. Minnesota

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.

- Down 41-7 starting the second half, Rice came up with the most demoralizing 55-yard touchdown catch in the history of college football. Luke Wilson took a Taylor Cook pass for a score, but the extra point was blocked and returned 80 yards for a two-point conversion by John Flanders. Damaris Johnson took the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, and Kevin Fitzpatrick hit the extra point. That means Tulsa netted a plus-three thanks to the defense giving up a long score.

- I'm too lazy to look it up, but Idaho has to be on the verge of setting some sort of a record. The Vandals gave up 108 points in the last two weeks to Nevada and Hawaii, and Boise State is up next. While the points are no big deal, the yards allowed have been impressive giving up 494 to the Warriors and 844 to the Wolf Pack. If Boise State comes up with its average of 544 yards against the Vandals, Idaho will have allowed 1,882 yards of total offense over the last three weeks. If Boise State comes up with 662 yards, it came up with 737 against Hawaii last week, Idaho will have allowed 2,000 yards in three games.

- I know this sounds crazy, but Colorado is just weird enough, even at 0-5 in Big 12 play, to come back roaring after the choke to Kansas in the epic 52-45 collapse to beat Iowa State and Kansas State at home. Even after all that has happened in the Dan Hawkins era, the Buffs might still go into Thanksgiving Friday at Nebraska with a chance to go bowling.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world

1) Overrated: Basketball – Illinois 51, Michigan 44 … Underrated: Football - Michigan 67, Illinois 65, 3 OT
2) Overrated: Charlie Villanueva … Underrated: http://www.onestepcamp.org/
3) Overrated: Vanilla Ice Posse ... Underrated: Vanilla Ice Project
4) Overrated: Garrett Gilbert ... Underrated: Gilbert Lowe
5) Overrated: Brian Kelly ... Underrated: George O'Leary

"Tracy did mention we shouldn't let him gamble. Or drink too much."… I'm so overdue for a losing week. Again, I apologize to all of you who have paid the mortgage over the years by going against my selections. Last week's picks: Tennessee -19.5 over Memphis (W, Tenn. 50-14), 2) Boston College -3 over Wake Forest (W BC 23-13), 3) Missouri -4.5 over Texas Tech (TT L, 24-17) … Record So Far ATS: 16-10-1

This week's picks: 1) Ohio State -17.5 over Penn State, 2) Utah -5.5 over Notre Dame, 3) Utah State -4 over San Jose State

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) Kellen Moore, QB Boise State

Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … now that the column is over, let's go beat Ohio State.

 Nov. 9, Cavalcade of Whimsy, Part One. The Hosing of Boise State