Before The Nov. 20 Games
- Final Thoughts
Nov. 6 |
16 | Oct. 9 | Oct. 2
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- You are now about to enter a Cam Newton-free zone. You may remove your helmet and Hazmat suit, but please wash your hands before reading.
- After the wild and crazy last few weeks in the Big Ten, you must give back your membership card
as a college football fan if you don’t do everything humanly possible to watch Wisconsin-Michigan. Call it a gut feeling, the tamale I had for lunch, or woman’s intuition, but this
might be like Illinois-Michigan, only with a higher caliber of play. The Badger defense is way, WAY overdue for a clunker.
- But if Wisconsin wins, and especially if it wins impressively, it’s time for
the computers to cede to the will of the humans in the BCS equation and admit once and for all that this,
and not Stanford or LSU, is the best one-loss team in America. Not nearly enough credit is being given for the home win over Ohio State.
- How impressive was that victory over the Buckeyes? Wisconsin won 31-18 while rushing for 188 yards and three touchdowns. Ohio State has allowed a grand total of four rushing scores the rest of this year and no one
else has netted more than 120 yards on the ground. In its nine wins, Ohio State has outscored opponents by a grand total of 398 to 105, or an average score of 44 to 12. 23% of the points scored on the Buckeyes came from Wisconsin, and all nine OSU wins have come by double digits.
- As good as Wisconsin is, and as great at Ohio State has looked, Michigan State deserves to go to the Rose Bowl if there’s a three-way tie.
Instead, the Spartans will end up playing in the Capital One Bowl.
- Two words to anyone still whining about the 83 hung on the board: tackle somebody.
- What had everyone buzzing this week? Was it that quarterback for that undefeated team (I promised
there'd be no No. 2 this week)? Was it the BCS? Was it Notre Dame's blowout
over Utah? No, it was the 83. Boise State and TCU, learn from this. Horned Frogs, two
weeks from now will be your last possible chance to make an impression. After the San Diego State game, you keep that foot on the gas against New Mexico for a full sixty minutes.
Boise State, don't let up on Fresno State once it
starts to rain. This isn’t about sportsmanship; this is a business decision. Lose that No. 3 spot, lose a spot in the BCS. It’s probably that simple.
- Either Iowa played with its head over its skis last year or it’s grossly underachieving this season.
- Over/under on the number of times the “padded” brick wall sitting six inches from the back of the end zone is mentioned in the Illinois-Northwestern game:
- Over/under on the number of times a player rams into the wall: 3.5
- Over/under on the number of angry e-mails I would’ve received if I hadn’t pulled the
snarky Dale Earnhardt reference at the last possible nanosecond: 332,404.5
- Over/under on the number of them that would’ve had “Your an idiot” in the
subject line: 332.404.5
- Over/under on the number of viewers who’ll have a passing interest in the Wrigley Field novelty but will fire out a, “Eh, (bleep) it,” rather than hit the guide button to figure out where ESPNU is: 249,344.5
- And you though the attempt to recreate the Big Bang was impressive. Buffalo, who’s dead last in America in scoring, averaging just 13.9 points per game, vs. Eastern Michigan, who’s dead last in America in scoring defense, allowing a whopping 43.9 points per game.
- Out of the 120 teams, 114 of them are better than -1 per game in turnover margin. Memphis at -1.1 and Cincinnati at -1.11 are just barely on the outside of that, and Texas is struggling at -1.2. There’s a 25-mile-wide gap between 119 college football teams and Middle Tennessee, who’s at a whole other level of suck with a -2.22 turnover margin with 31 giveaways and just 11 takeaways. The Blue Raiders go to Western Kentucky
- For those of you BCS snobs looking for more ammo to use against TCU and Boise State, I give you the Tennessee Volunteers. Why does schedule matter? Tennessee, who’s most decidedly mediocre, but probably good enough to rank somewhere in the top 50, is 4-6 going into this week’s game at Vanderbilt. The six losses? Oregon, Florida, at LSU, Georgia, Alabama, at South Carolina. The four wins? UT Martin, UAB, Memphis, Ole Miss. Yeah, schedule matters. In fact, it means everything.
- By the way, as a player to watch out for going into 2011, Volunteer true freshman Tyler Bray is one of the hottest quarterbacks in college football, completing 46-of-82 passes for 807 yards and ten touchdowns with one interception in his last three games.
- It would be so, so, so … so Oklahoma. The Sooners can beat anyone in America when they're right, but outside of its state borders, the aura of invincibility is gone. After laying waste to Texas Tech, watch the Sooners, the college football equivalent of a Chuck Knoblauch throw to first, struggle against a Baylor defense that couldn’t stop you and ten close acquaintances from putting 35 on the board.
- If you were my close, personal friend and you were
going off to Vegas to legally “invest” what little
money you might have left, I’d suggest taking a
look-see at Duke + 12 over Georgia Tech, Colorado
State +2.5 over Wyoming, Tennessee -9 over
Vanderbilt, Ohio State -3 over Iowa, and I’m
thinking of hopping on a plane myself just to put a
hard-earned dollar on Clemson -13 over Wake Forest.
- By the way, I’m 11-9-1 ATS on these picks over the last month.
- Steve Spurrier should still be considered for SEC Coach of the Year honors,
even though Gene Chizik is the hands-down, slam-dunk
selection (even though Gus Malzahn probably deserves it more). However, with the rivalry game against Clemson coming up next and the SEC title game to follow, the Ball Coach should be fired on the spot if Marcus Lattimore steps on the field for one play against Troy. In fact, there’s no reason any of the Gamecock starters should suit up.
- Watch out for Duke going to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jacket defense has gone bye-bye and the team might be looking ahead to Georgia, even though it needs this game to be bowl eligible. If Miami’s Stephen Morris can roll for 230 yards, the Duke passing game should be effective.
- Nothing against Texas whatsoever, but just for the
pure theater it would be a really, really
interesting five days before the Thanksgiving Day
game against Texas A&M if the Longhorns gack against
Florida Atlantic. Be careful, UT, the Owls can play
- Mild curiosity of the week: Colorado. The team was
so torn up and heartbroken over the loss of head
coach Dan Hawkins that it went out and dropped a
34-14 pasting on an Iowa State team that desperately
needed the win. If the Buffs beat Kansas State, all
of a sudden, the Thanksgiving Friday game against
Nebraska matters. Considering that game might be meaningless for the Huskers,
there's a reason to care this week, Colorado fans.
- Be warned you already grouchy Texas Tech fans. Weber State is going to throw for 300 yards.
- If you’re a Pac 10 fan, root really, really hard for Oregon State to beat USC and for Cal to beat Stanford.
After UCLA lost to Washington on Thursday night, you need as many bowl eligible teams as you can get, and it might get dicey if the Beavers and Bears both lose.
- In the court of public opinion, TCU needs San Diego State to destroy Utah in order to make last week’s close call look better. However, devaluing the win in Salt Lake City won’t be a plus in the BCS rankings.
- There. Done. Now I can get back to my day job and help the vindictive sports
media achieve its decades-long dream of trying to
destroy the Auburn football program. Yes, Tigers,
this is all just one big, coordinated conspiracy to
bring you down (you remember 1983 and 2004, right?),
because there's nothing we despise more than
watching an endlessly likeable all-timer of a talent
make our jaws drop every Saturday.
- It’s too bad that Mike Gundy is still best known for the “rant”. Purely as a coach, the guy deserves a much better first impression response from fans and the media.
- How many sleepless nights did Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson have after watching the film of Wisconsin’s 83-20 rout of Indiana?
- What does it say about the Hoosiers that they were willing to forfeit a home game in order to face Penn State in Landover, Md.? Probably that you can make a lot more money at FedEx Field than at Memorial Stadium.
- In between an epic win over Florida and season-ending games with Clemson and Auburn, South Carolina will entertain Troy. Good luck getting the kids up for that one, coach.
- Skip Holtz is going to be successful in Tampa no matter what, but if he beats Pitt to stay in alive in the Big East race, he’ll have South Florida on the launching pad.
- If the Bulls do beat the Panthers at Raymond James Stadium, it also increases the possibility that someone, like Syracuse or Connecticut, actually winds up with a BCS bowl bid.
- It’s too bad LB Luke Kuechly plays in the anonymity of Boston College. At a more visible school, he’d be a household name.
- If Iowa fails to defeat Ohio State, go ahead and label it one of the biggest disappointments of 2010. The Hawkeyes have way too much veteran talent to be sitting at 7-4.
- Stanford QB Andrew Luck has been waiting for a full year for a shot at redemption in the Big Game with Cal. His pick into the chest of Bear LB Mike Mohamed is one of the few really bad throws of his career.
- Texas can’t possibly lose at home to a Sun Belt team, right? Florida Atlantic has won three straight as it heads into Austin.
- Neither Bronco Mendenhall nor Frank Spaziani will win any coach of the year honors, but both have done laudable jobs getting BYU and Boston College, respectively, out of ditches. With a fourth straight win, both schools will earn improbable bowl bids.
- When was the last time there were meaningful college football games in New York, Chicago, and outside Washington D.C. on the same weekend? It’s got to be more than a half-century.
- When Maryland hosts Florida State Saturday night, it’ll be the school’s biggest home game in almost a decade. The winner stays alive in the three-team hunt for the ACC Atlantic.
- Hawaii has a very realistic shot of delivering an 11-win season for Greg McMackin. Raise your hand if you thought you’d ever see that happen in a post-June Jones world.
By Matt Zemek
- Fresno State-Boise State: Remember high-school biology class? You know, when you looked at a frog under a microscope and peered at all its inner organs? Boise State’s the frog now… just not a purple one from Texas with horns. See, this is what the BCS forces us to do. Hate the BCS, but don’t hate Boise or TCU. These teams aren’t failures if they win by fewer points than you think they should. The failure is the creation of Roy Kramer and the protected political baby of the conference commissioners and university presidents. Locate blame and assign fault in the right places and for the right reasons.
- Wisconsin-Michigan: Remember, Steven Threet beat Wisconsin as a Wolverine two years ago before transferring to Arizona State. Remember, too, that Greg Robinson is still Michigan’s defensive coordinator. Also keep in mind that if this game goes into triple overtime tied at 77, teams must go for two after scoring a touchdown. ADVANTAGE BIELEMA UNIVERSITY!
- Pittsburgh-South Florida: Can Pittsburgh fail to win THIS YEAR’S Big East after leading the field by two games (plus head-to-head tiebreakers in some instances)? OF COURSE! This matchup might make last week’s Clemson-Florida State game look like the 1970s Steelers versus the 1980s 49ers. Or, perhaps this will simply become the latest version of Pitt’s loss at Connecticut. Ah, that’s simpler. If you enjoy absurd spectacles, watch this game. If you love slow-motion train wrecks, fix your eyes on Raymond James Stadium.
- Penn State-Indiana: Daniel Snyder will hire Bill Lynch right after this game is over at FedEx Field. Matt McGloin will be offered a $35 million contract by Snyder, and the NCAA will be made to like it.
- North Carolina State-North Carolina: WARNING: The world could end at roughly 3:30 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow, when this noon kickoff approaches the finish line. If Tom O’Brien puts himself in place to win a division championship (yeah, he could gack against Maryland, but this is the big test on the road to Charlotte), expect a cataclysmic event to take place in your area. Oh, wait: that could be Boston College fans letting out a plaintive wail that will stretch across the country and shatter America’s sense of itself.
-Ole Miss-LSU: If this game is half as comical as last year’s game was, you’ll be highly entertained.
-Stanford-California: The Cardinal were favored last year, at home, and bolted to a 14-0 lead. They lost. Winning this game is the one thing Jeff Tedford has done consistently well at Berkeley. Don’t expect a Stanford romp, even with Brock Mansion at quarterback for the Golden Bears.
-Ohio State-Iowa: Terrelle Pryor versus Ricky Stanzi. It’s a match made in heaven… for defensive coordinators and running backs. Wisconsin fans will be decked out in Scarlet and Gray, while Michigan State fans will wear Iowa colors. Jim Tressel has said he’ll need to let loose a little bit if his OSU crew is to go into Kinnick Stadium and win. Oh, man – get ready for nine-yard passes instead of four-yard dump-offs from the Buckeyes.
-Virginia Tech-Miami (FL): So, Hokie haters who unmercifully and unrelentingly dumped on this team after L’Affaire James Madison, how’s that criticism looking now? If any team in college football deserves criticism, the Hokies are pretty low on the list. They’re also the last ACC team anybody should be knocking, even after a really bad day at the office on short rest following a physically exhausting and mentally deflating loss to Boise State on Labor Day evening.
-Illinois-Northwestern: The most important thing that needs to be achieved in this game at Wrigley Field? No players must get severely injured or killed. Seriously.
-Florida Atlantic-Texas: Howard Schnellenberger coached against Texas while at the University of Oklahoma. Oh, how he’d love to knock the Longhorns out of bowl eligibility. He won’t do the deed, but the mere fact that it’s (at least theoretically) possible is mind-blowing to the N-th degree.
- Arkansas-Mississippi State: Want to be viewed as a top 25 team, MSU? Win this game. Besides, Bulldogs, you might not have much of a program when the NCAA is through looking into the Cam Newton mess.
- Notre Dame-Army: This is said with sincerity: If you’re a young college football fan, take the time to read Grantland Rice’s “The Four Horsemen,” which chronicled the 1924 Notre Dame-Army game at the Polo Grounds in New York. Read up on this rivalry. Understand how college football gripped the whole of America in the first half of the 20th century with a totality the sport hasn’t been able to match since its World War II heyday. The more you learn about college football’s roots as a beloved American sport, the more you can grasp about the ways in which today’s sport has changed, for better and for worse.
-Florida International/Louisiana-Lafayette: As everyone predicted, this is the Sun Belt’s biggest game in week 12.
-Nebraska-Texas A&M: Lost amidst a million other stories that have emerged over the past six weeks or so is the fact that Mike Sherman has quietly saved his job and made some A-grade adjustments in College Station.
-Oklahoma-Baylor: Landry Jones, time to stand up and be counted on the road. Period.
-USC-Oregon State: The Beavers have unraveled without James Rodgers. OSU should be stronger than one player, but the fact of the matter is that Mike Riley – usually so resourceful – has not adjusted at all to the loss of his prime receiver and Jacquizz’s big brother. The man who has made the best midcourse adjustments in the Pac-10 this season? Lane Kiffin, and it’s not close. (Chip Kelly made the best early-season adjustments without Jeremiah Masoli; different category, just in case you were about to jump out of your chair in protest.)
-Utah-San Diego State: If you’re a poll voter, you have an ethical responsibility to watch this game so that you can make an informed opinion on two of TCU’s better in-conference opponents. Then again, since this game is being consigned to The Mtn, the lowest-distribution channel in the Mountain West’s rotation of broadcast partners, perhaps that ethical mandate must be withdrawn. Utah was right to get out of the Mountain West; meanwhile, what the heck was Craig Thompson thinking when he drew up this set of atrocious TV deals? No one will get to see a very attractive matchup and a most consequential collision at 10:10 p.m. Eastern time.