Before The Nov. 26/27 Games
- Final Thoughts
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- This is the weekend we've all been waiting for. Oregon, Auburn, Boise State, LSU, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin … you're up. This weekend is why we care.
- Auburn has played just three road games this year.
One was at Mississippi State in a 17-14 win despite
a flat performance from the offense. One was at
Kentucky, when the Tigers rolled up yards but
couldn't put the game away until late. One was
against Ole Miss, one of the two worst teams in the
- Cam Newton will be the story, Greg McElroy will
have the better game.
- I'm shocked there isn't more screaming and yelling about the possible three-way Big Ten tie-breaker scenario. Yeah, like the rest of the world, I believe that the pecking order, as far as which teams are best right now, should go Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, but that's not a fair reflection of what actually happened.
I get that the 2008 Big 12 South tie-breaker had to go to the BCS rankings with Texas Tech beating Texas, Texas beating Oklahoma, and Oklahoma beating Texas Tech, but it doesn't make any sense this year for the Big Ten. If all that matters is Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State, and Wisconsin beat Ohio State and Michigan State beat Wisconsin, then in the absence of an outcome between MSU and OSU, the Spartans MUST win the tie-breaker.
Because it's a three-way tie-breaker, nothing else matters, including the MSU loss to Iowa. A is higher than B, and B is higher than C, therefore, in this case, A has to be assumed higher than C. If all three top Big Ten teams win this weekend, MSU deserves to go to the Rose Bowl, Wisconsin should get an at-large BCS bid, and Ohio State should to play in the Capital One.
- But Penn State will end the controversy before it can begin with a win over the Spartans. MSU has been begging to get tagged again over the last few weeks.
- In a streak that has held up even during the lean times, Penn State has won its last ten regular season home finales.
- Sorry, Triskaidekaphobic Badger fans; this could be enough to throw you into your panic room going into the Northwestern game. The phenomenal Wisconsin rushing attack has three backs, John Clay, James White, and Montee Ball, who have each run for exactly 13 touchdowns.
- Wisconsin has scored 41 rushing touchdowns this year and has allowed just six. Most impressively, WR Isaac Anderson's fumble against Michigan was the team's first lost fumble since the San Jose State game on September 11th. The Badgers have run 484 times and have completed 175 passes and have lost just three fumbles on the year.
- Yeah, LSU has the nation's fourth best pass defense and is first in the SEC, but it has faced exactly two teams that know how to throw a forward pass. North Carolina and T.J. Yates rallied in the opener and finished with 412 passing yards and three scores. Alabama lost, but Greg McElroy had a nice day throwing for 223 yards and two scores. West Virginia's Geno Smith is a nice passer, but he's hardly consistent and the Mountaineers are only 71st in the nation in passing. In other words, don't be stunned if and when Ryan Mallett and Arkansas light up the Tiger secondary like a Christmas tree.
- I've pointed this out before, but now it's even more pronounced. Time of possession matters. Among the 13 best teams at holding on to the ball are Stanford (No. 1, averaging 35:15 per game), TCU (No. 2), UCF (who's probably going to win the Conference USA title, is fourth), Northern Illinois (who's probably going to win the MAC title, is fifth), Ohio State (No. 7), Wisconsin (No. 12), and Miami University (who's in the East race, is No.13).
- Of course, Oregon is 108th and Auburn is 84th.
- It's sort of the same argument I made in 2008 when I said Texas should win the Big 12 South tie-breaker because its loss to Texas Tech came on the road, Oklahoma's loss to the Longhorns was on a neutral site, and while Texas Tech's loss to OU came on the road, Texas was the only one of the three to not get a home game. If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, OU deserves to win the South since its two losses (Missouri and Texas A&M) will have come on the road, only one of A&M's losses (Oklahoma State) came on the road, and OSU will have lost its two games Big 12 games (Nebraska and OU) at home. It's better than using the dopey BCS rankings to figure it out.
- Oklahoma State already lost to Nebraska, at home. If the Huskers win the North, someone other than the Cowboys should get a shot. The same thing should apply for Oklahoma if Missouri wins the North.
- Nothing against Oklahoma State, Texas A&M or Missouri, but to close out the Big 12 as we all know it, for anyone who used to love the monster Big 8 showdown and were grouchy when it was ruined by the new league, it should be Oklahoma vs. Nebraska for the Big 12 title. Even though the winner goes to the Fiesta Bowl, fans of the winning team should throw oranges on the field.
- Speaking of old school Oklahoma, Sooner WR Ryan Broyles has caught 106 passes for 1,309 yards and 12 touchdowns this year. OU didn't complete more than 87 passes for an entire season in any one year from 1969 to 1990.
- Yeah, you did hear it right, if you stayed up really late. Lou Holtz, until Rece Davis bailed him out, basically said that it was only fair that Matt Barkley got hurt since Notre Dame was going to be without its starting quarterback.
- After the Oregon State debacle and with Barkley suffering with a high ankle sprain, now we get to see if USC still cares.
- While no one has been fired over the Declan Sullivan tragedy, and the on-field problems, with inexplicable losses to Navy and Tulsa, are still too fresh, if the Irish beat the Trojans, few head coaches will have done as masterful a job at fighting through adversity as Brian Kelly.
- Considering the Virginia Tech game was technically played on a neutral site, Boise State has won its four road games this year by a combined score of 210 to 20, or an average of 52.5 to 5.
- In his phenomenal four-year career, Nevada's Colin Kaepernick has only thrown more than one interception in four games, and even in those games he only gave away two picks. However, the Pack lost all four of those games.
- Don't expect too much of an offensive explosion from Pitt in the Backyard Brawl. West Virginia is the only team in America who has yet to give up more than 21 points in a game, and the only time it allowed that many was in the overtime win over Marshall.
- I always get disappointed when the wild shootout matchups aren't wild shootouts, but I'm asking for well over 1,000 yards of total offense and close to 800 passing yards in the Houston-Texas Tech showdown.
- In the Best Running Back You Don't Care About category, Western Kentucky's Bobby Rainey, who's fourth in the nation in rushing, is having a special finishing kick. He has already run for 1,492 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year, and over the last three games he has carried the ball a whopping 115 times for 554 yards and six scores. He'll be fed the ball 40 times against Troy.
- 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 Ohio -3 over Kent State, Boise State -14 over Nevada, Iowa -15.5 over Minnesota, and I'm thinking of hopping on a plane myself just to put a hard-earned dollar on Kansas State -14.5 over North Texas.
- By the way, I'm 15-10-1 ATS on these picks so far, going 4-1 last week.
- However, I might be off this week. I gambled when I mixed a combination of sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and Coke Zero (don't ask), and lost.
- Mild curiosity of the week: Iowa. The Hawkeye offense has decided to take November off after its masterful performance against Michigan State. The points aren't coming and the team should be 0-3 for the month instead of 1-2. The Minnesota game will be the test to see if the wheels really have fallen off.
- Even with all the positives lately and even with all the hope for the future, what does Michigan have to do against Ohio State for Rich Rodriguez to be comfortable? Win, of course.
- After three long months, plenty of controversies, lots of wild finishes, and all the great games, it all comes down to this: Buffalo at Akron. No team deserves to go through a season winless.
- TCU, this is your last chance. If you don't have an 80 in you against New Mexico, enjoy seeing Boise State's taillights.
- The three impressive rallies of the 2010 season, Colorado, BYU, and Tennessee, will all end badly.
- Boston College vs. Syracuse over/under is 37. That might seem ridiculously low, but BC averages 19 points per game and gives up 20.6 points per game, while Syracuse has scored 19 points over the last two weeks and allowed just 18 points per game.
- Alabama, Arizona, and Nevada, you only get a few chances to be a part of college football history, but there's a chance, a great chance, that Auburn, Oregon, and Boise State really are that good.
- As good as Texas A&M has been over the last month, I'm still not sold on Mike Sherman as a steady force in the coaching ranks. By this time next year, don't be shocked if he's back on the coals.
- Beyond the extra practices, did you even want a bowl game if you're Texas, or did you just want to get to offseason as quickly as possible?
- Rutgers will never get rid of him because the school won't do better, but Greg Schiano has peaked in Piscataway.
- Sophomore quarterbacks. Solid defenses. Coaches in dire need of a Big East championship. West Virginia-Pitt ought to go right down to the wire and likely be decided by a field goal.
- Is anyone paying attention RB Zach Line, SMU's modern-day version of Craig James? In a passer-friendly offense, he leads Conference USA with 1,174 yards rushing.
- From what we've seen of Cam Newton so far, he won't be the least bit unnerved by playing in Tuscaloosa with the fate of the human race resting on his shoulders. He has something special that transcends just athletic ability.
- If I'm Auburn, no one frightens me more than WR Julio Jones. That suspect secondary is going to be in for a long afternoon.
- Me, you, and nine of our friends could put up 20 points on the East Carolina D. One offseason won't be enough to fix the problems in Greenville.
- The unhinged Bo Pelini we saw in College Station last Saturday is what frightened off Nebraska a few years back when Bill Callahan was hired to replace Frank Solich.
- Southern Miss at Tulsa is one of the best games of the weekend that no one outside Skelly Stadium will see. Quarterbacks Austin Davis and G.J. Kinne operate as if they're brothers from another mother.
- It'll take about 20 minutes for Oregon to put to rest the theory that Cal wrote the blueprint on how to stop the Quack Attack.
- Assuming he plays, Saturday's visit from South Florida is a key game for Miami QB Jacory Harris. He needs to shut the down on freshman Stephen Morris before the long break leading up to the bowl game.
- Game day ticket sales will soar at Rentschler Field if West Virginia beats Pitt on Friday, opening the door for Connecticut to take the wheel of the Big East.
- The only thing that can make this miserable season worse for Urban Meyer is if he loses to Florida State for the first time in his career.
- With a win at Arkansas this weekend, there's no way LSU won't get an at-large BCS bowl berth.
- Michigan State needs to beat Penn State and hope either Wisconsin or Ohio State gets dumped in order to have any realistic shot at a BCS bowl invite.
- As long as QB Aaron Murray is upright, Georgia will play its best game of the season, smoking Georgia Tech and becoming bowl-eligible.
- Oklahoma-Oklahoma State has a chance to be the most enjoyable game of the 2010 regular season. About a million storylines, with a Big 12 South title as the obvious lead.
By Matt Zemek
- Louisville-Rutgers: Louisville lost a painful game at Rutgers in 2006. This would sting almost as much, because UL can certainly use a bowl game just so Charlie Strong can get a few extra weeks of teaching time on the practice field.
- West Virginia-Pittsburgh: Bill Stewart. Dave Wannstedt. A game of significance. This is the latest installment of the Clemson/NC State/B.J. Daniels Comedy Hour Game Of The Week, i.e., the game that will produce unending laughter for people who don't care about the outcome… and brutal, ulcer-causing stress for the fan bases involved.
- Southern Methodist-East Carolina: SMU wins C-USA West if it can go into Greenville and prevail. June Jones and Ruffin McNeill oppose each other. Sneaky good game if you like a tasty off-the-radar offering on Friday.
-Auburn-Alabama: I haven't been reading about murders, divorces, extramarital affairs, or rocks being thrown through Bill Curry's window. This rivalry is getting more civilized, praise God.
-Colorado-Nebraska: This game will pre-empt ABC soap operas on Thanksgiving Friday. Wait a minute – Nebraska IS a soap opera. "ALL MY PELINIS: Friday at 3:30 on your local ABC station (or is it One Life To Live: The Taylor Martinez Story?)!"
-UCLA-Arizona State: Um, why in hell has this game been given a prime Thanksgiving Friday TV window two of the past three years???
-Arizona-Oregon: Arizona trailed 48-17 the last time these teams met in Eugene, only to score 28 straight points before losing, 55-45. This year, a 48-17 deficit in the third quarter will lead to a Bret Bielema-type score for Los Duckies.
-Boise State-Nevada: The biggest game of the weekend (because Auburn can lose to Alabama but still make the BCS title game with a win over South Carolina). The important question everyone will be asking: Who will be more effusive on Twitter during the game – Pat Forde of ESPN or Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times? A follow-up question: If Boise State loses, what's the over-under on the amount of gifts Chris Ault will receive in the mail from SEC fans? I'm setting the number at 3,267.
-Michigan-Ohio State: Rich Rodriguez is lucky that Jim Tressel is classy individual. He'll lose by only 42 points. If Bret Bielema was Ohio State's coach, a 60-point game might be in the cards, given the Buckeyes' need to overtake Wisconsin in the BCS standings. Sweater Vests ARE style points!
-Michigan State-Penn State: One last chance for Sparty to be Sparty. One more win, and Rose Bowl or not, this becomes the best season of Michigan State football since 1987 and the second-best season since the Duffy Daugherty days of the mid-1960s.
- Kentucky-Tennessee: Kentucky, if you don't win in Knoxville this year, even Vanderbilt will be disappointed in you.
-LSU-Arkansas: Like LSU-Ole Miss, LSU-Alabama, LSU-Florida, and LSU-Auburn, this game always brings high drama. Oh, there's a common thread in all these games: LSU, otherwise known as "Les U" (or L-es U). Bobby Petrino, though, is very entertaining in his own right. There's not a better game on Saturday than this one.
-BYU-Utah: Goodbye, Mountain West! Goodbye, oppressive TV contract! Go to hell, Cougars (or Utes)! Ah, such sweet and tender sentiments will swirl through Salt Lake City.
-Florida-Florida State: Seminoles, ya might wanna beat Urban Meyer while you have the chance.
-North Carolina State-Maryland: Tom O'Brien could w-….. could w-….. could wi-…… wi-…… c-c-c-could WIN a division ch-ch-ch-ch-champ…. Championship. I don't know what else to say. How will the world retain any semblance of normalcy ever again?
-TCU-New Mexico: What's true: TCU could win this game 98-0 if it really wanted to. What's scary: TCU might have to do just that to stay ahead of Boise if the Broncos beat Nevada.
-South Carolina-Clemson: The Curse of the Chicken against Dabo Swinney, Billy Napier, and Kyle Parker. Gosh, the people of the state of South Carolina are tormented beyond all fairness or reason.
-Mississippi State-Ole Miss: When this game ends, the two coaching staffs will compete to see who can be less ethical on the recruiting trail in 2011. Now THAT is a Southern football rivalry.
-Oregon State-Stanford: No James Rodgers, no chance for the Beavers.
-Oklahoma-Oklahoma State: Simply, the biggest game of Mike Gundy's manly career. One question, though: Why doesn't the NCAA force teams to use only one end zone at Boone Pickens Stadium? Illinois and Northwestern should play every home game in Stillwater to preserve that Wrigley Field ambience.
-Notre Dame-USC: The most damning indictment of this game is simple: Who gives a darn? Give me Bedlam with a splash of Andrew Luck and a side dish of South Carolina-Clemson.