CFN's Final Thoughts Before Week 14
Northern Illinois RB Chad Spann
Northern Illinois RB Chad Spann
Posted Dec 3, 2010

And away we go. The biggest weekend of the season starts out with Chad Spann and Northern Illinois trying to finally get over the hump to win a championship. From thoughts on the conference title games, to the problems with the Sagarin Ratings, check out the CFN Friday feature, Final Thoughts, with quick, off-the-cuff musings as the weekend continues.

Final Thoughts 

Before The Dec. 4 Games

- Final Thoughts  Nov. 27 | Nov. 20 | Nov. 13 | Nov. 6 | Oct. 30 | Oct. 23
- Oct. 16 | Oct. 9 | Oct. 2 | Sept. 25

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- According to NCAA rules, "an agent is any individual who markets or promotes a student-athlete." The fact that no money changed hands when Cecil Newton marketed his son is immaterial.

- I'm going to try to block out the bizarre NCAA ruling and put my offended sensibilities aside to simply sit back and enjoy the SEC Championship. I'm not saying it's going to be a successful effort, but I'm going to try.

- Will Cam Newton become an anti-hero? As I've said before, I don't blame Cam, and this isn't fair to him if he really and truly didn't know, but the NCAA has destroyed programs, careers, and seasons for far less than what Cecil Newton got accused of, and there are a lot of ticked off fans out there.

- It'll be interesting to see how this Auburn team and season are remembered. The program has been clean in the investigation, but just by being a part of the controversy, the SEC title game and all the great things the team has done are taking a back seat in the discussion.

- With that said, when I was 19, my dad could've sold me to gypsies for $1.80 and I wouldn't have had a clue.

- Considering all the talent he amassed in Gainesville, and for all the SEC wins and titles, to have one just one gift of a national championship, helped by a second chance against Florida State and with Arizona State losing to Ohio State, Steve Spurrier should've done more at Florida. However, any disappointment or thoughts that he might have underachieved are erased by getting South Carolina to the SEC Championship.

- There has to be one more curveball thrown into this whole thing, right? There was almost one last year in the Texas-Nebraska Big 12 Championship, and I have a hard time believing that Nevada beating Boise State is going to be as wacky as it gets. Auburn and Oregon are good, but they're not 2009 Alabama, Florida or Texas, and they're not 2008 Florida, Oklahoma or Texas. There has to be a loss in there somewhere.

- Look, Pac 10 lovers, I know you're all holding a party and giving each other fist bumps over the Sagarin Ratings, and you keep e-mailing them to me as proof of something, but they don't jibe with what actually happened on the field. I'm 100% for an objective way to rank Team A vs. Team B vs. Team C vs. Team Q, but any ranking system that has Alabama ahead of Arkansas (don't forget the win over Texas A&M) and LSU (with a better record and a win over Alabama) is flawed.

Any system that has Ohio State at No. 9 over Wisconsin at No. 15 shows a total disconnect from the reality of the season. And, Pac 10 fans, while I might think the Longhorns are better, according your precious formula, if you want to explain to me exactly how and why 4-7 UCLA is and should be ranked two spots behind 5-7 Texas right now, I'm all ears.

- I know, I know, 20-13 at Nebraska. That's not the point. If you're going to argue that the Pac 10 is great, and you're going to marry yourself to the Sagarin Ratings, then explain how the 34-12 Bruin pasting of the Longhorns in Austin doesn't show who the more deserving team is.

- Vanderbilt is No. 121 and Elon is No. 116. Ball State is No. 152 and SE Missouri State is No. 130 despite a 27-10 Cardinal win. (Walking off the floor with my finger in the air as my 1988 Larry Bird-like Money Ball is still going up.)

- I know, I know. I get it. The Pac 10 plays an extra conference game and actually tries with its non-conference schedule. But that only matters in the grand scheme of things if you actually win those non-conference games against the teams that don't suck. You don't get credit just for trying.

- I'm starting to be swayed a bit, but I'm not all the way there after several readers used my own logic against me, and they're sort of right. I said that if Oregon loses to Oregon State and Auburn loses to South Carolina, then it has to be an Oregon vs. TCU national championship because it's not fair to change up the voting in the BCS rankings now with TCU, Stanford, and Wisconsin all done with their regular seasons.

However, as the argument goes, if Oregon gets blown out be a totally mediocre Oregon State team, and if Auburn loses, then 1) Auburn should be out because it didn't win its conference title, 2) Oregon is devalued because the loss to the Beavers is far worse than Wisconsin's loss at Michigan State, and 3) Stanford can't play for the national title because it didn't win its conference title tie-breaker. Therefore, it might not be that egregious, at least theoretically, if Wisconsin then jumped past Auburn, Oregon, and Stanford to play for the national championship, since it would be considered the best of the BCS conference champions.

- It seems like a million years ago since Peter Warrick was carrying Florida State to a national title over Michael Vick and the Hokies. A decade later, with a win, Virginia Tech will officially be the ACC's premier program.

- The most fun game of the week that you won't care a lick about: San Jose State vs. Idaho. Spartan QB Jordan La Secla threw for 496 yards and five touchdowns against Louisiana Tech last week. Idaho's passing game is 10th in the nation, and the Spartans are 111th in the country in pass defense. Get your popcorn ready.

- Yeah, I just tried to sell you San Jose State vs. Idaho. Sorry.

- Semi-meaningless fun stat. No UNLV game of the 12 played so far has been decided by fewer than 15 points. The loss to Air Force is the only one decided by fewer than 20.

- Keep an eye out for what Nevada does against Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs are at home and need this win for bowl eligibility, and the run defense is just good enough to get by. The Wolf Pack might not exactly be fully focused after last week and with a long road trip to deal with. A Nevada loss would only make Boise State look worse.

- May Boise State beat Utah State 63-7 on 21 Kyle Brotzman field goals, and may each one nail a different sad and twisted individual, who sent the Bronco kicker a threat or an angry correspondence, squarely in the nads.

- Nothing against Miami University and it's fantastic comeback season under Mike Haywood, but no team deserves a conference championship more than Northern Illinois. The program, with one big bump along the way, has had a tremendous decade and hasn't had anything to show for it.

- If you're one of those who enjoys whining about the Big East getting an automatic invite into the BCS, root for South Florida to beat Connecticut and for West Virginia to beat Rutgers. Nothing against UConn or Pitt, but the Mountaineers have the defense to possibly win a BCS game allowing more than 19 points twice: a 20-14 loss at LSU and a 24-21 overtime win over Marshall.

- 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 Pitt +1.5 over Cincinnati, Auburn -5 over South Carolina, USF -1.5 over Connecticut, and I'm thinking of hopping on a plane myself just to put a hard-earned dollar on Hawaii -35 over UNLV.

- By the way, I'm 15-14-1 ATS on these picks so far, going 0-4 last week. Either I was under strain from my Thanksgiving meat coma, or I was overdue for a mellonhead streak, or both. - Considering all the time and energy devoted to whether or not Boise State was BCS Championship-worthy, there's been a strange, eerie silence when it comes to TCU. Maybe the world is assuming the Horned Frogs are already in the Rose Bowl, but kids, get prepared for a tsunami of whining and scrutiny if Oregon State pulls off the upset.

By Richard Cirminiello

- While I don't expect Auburn to lose in Atlanta, South Carolina has something special going on, and had the Tigers on the ropes in Alabama on Sept. 25.

- Anything is possible with Oregon State, which has whipped Cal and USC by a combined 71-14 score since Oct. 30 ... and lost to Wazzu and UCLA.

- Having used the NCAA investigation as a bit of a rallying cry internally, it'd be ironic if the team flopped now that Cam Newton has been cleared and declared eligible.

- If you've never watched a MAC game, try to check out Northern Illinois on Friday night. This is a legitimate Top 25 team that averaged 65 points in November.

- If Rutgers loses by 50 in Morgantown Saturday, it shouldn't surprise anyone. This team has nothing left in the tank.

- Will Pitt's effort in Cincinnati have any impact on Dave Wannstedt's future? If the Panthers tank, you have to wonder if he'll be Shannon-ed a few hours later.

- UCF is ecstatic that QB Jeff Godfrey is undersized. If he was three inches taller, he'd be in Miami, Gainesville, or Tallahassee.

- Nevada's encore to its biggest win in school history? A trip to Ruston, La. Good luck getting up for Louisiana Tech, kids.

- Washington HAS to win in Pullman, which would make the program bowl-eligible for the first time since 2002. A loss here could set the program back three years.

- In a career filled with shining moments, Bud Foster is doing one of his best jobs at Virginia Tech. He lost a ton of players to the NFL, yet has the Hokies once again playing up to their usual standards.

- You want to see the BCS really squirm? Root for Connecticut Saturday night at South Florida. The system will tolerate West Virginia, but not an unranked team with a minimal following.

- With a healthy Taylor Martinez under center, Nebraska beats Oklahoma. Without him, it won't happen. Too much Landry Jones, who's quietly No. 2 nationally in touchdown passes.

- Does anyone know USC plays UCLA Saturday night? Does anyone care?

By Matt Zemek

-Auburn-South Carolina: Wait a minute! Is this Auburn versus the officially-recognized USC, or the unofficially-recognized USC? We need another Auburn-USC controversy! GET ME COMPLIANCE!

It's worth pointing out that South Carolina, for all its accomplishments, has played three straight sinking ships over the past three weeks: Florida, Troy and Clemson have all cratered in November this season. Auburn? Yeah, kind of a different story there. I'd be very, very surprised if the Gamecocks can actually pull off the upset. Cam Newton was just beginning to get the hang of playing quarterback when Auburn still found a way to beat South Carolina on Oct. 2. The margin of victory should be bigger this time.

One postscript: The fact that South Carolina is even here, accentuated by the fact that Garcia has not committed a turnover the past three weeks, shows that Steve Spurrier's "You're sitting down until you stop fumbling!" message to Garcia in the fourth quarter of the (October) Auburn game was a HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL MOVE, a move that set a very positive tone for the rest of the Gamecocks' – and Garcia's – momentous season.

-Oregon-Oregon State: Expect this game to be very close for 40 minutes. Expect Oregon to dominate in the final 20 and make the first 40 minutes seem like a waste of time. In other words, expect Oregon to do what it's done virtually all season.

-Northern Illinois-Miami University: The MAC Championship Game was supposed to be a blowout last year, but Ohio held Central Michigan and Dan LeFevour to just 20 points. Can the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks do something similar to NIU dynamo Chandler Harnish? Doubtful… but this is why they play games on field turf and not paper. Anyone remember the 2008 MAC title tilt between unbeaten Ball State and lil' ol' Buffalo? Yeah. The MAC can go "whack" in a hurry. Tune in and give these kids the benefit of your attention after watching the big boys for a full season.

-SMU-Central Florida: The C-USA Championship Game is by far the most TV-worthy view of the three noon kickoffs. June Jones and George O'Leary have been through the coaching wars, and they reunite with a conference crown on the line. This is an attractive game because the teams offer contrasts in styles, with gunslinging Kyle Padron of SMU staring down UCF's dual-threat quarterback, Jeff Godfrey. Both programs have overachieved this year, always a great thing to see in any sport.

-Nebraska-Oklahoma: The Pelinis. Bob Stoops. Brent Venables. Lots of defense-first guys on the two sidelines at JerryWorld. Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe is praying that Stoops and Venables prevail. It will be interesting to see what happens if OU trails the Huskers by a 12-10 score with seven seconds left and in field-goal range, and Landry Jones wastes time but throws a ball to the right sideline toward a railing…………

-Florida State-Virginia Tech: Think Tech has this game in the bag? You did not watch (or you forgot about) the inaugural ACC Championship Game in 2005, when the Noles stormed the gate in the second half to stun the favored Hokies in Jacksonville. FSU will be playing with a ton of confidence, and Virginia Tech – for all its ACC excellence – has not dominated most of its opponents this season. The Hokies had to erase a double-digit deficit at N.C. State; they were tied with Miami in the third quarter; they needed a bad muffed punt to surge past North Carolina; and they were reeling against Georgia Tech, only to get bailed out when Josh Nesbitt got injured. FSU has a very legitimate chance of winning this game and evoking that 2005 feeling all over again.

-Connecticut-South Florida: "They said it couldn't be done, but you can, and UConn is the national champion!" – Connecticut resident Jim Nantz after the Huskies won their first NCAA men's basketball championship against Duke in 1999. What larger multi-city metro area, pray tell? Ah, Tampa-St. Pete. Where is Randy Edsall playing on Saturday night with an historic BCS bowl bid hanging in the balance? Um, that would be Tampa-St. Pete.

-Rutgers-West Virginia: If South Florida beats UConn, but West Virginia loses 13-9 to Rutgers as the Scarlet Knights take an intentional safety in the final minute, there will be some upset stomachs in Morgantown. The fact that Rutgers doesn't have LeSean McCoy makes this scenario highly improbable, however.

- Utah State-Boise State: Well, Boise dropped from the Rose Bowl to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl by losing to a top-20 team. I guess if the Broncos lose to Utah State, they won't be invited to a bowl this year, then.

- Nevada-Louisiana Tech: True story: Nevada's comeback was nearly as ballsy as Auburn's was, but because Boise State's death required saturation coverage, the feat forged by Colin Kaepernick and Co. has not received its just due; neither has the Wolf Pack program, for that matter. That's part of the BCS system's playoff-free landscape, and that's also a product of a 10:26 p.m. Eastern time kickoff last Friday, in a game that lots of poll voters certainly didn't watch.

- Middle Tennessee-Florida International: Just let it be said and noted for the public record: The Florida International Golden Panthers are the best college football story in 2010 that you've heard absolutely nothing about.

- UNLV-Hawaii: Little-known fact: Hawaii can win its 10th game of 2010 on Saturday. Little-appreciated fact: Hawaii can tie for the WAC title, one amazing accomplishment for once-beleaguered-but-now-resurrected coach Greg McMackin, who's done quite the job maintaining the UH program after June Jones left.

- USC-UCLA: Go on, Rick Neuheisel and Lane Kiffin. Instigate something. Call late timeouts and throw long passes. Make policemen and security officials work overtime late at night in Pasadena. College football blogger-humorists want to have material to carry them into the pre-bowl lull. GIF specialists on Twitter want to create the newest visual collages for the entertainment of their readers.