Cavalcade of Whimsy
Oct. 25, 2011, Part 2
- Part 1. Could Boise State
really play for the national title?
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The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
A Supersized Random Acts of Nutty … Along the lines of Boise State possibly playing for the national title, here are ten crazy things that won't happen, but
10. Texas might come up with a second straight 5-7 season.
Texas was in the midst of a rebuilding job last year, and even though it was blown out in stunning fashion by UCLA and lost to Oklahoma, everything appeared to be fine after a win over Nebraska. Five of the last six games were at home, and lightweights like Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State, and Florida Atlantic were still on the slate.
Of course, the Longhorns collapsed losing five of the final six games – only beating FAU – and they missed out on a bowl game for the first time since 1997. The last time Texas didn't go bowling two years in a row was 1992 and 1993, and it might happen again.
This year's team is far better than last year's, and it's playing with far more heart and fight, but it might not matter in a vastly improved Big 12. On a two-game losing streak, the Longhorns should be able to stop the slide against Kansas, but getting the sixth win to get to become bowl eligible could be a nightmare with Texas Tech, at Missouri, Kansas State, at Texas A&M, and at Baylor to close things out. There's a chance Texas could be the underdog in all five games.
9. Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly could finish with 200 tackles in 12 games.
Kuechly finished as the nation's leading tackler in 2010 making 183 stops, averaging 14.08 tackles per game over 13 games. This year, the one-man gang might come up with the equivalent of a back running for 2,000 yards, and he might do it in just 12 games.
Kuechly, after making 19 stops against Virginia Tech last week, already has 118 tackles in seven games while averaging a ridiculous 16.86 stops per outing. With five games left against Maryland, Florida State, NC State, Notre Dame, and Miami, he has to average 16.4 tackles per game to hit the 200 mark. How amazing would this be? Here are the recent tackling leaders, with almost all of them amassing these numbers in 13 or even 14 games.
- 2008, Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri, 155.
- 2007, Chris Chamberlain, Tulsa, 165.
- 2006, Matthew Castelo, San Jose State, 165
- 2005, Jimmy Cottrell, New Mexico State, 179
8. Cincinnati could finish 11-1
In 2008, Brian Kelly led Cincinnati to an improbable 12-0 regular season and within a whisker of playing for the national title. He took the Notre Dame job, the team was flat against a powerhouse Florida squad in Tim Tebow's final collegiate game, and the season ended with a 51-24 thunk in the Sugar Bowl.
Everything went wrong last season as new head coach Butch Jones struggled to rebuild and reload in a 4-8 season with losses in five of the final six games. No one was expecting much this year, especially after getting walloped by Tennessee early on, but the wins are starting to pile up and the Big East is there for the taking.
UC still has three road games to deal with in the next four, but it's playing extremely well over five-game winning streak, now ranking No. 2 in the nation against the run and No. 3 in turnover margin, and the toughest game left on the slate – West Virginia – is at home. It won't be an easy, especially considering the secondary is getting bombed on and the Mountaineers should put up 350 yards without a problem, but a fourth double-digit win season in five years, along with another BCS date, are on the table.
7. Jarrett Lee might be the First Team All-SEC quarterback
Tyler Wilson of Arkansas leads the SEC in passing, and Georgia's Aaron Murray might be the league's best quarterback, but it's Lee who's shockingly leading the conference in passing efficiency. 12th in the nation, completing 63% of his passes with 13 touchdowns and just one interception, he's been one of the season's biggest surprises. For a team that doesn't need a quarterback to bomb away, and only needs a smart game-manager who can keep the chains moving and keep the mistake to a minimum, he's been perfect.
No one could've ever seen this coming.
Mostly known for throwing 14 interceptions in 2008, and pick six after pick six, he's been almost flawless so far outside of the lone interception thrown against Mississippi State. Since hitting on just 8-of-21 passes against Kentucky, over the last three games he's completed 34-of-47 passes (72%) with six touchdowns and no picks. Jordan Jefferson is in the mix now to add more mobility to the equation, but if Lee can come up with a big game and the win over Alabama, he could be tough to ignore in the final All-SEC ballots.
6. There could be two winless teams
Army and SMU each went through the 2003 season without a victory. Temple and New Mexico State each ran the table in 2005, Duke and FIU did it in 2006, and Eastern Michigan and Western Kentucky didn't have any fun in 2009. It's hard to go winless – no one did it last year – but this season two teams are careening toward the abyss.
Florida Atlantic is on a ten-game losing streak and is 0-7 this season with the nation's second-worst offense, second-worst scoring-offense, and third-least efficient passing game. The Owls came close in a 37-34 loss to UL Lafayette, but they came up with one first down against Michigan State, came up with 121 yards at home to Western Kentucky, and will be double-digit underdogs the rest of the way.
New Mexico is also on a ten-game losing streak thanks to the nation's worst defense. Things were bad under former head coach Mike Locksley, who was fired after a rough start and an embarrassing off-the-field incident involving his car. Interim head man George Barlow hasn't had any more success, going 0-2 losing to Nevada and TCU by a combined score of 118 to 7. A home game against UNLV on November 12th is the one chance at a win with Air Force up next and road trips to San Diego State, Wyoming, and Boise State to deal with.
5. USC's absence could change the BCS pecking order.
The BCS rankings are made up of 1/3 Harris Poll, 1/3 Coaches' Poll, and 1/3 computer formulas. However, USC isn't eligible to be ranked in the human polls, meaning one of the 25 best teams in America isn't factored into the equation.
After the win over Notre Dame, the 6-1 Trojans would probably be ranked somewhere in the mid-teens in both human polls, probably around 17th, and now they have a chance to make some real noise with Stanford up next and Oregon still to play. If they split the two games and finish 10-2, they'd certainly be a top 15-ranked team, possibly a top ten squad. Finishing in the top 14 of the BCS standing is a big deal for the at-large selections, and if USC was eligible to be ranked, it might have knocked down several teams a few pegs.
4. Iowa could win the Legends
It's seemingly a foregone conclusion that Michigan State is going to win the Legends division, and it's certainly looking like the favorite after several strong performances and a win over Wisconsin. However, Iowa, despite a shaky defense and a punchless loss at Penn State, could sneak up on everyone with one big upset.
The Minnesota game this week is a given win, and two key dates against Michigan and Michigan State are at home. Iowa has won four of the last five against MSU with the last Spartan win in Iowa City coming in 1989. Going to Purdue is no longer a layup, but if the Hawkeyes can get through the next four games, the date at Nebraska will be for a chance to play in the inaugural Big Ten championship. With the offense scoring 41 points or more in three of the last four games, it's hitting its stride at just the right time meaning there could be a rematch against ...
3. Penn State could win the Leaders
Despite a great performance from Matt McGloin against Northwestern, the passing game has been awful, the punting game has been a fat load of yuck, and the offense has been inconsistent. Fortunately, running back Silas Redd is making a pitch for Big Ten Player of the Year honors, and the defense has been phenomenal, leading the league in scoring defense while allowing just 282 yards per game.
The Nittany Lion run defense has been a rock; it should be able to handle Illinois and Nebraska at home over the next two weeks. Ohio State has always been an issue, but this year's Buckeye team can't throw and is a perfect fit for the Nittany Lions. If all goes well, either 1) they win the next three games, Wisconsin loses to Ohio State this week or at Illinois, and the Leaders race is over, or 2) they shock the Badgers in Madison in the regular season finale to win the division.
2. Arkansas could beat LSU
Of all the nutty things on this list, this one isn't so crazy. The last six games between the Hogs and the Tigers have been decided by less than a score. While Arkansas is clearly a step behind Alabama – already losing 38-14 – and doesn't appear to be anywhere near as good as LSU, the defense is the best it's been in years and the offense has the firepower to bomb away on anyone.
Arkansas beat LSU three of the last four years, including a shocker in 2008 that appeared to end the national hopes of Les Miles' "damn strong" 2007 team. Remember, for all the great things LSU has done over the years, and as strong as the program has been, the last undefeated season was 1958. If LSU beats Alabama, then Arkansas could throw the West into a tie-breaker tizzy with an upset in Death Valley, If LSU loses to Alabama, then the date with Arkansas will almost certainly be for a BCS game unless …
1. The SEC East winner could win the SEC Championship
Upsets aren't the norm in the SEC Championship. Auburn rolled over South Carolina last year, LSU got by Tennessee with everything on the line in 2007, and Florida handled Arkansas in 2006. With the national title in the mix, the SEC favorite almost always comes through, except for 2001 when Tennessee was shocked by LSU. This year, the gap between the West champion and the East will be wider than it's been since the SEC Championship game started up in 1992, but it's not like the East representative will be Kentucky.
Florida's quarterback situation continues to be a mess and South Carolina is having issues of its own, including a date at Arkansas in a few weeks, so it all sets up well for a Georgia team on a five-game winning streak. If the Gamecocks lose to the Hogs, and Georgia beats Florida this week and takes care of Auburn and Kentucky at home, it'll be the Dawgs vs. either Alabama or LSU for the SEC title with the West winner likely to be at least a two touchdown favorite.
Georgia is currently sixth in the nation in total defense, and while the lines aren't playing nearly well enough to beat LSU or Alabama on a normal Saturday, there's enough talent and enough athleticism on both sides of the ball, along with a veteran quarterback in Aaron Murray, to possibly pull off the upset of all upsets if the West winner is too puffy-chested and overconfident.
If the wackiest of all wacky things happen in a year when the national championship is assumed to be decided on November 5th, then, to come full circle, there should be a team from Idaho that started off the season with a win over the Dawgs that'll be ready and waiting for its shot in the spotlight.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Tim Tebow as an NFL player … Underrated: Fielding an onside kick
2) Overrated: Tim Tebow treated like a god ... Underrated: Tim Tebow as a fantasy football god
3) Overrated: Driving without a suspended license … Underrated: Driving without insurance
4) Overrated: Missouri leaving for the SEC ... Underrated: Missouri staying in the Big 12
5) Overrated: A 16-team superconference ... Underrated: A Big East-Conference USA-Mountain West mega-blob conference
"If it were me, I'd bet everything. But that's me. I'm an aggressive gambler. Mr. Vegas. Come on. Go for it. Go for it. Yes, yes, there we go. I'm in."
1) Mississippi State -10 over Kentucky
2) Iowa -15.5 over Minnesota
3) West Virginia -6.5 over Rutgers
- Record So Far: 15-8 SU, 12-11 ATS
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 2011 … 1 1) QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson, 2) QB Andrew Luck, Stanford, 3) LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … my proposal and signed petitions to get me an extra $2,000 a year to cover my costs was immediately and rudely dismissed.
- Part 1. Could Boise State
really play for the national title?