Cirminiello Final Thoughts: Gardner's Rise
Posted Nov 16, 2012

Richard Cirminiello's Final Thoughts Before Week 12

By Richard Cirminiello

Under-the-radar matchup of a thin week of games? Utah State at Louisiana Tech for WAC bragging rights.

A very close second is UCF at Tulsa. Conference USA's two best teams have yet to lose a league game, meaning there could be a Round 2 in two weeks between the Knights and the Golden Hurricane.

A very close third is Kent State at Bowling Green, with the East Division of the MAC hanging in the balance.

Stanford couldn't beat Oregon the last two years when it had Andrew Luck under center. Depleted Ducks D or not, it's hard to imagine that redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan will be able to deliver, particularly in Eugene.

With two games left, Michigan State is somehow still not bowl eligible. Mark Dantonio's cardiologist cannot be happy with the Spartans, who have played in six straight games decided by no more than four points, four of which were losses.

Privately, Michigan coaches have to be ecstatic that Devin Gardner has started the last two games at quarterback. He's played well, and is earning reps now that are sure to benefit the 2013 squad.

Happy Labor Day, SEC. Half of the league's 14 members are facing FCS opponents, providing that unmistakable feel that summer is ending and opening day is upon us.

When evaluating Maryland's season, don't be too harsh on head coach Randy Edsall. In light of the onslaught of injuries the Terps have endured, the staff has actually exceeded expectations in 2012.

In a key Big East game between Cincinnati and Rutgers, should the Bearcats be a touchdown favorite? In a matchup of near equals, it seems as if Vegas is starting the holiday gift-giving a little early.

Skip Holtz is in trouble at South Florida. While one game won't completely transform his situation, beating Miami on the road this week would certainly be a giant step toward returning for Year 3 in 2013.

The backfield of Brett Hundley-Johnathan Franklin will be better than Matt Barkley-Silas Redd. And because of it, UCLA is going to beat USC to capture its most important victory in ages. Say goodbye forever to what remains of Franklin's anonymity.

Duke (6-4) and Georgia Tech (5-5) square off in a game of major consequence to the ACC title chase. Yup, the Coastal Division is that bad this year.

No way Wisconsin matches Ohio State's motivation and intensity this week. Three-loss Badgers have already won a Leaders Division that the Buckeyes would have owned had it not been for NCAA sanctions.

Don't try to be something you're not this week, ND. There is no amount of points that the Irish can score versus Wake Forest that'll impress voters. Better off saving the energy to root for Baylor and Stanford at night.

Having a difficult time believing Oklahoma will run the table to become the Big 12's at-large rep in a BCS bowl game. A stumble in Morgantown this week, for instance, cannot be ruled out. A third Sooners loss could actually put rival Texas in a position to play its way into a marquee game.

Already bowl-eligible, Vandy can make sure Tennessee doesn't join it in the postseason. That's the kind of motivation of which nasty rivalries are made.

San Jose State is 8-2? Someone get Mike MacIntyre a promotion. And quickly.