Cavalcade of Whimsy - Predicting The Races
Posted Oct 30, 2007

What's going to happen in each conference race and where is everyone going to end up? Along with the picks, Pete Fiutak analyzes the Georgia celebration incident, Boston College's comeback, and more in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Fiu's Cavalcade of Whimsy

a.k.a. Frank Costanza's Festivus Airing of the Grievances

By Pete Fiutak   
What's your beef? ... E-mail with your thoughts  
Past Whimsies
2006 Season | Preseason Part One, Part Two | Week 1
2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … As I wrote in my letter to SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, two weeks ago when my preparation began for the column, I thought it needed more energy and enthusiasm or it was going to get whipped pretty good. I said, as a matter of fact, that when I write my first decent line, I expected everyone to celebrate to the point where the official would throw a flag for excessive celebration. I admit this was inappropriate. 

“Colonel Jessup, did you order the Code Red?” After scoring its first touchdown in the win over Florida, Georgia’s entire team ran out on the field to celebrate. Head coach Mark Richt ordered his team to do this, wanting to crank up the team’s emotion after what he perceived to be a lackluster few weeks. Of course, he also wanted to show that his program would no longer be pushed around by the mighty Gators. Unfortunately, that one act appears to have caused the housing market to tank, melted the polar ice caps, gave the terrorists a leg up, handed Iran the bomb, caused Marie Osmond to faint, was the final tipping point in the mutation of an antibiotic-resistant Superbug, and has served as a microcosm of why our society and way of life are now threatened.

People, Richt didn’t order his team to run over to the Florida sideline, drop trou and moon Urban Meyer, shave Tim Tebow’s sideburns, or call the Gators a bunch of nappy-headed hos. The Bulldogs showed off a defiant form of solidarity that not only set the tone for the game, it might have changed around the entire SEC race while possibly serving as the jumping off moment for a young team on the way to huge things in 2008.

I guarantee you the first thing that went through Meyer’s mind when he saw what was happening was, “Aw crap. I wish I had thought of that first.”  I also guarantee you that somewhere, deep down in a place he didn’t want to acknowledge, Meyer knew he might have lost the game right then and there.  

Of course, you know Tebow didn’t even need to be asked … What did Meyer say to his Gators on the sidelines to fire them up after the Georgia celebration incident? “We got spirit, yes we do, we got spirit, how ‘bout you!” And then he pointed the Georgia sideline. When the Dawgs failed to respond, Meyer and his team wildly jumped around gleefully yelling, “We got more! We got more!” Georgia won 42-30.

And if it had worked, the Gators would’ve tipped their hats, conceded the game, and gone out to have a cocktail … Richt might have sent a message to his players, his fans, and the entire SEC with the incident, but if he really wanted to prove how much confidence he had in his team, he should’ve showed off some church bell-sized stones and tried an on-side kick from his own seven after getting penalized 30 yards for the celebration.

He’s definitely a man, but he’s not 40 … Contrary to reports, Boston College QB Matt Ryan wasn’t puking at the end of the Virginia Tech game out of exhaustion. He had just got done reading Jenni Carlson’s article on Bobby Reid.

For the first 55 minutes he played just like Brady. Marcia. … I’m not hatin’ (or whatever the kids are calling it now) on Matt Ryan or Boston College, but it’s amazing how the awful first 55 minutes of the win over Virginia Tech have been completely forgotten about. The highlight watchers will see the final brilliant Ryan touchdown throws and the way he cemented his team in the national title hunt. The NFL scouts are going to see Ryan miss wide open receivers time and again before the late game heroics. Yeah, a game-winning comeback like that is legendary, but the big boys want to find quarterbacks who don’t get into that spot in the first place.

One bounce the other way on an on-side kick and we’re not talking about this … For all the criticism being heaped on the Virginia Tech coaches for going into a form of prevent at the very end, it should be noted that the defensive front was getting a push from three players throughout the game, and was still getting to Ryan at the end. It’s not like the prevent allowed Ryan to stand around for three days and throw; he was under constant pressure and had to scramble around to make his big plays. Yes, it is possible that Virginia Tech did everything right and still got beaten by a possible number one overall draft pick.

If they do actually get to the BCS Championship game, they’re going to pull a Madonna Truth of Dare and change uniforms after every quarter … Let’s all take a deep breath. Take a yellow and metallic pea colored Ritalin, and relax for just a moment here on everyone’s new darlings, the Oregon Ducks.
I love them. They’re one of the most fun teams in America to watch, and it’s about time that Jonathan Stewart and Dennis Dixon get their just due on a national scale. But let’s not go overboard here after a win over USC.
Yeah, beating USC is always a big deal, but this isn’t USC. This is the same team that needed everything in the bag to get by Arizona at home, is a few weeks removed from losing to Stanford, and was supposedly all better again after thumping a miserable Notre Dame team. This was not the last time the Trojans are going to lose this year, and this wasn’t the win it’s being made out to be.
Yeah, Oregon is one of the best teams in America, but let’s not gloss over a home loss to a Cal team that all of a sudden went into the tank with losses to Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona State. Ahhhhh, Arizona State.
Oregon lovers, that’s your test. That’s the one you can hang your hats on. I know it goes against everything you believe in, but beating Arizona State next week would actually be more impressive than getting by USC. It just might not reverberate on a national level, even if the Sun Devils are currently fourth in the nation.
Meanwhile, Ohio State didn’t definitively prove that it’s the best team in America just by beating Penn State. It just meant it might be as go
od as Illinois. This was a Nittany Lion team hanging on to a spot in the top 25 by the skin of its teeth, and was a team that a number one team should’ve handled easily. OSU passed a good test, but there’s a few big blue books still to fill.

And their mascot gets to hold a snappy weapon … Oregon is the number one bandwagon of the week to jump on thanks to a 7-1 record, the nation’s No. 4 offense, No. 3 scoring offense, and No. 4 rushing attack. The Ducks are 68th in the nation in total defense. Meanwhile, West Virginia is 7-1 with the one loss coming on the road to South Florida in one of the most emotionally-charged atmospheres of the season, has the nation’s No. 12 offense, No. 7 scoring offense, and No. 2 rushing attack. Oh yeah, and it also has the nation’s No. 3 defense. Oregon will lose at least once more this season (more on that in a moment). Here’s a transfer over to my bandwagon.

Relax, they’re not going to play Florida again … No one is doing jumping jacks at the idea of Ohio State playing in another national title game. After all, the Buckeyes gave us that all-timer of a clunker against Florida. Now try looking at this from a different angle. Ohio State had one really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad game, but it’s not like it lost to Appalachian State or Stanford at home. It lost to a fantastic Gator team playing at peak capability. It was one game. This is a Buckeye team that’s won 27 straight regular season games and 33 of its last 36 overall. Also remember that before last year’s debacle it had won four straight bowl games, including three in the BCS, and a national title. Again, it was one game, and there’s no way, no chance the team will come out that flat again in whatever bowl it ends up playing in.  

$10 says that half the voters would pull a Channing Crowder if asked where North Dakota is on a map … Hey, AP voters. What happened to you getting all high and mighty about wanting to put D-IAA, or what the suits call FCS, teams in your increasingly irrelevant poll? You were all too happy to pat yourselves on the back after finding a way to put in Appalachian State after the Michigan win, but North Dakota State has proven to be better this season. The Bison is on a 12-game winning streak including thumpings of Central Michigan and Minnesota while waiting out its time as a provisional FCS team. I’m not saying this is a top ten team, but maybe a vote would be warranted just to show you’re paying attention.

On a good note, in 2011 the global warming crisis was reversed when all the Pottery Barns opened their doors at once … I’ve just returned from the future. I’m not going to tell you who won, but I’ll tell you that the Patriots – Colts game was a 57-51 overtime shootout that came down to a last second play you won’t believe. Pundits couldn’t find enough words to describe what would come to be known as the greatest sporting event ever played. It was so good that the NFL cancelled the rest of the season after realizing there just wasn’t any point to going on. There were some of the best catches the league has ever seen, Brady and Manning put on an all-timer of a show, and a boob popped out when one of the cheerleaders was jumping. Before you get all fired up to see it, there’s one rule. You can only watch if you listen to the announcing team of Paul Maguire and Tim McCarver. What do you do?

“Look, when something works for me I stick with it.” … A note to the Texas A&M coaching staff in case your fan base hasn’t been loud enough. GIVE JORVORSKIE LANE THE BALL. Of course you don’t call plays thinking that getting a statistic will win you a game, but sometimes, the numbers show that something is worth doing, and in this case, that’s committing to letting the huge Aggie carry the mail. Over the course of Lane’s career, A&M is 6-0 when Lane gets 20 carries or more, and is 7-0 over the last two seasons when he gets it 15 times or more. A&M has lost the last five times he’s had fewer than ten carries, including last week against Kansas when he got the ball seven times for 24 yards.

Stop your messing around/Better think of your future/Time you straighten right out/Creating problems in your town” … One personnel call can change everything, and in the end, it looks like Dirk Koetter was dead-on right. Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter is tenth in the nation in passing efficiency throwing 17 touchdown passes with seven interceptions while averaging 244 passing yards per game as the leader of the 8-0 team. Meanwhile, Sam Keller, who’s now out for the year with a shoulder injury, threw 14 touchdown passes with ten interceptions for a dying Nebraska team that’s 4-5.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength

Where does everyone stand in the conference races? What’s probably going to happen down the back-stretch, and who’ll be crowned the champions? In this wildly unpredictable year, here’s a best-guess look at what’s about to happen in November complete with how things are going to end up. Armed with this knowledge, feel free to take the month off and do something with the wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, kids, or all of the above.

In the predicted finishes, the potential ties in the standings are thrown out for now while listing the final best-guessed pecking order.

11. Your 2007 Sun Belt Champion will be …The Troy Trojans.

It’s a three horse race between Troy, Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic with the Trojans one game up on the other two, and UL Monroe, fresh off a three overtime win over FAU, hovering as the only two-loss team. The Blue Raiders and Owls each have to make the trip to Troy, while FAU already beat Middle Tennessee.

Predicted Final Pecking Order: 1) Troy, 2) Middle Tennessee, 3) Florida Atlantic, 4) UL Monroe, 5) Arkansas State, 6) UL Lafayette, 7) North Texas, 8) Florida International

10. You 2007 WAC Champion will be … The Boise State Broncos.

Hawaii and Boise State are the two unbeatens with Fresno State a game back after losing to the Broncos last week. Watch out for Hawaii’s trip to Nevada on November 10th, but if that’s a win, I’m making the call that Boise State finds a way to get it done on November 23rd, with the college football world watching, to finish 11-1 and in the top 12 of the final BCS standings to earn a second straight trip to a big money game.

Predicted Final Pecking Order: 1) Boise State, 2) Hawaii, 3) Fresno State, 4) Nevada, 5) San Jose State, 6) New Mexico State, 7) Louisiana Tech, 8) Idaho, 9) Utah State

9. Your 2007 MAC Champion will be …
. The Central Michigan Chippewas over Miami University.

It’ll be a repeat title year for the team that can’t do much of anything outside of the conference but has been dominant in league play. CMU has a two game lead on Ball State and Eastern Michigan in the West. One more win all but seals the division, while a win over EMU on November 10th in the home finale would clinch the trip to the title game.

The East is far more interesting with just about everyone but Kent State still within range. Buffalo, yes, Buffalo has a chance to make a serious move if it beats Miami University in Oxford this week, but the RedHawks should pull it out, beat Akron, lose to Ohio, and win East on tie-breakers.

Predicted Final East Pecking Order: 1) Miami, 2) Buffalo, 3) Ohio, 4) Bowling Green, 5) Temple, 6) Akron, 7) Kent State
Predicted Final West Pecking Order: 1) Central Michigan, 2) Ball State, 3) Toledo, 4) Eastern Michigan 5) Western Michigan, 6) Northern Illinois

8. You 2007 Conference USA Champion will be …
The Houston Cougars over East Carolina

Thanks to a 52-38 win over UCF, and a relatively easy final three weeks playing at Memphis, at Marshall, and at Tulane, the Pirates should be able to coast into the title game. Houston lost to ECU in a 37-35 thriller in late September, but it’ll have its revenge after winning a shootout at Tulsa on November 10th to all but clinch the East.

Predicted Final East Pecking Order: 1) East Carolina, 2) UCF, 3) Southern Miss 4) Memphis, 5) Marshall, 6) UAB
Predicted Final West Pecking Order: 1) Houston, 2) Tulsa, 3) UTEP, 4) Tulane, 5) SMU, 6) Rice

Your 2007 Mountain West Champion will be …
The BYU Cougars

There’s still a lot of work to be done for Bronco Mendenhall’s club with five straight Mountain West games to close out the year, but the Utah and TCU games are in Provo and the Air Force and New Mexico games are out of the way. There should be a fantastic race for the number two spot with four two-loss teams still in the hunt to knock off New Mexico. Even at 1-3, TCU is still lurking.
Predicted Final Pecking Order: 1) BYU, 2) Air Force, 3) Utah, 4) New Mexico, 5) TCU, 6) Wyoming, 7) UNLV, 8) San Diego State, 9) Colorado State

6. Your 2007 Big East Champion will be …
The West Virginia Mountaineers

It’s all set up perfectly for West Virginia to go back to the BCS for the second time in three years, and the chance will be there for a possible national title shot with the right breaks. The Mountaineers gets Louisville, Connecticut and Pitt at home, but have a nasty mid-November road test at Cincinnati to get by. Connecticut is the flavor of the week after the big home win over South Florida, but it still has to go on the road to face Cincinnati and West Virginia while facing Rutgers at home this week. Don’t completely count out USF just yet considering the toughest remaining road game is at Pitt. Cincinnati will be the wild-card with home dates against West Virginia and Connecticut and a road trip to South Florida.

Predicted Final Pecking Order:
1) West Virginia, 2) South Florida, 3) Connecticut, 4) Rutgers, 5) Cincinnati, 6) Louisville, 7) Pitt, 8) Syracuse

5. Your 2007 Big Ten Champion will be … The Ohio State Buckeyes

But I’m not sold that OSU will get through without a blemish. In 2004 Wisconsin upset the Buckeyes 24-13 in Columbus. In 2001 it was a 20-17 win. You have to go back to 1996 for the last time Ohio State beat the Badgers at home, and while that’s not as severe as it appears, it’s still a three-game streak. Of course, it’ll all come down to the year-ender at Michigan, but don’t be shocked if the Badgers have other ideas with a win over the Wolverines in Camp Randall.

Predicted Final Pecking Order:
1) Ohio State, 2) Michigan, 3) Illinois, 4) Wisconsin, 5) Purdue, 6) Penn State, 7) Iowa, 8) Indiana, 9) Northwestern, 10) Michigan State, 11) Minnesota

4. Your 2007 ACC Champion will be … The Virginia Tech Hokies over Boston College

It’s so hard to beat the same team twice. I’m a true believer in Boston College, but the first 55 minutes in Blacksburg spoke just as loudly as the final five. It should be a whale of a rematch if the Eagles don’t stumble twice over a tough final month, but watch out for a hot Wake Forest, winners of six straight with road trips to Virginia and Clemson ahead. The Coastal Division will come down to the season-ender when Virginia Tech goes to Virginia.
Predicted Final Atlantic Pecking Order:
1) Boston College, 2) Clemson, 3) Wake Forest, 4) Florida State, 5) Maryland, 6) NC State
Predicted Final Coastal Pecking Order:
1) Virginia Tech, 2) Virginia, 3) Georgia Tech, 4) Miami, 5) North Carolina, 6) Duke

3. Your 2007 Big 12 Champion will be …
The Oklahoma Sooners over Missouri

Oklahoma is the best team in the Big 12, but it’s inconsistent enough, and flaky enough, to blow it in a loss in the title game, or against Texas Tech and/or Oklahoma State. If the Bedlam game against the Cowboys was in Stillwater, OSU would probably be the fashionable surprise pick. Don’t fall asleep on Texas quite yet. OU has to lose twice and the Longhorns have to win out, but the reverse happened last year and the Sooners got into the title game.

The North is all about Kansas vs. Missouri in Kansas City on November 24th, but Kansas State and Colorado should each have a say in the pecking order. The Tigers still have to go on the road to face the Buffaloes and Wildcats, while the Jayhawks still have to go to Oklahoma State.
Predicted Final North Pecking Order:
1) Missouri, 2) Kansas, 3) Kansas State, 4) Colorado, 5) Nebraska, 6) Iowa State
Predicted Final South Pecking Order:
1) Oklahoma, 2) Texas, 3) Oklahoma State, 4) Texas A&M, 5) Texas Tech, 6) Baylor

2. Your 2007 Pac 10 Champion will be …
The Arizona State Sun Devils

The key player in what should be a wild finishing kick is UCLA, who faces Arizona State and Oregon at home, and has to make a trip across town to play USC. Until the Bruins play a big role, Oregon should be able to get by Arizona State at home. However, with a loss already under its belt, there can’t be another, and that’s where UCLA comes in. Flaky enough to lose to anyone, but good enough to beat anyone, the Bruins have one big statement yet to be made, and the call is that it’ll come over the Ducks and not the Sun Devils. A one-loss ASU beats USC and Arizona at home, gets by UCLA, and goes to Pasadena.
Predicted Final Pecking Order:
1) Arizona State, 2) Oregon, 3) USC, 4) UCLA, 5) Oregon State, 6) California, 7) Arizona, 8) Washington State, 9) Stanford, 10) Washington

1. Your 2007 SEC Champion will be …
The LSU Tigers over Georgia

Forgive me for getting wacky in what has been the wildest SEC season in several years. Alabama and Nick Saban will get past LSU in a war. Alabama lets down and loses at Mississippi State, and then blows the shot at winning the West in yet another loss to Auburn.

In the East, Georgia will survive Auburn and will beat Kentucky, while Tennessee, with everything set up perfectly, will get run over by Arkansas and/or will lose at Kentucky.  South Carolina will get by Florida at home to be in the hunt until the end.
Predicted Final East Pecking Order: 1) Georgia, 2) Tennessee, 3) South Carolina, 4) Florida, 5) Kentucky, 6) Vanderbilt
Predicted Final West Pecking Order:
1) LSU, 2) Auburn, 3) Alabama, 4) Mississippi State, 5) Arkansas, 6) Ole Miss

Right or wrong on the picks, I promise to update this over the next few weeks.

Nuggets for the upcoming week, now made with white meat, at participating restaurants …

- I know you can’t apply linear logic to every case when it comes to the rankings (try to rank the SEC East teams), but a little common sense would be nice. Wisconsin is playing extremely well, but it’s only a few weeks removed from getting annihilated by Penn State and losing to Illinois. Currently, the Badgers are 19th in the Coaches’ Poll, while Penn State 31st. Meanwhile, the Illini, who beat the Nittany Lions, are 32nd. The Harris Poll has the same problem.

- To stay on the riff, theoretically, if you lose to the number one team in America, you shouldn’t drop in the polls, if at all. There’s no reason to sink Penn State like a stone after losing to, perhaps, the best team in college football.

- Trust me on this. The caramel apple cider thing at Starbucks. Trust me.

- While I’m not necessarily picking the win, here’s your letdown alert of the week to watch out for. Georgia is coming off the ultimate high in the win over Florida and has Auburn up next week. Troy comes to Athens on a six-game winning streak led by a defense that’s allowed a total of 30 points over the last four games. Yeah, Florida beat the Trojans 59-31 and Arkansas beat them 46-26. Even so, be careful.

- For all the excitement and fanfare, Washington is 0-5 in Pac 10 play and on a six-game losing streak. Even a win at Stanford this week might not end up being enough for the Dawgs to escape the cellar at the end of the year.

- In a pinch for a Halloween costume? Wear a dark suit, get a pair of glasses, and go as Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt. Anyone who gets the goofiness of your concept piece is worthy of sharing a Milky Way with.

- Michigan State isn’t strange anymore, but once again it’s not playing up to its capability week after week. There’s no reason this team should lose to Iowa and Northwestern, and there’s no reason it should be 1-4 in the Big Ten and 5-4 overall. With Michigan, at Purdue and Penn State ahead, this could be yet another year when a certain bowl bid goes down the tubes.

- Notre Dame has had two weeks off to prepare for a Navy team that just got its doors blown off by Delaware. As bad as this season has been for Charlie Weis, a loss to break the 43-game winning streak over the Midshipmen would take the grouchiness to another level.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world

1) Overrated: The Trinity play vs. Millsaps  ... Underrated: Weber State 73, Portland State 68
2) Overrated: NFL in London   … Underrated: Penn State’s White Out
3) Overrated: Seal ... Underrated: Burj Dubai
4) Overrated: Xavier Lee ... Underrated: Drew Weatherford
5) Overrated: Hawaii at 14 ... Underrated: Boise State at 22

My Heisman ballot this week would be … I vote based on a combination of three things: Most valuable player, most outstanding player, and the signature player of the season. I might wildly change my mind weekly, but I’ll sort it all out at the end. 1) Matt Ryan, QB Boston College, 2) Pat White, QB West Virginia, 3) Tim Tebow, QB Florida, 4) Dennis Dixon, QB Oregon, 5) Todd Boeckman, QB Ohio State

“You know I'm born to lose, and gambling's for fools/But that's the way I like it baby, I don't wanna live forever” … The three lines this week that appear to be a tad off. (Rolling baby … 2-1 for two weeks in a row. 9-16 overall.) … 1) Maryland +3 over North Carolina, 2) UTEP -7 over Rice, 3) Wisconsin +16 over Ohio State

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … I thought I wrote a good column and had it all wrapped up, but I decide to stop for some reason while Trinity pitched the ball around 15 times before Riley Curry ran for a touchdown. After a minute, I got tired and just wanted it to all be over.