Cavalcade of Whimsy
Nov. 10 ... Part 2
10 .. Part 1
The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Breaking down each conference race. Going into the homestretch, here’s how each one is playing out, what the scenarios are, and what to look for
(without getting into every single bizarre
11. Sun Belt
Troy is the best team in the league and has a game advantage on Middle Tennessee and ULM, the two teams battling for the honor of being the Sun Belt’s No. 2. The Blue Raiders and Warhawks play on November 28th, but it’s going to take a major collapse from Troy to not be in the New Orleans Bowl. The Trojans have two Sun Belt games left, Florida Atlantic and at Louisiana-Lafayette, and have to come up with a split to win the conference title.
Projected Winner: Troy
Central Michigan is the best team in the league, but it still has some work to do to win the West. A flaky NIU Huskie team has the talent to run the table, even though it doesn’t have a passing game, and it’ll have its shot at the Chippewas on Friday the 27th. CMU can lose to either Toledo or Ball State (which it won’t) and still get to the MAC title game with a win over NIU. The Huskies have to beat Ball State and win at Ohio to set up the showdown in Mount Pleasant. Western Michigan and Toledo are out of the West race and all but out of bowl contention, while NIU has to get to eight wins, at least, to be assured of an extra game.
Somewhat shockingly, the East has become the more interesting of the two races. Temple freshman RB Bernard Pierce might be the MAC Player of the Year, while the Owl defense has done a fantastic job on the way to a 7-2 record and 5-0 run in conference play. However, to get to the MAC title game, the Owls still have to go to Ohio and beat the Bobcats on November 27th. Ohio suffered a bad loss to Kent State, and despite not having any offense, it’s in the hunt needing to beat NIU to set up the East deciding battle. Temple has to go to Akron and faces Kent State, who was in the thick of the chase before a disappointing loss to Akron. Kent State wins the MAC East by winning its last two games against Temple and Buffalo and getting 1) an Ohio loss to Northern Illinois and 2) a Temple loss to Ohio.
Projected Winner: Central Michigan over Temple
This is far more interesting than you might think. Nevada is running the ball right now better than anyone in college football is doing anything. The Pack offense has cranked out 559 rushing yards, 345, 313, 484, 312, and 517 in its last six games, and if it can get past Fresno State and a trip to New Mexico State, the Friday, November 27th game at Boise State will be really, really big. It’ll take a major miracle for Idaho or Utah State to beat the Broncos, who have to play NMSU after the Nevada game. Fresno State, who lost to Boise State, is still lurking. If the Bulldogs beat Nevada and Nevada beats Boise State, there would be a three-way tie for the conference title. Idaho, at 4-2, still has to play Boise State, but for all intents and purposes it’s out of the title chase.
Projected Winner: Boise State
8. Conference USA
It’s a total mess with everyone but Memphis in the hunt for the East title, but the West is clear. Thanks to UTEP’s annual November collapse and Tulsa’s loss to Houston, it’s now a two-way battle between the Cougars and SMU.
SMU wins the West by winning out and getting a Houston loss. The Mustangs lost the head-to-head battle with the Cougars but are tied in conference play at 4-1 with three games to play. SMU plays UTEP, at Marshall, and Tulane. Houston wins the West by winning out or by finishing tied with SMU. The Cougars face at UCF, Memphis, and Rice.
East Carolina has the lead in the East with the lone loss coming to SMU from the West. The Pirates win the division by winning out or finishing tied with Marshall or UCF. They still have to play UAB and Southern Miss from the East. For all intents and purposes, Southern Miss wins the East by winning out. Marshall, UCF, and UAB have to win out and get a lot of help, but basically, if East Carolina doesn’t lose two of its final three games, it’s in.
Projected Winner: Houston over East Carolina
7. Mountain West
Give the Mountain West credit for getting better with the hope of being really strong in the next few years with Wyoming and San Diego State improving with new coaching staffs. Air Force has solidified itself as the No. 4 team in the mix, again, while the big three, TCU, Utah, and BYU, are once again the big three. The Cougars need Utah to beat TCU this weekend, and then they’ll have to beat New Mexico and Air Force before beating the Utes to win at least a piece of the title. Utah wins the Mountain West outright by winning out, but it has work to do needing to win at Provo even if it gets past the Horned Frogs. TCU has to split with Wyoming and New Mexico (not a problem) if it beats the Utes this week. Got that? Basically, TCU will win the title with a win this weekend, while the issue will still be in doubt if Utah wins.
Projected Winner: TCU
6. Big East
South Florida only has two losses, but it’s all but out of the equation with losses to Cincinnati and Pitt. West Virginia will win the Big East title and will go to the BCS by winning out (beating Cincinnati, Pitt, and Rutgers). The Bearcats and the Panthers each control their own destinies, too, and things will be a bit clearer after this weekend when West Virginia goes to Cincinnati. If the Bearcats win, the Mountaineers are out of picture and meaning the Big East title will likely come down to the UC-Pitt showdown on December 5th. The first tie-breaker is head-to-head, and that will be sorted out over the next few weeks. There’s no reason to worry about a three-way tie or a four-way doomsday scenario; they can’t happen without going back to the WVU-UC-Pitt round robin tourney about to kick in. It’s head-to-head at this point.
Projected Winner: Cincinnati
This is nice and easy … yeah, right. It’s the ACC.
- Clemson wins the Atlantic by winning at NC State or against Virginia.
- BC wins the Atlantic by winning at Virginia and Maryland and beating North Carolina, and by getting Clemson losses to NC State and Virginia.
- Georgia Tech wins the Coastal by beating Duke.
- Miami wins the Coastal with a win at North Carolina and over Duke, a Georgia Tech loss to Duke, and Virginia Tech wins over at Maryland, NC State, and at Virginia. Miami wins the three-way tie-breaker with Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
- Virginia Tech’s situation is a mess and the conversation is over unless Duke goes crazy. The Hokies need Miami out of the mix and are only alive if the Blue Devils beat Georgia Tech and Miami and then lose to Wake Forest.
- If it’s a three-way tie between Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Duke, Georgia Tech wins.
Projected Winner: Georgia Tech over Clemson
4. Pac 10
And you thought the ACC was a mess …
- Oregon wins the Pac 10 title outright and goes to the Rose Bowl by beating Arizona State, at Arizona, and Oregon State. If Stanford loses once, the Ducks go to the Rose Bowl if they beat the Wildcats and Beavers and lose to the Sun Devils.
- Arizona wins the title by winning at Cal, at Arizona State, at USC, and against Oregon.
- Stanford wins the title by winning at USC and beating Cal, and if Oregon loses once and Arizona loses twice.
- USC wins the title by beating Stanford, UCLA, and Arizona and if Oregon loses two of its last three games.
- Oregon State wins the title by beating Washington, at Washington State, and at Oregon, USC loses one of its final three games, and Arizona loses two of its last three games.
- The three and four-way tie-breaker possibilities go on for days, but basically, if Oregon beats Arizona, it wins most of the scenarios. If the Wildcats beat the Ducks, then let the chaos ensue. The Ducks need USC to keep winning to take care of teams like Stanford and Arizona.
Projected Winner: Oregon
3. Big Ten
Iowa at Ohio State. The winner goes to the Rose Bowl, but there can be a mutli-team tie for the Big Ten title if Penn State and/or Wisconsin win out and if the Iowa/Ohio State winner loses its finale (Iowa plays Minnesota and Ohio State plays Michigan).
Projected Winner: Ohio State
2. Big 12
- Kansas State wins the North by winning at Nebraska or by beating Missouri and getting Nebraska loses to either Kansas or Colorado on the road.
- Nebraska wins the North by winning at Kansas, at Colorado, and against Kansas State.
- Colorado wins the North by winning at Iowa State, at Oklahoma State and against Nebraska, and if Kansas State loses to Missouri and Nebraska. The Buffs also win a three-way tie with Nebraska and Colorado.
- Texas wins the South by winning two of its final three games against at Baylor, Kansas, and at Texas A&M. The Longhorns win the tie-breaker over Oklahoma State.
- Oklahoma State wins the South with wins over Texas Tech, Colorado, and at Oklahoma and by getting Texas losses in at least two of the final three games.
- Texas Tech wins the South with wins at Oklahoma State, at Baylor, and Oklahoma. Texas has to lose its final three games and Texas A&M has to lose once.
- Oklahoma wins the South with wins over Texas A&M and Oklahoma State and at Texas Tech, and Texas loses its final three games.
- Texas A&M wins the South with wins over Baylor and Texas and at Oklahoma, and if Texas and Oklahoma State each lose their final three games.
Projected Winner: Texas over Kansas State
Florida plays Alabama for the SEC title. Cut dry, and finally, an easy conference championship situation.
Projected Winner: Florida over Alabama
Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn’t feel like writing bigger blurbs for.
- The under-the-radar shootout of the week: Troy at Arkansas. Ryan Mallett is coming into his own as the Hog quarterback coming off an ultra-sharp two game stretch going 37-of-43 for 847 yards and three scores, and he hasn’t thrown a pick in his last four games. Troy QB Levi Brown is fifth in the nation in total offense, hasn’t thrown a pick in his last six games, and has gone over the 300-yard mark five times in the last seven games and over 400 yards twice.
- After giving up 470 passing yards to Colt McCoy, watch out for UCF’s problems against Case Keenum and the Houston passing game.
- The World Series of Poker has as much to do with sports as Dancing With The Stars.
- Indiana will finish with a losing season, but it’s been close to having a big year. Three of the six losses came by a total of seven points, and another came in the strange loss to Iowa.
- Why isn’t anyone paying attention to Ryan Mathews, the Fresno State running back? He’s not just leading the nation in rushing; he’s leading it by a ten-mile wide margin averaging 162 yards per game, almost 27 more than the No. 2 runner, Stanford’s Toby Gerhart. His 7.12 yards per carry is tops among the nation’s leaders, and after ripping off 143 yards and three scores against Idaho, he has gone over the 100-yard mark in all nine games this year.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Every note of music played since April 5, 1994 … Underrated: Nirvana: Live at Reading (However, the fantastic mistake at the opening of Smells Like Teen Spirit, with Cobain blowing the start leading to an impromptu singing of Boston’s More Than A Feeling, is cut out. Seriously, if you like them at all, iTunes. Now. It’ll restore your faith in mankind.)
2) Overrated: Brandon Spikes … Underrated: Elizabeth Lambert
3) Overrated: Tony Pike ... Underrated: Zach Collaros
4) Overrated: Trying to force out Bobby Bowden ... Underrated: Forcing out Mickey Andrews
5) Overrated: Tiramisu ... Underrated: Furman RB Tersoo Uhaa
Head, meet oven. Oven, head … The three lines this week that appear to be a tad off. I really thought I had them last week, but after a wee bit of recent success, the gods pounded me with three big misses. I press on. … 1) BYU -27 at New Mexico, 2) Iowa +17 at Ohio State, 3) Boston College -4 at Virginia
Week 10 Results: 1) Kent State -3 over Akron (L, Akron 28-20), 2) Oklahoma -5.5 over Nebraska (L, Nebraska 10-3), 3) Duke +8.5 over North Carolina (L, UNC 19-6)
… Record So Far: 10-19-1.
My Heisman ballot this week would be (if the college football season ended right now) … 1) Case Keenum, QB Houston, 2) Mark Ingram, RB Alabama, 3) Colt McCoy, QB Texas
Sorry this column sucked, it wasn’t my fault … Like Boise State, I tried to get several big boys to play me. I’d even go their place and ask for nothing in return. There weren’t any takers.
Nov. 10.. Part 1