Wednesday, September 28, 2011

College Football Rewind - Week 4

As most conferences wrap up the majority of the non-conference slate either last week or next, conference play is beginning to heat up.  We have already had some tasty match-ups and Week 5 will be no exception.  On a side note, I also hope that my predictions heat up with conference play.  I was fooled by the ACC.  Maybe even bamboozled.  The SEC and Big 12 are clearly the class of College Football right now, followed closely by the Big 10.  This week, I will go with conference bullet points and the usual bowl updates and picks.

ACC (5-6 for the week, 28-17 overall, 22-11 non-conference, 5-7 BCS non-conf)

  • Seriously Maryland, a 38-7 home loss to Temple?  You have fooled me more than any team this year.  I was blinded by those uniforms.
  • Based on the play of the defense, I am pretty sure Russell Wilson engineered his release from the Wolfpack.
  • My apologies to Georgia Tech, but the winner of this weeks Clemson/Virginia Tech game is the ACC's last hope for a National Title Contender.
  • Sammy Watkins is really, really good.  Check him out if you haven't seen him.
  • Florida State still has the schedule to win the Atlantic, but what happened to the defense last week?
  • Using Miami as a gauge, does that mean Kansas State is better than Ohio State?
Bowl Changes: Clemson grabs the #3 spot this week and can vault into the BCS with a win in Blacksburg.  Georgia Tech slides up to #4.  Maryland falls hard and North Carolina State falls out of bowl eligibility.

My record: 27-12
This Week:  Maryland over Towson, Virginia over Idaho, Miami over Bethune-Cookman, Florida International over Duke, North Carolina over East Carolina, Boston College over Wake Forest, Georgia Tech over North Carolina State, Virginia Tech over Clemson

Big East (5-2 for the week, 21-9 overall, 21-9 non-conference, 4-7 BCS non-conf)

  • Cincinnati is the poster-child for turnover margin.
  • The refs in the Syracuse-Toledo game are the poster-child for glasses, although I saw the extra point was wide without any help.
  • West Virginia should probably re-think any thoughts of SEC membership.
  • If South Florida can conquer a fragile Pitt team this week, they could be undefeated heading to Morgantown in the season finale.
Bowl Changes:  Cincinnati leaps Pittsburgh for the 3rd spot.

My Record: 22-8
This Week:  South Florida over Pittsburgh, Syracuse over Rutgers, Cincinnati over Miami(OH), Western Michigan over Connecticut, Louisville over Marshall, West Virginia over Bowling Green

Big 12 (5-2 for the week, 28-4 overall, 26-2 non-conference, 6-2 BCS non-conf)

  • Arkansas and Ball State are all that stand in the way of an ultra-impressive 28-2 non-conference mark for the Big 12, with the two losses coming against Arizona State and Georgia Tech.  How do you like those apples, SEC?
  • Oklahoma State can now slip up once before the Oklahoma finale and win the Big 12 by upending the Sooners in Stillwater.
  • I am going to over-react to Kansas State.
  • Robert Griffin III would get my Heisman vote after 4 weeks.
  • Wait, when are they going to give me a Heisman vote?
  • One must at least consider that Texas A&M's loss last week was partly karma.
Bowl Changes: Kansas State joins the ranks of bowl-eligibility.  Texas swaps bowls with Texas A&M, if nothing else to avoid a re-match in the Cotton Bowl.

My Record: 23-7
This Week:  Texas A&M over Arkansas, Texas Tech over Kansas, Texas over Iowa State, Oklahoma over Ball State, Kansas State over Baylor

Big Ten (8-2 for the week, 34-12 overall, 34-12 non-conference, 6-5 BCS non-conf)

  • Indiana and Minnesota are awful.  They will both go 0-8 in the Big 10.
  • I finally have to believe in Michigan.  Or over-react.  You take your pick.
  • I hope the Nebraska/Wisconsin game lives up to the hype.  It's rare when Alabama/Florida gets overshadowed by the Big 10.
  • Take a look at Illinois schedule.  No Nebraska, Iowa or Michigan State.  Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State at home.  I re-iterate - sleeper for the Big 10 Title Game.
  • The loser of the Michigan State/Ohio State game is eliminated from Title contention.  Furthermore, they will have a hard time recovering from this loss.
Bowl Changes: Michigan makes a big leap, while the masses below get shuffled up a bit.

My Record: 36-10
This Week: Notre Dame over Purdue, Penn State over Indiana, Michigan over Minnesota, Illinois over Northwestern, Michigan State over Ohio State, Wisconsin over Nebraska

PAC-12 (4-5 for the week, 26-18 overall, 20-12 non-conference, 5-8 BCS non-conf)
  • Oregon State will go winless in 2011.
  • Arizona State must beat Utah to win the PAC-12 South.
  • Arizona must beat Utah to have any chance at bowl-eligibility.
  • Washington and USC have many flaws, but one will play a big spoiler for Oregon or Stanford.
  • The Oregon offense is unstoppable again.  Future scheduling of SEC opponents has been eliminated.
Bowl Changes:  Utah and Washington flip spots based on my game prediction this week.

My Record: 33-5
This Week: USC over Arizona, Arizona State over Oregon State, Stanford over UCLA, Washington State over Colorado, Utah over Washington

SEC (7-4 for the week, 34-13 overall, 25-4 non-conference, 5-2 BCS non-conf)
  • LSU and Alabama are pretty darn good.
  • LSU or Alabama will lose to someone other than LSU or Alabama.
  • Lucky for Mississippi State, I was more wrong on Maryland.
  • Is South Carolina quietly a National Title Contender?  And what about Marcus Lattimore for Heisman?  Yes and Yes.
  • Boise State, Clemson, BYU and Louisville...are the 4 non-conference losses for the SEC.
Bowl Changes: Auburn falls to the back of the pecking order.  They are going to have a challenge to go more than 6-6 with the schedule in front of them.

My Record: 32-6
This Week: Texas A&M over Arkansas, Georgia over Mississippi State, LSU over Kentucky, Tennessee over Buffalo, South Carolina over Auburn, Fresno State over Mississippi, Alabama over Florida

Conference USA (4-8 this week, 21-24 overall, 15-18 non-conference, 4-13 BCS non-conf)

  • The 4 BCS wins is currently tops of any non-BCS conference.  No one can fault them if the victims have been UCLA, Virginia, Boston College and Purdue.
  • I still have no idea how good Tulsa is.
  • Despite Central Florida's recent slide, I think they still play for the C-USA Title against the Houston/SMU survivor.
  • Marshall and Rice can make bowl-eligible statements this week.  East Carolina can secure theirs.
Bowl Changes: A little shuffling amongst the teams, but no additions or deletions.

My Record: 32-7
This Week:  Houston over UTEP, Army over Tulane, Louisville over Marshall, Tulsa over North Texas, Troy over UAB, North Carolina over East Carolina, Southern Mississippi over Rice, Middle Tennessee over Memphis, TCU over SMU

Mountain West (4-4 for the week, 18-12 overall, 16-10 non-conference, 2-7 BCS non-conf)
  • New Mexico is the worst team in FBS.
  • Does Boise State have to think about running up the score to improve their BCS Title chances?
  • At 16-10 in non-conference, the Mountain West is by far the best Non-BCS league.
  • Now that's the UNLV team I remember.
Bowl Changes: Wyoming added as bowl-eligible potential. 

My Record: 22-6
This Week: TCU over SMU, Colorado State over San Jose State, New Mexico State over New Mexico, Boise State over Nevada, Air Force over Navy

MAC (6-7 for the week, 23-28 overall, 19-24 non-conference, 2-21 BCS non-conf)

  • Believe it or not, Temple is really good.  They also showed tremendous moxie after the heart-breaker to Penn State.
  • Toledo can't catch a scheduling break.
  • Bowling Green and Western Michigan have a chance at bowl statement wins this week (I think one will get it).
  • The MAC is 17-3 in games against non-BCS opponents.
Bowl Changes:  Miami(OH) is out.  Temple moves to the front.

My Record: 36-11
This Week:  Tennessee over Buffalo, Cincinnati over Miami(OH), Eastern Michigan over Akron, Ohio over Kent State, Western Michigan over Connecticut, West Virginia over Bowling Green, Northern Illinois over Central Michigan, Oklahoma over Ball State, Temple over Toledo

WAC (2-5 for the week, 9-20 overall, 6-17 non-conference, 2-10 BCS non-conf)
  • How bad does that UNLV loss look now Hawaii?
  • The WAC is quietly the worst conference in FBS.
Bowl Changes:  None this week.  Louisiana Tech teeters on the bowl-eligible line.

My Record: 20-6
This week:  BYU over Utah State, Boise State over Nevada, Virginia over Idaho, Colorado State over San Jose State, New Mexico State over New Mexico, Fresno State over Mississippi, Louisiana Tech over Hawaii

Sun Belt (4-4 for the week, 11-21 overall, 8-18 non-conf, 2-14 BCS non-conf)

  • So much for Florida International running the table.
  • Who would have thought North Texas would add one of the BCS wins?
  • I have a feeling this is going to be a wild conference race.
Bowl Changes:  Louisiana-Lafayette is in, Louisiana-Monroe is out.
My Record: 23-6
This Week:  Arkansas State over Western Kentucky, Tulsa over North Texas, Louisiana-Lafayette over Florida Atlantic, Florida International over Duke, Middle Tennessee over Memphis, Troy over UAB

Independents (2-1 for the week, 7-8 overall, 4-5 BCS)
  • The independents are almost impossible to figure from week-to-week.
  • Navy has been the most consistent by far.
Bowl Changes: Army is dropped from bowl-eligibility.

My Record: 10-5
This Week: BYU over Utah State, Army over Tulane, Air Force over Navy, Notre Dame over Purdue

Updated Bowl Predictions
National Championship Game:  Boise State vs Alabama
Rose:  Wisconsin vs Oregon
Sugar:  Oklahoma vs LSU
Fiesta:  Oklahoma State vs Stanford
Orange:  West Virginia vs Virginia Tech

Capitol One:  South Carolina vs Nebraska
Gator:  Illinois vs Tennessee
Cotton:  Texas vs Arkansas
Alamo:  Texas A&M vs Arizona State
Outback:  Florida vs Michigan
Chick Fil-A:  Florida State vs Georgia
Sun:  Georgia Tech vs Washington
Holiday:  Missouri vs Utah
Champs:  Notre Dame vs Clemson
Liberty:  Mississippi State vs Houston
Belk:  South Florida vs North Carolina
Independence:  Maryland vs Air Force
Music City:  Auburn vs Miami(FL)
Pinstripe:  Cincinnati vs Kansas State
Kraft Fight Hunger:  Western Michigan vs Wyoming
Meineke Car Care:  Ohio State vs Texas Tech
Insight:  Baylor vs Michigan State
Ticket City:  Iowa vs Southern Mississippi
Little Caesars:  Penn State vs Northern Illinois
Humanitarian: Toledo vs Fresno State
Hawaii:  Hawaii vs SMU
Beef O'Bradys:  Syracuse vs Central Florida
Armed Forces:  BYU vs Tulsa
Las Vegas:  California vs TCU
Poinsettia:  San Diego State vs Nevada  Toledo vs Troy
New Orleans:  East Carolina vs Florida International
BBVA Compass:  Pittsburgh vs Louisiana Lafayette
New Mexico:  Louisiana Tech vs Colorado State
Military:  Navy vs Northwestern

Thursday, September 22, 2011

College Football Rewind - Week 3

After three weeks, much has gone to form in College Football. The SEC and Big 12 are dominating as expected, with Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma leading the way with dominant defenses.  2010 was the year of the offense, as the high-powered machines of Oregon and Auburn overcame shaky defensive outings from time-to-time and outscored opponents into the Title Game.  It appears defense is the name of the game in 2011.  Despite unsettled quarterback play, Alabama and LSU can feel secure by putting up 20 points.  When the offense struggled for Oklahoma last week, the defense kept them in it until Landry Jones could make the big play.  Oh, and Boise State has a pretty good defense too. 

ACC (8-4 for the week, 23-11 overall, 19-7 non-conference, 5-5 BCS non-conf)

What next for Florida State?  They hung with Oklahoma, but I think this was still a deflating loss.  Next up - Clemson, likely without your starting quarterback.  Florida State will be fine, but the dream season everyone was hoping for in Talahassee will have to wait.

If Virginia Tech now goes unbeaten, will they play for the National Title?  Right now, I think the answer is no.  The ACC has been fairly mediocre in non-conference, which is going to hurt Virginia Tech if this scenario plays out.  An undefeated Boise State will liekly be ahead of the Hokies, as the schedule difference will not be that drastic in the end and Boise will be ahead in the polls.  Obviously, an undefeated SEC or Big 12 team would be in ahead of VA Tech, but there is a good chance a 1-loss Alabama or LSU would be as well.

How good is Georgia Tech?  Apparently, all the offensive player turnover has not hurt the Ramblin' Wreck.  The jury is still out, but this is the road game that Hokie fans should be circling right now. 

Is Clemson the team to beat in the Atlantic?  Clemson looked really good last week, but I am tempered a bit by the fact that I don't think Auburn is that good.  The Tigers might catch a break and get FSU without EJ Manual this week.  Right now, Clemson, Florida State or Maryland could emerge from the Atlantic.

Bowl Changes: Florida State moves out of BCS sliding everyone back a slot.  Clemson has the opportunity for a big move if they can beat the 'Noles this week.

My record: 23-7
This Week: North Carolina State over Cincinnati, Georgia Tech over North Carolina, Maryland over Temple, Boston College over Massachusetts, Tulane over Duke, Virginia over Southern Mississippi, Virginia Tech over Marshall, Miami(FL) over Kansas State, Clemson over Florida State (Manuel injury)

Big East (4-3 for the week, 16-7 overall, 16-7 non-conference, 3-6 BCS non-conf)

Are West Virginia and South Florida National Title Contenders?  If the Mountanieers beat LSU, they would have victories over the Tigers and Maryland.  South Florida already has the Notre Dame win.  The answer is still of course no, as although the Big East is part to the BCS, they are not part of the pool of teams used to pick the National Championship game from.

What do we make of Pittsburgh now?  Talented, but inconstent?  Not ready to make a big leap?  They have a chance to make amends against the Fighting Irish this week.  They can definitely still contend in the Big East.  We will get an early look at how good of a coach Todd Graham is.

Bowl Changes:  None this week.

My Record: 18-5
This Week:  North Carolina State over Cincinnati, Toledo over Syracuse, Notre Dame over Pittsburgh, Ohio over Rutgers, Connecticut over Buffalo, South Florida over UTEP, LSU over West Virginia

Big 12 (9-1 for the week, 23-2 overall, 23-2 non-conference, 5-2 BCS non-conf)

Does Case McCoy make Texas a Big 12 contender?  The Texas defense makes the Longhorns a contender, but this team is not going to win the Big 12, no matter who is at quarterback.

Which team is more likely to bounce back if they lose the Oklahoma State/Texas A&M game?  My sense is the Cowboys, who would still have Oklahoma coming to Stillwater.  A home loss for the Aggies would make it an uphill and probably insurmountable climb for A&M.
Bowl Changes: None this week.

My Record: 20-5
This Week:  Miami(FL) over Kansas State, Baylor over Rice, Texas Tech over Nevada, Oklahoma over Missouri, Texas A&M over Oklahoma State

Big Ten (9-3 for the week, 26-10 overall, 26-10 non-conference, 5-5 BCS non-conf)

How good is Illinois?  The Fighting Illini emerged from anonymity this past weekend and showed the College Football world that they should not be overlooked in 2011.  The schedule is also manageable, so Illinois is a great sleeper pick for the innaugaral Big 10 Title Game.

What should we make of Penn State and Iowa?  These are good teams, with too many holes to competer for the Big 10 title.  Penn State can not score enough.  Iowa can not stop anybody.  They could spoil someone's season though.

Is it all too much for Ohio State this year?  After surviving Toledo and struggling mightily against Miami, the answer here is yes.  With a tough start to the Big 10 schedule looming, uneven play and quarterback issues will not get it done.  Plug your ears Buckeye fan...Michigan will win more games than you in 2011.

Bowl Changes: Illinois moves up in the order, while Michigan State falls after last weeks disappointment.

My Record: 28-8
This Week: Michigan State over Central Michigan, Michigan over San Diego State, Penn State over Eastern Michigan, Iowa over Louisiana-Monroe, Ohio State over Colorado, Wisconsin over South Dakota, Illinois over Western Michigan, Minnesota over North Dakota State, Indiana over North Texas, Nebraska over Wyoming

PAC-12 (6-5 for the week, 22-13 overall, 20-11 non-conference, 5-7 BCS non-conf)

What do we now make of Utah?  A close loss in their first trip to Southern Cal was followed up with a thrashing of BYU.  PAC-12 South beware.  The new kids on the block could crash the Title game.

Is California a player in the North?  Cal has looked good in the first three weeks, but I am still leaving the jury out here.  They are a dangerous team that might get in Oregon or Stanford's way.
Bowl Changes:   Stanford moves into the BCS this week, with all other teams moving up a spot.

My Record: 28-4
This Week: Ohio State over Colorado, Oregon State over UCLA, Washington over California, Oregon over Arizona, Arizona State over USC

SEC (7-5 for the week, 27-9 overall, 22-4 non-conference, 4-2 BCS non-conf)

What can we expect from Vanderbilt?  A rude wake-up call when tougher SEC foes come calling.  The Commodores 3-0 start is great, but I still can't see them getting Bowl-eligible yet.

Is this the week we get the year's big surprise?  Maybe, but I can't bring myself to pick it.  Arkansas is talented enough and presents some match-up problems for Alabama.  West Virginia has the offensive creativity that could give LSU some problems.  Would I be shocked if either went down.  No.

Bowl Changes: Kentucky falls out of bowl eligibity this week, some other minor shuffling.

My Record: 25-6
This Week: Georgia over Mississippi, Alabama over Arkansas, Auburn over Florida Atlantic, Florida over Kentucky, Mississippi State over Louisiana Tech, South Carolina over Vanderbilt, LSU over West Virginia

Conference USA (6-4 this week, 17-15 overall, 14-12 non-conference, 3-9 BCS non-conf)

Will Tulsa's non-conference schedule help or hurt come Conference-USA time?  Playing three Top 10 teams should get you ready for the conference season.  The drawbacks?  Young players are not learning how to win.  Other teams are getting some blueprint how to beat you.  Tulsa should be fine, but they need to get on an early roll in the conference season.
Bowl Changes: None this week.

My Record: 24-5
This Week:  BYU over Central Florida, SMU over Memphis, Tulane over Duke, East Carolina over UAB, Virginia over Southern Mississippi, Virginia Tech over Marshall, South Florida over UTEP, Baylor over Rice, Boise State over Tulsa, Houston over Georgia State

Mountain West (5-2 for the week, 14-8 overall, 12-6 non-conference, 2-5 BCS non-conf)

What is Boise State's "trip-up" game in 2011?  Last year, everyone pointed to the Nevada game.  This year, while fingers are likely pointed at the TCU game, I think the November 19 game at San Diego State is the one to watch out for.
Bowl Changes: None this week.

My Record: 16-4
This Week: Michigan over San Diego State, TCU over Portland State, Air Force over Tennessee State, Sam Houston State over New Mexico, Nebraska over Wyoming, Boise State over Tulsa, Utah State over Colorado State, UNLV over Southern Utah

MAC (3-10 for the week, 17-21 overall, 14-18 non-conference, 1-15 BCS non-conf)

Will two losses to BCS schools derail Northern Illinois season?  No, but a suspect defense might.  The Huskies have new starters all over the defense and will have to outscore their MAC counterparts this year.
Bowl Changes:  Ohio moves ahead of Miami in the selection order.

My Record: 29-6
This Week:  Michigan State over Central Michigan, Toledo over Syracuse, Penn State over Eastern Michigan, Maryland over Temple, Miami(OH) over Bowling Green, Ohio over Rutgers, Akron over VMI, Army over Ball State, Illinois over Western Michigan, Kent State over South Alabama, Northern Illinois over Cal Poly, Connecticut over Buffalo

WAC (2-5 for the week, 7-15 overall, 6-14 non-conference, 2-8 BCS non-conf)

Is Hawaii still a WAC contender?  A loss to UNLV gives me 2nd thoughts, but this might end up being the most wide-open conference race out there.  Yes, Hawaii is still a contender.
Bowl Changes: None this week.

My Record: 17-4
This week:  New Mexico State over San Jose State, Fresno State over Idaho, Mississippi State over Louisiana Tech, Texas Tech over Nevada, Utah State over Colorado State

Sun Belt (2-5 for the week, 7-17 overall, 6-16 non-conf, 1-12 BCS non-conf)

How good is Florida International?  Wins over Louisville and Central Florida would indicate they are pretty good.  Good enough to finish 11-1 or 10-2.  Maybe good enough to run the table.
Bowl Changes:  Louisiana-Monroe addes for BBVA Compass Bowl.

My Record: 19-4
This Week:  Iowa over Louisiana-Monroe, Troy over Middle Tennessee, Florida International over Louisiana-Lafayette, Auburn over Florida Atlantic, Indiana over North Texas, Arkansas State over Central Arkansas

Independents (2-2 for the week, 5-7 overall, 3-5 BCS)

Can BYU bounce back?  The strange thing about an independent, is once you lose a couple games, you are locked into a bowl.  The incentive decreases a little bit.  It has to.  BYU is not as good as I thought they might be.  And now with a little less incentive, 7-5 seems a real possibility.
Bowl Changes: None this week.

My Record: 8-4
This Week: BYU over Central Florida, Notre Dame over Pittsburgh, Army over Ball State

Updated Bowl Predictions
National Championship Game:  Boise State vs Alabama
Rose:  Wisconsin vs Oregon
Sugar:  Oklahoma vs LSU
Fiesta:  Oklahoma State vs Stanford
Orange:  West Virginia vs Virginia Tech

Capitol One:  South Carolina vs Nebraska
Gator:  Auburn vs Ohio State
Cotton:  Texas A&M vs Arkansas
Alamo:  Texas vs Arizona State
Outback:  Florida vs Illinois
Chick Fil-A:  Florida State vs Georgia
Sun:  Maryland vs Utah
Holiday:  Missouri vs Washington
Champs:  Notre Dame vs Gerogia Tech
Liberty:  Tennessee vs Central Florida
Belk:  South Florida vs Clemson
Independence:  North Carolina vs Air Force
Music City:  Mississippi State vs Miami(FL)
Pinstripe:  Pittsburgh vs Northwestern
Kraft Fight Hunger:  Western Michigan vs Army
Meineke Car Care:  Penn State vs Texas Tech
Insight:  Baylor vs Michigan
Ticket City:  Michigan State vs East Carolina
Little Caesars:  Iowa vs Northern Illinois
Humanitarian: Ohio vs Fresno State
Hawaii:  Hawaii vs SMU
Beef O'Bradys:  Cincinnati vs Houston
Armed Forces:  BYU vs Tulsa
Las Vegas:  California vs TCU
Poinsettia:  San Diego State vs Nevada  Toledo vs Troy
New Orleans:  Southern Mississippi vs Florida International
BBVA Compass:  Syracuse vs Louisiana Monroe
New Mexico:  Louisiana Tech vs Colorado State
Military:  Navy vs North Carolina State

Friday, September 16, 2011

NFL, Badger and Fantasy Randomness

Here are some random thoughts on Week 1 and 2 in the NFL, the Wisconsin Badgers and Fantasy Football.  Maybe even something else random. 
  1. Keep an eye out in your fantasy league for who was dropped this week.  Some team is bound to drop a player that you would have gladly had on your team a week ago in order to grab a Week 1 hot name.  Week 1 pick-ups often fizzle, so see if any potential longer-term steals hit your dropped list this week.
  2. My quarterback in the league I have been in for 22 years had zero of the one trillion TD passes thrown on the weekend. 
  3. Sean Payton, next time, let your best player try to make the play.
  4. Worst to First - Arizona Cardinals.
  5. First to Worst - Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks.
  6. That Tom Brady guy is pretty good.
  7. That Tom Brady guy has pretty hair.
  8. I like Tony Romo, but c'mon man, I don't know what's worse...Losing Carrie Underwood or choking away almost every big game
  9. Donovan McNabb gives me comfort as a Packer fan.
  10. Jay Cutler will eventually too give me comfort.
  11. A healthy Matthew Stafford makes me a bit squeamish.
  12. Ndamukong Suh coming free on Aaron Rodgers gives me the major heebie jeebies.
  13. Cam Newton will be a better quarterback than y'all thought.  Somehere in between the Week 1 great and what everyone expected.
  14. Andrew Luck to the Indianapolis Colts?
  15. If there is no NBA, how can I make fun of Lebron James.
  16. When John McEnroe did it, it was entertaining.  When Serena Williams does it, its appalling.
  17. I am enjoying the seat for RussellMania 2011, but there will be a couple games where the defense will have to come through to body slam this team into a BCS Bowl.
  18. October 1st is going to be one crazy night in Madtown.
  19. After Emmanuel Sanders caught a TD pass last week, I quickly decided he is not in my top 5 Sanders of all-time.  They would be Barry, Deion, Colonel, Summer and Steve.
  20. Go Florida State!!  I predicated my whole College Football predictions on the 'Noles beating Oklahoma.  So far, things haven't gone the best...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

College Football Rewind - Week 2

One of the great things about College Football is the unpredictability.  When it comes down to it, these are still 18-22 year old men/boys that are the great determinant in victory or defeat.  It is no great shock that after two weeks, some of my pre-season predictions have gone horribly wrong.  I am able to admit when I am wrong, no matter how hard it might be.  So this week, my theme will be who I have been wrong on after two weeks.  More teams will be added to this as the year passes I am sure.

ACC (7-3 for the week, 15-7 overall, 13-5 non-conference, 2-3 BCS non-conf)

I am wrong about:  North Carolina State.  I was under the impression that the Wolfpack defense would help them through the transition at quarterback.  NC State also had a fairly mild September and October schedule.  After the defense surrendered 34 points to a surprising Wake Forest offense, so far I am wrong about the Wolfpack.  I still think they are a bowl-eligible team but no longer a contender for the ACC Atlantic crown.

I am also wrong about:  Wake Forest.  First a tough OT loss to Syracuse.  Then the big upset win over NC State.  I thought the Demon Deacons would win exactly zero ACC games, a total they have now surpassed.  The rest of the schedule is not kind, but at least Wake has shown it will be competitive in 2011.

Bowl Changes: Virginia Tech replaces Notre Dame in the BCS this week.  Either Georgia Tech or Virginia will be bowl-eligible this year.  I am going with the Yellowjackets in my current projection.  North Carolina jumps ahead of North Carolina State in the pecking order.  (See Updated Bowl Projections at the bottom of the page.)

My record: 18-2
This Week: Maryland over West Virginia, Auburn over Clemson, Georgia Tech over Kansas, Boston College over Duke, North Carolina over Virginia, Virginia Tech over Arkansas State, North Carolina State over South Alabama, Wake Forest over Gardener-Webb, Ohio State over Miami, Florida State over Oklahoma

Big East (4-4 for the week, 12-4 overall, 12-4 non-conference, 1-3 BCS non-conf)

I am wrong about:  Connecticut.  While I thought the Big East would be a struggle for the Huskies this year, I predicted a 5-0 non-conference record would get this team to a bowl.  While a road loss to an SEC school is nothing to sneer at, it was Vanderbilt.  Based on what I have seen so far, Connecticut will struggle to reach 6-6 and bowl eligibility.

Bowl Changes: Cincinnati replaces Connecticut as the 5th bowl-eligible Big East team.  South Florida makes a definitive leap over Pittsburgh for the #2 spot in the league.

My Record: 13-3
This Week:  Iowa State over Connecticut, Maryland over West Virginia, Iowa over Pittsburgh, Cincinnati over Akron, South Florida over Florida A&M, Kentucky over Louisville, USC over Syracuse

Big 12 (4-1 for the week, 14-1 overall, 14-1 non-conference, 2-1 BCS non-conf)

I am wrong about:  Kansas.  The Jayhawks doubled my predicted win total by beating Northern Illinois last weekend.  The offense has put up over 40 points in both contests.  The Big 12 will still likely be a harsh reality for Kansas, but there are some winnable home games and a trip to Ames that could get them 4 or 5 wins this year.

I am also wrong about:  Missouri.  My prediction for Missouri had them grouped with the Oklahoma teams and Texas A&M as Big 12 Title contenders.  I was wrong.  They are in the group with Texas and Baylor that are not serious threats for the title.  Arizona State might be really good, but inconsistent quarterback play and defensive injuries will hold the Tigers back this year.

Bowl Changes: Texas and Baylor move ahead of Missouri with the likelihood they will be selected before the Tigers at this time.

My Record: 11-4
This Week:  Iowa State over Connecticut, Georgia Tech over Kansas, Texas over UCLA, Texas Tech over New Mexico, Missouri over Western Illinois, Baylor over Stephen F Austin, Texas A&M over Idaho, Kansas State over Kent State, Florida State over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State over Tulsa

Big Ten (7-5 for the week, 17-7 overall, 17-7 non-conference, 2-4 BCS non-conf)

I was wrong about:  Iowa.  Everyone says the Hawkeyes are most dangerous in the years where they are not expected to do anything. Apparently they are very dangerous now because I really don't expect much from this group after losing to Iowa State.  I am giving them the benefit of the doubt with a bounce-back win over Pittsburgh this week, but a team that loses to the Cyclones does not compete for a Legends Division Title.

Bowl Changes: Michigan climbs the ladder in the selection order, while Iowa falls to the bottom of the chain.

My Record: 19-5
This Week: Michigan over Eastern Michigan, Penn State over Temple, Iowa over Pittsburgh, Purdue over SE Missouri State, Indiana over South Carolina State, Michigan State over Notre Dame, Miami(OH) over Minnesota, Nebraska over Washington, Army over Northwestern, Wisconsin over Northern Illinois, Illinois over Arizona State, Ohio State over Miami(FL)

PAC-12 (8-4 for the week, 16-8 overall, 15-7 non-conference, 4-4 BCS non-conf)

I was wrong about:  Arizona State.  Well, kind of.  I had them winning the PAC-12 South.  The Missouri win might vault them to more special achievements this year.  Last year they could not win the close games.  If they reverse that trend, which they started last week, this team will compete for a BCS bowl, which I did not expect.

Bowl Changes: Currently none.

My Record: 19-3
This Week: Colorado over Colorado State, Texas over UCLA, Nebraska over Washington, Oregon over Missouri State, California over Presbyterian, San Diego State over Washington State, Illinois over Arizona State, USC over Syracuse, BYU over Utah, Stanford over Arizona

SEC (10-2 for the week, 20-4 overall, 18-2 non-conference, 4-0 BCS non-conf)

I was wrong about:  Auburn.  The Tigers are better (luckier??) than I thought.  The schedule is still not easy, but Auburn appears good enough to at least win 6 or 7 games and get bowl-eligible.  This weeks game against Clemson is huge, as it might just take one loss to send this ship in the wrong direction.

I was also wrong about:  Mississippi State.  The Rebels seemed poised to be the surprise SEC team this year.  If Chris Relf pitches the ball, they might still be.  This team has the talent to contend, but I don't think they believe they can play with the top tier.  They can prove me wrong this week against LSU, but I doubt they will fool me again.

Bowl Changes: Auburn is added to the bowl-eligible list and leaps over Kentucky, Tennessee and probably Mississippi State in attractiveness.  South Carolina and Arkansas are firmly #'s 3 and 4 behind Alabama and LSU.  Florida and Georgia join Auburn in the middle.

My Record: 19-3
This Week: LSU over Mississippi State, Auburn over Clemson, Mississippi over Vanderbilt, Georgia over Coastal Carolina, Florida over Tennessee, South Carolina over Navy, Kentucky over Louisville, Arkansas over Troy, Alabama over North Texas

Conference USA (6-5 this week, 11-11 overall, 9-9 non-conference, 3-8 BCS non-conf)

I was wrong about:  Southern Mississippi.  The Golden Eagles could have competed for a spot in the C-USA Championship Game.  The loss to Marshall throws them back in the pack with East Carolina, UAB and now Marshall in a struggle for one of the open bowl spots in the conference.

Bowl Changes: Currently None.

My Record: 18-2
This Week: UAB over Tulane, Ohio over Marshall, Memphis over Austin Peay, Houston over Louisiana Tech, Southern Mississippi over SE Louisiana, New Mexico State over UTEP, SMU over Northwestern State, Oklahoma State over Tulsa, Central Florida over Florida International

Mountain West (4-3 for the week, 9-6 overall, 7-4 non-conference, 1-3 BCS non-conf)

I was wrong about:  TCU and Air Force.  Only because I over-reacted to week 1.  I need to stop doing that.

Bowl Changes: Back to the pre-season order.

My Record: 11-2
This Week: Boise State over Toledo, Bowling Green over Wyoming, Colorado over Colorado State, TCU over Louisiana-Monroe, Texas Tech over New Mexico, San Diego State over Washington State, Hawaii over UNLV

MAC (6-6 for the week, 14-11 overall, 13-10 non-conference, 1-9 BCS non-conf)

I was wrong about:  No teams (yet).

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.

My Record: 20-4
This Week: Boise State over Toledo, Michigan over Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green over Wyoming, Penn State over Temple, Western Michigan over Central Michigan, Miami over Minnesota, Cincinnati over Akron, Wisconsin over Northern Illinois, Ohio over Marshall, Ball State over Buffalo, Kansas State over Kent State

WAC (4-4 for the week, 5-10 overall, 5-10 non-conference, 2-7 BCS non-conf)

I was wrong about:  New Mexico State.  The victory over the Gophers shows this team might be ready to be more than a doormat.  I predicted one win.  3 or 4 is well within reach now.

Bowl Changes: Currently none.

My Record: 13-2
This week: Nevada over San Jose State, Texas A&M over Idaho, Houston over Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State over UTEP, Fresno State over North Dakota, Hawaii over UNLV

Sun Belt (4-4 for the week, 5-12 overall, 4-11 non-conf, 1-9 BCS non-conf)

I was wrong about:  Florida International.  I had FIU grouped among 4 Sun Belt Title contenders.  They are clearly the best team in the league right now.

Bowl Changes:  Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe lose spots to BCS leagues that will now fulfill their tie-ins.

My Record: 14-2
This Week: TCU over Louisiana-Monroe, Virginia Tech over Arkansas State, Western Kentucky over Indiana State, Louisiana-Lafayette over Nicholls State, Arkansas over Troy, Alabama over North Texas, Central Florida over Florida International

Independents (1-3 for the week, 3-5 overall, 1-3 BCS)

I was wrong about:  Notre Dame.  That was fast.  I have thrown out the kool-aid.  I will never drink the golden kool-aid again.  Special teams figure out a way to win.  Forgettable teams find a way to lose.  2011 Notre Dame Football will be forgettable.

Bowl Changes: Army is teetering on bowl non-eligibility.  Notre Dame drops from the BCS.

My Record: 6-2
This Week: Michigan State over Notre Dame, South Carolina over Navy, BYU over Utah, Army over Northwestern

Updated Bowl Predictions
National Championship Game:  Florida State vs Alabama
Rose:  Wisconsin vs Oregon
Sugar:  Oklahoma vs West Virginia
Fiesta:  Oklahoma State vs Boise State
Orange:  LSU vs Virginia Tech

Capitol One:  South Carolina vs Nebraska
Gator:  Florida vs Ohio State
Cotton:  Texas A&M vs Arkansas
Alamo:  Texas vs Stanford
Outback:  Georgia vs Michigan State
Chick Fil-A:  Auburn vs Maryland
Sun:  Washington vs Miami(FL)
Holiday:  Arizona State vs Texas Tech
Champs:  Notre Dame vs North Carolina
Liberty:  Tennessee vs Central Florida
Belk:  South Florida vs North Carolina State
Independence:  Georgia Tech vs Air Force
Music City:  Mississippi State vs Clemson
Pinstripe:  Pittsburgh vs Northwestern
Kraft Fight Hunger:  California vs Army
Meineke Car Care:  Penn State vs Missouri
Insight:  Baylor vs Michigan
Ticket City:  Illinois vs East Carolina
Little Caesars:  Iowa vs Northern Illinois
Humanitarian:  Miami(OH) vs Fresno State
Hawaii:  Hawaii vs SMU
Beef O'Bradys:  Syracuse vs Houston
Armed Forces:  BYU vs Tulsa
Las Vegas:  Utah vs TCU
Poinsettia:  San Diego State vs Nevada  Toledo vs Troy
New Orleans:  Southern Mississippi vs Florida International
BBVA Compass:  Kentucky vs Cincinnati
New Mexico:  Louisiana Tech vs Colorado State
Military:  Navy vs Western Michigan

Thursday, September 8, 2011

2011 NFL Predictions

I keep hearing that every year, 5 playoff teams change from the previous year.  It has also been 7 years since the Super Bowl Champion won a playoff game the next year.  The NFC has had 10 different Super Bowl representatives in the last 10 years.  Are these reliable trends or merely coincidental?  Will the lockout and strange off-season be enough to alter those trends at least for 1 year?

First, will 5 playoff teams change from a year ago?  I have 4 likely choices that immediately come to mind in Indianapolis, Kansas City, Chicago and Seattle.  If I a 5th is going to emerge, New Orleans or Baltimore would be next in line.

Second, will the Super Bowl Champions win a playoff game?  The NFL playoffs have become so unpredictable that nobody can say with certainty on this one.  Hot teams, injuries, weather...all can alter the landscape dramatically.  That being said, Green Bay was the hot team last year and may have won before their time.  Also, the Packers two previous Super Bowl runs have involved back-to-back appearances.

Third, will an 11th NFC team represent in this year's big game?  The five remaining choices are Washington, Dallas, Minnesota, Detroit and San Francisco.   Could Dallas have just been a year late to play in their home stadium?  Other than the Cowboys, you would not think any of the remaining four are ready.

So here are the official Jabesblog predictions for the 2011 NFL season (keeping in mind I had 7 of 12 playoff teams correct in 2010, 2 championship game reps, and 0 Super Bowl teams).  I just do it for fun people.

1.  New England Patriots
2.  New York Jets
3.  Miami Dolphins
4.  Buffalo Bills

AFC North
1.  Pittsburgh Steelers
2.  Baltimore Ravens
3.  Cleveland Browns
4.  Cincinnati Bengals

AFC South
1.  Houston Texans
2.  Indianapolis Colts
3.  Tennessee Titans
4.  Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West
1.  San Diego Chargers
2.  Kansas City Chiefs
3.  Oakland Raiders
4.  Denver Broncos

NFC East
1.  Dallas Cowboys
2.  Philadelphia Eagles
3.  New York Giants
4.  Washington Redskins

NFC North
1.  Green Bay Packers
2.  Detroit Lions
3.  Chicago Bears
4.  Minnesota Vikings

NFC South
1.  Atlanta Falcons
2.  New Orleans Saints
3.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4.  Carolina Panthers

NFC West
1.  St. Louis Rams
2.  Arizona Cardinals
3.  San Francisco 49ers
4.  Seattle Seahawks

AFC Wildcard
Baltimore Ravens over San Diego Chargers
New York Jets over Houston Texans

NFC Wildcard
Philadelphia Eagles over St. Louis Rams
Dallas Cowboys over New Orleans Saints

AFC Divisional Playoff
New England Patriots over Baltimore Ravens
New York Jets over Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC Divisional Playoff
Atlanta Falcons over Dallas Cowboys
Green Bay Packers over Philadelphia Eagles

AFC Championship Game
New England Patriots over New York Jets

NFC Championship Game
Green Bay Packers over Atlanta Falcons

Super Bowl
New England Patriots over Green Bay Packers

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

College Football Rewind - Week 1

The 2011 Opening Weekend in College Football is now history.  While there were few surprises, it did not take long for some interesting developments to occur.  It also did not take long for my predictions to take a hit, mainly due to an unwarranted change in my opinion on the Oregon/LSU game (more on this later).  Here is a conference-by-conference look at the week that was in "Amatuer" Football.

ACC (8-4 for the week, 7-3 non-conference, 0-2 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Georgia Tech.  The offense racked up 662 yards of total offense, including 365 through the air.  It was only Western Carolina, but if the offense plays like this, Georgia Tech will be a bowl-eligible team in 2011.

Unpleasant Surprise:  Duke.  I thought Duke might have enough offensive firepower to improve this year.  A loss to Richmond says otherwise.

Unpleasant Surpirse II:  Maryland's uniforms.  If you haven't seen them you need to.  In a you have to see them they are so awful sort of way.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  Florida State, Virginia Tech and Maryland all looked strong.  Notre Dame's loss moves Virginia Tech on the cusp of a BCS berth.  Georgia Tech or Virginia could grab another bowl spot for the ACC, but a rugged conference schedule awaits for each.

My record:  10-1 (missed Richmond over Duke)
This Week:  Florida State over Charleston Southern, Virginia Tech over East Carolina, Clemson over Wofford, North Carolina State over Wake Forest, Georgia Tech over Middle Tennessee, North Carolina over Rutgers, Virginia over Indiana, Stanford over Duke, Central Florida over Boston College (Maryland and Miami are idle)

Big East (8-0 for the week, 8-0 non-conference, 1-0 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  South Florida.  Going to South Bend and returning victorious is a major accomplishment for this program.  It is also a victory that can provide enough confidence to win a Big East title. 

Unpleasant Surprise:  Syracuse.  A win is a win, or at least that is what the Orange should be telling themselves.  A home overtime win over an ACC cellar-dwellar is hardly a quality win.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  More impressive play could lead South Florida to leadfrog Pittsburgh or even West Virginia.  Syracuse is now treading on thin ice and Cincinnati looks better than advertised, although I want to see them play someone other than Austin Peay before I rush to judgement.
My Record:  7-1 (missed South Florida over Notre Dame)
This Week:  West Virginia over Norfolk State, Pittsburgh over Maine, South Florida over Ball State, Syracuse over Rhode Island, Connecticut over Vanderbilt, Louisville over Florida International, Tennessee over Cincinnati, North Carolina over Rutgers

Big 12 (10-0 for the week, 10-0 non-conference, 0-0 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Baylor.  The Baylor offense put up 50 points on a TCU defense that usually gives up 50 over 5 games.  The Bears almost blew it in the end, but this was a huge victory for a team many thought would be home for the bowl season.

Unpleasant Surprise:  Iowa State.  The Cyclones squeaked out a 20-19 win over in-state foe Northern Iowa.  That is correct, I did say Northern.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  Oklahoma State will have to be better on defense and turn the ball over less to reach my predicted heights.  Baylor was impressive, but remains behind Texas in my Big 12 pecking order.

My Record:  9-1 (missed Baylor over TCU)
This Week:  Oklahoma State over Arizona, Missouri over Arizona State (sticking with this despite Missouri injuries), Iowa over Iowa State, Texas over BYU, Northern Illinois over Kansas

Big Ten (10-2 for the week, 10-2 non-conference, 1-1 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Michigan.  More specifically, the Michigan defense.  If the Wolverines are to return to prominence, the defense will need to continue what it started in 2011.  The pass rush looked great, which can make up for holes elsewhere.

Unpleasant Surprise:  Indiana.  The Kevin Wilson era got off to a rocky start.  Losing to a middle-of-the-road MAC Team in Ball State is not a good omen for Big Ten competition.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  Wisconsin looked solid, as did contenders Nebraska and Ohio State.  This is a deep league and will be won by the team who does not trip up against the perceived middle teams in the conference.

My Record:  11-1 (missed Ball State over Indiana)
This Week:  Iowa over Iowa State, Michigan State over Florida Atlantic, Ohio State over Toledo, Wisconsin over Oregon State, Illinois over South Dakota State, Northwestern over Eastern Illinois, Minnesota over New Mexico State, Alabama over Penn State, Purdue over Rice, Virginia over Indiana, Nebraska over Fresno State, Notre Dame over Michigan

PAC-12 (8-4 for the week, 8-4 non-conference, 1-1 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Washington State.  Anytime the Cougars put up 64 points, regardless of the competition, it's a surprise.  In a down week for the conference, Washington State was one of the few bright spots.

Unpleasant Surprise:  The Conference.  Oregon State would be an easy target, but the entire conference struggled in the first week.  In addition to the 4 losses, USC had to hang on for dear life against Minnesota and Washington was fortunate to beat FCS member Eastern Washington.  Once again, the SEC's best made the PAC-12's best look inferior.  This is no East Coast Bias.  This is all fact.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  I will stick with Oregon over Stanford for the conference crown at this point, but the blueprint for beating the Ducks may be out there now.

My Record:  10-2 (missed Sacramento State over Oregon State and LSU over Oregon)
This Week:  Oklahoma State over Arizona, Missouri over Arizona State, Wisconsin over Oregon State, California over Colorado, Stanford over Duke, Washington over Hawaii, Oregon over Nevada, Washington State over UNLV, USC over Utah, UCLA over San Jose State

SEC (10-2 for the week, 10-2 non-conference, 1-0 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  LSU.  I admit I was tricked.  Bamboozled.  The suspension of Jordan Jefferson should have made no difference.  He was the reason I already thought LSU would trip up twice in conference.  I knew that the LSU defense would dominate a new Oregon O-Line.  Yet I changed my stance on this game because of Jordan Jefferson.  Irregardless, LSU looked like a National Title contender for one game.  I still wonder whether there will be enough offense all season long.  We shall see....

Unpleasant Surprise:  Auburn.  I am one who thinks Auburn is in for a long season.  I did not think they would need Utah State to gift-wrap them a victory.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  I did hedge by keeping LSU in a BCS Bowl.  Kentucky was unimpressive and may not be a bowl team this year.

My Record:  11-1 (missed LSU over Oregon)
This Week:  Kentucky over Central Michigan, Alabama over Penn State, Tennessee over Cincinnati, Mississippi over Southern Illinois, Arkansas over New Mexico, Florida over UAB, Connecticut over Vanderbilt, LSU over Nortwestern State, Mississippi State over Auburn, South Carolina over Georgia

Conference USA (5-6 this week, 5-6 non-conference, 1-6 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Southern Mississippi.  Finding a way to win over a comparable WAC team was big.

Unpleasant Surprise:  SMU.  I did not expect the Mustangs to beat Texas A&M, but a 46-14 trouncing does not instill confidence in my pick for C-USA Champion.  I hope to find out that the Aggies are that good and that SMU just had a bad game.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  Houston and Central Florida could overtake SMU with more performances like week 1.

My Record:  11-0
This Week:  Virginia Tech over East Carolina, Purdue over Rice, Southern Mississippi over Marshall, Tulsa over Tulane, Florida over UAB, Houston over North Texas, Arkansas State over Memphis, SMU over UTEP, Central Florida over Boston College

Mountain West (5-3 for the week, 4-2 non-conference, 1-2 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Boise State.  Once again Boise State took care of the ranked, tradition-rich BCS school.  They will now be favored from here on out.

Unpleasant Surprise:  TCU.  More specifically, the vaunted TCU defense.  Breaking in a new QB, you would think 48 points would be enough.  If the TCU defense struggles like this there will be games where the offense won't be able to pull this off.

Bowl Changes:  I am picking Air Force over TCU this week, so that would mean I have Air Force moving to the Las Vegas Bowl and TCU moving back to the Independence Bowl.

My Record:  6-1 (missed Baylor over TCU)
This Week:  San Diego State over Army, Colorado State over Northern Colorado, Washington State over UNLV, Wyoming over Texas State, Arkansas over New Mexico, Air Force over TCU

MAC (8-5 for the week, 8-5 non-conference, 1-5 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Ball State.  A victory over a Big Ten school is huge for a MAC Team.  Even better to be a team in-state that you recruit against.  Honorable mention to Bowling Green for an impressive road win.

Unpleasant Surprise:  Western Michigan.  I thought Western would give Michigan more troubles.  It is hard to say with the weather complications if this was a true representation.  The game really turned on one play, so the Broncos may be fine.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none. 

My Record:  11-2 (missed Bowling Green over Idaho and Ball State over Indiana)
This Week:  Kentucky over Central Michigan, Ohio State over Toledo, Eastern Michigan over Alabama State, Temple over Akron, Buffalo over Stony Brook, South Florida over Ball State, Bowling Green over Morgan State, Ohio over Gardener Webb, Northern Illinois over Kansas, Kent State over Louisiana-Lafayette, Western Michigan over Nicholls State

WAC (1-6 for the week, 1-6 non-conference, 1-3 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Hawaii.  The only WAC team to win this week.  Period.  Utah State was an execution away from this list.

Unpleasant Surprise:  Idaho.  Getting wacked at home by Bowling Green will do nothing for your bowl chances or the outlook for this conference.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.  I had Louisiana Tech and Fresno State losing this week, so the league remains at 4 bids.

My Record:  6-1 (missed Bowling Green over Idaho)
This week:  Minnesota over New Mexico State, Washington over Hawaii, Oregon over Nevada, Idaho over North Dakota, Nebraska over Fresno State, Louisiana Tech over Central Arkansas, Utah State over Weber State, UCLA over San Jose State

Sun Belt (1-8 for the week, 0-7 non-conf, 0-7 BCS non-conf)

Pleasant Surprise:  Florida International.  Again, the only Sun Belt team to win and it was over another Sun Belt team.  Kudos for taking on the BCS leagues, but thumbs down for losing them all (although Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky held their own).

Unpleasant Surprise:  Louisian-Monroe.  My sleeper team in the Sun Belt could not get on the scoreboard against Florida State.

Bowl Changes:  Currently none.

My Record:  8-0
This Week:  Louisville over Florida International, Michigan State over Florida Atlantic, Navy over Western Kentucky, Houston over North Texas, Arkansas State over Memphis, Kent State over Louisiana Lafayette, Georgia Tech over Middle Tennessee, Louisiana Monroe over Grambling State

Independents (2-2 for the week, 1-1 BCS)

Pleasant Surprise:  Navy.  The Midshipmen were the most impressive Independent of the week.

Unpleasant Surprise:  Notre Dame.  I bought into the Notre Dame kool-aid.  They better get it together, because I do not even like that kool-aid.

Bowl Changes:  The more I look at, the Army vs Temple game might be for a bowl bid.  I will stick with Army for now.

My Record:  3-1
This Week:  San Diego State over Army, Navy over Western Kentucky, Texas over BYU, Notre Dame over Michigan

Thursday, September 1, 2011

2011 College Football Preview - Top 74 (Updated September 1, 2011)

Jabesblog will start its 2011 College Football Preview with a reveal of my Top 74 teams.  Why 74 you ask?  I am predicting that there will be 74 teams with bowl-eligible records.  With 70 spots available in bowls, 4 of these teams will be left out.  At the current time, one of these 74 teams is ineligible for a bowl in 2011 (USC).  A second team could be added to this equation pending the NCAA investigation of Ohio State.  I have left records out at this point and will reveal them in the Conference Previews.

  1. Florida State Seminoles
  2. Alabama Crimson Tide
  3. Boise State Broncos
  4. Oregon Ducks
  5. Oklahoma State Cowboys
  6. Virginia Tech Hokies
  7. Oklahoma Sooners
  8. Wisconsin Badgers
  9. Texas A&M Aggies
  10. Stanford Cardinal
  11. Nebraska Cornhuskers
  12. LSU Tigers
  13. Michigan State Spartans
  14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  15. South Carolina Gamecocks
  16. Missouri Tigers
  17. Mississippi State Bulldogs
  18. Georgia Bulldogs
  19. Ohio State Buckeyes
  20. Arkansas Razorbacks
  21. Maryland Terrapins
  22. USC Trojans
  23. Texas Longhorns
  24. West Virginia Mountaineers
  25. Florida Gators
  26. North Carolina State Wolfpack
  27. TCU Horned Frogs
  28. Iowa Hawkeyes
  29. BYU Cougars
  30. Pittsburgh Panthers
  31. Washington Huskies
  32. Illinois Fighting Illini
  33. South Florida Bulls
  34. Air Force Falcons
  35. Northwestern Wildcats
  36. Penn State Nittany Lions
  37. Clemson Tigers
  38. Arizona State Sun Devils
  39. Southern Methodist Mustangs
  40. Houston Cougars
  41. Michigan Wolverines
  42. North Carolina Tar Heels
  43. Northern Illinois Huskies
  44. Miami Hurricanes
  45. Syracuse Orange
  46. Nevada Wolfpack
  47. San Diego State Aztecs
  48. Tennessee Volunteers
  49. Utah Utes
  50. Central Florida Golden Knights
  51. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
  52. Hawaii Fighting Rainbows
  53. Toledo Rockets
  54. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
  55. Connecticut Huskies
  56. Navy Midshipmen
  57. Baylor Bears
  58. Texas Tech Red Raiders
  59. California Golden Bears
  60. Kentucky Wildcats
  61. Miami (Oh) Redhawks
  62. Army Black Knights
  63. Fresno State Bulldogs
  64. East Carolina Pirates
  65. Western Michigan Broncos
  66. Florida International Golden Panthers
  67. UAB Blazers
  68. Troy Trojans
  69. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
  70. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks
  71. Arkansas State Redwolves
  72. Colorado State Rams
  73. Ohio Bobcats
  74. Temple Owls

Other Conference Projected Standings and Bowls

Conference USA East Projected Standings
Central Florida, 6-2, 9-4 (Armed Forces Bowl)
Southern Mississippi, 5-3, 8-4 (New Orleans Bowl)
East Carolina 5-3, 6-6 (Ticket City Bowl)
UAB, 4-4, 6-6
Marshall, 4-4, 5-7
Memphis, 0-8, 1-11

Conference USA West Projected Standings
SMU, 7-1, 10-3 (Liberty Bowl)
Houston, 6-2, 10-2 (Hawaii Bowl)
Tulsa, 6-2, 7-5 (Beef O'Brady's Bowl)
Rice, 2-6, 2-10
Tulane, 2-6, 3-10
UTEP, 1-7, 3-9

Conference USA Championship Game:  SMU over Central Florida

Mountain West Projected Standings
Boise State, 7-0, 12-0 (Fiesta Bowl)
TCU, 5-2, 9-3 (Las Vegas Bowl)
Air Force, 5-2, 9-3 (Independence Bowl)
San Diego State, 5-2, 8-4 (Poinsettia Bowl)
Colorado State, 3-4, 6-6 (New Mexico Bowl)
Wyoming, 2-5, 5-7
New Mexico, 1-6, 3-9
UNLV, 0-7, 1-11

MAC East Projected Standings
Miami, 7-1, 8-5 (Humanitarian Bowl)
Ohio, 6-2, 7-5
Temple, 5-3, 6-6
Kent State, 3-5, 5-7
Bowling Green, 3-5, 4-8
Buffalo, 1-7, 2-10
Akron, 1-7, 2-10

MAC West Projected Standings
Toledo, 7-1, 9-4 (GoDaddy.Com Bowl)
Northern Illinois, 7-1, 10-2 (Little Caesars Bowl)
Western Michigan, 6-2, 8-4 (Military Bowl)
Central Michigan, 3-5, 4-8
Ball State, 2-6, 2-10
Eastern Michigan, 1-7, 3-9

MAC Championship Game:  Toledo over Miami

WAC Projected Standings
Nevada, 7-0, 9-3 (Poinsettia Bowl)
Hawaii, 5-2, 9-4 (Hawaii Bowl)
Fresno State, 5-2, 7-6 (Humanitarian Bowl)
Lousiana Tech, 5-2, 6-6 (New Mexico Bowl)
Idaho, 2-5, 4-8
Utah State, 2-5, 4-8
San Jose State, 1-6, 1-11
New Mexico State, 1-6, 1-11

Sun Belt Projected Standings
Florida International, 6-2, 7-5 (New Orleans Bowl)
Troy, 6-2, 6-6 ( Bowl)
Louisiana-Monroe, 6-2, 7-5 (Beef O'Bradys Bowl)
Arkansas State, 5-3, 7-5 (BBVA Compass Bowl)
Western Kentucky, 4-4, 5-7
Middle Tennessee, 3-5, 4-8
North Texas, 3-5, 3-9
Louisiana Lafayette, 2-6, 3-9
Florida Atlantic, 1-7, 1-11

Notre Dame, 10-2 (Sugar Bowl)
BYU, 9-3 (Armed Forces Bowl)
Navy, 7-5 (Military Bowl)
Army, 7-5 (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl)

SEC Preview

SEC East Projected Standings
South Carolina, 6-2, 10-3
Georgia, 6-2, 9-3
Florida, 5-3, 8-4
Tennessee, 2-6, 6-6
Kentucky, 2-6, 6-6
Vanderbilt, 1-7, 2-10

SEC West Projected Standings
Alabama, 7-1, 12-1
LSU, 6-2, 9-3
Mississippi State, 5-3, 9-3
Arkansas, 5-3, 8-4
Auburn, 2-6, 5-7
Mississippi, 1-7, 3-9

SEC Championship Game
Alabama over South Carolina

Team most likely to exceed my expectations:  Auburn.  Some people feel Auburn will re-load, but the depth of this conference doesn't necessarily allow that when you suffer the personnel losses the Tigers did.  I could be wrong, but I have the Tigers home for the Bowl Season.

Team most likely to play below my expectation:  Mississippi State.  I honestly feel like Mississippi State can challenge for the SEC West title if a few things materialize, mainly consistent QB and LB play.  Or they could just be in that next tier where everyone else has them.

SEC Player of the Year
Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina

Games to Watch
September 3 - Oregon vs LSU
September 3 - Boise State vs Georgia
September 10 - South Carolina at Georgia
September 10 - Alabama at Penn State
September 24 - LSU at West Virginia
October 1 - Arkansas at Texas A&M
October 1 - Alabama at Florida
November 5 - LSU at Alabama
November 12 - Alabama at Mississippi State
November 12 - Florida at South Carolina
November 25 - Arkansas at LSU
November 26 - Florida State at Florida

Upset Alert
October 8 - Mississippi State at UAB

Bowl Destinations
National Championship:  Alabama
Sugar:  LSU
Capital One:  South Carolina
Cotton:  Mississippi State
Gator:  Georgia
Outback:  Florida
Chick Fil-A:  Arkansas
Music City:  Tennessee
Liberty:  Kentucky

Big Ten Preview (Updated September 1, 2011)

Big Ten Legends Projected Standings
Nebraska, 6-2, 10-3
Michigan State, 6-2, 10-2
Northwestern, 5-3, 8-4
Iowa, 4-4, 8-4
Michigan, 4-4, 7-5
Minnesota, 0-8, 3-9

Big Ten Leaders Projected Standings
Wisconsin, 6-2, 11-2
Illinois, 5-3, 8-4
Ohio State, 5-3, 9-3
Penn State, 4-4, 7-5
Purdue, 2-6, 5-7
Indiana, 1-7, 5-7

Big Ten Championship Game
Wisconsin over Nebraska

Big Ten Synopsis
(Time permitting)

Team most likely to exceed my expectations:  Ohio State.  My projected drop-off combines the result of having key players suspended and breaking in a new quarterback.  There is enough talent to make me look very wrong.

Team most likely to play below my expectation:  Northwestern.  The Wildcats will not get 5 conference wins if Persa is not fully healthy or the defense plays like they did at the end of 2010.

Big Ten Player of the Year
Dan Persa, QB, Northwestern

Games to Watch
September 10 - Alabama at Penn State
September 17 - Ohio State at Miami
September 17 - Michigan State at Notre Dame
September 17 - Washington at Nebraska
October 1 - Nebraska at Wisconsin
October 1 - Michigan State at Ohio State
October 8 - Ohio State at Nebraska
October 15 - Ohio State at Illinois
October 22 - Wisconsin at Michigan State
October 29 - Wisconsin at Ohio State
October 29 - Michigan State at Nebraska
November 19 - Wisconsin at Illinois
November 26 - Michigan State at Northwestern

Upset Alert
September 3 - Western Michigan at Michigan
September 17 - Wisconsin at Northern Illinois

Bowl Destinations
Rose Bowl:  Wisconsin
Capitol One Bowl:  Nebraska
Outback Bowl:  Michigan State
Gator Bowl:  Ohio State
Insight Bowl:  Illinois
Meineke Car Care Bowl:  Penn State
Little Caesars Bowl:  Northwestern
Ticket City Bowl:  Iowa
Pinstripe Bowl:  Michigan

Big East Preview (updated September 1, 2011)

Big East Projected Standings
West Virginia, 6-1, 9-3
Pittsburgh, 6-1, 9-3
South Florida, 5-2, 9-3
Syracuse, 4-3, 8-4
Connecticut, 2-5, 7-5
Louisville, 2-5, 5-7
Cincinnati, 2-5, 5-7
Rutgers, 1-6, 3-9

Big East Synopsis
The battle for the Big East Title should be a 3-team race.  West Virginia is my pick to win the conference, with offensive guru Dana Holgorsen taking over as coach.  Holgorsen is blessed with QB Geno Smith who led the Big East in passing efficiency a year ago and tossed 24 TD's.  The Mountaineers must replace some defensive parts, but with Pittsburgh visiting Morgantown, the opportunity appears there for West Virginia to secure a BCS bid.

If West Virginia slips, Pittsburgh is in position to take advantage.  Despite a crazy off-season with the coaching change, the Panthers return 8 starters from a defense that ranked #8 nationally in 2010.  On offense Pittsburgh returns the most explosive player in the Big East in Ray Graham, who averaged over 6 yards per carry last year and now steps into more carries with Dion Lewis departing.  The main question for this team will be chemistry with a new coaching staff, but if the players buy-in it may be Pitt returning to the BCS.

South Florida has a legitimate shot at taking the next step toward a conference title, but the offense must be better if that is going to happen.  Quarterback B.J. Daniels is one of four returning starters on an offense that was 105th nationally in total yards a year ago.  They may get a boost from Colorado transfer Darrell Scott at RB and with 6 returning defenders on a defense ranked 17th nationally in 2010, the Bulls could find a way to steal the Big East in 2011.

Syracuse surprised a lot of people in 2010 and now must prove that they are not the Syracuse team of recent history.  The Orange are another team that struggled offensively at times last season, but with 8 returning starters and Antwon Bailey ready to step-in at RB, they should be improved on that side of the ball.  The key will be whether a defense that was #7 nationally in 2010 can replace 6 seniors starters.  The 'Cuse also must be better at home to ensure a 2nd consecutive bowl appearance.

Coming off a Big East title, Connecticut must replace their coach and one of the nation's best RB's in Jordan Todman.  The good news is that the defense returns 9 starters from a unit that was #35 nationally in scoring defense.  The bad news is the offense even with Todman was #96 overall and must also break-in a new quarterback.  The Huskies should ride their defense back to a bowl game, but another BCS berth is far-fetched in 2011.

Louisville made strides under Charlie Strong and won a bowl game in 2010.  Now they must overcome the loss of 8 starters on offense, including a new quarterback and tailback.  Strong is a defensive-minded coach and the Cardinals should once again be formidable on that side of the ball.  A major obstacle between Louisville and a bowl bid is the schedule, which includes non-conference trips to Kentucky and North Carolina and 4 out of 7 conference games on the road.

Cincinnati is tough to figure out.  The offense returns Zach Collaros at quarterback and a major weapon at WR in DJ Woods, but they turned the ball over way too often a year ago.  8 likely starters return on a defense that was last or near last in defense in the Big East a year ago.  That may not be a good thing.

Rutgers figures to improve but that may not translate into a bowl bid yet this year.  One player to watch will be freshman RB Savon Huggins who will be given every opportunity to burst on the scene in his 1st year.

Team most likely to exceed my expectations: Cincinnati.  If the turnover problem gets fixed and experience is what the defense needs, the Bearcats will likely end up in a bowl game.

Team most likely to play below my expectation:  Syracuse.  The Orange have not been a bowl staple in recent history, so two-in-a-row might be pushing it.

Big East Player of the Year
Ray Graham, RB, Pittsburgh

Games to Watch
September 3 - South Florida at Notre Dame
September 17 - West Virginia at Maryland
September 17 - Pittsburgh at Iowa
September 24 - LSU at West Virginia
September 24 - Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
September 29 - South Florida at Pittsburgh
October 21 - West Virginia at Syracuse
November 19 - Miami at South Florida
November 25 - Pittsburgh at West Virginia
December 1 - West Virginia at South Florida

Upset Alert
September 24 - Toledo at Syracuse

Bowl Destinations
Orange Bowl:  West Virginia
Champs Sports Bowl:  Pittsburgh
Belk Bowl:  South Florida
Pinstripe Bowl:  Syracuse
BBVA Compass Bowl:  Connecticut

Pac 12 Preview (Updated September 1, 2011)

PAC 12 North Projected Standings
Oregon, 8-1, 12-1
Stanford, 7-2, 10-2
Washington, 6-3, 8-4
California, 3-6, 6-6
Oregon State, 3-6, 4-8
Washington State, 1-8, 3-9

PAC 12 South Projected Standings
Arizona State, 7-2, 8-5
USC, 7-2, 9-3
Utah, 6-3, 7-5
Arizona, 3-6, 5-7
Colorado, 2-7, 3-10
UCLA, 2-7, 3-10

PAC 12 Championship Game
Oregon over Arizona State

PAC 12 Synopsis
(Time permitting)

Team most likely to exceed my expectations:  Oregon State.  The Beavers have experience on offense and could surprise if their defense exceeds expectation.

Team most likely to play below my expectation:  Washington.  Its possible replacing Jake Locker will be harder than I think.  Or maybe Steve Sarkisian isn't as good a coach as I think.

PAC 12 Player of the Year
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Games to Watch
September 3 - Oregon vs LSU
September 9 - Missouri at Arizona State
September 17 - Utah at BYU
September 17 - Washington at Nebraska
September 17 - Arizona State at Illinois
September 24 - USC at Arizona State
October 15 - Arizona State at Oregon
October 22 - USC at Notre Dame
October 29 - Stanford at USC
November 5 - Oregon at Washington
November 12 - Oregon at Stanford
November 12 - Washington at USC
November 26 - Notre Dame at Stanford

Bowl Destinations
Rose Bowl:  Oregon
Alamo Bowl:  Stanford
Holiday Bowl:  Arizona State
Sun Bowl:  Washington
Las Vegas Bowl:  Utah
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl:  California

ACC Preview (Updated September 1, 2011)

Update:  Due to the suspensions and cloud hanging over the Miami program, I have changed the projected standings and bowl predictions for the ACC.

ACC Atlantic Projected Standings
Florida State, 8-0, 13-0
Maryland, 6-2, 9-3
North Carolina State, 5-3, 9-3
Clemson, 4-4, 7-5
Boston College, 3-5, 4-8
Wake Forest, 0-8, 2-10

ACC Coastal Projected Standings
Virginia Tech, 8-0, 12-1
Miami, 4-4, 6-6
North Carolina, 4-4, 7-5
Duke, 2-6, 5-7
Georgia Tech, 2-6, 5-7
Virginia, 2-6, 4-8
ACC Championship Game
Florida State over Virginia Tech

ACC Synopsis
After a little down period, the ACC appears to be back with at least 5 strong teams in 2011 and 2 viable National Title Contenders.  Florida State leads the way in Jimbo Fisher's 2nd year.  The Seminoles are turning the quarterback reins over to EJ Manuel, who is 4-2 as a fill-in starter for the now departed Christian Ponder.  The 'Noles are loaded on defense and have some explosive offensive playmakers.  Oklahoma comes to Tallahassee on September 17th in a game with potential huge National Title implications.  I think FSU prevails and runs the table through the ACC, with a very manageable road schedule and Maryland, NC State and Miami all visiting Tallahassee.

The sleeper ACC and National Title contender is Virginia Tech.  Despite losing Tyrod Taylor and their top two running backs, Frank Beamer always finds adequate replacements.  David Wilson could explode onto the scene at RB this year.  While this might not be a vintage Hokie squad, the National Title consideration hinges from a favorable schedule unrivaled by any other team in 2011.  VA Tech has four very manageable non-conference games and then proceeds to play the four worst ACC teams on the road.  If the Hokies can win their home games vs Miami, Clemson, Boston College and North Carolina, they could set-up an undefeated showdown in the ACC Championship Game with Florida State.

I really like Maryland this year, despite a coaching change.  Randy Edsall was having success with lesser talent and now gets potentially the ACC's best QB in Danny O'Brien at his disposal.  The defense should take another step forward, which will make Maryland an ACC Title contender.  Two tough home games vs Miami and West Virginia start the schedule and will go along way toward determining the success of this season in College Park.

North Carolina State looks to ride a solid defense and manageable schedule into the title picture as well.  Mike Glennon replaces the departed Russell Wilson at QB and will need to play well to take NC State to the next level.

Miami is the enigma of the conference.  Always loaded with talent, the Hurricanes made way too many mistakes in 2010 with turnovers and penalties.  Al Golden arrives as coach and sorting out the QB position will be an on-going task in Miami as Jacory Harris gets one last chance to shine.  If the defense can improve against the run and Harris lives up to his former potential, the 'Canes could be the surprise team of the ACC.

Clemson and North Carolina appear to field solid squads that will earn bowl-eligibility, but will need a huge surprise to compete for the Conference Title.

If there is a team I am most likely to wrong on, its Boston College.  The Eagles could not score in 2010 and I don't see enough improvement to offset a brutal road schedule plus home games vs FSU and NC State.

Duke can pass the ball around the lot with almost anybody, but lacks talent on defense to make any noise.  Georgia Tech likely takes one more step back with all the offensive talent they have lost the last two years.  Virginia may be improved, but is still overmatched by the ACC elite.  Finally, Wake Forest is destined for another disappointing year at the bottom of the ACC.

Games to Watch
September 17 - Oklahoma at Florida State
September 17 - West Virginia at Maryland
September 17 - Ohio State at Miami
October 8 - Miami at Virginia Tech
October 22 - Maryland at Florida State
November 12 - Miami at Florida State
November 12 - Notre Dame at Maryland
November 26 - Maryland at North Carolina State

Upset Alert
September 10 - Virginia Tech at East Carolina

ACC Player of the Year
Danny O'Brien, QB, Maryland

Team Most Likely to Exceed (my) Expectations:  Miami.  The talent is always there if it can come together.
Team Most Likely to Fail to meet (my) Expectaions:  Florida State.  I have set the bar at the highest level for a team who hasn't been at that level for a longer time than you think.

Bowl Destinations
National Championship Game:  Florida State
Chick-fil-A Bowl:  Virginia Tech
Champs Sports Bowl:  Maryland
Hyundai Sun Bowl:  North Carolina State
Belk Bowl:  Clemson
Music City Bowl:  Miami
Independence Bowl:  North Carolina