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

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