Wednesday, October 3, 2012

College Football 2012 - Week 5 Recap

Predominant thought:  Last week was separation week, as the PAC-12 is clearly dividing into two tiers.  Oregon, USC, and Stanford are currently joined by Oregon State, Arizona State, Washington and UCLA in the upper division.  Arizona's start has been tempered by a bad loss at Oregon and a home loss to Oregon State.  It looks like the 8th Bowl spot in the PAC-12 could come down to the November game between Arizona and Utah. 

National Title Contenders:  Oregon (5-0), Oregon State (3-0), USC (3-1).  The Ducks seem like the only realistic shot for the PAC-12, but the Beavers stay on the list as long as they stay undefeated.  USC will need to win out and likely have no undefeated BCS schools remaining at the end of the season.

Bowl Bubble Teams:  Utah (2-2), Arizona (3-2).  Recent losses have shown these two will struggle to stay with the big boys.  Utah needs to get to 4-5 in conference, Arizona to 3-6.

PAC-12 Reset:
1.  Oregon Ducks (BCS National Title Game)
2.  USC Trojans (Rose Bowl)
3.  Stanford Cardinal (Alamo Bowl)
4.  Oregon State Beavers (Las Vegas Bowl)
5.  Arizona State Sun Devils (Sun Bowl)
6.  UCLA Bruins (Holiday Bowl)
7.  Washington Huskies (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl)
8.  Arizona Wildcats (New Mexico Bowl)
9.  Utah Utes
10. California Golden Bears
11. Washington State Cougars
12. Colorado Buffaloes

Big 10
Predominant thought:  After one week**, no team eligible to play for the Big 10 Title has a win in the Leaders Division (**Purdue did not play a conference game yet).  What a mess this could turn into.  Purdue has a chance to gain the upperhand the next two weeks with home games against Michigan and Wisconsin.  A 2-0 start would almost certainly make them the favorites for Indianapolis.  In the Legends Division, Nebraska took a small step toward being the favorite, but the game at Ohio State could quickly drop them back this week.

National Title Contenders:  Northwestern Wildcats (5-0).  Like Oregon State, nobody believes Northwestern is an actual contender.  Until they lose they must be under consideration, especially with 3 non-conference wins over BCS conference schools. 

Bowl Bubble Teams:  Minnesota (4-1), Iowa (3-2).  The Gophers have a brutal schedule and need to either split 4 tough home games, or take one and win at Illinois or Wisconsin.  Iowa has Indiana left and hosts Penn State, which would leave them only needing to hold serve at Kinnick against Purdue or Nebraska.

Big 10 Reset:
1.  Ohio State Buckeyes (Probation Bowl)
2.  Nebraska Cornhuskers (Rose Bowl)
3.  Michigan State Spartans (Capital One Bowl)
4.  Michigan Wolverines (Outback Bowl)
5.  Purdue Boilermakers (Gator Bowl)
6.  Northwestern Wildcats (Texas Bowl)
7.  Wisconsin Badgers (Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl)
8.  Iowa Hawkeyes (TicketCity Bowl)
9.  Minnesota Golden Gophers (Little Caesars Bowl)
10. Penn State Nittany Lions
11. Illinois Fighting Illini
12. Indiana Hoosiers

Predominant thought: Is it really Alabama and then everyone else?  Georgia's defense, despite all the talent, has yet to play at a championship caliber.  The Dawgs may have the best offense in the SEC, but that may not be enough in the ultra-competitive SEC.  LSU's defense is showing a few kinks, but their offense is slowing down and turning the ball over, something they did not do a year ago.  Auburn tested them, but someone more talented will beat them, say Florida?  South Carolina is playing championship defense, but will they have enough firepower against the SEC elite?  Florida is improving and is becoming very dangerous, but they are not in the class of Alabama.

National Title Contenders:  Alabama (5-0), LSU (5-0), Mississippi State (4-0), Georgia (5-0), South Carolina (5-0), Florida (4-0).  Six undefeated teams remain and if only one non-SEC team ends the season undefeated, a one-loss SEC Champion would play of the Title.

Bowl Bubble Teams:  Missouri (3-2), Mississippi (3-2), Auburn (1-3), Vanderbilt (1-3), Arkansas (1-4).  For a while I thought the SEC could have 12 bowl-eligible teams, but it is looking like 9 is a possibility if any of the last 4 above can't beat a team of consequence.

SEC Reset:
1.  Georgia Bulldogs (BCS National Title Game)
2.  Alabama Crimson Tide (Sugar Bowl)
3.  LSU Tigers (Capital One Bowl)
4.  South Carolina Gamecocks (Cotton Bowl)
5.  Florida Gators (Outback Bowl)
6.  Mississippi State Bulldogs (Gator Bowl)
7.  Texas A&M Aggies (Chick Fil-A Bowl)
8.  Tennessee Volunteers (Music City Bowl)
9.  Missouri Tigers (Liberty Bowl)
10. Auburn Tigers
11. Vanderbilt Commodores
12. Ole Miss Rebels
13. Arkansas Razorbacks
14. Kentucky Wildcats

Big 12
Predominant thought:  If you missed the Baylor-West Virginia game on Saturday, you missed out.  133 points later and we know the Big 12 is going to be wild this year.  Even Texas and Oklahoma State combined for 77 points in a relatively tame game in Stillwater.  There is some defense being played in the Big 12.  TCU has been staunch and Texas Tech is playing defense at a record pace.  It remains to be seen whether West Virginia can outscore their way to the BCS, but I know it is going to be fun watching it.

National Title Contenders:  West Virginia (4-0), Texas (4-0),  Kansas State (4-0), TCU (4-0), Texas Tech (4-0).  The Red Raiders join Oregon State, Mississippi State and Northwestern as the unbeaten longshots, but they are here until they lose. 

Bowl Bubble Teams:  Texas Tech (4-0), Iowa State (3-1).  Strange to have the same team on both lists?  It will only be possible for one more week.  If Tech beats Oklahoma, they come off this list by proving they are for real.  If Tech loses to Oklahoma, they come off the contender list.  That simple.

Big 12 Reset:
1.  West Virginia Mountaineers (Fiesta Bowl)
2.  Texas Longhorns (Sugar Bowl)
3.  Kansas State Wildcats (Alamo Bowl)
4.  Oklahoma Sooners (Cotton Bowl)
5.  TCU Horned Frogs (Texas Bowl)
6.  Baylor Bears (Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl)
7.  Oklahoma State Cowboys (Holiday Bowl)
8.  Texas Tech Red Raiders (Pinstripe Bowl)
9.  Iowa State Cyclones
10. Kansas Jayhawks

Predominant thought:  The Big 10's struggles have been well-documented, but the ACC is in potentially worse shape.  My current projected standings have only 6 bowl eligible teams, down from 8 last week.  Georgia Tech is in a free-fall that must be halted fast.  Based on current play, I have Tech at 5-7.  Virginia does not look good either and plays resurgent Duke this week in a game I have deciding spot #6.  Wake Forest also appears headed for a losing record after showing a little promise.

National Title Contenders:  Florida State (5-0).  Right now, I have confidence that the Seminoles will go undefeated more than any team in the nation.  Of course, in my pre-season projections, this week was the loss, but NC State is not who we thought they were.

Bowl Bubble Teams:  Duke (4-1), Virginia (2-3), Georgia Tech (2-3), Wake Forest (3-2), Maryland (2-2).  These teams could all go either way as there is no consistency in the bunch. 

ACC Reset
1.  Florida State Seminoles (Orange Bowl)
2.  Clemson Tigers (Chick Fil-A Bowl)
3.  Miami Hurricanes (Russell Athletic Bowl)
4.  Virginia Tech Hokies (Sun Bowl)
5.  North Carolina State Wolfpack (Belk Bowl)
6.  North Carolina Tar Heels (Probation Bowl)
7.  Duke Blue Devils (Music City Bowl)
8.  Georgia Tech Yellowjackets
9.  Virginia Cavaliers
10. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
11. Maryland Terrapins
12. Boston College Eagles

Big East
Predominant thought:  Not much news here, except how can you root against a team lead by Munchie? 

National Title Contenders:  Rutgers Scarlett Knights (4-0), Louisville Cardinals (5-0), Cincinnati Bearcats (3-0).  While nobody will take these Big East teams seriously, how will the BCS treat one if they run the table?  Louisville would have the best shot from a national perspective.

Bowl Bubble Teams:  Pittsburgh (2-2), South Florida (2-3), Connecticut (3-2).  Pittsburgh is lucky to be on this list after their start and South Florida probably didn't imagine being here.  The Beef O'Brady's Bowl eagerly watches the progress of UConn.

Big East Reset:
1.  Rutgers Scarlett Knights (Orange Bowl)
2.  Louisville Cardinals (Russell Athletic Bowl)
3.  Cincinnati Bearcats (Belk Bowl)
4.  South Florida Bulls (BBVA Compass Bowl)
5.  Pittsburgh Panthers (Pinstripe Bowl)
6.  Connecticut Huskies
7.  Syracuse Orange
8.  Temple Owls

Other Conferences/Independents
Predominant thought:  The MAC had an excellent non-conference season by non-BCS standards, and is poised to place teams all over the Bowl landscape to fill those spots available if the SEC, ACC and C-USA do not meet their quotas.
National Title Contenders:  Notre Dame (4-0).  The Fighting Irish are team #20 on the list of Title Contenders and have earned their way here by dispatching the Big 10.

Bowl Bubble Teams:  Houston and SMU from C-USA, Kent State, Miami(OH), Bowling Green, Ball State, Central Michigan and Western Michigan from the MAC, Air Force, San Diego State and Wyoming from the Mountain West, and Troy and Arkansas State from the Sun Belt.

Other Conferences/Independents Reset:
1.  Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Fiesta Bowl)
2.  Ohio Bobcats (Little Caesars Bowl)
3.  Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl)
4.  Boise State Broncos (Las Vegas Bowl)
5.  BYU Cougars (Poinsettia Bowl)
6.  Nevada Wolfpack (Poinsettia Bowl)
7.  Utah State Aggies (Military Bowl**)
8.  Tulsa Golden Hurricane (Liberty Bowl)
9.  Northern Illinois Huskies ( Bowl)
10. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (New Orleans Bowl)

Other Projected Bowl Eligible Teams:
SMU Mustangs (Armed Forces Bowl)
Marshall Thundering Herd (New Orleans Bowl)
East Carolina Pirates (Beef O'Brady's Bowl)
Houston Cougars (Hawaii Bowl)
Western Michigan Broncos (Military Bowl**)
Toledo Rockets (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl)
Kent State Golden Flash (Independence Bowl**)
Miami (OH) Redhawks (TickeyCity Bowl**)
Central Michigan Chippewas (Beef O'Brady's Bowl**)
Fresno State Bulldogs (Hawaii Bowl)
San Diego State Aztecs (New Mexico Bowl)
Air Force Falcons (Armed Forces Bowl)
Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (BBVA Compass Bowl**)
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers ( Bowl)
Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (Independence Bowl**)
San Jose State Spartans (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl**)

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