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Season wrap-up…final facts, figures and frustrations

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I probably should have written this last Friday, Saturday or even Sunday.  I hope you will forgive the tardiness of this article as I have been letting the disappointment of the lost championship drain away.  It seems 2009 was just the season destined to see the University of Texas as the #2.  They lost the College World Series finals, the volleyball national championship and the BCS National Championship.  Second place in three sports speaks of a school’s great talent and diversity, but it really would have been nice to see them bring home at least one of those titles.

But I digress.

I just wanted to wrap up the season with a few things.  Some house cleaning items, if you will, along with some thoughts on the national championship game.  First off, if you haven’t seen them, these are the final rankings:

AP USA Today
#1 Alabama (60) #1 Alabama (58)
#2 Texas #2 Texas
#3 Florida #3 Florida
#4 Boise State #4 Boise State
#5 Ohio State #5 Ohio State
#6 TCU #6 TCU
#7 Iowa #7 Iowa
#8 Cincinnati #8 Penn State
#9 Penn State #9 Cincinnati
#10 Virginia Tech #10 Virginia Tech
#11 Oregon #11 Oregon
#12 BYU #12 BYU
#13 Georgia Tech #13 Georgia Tech
#14 Nebraska #14 Nebraska
#15 Pittsburgh #15 Pittsburgh
#16 Wisconsin #16 Wisconsin
#17 LSU #17 LSU
#18 Utah #18 Utah
#19 Miami (FL) #19 Miami (FL)
#20 Mississippi #20 USC
#21 Texas Tech #21 Mississippi
#22 USC #22 West Virginia
#23 Central Michigan #23 Texas Tech
#24 Clemson #24 Central Michigan
#25 West Virginia #25 Oklahoma State



No major differences between the two major human polls.  #1-#7 is the same.  Though I’m trying to figure out why they put TCU ahead of Iowa when Iowa actually won their BCS bowl.  Nebraska seems kind of low considering how they dismantled a ranked opponent.  I’d say the same for BYU.  And how on earth does the Coaches poll still have Oklahoma State ranked?  Did they see how they played against Mississippi?  It was pathetic.

Biggest Winner: Aside from the obvious answer of Alabama for winning the national championship and being a unanimous No. 1, I’d have to call it a toss-up between Boise State and Ohio State.  Boise State manged to finish with its second top-5 finish in school history and continue to build momentum for non-BCS conferences by making this the fourth time in the last six years that a non-BCS team has finished in the top-5.  And Ohio State made one of the bigger poll jumps, moving three spots to put an exclamation mark on a great bowl season for the Big 10 with a top-5 finish.

Biggest Loser: Navy.  They totally dominated a solid Missouri team and still didn’t break the top 25.  They were hosed after an impressive season with plenty of impressive wins.  I can’t believe the voters overlooked Navy, especially when they managed to put Central Michigan in the top 25.  The Pac-10 is a very close second for biggest loser and is worth mentioning.  Oregon State, Stanford and Arizona fell out of the rankings in both polls after two of those three were absolutely throttled in their bowl games.

Here’s how the bowl season played out by conference:

Conference Schools Record Percentage
Independents Navy 1-0 1.000
MWC AF, BYU, TCU, Utah, Wyom 4-1 .800
Big East Cincy, Pitt, Rut, UConn, USF, WVU 4-2 .667
SEC Ala, Ark, Aub, Flor, Geor, Ky, LSU, Miss, SCar, Tenn 6-4 .600
Big 10 Iowa, MichSt, Minn, Nwstern, OSU, PSU, Wis 4-3 .571
Big 12 ISU, Mizzou, Neb, OU, OklaSt, Texas, TxA&M, TTech 4-4 .500
WAC Boise St, FresSt, Idaho, Nev 2-2 .500
Sun Belt MidTen, Troy 1-1 .500
ACC BC, Clem, FSU, GT, Miami, UNC, VT 3-4 .429
C-USA ECU, Hou, Marsh, SMU, SoMiss, UCF 2-4 .333
Pac-10 Ariz, Cal, Ore, OreSt, Stan, UCLA, USC 2-5 .286
MAC BGreen, CMich, NIU, Ohio, Tem 1-4 .200



Biggest Winner: Mountain West Conference.  Even though lots of conferences put on great performances, the MWC was the buzz of the bowl season.  Its only blemish was TCU’s close loss to Boise State…a very respectable loss to have on the record.  Meanwhile, Air Force, BYU, Utah and Wyoming all came up with huge bowl wins that left pundits asking if the MWC should be in the mix of conferences that receive an automatic bid.  I want to be on the record as saying that I’d have no problem with the MWC taking the ACC’s automatic bid, as the ACC fell to 2-10 in BCS bowls (second-worst is the Big 12, still way ahead at 7-10) and posted its third losing bowl season in a row.  They haven’t had a winning bowl season since 2005.  Time to stop treating that mess like a major conference.

Biggest Loser: Pac-10.  And it’s not even close.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  This time last year, the conversation was about the colossus that is the Pac-10 as they closed out an undefeated bowl season.  That seems a distant memory as the Pac-10 posted a 2-5 record, including humiliating losses by Oregon State and Arizona.  The conference’s only victories were USC (topping Boston College in a virtual home game at San Francisco) and UCLA (which beat Temple…not impressive).

Speaking of unimpressive, did anyone say anything about the picks Jon and I made for bowl games?  My record was completely pathetic.  Jon’s was only mildly pathetic.

On BCS Bowls:

Austin: 2-2

Jon: 1-3

Final for bowl season:

Jon: 10-14

Austin: 9-15

Final season total:

Jon: 220-76

Austin: 213-83

I think it’s clear who the big winner and the big loser is on this one.  Congratulations to Mr. Castano on a great season.  I very much look forward to next season and going out on a limb less with those Vanderbilt picks.

Lastly, I just have some thoughts on the national championship that I want to share.

1.  Those were two of the best defenses that I’ve seen square off in college football in recent memory.  I thought Alabama and Texas both deserve huge credit for what they did defensively.  And, since nobody is really talking about them in the wake of Alabama’s performance, I want to say that Sergio Kindle and Lamarr Houston were awesome and deserve just as much credit as anyone on Alabama that’s getting all the love right now.  The two Texas defensive linemen combined for 18 tackles (14 solo) and three sacks.  There’s no way those two didn’t improve their draft stock with how they played.

2.  Mark Ingram is an absolute beast.  Not that you didn’t already know that, I just want to give credit where it’s due.  After watching Greg McElroy this year and watching what happened when Ingram went out with cramps in the third quarter (Texas held Alabama to 3 yards of offense), I think it’s very easy to say this team wouldn’t be much without Ingram.  Even though I still think Toby Gerhart deserved the Heisman.

3.  The NCAA needs to take a serious look at how games are being officiated, especially in the SEC.  Alabama came into the championship having gone 34 quarters without having a holding call on their offensive line.  That is literally impossible.  I subscribe to the saying that there is a holding call on every play, it’s just a matter of whether you want to call it.  I think that’s true, and that means that SEC officials chose not to call the Tide for holding for eight and a half games.  That’s insane.  And if they played every game like they did against Texas, the idea that it’s just disciplined ball is a myth, because they held all over the place.  I’m not making excuses for the Longhorns…that’s just a fact.

It’s also a fact that there was a false start on Alabama’s first touchdown that the refs didn’t call.  Go back and watch it, and keep an eye on Terrence Cody.  He rocks before the play starts and they missed it.  The officiating in that game was suspect, as it seems to have been all season in Alabama games.  Again, not making excuses for the Longhorns.  These are just facts.

4.  The Texas coaching staff absolutely did not earn their pay in that game.  I know it’s never easy when your two-time Heisman-nominated QB goes down, but the coaching staff flat-out froze in that game.  They showed no faith in Garret Gilbert, running predictable running play after predictable running play, making it easy for Alabama to bunch the line of scrimmage and forcing Gilbert to throw on a third and 12 and a third and 15 in the first half.  Before D.J. Monroe broke a 28-yard run on an end around, Texas ran eight running plays, mostly up the middle, for a total of only 22 yards.  They gave Gilbert no chance in the first half.  But, what’s more, when you saw him on the sidelines he was all by himself.  Nobody coaching him up, encouraging him or even making him feel like he was so much as a part of the team.  They treated him like a pitcher working on a no-hitter in the 8th.

And that was just the most egregious of the mistakes by the coaching staff.  The shovel pass at the end of the first half was a bad call.  They rugby punted with Justin Tucker when they should have been punting it straight and they punted it straight with John Gold when they should have been rugby punting.  Their whole strategy was backwards.  I spent the entire night wondering what Texas could possibly be paying these guys huge sums of money for.  That performance was an embarrassment.

5.  Even with all the losses on defense and offense, Texas will be right back next year with Gilbert.  His 37.5 completion percentage, four interceptions and a fumble, and 73 QB rating is hardly exemplary.  But he showed resilience getting his team back into the game in a hopeless situation.  He fought and showed flashes of brilliance even as his wide receivers let him down repeatedly with numerous dropped passes, including ones on third downs and one in the end zone, all of which could have completely changed the complexion of the game.  Gilbert showed some guts that night, and I think Texas fans will be very happy with what he produces these next three years.

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Written by Austin Swafford

January 12, 2010 at 9:00 am

Fiesta Bowl leaves “what-ifs” in the air

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I really wish I could write more about this, but I only have a short time to write out a post. But I do have to take a minute to say that the Fiesta Bowl, while exciting as advertised and lower scoring than expected, still leaves so many what-ifs out there for me.

Boise State played much better than most expected, especially on the defensive side of the ball.  Even though they needed multiple TCU turnovers and a trick play on a fake punt just to win by seven, the Broncos pretty well dominated this game.  TCU was held well below their season averages in all offensive categories and Boise State is now one of two teams that will finish the season undefeated (along with whomever wins the national championship).

That’s a great finish for Boise State, but as badly as both teams played last night, I really can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Boise State had played Cincinnati and TCU had played Florida.  If we’d gotten the matchups that I dreamed about, would both teams have lost?  I’m not taking anything away from Boise State’s defensive performance, but TCU was flat-out miserable on offense last night.  Would BSU have stood up like that against Cincy?

It was the most exciting BCS Bowl we’ve had so far this year, but it still left me quite unsatisfied.  I wanted two undefeated teams from non-BCS conferences to have the chance to prove themselves against BCS opponents.  Now, after watching both of them play so poorly last night, I just wonder if the non-BCS conferences would have taken a massive step backwards had they played the teams they deserved to play.

Even with all the press the Mountain West Conference has generated this year by dominating the bowl season, you have to wonder if we wouldn’t be having a “wow, they really were overrated all along” discussion had Boise State and TCU been paired against the likes of Cincy, Florida, Iowa or Georgia Tech.  The only “what-if” that got answered last night was whether the undefeated team coming out of the Fiesta Bowl deserved a shot at a share of the national championship.  The answer is a certain and resounding “NO!”

Written by Austin Swafford

January 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm

News Of The Day: Texas, Florida Use Halloween Slaughters to Separate From Pack; Another BCS disaster on horizon

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They’re stories that Alabama, TCU, Cincinnati, Iowa, Boise State and maybe even Oregon fans won’t like, but ESPN.com’s Pat Forde and Mark Schlabach accurately point out that Texas’s rout of Oklahoma State and Florida’s dismantling of Georgia go a long way to setting the stage for the national championship everyone was expecting heading into the season.

Florida, Tebow Clear Another Hurdle

Bevo Primed For Rodeo Return

As a little bit of a side note, the BCS is headed for a huge potential controversy.  If you hadn’t noticed, there are six teams remaining that could very easily go undefeated.

Florida’s remaining opponents have a combined record of 14-20 with only one ranked team left on the schedule in South Carolina (and they probably won’t be ranked today after getting crushed by Tennessee yesterday).  Alabama still has a decent run to make with LSU and Auburn left on the schedule (with Mississippi State and Chattanooga in between), but if they’re able to make that run and pick up some credible wins, they’ll face Florida in the SEC championship.  One of them would have to emerge undefeated (again, barring an upset).

Texas has already virtually locked up the Big 12 South.  They would have to lose all of their remaining three conference games to lose their lead in the division.  That’s unlikely, with Central Florida, Baylor, Kansas and Texas A&M left on the schedule.  Then they go to the Big 12 championship to play the winner of the North (probably Kansas State or Nebraska).  There’s no reason why they should lose any of their remaining games.

TCU has been dominant, winning by an average of 24 points.  Their only real hurdle to perfection is No. 16 Utah, who they play at home.

The toughest game Cincinnati has left is their season closer at No. 15 Pittsburgh.  Before that, they have Connecticut, West Virginia and Illinois, all at home.  You know they’d love to have Tony Pike back, but the way Zach Collaros is filling in for him, I don’t know that they need him back any time soon.  In two starts, Collaros has 548 yards, seven TDs and 0 INTs, with QB ratings of 271 and 214.  UConn, West Virginia and Pittsburgh all have better defenses than the Syracuse and Louisville defenses Collaros posted those numbers on, but I still don’t see Cincy having any problem finishing the season undefeated.

Iowa still has a serious hurdle at Ohio State on Nov. 14.  Other than that, they have Northwestern and Minnesota (both 5-4) at home.  Iowa should finish undefeated.

And Boise State cleared its only hurdle on the first game of the season against Oregon.  And that was fortunate timing for the Broncos, because if they play now, I think Oregon smokes them.  Boise State should finish undefeated, but they are out of the championship mix because they take a strength of schedule hit every week, and they’re already way down at No. 80.

The BCS could be headed for yet another season of great controversy.  However, it should also be pointed out that this is not the first time this has happened.  We have had a number of undefeated teams that looked like they could win out late in the season before, only to have a number of them stumble against teams everyone thought they’d beat easily.  So, take this early concern with that in mind.  It will just be interesting to see, yet again, how the season plays out and what that means for the BCS debate.

Written by Austin Swafford

November 1, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Week 3 Polls

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Back at it again and this time I have headache after headache of wondering why voters insist on grading teams on how good they have been in the past.  It seems that people can be wowed by one good game or in some cases two good games against teams that were over rated themselves.

First off Florida (1) is coming off of a win, I won’t say it was solid or it was a nail biter.  It was just a win plain and simple.  They had all kinds of trouble with the Tennessee Volunteers who I am convinced will win this same matchup this time next year.  One reason I wouldn’t have called it a nailbiter is because even though Tennessee was making stops on defense it didn’t seem like it mattered because Tebow was able to move the ball little by little while on the other side of the ball the Vols were miserable on offense.   Also I would like to add that I think the Vols will win easily once they get their offense running on all cylinders. Florida was number 1 last week.  Texas (2) remains undefeated with a win at home against the Red Raiders of Texas Tech.  This win was great because it means that people can say that UT got the revenge it wanted against Tech.  Personally I think the win was enough, but I do not feel we subjected them to anything terrible.  McCoy played terrible and if it wasn’t for Nate Newton’s  son (Tre Newton) having a great game and the Longhorn rush defense playing stellar. We might have had a chance to lose because Taylor Potts had a pretty good game on the road even though he did get leveled courtesy of Sergio Kindle.  Texas was number 2 last week.  Alabama (3)  had a convincing win over North Texas to keep them perfect on the season.  I think this time around I will not bag on Bama as much as I usually do because they seem to be handling their no name opponents pretty easily.  We will see if they stumble down the line, because if they do then we all know that I will be on them in a second since they are in the ever hated by me SEC.  Alabama was number 4 last week.  Ole Miss (4) moved up one from last week to distinguish itself from Penn State, both of which were dead locked last week at 5.  Ole Miss moved up last week with a win over Southeastern Louisiana, although I think that isnt a win worth moving anywhere for.  I have to give props to Houston Nutt and Jevan Sneed thus far.  They have a lot of pressure to live up to being number 4 in the nation and with Bama, LSU and Tennessee still to come they have more than media pressure to fight against to keep that ranking or to get higher.  Ole Miss was number 5 last week.  Joe Pa and his Nittany Lions (5) stayed put this week on the polls even though they had a normal day at work against Temple beating them by pretty much their season victory margin average this year.  One thing that is going to be interesting for the games to come is that there are still 5 undefeated teams in the Big 10 with PSU being one of them.  The Lions will end up facing off against 3 of they others and 2 of those at home.  Penn State was number 5 last week.

California (6) is the big winner in my book this week even though they didn’t move the most in the polls.  The Golden Bears went on the road and beat down Minnesota.  If you watched that game then you got to see magic happen before your very own eyes.  Jahvid Best had a stellar day, even though it was his least productive all around performance of the season he did pull in 5 rushing TD’s on 26 attempts for 131 yards moving him up to 3rd in the nation for total rushing yards and making a serious claim to be a Heisman hopeful.  California was number 8 last week. LSU (7) is the most undeserving of the teams in the top 10 to be here.  I know I said I wouldn’t bag on the SEC and I wont.  I will just bag on LSU, they have 3 wins against unranked opponents and got close to losing one of them.  LSU will get theirs when the season moves along.  They go on the road to play Georgia, Bama and Ole Miss, and Play Florida at home.  If they manage to make it through that stretch 2-2 then I will gain some respect for them.  LSU was number 9 last week.  Boise State (8) seems to be the front runner for the BCS buster squad this year,  after BYU and Utah both ruined their chances.  They basically outlasted Fresno State with a 51-34 win on the road.  I attribute Fresno State’s loss to not getting their act together till later in the game and to never getting the long ball for Boise State under control.  Boise State should, however, feel a little vulnerable because Fresno State did put up 507 yards of offense against that supposed stout Bronco defense.  But a win is a win and BSU seems to have happy trails for the rest of the season in their matchups.  We will see if TCU or Houston don’t spoil their fun.  Boise State was number 10 last week.  Miami (9) is in the top 10 for the first time this year, if they continue playing the way they have then they might have a real chance at the national championship game with a couple ranked opponents under their belt so far they face their biggest test in Oklahoma next week.  If they beat them then I will not say another foul word towards them and the ACC might actually be looking like they are reborn yet again.  Miami was number 20 last week.  Oklahoma (10) has been steadily clawing its way back into the national championship race just like they do every year when they lose early.  I am still willing to bet that it will be derailed on Oct. 17th when they meet up with Texas.  The upcoming game against Miami should prove to be exciting either way.  Oklahoma was number 12 last week.

Virginia Tech (11) was rightfully only moved up 2 spots on the polls because pollsters must have watched the same game I did, that showed that last second heroics by Tyrod Taylor (a great QB btw) were not enough to mask the fact that Nebraska had the victory taken from their very own hands.  If Va Tech would have made it a little bit more of a convincing win then they probably would have gotten more love but hey I am just speaking from experience from the past.  Virginia Tech was number 13 last week.  USC (12) oh how the mighty have fallen, I wanted to not believe that you would lose to Washington this early in the season but alas you had to keep up with your tradition of playing horribly to an opponent which you obviously looked past.  Pete Carroll I hope that you have enough time to come back and try not to let Cal be another pitfall because they are much better than Washington on offense.  USC was number 3 last week.  Ohio State (13) and Terrelle Pryor must have kicked the pollsters dog or something because they cant catch a break.  A week after getting beat by a last minute drive at home against USC they totally go to town on Toledo. Granted Toledo has one of the nations worst pass defenses but OSU did shut them out and score 38 points on them.  I guess they should have scored 78 to make it look like they were on par with other great teams that would have played them.  Tough luck and lets hope next week is better for the buckeyes. Ohio State was number 11 last week.  Cincinnati (14) beat Oregon State at their home 28-18, not much to say about this win but it does strengthen the Bearcats argument to be where they are on the polls or even higher.  They are a high powered offense that has yet to meet its match we will see if they have bitten off more than they can chew when they come up against Fresno State who is for sure looking for blood after their loss at home last week.  Cincinnati was number 17 last week.  TCU (15) moved no where this week after beating down measly Texas State.  No one really cared if TCU won, sad to say but its true.  They atleast got a win while their conference mates were sent packing by other foes.  TCU was number 15 last week.

The final 10 I am not going to get too in-depth about them I will just list the order and mention highlights afterwards.

16. Oklahoma State (prev. 16)

17. Houston (prev. 21)

18. Florida State (prev. unranked)

19. BYU (prev. 7)

20. Kansas (prev. 22)

21. Georgia (prev. 23)

22. North Carolina (prev. 24)

23. Michigan (prev. 25)

24. Washington (prev. 24)

25. Nebraska (prev. 25)

Game to watch for this week will be rising star Houston against their biggest test in Texas Tech, if they can beat them then I would be willing to say that they are the front runner for being a BCS buster on the flip side if Tech wins it will give those pollsters an excuse to put the Red Raiders back into the Top 25.  Florida State is back on the Top 25 after making fools of the BYU Cougars at their home.  I feel really bad for Max Hall everytime he has a game like this and I hope the Cougars can bounce back to still make the race for the MWC title a interesting one.  I am happy that Nebraska didn’t fall out of the Top 25 because honestly they shouldn’t they are about 33 seconds away from being ranked 15 in the nation and I am glad they have another chance to show just how good they can be.  Washington is number 24 in the nation, I really dont know what to think about that.  Yes I have been telling people that Washington is under rated but now that they are ranked I dont know what to do with myself.  I guess we will see how they do from here.

Georgia Tech and Utah both fell out of the Top 25 this week.  Tough break Utes.

Time for the conference breakdown!

Teams in Top 25

Big 12  –  5

SEC  –  5

ACC  –  4

Big 10  –  3

Pac 10  –  3

MWC  –  2

Big East  –  1

Conference USA  –  1

WAC  –  1

Written by Jon Castano

September 22, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Week 3 Predictions Recap

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I just have to say up front that I did even worse with my predictions this week than I did last week.  I’m wondering if I’m really dumb or if I’m jinxing people with my picks.  I might have to choose something outlandish next week just to test.

1.  Texas And Florida Will Roll In Conference Rivalry Games

As Jon already pointed out, neither of these teams came anywhere close to beating the spread.  But, with the numerous upsets, this was the weekend that a lot of ranked teams limped away saying, “A win is a win.”  The biggest lead Florida ever held was 23-6 and Tim Tebow was less than spectacular through the air, throwing 14-of-19 for 115 yards, 0 TDs and one INT.  He did lead his team in rushing, though it was also unspectacular, going 24 carries for 76 yards and one TD.  His QB rating in the game was 114.

Speaking of unspectacular, Colt McCoy isn’t looking anything like a Heisman candidate right now.  He’s making the same kinds of bad plays and dumb passes that he made when he digressed during his sophomore season.  Against Texas Tech, he was 24-of-34 for 205 yards, one TD and two INTs.  His QB rating was a little better than Tebow’s (119), but Texas has to just be thrilled they escaped with a win.  They were outgained 414 to 340 even though they held Tech to -6 (yes, NEGATIVE) yards rushing.  That their front was able to so thoroughly dominate Tech was one of only two bright spots for Texas.  The other was Tre’ Newton who, with 20 carries for 88 yards and a TD, really looks like an every down back.  I’m sure the Longhorns are happy with a win, but they really have to be wondering today where they’d be if Tech hadn’t had 14 penalties for 104 yards and if they hadn’t gotten a touchdown off a very surprising onside kick by Tech early in the third quarter.

So, I was mostly wrong on this pick.  I was right that the top two didn’t get any clearer, though it wasn’t for the reason I expected, as neither team manhandled their opponents.  In the new polls Texas gained some ground on Florida, cutting their #1 lead from 87 point to 60.  I was wrong about Florida sending a message to Tennessee and forcing Lane Kiffin to shut up.  That’s truly the most disappointing part.  I was right about the Texas front seven causing Tech all kinds of problems, even though the secondary was just as bad as I thought they were.  And I was right that Texas wouldn’t match the four TD victory called for by Pat Forde.  So, I was 3-2 on this prediction.

2.  Oklahoma Will Struggle Against Tulsa

Wow, was I ever wrong about this one.  And I owe Landry Jones an apology.  Jones set a school record with six passing TDs as he led the Sooners to a 45-0 blowout of the Golden Hurricanes.  Jones has gotten better with each game and looks like he should be just fine playing against Miami in two weeks.  And speaking of those pesky Hurricanes…

3.  Miami (FL) Versus Georgia Tech Will Be A Thrilling Game That Will Enhance My Frustrations With The ACC

It wasn’t actually thrilling as Georgia Tech got dominated 33-17, but consider my frustrations with the ACC enhanced.  I knew that whoever won this game would get a lot more credit for it than they should have, and that was certainly borne out.  Miami has now defeated two ranked teams that probably shouldn’t have been ranked as high as they were when they played them, helping Miami jump from 20th to 9th in the polls.  They hurdled two other undefeated teams (TCU and Cincinnati) as well as USC and Oklahoma, whose only losses came in games where their QBs were out with injuries.

Combined that with Florida State jumping from unranked to 18th after routing BYU, putting three ACC teams in the top 20, I’ve already had about all I can take of ACC love.  And I stand by my prediction that neither Georgia Tech nor Miami will be ranked by the halfway point of the season.

4.  The Shootout Of The Week Will Be Nebraska At Virginia Tech

It wasn’t the offensive battle that I thought it would be, but it sure was a thriller.  VaTech made a last minute drive to score the game-winning TD and walk away with a 16-15 victory.  As it turns out, neither of these teams plays offense as well as we thought.  Nebraska bottled up the Hokies’ rushing attack, holding them to 86 yards and one TD.  And until the last drive, Tyrod Taylor was 10-for-24 for 100 yards passing.  He went 2-for-3 for 92 yards on that game-winning drive.

And Zac Lee was just dreadful.  11-for-30 for 136 yards, 0 TDs and two INTs.  The Cornhuskers never set foot in the end zone, settling for five field goals.  And the difference in the game was a drive in which Nebraska got down to the VaTech six yard line.  First and goal from the six.  Two false starts, two holding calls and a sack later, the Huskers had to punt the ball from the 37.  If you get to the six and can’t get a point out of it, you don’t deserve to win.  Which is why the Husckers are now 1-13 in their last 14 road games against ranked opponents.

5.  Big Weekend For The Mountain West Conference

You let me down, MWC.  You let me down bad.  They had a very real chance to go 7-2, but instead went 5-4.  BYU got destroyed at home by Florida State, dropping them from 7th to 19th in the polls.  Utah went to Oregon and lost at the inexplicably-difficult-to-play-in Autzen Stadium, dropping the BCS crasher favorite out of the top 25.  Wyoming got dominated by Colorado, who had looked completely incapable of winning in its first two games.  And even TCU only took a 28-14 halftime lead against Texas State before blowing them out in the second half.  UNLV, who defeated Hawaii 34-33, is the only team that really came through this weekend.  So much for the MWC being the best shot to crash the BCS.

Written by Austin Swafford

September 21, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Week 3 Predictions

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1.  Texas And Florida Will Roll In Conference Rivalry Games

The top two won’t get any clearer this weekend as the Longhorns and Gators will both manhandle respective conference rivals Texas Tech and Tennessee.  Florida has, of course, dominated its first two games against two teams (Charleston Southern and Troy) that strike fear into the hearts high schools all over the country.  They take on Tennessee with coach Lane Kiffin who talks more with less justification than anyone in the country save, perhaps, Kanye West.  The Vols are 1-1 on the young season with both games at home.  They bent Western Kentucky over their knee (big accomplishment) before losing to UCLA.  Tennessee held the Bruins to 186 yards of total offense and still lost because they had four turnovers and managed just 208 yards of offense themselves.  Think they’ll do better on the road against the defending national champs?  Yeah…me, neither.  Expect Urban Meyer to let his guys off the chain and send a message that, if there’s any justice in the world, will shut Kiffin up until next year.

And do you think Texas might have been looking past Wyoming just a little bit last week?  UT needed a 70-yard drive at the end of the second quarter just to take a 3-point lead to the half.  Do not expect such a slow start against the Red Raiders from Lubbock as the Longhorns seek revenge for Tech costing them a shot at the national championship last year.  Despite losing Tim “I-Deserve -Top-5-Money” Crabtree and Graham “Why-Don’t-Nobody-Love-Me” Harrell, Tech’s offense hasn’t skipped a beat.  Junior Taylor Potts is the leading passer in the country with 105 attempts for 861 yards and nine TDs through just two games.  Funny how people can come out of games against North Dakota and Rice with numbers like that.  Potts hasn’t faced a front with the likes of Sam Acho, Rod Muckelroy, Sergio Kindle and Lamarr Houston.  The Texas front seven will give Potts all he can handle.  Earlier this week, Pat Forde picked Texas to win by four touchdowns.  I don’t know if I like them that much, but it’ll be a big and pretty easy win.

2.  Oklahoma Will Struggle With Tulsa

I’m not saying Tulsa is near the same caliber as Oklahoma, but they are a better team than they showed when they got clubbed by the Sooners 62-21 at home two years ago.  The Sooners have won four straight against the Golden Hurricane (REALLY!?  Golden Hurricane is a mascot in Oklahoma?) and they’ll make it a fifth.  But, along the way, expect Tulsa to cause them all kinds of frustrations along the way.  Oklahoma is coming off an absolute beat down of Idaho State, but even in that game, replacement QB Landry Jones’s stats are not astonishing (18-for-32 is not the kind of percentage I’d expect, even though he got 286 yards on those 18 completions).  And Tulsa has a QB that can really play in G.J. Kinne.  He was a backup at Texas.  Then he decided to transfer and was at one point committed to Michigan before retracting and going to Tulsa.  Serious schools were interested in him, and after two games, I can see why.  He has a 67.3 completion percentage, five passing TDs with no interceptions and a 176.85 QB rating.

The main thing is that I’m not yet sold on Landry Jones, and I think he will struggle a little with a Tulsa defense that has composed itself pretty well in its first two games.  OU will win, but it’ll be tighter than most are expecting.

3.  Miami (FL) Versus Georgia Tech Will Be A Thrilling Game That Will Enhance My Frustrations With The ACC

The ACC isn’t bad.  The ACC is pathetic.  The conference is 2-9 in BCS Bowls.  That is an 18.2 win percentage.  No other conference is lower than 42.1.  The ACC has as many BCS Bowl wins in 11 games as Utah has in two.  This is a conference that deserves to lose its automatic BCS berth.  Despite that, bad teams keep playing good games against bad teams (like Miami-Florida State in week one), convincing voters that the ACC is pretty good, not that bad, or even returning to its former glory.  No.  It isn’t pretty good, it is that bad and it’s nowhere near the glory we thought it would all attain with Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College.

Georgia Tech is coming off a game in which they blew a 24-0 lead over Clemson, needing two 4th quarter field goals to limp away with the win.

Miami’s lone game so far was one in which they needed a stroke of luck to beat Florida State.  And Florida State almost lost to Jacksonville State.

These are bad teams in a bad conference, but this will be a thriller that will see one of the two beat a ranked opponent, so one of these awful teams will leapfrog better teams in the rankings.  Keep an eye on them because both will fall out of the top-25 by the season’s halfway point.  But that’s down the road.  For now I’ll just have to keep taking alkaseltzer and watching these JuCo teams play “football.”

4.  The Shootout Of The Week Will Be Nebraska At Virginia Tech

This will be a fun one for lovers of high-scoring games as we have two teams here that can play a lot of offense and not much defense.  The Cornhuskers are averaging 43.5 points on 492 yards after two games.  Yet, even after Nebraska crushed Florida Atlantic 49-3 in week one, ESPN’s stat of the game was, “358. Nebraska’s once vaunted defense allowed the Owls to rack up 358 yards of offense, including 236 in the air.”

Virginia Tech can play offense…maybe.  Alabama held them to 155 yards of offense in week one, but the Hokies still managed 24 points, thanks in part to a punt return for a TD.  In week two, VaTech went for 605 yards, including 444 on the ground.  Even against Marshall, 444 yards rushing is ridiculous.  However, we also can’t forget that Virginia Tech allowed 498 yards of offense to Alabama, which is not exactly known as an offensive powerhouse.

Now that we’ve established it’s gonna be a shootout, let me explain why Jon is going to regret picking the Huskers.  Since 2001, Nebraska is 39-13 at home and just 13-21 on the road.  Jon wanted me to take a look at who it is they’re playing on the road.  Fair enough.

Last year, Nebraska lost on the road to Texas Tech and Oklahoma.  Those teams are legit, so that’s a tough pull.  They defeated Iowa State (a 2-10 team) and Kansas State (a 5-7 team) for a 2-2 road record last year.

In 2007, Nebraska went 1-4 on the road.  They lost to Missouri, Texas and Kansas.  All ranked teams.  Again, tough pull.  However they also lost to Colorado (a 6-6 team).  They defeated Wake Forest, which finished 8-4.

It pretty much continues like that.  The point is, in the last seven years, Nebraska is 1-12 against ranked opponents on the road.  The lone ranked opponent they defeated was #24 Texas A&M in 2006.  Only one win over a ranked opponent on the road in seven years, and it wasn’t even a top-20 opponent.

Against teams with losing records on the road, Nebraska is 5-1.  Against teams with winning records, they’re 8-20.  You can look at that two ways.  One way is, “of course they have a bad road record.  They’ve played lots of hard games.”  I choose to look at it the other way – “They’ve had lots of chances to win big road games and keep failing.”

Nebraska also has a history of getting absolutely killed in road games where they really shouldn’t.  Lost 40-15 to 6-5 Kansas in 2005; lost 41-24 to 6-5 Missouri in the same year; lost 45-21 to 4-7 Kansas State in 2004.  Texas Tech was good in 2004, but not good enough to justify losing 70-10.

I think I’ve sufficiently made my point that Nebraska just is not a good road team.  Playing in hostile Lincoln is a great advantage, but they clearly lose just as much when they hit the road.  I don’t expect their trip to Blacksburg to be any different.

5.  Big Weekend For the Mountain West Conference

It’s not at all a stretch to say the MWC could go 7-2 this weekend, with one of those losses coming because two conference teams play each other (Air Force and New Mexico).  UNLV is the only serious underdog against Hawaii.  But, don’t underestimate how much of a neutralizing factor it can be for Hawaii to go on the road.  They have to cross four time zones to get to Vegas, and since 2001, Hawaii is just 17-19 on the road.  That includes some real stinkers they might have won, all things being equal.

Not only should they have a good weekend record-wise, but with Utah playing at Oregon, Wyoming playing at Colorado and BYU playing Florida State, the MWC has a great chance to pick up some credibility with wins over BCS teams.  They’re not great BCS teams, but beating any BCS team on the road is good for the smaller conferences.

Weekly Pick Honorable Mention – East Carolina…

I’ll spend at least a few seconds trying to figure out where exactly East Carolina is when they play North Carolina on Saturday.  I see North Carolina and South Carolina.  I see West Virginia.  Nope, no East Carolina.  Shouldn’t that be Eastern Carolina?

Speaking of which, I gave a serious look at this game.  I think North Carolina will win (just because ECU is not very good), but if they don’t win big, they could still fall out of the top 25.  They haven’t looked great, and they need a big win with Notre Dame and Missouri knocking at the doors of the top 25.

 

Written by Austin Swafford

September 17, 2009 at 6:44 pm