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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.

Written by Austin Swafford

January 12, 2010 at 9:00 am

Week 17 Picks: Coming down the homestretch of the Couldn’t Matter Less Derby

with 14 comments

Okay, I guess it matters. We all enjoy the picks. I’m hoping to have some time to do some actual insight into the picks in the coming days. But, since we dropped the ball on today’s pick, Jon and I just decided to post our picks for some of the remaining big games.

The way in which our picks don’t matter is season standings.  My picks constantly let me down the last week as Jon turned his lead into a Nebraska-vs-Arizona-esque rout. 

Last week’s results:

Jon:  8-6

Austin:  5-9

To bring our season standings to an insurmountable lead of:

Jon:  210-62

Austin:  204-68

That recapped, here are our picks for the remaining big games:

 

Teams
Bowl
Austin Jon
#3 Cincinnati vs. #5 Florida Allstate Sugar Bowl Florida Florida
#4 TCU vs. #6 Boise State Tostitos Fiesta Bowl TCU TCU
#9 Georgia Tech vs. #10 Iowa FedEx Orange Bowl Iowa Georgia Tech
#1 Alabama vs. #2 Texas Citi BCS National Championship Texas Texas


Written by Austin Swafford

January 1, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Merry Christmas Bowl Picks – Where everyone hopes this week brings greater blessings than the last

with 10 comments

You could say that bowl season started inauspiciously for both of the humbled writers here at College Football Talk. Jon and I both fell flat on our faces witht he first week of bowl games, as you can see here:

Jon:  1-5

Austin:  2-4

Jon picked only the Maaco Las Vegas bowl correctly, taking No. 14 BYU over No. 18 Oregon State.   And I only selected the St. Petersburg Bowl Presented by Beef O’Brady’s (I HATE that bowl name) and San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl correctly.  I don’t know why I only seem to pick right on the bowls with the stupidly long names, but regardless, I did manage to pick up one game on Jon to bring our season totals to….

Jon:  102-56 202-56

Austin:  99-59 199-59

Jon and I are both feeling a lot of upsets, but we disagree on a lot of them.  Which means that at least one of us is going to look very stupid come New Year’s Day.  The picks for the remaining games of 2009…

 

Teams
Bowl
Austin Jon
Marshall vs. Ohio Little Caesars Bowl Ohio  Ohio
#17 Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina Meineke Car Care Bowl North Carolina  Pittsburgh
#24 USC vs. Boston College Emerald Bowl USC  USC
Kentucky vs. Clemson Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl Kentucky  Clemson
Texas A&M vs. Georgia AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl Texas A&M  Texas A&M
UCLA vs. Temple EagleBank Bowl UCLA  UCLA
#15 Miami (FL) vs. #25 Wisconsin Champs Sports Bowl Miami (FL)  Wisconsin
Bowling Green. vs. Idaho Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl Bowling Green  Idaho
#20 Arizona vs. #22 Nebraska Pacific Life Holiday      Bowl Nebraska  Nebraska
Houston vs. Air Force Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Houston  Houston
#21 Stanford vs. Oklahoma Brut Sun Bowl Stanford  Stanford
Navy vs. Missouri Texas Bowl Missouri  Missouri
Minnesota vs. Iowa State Insight Bowl Iowa State  Minnesota
#11 Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee Chick-fil-A bowl Virginia Tech  Virginia Tech


Written by Austin Swafford

December 25, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Posted in Picks of the Week

Week Championship Picks

with one comment

It’s that weekend where we get to learn who is going to BCS Bowls and who is not (except Ohio State…we’ve known that for a while).  This weekend we have conference championships (Big 12, SEC, ACC and Conference USA) and fortuitously scheduled head-to-head games that, while not literal conference championship games, do pit the conference’s top two teams together in virtual conference championships to decide who goes to a BCS Bowl (Pac-10 and Big East). 

And what it means for us (in addition to some really good football) is more chances to see who can pull away and win this year’s picks.   At best, I can merely cut into Jon’s lead a little this week, as he went straight chalk and I went with my gut on Rutgers over West Virginia.

Jon, of course, now has a three-pick lead over me:

Jon:  193-49

Austin:  190-52

Going into this week’s picks:

  Austin Jon
#1 Florida vs. #2 Alabama Florida Florida
#3 Texas vs. #22 Nebraska Texas Texas
#5 Cincinnati at #15 Pittsburgh Cincinnati Cincinnati
#6 Boise State vs. New Mexico St. Boise State Boise State
#7 Oregon vs. #16 Oregon St. Oregon Oregon
#10 Georgia Tech vs. Clemson Georgia Tech Georgia Tech
#18 USC vs. Arizona USC USC
#19 California at Washington California California
#21 Houston at East Carolina Houston Houston
#23 West Virginia at Rutgers Rutgers West Virginia


Written by Austin Swafford

December 3, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Week Thanksgiving Picks Recap: Where the ACC Ruins Me Again

with 9 comments

It was another bad weekend for me as Jon expanded his lead by one pick. Two games involving ACC teams did me in. This is how we fared this week:

Jon:  13-5

Austin:  12-6

To bring us to these records on the season:

Jon:  193-49

Austin:  190-52

How did it happen?  Well, it certainly wasn’t with the top 6 teams, which all remained undefeated despite a few close calls.  Florida didn’t have one against rival Florida State, whom they easily defeated 37-10, as demi-god Tim Tebow improved his chances of a Heisman with a 311 total yards and five TDs.  Florida State is going to have to do something and fast to keep calling this a rivalry.  Florida has won six straight by an average of almost 22 points per game.

Alabama and Texas struggled more with their in-state rivals.  The Crimson Tide needed all four quarters and a 14-point rally to top unranked Auburn, 26-21, as Mark Ingram‘s Heisman hopes took a hit with a 30 yard performance on 16 carries.  And although Texas never trailed Texas A&M after the first quarter, the Aggies hung around and gave the Longhorns fits all game before Texas pulled off the shootout victory behind Colt McCoy‘s 479 yards and five TDs.  Individual performances aside, the close wins for No. 2 and No. 3 gave Florida more points in the polls as they pulled first place votes from Texas and Alabama.  Though I would argue it’s not that impressive to pummel a team from the ACC, which looked woeful from top to bottom all weekend.  More on that tomorrow.

Numbers four through six didn’t scuffle quite as much with their opponents as TCU, Cincinnati and Boise State each won by double digits.  TCU creamed New Mexico State to virtually assure an automatic BCS invite.  Pike threw six touchdowns for Cincinnati as they cruised over Illinois.  The final 49-36 belies the blowout this really was, as the Bearcats had possessed a 22-point lead in the third quarter.  Boise State survived somewhat of a comeback attempt by Nevada, but I watched the game and trust me, the Broncos were in control the whole time.

The fun really started for the ACC with No. 7 Georgia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets, which are poised to win the ACC and get an invite to a BCS bowl, fell to a 6-5 unranked SEC team in Georgia.  A team that looked completely incapable of playing adequate defense held Ga Tech to 100 yards below their season rushing average, besting the Yellow Jackets at their own game by rumbling for 339 yards en route to a 30-24 upset.

Things looked good for me early with West Virginia topping No. 9 Pitt Friday night.  Pitt mounted a 10-point fourth quarter comeback, only to fall to a last-second field goal by unranked West Virginia.  It was a very disappointing loss for the Panthers, who will play Cincy for the Big East win and a BCS bowl next weekend.

While Pitt’s BCS hopes are still alive, Oklahoma State’s are most decidedly not.  Oklahoma shut out the Cowboys, holding them to 109 yards of total offense, including just four….yes, FOUR…in the second half.  Oklahoma State was looking for an at-large bid to the Fiesta Bowl, but that now appears out of reach and Boise State looks like it will nab that invite.  Those were the two picks I got right that Jon did not this weekend, but that was it for me.  I got the remaining three differing picks wrong.

No. 14 Virginia Tech crushed Virginia, and No. 15 LSU needed a last-second field goal and overtime to top Arkansas, but pulled out the victory to keep their Capital One Bowl hopes alive.

Okay.  This is where it fell apart for me.  South Florida humiliated me yet again as they were annihilated by No. 16 Miami, 31-10.  Every time they looked like they might have something going they found a way to kill it.  Pretty ugly game.  No. 18 Clemson (hey, aren’t they from the ACC?) fell to a 6-5, unranked SEC team, just like Georgia Tech did.  And, again, South Carolina won quite handily.  They went into the fourth quarter with a 24-7 lead and came away with a 34-17 victory.  And No. 21 Utah put up a heck of a show against No. 19 BYU.  They rallied from 14 down in the fourth quarter, only to fall in overtime, and seal my horrible week of predictions.

We can fly through the rest.  No. 20 USC crushed UCLA and, predictably, threw for a TD in the final minute to run up the score.  Years of this behavior is why I had no problem with Stanford doing what they did against the Trojans.  No. 21 Houston crushed Rice, 73-14.  And Jon and I both got the last two games wrong.  North Carolina State stunned No. 24 North Carolina, 28-27, as the Tarheels remain simply incapable of staying in the top 25.  Finally, in the game where Jon and I both agreed we should have gone with our guts on Mississippi State, which pretty well whipped No. 25 Ole Miss, 41-27.

Written by Austin Swafford

November 30, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Week Thanksgiving Picks

with 3 comments

Well, here we go again.  We’ve all seen it.  Jon and I can’t break away from each other.  We’ve had a two-game separation for weeks now.  This is where we are on the season:

Jon:  180-44

Austin:  178-46

So, here we go again with another chance to shake things up.  It’s a short week because of all the games on Thursday and Friday.  You might think I’m already groggy from turkey, but I stand by the four upsets I picked for the weekend.  Jon has one himself, going back to one of his favorites on the season with South Carolina.  Here we go:

Austin Jon
#1 Florida vs. Florida State Florida Florida
#2 Alabama at Auburn Alabama Alabama
#3 Texas at Texas A&M Texas Texas
#4 TCU vs. New Mexico TCU TCU
#5 Cincinnati vs. Illinois Cincinnati Cincinnati
#6 Boise State vs. Nevada Boise State Boise State
#7 Georgia Tech vs. Georgia Georgia Tech Georgia Tech
#9 Pittsburgh at West Virginia West Virginia Pittsburgh
#12 Oklahoma St. at Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma St.
#14 Virginia Tech at Virginia Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
#15 LSU vs. Arkansas LSU LSU
#17 Miami (FL) at South Florida South Florida Miami (FL)
#18 Clemson at South Carolina Clemson South Carolina
#19 BYU vs. #21 Utah Utah BYU
#20 USC vs. UCLA USC USC
#23 Houston vs. Rice Houston Houston
#24 North Carolina at N. Carolina St. North Carolina North Carolina
#25 Mississippi at Mississippi St. Mississippi Mississippi


Written by Austin Swafford

November 26, 2009 at 8:00 am

Posted in Picks of the Week

Week 12 Picks

with 3 comments

Jon and I just can’t seem to have an odd number of picks to differ on.  We only differ on two picks this week, making it a strong possibility we’ll split even on picks for the fourth week in a row.  On the other hand, I have the perfect number to catch up on the two-pick difference we have this season.  Or for Jon to open up a nearly insurmountable lead…

Jon:  162-42

Austin:  160-44

This week Jon has Northwestern over No. 16 Wisconsin and I have Ole Miss redeeming their season with an upset over No. 8 LSU.

Austin Jon
#1 Florida vs. Florida International Florida Florida
#2 Alabama vs. Chattanooga Alabama Alabama
#3 Texas vs. Kansas Texas Texas
#4 TCU at Wyoming TCU TCU
#6 Boise State at Utah St. Boise State Boise State
#8 LSU at Mississippi Mississippi LSU
#10 Ohio St. at Michigan Ohio St. Ohio St.
#11 Oregon at Arizona Oregon Oregon
#12 Oklahoma St. vs. Colorado Oklahoma St. Oklahoma St.
#13 Iowa vs. Minnesota Iowa Iowa
#14 Penn St. at Michigan St. Penn St. Penn St.
#15 Virgina Tech vs. N. Carolina St. Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
#16 Wisconsin at Northwestern Wisconsin Northwestern
#17 Stanford vs. #25 California Stanford Stanford
#19 Oregon St. at Washington St. Oregon St. Oregon St.
#20 Miami (FL) vs. Duke Miami (FL) Miami (FL)
#21 Utah vs. San Diego St. Utah Utah
#22 BYU vs. Air Force BYU BYU
#23 Clemson vs. Virginia Clemson Clemson
#24 Houston vs. Memphis Houston Houston


Written by Austin Swafford

November 19, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Posted in Picks of the Week