Tuesday, November 17, 2009

College Football Season thoughts

College Football season is hitting the stretch run, and I must admit I am most interested in the fact that there are 6 undefeated teams, and there might very well be at least 4, if not 5, of those still undefeated going into the Bowl Season.

Boise State and Cincinnati are big question marks. Cincinnati whooped up on a mediocre West Virginia team and still has to play @Pitt. I have trouble believing they will go to Pitt and win. Pitt wants a BCS bowl so bad they can taste it, and if they beat Cincinnati, they will basically be assured of it. If Cincinnati can pull that off, I think they may have a gripe with the National Championship committee, seeing as how Pitt has been one of the overrated golden children the media has inexplicably loved this season. How big a gripe Cincinnati would have is anyone's guess.

Boise State hasn't really played anybody other than Oregon, whom they beat in the first game of the season. Oregon looks primed to go to a major BCS bowl as the Pac-10 champ. I think the thing that really hurt Boise State's credibility was their prime time game on Friday, Nov. 6th with Louisiana Tech. This was one of the few times they had a national stage to make a statement. They won, barely, but did not look like a top ten team in doing so. They don't play any other good teams the rest of the season. I don't think they have a legitimate gripe with the BCS. They had a chance to shine and blew it.

Then there is TCU, which I think has the biggest right to a gripe if they go undefeated and win the BCS bowl. TCU has won a national championship before, though back in the 1930's. What I have seen of TCU (which isn't much except what I have read in stats or gleaned on Youtube and such) has impressed me. They played well again Air Force, BYU, and Clemson. And in TCU's defense, they put Clemson on the schedule back in the days when Clemson was perennially a pre-season top-10 team. BYU was in the top ten at one point this season. They also smacked Utah, a team that itself blew out the much ballyhooed Alabama last year in the BCS bowl. If TCU wins out, I think they have a right to gripe when they hand out the National Championship trophy.

Then there's Alabama/Florida. Which have been No. 1/No. 2 for a while now. I think, barring a surprise, will be undefeated when they face off in the SEC championship game. Assuming Bama can bring its Grade A Game to that match up, I like Alabama's chances against Florida. Florida's offense has been stifled for much of the season after the Tennessee game, as I predicted on this blog at the time, seeing as Tennessee developed a defense that can contain Tebow and the Spread Option offense. Alabama's strength is really on defense, and if they use that gameplan, I think they have as good a chance as anyone to knock off Florida. And remember when Florida and Alabama met last year in the SEC championship game, most people thought Florida would roll, and Alabama gave Florida all it could handle then. Alabama is better this year as a team, and Florida is worse this year as a team. I imagine Urban Meyer is starting to get a wee bit nervous about his chances against Alabama this year.

And then there is Texas that is also undefeated. They have had flashes of being a brilliant team, but its hard to gauge on their schedule. All things considered, I think their schedule is as weak as TCU's or Cincinnati's. The strength of their schedule is largely premised on their matchup with Oklahoma and Texas Tech, and Oklahoma and Texas Tech both largely being unimpressive. The Sooners have been an outright bust this year due to offensive injuries.

Looking at various predictions about the major bowl matchups, there are some intriguing ones. Last years BCS bowls were largely dreadful. Most people think that Georgia Tech (ACC champ) will likely play TCU (as a BCS at large). I think that is a very interesting match up, as Tech is a strong team this year. I will talk more about that in depth later if that match up does indeed come to fruition.

The Rose Bowl should pit the traditional Pac-1o and Big Ten champs together, likely Oregon and Ohio State, two under achieving teams that really had more potential. That will either be a good game, or a blow out.

I haven't seen anyone predict this yet, but if Florida loses to Alabama, I think a great matchup for the Fiesta Bowl would be Florida and Boise State. Boise State beat Oklahoma in a big bowl a year years ago in a thriller, and if they are still undefeated will be playing for blood. If they were to beat Florida, the national championship picture becomes a huge mess, as Florida will basically have gone wire to wire as No. 1 in the regular season (excluding the SEC championship). I actually am rooting for a mess after the season's dust settles because I hate the BCS system as is. I'd much prefer to go back to the old traditional bowl matchups.

Of course, the other junk game will be the winner of Pitt/Cincinnati against some other nondescript BCS at-large team, possibly LSU. I think that will be another sleeper.

And then of course, there is the National Championship Game, which will likely be Texas versus either Alabama or Florida. I think I will write up a scenario for both of those possibilities in a later entry. I think that could be a good game either way.

Then there are my "home teams" of Nebraska and Tennessee. Both have had flashes of brilliance and both have let me in total exasperation. Tennessee has played the big teams really well. They played Florida closer than anyone expected, and they should have beaten Alabama if not for a last minute blocked field goal, thump Georgia, but then they turn around and get embarrassed by the likes of Mississippi and UCLA. Predictions seem to have Tennessee going to an Outback like bowl, though I can't believe a 5 loss team would get anywhere near a New Year's Day bowl. I think its more likely to be a Chick-fil'A or worse bowl.

Nebraska beat Oklahoma in a thriller, and lost badly to a mediocre Texas Tech and to Iowa State in an ugly 8 (count 'em 8) turnover game, 4 of which were inside the Cyclone red zone. Nebraska has an outside shot at the Cotton Bowl, and if they hadn't of had the brain cramp about Iowa State, that might have been realistic. I think a return to the Holiday Bowl is more likely at this point, especially if they have to play Texas in the Big XII championship game. I think that loss will lose them the Cotton Bowl as well. People who are picking Nebraska for the Holiday seem to think it will be against Pac-10 No. 2 Stanford, which is scary, as Stanford has been on a tear the last month.

Such is my predictions from Lake Wobegon. More to follow at some point, I have no doubt.

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