Saturday, November 29, 2008
Week #14 - We need a playoff!
How about that Bedlam game tonight? Best game of the weekend - perhaps. They just wouldn't go away, those Pokes from Stillwater. Wow! Football at its best. Bedlam had it all this year. Pistol Pete would be proud. Sooners have posted 254 in the past 3 games! Four in a row with 60 or more. Wow...can anybody stop OU?
As an aside, the TRIBE are 6-0 on the hardwood in 2k8. After tonight's 48-44 win over Tulsa in South Padre. Up next, Clemson at home in the ACC/BIG-10 challenge. Oskee Wa Wa Illinois!
As for my new top-10, go figure - it's tight at the top, I could go any number of ways with my 1-4:
- Florida - is there a team playing better football over the past 6 weeks?
- Texas - I'm convinced, the best of the BIG-12 South.
- Oklahoma - good win in Stillwater. Body of work and head to head with Texas. 45-35.
- Alabama - undefeated I know. They'll lose next weekend to Florida - big! Counted.
- USC - beating Notre Dame used to mean something. Not anymore. Is Charlie done?
- Texas Tech - struggled with Baylor. The Bears are better. Enjoy the Cotton Bowl.
- Penn State - I was cheering for Oregon State. Lions will get whacked by USC in Rose.
- Utah - Most likely to the Sugar Bowl this year. But are they BCS worthy?
- Ohio State - With two losses, it could be BCS or Cap-1.
- Missouri - Nice win against KU today. Up next Texas in the BIG-12 Title game.
As for the BCS, the latest rankings have Oklahoma over Texas meaning they'll face Mizzou next Saturday night in Kansas City for the BIG-12 Title. Barring major upsets of biblical proportions, that means an Oklahoma / Florida Final in Miami - which is OK by me. I think Texas gets screwed in this entire deal as do a few other teams. It looks like Ohio State will get the BCS nod to face either Texas or Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Saban will most likely play Utah in the Sugar Bowl assuming they lose to Meyer in Atlanta. All of this is fuel for playoff fire in CFB DIV1-A. I mean come on already. It's time. Instead of some lame conference finals next Saturday, how about these proposed quarterfinal match-ups with the four winners moving on to the national semis:
- Bama hosting Penn State in Tuscaloosa.
- OU hosting Texas Tech in Norman for a rematch.
- Texas hosting Utah in Austin.
- Florida hosting USC in the SWAMP.
Of course, if you screw the BCS system and its computers altogether and go with my current top-10, the quarterfinals look so much juicier:
- Florida hosting Utah - yes, come on, you know you want this one.
- Texas hosting Penn State -this one also has interesting undertones.
- Oklahoma hosting TT - most likely another blowout for the Sooners, I know.
- Alabama hosting USC - in Tuscaloosa, makes up for OU / TT above.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
And how about Sammy Stroughter for the Beavs tonight? Are the BEAVS a team of destiny this year? Pretty amazing stuff in the desert tonight. He saved Kahut and early desert burial in Tucson with huge catches down the stretch. Wow, go BEAVS - beat Oregon. Next week's Civil War should be epic. The Road to the rose Bowl goes through Corvallis. And the Chief for one is cheering for a Beaver / Nittany Lion Rose-Bowl rematch. "It was just another game dealing with adversity. It's the Beaver way", Sammy Stroughter. OS now has 7 conference wins this year. They've never posted 8 PAC-10 wins in one season before.
How great is rivalry week in CFB? Nothing beats it, period. Where else will you get Tennessee over Vandy? Otherwise, the games were chalk. Next weekend should be spectacular. We need 14 weeks of Pick-Em. I'll work on that for 2009.
Speaking of Pick-Em, it was another awesome year for Ronler Pick-Em 2k8. Congratulations to the Amazing Kreskin (Mr. Chet Lee @99.8% nationally). Wow, and the trend continues of no repeat winners. Very impressive campaign in probably our most competitive year ever. Our top-20 was 90% or better. Our top-6 was 99% or better. Nice job everyone. Thanks again for playing. It wouldn't be the same without you.
Kudos to the Cougar Nation (16-13 over Washington today in the Crapple Cup). To the victor go the spoils, a rotten apple core. Yes John, your Cougars did it. To Washington, ugh - I'm not sure there's been a longer off-season in CFB history. But with the end of one season comes the hope of a new beginning next year. You can take that to the bank of your choice.
Chief on the Tribe - In case you didn't notice yet, it's basketball season so get with the program. From here on out until I say so we will no longer refer to that other sport by any other name than 'that other' sport, even if it pays most of the bills. Yes, the tribe are 4-0 on the young 2008/9 season after beating Jackson State (pre-season SWAC fave) handily today inside the Hall. We're also the only BCS conference basketball team to win a road game this year against another BCS conference (Vandy on Thursday night 69-63). Sure, we don't play stiffer competition until the ACC/BIG-10 challenge after Thanksgiving (Clemson this year), but 13-0 or 12-1 out of the blocks isn't out of the question. Of coure, league play will be bruising in the BIG-10. I'd take .500 ball in conference this year (9-9). And that would get our ticket punched to the BIG SHOW this year.
This year's club looks a lot different than the last few years. Gone are Pruitt and Randle, so we'll be rebuilding the front-line this year with Tisdale, Davis, and Semrau. In many ways we're like the Blazers looking to find that new chemistry with a lot of young talent. Frazier and Meachem need to lead the way as senior ball handlers. Davis and McCamey each have the potential to hang 25-30 points on you on any given night. I also like the JUCO transfer sensation Dominique Keller coming in off the bench with 17 big points tonight. And I still haven't mentioned Alex Legion yet. Wow! There's a lot to be thankful for this year if you're an Illini hoops fan. And of course we play defense since we're a Weber-coached BIG-10 team.
This could be a dangerious Illini edition come March and NCAA tourney time. I like our prospects this year as we look to improve on a disappointing 2007/8 campaign in Champaign. Free-throw shooting is up big this year over the past two years (10 for 13 tonight). Part of that is not having Pruitt and Randle on the stripe. And it was good to see us shoot 62% from the field at home tonight against a pretty swanky and talented JSU club without falling in love with the outside shot. We have more work to do as we build the resume and look to get better each time out, especially on defense. But as we prepare to head down to South Padre next week to win another early-season tourney we won in 2005, I like the chemistry of this year's club. Oskee Wa Wa B-ball Illini!
My New Top-10 (body of work):
- Oklahoma - I saw the beat down in Norman. Oklahoma is the best team in the country right now. Remember that Tech was #2 heading into this one. Boomer Sooner!
- Florida - Florida with the one home loss to the Right Revrend (Ole Miss). Otherwise, there just as good as #1. Gators are worthy. Just beat Bama.
- Alabama - Undefeated for now. Body of work not as impressive as once thought. Beat Florida and you play for the title. Otherwise, enjoy the Sugar Bowl and shut - up.
- Texas - I know you beat #1, but that was over a month ago on a neutral field in a close game. You also lost to #8. #1 didn't have the same problem. Good year. Enjoy your BCS berth.
- USC - May not be a better defense in the country. Offense is sputtering a bit. Win the next two and you'll go to the BCS yet again. Rose or Fiesta are in your future.
- Penn State - Congrats to JoePa on his first BIG-10 Title. Enjoy the Rose Bowl against either OS or USC. 800 wins for the Penn-State program. Wow!
- Utah - BCS bound no doubt. Great win today in teh Holy War.
- Texas Tech - Tough loss tonight. Take comfort in knowing nobody in the nation could have beaten OU tonight in Norman.
- Ohio State - 5th straight over Michigan today. BCS or Cap1 Bowl? Hmmm......
- Boise State - Good win today against Nevada. Body of work. No BCS for you!
What about bowl season and beyond, you might ask? Here's an interesting scenario developing out West. Right now it's hard to see the PAC-10 with more than 5 bowl-eligible teams even though they have 7 bowl alliances. ASU and UCLA are battling for the sixth spot, both needing to run the table over their next two games to join USC, Oregon State, Oregon, Arizona, and CAL. And it could get worse, since USC and OS are both in the picture right now for BCS bids. That likely means teams from other conferences, including non-BCS conferences, will probably snatch up a few extra bids this year. How about Hawaii vs. Buffalo in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl instead of ASU or UCLA? Not a good year, top to bottom, for the conference of champions.
And despite another down year in the BIG-10 (top to bottom not including Penn State / Ohio State), the conference has 7 bowl-eligible teams leaving Illinois, Purdue, Michigan, and Indiana on the outside looking in.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I'll spare you the details, but for the 6th time this year we snatched defeat from the grasp of victory. I think our offense, defense, and special teams had more to do with Ohio State's 30 points than the Buckeyes did. We dominated statistically only to lose on the scoreboard yet again. Our mistakes in just about every facet of the game also accounted for all of their scoring. Ugh! It's like Holtz and May said at halftime, we should have been leading 20-16 instead of trailing 23-13.
For the game, we outgained them 455 to 354, with 200 more passing yards. They did dominate the time of possession but that's only because Tressel hates to pass (49 yards on just 10 attempts with Pryor). And when you have Chris Wells in your backfield, why not? On defense, we didn't force them to go 80 yards all day. Seems like all of their points came from the short field, blocked punts, or key penalties - all gamebreakers. And when you play the Senator, you can't expect to win that way. We made it way too easy for Ohio State today to get the win. It's a comedy with just about every snap.
I'll say it again, I don't think there's another team in conference (and few in the land) who have more raw football talent week in and out at every position. And while that may be debateable, it's not very hard to argue that there isn't a more self-destructive team in the country. We beat ourselves more than we get beat by the opposition. Instead of being 9-2, 10-1, or 11-0 we're just 5-6 and not likely to make a bowl game this year unless we pull off a miracel road-win in Evanston and get some help from a desperate bowl game.
And, it's hard to believe that Williams was once on the ESPNU Heisman list. Ugh! Juice is simply not the same QB as he was back in September. It's obvious to me he's pressing or injured, perhaps psychologically. There probably isn't a QB in the land with more raw skill or athletcism. His problems are mostly between the ears.
Around the nation - Things are bad in Champaign - no doubt. But things are worse in Ann Arbor these days after Michigan dropped its 5th home game of the year (3-8 on the season). Not only is this its first losing season since 1967, but Saturday's loss to NW ensures the Wolverines can't win two games in a row for the first time since 1962. And for the first time ever in its 129-year history, BIG BLUE has 8 losses. Ouch!
I have so say that I'm somewhat surprised to see that FSU lost to BC, Vandy beat KY, and UNC lost to Maryland. There were other really close games; just ask Wisconsin and LSU. But let's give some love to the Commodores (Vandy) after becoming bowl eligible for the first time in 26 long years. They've fallen short so many times lately in big games against KY and TN. And if they beat the VOLS next weekend, VANDY would tie its SEC record for wins with 3 (record dating back to 1935).
Other winners and losers today include Bama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and USC - all revenging devasting losses last year in respective games against MSU, NAVY, ILLINOIS, and STANFORD. And how about Rutgers; is there a better 2nd-half story this year? Scarlet Knights have won four in a row after dropping their first five of six. And dont' look now, but NW is 8-3 this year and has a chance to get to 10 wins for the first time since 1995 when it went to the Rose Bowl. Wow, I would not have expected the better BIG-10 team from the Land of Obama this year would have been the Evanston Pussies.
And how about the losers? Michigan, Tulsa, FSU, Illinois, and Minnesota top this weekend's list of dissappointing performances. How do the Golden Hurricances lose to Houston? And with their win over UNC, Maryland now has 7 wins in a row over ranked teams. As for the tribe, we're on the verge of becoming the 2nd team in 43 years to have a losing season after going to the Rose Bowl the prior year. Ugh!
My New Top - 10:
- Bama - exorcised some demons yesterday by blowing out State and holding them to just 35 rushing yards for the game (1.6 average).
- Texas Tech - bye week this week before travelling to Norman next Saturday where just about everything, including the Heisman trophy, hinges on the outcome.
- Texas - ensured their 8th-straight 10-win season last night in defeating KU.
- Florida - much like #3, the Gators are lurking and surging. But unlike Texas, they control their BCS championship aspirations by simply winning out. Today, they dominated Carolina in the swamp. Spurrier Cocks took a beating today, worst loss ever.
- Oklahoma - see #2 above. If the Sooners can beat Tech next weekend that the BCS chaos will reach new levels. Somewhere in Austin Mac Brown is hoping for a 3-2 Boomer Sooner outcome.
- USC - surprised to see they gave up 23 to Stanford, but really weren't challenged all night. Although, the defense did give up a hundred - yard rusher tonight. Hmmm.....
- Georgia - I know the Busters (UTAH / Boise State) won't like this. But does anybody honestly believe that a WAC or MWC team can beat the Bulldogs in the BCS? Remember last year?
- Utah - remain undefeated. BYU is up next.
- Penn State - Joe Pa's boys finally showed up in the 2nd half against Indiana.
- Boise State - see #8. I'm just not too sure how good this team really is right.
Final Notes- And what's with all the hurdling going on in CFB these days? I mean, what happened to lowering the shoulder and steam-rolling defensive backs and linebackers. Mark my words, that sooner or later defensive personnel will be coached-up to stand up and the result of a hurdle won't be pretty. You can piece together that Minolta moment. Ouch!
How about Notre Dame? The Irish squeaked out a win in Baltimore yesterday afternoon over Navy. Clearly, the Irish had a gameplan to just pound the rock, then pound it more. But talk of Weis' demise in South Bend are premature. To quote Lou Holtz, "every time you turn one corner there's always another corner. " Clearly, they're not back yet - more work to do in SB. But for now, the Irish are bowl eligible (meaning they're guaranteed to play somewhere in the post-season).
Saturday, November 08, 2008
I mean seriously, what the heck is going on behind closed doors in Champaign these days? Does Ron have control of this team? I've been questioning the discipline of this year's edition all season. After last year's 9-3 run, we now have to be one of the most disappointing clubs in the country. And there is good reason for concern going forward. We are little more than an over-hyped, under-achieving, inconsistent gang of drunken sailors in a stormy sea without a moral compass, searching for some religion. At 5-5, we should be 8-2 or better. It's not a leap to say that three of our losses to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and now WM were mostly self-inflicted. Taking nothing away from those teams, they didn't beat us so much as we beat ourselves. And if we played with any discipline and fortitutde against Mizzou and Penn State (games we lead at one point), it's not altogether unreasonable to envision different results. Oye ... ugh! I bet the $300K guarantee for playing on Ford Field against WM doesn't feel so good right now.
Message to Coaches - I know you guys are trying. No lack of effort. The 12% rule is a good one (and I'm sure we exceeded it against the Broncos). Actually, that's what concerns me most. We are one of if not they most talented teams in conference so you can see why these results don't meet expectations. So between you and me, what's going on? Does Coach Zook have control of this team? I'm mean what the hell is going on behind closed doors; I want to know? It's a fair question based on what we see. More of the same, not good. Last week's off - field issue centered around a potential squabble between Cumberland and LeShore. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but in-fighting is never good especially when one player ends up with a broken jaw. And that's just one event in a series of off-field problems this year. On the field, my team has been plagued with penalties, turnovers, and a lack of consistent execution on both sides of the ball. We need to become more than just a collection of physical specimens. Great teams become much more than the sum of their parts. Yes, the wheels appear to be coming off the wagon as we start the downhill decline. Oh do we miss Rashard Mendenhall. Juice is trying to do too much for this team right now with his legs and arm. He's clearly pressing with the absence of a sound rushing attack.
Today's first-half effort in Detroit against Western Michigan is more proof. Juice had 2 first-half picks that led to 14 points on short fields. Senseless personal-foul penalties killed drives. I just don't see the chemistry and consistency we should be seeing this year wiht a junior QB and plenty of skilled players to go around. Benn went just 1 for 3 yards while juice was just 3 for 9, 69 yards, and 2 INTS. Ugh! The Broncos outgained us 239 to 125 in yardage, 14 to 6 in first downs, and executed 12 more plays on offense. Yikes! We have to figure out how to execute better in the red zone.
More of the same in the 2nd half even though we outscored them 10-3. Just wasn't enough to overcome our own damn mistakes on the road. Juice ended up with another 3INTs, including one in the red-zone as we were trying to convert a 4th down to win the game late. He ended up going just 20/44 for 328 and a TD to tighten things up a bit. Benn had 7 catches for 111 (nice average), but no win. The running game was non-effective once again amassing just 125 yards on 30 attempts. We clearly need more balance from the rushing attack. When juice throws for 60% or more and no INTs; we win - period.
When we play best we play balanced. Instead of 200 yards on the ground and perhaps 250 yards passing, our recent box scores read more like my frequent flier mileage with United, skewed to the air. Dufrene, Ford, LeShore, Pollard, Benn, and company need to find a way to accumulate 150 yards on the ground. It can't all be on Williams. He's good, but only human. And while we all know he can set stadium records, he can't be relied on for 450 yards of offense very time he takes the field. When Juice is 80%+ of the total offense you know we're in trouble, usually playing desperation football from behind. It's never good to see four 4-th down attempts in the box score even through we did execute on two of them. The 1 for 13 on 3rd down was painful. WM also owned TOP, especially in the first half.
Up next, a surging Buckeye club that demolished a decent NW team today. We should take a chapter out of Tressel's playbook on playing patient disciplined football. Ohio State was solid in all aspects of the game this afternoon up in Evanston. We're in deep trouble next week at home. And what kills me is that we have the raw talent to hang with anybody in conference. But we lack the discipline, the execution, and team play that makes the other teams better. It could get ugly and at home. Ugh! At 5-5, we're on the outside of the bowl picture looking in. And with just two games left, it would be in our best interest to win both of them to secure a spot. I'm not sure we'll get a bid at 6-6. Rose Bowl / no bowl? In their latest bowl projects, Schlabach feels confident enough in 6th win over Ohio State or NW to put us in the Insight Bowl against Kansas. Feldman is probably more realistic with a trip back to Detroit to face Ball State (of the MAC conference) in the Motor City bowl since I don't see us getting seven wins this year at this point. God help us.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Zook said. “We’ve kind of slipped back a little bit. We can be a good team, but we’re going to have to put a lot of things aside and put the team first and see if we’re the type of people we think we are.”
My New Top-10:
1) Bama - it took OT, but Saban has the TIDE undefeated in the SEC West. Yep, #1 - for now.
2) Texas Tech- Guns up Red Raiders. Nobody can stop this offense right now. 10-0 since '38.
3) Florida- Romped over Vandy, now 17 in a row. This team controls its own destiny in the SEC.
4) Texas- Good win today coming back after Tech. Still in the title hunt. Needs help.
5) Oklahoma - Another 40-point victory. Only loss is to #4 in the Red River Classic.
6) USC- May be the best defense in the country. Offense is good. Title hopes are slim to nill.
7) Utah- Should have lost to TCU Thursday night. Gutty win. Gutty team. Holy War remains.
8) Boise State - Too much blue for my liking. Why not go with blue shoes too? Ugh!
9) Penn State - Tough loss. Kinnick is a hard place to win on the road. Pink lockers win again!
10) Georgia - Tough win today at KY. But an SEC team with just two losses. Hmm....
Final Notes around the Nation -
Tough loss today for Penn State and Paterno. The Lions are done. And make that three straight losses to Iowa coming off a bye week. I should have known better. Give credit to Iowa for beating a top-5 team for the first time in nearly 20 years. The Rose Bowl isn't a bad gig. Penn State was the sentimental favorite, but looking back on the season and the performance today, it was probably the best thing to happen today for CFB. And how about Michigan retaining the Lil' brown jug with a surprising win over slumping Minnesota. The BIG 12 South continues to dominate with Texas, Oklahoma, and TT all rolling tonight. And keep your eye on Florida, the best team in the country right now. GAMEDAY FINAL has you covered in case you missed any of this week's heart-pounding action. And here's how I see bowl season shaping up with a few more weeks to go:
My Projected Championship Game = Florida versus Texas Tech or Texas (BCS #1 and #2). Yes, I know that may mean that Texas could sneak into the BIG GAME without a conference championship. But they are the most deserving one-loss team outside of Florida. I don't see things working out for Oklahoma or USC this year. All depends on the Red Raiders right now and that showdown in Norman in a few weeks. My money is on Texas, 11 straight 9-win seasons under Coach Mac Brown leads the nation.
Likely Rose Bowl = USC and Penn State. I guess there's an outside shot of Michigan State sneaking into the Grand Daddy. But it's not likely since that would mean a road win in Happy Valley.
Maybe Sugar Bowl = Alabama versus FSU, or the ACC champion. I expect Bama to lose to Florida in the SEC Championship game. Not exactly what is going to happen in the ACC between WAKE, FSU, VA. Tech and Carolina. Say what you want about Bowden, but that's 32 consecutive winning seasons in Tallahassee. Dawg Gamut!
Probable Orange Bowl = Oklahoma versus BIG EAST (WV, Pitt, or Cincy). Wow, Texas Tech could win the BIG-12 and end up not playing in a BCS game this year. Even more motivation for a play-off in CFB. With 3 one-loss BIG-12 teams in the TOP-10 right now, and deservingly so, how do we reconcile the two best?
Buster Fiesta = Boise State versus Ohio State. Not a bad match -up in the desert. I dont' see either one of these teams losing in the month of November.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
You may remember that I first proposed a BCS solution a few years ago calling for a 12-team play-off. Since then, I've gone back and forth with the current system versus what could be the best thing in all of sport: a true playoff in DIV1-A football. Yes, the time has come, and here's how it should work.
- Start with the top-8 teams in the final regular-season BCS rankings, minus the conference championships. That could be the toughest roadblock, but trust me it will be worth it in every way down the stretch. The regular season should end with the rivalry action of Thanksgiving weekend.
- It would be 1 versus 8, 2 verus 7, etc.... with the TOP-4 in the BCS playing on their home fields in round-one quarterfinal matchups. As of tonight, picture Bama hosting Utah in Tuscaloosa, Texas Tech hosting USC in Lubbock, Penn State hosting Oklahoma in Happy Valley, and Texas at Florida. Wow, and that's just the first round. Now that's television.
- Keep the bowls, all of 'em. Use the bowl system that we know and love to host the round-two semi-final matchups, rotating through two of the four existing BCS games: Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl. These two games (remaining 4 teams from #2 above) would be played on New Year's Day. In this example you could easily imagine Bama versus Florida in the Orange Bowl while Oklahoma travels to Pasadena to play USC in the Rose.
- Finally, it all concludes a week later in the BCS Title Game under the lights in Glendale, AZ with Florida winning it all over USC.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Theater at its best, no doubt. Good versus evil. Black hats verus white ones. The law versus the lawless. And tonight, the bad guys won (first win over #1 ever). This game had all of the drama, senseless violence, and true grit of a clasic American spaghetti western. Sergio Leone would be proud. I can still hear the bands battling in my head. What a soundtrack. Guns-up Red Raiders! Now, a few words as we enter the month of November:
1) I'd like to give thanks to Virgina after blowing a 7-point lead over Miami today with 55 seconds to go in the game after allowing a 95-yard TD drive to force OT where they lost on a turnover. Yes, Thomas Jefferson would be proud.
2) I'd like to give thanks to Notre Dame after blowing a 14-point 2nd-half lead to a one-dimensional Wannstedt - coached Pitt squad at home. Ugh! Slim Shady definitely got the better of the ND rush defense. And TD Jesus agrees with me, SINFUL! It was almost as if the sprinklers which came on early in the first OT session were symbolic of the tears we all had swelling up in our eyes.
3) Finally, I'd like to give thanks to FSU who fumbled on the 2-yard line while trying to punch-in the game-winning TD. No, it wasn't good enough to kick the FG and force OT. You had to fumble the game away to a GT club who had never beat a ranked Nole team. Yes!
Here's what else we learned this weekend from around the nation. Remember pre-season #1 Georgia and #2Ohio State? That was supposed to be our title game this year. Now both clubs have two losses and have no chance to play in Miami come January. Historic, since the inception of the BCS ten year's ago either pre-season #1 and/or pre-season #2 in the AP have reached the title game. Good stuff Stewart.
And what of Washington / Washington State? Whoa - these teams lost to USC and Stanford this weekend by a combined total of 114-0 (Wazzu by 58 and the Huskies by 56, ouch!). I agree with Borst of FoxSports.Com, we should call it the Pacific Northworst. Let's start calling it the Crapple Cup (November 22nd showdown in Pullman). Combined, they're 0-16 this year when you look at FBS competition. On average, the Cougs play to 48-8 losses while Washington is only slightly better, losing something like 40-16 each time out.
And what are some of the most likely BCS showdowns? Check back early and often. But, for this week, these seem as plasible as anything else I've heard:
BCS Championship: Penn State (12-0) vs. Texas Tech (13-0)
Rose Bowl: Oregon State (9-3) vs. Ohio State (10-2)
Sugar Bowl: Florida (12-1) vs. Big East champion
Fiesta Bowl: Texas (11-1) vs. Utah (12-0)
Orange Bowl: ACC champion vs. Alabama (12-1)
CHIEF on the TRIBE - well, it wasn't pretty but very effective nonetheless. We needed a quality victory like AIG needed a bailout. And while we had 3 turnovers, more penalties, and less total time of possesion, it was a victory to keep our season alive and our bowl aspirations in place (Insight Bowl against Nebraska or Champs Bowl against FSU?). At 5-4, we finally have a win in conference over a team with a winning record. Let's just take care of bidness over the next three weeks. I expect us to go at least 2-1 in that stretch with games @ Western Michigan (Detroit), at home against Ohio State, and at Northwestern in Evanston. 7-5 would be a successful campaign this year after going 9-3 in 2007. It's what I said back in August.
What did I like? The effort was better this week. We played with more urgency and better execution, especially on defense. I like the six sacks and scoop/score. Stanzi went just 10 for 30 against an improving defensive secondary. The kicking game seems to be improving, both kick-offs and field goals. Obviously, Eller was the hero tonight with his 46-yard game-winning effort. Juice did go 22/37 for 272 yards but did have two costly INTs.
What did I not like? Ugh! We have to stop turning the rock over. I like the 12% rule by Coach Locksley (no more that 12% bad plays including INTS, fumbles, penalties, drops, etc...). We were up around 17% for the day. Time of possession was low and so were the number of first downs (21 to 14, Iowa). We only had one first down on the ground - YIKES! Like I said, it wasn't a pretty win. But it was a win.
My New Top-10:
1) Alabama - Arkansas Sate is one thing. Up next, LSU in the bayou....
2) Penn State - Stage is set for Joe Pa. Just don't lose. Up next, @ Iowa.
3) Texas Tech - Guns up! Don't celebrate too long. You get Okie State next.
4) Florida - 1st of the one-loss teams. Fair enough, you won the Cocktail Party.
5) Texas - Tough loss in Lubbock. Grueling schedule. Beware Baylor.
6) Oklahoma - Poised to move up. Better hope Texas loses again. Aggies next.
7) USC - Cal visits next. Won't be quite as easy next week.
8) Oklahoma State - What happens if OSU wins out? Yikes. Bedlam! TT next.
9) UTAH - First BCS buster. Just keep winning.
10) Boise State - 2nd BCS buster. See above.
Conference Rankings -
1) BIG 12 - rather, the BIG12 South. TT, UT, OSU, and OU. Fear the firepower.
2) SEC - mostly Florida and Alabama this year. Rest of the teams are all down this year.
3) BIG10/ACC - take your pick here. Penn State is the cream of the crop.
4) BIG EAST - I guess WV is your frontrunner, for now.
5) PAC1 - it's all about one team and one team only this year, USC.
Looking ahead, WEEK #11 should be another thriller. Can't wait for Penn State @ Iowa, Okie State @ Tech, Bama @ LSU, CAL @ USC, and ND @ BC.
Final Thought - THE BIG 12 Mess: If you're like me, you wonder to yourself what are the various scenarios in the BIG12 with a bunch of teams staring at 1 loss, especially in the South. Trust me, it gets complicated - but I have you covered. Directly from the BIG12 Media guide, here is the official tiebreaker protocol. Pay particular attention to clause (b), three or more teams are tied. Step 7 of clause (b) has the winner chosen by a 'draw', yes - you heard this right. But based on their remaining schedules and projections as either favorites or dogs in each of the remaining games, things are looking good for Texas Tech - assuming they finish no worse than 7-1 in conference (losing at Oklahoma). Yes, check back with the rules early and often over the next month or so.