Thursday, September 11, 2014

Big Ten Effectively Out of National Title Conversation

I really have to figure that the Big Ten is out of the running for one of the Final Four spots in NCAA football in January.

Most preseason pundits figured Ohio State — maybe Michigan State — would make the cut, but last weekend almost certainly ended that particular fantasy.

Third–ranked Oregon hammered seventh–ranked Michigan State. Eighth–ranked Ohio State got bumped off by unranked Virginia Tech. Michigan, the unranked standby, was blanked by Notre Dame.

Watch and see teams rise and fall in the race for the championship this season.

Idle: #1 Florida State, #5 Auburn, #13 Michigan State, #18 Wisconsin, #19 Kansas State, #23 Clemson

  • Houston at #25 Brigham Young, 8 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: The guys who call this game will have to avoid using the team nickname Cougars — both teams are known as the Cougars.

    That hasn't really been a problem in the past. The teams have met only once before — last year, in fact, when Houston lost at home, 47–46.

    I don't think Houston will be able to keep it close this time. I pick Brigham Young to win.
  • #8 Baylor at Buffalo, 7 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: This is Baylor's second visit to Buffalo. The teams have met three times, the last two in Waco, and Baylor has won all three.

    I saw Buffalo play Army, and I was impressed — with Army. Buffalo, not so much. I'm quite sure Baylor will win.
  • Wyoming at #2 Oregon, 1 p.m. (Central) on Pac–12 Network: These schools have never met before. When the game is over, I doubt that Wyoming will want to return once the game is over. I pick Oregon.
  • Southern Miss at #3 Alabama, 5 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2: This will be the 30th meeting between these schools. Southern Miss seldom wins (only three wins all time, the last in 2000) and has never been the host team. If they haven't played in Tuscaloosa, as they will this year, they have played in Birmingham or Mobile.

    Alabama should win.
  • Tennessee at #4 Oklahoma, 7 p.m. (Central) on ABC: These teams have played twice in the Orange Bowl, and each team has won once. But they haven't squared off since New Year's Day 1968.

    That surprised me. I thought surely they had played each other more recently than that. But it's been nearly half a century.

    Tennessee is getting better, but the Volunteers aren't good enough to beat OU at OU. I pick Oklahoma.
  • #6 Georgia at #24 South Carolina, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on CBS: This series predates these schools' relationship as conference rivals. In fact, they were virtually annual rivals for more than 30 years before South Carolina joined the SEC.

    Historically, South Carolina hasn't won very often against Georgia, but the Gamecocks had won three straight against the Bulldogs before losing in Athens last year.

    Georgia wins about two–thirds of the time when the game is played in South Carolina. The Bulldogs have never lost three straight there; yet that is what they are risking this weekend. I expect Georgia to win.
  • Rice at #7 Texas A&M, 8 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2: This was once an annual series — when both teams belonged to the Southwest Conference — but last year's meeting was their first since the conference disbanded.

    It was like old times, though. The Aggies won. It was their 16th straight win over the Owls. Texas A&M will win this time, too.
  • #9 Southern Cal at Boston College, 7 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: Southern Cal has won all four prior meetings with Boston College, including the only other time the game was played in Boston, in 1988. I have to figure the Trojans are on some kind of high after upsetting Stanford last week. Will it continue this week? I think it will. I pick Southern Cal.
  • Louisiana–Monroe at #10 LSU, 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPNU: This will be ULM's third trip to LSU. ULM scored a touchdown against LSU once, and that was it for scoring. So I guess the betting line should not be on whether LSU will win but whether ULM will score. By the way, LSU will win.
  • Purdue at #11 Notre Dame, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on NBC: In college football, you always know that rivalry games will be played, but most of them come along in the conference portion of the schedule.

    They're rather rare in the first month of the season, but the Purdue–Notre Dame rivalry is now in its third century, the first meeting having occurred in 1896. The Irish win about 60% of the time, and they have won 11 of the last 14 encounters, including the last six in a row. The Irish have been even more dominant at home, where they win about three–fourths of the time. Purdue hasn't won in South Bend since 2004, and the Boilermakers have only won there twice in the last 40 years.

    Give me Notre Dame.
  • #12 UCLA at Texas, 7 p.m. (Central) on Fox; The all–time series is knotted up at 3–3. Texas won the last encounter in 2011, but UCLA won the three before that.

    I don't think Texas will be able to handle the Bruins. I pick UCLA.
  • Louisiana at #14 Ole Miss, 3 p.m. (Central) on SEC Network: Historically, Ole Miss is 3–0 against Louisiana, but the games have been closer than you probably expect. The first time they met, Ole Miss pulled off a one–point win — and the Rebels went 8–3–1 that year.

    From what I have seen, the Rebels might be good enough to contend for the SEC title this year. I feel pretty confident in picking Ole Miss to win this game.
  • Army at #15 Stanford, 4 p.m. (Central) on Pac–12 Network: I've seen both of these teams play this season, and I can say two things: Army is better than it has been for quite awhile, and Stanford is overrated.

    If Army wins, it will even the all–time series, 6–6. To do that, Army will have to do something it hasn't done since 1975 — win at Stanford. Has Army improved that much? Probably not. I'll go with Stanford.
  • #16 Arizona State at Colorado, 9 p.m. (Central) on ESPNU: These teams have met five times, all in the last eight years, and Arizona State has won all five.

    I don't see that anything has changed. Give me Arizona State.
  • East Carolina at #17 Virginia Tech, 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPN: Virginia Tech has won 10 of the last 11 games between these two schools, and now Tech has a swagger it hasn't had in awhile.

    I don't see any way East Carolina can win this game. Give me Virginia Tech.
  • Central Florida at #20 Missouri, 11 a.m. (Central) on SEC Network: Everyone knows Missouri had a good season in 2013, but the Tigers came close to losing to UCF the year before in the only other time the schools have met on the gridiron.

    I've felt all along that — by comparison, at least — Missouri would have a down year this year. And maybe Central Florida will pull it off. I don't think so, though. I'll take Missouri.
  • #21 Louisville at Virginia, 11:30 a.m. (Central) on ACC Network and These teams have played only twice before, and those games were played in the late 1980s.

    Nevertheless, the all–time series is tied, 1–1. The home team won the first two games. Can Virginia extend the streak? No. I'll take Louisville.
  • Kent State at #22 Ohio State, 11 a.m. (Central) on ABC and ESPN2: This is the third meeting between these schools. Like the first two, it will be played in Columbus. And, like the first two, Ohio State will win.

Last week: 19–3

Season: 40–4

No comments: