Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Week 8 College Football Picks: The BCS Title Hunt Edition

How is it Week 8 already? The saddest part of college football is how quickly it goes by. Though we do catch a break this year, with the 15 weeks comprising the regular season (oh if only they played 13 games).

sammy watkins awesomeSo we are officially just past the halfway point and the games get real important, real quick. From here on out, every week could feature at least one landscape-altering tilt of two teams in the BCS Title hunt. But who exactly is in the BCS Title hunt? Before we dive into the picks, let’s look at everyone who is still alive, using these mock BCS standings, in order of their chances of making it…

The LSU 2007 Division

#16 Georgia (4-2)
I’m not saying it’s going to happen, I’m just saying it’s possible. The SEC champion is going to get the benefit of the doubt. What if that champion is a 11-2 Georgia team with wins over South Carolina, LSU, Florida and (probably) Alabama? Would any other non-Pac 12/Clemson contender have more quality wins?

Alas, Georgia needs a 2007-like implosion by everyone around it. Yes, my preseason national title pick is likely out of it. If this were next year, Georgia would still be in the hunt. Yeah, a real playoff would be so bad for college football.

The Lunatic Fringe

#33 Houston (5-0)
If Louisville is in the hunt, why not Houston? Look, it’s insane and I don’t really think Houston will win all of its games. But if it beats BYU this weekend, well they’ll have a far better nonconference win than Louisville will have. And they have to travel to Louisville in mid-November. Houston won’t be playing for a national championship, but it technically is still alive. Houston doubles as Mike Aresco’s favorite team, even if the American commissioner would never admit it publicly.

#27 Oregon State (5-1)
Can a team that lost to an FCS team play for a BCS title? In 2014, the answer may be yes. In 2013, the answer is almost undoubtedly no. But they must be here on the off-chance they beat Oregon, Stanford and UCLA. A 1-loss Pac-12 champion deserves serious consideration.

#18 Virginia Tech (6-1)
Virginia Tech is almost the opposite of Oregon State. If they run the table, they will beat Miami and either Florida State or Clemson in the ACC title game. They would be 12-1 with their only loss being to Alabama. That resume would deserve a look, no? Look at this schedule. If they beat Miami, they will almost undoubtedly be 11-1 in the ACC title game. If they had played anyone else in the opener, they’d be undefeated, top 10 and a national title contender for real. That’s why teams don’t challenge themselves in the nonconference and why they won’t even next year in the new college football playoff.

#17 Oklahoma (5-1)
Probably an even bigger longshot than Georgia, but they only fell to #17 despite getting housed by Texas. They need Baylor to keep winning and to give them their only loss. And hope things implode around them. Eh, they don’t really have a chance.

The Undefeateds

#16 Texas Tech (6-0)
I don’t think Texas Tech is going undefeated. If they do, they have to be considered for the BCS Title Game, right? The fact we are even discussing the Red Raiders in this context is a tribute to the smoldering sexuality known as Kliff Kingsbury.

#14 Miami (5-0)
To finish undefeated, Miami will have to beat Florida, Florida State, Virginia Tech and either Florida State again or Clemson. I don’t know how that team gets left out of the BCS title game. I also don’t know how this team does that. They feel like a really, really good 9-3 team. The win over Florida – as someone who watched every play while drinking too many PBRs at my favorite bar – was a fluke in every sense of the word. Florida was the better team. They will be exposed soon.

#13 Missouri (6-0)
To say it’s a shame James Franklin got hurt is a painful understatement. Missouri is no stranger to the BCS Title hunt – they were #1 going into the Big 12 title game in 2007. They flopped badly against Oklahoma. The win against Georgia may have been the Tigers’ best effort since that season.

A fun subplot to watch if Missouri keeps winning – they play Texas A&M in the season finale on Thanksgiving weekend. Imagine if the SEC ended up with the Big Ten disaster scenario of the two teams playing in the regular season finale and the championship game a week later?

#10 Baylor (5-0)
I’m not buying Baylor, sorry. Wake me up when they play Oklahoma on Nov. 7. Until then, I don’t care how many points they put up. I saw this movie last year with West Virginia. I think I know the ending.

The SEC 1-Loss Brigade

#23 Auburn (5-1)
Technically, Auburn is alive in the BCS Title hunt. They just need to beat Texas A&M, Georgia, Alabama and, say, South Carolina in the SEC title game. At least they get Georgia and Alabama at home, right?

#12 South Carolina (5-1)
Does South Carolina need to win the SEC to make the BCS title game? With Clemson looming at the end of the season, they may not. They do need to win out, obviously, but would an 11-1 South Carolina with a win over Clemson trump a conference champion? I predicted in the preseason that 2 SEC teams would play for the BCS title, but I had Georgia missing out on the SEC crown. Maybe it’s Alabama vs. South Carolina for the BCS Title in Pasadena as the rest of the country pulls its hair out?

#7 Texas A&M (5-1)
A&M needs 2 Alabama losses. Not just to make the SEC Title game, but for any chance at the BCS title game. 1-loss Alabama beat 1-loss Texas A&M in College Station. Of course, Aggie fans can take solace that if they go 11-1,they will play in a BCS bowl because bowls will be falling over themselves to showcase ratings-magnet Johnny Football in January.

#6 LSU (6-1)
It’s too early to say that LSU controls its own destiny, but the world is theirs if they win out with victories over Texas A&M and Alabama. They won’t admit it, but CBS officials will be rooting hard for LSU to knock off Alabama. Why? Because they get LSU vs. Texas A&M on Nov. 23. It would be a Top 5 matchup with BCS Title implications featuring Johnny Football on a Saturday shockingly void of good matchups. This is where you can insert the sound of a cash register ringing.

The Cupcake Schedules

#9 Louisville (6-0)
Look, I know. I said Louisville would lose 4 games. After watching them against Rutgers, I still don’t think they’re BCS Title-worthy. But who is going to beat them? And what in God’s name was the American thinking when it made the schedule? Louisville’s 3 main conference challengers – UCF, Rutgers and Houston – all visit Louisville. The conference road games are against putrid Temple, USF and UConn, with only a road trip against Cincinnati looming as any sort of threat. What’s that about?

#5 Ohio State (5-0)
I have said Ohio State did not deserve to play for the BCS Title. That did not mean I thought they weren’t good enough – I think they are plenty good enough. The problem is their schedule is atrocious thanks to a woeful Big Ten. And how many years in a row does the Big Ten have to be down before we accept their status as nothing more than a souped-up Big East??

The Pac-12 Champion

#11 Stanford (5-1)
Beat UCLA. Beat Oregon. Beat Notre Dame. The loss to Utah only removes Stanford’s ability to control its own destiny. They need others teams to lose. Like LSU, though, it’s all in front of them.

#8 UCLA (5-0)
I have more to say about UCLA later. Let’s just say this week and next are pretty important.

#2 Oregon (6-0)
How good is Oregon? Their demolition of Washington on Saturday afternoon was a sight to behold – they took Washington’s best shot and crushed their dreams in the most horrific, destructive way possible. But while Clemsoning is a thing – what about Oregoning*? Don’t you get the feeling there’s a clunker waiting out there, because it happens every year?

*Don’t Google that.

Saturday Night’s Winner

#4 Florida State (5-0)
#3 Clemson (6-0)
If the SEC, ACC or Pac-12 champion goes undefeated, they will play for the BCS Title – and heaven help us if each conference has an undefeated winner. The winner of Saturday night’s Game of the Century of the Week may not jump Oregon in the polls, but they will be as close to controlling their own destiny as possible.

Of the losers, I don’t think Florida State can rebound to play for a title with a loss because Florida is down. But Clemson? If they lose to Florida State but beat Georgia and South Carolina? Could an ACC team that didn’t win its division win a BCS title?

/head explodes

The Overwhelming Favorite

#1 Alabama (6-0)What else is there to say, right?

ucla bcs 2013My New Pick

UCLA vs. Ohio State
Am I the only one getting a USC/Pete Carroll vibe from UCLA & Jim Mora? Before Carroll showed up on the scene, USC felt like a relic from a different era. He energized the program, the players, the fans and the community. Jim More, in a very short amount of time, has done the same thing in Westwood. There’s also the small matter of UCLA have really, really good players – possibly the best defensive player in the country (Anthony Barr) and possibly the best QB in the country (Brett Hundley). I believe they win out, win the Pac-12 and finish 13-0.

As for the opponent, it pains me to say this but I believe voters will reward Ohio State’s undefeated season more than they should. They will make the title game over a 12-1 ACC champion and a 12-1 SEC champion. There’s no way Ohio State – who at that point will be riding a 25-game winning streak – will be prevented from playing for a BCS title. I’m not saying that’s right, I’m just saying that will happen.

And it will show the fallacy, once and for all, of the BCS when those 12-1 teams are left out. And it will prematurely show the ineptitude of a four-team playoff as undefeated Louisville finishes #6 in the final polls.

Picks to Date: 42-33-2
Best Bet: 1-6
Upset Special: 5-2

NORTH CAROLINA (+9) over Miami
This pick is aimed more at the circumstances than the teams – I know, I know, I’m a great handicapper – because there’s no way anyone could watch UNC and pick them. But it’s a Thursday night game. It’s a road game for the favorite. The rumblings have already started about Miami vs. Florida State meaning something again. There’s too many red flags.

And besides, we haven’t had our midweek ESPN upset yet this year and it’s not really college football season until that happens. Iowa State tried. Rutgers hung around. I think this is the week.

Ucf (+12.5) over LOUISVILLE *Upset Special*
UCF is really, really good. Louisville is trying to artificially pump themselves up by saying this game is now “personal.” Louisville is in trouble and I think Charlie Strong knows it, by the tenor of his postgame comments after Rutgers. He knows Rutgers played terrible. He knows they were lucky to win. He knows he needs to get his players to believe their American opponents are worthy. Being 2-touchdown favorites at home aren’t helping Charlie.

This is also the only game – BY FAR – where Louisville’s opponent has a QB they think is just as good as Teddy Bridgewater.

spurrier better than you
South Carolina (-7) over TENNESSEE
Remember that Clowney fiasco? How he was hurt, or sort of hurt, and Steve Spurrier threw him under the bus? Yeah, I’m convinced the Ol’ Ball Coach did that on purpose to distract everyone from the fact South Carolina absolutely sucked against Kentucky. They turned things around in a hurry against Arkansas and everything is all good again, especially with Georgia losing to Missouri.

It’s worth noting, always and forever, that Steve Spurrier has a method to his madness. Or he’s just crazy. Whatever, it’s awesome.

Florida (-3.5) over MISSOURI
Vegas is daring you to take Florida. They are challenging you to take Florida. They are asking if you’re man enough to lay more than a field goal with a team on the road that hasn’t beaten anyone good yet this season.

I’m dumb enough to take the bait.

MICHIGAN (-7.5) over Indiana
Indiana just got blown out at Michigan State – the final score was 42-28, but it wasn’t even that close. Michigan should have beat Penn State last week if not for Brady Hoke’s maddening insistence to play for 40+ yard field goal attempts. Has he ever watched college football? Maybe it’s time for Brady to wear the headset?

But I think the loss is actually good for Michigan. They needed to get it out of the way, as insane as that sounds, and losing to a team from the other division is perfect. The goal for Michigan was always the Rose Bowl – not the BCS title game. The goal remains. They will pound Indiana into the ground.

Ucla (+6) over STANFORD
I sort of tipped this pick about 1,000 words ago, eh?

TEXAS A&M (-13) over Auburn
Not much Ole Miss could do Saturday night except shake their head and admit that they couldn’t stop Johnny Football. It bordered on the cruel and unusual how Manziel consistently and constantly ripped at the hearts of Ole Miss fans. I’m convinced now that he fumbled in the fourth quarter just to make things more interesting. There was never a doubt in his mind that A&M was going to win that game. You know what kind of confidence boost that must be?

Auburn is much improved and they will give Georgia and Alabama tougher than expected fights at home in November. But traveling on the road in the CBS game to face Johnny Football? Way too much to ask.

HOUSTON (+9.5) over Byu
This is a terrible pick and I realize it’s a terrible pick as I’m typing this. How’s that for confidence, eh? I don’t think Houston will win. I don’t think Houston will lose by more than 1 score. Ugh, it’s the dreaded “I think they’ll cover” pick. Let’s just chalk this up as a loss now and move on.

NOTRE DAME (-3) over Usc
Man, the last two weeks have me questioning myself – my picks have fallen way off and I’m having a crisis of confidence. USC beat a mediocre Arizona team after firing Lane Kiffin – does that mean they are now ready to beat Notre Dame in South Bend?

I am still petrified, terrified and frightened to take Tommy Rees. If this was real money, I’d run screaming from this game because I have no Earthly idea what will happen. I’m taking Notre Dame because I think they’re a better team and I think they want to beat USC in South Bend again – it hasn’t happened in 13 years.

CLEMSON (+3) over Florida State
This is an insane line – there is no way Florida State should be favored on the road against Clemson. This is the Pick ‘Em of Pick ‘Em’s and Clemson is the home team. The line indicates that the money has, will or is pouring in on Florida State. It’s for good reason since the Seminoles haven’t been tested all year and were last seen annihilating Maryland.

I don’t care. I’m not picking against Clemson in Death Valley, if only out of principle. They burned me bad in Week 1. I no longer doubt Tahj Boyd in a pressure situation. I don’t know if Florida State can cover Sammy Watkins. And I cannot believe Jameis Winston is THAT good. I just can’t.

I also just can’t wait to watch this game.

Oregon State (-10) over CALIFORNIA *Best Bet*
EASY MONEY ALERT! EASY MONEY ALERT!

Oregon State should be favored by 28. They’re not. Thank me later. Wheee!!! Money!!!

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1 comment:

  1. You and your opponent have the same conference record will receive one share of the conference during the season, then lost ... if you get second place.

    ReplyDelete