Skip to comments.The College Football Czar: Week 15
Posted on 12/05/2013 6:48:06 PM PST by Daniel Clark
The College Football Czar: Week 15
Week fourteen in review: Actually, the biggest news of the week has just broken earlier the same day that this installment of picks is being posted, when the attorney general of Florida announced that Heisman trophy favorite Jameis Winston of Florida State will not be charged with sexual assault. Hopefully, this means that the freshman phenom truly is innocent, but all we really know is that the prosecutors did not believe they had enough evidence to support the charges.
Alabamas three-peat chances faded into the Great White North, as Auburn dug into the CFL playbook to defeat them by returning a missed field goal attempt all the way for a touchdown. The Crimson Tides last-second 57-yarder fell short, and was caught be Tiger cornerback Chris Davis, who ran the ball out of the end zone and down the sideline, past a host of perplexed pachyderms who were obviously unprepared for the possibility. The 34-28 Iron Bowl final leaves Bama at home this weekend, to watch AU battle Missouri for the SEC title. Mind you, they failed to win the SEC West in 2011 and still went on to the national championship, but for a chance to do the same this year, theyll need both Florida State and Ohio State to lose their conference title games.
The new BCS ratings are out, and the analysts are chewing over the what if scenarios, imagining that next years four-team system were enacted for this season. Already, its becoming apparent that as long as the plus-one format is perceived as a playoff, almost immediate expansion is inevitable. If there were four teams, Alabama would probably be one of them. Would it be fair to include a team that didnt win its own division, and exclude the Big XII champion? We need to be equally fair to Florida State, Ohio State, Auburn, Missouri, Alabama and Oklahoma State, if we are going to decide it on the field like everybodys demanding.
Once the field has expanded to eight, one of the following is bound to happen: either (a) four of the eight teams are from the SEC, in which case another expansion is needed to be fair to the other conferences; or (b) fewer than four of the eight teams are from the SEC, in which case another expansion is needed to be fair to the SEC. And then, how can you invite a fourth-place team, without having first included all ten conference champions? But in a 16-team playoff, that only leaves six at-large bids, which means that many teams better than the lesser conference champs would be excluded. It wouldnt be fair to admit Louisiana-Lafayette and leave out South Carolina, would it?
Mind you, with any more than a four-team format, that classic Iron Bowl game would have been practically meaningless, aside from determining which team gets the higher seed. Instead, it has thrust one team into the championship picture, and pushed the other to the brink. Which scenario makes the regular season games more exciting?
Not to be an alarmist, but the end is nigh. The College Football Czar predicts that a serious proposal for the first of an endless number of playoff expansions will be put on the table before the start of the 2015 season.
As for this season, the Czar had his worst week to this point of the year in week fourteen, at 15-11. Thats especially bad considering that he had gone 8-3 through Fridays games, and only managed a 7-8 record on Saturday. For the season, he is 192-79, for a .708 winning percentage.
MAC Championship Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois
NIU has beaten 25 Mid-American Conference opponents in a row, dating back to a loss to Central Michigan on the first of October, 2011. They havent lost to the Falcons since 2003.
BGSU captured the MAC East title last Friday, by going up to Orchard Park and stomping the grapes out of Buffalo, 24-7. Last time the Falcons won their division, they were in the West, where they belong. That was in 2003, when they fell to Miami Ohio in the conference championship game, but later returned to Ford Field to defeat Northwestern in what was then called the Motor City Bowl.
Notice that BGSU still has an S in it, although the school rarely calls itself Bowling Green State these days. Its too bad their team name isnt the Indians, or else when they were inevitably forced to change it, they could become the BGSU Bugs. All right, but at least its better than changing to something like the Red Weasels, like everyone else.
The unbeaten Huskies are playing in their fourth consecutive MAC title game, having won the last two. A year ago, they were positioned behind Kent State in the BCS ratings, before beating them 44-37. For that, they were controversially awarded a berth in the Orange Bowl. This seasons team is stronger, however, and with a win over BG, would find far less resistance from public opinion on their way to the Fiesta Bowl, where they would face the Big XII champion.
If youre a regular reader of these picks, you know how fervently anti-dome the Czar is, but hes got to admit that Ford Field has its good points. Any football stadium thats named after an American car, whose commercials have never, ever inflicted Michael Bolton on the fans at home, cant be all bad.
Northern Illinois 38, Bowling Green 27
SEC Championship Missouri vs. Auburn AU is getting most of the attention heading into this game, and rightly so. Its not every day that someone beats the two-time defending national champions on one of the most bizarre plays in the history of the game. Nevertheless, the Czar cant help but notice that Gus Malzahns team has advanced to this point by each of their last two opponents having let its guard down at the end of the game. First, two Georgia defenders are either not alert or not selfless enough to bat down a desperation pass, and then Alabama gets caught flat-footed, as if unaware that its legal to return a missed place kick.
One difference this week is that their foes from Columbia will be ready for practically anything. Another is that they will be without the atmosphere and the 87,000 fans of Jordan-Hare Stadium, but instead will play before a neutral crowd in the moribund Georgia Dome.
Mizzou hasnt won any real blockbuster games this year, but theyd be undefeated if not for a touchdown they let South Carolina score in the first overtime, on a fourth-and-goal from the 15-yard line.
The Czar had always wanted to go to Jordan-Hare Stadium, but then someone informed him that it was not the venue where Space Jam was filmed. As if that wasnt enough of a disappointment, it turns out that Foghorn Leghorn lip-synched all his lines.
That Michael Jordan, what an actor. Why, hes so good in those Hanes commercials that he actually convinces you that he absolutely cant tolerate the presence of anybody around him.
Missouri 36, Auburn 33
Big Ten Championship Ohio State vs. Michigan State The Buckeyes got a break when arch rival Michigan went for two, late in last weeks 42-41 shootout. By the percentages, it was the right move, but one wonders how OSU would have handled the pressure of overtime, with a possible BCS title bid on the line.
Urban Meyer is now 24-0 as the head lumpy nut, but he barely secured another one-point win last season in East Lansing, where his team escaped MSU, 17-16. Braxton Miller fumbled twice and threw an interception in that game, but also threw a 63-yard TD pass to WR Devin Smith for the winning score late in the third quarter.
The Spartans stifled Minnesota last week, 14-3 (predicted score, 17-6). It was the fifth time in their last six games that theyve allowed six points or fewer. Their only defeat all season has been a 17-13 decision against Notre Dame, and even then they squelched the Irish O for a total of just 220 yards.
If the Spartans mascot is Sparty, then the Buckeyes mascot has got to be Bucky. But wait a minute Bucky is the mascot for their divisional rival, Wisconsin. Gosh, this has got to be the most salacious triangle to hit the college football scene since the day that Bear Bryant bought a new hat.
Michigan State 23, Ohio State 21
Pac 12 Championship Stanford at Arizona State
The Sun Devils (10-2, 8-1) get home field advantage based on their superior conference record, even though their only Pac 12 loss was to the Cardinal (10-2, 7-2) back in Week 4 in Palo Alto, by a final of 42-28. ASU trailed that game 39-7 before rallying in the fourth quarter, and as much praise as they received just for trimming the difference to two touchdowns, the more relevant part of the game was the first half, during which theyd been visibly intimidated.
Midway through the season, David Shaws team gave a listless performance in an upset loss to Utah. Since then, theyve gone six games without allowing an opposing team to rush for 100 yards a pretty impressive feat, considering that their opponents have included UCLA, Oregon and Notre Dame.
Shaw sure learned his lesson from that experience against the Utes. Never let your team go into a game listless. Its very important for the players to know in what order to do things.
Fox Sports announcer Gus Johnson says ASU coach Todd Graham had been promised something or other by Pitt, which the school supposedly failed to deliver. His point was to suggest that this justified Grahams abrupt departure. But the cocky coach had only stayed in the Steel City for one season. What promise could have possibly been made to him that hed concluded in so short a time would not be fulfilled? Did they promise him that hed never want to leave?
Stanford 31, Arizona State 21
ACC Championship Florida State vs. Duke
The 10-2 Blue Devils won their sixth straight ACC game last week at Chapel Hill, where they held off North Carolina 27-25. Freshman cornerback DeVon Edwards scored on a 99-yard kickoff return, and also snuffed a potential game-winning UNC drive, by intercepting the ball at the Duke 29 with 13 seconds remaining.
The Seminoles lead the nation in scoring defense, allowing an even 11 points per game. Somehow or other, they managed to give up 34 to Boston College, but theyve held everybody else to 17 points or fewer. On the other side of the ball, theyve scored at least 41 in every single game, for an average margin of victory of more than six touchdowns.
FSU is 18-0 all-time against the Devils, and none of those games has been anywhere close. The only one that was competitive for even a little while was their 25-6 win in Tallahassee in 2007. The Noles failed to reach the end zone in the first half of that one, during which theyd built a modest 9-0 halftime lead.
This game, located in Charlotte, is the only one of the four neutral-site conference championship games thats played outdoors. The SEC, Big Ten and MAC all play their championships in domes, although no member of any of those conferences has a dome as its home stadium. Thats kind of like spending weeks on a batch of home-brewed beer, only to pour the whole thing out and drink a Zima instead.
Florida State 52, Duke 24
Conference USA Championship Marshall at Rice
Thundering Herd fans are up in hooves about how the conference determined home field advantage for this title game. Since each team is 7-1 in the C-USA, and they have not played each other, the winner of the tiebreaker is supposed to be the team with the higher BCS rating. The problem is that the BCS only rates its top 25 teams, and neither of these clubs is among them.
The BCS ratings are produced in part by assigning an inverse point total (25 to 1) based on a teams standings in the Top 25 among various computer ratings. Mind you, the BCS is designed to produce a matchup for the national championship game, not to determine home field advantage in the title game for the nations eighth-best conference. Thus, it is perfectly reasonable for it to jettison the bottom four-fifths of the teams. In order to produce something akin to BCS ratings for teams that are not national contenders, the league had to modify the formula to encompass all 125 schools.
The moo-men did actually receive votes in the human polls, but their advantage in that area was overwhelmed by their disadvantage in the modified computer ratings. The way that some of their fans see this is that they won the half of the equation that is actually part of the BCS, and lost the half that is being manipulated. Thats an understandable reaction, but when you step back and look at the on-field results, it becomes clear that the computers favor Rice because theyve had the better results, and the only reason the human polls favor Marshall is because there was no movie entitled We Are Rice.
Each of these teams is 2-2 outside the C-USA. Rice has lost to Texas A&M and Houston, and defeated Kansas and New Mexico State. Marshall has lost to Virginia Tech and Ohio, and defeated Miami Ohio and Division I-AA Gardner-Webb. Advantage, Owls. Dont like that explanation? How about this? Each of the bottom three teams in the East division has a conference record of 1-7. As a result, East division champion Marshalls seven C-USA wins have been against teams with a combined conference record of 21-35. The seven C-USA teams Rice has beaten are 22-34. Very close, but enough again to declare the Owls to be the winners. Theres no need to crunch numbers through Sylvester McMonkey McBeans machine to figure out which team has stars upon thars.
Home field advantage is often overrated, but perhaps not in this case. The Herd has suffered all three losses on the road this year, and it could have been four, if not for Justin Haigs last-second 41-yard field goal, in a 24-23 win at Florida Atlantic.
Why is everyone ridiculing the title of the American Athletic Conference, but nobody has a problem with Conference USA? The Czar wholeheartedly endorses both names, in light of the fact that each league has teams in it from Texas. The more things labeled American down there, the better.
Rice 28, Marshall 24
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
At 7-1 in the Big XII, the 10-1 Cowboys would win a tie-breaker with either Texas or Baylor, having humbled both teams in their past two games. Their rivals from Norman (9-2, 6-2) cant win a share of the conference title like they did with last years 51-48 victory. In fact, having lost to both the Horns and Bears, theyre resigned to fourth place regardless of the outcomes of this weeks games.
As badly as the Sooners may want to beat OSU, they might not risk concussed QB Blake Bell in this otherwise inconsequential contest. That might work to their benefit, what with freshman Trevor Knight passing for 171 yards in a 41-31 victory over Kansas State.
Its a little-known fact that the Bedlam series got its name because it was once sponsored by Sealy mattresses, whose mascot is a lamb. Dont ask why someone would freely associate a mattress with a lamb, especially out there on the plains. Suffice it to say that college football traditions arent what they used to be, and for that, we should all be thankful.
Oklahoma State 49, Oklahoma 31
Texas at Baylor
Someone needs to inform BU that they have the right to Bear arms, after they failed to return fire against the Okey State Cowboys two weeks ago, in a 49-17 loss that eliminated them from the national title chase. They proved it wasnt a fluke last week, when they barely held off TCU 41-38, despite going plus-3 in turnovers, including two interception returns for touchdowns. If that game hadnt been handed to the Bears, they surely couldnt have taken it on their own, while committing 15 penalties for 140 yards.
The pointy cows clobbered Texas Tech 41-16, after having their six-game winning streak broken by league-leader OSU. Running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron each topped the 100-yard mark, combining for a total of 230. Mack Browns team wont boast a 1,000-yarder this season, but thats only because Johnathan Gray left last months OT win over West Virginia with an Achilles injury.
Legally speaking, the Longhorns have a right to Bear arms, too, but it seems cruel to point that out while theyre all just standing around in their cloven hooves, mooing.
Texas 45, Baylor 41
Central Florida at SMU
These one-time Conference USA championship game opponents square off for the first time as members of the American Athletic Conference, but with UCF having already clinched the title in last weeks 23-20 win over South Florida.
The Mustangs (5-6, 4-3) need this game to qualify for either the BBVA Compass Bowl or the Beef O Bradys Bowl. If that doesnt sound like much of an incentive, then maybe thats why they committed four turnovers and ten penalties in their last game, a 34-0 loss to Houston.
If the people from the school in Dallas are Southern Methodists, then whats the Southern Method? If its to watch college football, drink beer, and then sleep until more college football happens, the College Football Czar just might have to convert.
Central Florida 24, SMU 13
South Florida at Rutgers
The 5-6 Scarlet Knights have lost five of their last six, in a slump thats only been disrupted by an unlikely last-minute win over Temple. Evidently, they also arent all that interested in finding out just what in tarnation BBVA Compass or Beef O Brady is.
There was a time when life was just a fantasy for RU quarterback Gary Nova, but he has turned out to be a one-hit wonder. He achieved a degree of infamy for last years collapse, starting with a 6-INT performance against Kent State. This year has been even worse, however. Through ten games, hes thrown 18 touchdowns to 14 interceptions, while completing only 54.5 percent. Last week, the Knights went with Chas Dodd instead, who completed 16 of 35 with two picks, in a season-threatening 28-17 upset loss to Uconn.
At 2-9 overall, and 2-5 in the American Athletic Conference, the Bulls are only tied for third-worst in the league. Its only a matter of time before sportswriters start referring to that conference as The Ugly American. But thats just because they, being journalists, love to insult America anyway.
In reality, this is the only country that needs to specify its ugly people, because among every other nationality, ugliness is the rule, rather than the exception. The Ugly Bulgarian, for instance, would be a redundancy.
South Florida 13, Rutgers 7
La.-Lafayette at South Alabama The Ragin Cajuns have not been wondermous since they gar-ohn-teed themselves the Sun Belt Conference title. Last week, they suffered their first conference loss of the season, 31-28 to Louisiana-Monroe.
A Jaguar win would make the entire SBC bowl-eligible, with the exception of winless expansion team Georgia State. Mind you, they would still only be 6-6, along with Troy, ULM and Texas State. With the leagues two reserved bids already filled by ULL and Arkansas State, and with Western Kentucky at 8-4 against pretty good competition, there arent many opportunities left for the other teams to secure an at-large bid.
In England, they pronounce Jaguar Jag-you-are, which sounds a bit like an insult, but with those people, its hard to tell. An Englishman can say something like, Um, sorry, but if I may be so bold, you, dear fellow, are a great pillock, and there will be an extended, delayed reaction before you figure out that he said something not nice about you. One of these days, the Northeast Alabama State Pillocks are going to put two and two together, and get really ticked off.
La.-Lafayette 35, South Alabama 17
Memphis at UConn
It hasnt been a USC-type turnaround, but interim Husky coach T.J. Weist has finally guided his team to consecutive victories over Temple and Rutgers. Last weeks 28-17 upset pushed the Scarlet Knights to the brink of postseason elimination.
The Tigers (3-8, 1-6) have been competitive in most of their games this season, including seven-point losses to both Louisville and Central Florida. Theyve also played well in losses to bowl-bound nonconference foes Duke (28-14) and Middle Tennessee (17-15). Those results make their worst defeat of the season, 41-21 at home to Temple last Saturday, that much harder to explain, other than to say that its late in the season, and theyre just plain whupped.
At Tiger home games, fans often show up in Elvis costumes. For a while, there, the Czar thought Connecticut was carrying on the tradition by having fans come made up as one of their states favorite sons, Ernest Borgnine. Upon further inspection, it turned out they werent in costume at all, but were just totally sloshed.
Memphis 27, Uconn 22
Army vs. Navy
The Midshipmen have won the last eleven games in this series. Theres no point in trying to build any suspense. Theyre going to win this one, too. The Naval Academy has won three straight to improve to 7-4, whereas the 3-8 Black Knights have lost four in a row, including a 49-42 loss to previously winless Hawaii.
Middies quarterback Keenan Reynolds scored an NCAA record seven rushing touchdowns in a 58-52 triple-overtime victory over San Jose State, although three of those scores came during the OT, which means that the record-keepers had better run out to Staples and pick up a pound of asterisks.
Sophomore Cadet QB A.J. Schurr returned to the lineup in the second half against UH, for the first time since injuring an ankle in Week 4 against Wake Forest. With his team trailing 28-7, he threw for 122 yards and rushed for four touchdowns, the last of which pulled them within seven with under three minutes to play.
They still didnt win the game, though, because theres no Schurr thing. It cant even be a Schurr thang you wouldnt understand, because then it wouldnt be so Schurr after all, would it?
Navy 48, Army 21
Best Dec 7 game is the FCS playoff game between the Montana Griz and Coastal Carolina to be played in the frigid confines of Washington-Grizzly stadium in Missoula. Hopefully it will be above 0 F. 24,000 screaming Griz fans watching the Chanticleers turn into Popsicles. I got my freezer-suit ready to go along with the fifth of Fireball.
Marshall has scored less than 30pts in a game only once this season....Rices is a middle of the road defense in C-USA.....Marshall will score forty in the conference title game...
I’d be surprised if the Black Knights can generate more than one touchdown.
Geraldo Rivera was just on O’Reilly raising hell about no charges being filed against Winston. Said the cops have the goods on him. Goes on to say the District Attorney that will not bring changes is an FSU alumni, goes on to say that the cops told the girl back in January that there would never be charges filed because Winston is a football player who plays for FSU. In otherwords Rivera says the guy is as guilty as the day is long. O’Reilly says “well he’s gonna win the Heisman Trophy” Rivera says “maybe so, but he’s a smuck”.
I agree. I think the guy is guilty and it was pure politics in not charging him. But I do not agree with anyone in the weak ACC winning the Heisman. They need to play somebody other than high schools first.
OU scores with 19 seconds left to go ahead of T. Boone Pickens U, 27-24.
Now Go Baylor!
Of late Baylor seems to have lost some of their mojo.
The Missouri receiver did not catch that ball. Auburn should have reviewed it.
Think I’ll switch over. Much better game.
Quite the shootout in Atlanta.
Whoa Nelly, It’s a donnybrook.
Looked like Auburn was about to seize control.....Not so fast! 28-27 AU.
Second half should be good. And had to fire up the other tv/ Baylor found its groove, too.
#17 for Mizzou better go back to recover his jock strap.
Baylor Bears - Big 12 Champs!
Remember when SEC teams could play defense? 45-42 Auburn, with Auburn driving.
Imagine if Auburn COULD play defense. They’d be unbeatable.
Auburn’s Mason reminds me of Emmitt Smith but w more explosiveness, power.
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