October 22, 2013

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Biggest College Football Games Left

By: Joe Williams

College football’s first BCS standings of 2013 are finally out. The teams that still have realistic BCS championship aspirations now have a much clearer path that must be followed. And we, as fans, now know what we should be rooting for. But there’s still a long way to go and a ton of football left to be played. Which games are going to have the biggest impact in the title  chase? Here’s my list. (Excluding the major conference championship games)

Oct. 26
UCLA at Oregon
UCLA could climb back into the race with a win. Oregon can make its claim that it deserves the No. 2 spot in the BCS.

South Carolina at Missouri
It’s no surprise that this game will help decide the SEC West champion. But everyone thought that it would possibly be South Carolina heading to Atlanta in December. Missouri is the surprise of 2013 and with a win here, would all but clinch a spot in the SEC title game.

Miami at Florida State could have a huge impact on both teams' season.

Nov. 2
Miami at Florida State
Miami should be 7-0. Florida State should 7-0. Both could be ranked in the top five. A win for Miami would launch it into the national title conversation. A win for Florida State would keep the Seminoles in one of those all-important top two spots in the BCS.

Nov. 7
Oregon at Stanford
These teams have a way of ruining each other’s national title hopes. Will it happen again in 2013? With wins over ranked opponents this weekend, both teams would enter this game in the national title mix.

Nov. 9
LSU at Alabama
This game looked a lot bigger a few days ago. Now that LSU has suffered a second loss, the Tigers will just be playing spoiler here. The Crimson Tide will be 8-0, No. 1 in the BCS and a couple of wins away from the SEC title game in Atlanta.

Nov. 16
Texas Tech at Baylor
It’s a long shot but both of these teams could take the field undefeated and ranked in the top five in the BCS. Both will have to get past Oklahoma between now and then, but if that happens, circle this one on your calendar.

Nov. 23
Ohio State at Michigan
The Buckeyes are 19-0 under coach Urban Meyer. They should be 23-0 and 11-0 in 2013 when they take on the Wolverines. The Buckeyes desperately need Michigan to be highly-ranked coming into this one.

Nov. 30
Alabama at Auburn
Auburn is a surprise at No. 11 and has plenty of time to move up before the regular season finale. It’s looking like the winner here will be headed to Atlanta for the SEC title game. And the winner in Atlanta always plays for and wins the BCS title. So this is basically a BCS quarterfinal. And it gets no bigger than that in November.

Florida State at Florida
This in-state rivalry could be returning to its glory days with national championship implications in this one. Closing out the regular season with a win over Florida (who should be back in the top 25 by then) would put FSU one game away from the BCS title game.

Other games that could impact the BCS:
Dec. 6: MAC Championship Game (Northern Illinois could be undefeated.)
Dec. 7: Fresno State vs Boise State (possible matchup in the MWC title game.)

October 8, 2013

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BCS Championship Update

By: Joe Williams

In just five weeks we’ve gone from 126 undefeated college football teams to just 17 without a loss. That number will be down to single digits in the next couple of weeks. The BCS rankings haven’t come out yet, but we all know that the BCS title game will feature the SEC champion against another team that is probably undefeated. How many of these teams are true contenders and which ones are really pretenders? Lets take a look.

In the SEC, its Alabama and everyone else. And unless LSU can take down the Tide on Nov. 9 they’ll be in the SEC title game against Georgia, South Carolina or maybe Florida. (We can’t leave out Missouri as long as it has a perfect record but that won’t last long with Georgia, Florida and South Carolina coming up in the next three weeks.)

So who will try to stop the SEC from winning another BCS title? That’s where the BCS comes into play. Take away the SEC and we still have 15 teams without a loss. Baylor, Clemson, Florida St., Fresno St., Houston, Louisville, Miami, Michigan, Northern Illinois, Ohio St., Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, Texas Tech and UCLA all have yet to lose.

Obviously some of those teams are serious contenders and some are too far down in the poll to make a serious run. Here’s a look at the teams best positioned to play for the title.

Could we see Clemson crash the BCS Championship game?

No. 2 Oregon
The Ducks have scored at least 55 points in every game. If they win out, they’ll play for the title. But it won’t be easy with Washington, UCLA, and Stanford still to play and then a possible Pac-12 title game.

No. 3 Clemson

Clemson has the best win of the season so far by beating Georgia. In two weeks, they’ll have to get by another top-10 team when they take on Florida State. The regular season finale at South Carolina will be another major hurdle before a possible ACC title game. Running the table would give the Tigers the best resume in the nation.

No. 4 Ohio State

The Buckeyes are perfect under second year coach Urban Meyer and should stay that way until they travel to the Big House to take on arch-rival Michigan and they they will likely be in the conference title game. Ohio State probably has the easiest road to perfection but may need some other teams to lose to reach No. 1 or No. 2 in the rankings.
No. 5 Stanford
The Cardinal have wins over two ranked teams already and have two more to go. They’ll have to get by UCLA before a showdown with Oregon. Winning those two games would give Stanford a great shot.

No. 6 Florida State
The Seminoles have been destroying their opponents so far. That will change with two of their next three games coming against Clemson and Miami. Winning those two games would set up a huge regular season finale against rival Florida. They’ll need Ohio State to lose to get a title shot though.

No. 8 Louisville
The Cardinals haven’t been tested yet and they may not be tested all season. With no ranked opponents on the schedule, the Cardinals will need everyone to lose at least one game and even that might not be enough to get them a title shot.

No. 11 UCLA
The Bruins will be a top four team if they win the next three games. Of course, that’s much easier said than done with Stanford and Oregon coming up after California.

No. 12 Oklahoma
The Sooners will have to go through Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State. If that happens and everyone in the PAC 12 loses along with Ohio State and the ACC teams, we could see the Sooners in another title game.

There are even a few teams with one loss that could get back in the mix if the rest of the season is as wild and crazy as they usually are. Here’s what you should be rooting for if you are a fan of one of these teams.

No. 7 Georgia

The medical staff. Nobody’s played a tougher schedule and nobody’s suffered more major injuries than the Bulldogs. Can Georgia get their guys back or survive without them? I don’t know. But running the table would include wins over Florida and Missouri before probably taking on Alabama in the SEC title game. A win there and they are in the BCS title game.

No. 9, 10, 10 Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina
These teams all need to win out and have some luck that the teams in front of them in the SEC, currently Alabama and Georgia, lose.

Unbeaten teams Baylor, Fresno St., Houston, Miami, Michigan, Northern Illinois and Texas Tech are all going to need multiple miracles to move that far up in the rankings but they deserve to stay in the conversation until they lose. And hey, miracles do happen.

January 3, 2013

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The Call That Changed Everything

By: Joe Williams

While most of the nation is looking ahead to next week’s BCS National Championship Game between Alabama and Notre Dame, I’m looking back. Back to October 13. Back to one play; one call; one moment that could define the 2012 college football season.

The Fighting Irish survived close call after close call during the regular season but perhaps the closest call of them all was in overtime against Stanford. It was surely the most controversial.

Notre Dame won some close games, maybe none closer than their overtime game against Stanford.

Trailing 20-13 and facing a fourth-and-goal from the one, Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor was stopped short of the goal line on his initial effort. He then twisted his body over the top of several other players and stretched the ball forward, appearing to reach the end zone.

But the call on the field was that he came up short. After a lengthy review, the ruling stood because there was no indisputable evidence to overturn the call. Notre Dame stormed the field in celebration and carried that momentum all the way to an undefeated season.

But what if Stanford had scored on that play and then went on to beat Notre Dame?

Only Ohio State would have finished the season without a loss, increasing the chances of the AP voting the Buckeyes No. 1 and giving us a split national championship. (But it would probably take everyone finishing with at least two losses for that to happen.)

Assuming the rest of the season played out the same – Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida, Oregon, Kansas State, Stanford and Northern Illinois – would all have just one loss. There’s some chaos for you.

Out of those seven teams, Stanford would have the best case to make about playing for the BCS Championship. They would have beaten a team ranked No. 17 or better four weeks in a row and have wins over both Oregon and Notre Dame…in overtime. Nobody else would have a resume even close to that.

Oregon and Notre Dame could both say they have the best loss but would the voters want to see a rematch against Stanford? And if so, is it Oregon or Notre Dame?

Florida and Alabama also have quality losses coming against Georgia and Texas A&M but the Crimson Tide are the SEC champs so we can then assume that Stanford would be facing off against Alabama for all the marbles. Of course, if the 4-team playoff was already in place, most of these questions would be answered on the field.

I think the country would be pretty pumped about a Stanford, Alabama, Notre Dame, and Oregon playoff. Well, everyone except Florida and Kansas State fans.

One more honor that changed hands during that final play in South Bend is the coach of the year. Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly has been named as the winner but Stanford head coach David Shaw would have been the coach of the year and maybe still should be. A year after winning 11 games and narrowly missing out on a chance to play for the BCS Championship, he’s got another 11-win team. And he’s done it without the great Andrew Luck.

December 4, 2012

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Bowl Season Observations

By: Joe Williams

College football’s regular season games have been played, the bowl selections have been made and now all there is to do is wait…for 2014. In two years we will finally get the college football playoff we’ve been waiting for. Until then, we are stuck with the BCS system that, every year, is filled with controversy.

Should Oklahoma have made a BCS bowl?

This year, the BCS has delivered the most disappointing and uninteresting lineup of games since the BCS system began. The Rose Bowl has a team that has already lost five times this year in Wisconsin. The Orange Bowl has a team that was never in the BCS discussion until there was one day left in the season and has the experts complaining that they don’t deserve to be in the game in Northern Illinios. In the Sugar Bowl we have a team that benefited by not having to play in its conference championship game in Florida taking on a team that has lost two of three and has not faced a ranked opponent all season in Louisville. And of course the BCS Championship Game will feature possibly the two most hated teams in college football (Notre Dame and Alabama) so many fans won’t even know who to root for. The only bright spot is the Fiesta Bowl. Oregon against Kansas State should be a good one.

Why is everyone getting so bent out of shape about Northern Illinois reaching the BCS anyway? So Oklahoma doesn’t get in this year. So what? The Sooners have played in the BCS eight times. I’d rather see some new blood get a chance. It’s not like the Sooners are left out of a national championship shot. Has everyone forgotten what happened when Boise State (2007 and 2010) and Utah (2005 and 2009) were in the BCS and people thought they shouldn’t be? I’m not saying Northern Illinois will beat Florida State. But they qualified for the game. If Oklahoma was so worried about playing in a BCS game it should have performed better against Notre Dame or Kansas State.

What happens if Alabama beats Notre Dame, leaving Ohio State as the only undefeated team? I don’t think it will happen and I don’t think it should happen (because the Buckeyes are not bowl eligible), but what are the chances that Ohio State could end up No. 1 in the AP and we have a split national championship? Talk about college football controversy.

If we have learned anything about college football and the people who run it over the years, it is that the most important thing is money. That is why I am surprised that we are still able to find out who will be playing in what bowl game before the actual BCS selection show is on TV. Why haven’t they come up with a selection show similar to the NFL draft where we have representatives from each bowl game coming up to the podium and announcing the team they have selected to play in each game. We would have teams all around the country gathered around the phone waiting for a call. I would have loved to see a split screen of the reactions from Oklahoma and Northern Illinois when the match-ups were made official. That would get higher ratings then having somebody from ESPN telling us what we have already known for days.

There are 35 games still to play. I’ve got no interest in most of them (East Carolina vs Louisana-Lafayette and Duke vs Cincinnati for example), and only one game means anything. Fortunately, we will go through this just one more time.

December 3, 2012

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Bowl game lineups set: College football’s massive bowl game lineup is now complete and, as expected, Alabama will face undefeated Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game. That’s not a big surprise as the Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in last week’s SEC championship. Even though the Irish are the undefeated team heading into the big game, expect powerhouse Alabama to be favored. While Notre Dame has struggled in several of their lesser games against the likes of mediocre teams such as Pitt, Purdue, and BYU, Alabama has plowed through the difficult SEC nearly unblemished. Notre Dame’s schedule was also a tough one, but the early pick here will be the Crimson Tide.

Alabama's SEC Championship win sent them to the BCS National Championship game.

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa projected to fall short of Hall of Fame: Three of MLB’s biggest stars of our generation, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa, are on the ballot for the sport’s Hall of Fame for the first time this year. But with their names tied to steroid use, all three will fall short of induction according to a recent survey taken by the Associated Press. Approximately 100 voters took part in the survey, and Clemens and Bonds received about 45% support while Sosa picked up only about 18% (75% is needed for induction). Even if the trio doesn’t get in this season, there will be plenty of opportunities for them down the road. But for Clemens and Bonds, the news would be particularly difficult to swallow since both were probable Hall of Famers before their alleged use.

ACC adds Louisville: After the defection of Maryland, who is headed to the Big Ten (or B1G … whichever you prefer), the ACC acted swiftly by adding Big East team Louisville. The move was somewhat of a surprise to many as Connecticut had been the trendy pick to receive the invitation. But the conference made it clear that they wanted a ‘football school’ with the move. The Cardinals aren’t a powerhouse by any means, but they have had some success in the Big East and was the conference’s champion this season. Louisville’s program needs to have some more good seasons to establish a bit of consistency, but current head coach Charlie Strong has them moving in the right direction.

Phoenix Suns offer money back guarantee: Desperate to hold onto a fan base not all that thrilled with the team’s rough start to the season, the Phoenix Suns are offering a money back guarantee for their game against the Dallas Mavericks this week. If fans at the game don’t think they’ve had a fun time, the franchise will reportedly offer them their money back according to this ESPN article. I don’t know all the details, but while this may sound like a good idea, part of me thinks the team may have been better off making this offer with a bad team in town. The Mavericks aren’t off to a great start so far, but are a pretty good team. And I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to have a good time when my favorite team wins.

Rick Majerus passes away: Popular college basketball head coach Rick Majerus passed away last week after heart failure. Majerus was most recently the coach of Saint Louis’ basketball team and took a leave of absence from the team earlier this year before the season began. He will probably be most remembered for his jovial personality, but Majerus was a pretty good coach as well. He took the little-regarded Utah Utes program to the NCAA championship game in 1998 and made them into a regular tournament team. Also, in his 25 years of coaching, he had only one losing season. It’s safe to say that he’ll be missed.