October 9, 2012

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BCS Championship Update

By: Joe Williams

A lot has happened in college football the last two weeks. The number of unbeaten teams has dropped from 27 to 16. 12 teams ranked in the top 25 have lost (including nine on Saturday). Some contenders have proven to be pretenders while new contenders have emerged. Where do we stand now?

Even with a move to the Big 12 this season, the Mountaineers remain undefeated.

I still believe the SEC winner plays in the big game. After watching South Carolina destroy Georgia on Saturday, it looks like the Gamecocks will take on the Alabama-LSU winner in the SEC Championship Game for a chance to play for the BCS title (but we have to at least mention that Florida and Mississippi St. are both still undefeated and could get there with some help). Against who?

That’s where the BCS comes into play. Take away the SEC and we still have 12 unbeatens. Cincinnati, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Notre Dame, Ohio, Ohio State, Oregon, Oregon State, Rutgers, Texas-San Antonio and West Virginia 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.

No. 2 Oregon
The Ducks have scored at least 42 points in every game. Expect them to get to 8-0 before facing three more ranked teams in November and then a possible Pac-12 title game. They win out and they will get a title shot.

No. 5 West Virginia

So far so good for the Mountaineers in their new conference. They have put up 118 points in the last two games, both against ranked opponents. Then again, they have given up 108 in those two games. Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma are still to come.

No. 6 Kansas State

If the Wildcats are going to run the table and win the Big 12, they will have to earn it with road games at Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU and Baylor. They got by the Sooners and take the trip to West Virginia in two weeks. That will essentially be an elimination game.

No. 7 Notre Dame

The Irish haven’t allowed a touchdown since Sept. 8. If the defense can do that to Stanford, Oklahoma and USC, the Irish will have an excellent chance to play for the BCS title.

No. 8 Ohio State

The Buckeyes are not eligible to play in a bowl game.

No. 10 Oregon State

The Beavers could be the surprise of the year. They play at Stanford but get Oregon at home. Lets see if they keep it going this week against a stout defense at BYU.

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. 11 USC

The Trojans will need to run the table, which would require beating Oregon and Notre Dame and hopefully, for USC, a rematch with Stanford in the PAC-12 title game. They’ll also need the Big 12 champs to lose.

No. 12 Florida State
The Seminoles don’t have as strong a schedule as some teams in front of them, but wins over Virginia Tech, Florida and in the ACC title game would give them a 12-1 record. They’ll need the Big 12 winner and everyone in PAC 12 to lose though.

No. 13 Oklahoma
The Sooners will have to go through Texas, Notre Dame, Baylor, West Virginia and TCU. If that happens and both Oregon schools lose, the Sooners will be there.

Unbeaten teams Cincinnati, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Ohio, Rutgers and Texas-San Antonio 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.

September 27, 2012

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College Football Playoff In 2012?

By: Joe Williams

For those of you who thought we had to wait a couple more years for a college football playoff, think again. Just a month ago 122 teams were unbeaten and dreaming of a national title. Now just 27 are left with an unblemished record. Two of them will probably meet for the BCS Championship in January and one of those spots will be determined in what is basically an SEC playoff.

On Nov. 3, No. 1 Alabama will visit No. 3 LSU. The winner should be in the SEC title game against the winner of the Oct. 6 game between No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 South Carolina. And the winner of the SEC title game will mostly likely play for the BCS Championship. This is essentially a four-team playoff for one spot in the BCS Championship. Undefeated Florida and Mississippi State can’t be counted out and could enter the conversation with a few more wins and some help.

Will Alabama return to the BCS Championship game this season?

Who will get the other spot and face the SEC winnner? That’s where the BCS comes into play. Take away the SEC and we still have 21 unbeatens. Baylor, Cincinnati, Florida State, Iowa State, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio, Ohio State, Oregon, Oregon State, Rutgers, Stanford, TCU, Texas, Texas San-Antonio, Texas Tech, and West Virginia 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.

No. 2 Oregon

The Ducks just beat a ranked opponent 49-0 and still have three ranked teams on their schedule and a possible Pac-12 title game. They win out and they will be in that game.

No. 4 Florida State
The Seminoles don’t have as strong a schedule as Oregon but wins over Virginia Tech, Florida and in the ACC title game would give them a resume worthy of the title game.

No. 7 Kansas State
The Wildcats seized control of the Big 12 with a road win over Oklahoma on Saturday night. With four ranked opponents still to play, they have a long way to go but will have a strong argument if they run the table.

No. 8 Stanford
Road wins at Notre Dame and Oregon would have the Cardinal in position to head to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

No. 9 West Virginia
Welcome to the Big 12 Mountaineers. With five games against ranked teams in the next seven weeks, West Virginia has its work cut out for it and maybe the toughest remaining schedule in the country.

No. 10 Notre Dame
The Irish have skyrocketed up the rankings after wins over Michigan and Michigan State without allowing a touchdown. Stanford, Oklahoma and USC still left to play.

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. 13 USC
The Trojans will need to run the table, which would require beating Oregon and Notre Dame and hopefully for USC a rematch with Stanford in the PAC-12 title game. They’ll also need Florida State and the Big 12 champs to lose.

No. 16 Oklahoma
The Sooners will have to go through Texas, Notre Dame, Baylor, West Virginia and TCU. If that happens and Oregon, Florida State, Stanford and USC lose the Sooners will be there.

No. 20 Michigan State
The Spartans will have to beat Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska, hope everyone has at least one loss, Notre Dame loses twice and Boise State finishes at 11-1.

Hey. It could happen. But so could a thousand other scenarios. That’s what makes college football great.

July 31, 2012

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Top College Football Games Of 2012

By: Joe Williams

We are officially less than a month away from kickoff of the 2012 college football season. Can’t wait! (Thank you Bart Scott) College football always provides the most entertaining regular season of the major sports in America. We don’t know which games are going to mean the most or be the best, but here are a few that I’ll have marked on my TV watching calendar.

You can bet Mountaineer Field will be rowdy when Oklahoma visits this season.

Boise State at Michigan State

Friday, August 31

The Broncos came out of nowhere to become a major force in college football in the last few years. Boise St. has gone on the road against some big-time schools in recent years; Georgia, Virginia Tech, Oregon and Oklahoma have all paid the price for taking the field against the Broncos. Fortunately, that didn’t stop Michigan State from agreeing to play in the opening week of the season. If the Broncos win, (despite having to replace the majority for their starters), they could be in for another season of BCS debate.

Alabama at Michigan

Saturday, September 1

The defending national champs have a huge test right out of the gate. Michigan is on the way back to the top of college football and a win here would be a huge step for the program. The Tide will have to run the table if they lose. Both of these storied programs have their sights set on the BCS title game in January. The winner of this game could be there.

Clemson at Florida State

September 22

Who’s going to win the ACC? Will it mean anything in the national championship picture? If anybody from the ACC will make a run at a title, I think it starts here. Of course, Virginia Tech will have something to say about that but I’ll take this game.

Oregon at USC

November 3

College football will have a playoff system but not this year. This game ought to be as close to a playoff game as we get in 2012. Both teams enter the season as national championship contenders. Both teams could be undefeated. Both teams want home-field advantage for the Pac-12 title game. Only one team will be left standing.

Oklahoma at West Virginia

November 17

One of the good things about all the realignment happening in college football is that we will get to see some different matchups. Two BCS game regulars are now conference rivals (West Virginia is now in the Big 12) and the winner here could be in the national championship discussion.

LSU at Arkansas

November 23

The rest of the country should be tired of the SEC dominating college football. That’s not likely to change much but this game could at least provide a different SEC team for the nation to root against. Will this be the year the Razorbacks make the jump to the top of the SEC? It will take a victory over the Tigers to make that happen.

May 30, 2012

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Why The ACC Is Still Relevant

By: Anson Whaley

With news a few weeks back that the Big 12 and SEC were planning a major bowl game tie-in similar to the Big Ten and Pac 12 Rose Bowl, all sorts of guns were jumped in relegating the ACC to the Big East’s status. And when rumors floated that Florida State and/or Miami and Clemson could soon exit the conference for presumably greener pastures in the Big 12, the ACC’s death was all but written on a tombstone.

What would become of the ACC if Florida State left?

The only problem was that common sense was somehow lost in the melee.

The biggest factor is that considering Florida State, Clemson, and Miami all but gone is really taking a leap of faith. While it’s well known that Florida State wasn’t exactly in a state of euphoria about the ACC’s new long-term deal with ESPN, it’s still no guarantee they’re leaving the conference. Florida State is a better fit geographically in the ACC and all three leaving is an even bigger long shot.

Here’s one fact often forgotten in this whole mess. Many will quickly point to the schools’ distaste for North Carolina and Duke receiving special treatment in the ACC, but the trio would quickly discover that Texas reigns supreme in the Big 12. If they think they’d receive much more respect in a midwestern conference where Texas and Oklahoma are considered kings, they’ve got another thing coming.

The concern amongst fans of other ACC teams about the conference being left out of the discussion when it comes to playing in a potential playoff pitting four teams is also a bit misguided. Those making decisions in college football already get a ton of heat for not making the national championship open to enough schools. So now, they’re going to risk litigation by shutting out even more programs? Sorry, I just don’t see it. Right now, there are six power conferences that receive automatic bids – the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, ACC, and Big East. If the ACC were left out of a playoff scenario, you can bet that the Big East would have no shot at it as well. It’s difficult to imagine a national championship playoff with even fewer teams given access.

Florida State, Clemson, and Miami should all recognize this. Problem is, though, there’s another factor in play – money. If those schools can make considerably more money in the Big 12 or SEC, they’d almost certainly consider it.

So with that in mind, let’s set up a hypothetical situation – say all three leave the conference … then what? Technically, I still think the ACC could survive. While those three are a large part of the conference, the basketball side of things would remain virtually unaffected. With North Carolina, Duke, Pitt, and Syracuse still around, the ACC would continue to be one of the most dominant basketball conference in college basketball. That’s got to count for something, right?

Football drives the bus, though, and I get it. The simple fact is that if all three bolted, the conference could be in serious trouble. But Virginia Tech has been the class of the conference on the gridiron and the ACC would still have them as a foundation. There’s also Georgia Tech, Pitt, North Carolina State, Virginia, North Carolina, Boston College, and Maryland. All of those teams have had solid seasons in recent memory and while none are powerhouses, there’s enough talent there to justify a playoff spot being given to an undefeated team. The ACC could also try to pluck additional mid-card schools such as UConn, Louisville, or Rutgers from the Big East. Smirk all you want at that group of schools, but the Huskies and Cardinals would bring even more basketball talent to the conference and Rutgers would include more eyeballs in the attractive New York/New Jersey market.

It’s still entirely too early to figure out how all of this plays out. But the safe bet is that the ACC stays alive throughout all of this.