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November 29, 2005

Jimbo's Top 15 - Week 14

1. USC
2. Texas
3. Penn State
4. LSU
5. Oregon
6. Notre Dame
7. Ohio State
8. Auburn
9. Virginia Tech
10. Georgia
11. Miami
12. Alabama
13. UCLA
14. West Virginia
15. TCU

Fixing the BCS

I received a comment a couple of days ago asking where Oregon might wind up in the annual mass confusion that is our current bowl system. The poster already spewed a little venom at Notre Dame, as he is undoubtedly bracing for his Ducks to be overlooked despite a 10-1 record. If Oregon does not receive a BCS bid, it will be an injustice. Let's be clear about that. But Notre Dame is not the proper target for DuckNation to unleash some angry quacking.

No, the fault lies with the conference commissioners, who have created a system that rewards potential mediocrity. Florida State (7-4) and Colorado (7-4) are still alive for automatic BCS bids, while UCLA and Oregon can both finish with just one loss and be shut out. Why must a conference champion be guaranteed a BCS bid? Winning a conference is a tremendous accomplishment, one that should be capable of standing on its own. If Colorado defeats Texas on Saturday, does anyone really believe the Buffs had a better season than the Longhorns? Isn't it accolade enough to be crowned the Big XII champion without being given the additional honor of being murdered in the Fiesta Bowl?

BCS selection should be entirely at-large. To avoid undue controversy (for instance in selecting two 9-2 teams like Notre Dame and Ohio State over a one-loss team like Oregon), there should be air-tight selection criteria. Starting next year, there will be five BCS bowls. So why not send the top two teams to the championship game and 3-10 to the other four games? If you win your conference and finish outside the top ten in the BCS, you're likely to be murdered in a BCS game, anyway.

Here's what the BCS might look like this year under my suggested format.

(Note: This projection assumes that all favorites win this weekend's games. I am using the current BCS selection order of Orange-Fiesta-Sugar. Where possible, I have selected teams with traditional tie-ins to the bowl in question. I have avoided scheduling rematches.)

Rose Bowl
#1 Southern California (12-0) vs. #2 Texas (12-0)

Orange Bowl
#8 Notre Dame (9-2) vs. #5 Virginia Tech (11-1)

Fiesta Bowl
#3 Penn State (10-1) vs. #7 Oregon (10-1)

Sugar Bowl
#4 LSU (11-1) vs. #6 Ohio State (9-2)

This scenario would obviously upset Big East champion West Virginia. However, in this situation I think this would be a good thing. For any program or conference that feels slighted by my BCS system, there is only one solution: schedule tougher out-of-conference games to impress the voters and computers. Ohio State clearly is being rewarded for its close loss to Texas. Despite its opponents' combined record, Notre Dame always is rewarded for filling its schedule with names like Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Michigan and Southern Cal. Any system that forces more schools to surrender their record-padding ways in favor of scheduling great matchups is a good system in my book.

November 27, 2005

Gerry's Top 25 and BCS Projections: Week 14

The 2005-06 bowl picture is starting to clear up. Southern Cal, Penn State, and West Virginia have all clinched BCS berths. Notre Dame is a near lock as well. Texas vs. Colorado, Virginia Tech vs. Florida State, and LSU vs. Georgia will produce three more BCS teams. Spot number eight will come down to Ohio State or Oregon, both of whose regular seasons are over. In short, the BCS will be riddled in controversy once more.

THE TOP TEN
1. Southern Cal (11-0) - The UCLA Bruins will have lots of fans this weekend in places like Baton Rouge, State College ... well I'm sure lots of other places, too.
2. Texas (11-0) - Anybody who watched the Nebraska-Colorado game this weekend should be rooting for a Texas blowout in the Big XII championship game. Just in case anyone forgot, the Colorado faithful reminded everyone what thugs they are.
3. LSU (10-1) - Can a weekend go by without LSU almost losing? Okay, besides that Tennessee thing.
4. Penn State (10-1) - The Big Ten champions await assignment.
5. Notre Dame (9-2) - Notre Dame's special teams were terrible on Saturday, and Brady Quinn threw two senseless interceptions. However, the Irish offensive juggernaut rolled once again, this time right into the BCS.
6. Auburn (9-2) - It's too bad Auburn can't play Oregon in a pseudo-BCS game. No matter what system you come up with, some teams will have legitimate gripes.
7. Virginia Tech (10-1) - The Hokies need only beat Florida State to win the ACC for the second consecutive year. And why not? Everybody else has been beating the Seminoles.
8. Ohio State (9-2) - The Buckeyes deserve a BCS bid, but their fans don't. There should be a rule. If your fans make the news for defecating in a cooler, you don't get a BCS bid.
9. Miami-FL (9-2) - Between the way Larry Coker is talking and the Hurricanes are playing, you get the impression this team doesn't really care anymore.
10. UCLA (9-1) - A win over the hated Trojans would make this a magical season for the Bruins, even if the BCS snubs them.

THE REST
11. Oregon (10-1)
12. Georgia (9-2)
13. TCU (10-1)
14. Texas Tech (10-1)
15. Florida (8-3)
16. West Virginia (9-1)
17. Louisville (8-2)
18. Wisconsin (9-3)
19. Alabama (9-2)
20. Central Florida (8-3)
21. Clemson (7-4)
22. Boston College (8-3)
23. Michigan (7-4)
24. Fresno State (8-3)
25. Georgia Tech (7-4)

BCS Projections
Rose Bowl: Southern Cal vs. Texas
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Penn State
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Ohio State
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. West Virginia

November 24, 2005

Jimbo's Top 15 - Week 13

1. USC
2. Texas
3. Penn State
4. LSU
5. Oregon
6. Notre Dame
7. Ohio State
8. Auburn
9. Virginia Tech
10. Fresno State
11. Georgia
12. Miami
13. Alabama
14. UCLA
15. West Virginia

November 21, 2005

BCS Scenarios Aplenty

We're down to only two weekends of college football, but there are still plenty of things that can happen. Even if all of the favorites were to win out, the BCS picture is still hazy for the moment. Obviously, USC and Texas would meet in the Rose Bowl; LSU would represent the SEC in the Sugar Bowl; Virginia Tech would represent the ACC in the Orange Bowl; West Virginia would receive an automatic berth for winning the Big East. But who receives the two at-large berths?

Scenario 1: Assuming Notre Dame beats Stanford this Saturday in Palo Alto, it's safe to assume that the Irish would get one at-large berth. Selecting the other at-large team could get tricky, as there are two teams that are both very deserving—Oregon and Ohio State. Both teams have already finished their seasons. Oregon finished 10-1, their only loss coming against #1 USC, 45-13. Ohio State finished 9-2, with their losses coming against #2 Texas, 25-22, and #4 Penn State, 17-10.

So which team is more deserving? There seems to be no consensus among the experts. ESPN's Ivan Maisel and Pat Forde and College Football Blog's very own Gerry Meskill are all picking Ohio State as the second at-large team. On the other hand, CBS SportsLine and SI.com's Stewart Mandel are both picking Oregon.

The decision may come down to whom the Fiesta Bowl selects with its first pick. Again assuming there are no more upsets for the remainder of the season, the Fiesta Bowl would get to select first among the other three BCS games and would likely take either Penn State or Notre Dame. The Orange Bowl would then likely select whomever the Fiesta Bowl does not take. So a Notre Dame - Penn State BCS matchup, as sexy as it would be, seems to be an impossibility, and will have to wait until Sept. 9, 2006, when the two teams will meet in Notre Dame Stadium.

If the Fiesta Bowl wants Penn State, then Oregon would be a lock as their opponent. They wouldn't want to stage a Penn State - Ohio State rematch featuring two Big Ten teams. If they take Notre Dame, however, either Oregon or Ohio State would be a good matchup for the Irish.

So which is it? Penn State - Oregon, Notre Dame - Oregon, or Notre Dame - Ohio State? If I had to guess, I'd say Notre Dame - Oregon. The Ducks have a better record than the Bucks and I doubt the Fiesta Bowl committee would be too thrilled about having Ohio State compete in their bowl game for the second consecutive year and the third time in four years. Eventually, enough is enough. So, assuming no more upsets, my BCS projections are as follows:

Rose Bowl: USC vs. Texas
Orange Bowl: Penn State vs. Virginia Tech
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. West Virginia
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Oregon

In my opinion, this would be the teams that are selected by the BCS bowl game committees. I'm wondering, however, whether or not these pairings would be adjusted by a clause included at the end of the selection order guidelines. The clause states:

The pairings established by this selection process may be adjusted by the conference and institutions participating in the BCS, in consultation with the BCS bowls and ABC, in the interest of creating the most exciting and competitive post season matchups possible.

Could this be the ticket to a dream matchup between Notre Dame and Penn State in either the Fiesta Bowl or the Orange Bowl? That would leave us with an Oregon - Virginia Tech matchup or could possibly open the door up for an Ohio State - Virginia Tech matchup in the Orange Bowl. The bottom line is nothing is set in stone, even if there are no more upsets for the rest of the year.

So what about the possibility of upsets then? Things could get quite chaotic in a hurry if, say, UCLA were to beat USC and/or Texas were to fall to either Texas A&M or their Big 12 Championship Game opponent. Below are some other possible scenarios:


Scenario 2: UCLA beats USC and everything else goes according to plan. USC would still get an automatic BCS berth by winning the Pac-10 championship. UCLA would likely get an at-large berth and both Oregon and Ohio State would be squeezed out. In this scenario:

Rose Bowl: Texas vs. Penn State
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. USC
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. West Virginia
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame vs. UCLA

Of course the problem with this scenario is that it puts USC in the Orange Bowl for the second year in a row and the third time in four years. You can't put them in them in the Fiesta Bowl vs. Notre Dame because that would be a rematch. Another option would be to move USC to the Sugar Bowl against West Virginia and have Virginia Tech play LSU in the Orange Bowl.


Scenario 3: Texas A&M beats Texas and everything else goes according to plan. Texas would still get an automatic berth for winning the Big 12 championship. The Orange Bowl would select first, not the Fiesta Bowl. In this scenario:

Rose Bowl: USC vs. Penn State
Orange Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. West Virginia
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Oregon

This scenario benefits Oregon greatly. It almost assures them an at-large spot because the Fiesta Bowl would not want to feature a Texas - Ohio State rematch.


Scenario 4: Texas loses the Big 12 Championship Game and everything else goes according to plan. Let's assume Colorado is the Big 12 winner in this scenario. Colorado would get the automatic bid but Texas would likely still get an at-large spot. Again, the Orange Bowl would select first in this scenario:

Rose Bowl: USC vs. Penn State
Orange Bowl: Texas vs. Virginia Tech
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. West Virginia
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Colorado


Scenario 5: Texas loses their final two games and everything else goes according to plan. Again, let's assume Colorado is the Big 12 champ. In this scenario, Texas would be out of luck and we'd likely get a rematch of the 2002 Fiesta Bowl:

Rose Bowl: USC vs. Penn State
Orange Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. West Virginia
Fiesta Bowl: Colorado vs. Oregon


Scenario 6: All hell breaks loose. USC and Texas both lose one game. Texas loses to Colorado in the Big 12 Championship Game. The situation gets ugly in a hurry, especially if you're a UCLA fan. USC would still get an automatic berth and UCLA would likely be on the outside looking in, despite having beaten USC and finishing with the same number of losses. The Sugar Bowl would select first after losing LSU to the Rose Bowl. Here it is:

Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. LSU
Orange Bowl: Texas vs. Virginia Tech
Sugar Bowl: Notre Dame vs. West Virginia
Fiesta Bowl: USC vs. Colorado


Scenario 6b: Of course, if UCLA were to beat USC on the final week of the season and assuming Texas had lost to Colorado, UCLA, at 10-1, just might find their way to that #1 or #2 spot as an at-large team. It's not unreasonable to assume considering they would have slayed the giant. Then we would see:

Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. UCLA
Orange Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. West Virginia
Fiesta Bowl: USC vs. Colorado


Scenario 7: USC loses once. Texas loses twice. Assume UCLA is not ranked #1 or #2. (If they were, look at scenario 6b.) Here we go:

Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. LSU
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. UCLA
Sugar Bowl: Notre Dame vs. West Virginia
Fiesta Bowl: USC vs. Colorado


So there you have it. That's quite the list of scenarios. And that's only scratching the surface of what could possibly transpire over the next 12 days. And in fact, it's only my best guess as to what would happen. If you have some other thoughts, feel free to share them.

November 19, 2005

Gerry's Top 25 and BCS Projections: Week 13

Wow. Georgia Tech shook the walls. With the Yellow Jackets' upset victory over the Hurricanes, things get much more interesting in the BCS picture. Virginia Tech has the inside track to face Florida State in the ACC championship game. Let's assume they defeat the Seminoles. Then there's the SEC title game. Let's assume LSU defeats Georgia in that game. Then, the at-large picture comes down to a few eligible bachelors: Notre Dame, Auburn, Ohio State, Miami, UCLA and Oregon. Of this list, Oregon is the only one-loss team. If Oregon's name were "Ohio State," that would make them a shoe-in for a BCS bid. However, the Ducks don't have much drawing power, and it is likely they will be passed over for some two-loss teams. My hunch right now is that the Buckeyes and the Irish will be the at-large selections.

Southern Cal and Texas are on a collision course for Pasadena. Since the Pac-10 hosts the Rose Bowl anyway, the Trojans' appearance in the national championship game warrants no compensatory pick. However, the Fiesta Bowl is hosted by the Big XII champion, which figures to be Texas. Therefore, the Fiesta Bowl will choose first, and will likely pick Notre Dame. The second pick would fall to the Orange Bowl, which is hosted by the ACC champion (projected to be Virginia Tech). My guess is that Ohio State will prove more attractive than Penn State, which goes against just about everyone else's opinion. I'm also factoring in that the Buckeyes have been to the Fiesta Bowl twice in the past three years (2003 victory over Miami-FL, 2004 victory over Kansas State), and the BCS has the right to rearrange things in the interests of college football. The Fiesta Bowl has the third pick, and will make the obvious choice of Penn State over the Big East champion (projected to be West Virginia). That leaves the Sugar Bowl with the dud.

THE TOP TEN
1. Southern Cal (11-0) - Despite a sizeable scare from Fresno State, the Trojans remain atop this list. Texas had the same type of hiccup against Oklahoma State not long ago. When you win seven million games in a row, some of them will be ugly.
2. Texas (10-0) - The only way Texas loses is if it starts looking ahead to Pasadena. The Aggies and whatever joke the North produces will be pumped up to take on Bevo and company, but the Longhorns should roll.
3. LSU (9-1) - How LSU lost to Tennessee we may never know.
4. Notre Dame (8-2) - The Irish better not overlook Stanford. That would be a $15 million mistake.
5. Penn State (10-1) - The 3-5 rankings were almost a toss-up for me. Penn State is solid, and like LSU and Notre Dame easily could be undefeated. Regardless of ranking, the Nittany Lions are Big Ten champions and headed to Tempe or Miami for the holidays.
6. Auburn (9-2) - The Tigers exposed the Crimson Tide in the Iron Bowl. I hope nobody was shocked.
7. Virginia Tech (9-1) - The pain of being humiliated by Miami is wearing off quickly in Blacksburg. The team the ACC didn't want will get a chance to defend its conference title.
8. Ohio State (9-2) - It took a little bit of magic, but Jim Tressel improved to 4-1 against his hated foe to the north.
9. Miami-FL (8-2) - No matter what position I take on the Hurricanes I wind up being wrong. This time The Seventh Floor crew was on the receiving end of .... it's better if I don't finish that thought.
10. UCLA (9-1) - Karl Dorrell and company will be reviewing tape from the Fresno State game to find insight into how to dethrone the champions. With a share of the Pac-10 title (tie-breakers aside) on the line, the battle for the Victory Bell should be even more interesting than usual.

THE REST
11. Oregon (10-1)
12. Fresno State (8-2)
13. Georgia (8-2)
14. TCU (10-1)
15. Texas Tech (9-2)
16. West Virginia (8-1)
17. Louisville (7-2)
18. Georgia Tech (7-3)
19. Wisconsin (8-3)
20. Florida State (7-3)
21. Florida (7-3)
22. Alabama (9-2)
23. Iowa State (7-3)
24. Central Florida (8-3)
25. Clemson (7-4)

BCS Projections
Rose Bowl: Southern Cal vs. Texas
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Penn State
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Ohio State
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. West Virginia

November 16, 2005

Jimbo's Top 15 - Week 12

1. USC
2. Texas
3. Miami
4. Penn State
5. LSU
6. Notre Dame
7. Oregon
8. Virginia Tech
9. Alabama
10. Auburn
11. Ohio State
12. Fresno State
13. Georgia
14. UCLA
15. West Virginia

November 15, 2005

Bowl Projections

I've projected the remainder of all bowl eligible teams' schedules to come up with the final conference placings, and having done so I must say I respect the work done by those ESPN guys. My picks were compiled without comparing to Ivan Maisel's or Pat Forde's, but I'll list all three so that you can compare. Let's see who winds up coming the closest come bowl season...

Bowl Ivan Maisel Pat Forde Gerry Meskill
Rose
BCS/BCS
USC
Texas
USC
Texas
USC (12-0)
Texas (12-0)
Orange
BCS/BCS
Miami
Penn St
Miami
Penn St
Miami (11-1)
Penn St (10-1)
Sugar
BCS/BCS
LSU
W Virginia
LSU
W Virginia
LSU (11-1)
W Virginia (10-1)
Fiesta
BCS/BCS
Notre Dame
Ohio St
Notre Dame
Va Tech
Notre Dame (9-2)
Va Tech (10-1)
Capital One
B10/SEC
Wisconsin
Auburn
Wisconsin
Auburn
Michigan (8-3)
Auburn (9-2)
Gator
BEast/ACC
Louisville
Va Tech
Louisville
Florida St
Louisville (9-2)
BC (8-3)
Outback
B10/SEC
Michigan
South Carolina
Ohio St
Georgia
Ohio St (8-3)
Alabama (9-2)
Cotton
B12/SEC
Oklahoma
Georgia
Tx Tech
Alabama
Tx Tech (8-3)
Georgia (9-3)
Houston
SEC/B12
Ga Tech
Kansas
TCU
Iowa St
Col St (6-5)
Nebraska (6-5)
Liberty
USA/TBA
UTEP
Maryland
UTEP
Ga Tech
UTEP (11-1)
Fresno St (10-2)
Car Care
BEast/ACC
So Florida
Clemson
So Florida
Virginia
So Florida (7-4)
Ga Tech (6-5)
Peach
ACC/SEC
Florida St
Alabama
BC
So Carolina
Florida St (7-5)
So Carolina (8-3)
Indep
SEC/B12
Florida
Iowa St
Florida
Nebraska
Florida (8-3)
Missouri (7-4)
Sun
P10/B10
UCLA
Minnesota
UCLA
Iowa
UCLA (9-2)
Iowa (7-4)
Music City
B10/SEC
Nwestern
Tennessee
Nwestern
Tennessee
Wisconsin (9-3)
Tennessee (6-5)
Holiday
P10/B12
Oregon
Colorado
Oregon
Oklahoma
Oregon (10-1)
Oklahoma (7-4)
Emerald
P10/MWC
California
BYU
California
Col St
Navy (7-4)
BYU (7-4)
Alamo
B10/B12
Iowa
Tx Tech
Michigan
Colorado
Nwestern (7-4)
Colorado (8-4)
MPC
WAC/ACC
Boise St
Virginia
Boise St
Maryland
Boise St (9-3)
Clemson (6-5)
Insight
P10/BEast
Stanford
Rutgers
Stanford
Rutgers
Cal (7-4)
Rutgers (7-4)
Champs
ACC/B12
BC
Nebraska
Clemson
Missouri
Maryland (6-5)
Iowa St (8-3)
Motor City
B10/MAC
Marshall
Toledo
Minnesota
Toledo
Minnesota (7-4)
Toledo (10-2)
Hawaii
WAC/USA
Fresno St
Southern Miss
Fresno St
Tulsa
Nevada (7-4)
Tulsa (10-2)
Fort Worth
B12/USA
Missouri
Tulsa
Kansas
Houston
Virginia (6-5)
Houston (7-4)
Poinsettia
MWC/TBA
New Mexico
Navy
New Mexico
Navy
New Mexico (7-4)
W. Michigan (7-4)
Las Vegas
P10/MWC
Arizona St
TCU
Arizona St
BYU
Arizona St (6-5)
TCU (10-1)
GMAC
USA/TBA
C. Florida
Miami-OH
C. Florida
Miami-OH
C. Florida (8-4)
Miami-OH (9-4)
New Orleans
SBelt/USA
La. Monroe
Houston
La. Lfyette
So. Miss
Arkansas St (6-5)
So. Miss (6-5)

November 14, 2005

Gerry's Top 25 and BCS Projections: Week 12

THE TOP TEN
1. Southern Cal (10-0) - The road to the Rose Bowl isn't quite clear yet for the two-time defending champions. Fresno State and UCLA both bring legitimate upset bids into the Coliseum. And both the Bulldogs and Bruins will lose.
2. Texas (10-0) - I know that Texas vs. Texas A&M is a big rivalry game. But unless Bear Bryant rises from the dead, the Longhorns should plan on returning to Pasadena.
3. Miami-FL (8-1) - The Hurricanes should have no trouble reaching the ACC title game, where they'll face the Seminoles for what seems like the 80th time in the last two years.
4. LSU (8-1) - So long as the Tigers don't let their guard down, they should be headed toward a showdown with Georgia for the SEC title. I've been picking this team to win the conference all along.
5. Notre Dame (7-2) - The Irish are sleepwalking their way to the Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame owes Syracuse some payback, and this one should get ugly pretty quickly.
6. Penn State (9-1) - If the Nittany Lions don't win the Big Ten, they'll have no one to blame but themselves. Michigan State is not exactly a powerhouse.
7. Virginia Tech (8-1) - If the Hokies win out (@ UVA, vs. UNC), they'll get the Nebraska treatment from the BCS system. It's nice to duck the conference championship game.
8. Ohio State (8-2) - The Buckeyes are better than the Wolverines. And that's exactly why Michigan will beat them. This rivalry just seems to work that way.
9. Auburn (8-2) - The Tigers really aren't that far off of being unbeaten. But unless LSU loses before the SEC championship game, they won't have the opportunity to defend their SEC title.
10. Alabama (9-1) - I promised you that LSU would beat the Tide. Now that they're no longer undefeated, I don't have to feel guilty about ranking this team where I think it belongs.

THE REST
11. UCLA (9-1)
12. Oregon (9-1)
13. Fresno State (8-1)
14. Georgia (7-2)
15. TCU (10-1)
16. West Virginia (8-1)
17. UTEP (8-1)
18. Louisville (7-2)
19. South Carolina (7-3)
20. Texas Tech (8-2)
21. Oklahoma (6-3)
22. Michigan (7-3)
23. Wisconsin (8-3)
24. Florida State (7-3)
25. Florida (7-3)

BCS Projections
Rose Bowl: Southern Cal vs. Texas
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech
Orange Bowl: Miami-FL vs. Penn State
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. West Virginia

November 12, 2005

Week 11: GameDay Picks

It's Showdown Saturday in the SEC. Between the hedges tonight, #15 Auburn takes on #9 Georgia for the 109th time in the Deep South's oldest rivalry. But even that's not where the hype is today because earlier in the afternoon #5 LSU comes to Tuscaloosa to face #4 Alabama in a game that may decide control of the SEC West, if not have national championship implications for both teams.

College GameDay is in Tuscaloosa for the big showdown. Following last Saturday's Miami win over VT, the standings through ten weeks are:

Jimbo 6-4
Lee Corso 6-4
Kirk Herbstreit 5-5

Today, Corso picked LSU, while Herbstreit picked home underdog Alabama. I'm with Corso on this one. Alabama has not faced any really tough competition this year, and they've struggled to win some of the games that they have. One offensive touchdown in the last three games is not the confidence you want to have when you go up against #5 LSU if you're a Tide fan. The Tigers will be the only ones rolling today. Their defense shuts out Alabama's meager offense.

Jimbo's Pick: LSU 20 - Alabama 0

November 09, 2005

Jimbo's Top 15 - Week 11

1. USC
2. Texas
3. Alabama
4. Miami
5. Penn State
6. LSU
7. Notre Dame
8. Oregon
9. Virginia Tech
10. Florida
11. Georgia
12. Ohio State
13. Auburn
14. Texas Tech
15. Fresno State

November 08, 2005

Bruins, Hokies Go Down

UCLA's luck finally ran out on Saturday as they showed up in Tucson unprepared and unmotivated and got absolutely blown out by Arizona, 52-14. It was one of the most lopsided games I've ever witnessed, and that's saying something considering it was the 2-6 team beating up on the 8-0 team. UCLA had overachieved all season; Arizona had underachieved. And finally on Saturday afternoon in Tucson, the tables turned. I made the 500-mile roadtrip from Los Angeles to witness it.

Sign shows that I'm closing in on Tucson

Here comes the prey.

UCLA takes the field

As you can see, it was a beautiful afternoon for football. It may be November, but in Arizona, it was mostly sunny and a high of 84 degrees. And since it was homecoming and there was an undefeated team in town, the stadium was nearly filled to capacity, which isn't bad when your team is 2-6.

Arizona Stadium

It wasn't even halftime when this thing started to get really ugly. The Bruins couldn't move the ball. The Wildcats couldn't be stopped.

Scoreboard: Arizona 28 - UCLA 0 with 10:08 in second quarter

The guy carrying this flag probably started cramping up by the fourth quarter.

UofA flag

Meanwhile, about 3,000 miles to the east, Miami completely shut down previously unbeaten Virginia Tech, the opposite of what I had predicted. It was not the Hokie defense, but rather the 'Cane D that made the big impact on this game as Miami rolled to a 27-7 win. The Hurricanes pressured Marcus Vick all night and made him look absolutely mediocre, as he finished 8-of-22 for 90 yards, 0 TDs, and 2 INTs.

We started with five. Now we're down to three: USC, Texas, Alabama.

November 05, 2005

Gerry's Top 25 and BCS Projections: Week 11

THE TOP TEN
1. Southern Cal (9-0) - I'm writing this before the Trojans' latest conquest has ended, but I've seen enough of this team to predict the outcome. UCLA may give the Trojans a hard time based on civic pride, but I can't honestly see this team losing in the regular season.
2. Texas (9-0) - The Longhorns bounced back nicely after last week's struggles against Oklahoma State, and made me look a little foolish in the process. Go Bevo!
3. Alabama (9-0) - The Crimson Tide are undefeated. I'll drop them once they inevitably lose.
4. Miami-FL (7-1) - I was way off on Miami. The 'Canes made the Hokies look very ordinary.
5. LSU (7-1) - The Tigers are still my choice to win the SEC. Look for them to knock off Alabama.
6. Notre Dame (6-2) - Some people find it hard to put a two-loss team up this high. On the other hand, this team is two plays away from being undefeated and the number two ranking.
7. Penn State (9-1) - The Nittany Lions smoked Wisconsin. Penn State controls its own destiny in the Big Ten, with only Michigan State to go.
8. Virginia Tech (8-1) - So much for the Hokies' national title run. A BCS bowl berth is still possible, but one more slip-up and this team might not even play on New Year's Day.
9. Georgia (7-1) - Like I said last week, if Shockley hadn't gone down, this team would be undefeated.
10. Ohio State (7-2) - The Buckeyes need help from the Spartans if they hope to win the Big Ten. Of course, they have to beat the Wolverines, too.

THE REST
11. Oregon (8-1)
12. Auburn (7-2)
13. UCLA (8-1)
14. West Virginia (7-1)
15. Texas Tech (8-1)
16. Florida State (6-2)
17. Wisconsin (8-2)
18. Florida (7-2)
19. TCU (8-1)
20. Fresno State (7-1)
21. Colorado (7-2)
22. Boise State (7-2)
23. Georgia Tech (6-2)
24. Louisville (6-2)
25. UTEP (7-1)

BCS Projections
Rose Bowl: Southern Cal vs. Texas
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech
Orange Bowl: Miami-FL vs. Penn State
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. West Virginia

My Game for Week 10: UCLA at Arizona

It's the first Saturday in November and I'm here in the desert this weekend, Tucson, Arizona, for this afternoon's Pac-10 battle between the undefeated UCLA Bruins (8-0, 5-0) and the Arizona Wildcats (2-6, 1-4). UCLA comes in 8-0 after needing big fourth quarter comebacks to win four of their last five games. Arizona, for a 2-6 team, has had some good looking performances that they just couldn't quite finish. Today, Arizona will test the Bruins early but UCLA will turn it on late.

Jimbo's Pick: UCLA 49 - Arizona 35

Week 10: GameDay Picks

Heading into week 10, the standings are:

Jimbo 6-3
Kirk Herbstreit 5-4
Lee Corso 5-4

This weekend, the College GameDay crew is in Blackburg, Virginia for Miami - Virginia Tech. Today is the day for the Hokies to make a statement if they want to have any say in the BCS title picture. Corso's got the 'Canes in a mild upset; Herbstreit's got the Hokies. I'm also taking Virginia Tech in this one. Their defense clamps down and stuffs Miami.

Jimbo's Pick: Virginia Tech 20 - Miami 10

November 03, 2005

Mr. Whitlock, Maybe You're the Racist

Jason Whitlock, when it comes to color issues, the only color I paint you is yellow – as in "yellow journalist."

For those of you who missed it, Whitlock argued on ESPN's Page 2 that Charlie Weis' contract extension is an act of racism. After forcing myself to read his drivel and then sift through the angry messages he fielded on an ESPN chat wrap the next day, it seems clear to me that Whitlock's declaration is based more on emotion than fact. To me, this makes his latest piece an act of overt racism.

To be fair, let's analyze the facts on which he is basing his thesis. Tyrone Willingham opened the 2002 season 8-0. Weis opened the 2005 season 5-2. Willingham did not receive a contract extension. Weis did. Willingham was given three years before Notre Dame removed him. Other (white) coaches with similar winning percentages were given more time.

If we stopped there, Whitlock might seem to have a point. However, when you only look at the facts that help your argument, you can prove just about anything. Take Platonian logic for example: God is love. Love is blind. Ray Charles was blind. Ray Charles was God. Okay, I digress, but the point stands. Taken alone, each of these sentences represents either an indisputable fact or a widely accepted philosophy, except for the conclusion of course.

Now, Whitlock insists that he had no problem with the Willingham firing. He says that he thinks Weis is a superior coach. He claims his only problem is that Weis received an extension while Willingham did not, even though Willingham had a superior record after eight games. Notre Dame gave a contract extension to Weis, their current white coach, not Willingham, their former black coach.

If it’s truly racism, I guess it's religious bigotry, too. Ara Parseghian opened 9-0 and did not receive a contract extension. He was a Protestant. Obviously, the Papists hate Prots. Bias toward Swedes? Must be, because Knute Rockne had a three-year record of 21-1-2, but no contract extension.

Whitlock ruled out the possibility of Notre Dame reacting to negative publicity surrounding the potential departure of Weis to the NFL. There are no NFL job openings, he surmised. He's absolutely right. There are no NFL job openings. However, recruiting wars are fought early each year, and Notre Dame is battling it out right now for a few blue chips. In that recruiting brawl, Weis' contract extension was a haymaker. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I've met Coach Willingham several times, and as a former member of the press I had a professional relationship with him. He's a great man. He always treated me with respect, and I in turn respect him for these things. But Willingham was not up to the challenge of coaching elite Division I-A football, and his three-year resume at Notre Dame is a reflection of that. Willingham was fired for underproduction, not race.

The real racists are the Mark Mays and Jason Whitlocks of the world, who cannot discern a business decision from a hate-based one. The hate lies with you, gentlemen, not Notre Dame.

November 01, 2005

Paths to Conference Championships

Championships are won in November. (Well, nowadays, I suppose they're won in December.) Heading into the final month of college football's regular season, here is how things are shaping up in each of the major conferences. Each conference still has at least two teams that control their own destinies. Several other teams are also still in the conference race but need some additional help. Next to each of these teams that need help, I have listed one of perhaps several ways that it can still win a title in December should that team win its remaining conference games.

Note that this list is in no way exhaustive of all of the possible outcomes. There are still millions of possible combinations of events that can transpire in the season's final five weeks. This is just a fun exercise to get us thinking about some of the possibilities. Enjoy!


ACC

Teams that control their own destinies
Florida State
Miami
Virginia Tech

Teams that need help
Boston College - Needs Florida State to lose its final two ACC games.
Georgia Tech - Needs Virginia Tech to lose its final three games.


Big 12

Teams that control their own destinies
Colorado
Missouri
Texas

Teams that need help
Iowa State - Needs Colorado to lose an additional game, Missouri to lose two games.
Texas Tech - Needs Texas to lose two games.
Oklahoma - Needs Texas to lose two games.
Texas A&M - Needs Texas to lose an additional game.
Nebraska - Needs Colorado to lose an additional game, Missouri to lose two games.


Big East

Teams that control their own destinies
West Virginia
Pittsburgh

Teams that need help
South Florida - Needs Pittsburgh to lose once.
Rutgers - Needs West Virginia to lose twice.


Big Ten

Teams that control their own destinies
Penn State
Wisconsin

Teams that need help
Ohio State - Needs Penn State/Wisconsin winner to lose once.
Michigan - Needs Penn State and Iowa to beat Wisconsin, Michigan State to beat Penn State.
Iowa - Needs Michigan to lose once, Ohio State to lose twice, Penn State to lose twice.
Northwestern - Needs Wisconsin and Michigan State to beat Penn State, Iowa to beat Wisconsin, and Michigan to lose once.


Pac-10

Teams that control their own destinies
UCLA
USC

Teams that need help
Oregon - Needs USC to lose two Pac-10 games, needs UCLA to lose once and fall behind Oregon in the BCS standings.
California - Needs Stanford to beat USC, UCLA to lose their remaining three games.
Stanford - Needs California to beat USC, UCLA to lose their remaining three games.


SEC

Teams that control their own destinies
Georgia
Alabama
LSU

Teams that need help
Auburn - Needs LSU to lose once.
Florida - Needs Georgia to lose one SEC game.
South Carolina - Needs to win out, including non-conference game against Clemson, Florida to beat Vanderbilt, Florida State to beat Florida, Georgia to lose their remaining three games.

Longhorns Fans Already Pasadena Bound

We're still more than a month away from December 4, when the BCS selections are made. Try telling that to the Texas Longhorn faithful, who are already planning their trips to the Rose Bowl on January 4. Every single Southwest Airlines flight from Austin to Los Angeles on January 3 and from Los Angeles to Austin on January 5 are already sold out. Similar round trips from Austin to Burbank are also already gone.

Southwest Airlines flights AUS to LAX are all sold out

Jimbo's Top 15 - Week 10

Gerry really showed me up with his top 25, complete with commentary for the top ten teams. All I can muster is my weekly top 15:

1. USC
2. Texas
3. Virginia Tech
4. Alabama
5. UCLA
6. Miami
7. Penn State
8. Florida State
9. Notre Dame
10. LSU
11. Florida
12. Georgia
13. Wisconsin
14. Oregon
15. Ohio State