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December 2005 Archives

December 24, 2005

The Rest of My Picks

In case I forget to project a game like I did last night (the best part about medical school is partying after those exams are over ... oops), here's a table of my projections.

Bowl GameMy PickCV
New OrleansSouthern Miss28
Las VegasCalifornia21
Fort WorthKansas15
Hawai'iCentral Florida2
Motor CityMemphis11
Champs SportsClemson12
InsightArizona State25
MPC ComputersBoise State3
EmeraldGeorgia Tech24
Music CityMinnesota9
IndependenceSouth Carolina19
Car CareNC State17
LibertyFresno State20
CottonTexas Tech13
GatorVirginia Tech23
Capital OneAuburn22
FiestaNotre Dame5
OrangeFlorida State6

December 22, 2005

Poinsettia Bowl

Navy Midshipmen (7-4) Independent vs.
Colorado State Rams (5-3, 6-5) Mountain West Conference

This game features two teams with one-dimensional offenses. Navy, of course, is as one-dimensional as they come, featuring a wishbone option offense that ranks last through the air and first on the ground. Conversely, Colorado State's offense relies on the arm of Justin Holland, who completed 62 percent of his passes for 2804 yards, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

When examining these statistics, it's important to remember who the competition was for each school. For the past few years, Navy has played one of the weakest schedules in college football. This year's version did feature some quality teams, including Notre Dame, Rutgers, Stanford, and Maryland. Colorado State's schedule is somewhat stronger, but not so much so to be of great consequence. The Rams did have more success against the two teams' common opponent, Air Force, but one may be inclined to chalk that up to the military academies' annual rivalry.

So what's my point, as I've now babbled about a bunch of stuff that I say is inconsequential? Well, these two teams are difficult to compare based on past performances. On the other hand, the Naval Academy has the most underrated coach in America in Paul Johnson. Anybody who's been watching this team can attest to this man's genius. Despite the UTEP debacle, I'm going with coaching again.

Prediction: Navy 27 - Colorado State 24
Confidence score: 8
Final: Navy 51 - Colorado State 30

My 2005-06 Record: 3-1 57 pts.

Las Vegas Bowl

California Golden Bears (4-4, 7-4) Pacific-10 Conference vs.
Brigham Young Cougars (5-3, 6-5) Mountain West Conference

On paper, this one isn't pretty. The Cougars match up very poorly against the pass, ranking 105th out of 117 in pass defense. The Bears have not exactly lit up the world with their passing attack, but that will have to change if Cal wants to win this game. Bronco Mendenhall likes to stack the box to shut down the run. If Cal coach Jeff Tedford tries to force his 10th-ranked rushing game, his offensive strength in 2005, he could be facing a lot of three-and-out situations early. Tedford is renowned for his ability to adjust to his opponents, and in this situation I think that means you'll see the Bears go to the air. Look for Cal to incorporate lots of slants and screens to create a sidelines-style pseudo-running game. The BYU pass rush will penetrate the Cal offensive line early and often, necessitating conservative formations and quick dumps. Every now and then, though, Cal should be able to steal enough time to find the deep route.

Based on what I've seen from BYU's defense this year, if Cal establishes this sort of short-passing game, this contest will be over quickly. The Cougars' coaching staff is keenly aware of its squad's shortcomings in the secondary, and they'll be unwilling to shift from the heavy blitz attack.

Prediction: California 35 - Brigham Young 20
Confidence score: 21
Final: California 35 - Brigham Young 28

My 2005-06 Record: 2-1 49 pts.

December 21, 2005


UTEP Miners (5-3, 8-3) Conference USA vs.
Toledo Rockets (6-2, 8-3) Mid-American Conference

Smile if you like offense. Both UTEP and Toledo rank in the top 25 in total yards and scoring. UTEP attacks through the air (5th in NCAA in passing), while Toledo grinds it out on the ground (12th). That's not to say either of these offenses is one-sided. Toledo QB Bruce Gradkowski amassed 2171 yards this season, throwing 24 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. Meanwhile, Marcus Thomas and Tyler Ebell split halfback duties for the Miners, combining for 1256 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Defense is another story. UTEP ranks 53rd in the country, allowing 365 yards/game, while Toledo boasts the 22nd best total defense, allowing roughly 40 less yards/game. The Rockets have held their opponents this season to under 200 yards/game through the air, a statistic that favors them in this matchup.

With all of that said, I'm going to go against the numbers. I'm impressed with UTEP coach Mike Price, and I think he'll be the difference in this game.

Post-game commentary: The moral of the story, boys and girls, is don't go against the facts.

Prediction: UTEP 38 - Toledo 34
Confidence score: 4
Final: Toledo 45 - UTEP 13

My 2005-06 Record: 1-1 28 pts.

December 20, 2005

New Orleans Bowl

Arkansas State Indians (5-2 ,6-5) Sun Belt Conference vs.
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (5-3, 6-5) Conference USA

After a two-week hiatus, Division I-A college football is back. Sort of. Sun Belt champion Arkansas State Indians (6-5) enters its first bowl game in program history as a huge underdog, and rightfully so. The Indians make their living running the football, amassing 200 yards/game on the ground this season. That may have (barely) worked in an even weaker than usual Sun Belt conference, but it won't work tonight, especially after Southern Mississippi (6-5) jumps out to an early lead. Indians QB Nick Noce did complete 55.5 percent of his passes this year, but his team is just 2-5 in games in which he attempts more than 20 passes. Expect him to have to throw tonight, which as the numbers suggest, is a bad sign for Arkansas State.

Southern Miss can at least boast that all five of its losses (Alabama, Tulsa, NC State, Houston, and Memphis) came against bowl-bound teams. Omitting a 17-point loss to Tulsa, the other four defeats came at a combined total of 18 points (4.5/game). Compare that to Arkansas State, whose losses include Missouri, Oklahoma State, Louisiana Monroe, Middle Tennessee State, and Army. Only the Louisiana Monroe game was decided by less than ten points.

I could go on, but the point is clear. Arkansas State is terrible.

Prediction: Southern Miss 41 - Arkansas State 13
Confidence score: 28
Final: Southern Miss 31 - Arkansas State 19

My 2005-06 Record: 1-0 28 pts.

December 04, 2005

Final BCS Projections

Going into the BCS Selection show (5 p.m. EST), the bowl pairings have become rather predictable. I'll give them first, then explain why.

Rose Bowl: Southern Cal (12-0) vs. Texas (12-0)
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame (9-2) vs. Ohio State (9-2)
Orange Bowl: Florida State (8-4) vs. Penn State (10-1)
Sugar Bowl: Georgia (10-2) vs. West Virginia (10-1)

These eight teams will be the ones chosen. I can guarantee that. With LSU and Virginia Tech losing their conference championship games, Ohio State leaps from sixth in the BCS to fourth, while Notre Dame moves from eighth to sixth. Under the BCS rules, any school that does not win its conference and places third or fourth in the BCS rankings shall be awarded an automatic bid. So that takes care of the Buckeyes. A second rule states that if any non-BCS conference school or Notre Dame finishes fifth or sixth in the BCS standings shall be awarded an automatic bid. Therefore, there are no at-large openings for Oregon or Auburn.

Let's consider the pairings now. The Rose Bowl pairings should be obvious. With Texas going to the national championship game, the Fiesta Bowl is compensated by receiving the first pick, and they will choose Notre Dame. The Orange Bowl chooses second, and certainly will pick Penn State, pairing the two winningest coaches in history (Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno) against one another. (I had originally thought that the Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowl might swap the two Big Ten schools to avoid Ohio State making its third trip to Tempe in four years, but a reliable source who communicates with someone on the Orange Bowl selection committee has said that the Orange Bowl refuses to make such a trade.) The Fiesta Bowl then picks again, choosing Ohio State. This leaves the Sugar Bowl with West Virginia.

For better or for worse, the BCS this year will generate some interesting storylines, if not games themselves. The system worked this year, pairing the two undefeateds in the Rose Bowl. Penn State vs. Florida State is a great human interest story, considering the Nittany Lions meteoric rise and the matchup of two college football coaching dinosaurs. Notre Dame vs. Ohio State will be a ratings bonanza. The Fiesta Bowl hit a homerun this time around. Unfortunately, the Sugar Bowl did not. In addition to being relocated from its natural site in New Orleans, this game will be over before halftime. Georgia will crush West Virginia.