Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Week Five Predictions

There are a lot of games on tap this week that will be important in the conference races. Things are starting to shape up a bit and the cream is rising to the top. Bama, Ohio State, TCU, Boise State, and Oregon come to mind. Still a bit early to tell who the top dog in the ACC, Big XII, or Big East is at this time. CUSA is also up in the air a bit with SMU and ECU or USM looking good. U of  H losing two QB's likely knocked them out of contention. Time will tell. On to the predictions for the week.

1. TAMU vs Oklahoma State: Are the Aggies turning the corner, moving to "the next level" as it were? No.  That is a ridiculous assumption. Both the Cowboys and Aggies are 3-0 at this point, but State has played a somewhat tougher schedule and dominated in two of three games. Both schools near lost to Sun Belt foes which says a good deal though. I will go with OK. State here. Pick the Cowboys.

2. Texas vs Oklahoma: The Red River Shootout has lost a bit of the lustre of recent past. The Longhorns are not very good and there are certainly doubts about the talent and toughness of the Sooners this year. All bets are off in a rivalry game but I will go with the Sooners to win.

3. Utah State vs BYU: Both are 1-3 and the bloom is off the Aggie rose somewhat. This game may be fairly close and I will pick the Cougars to win. BYU.

4. Ohio vs Eastern Michigan: It is time for Solich's squad to get healthy and start winning if they are going to challenge for the top spot in the MAC East. After watching Temple this year, that appears to be a doubtful proposition at best however. The Bobcats picked a good opponent to start a rebound though. Pick Ohio to win hands down.

5.  Temple vs West Point: Speaking of Temple, the Owls meet with Army this weekend and should be victorious. West Point is coming off a nice win and Temple played PSU down to the wire. It is doubtful that Army will be able to hang with this team though. Pick Temple.

6. Miami vs Clemson: Here is an interesting match up. Which team is better? Hard to say at this point. This game is of huge importance to both teams. I would go with the Canes in a close one. Pick Miami.

7. Kansas vs Baylor: Someone has to win and I will go with the Bears. The talent level seems to be a step above the Jayhawks at least offensively. I will pick Baylor for the win.

8. Idaho vs Western Michigan: The Vandals should not have let the game last week get away from them. CSU is not an opponent anyone should fear. They need to right the ship against the Broncos this week if they are to continue what was started last year. May not be an easy proposition but I pick Idaho to win a close one.

9. Va Tech vs NC State: Another interesting and important game. Is Va. Tech on the way back after a horrible start? Is the Wolfpack really for real? This game will prove a lot and I think that NC State will prevail.

10. Boise State vs New Mexico State: Can I pad my stats a bit? Why not? Coaches at major programs do it all the time. This is my sure bet of the week. Go with the Broncos to win here with ease.

11. Florida vs Alabama: This is the game of the week I am sure. Has the Crimson Tide had their arrogant cockiness knocked down a peg? They should have lost against the Hogs last week. Has Florida gotten on track after starting slowly? These questions will be answered Saturday and I pick the Tide to roll. The talent level is tremendous. Go with Bama.

12. Cal Poly vs Fresno State: Cal Poly is a good IAA program and Fresno State was embarrassed last week in Oxford. This may be a pretty good game but I will pick the D1 team to win. It may be close though. Go with the Bulldogs.

13. Notre Dame vs Boston College: Neither team really has much it appears. Kelly may not be the second coming after all. Probably too early to tell though if one wants to be fair about it. BC has not been impressive to say the least. I will go with the Eagles to pull this one out of the hat at home.

14. Wyoming vs Toledo: These Cowboys do not seem to be a real tough opponent and Toledo is surprisingly good. I will go with the Rockets here. Pick Toledo. The Rockets may soon be looking at a top 25 ranking.

15. Nevada vs UNLV: An under the national radar rivalry game that can be quite good at times. Nevada has shown that they are a quality program and UNLV finally recorded a win last week. I would go with the Wolfpack here. Pick Nevada.

16. Arizona State vs Oregon State: Now that TCU and Boise State are behind them, Oregon State can make a run for the Pac 10 crown. They are a dark horse to be sure, but a quality team none the less. Arizona State may be somewhat improved it appears but should not be able to hang long with the team from Oregon. Pick Oregon State.

17.  Illinois vs Ohio State: The Illini seem to be a pretty decent club but will not be able to hang long with the Buckeyes. Zook can probably be forgiven for losing this one. Go with Ohio State.

18. Tulane vs Rutgers: Rutgers appears to be somewhat down again but the Green Wave are perpetually down. Schiano is a good coach as is Bob Toledo and both places are hard to win but I will have to go with the Scarlett Knights to take this one fairly handily.

19 North Dakota State vs Western Illinois: This is the IAA game of the week. Both schools are 3-1 and both have played D1 BCS opponents. ND State took down the Jayhawks to start the year and that was quite interesting. Something is going on for sure in the Dakota's with their football programs. All are just up from D2 and are proving to be some tough opponents; even to the big boys in D1, much less IAA. Western Illinois appears to be a quality IAA program also. I will go with ND State to win in a close one.

Potential Shocker of the Week:
20. Louisville vs Arkansas State: Now this may not really be considered a shocker when you think about it. Louisville is certainly not a good team, but the Red Wolves appear to be dismal. I think that Arkansas State will pull this one out of the hat at home. I guess this should be called the "semi" shocker of the week.

Enjoy the games.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hello Coaches; Character Matters

Major college football (and even lower division ball) is big business. It amuses me when football analysts and game day play by play guys talk about the what great guys coaches are, great educators, examples to their "kids," etc. etc. The reality of the matter is that young guys are being exploited for the greater glory of the schools and the coaches. This is obvious but of course does not change my love for the college game. Many college coaches, at least head coaches in D1, are paid a "movie star" type of salary, often on the taxpayers (at least partially) dime and are state employees as it were. Fine and good also as far as I am concerned. Even an academically tough private school like Rice, which actually does put academics above sports prowess to some extent at least, places a good deal of emphasis on their teams. A few years back I was a waiter at the Rice University President's house (yes I also know how to do fine dining) and overheard a conversation about the importance of athletics, football in particular. Something to the effect of "to be thought of as a major university a school has to have a major program." Perhaps it was an egghead professor questioning the program. I don't know. That would be typical. Many eggheads are envious of a mere jock with such a nice salary I suppose. At any rate there are a lot of college football coaches who are far from being "educators and role models for young men."
Pete Carroll seems to be a real nice soft spoken guy. Sociopaths often are. I don't know if he ran a dirty program but there certainly are indications that such may be the case. He did bolt for the NFL about the same time that the "troubles" at USC began to come to light. Is Carroll a cheater? I would not come right out and say that because again, I don't know. I must say however that when there is smoke there is usually a fire somewhere about. It goes without saying that a high level college coaching gig is more prestigious than one in the NFL. I wonder......
Brian Kelly is another coach with some character issues apparently. What type of message did it send to his team to bail out before the BCS game against Florida last season? Would it have hurt his efforts at Notre Dame to have waited a bit and lead his team to the slaughter against the Gators before he bolted for South Bend? Not that he has been doing a bang up job there.....Now the Univeristy of Cincinnati paid Kelly a sizable sum and should have insisted that he stay until the season was finished. He is not the only coach guilty of such classless and disloyal behavior.
Todd Graham is another of this stripe. He bolted from Rice to take the head coaching job at Tulsa. It shows no class or character to leave one school for another in the same conference. Number one there is the advantage of knowing the athletes of the school that is "ditched at the alter." It is funny that when Tulsa visited Rice the next season the MOB (Marching Owl Band for the Rice impaired), made fun of Graham. I believe he demanded an apology. I don't think one was forthcoming. The MOB usually will not apologize. I could be wrong on this issue. Graham made a huge whiny stink about the whole affair.
Now let us take a look at Saban and Nutt. Both left good jobs for competing schools in conference. Saban has of course unfortunately (my opinion) had a good deal of luck. He can win and no mistake. Nutt will likely not have such good results at Ole Miss. Either way both these coaches show a lack of character with their actions. Not good role models as it were.
O'Leary and Mike Price apparently had some issues in the past. Price allegedly had a taste for topless clubs, which cost him the Bama job. Foolish choice no doubt. To his credit, he has been paying penance at UTEP for a number of years without complaint. Still the issue will  likely follow him wherever he goes. Character counts Mike.
O'Leary apparently lied on his resume, at least according to reports. It cost him the job at Notre Dame. Probably all worked out for the best for him in the long run. He has also been paying penance at UCF with no complaint and a certain degree of success to boot. Still the issue will follow him wherever he chooses to go. It is doubtful that a "high level" college coaching job will be offered to him at any point. That is a shame but again, character counts.

Anyone that confuses most coaches with educators is delusional. Many are calculating business men who will bolt when things start going south, when the NCAA begins to question aspects of their program, or when more money is thrown their way.
Unfortunately many are not really worthy of much respect.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Week Four Post Game(s) Analysis

This week I went 12-8 for a grand total for the season of 57-26. Pretty good I suppose, but not really ready for Vegas.

The Sun Belt was interesting. The Cajuns suffered a loss at home against MTSU. I figured the Cajuns would take this one as the Blue Raiders were without Dasher. One man does not make a team however. Troy redeemed themselves this week somewhat with an in conference victory over Arkansas State and North Texas recorded the first win of the season over Howard's FAU squad. FIU was competitive again against a BCS opponent but came up just short. ULM had trouble with a IAA SE Louisiana but came away with a victory. This conference is improving but is still light years away from competing regularly against BCS opponents.

Over in CUSA UTEP escaped a pesky Memphis squad. U of H proved they can still win without Keenum in a victory over hapless Tulane. That thumping the Coogs took against UCLA does not look so bad after the Bruins pounded the Longhorns. In Austin no less! USM had their hands full against LA. Tech but came away with a win. UCF should have beaten KSU in one of the most boring games I have (sorta) watched in a long time. Kickers. Can't live with them. Can't live without them. The kid must feel like a dog after shanking two against the Wildcats this afternoon. The most interesting part of that game was the storm that rolled through which caused a delay. I was expecting a twister and hoping there was no disaster. Thankfully the storm passed with no injuries. On to more football. Tulsa handled a pretty good IAA squad with ease and UAB went down to the wire with the Volunteers. UAB may be a better team than anyone expected. SMU was not really a match for TCU but still did were not totally embarrassed. Marshall was victorious over Solich's Bobcats. May have to reevaluate the Bobcats. They may not be quite as good as I previously thought. Baylor took down Rice as expected in another storm delayed game.

Were there any credible games in the Big Ten today? Ohio State and Wisconsin, perhaps the only teams to be taken seriously in this conference, rolled easily against totally outmatched opponents. Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State got in on that kind of action also. PSU had their hands full against a quality Temple team as I predicted. Toledo took down Purdue and Northern Illinois had little problem with the Gophers. I hate to be so judgmental (not really) but other than Ohio State and perhaps Wisconsin (and maybe Iowa or Northwestern), this conference is just not good. I am not yet a believer in Michigan State or Michigan although I like the Wolverines coach a good deal. If they run him off he will have plenty of opportunity elsewhere. Zook may have a decent year at Illinois. Will that be enough for him to keep his job? We will see.

TCU and Utah continue to be the dominant teams in the MTN West. Air Force and San Diego State look credible also. Other than that this conference is below average at best and laughable at worst. Can TCU or Utah hang with the likes of Ohio State, Alabama, Oregon or Auburn? Perhaps. Perhaps not. UNLV is up on New Mexico by a wide margin as of this writing and will record their first win.

The WAC is the WAC. Boise State is a dangerous team to any opponent and likely a BCS buster again. Nevada is playing some surprisingly good football and should sneak into the top 25 this week. Fresno State was a disappointment against the Oxford Rebs. Idaho lost to a team that they probably should have beaten and Hawaii will finish off Charleston Southern in fine fashion. SJSU is SJSU. Same for New Mexico State. Louisiana Tech may have a fair team and should win some WAC games.

The Big Twelve is down this year and no mistake. Usually this is the only conference that is somewhat on par with the SEC top to bottom. Not this year. Nobody really stands out. I did not think that Texas was really a top ten team. Top twenty five? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Oklahoma? They win but struggle. Are the Sooners a top ten team? No. Top twenty five? Yes. KSU keeps on winning but they do not appear to be really a very good team. Things will likely catch up with them soon. Missouri may be the sleeper team here. They are undefeated at this point and Pinkel can coach. Nebraska is an interesting case. They win against the teams in their laughable non conference schedule, but not by the margin that one would think. Is Pelini just holding back to keep his future conference opponents off guard or are they just not a truly powerful team? Time will tell. Conference play begins soon for them. Baylor handled Rice as expected and probably will win some conference games. Did Colorado even play this week? Does it really even matter? Iowa State beat IAA Northern Iowa and I am a bit surprised by that frankly. Kansas recorded a victory over New Mexico State, not that it matters. Oklahoma State is still a bit of a mystery and Tech is not a top twenty five team by any stretch of the imagination. Don't think the Aggies will be a factor. The Big Twelve appears to not be as powerful as they normally are.

 What is wrong with the Big East? A whole lot apparently. WVU had some chances against LSU but it was not to come to pass. Cincinnati played the Sooners a credible game, but then Oklahoma may not be all that great this year. Pitt was embarrassed by the Canes the other night. Rutgers should have beaten North Carolina but did not. Syracuse had a scrimmage against Colgate. UConn also was involved in a scrimmage with Buffalo that they won handily. Anyone else? Does it matter? The sad part about this whole thing is that one of these Big East teams will go to a BCS Bowl.

There are some pretty good teams over in the MAC. CMU is a pretty good team and played a credible game against the Wildcats of Northwestern. Temple held their own against PSU and Ohio probably should have beaten Marshall. The surprise team this year appears to be Toledo. They may have a very good shot at dethroning CMU as the the better team in the West. Northern Illinois is not too bad either. I would look for either Temple, Toledo or perhaps CMU to sneak into the top twenty five before it is all said and done. The rest of the MAC is not really competitive with BCS level opponents.

The ACC is sort of interesting. The surprise team this year is NC State. Are they SEC good? Probably not. They should be very competitive with their ACC schedule though. NC State, Clemson, Miami, FSU and VA. Tech (yes even those guys) are the class of this league. At least one of them will be top ten before it is all said and done. Miami and/or NC State would be my guess. Perhaps Clemson could also fill one of those spots. There are some pretty good teams in this conference. There are some pretty bad one also.

The PAC Ten is shaping up to be interesting. I like Harbaugh and this Stanford team. Of course I like anyone who beats Notre Dame. Arizona certainly had trouble this evening with Teford's Golden Bears and Oregon appears they will finally pull away from Arizona State. The game is still in progress as of this writing. What USC does is of no consequence. Oregon State actually held on against Boise for a while and can not be counted out when all is is said and done. Can Oregon, Arizona or Stanford hang with the Tide, Hogs, Gators, Buckeyes, Broncos, Auburn (or NC State for that matter)? Perhaps. I do have some doubts though.

I am an SEC (and Sun Belt) man. That being said, if the SEC was down, I would be the first to point this out. I am not one of those "yeah but we play an SEC schedule" types that one always hears yammering when their team has a not so stellar season. This year though that logic may have at least some merit. Granted there are some not so good teams in this conference. Mississippi, Vandy (of course), Kentucky (probably), and Georgia come to mind. Perhaps Tennessee also. The rest of the conference is good. Even Mississippi State is pretty decent this year. Bama, SC, Auburn, Florida, LSU and Arkansas are all legitimate top 20 teams with at least four of those being top ten caliber. The Hogs should have taken down the Crimson Tide today but did not. LSU looks like they may be getting it together with their victory over a decent WV squad and a win last week against Mississippi State. It is interesting many of the Tiger faithful are calling for Les Miles' head. Why? He has done a commendable job. Not every coach can be a Rutabaga Saban or Steve Spurrier. Speaking of Spurrier; his team sure had their chances against Auburn but just could not pull it off. The Gamecock QB has as much talent as just about anyone but is prone to making mistakes. It is a shame really. SC is historically a pretty hard place to win and Spurrier is doing a heck of a job. Florida has started a bit slowly and there may be a few doubts about the Gators this year, at least that is what the pundits say.  I would not count them out though. Not by a long shot. Not with Meyer at the helm. That would be foolish. Can anyone not say that Auburn is a team to contend with? I would love to see them in a game with Wisconsin, Arizona, TCU or Oregon. Those would be interesting match ups. I certainly hope Richt has his bags packed. He is done. The Georgia faithful will not tolerate the type of performance coming out of Athens recently. Does the SEC have the best team in the land this year? Perhaps. Perhaps not. From top to bottom though this league is hands down the most powerful in the college game.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Week Four Predictions

For all practical purposes week four of the 2010 college football season starts this Thursday. There are some pretty good games on tap this week with some conference games that will be important in the standings down the road. Here are the predictions for the week. Again I will pick a IAA game and also the Potential Shocker of the Week.

1. Miami vs Pittsburgh: This should be a pretty good game. Pitt has had some time to work out the kinks from their opening loss to the Utes and a fairly close shave against IAA New Hampshire. Miami also has had some time to recover from the beat down suffered at the hands of the Buckeyes. Both of these teams are well coached and both are prone to bad luck. I will pick Miami. It may be close.

2. TCU vs SMU: This is a rivalry game that often falls under the radar. All bets are usually off in a big rivalry game, but I don't think that SMU has what it takes to contend with the Frogs at this point. Maybe in a year or two, but not now. Go with the Frogs here.

3. NC State vs Georgia Tech: I want to go with Tech here but just can not this year. I believe the Wolfpack may be a very good team that is flying under the radar and that Tech, while pretty good, is not up for the task. Pick NC State in a close game.

4.  Northwestern vs CMU: These are probably two fairly evenly matched clubs. Other than Ohio State the Big X seems to be down a bit and CMU will probably get a rematch with either Ohio or Temple in the MAC Championship game. What does all that mean? It means that this will be a tough fought and close game. I will go with the Chippies to pull of a minor upset at home.

5. UCF vs Kansas State: UCF is a pretty good CUSA team and KSU is still somewhat of a mystery. Snyder seems to be the only person who can win in Wildcat country but will he be able to do it this week? This should be another very close game but I will go with the Snyder magic to prevail. Pick KSU.

6. Army vs Duke: This is another very evenly matched game. Duke is recovering from a beat down against Alabama and the Academy players may have gained a bit of confidence in their shut out of North Texas last week. I think it will come down to the wire but will go with the Blue Devils here.

7. Stanford vs Notre Dame: This has become a rivalry in recent years.Notre Dame is hell and gone away from being a good team and Stanford has an outside shot at being the top squad in the PAC 10. I pick Stanford to win this one fairly easily.

9. Tulane vs Houston: This would be an easy call had not the Coogs lost their number one and two QBs last week vs UCLA. Houston will need to get ready to play with some diminished expectations for the season. They should have enough to take down the Green Wave though.

10. Nevada vs BYU: This game has what it takes to be a fun to watch. Nevada seems to be a pretty good team and BYU is down a bit this year. They are probably fairly evenly matched. I am going to go with the Wolfpack to keep pace with Boise State and pull this one out of the hat.

11. West Virginia vs LSU: This game will tell all there is to know about these two squads. Is WVU for real? Can the Tigers score from the red zone? There are more questions than answers about these two squads. I will take WV here in a minor upset.

12. Baylor vs Rice: Baylor comes to Houston with one of the best QBs in the Big Twelve. With that being said, they could not handle TCU last week and Rice was no match for Northwestern. Baylor should be able to take this one fairly easily. Go with the Bears.

13. Oregon State vs Boise State: The Broncos are for real and no mistake about it. Are the Beavers? They will go to a decent bowl but are no match for the Boise State. It could be a rout. Go with BSU.

14. Utah State vs San Diego State: Both of these teams seem to be improved over years past. Which one is better? I don't know. I will take a stab in the dark and go with the Aggies in a close game.

15. Alabama vs Arkansas: The Hogs had a very nice win over Georgia last week. I hope they enjoyed it. This week will be different. I hope that Arkansas pulls it out of the hat. That would great. Don't think it will happen though. Go with the Tide to roll.

16. Fresno St vs Mississippi: Ole Miss has something to prove but they may have picked the wrong team to prove a point. Fresno State can play with anyone and they will win here. Go with the Bulldogs.

17. New Mexico vs UNLV: Someone has to win and I would imagine it will be the team from Las Vegas. Go with the Rebs here.

18. MTSU vs Louisiana: For those that care this may be a fun game to watch. The contest will have an impact on the Sun Belt standings. MTSU will likely struggle without Dasher and I think that the Cajuns will pull off a minor upset in Lafayette. Go with the Cajuns.

19. Temple vs Penn State: Temple is probably the best team in the MAC but I do not think they will have the depth to compete well here. If they do then they should become ranked in the top 15. I would go with the Nittany Lions however. Pick Penn State to win.

20. Alabama State vs Alcorn St: Here is the IAA match up. I like Alabama State at this point to take the SWAC. They are 3-0 at this point and that says a good deal for a SWAC school. Of course all of their games have been against SWAC opponents but they have beaten Prairie View, the pre season favorite. I believe the Hornets will have what it takes to knock of the Braves although I admit I do not know too much about either squad. Go with Alabama State.

21. FIU vs Maryland: I pick this game to be the potential shocker of the week. I do not think Ralph has a real good team here although the win against the Naval Academy was a feather in their cap. FIU has been very competitive against BCS opponents and near took down the Aggies last week. I am going to go with the Panthers to upset the Terps. I am not really sure if it will really be a shocker for FIU to win but the media will portray it as such.

Bad News for the Coogs

The University of Houston has reported that Case Keenum and back up QB Cotton Turner are out for the season with injuries. Of course this severely diminishes their chances for a run at the top spot in CUSA. That is a shame of course but those are the hazards of the game. I would look for SMU to probably step in and take the place of the Coogs in CUSA West. A lot of football left to be played though.

ACC Atlantic

As I noted in an earlier post the college season is well under way and it is high time to finish the conference predictions.
The ACC is truly difficult to judge this year. There seem to be quite a few pretty good and evenly matched teams here but none that will be a factor in the National Title. I think probably that Miami over in the Coastal Division is the best team but there are a number that can not be ruled out. Behold the ACC Atlantic Division.

1. NC State: The Wolfpack for the top spot? Yes I think so. At this time they are 3-0 and have had some pretty good games against fair competition. Picking them in this spot may be going out on a limb a bit I must admit.

2. Clemson: The Tigers showed us a good bit Saturday in their overtime loss to Auburn. They should have had the game won but allowed Auburn to come back on them. Most would probably pick the Tigers for the number one spot in the Atlantic, but history has shown that Clemson can not get over the hump no matter the level of talent on the team.

3. Florida State: FSU is light years away from contending for a National Title but may well be able to contend for the top spot in the Atlantic Division if not the entire conference. The new staff is apparently still making adjustments and after the embarrassment against a fair Oklahoma team, they came back and crushed BYU. We will see how they progress as the year moves on.

4. Boston College: BC has been tested twice against opponents that should not have been much of a problem. The next two games will tell a lot.

5. Marlyland: I think Big Ralph has an improved team here but not one that is ready to compete in this conference. The Navy win was nice but they were not really competitive with West Virginia. The next three weeks will tell a lot. FIU comes to town and Mario Cristobal has an under rated football team. The Panthers near took down TAMU and Rutgers. Be forewarned. They then face Duke and Clemson. They may go 2-1 in the next three games but 1-2 is not out of the question. 0-3? Who knows?

6. Wake Forest: It is really a toss up between Maryland and the Deacons as to who will occupy the last spot. The loss to Stanford Saturday was predictable but not the the margin. I do not think that Grobe has a competitive team this year. The rest of the schedule is very tough.

Big Ten

The season is well underway so I guess I had better get my Big X predictions posted. Here we go.

1. Ohio State: The best in this conference and quite possibly the best in the land. It is a toss up I think between Alabama, Ohio State and perhaps Oregon. Boise State and maybe TCU can not be ruled out completely also. I do not think that any one in the Big X will be able to take these guys down this year. Perhaps Penn State but that is doubtful. Ohio State would have to have a bad day indeed to lose any regular season games this year.

2. Penn State: JOPA is still around and has himself a pretty fine football team here. A bit on the young side apparently and perhaps not worthy of a number two ranking in the Big X. Before last Saturday I would have probably put Iowa in this spot but they looked pathetic against Arizona.

3. Iowa: Pretty good team that will reach a decent bowl game but not ready to compete with Ohio State. They have a lot of work to do to be a top 10 squad for sure.

4. Michigan State: Dantonio had an apparent heart attack after the game with the Irish on Saturday and I hope he make a full and quick recovery. Will Mark not being at the helm hurt the Spartans as the season progresses? Not sure, but I do not see anyone except perhaps Northwestern or maybe Wisconsin that can take this spot from them.

5. Northwestern: It is pretty tough to win here in the Big X but the Wildcats have been holding their own the last few years. The rest of the Big X appears to be average (and below) and Northwestern may be a cut above that.

6. Wisconsin: They seem to be over rated to me. Granted they are 3-0 at this point and hold a number 11 ranking in the AP poll but I do not think they are a top 25 team. Time will tell. They will not be tested this week but meet Michigan State in 2 weeks.

7. Illinois: Ron Zook is under fire here, but it must be noted that Illinois is a pretty hard place to find consistency. I think Zook has been doing as good a job as anyone could be expected to. At this point the Illini are 2-1 and may be able to slip into a decent bowl game.

8. Purdue: Not sure if this years' Boilermaker squad is even worthy of this spot. They fell to the Irish in game one and have not been really tested since. The next two games will tell a good bit. They face an improved Toledo team and then meet Northwestern.

9. Michigan: Rich should have stayed in West Virginia. I do not see the Wolverines doing much this year. The schedule only gets harder from here on out.

10: Indiana: Another hard place to win. The Hoosiers are 2-0 at this point and will likely go 3-0 after next week but then conference play begins. They will have some trouble being successful I would imagine.

11. Minnesota: Tim Brewster's club actually held on for a while against USC and I was hoping for a major upset but of course it did not happen. Probably this squad should be 0-3 at this point instead of 1-2. I would look for the Gophers to start hunting for another coach but to be honest, this is one of the hardest places to win in the college game.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Week Three Analysis

I did pretty good over the last two weeks in my predictions; 15-6 in week one and 18-3 in week two. Things fell off a good bit in week three however. My record for this week is 12-9 for a grand total of 45-18. Pretty good but not quite ready for Vegas I suppose. On to the analysis.

Sun Belt: The Sun Belt fell off a bit this week but there was certainly one bright spot. FIU came real close to beating the Aggies in College Station. It was down to the wire. Mario Cristobal must be doing something right down there. Middle TN should have beaten the Memphis Tigers but alas they came up on the losing end. Perhaps the suspension of Dasher hurt them. It must be noted however that there are no valid excuses in football. Likewise, there is no real reason that Troy should have fallen to the Blazers of Birmingham. Perhaps they were overconfident. Come on Trojans. You play in the Sun Belt. There is no such thing as overconfidence. Maybe they were still trying to recover from their exceptional performance against the Cowboys last week. Judging on the past performance of the Red Wolves, I did not see them taking down ULM. I certainly figured that the Warhawks would pull this one out of the hat. Wrong. North Texas was North Texas in their contest with West Point. Coach Dodge should probably start packing now. WKU is still looking for that first win. I think they will find it at some point during conference play.

SEC: I watched some of the Mississippi State/LSU contest and came to the conclusion that the Bulldogs are improved and LSU is not as bad as the pundits say. The Tigers do have some red zone problems and will not be able to compete with the likes of Bama or maybe even the Hogs, but still will reach a decent bowl. Will that be enough to keep Miles in Baton Rouge for another year? Bama was not tested. I don't like for Saban but he sure does know how to coach. Florida is improving but are not what they were. Somewhat of a rebuilding job for Meyer. Tennessee has a long way to go. The Rebs are not going anywhere as they were taken down by Vanderbilt. Auburn came out on the winning side in OT against Clemson. Both of those Tigers are a pretty good ball clubs. Kentucky continued with their confidence building schedule with a route of Akron at home. South Carolina looks like they may have struggled a bit against IAA Furman. Did not see any of that game. Mark Richt better start looking around for new digs. He will not be the Bulldog coach next season.

Big XII: Colorado struggled early against the Warriors of Hawaii and I was pretty sure they would lose that contest, but they came back and won in fairly convincing fashion. If I was Hawkins though I would continue to shop for luggage. Did KSU/Iowa State prove anything? Probably not a lot. Missouri struggled against the Aztecs and that was predictable. Texas is certainly not what they were and neither is Texas Tech. Neither are ready to compete for the mythical National Championship. The Cowboys came back in fine fashion against CUSA rival Tulsa after almost losing to Troy. Kansas lost to USM Friday night and that was probably not an anomaly. Oklahoma continues to struggle but comes out with a win again. Problems with Utah State and Air Force along with smashing the Seminoles means these guys are a bit hard to figure at this point. Of course the Air Force Academy is a pretty good ball club and Utah State is quite improved. Baylor did not stand a chance against the Frogs. I thought they would hang in there a bit longer. Still not sold on TCU as a BCS buster quite yet. Nebraska appears to be the only team in the Big XII that may have a shot at a "National Championship" game, but they are probably a dark horse. The Aggies are likely going nowhere. Perhaps a minor bowl.

Big East: Something is wrong in this conference. West Virginia did come out with a win and are probably a pretty good ballclub but this conference is weak. Pitt was off and they may need the extra practice anyway. UConn was beaten by the Owls of Temple and that was somewhat predictable. Nothing else in the Big East really is worth mentioning at this point other than perhaps Louisville at least keeping it close against a pretty good Pac 10 team.

Big X: This conference is Ohio State and everyone else. The Buckeyes are the only school that has a shot at the big game and I predict they will be in it. Probably against Alabama, but there is a lot of football left to be played until we get to that point. Iowa did not look like a top ten team but I was fairly certain of that. Wisconsin continues to win but does not impress. Michigan is certainly not a real good football team, but they seem to find a way. Ditto for the Spartans. The Gophers held their own for a while against USC and I was hoping for an upset. Don't like those Trojans or that Kiffin. Northwestern was not seriously challenged in a game I considered going to see. Raining too much for me to make the trip up the road to the Rice campus so I decided against it. Is anyone else worth mentioning in this conference? Not really. Zook continues to win at Illinois but he is on the hot seat.

WAC: Boise State decimated the Cowboys of Wyoming and I get the feeling Boise called off the dogs in the second half. I don't care what they say, I think this team (BSU) can play with anyone.  Fresno State was victorious over an improved Utah State squad in their conference opener. I watched most of the Idaho/UNLV game and came away with the impression that the Vandals will again find themselves bowling this year. Nevada looks like a good team also. Probably on the same level as say a Tennessee or Mississippi State in the SEC or a Michigan State of the Big X. Maybe somewhat better than that. New Mexico State is New Mexico State. Hawaii is probably improved over last year somewhat but are still not a very good football team. Louisiana Tech will likely not be a factor.

Mtn West: TCU and Utah remain undefeated and may perhaps sneak into a BCS game. I am not totally sold on either team to reach that level, but they are quite good none the less. Air Force is a quality program also. Very commendable performance against Oklahoma. BYU may be nothing more than middle of the pack in this conference this year. They did not look good in their last two outings. Most other teams have not shot at anything it appears. UNLV, Colorado State and New Mexico are horrible. Wyoming is probably little better than fair although they played some quality teams in the last two outings and held their own against the Longhorns for a while. Not a strong conference this year at all. It appears but have perhaps two very very good teams and one or two that are not too bad. That is about it.

MAC: The Middle American Conference has a few good teams as is the norm. Temple appears to be at the top of the pack and will most likely be in the MAC Championship Game. Yesterday the Owls improved their record to 3-0 with a very impressive win against Connecticut. They have already beaten CMU, the team they will likely face in the MAC Championship. I would look for someone to throw some serious jack at Al Golden (Georgia, Colorado) after this season is finished if not before. CMU won in impressive fashion against their cross state rival. Things appear to be moving along quite well for the Chippewas. Ohio was demolished by Ohio State and that was predictable. Coach Solich still may have a pretty solid team with this years' group of Bobcats. Toledo certainly seems improved. Much of the rest of the MAC is not going anywhere. Jerry Kill does appear to have a pretty fair Husky team but probably not a MAC contender.

ACC: We learned a good deal about this groups of Clemson Tigers in their OT loss to Auburn. They are a pretty good team and may well have what it takes to compete for the ACC Championship. What is wrong with VA. Tech? ECU did not have the depth to take the Hokies down but they did play a pretty good game. Still the Gobblers can not be ruled out when thinking of the ACC Championship. Miami was idle and FSU showed that they can still play some football after last week's dismal performance against the Sooners. I would not rule out FSU as competing in this conference also. Stanford made Wake Forest look silly. I figured that they would lose out in California but not by such a margin. Georgia Tech redeemed themselves somewhat against NC and NC State handled Cincinnati fairly easily. Duke is Duke but really should not have been on the same field and the Tide. Boston College was tested by a MAC opponent a couple weeks back and probably will not make much noise.
This conference is probably up for grabs at this point with VA. Tech, FSU, Miami, NC State, Georgia Tech and Clemson all having a legitimate shot at a BCS game. None are anywhere ready to compete for the "National Championship" however.

Pac 10: Interesting conference this year. What USC does is of no consequence. Stanford is pretty good apparently as is perhaps Oregon State. Oregon had a scrimmage against an in state IAA opponent. Oregon may have a legitimate shot at the National Title game. If Bama or Ohio State should falter I would look for this team to step in. Both Washington squads are not very good. Cal was embarrassed the other night in Reno and UCLA had a good win against U of H. Both Arizona teams are not too bad apparently. Arizona may be a dark horse to take this conference but it is doubtful that they are National Title material.

CUSA: Any chance that Houston may have had to be a "BCS Buster" this year is gone. They ended up playing with their fourth string QB (I believe) after the Bruins knocked out the others on the depth chart. That had to have been a factor in such a lopsided loss, but as I noted earlier; there is no excuses in college football. The Coogs may still have a legitimate shot at the Conference Title and the Liberty Bowl. USM looked pretty good the other night against a hard to figure Kansas team. They may be better than expected. ECU had their chances against VA. Tech but the outcome was a loss. SMU may be a year away but Jones already has the Mustangs ready to compete in this conference. The took out WSU at home in front of a crowd of about 26. Attendance should improve along with the Mustangs fortunes. Memphis had an unpredictable win against MTSU and Marshall fell to a MAC squad. Coach Doc has a ways to go to get the Herd back. Also somewhat surprising was UAB beating cross state rival Troy. Perhaps the Blazers are not as bad a predicted. They did hang well with SMU a while back and the minor upset vs Troy was a confidence builder. UCF can not be ruled out at this point but perhaps Tulsa can. Rice was Rice and UTEP had little touble with NMSU. I would look for UCF, U of H, USM, ECU and perhaps UTEP or SMU to have a legitimate shot at the Conference Title.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

ESPN Strikes Again. Those Guys are Rutabagas

The late great Lewis Grizzard mentioned in one of his excellent books that using the word "co--su--er" had become a no go. He was referring I think to the game of golf (as in when you made a bad putt it was once acceptable to yell "co--su--er.") Then I guess you tossed your club fifty feet. Anyway the word  has become unacceptable and non politically correct as it were, so he suggested the word "rutabaga" as a suitable replacement. I agree I suppose. It is hard to replace co--su--er(s) but what they hey, rutabaga is as a word good as any. Tonight I was watching the Longhorn/Red Raider match up and noticed that the ESPN rutabagas made numerous disparaging remarks about former TTU coach Mike Leach. On various occasions they referred to Leach as the "fired coach Mike Leach." They also said things such as "Tuberville has installed a sense of purpose in the program" or at least words to that effect. Toward the end of the game they mentioned a "very vocal minority of Red Raider fans that were upset at the Leach firing" or again, words to that effect. Nothing really surprising there as it is apparent that ESPN had a hand in the "firing" of Coach Leach. That is my opinion at any rate. The "vocal minority" is a bit more than that. It is a fairly vocal majority. Now Tuberville is a pretty good coach and he will improve the defense, given time,  but he is no Mike Leach. The Red Raiders are not what they were last year (neither are the Longhorns but that is a different story entirely....), and it is doubtful that Texas Tech will match the prowess that was achieved under Leach. Those guys over at ESPN are certainly rutabagas. With a capital R.  I can't think of a better word to describe them. On second thought, maybe I can.

BCS? Nonsense

Last night two non BCS schools had their way with BCS opponents. I predicted and was wrong on both games.( 0-2 for the week and it is just now Saturday morning.) Granted one of them was Kansas which is a hard team to figure. A loss to one of the Dakota schools then to turn around and handle a ranked team? Of course last night they were manhandled by a CUSA squad. Hmmmm. Cal being taken down fairly easily by a WAC school? It these type of losses were an anomaly then I would buy into the "BCS is better" argument. These type of games happen rather frequently though. Last week Troy was close to beating Oklahoma State. FAU came close to Michigan State, and FIU nearly took down Rutgers. Kent State came close to Boston College also. It was just luck that at least two of these games did not end up in a win for the non BCS opponent. It is no wonder that "major" programs are hesitant to schedule the likes of Boise State, Fresno State, USM and U of H. The chances of getting embarrassed is a real possibility. Probability in some cases. Wonder who will be beaten by a non BCS school today? UCLA for sure. Ohio State? No. UConn? Good possibility. VA Tech again? Not out of the question. Colorado? Most likely. Those silly Aggies better be on guard also when Mario Cristobal brings his boys to College Station. The BCS power schools are generally better than their non BCS opponents (along with their BCS rivals), but overall the BCS conferences are little better than their non BCS counterparts. I could be wrong but I am not.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

ACC Coastal

There is only one team that is in the top twenty five in the the entire ACC. While the ACC is no power conference there are some teams that usually find themselves in the hunt for the national crown. Miami and Florida State have been down a bit in the recent past, and Va. Tech has yet to get over the hump and certainly will not (at least nationally) this year. The Atlantic division is perhaps somewhat better than the Coastal this year, but Miami is probably the best team in conference and they compete in the Coastal. On to the predictions.

1. Miami: The Canes were thumped by a very good Ohio State squad last week but that was somewhat predictable. Shannon has a good team in Miami and they will be able to compete in the ACC and perhaps find themselves in a BCS game. I don't think they will go undefeated in conference play but they do appear to be the most well rounded. Granted little is known about Clemson at this point. Miami may well be a year away from serious contention for National Champion but should certainly more than hold their own in the ACC.

2. Virginia Tech: 0-2? That is where the Hokies find themselves as the season gets started. The loss to Boise State is not an anomaly; Boise regularly beats BCS teams. The loss to JMU at home however was stunning. Not that JMU is a bad program. On the contrary. JMU is perhaps one of the best in IAA and that translates into a damn fine football team. I think the Hokies will make some noise in the ACC and perhaps knock off Miami for the top spot. I would not rule out the Va. Tech yet to appear in a BCS game but certainly not the big one.

3. Georgia Tech: Is this a good team? It is hard to say at this point. Last week they lost to Kansas and there are certainly some doubts about how good (or bad) the Jayhawks are this year. Things don't get easier as conference play begins this week.

4. North Carolina: The Tar Heels may be better than expected. They came back on a pretty decent LSU program a couple of weeks back without most of their starters. Will they be able to compete in the ACC? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
5. Virginia: Still a bit of a mystery. Had a commendable performance against USC and smashed a darn good IAA Richmond team. You can tell there is a new staff here. I don't think Virginia will do much this year but they will win a few conference games and may even surprise one of the top dogs.

6. Duke: Duke football is Duke football. This elite school has an excellent basketball program but just does seem to be able to do too much on the gridiron. In a very good year they may qualify for a minor bowl. This year will probably be about average. They will win 4 or 5 games and perhaps pull off a major upset at some point. I liken this program to the that of Rice. Rice has an exceptional baseball program and Duke is always there in basketball. Football is a different matter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Week Three Predictions

There are some pretty good games on tap for week three but perhaps none that will gain the attention of Ohio State/Miami; Alabama/PSU or even Notre Dame/Michigan. Last week I did quite well in predicting the outcome of the games but in the second week there are plenty of tune up games as various power teams get ready for conference play. On to the predictions. This week I will add a true Division IAA game just to mix things up a bit.

1. Kansas vs Southern Miss: This is a pretty interesting match up. Which Kansas team will show up? Will it be the one that lost to North Dakota State in week one, or the one that beat a ranked Georgia Tech squad last week? That is a very good question. USM is a team that no one should really count out, they had a decent game against South Carolina in week one and further refined their game last week vs Prairie View. Conference USA does not fare very well against BCS teams but Southern Miss may be ready here. Still I will pick the Jayhawks in a close game. Go with Kansas.

2. California vs Nevada: Cal smashed an outmanned Colorado team last week. The Buffs beat Colorado State in week one and Nevada absolutely crushed the Rams in week two. So which team matches up better against the Golden Bears? Probably Nevada. I would look for a close game but think that Cal has the depth to take down the Wolfpack. Pick Cal.

3. UCONN vs. Temple: The Owls are a pretty darn football team and the Huskies may not be too bad themselves. Connecticut is probably the better team but I think that Al Golden will have his guys ready for a minor upset. Go with Temple for the win.

4. Iowa State vs Kansas State: This game may be fairly interesting. So far Kansas State is 2-0 with the win against UCLA possibly being a quality win. Iowa State was manhandled last week by Big X rival Iowa. This conference game will probably bounce the Wildcats' way. Go with KSU.

5. Maryland vs West Virginia: Two teams with a lot to prove square off in this match up. Maryland is 2-0 after having defeated Navy and Morgan State. WVU was embarrassed and nearly beaten by a rebuilding Marshall squad. I think that WVU will have the power to come out on top here. Go with West Virginia.

6. Ohio vs Ohio State: This should be a no brainer. Ohio may be in the hunt for the MAC East, (although they did not help their cause last week), but Ohio State is in the hunt for the mythical National Championship." Go with the Buckeyes here.

7. Arkansas vs Georgia: This may be a good match up. Georgia came up short last week against South Carolina and Arkansas let a lower level Sun Belt team hang around until near the fourth quarter. Arkansas probably is a bit ahead in overall talent but Georgia is out to prove themselves. I will pick the Hogs in a very very close game.

8. Vanderbilt vs Ole Miss: These two teams may be pretty evenly matched. The Rebs should be favored but it may be a close one. I look for the team from Oxford to pull this one out. Go with Ole Miss.

9. Middle Tn State vs Memphis: Memphis does not look like they will be a factor this year and may well get swept for the season. The Blue Raiders may well be in contention for the top spot in the Sun Belt. I would go with Middle Tennessee here.

10. Baylor vs TCU: TCU is the better team but I would not discount the Bears. If Robert G. can stay healthy he may be a better QB than Dalton. Hard to say. Both teams are well coached but I will go with TCU to win in a dogfight.

11. Troy vs UAB: Troy showed us something the other day against a good Oklahoma State team. They could have won that game. UAB fared better than expected against an up and coming SMU squad. I will pick Troy to win this game. It may be close.

12. Mississippi State vs. LSU: These teams are probably pretty evenly matched. Both are pretty good teams that have no chance of competing for the SEC Championship. Mississippi State had their chances against Auburn last week and LSU took down the Commodores. This game will probably be pretty close but I will go with LSU for the win.

13. ULM vs Arkansas State: This has become a rivalry game that no one really cares about except players and relations. A lot of kids that go to these schools don't even particularly pay attention. Arkansas State was handled rather easily by the Cajuns last week and ULM played surprisingly well for three quarters against the Hogs. This will probably be pretty close also but I will go with ULM here.

14. Texas vs Texas Tech: Good game with a lot of history. Texas Tech can not be taken lightly by anyone and that includes the Longhorns. The Horns don't look as good this year as in recent past and the Red Raiders are still a bit of a mystery. Potts is a good QB to be sure, but I am not sure this Red Raider team is ready to compete for top spot in the South. I will go with the Horns to pull this one out of a hat.

15. UNLV vs Idaho: The Vandals need this win to keep the players confidence up and show the country that last year was not an anomaly. UNLV is still looking for that first win but actually played fairly well against some tough opponents. Enderle will have to keep his interceptions down to a minimum but the Rebs defense is for certain not the Huskers D. It may be an interesting and close game but I pick the Vandals to win.

16. Notre Dame vs Michigan State: Michigan State survived a scare with a Sun Belt team last week and did not look very impressive at all. Notre Dame came out on the losing end vs an apparently improved Michigan squad. I pick Notre Dame to take the Spartans in a close game.

17. Fresno State vs Utah State: Utah State may be a better team than expected. They turned in a commendable performance the other week vs Oklahoma and should have further worked out the kinks last week. Fresno State is still a bit of a mystery but a team coached by Pat Hill is dangerous to anybody. I will go with the Bulldogs for the win here.

18. UCLA vs Houston: The Bruins do not look like a very good team and Houston can score on anyone. The Cougars defense is still a bit suspect in my mind but UCLA may not have the offense to keep up with the prolific scoring that will likely occur. I will go with the Cougars here.

19. Arizona vs Iowa: We will see if the Wildcats are for real here. Iowa is a very good team but probably not really a top ten squad. Or maybe they are. The Wildcats will have their hands full and will come out on the wrong end of the scoreboard here. Pick Iowa.

20. Tennessee Chattanooga vs Eastern Kentucky: Here is the IAA game I promised. The reason I picked this game is because it looks like a very interesting match up. Eastern KY held their own against Louisville last week after being handled easily by Missouri State in week one. The Mocs are 0-2 but those losses were very close affairs with Jacksonville State and Appalachian State. Those teams may be in the elite of IAA and it is proven that they can hold their own against quality D1 opponents. I will go with the Mocs here but it may be a close game.

Potential Shocker of the Week
San Diego State vs Missouri:  The Aztecs are 2-0 at this point. Granted Nichols State is not much of an opponent and New Mexico State is not a football powerhouse either, but still, 2-0 for SDSU is pretty good. Missouri may not be ready to compete for the Big Twelve North. They are light years away from Nebraska but conventional wisdom would say that the Bears would win hands down. Perhaps they will but I think they may be surprised a bit. Pick Missouri in a dogfight.

PAC 10 Predictions

I have not really had time to do any type of in depth analysis of the PAC 10 to this point. With week two behind us though it is high time to get on with my predictions for the final standings in the "elite" PAC 10.

1. Oregon: The team appears to be for real. I thought Saturday that they were going to have some severe problems with the Vols but aside from a slow start, the Ducks appear to be for real and perhaps a team that could sneak into a national championship game. They will not be tested later this week and should have a chance to work out any bugs.

2. Stanford: I will have to go with them for the number two spot. They may well be tested in the next two weeks and that will tell us a good deal more about the squad. They are well coached and have been doing pretty good in the recent past.

3. Oregon State: The opening loss to TCU notwithstanding, this team may be a better than average team. They held their own against a team that again may have a shot at a BCS appearance.

4. California: They have not seriously been tested but are well coached and perhaps could make a run. They will face trial by fire soon. Perhaps as early as this week when they travel to Reno.

5. Arizona: Are the Wildcats for real? The next three weeks will tell. They had better hope they have worked out any kinks in their tune up games. The schedule begins to get pretty brutal.

6. Arizona State: They are 2-0 as of this writing but may well lose the next four. More than likely they will go 1-3 over the next month but that is not a given.

7. Washington: The next six weeks will be brutal. They may or may not be able to handle Arizona State.

8. UCLA: The Bruins are not a very good team. Not good at all.

9. Washington State: This team may well have trouble competing with most mid level 1AA teams. They were sorely tested by Montana State last week.

USC: In a category all its own. If they were eligible I would put them at 2 or 3 in conference. They have no eligibility however and therefore any wins or losses mean nothing. This Kiffin will damage the Trojan program further. Coach Pete scores low in the character rating, but at least he knows how to win. Not so this Kiffin.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week Two Analysis

Well I did pretty good this week in the prediction category. 18 wins to 3 losses is not too shabby. Again though a good many of the games were pretty easy to predict with the big programs scheduling down, but still, 18-3 is pretty darn good if I say so myself. Take that to Vegas and make a little coin. The grand total so far for the year is 33-9. There was a lot that was learned this week and their are some major questions remaining.

It looks like Alabama may well be the early front runner when considering the BCS "National Champion." Still very early yet and there is a whole lot of football left to play but the Tide do look pretty good. PSU is certainly not a slouch and may make some noise in the Big Ten but the Tide held them to a field goal. Impressive.
One may think about Ohio State also make a run. The drubbing of Miami was pretty impressive and it looks like the Canes may be a year or so away from making a serious run. If Miami can score when they get in the red zone then they will be much more successful of course. I would not rule out Miami as a factor in in the ACC with a legitimate shot at a BCS Bowl game.
Oklahoma may have dispelled some doubts by dismantling the Seminoles. Perhaps the Noles are not yet a very good team though. I think they are a ways off from competing with the national "big boys" but may yet make some noise in the ACC. Clemson has not been tested yet and I am not sure what type of team they really are. Time will tell.
Nebraska may be a dark horse in the race to the big game. They have not been tested but apparently Pelini is not real thrilled with the offense. The D did keep Idaho off the board for the most part and intercepted Enderle five times. Nathan Enderle may be the second or third best QB in the WAC. I look for Idaho to make it to a minor bowl and bigger programs throwing some money at Akey at the end of the season.
Air Force ended any chance that BYU may have had to sneak into a BCS game. The Cougars did not look very good against a good, but not great, team. So sorry.
Which service academy has the best team? Navy beat a good IAA program this week by a slim margin and lost to Maryland last week in a game they should have won. Air Force was not tested in week one but showed us some things yesterday. West Point came back on a pretty decent Hawaii team but finally found themselves on the short end.
What is wrong with the Big East. A whole lot apparently. WVU had to come back in strong fashion against the Thundering Herd and that is commendable, but they should have never found themselves in that position in the first place. Could Pitt really be the class of this conference? Perhaps. They did hold their own against Utah but came up short in week one. They beat a good IAA squad Saturday. UCONN was not tested by Texas Southern. I wonder what Coach Cole was thinking to bring his boys up there? Must have needed a payday. Rutgers struggled against a lower level Sun Belt squad. Maybe Schiano should have taken a better job when he was in fashion, struck when the iron was hot as it were. Louisville won against a IAA squad but not in convincing fashion. It looked like Syracuse was going to beat a Pac 10 team for a while but they fell short. The Big East is not BCS material this year to be sure.
LSU took down Vanderbilt and that was to be expected. There are still many questions about the Bayou Bengals at this point. The Razorbacks finally started to play some football in the second half and ended up routing an out manned ULM squad. The Hogs have not seriously been tested, but Mallet still has a habit of throwing the rocket too high. He will need to rectify that problem. Auburn edged Mississippi State in a very close game in Starkville. Both teams are pretty good, but are light years away from Alabama. Will they be able to compete with LSU and Arkansas? Probably so.
Mark Richt had better win most of the rest of his squad's games and get into a BCS Bowl or he may well be history. South Carolina edged them in Columbia. I think the Gamecock QB is still a bit inconsistent but he does appear to have improved. Florida started slow but ended up running away from South Florida. This may be a bit of a down year in Gainesville, but the Gators still are a very very good team. Tennessee looked like they could handle the Ducks for a while but Oregon finally caught fire and put them down in convincing fashion. Dooley will probably bring these guys back but it may take a while. The Vols had one year with that Kiffin and that may have set them back a bit. The Ducks actually may be another dark horse for the BCS Title Game. Hard to tell at this point. It is certainly easy to discount the Pac 10, but the Ducks are probably for real.
Speaking more of the PAC 10; did you see the drubbing that the Golden Bears put on the still Big XII Buffs? Will Hawkins even make it till the end of the season? Probably so, but don't look for more than four wins in Colorado. USC edged a rebuilding Virginia squad but it does not matter what the Trojans do this year. They are a non factor regardless of the win/loss record. Washington State had a scare from Montana State and were very capable of losing that game. If State had played the University of Montana instead of Montana State the outcome would have been almost a foregone conclusion. Stanford beat UCLA which showed something I suppose. I am not familiar at all with either of these teams but predict that Stanford will be in a decent bowl game while UCLA will not.
The ACC does not look like it will be a power this year. Not sure what Clemson will do though. Miami is a good team but greatness will elude them this year. The Seminoles are probably a fairly good team. Boston College was not impressive in their game with Kent State and of course Virginia Tech was taken down at home by James Madison. Now JMU is a very very good IAA squad capable of beating a good many BCS conference teams, but they should probably not have been able to take the Hokies down. They did though and that further damages the reputation of the Gobblers. Not sure what that says about Boise State at this point. They (VA. Tech) still has the talent to make a good deal of noise in the ACC and I would not rule them out making a pretty good run. Maryland won in convincing fashion against a IAA squad and edged Navy in week one. I don't think they are a serious contender though. Georgia Tech was beaten by the Jayhawks. The same Jayhawks who were embarrassed by a IAA team in week one. A fairly new IAA team at that. That group is not too far removed from D2. What does that say about the Yellow Jackets? Nothing good to be sure. Still I would not rule them out for making some noise in conference. Wake Forest beat Duke in a conference game but neither of these teams are likely to make much noise. NC State edged UCF but CUSA does not have the best of luck against BCS conference teams.
The Big Ten looks pretty good. Ohio State is probably the only team to be a contender for the BCS Championship though. PSU will improve as the QB gains more experience and will be a pretty darn good team before it is all said and done. Michigan edged Notre Dame. Rodriguez should have stayed in West Virginia though. Iowa may be a pretty good team, but it is hard to tell at this point. They beat down their in state Big XII rival with ease. Minnesota is pathetic. They really should be 0-2 at this point but as luck would have it, they are 1-1. Another one of the Dakota schools taking down a BCS school. Something must be going on in North and South Dakota. Not sure if Purdue is very good. Really do not know much about them yet. Illinois was victorious against a good IAA program. Zook had better win this year or he is gone.
Texas did not have too much trouble with Wyoming but let them hang around for the entire first half, or at least until the last two minutes of the half. I don't think the Longhorns have what it takes this year to get to the Big Game. Somebody will find a way to beat them. Perhaps more than once. Oklahoma redeemed themselves to a good extent. They struggled against Utah State in week one, but not against FSU. Go figure. The Aggies may be better than I thought. Still too early to tell. Texas Tech handled New Mexico but not in convincing fashion. Baylor, KSU and Mizzou were not tested. Colorado looked foolish. Kansas had a very very good win against Georgia Tech.
U of H handled UTEP. I think they can score on anyone but their defense may still be suspect. I would not rule out ECU. They are 2-0 in conference play already. SMU needs to be watched also. They are probably one of the most improved teams in the nation. It will be another long season in New Orleans to be sure. I thought that Tulane may have been able to compete with the Rebs but that was not the case. Rice was victorious in Denton against the Mean Green. That may not seem like much but we are talking about Rice football here.
The Sun Belt gets better and better every year to be sure. Middle TN should have beaten MN in week one, Troy looked pretty impressive against the Cowboys of Oklahoma State, and both FIU and FAU held their own against BCS opponents. It is a shame that at least one of them did not find themselves in the win column. The Cajuns handled Steve Roberts Red Wolves with relative ease. I did not predict that. ULM was handled by the Hogs but were allowed to hang around until the fourth quarter. WKU has a long way to go but Willie will probably prove to be a good coach and I think WKU is a destination for him. He was an exceptional QB for them when they were a IAA power.

That is about all the analysis I can handle for one evening. I will get week three predictions up as soon as time allows.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

BYU, USC, and Notre Dame Are Not Entitled

Over the years I have become pretty darn tired of those at USC and Notre Dame believing themselves entitled.  Entitled to what? The vast majority of college football fans detest them. Apparently now BYU will join the other two to make it a threesome. The reasons that USC and Notre Dame are so vilified are numerous and are not undeserved. Notre Dame has some kind of prima donna complex and those in South Bend think they should have an automatic bid to the BCS. They must reach a a certain level of performance of course, something they have not been able to do in a long long time. Damn shame. The program has it's own television package, will not affiliate with any conference, and now have hired a coach with a lack of class and character. Newsflash to the Irish; You are nothing special. You should be forced to join a conference and see how things work out. I would suggest the Big East as the Big X will shortly have twelve teams. Besides, you may actually have a chance in the Big East.

USC is a bit of a different story. The program under Pete was very successful but there are certainly questions about his character also. The thing that sticks in my craw is when LSU won the BCS "National Championship" legitimately and those at USC had the audacity to claim that they were the true champs. Now that year it is quite possible that USC was the better team, but they are a member of the BCS. That year the BCS chose to put Oklahoma and LSU in the big game and the Trojans were on the outside looking in. That shows the flaws in the BCS system, but thems the breaks as they say. Now apparently this Kiffin has told told his squad that if they run the table then they will be national champs. That is nuts. USC is eligble for nothing. On a bright note, they deserve this Kiffin and that will be their downfall for a good while.

Now we have BYU entering this elite group of the entitled. They apparently are going to bolt the Mountain West and make a go in the WAC. In all sports but football that is. It appears they are looking for the same type of deal that Notre Dame has. You know; automatic bids, special  television package, etc. etc. Good luck with all that. Doubt it will happen. If they are so intent on leaving the Mountain West for the WAC so be it. They should have to play football in that conference also. They would find success there of course, but Boise State they ain't. Kinda funny that they want to go it alone in football with Boise State, Fresno State, and I believe Nevada making the move to the Mountain West. Perhaps there is a level of fear involved.

That is about all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Week Two Predictions

Last week I had a pretty good won/ loss average but in reality it was not that hard. Many of the games were little more than scrimmages for the top teams in the land. This week things get a little more interesting and there are some very good match ups on tap. With that being said, on to the predictions.

1. CMU vs Temple: This Thursday night game may well be a preview of the MAC Championship game. CMU is supposed to be down this year what with a new coach and the loss of a top notch QB. We will see. I think they will be there at the end. Temple is probably the top dog in the MAC East and Al Golden is on heck of a coach. I look for this to be a pretty close game with Temple coming out on top. Pick Temple in a close contest.

2. Auburn vs Mississippi State: Both teams were easily victorious in their opener. The fact that the Bulldogs won is not surprising, but a total blow out of the Memphis squad is a bit. MSU may well have what it takes to knock Auburn down a notch. The game is in Starkville which is a plus. This game will show us if the Bulldogs are truly for real. Pick Mississippi State in a close one.

3. West Virginia vs Marshall: This in state rivalry game should not really be much of a contest. Never know in a rivalry game though. Coach Doc has a long way to go to bring Marshall back to the level of "giant killer." WVU is probably the class of the Big East and may well be a very dark horse to play in the BCS Championship. With much of the Big East apparently being down this year, their schedule is certainly favorable. They do meet LSU later in the season and that could possibly derail their aspirations.  I look for WVU to win here with relative ease. Of course "The Herd" will be fired up for this game and that could be a factor in their favor. Go with WVU.

4. UTEP vs Houston: There is a good deal on the line in this Friday night match up. U of H must win all games to get some national respect and a shot at a BCS Bowl. UTEP spoiled their party last year and that loss deflated the Cougar program somewhat. The Coogs will be bent on revenge and should have learned not to be over confident. Both squads have very good QB's with Keenum having an outside shot perhaps at the Heisman. I think that the fast offense and supposedly improved defense will be enough to handle the Miners this year. The game is in Houston and that is a factor. Go with U of H.

5. Memphis vs East Carolina: ECU had a nice win last week against Tulsa and Memphis was totally blown out. This should be a no brainer. Both teams have a new coaching staff and I think Porter will, given time, produce a very competitive Tiger squad. Not this year and probably not next though. Pick the Pirates in a possible blow out.

6. Pittsburgh vs New Hampshire: The Panthers need this win to get the program back on track and will probably get it. New Hampshire is a pretty good IAA program but will likely not be able to hang long. If they do, then you can write the Panthers off for good. Pick Pitt.

7. Louisiana vs Arkansas State: This Sun Belt match up is very important for both clubs. Both received good paydays last week at the hands of SEC opponents. Neither team was competitive but that was to be expected. Both squads are well coached but the schools'  have a good deal of trouble attracting real D1 talent. I believe that the Red Wolves may have an edge this year and predict a victory for them. Go with ASU. I am a diehard Cajun fan but must at least try to be somewhat professional.

8. Idaho vs Nebraska: I believe that Bo chose not to run the score up on Willie T's WKU squad last week. Akey (Idaho) is a heck of a coach and Nathan Enderle may be the second best QB in the WAC but that will not be near enough. I look for Idaho to perhaps go to another minor bowl this year but Nebraska may well be a factor in the race for the "national title." Go with Nebraska to take this one fairly easily.

9. Utah St vs Idaho State: Why does this game matter? Last week the Aggies turned in a very commendable performance against the Sooners and we need to learn a bit more about them. IAA Idaho State may not be the proper team to gauge oneself against though. The Bengals have a new QB and had trouble keeping him safe last week. This week the competition is much stiffer. This may be little more than a scrimmage for the Aggie squad, but they have probably gained a good bit of confidence and need this game to work out the kinks. Go with the Aggies.

10. Virginia vs USC: This is an interesting match up. Last week Virginia showed a bit with a thrashing of a very good IAA program. USC had a bit of trouble with Hawaii. It matters little what USC does this year but they still are playing the game. They probably have enough talent left to take down the Cavs. Go with USC.

11. ULM vs Arkansas: This game should be another scrimmage for the Hogs. This is the Warhawks season opener and in true Sun Belt fashion, they are looking for a payday and perhaps a chance to gauge their squad against top talent. Sometimes these Sun Belt teams surprise a big time school and that is of course good for recruiting.Todd Berry is not the man I would have hired to "rebuild" the ULM program though. They should have looked around a bit longer and even considered a top notch high school coaching retiree, a good lower division helmsman, or perhaps a somewhat down big time coach. Perhaps they should have kept Charlie W. That would have been my choice. No matter. Go with the Hogs here.

12. Notre Dame vs Michigan: This is a very important game for both squads. Rich R. must win this season or his job may be in jeopardy. Kelly is a proven winner but has some character issues. This probably does not matter to the Irish. This is not a few years back when they decided not to hire O'Leary due to some "resume" issue. There have now been too many sub par years for the Irish to worry about a little thing like character. I don't know if Notre Dame will be truly back this year but it won't take long for Kelly to produce a power team. Rich now has his players and system installed and we will see if it works for him here. He was very succesful at WV and probably should have stayed. I will go with Michigan in a very close game. May be going too far out on a limb here.

13. Troy vs Oklahoma State: Another pay day game for a Sun Belt team? Maybe not. Coach Larry usually has his squad ready to play and they are capable (most years) of being competitive with a big time program. Not sure if that is the case this year though. They did not look too impressive against Bowling Green but did come away with a victory. The Cowboys ran over a very down PAC 10 squad in their opener. I think that the Cowboys will win here but the score might be surprisingly close. Go with OK. State.

14. Nevada vs Colorado State: Nevada is supposed to be the dark horse to challenge Boise State this year. I don't think so, but I do believe they have enough to take down the Rams. Go with the Wolfpack.

15. Mississipp vs Tulane: Ole Miss lost to a good Jacksonville State squad last week in OT. Tulane edged a lower level SLC opponent. This may well be a close game. Houston Nutt must have his boys pumped to show that last week's loss wan an anomaly and Bob Toledo must have his Green Wave team believing they can pull this one out of the hat. It may be close but I will have to go with the Rebs here.

16. Southern Illinois vs Illinois: This could be an interesting match up. The Salukis are a pretty good IAA ball club and Illinois may well have difficulty competing in the Big X. Hard to say at this point. Zook probably has the overall talent on his club to win this game but it will likely be no cake walk. Pick Illinois.

17. Miami vs Ohio State: A big time match up between big time programs. Miami has a very good QB and Shannon is a good coach but I believe they are probably a year away from being a factor in the race for the "national title." Jim will have his Buckeyes ready to play with anyone and the Ohio State team will prevail. Go with the Buckeyes.

18. Rice vs North Texas: This is an interesting game between two very under the radar programs. Both teams actually were somewhat competitive against some top level talent in their opener. Coach Dodge has not had much success in Denton and much the same can be said for Coach Bailiff. This may be a pretty evenly matched game but I will go with the Owls here. Pick Rice.

19. Florida State vs Oklahoma: Oklahoma may have been looking ahead to this game when they played last week. They had a good deal of trouble with the Aggies of Utah State. FSU had themselves a scrimmage against IAA Samford. I think that the Sooners will get back on track and beat the Seminoles rather handily. It may be a year or two for the Noles to be back in the hunt and the Sooners may well be poised to play in the Big Twelve championship game. That depends of course on how the Longhorns fare. Pick Oklahoma.

20. Air Force vs BYU: We will learn a good deal in this game about these two progams. Will BYU be a power to contend with in the MTN West and perhaps nationally? Is Air Force a good enough team to make a run? This conference game has huge implications. BYU will probably win here but it may be very close. Go with BYU.

Potential Shocker of the Week

WKU vs Kentucky: On the surface this looks like a no brainer. WKU is still trying to gain respect in the Sun Belt Conference which is itself trying to gain some respect in D1. Kentucky is a SEC team and that should say it all. I keep thinking of the game a couple years back when ULM shocked the Crimson Tide. I think that Willie T may have his undermanned squad up for this game and the Wildcats may be looking forward. WKU had a commendable performance in Nebraska last week, although it is probable that Pelini chose not to run up the score. Or just perhaps, the Hilltoppers are better than they are given credit for. I will chose Kentucky to win this game but will not be shocked if it is pretty close.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Week One Analysis

Well I got off to a pretty fair start on predicting the outcome of the games with a 15-6 record. Granted some of the games were almost too easy. I did predict that Va. Tech would edge Boise State and missed that one. The Broncos came back and took the game close to the final gun. Missed a few others also. I predicted that Ole Miss would edge Jacksonville State but the results were otherwise. I truly believed that IAA SFA would give the Aggies of A&M some problems but the result was a blow out. The same result in the Mississippi State/Memphis match up. The Bulldogs may well be a better team than is usually the case or perhaps the Tigers are just pathetic. Could be a combination of both. East Carolina may not be as down as the pundits think. They took down a pretty darn good Tulsa team over the weekend. I was fairly certain that Pat Hill's squad would beat the Cincinnati and that Utah would knock off Pitt. The Big East appears to be overrated with perhaps only West Virginia being a true threat. Time will tell.

It appears that Middle Tennessee State will be ready for Sun Belt action. They had chances to beat the Gophers but just did not prevail. Now MN. is probably at the bottom of the pack in the Big Ten, but the game that the Blue Raiders played showed that they should be able to compete for the top spot in the Belt. Not so with Troy. It is possible that they need to pick up the pace. They did edge Bowling Green of the MAC but not in convincing fashion. Florida Atlantic beat a poor UAB team, but none of the other Sun Belt squads that were in action even came close to a victory. Got some good paydays though.

Over in Conference USA East Carolina appears ready to compete in the East. Their conference win over the other Canes showed us a few things. U of H was not challenged as expected. Southern Miss just did not look good against South Carolina but that may be more attributable to the Gamecocks being a good team rather than the Golden Eagles being bad. Tulane edged an in state IAA program which proves very little. Memphis was blown out which may or may not say a good deal about the Mississippi State program. UTEP beat a SWAC school which proves very little. UCF ran over a IAA opponent, and UAB was knocked off by Florida Atlantic. Very little was proven in the first week of play other than the fact that UAB, Memphis and probably Tulane are not going to have good seasons (imagine that) and that ECU may not be as down as many writers think.

Over in the WAC, you know the conference that gets no respect, the Broncos knocked off a legitimate top ten team. That is becoming a habit with the Boise State squad. Are they ready for another BCS run. Quite possibly. Still a long way to go yet. Fresno State took down Cincinnati and that was almost predictable. Pat Hill will play anyone and sometimes they knock off a big boy. Idaho won their first game and may again make some noise in this conference. SJSU was not in the same league as Alabama but that was to be expected. Hawaii had a commendable performance when the Trojans visited the Islands and the Warriors may be much improved over last year. Louisiana Tech should have caused a bit more damage in their victory over SWAC school Grambling State. Nevada turned in a non impressive victory over IAA Eastern Washington. It must be noted that EWU is ranked in the IAA poll however. Utah State gave the Sooner club all that they could handle. Were the Sooners looking forward to their game with FSU and discounting the Aggies? Perhaps. Perhaps it may be that Utah State will be an unexpected force to reckon with, much like the Idaho team was last (and perhaps this) year. Hard to say at this point.

The Big East is down. I think only WVU will salvage the conference image to some extent. Still too early to tell of course. Pitt may yet make some in conference noise but their loss to Utah was a blow. Cincinnati may still be able to compete for the top spot with perhaps UCONN or USF, but with the probably exception of WV, none are BCS Bowl caliber. Louisville will need to rebuild as will Syracuse. Of course it must be noted that Cincy and UCONN lost to quality opponents. The wins that Rutgers and USF logged mean nothing. They should be embarrassed for scheduling down to such an extent.

The Mountain West does it again. Or at least the top teams did. Utah beat Pitt and TCU took down Oregon State. Both of those opponents were predicted to make some noise in their respective conferences and may still yet but....Most of the other games that the Mountain West played meant very little. Now Colorado State showed that they were not up to the level of a BCS team with their loss to the Buffs. Granted this is a rivalry game and the Colorado squad was looking for revenge. Wyoming certainly did not seem impressive in their victory over the IAA Thunderbirds. How will they stay on the field with the Longhorns this weekend? They won't. SDSU proved very little by thumping a small school from Louisiana. No other victorious team in the MTN West really played a quality opponent.  New Mexico was demolished by Oregon as was to be expected and UNLV did turn in an adequate performance against the Badgers. It looks again like Utah and TCU are for real. Probably the Cougars are also. Anyone else? Doubtful. Maybe the Air Force Academy will prove to be pretty good. Time will tell.

For the most part the SEC does what the SEC does best. Schedule opponents that are outclassed. South Carolina did schedule a pretty tough opponent in Southern Miss and of course Kentucky met (and defeated) Louisville in a non conference rivalry game. Florida looks like they need some work and Ole Miss may already be down for the count. LSU won their game against NC but it is doubtful they will be a factor this year. They certainly need to work on fundamentals. No one else played a game that had any real meaning other than a chance to give their starters some real game work. Oh and Vanderbilt is Vanderbilt.

The ACC looked pretty good I suppose. The Tar Heels' loss to LSU was a blow, but it must be noted that they were competitive with most of their starters off the field. The Terps victory over the Naval Academy was a boon to the program. I am surprised that Virginia beat Richmond in such convincing fashion. I am actually surprised that they even won the game. They are probably better than I anticipated but have honestly not "scouted" a good many teams in this conference. The Hokies loss to Boise State does not come as a shock. Both of those teams are top ten squads and the Hokies certainly are not out of the running for a BCS Bowl. The rest of the games really meant and proved nothing. The SEC has nothing on the ACC in scheduling outclassed opponents. That is a result of the BCS system to be sure, but I won't get into that here. I must give credit to VA. Tech for "manning up" and taking on the Broncos in the opener. It says a lot.

The Big Twelve had a few games that were pretty interesting. The Horns were not very impressive in their win over Rice, but perhaps Mack just chose not to run up the score. He is also breaking in a new QB and that may have been a factor. Texas Tech beat a much improved SMU squad that may well be a factor in the CUSA race. Nebraska played a scrimmage against WKU and I suspect that Pelini chose to not embarrass the visiting team. There may be some issues to resolve at Oklahoma. They better get on it; the Seminoles loom large. Texas A&M won in convincing fashion and KSU looked pretty good in the win over UCLA. Snyder is a good coach but he sure is a weird bastard. Iowa State took down Jerry Kill's MAC squad and I am a bit surprised. Kansas looked stupid. Is Turner Gill ready for the "big time?" Missouri beat Illinois which may or may not prove anything. Oklahoma State took down WSU but that proves not so much. They did it in convincing fashion though. For the most part the rest of the games are not really worth mentioning. All teams in this conference were victorious other than the Jayhawks.

The Big Ten had some games of interest last weekend. Michigan has some things to prove and they got a start on it last week. I like Rich R. but think he should have stayed at WVU. Ohio State had little trouble with Marshall, but the Badgers ran into a bit of a scare (for a while) out in Las Vegas. Penn State pounded the Penguins but may not be ready for Alabama later this week. Minnesota had some trouble with a pesky Sun Belt squad and could very easily have wound up on the losing end. Michigan State took down a supposedly improved Western Michigan squad also. Northwestern handled Vandy. Illinois stayed fairly close to Missouri. Zook needs to win this year or he is most likely out. Purdue lost to the Irish. Is Notre Dame back? I hope not. I try to be impartial but there are limits.  Most other games are not worth mentioning. That has become typical of most first week action.

Over in the PAC 10 things did not look so good. USC is not a factor no matter their eventual won/loss record. Hawaii hung tough with them last week. This Kiffin will likely prove to be a bad hire. WSU hammered by Oklahoma State? Not really much of a surprise I suppose. Oregon State's loss to TCU was to be expected but they did hang tough. Oregon did smash New Mexico but all that really shows is that they are willing to run up the score on an outclassed opponent. UCLA loses to KSU. Those two teams were pretty evenly matched. Arizona pummelled Toledo, but at least they played a D1 opponent. The other games are not worth mentioning.

As usual for the most part the first week did not prove a whole lot for the majority of teams. There are too many schools scheduling down to the point of it being ridiculous. It does my heart good when an outgunned opponent sneaks up and bites one of the big boys on the ass. We may see more of it before the end of the year.

I did not get to watch as much as I wanted this week due to a good friends' father passing away. That man loved his LSU football and was a Saints fanatic. I am glad the Saints are the NFL champions. He followed them in good times and bad. A fair weather fan he was not. He was buried in a Saints t-shirt along with his Marine Corps items. I certainly liked that man. Semper Fi Tommy!

SEC East

There were quite a few games over the weekend and of course there are more questions than answers on the potential of most teams. The trend is to schedule weaker opponents on the first week and no one does it better than the SEC. Some schools looked like they may have championship potential and some looked like they needed some work. On to the predictions.

1. Georgia: Coach Richt better win this year or he will be on his way out. When I say win, I mean becoming at least BCS Bowl eligible. Anything less will not satisfy hungry Bulldog fans. I am looking for this years Bulldog squad to take the number one slot in the SEC East. Why? Florida is likely to be rebuilding somewhat and Georgia returns a good a fair amount of starters from a team that was pretty good last year. The non conference schedule is not too tough. They have already blown out the Cajuns and will likely do the same with Colorado and IAA Idaho State. Georgia Tech may be another matter however. The East may not have the best team in the SEC but it is overall possibly (but perhaps not this year) somewhat tougher than the West.  That may pose a problem for the Dogs. They do miss Alabama but must play Arkansas, Mississippi State and Auburn out of the East. It should be interesting. I pick the Dogs for the number one spot in the division. I realize I may be going out on a limb somewhat.

2. South Carolina: The Gamecocks victory over Southern Miss showed something. The Golden Eagles are a team that is known to give mid level SEC teams a bit of a problem. The only thing is, South Carolina may be, this year at least, one of the elite of the conference. Time will tell of course, but Spurrier is still a heck of a coach and knows how to win. South Carolina is not the easiest place in the SEC to win year in and year out. The do not have the history of being an elite program like Bama, Florida, Auburn, Tennessee and Georgia. That being said I would look for South Carolina to be ready to take over the top spot in case Georgia falters. Now the remaining non conference schedule does have some potential pitfalls. Winning against Clemson is not a given by any stretch. Troy may pose some difficulty but they should be able to handle IAA Furman. They do meet Alabama, Arkansas, and Auburn out of the West and they will likely not win all of them. They could easily be swept or perhaps finish as high as 2-1 against these foes from the other division. We will see.

3. Florida: I think that Urban Meyer is in rebuild mode this year. His power QB is in the NFL and there are a lot of new faces as starters. The lackluster performance against Miami of Ohio did not sit well with Gator fans. The Red Hawks are a lower tier MAC team this year and should not have been allowed to hang around as long as they did. Of course a win is a win and Florida did prevail. Now the remaining non conference schedule is pretty tough with games against South Florida, IAA power Appalachian State, and of course the Seminoles. It is an upgrade over last year's non conference slate which bordered on ridiculous. The will not likely win all of the non conference games. Now that being said, it is not out of the question that the Gators will find themselves in the top spot in the East. Meyer knows his business and may get his squad ready for the remaining games. They do have to take on Alabama out of the West, but miss the Hogs and Auburn this year. They might find that Mississippi State is not a pushover this year as is usually the case. I pick Florida for the third spot in this division and ending up in a good bowl before it is all said and done. Probably not one that is of the BCS variety though.

4. Tennessee: This program has been down a bit in recent years and the Vol's fans are as hungry as any. Last year's season with that fool Kiffin probably did not help matters much and may have set them back even further. Now this team is still a very dangerous squad but will not find themselves in the elite of the SEC for some time. The just do not return enough starters to make it very far in the SEC race and that may be a good thing. Last year's team went 7-6 total. Not something that the fans in Knoxville will tolerate much longer. The only remaining non conference game that should pose any real difficulty will be the Ducks. Perhaps Memphis could be a problem, as the Tigers do consider this a rivalry game, but it is unlikely they have the power to hang with the Vols long. Now Derek Dooley may prove to be one heck of a good hire here. He was fairly successful at Louisiana Tech which is a pretty hard place to win consistently. The Vols play a typical SEC schedule with an out of division date with Alabama.

5. Kentucky: Now this team can have some pretty good years (for KY football) and this year may be one of those. It is not totally out of the question that they could move up as high as three in the division. The win over Louisville helps their case somewhat as does the remaining non conference schedule. It is designed to build confidence. WKU, Akron, or Charleston Southern are not likely to pose much of a problem for the Wildcats. They are lucky also that they miss out of division games with the Hogs and the Crimson Tide. The do face Mississippi State and Auburn out of the West. With a little luck this squad may be able to move into the fourth (and possibly third) spot in the East but I will go with the them finishing fifth. This is their traditional spot.

6. Vanderbilt: Most of the "power" conferences have a Vanderbilt in the league roster. Vanderbilt is an excellent school that can occasionally have a pretty decent team. Just not one that can compete in the SEC. Baylor for the Big XII, Duke in the ACC (in football), and until recently Stanford in the PAC 10 are similar to Vandy. Vanderbilt was the only SEC East team to suffer a loss on opening day when they met up with Northwestern  (no longer an also ran) on Saturday. No shame there. Northwestern can  be pretty competitive in the Big X, at least in recent years. The remaining non conference schedule is pretty tough by Vandy standards with a date at UCONN and bringing Wake Forest to town. They should be able to prevail against the Eagles of Eastern Michigan. The Commodores do have the a  luxury of missing most of the power teams in the West with only a date with the Hogs on Oct 30. If things bounce their way in conference play they may be able to escape the cellar but that is somewhat unlikely. Pick Vandy for the sixth spot in the East.