Happy Championship Week to everyone.
Just want to point out Utah, Boise State and TCU are all ranked ahead of the Big East champion (Cincinnati) and whoever the ACC champion will be. But do any of those four teams get to go to BCS games? One: Utah, with an outside shot at two if Boise can get in as an at-large. But if Florida beats Alabama or Oklahoma goes down, that hope is probably dashed.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the BCS has failed at all of its intended goals when it was first established. It does not produce a clear national champion. It has not replaced the polls and eliminated the guess work from ranking college teams. And it sure as hell hasn’t made the big bowl games any more interesting. The BCS now exists solely as a money-making venture for the major conferences. Though, as I mentioned above, it’s hard to call a couple of them “major.”
The real team getting screwed is Ball State. If they win Friday night, they will be a 13-0 conference champion, but will be looking at the Motor City Bowl as their best bowl option, since there’s no way in hell the BCS is going to let three non-BCS at-large teams in. I understand TCU not getting in, since they aren’t undefeated and they lost to the higher-ranked Utah. But Ball State? It’s a sham. An outrage. Go ahead, try to make the case that Cincinnati, BC, or Virginia Tech is that much better than Ball State. This is nothing more than institutionalized snobbery.*
*UPDATE: Much to the delight of BCS-lovers, Ball State was upset by Buffalo Friday Night. Despite Ball State’s loss the principle remains the same.
Here is my point: Cincinnati and the ACC champ -if they are ranked behind an undefeated non-BCS team, and that team didn’t make the BCS – should have to give up their BCS slots to those teams. That type of radical decision would show the world that in college football the rankings really do matter. How are we supposed to take the ACC and Big East seriously when they have four and two ranked teams, respectively, and all six of those teams are ranked behind four of the five ranked non-BCS schools? They simply are not more deserving than Boise State and Ball State, and on some level the ACC and Big East teams know this, but they have no reason to care. That’s why I’m calling upon them to relinquish their undeserved BCS berths. The BCS itself sure as hell isn’t going to do it.
You’re probably saying, “yeah McD, you rakishly handsome devil with your washboard abs, wit, and impressive book collection, but what if we let in all three non-BCS teams and they all get their asses kicked?” My answer: so fucking be it. At least the teams that deserved it the most would have been let in. What we’re going to get instead are two decent BCS bowls, and three unwatchable games featuring teams no one cares about (sorry Cincy, you guys aren’t big-time). No, no one cares about Ball State either, but at least that team earned its way in – should they win Friday*. And it’s a fantastic story of a shitty-program-that-could.
UPDATE II: They didn’t.
There’s at least a 65% chance Cincinnati will drop their game on the road at Hawai’i, and no one will notice or care that this mediocre a team is making the BCS. How is it bad for Hawai’i to get blown out in the BCS last year when this year’s Cincy team would meet the same fate against last year’s Georgia team?
It’s understandable for the BCS because they have to pump up their conferences. But the press and fans jumping in against Boise, Ball State, and even Utah is shameless and pathetic. Every one of them should be tarred and feathered for shilling for this corporate money-grab. It’s disgusting.
Free college football from the BCS! Our trials and tribulations have gone on too long! We must stand up and fight for a college football ranking system we can believe in! The shackles of the major-conference oppressors shall be thrown off and we, as a college football people, shall march up to the hilltop of freedom and cry as one, “Free College Football!”
Record through Week 14: 162-68, 114-111-7 ATS
(23) Pittsburgh (8-3) at Connecticut (7-4) (-2.5)
LeSean McCoy is the truth, and everything else about this game is boring. There are good coaches who have fun, and there are good coaches who take every ounce of fun out of playing football. Dave Wannstedt is sort of the second one, but it’s debatable whether he’s a good coach or not. Otherwise, hide all sharp objects so you don’t gouge out your eyes while watching this game.
Update: Pitt 34 UConn 10.
I have no idea why UConn was a favorite when Pitt is clearly better than they are. Other than that, I didn’t watch a minute of this game, and if you did, I’m very, very sorry.
Record: 163-68, 115-111-7 ATS
Navy (7-4) at Army (3-8) (+11) at Philadelphia, PA
Trophy: The Commander in Chief’s Trophy (kind of), Series Record: 52-49-7 (Navy)
The United States Military Academy is bad at football. Take from that what you will. Thus endeth the preview.
Update: Navy 34 Army 0.
Welp, Navy dominated again. I’m sure Phillips’ dad would tell you they always dominate, but they still had to prove it on the field. I think we need to start a special charity to get Army better at football. What the hell is going on there? If Navy can pull this thing off, why can’t the USMA? It’s embarrassing. I’m blaming the Clinton defense cutbacks.
Record: 164-68, 116-111-7 ATS
Conference USA Championship
East Carolina (8-4) at Tulsa (10-2) (-12)
Our first conference championship of Saturday brings us two trendy BCS picks from a few weeks ago and one hell of a contrast in styles. East Carolina plays Holtz Football. I don’t care if it’s Skip Holtz, Lou Holtz, or Jesus Holtz from Guatemala, the style stays the same. Basically, Holtz football is this: whatever works and the kitchen sink too. They enjoy running the ball and the occasional forward pass, but if things are going pear-shaped, they’ll bust out the trick plays, throw 40 times in a game, and yet they won’t utilize their talent unless that talent is at running back. Holtz football is a timeless, yet dated, thing.
ECU was a major story early in 2008, after beating Virginia Tech and West Virginia to start the season. They actually started 4-0 before losing to the very crappy NC State. Then they lost two more to Houston and Virginia and that was pretty much that. They’ve played close in virtually every game since and are only in the C-USA championship game because their end of the conference sucks.
Tulsa is modernity personified, yet within that modernity are still those classic football traits that have always created success in the modern era. They run Gus Malzahn’s hurry-up no-huddle offense, and have thusly scored a shit-ton of points this year. But they don’t throw 100% of the time and are actually sixth in passing offense (327.1 ypg) and seventh in rushing offense (259.1 ypg). They still have balance, but their system allows them to gain a shitload of yards pretty much any way they want. They’ve only lost twice this season, and the losses were in consecutive games (at Arkansas and at Houston). Ironically, it was Houston that blew them out 70-30, not the shitty Arkansas from the big, bad SEC.
ECU and Tulsa didn’t play this year or last year, so there’s no previous evidence to base my pick on. However, this is the exact kind of time where I trust college football evolution rather than the classic approach. ECU did lose to Houston by 20 this year, and Tulsa lost by 40, but I’m not going to use the transitive property. ECU can’t slow down fast teams. Neither can Tulsa, but ECU isn’t a fast team in the Houston sense. I’m going with Tulsa.
Update: ECU 27 Tulsa 24.
Fucking Tulsa. Anytime any national coverage is given to this team, they come out and take a shit on the field. Happened against Arkansas, Houston, and now East Carolina too. Worse, the modernized offense I’ve been talking up turned the ball over like 3,423,423,423,433,423 times in four quarters. If you’re going to lose to a Holtz-ball team, that’s how you do it. Guess Tulsa just isn’t quite ready for prime time yet.
Record: Record: 164-69, 116-112-7 ATS
Atlantic Coast Conference Championship
(17) Boston College (9-3) at (25) Virginia Tech (8-4) (Even)
It’s likely this game will win the award for “most unwatchable conference championship of the week.” These two teams are absolutely painful to watch when they’re on offense, which brings to mind the old, delusional SEC maxim: It ain’t bad offense, it’s good defense. Keep telling yourselves that, guys.
Boston College is ranked 98th in total yards and 100th in passing yards. They are also ranked 60th in scoring at 26.7 ppg. To put it a different way, if they can’t run the ball effectively, the Eagles are screwed. Their two quarterbacks have combined to throw exactly the same number of INT’s as touchdowns (13) and have combined for just over 2,000 passing yards this entire season. BC beat Florida State back on November 15th, which is what broke the tie between the two teams in the ACC Atlantic Division and sent the Eagles to Tampa. The Atlantic, by the way, is the deeper, but weaker at the top, end of the ACC. There isn’t one decent offensive team in that group, though Clemson should have been. No one did worse than 4-4 in the conference, though, showing the overwhelming mediocrity that is the ACC Atlantic. Yet BC is the best of the worst, and they have a fighting chance in this game because…
If you think Boston College sucks at offense, I give you the Virginia Tech Hokies! Tech is 100th in total yards (317.8), 110th in passing offense (148.3), and 96th in total points at 21.6 ppg. Maybe it’s time for Frank Beamer to admit he and his assitants don’t know shit about offensive football. Darren Evans is a great young back, but he’s just a redshirt freshman. And while they have Tyrod Taylor, it’s not like the guy is a real threat to throw for 300 yards on some one. It’s not like this is new for Va. Tech, either. Other than when they had Michael Vick, they have always been a mediocre to terrible offensive football team. That, of course, isn’t even remotely their calling card. The Hokes play Beamer Ball, which means they appreciate whatever the offense can give them, but they’re going to play defense and make some plays on special teams. Their specialty is, of course, stopping the run, which should help them against BC.
These two teams played back on October 18th, with BC winning 28-23. BC gained 300 total yards, and Chris Crane threw for 218 and a touchdown in an otherwise unremarkable offensive outing that included three interceptions. Everything about that game seems to be an aberration. The Hokies only gained 240 total yards and had ten penalties. The Eagles didn’t run the ball particularly well and got a punt return for a TD by Rich Gunnell. Somehow, I don’t think the Hokies will make special teams mistakes this time around, and I seriously doubt Evans will have another poor rushing performance now that he has a full season under his belt. This game is going to be determined by Tyrod Taylor. If he can be the crazy-good dual-threat he is, the Hokies will win. If he only throws for 90 yards again like last time, Virginia Tech is going to find themselves in a dogfight with a team they should handle.
Pick: Virginia Tech
Update: Virginia Tech 30 BC 12.
There was no way Tech was repeating the miscues of the first game between these teams. Say what you want about Frank Beamer butchering offensive football, but if he gets two cracks and a mediocre team, his guys will get it done the second time. And now Virginia Tech are your ACC champions. But no, Boise State doesn’t deserve a spot in the BCS. Worst system ever.
Record: 165-69, 117-112-7 ATS
Washington (0-11) at California (7-4) (-35.5)
Yeah, like I was going to let Washington’s shot at a perfect season just cruise right past me on the last weekend of the season? Please.
What’s crazy is we have a shot at dual un-victorious seasons in college AND in the NFL. I’m pretty sure I read about this and Britney’s resurgence in the book of Revelations. Or maybe it was Maxim. Same thing, really.
Pick: Cal, but Washington beats the spread in a last minute miracle.
Update: Cal 48 Washington 7.
Perfection! I don’t know what to say, I’m so proud of Washington. They really went out there all season and did everything they could to achieve a clean sheet. It’s hard to say what this team’s strengths were. Some would say it’s heart and determination to be the worst. Others might say it’s an extreme lack of talent. I say it’s a combination of all those things, plus a little extra sissy-ness that makes them the worst team ever. Good for you, Washington. Worst team ever!
Record: 166-69, 117-113-7 ATS
Southeastern Conference Championship
(1) Alabama (12-0) at (4) Florida (11-1) (-9.5)
Oh, I don’t know, this is only the BIGGEST GAME OF ALL TIME!!!! EVER!!!! Why? Because miopic SEC fan says so. And what they say goes. They don’t really want to acknowledge these two teams are the best teams in the SEC, but everyone else in the conference is pretty damn mediocre. Besides, everyone knows the biggest game ever was Florida State/Notre Dame back in the day. Charlie Ward…and a whole bunch of other players I can’t name. Good times.
Alabama is straight out of the 1980’s with their offense, so you know Les Miles secretly loves them. They run the ball with power and pray to God they don’t have to rely on John Parker Wilson to win any games. It’s actually a fairly professional approach to the game. They know they don’t have a great quarterback, so they’re effectively running the Caretaker Quarterback offense. Then again, they’ve only beaten three ranked teams, all of which turned out to be way, way crappier than everyone thought. It’s not like Clemson, Georgia, and LSU are really respectable teams at this stage. Here’s the thing: this game is a battle of minds. Urban Meyer is an offensive genius, but Nick Saban is a proven, all-time defensive genius of the highest order. At this point I’m leaning towards trusting the less evil Saban.
Florida has played absolutely nobody as well, and they lost a game along the way to Ole Miss, which is as pathetic as it sounds, no matter what the Rebs’ record is. And I know everyone else has said it, but how is the Pac-10 the shitty conference for losing to Utah, among others, when Florida was playing The Citadel two weeks ago? How is that fucking respectable? And looking at Florida’s schedule, it’s not like they were blowing out great teams with good defenses and offenses. They were beating severely flawed teams because they should have, but then ran up the score too. I’m not impressed. This is an NFL defense the Gators will be facing, and I’m wondering just how big their strategic and speed advantages will be.
So who’s it gonna be? Florida is playing about as well for Urban Meyer as they ever have, but they might be something of a house of cards due to their weak schedule. Plus, Percy Harvin is a little dinged up. But the thing that changes everything for me is the quotes by Alabama players in the espn.com preview. They are already playing up the “no one respects us” card. That’s a big one in the NFL, but it might be even bigger in college football. All week, Alabama is practicing pissed off and they’re going to be frothing to play Florida by Saturday. That is a motivational advantage Saban knows how to use. I, for one, am sold.
Pick: Florida, but Alabama beats the spread.
Update: Florida 31 Alabama 20.
Damn, Alabama, you got my hopes up. There was no way they were winning this game, but they were THIS close to destroying Florida’s cover. Sucks.
And fuck CBS for calling this game “1 vs 2.” It was number one versus number four, you jackasses. Either the BCS counts or it doesn’t. It does not and should not depend on how much you can hype up your SEC broadcasts.This game was not “better than the hype for the Super Bowl” or more exciting than a national championship game or any of that shit. It’s the SEC championship game featuring two teams who have played exactly one good team between them. Stop embarrassing yourselves. Also, Tim Tebow is not the greatest football player ever. That guy’s name was Kliff Kingsbury and I’ll thank you to not crap all over his legacy.
Record: 167-69, 117-114-7 ATS
(5) Southern California (10-1) at UCLA (4-7) (+33)
Trophy: The Victory Bell, and the Lexus Gauntlet Trophy (all-sports competition between the schools), Series Record: 42-28-7 (USC)
I think Booter knows I love the Bruins. I really, really do. Just not this year, in this game. The Trojans have nothing to play for but a Rose Bowl (or some other BCS berth) to play for. They have virtually no shot at jumping into the national title game no matter what kind of chaos happens in the top four. If Florida wins, they jump into the national title game. If Oklahoma loses to Missouri, Florida or Texas most into the number two spot. So basically, USC is on its way to dominating some team unfortunate enough to make the Rose Bowl. I hope it’s Texas or Florida, personally, but that’s just me. In the end, though I do like UCLA’s shot at beating the spread here, I have to ask: in hindsight, how the fuck did USC lose to Oregon State? This is the exact kind of shit we can’t have from “the great Pete Carroll.” Florida/USC or OU/USC is by far the best matchup for a title game, but no. No, the Trojans had to be starmakers for Jacquizz Rodgers instead. Win the goddamn fucking Pac-10 and go undefeated next time, asses.
Update: USC 28 UCLA 7.
It’ll never come out in the press, but Pete has to be happy to see Steve Sarkisian go. Under Sark, the once vaunted USC offense has become barely good enough to compete in the Big Ten. They’ve gotten worse every season since Norm Chow left, and it isn’t because of a lack of talent. Whether you noticed it or not, their scheme has changed. Gone are the bunch routes, three-step drops, and brilliant playcalling. All that has been replaced by power running, bootleg passes with a maximum of three options, and predictability. Now the Trojans struggle to score on the majority of their possessions and will not score 35 points in any game unless the opposition gives them a couple of turnovers. In fact, even if Sarkisian doesn’t take the Washington job, Pete should fire him anyway. The offense is what is holding this team back. They have one of the greatest defenses in the history of the college game, but they’ve pissed it away again because they couldn’t score on Oregon Fucking State. They had no business only scoring four touchdowns against UCLA, despite how good the Bruins’ defense is. Pete has a serious problem in his program at the coaching level, but it might fix itself since Sark is probably leaving.
Record: 168-69, 117-115-7 ATS
The Dual in the Desert
Arizona State (5-6) at Arizona (6-5) (-10.5)
Trophy: The Territorial Cup, Series Record: 44-36-1 (Arizona)
Yeah, I don’t care about this game at all. I’m just a freakish completionist when it comes to rivalries.
Pick: Arizona wins but ASU beats the spread.
Update: Arizona 31 ASU 10.
Wow, Arizona actually has a winning season under its belt. It’s the first time since 1998 the Wildcats have done that. So eat that, Stoops haters. Now Arizona gets to go to a crappy bowl too. Sweet.
Record: 169-69, 117-116-7 ATS
South Florida (7-4) at West Virginia (7-4) (-7)
Matt Grothe as a quarterback is like an ex girlfriend that got ugly reeeeeeeeeeal fast. He and the USF offense look awful all season. Also, I had no idea he struggled to throw the ball fifty yards in the air. Damn, even my wussy, white-boy, noodle-arm could probably muster forty yards.
Then again, at least USF didn’t have delusions of throwing the ball with their running quarterback like West Virginia did. The Pat White Experiment lasted like one and a half games before the Mountaineers realized they’d had their heads up their asses on that one.
Update: West Virginia 13 USF 7.
Glad I didn’t watch any of this suckfest. Nothing more exciting than two underwhelming, overrated teams going at it and looking like shit doing it. So goodbye, Pat White. I guess this was a good win to end the regular season on, but you probably ought to have one hell of a bowl performance, all the same.
Record: 170-69, 117-117-7 ATS
Big XII Conference Championship
(20) Missouri (9-3) at (2) Oklahoma (11-1) (-16.5)
I think it’s safe to say at this point everyone thinks the Big XII’s system for breaking ties sucks. I especially enjoyed Pat Forde’s joke about the BCS awarding World War II to the Germans and seeding the Americans fourth. Well played, sir. AND he avoided making a Hitler joke like so many of his colleagues seem to have trouble doing. Oklahoma has no business in this game, even if they are playing the best of any of the teams tied atop the South Division. It’s absurd and wrong. How is Texas being punished this much for a last-second miracle loss on the road when they beat OU at a neutral site by ten points? Again, absurd and wrong.
And that’s pretty much how OU got here. Also, they beat Chattanooga and Washington out of conference, which totally helped their strength of schedule. Wait, playing winless teams and 1-AA teams is good, right? OHHHHHHHH. Nevermind. The Sooners have scored at least 35 points in every game they’ve played, though they gave up 45 to Texas and another 35 to Kansas State. Which brings me to my real point: though they’re very talented, OU’s defense is fucking awful. You’d be better off out there with the 4th French Infantry Division than the Sooners’ D at this point. If things go to form, OU should score a ton of points and allow a few to Missouri as well. The question is: can Mizzou score 60+ to compete with Oklahoma?
Mizzou’s defense is just as fucking terrible as OU’s. Plus, the Tigers’ offense isn’t nearly as good as advertised. Even though they had the division wrapped up already, I can’t stress how awful a loss that was for Missouri to Kansas last week. Seriously. Horrifying loss to a bad team. Worse, Missouri is just as guilty of pathetically easy scheduling as Oklahoma. That Southeast Missouri State win looks especially good now. The only redeeming quality for the Tigers is Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and the rest of the offense. That unit is their only shot at winning this game. Sure, the D can make some plays to keep it close, but it’s going to be up to the O to score on virtually every possession. If this game turns into a shootout, it’s advantage Missouri, but they have to go score for score with OU. If the Sooners open a two or three touchdown lead early, this bitch is over.
Sam Bradford. Chase Daniel. Chase Daniel. Sam Bradford. They’ll both have good games, but it’s the supporting casts that will clearly make the difference. Obviously, I like Oklahoma’s offensive unit a hell of a lot more than Missouri’s. There’s a difference between being a team that passes because it wants to (OU) and passes because it has to (Missouri). That said, this is one motherfucker of a trap game for Oklahoma, who I think is known for choking in late-season games in recent years. Could have sworn I saw them gag against a weak West Virginia team last January. Call me crazy. But picking Missouri to win is probably asking too much for the Tigers at this point.
Update: OU 62 Mizzou 21.
Never leave it up to Bob Stoops to take his foot off the gas because it’ll never happen. He will run up the score every time, no matter what. This is the real reason the Sooners have scored 60+ in their last several games. Stoops is too much of a dick to put in the backups and stop throwing. It was fun to see USC kick their ass a few years ago when OU had been running it up on crappy Big XII teams all season. Hopefully, Florida can do the same to them in January.
I guess OU is the team to make the BCS championship game out of the Big XII. I’m assuming it’s going to be Florida too, though I wouldn’t rule out Texas jumping in there for some crazy, mathematical reason. Good times, I guess.
Record: 171-69, 118-117-7 ATS
(13) Cincinnati (10-2) at Hawai’i (7-5) (+7)
My thoughts on this game are already written above. Suffice to say, when Cincy blows Hawai’i out, more than a few hacks will use it as proof the BCS should only include the major conferences and no one else. Just remember who these men work for and how pathetic they truly are.
Update: Cincinnati 29 Hawai’i 24.
Hawai’i was up 24-10 in the fourth quarter and blew it, but no, Boise State shouldn’t be in the BCS. The same Boise State team that beat Hawai’i 27-7. This is an insane ending to an insane season. Somehow a team that struggles against a WAC team gets to go to a BCS bowl over Boise State.
Actually, I don’t even blame Cincy, at least they won their conference. The fuck is Ohio State doing in the BCS top ten? That is a shitty team right there that only has one loss because they play in the horrible Big Ten. There are at least three undeserving teams that will all get in ahead of Boise State. Free college football!
Record after regular season: 172-69, 118-118-7 ATS
Some thoughts on other random happenings Saturday:
Newcastle 2-2 Stoke. Injuries and general crappiness got the Magpies a draw with Stoke instead of the victory an early 2-0 lead should have gotten them. Yeah, sure injuries played their part since Nicky Butt didn’t play and Danny Guthrie couldn’t continue after halftime. But an injury time equalizer to fucking Stoke? This is how you end up flirting with relegation. Well, that and being totally mismanaged for the past few years, having ownership issues, and then a crazy amount of injuries. Such is life in the Toon Army. Still, fuck the mackems!
Manny Pacquiao TKO’d Oscar De La Hoya when Oscar’s corner ended the fight before the ninth round. This was the most dominating performance I’ve seen since Floyd Mayweather beat Arturo Gatti into retirement a couple of years ago. Harold Lederman, Phillips, and I all had the fight 80-71 for Pacquiao after eight rounds, with Manny winning every round and a 10-8 round in the seventh. I’m now convinced Pacquiao could beat any fighter in any weight class. Bring on Antonio Margarito. Bring on Ricky Hatton. Bring on Wladimir Fucking Klitschko. I don’t give a fuck. Manny can beat them all. Seriously, that was amazing. Here’s hoping Manny becomes a huge star for boxing in America. The man is amazing and I think people could really like him. At least his fights are extremely entertaining. He’s the biggest celebrity in the Phillippines, so why not America? Credit to Pac-Man, who has won fights in three different weight classes over 17 pounds this year. He is my favorite fighter, and I hope this lasts just a few rounds longer, at least.
And so, I bid you adieu until the bowl games start up in a couple of weeks. It’s been a fantastic regular season and I’m glad I got to watch virtually every minute of it. But most of all, I FINISHED AT .500!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!