December 17, 2010

WeIs Roundtable Bowl Confidence Picks - Why Not?

We're bowl season junkies around here, getting bowl stir crazy since we started this blog journey in 2005.  Once the jingle gets in your head -- "It's the most wonderful time...of the year" - it doesn't leave.  A whopping 35 games are on the docket this year, begging the question that's been asked before on these pages, when is enough enough?  Well, we don't have time to force the NCAA's hand on that topic, but we can throw out some confidence picks for the bowl season that kicks off tonight.  Without further ado... 

Matt’s Confidence Picks

1:  New Era Pinstripe Bowl - Kansas St. over Syracuse – The ultimate toss-up!  Just a hunch, but this game won’t have quite the buzz at Yankee Stadium as the ND game.  Although the irony of the Wildcats coming from the Little Apple to play in the Big Apple is not lost on me.

2:  Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO – TCU over Wisconsin – I really have no clue what to expect in this game, as evidenced by this confidence rank.  Just a hunch that TCU’s defense slows down smashmouth Big Ten football.  If only I could remember whether this is a Big Ten Leader or Legend.

3: Bowl - Middle Tennessee over Miami (Ohio) – Only reason to watch is to see if Danica Patrick does the pregame coin flip.  Or is one of the cheerleaders.  I love college football, and I guess I appreciate having a game to watch on a random night in January.  But the fact that a .500 team from the Sun Belt got a bowl invite and the Fightin’ Temple Owls didn’t is a little ridiculous.  

4:  Little Caesars Bowl - Florida International over Toledo – There aren’t enough words to express how little I have to say about this game.  Speaking of words, I got a chuckle out of Hubie Brown’s analysis of Dirk Nowitzki’s game:  “The thing I love about Dirk is there is so much to like about him.”   I rewound it just to make sure I got the quote right.  That’s the kind of analysis you can only get with Hubie.  

5:  Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman - East Carolina over Maryland – Maryland was tied for third place in the ACC and their reward is something called the Military Bowl.  A free autograph to anyone who knows what (who?) Northrop Grumman is.  Sounds like the German prime minister.  

6:  uDrove Humanitarian Bowl – Fresno State over Northern Illinois – In Pat Hill I Somewhat Reluctantly Trust

7:  Meineke Car Care Bowl – Clemson over South Florida – I kind of feel like South Florida is about to make a leap here in the next year or two.  Ol’ Skip is a rock solid head coach, there is a little bit of upheaval at Miami and Florida, the Big East is weak, and there are a ton of recruits to choose from in Florida.  Here’s a bold prediction for you:  USF will win the Big East next year and play in the Orange Bowl.

8:  Sheraton Hawaii Bowl – Tulsa over Hawaii – Randomly a pretty big spread for this game (Hawaii is favored).  Haven’t seen the Rainbow Warriors play this year, but Tulsa wasn’t too shabby.

9:  Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl - Southern Mississippi over Louisville – I like what Charlie Strong is doing.

10:  AT&T Cotton Bowl – Texas A&M over LSU – Possibly the hottest team in the country going against possibly the luckiest team in the country.  Tossup.  I’ll take the better offense and go against the SEC, which I don’t like to do.

11:  R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – Troy over Ohio – Do you think Frank Solich ever gets out of bed and wonders where it  all went wrong?  He went from head coach of one of the most storied programs in the country to playing in a bowl game sponsored by R+L Carriers in front of an intimate gathering of friends and family only.

12:  AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl – Georgia Tech over Air Force – This game could be over in under two hours.  Mr. Clock Operator, keep it running…

13:  S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl – San Diego State over Navy – SDSU was sneakily good this year under miracle worker Brady Hoke. This isn’t a vintage Navy team and they are playing what amounts to a road game.

14:  Chick-fil-A Bowl - South Carolina over Florida State – I don’t see any Alshon Jeffery’s or Marcus Lattimore’s on FSU.

15:  Allstate Sugar Bowl - Ohio State over Arkansas – Tpeezy gets his chance to show that he is not the worst QB in the nation, as his tweets suggested after being left off the Big Ten all-conference teams.  Side note:  Legends and Leaders???!!!!  Really?  That is the most ridiculous thing I have heard in a long time.  And Jim Delaney was surprised at all of the backlash?  Talk about out of touch with reality.  It sounds like those names were contrived by a second grader.

16:  Texas Bowl – Baylor over Illinois – This is purely a pick against Ron Zook

17:  Insight Bowl - Missouri over Iowa – Probably not a good thing when the best wide receiver in school history is running a drug house.  Or half the team is apparently on drugs.  

18:  Champs Sports Bowl - West Virginia over NC State – Poor Bill Stewart, gets fired but gets to hang around for a year as a lame duck.  Doesn’t Stewart seem like the kind of guy who would giddily respond to an email from the African king who just inherited a fortune but needs a bank account to deposit the money in.  It’s probably not a good thing when I have those thoughts about your head football coach.

19:  BBVA Compass Bowl – Kentucky over Pittsburgh – Good for Mike Hayward.  I wrote about him last week, and frankly I’m surprised that Pitt made the hire, but I hope it works out.  He has the right coaching lineage and is coming from the Cradle of Coaches, but a part of me thinks he might be in a little over his head.  I hope I’m wrong.  It doesn’t help that the fanbase is furious with the hire.  Advice to Coach Haywood – grow your finest snout broom before your press conference and they’ll come around on you.

20:  Discover Orange Bowl – Virginia Tech over Stanford – Who would have thought that Bud Foster would have such a huge effect on Jimmy Clausen’s NFL future.  If he stymies Andrew Luck, perhaps persuading him and Harbaugh to give it another shot next year, then the Panthers don’t get to draft him number one and Clausen presumably has a better than fair shot of winning the job again next year.  As an ardent Clausen supporter and someone who thought that he would be a good’s been ugly this year.  BTW if VT wins this game they will finish the year on a 12 game winning streak.  If they had beaten Boise they almost certainly would be undefeated.  

21:  Gator Bowl - Mississippi State over Michigan – Bad offense triumphs over horrific defense.  The end of the RichRod era?

22:  Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl – Tennessee over North Carolina – UT gets a home game and one more chance for rising stud Tyler Bray to learn on the job.  UNC just looking to get this nightmare of a season over with and presumably hand dead man walking Butch Davis his pink slip.

23:  AutoZone Liberty Bowl - Georgia over UCF – You heard it here first.  Georgia wins the SEC East next year.  Aaron Murray will be the best QB in the conference.  Check back with me next November.

24:  Valero Alamo Bowl - Oklahoma State over Arizona – Arizona limping to the finish line.  Don’t see their defense slowing down the Pokes offense.  The departure of Nebraska from the conference only adds to the best kept secret in the country – no one in that conference plays ANY defense!  Look at the All American teams and they’re littered with Big 12 players.  Would I be shocked if Arizona slowed down the 40 Year Old Man’s offense.  Nope, because again, nobody in the Big 12 plays any defense!

25:  Outback Bowl - Florida over Penn State – I don’t think Florida will lose Urban’s last game.  How about Joe Pa telling a recruit he’s going to coach another 5 or 6 years.  You can’t tell me that the PSU admin isn’t looking at what’s going on in Tallahassee and thinking about giving Joe the gentle nudge out the door.  Or at least a gentle nudge down a stairwell inadvertently breaking his hip.

26:  Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl - Nevada over Boston College – Could BC’s motivation be any lower?  They get the shaft again (the annual BC bowl shafting – a holiday tradition unlike any other!) and have to wait until the second week of January, travel across the country, and play a mid major.  Vegas can’t make this point spread high enough for me.

27:  MAACO Las Vegas Bowl – Boise State over Utah – Are we really sure that Utah is any good?  

28:  New Mexico Bowl - BYU over UTEP – Will the Mormons descend on Albuquerque (just guessing where this game is, too lazy to look it up) like they do upon Vegas?  One of the more random phenomenon is the BYU fans love for Vegas.

29:  Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl – SMU over Army -  If you didn’t watch the 30 for 30 Pony Excess, do yourself a favor and set the DVR.  Unbelievable how shady recruiting was back in the day.  Actually, what am I talking about, back in the day…

30:  Capital One Bowl - Alabama over Michigan State – If Bama shows up motivated, they win by two TD’s.  How much sleep do you think the Nicktator has gotten since the Iron Bowl?  He will have them ready to go.

31:  Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl - Nebraska over Washington – Maybe the least appealing bowl game due to the fact it is a rematch of a regular season blowout.  The last chance to see the mediocre Jake Locker in action?

32:  Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – Oklahoma over Connecticut – Randy Edsall is a standup guy and it is amazing what he has done creating something out of nothing with that program.  But nobody wants to see this game in the BCS.  OU may not be motivated, but on talent alone they should win.  If they lose this, then Stoops can officially be pronounced the worst big game coach in history.  DJ Khaled will have to come up with the Stoops remix, “All I Do is Lose”.

33:  Hyundai Sun Bowl - Notre Dame over Miami – Miami is mediocre and is going through a coaching change.  I will be severely disappointed if the Irish lose this game.  Anyone who has read my picks the last two years knows what I think of the Al Golden hire for U.  Tremendous.  The guy can flat out coach. 

34:  TicketCity Bowl - Texas Tech over Northwestern – NW a low level MAC team without Persa.  New Years Day is embarrassed to be disgraced with this game on its hallowed eleven o’clock hour.

35:  Tostitos BCS National Championship Game – Auburn over Oregon – I couldn’t rattle on last week about how great the SEC is and how much of a blowout this will be and then hide this game in the middle of the rankings.  How’s this for confidence?  War Damn Eagle!

Mike’s Confidence Picks

35:  Oklahoma - This will get ugly in a hurry.
34:  Boise State - Angry Broncos plus overrated Utes missing their starting QB= bloodbath.
33:  BYU - The Cougars have finished the season strongly, while UTEP has no business being in a bowl.
32:  Nebraska - This is one sequel that did not need to be made, like Caddyshack 2.
31:  Nevada - Maybe BC can start a nifty new streak of consecutive losses in lower tier bowls.
30:  Texas Tech - Northwestern is a shell of its former self sans Dan Persa.
29:  Alabama - As long as the Tide are motivated, they’ll crush the overrated Spartans.
28:  Missouri - Iowa is completely imploding with this whole Derrell Johnson-Koulianos “drug house” fiasco and the corresponding suspensions.  Given the Hawkeyes’ disappointing year, I would have picked Mizzou anyway.
27:  Hawai’i -  Hawaii is the better team and they are playing at home.
26:  Georgia - A.J. Green should cap his career in style for the Bulldogs.
25:  Oklahoma State - Arizona has limped to the finish line this year and they are ripe for the beating, even with Dana Holgersen heading out the door
24:  Maryland - I hate taking such a mediocre team so high, but the Terps should handle ECU without too much difficulty.
23:   Stanford - Will rumors about Jim Harbaugh bolting town distract the Trees?  I doubt it.
22:  South Carolina - No Christian Ponder, no chance for the Noles.
21:  Auburn - Unlike prior years, this year’s SEC title game representative does not have an imposing defense.  They do, however, have Cam Newton.
20:  Florida - Even with Urban Meyer stepping down, the Gators should be able to push Penn State around.  Will Paterno’s retirement follow?
19:  Texas A&M - The Aggies finished the season with a bang and they are rewarded with a Cotton Bowl date against the bumbling Les Miles, whose luck is about to start expiring quickly.
18:  Pittsburgh - If history is any lesson, I shouldn’t keep picking all of these teams with outgoing coaches.  Then again, as Henry Ford said: “History is more or less bunk.”
17:  Notre Dame - Big game for the Irish and I am very excited about the matchup.  If the destination was better, I would be attending.  No offense, El Paso.
16:  Mississippi State - With Dan Mullen sticking around and Rich Rodriguez twisting in the wind, I’ll side with the stable program here.
15:  San Diego State -  Home game for the more talented Aztecs.
14:  Louisville - Not much of a feel for this one.  I like what Charlie Strong is doing in the ‘Ville, however.
13:  North Carolina - Tennessee’s switch to Tyler Bray proved beneficial, but the competition wasn’t much.  The Vols will fall short in this jump in class.
12:  Baylor - With the partisan crowd in favor of the Bears, Art Briles should notch a huge bowl win for Baylor.
11:  Kansas State - Syracuse can pack the Garden for the Big East Tournament, but don’t expect many fans to show for this game at Yankee Stadium.  The offensively challenged Orange will fall again in a low scoring affair.
10:  Northern Illinois - Another game, another outgoing coach in my picks.
9:  Troy - Yawn.
8:  Clemson - Look for an honest performance from the superior Tigers in this one.
7:  Toledo - Exhibit A of why there are too many bowls.
6: Georgia Tech - Option attack vs. option attack.  I’ll take the team with the better athletes.
5:  NC State - A fond farewell (perhaps) for Russell Wilson.
4: Army - Pick against Army in the Armed Forces Bowl?  Come on.
3:  Wisconsin - I’m looking forward to this game, but I’m taking an underdog so I need to rank this low.
2:  Arkansas - See Wisconsin-TCU.
1:  Middle Tennessee State - Finally picking against an outgoing coach.

Jimmy’s Confidence Picks

35: Oklahoma – Stoops can’t fall on his face again in the Fiesta, can he?  
Maybe the widest disparity of talent in BCS history.
34: Oklahoma State – Arizona is a shell of the team that beat Iowa – who 
didn’t end up being too good after all.  A present to all sports fans – the gift 
that keeps on giving, refusing to get old.
33: BYU – UTEP isn’t very good.
32: Missouri – I usually stay away from team’s whose postseason news 
includes the suspension of their leading rusher and arrest of the all-time 
leader in receptions on “keeping a drug house” charges.  Ummm, yeah.  I’ll 
take Mizzou.
31: Maryland – East Carolina ranks dead last in total yards allowed in FBS.  
All I need to know. 
30: Georgia – An SEC school with a future 1st round WR vs. a mid-major 
with By George, It’s O’Leary as its coach?  I don’t care what O’Leary’s record 
was against the Bulldogs when he was at Ga. Tech.  Richt rolls (as opposed to
29: Boise State – The Utes are about to incur the wrath of the Broncos pent 
up frustration at crapping out at the BCS slot machine.  
28: SMU -Army is putrid. 
27: Fresno State -Coaching change plus a cross-country trip spells doom for 
Northern Illinois. 
26: Air Force -What's the over/under on how many combined passes are 
thrown in this one?  15?  I'm not even joking.  The Falcons get the nod since 
their starting QB isn't on the sideline. 
25: Pittsburgh -Wouldn't it be nice if the Wannstache got a nice send-off 
victory?  Some would argue if he deserves it for his roller coaster career.  
This choice has more to do with Mike Hartline getting injured than Wann-
stedt winning the sideline battle. 
24: Auburn -War Damn Eagle! 
23: Nebraska -Beating the same team twice is tricky, but when that team 
is an uninspiring Washington team, the Huskers shouldn't have any problem.
22: Clemson -This one might be ugly, but if Clemson plays to their potential, 
they shouldn't have any trouble.  Not going out of my way to support the Big 
21: Miami, OH -   Kudos to Mike Haywood.  This will put an exclamation 
point on his brief tenure in Oxford. 
20: Hawai’i -Tulsa's 119th ranked passing defense gets exposed badly vs. the
#1 passing offense on their own turf. 
19: Florida -If the roles were reversed and the coach that should be retiring 
were doing so, I could talk myself into a Penn State upset.  That's neither here 
nor there.  Gators make the Nittany Lions look like pussy cats. 
18: Toledo -The game's in Detroit.  You think Florida International players 
are psyched to be making that trip over the holidays? 
17: Nevada -  BC has been mediocre all year.  Nevada only gained confidence 
with their Boise State upset. 
16: Notre Dame -I'll expound on this next week, but the steady ship of 
progress beats the mutinous ship of underachievement.  (No clue what I just 
wrote there).
15: NC State -A well-matched game, but Russell Wilson should be able to 
dissect the stingy Mountaineers defense.
14: South Carolina -If Ponder sits, this is a no-brainer.  We'll see whose 
been licking their wounds more as these conference runners-up try to avoid a 
double whammy to finish the season.
13: Alabama -People keep talking about Bama not being motivated and 
coming out flat vs. MSU.  You mean to tell me Nick Saban won't have his team 
prepared beyond a shadow of a doubt against his old school, with the sting of 
the Sugar Bowl fiasco still fresh from 2 years ago?  Michigan State's enjoyed a 
great year, but they may just be out-classed in this one.
12: Tennessee -Rocky Top has been peaking and should put a bitter end to 
this season-long saga for Butch Davis. 
11: Southern Miss -Brett Favre's alma mater tries to soften the blow of his 
unceremonious final(?) season.
10: Ohio State -Was leaning towards the Razorbacks until I remembered 
what Cam Newton did to them in October.  Pryor's petty, selfish act is wearing 
thin, but he's capable of emulating that same kind of effort if Tressel opens the 
playbook a little.  The Buckeyes defense will pretend Mallett still wears maize 
and blue.
9: Mississippi State - Granted, it was early in the season and the Cam 
Newton engine was just revving, but the Bulldogs defense shut him down 
better than anyone else in the land.  I expect them to give Shoelace the same 
treatment. DickRod should just cry uncle after this one. 
8: Navy -Ricky Dobbs sails off into the sunset with one last bowl victory. 
7: Texas Tech -Really hope Pat Fitzgerald gets a few breaks in this one and 
the Wildcats break their decades long bowl losing streak.  But until that 
happens, I'm afraid I can't pick the Cardiac Cats, especially playing in a neutral-
less Texas environment.
6: Illinois - Call it a hunch.  No real good reason the Zookers corral Robert 
Griffin III, but I'm gonna rock with it.
5: Texas A&M -The Aggies were playing really good ball at the end of 
the year.  Another gut call.
4: Virginia Tech – Terrific matchup.  Luck runs dry in South Beach.
3: Troy -Whatever.
2: Syracuse -The home state crowd lifts the 'Cuse to an unexpected triumph.  
Maybe.  Hence my lack of confidence.
1: Wisconsin –Up to this pick, my conference bias is fairly clear.  SEC trumps 
most, the Big XII enjoy several favorable matchups, hardly any stock placed in 
the strength of the Big East and Pac-10, and my faith in the Big Ten teeters on 
lost.  If the SEC takes the B10 behind the woodshed in their 4 marquee 
matchups, Jim Delany should admit playing “Marco” to the SEC’s “Polo” and 
unveil new division titles along the lines of “The Myths” and “The Followers.”  
The Rose Bowl remains the last gasp at asserting those tenets the conference 
was built on – smashmouth football.  The Badgers can preserve a shred of 
dignity by beating the best of the upstarts.  A loss, while not surprising in the 
least, would be devastating in the shadow of the Grand Daddy.  Bret Bielema 
has to understand this and his offensive line will be frothing at the mouth to 
impose their will on the acclaimed Purple Haze defense.  Wisconsin’s 3-headed 
monster at RB (Clay, White and Ball) holds the key to the fate of an entire 
conference.  Curious to see how it unfolds. 

My final expected BCS conference bowl records:
SEC                 7-3                   Big Ten           3-5
Big XII           6-2                   Big East          2-4
ACC                 4-5                  Pac-10             0-4
A few parting thoughts:  My yearly plea that the NCAA tightens the belt on the 
bloated bowl picture remains.  We’ve been down this road before and it’s 
somehow getting worse. 

Riddle me this discrepancy – the Pac 10 only qualifies four teams among the 
70 bowl participants, and the ACC has 9??  Man, that extra conference game 
completely shoots the Pac-10 in the foot.  A non-conference scheduling 
referendum to create a more level playing field with respect to conference 
schedules is necessary as the OOC cupcake parade to bowl eligibility is a joke. 

Really, the Big East gets rewarded with 75% bowl participation for having an 
awful conference?  And the Pac-10 is left with 44% participation from its 
eligible schools?  Weak sauce.  Blow up the whole system!


Lord Huggington said...

One note on cupcake scheduling...

ACC: 13 games vs. FCS (1.1 per team)
23 OOC games vs. AQ
12 OOC games vs. non-AQ (1 per team)

SEC: 11 games vs. FCS (0.9 per team)
16 OOC games vs. AQ
21 OOC vs. non-AQ (1.8 per team)

PAC-10: 7 games vs. FCS (0.7 per team)
15 OOC games vs. AQ
9 games vs. non-AQ (0.9 per team)

Big East: 9 games vs. FCS (1.1 per team)
16 OOC games vs. AQ
15 games vs. non-AQ (1.9 per team)

The Big 12 arguably has the most "fat" in their schedules on a per team basis (0.7/2.3). That said, the Big 12 is tied with the PAC10 for best W% vs. AQ teams with the SEC coming up 3rd and the Big 10 4th. Digging through who the conferences played out of conference, is fascinating when placed in the context of trying to maximize reward while minimizing risk in terms of the all-important rankings.

One thing to think about the PAC-10 situation though... consider one less conference game and a scenario in which Oregon and Stanford didn't play this season. Their schedules were mediocre (at best) otherwise. Their only tough games were against each other. Think Oregon gets into the title game without beating Stanford? I don't know... does beating a 0.500 Tennessee on the road make for a signature win? Or beating a hobbled 8-5 USC team? Take that Stanford game away and add another cupcake FCS or non-AQ opponent and watch their strength of schedule drop even lower than it already is. Their opponents were a combined 63-81 and Stanford accounted for 11 of those 63. Say they are smart and schedule a 7-5 team and they end up with 59-85 which puts them just above Troy for the 117th "toughest" schedule in the country by opponent W/L%. Ouch.

Jimmy said...

Interesting stuff Lord Huggington. And great handle. Did the B10 and B12 schedule snapshots get deleted accidentally? You're right about Oregon, but the Pac-10 happened to be down as a whole and how did they know Tennessee would be rebuilding when they added them a couple years ago? I still give them credit for playing a true road game in the heart of SEC country.

Thanks for the research.

Lord Huggington said...

The Big 10/Big 12 didn't get deleted. I just didn't include them for a reason that I've forgotten now.

Big10: 10 games vs. FCS (0.9 per team)
12 OOC games vs. AQ
22 OOC games vs. non-AQ (2 per team)

Big 12: 8 games vs. FCS (0.7 per team)
12 games vs. AQ
28 games vs. non-AQ (2.3 per team)

Your point on Oregon deserving a little credit for traveling to Tennessee is well taken. That being said, you don't give credit in the rankings for good intentions. But for the record, they scheduled the series in 2005 when Tenn. had gone 47-17 in the prior 5 seasons - very respectable.

A lot of scheduling is really dumb luck I've noticed. Alabama vs. Penn State is a good example. You think, "Hey, classic matchup!" except that Penn State wasn't very good this year, with only 2 wins (UM & Northwestern) vs. winning teams.

Those marquee out-of-conference games with high ranking teams are unfortunately too rare during the regular season. BSU vs. VaTech, FSU vs. OU, LSU vs. WVU, Arkansas vs. Texas A&M were really the biggest OOC games between 9+ win teams.