At the end of every college football season, 10 teams are invited to play in BCS bowls. Six of those teams automatically qualify by winning their "automatic qualifying" conference championship (meaning the champions of the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac 10, and the SEC receive invites). The other four spots are up for grabs as "at-large" bids. The BCeStimation will be a weekly column that predicts which teams will make it to the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Rose Bowl and the National Championship.
The 2010 college football season got off to a bizarre start this past weekend. USC hilariously gave up 588 yards and 36 points to Hawaii; Ole Miss lost to FCS opponent Jacksonville State, and LSU nearly blew a 20 point lead to UNC, a team that was missing seven starters on defense. Florida also struggled in the swamp against lowly Miami (of freaking Ohio), managing only 26 yards (!) through three quarters of play. It's easy to understand why the Gators struggled, what with all that MAC SPEEEEEEED on the field. That poor performance on the field from God's conference only made me more confident to choose one SEC team in my predictions.
Boise will appear in this week's article, and will most likely stay there until the bloody end of the season. In a huge development, I actually agree with Mark May on something (which in turn made me bleed from my ears); but I don't think Boise, in the event that they run the table, should play for a National Championship. Let's see where I have them in this week's BCeStimation:
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Wisconsin
This is the same match up that I predicted last week. The Miami Hurricanes could make a huge push for VA Tech's spot by making a statement this Saturday in Columbus, and if Wisconsin doesn't tighten the defense up, Iowa could overtake them for their spot in this game as well. Maybe even Michigan could make a push for... I'm sorry, I couldn't finish that statement, much like Michigan can't finish a season strong under Dick Rod.
Why Virginia Tech? Because I still think that they'll win the ACC, despite the fact that they sharted their pants against Boise State in the closing minutes of Monday's game. Tyrod Taylor is an efficient quarterback who makes good decisions, and is an absolute nightmare when he decides to tuck it and run. I was a little concerned as I watched the Broncos defensive line push the Hokies around up front, but honestly, I think that's the biggest challenge Tech's offensive line will face (UNC's situation pending). And after reading that last sentence, I still can't decide whether that's a compliment to Boise or an insult to the ACC.
Why Wisconsin? Because I still think this is the second best team in the Big Ten, and as I mentioned last week, the second place Big Ten team is almost guaranteed an at-large bid in the BCS. It appeared as though Wisconsin had to shake off some first half jitters, but by the third quarter, the Badgers had their running game going, and they pulled away from UNLV for a 20 point win. As a fun aside, I'm thinking about starting a bet on how many "pick six's" Scott Tolzien throws this year. Maybe an over-under of four is fair. If anyone is interested on placing a wager, shoot me an email or find me on facebook.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. TCUThis matchup has changed since last week. In the preseason edition, I had Alabama going up against Georgia Tech. But after Boise's win against Virginia Tech last night, I had to bump someone, and that someone was Georgia Tech. You may be asking, "But David, why would you bump a Georgia Tech team that won by 31 points and keep Virginia Tech after losing their first game?" The only response I have to that is sometimes, life is unfair. Sometimes I have a good feeling about a team, and sometimes I don't. Sometimes recruits choose to attend USC to play for one of the best college football coaches in history, but then end up playing for Lane Kiffin. Sad trombone sound. Why Alabama? Because after week one, they confirmed what everyone has been saying about them all off-season; they're the class of the SEC. The Tide, replacing nine starters on defense, didn't seem to skip a beat as they limited San Jose State to just 175 yards and three points. Now I know San Jose State isn't tough competition, but Alabama did what any other good defense would've done; they dominated. Oh, and they also racked up 591 yards on offense. If the Tide can continue to play this well on both sides of the ball, I'm going to have a hard time keeping them out of my projected National Championship.
Why TCU? Because they came out of their contest against Oregon State with a gritty 30-21 win. Just last week, the Beavers looked like TCU's toughest game, but with league teams like BYU and Utah winning their games against Washington and Pittsburgh, the Horned Frog's schedule looks a little tougher. Fortunately, defensive end Wayne Daniels looks like the second coming of Jerry Hughes, so I can easily see TCU navigating through their season unscathed.
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. West Virginia
I had the conferences right, but last week's prediction of Oklahoma vs. Connecticut looks kind of silly now. After Oklahoma struggled at home against Utah State (giving up 341 passing yards), and with Uconn not being able to stop Michigan despite the fact that the Wolverines had an offensive play book comprised of three plays -- I've changed my mind a bit. Give me a break, it was the first week. I'm still shakin' off the rust, just like the players.
Why Texas? Because it appears that they actually want to play defense. Texas held Rice to just 88 yards rushing (219 total), and even scored a touchdown after Sam Acho sacked the Rice quarterback while forcing a fumble. Texas fans will start to appreciate what most Ohio State fans have known for years -- a good defense is best complimented by a good running game. The Longhorn coaches seem determined to get the ground game working this year. With the loss of Colt McCoy at quarterback, that seems like a winning formula to me. I don't think Texas will beat Nebraska and win the Big 12, but I think they'll beat Oklahoma and receive an invite to the Fiesta Bowl.
Why West Virginia? Do you remember the four contenders that I listed for the Big East last week? To refresh your memory, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Connecticut and West Virginia were the teams I singled out. West Virginia was the only team to win their season opener, so that's why they're here. I realize that the other three played tougher competition, but West Virginia honestly looked like the best team of the four. At this point, it wouldn't surprise me if Syracuse won the conference -- so I guess this spot will rotate between who looks the best the previous week. That last sentence pretty much summarizes the Big East.
Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Boise State
In the preseason edition of this article, I had TCU playing Oregon in the Rose Bowl because I thought TCU would be the only non-AQ to qualify. Well surprise, Boise spent three and a half hours on Monday night raising a giant middle finger to my prediction, which is really unfortunate. Now we all get to spend the rest of the college football season listening to people debate on whether Boise deserves to be in the National Championship game. Please Oregon State -- will you beat this team in three week's and spare us the pain. I'm begging you.
Why Oregon? Because I was right about Jeremiah Masoli not being the only quarterback who knows how to run the read option. I know it's hard to believe, so if you need proof, just look at the 72 points the Ducks hung on New Mexico this past Saturday. And while they were busy trying to outscore the total points that Oregon's basketball team averaged last year (they were only four points off), the Ducks pitched a shut out. Yeah, Oregon's not going anywhere.
Why Boise State? Because they are the monster in every scary movie that you have ever seen that just won't die. But to be real, Boise played a heck of a game against Virginia Tech on Monday night. Yes, VA Tech practically spotted them their first 10 points, and they benefited from two horrendous calls late in the game. But when you look at it, they were tough in the trenches against the Hokies and will most certainly be favored in the rest of their games. Plus, I guess it's kind of fun to imagine a rematch between Oregon and Boise State. Maybe I should start a wager on whether Bryon Hout can get falcon punched by an Oregon player, just like he did after last year's game!
National Championship Game: Ohio State vs. Nebraska
This matchup didn't change from last week's edition, although Nebraska has a few teams nipping at their heels. If Alabama looks good against Penn State this weekend, or if Oregon continues to treat its opponents like Florida treats a shotgun snap... The Cornhuskers could slip.
Why Ohio State? Because they looked all kinds of good against Marshall in week one. Ohio State gets a huge test this week against Miami, and this matchup should tell us everything we need to know about the Buckeyes. If they can bring the same balanced attack they did against Marshall, I can't see the Hurricanes escaping Columbus with a win. And with Nathan Williams returning to the Buckeyes defensive line, I don't think Miami's offensive line (who only returns two starters from last year's team) will be able to keep Jacory Harris from all that pressure.
Why Nebraska? Eh. The more I think about this pick, the less I like it. Nebraska has a few huge benefits working in their favor, and the biggest one is their schedule. As I mentioned last week, the only ranked opponent on the slate is Texas, and they get the Longhorns at home. The defense is usually stellar under Bo Pelini, but they looked pretty suspect against a bad Western Kentucky team. It seems as though they've found a competent quarterback in Taylor Martinez, who did plenty of damage with his arm and his legs. In addition to throwing for 136 yards on 15 passes, he also ran for 127 yards on just seven attempts, while managing to reach pay dirt three times. I'll give Nebraska one more week at the top, but if the defense doesn't show up against lowly Idaho this Saturday... I'll be relegating Nebraska to the Fiesta Bowl. That's a promise.