The BCeStimation is a weekly column that predicts which 10 teams will make it to the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Rose Bowl and National Championship game.
Another crazy week of college football is in the books, and this past weekend provided plenty to talk about. Oregon started us off by beating the life, hope and will to live out of UCLA, and Missouri put a bow on the whole thing by knocking off previously-top-ranked-and-insanely-overrated Oklahoma. A lot of people are starting to talk about the curse of the number one ranking, as the number one team in the country has fallen in each of the last three weeks. I'd like to object, because I think something different is happening here... something a little more close to home. Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma were all predicted to be in the National Title game in this very article the week before they lost. Screw the curse of number one, I think there's a curse on this article. It's the curse of the BCeStimation, and what better time to talk about curses then the week of Halloween? One man should never be given this much power, but trust me Cleveland fans, if one person should have this power, it's me.
Anyway, we're gonna stick with the spooky theme in honor of this awesome holiday. Let's jump into the predictions.
Nothing should be more horrifying to college football fans than the thought of a Big East team automatically qualifying for a BCS bowl. Although they've had success in years past (read - Rich Rodriguez's West Virginia teams), the Big East hasn't performed the way an automatic qualifying league should. For evidence, just look at the latest BCS rankings which feature no team from this league.
Why Florida State? Because the road to the ACC Championship game is an easy one for the Seminoles. Two home games against North Carolina and Clemson are sandwiched between road games against a surprisingly mediocre North Carolina State team and Maryland. Outside of getting their behinds handed to them by the Sooners, Florida State has looked impressive this year. They had a bye week this week, so they should enter Thursday night's game against the Wolfpack well rested and ready to go.
Why Pitt? Becuase West Virginia lost to Syracuse, at home, this past Saturday. I know reading that last sentence was like your eyes getting punched right in the face, but it's true. It's gotten to the point that nothing that happens in the Big East can surprise me anymore. I could honestly wake up tomorrow and see this headline: "UConn women's basketball team extends win streak with victory over Louisville football team" and not bat an eye at it. I chose Pitt for this week's article because the team seems to be waking up after dropping three non-conference games. The Panthers have posted a 31 point win over Syracuse and a 20 point win over Rutgers in consecutive weeks, so maybe the preseason favorite is starting to realize why they were the preseason favorite. Either that, or the Big East is an awful, awful conference.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. TCU
I've predicted this particular matchup between Alabama and TCU in all but two editions of this article. I'm growing tired thinking of ways to introduce this section. But me telling you how tired I am of it will due for this week's introduction, I just don't know what I'm going to do next week.
Why Alabama? Because they beat Tennessee so badly this past weekend that Volunteers coach Derek Dooley actually likened his team to Germany in World War ll. No, I am not kidding. The Tide were in a close game with Tennessee in the first half, but Alabama was able to pull away in the second, outscoring the Vols 28-0. It was the first time since the loss to South Carolina that Alabama looked like Alabama. Fortunately for the Sabanites, the Tide get a week off before they travel to Tiger Stadium and play LSU. Of course, LSU is on their bye week as well, so both teams will be ready for the action on November 6.
Why TCU? Because TCU took the air out of Air Force in a 38-7 win this weekend (I'm not proud of that last sentence, but every AP writer who has ever lived is giving me a thumbs up right now). The Falcons made it interesting early as they took their opening drive 89 yards for a touchdown that answered TCU's early score, but after the first quarter ended, it was raining frogs hallelujah (just pretend that made sense and move on). The Horned Frogs didn't allow a single point after that first touchdown and now have the best scoring defense in the country. After an easy game this week against 1-6 UNLV, TCU must travel to Utah for the biggest game of their season.
Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs. Nebraska
Oklahoma went from being in the National Championship Game last week to getting the BCeStimation boot this week. Not fair you say? Neither is going on a seemingly harmless camping trip with your friends and being brutally picked off by a strange man one by one. If we live in a world where movies like that are created, then I can knock Oklahoma out of this article.
Why Ohio State? Because I think Iowa will beat Michigan State this week, creating an absolute mess at the top of the Big Ten Standings. If this were to happen and Ohio State beats Minnesota this week (Ohio State will beat Minnesota), then the top four Big Ten teams would each have a loss. Ohio State and Iowa play late in November, so that situation should sort itself out. But if Iowa doesn't beat Michigan State this Saturday, and both the Spartans and the Badgers win out this year, it's very possible that Ohio State will be left out of the BCS altogether.
Think about it: If Michigan State wins this weekend and goes on to finish their schedule unbeaten, they'll win the Big Ten outright and earn the automatic BCS bid. Then if both Wisconsin and Ohio State win out and finish the season 11-1, it will be up to the BCS selection committee to select which team makes it to the party. I don't think they'll be able to look past the head-to-head matchup (which they shouldn't). I realize that's a whole lot of "if's" and there's a ton of football to be played, but I'm just thinking worst case scenario here...
In short, your rooting interest for the rest of the year should be set squarely against Wisconsin and Michigan State every time they take the field. If one of these teams loses and Ohio State wins out, then the Buckeyes will get into the BCS. If the Spartans and Badgers win out, then go ahead and start looking for tickets to the Capital One Bowl.
Why Nebraska? Because the Big 12 is starting to get as confusing to predict as the Big East. Nebraska spent the better part of this year looking like the best team in the conference, right before losing at home to a bad Texas team. After that happened, Oklahoma looked to be in the drivers seat, but then they got Missouri'd and fell back off. Nebraska got back on track this past weekend by winning their shoot-out with Oklahoma State 51-41. I'm giving the Cornhuskers a slight edge in this week's article because I'm not 100% sold on the Tigers yet. Fortunately the stars aligned for myself and this article because the two teams I'm struggling to choose between play this weekend. Missouri will travel to Lincoln for a battle against Nebraska that should determine who has the upper leg in the conference race.
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Boise State
In a perfect world, Ohio State would be in the National Championship game against an undefeated SEC team. In a slightly less perfect world, Ohio State would be in the Sugar Bowl with an opportunity to prove themselves against a real team (like a one loss SEC team). In a moderately less perfect world, Ohio State would get paired up in the Rose Bowl against Boise State with the opportunity to put the Broncos in their place. Unfortunately, I don't see any of these scenarios playing out.
Why Wisconsin? Because their victory over Ohio State wasn't just an upset, this team is the real deal. And if Iowa beats Michigan State like I think they will this weekend, that will make Wisconsin the highest ranked Big Ten team in the BCS standings. Whether they'll be able to stay there would be something we'd have to watch the next few weeks, but as of right now, that's how I think it would shake out. The Badgers notched their second impressive victory in as many weeks by going into Iowa Stadium and outlasting the Hawkeyes in a thrilling back and forth game. If it weren't for the ghost of Les Miles taking over Kirk Ferentz's brain at the end of the game, I think Iowa would've handled the last minute of the fourth quarter much better and given their kicker a chance to win it with a walk off. But in the end, the Badgers escaped with a 31-30 win and stay in great shape for a BCS bid.
Why Boise State? I'm going to take a break from my usual "Boise beat a horrible team a juhzillion to nothing" review and showcase an article I read this Monday. I just want to say, before I link to this article, that ESPN actually pays this guy to write this stuff. Anyway, here's the article. I'm just going to point out a couple of the obvious flaws in Rick Reilly's thinking here. His words are in italics:
If Auburn and Oregon win out, Boise State can wipe out every opponent 50-0 and not make it in [to the National Championship Game] now. And the Broncos probably won't even if the Tigers and Ducks don't win out. Yes, we're talking about Auburn. The team that has 13 fewer wins over the past five seasons than Boise State.
Let's stop right there. Rick is making the point that Boise is more deserving of a National Championship bid then Auburn because Boise has won 13 more games over a five year stretch than the Tigers. When did anything that happened five years ago, three years ago, or even last year matter to what's happening this year? Which of the six games that Ohio State lost in the 2001 season affected their undefeated National Championship season in 2002? If your eyes haven't started bleeding from the stupidity yet... it gets worse:
The Broncos are 6-0. They've won 20 straight games, the longest streak in the country. They've beaten two BCS automatic qualifiers -- 6th-ranked Virginia Tech and 24th-ranked Oregon State.
Uh, wow. This is the most obvious case of "trying to polish a turd" I've even seen. Yeah, the vaunted sixth ranked Va Tech team that lost to James Madison and is currently ranked 23rd? Yeah, Boise beat them. And the Oregon State team that was ranked 24th when Boise played them? They're now unranked with a 3-3 record. So Boise has beaten two BCS automatic qualifiers, but everyone else is asked to beat nine, 10 or 11 BCS automatic qualifiers in the same time span.
Boise State plays -- and beats -- whoever they throw at it. It thumped San Jose State 48-0. Wisconsin, which beat No. 1 Ohio State and No. 15 Iowa, only beat SJSU by 13, at home!
Boise State smashed Wyoming 51-6. Wyoming nearly beat Air Force and Air Force nearly beat Oklahoma. You're telling me Boise State couldn't beat OU? Oh, wait. It already did.
Boise State whipped Virginia Tech on the road. VT is undefeated in the ACC. Are you telling me Boise State wouldn't be carving up the ACC?
Yeah, and if I kissed my mom's sisters daughter, I'd be kissing my cousin. Everyone knows (or everyone should know) that the transitive property is the absolute worst way to build a case for a college football team. We all heard it from Oregon fans before last year's Rose Bowl; "Oregon beat Purdue and smoked USC, the two teams that beat Ohio State. Obviously Oregon is gonna crush the Buckeyes!" Hmm, how'd that work out for the Ducks?
I honestly was quite surprised by the article, because I didn't think ESPN could create or sponsor something that moronic. Reilly closes his ridiculous argument by quoting other coaches who have said that Boise could beat anyone on any given Saturday. Psst, Reilly, let me tell you about a little something called coach-speak.
Anyway -- Boise isn't getting to the National Championship Game, in real life or in this article.
National Championship Game: Auburn vs. Oregon
Auburn makes their first appearance in the BCeStimation's National Championship Game. I can picture Cam Newton reading this, pumping his fists, and then eating a bunny in one bite because that's what monsters do. And because this article is getting insanely long (I blame the Boise rant for that), I will make this last one quick.
Why Auburn? Because they treated LSU's defense like hot garbage as they rushed for 440 yards in the big win. Cam Newton and this offense continue to rip the SEC to shreds, and they honest to goodness look unstoppable right now. Of course, that's what everyone says right before the unstoppable offense gets stopped, and maybe Ole Miss will keep the curse alive and knock off the Tigers this week.
Why Oregon? Because they throttled UCLA in front of the whole country last Thursday and continued their historically awesome offensive onslaught. Oregon has one of the biggest tests of their season this Saturday against USC, and if the curse is going to realistically rear its ugly head again this week, I'd put money on USC for the upset.