Alphabet Soup Today as I Hit on the NFL, MLB and the NCAA.

Beckham
Beckham
Was Odell Beckham's catch Sunday night the greatest ever? I'll leave that to you.

I can’t remember a time when one individual play, in a losing effort, garnered so much attention. But that was the case Sunday night when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the New York Giants in Sunday Night Football.

The Cowboys winning should have been the story but instead it was the one-headed, falling backwards into the end zone grab by Giants’ rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.

I’m going to spare all of you as to whether or not I believe it was the greatest football catch of all time but I will tell you it has to rank right up there among the top five. I leave the debating to you.

The one question I have for you is this; does Beckham make that catch without the use of gloves?

Panda
Pablo Sandoval looks to be headed to the Boston Red Sox.

MLB

Clearly the Boston Red Sox were not thrilled with their last place finish in the American League East this past baseball season. The BoSox appear to have infielder Hanley Ramirez ready to sign for five years and $90 million and now it seems they will lock up third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

Sandoval is fresh off of another World Series Title with the San Francisco Giants and reportedly turned down offers from the Giants and San Diego that were very similar to what Ramirez is getting from Boston.

The Red Sox are also reportedly interested in bringing back lefty Jon Lester who went to the Oakland A’s in a mid-season trade this past season.

Should all three, or at least the first two happen, Boston is making it clear they are all-in for 2015.

NCAA Football

Because of his connections with the University of Florida going back decades, former Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins’ Head Coach Mike Shanahan has been rumored to be a favorite of Athletic Director Jeremy Foley. My gut feeling tells me there is nothing here more than conjecture.

At 62 years old, I can’t see a major program like Florida starting over with Shanahan. If the program is much more damaged than we have been led to believe then I can see the hiring of Shanahan as a “stabilizing force” type of hire who cleans things up and then moves on. Still, I find his hiring difficult to believe.

The college football playoff committee will announce their latest rankings this evening and at this current point, the teams ranking five through eight might be more important. The top four should be Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Mississippi State. The Seminoles and Ducks have already established spots in their respective conference title games and the Crimson Tide can punch their ticket with a win on Saturday over Auburn.

The teams that will be watching closely are Ohio State, TCU and Baylor among the one-loss teams. Of these teams, only Ohio State will have to play a conference title game. The real controversy of course is between Baylor and TCU. The Bears own the head-to-head win but the committee is more impressed by TCU’s level of competition and of late has had them ranked higher.

The Buckeyes continue to be the most intriguing one-loss team looking up in the rankings. Their level of competition is pretty weak compared to other teams and their lone loss (to 5-6 Virginia Tech) looks worse and worse every week. Ultimately it could keep them out of the four-team playoff.

Of the tw0-loss teams still holding out hope, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA would seem to be the front-runners. Each of those teams is going to require a lot of help however.

Traditional Powers are Reeling in College Football Plus My Latest Playoff Prediction

Kelly
Kelly
Brian Kelly's Irish have dropped four of five and Irish fans aren't happy.

It wasn’t that long ago that both Notre Dame and Nebraska were sitting in good shape for a potential playoff spot if things broke right for them. Both teams had started their respective seasons undefeated and even when both finally lost their first games, they were still in contention for some really good postseason news.

Nebraska’s loss was at Michigan State. The Cornhuskers fell behind but rallied late and nearly pulled off the comeback in East Lansing before losing by five points. It was a loss, but it was widely regarded as a “good loss” because at that point, Michigan State had lost only to Oregon in Eugene so losing to the Spartans was nothing to be ashamed of.

In South Bend, the feeling was that the Irish had been robbed in Tallahassee when their late, game-winning touchdown was called back because of a controversial pass interference call. So much like Nebraska, the Irish were still very much in play for a playoff berth should they run the table.

Things change quickly in collegiate athletics and college football is the prime example.

Pelini
I imagine the Huskers will see lots of this face this week at practice.

Just weeks later, both of these traditional powers find themselves searching for answers. Nebraska has now dropped two straight games to Wisconsin and to Minnesota. Ironically, those two teams will be playing for the Big Ten West Division title next week in Madison while the Huskers will be playing for pride and bowl position against Iowa.

For the Irish, it’s been even worse. They struggled to put away Navy following the FSU loss since the win over the Midshipmen, Notre Dame has lost three in a row. The first of those was a sloppy loss at Arizona State and the last two have been at home to Northwestern and Louisville yesterday. The Fighting Irish are now 7-4 and still have USC to deal with.

Questions were already swirling about Bo Pelini’s fate in Lincoln and that will intensify this week. Brian Kelly can only ride the trip to the National Title Game so long before he starts to feel more pressure as well. His last two losses will not sit well with the Irish faithful.

Another traditional power on the outs is of course Michigan who dropped to 5-6 following a fourth quarter collapse and eventual loss to Maryland in what is sure to be Brady Hoke’s final game in Michigan Stadium.

The Wolverines now face the prospect of having to go to Columbus and defeat the Buckeyes in order to go to a bowl game and that ain’t happening. Michigan has suffered from horrible quarterback play and untimely defensive failures all year.

Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett announced yesterday that the decision on Hoke’s future would be his to decide. Firing Hoke isn’t easy because he’s a likable guy and a ‘Michigan Man’ through and through but the evidence is overwhelming in favor of terminating him. The only thing that can save Hoke is a win over the hated Buckeyes but I can’t see it happening.

I expect Hoke to join Will Muschamp on the unemployment line very soon.

My Playoff Predictions for this week

1. Alabama – Revenge week begins as Auburn comes to Tuscaloosa.

2. Florida State – Yes, they struggled again but the name of the game is winning and they are doing that.

3. Oregon – Another ho-hum blowout this time over Colorado.

4. Mississippi State – The Bulldogs bounced back from their loss to Alabama by crushing Vanderbilt 51-0.

Still in the running… TCU, Baylor, Ohio State

Gurley Injury, Bama Beats the Bulldogs and Florida Will Send Muschamp Packing

Gurley
Gurley
This was not the season Todd Gurley envisioned having and it got worse on Saturday.

It was huge win for Georgia. They defeated Auburn 34-7 after spotting the Tigers a 7-0 lead but a cloud hung over Sanford Stadium Saturday evening as news spread that Bulldogs’ Running Back Todd Gurley had a very serious injury. It was confirmed yesterday that Gurley will miss the remainder of the season with an ACL tear. This was Gurley’s first game back since admitting he took money for signing autographs and this wasn’t how his Bulldogs’ career was supposed to end.

Gurley will still get drafted but this has to hurt his stock. It’s another tough blow for kid who admitted his mistake, served his punishment and returned only for this to happen.

Ironically, it was a Todd Gurley-less Georgia team that seemed to have saved Will Muschamp’s job at Florida. The win was sorely needed by both school and coach but now none of that matters as the university announced yesterday that Muschamp would not return.

It seems likely that the Gators will reach a bowl. At 5-5, Florida will play host to Eastern Kentucky which should provide them their sixth win and common sense would have to tell us that they’ll fall to rival Florida State in the finale. It’s doubtful he would coach in a bowl game if the Gators even accept a bid.

As has been the problem all season, what big name is out there for the Gators to go get? I would have to think Dan Mullen will get a call and heck, maybe even Urban Meyer (kidding)? I think Muschamp put forth great effort but between injuries and just flat-out poor play, his fate was sealed.

Bulldogs
The Bulldogs should't hang their heads for long because I believe they are still in the top four.

It came as no surprise to me that Alabama beat Mississippi State Saturday. Bama has played in games of this magnitude for years and the fact they were at home was just icing on the cake. The Crimson Tide defense sacked Bulldogs’ QB Dak Prescott just once but they harassed him all day forcing him into one poor throw or decision after another.

I don’t feel like this is a typical Nick Saban team but they still find ways to win and it all starts with Saban. With a cupcake in Western Carolina coming in next week and a reeling Auburn the following one, I see no reason why the Tide won’t be in the four-team playoff.

Where we stand now in the race for the playoff

As usual, we are left with more questions than answers as we await the college football playoff committee’s rankings on Tuesday night. The first question will focus on Mississippi State. With a five-point loss in Tuscaloosa, is that enough to keep them in the top four? I believe it is.

The second question is whether the committee will punish TCU for barely beating a Kansas team that Baylor destroyed. The Bears beat the Jayhawks 60-14 while the Horned Frogs escaped 34-30. The debate between both Big 12 teams has been strong but perhaps even in victory it is no longer up for discussion. The committee rewarded TCU ahead of Baylor (even though the Bears beat the Frogs) because of their more impressive schedule.

I think, based upon TCU’s close call and Arizona State’s blunder at Oregon State, Baylor will move up to #5 and wait for someone to fall above them. Therefore I believe the committee will come out with the following top-four;

1. Alabama 2. Florida State 3. Oregon 4. Mississippi State

With the committee elevating an Alabama team to number one even though they weren’t in the top four will create the talking points this week. Let’s face it; talking points are what this whole thing is about anyway right?

 

Key Games Involving Teams Looking for a Playoff Berth

Johnson
Johnson
If Miami is to upset the 'Noles, Duke Johnson will need to have a big game.

Florida State (-3) at Miami (O/U 61.5) –  For the first time in a long time Miami enters the Florida State game with a legitimate chance to knock off the Seminoles. They’ve won four of five and they are powered by their fantastic running back Duke Johnson. That said, they’ll need more than just him to pull off the upset.

With Jameis Winston’s Title IX hearing pushed back to the first week of December I think you’ll see him play a little better. His off-field problems won’t be front and center in his mind. The defense will focus on Johnson and will force the Canes’ passing game to beat them.

Trends: FSU is 2-8 against the spread in their last 10 games… The total has gone UNDER in nine of Miami’s last 13 games against the Seminoles… Florida State is 4-1 straight up in their last five games when playing Miami on the road… The Hurricanes are 2-4 ATS in their last six game at home against FSU.

The Pick: The Seminoles just keep finding ways to win and I think it continues in a fairly tight game. Take them to cover and take the UNDER.

Prescott
Dak Prescott faces his biggest challenge against the Alabama defense.

Mississippi State (+8) at Alabama (O/U 52) – A top-ranked team has been this much of an underdog since the 2013 BCS Title game when Bama was favored over #1 Notre Dame by ten.

A lot of people look at this current Alabama team as being a bit flawed. They’ve got a few injuries and the offense other than Amari Cooper isn’t all that exciting but then you look at the numbers. The defense is giving up more than 150 yards less than the Bulldogs’ defense does.

Offensively the Tide are out-passing Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs but trail them in running the football. Normally I’d say this should be a close game but I just don’t feel that way here. Bama plays in these games all the time while Mississippi State is facing its’ most important game in their history.

Trends: Mississippi State is 1-7 straight up in their last eight games when playing at Alabama… The total has gone UNDER in six of Alabama’s last seven games against the Bulldogs… Miss. State is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games against the Crimson Tide… Bama is 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 games.

The Pick: I have a feeling Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will roll. Take them to cover and take the UNDER as well.

Arizona State (-9) at Oregon State (61.5) – The Sun Devils’ win over Notre Dame has catapulted them into college playoff discussion and rightfully so. Now they must go to a place where they haven’t won since 2005 if they wish to keep that talk going.

The Beavers have lost four straight games and three of those were at home. Senior Quarterback Sean Mannion entered this season as a top NFL prospect but he’s been hampered by an poor offensive line that has seen him get sacked 28 times.

In most years I’d worry about ASU going to Corvallis especially after such a big win but I’m not so sure this time around.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in all five of ASU’s last five games at Oregon State… The Beavers are 1-7 against the spread in their last 8 games at home… The Sun Devils are 0-5 ATS in their last five games against Oregon State… The Beavers are 2-6 straight up in their last eight games home.

The Pick: The Beavers still need a win to become bowl eligible and still face Oregon as well. I don’t think it matters as I like the Sun Devils to cover and I like the OVER.

Two Other Games

TCU (-28.5) at Kansas – Any time a spread goes over four touchdowns I run and hide. Take the Jayhawks.

Ohio State (-14) at Minnesota – The Buckeyes are coming of an emotional win in East Lansing and now have to deal with a very good Gophers’ team. I sense a letdown. Take Minnesota.

The Bickering Over the Top Four in College Football is Pointless

CFB Trophy
CFB Trophy
Eventually, four teams will fight for this trophy. Arguing about what four they are now is a fruitless endeavor.

One thing that many college football pundits and fans worried about with the demise of the BCS was that the talking points would be gone. That is to say, sports talk radio and sports television wouldn’t have nearly the guesswork and hyperbole to dwell over for the final six weeks of the season.

Common thought was that with four teams making the final four playoff, there would be no need to have endless discussions about who would be in and who would be out. I think we can safely say that this notion has been crushed. In fact, I would go so far as to say the discussion of the new playoff system is already more intense and more interesting than it ever was in the BCS.

Look no further than this past week’s committee unveiling of the latest top four teams. For me personally, the whole thing is essentially a waste of time. What sense is there in getting all worked up over a “projected” final four when there are so many games yet to be played?

The big argument this week stems over the committee’s decision to place 8-1 TCU ahead of fellow one-loss team Alabama and to have once beaten Oregon jump over unbeaten Florida State. What is clear beyond any doubt is that the committee could care less about a team’s record right now and is much more enamored in a team’s strength of schedule.

While the Seminoles have remained unbeaten, their victories have been less than impressive. While I see the committee’s thinking, isn’t the one, over-ridding objective to win football games? Should and will “style points” matter?

Perhaps the more fascinating dilemma facing the committee will be with TCU and Big 12 rival Baylor. The Bears and Horned Frogs each have one loss. Baylor suffered theirs on the road at West Virginia while TCU suffered their only loss at Baylor in a close shootout. Normally the head-to-head is the clincher and this discussion would go no further.

Baylor-TCU
Baylor's 61-58 win over TCU would seem like enough to give the Bears an edge over TCU but apparently not.

Head-to-head does not appear to be the number one concern for this committee at the current time with TCU ahead of Baylor. The only logical explanation is strength of schedule which clearly favors the Frogs. If we assume both teams win out and finish 11-1, will the committee stick to its’ current platform which puts strength of schedule ahead of head-to-head.

This notion will be tested again this coming weekend when top-ranked Mississippi State travels to fifth-ranked Alabama who has one loss. If the Bulldogs lose a close contest to Bama I have to believe that the committee will keep both the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs in the top four. That would likely mean TCU would get the boot and would put to rest any debate over whether the Frogs or the Bears should get a top four nod.

All of this conjecture, as I stated in the opening, is futile. Fans in Arizona will have arguments as will fans in Ohio and on and on and on… Eventually the college football playoff will be set and the debate will rage not on who is in but on who is out.

The next step of course will be calling for an eight-team playoff and then 16. I believe the eight-team playoff will come in the future but that’s as far as it will go in my opinion. For the next few weeks anyway, enjoy all the arguing and dissecting of every team. In the end, it really won’t matter much.

 

Some Stay Alive, Some Don’t in Race for College Football’s Playoff

Mariota
Mariota
Marcus Mariota and the Ducks crushed rival Stanford and now may be in line for the top four if the committee so chooses.

Tomorrow evening the 12-person college football playoff committee will unveil its’ latest rankings. What we know for sure is that the top four will have a different look as one of the top four from last week went down. What will also be different are the teams lining up behind the top four so let’s examine those and more from this past weekend’s action.

The Top Four

We already know that the number two team, Florida State, survived a 21-point deficit to defeat Louisville Thursday night 42-31. I believe there’s a strong chance you could see Florida State move to the top spot and I say that because…

Last week’s top team Mississippi State struggled at home to defeat Arkansas 17-10 Saturday night. Despite Dak Prescott’s career high 331 passing yards, the Bulldogs still needed an interception in the end zone to thwart the Razorbacks. While any SEC win is a good one, the Hogs have still not won an SE game under Head Coach Bret Bielema.

That’s a string of 13 straight games. To be fair, this is a much better Arkansas team than last year’s version but I have to wonder if the pressure of being the nation’s top team is getting to Mississippi State.

The other two teams in the initial four-team rankings played each other Saturday in another classic SEC game as Auburn knocked off Ole Miss 35-31 in Oxford. As I suggested earlier in the week, I thought the Tigers would be the first to gain over 20 points against the Rebels’ defense and that they did. What this means for Ole Miss is quite simple.

With two losses, both of which were to SEC West opponents, the Rebels are no longer going to be a factor. Even if everyone else in the division ends up with two losses, I think they’ll be on the outside looking in. They have a road trip to Arkansas and a home date with rival Mississippi State to prove they belong.

For Auburn, they have solidified their position among the top four teams. The Tigers shouldn’t have trouble with Texas A&M this coming weekend at home, but they still have to deal with away games at Georgia and Alabama.

On the outside looking in

Boykin
Trevone Boykin has the Horned Frogs in prime position for a playoff spot if they can remain unbeaten the rest of the way.

The one-loss teams are a vast array of teams and chief among them to take the place of Ole Miss would have to be Oregon if we are using common sense. They are currently the fifth team and defeated nemesis Stanford  45-16 Saturday night. Common Sense and college football haven’t always gone hand in hand though and that means the team in the sixth spot, idle Alabama, could jump in there as well.

Not to be outdone though are several other teams with just one loss.

Could TCU jump into the top four with a last-second win at West Virginia?

Michigan State was idle but now hosts fellow one-loss team Ohio State on Saturday night in East Lansing.

Notre Dame was thought to be the one-loss team who was shafted the most in the initial rankings but then surrendered a 21-point lead to Navy before winning 49-39. My guess is that their win won’t resonate much with the committee.

We cannot forget about Kansas State either. The Wildcats throttled the fading Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday. K-State faces the toughest gauntlet of any top-ranked team however as they have four games remaining and three are on the road against TCU, West Virginia and Baylor. Should the Wildcats navigate that to win the Big 12 it would be hard not to consider them for the playoff.

Other teams that are out

Georgia who laid a massive egg against Florida… Arizona who dropped a 17-7 game to UCLA.

Possible Long-Shots

Nebraska. If they can get past Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota and get into the Big Ten title game then who knows? Arizona State. They survived against Utah Saturday and can gain serious cred if they knock off Notre Dame this week.

College and Pro Football are on the Docket as Well as the World Series

CFB Trophy
CFB Trophy
The committee that decides who plays for this trophy unveils their first final four this week.

Saturday brings me to the blog and to the fact that I can’t believe we have less one week until we hit November. Didn’t college football just kick off? Do you believe the first week of the season was actually in August? I was always told that time goes faster the older we get but I didn’t exactly expect a supersonic jet ride.

Today I’m catching my breath with thoughts on college and pro football as well as the Fall Classic which may actually end before November gets here believe it or not.

College Football

This Tuesday the 13-person college football playoff committee meets and reveals their top four teams. The committee is now actually down to 12 as Archie Manning had to step aside due to health issues. I for one am about as excited for this as I am a root canal but it creates talking points though doesn’t it?

Let’s be real here; there is still a lot that can happen and perhaps some of that chaos will continue today with Ole Miss and Mississippi State both on the road in the SEC. One of the top people I lean on for college football insight is Stewart Mandel who now writes for Fox Sports after years with Sports Illustrated.

Mandel argued this week that it’s very possible that two of the five major power conferences will get shut out in the ‘final four’ and he isn’t wrong. But I question the politics that will be involved by the committee. Mandel believes the Big Ten and Pac-12 will be on the outside looking in even with a potential one-loss Ohio State or Michigan State or even Oregon.

No one argues the SEC and more specifically the SEC West is the most dominant conference in football but there are two questions that come from this. First is whether or not the teams will knock each other off so badly that no one is left with less than two losses and secondly will there be ‘SEC overkill’ in the eyes of the committee.

Remember, good match-ups are great for the fans but they are even more important for the television networks. How would a final four of Ole Miss, Mississippi State, TCU and Florida State look versus let’s say a final four of Florida State, Notre Dame, Alabama and Auburn?

Don’t ever dismiss the politics in collegiate athletics my friends.

Yost
Ned Yost has leaned heavily on his bullpen and rightfully so.

The World Series

The Kansas City Royals took a 2-1 lead last night in the World Series with a 3-2 win over the Giants in San Francisco last night. For the second straight game the Royals’ bullpen shut down the Giants which has become a trend throughout the season and now into the playoffs. It’s a very common theme where the Royals get a lead and take that lead into the sixth inning.

In effect, Manager Ned Yost has shortened official nine-inning games to essentially games that are just six or seven innings. This isn’t new; the Yankees did it during the great run of five World Series titles when the bullpen would take over and then hand the ball to John Wetteland and then Mariano Rivera. If the Giants are going to stay in this series they must get out early or this thing will be over in five.

Pro Football

Remember my preseason picks? Ya, that selection of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a wild-card team isn’t looking so good now is it? The Bucs have been competitive in most of their games but for the most part it has been nothing like I thought it would under new coach Lovie Smith.

 

Another Great Saturday Slate for You to Consider

Kiffin Saban
Kiffin Saban
The combination of Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban is an odd one and their next challenge is in Knoxville.

Alabama (-17.5) at Tennessee (O/U 46.5) – It’s pretty much a shame that the focus of tomorrow’s game is less about the players and more about Lane Kiffin’s return to Knoxville. Kiffin is now the offensive coordinator at Alabama and was the coach at Tennessee for just one year 2009. His tenure was marked by stupid comments and a quick split out of town for USC.

The Vols have improved under Butch Jones but this program is still a few years away from truly competing at a high level. I expect the team to have its’ moments tomorrow but these guys are significantly over-matched by an Alabama team fresh off a 59-0 destruction of Texas A&M.

Trends: Alabama is 2-7 against the spread in their last nine games… The Vols are 0-5 against the spread in their last five games at home against Bama… The Crimson Tide are 18-2 straight up in their last 20 road games… The total has gone UNDER in five of Tennessee’s last seven games against Alabama in Neyland Stadium.

The Pick: Take the Tide to cover and the OVER.

Bunyan
The Paul Bunyan Trophy is what Michigan and Michigan State will battle for tomorrow.

Michigan (+17.5) at Michigan State (O/U 49.5) – The Backyard Brawl in recent years has been more like the “Spartan Beat Down” as Michigan State has dominated the series winning five of the last six. Brady Hoke is no longer on the hot seat in Ann Arbor, he’s a dead man walking and sure to be replaced this winter.

Things couldn’t be better in East Lansing where Mark Dantonio has built the Spartans into a national powerhouse behind toughness, discipline and difference-making players. Last year, the Spartans sacked Devin Gardner eight times in pounding the Wolverines 29-6.

The only way Michigan keeps this close is with their defense which has been pretty decent but I don’t think they are good enough to completely stop the Spartans which they would need to do to win.

Trends: Michigan is 8-16-1 against the spread in their last 25 games on the road… The total has gone OVER is eight of MSU’s last nine games… The Wolverines are 1-6 straight up in their last seven road games… The Spartans have won five straight since losing to Oregon.

The Pick: This one is over early. Take Sparty to cover and take the OVER.

Ole Miss (-4) at LSU (O/U 44.5) – LSU is 35-2 at home since 2009 and despite this being one of Les Miles’ weaker teams, this can’t be overlooked. At stake for the Rebels is obviously their unbeaten season. The thought of both Ole Miss and Mississippi State (who already beat the Tigers in Baton Rouge) being unbeaten when they play their season finales against each other is enough to boil over the Magnolia State.

The problem that LSU is facing is that the Ole Miss defense is darn good and the Tigers’ offense is struggling to find a QB and consistency. In order for LSU to pull off the upset, the Tigers’ defense will need a colossal effort to limit Bo Wallace and the Rebels’ offense.

Trends: Ole Miss is 1-5 straight up in its’ last six games when playing LSU in Death Valley… The Tigers are 0-5 against the spread in their last five games at home against the Rebels… The total has gone OVER in four of Ole Miss’ last five games when playing the Tigers… The total has gone UNDER in four of LSU’s last six games at home.

The Pick: Every time I count out Les Miles, he burns me. Take the Tigers at home and getting the points and take the UNDER as well.

Other Games of Note:

South Carolina (17) at Auburn (O/U 64.5) – Auburn covers, take the OVER

Mississippi State (-14) at Kentucky (O/U 59) – Take UK and the points, UNDER

Oregon State (+13) at Stanford (O/U 42) – Take the Beavers and the points, UNDER

I Have a Feeling We Are in for Another Wild Saturday

Strong
Strong
Can Charlie Strong and the 'Horns knock off Oklahoma?

Texas (14.5) vs Oklahoma (O/U 47) – I have to say, I’m glad the Red River Rivalry has continued to stay at the original Cotton Bowl. I realize how easy it is to shift to Jerry World but I’m glad some traditions have stayed alive.

I expect the Longhorns to play hard but I also expect a very ticked off Sooners’ team to show up as well.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in four of Texas’ last six games when playing the Sooners… OU is 3-5-1 against the spread in their last nine games when playing the Longhorns… Texas is 2-5 straight up in their last seven games.

The Pick: Take the Sooners to cover and the OVER

Northwestern (+4) at Minnesota (O/U 43) – I’m sure all of you had this match-up pegged for the lead in the Big Ten West in the second week of October right? Well that’s what we’ve got. Both Nebraska and Wisconsin have already suffered conference losses.

The Gophers are riding the wave of winning the Little Brown Jug two weeks ago while the Wildcats have scored impressive wins over Wisconsin and Penn State.

Trends: The Wildcats are 4-3 straight up in their last six games Minnesota… The Gophers are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games at home against Northwestern… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Wildcats’ last six games against Minnesota.

The Pick: The Badgers gashed the Wildcats’ run defense last week and I expect the same thing from the Gophers. Take them to cover and I like the UNDER.

Patterson
A win at Baylor puts Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs in front of the Big 12 race.

TCU (+8) at Baylor (O/U 66.5) – If the Horned Frogs can pull of another upset they’ll be well on their way to a Big 12 title since they’ve already beaten the other favorite in Oklahoma. If the Bears win, they still have a November date in Norman.

Trends: The Horned Frogs are 4-2 straight up in their last six games against Baylor… The Bears are 14-1 straight up in their last 15 home games… The total has gone UNDER in six of TCU’s last eight games on the road.

The Pick: Expect lots of scoring and take TCU while taking the OVER as well.

Auburn (-3) at Mississippi State (O/U 64) – The Tigers are accustomed to these marquee match-ups while the Bulldogs are still getting used to them. Both teams still have Bama and Ole Miss on their respective schedules.

That means a win is vital tomorrow.

Trends: The Bulldogs are 2-11 straight up in their last 13 games against Auburn… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Tigers last five trips to Mississippi State… Mississippi State is 4-8 against the spread in their last 12 games against Auburn.

The Pick: Take the Bulldogs getting the points at home and the UNDER as well.

Oregon (-3) at UCLA (O/U 72) – This is an elimination game. Both have one loss now and a second automatically knocks them out of contention for the college football playoff. If UCLA follows Arizona State’s lead and runs the ball then they have a good shot at the win.

Trends: Oregon is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games… The Bruins are 1-4 ATS in their last five games when playing Oregon at home… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Ducks’ last five games at UCLA.

The Pick: I like the Bruins getting the points at home and I like the UNDER.

Ole Miss (+2) at Texas A&M (O/U 64) – I said earlier this week that this is the type of game that programs who aren’t sued to big wins usually lose. The Rebels beat Alabama but will there be a letdown?

Trends: Texas A&M is 6-0 lifetime against Ole Miss and 2-0 since they joined the SEC… The total has gone UNDER in five of Ole Miss’ last five games on the road… The Aggies are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at home.

The Pick: I expect the Aggies to cover and take the OVER as Ole Miss suffers their first defeat.

College Football by the Numbers After a Crazy Saturday

Golson
Golson
Everett Golson has the Irish in position to rise in the polls after beating Stanford.

It all started on Thursday night when unranked but unbeaten Arizona traveled to Eugene and knocked off Oregon. If we only knew that was just the beginning of one of the craziest days in recent college football memory.

Top-ranked Florida State had no problem with Wake Forest early in the day on Saturday making us think that maybe this wouldn’t be such an usual day but then the chips started to fall. #7 Texas A&M went to 12th-ranked Mississippi State and lost 48-31 while Ole Miss scored the biggest win of the day in knocking off third-ranked Alabama 23-17.

So take a breath here because the day of craziness was far from over. Soon after Bama went down #4 Oklahoma lost 37-33 to TCU in Fort Worth. So if you’re keeping score at home, teams ranked second, third and fourth in the most recent Coaches Poll had lost. But the day wasn’t over yet.

UCLA, who had been wining by the skin of their teeth before blowing out Arizona State last week, was beaten at home by Utah 30-28. Fellow Pac-12 teams USC (#16) and Stanford (#14) both went down as well.

Dantonio
Mark Dantonio and his Spartans should run the table making things interesting for the playoff race.

#10 Michigan State survived Nebraska’s visit to East Lansing winning 27-22 after leading 17-0 at halftime. Big Ten West Division favorite and #17 Wisconsin was beaten in Evanston by Northwestern who now stands at 2-0 in the division.

Also going down in the top 25 last night was #18 BYU who was throttled at home by Utah State.

To put this all in perspective, the following ranks all lost this week; 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 16 ,17, 18, 19.

Obviously someone came out smelling like a rose this weekend and there are a few contenders for that title. Number five Auburn destroyed LSU 41-7 and will likely slide into the #2 spot in the polls. #11 Ole Miss and #12 Mississippi State will both rise into the top ten. Also benefiting from the action Saturday is #7 Baylor who beat Texas 28-7 and #9 Notre Dame who needed a last-second touchdown to beat Stanford in South Bend.

When the format for the college football playoff came out, it was pretty much a given that the SEC would more than likely secure two of the four spots simply because of their strength of schedule and number of teams that would rise especially in the West Division. The problem is that the East Division is not good and unless Georgia can run the table the East won’t put up much of a battle in the SEC title game.

The other problem for the SEC West is that it’s highly unlikely anyone comes out unscathed. Both Ole Miss and Mississippi State were impressive yesterday but they both still have each other to play as well as other top teams in the West.

The SEC could benefit however from all of the losses in the Pac-12 and Oklahoma’s loss too. Now Baylor stands as the only unbeaten in the Big-12 and still has to play at Oklahoma.

The Big Ten’s only hope remains Michigan State. Their only loss is to Oregon but now that loss looks less impressive with the Ducks losing at home. Still, an impressive win over Ohio State along with going unbeaten the rest of the way could squeeze them in to the playoff.

The team that is the most interesting right now is Notre Dame who is unbeaten. The Irish shouldn’t have any trouble with North Carolina in South Bend next week but then has three straight road games at Florida State, Navy and Arizona State. I have a hard time seeing the Irish come out unscathed in that stretch. If they do, it’ll come to down to the finale with USC.

My College Football Playoff Predictions

Michigan State – I still think they’ll need some help but they should run the table.

Alabama – I think the Tide will beat Auburn for the West title and then will go on to win the SEC.

Florida State – I omitted them last week because I thought they might slip up at some point but now I just don’t see it happening.

Notre Dame – Even with one loss, their strength of schedule will be better then many other one-loss teams.