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

Rivalries Highlight Several of the Games I Like in College Football Today

P.J. Fleck
P.J. Fleck
Under the direction of P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan has has the best turnaround in college football this season.

Today I’m giving you three in-depth games I like plus a few more just for kicks.

Western Michigan (+1) at Central Michigan (O/U 52.5) – If you talk with anyone that really knows college football then they’ll tell you that this rivalry is one of the most heated and most under-rated in the sport. The schools are about three hours from each and the fans travel well for both teams.

At Western, Coach P.J. Fleck is in the midst of the best turnaround in college football. His Broncos were 1-11 last season and now stand at 7-3 with a chance to win the MAC West Division. At Central, Dan Enos has quietly improved the Chippewas and they now stand at 7-4.

CMU is usually very good at home and with the weather scheduled to be fairly mild in Mid-Michigan I expect a lot of scoring.

Trends: Western Michigan 5-0 straight up in their last five games… Central Michigan is 5-1 straight up in their last six games… WMU is 3-6 against the spread in their last nine games at Central Michigan… The Chippewas have won six of their last eight games against the Broncos.

The Pick: Take CMU in a tight game and take the OVER.

Mora, Jr
JIm Mora, Jr and the Bruins are looking for their third-straight win over USC today.

USC (+3) at UCLA (O/U 61) – The Trojans have won seven of the last ten in this rivalry but the Bruins have won the last two. A third-straight win by UCLA would also give them three-straight nine win seasons which hasn’t happened in while.

Both teams have no problem scoring points and I think the scoreboard will get a workout on Saturday in the Rose Bowl.

Trends: USC is 7-2 straight up in their last nine games on the road… UCLA is 2-5 SU against the Trojans the last seven times they’ve played in the Rose Bowl… The total has gone UNDER in four of USC’s last five games at UCLA… The Bruins are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games at home.

The Pick: I like the Bruins to cover and take the OVER.

Stanford (-5) at Cal (O/U 56.5) – Regardless of what happens today in Berkley, nothing will ever trump the 1982 “The Band is on the Field” game. It was the craziest finish in college football history.

Today’s game features one team continuing its’ turn-around season and another trying to pick up the pieces of a bad season few saw coming. The Bears were just 1-11 last season in year one under Sonny Dykes while the Cardinal enjoyed another Pac-12 title.

This should be a crazy game with Cal’s offense ranking near the top of the nation and their defense ranking near the bottom.

Trends: Stanford is 1-5-1 against the spread in their last seven games… Cal is 2-6 ATS in their last nine games when playing Stanford at home… The total has gone UNDER in four of Stanford’s last six games when playing at Cal… The Bears are 4-2 straight up in their last six games against Stanford when playing at home.

The Pick: Take Cal getting the points and take the OVER.

Other Games

Minnesota (+10) at Nebraska – I can’t see Pelini losing two straight. Take them to cover.

Louisville (+3.5) at Notre Dame – A third loss puts the Irish back into another meaningless bowl game. Take them to cover.

Ole Miss (-3.5) at Arkansas – I have a feeling last week’s win over LSU was no fluke for the Hogs. I like them getting the points.

Putting the Bow on Another Crazy Saturday

Petty
Petty
Bryce Petty and the Baylor Bears throttled the Sooners in Norman to stay alive in the playoff chase.

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more strange in the the world of college football, the second Saturday of November came along. Here’s a look at the craziness.

The Oklahoma Sooners still held out hope for a Big 12 title heading into their home game against 12th-ranked Baylor. Things were certainly looking good as the Sooners led 14-3 at the end of the first quarter. Ahem, that 14 points is all that OU would score. Their defense on the other hand gave up 45 unanswered points in the Bears’ 48-14 thrashing of Oklahoma in Norman.

Minnesota and Wisconsin will play at the end of the season in Madison for the Paul Bunyan ax. Both remained on a crash course for the Big Ten West title with wins Saturday. The Gophers blew out Iowa 51-14 while Wisconsin went to West Lafayette and beat the Boilers 34-16. Both teams must face Nebraska before then and the Gophers still have the Ohio State Buckeyes as well so there is still much to be determined.

Saban
Alabama survived in Death Valley and Nick Saban couldn't be happier. I think...

In Death Valley where LSU Had Coach Les Miles has lost just three times in 50 night games there, the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Tigers in overtime 20-13. Bama kicked a field goal to tie in the final seconds then scored immediately in OT. The defense took over from there forcing four-straight incompletions to earn the win.

With the Tide’s win, there are four other games from yesterday that will impact their standing heading into Tuesday’s “Big Reveal.”

A lot of people were trying to make an argument for Notre Dame should the Irish finish with just the one, close loss to Florida State. That argument is no longer valid after the Irish were left for dead in the desert by Arizona State. QB Everett Golson threw for over 400 yards but turned the ball over five times in the 55-31 loss. With this development, the Irish are on the outside looking in while ASU will have built up its’ standing with just one loss.

Another one-loss team hoping to survive the regular season was Auburn. No one however, could have seen their 41-38 loss to Texas A&M coming. The Aggies just weeks ago were beaten by Alabama 59-0 but behind new QB Kyle Allen they held off a late charge by the Tigers. Auburn will now have to be the litmus test as to whether a two-loss SEC team can make it. They still have to survive road trips to Georgia and Alabama though.

In an elimination game, the Ohio State Buckeyes went into East Lansing and dropped 49 points on the Spartans in a 49-37 win that gives Ohio State control of the Big Ten East Division. The loss for the Spartans means a chance at the college football playoff is now gone. For the Buckeyes, it means they stay alive. Their one loss was to Virginia Tech and is probably the worst loss of any of the one-loss teams so there is no guarantee OSU gets in but at least they are in position.

The other elimination game was in the Big 12 where TCU knocked off fellow one-loss tea Kansas State 41-20. The Horned Frogs have road trips to Kansas and Texas before finishing the season at home against Iowa State. On paper, it would appear TCU is a shoo-in to finish with just the one loss to Baylor. The really intriguing part here is if both finish with one loss.

Baylor finishes with Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas State all at home. The nod would have to be given to the Bears should they also finish with just one loss

My top Four for right now would be Mississippi State, Florida State, Oregon and Alabama.

 

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.

Some Great College Football Action Coming Up Today

GOlden
GOlden
Al Golden brings his Hurricanes to Georgia Tech for a key ACC showdown.

Miami (+1.5) at Georgia Tech (O/U 56) – The Canes scored a big win over defending division champ Duke last weekend at home. Now Miami hits the road to play a Georgia Tech team that has already beaten Virginia Tech and comes off a bye week. The Canes have played a slightly tougher schedule having lost at Louisville and Nebraska but Bobby Dodd Stadium isn’t a friendly place either.

Trends: Miami is 3-10 against the spread in their last 13 games… Georgia Tech is 2-4 ATS in their last six games at home against Miami…The total has gone UNDER in four of Miami’s last six games… The total has gone OVER in four of the Yellow Jackets’ last five home games.

The Pick: I like GT to cover and I like the OVER.

Hogan
Kevin Hogan has to play well if the Cardinal have a chance today in South Bend.

Stanford (-2) at Notre Dame (O/U 45) – The Cardinal enters with a rare early loss while the Irish have stayed unbeaten and have worked their way into the college football playoff debate. Notre Dames defense has been pretty darn good through 2014 and Stanford has struggled offensively at times especially in the red zone. Will the home-field advantage pay off for Brian Kelly’s team?

Trends: The Cardinal are 1-6 straight up in their last seven trips to Notre Dame… The Irish are 12-4 SU in their last 16 games against Stanford… The total has gone UNDER in six of Stanford’s last seven games at Notre Dame… The total has gone UNDER in seven of Notre Dame’s last eight games.

The Pick: I like the Irish getting the points and I love the UNDER.

LSU (+7.5) at Auburn (O/U 58) – The Bayou Bengals were the only team to beat Auburn prior to Auburn’s loss on the national title game. That made three straight wins over the Tigers. After the loss at home to Mississippi State, I’m just not sure if that says more about LSU or the Bulldogs. Auburn hits the field for the first time since surviving Kansas State who should have beaten them.

The LSU QB situation worries me and I think the defense isn’t what has been in the past.

Trends: LSU is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games on the road at Auburn… Auburn is 5-0 straight up in their last five games at home… The total has gone UNDER in six of Auburn’s last seven games at home against LSU… LSU is 6-1 straight up in their last seven games against Auburn.

The Pick: Auburn covers and take the OVER.

Oklahoma (-4.5) at TCU (O/U 57) – With Oregon going down Thursday night, Oklahoma moves tat uch closer to securing a final four spot in the college football playoffs. The Horned Frogs will not exactly roll over today though. They are unbeaten as well and play well at home. The difference is the level of competition to this point and that favors the Sooners.

Trends: Oklahoma is 5-0 straight up in their last five road games… TCU is 4-9 against the spread in their last 13 games at home… The total has gone OVER in four of Oklahoma’s last five games on the road… The total has gone OVER in six of the Frog’s last nine games at home.

The Pick: Take OU to cover and I like the OVER.

Michigan (+2) at Rutgers (O/U 47) – The Michigan defense was thought to be the strength but that went out the window last week. Brady Hoke is in trouble despite what AD Dave Brandon says. Rutgers will not feel bad for the Wolverines one bit and will take advantage of Devin Gardner’s propensity for turnovers.

Trends: Michigan is 1-5 against the spread in their last six games… Rutgers is 17-6 straight up in their last 23 home games… The total has gone UNDER in all of Michigan’s last five road games… The total has gone UNDER in four of Rutgers last six games at home.

The Pick: Take Rutgers to cover and I like the UNDER.

College Games I like Tomorrow

Beamer
Beamer
Frank Beamer and his Hokies host East Carolina tomorrow in Blacksburg.

East Carolina (+10) at Virginia Tech (O/U 54) – This could be a dangerous spot for the Hokies who come home following a huge upset win over Ohio State in Columbus. The Pirates gave South Carolina fits well into the final quarter before losing in Columbia.

Trends: East Carolina is 7-2 straight up in their last nine games… Virginia Tech is 2-4 against the spread in the last six games when playing East Carolina… The total has gone UNDER in four of ECU’s last six games when playing the Hokies… Virginia Tech is 18-7 straight up in its’ last 25 games at home.

The Pick: I like East Carolina getting the points but I’ll take the Hokies to win and take the under as well.

Gurley
Todd Gurley leads Georgia into South Carolina tomorrow.

Georgia (-7) at South Carolina (O/U 60) – The Gamecocks are 1-1 but were embarrassed at home by Texas A&M and then hung on to beat East Carolina last week. The Bulldogs were impressive in beating Clemson in the opener and now head to Columbia for their first SEC game. Having already lost to the Aggies, South Carolina cannot afford another loss in conference play.

The Dawgs will ride with Todd Gurley who I expect to have another big game.

Trends: Georgia is 1-4-2 against the spread in their last seven games at South Carolina… The Gamecocks are 22-1 straight up in their last 23 home games… The Bulldogs are 4-2 SU in their last six games at South Carolina… The total has gone UNDER in five of USC’s last five games when playing at home against Georgia.

The Pick: I like Georgia to cover and I like the OVER.

Purdue (+27.5) vs Notre Dame (O/U 56.5) – This game is being played in Indianapolis. Let’s be real quick here shall we? Purdue just lost at home to Central Michigan. Notre Dame just shut out Michigan.

Trends: The Boilermakers are 0-5 straight up in their last five games against Notre Dame… The Irish are 4-1 SU in their last five games… The total has gone UNDER in five of Notre Dame’s last six games… Purdue is 1-11 SU in their last 12 games.

The Pick: Take the Irish to cover but take the UNDER.

Tennessee (+20.5) at Oklahoma (O/U 56.5) – This is a big opportunity for Butch Jones and the Vols but I also think they are going into a buzzsaw in Norman. Sooners’ QB Trevor Knight is playing well and OU just doesn’t lose at home under Bob Stoops.

Trends: Tennessee is 2-4 against the spread in their last six road games… The Sooners are 5-0 straight up in their last five games… The Vols are 1-8 straight up in their last nine road games… The total has gone OVER in four of Oklahoma’s last five games at home.

The Pick: Take OU to cover and I love the OVER.

UCLA (-7.5) vs Texas (O/U 50.5) – This game is being played in Arlington. I’m not sure we’ve seen the real UCLA just yet and this would be a horrible week for them to show up if you’re Texas. The Longhorns were throttled at home by BYU last week and I don’t think it will get much better.

Trends: The Bruins are 7-1 straight up in their last eight games… Texas is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games… The total has gone OVER in four of UCLA’s last six games… The total has gone UNDER in five of the Longhorns’ last six games.

The Pick: Take the Bruins to cover and I like the UNDER.

Penn State (-3) at Rutgers (O/U 51.5) – This is Rutgers first-ever game in the Big Ten and they open with the Nittany Lions who are now eligible for a bowl after the NCAA lifted the postseason ban this week. I really like Christian Hackenberg at QB for PSU.

Trends: Penn State is 4-1 straight up in its’ last five games… Rutgers is 1-4 against the spread in in its last five games at home… The total has gone OVER in four of PSU’s last five games on the road… The Scarlet Knights are 16-5 straight up in their last 21 home games.

The Pick: Take Penn State to cover and I like the OVER.

The Big Ten is Buried and Why is Pat Haden on the Field?

Va tech
Va tech
Virginia Tech handed the Buckeyes a rare home loss on a bad night for the Big Ten.

Three big games faced the Big Ten yesterday in the second week of the college football season and the first one was going pretty well. Seventh-ranked Michigan State had stormed back to take the lead in the second half at third-ranked Oregon and about the same time that Michigan and Ohio State fell behind in their games, the bottom fell out on the Spartans.

Oregon blitzed Michigan State with a 28-0 run to win 46-27. Rivals Michigan and Ohio State both suffered crushing defeats as well with Michigan getting shutout 31-0 at Notre Dame and the Buckeyes getting beaten at home 35-21 by Virginia Tech.

With Wisconsin losing to LSU last week and Nebraska needing a last-second touchdown to get past McNeese State, the chances that a team from the Big Ten makes the College Football Playoff are now slim and none.

For Michigan, they were shutout for the first time since 1984 and if he wasn’t already on the hot seat then Brady Hoke is now. The alumni will not be pleased with the embarrassing loss to the Irish in the final game of their rivalry for the foreseeable future. The Wolverines still have trips to East Lansing and Columbus and the fan base is already turning on Athletic Director David Brandon who has essentially offended the student population in Ann Arbor with crazy restrictions on their attendance at games.

In Columbus, the Buckeyes fell behind the Hokies 21-7 entering the third quarter but rallied to tie the score in the fourth. Virginia Tech responded with a long drive and then capped the victory with a 63-yard interception return for touchdown with under a minute to go. To say the Buckeyes miss Braxton Miller would be an understatement but the defense is suddenly a question mark as well.

The only way a Big Ten team makes the ‘final four’ is with tons of help. We’re talking a situation where the SEC and Pac-12 have some form of armageddon among themselves and the ACC and Big-12 stumble significantly as well. Basically what I’m saying is “it ain’t gonna happen.”

Haden
Haden's actions are inappropriate and he should no longer be on the selection committee as well.

A Major Issue at USC

On the field of play yesterday in Palo Alto, California, the USC Trojans scored one their biggest wins in the post-Pete Carroll era when they knocked off Stanford 13-10. It’s a rivalry that has grown more and more intense even with Carroll and former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh now in the NFL.

The real story from yesterday’s game however didn’t involve the players on the field; it involved the USC Athletic Director on the field. Pat Haden, who also happens to be a member of the College Football Playoff Committee, came down from his seat in the press box to confront officials after Trojans’ Head Coach Steve Sarkisian was slapped with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

First of all, Haden can be on the field as many athletic directors are, to come down and confront officials during the game is flat-out wrong and it gets worse. Haden admitted he came down because he received a text message from someone on the sideline asking him to come down. That’s a violation of NCAA rules but that isn’t the point.

Haden must step down from the playoff committee immediately. While he can’t vote for his own school, he can vote for Stanford but with the intensity of the rivalry why would he? This is just one of many problems with the selection committee and if Haden can’t control himself on the field how can he do the same while voting for teams for the playoff?

An Early Look at the College Football Lines for Next Weekend

Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald
Pat Fitzgerald and his Wildcats cannot afford a loss to Northern Illinois after losing their opener.

Each week this season I’m hoping to give you an early look at the top college games for the weekend. You should see this Monday or Tuesday.

Northern Illinois 1-0 (+2.5) at Northwestern 0-1 – High expectations in Evanston were shot out of the sky in a hurry last weekend as Cal came in and led 31-7 before hanging on to win 31-24. The Wildcats were thought to be a surprise team in the Big Ten West but they looked anything but and now have to deal with perennial MAC power Northern Illinois. To say this is a must-win against the Huskies is an understatement. Right Now: I like NIU and the points

Missouri 1-0 (-5.5) at Toledo 1-0 – Gary Pinkel returns to the campus that helped him get where he is now. The Rockets will not be a pushover either and Pinkel knows it. Last year, Toledo came into Columbia and gave the Tigers quite a battle before losing 38-23 with the Tigers pulling away in the fourth. Missouri is the defending SEC East champs so they aren’t going to sneak up on anyone. Right Now: I like Missouri to cover

Navy 0-1 (-4) at Temple 1-0 – This game is more fascinating than I ever dreamed it would be three weeks ago. Navy gave Ohio State fits into the fourth quarter before losing to the Buckeyes while the Owls went into Nashville and thumped the Commodores by 30. I expect this to be a close and very exciting game in Philly. Right Now: I like Navy to cover

Southern Cal 1-0 (+4) at Stanford 1-0 – There were a lot of college football people who believe the most talented team in the Pac-12 last season was USC. In-season coaching changes and injuries scuttled the chance for a title but now the Trojans get their shot to prove themselves and it will start with a road trip at defending champion Stanford. SC QB Cody Kessler was outstanding against Fresno State and now gets a shot a much tougher opponent. Right Now: I like USC and the points.

Cook
Connor Cok and the Spartans head to Oregon for a game with massive playoff implications.

Michigan State 1-0 (+11) at Oregon 1-0 – You’ll hear this phrase a lot this season; “This is the most important game of the year in terms of the final four teams in the playoff.” The Spartans and Ducks will be playing in this game this weekend in Eugene. MSU can afford a close loss whereas Oregon needs to win at home. Either way, both teams will still be alive for the playoffs. Right Now: I like MSU and the points

East Carolina 1-0 (+15.5) at South Carolina 0-1 – Remember a few weeks back when Steve Spurrier was ripping on the Big Ten? He said his Gamecocks were better off playing “East Carolina” than a bottom tier Big Ten team. Well, here come the Pirates and what do you know? Spurrier and company are still licking their wounds from that beatdown at the hands of Texas A&M. Right Now: SC covers

Michigan 1-0 (+6) at Notre Dame 1-0 – The Wolverines and the Fighting Irish hook up again in another primetime match-up and they have yet to disappoint in under the lights. Both teams got highly anticipated blowout wins this past Saturday and enter with 1-0 records. The key here will be the Michigan running game against the Irish run defense. Right Now: I like Michigan and the points

BYU 1-0 (+4.5) at Texas 1-0 – The Charlie Strong Era got off on the right foot this past weekend by beating up on North Texas. BYU did the same on the road by beating UConn. This will be the first of many tests for Strong in Austin this year and don’t be surprised if the Cougars pull it off behind a tough defense. Right Now: I Like Texas to cover

 

College and Pro Football Lead the Way on Tuesday

Stops and Castiglione
Stops and Castiglione
Roger Goodell could learn a thing or two about discipline from Oklahoma's Joe Castiglione and Bob Stoops.

Hopefully you’ve been able to peel yourself away from the coverage of Johnny Manziel long enough to do some reading today. I’ve got both college and pro football on the docket so let’s not waste anymore time huh?

The University of Oklahoma did something yesterday that should be getting much more attention. In fact, the institution that should be paying the most attention to it is the National Football League because Oklahoma has shown us the right way of disciplining athletes.

In a joint statement, Head Coach Bob Stoops and Athletic Director Joe Castiglione announced that running back Joe Mixon was suspended for the entire season. What could Mixon have done that was so bad? What could he have done that would deserve such harsh punishment and why would the NFL care?

Mixon has been charged with a misdemeanor assault after being accused of punching a 20-year old Oklahoma student. The assault resulted in four broken bones in the young lady’s face. According to police, the incident occurred at a Cafe on July, 25th. Mixon’s attorney says his defendant was “protecting himself” from the intoxicated and troubled young woman.

Kudos to the University of Oklahoma for doing what should have been done by Roger Goodell and the the NFL when they suspended Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice for just two games after he was videotaped decking his then fiance.

I understand that there is a clear difference between how a university can handle things versus a professional sports’ league but the lesson should still serve it’s purpose. This is yet another reason why Goodell is the worst commissioner in sports.

Kelly
Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly just can't seem to catch a break lately.

Academic Undoing at Notre Dame?

The Fighting Irish need to be careful because they might end up being called the Cheating Irish if this alleged academic scandal grows more serious. Right now four players are sitting out practices and team activities while the University investigates. Common sense will tell you that anytime, especially at a private institution like Notre Dame, players are accused of academic fraud that it will most likely center around cheating of some sort.

Talk to anyone “in the know” in South Bend and they’ll tell you this is exactly what was going on with QB Everett Golson last year. If you recall, he missed the entire season after admitting academic fraud.

Three of the four players are starters for the Irish and include top receiver DeVaris Daniels who started in the BCS Title game loss to Alabama. If this thing grows, it will get far worse before it gets better.

QB Setbacks in Cleveland?

Hopefully the performances of Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel last night in Washington will slow down circus that has become the Browns this preseason. Hoyer went 2 for 6 passing while Manziel went 2 for 7. Neither guy looked like a competent NFL quarterback and for Manziel, the poor showing only solidified his comments earlier in the week that “he wasn’t ready for the Pittsburgh Steelers yet.”

I’ve said all along that I believe Johnny Manziel will open the season with a helmet on rather than a baseball cap and I still feel that way. The only other plausible scenario is that Hoyer starts the first three games, struggles, then gives way to Manziel following the team’s bye week in week four.

The Browns didn’t bring in Rex Grossman this week just to be a third string QB. He knows what it’s like to be a hot shot young QB in the NFL and could perhaps tutor Manziel while not being a threat to his starting spot.

Regardless of who Browns’ Coach Mike Pettine chooses, they better darn well play better than they did last night.

 

Just Four Independents Remain in NCAA Football

Over the past few years, a number of NCAA Football teams have changed conferences. Heading into the 2014 season there are only four major independents left in college football. Those four include Army, Navy, BYU and Notre Dame.

New Mexico State and Idaho were Independents for a single season, but have both made their way to the Sun Belt Conference.

The Independent scene, according to Bovada and betonline, might look different after the 2014 season. BYU is now pushing to be accepted as a member of the Big 12. Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall said BYU would love to be a Big 12 member.

Mendenhall said his team’s attendance was sufficiently high and the winning percentage the Cougars have is more than enough to be accepted by the Big 12 if they conference was looking to expand. Whether that happens or not is still up in the air.

When trying to handicap three out of the four remaining Independents this season – BYU, Navy and Notre Dames – remember collectively they are an exceptional combined 52-31-1 against the number when taking points under their current head coaches.

What is even more interesting, according to topbet and sportsbooks.com, the three teams have combined to go 35-11-1 as underdogs in games where their own winning percentage was under .667 for the season, including an outrageous 27-2 against the number from the fifth game of the season to the end of the season.

Army is returning 9 players on its offense including its starting quarterback and 7 players on its defense including its front four.

The Cadets have a record of 3-23 SU as well as 6-20 ATS vs. Navy and Air Force.

BYU will have 8 starters on offense including their quarterback returning from last season. On defense, the Cougars will have 6 starters back including one lineman.

Mendenhall has averaged over 9 wins per season in the last 9 seasons as the BYU head coach. BYU has also played in a bowl game each of those 9 seasons.

BYU has 353 wins over the past 4 decades. The school trails only Ohio State, Oklahoma and Nebraska in that category.

Navy returns 8 to its offense including their starting quarterback. On defense, the Midshipmen have 7 starters returning including 2 linemen.

Last season Navy won the Commander in Chief trophy of the 9th time in the past 11 seasons. Navy is 92-49 since the end of the 2002 season, including 21-2 SU over military opponents.

Notre Dame returns 5 offensive starters and 5 defensive starters from last season.

The Fighting Irish have the highest winning percentage at .733 in the history of college football.

Everett Golson who was suspended last season due to academics will return to the starting quarterback slot.

The upcoming 2014 NCAA football will have just four independents, but three of the four should play well enough to be chosen for a bowl game during December or January.