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Friday, 5 December 2014

#ChampWeek Could Make a Mess of the #CFBPlayoff
Lots to gain, lots to lose, lots of waiting around...Final bowl prediction time!!

 Rivalry week has come and gone...and left a few interesting story lines along the way.  The #CFBPlayoff saw some movement from the selection committee based on the results last weekend.  With Championship Week kicking off tonight, I have a sneaky suspicion movement amongst the Final Four will continue...as will the debate...right through Sunday (and perhaps until the Jan. 1 games are played).  Let's compare the selection committee rankings to #TwineTime:

Selection Committee                                                       #TwineTime

1. Alabama                                                                      1. Oregon
2. Oregon                                                                         2. Alabama
3. TCU                                                                             3. Florida State
4. Florida State                                                                4. TCU
5. Ohio State                                                                    5. Baylor
6. Baylor                                                                          6. Ohio State
7. Arizona                                                                        7. Arizona
8. Michigan State                                                             8. Michigan State

This week, I think the we can agree the committee has the correct top 4 teams.  Again, remember this is based on results so far, not projections.  The top 3 teams of Oregon, Alabama and Florida State are basically locks (assuming they take care of business this weekend).  A case could be made, which I am considering, that even if Florida State was to lose the ACC Championship, they would still qualify for the playoff.  I have a bit of an issue with the committee putting TCU above Florida State.  The Frogs do have a strong resume and profile but the Seminoles are undefeated and defending champs.  Are they winning big every weekend? No.  Perhaps should they have lost one or two (or three) games already this season?  Yes.  Are they still undefeated and the only undefeated team in the nation?  Yes.  It is a bit weird to punish an undefeated team and move them down in the rankings after they continue to win.  To be fair, I did move them down to the #3 spot this week after seeing Alabama beat Auburn.  Alabama is without a doubt a better team than Florida State so far this season with a more impressive resume so I felt that move was deserving.

The fourth spot is an interesting one.  I think, right now, realistically, there is only 6 teams fighting for 4 spots.  I cannot see Arizona and Michigan State moving up, even if everyone above them loses.  TCU shot up to #3 by the selection committee, I still have them as my #4.  This could easily change this weekend though.  Let's review a few scenarios:

Scenario 1:  Oregon, Alabama, Florida State, TCU, Baylor, Ohio State all win
Result:  Final Four become UO, Bama, FSU...with the committee deciding between Baylor and TCU.  I would go with Baylor in this instance, committee would likely still take TCU.

Scenario 2:  Oregon, Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State all lose with TCU and Baylor winning
Result:  Florida State stays, TCU and Baylor both move in, Could Ole Miss or Mississippi State claim the final spot over Alabama?  They would actually have a strong argument.  I know I have been hard on Ole Miss all season but in this scenario, it could happen.  I think the committee still takes Alabama but I would actually give Ole Miss a look.  I know they would have 3 losses, which is tough to argue for but they did beat Alabama and Mississippi State.  Could this be the instance were Arizona actually gets the #4 spot?  In this scenario, it's going to be a toss-up.  Alabama could still survive though.  I think Alabama only gets left out in a scenario where everyone win EXCEPT them.  Hmm, what would that look like?

Scenario 3: Everyone win EXCEPT Alabama
Result:  Oregon moves into #1, Florida State #2 and TCU and Baylor probably benefit with both moving into the top 4.  TCU would probably be given the #3 spot and Baylor #4.  In this instance, the debate between the 2 would become mute, perhaps a blessing in disguise for the committee?  Or would this just create a new argument: No SEC team in the playoff?  The apocalypse would reign down!

Scenario 4:  Everyone loses
Result:  Ok TCU losing to Iowa State isnt going to happen, lets keep them in the Top 4.  Florida State would also stay.  Now the big question would be what to do with all the 2 loss teams.  Oregon would be punished for losing both games to Arizona.  Arizona still wouldn't have the resume to beat out the others.  Ole Miss would have wins against Alabama and Mississippi State, probably enough to move up into the playoff.  Baylor would be eliminated due to losses to West Virginia and Kansas State.  The interesting argument would be between Alabama and Ohio State.  I think Alabama would stay Top 4. 

Scenario 5 (What I project will happen):  Oregon, Alabama, TCU, Baylor win with Florida State, Ohio State losing
Result:  Oregon, Alabama stay in the playoff.  Florida State, as a 1-loss team, would stay put as well as the committee will still reward them for their season over other 1-loss teams.  Again, it would come down to Baylor vs. TCU.  In this situation, I think Baylor would get the advantage and the committee would take the H2H win.  I will say if Baylor wants to make the case easier for them, they need to put up style points in their win this weekend, especially at home!

Based on Scenario 4 (my projections), here is how the major bowls would look:

Peach (At-large vs. At-large): Ohio State vs. Ole Miss
Fiesta (At-large vs. At-large): Arizona vs. Boise State
Orange (ACC vs SEC/B1G/ND):  Georgia Tech vs. Michigan State
Cotton (At-large vs. At-large): TCU vs. Wisconsin
Rose (CFB #1 vs. CFB #4): Oregon vs. Baylor
Sugar (CFB #2 vs. CFB #3): Alabama vs. Florida State



On to the Championship Week predictions (spoiled a few above mind you)..

Last Week:  38 - 20 (66%)
Overall:  267 - 104 (72%)

Bit of a disappointing week for me.  Made some upset calls incorrectly.  And was surprised by the upsets that did occur.  Cracked the season loss mark of over 100 games too, that sucks!  Oh well, few thoughts on last weekend:

  • After having almost a perfect Friday night record heading into last week, I got ROCKED by the MAC!  Buffalo, Kent State, Ball State each scored W's I didn't predict.  UCLA let me down as did Virginia.  And what about Marshall?  Playing to go undefeated...wow!
  • Georgia Tech curse gets me again.
  • I have been against Ole Miss all season but they came out and dominated the Egg Bowl.  They deserve that win, my bad on picking against them.  They still have a slight shot at the playoff (with LOTS of help) 
Friday Games

PAC-12 Championship Game
(2) Oregon over (7) Arizona - The Ducks are 1 win away from making the playoff.  After the loss this season to these same Wildcats, at Autzen, the Ducks have to be a bit happy about getting redemption.  A win here will erase that loss and put them possibly into the #1 spot (where I have them ranked).  Arizona has owned the Ducks though.  They have derailed potential championship seasons in the past and would love to do so again.  Can Marcus Mariota finally beat the Wildcats?  If Arizona pulls off the win, and a few other upsets occur, what does the committee do with a 2-loss PAC-12 Champ who beat up a strong Ducks team twice this season?  I think Marcus and company will get it done though.  On to the playoff and this should cement the Heisman for Mariota.

MAC Championship Game
Northern Illinois over Bowling Green - The Huskies are clearly the class of the MAC.  They survived their toughest test last weekend in beating Western Michigan (a game I thought they would lose).  I think that game was almost a de facto MAC title game.  Bowling Green has looked great at times but then has put up a few real stinkers, including the blowout loss to Wisconsin and the loss last week to Ball State.  Hand the Huskies another MAC title!

Saturday Games 

C-USA Championship Game
Marshall over Louisiana Tech - I have been going back and forth on this one.  LA Tech has looked very strong this season.  Marshall is coming off a crushing loss last weekend that ended the undefeated season and possibility of making one of the elite Jan. 1 games.  Will they enter this game deflated and have little passion for the secondary conference championship when all season you were aiming for a major bowl game?

Cincinnati over Houston - We could see a 3-way tie for the American conference title if the Bearcats win here and Memphis takes care of business as well.  UCF survived on Thursday with an epic end of game hail mary to beat ECU.

UCONN over SMU - Even in the final week of the season we get a Pillow fight of the Week matchup.  Stay winless Mustangs.....

(3) TCU over Iowa State - Frogs favored by 34.5 here.  It would be in their best interest to cover the spread and try to tack on as many style points as possible.  They are in a precarious position heading into this weekend's games.  Take care of business though and hope for the best.

(20) Oklahoma over Oklahoma State

SEC Championship Game
(1) Alabama over (16) Missouri - Have to admit, I personally want to see Missouri win this game just to see what the committee will do with a 2-loss SEC champ.  No, Missouri has no chance to make the playoff but would Alabama slip completely out?  What about Ole Miss or Mississippi State?  Could either of them benefit?  A Tigers upset here could really shake up the rankings come Sunday.  Unfortunately I don't think that will happen...back to reality here and another Roll Tide victory.

Temple over Tulane

(6) Baylor over (9) Kansas State - Well this is the big one!  Baylor wins and we ourselves the great debate.  Kansas State wins and hands TCU the Big 12 title and a spot in the playoff (always assuming TCU beats Iowa State).  If this game was at Kansas State, I would actually be inclined to pick the Wildcats, especially based on how Baylor struggled last weekend with a weak Texas Tech team.  However, I think last week was more about Baylor getting caught looking ahead to this week than anything.  They have their sights set on the BIG 12 championship and a playoff spot.  If they win, the debate between Baylor and TCU will continue to be the big topic of discussion with the first year of the playoff.  How do you rate H2H results?  I think Minnesota losing last weekend opened the door for the Bears though.

ACC Championship Game
(11) Georgia Tech over (3) Florida State - Here is the upset..and a change to end my GTech curse on a positive.  FSU has been escaping games as of late but they really have not played as good of a team as Tech all season.  The Jackets are coming off a HUGE road win over rival Georgia as well.  Talk about a confidence boost heading into a conference championship game.  Tech knows they are going to the Orange Bowl regardless of the outcome here.  Can they be the team to finally end the Florida State winning streak?  I don't think FSU is out of the playoff even with the loss but why leave it to chance?  Does FSU have another Houdini escape plan this week or have they used up their 9 lives already?

B1G Championship Game
(13) Wisconsin over (5) Ohio State - Saturday night is going to be where we see some upsets I think.  As FSU is suffering their first loss, the Buckeyes will see their playoff dreams end.  The Badgers are too strong of an offensive team.  With J.T. Barrett out of this game, OSU is going to struggle offensively.  The Buckeyes have just had bad luck at QB this season and will be relying on 3rd strnig QB Cardale Jones to lead them to a championship and possible playoff spot.  But this team wasn't in the playoff even with Barrett, will a championship win with a 3rd string QB help?  They are going to need A LOT of help to see that happen.  I don't think it will matter though as the Badgers will end that debate quickly.  Wisconsin cannot make the playoff but can derail a rival's dream, take another B1G championship home and qualify for one of the elite Jan. 1 bowl games.  I would say that is a lot to play for.  Look for the Badgers to roll in this one.

Mountain West Championship Game 
(22) Boise State over Fresno State - A win and in mentality for the Broncos here.  Boise has quietly put together a very nice 10-2 season.  If they can pull out a MW title Saturday night, they will no doubt be playing on Jan. 1.  They are favored by 23, at home on the Smurf Turf and playing a 6-6 Bulldogs team.  Good thing this is the last game of the weekend, those on the east coast should be able to call it a night by half time.

Enjoy the action this weekend everyone.  I will actually be flying home to spend the weekend with my brother for his 30th birthday and will miss most of the games.  Will be tough to not watch the action but I will rely on my phone for updates.  Besides, family first right?!!!?  Sunday night is going to be monumental in the announcement of the 1st ever #CFBPlayoff...let's make history!

#CIS

Last Week: 1 - 0 (100%)
Overall: 43 - 19 (69%)

Finally a perfect weekend!  Ok so there was only game to chose from but it was the Vanier Cup, Canada's national championship.  Congratulations to the Montreal Carabins on winning their first Vanier Cup.  Again, the Q proves they are the class of the country.  It was nice to see a team other than perennial powerhouse Laval hoist the trophy though.  Not many would have predicted Montreal winning the Vanier Cup at the start of the season so I would call this a bit of an upset....but in a good way.  The success of Mount Allison in the Atlantic, Calgary being upset in Canada West, the rise of Manitoba, Guelph surprising many in Ontario and Montreal dethroning Laval (twice this year!!) are all great story lines heading into the off-season.

#TwineTimeSalute - Jared Janotta, U of Regina
A bit sad to see the CIS career of my cousin come to an end though with a playoff loss in Calgary.  He did have an excellent career though, setting U of R career records for pass reception yards (2579) and pass receptions (191).  Plus he had the opportunity to play in a Hardy Bowl game.  I am excited to see where his future takes him and an confident he will back on the turf playing somewhere again soon!  Much love and respect for you JJ!  #21