Saturday, September 02, 2006

College Predictions: Week 0

Why is this Week 0? Because, the NFL starts next week, and it would be really confusing to have Week 2 of college football at the same time as Week 1 of the NFL. So, I'll borrow a page from Texas high school football. The UIL gives high schools here 11 weeks to play 10 games. This weekend is the one that was added to the schedule, so they call it 0 Week.

I'm going to pick 20 games every week. I'll pick every game in the Big XII Conference, plus other games I deem appropriate.

This week's lineup of Big XII games is really bad. It's all about the money.

North Texas at Texas: Texas
Louisiana Tech at Nebraska: Huskers
Montana State at Colorado: Colorado
SMU at Texas Tech: Texas Tech
The Citadel at Texas A&M: A&M
Missouri State at Oklahoma State: OSU
Murray State at Missouri: Missouri
Northwestern State at Kansas: KU
Illinois State at Kansas State: K-State
TCU at Baylor: Game of the week in the Big XII. I'll take TCU straight up.
Northern Illinois at Ohio State: TOSU, but it'll be closer than anyone expects. NIU is not bad.
Akron at Penn State: Penn State, but it'll be close, also.
Cal at Tennessee: Best game of the week. Cal is just too good for the Vols, even in Knoxville. Pick: Cal
USC at Arkansas: The Hogs will keep it respectable, but will come up short. Pick: USC
Vanderbilt at Michigan: Michigan
Rutgers at North Carolina: Tough pick. Rutgers
Notre Dame at Georgia Tech: Upset city in the George O'Leary Bowl. The Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech.
Houston at Rice: U of H
Grambling vs. Hampton: Grambling

Friday, September 01, 2006

Patrick Cobbs Update

Patrick Cobbs, of Tecumseh High School and the University of North Texas, has been traded by the New England Patriots to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

From this corner, it looks like he's going to make the team, as the Steelers would be silly to trade a low-round draft pick on someone only to put them on the practice squad.

From the black and gold of Tecumseh to the black and gold of Pittsburgh...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Projections: C-USA

Why am I doing projections on Conference USA? It's a local Division I-A conference. The quality of play here is not as high across the board, but it was highly competitive last year in the first year of its new configuration. The better teams here in a given year can compete in a BCS league from year to year, and the lower-level teams have to question their ability to compete at this level. All of these schools would like to be in a better league. But, they are where they are, and are trying to make the best of it.

In the East, Memphis is now the top dog. Location is the only thing that kept them out of the Big East last year, and they are now a higher-rung program in C-USA. They have a home game with UCF, which will decide the division champion.

In the West, I am projecting a three-way tie at the top between Houston, Tulsa, and UTEP. The Cougars will have wins over both Tulsa and UTEP, giving them the division championship and a trip to Memphis on December 1 to take on the Tigers in the C-USA championship game.

Memphis 9-3 7-1
UCF 9-3 6-2
Southern Miss 6-6 5-3
UAB 4-8 2-6
East Carolina 2-10 2-6
Marshall 2-10 1-7

Houston 9-3 6-2
Tulsa 8-4 6-2
UTEP 7-5 6-2
SMU 7-5 5-3
Tulane 2-10 1-7
Rice 1-11 1-7

This conference has seven bowl contracts. So, that's who's going to all these new bowls! C-USA has contracts with the Liberty Bowl (champion), GMAC (Mobile), Birmingham, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces (Fort Worth), Hawaii, New Orleans, and Texas (Houston) Bowls. I'm all over that Birmingham Bowl. :-) Is Hattiesburg going to have a bowl next year?

Seriously, SMU looks to return to a bowl for the first time since the Death Penalty in 1989. The new C-USA has been good for the Ponies, and maybe they shouldn't give up football, as the Old Gray Wolf on The Ticket in Dallas likes to say they should.

Tulane won't be going to a bowl this year, but, at this point, one year after Katrina, they are glad to have a university, and for them to have a football program is icing on the cake. They will play home games in the remodeled Superdome this year. That is an improvement on last year's hurricane-induced schedule of 11 games in 11 different locations, while bunking in an old dorm at Louisiana Tech in Ruston. They shouldn't give up football just yet.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Projections: Mountain West

The best and most competitive of the non-BCS conferences has traditionally been the Mountain West. This is where Utah became the only non-BCS school to crash the BCS party, with their undefeated season in 2004 and win over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl.

TCU came into the Mountain West with a bang last season, with only an embarrassing loss at rival SMU keeping it from an undefeated season. The rest of the conference had a hard time dealing with the speed of TCU, and coach Fisher DeBerry unintentionally made a racial issue out of it, as he addressed recruiting in the conference last year. TCU will take advantage of its location in the Metroplex to establish itself as a traditional power in its new league. The Frogs have two grudge matches this season with former Southwest Conference rivals Baylor and Texas Tech. I project the Frogs to win both games.

However, the Frogs have to travel to Salt Lake City. The Utes of Utah will be good again this season, and will hand the Frogs their only loss. The Utes will be forced to settle for a tie for the conference championship, as they will lose in Albuquerque to Los Lobos de Nuevo Mexico.

TCU 11-1 7-1
Utah 10-2 7-1
BYU 7-5 5-3
New Mexico 8-4 4-4
San Diego St 6-6 3-5
Wyoming 5-7 3-5
Colorado St 4-8 3-5
Air Force 3-9 3-5
UNLV 3-9 1-7

Back on Saturdays: The Mountain West enters the first year of its new TV contract with CSTV. The schools quickly tired of prostituting themselves for exposure by playing Thursday and Friday night games on ESPN. The Worldwide Leader In Sports wanted to pay less for the new contract, and schedule more games on Thursdays and Fridays. Enter upstart cable channel CSTV. They offered the conference more money, and marquee status on their network. The league will no longer play those Thursday night games on ESPN or ESPN2. CSTV, now a division of CBS, later added some reach for their prime MWC games by placing them on OLN (soon to be Versus). The conference will lose some of the exposure they had on ESPN, but will be fine financially, and will regain a little bit of dignity. Good for them.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Projections: Pac-10

The self-proclaimed Conference of Champions appears to be in the mix for a championship again this year.

The USC Trojans lose a lot of talent after their run of the last three years. However, they have plenty of talent coming in. They will not be as good as they have been recently, but I only see one team on their schedule that can beat them. Props to them for scheduling Arkansas and Nebraska in non-conference, but the Pigs can't hang with them, and Nebraska will be improved, but unable to beat the Trojans in LA. That leaves Cal as the only team in the conference that can beat them. That game will be in November at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Cal will be very good. They will beat the Big Orange in Knoxville, and run the table until they hit Los Angeles in November. I see them losing only one game: at USC.

USC 12-0 9-0
California 11-1 8-1
Oregon 8-4 6-3
Arizona State 8-4 5-4
Arizona 8-4 5-4
UCLA 8-4 5-4
Oregon State 7-6 3-6
Washington 4-8 3-6
Stanford 4-8 2-7
Washington St 3-9 1-8

The Pac-10 is introducing a novel concept: a total round-robin. With the NCAA's approval of the 12th game, the conference schools have decided to make that 12th game a 9th conference game. Everyone will play each other. There will be no freak accidents, such as a tie between undefeated teams. It makes competitive sense, but it also makes financial sense, as it is more cost-effective to play other conference teams every year than to schedule cross-country trips to play worthy non-conference foes. Ultimately, it is also more cost-effective to play a conference game than to schedule another body-bag game against the likes of Idaho, with the rise in guaranteed payouts for non-conference games.