Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What to Watch, Week 12

Whiffed on mentioning the importance of the Ohio-Temple game last night. Temple's loss looms large as they must beat Miami (OH) next week to win the MAC East.

As we head into the week, there are 54 bowl eligible teams to fill 70 slots. One more is likely to be filled by Texas Tech, who at five wins has a game with FCS member Weber St. BYU likely needs to win this week vs. New Mexico to get win #6 as their final game is against Utah, which looks less stronger by the week. Notre Dame can also get win #6 vs. Army this week, putting all three independent teams in the eligible column. And at some point, a Sun Belt team will be bowl eligible. Might not be this week as Troy, the Sun Belt's only team with five wins, visits South Carolina. Let's not forget that USC is not eligible for any bowls despite seven wins.
Running down the schedule, I do not see any matchups of five win teams, so I don't see any situations where the winner goes bowling and the loser needs a win. I suppose we'll see some of those next week.

I do wonder though if a school like Virginia or Arizona St. could get to 6-6 with two wins against FCS teams and go bowling because they are needed to fill a slot.

Here's the rest of the week:

Only game worth mentioning is Fresno St.'s visit to Boise St. on Friday night (ESPN2, 9:30pm). The Broncos may have pushed themselves into the driver's seat should Oregon or Auburn stumble. The Bulldogs gave Nevada all they could handle late last Saturday, holding the Wolf Pack to 150 total yards below their average offense output coming into the game. Boise has only been slowed down twice this year, and what I mean with "slowed down" is that they were held under 40 points.

Wisconsin at Michigan seems like it might be a shootout of sorts (ESPN, 12pm), or at least somewhat one-side. Badgers coach Bret Bielema is still be criticized for a perceived lack of compassion for Indiana by dropping 83 on them, including passing late in the game. Michigan's defense is ripe for the pickings and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Badgers do it again. And I agree with Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel as to why you might run up the score. Fact is, margin of victory isn't in the BCS formula, so the only way you can get style points is with the human voters and scoring is one way to do so. I do believe though that 83 was about 20 too many.

Keep an eye on the two Big East games at 12pm (Pitt vs. USF on ESPN2, WVU at Louisville on Big East/Gameplan) because someone has to win that conference. NC State's visit to Chapel Hill (ACC Network, 12pm) critical for the Wolfpack's chances at the ACC as they control their destiny in the ACC Atlantic. Tune in briefly for Oklahoma St. at Kansas (FSN, 12pm) just in case the Jayhawks show up. Otherwise its likely Bedlam for the Big 12 South title.

Now for a brief foray into the land of the FCS as this week is their final regular season week before their newly expanded playoffs start. The Northeast and Big South conferences now have an automatic bid and the at-large bids have also increased by two, making this a 20 team field. Villanova at Delaware (Comcast Sports, 12pm) could determine whether Villanova has a shot at an at-large bid to defend their championship. Montana St.'s visit to Montana (KPAX/Altitude 2, 2pm) will have some bearing on the Big Sky's auto bid. Chattanooga at Wofford (SportSouth, 3pm) will help determine the SoCon's auto bid and whether the Mocs are worthy of an at-large berth. And it's win-and-in for Stephen F. Austin and the Southland's auto bid if they can get past Northwestern St. (Southland TV, 3pm).

Back to the FBS, Ohio St. at Iowa is the marquee mid-afternoon contest (ABC, 3:30pm). The Hawkeyes need a ton of help to climb back in the Big Ten race and even then, a shot at the Rose Bowl is slim. But they can play spoiler to the Buckeyes, who let Penn St. hang around for about 2 1/2 quarters before flipping the switch. Buckeyes will need four quarters of concentration or Michigan St. could end up in the driver's seat for the Big Ten title.
Virginia Tech at Miami (FL) (ESPN, 3:30pm) has a simple prize for the Hokies: Win and punch the ticket for Charlotte. Lose and prepare for a Virginia team that has nothing to lose. Jacory Harris is not cleared to return to action yet, so expect Stephen Morris to continue as the starter. And expect the Hokies defense to turn up the heat.

Catch the novelty of a pair of games being played at MLB stadiums. Tune into ESPNU at 3:30pm to catch the novelty of a college football game at Wrigley Field as Northwestern hosts Illinois. Illinois could get bowl eligible too. And Notre Dame "hosts" Army at Yankee Stadium (NBC, 7pm).

To start the evening, check in on a pair of games. One, Arkansas at Mississippi St. (ESPN, 7pm), is strictly for bowl positioning as the winner has a line of the Cotton Bowl berth. But its also a matchup of two Top 25 teams, something that can't go unnoticed. The Connecticut-Syracuse game (ESPNU, 7pm) also figures in to the Big East race. SU can finish 5-2 in conference and would likely be locked into a finish no worse than 2nd and a chance at the Champs Sports or Meineke Car Care bowl games. UConn, like virtually every team in the conference, has a shot to win out and grab the BCS berth. Every game from here on out in the Big East is an elimination game.

Two games in the Big 12 with a direct correlation are both at 8pm. Nebraska can clinch the Big 12 North with a win at Texas A&M (ABC, 8pm) and, if Oklahoma beats Baylor (ESPN2, 8pm), the Bedlam game would determine the Big 12 South. If the Cowboys win and Oklahoma loses, Oklahoma St. wins the Big 12 South. And for the death scenario: If A&M wins out, Oklahoma beats Baylor and Oklahoma St., assuming OK State beats Kansas, we go back to the dreaded tiebreaker system that was used to determine the Big 12 South a few years ago. Heaven forbid that it would fall to who is highest in the BCS standings.

Florida St. visits College Park and both FSU and Maryland have a shot at the ACC Atlantic (ABC, 8pm). FSU is in the driver's seat right now, ahead in the win column, but doesn't control its own destiny; Maryland and NC State do. If the 'Noles win, they'll need the Terps to bounce back vs. NC State the following week. A 'Noles loss makes the NC State-Maryland game a winner-takes-all contest in the Coastal.

Final game to peek in on is Utah visiting San Diego St. (The mtn., 10pm). Utah has looked dreadful the past two weeks, while San Diego St. is continuing to impress and could be 9-1 instead of 7-3 if it weren't for a late TD loss at Missouri and replay issues at BYU regarding a lost fumble that was called incorrectly. SDSU didn't lie down vs. TCU and has a great chance at playing at home in the Poinsettia Bowl if they win out. Utah needs to get itself together fast. A free fall from 8-0 to 8-3 is never good, particularly with a trip to BYU coming in the final matchup between those two schools as members of the same conference.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

FYI, Temple cannot win the MAC East. It is mathematically between Ohio and Miami.

If Miami loses to either Akron (unlikely) or Temple, OR Ohio beats Kent State, Ohio wins the division.