Monday, October 29, 2012

2012 Holiday Madness - Oct. 28

I said it once, I'll say it again.  If only...

Wouldn't it be great to be arguing about a 16-team playoff instead of how stupid the system we have is?  We were waiting for chaos to happen, and it happened this week.  Last week, not much happened.  Everyone won that was supposed to win.  This week, that most certainly did not happen.  Two weeks ago, there were 11 undefeated teams.  Last week, only one lost (Cincinnati).  This week, we are down to 5 undefeated teams.  Half of them lost on Saturday, and only one (Mississippi St.) was to another undefeated.  There were upsets all over the place.  One problem with so many teams getting upset is all the SEC teams have risen back to the top.  Hopefully, they will start to weed each other out again, but right now four of the five at large bids are going to SEC teams.  There are some quality teams there, but honestly?!?  Five of the top eight teams in the nation?!?  I'm not buying it.  With that said, here are the standings.

First Four Out.

Oregon State Beavers
Oregon St. - Their loss to Washington knocked them out of the undefeated ranks and the top 16.  If they keep winning, they will be back in the next week or two as the SEC teams continue to play each other.

Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma - They would have been in the mix last week, but then they lost again.  I still think they are extremely overrated, but with their only two losses being to the number two and three teams in the nation, you have to understand their ranking.

Clemson Tigers
Clemson - With only one loss to Florida St., the Tigers have a strong team and could sneak up the rankings as the season starts to wind down.

Stanford Cardinal
Stanford - They have the best shot out of the two loss teams right now of getting into the playoff.  With two games coming up against Oregon and Oregon St., they could quickly improve their rankings and hop up into the conversation.

Top 16 Teams

Tulsa Golden Hurricane
16.  Tulsa  (C-USA leader).
They are working their way to a showdown against UCF in a couple weeks as the only two teams undefeated in conference right now.  They have a tough challenge next week against Arkansas, but could solidify their argument for deserving to be in the conversation with a big win against the Razorbacks.

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks
15.  Louisiana-Monroe  (Sun Belt leader).
They are the only Sun Belt team left undefeated in conference, and their only losses are against big conference teams Auburn and Baylor in really close games.  They may always be remembered for their win against Arkansas to start the year, but could easily drop out of this automatic bid spot with three teams only one game back.  Watch for their game in a couple weeks against Arkansas St. to have a lot of influence on this spot.

Northern Illinois Huskies
14.  Northern Illinois  (MAC leader).
This may be the most fascinating race still out there.  With one loss, Ohio went from being a top 25 team and a potential BCS buster to middle of the pack in the MAC.  There are still 3 teams that are undefeated in conference: Toledo who just beat Cincinnati last week and have only one loss to an Arizona team that is looking better and better, Kent St. who has only one loss to Kentucky and has a big showdown with Ohio to end their season, and Northern Illinois who lost to Iowa by one point to start the year and have one of the most explosive offenses in the nation.  There are also three teams with only one loss including Ohio and Miami (OH) who just beat the Bobcats.  It will be interesting to see how this pans out, but I think the Huskies will rise to the top.  Watch for their showdown in a couple weeks with Toledo to decide a lot (not to mention it will be a fun game).

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
13.  Louisiana Tech  (WAC leader).
In a conference with not much competition, Tech has managed to show they belong at the top.  With only one loss in a shootout to Texas A&M by two points, they have joined Boise St. as the only non-BCS schools in the top 25.  With as much respect as they have, they could have a stumbling block coming up in the form of the other Aggies: Utah St. who are the only other WAC team still undefeated in conference.

Nebraska Cornhuskers
12.  Nebraska  (Big Ten leader).
You have no idea how happy it makes me that they are in this conversation.  As much of a Husker fan that I am, it is also sad that the best team in the conference is not able to be a part of this.  Ohio St. is the obvious class of the conference that is getting disrespected more than anyone right now.  I think they are getting disrespected because Ohio St. and Penn St. are forced out of the conversation.  Nebraska has two losses to an undefeated Buckeye team in Columbus and a hot (at the time) UCLA team in Pasadena.  Michigan has lost three, two of which were to two of the top three teams in the nation and the third was against the Huskers with Denard not playing the last two and a half quarters.  Northwestern only has two losses to Penn St., who is looking stronger and stronger each week, and the Huskers by a point.  Penn St., after a couple early losses, have been gaining momentum with only one conference loss to the Buckeyes.  Lastly, Wisconsin has three losses to Oregon St. in Corvallis, Nebraska in Lincoln, and a streaky Michigan St. team on a last second play.  They are beating each other up just like every other conference, but no one is giving them any respect.  At least Nebraska earned their way back into the top 25.  They still have a few potential stumbling blocks coming up, but they are far and away the favorite to end up in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl to probably play Oregon.  Won't that be fun!!!

Boise State Broncos
11.  Boise St.  (MWC leader).
After their early loss to Michigan St., they have once again found their stride.  Barring another heart breaking loss to Nevada, they should win this conference easily.

Louisville Cardinals
10.  Louisville  (Big East leader).
Two weeks ago, there were three undefeated Big East teams.  Now there is one.  However, Louisville does not have this in the bag.  Rutgers one loss was out of conference, and they end the season facing off.  That game will most likely be a Big East Championship game.

Florida State Seminoles
9.  Florida St.  (ACC leader).
Everyone is always quick to jump on the Seminole band wagon.  I think they are very similar to Oklahoma; greatly talented but under-perform.  The difference between the Seminoles and Sooners is the strength of schedule and conference.  Florida St. has one more test to pass as the end the year with Florida.  However, no matter what happens in that game they should have this spot in hand since the Gators are a non-conference game so Clemson can't catch back up.  So they are practically a lock for the ACC Championship game where they will play either Duke, North Carolina, or Miami.  In other words, they are a lock for the ACC champion.

South Carolina Gamecocks
8.  South Carolina  (AT LARGE #5).
They have the two losses to Florida and LSU, but expect more with Lattimore out.  Losing him to that freak knee injury takes the Gamecocks from an elite team to a very good team much like it did last year.  They will lose probably one more to Clemson to knock them out of this conversation.  It is a joke that they as a two-loss team are ranked higher than some of the one-loss teams.  I don't care who they lost to.  I can't say it enough, but how was Michigan barely making the top 25 with two top 5 losses and South Carolina is 8th with two top 5 losses and losing their best player?  Again, the SEC bias is ridiculous ... understandable at times, but ridiculous.  This spot belongs to Oregon St. even after the loss.

Florida Gators
7.  Florida  (AT LARGE #4).
All I could think while I watched the Florida/Georgia game Saturday, which resulted in the first loss of the season for the Gators, was "THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!!!"  Gotta love Dennis Green.  Florida shot themselves in the foot over and over again and played the sloppiest game of any team any prognosticators still think is worthy of being a championship contender.  With that said, they only have one game left that is a potential loss which is against Florida St.  Two of their final three games are cupcakes.  What was that about a strong SEC schedule?

Georgia Bulldogs
6.  Georgia  (AT LARGE #3).
Their win against Florida put them back in the discussion after they were crushed by South Carolina.  They also have the easiest schedule of any SEC team I have ever seen.  Outside of Florida and South Carolina, they don't play anyone.  Georgia Tech is the best team they have left and one of the best teams they played outside of those two.  They still could be dangerous, but their schedule isn't worth the "SEC strong" moniker.

LSU Tigers
5.  LSU  (AT LARGE #2).
They just find ways to win.  It is never pretty, but it just seems to happen.  They actually have an insane schedule with their next two games against Alabama and Mississippi St.  This will most likely be a two loss team and might be a three loss team when all is said and done (and most likely still be a top 10 team with three losses).  Can you tell I don't like the SEC?

Oregon Ducks
4.  Oregon  (Pac-12 leader).
My gut reaction after seeing that the Ducks have been passed up for a third time after demolishing yet another opponent was utter disgust at yet another flaw in the system.  Oregon is (to me) the second best team in the nation.  They have freak athletes and a dominating team all around.  Then I took time to think about who passed them up, and all of them (outside of Florida) deserve that spot too.  Hopefully things will work itself out so we only have two undefeated teams at the end, but chances are the Ducks only reward this year will be a Rose Bowl appearance against the Huskers (and you have no idea how excited I am at the prospect of this).  However, in this system they would get a shot just like the next team.  All them being 4th means is they have a slightly better opponent in the first round.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
3.  Notre Dame  (AT LARGE #1).
They are probably the grittiest team at the top.  Every game seems to be a dog fight which makes them battle tested.  In a tournament like this, that experience can go a long way.  Now the only problem I have is they need to join a conference so they don't take up one of the at large spots.

Kansas State Wildcats
2.  Kansas St.  (Big 12 leader).
Collin Klein.  Do I need to say more?  Actually, yes.  They have an outstanding defense, and all of Optimus Klein's complementary pieces on offense are stellar and highly underrated because of how good Klein has been.  They definitely deserve to be in that number two slot right now.

Alabama Crimson Tide
1.  Alabama  (SEC leader).
This team just keeps looking better.  They have a strong schedule and have dominated all the big challenges. They have four more big challenges in LSU, Texas A&M, the rivalry game against Auburn, and an SEC Championship game against either Florida or Georgia.  If they play the way they have been, they will be fine and go undefeated as one of the greatest teams of all time.  It is so much better than last year when they were a defense and a running back.  They have a running game, AJ McCarron has given them a passing game, and the defense is just as strong as last year.  College teams shouldn't be this good.

Potential First Round Matchups

Tulsa Golden HurricaneAlabama Crimson Tide
#16 Tulsa at #1 Alabama
Again, Alabama should win this in a laugher.  However, with as good as each team is in this tournament, even a team like Tulsa is too good to look past.

Florida State SeminolesSouth Carolina Gamecocks
#9 Florida St. at #8 South Carolina
The Gamecocks minus Lattimore can give Florida St. a tough game, but will most likely come up short against the overrated Seminoles unless Clowney lives on top of EJ Manuel.

Louisiana Tech BulldogsOregon Ducks
#13 Louisiana Tech at #4 Oregon
They are both different ranks, but end up playing each other again.  The Ducks have killed everyone, and Tech is good but not as good as some of the teams they have already destroyed.

Nebraska CornhuskersLSU Tigers
#12 Nebraska at #5 LSU
As much as I would love to say the Huskers could pull that trademark 5/12 upset of the Tigers, I don't know if the T-Magic could survive the stout LSU defense.  It would be a fun game to watch though.

Northern Illinois HuskiesNotre Dame Fighting Irish
#14 Northern Illinois at #3 Notre Dame
It would be fun to see the Irish defense match up against the explosive Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois.  Notre Dame should pull off the win, but it would be a fun matchup.

Boise State BroncosGeorgia Bulldogs
#11 Boise St. at #6 Georgia
They did it last year.  Why couldn't the Broncos beat down the Bulldogs again?  Each week Boise St. gets closer to looking like the Boise St. we are used to seeing, and by the end of the year they should be there.  However, Aaron Murray is much better now than he was at the start of last year.  It would be a fun game.

Louisiana-Monroe WarhawksKansas State Wildcats
#15 Louisiana-Monroe at #2 Kansas St.
Louisiana-Monroe has taken on a reputation of a giant killer, but so has Kansas St.  Collin Klein and Kolton Browning are very similar player in that they will their teams to victory on a regular basis.  It would be an interesting matchup between two similar teams.

Louisville CardinalsFlorida Gators
#10 Louisville at #7 Florida
Louisville is still undefeated, and I would like to think an undefeated Big East team could compete in a tournament like this, but could they beat the Gators?  I am not quite sure...

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