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...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Week 9 College Football Recap: Rankings, Heisman, BCS Projections

We had a very interesting week in college football. A few teams are unbeaten no more. The real best teams in the nation rose up, while the overrated pretenders (Oklahoma) showed their true colors. Here is what the national landscape looks like right now:

Top 25

Others receiving votes: Arizona, Louisiana-Monroe, Nevada, South Carolina, TCU, UCLA
Dropped from the rankings: Ohio (18), South Carolina (24)

25. (22) West Virginia (5-2) – That bye week is just what the doctor ordered for the Mountaineers to get their act together for a late-season run.
24. (25) Toledo (8-1) – That season-opening OT loss at Arizona is looking better for the Rockets.
23. (12) Rutgers (7-1) – A classic trap game came up to bite them. I hate how teams schedule cakewalk teams in the middle of conference games.
22. (14) Oklahoma (6-2) – Getting beat by Notre Dame was expected, but getting completely shut down and scored on the way they did…Sooner fans should start to worry.
21. (6) USC (6-2) – That loss at Arizona was discouraging. Just shows that all the flash and stats on offense cannot always lead to wins.
20. (NR) Northern Illinois (8-1) – No team would want to play Jordan Lynch and this high-powered spread attack in a bowl game.
19. (16) Texas Tech (6-2) – They got demoralized by Colin Klein and company early. It happens.
18. (NR) Nebraska (6-2) – The home win against Michigan all but clinched a Big Ten Championship appearance for the Huskers, setting up an inevitable rematch with Wisconsin.
17. (21) Louisiana Tech (7-1) – Like NIU, this team’s offense can score on anyone. They are consistently an exciting watch.
16. (23) Stanford (6-2) – They survived a scare against the upset-minded Cougs to keep their impressive season alive. They are still in control of their destiny in the North.
15. (17) Texas A&M (6-2) – Like many before them, they destroyed Auburn. This team’s offense is scary at times.
14. (11) Mississippi State (7-1) – Everyone gets blown out by the Tide. Nothing to worry about.
13. (7) Oregon State (6-1) – Losing in Seattle is nothing to be ashamed of. Ask Stanford.
12. (19) Clemson (7-1) – Clemson continues to impress offensively, which will be enough to win out in the putrid ACC.
11. (9) LSU (7-1) – The merit of their loss to Florida took a bit of a hit yesterday, but it won’t matter. Expect the Tide to roll all over the Tigers at Death Valley.
10. (13) Boise State (7-1) – This team’s defense is just incredible. If Southwick played half as good in their opening loss to Michigan State, then this team would be busting the BCS again.
9. (15) Louisville (8-0) Their win against Cincy was a great showcase for them. That conference is wide open. It will still come down to the Cardinals and Rutgers, however.
8. (4) Florida (7-1) – Their true offensive colors were shown in their big “neutral” site loss to Georgia. Their defense is still tough, though.
7. (20) Georgia (7-1) – They are still a fraud, but beating the Gators was a big deal for them. If their defense can play like that more often, then they will take that division for sure.
6. (8) Ohio State (9-0) – They just keep winning, and none of us really know why. They are going to be undefeated when they play Michigan to close the season. The Wolverines would love nothing more than to spoil the only thing that the Buckeyes are playing for.
5. (10) Florida State (8-1) – If not for a dreadful 2nd half collapse at NC State, this team would be looking just as dominant as K-State. That win against the Blue Devils was big.
4. (5) Notre Dame (8-0) – They showed Oklahoma and the rest of the nation that this team is absolutely for real on defense and that their young QB is growing up. They can almost coast until they play USC at the Coliseum.
3. (3) Oregon (8-0) – They continue to destroy their opposition, but who knows what they will do if they have to play more than 2 quarters. Maybe USC will finally give them that test.
2. (2) Kansas State (8-0) – This team plays good first halves then just completely dismantles the opponents in the second half. Their BCS resume might be most impressive thus far.
1. (1) Alabama (8-0) – I don’t think I have ever seen a team dominate both sides of the line of scrimmage like this team. One of the most impressive teams I have ever watched. If they lose this season, I will be shocked.

Heisman Trophy Watch

5. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon – His yards per carry and other stats are absurd. If that is what the voters are looking for, then he stands a good chance at winning over at least the West Coast region of voters.
4. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State – Miller is dominating the Big Ten, but not having the luxury of playing during conference championship week might hurt his chances.
3. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama – He just continues to methodically demolish teams by not making mistakes. He will get his votes, but I doubt he could ever win the thing.
2. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame – Another huge game under the national spotlight only furthered his candidacy. Can he be the first defensive Heisman winner in 15 years?
1. Colin Klein, QB, Kansas State – If the Wildcats win out, this will be one of the biggest landslides ever.

BCS Projections

Rose Bowl – Oregon (Pac-12) over Nebraska (Big Ten)
Orange Bowl – Florida State (ACC) over Rutgers (Big East)
Sugar Bowl – Notre Dame (At-large) over Georgia (At-large)
Fiesta Bowl – West Virginia (At-large) over Clemson (At-large)
BCS Title Game – Alabama (SEC) over Kansas State (Big 12)

What do you think? Give me your rankings in the comments!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Week 8 College Football Recap: Rankings, Heisman, BCS Projections

There has been quite a shakeup in the past couple weeks. West Virginia represented one of the National Championship and Heisman favorites, and that is all but dead now. Florida is just taking care of business. Texas apparently has no defense. Notre Dame is struggling to score. It will be an interesting couple weeks coming up. Check out how I break down the national landscape as of right now:

Top 25

Others receiving votes: Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Northern Illinois, TCU, Wisconsin

25. Toledo (7-1) – Their only loss came against a pretty solid Arizona squad in overtime. This team can really score.
24. South Carolina (5-2) – A couple losses in a row, the last one being a beatdown in the Swamp. They get Tennessee at home next week to prevent their team from unraveling.
23. Stanford (5-2) – Their loss to Notre Dame was nothing to be ashamed about. They are still a tough out for anyone.
22. West Virginia (5-2) – A couple straight blowout losses to a couple great teams in obviously the best, deepest conference in America. It happens. Welcome to the Big 12.
21. Louisiana Tech (6-1) – They passed the test against A&M with flying colors, losing on a failed 2-point conversion in the final moments. This team is going to be a scary bowl matchup for a big conference team.
20. Georgia (6-1) – They are such a fraud. Just because they have NFL prospects on defense doesn’t mean that they are great. They almost blew a game against the 1-7 Kentucky Wildcats. Their offense is potent at time, however.
19. Clemson (6-1) – They still cannot stop anyone, but Tajh Boyd is becoming one of the more reliable QB threats in the country.
18. Ohio (7-0) – They are a tough team. Their win against Penn State is looking more and more impressive.
17. Texas A&M (5-2) – They looked incredible for about a quarter against the stout LSU defense. If they can keep that tempo for the duration of their SEC games, they could finally squash that myth about the SEC dominating the sport.
16. Texas Tech (6-1) – They are always a tough home team, but that win at TCU was very impressive, even if their top-ranked D got shredded.
15. Louisville (7-0) – They keep finding ways to win. That conference is going to have a bunch of interesting games in the coming weeks.
14. Oklahoma (5-1) – They are still overrated, but when their running game is clicking, they are scary.
13. Boise State (6-1) – No one wants to give them as much credit as they deserve. They have a top 10 defense and Southwick is finally getting the hang of that offense. That meeting with Nevada is going to be huge again.
12. Rutgers (7-0) – This is the best defense in the nation other than Alabama. They may well run the table and create a little welcomed chaos.
11. Mississippi State (7-0) – I still do not buy in completely, but they are a good team. That second half against Middle Tennessee State was very impressive.
10. Florida State (7-1) – They may slip up another time or two because of immaturity, but their defense is going to keep them from really taking one on the chin.
9. LSU (7-1) – Shutting down that prolific A&M offense was great, but LT scored 57 on the Aggies. You could only manage low 20s? Bama will rape this team.
8. Ohio State (8-0) – They keep finding a way to squeak out wins. They are a fluke, but I can’t see them losing a game this year, even with Miller out for a while. Big Ten is that bad.
7. Oregon State (6-0) – Credit will not be given to this team unless they go unbeaten and beat USC in the Pac-12 Title game. And they still probably won’t play for the BCS Title.
6. USC (6-1) – The Trojans are the only real legitimate chance there is of Oregon getting beaten in the regular season, but I just can’t see that happening this year. The rematch will be a war.
5. Notre Dame (7-0) – Their defense is keeping them in the picture, but they just do not pass the eye test on offense. Neither QB option is good enough to keep up with some of these teams.
4. Florida (7-0) – They have laid the wood on their last two teams, so now they can coast until that inevitable in-state rivalry game and take their best shot at the Tide in the SEC Title game.
3. Oregon (7-0) – They almost seem to be getting better, if that is possible. I can start to see how this team could maybe give Bama a real shot.
2. Kansas State (7-0) – That win in Morgantown was the most impressive win any team has had this year. Shows that they have the athletes on defense to stop even the most prolific of offenses.
1. Alabama (7-0) – What else is there to say? They have potential trap games, so they take it easy and squeak past with a 31 point romp at Tennessee. It’s just not fair.

Heisman Trophy Watch

5. Matt Barkley, QB, USC – He appeared to be out of the race a few weeks ago, but his record-breaking numbers are always something the voters look for. He is playing some of the best football of his career right now.
4. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon – He is better than anyone thought he could have been. He is already potentially the best spread quarterback Oregon has had.
3. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama – He is the most under-the-radar quarterback in the SEC. He hasn’t thrown a pick yet, and it is not all handing the ball off. He is the key to this offense…other than Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack.
2. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame – The voters like awarding undefeated squads. He is just everything for the Irish. His stats match up with the best linebackers in recent years.
1. Colin Klein, QB, Kansas State – There is no doubt who is leading this race at the moment. Add 7 more touchdowns to the ledger and another incredible win. He is passing the ball so much more accurately than anyone thought he could. He is the real deal.

BCS Projections

Rose Bowl – Nebraska (Big Ten) over Oregon State (At-large)
Orange Bowl – Florida State (ACC) over Rutgers (Big East)
Sugar Bowl – Florida (At-large) over Oklahoma (At-large)
Fiesta Bowl – Kansas State (Big 12) over Notre Dame (At-large)
BCS Title Game – Alabama (SEC) over Oregon (Pac-12)

What do you think? Give me your rankings in the comments!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2012 Holiday Madness - Oct. 14

If only...

I have been keeping track of this potential playoff system for a few years now.  I believe it is still the best alternative to the BCS for college football even with the changes that have been happening in conference alignment.  The basics of the system are each of the 11 conferences is given an automatic qualifier into the playoff.  That leaves room for five at large teams determined by the BCS standings which makes a 16 team playoff.  This would especially be helpful for a year like this.  There are so many conferences that are competitive from top to bottom this year (Pac 12, Big 12, Big 10) that the result will most likely be conference play will cause some very quality teams to slip every maybe once.  I think every member of the Big 12 has received votes so far this year in the top 25 with most finding their way into the rankings (with the exception, of course, of the Kansas Rejected Irish).  This system rewards those who win their division (as it should) so more than just the SEC has a shot at winning the title.  It also allows for the Cinderella to have a shot at the title much like March Madness does.  There are more Cinderellas this year with some of the realignment that has been happening and the stronger teams all migrating to the bigger conferences.  (In fact, this system was much more applicable before all this realignment happened, but it still works.)  So without further ado, here is what our conversation could be right now instead of the lousy BCS or even the lame 4-team playoff they are adopting next year.

First four out.

Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma - I hate to say it, but they are close to being in the tournament.  I find them highly overrated, almost as overrated as Landry Jones.  Hopefully, Landry will show his inferiority a few more times this year and lead his team to more losses before some NFL teams will make the mistake by taking him in the top 10 of the draft next year.

USC Trojans
USC - They are the opposites of Oklahoma.  They are highly underrated and still one of the strongest teams in the nation.  Just because they lost to a strong Pac 12 team instead of a strong SEC team, they are in the middle of the one loss team pack instead of at the front.

Louisville CardinalsCincinnati Bearcats
Louisville/Cincinnati - There are three undefeated teams right now in the Big East.  These are the second two of the three teams.  However, if the team ahead of them slips up, look for Louisville or Cincinnati to jump up into the lead in the steadily dying Big East.

Nevada Wolf Pack
Nevada - The title in the Mountain West is going to come down to the Boise St./Nevada game again this year in what has turned into quite a strong rivalry over the last few years.  Boise St. is thought to be the better team now, but anything can happen between these two teams.

Top 16 Teams

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
16.  Western Kentucky (Sun Belt leader).
As the schedule plays out, this will most likely turn out being Louisiana-Monroe or Arkansas St., but for now Western Kentucky tops a conference that is gaining more and more respect each year.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane
15.  Tulsa (C-USA leader).
This conference is filled with a lot of mediocrity so far this year, but Tulsa has made it through non-conference and the start of conference play with a single loss to the recently ranked Iowa St.  However, because of the conference they are similar to Houston last year.  How good can they really be?

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
14.  Louisiana Tech (WAC leader).
This conference is about to fold, however this team was the last hope for non-AQ schools to crack the BCS party this year.  However, a loss to Texas A&M last week knocked them out of the unbeatens.  Here they are battling Texas-San Antonio for a spot in the tournament.  Count on them to wrap up the conference crown and this slot in the tourney after not too many more conference games.

Ohio Bobcats
13.  Ohio (MAC leader).
This is an intriguing team.  They started the year being the team that showed everyone just how far Penn St. had fallen.  Now that they are undefeated halfway through the season and Penn St. has started playing much better, the conversation no one wants to have is maybe the Bobcats are actually good this year.  Besides, a Frank Solich coached team might be the closest I get to having a Cornhusker presence in the tournament.  Needless to say, I'm rooting for them to finish undefeated and get some people talking.

Michigan Wolverines
12.  Michigan (Big Ten leader).
This conference is wide open!  (Well, it's wide open because the Buckeyes are ineligible this year.)  There are literally seven or eight of the ten eligible teams this year that could reasonably pull out this conference title.  Michigan is currently the only one that is ranked after a rough non-conference showing for the conference.  However, they are one of the most underrated teams in the nation.  They have lost two games to the current number one and five teams in the nation.  I think they deserve a little more respect than barely cracking the top 25 not making the BCS at all right now.  Heck, Iowa St. made the BCS standings with the same record for simply competing with a top 5 team.  Michigan deserves a little better than this right now.

Boise State Broncos
11.  Boise St. (MWC leader).
Like I said before, this conference is going to come down to Boise St. and Nevada.  There is really no one else that can compete here.  I would hope that the team that defined the term "BCS-buster" over the last decade can win one more conference title as a little guy before they move to the Big East next year and become a big conference team (if you can still call the Big East a big conference).

Rutgers Scarlet Knights
10.  Rutgers  (Big East leader).
This conference is getting no more respect in any way.  They have lost a lot of strength in recent years, but will be adding Boise St. next year in football.  Also, they currently have 3 undefeated teams left (no other conference can say that) and they all will eliminate each other over the coming weeks to (hopefully) end with one strong undefeated team heading into bowl season just to mess with things.  It's easy to ignore a non-AQ undefeated team, but how do you ignore a BCS conference undefeated team with at least two wins against ranked opponents.  Either way, Rutgers is the favorite right now to come out as that team that could do damage in the tournament.

Florida State Seminoles
9.  Florida St.  (ACC leader).
I honestly think the ACC is getting more credit right now than the Big East is the names in the conference.  Whenever you can talk about Florida St. as a contender it instantly makes your conference sound elite.  Florida St. is once again a very talented team that has already started to show signs of its tendency to underperform down the stretch.  Let's see if they can hold on to their grip of this conference.  It has already started to loosen.

Oregon State Beavers
8.  Oregon St.  (AT LARGE #5).
The team no one wants to talk about.  There is a reason for that.  No one knows anything about them!  No one knows anything about them in their own state!  They are the ultimate under-the-radar team which is exactly how they want to be.  They play boring yet effective football (the exact opposite of their state counterparts).  If they can keep this roll going, it could make for a very interesting Civil War with Oregon this year.  For now, they are the perfect example of how the current system is flawed.  An undefeated Pac 12 team (arguably the strongest conference in the nation) is behind two one loss teams simply because of past conference prestige.  Under no circumstances would the Beavers ever be considered for the National Championship game, even with an undefeated record with wins against USC and Oregon.  Why?  They weren't supposed to be good.  We would have another all-SEC matchup with a one loss Florida, LSU, or South Carolina far before Oregon St. ever even got considered.  What a shame.  At least they would get an opportunity to prove themselves here.

South Carolina Gamecocks
7.  South Carolina  (AT LARGE #4).
It is a shame this team lost last week.  They are one of the scarier teams out there.  They have a coach that knows the passing game better than most that has built a team on running and defense.  They have two of the most dynamic freak athletes in college football right now in Lattimore and Clowney.  If they were to get a shot in something like this, they would have to be considered a dark horse to take the whole thing.

LSU Tigers
6.  LSU  (AT LARGE #3).
This is the team that just won't go away.  There were thoughts that maybe this year they would have a down year.  They barely squeaked by FCS Towson.  Then they go out and slay the Gamecock dragon.  Les Miles will not allow us to forget about his team.  Don't be surprised if they pull off a couple more unexpected wins and find themselves back in the discussion for the top two spots by the end of the year.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
5.  Notre Dame  (AT LARGE #2).
OK OK OK... I guess it finally looks like the Irish are back.  They finally did something smart and hired a proven college head coach and look what happens.  They are relevant again!  Their defense is one of the best around, and if they can emerge from their crazy tough schedule unscathed they will be ones to be reckoned with come January.

Kansas State Wildcats
4.  Kansas St.  (Big 12 leader).
Can we just hand the Heisman to Collin Klein now?  Geno Smith could compete for it too, but if Kansas St. beats West Virginia this week (which should be easy since West Virginia has no defense).  He is the single most important player to his team's success.  If he can will his team to an undefeated season (which he almost did last year) they deserve a shot at the top prize after going through the toughest conference in the nation.  Do you realize they are still undefeated in a conference that only has one team with a losing record?!?

Oregon Ducks
3.  Oregon  (Pac 12 leader).
It is seriously a crime that they are 3rd instead of 2nd.  Obviously the only reason they are 3rd instead of second is the fact that all the voters are in bed by the time Oregon plays.  They are such a complete team with freak athletes all over the field.  They are a couple freak plays away from defeating two SEC teams over the last few years (Auburn in the National Championship, LSU in the opening game of last year).  Eventually one of these SEC teams above them will fall, and hopefully the polls will be smart enough to bump Oregon back up, especially if Oregon St. comes into the Civil War undefeated also.  A win over a top 5 or 10 opponent at that time better be enough to get them in the top two.  In this system, they get their crack to prove themselves once again.

Florida Gators
2.  Florida  (AT LARGE #1).
I know they beat LSU, but these guys don't belong here.  In fact, with as top heavy as the SEC is, I would be surprised if they find themselves in one of the five at large spots at the end of the season.  (There is no way three SEC teams are getting at large bids at the end of the year.  If they do, the system is more broken than I thought.)  It is nice that the Gators are getting to point of being relevant again, but it really shouldn't last long this year at least.

Alabama Crimson Tide
1.  Alabama  (SEC leader).
This is a no-brainer.  No team really comes close to how strong the Tide are.  They could probably compete with several NFL teams.  The biggest shock of the season would be if Bama doesn't end the year undefeated.

Potential First Round Match-ups

Western Kentucky HilltoppersAlabama Crimson Tide
# 16 Western Kentucky at # 1 Alabama
This would probably be a laugher.  However, that's why we play the game.

Florida State SeminolesOregon State Beavers
# 9 Florida St. at # 8 Oregon St.
This would be such an interesting match-up.  Everyone would pick Florida St. because no one gives any respect to Oregon St.  I am just completely fascinated by the idea of the Seminoles going to Corvallis to play.

Ohio BobcatsKansas State Wildcats
# 13 Ohio at # 4 Kansas St.
These two teams are scarily alike.  Tyler Tettleton is a poor man's Collin Klein as they both play a very similar game.  Kansas St. does it better, but I would not want to be the team that wants to play Ohio.

Michigan WolverinesNotre Dame Fighting Irish
# 12 Michigan at # 5 Notre Dame
The unfortunate rematch sometimes pops up.  When you have a dynamic player like Denard Robinson, it is very possible that a second shot at a team could lead to a different outcome.  The first game was pretty close.

Louisiana Tech BulldogsOregon Ducks
# 14 Louisiana Tech at # 3 Oregon
Tech could be a scary team in a tournament like this, but not facing Oregon right away.  Oregon is just too good.

Boise State BroncosLSU Tigers
# 11 Boise St. at # 6 LSU
Smash-mouth football meets the master of trickeration.  Boise St.'s talent level has fallen from what we have been used to, however their defense is still pretty strong.  When two talented defenses meet, it is just a matter of who can break the big play on offense to make the difference.

Tulsa Golden HurricaneFlorida Gators
# 15 Tulsa at # 2 Florida
The Gators are overrated, but they should be able to beat Tulsa.

Rutgers Scarlet KnightsSouth Carolina Gamecocks
# 10 Rutgers at # 7 South Carolina
The Gamecocks should be able to handle Rutgers, but Rutgers has already taken down one SEC power this year.  So you never know.

I have said it once and I will say it again, MAN I LOVE BEING A TURTLE!!!  Sorry, I got carried away...  Wouldn't it be better to be debating the Holiday Madness tournament than how likely no one but the SEC will have a shot at the National Championship again this year?  I think so...