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NCAA Football Round-Up Week 6
by Brian Miller (NCAA Football)
Posted on October 16, 2009, 10:45 PM

Same group of guys; another week of college football to evaluate; you already know the deal. And both Andrew and T.Cow display a lack of reading comprehension. Just a note that the rankings below were compiled before this weekdayís games.

Rank Team (First Place Votes)

1. Alabama (2)
2. Florida (1)
3. Texas
4. Cincinnati
5. Virginia Tech
6. USC
7. Boise State
8. Ohio State
9. Miami
10. Iowa
11. TCU
12. Kansas
13. Oregon
14. LSU
15. South Florida
16. Nebraska
17. BYU
18. South Carolina
19. Georgia Tech
20. Penn State
21. Utah
22. Houston
23. Oklahoma State
24. Wisconsin
25. Pitt

Brian: We are now almost exactly halfway through the season with everyone of note having played at least five games. I want you two to make your predictions for the rest of the season, try to figure out how that effects both the pollsters and the computers and tell us which two teams make the National Championship game and what their path is to get there.

Andrew: ACC- Virginia Tech has the Coastal won, even if they lose to Georgia Tech this weekend (which I donít think they do) for Miami or the Yellow Jackets to win would require a second Hokie loss or all three teams to unbeaten the rest of the year. Neither scenario seems totally likely. From there the Hokies beat Clemson, Wake Forest, or Boston College. If not itíd be a massive upset and what makes things massive upsets is that theyíre so highly unlikely to begin with nobody thinks itíll happen, so Hokies win there.
Big East- Cincinnati wins it, West Virginia either finishes second or ties for first and Cincy holds tiebreaker.
Big 12- Winner of Red River Shootout wins South, snap judgment says Texas. Nebraska wins the North. Texas wins conference.
Big Ten- 3-4 strong defenses and inconsistent offenses means itís last man standing and my pick is for Ohio State to hold on. Although right now Iím picking Penn State to beat them in Happy Valley with the difference being the Buckeyes beating the Hawkeyes and Iowa, Wisconsin, and Penn State knocking each other out along the way.
Pac 10- Just saying to Thang the other day how in my opinion top to bottom the best parity outside of Wazzu in the nation is the Pac 10 right now where 7-8 teams can beat each other at a 50/50 rate every week. That said, there is a reason I said 7-8 and thatís because USC has above and beyond shown themselves to be a team that is in the driverís seat in the final weeks every year.
SEC- Florida rolls through the East, the second place team (South Carolina) still with 3-4 conference losses. Alabama wins the West barring injury to Greg McElroy (Iíve seen Star Jackson throw and trust me, few if any players are right now more pivotal to a contending offenseís success than McElroy) relatively safely as well.
Non-BCS- *Notre Dame loses to Stanford and USC, playing themselves out of the BCS or on the very cusp.
*Houston slips up again, perhaps in the conference title game, to cost themselves (total body of work deserving or not) the votes needed for the BCS.
*TCU loses one of the three big games left vs. Utah, BYU, or even if they look ahead to BYU this weekend to Steve Fairchildís good Colorado State team, finishes 11-1- and body of work, prior accomplishments, fair or not will keep them out of the BCS with Miami, Nebraska, or Notre Dame holding similar records. BYU drops decision to Utah to play themselves out of the BCS. Utahís sputtering offense slips one key game- perhaps TCU- to play themselves out of the BCS as well.
*Boise State runs the gauntlet to 12-0.

Conference Title Games- Virginia Tech over Boston College in the ACC, Texas over Nebraska in the Big 12, Southern Miss over Houston in C-USA, Central Michigan over Ohio in the MAC, and Florida beating Alabama again in the SEC.

BCS Picks-
Florida (12-1)
Alabama (12-1)
Virginia Tech (12-1)
Texas (13-0)- if they get through this weekend, the only real team that should beat them are themselves.
Cincinnati (11-1)
USC (10-2)
Ohio State (10-2)
Boise State (12-0)
Miami (11-1)
Notre Dame (9-3)...one of these things is not like the others...

BCS Title Game- Florida d. Texas
Sugar Bowl- Alabama d. Cincinnati
Rose Bowl- Ohio State d. USC
Orange Bowl- Virginia Tech d. Boise State
Fiesta Bowl- Miami d. Notre Dame

All in one overthinking manís opinion.

T.Cow: Oh boy, here we go (subject to laughter and ridicule at the end of the season)

-ACC: VT wins the Coastal despite losing this weekend. Iíve been really impressed with the Wake offense lately. Skinner seems to have it going so Iíll have them take the Atlantic, but the Hokies should win the championship game again.
-Big East: Cincy all the way, and this was before Thursdayís game. The only threat is the season finale at Pitt, but theyíll go undefeated.
-Big XII: Call it a gut feeling or complete stupidity, but I think Nebraska pulls off the upset in the championship against Texas. The Big XII champ game is notoriously known for upsets, and -Nebraska reverses the roles of the 1996 championship game.
-Big Ten: Ohio St runs the table. I have no faith in Penn St.
-Pac 10: Winner of the battle in Eugene on Halloween takes it. I never pick against Carroll in big games.
-SEC: Battle of unbeatens in the championship game between Florida and Alabama. Alabama has looked better so far, but Florida has been holding Tebow back, and I imagine heíll break through here.
-Non-AQ: Tulsa had the best chance to beat Boise. The Broncos are definitely running the table now. TCU has too rough of a schedule to go undefeated.

-BCS teams: Virginia Tech (ACC), Cincinnati (Big East), Nebraska (Big XII), Ohio St (Big Ten), USC (Pac 10), Florida (SEC), Boise St (at large), Alabama (at large), Texas (at large), Miami (at large).
-Annual BCS controversy: 1 loss USC gets into the national championship over undefeated Cincinnati.

National Championship: Florida d. USC
Rose Bowl: Miami d. Ohio St
Sugar Bowl: Alabama d. Texas
Fiesta Bowl: Nebraska d. Boise St
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech d. Cincinnati

Andrew: Lots of big games this weekend- Alabama/South Carolina, Arkansas/Florida, Virginia Tech/Georgia Tech, the Red River Shootout, and USC/Notre Dame. If you're doing a viewer's guide which is the must-see game, which do you think will be the best game of the weekend, and who do you see coming out on top in those?

T.Cow: I know Iím biased so it has to be OU/Texas. Thatís the sporting event of the year for me. Both teams can be winless, and itíd still be must watch TV in my household. As for this yearís version, I predict a low scoring affair. Both teams have not looked good this season. OU hurt a lot with the loss of Gresham, and even though Broyles is playing, thereís no telling on how effective heíll be. The rest of the receiving core is too green as evident by the amount of drops last week. Then thereís the well-documented problem with the offensive line plagued by false starts and holding penalties. The Longhorns offense isnít without flaws either. Itís hard for McCoy to duplicate last year, but the drop-off this year is noticeable. Then thereís the problem with the Texas running game. The top 2 backs in McGee and Newton will probably not play. Both QBs have their work cut out facing the fourth (Texas) and ninth (Oklahoma) ranked defenses in the country. In the end, I hate to say it, but I think the OU offensive line will be its undoing as Texas wins a close defensive struggle 14-7.

The only other competitive game is VT/GT. I know the Hokies has had the Yellow Jacketsí number ever since moving to the ACC, but I donít believe this Virginia Tech defense is as good as previous season. Ingram and Helu were able to have excellent outings against this unit which ranked only 26th and 35th in scoring and total defense respectively. I see Nesbitt and Dwyer can have similar success to get the upset.

I donít really care for the other three matchups. USC wins big games. Bama and UF are clearly the class of the SEC.

Brian: I think Texas/Oklahoma is the must-see game for fairly obvious reasons. Itís the only true rivalry game of the bunch (sorry Notre Dame fans when you actually score a touchdown on the Trojans maybe we can get back to considering that a rivalry). Itís also the game where I think the underdog is most likely to pull the upset and it has obvious national title implications as it might be Texasí toughest challenge all year.

I think Virginia Tech/Georgia Tech might be the best game to watch, however. First off you get to watch GTís impressive triple option attack go head to head against the top notch VT defense. On the other side of the ball you have Ryan Williams who certainly has to be considered as one of the best halfbacks in the nation as a redshirt freshman and both teams could provide interesting special teams highlights. Iím expecting a barnburner from this one.

As for picks? Iím taking all the favorites, Alabama and Florida wipe the floor with their simply inferior SEC brethren. Virginia Tech manages to outscore Georgia Tech, Texas holds off Oklahoma, and USC shuts up this obnoxious Notre Dame is back nonsense. The Irish almost lost to Purdue and USC doesnít lose the ďbigĒ ones which spells disaster for Cheeseburger Charlie.

T.Cow: Who's your 3 midseason candidates for coach of the year? Who has done the most impressive job? Conversely, name 3 coaches who makes you scratch your head and wonder why he still has a job.

Brian: Three candidates for coach of the year: Brian Kelly, Bo Pelini, and Kevin Sumlin. I could be looking a bit silly by the time this gets posted, but besides lifting Cincinnati to heights previously not seen Kelly had a team this year that had to replace ten defensive starters and has his team still rolling. I think the most interesting thing is how many former offensive players they simply converted to defense with such success. Marcus Barnett one of their top receivers has seen significant time at cornerback, former Minnesota running back Alex Daniels is now a standout defensive end, and former Notre Dame quarterback Demetrius Jones now plays outside linebacker. In two years Pelini has absolutely transformed Nebraska into an extremely dangerous squad. The black shirts are back on defense and Roy Helu Jr. is the real deal at halfback. Sumlin obviously deserves credit for taking a previously mediocre program like Houston and getting them to a point where they beat three AQ teams in one year.

In regards to who should be fired? Al Groh should be fired three times, if you want a coach to lead you to annual 7-5 seasons heís your man. If youíre a big state school like Virginia with a hotbed of talent in Washington DC and the Hampton Roads area you have to do better than that and Groh simply isnít capable of leading a team to an ACC Championship, let alone something better.

Andrew: My 3 candidates for coach of the year are Frank Spaziani and the two Kellys- Chip and Brian.

*Spaziani took over from Jeff Jagodzinski up in Chestnut Hill, lost his best player and team captain to cancer, had his starting quarterback kicked out of school, and was picked by every major pundit to finish no higher than 11th in the lowly ACC. Well I realize there's 6 games left and I realize he's the beneficiary of that lowly ACC Atlantic division, but when you're still expected to be the worst of that bunch, and instead you look right now to be the frontrunner for the division title and bowl-eligible you deserve credit, especially with your two best players unable to suit up.
*Oregon may have been picked highly this offseason, but this was still Chip Kelly's first season at head coach taking over for the great efforts of Mike Bellotti. And in that first game as coach lost soundly and had his star player be subject of a major incident that cost himself his season and put a huge cloud over the program. People are quick to forget amid the current success that after that week and even the next week's escape of Purdue a lot of heads were questioning if Kelly was up to the job and if Oregon wasn't going to be the most disappointing program in the nation. But Kelly has reeled it in, worked tirelessly with Jeremiah Masoli to make him a better dual option, and spun this Duck program to where they look to finish no worse than 3rd in the Pac 10 and top 25 in the nation with wins over a very good Utah team and a destruction of Cal back before the Bears completely folded it in. Phenomenal job by a very good coach at turning what would have been a nail in the coffin for many lesser coaches and spinning it to where they are now.
*I don't think enough can be said about Brian Kelly's job this year at Cincinnati. I'm not going to say rebuilding job because Mark Dantonio also deserves some credit for the program, but for taking it to the level it's at is absolutely a testament to Kelly. He took a quarterback with no real experience or looks until mid-last year and now is a star. He took a program that is still fourth in it's own city behind Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Tennessee in getting Queen City talent but has spun those spurned by those three into a cast and crew of studs. Most impressively to me at least, is how many programs can say they lost 3 All-Conference and All-America calibur defenders (in this case DE Connor Barwin and CBs DeAngelo Smith and Mike Mickens) and be better on that side of the ball? That is a testament to just what Brian Kelly has done and for that and the impressive results on the field he is my pick right now for Coach of the Year.

When you look at 3 candidates for who has a job, that has to throw out coaches doing a horrible job in year 1-2 because unlike pro football, with recruiting and building a staff it really takes getting a few years for good or bad to get guys who believe and fit what you're trying to put in. The same way one bad year or horrific underperforming can't be grounds for this as much as I want to chastize the talent at Florida Atlantic for underperforming- you take Rusty Smith and Cortez Gent and that offense and there is no reason they haven't won 9-10 games in that Sun Belt. But if we're looking at a body of futility over 3+ years that really leaves a select few and I've got it to 4 names. Now Rique took care of explaining why Al Groh regardless of the annual mid-season 2-3 game surge should go, so I'm going to offer 3 other names: Dan Hawkins, Steve Kragthorpe, and Doug Martin.

*Forget the Katie Hnida incident he came after- it didn't affect the recruiting or structure of Colorado football like he wants to be believed. Hell, the year after the incident they still went to the Big 12 title game. But from Bill McCartney to Rick Neuheisel to Gary Barnett the Buffaloes were a dominant team in college football let alone the conference. These last few years...not so much. The worst part is there isn't a simple fix- the running game, the passing game, the run D, the pass D, even the kicking is in shambles right now. Add to that how Hawkins burned a quarterback's redshirt in week 6 of a season where the team had one win, to try and salvage a game they were losing by 17 to Texas, and it's clear that he has no vision for things to improve let alone turn the ship around now.
*Kragthorpe did good things at Tulsa but after taking over a stout Louisville program from Bobby Petrino and instantly missing a bowl, it's beginning to look like the success he had earlier was due to Todd Graham's offense as much as his management. The Card have gone backwards each season to where in this, his third year, only the rebuilding job at Syracuse looks to finish below them. Kentucky- even at a .500 clip- have overtaken them for support from HS talent within the state, the enthusiasm and energy he inherited are absolutely gone, and this is looking more and more like a situation where the longer he stays, when Petrino's final class is gone after this year it could get even worse.
*Martin, I know some people and programs don't expect much from non-BCS coaches, but damnit there's still a job to be done. And when you're 21-43 over six seasons with not one single above-.500 mark- and 2-4 this year- at Kent State, in one of the 5-6 richest football states in the nation in Ohio, that's absolutely unacceptable.

I hope you enjoyed the column. If you have any questions, concerns, or issues feel free to contact us via the Oratory Forums or e-mail Brian at bdmiller @ vt.edu, T. Cow at tangcow @ gmail.com, and Andrew at a.holik @ umiami.edu.

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