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NCAA Football Round-Up Week 9
by Brian Miller (NCAA Football)
Posted on November 5, 2009, 8:34 PM

Same group of guys; another week of college football to evaluate; you already know the deal. Just a note that the rankings below were compiled before this weekdayís games.

Rank Team (First Place Votes)

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

Brian: By my count we are "down" to eleven possible national title contenders, Alabama, Florida, and LSU from the SEC and from about every other conference Texas, Cincinnati, Iowa, TCU, Boise State, Oregon, Georgia Tech, and Penn State. Each has between three and five games left so breakdown which teams do you like to make the Mythical National Championship game and which team you like to win it, as well as your favorite dark horse contender(s) of the bunch.

Andrew: I think right now Texas vs. Alabama, or in the very least the SEC Champion, seems a no-brainer. It's been referenced since OU beat out the Horns for that spot last year and you know within reason it's what college football wants to see. I don't think Texas loses the rest of the way in the regular season regardless and having seen each member of the Big XII North get pummeled against lesser South teams doesn't make an upset bid seem too likely in the championship game.

The SEC- hey, it's the SEC, and while not a computer guy I think as long as Iowa slips up in the Horseshoe there wouldn't be any other non-BCS school that the committee and polls would even put over a one-loss SEC Champion if Bama or Florida were to lose before their seemingly inevitable showdown. I'd like to add that I'm not trying to completely discount LSU beating Bama, but even if they do they still have more loseable games left and barring the offense looking like it did against Auburn I don't see them finishing out unscathed.

For the game itself right now I'm picking Texas to win it. Will Muschamp is such a good D-Coordinator and that team has really been strong all year with the secondary improving leaps and bounds from last season and Sergio Kindle having done an outstanding job replacing Orakpo. The offense has started to click into form the past few weeks and that's more than what can be said for Bama, who's scoring totals seem to be going in reverse. I think Alabama has a better D but not by much and Texas' great job all season on the run will be huge on Saban's lifeblood right now with Ingram, Upchurch, and Richardson. Texas looks to be peaking at the right time and has the most complete team on both sides of the ball of any of the big three contenders right now and that's enough for me to go with them right now.
Darkhorses...well, Tech's not winning it and frankly the possibility of playing Clemson again in the ACCCG is scaring the Hell out of me right now if it comes to that. Penn State isn't realistic as I can't see them getting past any of the three SEC teams or Texas or Oregon if they finish with one loss or less, just too much to happen. Boise and TCU just aren't getting in if even one team finishes unbeaten seeing that human polls are 2/3rds of the BCS rankings. Iowa has a chance, but damnit if I just don't think they win out. Great D, anemic O, has relied on playing to the level of competition all season and can't just turn it on and off like that in Columbus. I guess by darkhorse the only team I really see playing spoiler could be Cincy. They've still got two loseable games left no doubt with West Virginia and Pitt, but I think they absolutely can and will finish out undefeated right now and have the pollsters support should Texas lose to move up to 2nd in the post-regular season polls. Really, the only thing that looks to keep them out right now is Texas' light road the rest of the way, although with each week that game in College Station against the Aggies looks like a potential trap more and more, and should that happen I think the Bearcats will push their way in.

T.Cow: A few weeks ago, I had Nebraska beating Texas in the Big XII championship game, but I have to go back on that with the way both teams are playing lately. Texas has an awesome defense, and Nebraska lost at home to an Iowa St team without its starting QB and RB (wtf?). Texas has UCF, Baylor, Kansas, Texas A&M, and conf champ. Besides maybe TAMU (and thatís only because itís a rivalry game), UT will beat the rest by at least 2 touchdowns. So barring a huge upset, Texas should cruise to the national championship.

The other slot will be an SEC team. I donít think LSU will be able to go into Tuscaloosa and win this weekend, and even if they do, they wonít be able to beat an undefeated UF in the conf championship game. Bama and UF have been winning ugly, but the key is that theyíre winning. If they havenít stumble by now, I canít see either doing it.

In terms of darkhorses, itís between Iowa and Cincy. I donít think Iowa can be ignored anymore. Yeah they were helped out by questionable officiating, but the final word is that theyíre undefeated. If they can win at the horseshoe (unlikely but possible), then I think theyíll be the first replacement. Iowa has the toughest overall schedule of the remaining teams. Besides, as impressive as the Bearcats may have looked, I canít help it but think theyíll suffer a letdown somewhere along the way. UConn, WVU, and Pitt are all tough games.

The rest of the teams require so many ifs to happen. TCU is good but has a weak schedule. Same for Boise. Oregon canít jump above Boise in the rankings. GT needs too many teams to lose. Penn St is so overrated.

I hate playing it safe, but right now, Iíll take Florida to defeat Texas in the NC by a field goal.

Andrew: I'm not going to get into whether it should or not, but the bottom line is realistically it will still be tough (historically unprecedented) for both TCU and Boise State to get a BCS bowl berth. Make your case for which of the two you think has a better claim to that spot.

T.Cow: Ugh, this is a difficult question. Boise undoubtedly has the best single win (Oregon) while TCU has the tougher strength of schedule which will only get higher with a game against Utah while BSUís toughest test left is against Idaho (Current SOS ranking: TCU Ė 39th BSU Ė 84th). I currently have BSU ranked higher but will put TCU ahead with a win over Utah. TCU leads the country in total defense and is 3rd in scoring defense. Theyíre also ranked higher in total offense (12th vs. 21st). While the Oregon win was impressive, it was at the blue turf while TCU has road wins against BYU and Clemson. Boiseís best road wins would be at Fresno and LA Tech. Add to the fact that TCU beat Boise in Poinsettia bowl last year, and I have to go with the Horned Frogs.

Brian: First, while I understand the mid-major fans and TCU and BSU fans in particular complaining about not getting two spots in BCS bowl games is pointless. Itís like complaining about the Cowboys always getting to play on Thanksgiving; it doesnít mean anything other than the dollars. They should be up in arms about having absolutely no shot at winning a national title despite doing everything in their power to deserve the title (ie winning all their games). As for the question itís a no brainer that TCU would deserve the spot more than Boise State, Boise State might have the best win over Oregon, but of the best six wins behind that TCU has five of them. Furthermore, as T. Cow noted above the offensive and defensive statistics both point towards TCU simply being the better team.

T.Cow: Brandon Spikes has been suspended for the first half of Florida's game against Vanderbilt. Most people are saying that this is a really weak penalty. Does the punishment fit the crime? Should the SEC interfere and add to it? What penalty would you have given Spikes?

Brian: As cynical as it seems the biggest issue isnít that Spikes gouged at the running backís eyes, itís that he got caught clearly on film doing so. In those sorts of scrums around the ball every sort of nasty underhanded thing can happen. That being said Urban Meyerís punishment was a joke, suspending the kid for one half against Vanderbilt is a joke of a punishment. Itís not much better and itís since been amended to it, but sit him for the whole of the Vanderbilt game. If you canít beat Vanderbilt sitting one player no matter how good you donít deserve to be in the national title hunt anyways and at least that makes it appear that you care that your player is cheating slime.

Andrew: I've actually waffled on this a few times. I think LaGarrette Blount's situation has been used by a few people to shame the situation, but this really is a different situation. I don't condone what Spikes did at all, but there is some really sick stuff that happens in any pile in football. This wasn't a post-game or off-field situation, this was one of those times when one of these acts was caught on film in broad light, so you can't treat it like the Blount situation or similar ones.

That said, it was caught on tape. And these tapes get passed around and shown a lot. I think from all the Gator fans I've seen and talked to its outright disgusting how unapologetic and supportive they've been, but unfortunately they've got a joke of a leader to follow the example of. So no, I don't think the punishment fits the crime because Meyer has been pointing the finger- going so far as to send tape to Commissioner Silve's office this week with a letter of a complaint about a late hit that went uncalled on Tebow in the game- and ducking this when they're playing VANDERBILT this week over something that really could've been extinguished with a full games suspension. I would do something but from the Kiffin/Meyer interactions to the number of players outright forced from scholarship every year (Nick Saban kicking ten kids off of Bama to make room this past season) to the unchecked chop block on Glen Dorsey to the 24 arrests of Meyer's players alone since 2006 without reprimand or intervention I think its been shown that Mike Silve is a ballless patsy of a commissioner who values his conferences reputation and brand on-field far more than most other major commissioners to the point where he's absolutely hands off the well-being of than the reputations and incidents off it. I think this is a one game suspension- not half, not quarter, not two games. It was a play typical of football that had the camera not been there would never have even been seen or reported like dozens that happen every weekend, but in the name of the sport and institution you need to at least feign the outrage necessary and a one-game sit does that fine.

I'd like to note at the time of this writing Spikes has gone out and announced he's "suspending himself" for the full game against Vanderbilt because he wants to do away with this drama. Did Meyer plan this all along to put the heat on himself and let Spikes have his moment of trying to look like a good guy through damage control once he saw how big this could get? Probably not. But at least now it's what it should've been this whole time and can be a dead issue.

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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