Friday, July 31, 2015

College Football Conference by Conference: The ACC (No arrest records tracked)

Part One: The Big Ten (All fourteen teams)

Part Two: The Big Twelve (All Ten teams)

Part Three: SEC (Paul Finebaum's opinion excluded)

Part Four: The Pac12 (Finally, a conference that can count)

Next Part Five: The ACC

Two years ago this was the power conference in the Nation. Not the SEC, not the Big Ten, not the Pac12, the ACC. Not only was Florida State the last B(C)S champion but the conference swept all of the major awards.

Flash forward to today and the ACC is no longer on the top step (I think the Pac12 holds that honor) but they are still very competitive at the top, but dismal at the bottom.

Atlantic

Florida State 11-1  (7-1 Conference)
Clemson 8-4 (5-3 Conference)
NC State 8-4 (4-4 Conference)
Louisville 6-6 (3-5 Conference)
Boston College 5-7 (2-6 Conference)
Syracuse 5-7 (1-7 Conference)
Wake Forest 4-8 (1-7 Conference)

Coastal

Virginia Tech 11-1 (8-0 Conference)
Georgia Tech 10-2 (7-1 Conference)
Pittsburgh 9-3 (6-2 Conference)
Miami(FL) 8-4 (4-4 Conference)
Duke  7-5 (3-5 Conference)
North Carolina 5-7 (3-5 Conference)
Virginia 3-9 (2-6 Conference)

Last year it was the Big XII that had the case of the red-ass when their one-loss (co)champion Baylor was excluded from the College Football Playoff in lieu of Ohio State. This year I predict it will be the ACC that gets the red-ass when their one-loss champion (Virginia Tech) gets left-out of the College Football Playoff in favor of one-loss Georgia.

Part of the problem is that I don't think the ACC has a truly great team this year. As a result, this conference is going to beat itself up.  Plus, Virginia Tech, who I think is the top team coming in, gets Ohio State early in a revenge game for the Buckeyes, who probably won't be breaking in a new Freshman QB this time.

I think NC State and Pittsburgh are much improved, thanks in large part to easy schedules, and I think Louisville is a team on decline, while Syracuse, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Virginia keep hoping for the mythical next year.  As long as David Cutcliffe is the head coach Duke shouldn't be truly bad, but I don't see the talent on their roster to be as good as the last couple of years.

Still, in large part due to their balance at the top, I think this conference puts nine teams in bowl games and emerges with a record over .500.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

College Football Conference by Conference: Pac12 (Finally, a Conference that can count)

Part One: The Big Ten (All fourteen teams)

Part Two: The Big Twelve (All Ten teams)

Part Three: SEC (Paul Finebaum's opinion excluded)

Now Pac12:

There was a time that I did not enjoy watching Pac12 football. These were the dark days before Arizona State, Arizona and UCLA started enjoying their resurgence, and when USC just kicked the crap out of everyone.

These days the Pac12 is one of my favorite late-Saturday night views. The Arizona teams are good, there is (for the most part) competitive balance across the league and even the best teams have to work against some of the mid-tier teams.

All that said, I still like Oregon to win their division.

Without further ado.....

North

Oregon  8-4  (6-3 Conference)
Washington 8-4  (5-4 Conference)
Stanford  7-5  (5-4 Conference)
Oregon State 4-8  (2-7 Conference)
California 3-9  (1-8 Conference)
Washington State 3-9  (1-8 Conference)

South

USC  12-0  (9-0 Conference)
Arizona State 11-1 (8-1 Conference)
Arizona  10-2 (7-2 Conference)
UCLA  6-6  (4-5 Conference)
Utah  5-7 (4-5 Conference)
Colorado 4-8  (1-8 Conference)

So after it all, I'm returning to the old days of USC vs. Oregon in the championship game. All that said, I think the two Arizona teams will be nipping at their heels. I also think that Washington will get very close to Oregon and will challenge them. With a relatively weak out of conference slate the in-conference games for this should be outstanding.

Of all the games, watch for USC vs. Arizona State as a potential game of the year. On the defensive side of the ball, despite the fact that they're going to have a down year, watch out for UCLA stud LB/part time RB Myles Jack who I think has the potential of becoming a GREAT, not good, LB at the NFL level. On offense, watch for USC QB Cody Kessler who I suspect will get some serious Heisman run.

After all is said and done I think that USC wins the conference undefeated, and makes it into the College Football Playoff where they will be seeded 3rd.  I also fully expect to find them in the National Finals.  Overall I expect the conference to place 7 (possibly eight, if Utah beats Michigan in week one) teams into bowl games where I suspect they're going to do very well due to top-flight athleticism.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

College Football Conference by Conference: SEC (Paul Finebaum's opinion excluded)

Part One: The Big Ten (All fourteen teams)

Part Two: The Big Twelve (All Ten teams)

During the era of the B(C)S, the SEC was king. Not only did it win most of the championships, (9 out of a possible 16) It also won seven in a row from 2006 to 2012 which proved, to some, that the SEC was among the most dominant conferences of all time.

Enter the College Football Playoff system and things are expected to be a little different. For one, the system was not designed by a former SEC commissioner with the express purpose of benefiting the conference and, second, there is a premium being placed on winning the conference championship, and the SEC can only name one.

Add to that the fact that I believe the SEC West to be relatively down this year, and I think the currents of power within the conference are changing.

How I think they'll finish:

East:

1. Georgia 11-1 (7-1 Conference) Division Champ
2. Tennessee 10-2 (6-2 Conference)
3. South Carolina 9-3 (5-3 Conference)
4. Missouri 8-4  (4-4 Conference)
5. Florida 6-6 (3-5 Conference)
6. Vanderbilt 4-8 (2-6 Conference)
7. Kentucky 2-10 (0-8 Conference)

West:

1. LSU 11-1 (7-1 Conference) Division Champ
2. Alabama 10-2 (6-2 Conference)
3. Auburn 10-2 (6-2 Conference)
4. Arkansas 8-4 (4-4 Conference)
5. Ole Miss 7-5 (3-5 Conference)
6. Mississippi State 6-6 (3-5 Conference)
7. Texas A&M 5-7 (2-6 Conference)


The problem with making a prediction in the SEC this year is that every team has flaws. The two teams I picked, Georgia and LSU to win their respective divisions seem (to me) to have smaller flaws than the others. The trendy pick in the West is Auburn, but I don't think they have enough offensive firepower to beat either LSU or Alabama, while 'Bama itself has too much to replace to beat LSU etc.

My dark horse here is Tennessee, if they can beat Georgia, in Athens, then they could win the conference as it appears that they are a program on the rise. Speaking of on the rise, while I'm suggesting the SEC will be "down" this year it's important to note that I still have them placing 11 teams in a bowl game, with only 3 missing out.

Of the three non-bowling teams I'm sure my most controversial pick is Texas A&M. As much as I like head coach Kevin Sumlin as a person, he's never won with "his" guys at any program and I think SEC defenses have adapted to what made the Aggies tough to handle, the spread offense.  I don't think Sumlin is in any trouble, but I do think that if he doesn't turn it around next year he could be then.

Whatever happens I think Georgia gets crowned the conference champion this year, and I think they make the College Football Playoff as the two seed despite having one loss. Such is (still) the power of perception when it comes to the SEC.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

For fighting Berto, Mayweather should pay the viewer.

Ah boxing. Not only is it among the worst ran sports in the world (I'm looking at you FIFA) but it's also got the biggest star who has the biggest set of negatives.  Fighting a diminished Andre Berto is not going to remedy this.

I realize that Floyd Mayweather thinks that, by offering this fight on broadcast TV, he can rehabilitate his image with the "fans" (read: PPV buying public) but he's dead wrong. Having a fight on PBC only will serve to bring his shortcomings to an even larger audience.

What Floyd is: A very good (great) fighter who succeeds because his style is boring to the casual fan. Sure, to the purist, he's amazing to watch. The subtleties in his defense are among the best of all time and he can, when pushed, turn street and unleash power that is not world-beating, but which can hurt an opponent and knock him out.

Unfortunately, Floyd Mayweather is on of the most unlikeable people walking the planet. He's a convicted domestic abuser, he's arrogant and not afraid to tell you so, he's also allegedly a liar when it comes to matters of betting/money, and he has an outsized opinion in regards to his legacy.

This fight with Andre Berto is going to do absolutely nothing to change public perception, as Berto is now a shell of his former self and nearing the end of his career. He's a shop-worn fighter who's looking much older in the ring than his actual age.  Coming up I was an Andre Berto fan, I still am. But even I have to admit that he's closer to the end of his career than he is to his prime. Fighting Floyd Mayweather is not the way to turn things around.

Contrary to what he says, this will not be Floyd's last fight. He sees the money and he sees the legacy that he thinks 50-0 will grant him. In other words, he sees a rematch with either Pacquiao or Cotto.

None of those three fights would I want to see.

I would like to see Mayweather potentially get in the ring with either Kell Brook or Timothy Bradley, I think the former has the power and speed to potentially hurt him and I think Bradley's awkward style has the ability to out-point him.

That we'll never see either of those two fights is why Mayweather's "TBE" talk is just so much background noise.

Time to move on to more interesting fights, and fighters as boxing enjoys a good run after the MayPac debacle. Let's no go back to that time, let's move forward to whatever is next. (pssst....Andre Ward and Ganady Golovkin battling it out for best pound for pound.)

College Football Conference by Conference: Big Twelve (All ten teams)

Part One: The Big Ten (All fourteen teams)

Last year it was hard to tell who was the Big Twelve's worst enemy, the College Football Playoffs, or itself.  After floundering around after both TCU and Baylor shared the top spot the conference finally decided that it would have "co-champions" which, in conjunction with Ohio State's 59-0 shellacking of Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, meant that they were the first "Big Five" conference to have the red-ass at season's end.

Of course, conspiracy theories abounded and many people noted, rightly so, that had Oklahoma or Texas had been in the mix they would have gotten in because of their bankability. Instead, we were splitting hairs between Baylor, who had a great season but played no one outside of conference, and TCU, who had a more difficult schedule but couldn't get past Baylor in Waco, with both teams eventually left out of the tournament.

This year I think the Big XII is in for more of the same. The battle for the top spot will be pitched between TCU and Baylor, with an improving Texas and resilient K-State making up a pretty strong second-tier. My biggest variance from the experts is Oklahoma, who I feel is a program in decline and getting closer and closer to the point where Head Coach Bob Stoops needs to be shown the door (or, better for everyone, show himself the door).

Of all the Big Five conferences I still think the Big XII is the weakest, by far. I don't see this improving any time soon and I think over the long run this will be the conference that's dissolved as we move to 4 16-team super conferences in the future.

Here's how I see it finishing in the Big XII:

1. TCU  12-0  (9-0 Conference) Conference Champion
2. Baylor 11-1 (8-1 Conference) 
3. Texas 9-3 (7-2 Conference)
4. Kansas State 8-4 (5-4 Conference)
5. West Virginia 8-4 (5-4 Conference)
6. Oklahoma 7-5 (5-4 Conference)
7. Iowa State 5-7 (3-6 Conference)
8. Oklahoma State 5-7 (2-7 Conference)
9. Kansas 2-10 (1-8 Conference)
10. Texas Tech 2-10 (0-9 Conference)

Again, I think the differential between TCU, Baylor and the rest of the league is sizable. I do think Texas will be improved this year because I think Strong is a very good coach. I believe Texas is a pretty solid #3 team here. There is very little to separate K-State from Oklahoma State and the middle of this league could fluctuate with any of these teams getting wins over the other and improving their lot. The bottom of this league is way below the remainder of the rest of the conference in terms of talent and ability. I think Kansas is on the rise again however, but not this year.

That leaves us with Texas Tech, who I want to spend a minute on because I think that head coach Kliff Kingsbury is entering his final year. It's clear he's not ready to man the top spot, and the team is suffering for it.  Maybe on the next coaching search Tech will remember that it needs to win games and not just be hip on social media.

This year, I think TCU wins the conference outright and finally gets the nod into the College Football Playoff. I do, however, think they make it as a #4 seed.

Besides Kingsbury, there could be a lot of movement in the coaching ranks this year as I'm thinking Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and possibly Oklahoma and Kansas State (if Snyder retires) could be in the market for new program leaders.

Monday, July 27, 2015

College Football Conference by Conference: Big Ten (all fourteen teams)

When it comes to the Big Ten this year the East is the Beast. I think that 3 of the top four conference teams will come from that division and that the talent gap is very real.

Clearly, the favorite in the starting gate is Ohio State and I see no reason to bet against them. Head Coach Urban Meyer has done what he's always done, out-recruited everyone and built a power. The clear number 2 teams is (still) Michigan State, with Penn State nipping at their heels as Head Coach James Franklin is loving life now that the post-season ban and scholarship restrictions, stemming from the Sandusky horrors, are finally in the rearview mirror.

In the West, I think Wisconsin is the clear favorite and it's not close. Many are picking Iowa as a dark horse because they have a relatively easy schedule. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes I don't think their team is strong enough to compete. I see Jerry Kill coached Minnesota as a more likely threat to usurp the Badgers than anyone, but I still don't think they have the firepower to do it.

Finally, my team, Michigan. This is the first year of the Harbaugh era and, while excitement is high, I think the team still has several holes in terms of talent that they need to fill before they can truly contend.  Still, I have them making a bowl.

So, without further ado, here's how I think it will go.

East:

1. Ohio State 12-0 (8-0 Conference) regular season (Champion of the East)
2. Michigan State 11-1 (7-1 Conference)
3. Penn State 10-2  (6-2 Conference)
4. Michigan  7-5 (4-4 Conference)
5. Rutgers 6-6 (2-6 Conference)
6. Maryland  5-7 (2-6 Conference)
7. Indiana 4-8 (1-7 Conference)

West:

1. Wisconsin 11-1 (7-1 Conference) regular season (Champion of the West)
2. Minnesota 8-4 (5-3 Conference)
3. Nebraska  7-5  (5-3 Conference)
4. Iowa  6-6  (3-5 Conference)
5. Northwestern 5-7  (3-5 Conference)
6. Illinois 5-7  (1-7 Conference)
7. Purdue 4-8 (1-7 Conference)

To be honest, the bottom half of the Big Ten is still pretty bad. To be fair however, the bottom half of every conference is not that great, it's just that the trend of the media is to try and penalize the Big Ten more than say, the SEC or Pac-12, who have some bad teams making up the bottom half of their conferences.

The thing is, the top of the East is going to be very, very good. Ohio State is one of the best teams in the Country, as is Michigan State, Wisconsin has been tough for years now and Penn State is rebuilding successfully. In the middle there is a lot of parity, with Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska all coming in at about the same level.  I think Rutgers and Iowa round out the Bowl picture for the Big 10, but Northwestern, Illinois and Maryland could sneak in there if they pull an upset or two.  At the bottom, poor Indiana and Purdue are hopeless, they need new directions in both of their programs,.

In the conference championship game I think we get a repeat of last year, and Ohio State wins again, although I doubt we see another 59-0 shellacking.

The good thing for the Big Ten is that all of the teams get to pepper their schedule with some pretty horrible MAC teams thus guaranteeing a winning record for some fairly mediocre teams.  That said, Ohio State's Playoff Championship and Michigan State's bowl win last year revitalized the image of this conference and they're not longer considered a pathetic joke by all but certain talk-radio hosts and sports writers who don't know anything anyway, or are just trying to get some attention.

So, it's Ohio State then, and we'll see them as the number 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. If anyone can upset the apple cart it's Michigan State, but I don't think they have the offensive firepower.

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