2013-09-20

FBS Week 4 - Preview

Since it looks like week 4 is the most boring gameday this season can offer, we should talk about Championship. More precisely, National Championship.

Last season on week 4 I explained the ranking in pre-season and during the season and how fixed already the group of potential later National Championship winners was and still is.
8,5 teams out of 10 were ranked not deeper than the #8 spot in last seasons analysis of the last 10 years, and the 2012 winner Alabama was preseason #2 and at week 4 they were #1.
So 9,5 of 11 champs where within week 4
a) ranked in pre-season
b) ranked at least #8 in week 4.
No change in the system, so far.

If Notre Dame would have won the Final last season, they would have been the first team to win it all after not been ranked in pre-season and not being ranked top 10 in week 4 since more than 10 years. Well, they did not.

And that's the flaw of the ranking system, since it was (at least for me) very clear they were not #1 after the final regular season gameday and they should NOT play for National Championship, but because of tradition and a flawed ranking system, they got the chance for the Finals.

Well, it's the last season for such a system.

I'm not sure the NEXT one, which I will explain next week, will help much more, but at least we get a pre selection by semi-finals.

This season will be the last for the BCS-Championship game and here is the rule for the participation:
Several ranking systems (Coaches-Poll, The Harris-Poll (both human made polls) and six computer rankings) do their single rankings each week and then are mixed together for a meta-ranking.
All teams are just lined up from rank #1 to #25 (the rest is not interesting).
This starts after a few week down the season, since you need for the computer rankings a few gamedays to get valid results.
After the final gameday this calculation is done the last time.
Whoever is at #1 and #2 will play the BCS-Championship-Game.
The winner will at least be named National Champion by the Coaches-Poll.
In very rare cases it happened that the AP-Poll (the other crucial ranking system, which is NOT part of the BCS system since some years now) did name a different team National Champion. That happened the last time 2003.
Understood?

If you are friendly to the system, it means after a long season a system decides based on several criteria which two teams are the best and let them battle it out.

If you are not so friendly it means after a long season you get eventually left out of the game because some hidden rule gave the team above of you a few more points than you. No explanations given. The polls systems are secret, the human polls votes are in some parts secret, so lots of room to cheat, eh, sorry, room for interpretations.

I think that's what happened last season with Notre Dame. Somehow ALL polls did name Notre Dame #1. Even the human ones. OK, they were unbeaten, but how did they win, and against which teams? Some good ones, no doubt, but also very close against some unranked teams. The coffin nail for the high ranking was from my point of view the win against the later PAC 12 champion Stanford. They won against Stanford, which won against Oregon which won against … and so on. If you rank by this system (and most systems do it that way) then Notre Dame earned the #1 spot, even if they were not the strongest team.

Hopefully we won't see such boring Championship game again next season.

Let’s get back to the topic of the rankings. The Top 15 teams are at the moment:
Alabama, Oregon, Clemson, Ohio State, Stanford, LSU, Louisville, Florida State, Georgia, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, UCLA, Oklahoma and Michigan
All of them were ranked in the pre-season.
So chances are very high, the National Champion will come out of this group. More likely out of the group of the first 8.

Most of these teams will have to battle it out at least against one other team on that list, so they will very soon shorten that list by themself.
Unfortunately not this week.

Now let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 4

Saturday, September 21, 3:30 PM ET
Michigan State @ #22 Notre Dame
Last season, this game did almost close the National Championship campaign of Notre Dame.
It was not that close at the end (20-3) but it did show where Notre Dame had issues and if you put it into perspective a season later, it was a win against a mid-field team.
(The Spartans had 6 losses at the end of the season and barely made it to a bowl, which they won)
At that time it was a ranked team vs. a ranked team battle.
This season is Michigan State not ranked, even if they are unbeaten at the moment, and Notre Dame is ranked, even if they lost against Michigan already.
That's how NCAA football works.

Here do two teams meet, which are not at 100% yet.
Biggest concern for me is the Notre Dame defense, which does simply allow too many points and yards per game.
Against weaker teams like Purdue and Temple it's enough, against stronger teams it gets tough.
Lucky for Notre Dame, Michigan State is no offensive powerhouse.
So it might come down to this: Not so many points and some game changing plays.
I give the nod to the home team, Notre Dame, knowing that this can go either way.

Saturday, September 21 7:00 PM ET
#23 Arizona State @ #5 Stanford
Ah, a real football match this week!
Sorry, I couldn't resist.
It's the only ranked vs. ranked game this week.

It could be the preview of the PAC 12 championship game, it depends on some games later the season.
Stanford has Oregon on its schedule and Arizona State has UCLA as his biggest division game.
And then there is this one, this week.

Stanford is quite good so far, but did give up too many points from my point of view against too weak teams.
Arizona State is only unbeaten, because PAC 12 officials can't handle the clock ...
Don't get me wrong, this is a match on a very high level, but I'm not sure what to make of it.
My guts are saying Stanford all the way.
The Sun Devils are not supposed to be that good. Period.

Stanford is the reigning PAC 12 champ and they are supposed to challenge any team for the National Championship, while Arizona State is only expected to challenge UCLA for the Division title.
But football doesn't work that way.
If you ask me, if an upset can happen? Yes.
Will it happen? I don't think so.
Stanford at home? Against a tired Sun Devils team beating Wisconsin last week?
Very unlikely.
Stanford all the way, with a hope for a classy close game.

Saturday, September 21 7:45 PM ET
Auburn @ #6 LSU
To make it short here for the Tigers matchup:
LSU Tigers at home against a team which was BAD last season?
LSU will win.
Why is it on the list then?

Because the Auburn Tigers are 3-0 so far and they MIGHT give LSU a bit of a trouble.
I doubt it will be enough to knock them of their feet, but I think there will be more than a 40-something to 3 win by LSU.
IF Auburn wins, the SEC gets VERY interesting. (I hope for that ... hehe.)
But my guts and brains do say: Tigers will win and they dress in purple and yellow. (LSU colors, for the Bahnhof-Fraction)

Saturday, September 21 8:00 PM ET
Kansas State @ Texas
Somewhere is sitting a former defensive coordinator and is laughing.
That's the DC of Texas who was fired after week 2, because Texas took 40 points from BYU.
The new DC got in and he managed to allow 44 points by Ole Miss.
Nice improvement.
To be fair, Texas did play quite good for one half, but that does not help much.
Nobody is giving out trophies for half time dominance. And it wasn’t dominance, it was a close match at that point.

This week, Mack Brown has to face Bill Snyder. Must be like a family reunion, where those two uncles who do not like each other meet again. As they do every year since a few seasons and as they do since a long time.

Problem for Brown is Snyder did win the last 3 meetings in a row.

So we have a weak Longhorns team, which lost against BYU and Ole Miss after they did beat the shit out of New Mexico State on week 1, against a Wildcats team, which lost against a FCS team on week 1 (granted the reigning FCS champ) and then won two against very weak FBS teams.
Oh my god.

As clueless as I am, as clueless are the rest of the world.

I give the nod to Kansas State for two reasons: They are not a team under fire as Texas is, and they don't have to deal with a new coach during the season.

Texas plays at home, at that might give them the win, but I don’t believe Kansas State will be easily beaten.
In fact I think at some point will Texas just suck and the Wildcats will snub that win away and Mack Brown will eat shit from the fans.
Wildcats!

Saturday, September 21 10:15 PM ET
Utah @ BYU
This is called THE HOLY WAR.
It's a rivalry between Brigham Young University (named after that famous Mormon leader and operated by the LDS Church) and the University of Utah.
Utah is cruising on a 3 game winning streak in this and do lead the rivalry 56-34-4.

This season it might get interesting, since Utah already has won against Utah State and lost in OT against Oregon State and BYU did win against Texas and Virginia.
Doesn't sound that interesting?
Might be.

Still I expect a close game and this season I expect a BYU win.
Utah is quite good, even if I think they will suffer in the PAC 12 a bit, but BYU is just on a high note this season.
They are in competing mode and might even be ranked after that game. Slim chance for that, but possible.
Utah has a lot of issues to fix and they just give up to many points to win this.
But never underestimate the rivalry emotions. That’s why I expect a close one.
At the end the Cougars will prevail and win this one. Period.

Friday, September 20 9:00 PM ET
Boise State @ #2 Fresno State
This could be the preview of the MWC final. Boise State and Fresno State do have the power to win their divisions and would then meet in the final.
As far as the season can be judged, this won't come easy for both teams.
None of them did show the dominant character I expected from them.

The Broncos did lose against Washington big time. So big, that it gave the Huskies enough Brownie-Points to get ranked. And they still are.
Since that loss did the Broncos win against a FCS team and Air Force.
Not bad, but they have to be better to win the MWC.
Fresno State on the other hand did win against Rutgers in a shootout in OT and against a FCS team.
That Rutgers win is big, granted, but they did got 20 points by the FCS team a week later which give me concerns regarding their defense.
Might be the slump after the Rutgers game, might be something bigger.
Unfortunately the Colorado game was canceled.
What to do with this?

Fact is, it's an away game for the Broncos, which does help the Bulldogs big. You don't win easy on the Smurf Turf in Idaho. So, it's in California, good.
Two scoring teams do meet, so expect a total score of 40-something to 30-something.
Maybe.

For me is the biggest key is the defense of the Broncos.
They held Air Force to 20 points, and Air Force is also a quite good scoring team.
So if this defense shows up, the Bulldogs will lose, simple by not scoring enough to keep the pace.
That's my take.
I pick the Broncos as the obvious pick and hope for a close game.

‘Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

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