And we have a winner!

Congrats to Mr. Pumpkin for winning this years Pickem. Well done!

As you may know, we run this competition every year, and the goal is to make your picks on who is winning the NFL games during the regular season. Mr. Pumpkin achieved 178 points, which means he picked mostly the right team during the last 17 weeks. His price: a 3 Months Supporter account of RedZoneAction.org, for free.

Runner-up goes Ombi, who was short by 2 picks only. Well done, 50 Credits go to him for being the vice champion in this competition.

Details can be found here.

Many thanks go once more to Monkey for running the competition, Cheers to you!

Bowls - Fourth wave

And that's the third wave of Bowls. Over.
A lot of games.

I had some nice picks, but also some quite not so good.

Let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE BOWL GAMES FOR WAVE 3
Friday, December 26, 1:00 PM ET ZAXBY'S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL
Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech @ Cotton Bowl, DALLAS, TX
That one was kind of depressing.
I don't know why Illinois was THAT bad, but it looked like there was only one team prepared in that game and that was Louisiana Tech.
The Illini QB made mistakes, their offensive line was awful and their defense looked like sleepwalking over the field.
The Bulldogs did score on offense and defense and they deserved that win.
Illinois 18 - Louisiana Tech 35 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 6-5

Friday, December 26, 4:30 PM ET QUICK LANE BOWL
Rutgers vs. North Carolina @ Ford Field, DETROIT, MI
This Bowl went a bit as expected, only amplified by a bigger factor.
Bad play calling. Bad special team plays, especially the Field Goal unit.
The game was open in the first quarter and over at halftime.
Rutgers did everything quite right and was able to dominate on offense on the ground and in the air.
UNC did score most points on garbage time, when they trailed already by 33 points.
Rutgers 40 - North Carolina 21 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 7-5

Friday, December 26, 8:00 PM ET BITCOIN ST. PETERSBURG BOWL
North Carolina State vs. UCF @ Tropicana Field, SAINT PETERSBURG, FL
That one was first a bit boring, since UCF did suck on defense and NCS did score at will.
But the Golden Knights did come back in the forth and were a bit unlucky with the onside kick.
At the end did North Carolina State win and they deserved it really.
You can't play as sloppy as UCF did in the first half in a Bowl game.
Still a nice game.
North Carolina State 34 - UCF 27 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 7-6

Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech @ Navy Memorial Stadium, ANNAPOLIS, MD
I was in doubt and I was right.
The VT defense was sharp and the Cincinnati offensive line was not.
It resulted in 2 Interceptions by Gunner Kiel, the Bearcats QB, and a lost fumble, return to a TD, which shifted the momentum in that up to then open game.
Gunner Kiel was also hurt on that fumble causing sack and never returned.
Without Kiel, Cincinnati had no chance to win that one.
Congratulation to the Hokies.
Cincinnati 17 - Virginia Tech 33 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 7-7

Saturday, December 27, 2:00 PM ET HYUNDAI SUN BOWL
#15 Arizona State vs. Duke @ Sun Bowl, EL PASO, TX
I think everyone has to admit that Duke did not went down without a fight.
They even took the lead with 5 min to play in the 4th quarter.
Until then they were basically always on the catch-up path, the trailed 30 - 17 beginning of the 4th quarter.
Unfortunately for them, right after that TD, which gave them the lead, the kick off coverage was a disaster, lead to a 96 yard return to the Duke 4 yard line.
The Sun Devils scored the next play and the game was more or less over. Well, not completely
Duke DID march down the field, but was intercepted 45 seconds to play in the Arizona State end zone on a 3rd and 10 on the ASUs 14 yard line.
Nice game.
#15 Arizona State 36 - Duke 31 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 8-7

Miami (FL) vs. South Carolina @ Independence Stadium, SHREVEPORT, LA
Also a nice game.
Miami came out strong enough to kick two Field Goals for the lead, until South Carolina did light up the scoreboard to a halftime 6-17 lead.
The Hurricanes did shorten that in the 3rd quarter to a 14-17 lead, but the Gamecocks did score again the 4th for a 10 point lead.
Miami came back and scored with about 2 minutes to go, but was not able to stop South Carolina to run down the clock.
Great game, I did found the Miami Uniforms a bit odd, with green helmets and green pants, but that's how it was.
Miami (FL) 21 - South Carolina 24 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 9-7

Saturday, December 27, 4:30 PM ET NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL
Boston College vs. Penn State @ Yankee Stadium, BRONX, NY
It's always unfair to blame a kicker, but ... man, miss an extra point in overtime?
Get lost!
Here is what happened.
First quarter open game, game tied at 7.
Second quarter, no scores, still 7 - 7 at the half.
Then did BC find their mojo and took the lead to 21 - 14, start of the 4th.
Then did Penn State respond and tied the game at 21, BC was held to Field Goal and Penn State was able to kick a 45 yarder to tie the game again.
Now comes the overtime.
BC got the Ball and went down the field with 2 plays (remember they start 25 yards from the endzone, so it's not that far) and scored, but that Kicker did hit the ball THAT bad that if went not wide right, it went wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide right.
Penn State did score also a TD and their kicker was able to do the normal XP-Kick like a kicker should be able to.
Penn State wins in a never boring game.
Boston College 30 - Penn State 31 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 9-8

Nebraska vs. #24 USC @ Qualcomm Stadium, SAN DIEGO, CA
This one was a close one.
And a strange one.
First quarter was scoring after scoring, Huskers did lead at the end 17 - 10.
Second quarter was only USC, since Nebraska did turn the ball over at the worst moment. At the half 17 - 24.
Third quarter was first more or less USC scoring, but Nebraska came back. USC did lead twice by 14 points, but beginning of the fourth it was only 34 - 45.
Later Nebraska did score and shortened it to 42 - 45.
USC was kept in check then, but also Nebraska.
A Hail Mary by Nebraska at the end was no good and that way did USC win the Holiday Bowl.
Nebraska 42 - #24 USC 45 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 10-8

That's it for that wave.

Let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE BOWL GAMES FOR WAVE 4

Monday, December 29, 2:00 PM ET AutoZone LIBERTY BOWL
Texas A&M vs. West Virginia @ Liberty Bowl, MEMPHIS, TN
This one exists since 1959.
It's meant to play the Big 12 #4 vs a SEC pool pick.
Each team gets around 1.437.500$.
At the end did the BIg 12 #5 West Virginia with 5-4 Big12 record and 7-5 overall made it to the game.
The SEC did send Texas A&M after a 3-5 SEC season and 7-5 overall.
It will be interesting to see both teams facing off against each other.
Unfortunately there are some changes at the WVU (The AD left, the OC decided to change team) which might distract the players enough to give Texas A&M the needed edge.
Both teams were not really impressive, playing good and bad games during the season.
There is no real development to be seen, no winning series to be analyzed.
I give Sumlin as coach of the Aggies a small edge over Holgorsen.
I think this will become an Aggies offense against Mountaineers defense battle, which will probably end with an Aggies win.
I pick the Aggies, because of the distractions and the coach.

Monday, December 29, 5:30 PM ET RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL
Oklahoma vs. #17 Clemson @ Florida Citrus Bowl, ORLANDO, FL
This is played since 1990.
The ACC should face up against the Big12.
Each team gets around 2.275.000$.
This will be two nice team facing off here.
Oklahoma went only 4th in the Big12 but was 8-4 overall and did play 5-4 in the Big 12 with 3 losses against the later crowned champs or second placed teams.
Only the loss against rival Oklahoma State on the final day at home was bad.
Clemson finished 9-3 with 6-2 in the conference and losing only there against FSU and Georgia Tech, the division champs.
They won against rival South Carolina on the last gameday, so the should be fine.
My first impression was, that Clemson is a more complete team, but Bob Stoobs will bring a sharpe Oklahoma team into the game.
At the end I think Oklahomas Defense will lose a critical matchup against Clemsons offense, which will bring the Tigers the Bowl win.
I pick Clemson.

Monday, December 29, 9:00 PM ET ADVOCARE V100 TEXAS BOWL
Arkansas vs. Texas @ NRG Stadium, HOUSTON, TX
This is played at the home of the Houston Texans.
It's played since 2006.
The Big 12 should face up against a SEC Team here.
Each team gets around 3.000.000$.
I have to admit this one is really interesting.
Bret Bielema is having a great season with the Razorbacks, even if 6-6 does not look that good and 2-6 in the SEC does also not look good.
But they won 3 more games than last season, 2 more in the SEC and it looks like the mess, the Razorbacks were over the years, is getting fixed.
Biggest wins were against LSU and Ole Miss at home, both teams were ranked.
Charlie Strong on the other hand did lead the newly taken over Longhorns in a 6-6 season, 5-4 in the Big 12, the worst season for Texas since 2010.
In November it looked like he had the Longhorns on track, winning 3 straight, but they lost the last game against ranked TCU.
I give Arkansas the edge here for following reasons:
The team is a bit longer under new management, they had already their wins against very good teams and because I think the home factor will not be enough.
But ... I think it will be a game to watch and Texas is not without a chance here.
I still pick Arkansas.

Notre Dame vs. #23 LSU @ LP Field, NASHVILLE, TN
Since 1998 is this Bowl played and they field it at the home of the Tennessee Titans.
The SEC send a team versus an ACC or Big10 Team.
Each team gets around 2.750.000$.
At the end we have Notre Dame here. Some obvious someone made a decision here.
This is a quite juicy bowl, since you get a lot of money.
My first thought on that matchup was: slaughterhouse. That irish leprechaun will be ripped apart.
I gave no second thought on that.
Notre Dame lost basically against every strong team and even against not so strong teams.
Best win? Then ranked Stanford in beginning of October. The Irish are 7-5 overall.
LSU on the other hand?
They finished 8-4 with 4-4 in the SEC and they won against Wisconsin and Ole Miss.
This is not a championship level Tigers team, no, but it's better than Notre Dame.
It looked like the team got better over the season and they will be prepared.
Sure, Notre Dame will also be prepared, but they are overall weaker, so over the time will LSU gain the advantage and at the end I think the score will not be close.
LSU will win, my pick.

Tuesday, December 30, 6:30 PM ET BELK BOWL
#13 Georgia vs. #21 Louisville @ Bank of America, CHARLOTTE, NC
This is played the home of the Carolina Panthers.
It's played since 2002.
The ACC should face up against a SEC team.
Each team gets around 1.700.000$.
Georgia is 9-3, 6-2 in the SEC and Louisville is also 9-3, with 5-3 in the ACC.
This will be interesting, since Petrino, the new and former Cardinals coach is a former SEC coach.
He should know Richts Bulldogs very good.
Georgia did almost play for the SEC crown, they did even win against later SEC East winner Missouri, but since they struggled against other SEC teams, they had not enough wins.
Louisville had a great start in the ACC (last season they were in the AAC) and had to settle at #3 in their division, behind a good FSU and Clemson team.
Who will win here?
I think Georgia is overall better, but I think they will have to play almost perfect.
Should be a great game.
I pick Georgia.

Tuesday, December 30, 10:00 PM ET FOSTER FARMS BOWL
Maryland vs. Stanford @ Levi's Stadium, SANTA CLARA, CA
Since 2002 does this Bowl operate, even under different names.
It is played at the home of the San Francisco 49ers.
This is a PAC 12 Bowl facing some team from the Big10.
A team get about 2.212.500$ as payout.
This is a bit less exciting as you might expect by a PAC 12 - Big10 matchup.
Maryland is new in the Big10 and finished 7-5 overall and 4-4 win the conference.
Stanford on the other hand had a down year and finished also 7-5 and 5-4 in the PAC 12.
When I did read this matchup I did easily pick Stanford as my favorite.
Maryland was not really good this season and had a very mixed schedule with only 2 teams ranked at the gamedays.
Stanford had to face 6 ranked teams over the season and even if not all of them are now ranked, I think overall they had the tougher schedule, with the same result.
Add a big win over UCLA on the last gameday for Stanford and a loss against Rutgers on the last gameday for Maryland and I think it's clear why I only saw the Cardinals as the winner of that game.
So ... Stanford will win.

‘Til next time


Bowls - Third wave

Second wave of Bowls are over.
I hope you had a happy X-Mas and got lots of presents.

My picking was not that good for the last few bowls, but I will try to find an explanation.

Let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE BOWL GAMES FOR WAVE 2
Monday, December 22, 2:00 PM ET MIAMI BEACH BOWL
BYU vs. Memphis @ Marlins Park, MIAMI, FL
I picked BYU here and I felt juuuuuuuust short.
An incredible game it was.
BYU and Memphis did keep themselves and the other team always in the game.
Sometimes they played good offense and scored, sometimes they played bad offense and turned the ball over.
It looked almost over for the Tigers when Memphis was a TD behind and had 4th and 4 on the BYU 5th.
Paxton Lynch, the Tigers QB was scrambling and avoiding tackles and you all know, given time it's gets almost impossible to find an open receiver in the endzone, since all the defenders are spread out.
Well, Lynch found one and the game went into overtime.
Then BYU had another bad luck moment, when Jordan Leslie did made a one-hand catch in the endzone, which later was declared incomplete after review, because the ball did touch the ground while it was locked between the WR hand and his shoulderpad.
Tough decision by the refs, you can find arguments for a complete or incomplete pass.
Instead of a TD, BYU got a FG, held Memphis also to a FG and then got a TD by Memphis in the second OT.
Now comes the third bad moment, when Christian Stewart, the BYU QB, was intercepted on a pass aimed a bit too high.
Game over.
After the game a brawl broke out, which was a bit ugly.
It was not really caught on tape, who started the brawl, but both sides did not manage that situation very well.
Anyway, Memphis won this first version of the Bowl.
BYU 48 - Memphis 55 2OT -> Jacks Bowl Score: 5-1

Tuesday, December 23, 6:00 PM ET BOCA RATON BOWL
Marshall vs. Northern Illinois @ FAU Stadium, BOCA RATON, FL
OK that one was very one dimensional.
Marshall came in with something to prove and they did.
Northern Illinois was not able to keep the Thundering Herd in check and on the other hand was not able to score as often as needed.
The game was more or less over at Halftime with Marshall leading 24-13.
NIU did not came out of the locker room to turn the table, instead Marshall was able to extend the lead later in the 3rd.
I picked NIU, so I have to blame my guts for that wrong pick.
Looks like the Northwestern win, which lead me to that pick, was a Cinderella win, with a bad Northwestern team, not a good NIU team.
Marshall clearly showed they were the better team.
I still doubt the would do anything good in a CFP-Bowl, but that's a different story.
Marshall 52 - Northern Illinois 23 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 5-2

Navy vs. San Diego State @ Qualcomm Stadium, SAN DIEGO, CA
First impression was, Navy was quite competitive and there was no real hometown advantage to see for the Aztecs.
The game was back and fourth with no real advantage for any team.
In fact with about 1:30 min. to go in the 4th quarter the game was 17-16 and SDSU got the ball.
They made it to the Navy 17 yard line with 24 seconds to go.
A 34 yard FG away from the win did the cursed kicker miss wide right.
What sucker .....
I know I should not let my feeling out to that poor kicker, but that's the moment the team needs you and then THAT bad kick?
Man, that's how to destroy Christmas for a lot of players on your team ...
Navy won by that single point, they got their Christmas present early.
Navy 17 - San Diego State 16 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 5-3

Wednesday, December 24, 12:00 PM ET POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL
Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky @ Thomas Robinson Stadium, NASSAU, BAHAMAS
The Bowl season is still young, but this one was probably one of the most crazy ones, if not THE craziest of all.
How so?
Image you are Western Kentucky and you beat the shit out of Central Michigan for the first 3 quarters in the Bahamas Bowl.
Got that? Fine.
Now, comes the 4th quarter.
Your team WKU did just missed a FG to extend the lead of 14 - 49.
Central Michigan switched the side and scored a TD. 21 - 49.
Ha, no problem, right. Well, your teams only managed 3-and-out, so Central Michigan got the ball back.
5 plays later the score again, 28 - 49.
Ha, still no problem, right? Weeeeeeeell, your team sucked and fumbled the ball after 3 plays and gave the ball back.
8 plays a l t e r did Central Michigan again score a TD. 35 - 48.
Getting nervous? Still a good lead and only 3 minutes to play. This one is over, right?
Only that Central Michigan held you to 3-and-out and you gave the ball back with 2 minutes to go.
4 plays later they scored a TD. 42 - 49.
Oh fuck, but it's only 1:09 to go and they have to kick-off. Ha, that lousy onside kick was recovered by your team.
Let the clock run out and all good.
But ... you only manage to get the clock down to 0:10, with CMU calling the timeouts. You punt for a touchback and with 0:01 left to play, Central Michigan gets the ball.
A Penalty helps them to get to their own 25 yard line and then come the miracle.
A deep pass to the 30 yard line if heavy traffic. Over? No. It's caught. The catcher runs 5 yards, but many of your teammates are around him, trying to drag him to the ground.
Over? No, that punk does a lateral to a teammate and that one runs to the left side.
On the 15 yard line he is caught and tacked.
Over? No, that punk does another lateral and the catcher runs of to the right, but is caught very fast.
Over? NO! Another lateral to a teammate and that one runs to the right pylon, hits it in tackling traffic with the ball!
Touchdown! 48-49!
Going to overtime? No, that Central Michigan coach calls for 2!
Lucky for your team, the selected play is a overthrown pass play and Western Kentucky survives with more than one scare.
Central Michigan 48 - Western Kentucky 49 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 6-3

Wednesday, December 24, 8:00 PM ET HAWAII BOWL
Fresno State vs. Rice @ Aloha Stadium, HONOLULU, HI
I herewith apologize to all Rice fans.
Your team did good and did deserve the win.
I'm still stunned how bad Fresno State was.
The game was over after the first quarter, even that was not clear at that moment.
Fresno State was held to 6 points. SIX!
Fresno State is not a offense juggernaut anymore, but 6 points is not their standard.
Good job Rice, I'm curious to see you next season.
Fresno State 6 - Rice 30 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 6-4

That's the second wave.
Now comes the next few bowls.

Let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE BOWL GAMES FOR WAVE 3

Friday, December 26, 1:00 PM ET ZAXBY'S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL
Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech @ Cotton Bowl, DALLAS, TX
This is played since 2011.
Still confusing to see them playing in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, the Stadium named after the event (which was moved to another stadium).
It's a Big10 Bowl facing off against a CUSA-Team.
Each team gets around 1.100.000$.
Last season the Bowl matchup was boring (UNLV vs. UNT) but this season the matchup is not much better.
Illinois did win 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the Big10.
Louisiana Tech did win 8-4 overall in the regular season and 7-1 in the conference. Lost then against Marshall in the CUSA Championship game. So now they are 8-5.
Illinois did play WKU from the CUSA this season and won.
No real indication, but I'm leaning towards the Illini in that game.
The Bulldogs did not really play well in their last game.
Still, the Illini are beatable and Louisiana could win this.
I'm expecting a close game with a winning team out of Illinois.

Friday, December 26, 4:30 PM ET QUICK LANE BOWL
Rutgers vs. North Carolina @ Ford Field, DETROIT, MI
And another new Bowl game. But the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl was cancelled instead.
The Bowl is backed from the Detroit Lions and therefore played on their home field.
This is a Big10 vs ACC Bowl.
It's not clear what kind of money is spend on the teams here, but probably in the 750.000$ area.
Rutgers is 7-5 so far, 3-5 in the Big10.
North Carolina did finish 6-6 and 4-4 inside the ACC.
I don't expect much from the game.
Both teams did not really impress me during the season.
North Carolinas best wins were against Georgia Tech and Duke, Rutgers had no real big win, but were probably happy to win against Michigan at a time when every still expected a bit more from the Wolverines.
I see them quite even, so I'm not sure what to expect here.
Best case would be a high scoring open game, but I doubt that.
My head likes to pick UNC because of the tradition and brand, but that is the worst way to pick.
My gut picks Rutgers as a Big10 team, ignoring the fact that the ACC not worse the Big10 this season, if not better.
So ... I pick Rutgers for what ever reason ... No, the reason is, I'm not sold on the Tar Heels, but this can go either way.

Friday, December 26, 8:00 PM ET BITCOIN ST. PETERSBURG BOWL
North Carolina State vs. UCF @ Tropicana Field, SAINT PETERSBURG, FL
This is a DOME in Florida and home of the Tampa Bay Rays, a major league baseball team.
The Bowl is played since 2008 and each team gets 537.500$.
It's a Bowl organized between the AAC and the CUSA or ACC.
North Carolina State was not that good this season, 7-5 with 3-5 in the ACC.
UCF is one of the three co-champs of the AAC, 9-3 overall and 7-1 in the AAC.
I'm very confident UCF can overcome NC-State here.
First, they are quite hot at the moment, winning 4 straight, second, they play almost a home game here.
NC-State on the other hand can only bring in the reputation as an ACC team and a nice win against rival UNC on the last gameday.
I pick UCF and I'm hoping for a nice matchup.

Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech @ Navy Memorial Stadium, ANNAPOLIS, MD
Since 2008 this Bowl is played.
For the next 5 years it will feature teams from the ACC vs AAC.
Cincinnati did win a share of the AAC title this season with 9-3 and 7-1 in the AAC.
Virginia Tech did barely made it into a bowl with 6-6 and 3-5 in the ACC.
Each team gets around 1.000.000$.
Don't underestimate Frank Beamers Virginia Tech team, even they only went 6-6 this season.
I'm not sure if Beamer did lose his juice in the last few seasons or if other factors did lead to a decline in the amount of won games.
Cincinnati is rising with Tuberville in his second year.
He is also a longtime career coach, so this will get interesting.
I think Cincinnati has a small edge here but I doubt VT will go down easily.
Enjoy a nice matchup.
I pick the Bearcats.

Saturday, December 27, 2:00 PM ET HYUNDAI SUN BOWL
#15 Arizona State vs. Duke @ Sun Bowl, EL PASO, TX
Since 1935 is this Bowl played!
It is now played in Sun Bowl Stadium since 1963, the home of the UTEP Miners at El Paso, Texas.
It's a game between the PAC 12 and the ACC.
Each team gets around 2.150.000$.
I'm not convinced this game will be very interesting, I think Arizona State will handle Duke a quite heavy loss here.
I'm hoping for a good prepared Duke team, willing to show the world that they are no fluke (haha - you got that joke? Duke - Fluke? Haha - - - awl, forget it).
Dukes HC has yet to win a Bowl game with Duke, losing the last 2 straight.
ASU did almost play for the PAC 12 championship and I think they are a better team then Duke on any day.
I pick the Sun Devils for the win.

Miami (FL) vs. South Carolina @ Independence Stadium, SHREVEPORT, LA
This is again the Independence Bowl, played since 1976. It was named totally different last season.
Because of the 200 year celebration of independence at 1976, this Bowl had his original name.
The SEC 10th team should face an ACC team (7th).
Each team gets around 1.200.000$.
Miami finished 6-6 with 3-5 in the ACC, South Carolina finished 6-6 with 3-5 in the SEC.
So on paper they are even regarding this.
If you value in the conference strength, you might think the SEC should be valued higher, but especially against the ACC the SEC did suck this season.
On season final did the SEC not win a single game against the ACC.
So maybe we have a ball game here.
I'm still picking South Carolina, giving them credit for a tougher schedule.
I hope it will be a more open game, but I doubt it.

Saturday, December 27, 4:30 PM ET NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL
Boston College vs. Penn State @ Yankee Stadium, BRONX, NY
This is operated since 2010.
It does field an ACC team against a Big10 Team.
Each team gets around 2.000.000$.
First Bowl game for Penn State since they were punished for the Child abuse scandal a few years ago.
They are 6-6 with 2-6 in the conference.
Boston College went 7-5 with 4-4 in the ACC.
It's the second Bowl for them in a row, but they lost last season.
I was not very impressed by any of the teams this season, so I'm not sure what to expect here.
Biggest win for BC was against ranked USC in October, biggest win for Penn State was against later co-champ UCF.
Yeah ... that lame it will be.
I pick Boston, since I have to pick a team, but both teams can bore the other team to death here.

Nebraska vs. #24 USC @ Qualcomm Stadium, SAN DIEGO, CA
This is played at the home of the San Diego Chargers.
It's played since 1978.
The Big 10 should face up against a PAC 12 team.
Each team gets around 2.825.000$.
Nebraska did fire their HC after the last regular season game and already found his successor, but he will not coach the Bowl.
So it's interim coach time again.
Not good enough against a well coach USC team, which almost won the PAC 12 South, after a slow start.
I hope the Huskers will stay in the game, but this can become a massacre.
I pick USC on any day here.

‘Til next time


Merry Christmas!

Yes, it is Christmas again. John Lennon once posted:

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

Couldn't say it any better - even it is a bit early for the New Year wishes.

I am wishing you and your loved ones all the best, and some rest during the next few days. Thanks for playing this game, and thanks for your ongoing support!

Best Regards



Bowls - Second wave

The Bowl-Season started with no real surprises.

Let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE BOWL GAMES FOR WAVE 1

Saturday, December 20, 11:00 AM ET R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL
Nevada vs. Louisiana-Lafayette @ MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME, NEW ORLEANS, LA
This looked like a very boring game.
Maybe the fan boys can be happy over a low scoring game, but I like offense and that part of the game was awful.
ULL started nice in the first quarter and die lead 10-0.
Then did Nevada turn the ball over, but ULL did not cash in, instead did Nevada kick a FG on one drive. Halftime.
The 3rd quarter was punt-o-rama and again a lucky Nevada team stopping ULL from scoring.
The 4th quarter was then highlighted by 2 ULL field goal.
Nevada 3 - Louisiana-Lafayette 16 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 1-0

Saturday, December 20, 2:20 PM ET GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL
Utah State vs. UTEP @ University Stadium, ALBUQUERQUE, NM
Let's make it short here.
UTEP did suck.
Not that much as expected, but they did basically nothing on offense, so how win a game like this?
The game was open until halftime, because Utah State did turn the ball over too often, but UTEP were unable to do anything with that.
In the second half did Utah State do a bit better than in the first and UTEP ... not.
At the end, I think all people were happy the game was over.
Utah State 21 - UTEP 6 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 2-0

Saturday, December 20, 3:30 PM ET ROYAL PURPLE LAS VEGAS BOWL
#22 Utah vs. Colorado State @ Sam Boyd Stadium, LAS VEGAS, NV
Easy win for the Utes.
CSU did basically nothing.
I really would like to know, how the team would have played with their regular coach at the side?
This was only entertaining if you are a Utah fan.
#22 Utah 45 - Colorado State 10 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 3-0

Saturday, December 21, 5:45 PM ET FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL
Western Michigan vs. Air Force @ Albertsons Stadium, BOISE, ID
I really liked the look of the blue Falcons on the smurf turf of Boise State.
Looked almost like a home game.
Western Michigan was not able to control the Air Force on the ground.
They had 284 yards rushing.
They funny fact is, WMU had more yards in total, but it counts where you gain them.
Air Force did handle 4 of 4 of the 4th down tries for a first down, while WMU had 0 of 1.
And it counts when you get penalties. WMU had 9 for 70 yards, the Falcons 3 for 41.
At the end did the Falcons win by a constant effort over the 4 quarters, while WMU did was not able to handle the game with the same effort in each quarter.
Western Michigan 24 - Air Force 34 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 4-0

Saturday, December 20, 9:15 PM ET RAYCOM MEDIA CAMELLIA BOWL
South Alabama vs. Bowling Green @ Cramton Bowl, MONTGOMERY, AL
I would say, this was the most interesting Bowl so far.
After the first quarter it was a one score difference game.
At halftime it looked like Bowling Green was pulling away, leading 7-20.
After the 3rd quarter it looked like both teams were even, but Bowling Green was still leading by 13.
Then the craziness started.
South Alabama did score for 21-27.
In the next drive Bowling Green was held for a FG-try, but the kick was block by the defense.
After that both teams were unable to get anything done, but after that did South Alabama had a nice drive and scored for the lead. 28-27, 1:20 to go.
No special return and then on 1-10?
A deep drop back of the QB, a bomb over the middle, 2 blind safeties and a nice run after catch do add up to a 78 yard TD-catch.
A failed 2-point-conversion resulted into a 28-33 lead of Bowling Green.
Yeah, sorry over.
South Alabama was intercepted on the first down after the Kickoff.
South Alabama 28 - Bowling Green 33 -> Jacks Bowl Score: 5-0

That's the first wave.
Now comes the second wave of Bowl games.
I will put here 5 Bowl games, until Wednesday.

Let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE BOWL GAMES FOR WAVE 2
Monday, December 22, 2:00 PM ET MIAMI BEACH BOWL
BYU vs. Memphis @ Marlins Park, MIAMI, FL
Another brand new bowl game here.
Never played before in the past and so far I don't get the tie ins, means who can be invited to that bowl.
The bowl itself is hosted by the AAC and the feel free to invite teams from the CUSA, MAC or SBC.
But the first edition already features no team from those conferences, but an independent one.
So there is more in this than that. Remember that 4 of the 5 left out teams are exactly from the mentioned conferences.
Looks like someone made a business decision here.
I found a hint that the Bowl spot was sold by the CUSA to BYU, while the AAC gave their Bowl rights to the AAC in the Bahamas Bowl.
Why the AAC did that, I was not able to find yet, but I'm sure money is a factor.
They payout is not public so far, so no numbers are known.
The Marlins Park is the home field of the Florida Marlins, a MLB Baseball team.
Since the AAC send one of their top teams to that bowl they will likely get a bit more money than the CAMELLIA BOWL teams, but you never know.
The Tigers were great this season, Memphis went from a clearly losing season last year (2-10) to a share of the AAC Championship (9-3 overall, 7-1 in the AAC).
BYU had a good season with 8-4 as independent, but did lose their good QB beginning of October after a 4-0 start, lost 4 in a row then and won the last 4 again.
It will be interesting to see, how they will do against Memphis.
All bigger games of Memphis were lost, even if sometimes in a close match.
I'm leaning towards BYU to win this. Cougars should be able to win here with preparation.

Tuesday, December 23, 6:00 PM ET BOCA RATON BOWL
Marshall vs. Northern Illinois @ FAU Stadium, BOCA RATON, FL
This is also a new one, and belongs basically to the MAC.
This season the play a CUSA team, next season it will be an AAC team.
You can call this the very poor man’s Super Bowl, since you will see the MAC Champ vs. the CUSA Champ battling it out and it is played inside the home stadium of Florida Atlantic University (playing in the CUSA).
The payout is not public, yet.
Marshall would have played inside a CFP-Bowl (Former BCS-Bowl) if they wouldn't have lost to Western Kentucky end of November.
At that time they were the highest ranked NON-Big5-team, but dropped out of the rankings after that loss and Boise State took over the pole position (and made it).
NIU did lose early in the season twice and were never considered for a big Bowl, two seasons ago they were in the Orange Bowl as BCS spoiler.
I'm not sure which team will have the upper side here.
On one hand did Marshall only lose once, but had a quite weak schedule, on the other hand NIU plays only the MAC but were able to beat Northwestern on the road.
My guts do favour NIU, but this can become a close match with the luckiest team being the winner.
I pick NIU, with a little doubt.

Navy vs. San Diego State @ Qualcomm Stadium, SAN DIEGO, CA
This is played on the home field of the San Diego Chargers and the San Diego State Aztecs, so a real-real home game for San Diego State.
It is played since 2005 and each team gets around 612.500$.
It's a Bowl organized between the MWC (2. place until 2014) and different teams from different conferences each year, if they are eligible.
This season the Navy Midshipmen were able to win enough games (7-5) and accepted the spot.
The Bowl itself was played already 1952-1955 between western and Eastern Military Academies as a championship game.
It was then resurrected in 2005.
Unfortunately has Navy a bit of a down year, so I expect a one-sided game here.
The Aztecs will play at home with more time to prepare and heal and against a good but not great Navy team.
Under those conditions I will pick NOT Navy.

Wednesday, December 24, 12:00 PM ET POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL
Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky @ Thomas Robinson Stadium, NASSAU, BAHAMAS
Now it gets a bit strange.
A new Bowl for FBS-Football played on the Bahamas.
Played inside a 15.000 seat multipurpose stadium on the Bahamas, which is mainly used for soccer matches.
So, who will attend such a game?
Tourist? Florida residents on a short trip to the Bahamas?
15.000 seems a bit small for a college bowl, even if the bowl is only a MAC-Bowl and plays against the CUSA.
They payout for each team is not known.
Western Kentucky had a 7-5 season, 4-4 in the CUSA, biggest win was probably the win against a ranked Marshall team on the last gameday.
Central Michigan had also a 7-5 season with 5-3 in the MAC.
Biggest win for them was against now MAC Champ NIU.
Hard to tell, which team will win here, but I think Western Kentucky has the small edge here.
But, last time both teams meet was also in a bowl, 2012 and CMU did win.
I still pick WKU.

Wednesday, December 24, 8:00 PM ET HAWAII BOWL
Fresno State vs. Rice @ Aloha Stadium, HONOLULU, HI
Ah ... the Hawai'i Bowl. I like the site.
Normally Hawai'i does play here (if eligible, not happened since 2010) and then some other team.
The Hawai'i Bowl is played since 2002 and each team gets around 650.000$.
It does team up MWC teams against a CUSA team.
This year we have the 6-7 Fresno State Bulldogs (lost against Boise State in the Championship game of the MWC) against the 7-5 Rice Owls.
I'm not very confident this will be a highlight of the bowl history.
But you never know.
At least both teams should be on the same level and we will probably see an open game.
I pick Fresno State as the winner, I don't get my mind around a winning Rice team, sorry.
The Bulldogs did not look too bad against Boise, while Rice got really spanked by Louisiana Tech in the last game.
I'm curious to see the game.

‘Til next time


Bowls - First wave

I decided to give the BOWLs a complete coverage, because this is the fun part of the season and we will have the first playoffs here, so we shouldn't miss that one.

Unfortunately many matchups before the End-Of-The-Year/Start-Of-The-New-Year timeframe are not that exciting, but I take what I can get.

This season the Bowls will start at Saturday, December 20th and will be played until Monday, January 12th, which is the National Championship game with no participator decided yet.

39 Bowls will be played, 76 teams are set to battle it out a last time.
Remember that we have the National Championship game played by winners of two Bowls.
In the past there were exactly double as many teams as Bowls, but because of the playoffs, this rule is broken now.

81 teams were eligible to participate in a Bowl, so at the end 5 teams were left out.
Ohio (MAC, 6-6), Texas State (SBC 7-5), Temple (AAC 6-6), UAB (CUSA 6-6) and Middle Tennessee (CUSA 6-6) are these teams.

Appalachian State (SBC 7â€"5), Georgia Southern (SBC 9â€"3) and Old Dominion (6â€"6 CUSA) would have been eligible, if they wouldn't be in a FCS-FBS transition year. Because of that transition, their records were really impressive, especially Georgia Southern winning the SBC.

All FBS-Team can become eligible for Bowls (except those teams in transition) with 6 wins and you can have even 2 games against FCS-Teams on your schedule (which normally are blowouts and sure wins) and still be eligible. In the past, this did not have much impact but this year the strength of schedule got very important, especially for the playoffs.
Hopefully many teams will rethink this scheduling behaviour.
This would mean the bigger teams would at least play FBS teams, which would reduce the eligible teams in the future (because some weaker FBS teams will now not get a 6th win by bashing a FCS team, but getting creamed by stronger teams and will not get the needed win amount).
Down side of this will be that FCS teams can't get that easy money anymore by playing FBS teams. This will have an impact on the team landscape.

Now let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE BOWL GAMES FOR WAVE 1

Saturday, December 20, 11:00 AM ET R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL
Nevada Wolf Pack vs. Louisiana-Lafayette @ MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME, NEW ORLEANS, LA
This is played since 2001 and each team gets around 500.000$.
The teams are chosen from the MWC and the SBC.
And if not enough teams are eligible from the MWC, they can choose some other team.
The Ragin' Cajuns are now playing this Bowl since 2011 the 4th time in a row.
So far they did win all of them.
I'm not truly convinced they will win this year again, but they have all the chances.
The Ragin' Cajuns were almost Co-Champs of the SBC. They finished 8-4, 7-1 inside the conference and did lose to Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss, Boise State and Appalachian State, which did cost them the co-champ title.
Nevada did finish 7-5, and did finish in the conference with 4-4, so no really major winning team here.
Granted, they did not lose against bad teams and they did win some higher profile games.
Still, they are not in a THAT good shape.
The question here is, are they good enough to take a SBC team in an almost home game in Louisiana?
I'm expecting a close game here and my gut says, the winning series of ULL will snap, but my head is routing for the Cajuns, so I pick them, where ever it may take me.

Saturday, December 20, 2:20 PM ET GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL
Utah State vs. UTEP @ University Stadium, ALBUQUERQUE, NM
This is played at the University of New Mexico and is played since 2006.
Each team gets around 456,250$
It's a Bowl organized between the MWC and CUSA.
Utah State did finish 6-2 in the conference and 9-4 overall. Not a bad year, but last season they played for the MWC Championship, this season they were only 3rd in the division, because Boise State and Colorado State had very good seasons.
UTEP went more or less under the radar and finished 5-3 in the conference and 7-5 overall, which is not a bad year for them. Last year they were 2-10.
I don't want to discount the Miners, but the Utah State Aggies are for sure the team to beat in this game.
They will be tough to handle and honestly I can't see UTEP coming into this bowl and win it.
So I pick the Aggies.

Saturday, December 20, 3:30 PM ET ROYAL PURPLE LAS VEGAS BOWL
#22 Utah vs. Colorado State @ Sam Boyd Stadium, LAS VEGAS, NV
They play in the home of the UNLV Rebels.
It is played since 1992 and each team gets around 1.350.000 $.
The Tie-ins on conferences are since 2001 between PAC 12 and MWC.
This could have been a great matchup, if not for the factor than Colorado State did lose their HC to Florida and the Rams will now be guided by an interims coach.
CSU had a great season, 10-2 overall and 6-2 in the conference.
Utah on the other had only 8-4, but did play spoiler inside the conference.
Biggest wins were winning against Michigan on the road, UCLA on the road and ranked USC at home.
I think, if the interims coach gets the Rams ready, this will be fun to watch.
I'm more convinced this will be a disaster for the Rams and the Utes will win this easily.
So I pick the Utes.

Saturday, December 21, 5:45 PM ET FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL
Western Michigan vs. Air Force @ Albertsons Stadium, BOISE, ID
This was known as the Humanitarian Bowl.
It is played at the University of Boise in Idaho and is worth around 325.000$ for each team.
This Bowl is played since 1997 and it is played at the moment between teams from the MWC and the MAC.
Air Force Falcons went more or less unnoticed to a 9â€"3 record, but were only 5-3 inside the conference.
They won even against the now new MWC Champ Boise State, but did also lose against the bad Wyoming team.
But I'm sure they will challenge the Broncos of Western Michigan.
Western Michigan went 8â€"4 and 6-2 in the MAC.
They lost to Toledo and now MAC Champ NIU.
I think this will be a nice head to head compare, but I don't find both teams very interesting so I'm not that excited about the game.
I pick the Falcons, since I think the MWC is a bit better than the MAC, so the quality of wins and schedule should help Air Force.
But be prepared, everything is possible.

Saturday, December 20, 9:15 PM ET RAYCOM MEDIA CAMELLIA BOWL
South Alabama vs. Bowling Green @ Cramton Bowl, MONTGOMERY, AL
We have a brand new bowl game here.
The CAMELLIA BOWL was played in the past (1948 and 1961-1980) but this new version is played this season for the first time.
It ties in to the SBC and the MAC.
They payout is not public so far, so no numbers are known, but it's likely it's under 400.000$ a team, maybe even under 300.000$.
South Alabama was 6-6 overall and 5-3 in the SBC.
Bowling Green is 7-6 after their bad loss against NIU and 5-3 in the MAC.
I have to admit I can't figure out, which team will here have the upper side.
Bowling Green had some good games, most notable the win against Big 10 team Indiana.
South Alabama had no real signature win, but went OK.
So by the numbers, Bowling Green should be the better team, but I don't count out the home factor.
This is played in Alabama in a former home stadium of the Crimson Tide and other Alabama teams and I'm sure the Jaguars will get a warmer welcome than the Ohio team of Bowling Green.
So I'm expecting a close game with a Falcons win.

‘Til next time


The Fallout

Hey folks,

the last week of the regular season is done (expect the not really relevant Army-Navy game; by the way, what will happen, if that game HAS some relevance regarding the playoffs? Will all wait a week?) and the dust did clear.

I'm not sure if the events of the weekend were the best that could happen or the worst (OK, probably not THE worst, but pretty bad).

The top 6 in the College Football Playoff Rankings were before the weekend

1 Alabama -> plays the SEC Champioship game
2 Oregon -> plays the PAC 12 Championship game
3 TCU -> plays Iowa State and can win a share of the BIG 12
4 Florida State -> plays the ACC Championship game
5 Ohio State -> plays the BIG 10 Championship game
6 Baylor -> plays Kansas State and can win a share of the BIG 12

Just think about it, how you would rank them, if all would win?
Remember, that only 4 of them will play for the national championship, 2 will play "only" big bucks bowls.

Well, what happened, was:
Alabama did beat Mizzou clearly, check.
Oregon did beat Arizona clearly, check.
TCU did beat Iowa State clearly, check.
Florida State did escape an upset bid of Georgia Tech, check.
Ohio State did beat Wisconsin clearly, check.
Baylor did beat Kansas State by less than 2 scores, check.

So all DID win and 2 of them had to be left out, the question was, which one.

Alabama, as SEC Champ was selected #1,
Oregon as PAC 12 Champ was selected #2
Florida State as ACC Champ was selected #3, so they jumped one spot
And ...
Ohio State as Big 10 Champ was selected #4, did also jump one spot and left the Big 12 in depression.

Baylor was set at #5 and TCU at #6, both are named Big 12 co-champions.

Now what does that mean?

I think FSU did get the spot as the only unbeaten team.
I don't think they are the #3 team in the country, but they went unbeaten and they became the ACC champ. There would have been a lot of protest, if they would have been left out.

I think Ohio State did get the #4 spot, because of the pity situation the Big 12 is in right now.
Baylor did beat TCU and it is fine that they are ahead of TCU. Both teams are co-champs with the same record and the conference lacks a conference championship game.
A game where you can meet one of the best teams of the conference. No, one of the best teams in the country.
Ohio State did had an almost as weak or strong schedule as Baylor and TCU, but that championship game gave them that extra profile it seems you need in this new selection process.

I think we will see probably 2 things in the future:
The Big 12 will rethink their "we don't need extra teams"-policy, and maybe Texas will give up something of their money to give the Big 12 a chance for a playoff seat.
It will be fun to see, which team they will go after.

The next thing we will see is an eight-team-playoff process. Not next season, but I think this next step is already decided, even nobody did mention it right now.
Why? Because there are 5 big conferences and even 1 or 2 smaller ones wanting to be bigger and there are at the moment only 4 spots.
So at least 1 conference will be left out, every season. Maybe even more. This season did almost Mississippi State sneak in.
That situation will not hold on for long.

Best guess: 5 champs get an automatic bid, 3 spots get filled by the committee.
Maybe with a side note for the best non-big-5 conference team in the rankings to be in, if it's inside the top 10 or something. To get everyone a decent shot for a title and even the smaller conference would have chance, if they teams is dominant in that year.

Of cause also in that situation will a few teams slip through and won't participate.

Some info on the college football front:
UAB will shut down the program and they did not even get an invitation for a bowl.
I'm really sorry for the kids, they worked really hard this year and because of a business decision they get nothing.
As far as I know, all students can finish their scholarship, or are free to look for another team.
In that situation, I'm not sure what I would do ...

Shortly after I posted my last blog entry the news got in that Florida and Nebraska did s e l e c t their next head coach.
Florida did s e l e c t the already mentioned Jim McElwain from Colorado State. Rumours are they did pay about 5 mio buyout money to get him.
CSU now has to search on their own to find a new coach.

Nebraska did a surprising stunt, hiring Mike Riley, long-time coach of the Oregon State Beavers.
I think nobody thought about him as a possible hire (he declined a UCS bid a few seasons ago) and he is also not really a high profile coach.
He did very well with the beavers, no question, but there are doubts he will be able to win more games with the Huskers than Pelini did.
But maybe he will be the right choice. Riley did win sometimes against ranked teams.
He did win some crucial games, where Pelini did not.
Interesting hire.
Bad situation for the Beavers, they now need a new coach, too.

The other champions:
Memphis, UCF and Cincinnati did win a share of the AAC.
It will be fun to see, if the conference also will try to get the 12 needed teams for a championship game.

Marshall did beat Louisiana Tech in a very close game with a wild finish and became the Conference USA Champs.

Northern Illinois did crush Bowling Green for the MAC Title.

Boise State did win against Fresno State to win the MWC.

The Sun Belt was already Georgia Southerns.

Some games were still to play, most notable the Bedlam Serie were Oklahoma State did beat Oklahoma in the road in Norman in OT, to become bowl eligable.

Temple did beat Tulane, also for the 6th win, but were not invited to a bowl.

And SMU did beat UConn to avoid a winless season.

I will try to cover the bowls, so see you soon.

‘Til next time


Regular Season Final Special

Hey there,

It’s the last gameday of the final season and since Bricks Picks Blog is gone and I did not write anything so far this season, I had some itching in my fingers to write something NOW.

It was a very entertaining and strange season so far in College football with the 4-team-playoff-system installed the first time and no one does know how it will play out.

So far it did quite OK, even there were some strange decisions in the past and the last gameday might turn the whole system upside down.
I will tell you about that when I'm through with the conferences.

I decided to give you a short overview over the conferences, who did suck, who did do wonders (in my opinion) and what did happen.

I will start with the
1 team short of being eligible to host a conference final (you need 12 teams for that) it got some new teams from the FCS and one of them did great.
Georgia Southern did beat every team inside the conference in its first season and won the conference.
Normally they would be bowl eligible, but because of their first season in the FBS, they are not.
They asked for an exception, but that was declined.
Still, a great accomplishment.
My favourite for the season Louisiana-Lafayette did not win all games and fell to 2nd place.
Troy, a long time winning team under Larry Blakeney did finish with 3-9 and Larry Blakeney will retire after 24 seasons.
A new coach is already found, Neal Brown, a former Troy assistant and OC/QB-Coach at Kentucky this season.
With 34 the 2nd youngest FBS HC now.
Quite ashamed should be the team of Idaho.
The Vandals, once a quite proud football team, also new in the SUN BELT after one season as independent, went 1-10 in one of the weakest, if not THE weakest conference in the FBS.
I hope the coach will get the team on track again.

The season is basically over for the conference, 6 teams finished with 6 or more wins in total, but Georgia Southern is not allowed to play a bowl, so 5 teams are waiting for bowl invitations.
Lesson from the past was, not all will get an invitation.

Next stop,
The team movements did drain the conference quite big and they got some teams from other conferences to keep the conference championship game alive.
13 teams did compete and this weekend will Marshall battle Louisiana Tech for the conference title.
Both teams had very good season, Marshall even an outstanding one.
Wouldn't they not have lost to Western Kentucky on last gameday last week, they might have had a shot for a Former-BCS-Bowl with a perfect record.
LT did lose only to Old Dominion inside the conference, so hopefully the game will be good, between both 7-1 conference record teams.
Teams worth mentioning are from my point of view UAB with a 6-6 record and bowl eligibility for the first time in their history.
Unfortunately the University decided to SHUT DOWN the whole program, stating they would have had to invest about 49 mio. dollars in the next 5 years to stay competitive. Money they don't have.
I'm sure there are more reasons to that, but I'm also sure that any theory around the Crimson Tide (which board also overviews UAB) did close the team to keep the competition down is bullshit.
Another team to mention is Old Dominion, since 2 seasons now FBS and they are also 6-6 this season.
Still a shame is Southern Miss, with 3-9 and Florida Atlantic, also 3-9. Both teams were better in the past and should get a turnaround soon.
Biggest surprise for me was Florida International with a 4-8 record.

The conference has only the championship game to play and 8 teams are waiting for a bowl invitation.
It's very unlikely all of them will get a bowl spot.

As 3rd conference I would like to have the
The MAC is very astonishing, since they went through that conference realignment very much untouched.
The 13 teams are very stable so far and they will only lose UMass after next season, but they were only an affiliate member anyway.
This season the conference final is like last season final.
Bowling Green vs. Northern Illinois.
Only this season both teams looked more beatable as they looked last season.
Bowling Green is only 5-3 inside the conference.
Northern Illinois looked better (7-1) but were not that dominant as last season.
Will be fun to see, which team will win here.
Ball State had a bad season with 5-7 this season, after 10-2 last season.
Biggest jump upwards did make Western Michigan, now 8-4 (last season 1-11).
I have the feeling there are no big changes in the power structure inside the conference.
Buffalo did fire Jeff Quinn after 5 seasons. Last season they were 8-5, but this season they fell to 5-6 (with one game postponed due weather effects).
They already hired Lance Leipold, HC of Wisconsin-Whitewater of Division III.
I’m sceptic, but he was a winner there, so give him a chance.

All games are played inside the conference, beside the championship game.
6 teams are eligible for bowls, normally not all of them will play one.

4th conference in the spotlight should be the
They are now a bid weak. Not many really good teams left in the conference and the successors were all from weaker conferences.
No wonder the leaders this year are Cincinnati, UCF and ... Memphis?
Yep, Memphis ....
They were 3-9 last season, 1-7 inside the conference, now they are 7-1 in the conference at the moment and 9-3 overall.
A share of the conference title is for sure.
Cincinnati and UCF will play this weekend (not against each other) at 6-1 and might both win also a share of the conference title.
Biggest losers are UConn and SMU.
UConn has a new HC this season, so the drop to 2-9 so far (last season they were 3-9) with one game to play might be based on the changes inside the team.
Still, the Huskies are used to win more.
SMU on the other hand was very strange this season.
Last year they had 5-7 in total and opened 0-2 when June Jones resigned from SMU football and left the team with 10 games left to play.
SMU has selected Chad Morris, the OC/QB coach of Clemson to rebuild the program now, which is still waiting for their first win this season.
One game left to play, against UConn.
Another program fired their HC, Tulsa. Bill Blankenship was fired after a 2-10 season. Tulsa was very successful in the past so a 2 win season is not inside the expected win range.
No new coach is selected so far.

The conference is not finished yet for the regular season and 5 to 6 teams (Temple could win their last game and get the 6th win by that) will be bowl eligible.
Can't say from the top of my head, if the conference has 6 guaranteed spots in bowls, but it's likely they will bring in at least 5.

Last NON-BIG5-Conference on the list is the
The Mountain West will host their championship game this weekend and this season it's Boise State vs Fresno State.
Boise State has a fantastic season so far with 10-2 under a new HC and Fresno State is only 6-6, but still managed to win the division in a tie breaker against San Diego State.
The MWC is real strange this season because of that. Fresno won the WEST division with 5-3 inside the conference and the division has many teams with almost similar conference record. Normally that record is not near anything a division champ needs to win.
The MOUNTAIN division was won by Boise with 7-1 and only 2 teams in the division have negative conference record.
Biggest loser this season for me is UNLV with 2-11 (last season 7-6).
Biggest winner for me is Colorado State. They were 8-6 last season and are now 10-2 so far.
Maybe that's not that big in progress as for example Hawaii had (1-11 to 4-9) but the Rams did really play tough football this season and were able to beat quite good opponents.
No coaching changes so far, but I'm sure some things will happen.

Beside Boise and Fresno all teams are finished and 7 teams are bowl worthy.
Maybe 5 to 6 will get a spot.

At very last NON-BIG5 the
There are not many teams here and they don't play conference finals and don't crown champions.
They are just the "rest" bunch.
Army sucks as they do since I can remember, Navy is not that good this season with 6-5 so far, but will probably go bowling.
Notre Dame had a promising start, but were not able to beat any strong team on their quite weak schedule and finished 7-5. I think the fans and university people had higher expectations.
BYU on the other hand looked like a sure bust this season, started 4-0, lost then 4 in a row after they lost their QB in the 5th game and did finish strong with 4 wins in the last 4 games.
8-4 means of cause a bowl for them and they will get a quite good one, I think.

Most of the games are played here, only the traditional Army-Navy game is waiting in 2 weeks.
BYU, Notre Dame and Navy will probably all play in Bowls.

The weakest conference of the BIG 5 is this season the
The Big 10 did add Rutgers and Maryland to their teams and did skip the Legends and Legends Divisions.
All teams were realigned to East and West divisions.
Did sound OK so far, but since most of the teams took a down-year this season, the whole quality of the conference did suffer.
Wisconsin and Ohio State will meet in the Big 10 Final. Except these teams it's hard to pick good teams from the conference.
Michigan State, yes, and that's all I can pick of the East Division, Minnesota and Nebraska maybe from the West. The rest did not bring up the quality I expect from the Big 10.
I can't even name the biggest winner in that conference, since no team had a real turnaround in a good way.
Minnesota did look much better this season, but they were at the end 8-4 (8-5 last season with a Bowl) as last season.
Biggest losers list is long. Michigan for sure, Penn State also, but I could also name Indiana, Purdue and so on.
Mayland and Rutgers came in as former ACC and AAC teams and went 3rd and 4th in the East. Michigan, Penn State and Indiana are behind them.
Rutgers were 7th in the AAC last season and Maryland was 5th in the Atlantic Division of the ACC last season. So they did good.
I don't know what will happen this off season, but I hope the teams will get better.

This bad season did already cost the jobs of Michigan’s Brady Hoke and Nebraska’s Bo Pelini, successors are not found yet.
If you ask me for the next "big thing" I could not really answer that. Colorado States McElwain seems to be on many lists, but he has a 7.5 mio buyout. Autsch.
Dukes David Cutcliffe did a great job and then it's getting very much down to a lottery pick.
Of cause there are many good coaches out there, but many don't want to switch and sometimes they don't fit at the new spot. We will see.

Except the final, all games are played and 10 teams of the 14 teams are waiting for a Bowl call. Some might wait very long, but since it's still the Big 10, probably all will get a spot.

Next in line of the BIG 5 Conferences is the
With Florida State as reigning national champion some might think the conference should be higher, but beside Florida the quality gets worse very fast.
FSU and Georgia Tech will meet this weekend for the ACC Championship and chances are there the national champion gets beaten by the yellow jackets.
Both teams are good, but FSU did struggle with bad starts the whole season and it's only a matter of time, when they are not able to comeback early enough.
Don't get me wrong, they might win it all, again, this season, but I would not bet my money on that.
Biggest winner this season beside GT is Louisville. They came in from the AAC, with a new coach and did get the 3rd spot in the Atlantic division, behind FSU and a good Clemson team.
Biggest loser for me this season is Virginia Tech. I'm not sure how long the university will except the slide of Frank Beamers team, but the Hokies fans are used to better records than 6-6 and 3-5 in the conference (Frank Beamers own fault, he was too good in the past. lol.)

So far no coaching changes here, but it's likely some will happen.

All teams are finished, beside the two championship participants. 11 of 14 teams are bowl worthy. Probably all will get a spot.

Now it's getting philosophical, which conference should be next? I pick the
The Big 12 gets the next spot, because I like the PAC 12 a bit more this season, sorry.
Anyway, both are from my point of view almost equal in quality.
Since the Big 12 has less than 12 teams, they don't have a championship game and will play this weekend the last games.
3 teams are in a position to win the conference or at least a share of the title. Baylor, Kansas State and TCU.
Baylor plays Kansas State, so it will automatically come down to potentially 2 teams on the top.
TCU will play the weak Iowa State at home, so it's quite likely they will win here.
Biggest winner this season is for sure TCU, they had a very good season so far and might even get into the national playoffs.
Biggest losers are from my point of view Oklahoma State, which are 5-6 so far (last season 10-3) and Kansas.
Kansas couldn't be much worse than last season, but they had to play a lot of games (ok, only 4, but still), until they realised that Charlie Weis is not the HC they wanted (or any HC at all).
No successor is named so far.

So, Texas, Texas Tech, Kansas and West Virginia are finished, the rest will play their last games.
For Oklahoma and Oklahoma State it's the Bedlam Series again and OSU needs the win to get the needed 6th win for a Bowl.

So far, 6 of the 10 teams are bowl worthy; all of them will get a spot.

To the 2nd strongest Conference this season
PAC 12 Conference
The PAC 12 did play a very nice season so far and I'm curious to see the two division champions battle it out this weekend.
The North sends Oregon against the South winner Arizona.
Arizona did beat Oregon once this season, so this is not in the books already.
For me, Arizona is the winner of that season.
Arizona State had a good season until they lost against rival Arizona last week, USC had an up-and-down-season, which was very successful for a team with a new coach, but Arizona did everything they did last season and did it better.
All other teams had OK seasons compared to last season, except Colorado, which I would label the loser of this season.
2-10 overall and 0-8 in the PAC 12 is bad for program which should be on the turnaround path.
So far no coach was let go and all teams except Arizona and Oregon have finished their schedule.

8 of 12 teams are Bowl eligible; for sure they will get a spot.

And as strongest conference of cause the
The SEC had a very strange season with the West division drawing all the interest and the East running on standby, at least in the press.
It looked like the West champ would be decided between both Mississippi teams this season, but Ole Miss did stumble mid season and Mississippi State did then fall last week against rival Ole Miss, how ironic.
Lucky (or worthy) winner of the west became Alabama, losing only once this season to Ole Miss.
The East did have more negative than positive stories, starting with the downfall of Florida and South Carolina and with an up and down Georgia team.
At the end did Mizzou win the division without getting much attention and will face Alabama in the championship game.
Biggest winner this season is for sure Mississippi State, even when they did not win the division.
Biggest loser for me is Florida, unable to get much done. They finished 6-6 and Will Muschamp was let go. No successor is named, but CSU McElwain is on the list.

All teams have finished the season except Alabama and Mizzou, 12 of 14 teams are waiting for a bowl invitation. For sure they get the call soon.

This season is the first time with playoffs between 4 selected teams and since about mid season the selection committee does post their list of the top 25 teams.
It was very fast obvious that there is not much improvement to the BCS rankings in the past regarding who is in and who is out.
The only difference between the past and now is, once the teams are selected.
In the past the top 2 selected teams would battle it out, which was sometimes the close matchup everybody wanted, and sometimes a boring game with a winner already decided before the coin toss.
This season we might get also such boring games in the half finals, but because of that, we will for sure get a better quality in the finals, which is good.
If a hyped team gets a spot on the top 4 teams, for sure it will get creamed in the first game and we have a chance for a worthy final matchup.
The problem is the selection process.
At the moment there are:
1 Alabama -> plays the SEC Champioship game
2 Oregon -> plays the PAC 12 Championship game
3 TCU -> plays Iowa State and can win a share of the BIG 12
4 Florida State -> plays the ACC Championship game
5 Ohio State -> plays the BIG 10 Championship game
6 Baylor -> plays Kansas State and can win a share of the BIG 12
7 Arizona -> plays the PAC 12 Championship game
8 Michigan State -> finished
9 Kansas State -> plays Baylor and can win a share of the BIG 12
10 Mississippi State -> finished
11 Georgia Tech -> plays the ACC Championship game
12 Ole Miss -> finished
13 Wisconsin -> plays the BIG 10 Championship game
14 Georgia -> finished
15 UCLA -> finished
16 Missouri -> plays the SEC Champioship game
17 Arizona State -> finished
18 Clemson -> finished
19 Auburn -> finished
20 Oklahoma -> plays rival OSU in the Bedlam Series
21 Louisville -> finished
22 Boise State -> plays the MOUNTAIN WEST Championship game
23 Utah -> finished
24 LSU -> finished
25 USC -> finished

As you can see, a lot of those teams can win or lose this weekend and if some strange results might happen, maybe some champions will be left out of the mix and some other teams get the chance to play for national championship, which not even won their division or conference.
It will be fun to see, how this will turn out.

So, enjoy the last gameday.

‘Til next time