2014-12-04

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
SUN BELT CONFERENCE
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,
CONFERENCE USA
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
MID AMERICAN CONFERENCE
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
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
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.
Unbelievable.
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
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
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
INDEPENDENTS
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
BIG 10 CONFERENCE
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
ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
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
Big 12 CONFERENCE
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
SEC
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.

PLAYOFFS
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
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

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