2015-09-30

FBS - Week 5 Preview

To state it like some journalists did already state it: After the 1st month of football, we have no clue who is worth the 4 spots of the national playoffs.
That's the essence of all their writings.

There are still 2+ month of football left and the field might get a bit narrowed in, but no team did really dominate the way it's safe to say they WILL be part of the playoffs.
None.

Sooner or later we will learn how good some teams are, but at the moment there is still a wide field of unbeaten und 1-loss-teams which do look like they could become the frontrunners.
And if you like to include the 2- or even 3-loss-teams, this gets way out of control.
So far a 3-loss team never got named the AP-National Champion, so it's very unlikely it will happen this season.
The last time a 2-loss team was named AP-National Champion? That was 2007 with LSU. Before that? 1960 with Minnesota.
Looks like 2-losses are also a very high barrier.

The so far remaining 1-loss Power5 teams + Independents are:

ACC (9 teams)
Boston College Eagles (3-1)
Clemson Tigers (3-0)
Duke Blue Devils (3-1)
Florida State Seminoles (3-0)
Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes (3-0)
North Carolina Tar Heels (3-1)
North Carolina State Wolfpack (4-0)
Pittsburgh Panthers (2-1)
Syracuse Orange (3-1)

BIG10 (10 teams)
Illinois Fighting Illini (3-1)
Indiana Hoosiers (4-0)
Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0)
Michigan Wolverines (3-1)
Michigan State Spartans (4-0)
Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-1)
Northwestern Wildcats (4-0)
Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0)
Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1)
Wisconsin Badgers (3-1)

BIG12 (7 teams)
Baylor Bears (3-0)
Kansas State Wildcats (3-0)
Oklahoma Sooners (3-0)
Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-0)
TCU Horned Frogs (4-0)
Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-1)
West Virginia Mountaineers (3-0)

PAC12 (8 teams)
Arizona Wildcats (3-1)
California Golden Bears (4-0)
Colorado Buffaloes (3-1)
Stanford Cardinal (3-1)
UCLA Bruins (4-0)
USC Trojans (3-1)
Utah Utes (4-0)
Washington State Cougars (2-1)

SEC (9 teams)
Alabama Crimson Tide (3-1)
Florida Gators (4-0)
Georgia Bulldogs (4-0)
Kentucky Wildcats (3-1)
LSU Tigers (3-0)
Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-1)
Missouri Tigers (3-1)
Texas A&M Aggies (4-0)
Ole Miss Rebels (4-0)

INDEPENDENTS (1 team)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0)

This are 44 teams, but there are some names, which do have only a very slim chance to survive the next few weeks on this list, based on their games in September and the upcoming games in October.
Since the conference games do start more or less now, the teams will eliminated each other inside the conferences very fast.

My list of the 10 leading teams had to be updated again after the last gameday.

TOP10 teams for the playoff spots (sorted by likeliness)

#1 Ohio State Buckeyes
They won against Western Michigan 38-12.
Not really dominating, but a win is a win.
So far they had no conference game.
The teams they played so far are not really the tough guys, and even Virginia Tech looks weak now, so even that game against an ACC team is discounted.
I'm looking forward for the next weeks.
They will play only 2 teams from the list above, Indiana and Penn State, the rest has already 2 or more losses.
If they struggle there, the November will be a real challenge.
Mark that date: 21.11. Michigan State at home. Might be the division deciding game.
Next game: Indiana, on the road
For now they are (still) my pick as BIG10 Champ, but sliding regarding the #1 spot.

#2 Baylor Bears
The Bears did demolish Rice 70-17.
This is tricky. Driving up the score is not very nice, but if you just win 35-17, everyone think the team is weak.
So far, Baylor looks very competitive and earns the spot as BIG12 favorite.
They will play n October the 1st few conference games and the toughest game looks to be West Virginia.
All others are not really on their high note, even Texas Tech has some upset potential.
Mark this date: 14.11. Oklahoma, at home. I switched the game from the TCU-game, because I think sooner or later will TCU lose and even if that game will be still a tough one, that Oklahoma game is earlier and might decide more likely the conference.
Next game: Texas Tech, on the road
Until they lose, the Bears will be my favorite to win the conference.

#3 Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs did win against FCS-team Southern and did manage to be the favorite (at least so far) against Alabama next weekend.
Sometime I'm not convinced Georgia will really win the SEC, but at the moment they look more and more like a lock for the division title and then it's an open game.
If they lose against Alabama, I'm not sure what I will do then, but for now they stay at this spot.
Mark this date: 03.10. Alabama, at home. This is maybe the only chance to get a real test of strength before the conference final.
Next game: Alabama, at home.
So far my SEC favorite.

#4 Clemson Tigers
So far only 3 games played and they had a BYE week.
At the moment the Tigers do look like the team to beat in the ACC, even if many do see the real test against FSU coming.
Mark this date: 07.11. Florida State, at home. Clemson will be tested several time the next few weeks, starting with next weekend against Notre Dame, and they might be not in the top4 spot anymore, when they have to face the eventually only remaining team left to challenge them for the division title.
They will have to win this to get into the championship game.
Next game: Notre Dame, at home
For now Clemson has the edge for #4, but the might drop out of that spot faster than you can say 'Irish win'.

#5 Utah Utes
Oh no!
I know!
How could that happen?
Why not ?
Because that win against Oregon was so jaw dropping, that the team does deserve this spot, even if they might only hold it for a week or a few more.
At the moment does the PAC12 look like the conference where everyone can beat everyone and it's absolutely possible that Utah will stay on top.
Mark this date: 21.11. UCLA, at home. The team might get a loss on the way to that big game (as big as it looks now), but if both teams will stay unbeaten, this date will be the deciding match.
Next game: Cal, after a BYE!
The PAC12 looks like they could bring in one of the strongest teams for the playoffs, or they might fall out of the playoffs in total. Nothing is for sure.

#6 Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans did beat Central Michigan 30-10, which is not the kind of performance you might expect from a top team.
The good news is, they will play now conference games, the bad news is, they will play the 1st real test in mid-October, not earlier.
Mark this date: 21.11. Ohio State on the road. At the moment some might bring up the Wolverine games, but honestly I think the Spartans are at least this season secure at that front.
Even on the road. Quite different is the Buckeyes game. This might be the 1 game to decide the division and maybe even the conference.
Next game: Purdue, at home
So far they are might 2nd team from the BIG10, but it will become much clearer in November.

#7 Alabama Crimson Tide
That win over Louisiana-Monroe was not really helpful. 34-0 doesn't mean anything. Nice to see a shutout, but this does not help to determine their strength.
I did say I stick with the Tide until they lose a 2nd time, so they stay here.
Mark this date: 03.10. Georgia, on the road. This game will be the next big test for the Tide.
If they win, they will be back on track (as long as Ole Miss will lose at some point), if they lose, they will drop out of this list.
Next game: Georgia, on the road
The SEC has still some potential teams on the list, so I hope to get this sorted out fast.

#8 Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners had a BYE week and that might help this weekend, when they face ranked West Virginia.
It's tough to tell the strength of Oklahoma is really there, because they did allow so many points.
Mark this date: 14.11. Baylor, on the road. This will be a tough test for the Sooners. They might fall out of that list earlier, maybe even after the weekend, but if they prevail until then, Baylor will be the major test.
Next game: West Virginia, at home
There is much potential to get a lot of upsets in the BIG12, but so far it looks quite stable.

#9 UCLA Bruins
It's hard to value here in if UCLA or Cal do deserve the 2nd place of the PAC12.
Both teams did survive a scare against good teams, both had good games against PAC12 teams.
For me does Cal look more like a spoiler, which will fall at some point of the season, while UCLA does look like a team, which might bend at some time, but which is hard to break.
That's why I gave them the spot here.
Why are they not the favorite? Because as long as Utah does not lose, that Oregon win will be weighted as double win in my mind.
Don't panic, Bruins fans, quality does prevail, so over time I might see the light and UCLA gets the top spot.
Mark this date: 15.10. Stanford, on the road. This might become a real test. Stanford did recover very well from that bad season start and UCLA might get here more than they can swallow.
Next game: Arizona State, at home
This could already be the end for the Wildcats in that list.

#10 Ole Miss
They won against Vanderbilt 27-16, which does not ring like that win against Alabama.
I'm still sure they will fall at some point in the season, but so far they won and all fans have to live with my sorting.
It will be soon sorted out, don't worry.
Mark this date: 24.10. Texas A&M. It looks like this will become 1 of the next toughest tests for that team.
Of cause there will be others, but until that date it looks like a championship caliber team might get there unbeaten.
Next game: Florida, on the road.
Ole Miss will have some more challenge here, than expected.

Dropped out:
Oregon Ducks (lost to Utah in a huge way, do know have 2 losses and even if they might get into the conference championship game, they won't be relevant for the playoffs until many other teams have lost twice.)
Arizona Wildcats (lost to UCLA with some questions on offense and defense. They might rebound, but at the moment there are other PAC12 teams which are hotter.)

Here are the 3 most likely non power 5 teams to crash the party:

#1 Boise State Broncos
This might be a bid ridiculous and unfair to other, unbeaten, teams, but the Broncos do have it all to crash the party, except they have 1 loss.
Still, the crushed Virginia (which almost won against Notre Dame before) 56-14 and if they keep on winning that high against the conference opponents, they will rise in the ranks.
Mark this date: 10.10. Colorado State, on the road. This looks like a perfect trap game.
CSU is maybe not as strong as last season, but for sure they can still play football.
Next game. Hawai'i, at home
The main competitor for a MWC favorite will be the AAC champ, so Boise better keep on winning high.

#1 Temple Owls
I think they will fall of the map soon.
The AAC does field a few unbeaten teams so far and Temple only gets the gig here, because of their incredible wins.
They had a BYE.
Mark this date: 31.10. Notre Dame, at home. If they survive until then, they will face off against a probably ranked team here.
It would be a bomb, if they would win this.
Next game: Charlotte, on the road
At the moment it looks like the AAC-Champ might get the final gig and Temple is in the mix.

#3 Toledo Rockets
So far did Toledo win all games, last against Arkansas State 37-7.
They will have a hard time to get into the ranks and stay there as a MAC team, but it is possible.
Mark this date: 03.11. Northern Illinois, at home. If the season gets stopped, it will be very likely be here.
Next game: Ball State, on the road
The MAC-Champ would maybe get a rank, if he stays unbeaten. Toledo has 2 big wins to boost that.

Dropped out:
None

Now let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 5

Sat. Oct. 3 - 12:00 pm ET
#23 West Virginia @ 15 Oklahoma
Oh what should I do here.
We have a West Virginia team, which might have found a defense, we have a Sooners teams, which might have found an offense.
Both teams have their strength but so far had not much of a competition.
For Oklahoma does speak the Tennessee game, while West Virginia can only bring in the Maryland win.
I would not say that the Sooners hand much trouble with Tulsa last week, but they allowed 30+ points, which is not a good sign.
Add a BIG12 bonus to that mix with a similar explosive offense and the Sooners defense might be in trouble.
The good thing is, the Sooners are also equipped to get into a shootout, even if they would like to avoid that.
As seen with the TCU-Texas Tech game, such a shootout can go either way and if you have to make many plays and scores, there is always much more room for errors.
If this game would be in West Virginia, I would be tempted to give the Mountaineers a try, but since this is in Norman, I think at the end of the day will Oklahoma prevail.
Sooners win.

Sat. Oct. 3 - 3:30 pm ET
#13 Alabama @ #8 Georgia
Argh, this can become a nightmare.
If the Tide would lose, the SEC West would be wide open for whichever team is ready to step up.
It feels like Alabama had their grip around that division forever, but the truth is, they did win it not since the Stone Age, every season.
If Georgia loses, this would not change much in the SEC East (as long as not team there does dominate, which doesn't look that way), but it would make it hard to have a clear favorite for the SEC.
OK, that might make it more interesting for everyone, but I'm doomed for my pick list as I'm already for the PAC12.
Since a gazillion games is Alabama NOT the favorite in that game and that's a bit tricky.
This game does ring all bells of upset I have, because this are the Saban-Tide and Georgia did not win many games against them.
Even both teams are in the SEC, they don't meet each other very often.
The last win against them was 2007, Sabans 1st season with the Tide.
Since then did they meet during the season once and in the conference championship game once, both losses.
But even with all the alarms, my head says, that the Crimson Tide will get beaten here in a close game.
Georgia has a great running back and I think that will make the difference, this season.
Bulldogs win.

Sat. Oct. 3 - 7:30 pm ET
#21 Mississippi State @ #14 Texas A&M
Mississippi State did lose only by 2 points against LSU, so don't underestimate them.
Texas A&M did win all games so far, but not that dominant as you would like to have it.
Vegas have them as the favorite here with a TD + XP up front.
Honestly the game is difficult for me to pick for just one reason: Which team is not really strong?
Both teams had games which do hint a strong team, both had games which do hint a poor one.
Which will show up?
I give the Aggies credit for their great offense so far, which I think should be enough to keep the Bulldogs from winning the game.
LSU had basically only the ground to attack, while A&M can do both.
I think this will be a quite high scoring game, and I think A&M will score way more points than MSU can answer.
Aggies win.

Sat. Oct. 3 - 8:00 pm ET
#6 Notre Dame @ #12 Clemson
I'm still not sold on the Notre Dame strength.
They did play not top teams and they did not really win in a big way, except the GT game.
Clemson did also not really play a powerhouse so far, but do come with a slightly better reputation.
At least that's my take on that.
Notre Dame might come up with a victory here and they better pray then, that Clemson will win the ACC, because this might become one of the few signature wins against a ranked opponent this season and if you want to claim 1 of the 4 playoff spots against 5 conference champs and runner ups, you better have a good schedule story and a perfect record.
I'm not buying the Notre Dame story so far.
I did not buy it when they were send to the BCS title game and got spanked in a big way.
And I don't buy it this season, even if they win all games.
The good thing this season will be, if they get a playoff spot and are hyped, they get sorted out in the semifinals, instead of spoiling the final.
Fine, let's focus on Clemson.
Their close game against Louisville made me worry a bit, I think with the right defense they can be stopped.
It looks like the nation is a bit split for a winner pick.
For me, the home team is the team to pick and therefore:
Tigers win.

'Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

2015-09-29

FBS - Week 4 Review

Verkehrte Welt! (means Inverted World)

I will come right to my BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 4 and will start with the Utah-Oregon game.

Sat. Sept. 26 - 8:30 pm ET
#18 Utah @ #13 Oregon
I did a very soft preview on that game, because I was sure this would be a 40-something to 10 win for Oregon.
I mean, Oregon was quick, did score very good and it was at home, so what could have gone wrong?
EVERYTHING!
When I saw the result my jaw did drop to the floor.
Utah did win 62-20!
The biggest defeat of Oregon since 1977 and the most points they had to swallow since ever!
Oregon had 2 Interceptions thrown, 1 crucial fumble they lost, 1 crucial fumble they recovered, but on a 4th down.
They did look awful on defense, really bad on special teams and their offense was almost non existing.
Utah did almost everything right and more.
Bad snap on a punt? No problem, the punter catches the snap one handed and did get a 1st down on his feet!
Bad punt by Oregon, but still to the sideline to cover the returner in a good way?
An Academy Award to the midfield returner ACTING like he gets the punt and everyone did buy it, letting the real returner run the ball into the endzone.
With that kind of plays you win BIG and that what Utah did.
Now Utah is the 2nd force in the PAC12 South and Oregon got the Out-of-Competition-card early, at least regarding the national playoffs, having 2 losses now.
My pick did went totally wrong.
Utah 62 - Oregon 20 -> Jacks Score: 8-5

Sat. Sept. 26 - 4:45 pm ET
#3 TCU @ Texas Tech
I did predict a wild game and it was one.
107 total scored points does not sound like a defense battle, right.
I did expect the Red Raiders to win this and they were really close.
Really close.
Around 30 seconds close.
The Red Raiders were leading 52-48 when TCU had a 4th and goal with a few ticks left on the clock.
The ball was thrown to the leading TCU receiver, which got surrounded by 2 defenders in the endzone and the ball was tipped and went to the end of the endzone.
There was another TCU player, who had the concentration to pick the ball out of the air and kept 1 foot on the endzone.
Touchdown for the 55-52 win.
That was a major stunner.
Texas Tech was not able to keep TCU out of the endzone the whole game and you might argue over "rightful", "unrighteous", "lucky" or "unlucky", but if you want to win such a game, you better play good the whole game, not only a few plays.
TCU had in addition to all this lucky at the end of the game, 2 missed FGs during the game.
This time did TCU survive an upset. I'm sure it will come, sooner or later.
TCU 55 - Texas Tech 52 -> Jacks Score: 8-6

Sat. Sept. 26 - 8:00 pm ET
#9 UCLA @ #16 Arizona
This was another stunner, because Arizona was totally unable to get things going.
One of the ESPN Analysts did say before the game, that Arizona would need a perfect game.
In the 1st half they had 2 lost fumbles and 1 interception, then trailing 42-14!
Their defense was unable to stop UCLA from anything and their offense did OK, if they did not turn the ball over.
The 2nd half got better, but for UCLA that was already garbage time.
A huge statement by UCLA, which did become the driving force in the PAC12 after this win.
I'm curious to see, if they can prevail this momentum for long.
UCLA 56 - Arizona 30 -> Jacks Score: 8-7

Sat. Sept. 26 - 10:30 pm ET
#19 Southern California @ Arizona State
At least that game went as expected.
Arizona State has some real problem this season and it will be interesting to see, if they can get a mid field position at least of if they will fall to the pit of the PAC12, which would be unusual.
The game against USC was over when half time came up, with USC leading 35-zip.
USC 42 - Arizona State 14 -> Jacks Score: 9-7

What a bad picking this gameday.
I still enjoy the season, because that way it gets much more exciting and every gameday something unexpected does happen.
Much more fun than a already decided division or conference or even national champion.

Now I will give you some more results worth to mention:
Memphis bests Cincinnati 53-46. The Bearcats are off a bad start in the conference.
Boise State destroyed Virginia 56-14. Looks like the Broncos did find their mojo again.
Rutgers did beat Kansas 27-14, which does mean, Kansas is still not turning things around. Another bad season is coming.
Bowling Green wins on the road against Purdue 35-28. The Boilermakers are off a bad start and it looks like a long season for them.
On the other hand did Indiana win their 4th game, this time against Wake Forest, 31-24, and are now UNBEATEN, so far.
Duke did beat Georgia Tech 34-20. Now does the coastal division gets wide open, with the favorite (at least my favorite) losing and it will be fun to see, which team will be the last standing.
Michigan did blank BYU 31-0, which does end all hopes and dreams of stunning season of BYU. There is still room for many wins. Interesting is, that Michigan gets already some credit again after the bad start. The reason for that is the great start of Utah, which did beat the Wolverines only by 7 points.
Oklahoma State did survive against Texas, 30-27. The Cowboys did score the tying FG with about 1:30 min left to play and Texas had to punt after 3 downs. The punter did let the snap get through his hands, recovered the ball and kick the ball away for -6 yards. OSU basically only had to kick the game winner from 40 yards out and it was over. The heat is getting hotter in Texas.
East Carolina won against Virginia Tech, 35-28. The Hokies did not look very well on defense.
Florida bests Tennessee 28-27. Florida did score late in the game the leading TD and the Vols did march over the field, did had a penalty to get a worse field position for the game winner and did miss the FG twice. The 1st one was missed, while the Gators coach did call a timeout and the 2nd one was missed so close the Vols did start even to celebrate only to learn they just sucked up again.
Kentucky did beat Missouri 21-13 and who ever things the Tigers will repeat the division title this season should better start praying.
Northwestern keeps on winning with 24-19 against Ball State. Northwestern is still unbeaten and is a bit under the radar, because they did beat not really very good teams. Or let's say, the teams are not valued as very good teams so far. But Stanford is coming back at the moment and also Duke makes some noise. Now does the BIG10 schedule start for the Wildcats and this will clear things up quickly.
Cal did beat Washington 30-24 and now is still unbeaten to make some noise in the PAC12 North.
Army did beat Eastern Michigan for their 1st win of the season, 58-36.
James Madison (FCS) did outscore SMU 48-45. That one must have hurt for the Mustangs fans.
Akron beats Louisiana Lafayette 35-14 and is now 2-2, which is for Zips-Circumstances a masterpiece.

'Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

PS: Back from vacation and ready to rock

2015-09-25

FBS - Week 4 Preview

I really like the way the season is developing.
Especially the SEC looks entertaining, because at the moment there is a very high potential the contenders will beat each other.
If this goes beyond 1 loss, the SEC might get out of contention of the playoff spots, which would be a super-gau.

But this will take the whole season to see if this is true or just a wish.

The consequence of this weekends results is, that my top 10 list is becoming a guess list.
Some teams might fall, some might fight back, some might win all games.

TOP10 teams for the playoff spots (sorted by likeliness)

#1 Ohio State Buckeyes
The game against NIU (won 20-13) was not really the nail to hammer them into this spot forever, but they did win and at the end of the season this game will only be a brief note.
Because they will have to play some tough BIG10 teams over the season and if all things go as expected, they will also play the best team from the other BIG10 division for the conference championship.
True, the other division might not be that tough, but still there is some reputation to gain by winning the conference.
Mark that date: 21.11. Michigan State at home. Might be the division deciding game.
Next game: Western Michigan.
For now they are (still) my pick as BIG10 Champ.

#2 Baylor Bears
Baylor had a bye week Ubefore that they did hammer FCS-team Lamar 66-31) and the jumped from #7 to #2?
Yes, because Alabama lost and I will not exchange their spot just with Ole Miss and TCU at #3 did win, but lost some defense players.
That did gave Baylor the lead in MY ranking to win the BIG12 and at the moment it's totally valid that the BIG12 champ will earn the #2 spot.
Mark this date: 28.11. TCU on the road. Might become the deciding match, but at the moment I would say only 60%.
Next game: Rice
Until they lose, the Bears will be my favorite to win the conference.

#3 Georgia Bulldogs
And another big jump.
The Bulldogs made the jump from #9 to #3 because of the following reasons.
They won against South Carolina 52-20.
Big win for them.
They do look like the best bet for the SEC east and as long as they do not lose, they are my favorite now to win the SEC.
Tough words, but I will give not Ole Miss or any other west team this spot before Georgia loses or a dominant west team comes up.
Mark this date: 03.10. Alabama, at home. This is maybe the only chance to get a real test of strength before the conference final.
If they beat Alabama, they will stay here.
Next game: Southern (FCS)

#4 Clemson Tigers
The ACC did get the juicy #4 spot only for this reason:
If Clemson can win it all, which can happen, they would have a perfect season.
I think the PAC12 champ won't have such a perfect season and at the end of the season, it will be hard to put a 1 loss champ in front of an unbeaten champ.
Clemson did beat Louisville 20-17 and so far the Clemson dream is alive. Louisville, for sure, will bounce back from the bad start they had and will very likely be a force in the ACC.
Mark this date: 07.11. Florida State, at home. Clemson will be tested several time the next few weeks, starting with next week against Notre Dame, and they might be not in the top4 spot anymore, when they have to face the eventually only remaining team left to challenge them for the division title.
They will have to win this to get into the championship game.
Next game: Notre Dame
For now Clemson has the edge for #4, but the might drop out of that spot faster than you can say 'Irish win'.

#5 Oregon Ducks
USC did lose and with that loss my favorite for the PAC12 did lose.
Next in line was Oregon and therefore did they jump to #5.
They have the tools to win the PAC12 and they did beat Georgia State last week 61-28.
Not impressive to beat down a SBC team, but if they wouldn't have done that, they would be marked as weak.
Why not UCLA at this spot?
Because Oregon has a nice schedule and will very likely at least get into the championship game and I'm also not sold on UCLA after their BYU game.
Mark this date: 07.11. California, at home. There are several tests on the next few weeks, but that Cal game might become a very important one, maybe THE important one, for the division title.
Next game: Utah
For now they are my favorite to win the PAC12 and because of the 1 loss, will be left out of the playoffs.

#6 Michigan State Spartans
Still at #6 after the win against Air Force 35-21.
I don't think a 2nd team from a conference will get a shot at #2 to #4 until the other potential champs will lose more than once.
They might jump the 5th champ, but even that is doubtful, if the champ has only 1 loss (even against MSU).
Mark this date: 21.11. Ohio State on the road. If all things go good for the Spartans, this game will be their ticket to the conference championship game, or their ticket for a lesser bowl.
Next game: Central Michigan.
The real fun will start, when the BIG10 games will come.

#7 Alabama Crimson Tide
They lost to Ole Miss 37-43, so why are they still here?
Because they did that also last season and won the conference.
It's a bit unfair for Ole Miss, but as long as Alabama does not lose another game, they will be still my favorite to win the division, if Ole Miss will not win all remaining games, which I doubt.
Mark this date: 03.10. Georgia, on the road. This game will be the next big test for the Tide.
If they win, they will be back on track (as long as Ole Miss will lose at some point), if they lose, they will drop out of this list.
Next game: Louisiana-Monroe

#8 Oklahoma Sooners
Where did the Horned Frogs go, you might ask?
I had them on that spot, when I did my picks for the weekend and I picked the Frogs going down against Texas Tech.
How could I have put them at #8 here, if I believe they go down the next weekend?
So I took the next in line for the BIG12 contest, Oklahoma.
Last weekend they did win against Tulsa, 52-38.
They have already won against a SEC-team (Tennessee) and are 3-0 so far.
They are for sure in the mix.
Mark this date: 14.11. Baylor, on the road. This will be a tough test for the Sooners. If they win this, they will have to face a few more tough teams in November to maybe earn the BIG12.
Next game: West Virginia, after a BYE week.
I think the BIG12 might become again a drama queen in November, but we will have to wait until then.

#9 Arizona Wildcats
I had the Bruins at this spot, but as with TCU, I did pick against UCLA for this weekend and that way Arizona became the leading candidate.
They had a BYE last weekend and before that they did win against Nevada 44-20.
This is a shaky pick and they might fall at some point, but so far it looks OK.
Mark this date: 03.10. Stanford, on the road. If Stanford really got behind their bad season start and do keep winning like last week, this game might become very interesting.
I have the feeling that the PAC12 South will be a mess in November and there will be a few teams in contention for the title.
None will be relevant then for the playoffs.
Next game: UCLA
This could already be the end for the Wildcats in that list.

#10 Ole Miss
Yes, no ACC team at that point.
Why? Because there is FSU, GT and maybe even Miami or Duke for the next in line of the ACC and none did convince me enough to give them a better spot.
Ole Miss did win against Alabama 43-37 and if they keep on winning, they will be the west-winner of the SEC.
It will take some time, to get them on a higher spot, but winning will help.
Mark this date: 24.10. Texas A&M. It looks like this will become 1 of the next toughest tests for that team.
Of cause there will be others, but until that date it looks like a championship caliber team might get there unbeaten.
Next game: Vanderbilt

Dropped out:
TCU Horned Frogs (This is a bit unfair, but plausible. They had my edge over Baylor last week, but lost that edge after the gameday. They should be 2nd place in the BIG12 now, but since I picked Texas Tech for the win this weekend, they dropped to 3rd or worse.)
USC Trojans (lost to Stanford and is now hardly able to win the division. They have to hope for losses of several other contenders, or, have to win all remaining games, which is unlikely, after last games production)
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (lost to Notre Dame and even if they win their division, they are now a bit tarnished. If they would win the conference, they would for sure not get a spot worth the playoffs, if not 1 or 2 of the other camps do have a 2+ loss season.)

Here are the 3 most likely non power 5 teams to crash the party:
#1 Temple Owls
After I got familiar with them and accepted them to become better, they won only by 2 points against UMass (25-23).
Mark this date: 31.10. Notre Dame, at home. If they survive until then, they will face off against a probably ranked team here.
It would be a bomb, if they would win this.
Next game: Charlotte, on the road, after a BYE

#2 Boise State Broncos
The did destroy Idaho State 52-0.
That's far from being relevant.
The Broncos will have to win many games to get back into the ranks.
Mark this date: 10.10. Colorado State, on the road. This looks like a perfect trap game.
CSU is maybe not as strong as last season, but for sure they can still play football.
Next game. Virginia, on the road.
The Broncos have to win here to stay in the big bowl hunt.

#3 Toledo Rockets
This one is on one hand nice and on the other one not.
It's nice, because Toledo did win in 2 weeks against 2 power 5 teams (Arkansas 16-12 and Iowa State 30-23).
This is not so nice, because this looks like a bit of a fraud, since they will have to play a lot of their MAC opponents left and I'm still thinking NIU will rule later in the season.
But the potential is their and it's hard to argue against those 2 wins (and a half win in addition for the canceled game against Stoney Brook).
Mark this date: 03.11. Northern Illinois, at home. If the season gets stopped, it will be very likely be here.
Next game. Arkansas State

Dropped out:
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (lost to Indiana 35-38 and is now tarnished. There are several other teams able to make a case left, untarnished.)

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

Sat. Sept. 26 - 4:45 pm ET
#3 TCU @ Texas Tech
As mentioned above, I think Texas Tech will win here.
There are a few factors to consider here.
TCUs defense is hurting and this might be enough for Texas Tech to put up many points.
Granted, TCU is also able to score, but enough in a shootout?
Next factor is the site. It's on Red Raiders ground.
And as last major factor, we have a big beat down of TT by TCU last season, which is well remembered.
The team and the fans will be motivated to get the best out of the team.
This sums up to a hurting team comes in a hostile stadium and has to play a quite potential team.
Vegas has TCU as a favorite here, but I like a Texas Tech upset in a wild game.
Red Raiders win.

Sat. Sept. 26 - 8:00 pm ET
#9 UCLA @ #16 Arizona
Also mentioned above I think Arizona will win in this game.
UCLA was able to win last week, but the young QB did show some errors and if the very good Arizona defense is able to get their running game under control, the young QB has to win the game.
On the other hand we have a UCLA defense, which was not able to beat down the quite weak BYU offense line and destroy the Cougars.
Now put into that matchup a very good Arizona offense, quick and fast, there might be a problem.
Add a game in Arizona on national television and this might get very entertaining.
Vegas has UCLA ahead by a few points, I do see Rich Rod breaking his 3 game losing streak against UCLA and win with his team.

Sat. Sept. 26 - 8:30 pm ET
#18 Utah @ #13 Oregon
On paper, this looks great.
Utah looks the first time since the PAC12 join capable to make some noise in the league and Oregon is not as quick and dominant as last season.
Upset potential?
Yes!
Likely?
NO!
I think Oregon is good. Really good, that's why I did put them back into my PAC12 favorite spot.
Utah is also good, but that's it.
They might be able to keep up a few quarters, but I'm sure at the end of the day will Oregon win, at home!
My guts are telling me, the most exciting thing of this match will be the Oregon uniforms. Maybe.

Sat. Sept. 26 - 10:30 pm ET
#19 Southern California @ Arizona State
To have this PAC12 heavy preview completed I decided to take the Trojans - Sun Devils game.
For now it looks like the Sun Devils are not the same kind of team they were last season.
They lost to Texas A&M, won not very high against a FCS team and did win also not very high against New Mexico.
Last season they would probably won all 3 games and the last 2 ones very high.
USC on the other hand DID look very good in the 1st 2 game and did then lose to Stanford last gameday.
Assuming the Cardinals found their men-cards somewhere in the locker room, the Trojans should win this game against Arizona State in a good way.
Only pro for the Sun Devils is, they play at home.
Vegas does see them as underdogs with less than a TD difference.
I'm not convinced, they will really stay in the game that close, but it could happen.
For me it will go down with 10+ points in favor of USC.
I pick the Trojans.

'Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

PS: Great day today on Amrum. Best day so far.

2015-09-22

FBS - Week 3 Review

Götterdämmerung! (means Twilight of the gods)

When I did a 1st look at the results during my vacation I was totally stunned.

Alabama downed, Ohio State did struggle big time, USC lost at home, BYU got almost home with another upset.
This looks like a season we will remember.
There are many games ahead of us and many of them won't go as we (or maybe just as I) expected them to be.

For those who might like to know, I'm currently on the small island of Amrum in the northsea, in the north of Germany.
Just google it, if you like to know how it looks like there.

Yesterday we had an awesome sunny day, but today it's raining a bit, with a short period of sun at noon.
Best conditions to get the blog entry finished.

Most stunning games (beside my games of the week) were:

Minnesota - Kent State 10-7
Minnesota did start with a FG and added 2 interceptions. After that start only punt, punt and punt.
Good for the Gophers, that their defense was good and because of this had Kent State not any success on offense.
Later in the 2nd quarter did Minnesota score a TD, which gave them a 10-0 lead at the half.
The Gophers did start with a good drive after the kickoff for the 2nd half and were even in the Kent State redzone, but fumbled the drive away and did let Kent State score a return TD.
After that it was just defense.
Kent State did try everything, played even a 4th and something deep in their own half and were stopped.
Minnesota did miss the FG after that.
With that performence it will be a long season in the BIG10 for the Gophers.

North Carolina - Illinois 48-14
Before this game, the Tar Heels lost to South Carolina and won against a quite weak team.
Illinois did win big time against 2 weaker teams.
There was no reason to expect a one sided game here.
But it was a game were North Carolina was able to do everything they liked to do, while Illinois did look bad, during the whole game.
I think North Carolina would like to have it always that way.
Illinois did look like their old self again, which some people did hope was gone after the impressions of the first 2 games.
Well, the season will show, how both teams will perform in the future.
For sure is, this one did spoil my pick game at espn.

Missouri - UConn 9-6
This was awful. True and completely awful.
Mizzou did start the scoring with a blocked punt, which bounced out of bounce in UConns endzone. Safety!
The next Mizzou drive was intercepted and UConn scored a TD, but got their XP blocked.
The Tigers were unable to do anything and punted, UConn fumbled and after a few plays did Mizzou try a FG, which ... no, it was not blocked, but they missed it.
UConn did play a little football after that, but was forced to punt.
To keep them in the game did Mizzou fumble the return and gave the ball away, in their own half.
The Huskies were gentle enough to play the 4th and 8 on the Mizzou 23 yard line to turn the ball over, while leading 6-2!
That did confuse both team enough to keep on playing meaningless plays until halftime.
Uconn came out of the half and started a nice drive, only to miss a 49 yard FG.
The Tigers did answer with a long drive, playing even a 4th and inches on the UConn 2 yard line and did finally score a TD (and made the XP), now leading 9-6.
Missouri was able to get back into UConn territory, twice, but was stopped on 4th down, twice.
The last UConn comeback try at the end of the game was doomed.
They lined up for a game tying FG, but faked it, got intercepted and the ball was returned a mile.
Game over.
So bad execution on that fake-FG-try that it hurt.
I hope Mizzou did find some better juice to play in the SEC, otherwise it will be a long season.

Ohio State - Northern Illinois 20-13
The game looked bad, if you are a Buckeye fan.
Ohio State did turn the ball over many times and only their defense was the reason for the 10-10 tie at the half.
Normally NIU should have scored more points here.
In the 2nd half it become a bit better, but not much. Still turnovers, but a bit more even spread and the Ohio State defense did score a TD.
Overall, this was bad and I hope for the Buckeyes fans the team does step up against the tougher teams.
Otherwise Michigan State will be in the championship game and Ohio State will play in a pitty bowl.

Miami - Nebraska 36-33 OT
There are voices which would like to have Al Golden, the HC of Miami, fired.
Some hired even a plane to show a banner with that wish before the game.
Well, AFTER the win against Nebraska their case got at least a bit smaller.
Just a bit smaller, because Miami was leading 20-3 at the half and did lead 33-10 later in the game.
But this lead was blown away until the end of the game and they went into OT.
The Hurricanes did intercept the Huskers ball and were able to score FG to win the game.
So ... just a little relieve for Al Golden, but not much, even with a 3-0 record.

Furman - UCF 16-15
UCF did lead 12-0 at some point (FG, TD and a safety) when Furman did score a TD.
Then, in the 2nd half, did Furman score another TD (but failed the 2-point-conversion) for the 13-12 lead.
UCF did score a FG and Furman did score a FG in the next drive.
Then did not really happen very much, but the late comeback attempt of UCF was denied by an interception.
Nice win by Furman and UCF looks bad at the moment, losing even against a FCS team.

Texas Tech - Arkansas 35-24
When you are a SEC HC and you are complaining that a SEC team has to face so many ranked teams, while a very good BIG10 team only has to face 1 ranked team over the whole season, then you better win at least the easy games against unranked teams.
Well, Arkansas did lose against unranked Texas Tech and HC Bielema of Arkansas is the laugh of the week.
The Razorbacks better get tougher or they will be the worst team in the SEC.

Cal - Texas 45-44
I think it's getting hot in Texas.
Cal is not really known as a football giant and if you play at home, you are supposed to win. At least in Texas, Longhorn Nation.
Well ... until halftime the game was wide open, with a score of 24-24.
Then did Cal score some more points and did lead 45-24 when Texas did wake up and started scoring again.
They needed the whole rest of the game to get close to the Bears score and FAILED the XP on their final TD.
Hence the score.
Strong, the Longhorns HC is for sure feeling the heat rising it Texas.

South Alabama - San Diego State 34-27 OT
This is a bit surprising, since San Diego State was meant to challange some other teams for the Mountain West crown and South Alabama was meant to play in the the SBC for a mid field position.
Well, at least now it's nice to see, not all meant to be things do happen.
Nice win for South Alabama and SDSU should start winning once the conference games do start.

Stanford - USC 41-31
Everything did look good for USC.
They were successful, their next opponent did suck the few games before and this could have been a walk in the walk.
Except Stanford did play good and USC did not, Stanford did win and USC not.
Stanford did lead 24-21 at the half and most USC fans probably did hope for a nice 2nd half.
It was a nice one, if you are a Cardinals fan, since they did score way more points than USC in the 2nd half and did give USC something to think about.
USC is now no longer in the driver seat to get into the conference final.

Toledo - Iowa State 30-23 2OT
Toledo needed 2 OTs, but at the end they did win against another power5 conference team this season, even those 2 were only Arkansas and Iowa State.
Great for the program and great for the team.
I hope they will get this kind of performence into the conference games.

Now let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 3

Sat. Sept. 19 - 3:30 pm ET
#14 Georgia Tech @ #8 Notre Dame
I have to admit, Notre Dame does look a lot more legit, after the did beat Georgia Tech.
They were able to stop them often enough to win the game and they were also able to play enough offense with their backup QB to ... well, win the game.
The Irish did lead 30-7 late in the game, when GT started their comeback attempt.
And until then, the Irish were not even 'perfect'.
They had turnovers and did not play well, on every play, but well enough to keep GT in check and some Yellow Jackets errors did help them also.
That last comeback attempt of GT was great.
They did score a TD and made the 2-point-conversion.
Then an onside-kick, which they won and 2 plays later they did score for the 30-22 score.
But with only 22 ticks on the clock it was clear the next kick would be another onside-try and this time it failed.
GT is still in the mix for the ACC, but got their playoff bid a bit tarnished.
Georgia Tech 30 - Notre Dame 22 -> Jacks Score: 6-3

Sat. Sept. 19 - 3:30 pm ET
#18 Auburn @ #13 LSU
I think there were some people thinking the Auburn Tigers would win this.
Based on the reputation from last season.
But the 1st few games of the season did show areas where Auburn has to improve.
So, I think many Tigers fans did WISH they would win that game against LSU.
Now, after the game, I think there are not many left, who're thinking Auburn will dominate the division and will win it all.
The Auburn Tigers are not on the level they were on last season.
They did not score a single point in the 1st half, trailing 24-0 at that point.
After that point it became a bit like garbage time and the final score is a bit misleading.
Auburn had NO chance and LSU does look like a contender for the division.
They look also not like they did last season, but that's a good development.
Auburn 21 - LSU 45 -> Jacks Score: 7-3

Sat. Sept. 19 - 9:15 pm ET
#15 Ole Miss @ #2 Alabama
It was a close game, but Ole Miss did the unthinkable, they did beat Alabama, at home, the second season in a row.
Big win.
The offense of Alabama didn't look that good and granted, Ole Miss had some luck during the game, but overall it looks like Ole Miss is playing for the title, again.
There are many games left to play, so we will have to wait, which team will rise at the end of the season, but that loss did hurt Alabamas ambitions and did help Ole Miss big time.
Not many teams will beat the Tide, I'm sure, but the Rebels did.
The Tide fans did leave way to early (at some point did Bama trail 24-43) and they might even had missed a great comeback. Almost.
Alabama did scored and recovered an onside kick to score again.
Only 6 points behind did they try to get the last TD, but Ole Miss did hold the line and that last push for a score was denied.
They had to play the 4th down and failed and the Rebels were able to run down the clock.
Ole Miss 43 - Alabama 37 -> Jacks Score: 7-4

Sat. Sept. 19 - 10:30 pm ET
#19 Brigham Young @ #10 UCLA
I did expect a blowout here, with BYU being the victim, but they were leading at the half 10-3.
Not much, but much more than expected.
UCLA was almost invisible on offense and BYU did score when possible.
The game become a bit more open in the 2nd half and late in the game were UCLA able to catch up.
BYU tried a late comeback drive, but was stopped on 4th down with an interception and the BYU magic did run out.
Still, they managed to get much more than expected and maybe BYU will have a very nice season, overall.
Brigham Young 23 - UCLA 24 -> Jacks Score: 8-4

Now I will give you some more results worth to mention:
Clemson did win against Louisville, 20-17. Louisville did miss a game tying FG in the 4th quarter and were intercepted on their last comeback try.
#9 ranked Florida State won against Boston College 14-0. The BC defense did look quite good, allowing only 1 TD (the other one was a Defense-TD by FSU), but their offense was awful.
Michigan did beat UNLV 28-7. The Wolverines did not look that good, just good enough to beat the Rebels. It will be interesting to see them playing against some better teams.
On the other hand did Michigan State beat Air Force 35-21 and is now, after the new ranks came out, #2 in the country. Not sure if that's valid, but so far the people do rank them that high. Even a #1 rank was given, once.
Ranked Texas A&M overcame Nevada 44-27. Aggies now 3-0 and do look more like the team they were in the past with Johhny Football on the roster, than they look like the team of last season.
Wake Forest barely did beat Army 17-14. I'm a bit sorry for Army, they would have deserved that win, but if you miss a FG during the game and turn the ball over, it's no wonder you lose. Wake Forest did score the game wining FG with time running out.
Northwestern won against Duke 19-10. Dukes offense better wake up soon. And Northwestern might become a player in the BIG10 this season.
Temple did win by 2 against UMass. 25-23. It's not really convincing if you only beat that not-so-good-MAC-team by 2 points. Was that UMass over performing, Temple under performing or Temple self impoding after the last 2 games?
Memphis beats Bowling Green 44-41. Memphis really did spoiled the home game opener of Bowling Green here.
Indiana had to turn on the afterburner to win against Western Kentucky 38-35. Indiana was trailing 28-17 at the half and did need a big 3rd quarter to turn the game.
Georgia did destroy South Carolina 52-20. Big statement by Georgia and an interesting measurement of the Gamecocks strength.
Southern Miss won against Texas State 56-50. Defense was non-existing at that game.
The Rocky Mountain Showdown ended with a win of Colorado against Colorado State 27-24 in OT. Nice step foreward for the Buffalos.
Florida survived against Kentucky 14-9. The Gators did lead early, but almost lost in the last few minutes.
Iowa did kick a game winning FG with time running out to win against Pitt 27-24. It will be interesting to see, if Pitt is that strong or Iowa had again a down game.

‘Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

2015-09-16

FBS - Week 3 Preview

The season is getting hotter, because several teams already had their FCS-opponent-breakfast (and some were eaten by their breakfast) and for many teams do start the conference schedule.
Not for all, because some teams do like to have the non-conference games all up front (up to 4 games), so it will be not getting much better in week 3, but in general, better.

I did think over my top 10 list and I think it's still the best way to keep the teams IN a list, than throwing them OUT of a list (like the ESPN Eliminator) with a potential risk to be forced to put some names back into the list.

You never know how the season will develop, it could happen that NO conference champion is standing unbeaten at the end of the season. It can even happen that NO team has less than 4 or 5 losses. Not likely, but it could happen.

My approach is to sort the teams based on my experience and their chance to

a) get as high valued as possible, in general winning their conference
b) winning as many games as possible, in general winning all or almost all games.

a) and b) are not the same, because you might lose against a big opponent during the season and still might win the conference, which might give you a bigger bonus, than winning all games during the season, except the conference final, or as independent even winning all games, but only against weak teams.

After week 2 did some teams change their positions in my list.

TOP10 teams for the playoff spots (sorted by likeliness)

#1 Ohio State Buckeyes
They did beat Hawai'i 38-0.
That's not a surprise. I was a bit wondering they did only put 38 points on the Rainbow Warriors.
But fine, they won, clearly, and they will face now Northern Illinois.
For now they are my pick as BIG10 Champ.

#2 Alabama Crimson Tide
They did beat Middle Tennessee 37-10, which is in the same ball park as the win against Wisconsin.
Again, it's surprising that this did not get uglier, but I'm fine with it, since driving up the score is not a good thing to do.
This week they will face their 1st SEC opponent Ole Miss and for sure they will get tested here.
At the moment they look like a complete team and there is no reason to doubt them as SEC championship.

#3 TCU Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs did hammer FCS-opponent Stephen F Austin 70-7.
For now they stay in the lead for a BIG12 Championship, but Baylor is next in line on my list.
For TCU it will be Southern Methodist the upcoming weekend, which they should win, big time.

#4 USC Trojans
The Trojans did win against Idaho 59-9 and did so far put 2 50-burger on 2 SBC-teams, which is not really impressive.
Still, their chances are way better to finish the season on top of all other PAC12 teams, than for the rest.
For now they are my PAC12 Champ pick, after Oregons loss last weekend.
They play Stanford this week.

#5 Clemson Tigers
Clemson did win against Appalachian State 41-10.
Not a big win, but a solid one.
They are still my favorite to win the ACC, but I think at the moment, that the ACC Champ will be left out.
This week will be test against the so far winless Louisville team.

#6 Michigan State Spartans
The win against the Ducks 31-28 did put them for some experts already into the playoff mix, at 3rd or 4th place.
WTF?
Imagine what has to happen to make that real.
There are 5 conferences and 1 or 2 independents in the pool of realistic teams with hope for the 4 spots.
Each conference will field a conference champion and 1 of those champs is bound to be left out, regardless of the record, by default.
If one of the independents does really has a convincing record, which normally has to be 12-0 or 11-1, another champ has to be left out to put that independent in.
Even without that independent team, there are still 4 champs and now the committee has to put one away to put another non-champ team in.
How good has such a team to be?
Or how bad do have to be 2 champs to be pushed out of the playoff spots?
In best cases, Michigan State will win, all games except the Ohio State game (assuming OSU will win the conference).
Now they will have to value the strength of schedule which is OK, but not great.
I think it is not OK enough to push out a conference champ, if those teams did not lose 2 times or more in the season.
The Spartans might end up in my TOP4, but only if many teams do start losing.
Michigan State will face Air Force this week.

#7 Baylor Bears
The Bears did hammer FCS-team Lamar 66-31.
I'm a bit concerned regarding the 31 points they allowed, but that will be valued over time.
So far did Baylor nothing wrong and the only reason they are not my BIG12 champ pick is, I think they will lose against TCU.
This can change fast.
They have a BYE week.

#8 Oregon Ducks
Does a loss automatically eliminate you from the contenders?
Not always. The Ducks did lose only by 3 points against the Spartans and are still in the mix for the PAC12.
I did only put USC first, because so far they did win all games and do have the chance to win all PAC12 games.
But, Oregon can do also win all PAC12 games and would therefore in the PAC12.
Latest in late November both teams will battle it out for the 1st time.
The Ducks are still a valid finalist for the PAC12 Championship game.

#9 Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia did best Vanderbilt 31-14 and has a good chance to challenge Alabama for the SEC Championship.
Of cause there are several other teams in line and the Bulldogs might not stay here for long.
Next game will be against South Carolina.

#10 Georgia Tech
Maybe a surprising team at that point, but the Jackets were hot so far and are a legit pick for a spot in the ACC Championship game.
The team did beat Tulane 65-10 and did that almost completely on the ground.
This week they will face the injury prone Notre Dame team.

Dropped out:
Notre Dame (almost lost to Virginia, lost their starting QB, soft schedule ... I think they will not make it into the mix until season end)
Auburn (almost lost to FCS team Jacksonville, which does create doubt regarding their strength. I think they will lose some games)

Here are the 3 most likely non power 5 teams to crash the party:
#1 Temple Owls
Hard to tackle, but they did beat Penn State and Cincinnati so far.
There are some 'ifs' on their way, but they can really run the American Conference, if they win the conference game and they might cash in on one of the big money bowls, if they can win the other non conference games.
Toughest one left is against Notre Dame on Halloween.
The American has many legit contenders left so far, but I like the Owls most. Very confusing.

#2 Boise State Broncos
They dropped out of the ranks after their loss to BYU, but they still can win against the MWC foes in a row and win the conference, which I still expect of them.
If the American Athletic teams do beat each other, Boise might rise fast again to become the top non power 5 team.
Next game is against Idaho State, a FCS team.

#3 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
With a win against Louisiana Tech did the Hilltoppers push themselves to the top of the list of contenders for the CUSA.
Combined with their win against Vanderbilt they might be able to get higher in the ranks, if they keep on winning.
Next up: Indiana.

Dropped out:
Marshall Thundering Herd (lost to Ohio in a big way and did by far not look like week 1)
Appalachian State Mountaineers (lost to Clemson, which is enough to have them more or less out of contention for a party crasher. For a SBC team it's the toughest uphill battle to get into the ranks)

Now let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 3

Sat. Sept. 19 - 3:30 pm ET
#14 Georgia Tech @ #8 Notre Dame
From history point of view, this is very, very likely a Notre Dame win. They won 27 games of 34 meetings. 1 game was a tie.
But games are not played that way, as we all know.
Fact is, the Yellow Jackets will bring their top ranked rushing triple option offense to South Bend, Indiana, and will test the Notre Dame defense big time.
The Irish has 1 and a half problems.
The 1st one is their injured starting QB, gone for the season.
The backup did throw that game winning TD against Virginia, but how good he will be a full game long is unknown.
Problem.
The half problem is, the Irish did let Virginia back into the game after a few good series. The defense didn't look good and they gave up many unnecessary points.
Why this is only a half of problem? Because this was more a pass defense problem, than a rushing defense.
And Georgia Tech did throw in 2 games 15 times for 209 yards.
Notre Dame themselves did throw 53 times for 520 yards and that's still not much.
So passing is not the issue. Maybe.
The trick with the triple option is, to throw not often, but if you do, make it count.
We will see, if Notre Dame can stop the GT offense and will be on their side able to score enough points to win this at home.
I have doubts.
My pick is on the Jackets.

Sat. Sept. 19 - 3:30 pm ET
#18 Auburn @ #13 LSU
This one is tough to judge.
Auburn did win 2 games, both close and both games didn't look good.
The Tigers did lose a bit of reputation, when they needed OT to win against FCS Jacksonville State.
At some point this ranking is still a bonus, based on believe or reputation, not results.
Some teams had better results and are not ranked. Kansas State and West Virginia for example, not mentioning Temple or Houston.
So, is this really a #13 vs. #18 meeting or does 1 or even 2 teams here suck?
Because LSU did play only 1 game so far and that went close.
The won against Mississippi State, fine, but still ... all open from my point of view.
LSU is favored a bit, but it looks like some do see both teams quite even, as their rankings might suggest.
I don't, at the moment.
Auburn is not a bad team, for sure.
But I think they will not come up with a win in Louisiana, a very hostile environment, at least if you play football against LSU.
Auburn needs to improve on many aspects and I'm sure the will get that done, but not in 1 week.
On the other hand we have LSU, a bit untested, but so far with only one concern, which might spoil the show.
Their QB is not the best, for now, and has to improve his game.
But LSU did run against the Bulldogs and they will for sure do that against Auburn.
Auburn is beatable and they will fall, this weekend. Those AL Tigers will be kittens, this time.
I pick the LA Tigers

Sat. Sept. 19 - 9:15 pm ET
#15 Ole Miss @ #2 Alabama
This game is the game I like the most this week.
It looks like a rebel titan has to tackle an ... eh ... red elephant.
Ole Miss did win last year and everyone was surprise.
For some time were Mississippi the center of the football world.
Then they did lose some games and at the end did Alabama still run the division, the conference and was only stopped by Ohio State in the playoffs.
Now it will be interesting to see how this will turn out, this season.
The Rebels did crush 2 opponents with 70+ points, while Alabama did score twice 30+ points.
Quality of the crushed teams was better by the teams Alabama did play, especially the Wisconsin game was impressive.
Alabama is favored 5+ points which is not much as defending conference champ, at home.
I would give Sabans Crimson Tide a bonus, whenever they step on the field, because Nick Saban is a perfectionist and the team will be prepared.
The question mark is, weather the players can CONVERT the stuff Saban and his assistants did push into their head over the week.
Sometimes they do it in an excellent way, very seldom not.
I think last seasons Ole Miss game was such a seldom happening.
And 1 thing is sure, once a game is running, there is little you can do. Sometimes you can change things to the better, by those little adjustments, sometimes not.
Now we add a high flying offense to the mix, coming to town, facing one of the best juggernaut defenses in the country.
Will it still fly?
Here is my take on that:
Alabama will give up some points, more points than before.
Ole Miss will give up points, more points than before.
It will get close and the game will be very entertaining.
The difference maker will be the home field advantage.
I pick the Tide to wash the Rebels away by a few points.
Interesting side note here: Alabamas OC is Lane Kiffin, while Ole Miss DL coach is Chris Kiffin, Lanes brother.

Sat. Sept. 19 - 10:30 pm ET
#19 Brigham Young @ #10 UCLA
I'm not really sure this game is worth the spot here, but at the moment it's worth it on paper.
Why is this maybe not worth it?
Because the difference between BYU being 2-0 and 0-2 are just 2 long passes.
This will not hold up very long, if they will try to win every game this way.
Granted, they might not need those big plays in every game, but against UCLA, they might need more than 1.
Vegas has UCLA as 17 point favorite, which should give you the hint about the public expectations.
UCLA did win of cause both games since season start and did it by not really much effort, but also without a lot of scoring, if you take the opponents into consideration.
BYU had better quality opponents and did also score just enough to win the games, 2 scores by those mentioned big passing plays.
Even?
Maybe, if this would be played in Provo, Utah. But this is played in Los Angeles, California and I think it will get ugly for BYU.
Mora, UCLAs HC, will drill his players for this game and I think we will see a clear win by the Bruins over the Cougars.
I pick UCLA, because BYUs luck will run out.

‘Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

PS: I will go on vacation for the next week, so my next entries will be a bit shorter.

2015-09-14

FBS - Week 2 Review

Ãœberraschung! (Means Surprise!)

This weekend did have some real surprises.

Did some teams looked like the real deal last week did they fail this weekend and their season doesn’t look so bright anymore.

That's what I like with College Football, the constant change and the constant surprises do make every season enjoyable.
Lucky me, I don't have a favorite team or a love and hate relationship with several teams.
I don't get excited if Akron might win the National Championship and I also don't get depressed if Notre Dame finish with zero wins.

I like the sport, and I love the system. So many team all over the county and a so complicated system to have them all playing for several titles and goals. When I start to explain the subject to other persons, very fast do they wave goodbye and are not willing to GET the system. Fine with me, it’s their loss, not mine.

If I would have to make one pick which would 100% be true, my pick would have been that it will come different than expected. Every season.
It's the nature of the game.

The most surprising games this week for me were:

Bowling Green won over Maryland. 48-27, on the road.
Maryland had tied the score in the 4th at 27, when the Falcons did score again to get ahead.
Maryland was unable to counter that, got intercepted and the Falcons did score, again.
The Terrapins did get intercepted, again and Bowling Green did score, again for the final score.
Maryland did try to comeback, but got intercepted a 3rd time and the Falcons did let the time run out.
The game did turn completely in this 4th quarter.
Great win for Bowling Green.
Bad sign for Maryland for the rest of the season?
Or just a bad quarter?

Houston did win against Louisville. 34-31, on the road.
The game momentum went from one team to the other and back.
At some point did Louisville lead, at other points was Houston ahead.
The Cougars got ahead late in the 4th and with under a minute to play did Louisville try a FG at Houstons 36 yard line.
That's a 53 yard FG-try.
It was blocked!
Over.
A stunning upset and a great win for Houston.
Louisville is now 0-2 and even if they might win the ACC, they will never get into the playoffs, unless all other big programs do stumble big time.

Washington State beats Rutgers, 37-34, on the road.
Just to get this in perspective.
Wazzu did lose last week against a FCS team, Portland State.
Rutgers did last week the usual stomp on another FCS team, Norfolk State.
I would never expect those 2 teams to meet on an even ground.
Washington State did lead 13-6 at the half. Huh?
It was like Rutgers offense was not on the field.
The game came alive in the 4t quarter and when Rutgers did return a Punt for TD and got a 34-30 lead, it looked like the momentum was shifting.
But the Cougars did march 90 yards over the field and did score for the final result. Basically with time running out.
Great comeback and a great win for Washington State.

Toledo beats Arkansas, 16-12, on the road!
Not only is the score height worth a laugh, also the circumstances are quite funny.
Toledos first game against a FCS team was canceled last week, because of bad weather.
So they were not really tested.
Arkansas did beat UTEP 48-13.
Arkansas HC Bret Bielema did make fun over Ohio State regarding their strength of schedule, stating (after week 1), that the Razorbacks will have to face still 8 ranked teams, while the Buckeyes only have to face 1 ranked team for the rest of the season.
Now the Razorbacks lost to a MAC team, at home.
Toledo did lead 9-7 at the half and extended it to 16-7 later.
The Razorbacks were able to score a FG and a Safety in the 4th, but were unable to score the game winner.
They came even to the Rockets redzone, but as the whole game long, their offense was not able to get the needed yards, when it did count the most.
Gigantic win for Toledo.

Ohio did beat Marshall, 21-10.
There goes my dark horse pick for a big bowl.
Marshall had it all. The schedule, the win last week. If only they would have been able to beat Ohio.
They were not.
The Thundering Herd was silenced by the Bobcats, and they never had a real chance.
Ohio did play great football and never did Marshall really into the game.
Ohio has now a bright future ahead of them, while Marshall will have to overcome that loss.

Memphis did CRUSH Kansas 55-23, on the road.
Maybe that was the BIG12 expansion consideration pitch.
I think Memphis would sign a deal when it would come up, regardless of the details, and the university is really up to get Memphis on the next level.
OK, Kansas is not really a big shot in football, also not in the BIG12 in football, but still ....
55-23! Big win for the Tigers and a great way to get the season going.

Temple did it again. They did beat Cincinnati 34-26, on the road.
I didn't thought Temple to have a say in the seasons conference games, but they are now 2-0 and 1-0 in the conference, where I did see them 0-2 and 0-1 at that point.
Nice Ãœberraschung! LOL. It looks like it was not a great weekend for hometeams.

Let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 2

Sat. Sept. 12 - 6:00 pm ET
#19 Oklahoma @ #23 Tennessee
This was a great one.
The Vols did lead at home for a very long time and Oklahoma was able to tie the score at 17 with more or less time running out.
Great play for that tying TD.
In the 1st OT did Tennessee score first and Oklahoma did counter that.
In the 2nd OT did Oklahoma score a TD and was able to hold of Tennessee for the win.
That win did cost the Vols the rank in the TOP25, while Oklahoma made a case for their BIG12 season.
Oklahoma 31 - Tennessee 24 -> Jacks Score: 4-1

Sat. Sept. 12 - 8:00 pm ET
#7 Oregon @ #5 Michigan State
Also a great game.
The Ducks did play with a strange Helmet decoration, but I don't think that did hurt them much.
The Spartans did lead 31-21 at some point, but the Ducks came back and were able to score for 31-28.
Michigan State was unable to do anything and had a 3-and-out, giving the Ducks the ball with a lot of time left (2+ minutes) and mid-field.
Not so good.
But the Spartans defense came up at the right time and kept the Ducks at the 33 yard line after they got a 1st down.
With 4th and 16, after a great sack a play before, the Ducks decided off cause to play and the Spartans stopped them.
Not the score difference I expected, but still a win for the Michigan team.
Some journalist do already put them into the playoffs, TOGETHER with Ohio State (which would mean 2 teams from the BIG10).
I say, not so fast, it will take more to get two teams from one conference in the playoffs than 1 good win against a TOP team.
Still, the Spartans will get a boost out of this, for sure.
Oregon 28 - Michigan State 31 -> Jacks Score: 5-1

Sat. Sept. 12 - 9:15 pm ET
##14 LSU @ #25 Mississippi State
LSU was not tested last week, so they went into this game a bit unpolished, but on the other hand were the Bulldogs unable to get films of the Tigers because of that.
Whatever the reason was, LSU did start great and did lead early.
At halftime it was 14-3.
But Mississippi did come back when they trailed 21-6.
They did cut the LSU lead to 21-19 (they failed a 2 point conversion) and had the win on the foot.
With time running out did the Kicker kick the ball wide right.
A 52 yard FG try.
No upset here.
LSU 21 - Mississippi State 19 -> Jacks Score: 6-1

Sat. Sept. 12 - 10:15 pm ET
#20 Boise State @ BYU
Aargh. The lightning did strike twice.
Last week did BYU win by a hail mary pass on the last play.
OK, they did not win this week by another final seconds miracle pass, but almost.
Boise State did lead 24-14 when they had a costly turnover in their own redzone.
BYU did score and shortened the gap to 24-21.
After that did Boise not really gain some yards and had to punt.
BYU did had some progress, but were stuck at 4th and 7 at the Broncos 35, quite enough for a FG-try.
They did not do that, but did made a deep pass, which was caught in the endzone, giving them the lead and did give Boise so much pressure that the next drive they did get intercepted for a Pick-6.
The final score does look overwhelming, but the truth is, the game was very close.
It lifted BYU into the ranks, while Boise did drop out of the ranks.
Boise State 24 - BYU 35 -> Jacks Score: 6-2

Now I will give you some more results worth to mention:

Western Kentucky did beat Louisiana Tech with 41-38. The Hilltoppers did leave a mark inside the conference and will for sure contend for the conference title.
Utah did beat Utah State 24-14, but did lose their QB to injury. The Battle of the Brothers was won by the Utes the 2nd time in a row. The Utes are now 2-0 in this season.
Auburn did almost lose to Jacksonville State. Final score was 27-20 in OT and Auburn did score the game tying TD with 40 ticks on the clock. They then were able to score first in OT and Jacksonville State was not able to score after that.
Michigan won against Oregon State, 35-7. Most notable on that game was, that Oregon State did look awful.
Syracuse beats Wake Forest, 30-17. Wake Forest did not really had many chances to turn that game around.
Clemson did stomp Appalachian State 41-10, which will eliminate the Mountaineers from my playoff crasher list.
Minnesota did need OT to best Colorado State, 23-20. CSU did score the game tying FG with time ran out in the 4th. They got also the 1st possession in OT, but fumbled and Minnesota did only need a FG to win the game.
Notre Dame did beat Virginia 34-27, but did lose their QB for some time with a broken ankle. Tough loss for Notre Dame.
Eastern Michigan did win against Wyoming, 48-29. According to the press did Eastern Michigan had a 27 years losing streak, on the road, against non-conference FBS teams, which is now gone. I'm sure they won't miss that streak.
Iowa did beat Iowa State 31-17. Last season did the Cyclones win the Cy-Hawk Trophy, this season did the Hawkeyes get it back.
Georgia Southern did best Western Michigan 43-17. I'm not sure if this is a sleeping giant, but the Broncos are not really a typical Sun-Belt-Victim. They lost last week to Michigan State only by 13 points, while Georgia Southern was blanked by West Virginia. Something is strange here.
Florida did beat East Carolina 31-24. The game must have been so ugly, that Gators Coach Jim McElwain did apologize for it.
Kentucky did beat South Carolina 26-22. The Gamecocks did look awful on offense.
And as final result: Georgia State did beat New Mexico State 34-32. I marked this game as the decider for the bottom of the Sun Belt. For sure it looks tough for Mexico State now, maybe Georgia State can built on that win.

‘Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

2015-09-10

FBS - Week 2 Preview

Most of the time, week 2 of the college football season are quite boring.
The big teams which had big opponents in week 1 normally do schedule a relaxing game after that, many big teams do schedule relaxing games in general before all conference games do start and that leave only a few really good games worth the attention.

But before I start the preview part I like to have a list of my 10 favorite teams to get into the playoffs.
Remember, there are 4 spots for the playoffs and it's likely they will come from the power 5 conferences or maybe Notre Dame or even BYU could crash in.
A participation of any non-power 5 team is quite unlikely. But I will also put in the top 3 of those teams in, from my point of view.

TOP10 teams for the playoff spots (sorted by likeliness)
#1 Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes did maybe profit from the injury of the Hokies QB, but I think they would have beaten them anyway.
Their offense looked good most of the time, their defense front was crazy and so there is good reason to believe they will be able to get back into the playoff mix.

#2 Alabama Crimson Tide
That game looked like I expected it to be.
Alabama looked very strong and Wisconsin did look not strong enough to keep them away from the endzone.
The Tide will play many more strong teams, so they will be tested regularly, but for now, they look like a lock for the spot.

#3 TCU Horned Frogs
The Frogs did look like they might fall to Minnesota, but won it and for now they are by favorite to win the BIG12.

#4 Oregon Ducks
The Ducks did win with a high score against Eastern Washington, but they did let them also score 42 points.
That was a FCS team, so it will be interesting to see, how the defense will be against good PAC12 teams.

#5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
This is the if-then-team with a lot of ifs.
If they can keep that performance up and if their defense stays as good as they played against Texas, they might get through their schedule without a stumble.
If they do that and if some of the above teams DO stumble, they might get a chance.

#6 Clemson Tigers
The Tigers are my pick for the ACC at the moment and that's close before the Seminoles.
The real test will come against FSU and Louisville.

#7 Auburn Tigers
They almost stumbled over Louisville and that might be a sign for a weaker team as expected out of Alabama, a stronger team as expected out of Kentucky or a week 1 not really in synch performance.
So far, Auburn stays my 2nd option for the SEC.

#8 Michigan State Spartans
They won, but not as dominant as I expected them to win.
They are my 2nd best BIG10 candidate so far.

#9 Baylor Bears
They blasted SMU, which is OK, but far from being a test worth to mention.
A good thing is, they were able to test their offense.
Time will tell, if their defense can hold better teams.

#10 USC Trojans
I'm not sure if the Trojans are really back, but they do look at the moment very good and are my 2nd option for the PAC12.

Here are the 3 most likely non power 5 teams to crash the party:
#1 Boise State Broncos
They are now ranked at #20 in the AP polls and they might rise fast.
They do have a quite manageable schedule and are the favorite to win the MWC.

#2 Marshall Thundering Herd
They did look very good in their win against Purdue. They are my favorite to win the CUSA. Very likely unbeaten.

#3 Appalachian State
They might get eliminated fast, but they are at the moment the best bet for another non power 5 conference winner.
The Clemson game next week will probably be a loss and their end in this list.

All other potential non power 5 conference teams do have quite strong teams on their schedule, which is the reason I did not put them here.
Granted, that's the same case as for Appalachian State, but here I think they have a slim chance to win, while with other teams a don't see any chance at all.
All other possible teams do face Boise or Marshall during the season, which I expect them to lose, hence they will not crash the party.

I think this list will get updated often.

Now let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 2

Sat. Sept. 12 - 6:00 pm ET
#19 Oklahoma @ #23 Tennessee
If this would be in Norman, Oklahoma, I wouldn't blink and would pick the Sooners.
They are kind of redesigned with a new offense and Tennessee still has to prove they can play again against the big boys.
But this is played in Knoxville, Tennessee and suddenly the teams are handled with a 1.5 spread at the moment.
Oklahoma is still the favorite, but this is slim.
Last week did Oklahoma handle Akron very efficient, but without driving up the score.
More important with that game is, that Akron did only score 3 points.
Tennessee on the other hand did play Bowling Green and had to swallow 30 points.
That's a lot of points facing off a MAC offense against a SEC defense.
With that performance on defense will they lose against Oklahoma, I guess, because the Oklahoma defense will for sure not allow the 59 points Bowling Green did allow.
My pick is, that Oklahomas defense will keep Tennessee out of the endzone often enough to win the game by the points the Oklahoma defense will scoop out of the Vols defense.
I'm not really sure, this will be a close game within a 1 or 2 point margin.
My gut says, it will be either 7+ points for the home team, or 7+ points for the guests.
I pick Oklahoma as the winner.

Sat. Sept. 12 - 8:00 pm ET
#7 Oregon @ #5 Michigan State
This one is my favorite game this weekend.
Oregon looked like ... well ... Oregon, but had allowed a lot of points against Eastern Washington, a FCS team. They did score around 20 points more than they allowed, but it's valid to say, that the Spartans defense will be better than the Eagles defense.
I'm not sure, if the Spartans offense is capable of scoring as often as Eastern Washington did, for sure they will try.
This is played on Spartans ground and they are at the moment a 4 point favorite to win this.
Interesting is, many fans do see the Ducks up front.
Most feared is their offense of cause and many have the same thoughts as I have, weather the Spartans can score more than the Ducks can.
Here is my take: The Ducks offense can be stopped.
Ohio State did show that last season, holding them at only 20 points.
And the Spartans defense should be able to cover that.
Even with a new coordinator.
They did score only 37 points against Western Michigan last week, so they need to get better here.
My pick is that the Spartans will win by a score difference.


Sat. Sept. 12 - 9:15 pm ET
##14 LSU @ #25 Mississippi State
LSU did play only around 5 minutes so far.
Their game against McNeese State was canceled because of bad weather after a few minutes in the 1st quarter and a long delay period while the thunderstorm did came down.
So we will see an untested Tigers team against a hosting Bulldogs team, which did beat Southern Miss by 18 points last week.
It's no wonder, the Tigers are still a 5 point favorite to win this.
Southern Miss could better be described as Southern Mess, based on last season performance.
For me it will be interesting to see, weather the last season Bulldogs can show up, or if the team has to reload.
In my preview I pick them to be the latter one.
It's a pity we did not see LSU last weekend.
Now it is a guessing game.
But under the given circumstances I pick LSU.
That Southern Miss game did not convince me to see a strong Bulldogs team and it looks like the Tigers are at least better than last season.
Enough for a win?
Not sure, but if I have to pick between the Tigers and the Bulldogs under those conditions, I would pick the Tigers every time.


Sat. Sept. 12 - 10:15 pm ET
#20 Boise State @ BYU
Some think this will be good.
I'm not sure, but because this week does lack better matchups I did chose this one.
Boise States HC did beat his Mentor last week by 3 points, including a miss FG in the last minute.
The most stunning fact on that day was, that Boise was only able to score 16 points.
That's not much for a regularly high scoring offense.
On the other hand did Nebraska score 28 points against BYU and did only lose because of 1 or 2 stupid defenders unable to know down a ball from the 50.
Nice play for BYU, but that won't happen every week.
Taysom Hill is gone for the season and the backup did through that Hail Mary, but you need more in your playbook to win many football games.
Granted, it could happen, that the backup-now-starter Tanner Mangum becomes the man at Provo, Utah, but as someone said, there is a reason he is the backup.
We will see it.
My main concern here is really the Boise State offense, which has to get better.
Played at BYU, this will get probably close.
Boise is only 2.5 points favorite at the moment, so it looks like the betters are not really clear regarding this game.
I pick Boise in this game, and my gut says, it will be won by 2 scores or more.

2015-09-08

FBS - Week 1 Review

Autsch, that did hurt for some teams this weekend.

Imagine you are leading the game and a last Hail Mary with 50+ yards does take the win away from you.
Happened to Nebraska, when they lost against BYU.

Imagine you did fight and got your team in FG range to win the game and the 47 yarder to win the game is blocked.
Did happen to Central Florida against Florida International.

Imagine you are a SEC team and you fall to a CUSA as 1st SEC team since 2010, because of a missed 2-point-conversion.
Happened to Vanderbilt, as they lost to Western Kentucky.

Image you are the most talked coach of the season, hired as savior for the team and you lose your first game.
Happened to Harbaugh as Michigan lost to Utah.

And many more.
A wild weekend.

I did mention some upsets by FCS teams against FBS teams in my preview and this weekend was also a very rich one for FCS-upsets and upsets in general. Here the FCS-upsets:

Fordham did win against Army. 37-35.
Not a big upset, since Army is probably a quite weak team, but Fordham is also not the favorite to win the FCS, so, big upset for them at least.
Army did try to launch a comeback, but their last drive was stopped around mid-field and Fordham was able to run the time out.

South Dakota State did win against Kansas. 41-38.
Granted, Kansas is also not a winner team at the moment, but they are still a BIG12 team.
The Jackrabbits did trail at the half, but came back, went ahead and were able to stop all comeback tries by Kansas.

Portland State did win against Washington State. 24-17.
That's awesome, since the Washington State could become a player in the PAC12 this season.
Wazzu did lead at the half, but Portland State did turn the game around and was able to intercept the Cougars mid-field on their last drive.

North Dakota did beat Wyoming. 24-13.
Also not a big signature win, but still a huge win for North Dakota.
The best thing for them was, they held the Cowboys scoreless for 3 quarters.

Let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 1

Fri. Sept. 4 - 10:15 pm ET
Washington @ #23 Boise State
Well, that went not the way Chris Petersen would have liked it to go.
The Broncos did score the 1st TD, but got their XP blocked.
It didn't get better, when the Broncos did score another TD and did lead 13-zip.
Washington did turn the ball over and but Boise did play the 4th down in the red zone and did fail to get the 1st down.
Great, let's start a comeback!
But the Huskies were still not able to gain yardage.
At the end of the half was Boise leading 16-0.
The comeback try was ignited by a punt return TD by Washington for a 16-10 score.
Then did Washington cut the Broncos lead to 16-13.
With 21 seconds on the clock did Washington try for a FG of 46 yards and the kicker did miss the goal on the right side by less than a yard.
That must have hurt.
The Broncos did keep their Smurf turf myth alive and did win against Washington 16-13.
At least I was right that the game would be much closer than the 10+ point spread.
Washington 13 - Boise State 16 -> Jacks Score: 0-1

Sat. Sept. 5 - 7:30 pm ET
Texas @ #11 Notre Dame
Ok, either Texas has many open issues, Notre Dame is really good or something did go very right this gameday for Notre Dame and very wrong for Texas.
I expected to see Notre Dame winning, but not with a 35 point margin.
Their QB Malik Zaire did look good and it's clear why Golson, last years QB, did leave.
Zaire, if he plays like this the whole season, will be great.
Charlie Strong will have to get his Longhorns on track fast, otherwise the Longhorns fans will want their head, fast.
It will be interesting to see, how both teams will get though the season.
A good thing is, the 1st game is not always a good measurement for the season.
It's the 1st game and teams have to get in synch.
Texas 3 - Notre Dame 38 -> Jacks Score: 1-1

Sat. Sept. 5 - 8:00 pm ET
#20 Wisconsin vs. #3 Alabama
This went almost as expected.
I have the best respect for the Badgers, but as 1st game under a new coach against Alabama?
Who did expect a win?
Anyone?
The Badgers did lose one of their best defender early, probably due a concussion, and did gave up a lot of yardage in the ground.
They were not really able to stop Derrick Henry, the Alabama RB, who had 3 TDs.
Overall did Alabama just enough to win the game, they did not really dominate BIG, but did also not let Wisconsin back into the game.
It will also be interesting to see both teams in their conferences.
I think Wisconsin will recover from that loss.
Wisconsin 17 - Alabama 35 -> Jacks Score: 2-1

Mon. Sept. 7 - 8:00 pm ET
#1 Ohio State @ Virginia Tech
A very interesting game.
Ohio State did start fast, did lead 14-zip fast, but Virginia Tech came back, fueled by Buckeyes turnovers, in the 2nd quarter and took even the lead at halftime for a 17-14 score.
But Ohio State did come out of the locker room and did score again.
The Hokies did then lose their starting QB Brewer.
He was hit by the stingy defense one time too often and left with a broken collarbone, missing probably 6 weeks if not more.
From that point on did Ohio State rule the game and did win big time.
It was not the game I expected to see, but the result was quite the expected one.
Ohio State 42 - Virginia Tech 24 -> Jacks Score: 3-1

Now I will give you some results worth to mention:
South Carolina did win the game against North Carolina with 17-13. I would have guessed a bigger margin here.
Florida International did win against Central Florida 15-14. UCF did win the AAC last season, while FIU did drown in the CUSA. This is a big win for FIU.
The Toledo - Stoney Brook game was canceled at the half, because of bad weather. Toledo did lead at the half and at the moment is the game as "no contest" in the books. Toledo can (and should, because of Bowl eligibility) try to let this game count as win.
Western Kentucky did beat Vanderbilt 14-12. As mentioned it's the 1st win by a CUSA team against a SEC team since 2010. The main question for me here is, if Vanderbilt is really that bad, or if WKU is good. Good enough to win the CUSA?
Utah did win against Michigan 24-17. The offense did not look in shape at that game, but I'm sure that's will get better. The Utes did look good on defense.
TCU was able to escape Minnesota 23-17. The Horned Frogs had the lead were quite good over the whole game, but did let the Gophers back into it in the 4th. Minnesota was not able to start a last final play in time, so time ran out and the game was won by TCU.
Utah State did almost lose to Southern Utah. They won only because of a punt return late in the 4t quarter and did win 12-9 against that FCS team.
Hawai'i did beat Colorado 28-20. This is also a huge upset, since Hawai'i is at the moment in a not so good shape and plays in the MWC, while Colorado is a PAC12 team, even if they are at the moment also not in a good shape.
Charlotte did beat Georgia State 23-20. It was their 1st FBS game. Granted, GSU is not expected to win many games this season, but losing at home against a FBS debut team?
Northwestern did beat a ranked Stanford team 16-6. Stanford didn't play good on offense and their comeback attempt was sealed by a pick in the endzone.
Auburn did win against Louisville 31-24. This was an interesting game with Auburn leading 17-0 at the half, but almost lost to Louisville and did survive with a scare.
BYU did beat Nebraska 33-28 on a last second hail mary from mid-field. Nice finish, if you are not a Huskers fan.
Temple did upset Penn State 27-10. Temple is not expected to get anything going in the AAC this season, but the won against the BIG10 team in a great way. Well done.
Indiana did survive a shootout against Southern Illinois (FCS) 48-47. That was a close one. Indiana did score in a few plays for the lead and with under a minute did Southern Illinois get the ball back. They went 75 yards over the field, did score and went for 2, but failed.
Texas A&M did beat ranked Arizona State 38-17. I would have picked the Sun Devils in this game, but the Aggies looked good and did outscore Arizona State in the 4th quarter to win this big.
The LSU - McNeese State game was canceled because if bad weather and it will not be re-scheduled. It was only played for about 5 min. and then was delayed because of thunders for 4 hours and later canceled. McNeese will still get its compensation.
And as final news, Marshall did really upset Purdue 41-31. I did hint that in my preview, but it's still great to see it happen.

‘Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

2015-09-04

FBS - Week 1 Preview

The Beginning!

This Thursday (so yesterday) already did start the 2015 College Football Season on the FBS level.
As usual, not many games at season start do have top level quality, many teams do play FCS opponents or teams between 2 very different power levels of conferences do play against each other with a usual high margin result for the stronger team.
Sometimes upsets do happen.

Here are some examples of big upsets in week 1 the last few years.
I only picked upsets by FCS teams over FBS teams.

In 2010 did for example Jacksonville State beat Ole Miss 49 - 48 after 2 OTs.
Jacksonville State had in that season overall a good, but not great season, winning not even their conference and did drop out of the FCS National Championship playoffs in the 2nd round.
Still they did beat Ole Miss on their 1st gameday.
Granted, Ole Miss was 2010 not really good, but they won 4 games in total that season, including 1 in the SEC.
In that game they had a 31-10 lead at the half, but played a very bad 2nd half and especially a very, very bad 4th quarter.
The game score was tied at 34 at the end and the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State earned that win in 2nd OT with a bold 2 point conversion try, giving them the 1-point-lead and the win.
That was a huge upset at that time.

At season start of 2011 did Sacramento State beat Oregon State 29-28 in OT.
The Oregon State Beavers did finish the season with a 3-9 record and all wins were conference wins.
The record of the Sacramento State Hornets would be at the end 4-7 with no playoff participation.
At that time was Oregon State more or less under the radar, but this upset was still not expected.
Funny thing in this game was, the Beavers were trailing at the half and did tied the game with a strong 4th quarter.
They then were in 1st possession in the OT and scored a TD with an extra point.
The Hornets were also able to score a TD, but made a 2-point-conversion-try for the win.
Brave players and coaches!

Also in 2011 at week 1 did the Richmond Spiders upset the Duke Blue Devils 23-21.
Duke was at that time still a pushover and their HC did try to put all the pieces together to get the team on a higher level.
Still they should have won that game.
They finished with only 3 wins that season.
Richmond on the other hand did start great in 2011, they won the next 2 games, but lost all remaining games and did finish also with only 3 wins.
Funny fact on that one: The Blue Devils did lose the 3rd time against Richmond in 6 seasons and had the game winning (or at least the game leading) FG on their feet, but missed it 2 min. to go in the game.

2012 were a bad start for the Pittsburgh Panthers. They lost against Youngstown State 17-31.
The Panthers didn't have a good season that year, but also not a bad one, they finished even with a bowl loss and in total with a record of 6-7.
Youngstown State did look promising after that game, started with 4 wins in total, but lost the next 4 games and finished with 7-4 overall.
Even if the score looks quite clear in favor of the Penguins, Youngstown was never in a high lead and that game could have ended totally different.
At the end did the Panthers lose, because their team did not play good enough together under their new HC at that time.

In 2013 did Eastern Washington overcome Oregon State 49-46.
The Oregon State Beavers were ranked at #25 for season start and would even rebound from that upset later the season to get ranked again (again #25).
The team did finish the season with a 7-6 record, including a bowl win against Boise State.
Not bad as PAC12 team.
The Eastern Washington Eagles on the other hand did finish the season as unbeaten conference champ, and left the FCS National Championship Playoffs in the Semis.
That game at season start was only the 4th win by a FCS team against a ranked FBS team in history.
Basically a weak 1st half did cost the Beavers the game, but that's easy to say afterwards.
Bottom line at that day was, the Beavers were not able to stop the Eagles and the game was close the whole time.

On the same gameday, week 1 of 2013, did North Dakota State win over Kansas State, 24-21.
The Bisons would win every game of 2013 and did finish as FCS National Champion, the 3rd time in a row at that time (they also won last season, so now they won 4 times in a row).
So, it's was clear at that time NDSU would be a very good FCS team, but Kansas State is a BIG12 team, from a conference which is more or less regularly under the TOP4 conferences of the FBS.
And Kansas State was not Kansas (which did win a season before only 1 game), no, they were the defending BIG12 conference Co-Champ of 2012.
Later that season would KSU finish the season with a 8-5 record, including a Bowl win against Michigan.
This upset was well deserved, when the Bisons did score with only a few seconds left on the clock for the lead and the KSU QB did throw an interception the next play after kick-off.

The 1st gameday of 2013 was really special, since at that day did also the McNeese State Cowboys beat the South Florida Bulls 53-21!
A huge win for a small program.
To make the Bulls history short, they had a new HC and did win in that season only 2 games.
McNeese State on the other hand did win 10 games in total and would play in the FCS playoffs until the 2nd round.
The 32 point win margin was the biggest one since the FBS-FCS split in 1978 (at that time I-AA and I-A).

I'm not finished with the 1st gameday upsets of 2013.
UConn did lose on that date against Towson, 18-33.
The UConn Huskies did finish 3-9 in that season and did fire their HC during that season.
The Towson Tigers did play great in 2013 and lost only 3 times. 2 losses did cost them the conference title and the 3rd one did cost them the National Championship, since they lost to above mentioned North Dakota State in the final.
The Tigers had nice control in that game against UConn.

And as last great upset in 2013 on week 1 I have Iowa State losing to Northern Iowa 20-28.
The Cyclones did have a usual bad season in the BIG12 and finished 3-9, but normally they should have won that game.
The Northern Iowa Panthers had a great 1st half and did basically kept the Cyclones from scoring in the 2nd half, while they did score enough to secure the win.
The Panthers did later finish 7-5 and did not make the playoffs.

In 2014 did the Iowa State Cyclones lose AGAIN.
This time against North Dakota State, which did win again against a FBS opponent. The final score was 34-14.
The Cyclones were still a mess, finishing 2-10, but still kept their coach.
NDSU did win, as mentioned above, the national championship the 4th time in row in 2014 and did lose only 1 time during the season.
In that upset against the Cyclones did the Bisons never really stumble after they adjusted in the 2nd quarter.

And as last upset special I have the win of the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats against the Florida International Panthers, with a score of 14-12 in 2014.
With that score there is not much room for big comebacks or leads and based on the box score, having only scores in the 2nd and 4th quarter of each 7-6 for the Wildcats, it looks like a quite boring game.
Never the less, nobody in the Panthers organization had that game as a possible loss in mind, I'm sure.
The Wildcats did win their conference in 2013, but stepped out of the playoffs after the 1st round and even if they won their conference again in 2014, they were not qualified to play in the playoffs with 9 wins total.
FIU on the other hand did win 4 games in the FBS in 2014 and kept their HC.

With so many upsets in week 1, it will be fun to see, which game will be lost by a FBS team this season start.
Potential games are there, many.
But picking a winner will be too hard, so I will leave it to the review of week 1 to tell you if an upset did happen and which teams were involved.

For the statistical friends under the readers:
The team with most wins against FBS teams from the FCS since the split in the 70's is Youngstown State with 20 wins in 49 games.
6 of those wins alone are from rivalry games against the Akron Zips (Steel Tire trophy).
The Zips were a FCS teams once and did switch to the FBS in 1987 but continued the series until 1995 and lost 6 of 9 meetings and had 1 tie.

Now let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 1

Fri. Sept. 4 - 10:15 pm ET
Washington @ #23 Boise State
From the coaches point of view, this game is the most interesting one this week.
Chris Petersen is the HC of the Washington Huskies and he will visit his former team, the Boise State Broncos.
Petersen did coach the Broncos for 5 seasons as OC and 8 seasons as HC, guided the team that way from 2001 to 2013.
The team did win several conference titles under his OC watch and even more under his HC time.
He took the Huskies job last season, and did inherit a quite good team.
The Broncos didn't wait too long after Petersen leave and took Bryan Harsin as new HC.
Harsin is a former Boise State player, who started his coaching career as Graduate Assistant at Boise in 2001, the 1st season of Petersen as OC.
Harsin gained better position coaching jobs in Boise step by step and became the Broncos OC in 2006 until 2010. 2006 was Petersens 1st season as Broncos HC.
Harsin went on to Texas as Co-OC in 2011 and 2012 and became Arkansas States HC in 2013, where he won the conference that season.
When his school did call for the HC job, for sure he did not think for too long and accepted.
He won the conference in 2014 with the Broncos and the team is for sure again in the mix for the championship this season.
So, basically it's the teacher vs. the student matchup some might say.
The funny thing here is, the Huskies, as PAC12 team, are in this game the underdog!
Boise State, as reigning MWC-Champ is pre-season ranked and a 12+ point favorite to win this. 12+ points!
Many experts did pick the Broncos, but not many did pick them against the spread.
I even found a preview where ALL experts did pick the Broncos and only 20% did pick them against the spread.
It looks like Petersens legacy at Boise does value more, than his coaching skills at Washington.
Don't get me wrong, the game will be open to win for both teams, but I don't think the Huskies will have no chance at all.
Even on the great blue so-called smurf turf at Boise, where the Broncos had many, many home wins.
I think the Huskies are a dark horse to get into the PAC12 championship game.
Such a team should be better than losing 12 points or more against Boise.
My pick is, that the Huskies will stay in the game and win this in a close one.

Sat. Sept. 5 - 7:30 pm ET
Texas @ #11 Notre Dame
I'm a bit stunned that the Fighting Irish are ranked at #11.
They finished 8-5 last season and won their bowl against LSU, which probably did give them the boost in the rankings this pre-season.
I don't think they will win many more games than last season, but you never know.
Brian Kelly should be able to get the job done in his 6th season, otherwise the Irish might look for some other coach. The standards at Notre Dame are high and the university is still thinking the team is as relevant as it was in the past.
Texas on the other hand do have a 2nd year coach with Charlie Strong and he might get the Longhorns back into the ranks and back into the contender position of the BIG12 after a 6-7 record last season.
Texas is a TOP5 team, if you look at the facilities and the money they have, get and spend.
So, everything under a national ranking and a regular spot for a BIG12 title is not acceptable in Longhorns nation.
I think the Longhorns do have some open business inside their roster to solve and because of those issues, do many see Notre Dame as favorite here.
They are a 10+ point favorite, which is more than I would give them.
For me it is a shaky Irish team, which strength I will have to discover during the season (if there is such strength) against an unknown Texas team.
Two coaches which should be able to get their team better will face off here and Kelly for sure has the better situation with his 6th recruiting class coming in, while Strong has to work mostly with players from his predecessors time.
I pick the Irish in a close game here, but I think both teams will play no role at the end of the season on the playoff selection process.

Sat. Sept. 5 - 8:00 pm ET
#20 Wisconsin vs. #3 Alabama
If you look at the games of that 1st weekend, this one is the biggest.
Not only is it the only one, where two ranked teams will match up against each other, it's also a matchup between two potential championship teams.
Wisconsin has a good chance to win the Big10 West Division, while Alabama has the chance to win the SEC West.
Both teams could win their conferences then, even I think the chances for Alabama are much better than Wisconsins.
This matchup here will give some inside regarding strength and status of both teams
The difference here is, that Nick Saban has his Crimson Tide in his 9th season and the team is a well-oiled machine.
On the other hands are the Badgers under new management of Paul Chryst is in his 1st season as HC at the school.
He was the HC of the Pittsburgh Panthers before that and there he was quite OK, but not sensational.
The team he inherited is also a very good one, so chances are good, that they will not be outmatched by Alabama by default.
The Crimson Tide is a 10+ point favorite in this game and I think that's maybe not enough.
As much as I love the smashing Badgers football, the team did lose the Big10 Championship game in a landslide and Alabama was for me on the same level as Ohio State last season, which did beat the Badgers in mentioned championship game.
Yes, OSU did also win against Alabama, but my point is, there are some teams on high levels and some or the highest.
Wisconsin is on a high level, but Alabama is on the highest and therefore I'm expecting a one-sided match, like Alabama had a while ago (2012) against Michigan at season start in the same stadium, winning 41-14.
My pick is, the Crimson Tide will roll and will bury the Badgers, big time.

Mon. Sept. 7 - 8:00 pm ET
#1 Ohio State @ Virginia Tech
I did thought long about taking this game into the list or not, but at the end I thought to myself it will not hurt to have it in it.
Ohio State is ranked #1 as defending National Champion.
Urban Meyer gets already articles over the questions "is he the best?", "Saban or Meyer, who will beat Bear Bryants record?" (of winning 6 National Championships) and so on.
The nation thinks Meyer is the current Football Guru and for sure he is an outstanding coach, but I'm no fan of ranking coaches as "best ever" or "TOP10" or whatever.
I'm pretty sure there are many great coaches in college, which can't show the same kind of success Meyer had and has, just because they do coach under different circumstances.
Are those better or worse?
Who knows.
Frank Beamer of the Virginia Tech Hokies is for sure one of the best, and even if his team did not had much success in the past few seasons, his legacy is big.
It's that big, that I predict a drop in VTs performance over seasons, if not decades, once Beamer might decide to call it a career.
He did lift VT to the heights it is now (or was until the last drop) and history did show, that not very often are schools able to find capable successors.
So two very high respected coaches will have a nice season start with that match.
VT is a 14+ point underdog and that might be not enough, from my point of view.
As much as I like the Hokies, they are not on the level as Ohio State is at the moment.
At least that's my take, now.
There are some voices in the press jungle, which do see a mighty comeback of the Hokies.
A win over the Buckeyes would be a great start.
I doubt it will happen, but I would love to see it, to get the season a bit more excited.
My pick here is, that the Buckeyes are way better and even on the road will they win against VT.