2015-11-26

FBS - Week 13 Preview

Oh god, it’s getting exciting.
The results of last weekend did a l t e r the landscape heavily and we are not finished yet.
I will try to paint a complete picture with the likely remaining teams, a 100% complete picture is still out of reach, since totally strange things are still possible.

The next coaches did also get the pink slips, but can coach the last remaining games.
Paul Rhodes of Iowa State will be available for hire after that last game. He did coach the Cyclones for 7 seasons and does have a 32-54 record, including 1 bowl win and 2 bowl losses.
He had never more than 6 wins in a season.
Just to put this in perspective: Except an occasionally winning season is Iowa State a losing teams since ages. This record is not better or worse than the record of the last 2 long serving coaches of the Cyclones.
I don’t understand the decision, but OK, after 7 seasons the might need a new face to blame.

Next one is Scott Shafer, Syracuse HC for the last 3 seasons, posting a record of 13-23 so far. Not sure if this is also a fair firing (but which can be?) but he for sure inherited a better team than he will leave for the next one, at least regarding winning record.

There are also rumours that LSU might fire Les Miles after 11 seasons at LSU. That would be a very, very stupid move. Honestly, I don’t see many adequate successors, if they don’t ice one of the big names away from other schools and coaching LSU might be one of the best gigs in the country, but there can’t be so much more money in the bank to justify a move from 1 big school to another.
Maybe they find a coach willing to switch because of boredom, means getting long time coaches willing to change just to have a change after 5-10 seasons.

At the moment there are 13 schools with job openings after the season, Minnesota did already decide to keep interims coach Tracy Claeys.

The Committee did post their next playoff list and we do get a better picture, but this can all change dramatically.
Remember their approach is different, they have an earned value approach while my list a bit later in that blog post is a "most likely to stay alive" approach.

Here is the list:
1 Clemson 11-0
2 Alabama 10-1
3 Oklahoma 10-1
4 Iowa 11-0
5 Michigan State 10-1
6 Notre Dame 10-1
7 Baylor 9-1
8 Ohio State 10-1
9 Stanford 9-2
10 Michigan 9-2

Oklahoma did jump to #3! That’s big. Also did Iowa leap frog Notre Dame as did Michigan State. What does that mean?
I think it’s safe to say, if the top 4 teams would win all remaining games, they would be in. I think it’s also safe to say that regardless of the outcome, the BIG10 champ will be in the playoffs. All 4 leading teams are in the TOP10 and 1 of those will make it. From my point of view is the BIG12 spot the only weak one. If Oklahoma loses, Oklahoma State might get back into the picture, but there is also Baylor at #7 with 2 games remaining. Also interesting is Stanford at #9 and Notre Dame at #6. Either 1 of those will win next weekend and will gain some steam. Enough to crack the top 4 spots? Not sure.
For now we have 1 ACC team, 1 SEC teams (-1 to last week), 4 Big 10 teams (+1 to last week), 1 Independent, 2 Big 12 teams (-1 to last week) and now 1 PAC12 teams (+1 to last week) in the mix.
Best non-power-5-team is at the moment surprisingly Navy at #15.
Next team is Toledo at #24 and Temple at #25.
Houston dropped out.

Let’s get to my personal list.
I updated the remaining games list, including all remaining games, to get a better picture.
1
There was just 1 team getting the boot on my list last weekend (TCU) but there are many teams already waiting for the final hit, including 2 teams (Ohio State and Oklahoma State) got their 1st loss.

I have to say, it looks more and more likely that we might see a 2-loss team in the playoffs. But at the moment, there are still enough teams left to fill the 4 spots with unbeaten or 1-loss teams.

11 teams are left in the list.

The so far remaining 1-loss or better Power5 teams + Independents after week 12 are:

ACC (2 teams)
Clemson Tigers (11-0) - has to play to South Carolina (rivalry) and North Carolina in the ACC Championship game
North Carolina Tar Heels (10-1) - has to play North Carolina State (rivalry) and Clemson in the ACC Championship game

dropped out:
none

BIG10 (3 teams)
Iowa Hawkeyes (11-0) - has to play Nebraska and the BIG10 West Champion in the BIG10 Championship game
Michigan State Spartans (10-1) - has to play Penn State and in case of a win or a OSU loss Iowa in the BIG10 Championship game
Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1) has to play Michigan (rivalry) and in case of a win and a MSU loss Iowa State in the BIG10 Championship game

dropped out:
none

BIG12 (3 teams)
Oklahoma Sooners (10-1) - Oklahoma State (rivalry)
Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-1) has to play Oklahoma (rivalry)
Baylor Bears (9-1) â€"has to play TCU and Texas

dropped out:
TCU Horned Frogs (9-2)- lost to Oklahoma

PAC12 (0 teams)
none

dropped out:
none

SEC (2 teams)
Alabama Crimson Tide (10-1) - has to play Auburn and in case of a win Florida in the SEC Championship game
Florida Gators (10-1) - has to play Florida State (rivalry) and the SEC West Champ in the SEC Championship game

dropped out:
none

INDEPENDENTS (1 team)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-1) - has to play Stanford

Let's have a look at my list of the

TOP10 teams for the playoff spots (sorted by likeliness)
#1 Clemson Tigers
For Clemson it looks like there is that rivalry game against South Carolina (who lost to Citadel, a FCS team) which everyone would like to skip to keep the embarrassing for the Gamecocks as low as possible and then will come the ACC Championship game against North Carolina, the last piece they need to get into the playoffs.
Mark this date: 05.12. ACC Championship game against North Carolina, neutral site.
It’s bend or break on that date. A loss would automatically push North Carolina over Clemson in the playoff rankings, whether that’s high enough to get a spot is open.
A win will land Clemson very likely the #1 seat in the playoffs.
Next game: South Carolina, on the road
I think Clemson will be a 20+ favourite in this game, but they still need to play and win this.
As loss would be a major blow, even the ACC Championship might not make them recover from that.

#2 Alabama Crimson Tide
There is Auburn and if they win this, there is the SEC Championship game.
If they lose to Auburn and Ole Miss wins their rivalry game against Mississippi State, Ole Miss would enter the Championship game. If Ole Miss loses, Alabama still can play for the Conference, but will be tarnished with 2 losses.
Mark this date: 05.12. SEC Championship game against Florida, neutral site.
Yes, I know, it’s not final yet, but I think it’s 66% final so far.
Next game: Auburn, on the road
Win and you are in, lose and you have to hope for an Ole Miss loss. Auburn is very much beatable this season and if you want to win a Championship, you need to win those games. Period. If Alabama loses, the SEC will have a nice debate regarding playoff spots.

#3 Iowa Hawkeyes
They have to play 1 regular season game left, Nebraska, and then will face off in the BIG10 Championship game.
Can they win both games?
Yes.
Sure?
No.
Nebraska is a road game and that will be tricky with that big game a week later on the schedule.
Iowa looks matured enough to get that, but it’s 1 thing to know and another 1 to act that way.
And whoever wins the other division will be a tough cookie. Chances are high Michigan State will win against Penn State and seal the division on their own. Then we will see a clash of defences.
Mark this date: 27.11. Nebraska, on the road. The Huskers had a BYE week for the last game and were THAT team, beating Michigan State as the only team so far in the season. Not saying Iowa will have the same fate, but it looks like the team is getting better and playing the last home game is always something.
Next game: Nebraska, on the road
In favour of the BIG10, the Hawkeyes better win this. It would strengthen the BIG10 champion in the playoff hunt regardless of the winner.

#4 Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys did lose to Baylor and are still on the same spot?
Yes.
Here is why.
Assuming the top 3 teams will do their thing and win. Even if Michigan State would win the BIG10, I think they would be #3 and we still need a #4.
On the sort list are a BIG12 team, Notre Dame or a PAC12 Champion with at least 2 losses, maybe even more. Next to that would be any team losing a championship game or some other BIG12 team.
Translated that mean starting from the last likely with the Pac12 Champ.
USC or UCLA? Out.
Stanford after a win over Notre Dame? Really #4 with a BIG12 champ having only 1-loss? No. I don’t think so. They would finish at #5-#8.
Now let’s have Notre Dame. If they win against Stanford, they might get the #4 spot. I think the chances are higher than 50%. Do I believe in an Irish win? No. If they lose, they are out.
That leaves a BIG12 team. Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Baylor are in the mix. I think Baylor don’t stand a chance, since either the Cowboys or the Sooners will finish with 1-loss and the committee did already discount Baylors schedule. So Orange/black or white/red.
And that leave the Cowboys, since I pick them for the win in the Bedlam Series. I still see the Texas loss of Oklahoma and the Cowboys did get their head cleared last week.
I’m not 100% sure here, but I have to pick 1 and 1 like Oklahoma State chances better than Oklahomas.
Mark this date: 28.11. Oklahoma, at home. It’s pretty simple. Win and you are likely in, lose and you are for sure out.
Next game: Oklahoma, at home
I can’t understand how the team got bad last week, but they have 1 chance left.

#5 Notre Dame
Notre Dames chances did rise over every upset in the last few weeks.
The main think no one really had on their reviews was, they did not look very convincing in their wins.
They have barely won against Boston College last week, a 3-8 team from the ACC.
They have some wins which can be judged as OK, but really signature wins to show you are the top4 team in the country? None from my point of view.
So now they are ranked at #4 in the AP poll and will have to face Stanford to get into the playoffs.
I don’t buy it.
Mark this date: 28.11. Stanford, on the road. This will be tough and I see the Irish drop this one.
It’s in California, last home game for Stanford, also in the situation build their playoff case.
Next game: Stanford, on the road
The Irish will need this win, that’s clear. If they lose, the journey is over, if they win, it’s up to several factors whether they will get the #4 spot. Worst case for Notre Dame? Temple loses the next match and does not get into the AAC Championship game, Texas loses all remaining games, Navy loses to Houston and also does not play for the AAC Championship, Clemson loses to North Carolina and Stanford loses the PAC12 Championship game. Best case would all mentioned teams would win their games. The Committee is a bitch regarding strength of schedule.

#6 Michigan State Spartans
That field goal might become the most useful that kicker ever did kick.
Suddenly is Michigan State back in the hunt, can seal the division by their own effort and are back in business for a playoff spot.
If they do win next game, they will face Iowa, and I think regardless who wins, the team will be in the playoffs.
Mark that date: 28.11. Penn State, at home. Not saying this is a cakewalk, but this should be easy.
At home against a mid-level Penn State team?
I’m not picking Lions in that case.
Next game: Penn State, at home
Not let yourself get Nebraskaed there. Win and you are in the BIG10 Championship game.

#7 Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners gained respect over the last few games.
All they need now is a win in the Bedlam series against Oklahoma State.
A win there would at least open the likeliness of a playoff spot.
They need a Stanford win to jump Notre Dame I think, but that might happen.
Mark this date: 28.11. Oklahoma State, on the road. This is hate, so expect a game fought to the teeth.
Next game: Oklahoma State, on the road
As written above, I see the Cowboys ahead, but the Sooners are not done.

#8 Florida Gators
There is no way, the Gators will win the SEC Championship game, but IF they do, they would skyrocket into the playoffs as SEC Champ. I don’t think the Committee would let them outside, with all the other 1-loss teams around.
That’s why they are here.
But I can’t see them win against Ole Miss or Alabama.
They almost lost to FAU!
Mark this date: 28.11. Florida State, at home. At the moment, this looks like the final coffin nail. Lucky for the Gators, FSU is also not the best team this season.

Next game: Florida State, at home
I think the Gators need to focus on surviving the Seminoles and then focus on the SEC Championship game afterwards. If they mix this up, they will lose.

#9 Stanford Cardinals
The Cardinals are the PAC12 last hope.
All they need is a complete breakdown of the remaining contenders.
Not much hope, but things can happen.
Mark this date: 28.11. Notre Dame, at home. They need to win this to stay in the playoff hunt as dark horse. A loss will send the PAC12 out of business for sure.
Next game: Notre Dame, at home
I don’t think there is a big chance for Stanford to get back into the top 4, but the doomsday scenarios do see a few last pieces they can hope for. Anyway, this rivalry game needs to be won to get into a big money bowl and a loss before the PAC12 championship game would not really help.

#10 Baylor Bears
I’m not sure if Baylor can really get back into the playoffs.
They would need a Oklahoma win and need to win their own games BIG, MEGA BIG.
And they also need some teams to lose, well … many teams to lose.
Mark this date: 28.11. TCU, on the road. TCU is wounded. This should be an easy win, better be to keep the playoff hopes alive.
Next game: TCU, on the road.
Win this one BIG and they will rise again. They have to play Texas on the Championship weekend, which might help them to make the last case.

Dropped out:
Ohio State Buckeyes, lost to Michigan State

I don’t think any non-power-5 team will crash the party. Too late.
Houston had an outside chance, if they would have stayed perfect, but their loss did destroy their chances.
Now only the big money bowl spot is left to observe.
In the hunt?
Houston, Navy, Temple, South Florida. All from the AAC and Toledo from the MAC.
My prediction is the AAC Champion will get the spot.

Let’s u p d a t e fast the standings and the division and conference championship contenders.
I will go through this by alphabetical order and will only point out the conference standings.

AAC
East Division
Temple 6-1
South Florida 5-2

West Division
Navy 7-0
Houston 6-1

Temple needs to win against UConn to win the East. If they lose it all depends on South Florida. They play UCF, which should be a win and in case of a Temple loss would give South Florida the East. A loss there would give Temple the title anyway.
The West is easier to handle. Navy does play Houston in Houston. The winner takes it all.

ACC
Atlantic Division
Clemson 8-0

Coastal Division
North Carolina 7-0

The Atlantic is won by Clemson and the Coastal is won by North Carolina, even if they still have to play NC State.

BIG10
East Division
Michigan State 6-1
Ohio State 6-1
Michigan 6-1

West Division
Iowa 7-0

Now there is a 3 team tie in the East. Ohio State will play Michigan in the GAME, while Michigan State will play Penn State. This gets only interesting, if Michigan State loses. Because if they win they have the direct advantage to Michigan, so the win the division. So if MSU loses, the Winner of the GAME is the only 1-loss team left standing and wins the division.
The West was won by Iowa, which still have to play Nebraska, which they better win to keep the playoffs alive.

BIG 12
Oklahoma 7-1
Oklahoma State 7-1
Baylor 6-1

The state of Oklahoma is the centre of this college football world this weekend. At least for the BIG12. The winner between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State gets at least a share of the title. Baylor has still 2 games left to play, TCU and Texas. They are not won yet, but if they win both, they would also win a share of the conference, but the sorting could be tricky. Oklahoma did beat Baylor, Baylor did beat Oklahoma State. If Oklahoma wins the Bedlam Series, Oklahoma is #1. If Oklahoma State wins, Baylor should be on top.
All this does not count much, since at the end, the playoff committee has to decide, which team they see as best and where they sort them in. If that’s under the top 4 is open.

CUSA
East Division
Western Kentucky 7-0
Marshall 6-1

West Division
Louisiana Tech 6-1
Southern Mississippi 6-1

This is easy as it can get. Western Kentucky will play Marshall and Louisiana will play Southern Miss. Each winner will win the division and will then meet the other winning team in the conference final.
Totally semi-finals here. Looks like it was planned that way, but for sure it was not.

MAC
East Division
Bowling Green 7-1

West Division
Toledo 6-1
Northern Illinois 6-2
Western Michigan 5-2
Central Michigan 5-2

Bowling Green is set as East champ.
The West is tricky. Toledo does play Western Michigan, Northern Illinois did already lose against Ohio this Tuesday, Central Michigan plays Eastern Michigan. If Toledo wins, all other games are irrelevant, Toledo wins the division.
Now the tricky part, Toledo and NIU do lose. Western Michigan has won and we have a 3 team tie, if Central Michigan wins also, it’s a 4 team tie. This can then only be sorted out when the final results are in (or with a lot of text here to get into all the tie breakers). Let’s have it that way, the MAC West is still open.

MWC
Mountain Division
Air Force 6-1

West Division
San Diego State 7-0

The Mountain West Championship game is set, Air Force against San Diego State.

PAC12
North Division
Stanford 8-1

South Division
USC 5-3
UCLA 5-3

Stanford won the North.
The winner of the rivalry game between the LA teams will decide the South champ.

SEC
East Division
Florida 7-1

West Division
Alabama 6-1
Ole Miss 5-2

Florida wins the East.
Alabama has to win against Auburn to win the West. If they lose, Ole Miss needs a win against Mississippi State to win the division, otherwise Alabama still wins it.

SBC
Arkansas State 6-0
Appalachian State 5-1
Georgia Southern 5-1

Arkansas State has to win against New Mexico State and Texas State to win the conference alone.
A single loss would mean at least a share, 2 losses would let them sink deeper, but dependent on the results of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern they still might win a share. Appalachian State plays Louisiana-Lafayette and South Alabama and Georgia Southern plays South Alabama and Georgia State. Both teams do need wins and have to hope for Arkansas State losses.

Another List at this point, the hunt for a Bowl-worth record.
This season there will be a record 41 Bowls, means the FBS needs 80 teams with 6 or more win. (that 1 extra Bowl is the National Championship game, fielding teams from the 2 semi-final bowls).
There are only 128 schools and it’s only possible to have eventually 80 bowl worthy teams, because many FBS schools do schedule FCS schools as fillers, which do normally end up in wins for those FBS programs.
A FBS team is only allowed to schedule 2 FCS schools to be still worth a bowl spot. No teams did schedule more than 2 FCS teams this season, so all FBS schools could enter a bowl.
At the moment there are only 71 teams already with 6 wins or more so 9 are missing and there are still some teams in the hunt for a bowl worth record. The NCAA is discussing what will happen if not enough teams are getting their 6th win, there are talks about letting 5-7 teams based on some rankings get into a bowl.
This is the list of the teams still in the hunt for 6 wins (18 teams):
AAC:
East Carolina (5-6) (Cincinnati at home)
Tulsa (5-6) (Tulane on the road)

ACC:
Virginia Tech (5-6) (Virginia on the road)

BIG10:
Illinois (5-6) (Northwestern at home)
Indiana (5-6) (Purdue on the road)
Minnesota (5-6) (Wisconsin at home)
Nebraska (5-6) (Iowa at home)

BIG12:
Kansas State (4-6) (Kansas on the road and West Virginia at home)
Texas (4-6) (Texas Tech at home and Baylor on the road)

CUSA:
Old Dominion (5-6) (Florida Atlantic at home)

Independents:
None

MAC:
Buffalo (5-6) (UMass at home)

MWC:
San Jose State (5-6) (Boise State at home)

PAC12:
Washington (4-6) (Washington State at home)

SEC:
Kentucky (5-6) (Louisville at home)
Missouri (5-6) (Arkansas on the road)

SBC:
Georgia State (4-6) (Troy at home and Georgia Southern on the road)
Louisiana Lafayette (4-6) (Appalachian State on the road and Troy at home)
South Alabama (5-5) (Georgia Southern on the road and Appalachian State at home)

Now let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 13

Sat. Nov. 28 - 12:00 pm ET
#8 Ohio State @ #10 Michigan
Just some quick previews this time, since it’s rivalry week in college football and I was not able to decide on the main games. So a lot of games in the preview.
This game here is called THE GAME and is ranked regularly under the top 2 of all college football rivalries. Just the IRON BOWL is getting sometimes the #1 spot, otherwise this matchup is the #1.
This season it has more meaning than the past few seasons, but the biggest impact of that game is not given. The winner of that game is not the division champ by default. If Michigan State wins their game, THE GAME is just the game between 2 heavy weight colleges.
Expect a tough game, and expect some scoring.
This could end up all defense.
I have problems picking a winner here, leaning a bit to the home team, since Ohio State never did convince me to be THAT good.
Michigan did work their way back to the respected top teams and will play their hearts out here, at home.
Wolverines win.

Sat. Nov. 28 - 3:30 pm ET
Penn State @ #5 Michigan State
This 1 is a rivalry not played that often, but quite regularly the past few years.
The winner gets the Land Grant Trophy and this season, if Michigan State wins, the division champ trophy will also be presented.
Honestly, this should be a homerun for the Spartans. A loss would be a disaster and a big win for Penn State.
Possible? Yes.
Likely? No.
The Spartans are 10+ points favourite here.
My pick is on the home team for the win and the division.
Spartans win.

Sat. Nov. 28 - 3:30 pm ET
#2 Alabama @ Auburn
This is the so called IRON BOWL. Basically with THE GAME the most known and anticipated rivalry of college football. This season the matchup has an interesting meaning.
For Alabama a win would seal the SEC West division. A loss would let Ole Miss win the division, if they win against the Bulldogs. For Auburn there is only 1 thing in the mix, to spoil Alabamas chances for the division crown and eventually a playoff spot.
This game is played in Auburn, so it will be a hostile environment.
Alabama is a 2 score favourite; don’t expect an Auburn win here.
My take on this is, Auburn will not stand a chance. They will not stay in this game, Alabama will pull away early and will win this.
Crimson Tide win.

Sat. Nov. 28 - 3:30 pm ET
#22 UCLA @ USC
This game got many names of the years, but none did stick. Still, both teams from LA will battle it out for the Victory Bell, which is painted in the winners team colour.
This season the game has huge consequences.
The winner will be the PAC12 South Champ.
USC is a few points favourite in this and I understand why.
My take on this is that both teams will play their guts out, but I’m not sure if anyone has the edge here.
In such cases I pick the home team.
Trojans win.

Sat. Nov. 28 - 7:15 pm ET
#18 Ole Miss @ #21 Mississippi State
Another close matchup, Ole Miss is just 1 point favourite here.
The Egg Bowl is played regularly and the last few seasons did sometimes the Rebels, sometimes the Bulldogs win.
This season the motivation for Ole Miss should be to win this.
A loss would mean to have to chances on the SEC West title, a win would at least give them the chance. This this is played AFTER the IRON BOWL, the teams will know the consequences at kickoff. It might happen that Alabama is SEC West Champ already and Ole Miss will … get sloppy.
Might happen that they get angry.
My pick this season is on the Bulldogs.
They are the home team and they do play a good game.
Ole Miss is good, but I think their QB needs a bit more experience to control such games.
Bulldogs win.

Sat. Nov. 28 - 7:30 pm ET (ESPN) Line
#13 Florida State @ #12 Florida
This game is a mystery for me.
Once this game had national impacts, but this season, this is a joke for me.
For me, neither Florida nor FSU do justify the high ranking. Florida did almost lose to FAU last week!
Consequences of this game?
None, except a Gators loss would send them out of the playoff mix.
My pick on this:
Seminoles win.

Sat. Nov. 28 - 7:30 pm ET
#6 Notre Dame @ #9 Stanford
I don’t think many players will give a shit over the Legends Trophy awarded the winner this year.
The much juicier price this season is hope.
This rivalry game has a nice implication on the playoffs and only the playoffs.
The loser is out, for sure. The winner can hope for a spot.
There is no guarantee that the winner will get a spot, especially not Notre Dame, since this is their last game. Stanford would have the chance to win the PAC12 next week and that would boost them further.
Stanford is a 4 point favourite in this.
I pick the Cardinals, because honestly I think Notre Dame is not the 6th strongest team in the country. Not even top10. Stanford on the other side might be top 10.
Playing at home, this should be a win.
IF the Irish win, the< should get a new years bowl spot, so should Stanford in case they win the PAC12. I think both teams would lose their semi-final game in the playoffs, if they get a spot.
Anyway, for this game, Cardinals win.

Sat. Nov. 28 - 8:00 pm ET
#3 Oklahoma @ #11 Oklahoma State
The county is looking on the Bedlam series.
Both teams do hate each other, as normally is the case for inner state rivalries.
This season, it’s quite likely that the winner will get in reach of a playoff spot and gets at least a share of the conference title.
I don’t think the teams have to be motivated any further.
My guess is, we will see a great game.
Winner?
I don’t know.
My guts like the Cowboys, my head say Oklahoma.
I’m leaning towards Oklahoma State.
So, Cowboys win.

'Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

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