Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Petek projects this January's BCS bowlers

We're halfway to bowl season, and it's time for Justin "Check, Please" Petek, resident Cheesehead, to gaze into his crystal ball and tell us who will be playing in which BCS bowl. Have at it, JP.

National Championship Game: Oregon Ducks vs. Texas Christian Horned Frogs

Oregon looks like a steamroller in the west. Hide your kids, hide your wife, cuz they’re beating everyone out there. The Ducks don’t have an easy path with road games at USC and bitter rival Oregon State, but they could win at Chuck Norris U. the way they are playing.

I project TCU to finish undefeated and use a high-quality road win at Utah to surpass undefeated Boise State and 1-loss Alabama to make the title game. This could come down to the thousandths place.

Rose Bowl: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Boise State Broncos

Wisconsin will land in the Rose Bowl as Big Ten champions via the head-to-head tiebreaker with Ohio State, who could also land here if Michigan State finishes 11-1.

After deep contemplation, the Rose Bowl will select Boise State with its at-large bid. They will not be obligated to the Broncos, since automatic-qualifier TCU is in the title game. An all-Big Ten Rose Bowl with Ohio State will tempt them, as will 1-loss Auburn, but Boise State’s undefeated record, high ranking, western location, and capable fan base will prevail.

Sugar Bowl: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Alabama will valiantly climb the rankings and challenge for a national championship game spot, but ultimately fall short and head to New Orleans as 1-loss SEC champion after defeating Auburn and then Florida in the SEC Championship.

Ohio State will finish strong with one loss and get the at-large nod from the Sugar Bowl and another crack at a strong SEC opponent. Michigan State or Wisconsin could also land here if Ohio State wins a 3-way tie.

Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

Oklahoma will represent the Big 12 in the Fiesta Bowl after a hard-fought win over Nebraska in the conference title game.

Pittsburgh will land in Arizona as Big East champion, followed by a trail of profanities from the likes of Missouri, Utah, and Stanford, sparking a debate about the merit of automatic qualifier by conference.

Orange Bowl: Florida State Seminoles vs. Auburn Tigers

Florida State will be headed down to Miami as ACC champions.

Auburn will carry their #1 ranking all the way to Tuscaloosa, where they will fall, but remain a very attractive at-large selection for the Orange Bowl.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Week 8 Big Ten Power Rankings


Aaron Brenner, BadgerNation.com alum

1) No. 8 Michigan State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten); LW, 3
Last week: won vs. Illinois 26-6
Let’s just get this out there up front. I have absolutely no idea how to rank these top four. I sat here for a solid 15 minutes trying to figure it out. Do you go with prior results? How these teams look right now? How I project them to end up in the future? It’s the most difficult week of rankings I’ve had since I started doing these, for both football and basketball. I guess at the top, we’ll stick with the only undefeated team who has now beaten an on-the-map Wisconsin and a better-than-you-think Illinois. But pay heed to the fact that Sparty has not left the state of Michigan yet. Wins at Iowa and Penn State are far from a certainty.
Next: at Northwestern, Sat. 11 a.m. ESPN

2a) No. 11 Ohio State (6-1, 2-1); last week’s ranking, 1
Last week: lost at No. 18 Wisconsin 31-18
I came away very impressed with Terrelle Pryor, especially considering that, yes, his return to Camp Randall was not one of his best games. He’s an incredible scrambler, a guy that just makes plays on third down. Obviously, the vaunted Buckeye defense and special teams units have to be concerned with their effort in defeat. But on the rushing D front, OSU doesn’t have to see John Clay and James White again.
Next: vs. Purdue, Sat. 11 a.m. BTN

2b) No. 13 Iowa (5-1, 2-0); LW, 2
Last week: won at Michigan 38-28
Kept hearing on Sunday about how if MSU, OSU and Wisconsin run the table, the Badgers will get shut out of the BCS by the 2-team-per-conference rule. Ummmm ... we didn’t forget about the highly-ranked team that will host those three foes in October and November now, did we?
Next: vs. No. 10 Wisconsin, Sat. 2:30 p.m. ABC

2c) No. 10 Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1); LW, 4
Last week: won vs. No. 1 Ohio State 31-18
I’m sure that placing Wisconsin right where it was last week - below MSU, OSU and Iowa - will upset some readers. And that’s fair. Just know that the 2c notation is legitimate. The Badgers are tied for second with the Bucks and Hawks. At gunpoint, though, if I have to pick between those three, I’m just not completely sold on Wisconsin’s passing game and ability to get off the field on third downs. Wisconsin won that game Saturday on pure emotion, feeding off a frenzied crowd. Camp Randall will have nothing to do with what Wisconsin does for an encore in four days.
Next: at No. 13 Iowa, Sat. 2:30 p.m. ABC

5) Illinois (3-3, 1-2); LW, 6
Last week: lost at No. 13 Michigan State 26-6
Obviously, there is a Gabe Carimi-sized gap between the top four and the bottom seven in this conference. But if we’re evaluating the second tier, it’s worth pointing out the Fighting Illini don’t face another ranked opponent the rest of the way. An 8-4 finish is entirely possible for the Zooker.
Next: vs. Illinois, Sat. 11 a.m. BTN

6) Michigan (5-2, 1-2); LW, 5
Last week: lost vs. No. 15 Iowa 38-28
If there’s a Big Ten game the rest of the way I can’t wait to see (not including showdowns between any of the top four), it’s on the weekend preceding Thanksgiving, when Bret Bielema takes his boys to Ann Arbor. The Wolverines have been handing out wins like Baby Ruths on Halloween to conference opponents in Michigan Stadium, which has been a Big House of Horrors to Wisconsin.
Next: Idle

7) Penn State (3-3, 0-2); LW, 7
Last week: Idle
Since the rest of the conference is irrelevant, and there were no important games over the weekend, we’ll keep the rankings as is. For the optimists looking for possible threats to MSU’s perfect season - particularly if the Spartans escape Kinnick alive in two weeks - look no further than the season finale, when MSU has to deal with Happy Valley, never an easy place to win.
Next: at Minnesota, Sat. 11 a.m. ESPNU

8) Purdue (4-2, 2-0); LW, 8
Last week: won vs. Minnesota 28-17
Hey, don’t sleep on undefeated Purdue as Big Ten championship contenders! (Yeah, right.) If you’re keeping score at home, it was the Boilermakers who sent Tim Brewster on his merry way. It was a nice, balanced effort for Purdue’s offense, racking up just south of 400 yards.
Next: at No. 11 Ohio State, Sat. 11 a.m. BTN

9) Northwestern (5-1, 1-1); LW, 9
Last week: Idle
It’s a little baffling that Northwestern is the No. 1 team in the USA Today poll’s “receiving votes” portion. What exactly have the Wildcats done to inspire confidence? Was it the narrow escape act of a 1-point win at Minnesota, or the home loss to Purdue?
Next: vs. No. 8 Michigan State, Sat. 11 a.m. ESPN

10) Indiana (4-2, 0-2); LW, 10
Last week: won vs. Arkansas State 36-34
Hey, anytime you want two teams to combine for a 37-point fourth quarter, Indiana’s your team. Holding off Arkansas State for the win ... gotta love those Hoosiers and their non-conference scheduling.
Next: at Illinois, Sat. 11 a.m. BTN

11) Minnesota (1-6, 0-3); LW, 11
Last week: lost at Purdue 28-17
Here’s something to do with 15 seconds of spare time: imagine you were present in the NBC studios when Tony Dungy received a call investigating his interest in the Minnesota gig. Then imagine Dungy guffawing like Dom DeLuise in History of the World: Part I, and hanging up faster than you can say “Teach me how to Bucky”.
Next: vs. Penn State, Sat. 11 a.m. ESPNU


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Week 6 Big Ten Power Rankings

Aaron Brenner, BadgerNation.com alum

1) No. 2 Ohio State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten); last week’s ranking, 1
Last week: def. Illinois 24-13
Hmmmm...did Ohio State show some vulnerability in Saturday’s win, which was closer than the final score intends? (The Buckeyes happened to score on a clock-bleeding drive in the final minutes, when it was still a 4-point game.) Don’t read too much into it. The increase in opponent quality was sure to affect Ohio State a tad, and this was Illinois’ (arguably) biggest game of the season.
Next: vs. Indiana, Sat. 11 a.m.

2) No. 15 Iowa (4-1, 1-0); LW, 2
Last week: def. No. 22 Penn State 24-3
Oh, hey, Adrian Clayborn, there you are. The top-ten draft candidate was invisible for most the pre-Big Ten slate, but punished PSU freshman Robert Bolden. Even though Clayborn college fantasy owners were getting restless due to lack of defensive stats (does anybody actually play college fantasy football with IDPs?), the Hawkeye defense has been consistently stellar once again in 2010. After the bye, a gauntlet awaits.
Next: Idle

3) No. 17 Michigan State (5-0, 1-0); LW, 3
Last week: def. No. 11 Wisconsin 34-24
My favorite reaction from the game in East Lansing was tweeted by Badger Herald alum Tom Ziemer: “Michigan State just outWisconsined Wisconsin.” That pretty much says it all. If the Spartans can bottle up that passion that has carried them to huge wins over Notre Dame and Wisconsin - and, you know, take it on the road, too - they’ll be BCS contenders this year.
Next: at No. 18 Michigan, Sat. 2:30 p.m.

4) No. 18 Michigan (5-0, 1-0); LW, 5
Last week: def. Indiana 42-35
Almost left the Badgers above Michigan, but early rumblings are Denard Robinson is the closest thing to a sure Heisman bet right now. The Indiana effort wasn’t pretty ... but, the point about OSU’s adjustment to better opponents resonates here.
Next: vs. No. 17 Michigan State, Sat. 2:30 p.m.

5) No. 20 Wisconsin (4-1, 0-1); LW, 4
Last week: lost to No. 24 Michigan State 34-24
Yes, Michigan State played with emotion for their hospital-stricken coach. But Wisconsin needs to get back to playing with that fire in their belly. If you think about it, through five games, you haven’t seen UW play with a real gusto, with the possible exception of the second half in Las Vegas. Two quarters out of 20? Not good.
Next: vs. Minnesota, 11 a.m.

6) Penn State (3-2, 0-1); LW, 6
Last week: lost to No. 17 Iowa 24-3
The record’s about right: beat three doormats at home, lose on the road to top-15 opponents in night games. But good teams score more than a field goal in each of those tests at Alabama and Iowa.
Next: vs. Illinois, Sat. 11 a.m.

7) Northwestern (5-0, 1-0); LW, 7
Last week: def. Minnesota 29-28
That point about adjusting, which served as excuses for Ohio State and Michigan? Doesn’t apply to Northwestern. The Wildcats have made things pretty interesting for themselves the past two weeks against poor opposition. They remain in this No. 7 slot only because there are seven decent teams in the conference. But they’re playing clearly below the level of the top group.
Next: vs. Purdue, Sat. 6:30 p.m.

8) Illinois (2-2, 0-1); LW, 8
Last week: lost to No. 2 Ohio State 24-13
So are the Illini worthy of consideration as a bowl contender? Their season has been fairly nondescript so far, though the Ohio State game has to serve as a confidence boost. But with road games in Happy Valley and East Lansing looming, Illinois could be behind the eight-ball quickly.
Next: at Penn State, Sat. 11 a.m.

9) Indiana (3-1, 0-1); LW, 9
Last week: lost to No. 20 Michigan 42-35
Boy, the Hoosiers better not look ahead to that Arkansas State showdown a week from Saturday. First they have to travel to Columbus. Indiana definitely doesn’t want to overlook its host.
Next: at No. 2 Ohio State, Sat. 11 a.m.

10) Purdue (2-2, 0-0); LW, 10
Last week: Idle
If the Boilermakers are going to make something interesting of their season, the time is now. October, to be specific. Three of Purdue’s first four conference games are on the road, but they include Northwestern, Minnesota and Illinois. Be on alert for an upset in Evanston this weekend.
Next: at Northwestern, Sat. 6:30 p.m.

11) Minnesota (1-4, 0-1); LW, 11
Last week: lost to Northwestern 29-28
Under big-mouthed Tim Brewster, Minnesota has lost nearly two-thirds of its games. How long will the Golden Gopher faithful put up with this? Helps that the Twinkies and the MLB playoffs are taking attention away from the most putrid team in the Big Ten.
Next: at No. 20 Wisconsin, Sat. 11 a.m.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fun with College Football Announcers

Sometimes, you see the most random individuals calling college football games. I think if you quarterbacked an NFL game at some point in time, you are automatically qualified to talk about college football. Somehow.

Let's take a peek at some of the on-air talent this weekend, shall'nt we? We shall.

24 Texas A&M @ Oklahoma State, 7:30

ESPN: Rece Davis, Craig James, Jesse Palmer, Jenn Brown

Jesse Palmer: wearing shirts four sizes too small on national television, Since 1998. Oh, and Jenn Brown? We call her Erin Andrews-in-Waiting. You know, hopefully without the peephole and ensuing skankfest on Dancing with the Stars.

Northwestern @ Minnesota, 12:00

ESPN: Bob Wischusen, Brian Griese

Hey, look at that: Brian Griese's all grows'd up, providing color commentary just like his dad. A sweet touch for the family, I'm sure. Now if only they would give him a real game to call.

Louisiana-Monroe @ 11 Auburn, 12:00

ESPNU: Clay Matvick, Herm Edwards, Elizabeth Moreau

YOU PLAY! TO WIN! THE GAME! Never knew Herm did college stuff too. This is what happens when there are approximately 685 college football games to televise each Saturday.

Alcorn State @ Mississippi State, 12:00

SEC Network: Bob Rathbun, Tim Couch, Jenn Hildreth

"The Alcorn State quarterback comes in with a boatload of hype, but hasn't seemed to live up to expecatations. Tim, what's your take on that?"

Vanderbilt @ Connecticut, 12:00

Big East Network: Mike Gleason, John Congemi, Eamon McAnaney

I just wanted to type Eamon McAnaney. Apparently, he's a former college lacrosse player at Notre Dame. Something about Notre Dame grads and TV seems to mesh.

Navy @ Air Force, 2:30

Versus: Joe Beninati, Kelly Stouffer, Lindsay Soto

Wisconsin fans recall this trio from the UNLV game. The two guys in the booth were nothing to write home about (for good or bad), but Lindsay Soto? As the kids would say, 'she gettin it done'.

19 Michigan @ Indiana, 3:30

ESPNU: Pam Ward, Danny Kanell

Add Mr. Kanell to the Undistinguished NFL Backup Quarterbacks Now Working On TV All-Stars

Florida International @ Pittsburgh, 3:30

ESPN3.com: Dave Popkin, Jeremy Bloom

The former CU standout who had to choose between football and skiing, it looks like Bloom is staying active in the football world. Good for the guy, who had to face those unfair decisions. One of the great examples of our time of guys getting NCAA'd.

UTEP @ New Mexico, 6:00

Mountain West: Bill Doleman, Reggie Rivers, Toby Christensen

See, now Rivers of an example of a football player who KNEW he wanted to be a journalist, even during his playing days for the Broncos. He's written columns for the old Rocky Mountain News, and anchors sports for CBS (KCNC) in Denver.

Georgia @ Colorado, 7:00

FSN: Joel Meyers, Joel Klatt, Jim Knox

I recall watching a CU game at Folsom a few years back when Klatt was providing color, and coming away impressed not only with his knowledge of the game, but his ability to put aside his bias - you know, since he's one of the Buffs' finest quarterbacks in recent memory. See? I can say nice things about the University of Colorado-Boulder. I'm all grows'd up. Like Brian Griese.

Texas Tech @ Iowa State, 7:00

FOX College Sports: Steve Physioc, Yogi Roth, Samantha Steele ----------------->

We dub Ms. Steele ... Erin Andrews-Also-In-Waiting.

Louisville @ Arkansas State, 7:00

ESPN3.com: BJ Schaben, Curt Warner

Thought he was on Dancing with the Stars!
(Kidding. Kidding. I know how to spell Kurt Worner's name.)

Marshall @ Southern Mississippi, 8:00

CBS College Sports: Roger Twibell, Mike Leach

Mike Leach has many names. One of them is NOT Erin Andrews-in-Waiting.