RedZoneAction.org Blog
2019-12-06 07:14

Yeah, Rivalry Week is in the books and of cause some great games did happen on that weekend.

First, some news:
After this weekend all bowl eligible teams are fixed, in total 79 teams did get the required 6+ wins (while only 1 FCS win does count, that's why Liberty needed 7 wins total, 5 against FBS teams and they had 2 against FCS teams, of which only 1 count against the bowls; and that's the reason also for Army not going for a bowl game, since they did win so far 5 games, but 2 against FCS teams, so the Army-Navy game will give them only 5 countable wins max, which is not enough) and there are 78 spots. So likely a SUN BELT-, a MAC-, a CUSA-team or Liberty as independent will not get a bowl spot.

Also did happen some coaches changes so far, which are
Chris Petersen will step down as HC of the Washington Huskies after the bowl game. He is 55 and has no health issues and also he had the support of the University. Jimmy Lake will become the next HC of Washington, he was so far the DC of the Huskies.
Petersen did made himself a name when he did push Boise State to great heights and when he took over Washington in 2014, some did think he might bring in even a National Championship after some years.
He did win the Conference 2 times, the division on top once in a tie and his record with Washington is so far 54-26 and a bowl is coming.

Also did step down Bobby Wilder of Old Dominion. He was their HC since 2007, when he did restart the program and their 1st season was 2009.
He did help the team to get into the FBS in 2013 and did win the division inside the CUSA once in a tie and in that season the program went to a bowl 1st time.
After this gruesome season with a 1-11 record and so many seasons he did step down.
Overall his record with the team is 77-56.

Barry Odom of Missouri was fired after the last game. The team went 6-6 this season, but has a bowl-ban. His overall record with the team is 25-25 in 4 seasons.
I think he did OK with Missouri, inside the tough division and conference, but of cause the expectations are always higher.

Also fired was Frank Wilson of UTSA. He did get a 4-8 season this year and overall in 4 seasons he had 19-29.

The next on the chop block is Charlie Strong of USF. South Florida had a bad season this year, unacceptable for a team which had often 10+ win seasons in the past. Strong had 3 seasons with the team and took over a winner, but went 10-2, 7-6 and now 4-8.
That's not the progress you want.
Will be interesting to see, where Strong will land next, but with 2 short lived HC gigs he will likely has to serve as coordinator if he wants to coach again.

Ole Miss did fire their interims HC Matt Luke who was later promoted to full HC. He served 3 seasons, but managed only 15-21 overall.
I guess Ole Miss has to look for some more sexy name, or better quality, if they want to become a force inside the SEC again.

We have also the info that Steve Addazio, who got the pink slip from Boston College after 7 seasons and before a bowl game.
He led BC this season to a 6-6 record and overall to a 44-44 record.
I think the expectations this season were way higher than the 6 wins, so likely the AD got tiered of this mediocre performance over the years and pushed the button.

And here a positive info regarding job security on a HC, Clay Helton will be the HC of USC in 2020. There were a lot of unrest and speculations over the season with a new AD and not so good performance this season that USC might skip the remaining years until 2023 and will let Helton go, but obviously they came to the conclusion that Helton is the best option for 2020. But since this is only for 2020, this will not end good, if Helton not brings in a great season with a conference championship and a playoff participation. In college football you need to recruit and WHO does sign basically a 4 year commitment with a coach who has a 1-year job security? Not as many as you get with a coach who has the full support, that's for sure.
So, I think this will bite USC.

And there was also the news that Mike Bobo and Colorado State did agree on parting ways. Bobo was CSUs HC for 5 seasons and has a record of 28-35 and 4-7 this season. Likely the university wanted to save some of the 5 mio penalty Bobo would have gotten, if fired before 1st of January and Bobo wanted to find something new as fast as possible.
From my point of view did Bobo NOT bring the success the university wanted and had in the past.

And at last there is the info that Fresno States HC Jeff Tedford will step down after this 4-8 season, he was 26-14 in his 3 seasons with the Bulldogs.
Why he steps down is not known yet, I think after the 2 great seasons with bowl wins, division titles and conference title, this 4-8 season was likely not the reason, so maybe he got tired or burned out? Don't know.

Now the games.

I selected these 4 games as the BLOCK OF GRANITE GAMES FOR WEEK 15

Fri. Nov. 29 THE COMMONWEALTH CUP
#24 Virginia Tech @ Virginia
The curse is broken and after 15 years the Cavaliers fans did storm the field and celebrated the win and the division title.
Virginia did have a great 4th quarter and did turn the game around with some great defense.
The match winner was a tackle inside the Hokies endzone with a forced fumble which led to a TD.
Virginia will now face Clemson, which will be a BIG match and the Cavaliers will be a major underdog.
The Hokies will have to wait for the bowl setup.
#24 Virginia Tech 30 @ Virginia 39 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 24-18

#19 Cincinnati @ #18 Memphis
So, this did not go well for the Bearcats and hopefully they did learn something out of this, because they will play the Tigers again next week.
The game itself was closer than your might have expected them to play and Cincinanti did lose only by 10, but still, this does not look so well for the future.
Right now Memphis is the team to beat for the big Bowl spot out of the non-power5-teams, so motivation for Cincinnati to avenge this loss here should be very high.
#19 Cincinnati 24 @ #18 Memphis 34 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 25-18

Sat. Nov. 30 THE GAME
#1 Ohio State @ #13 Michigan
Sorry to say, but Michigan did play BAD.
Especially their defense, and of that their secondary was awful.
Ohio State was unstoppable and Jimmy H. has to ask himself, what they did there and whether the preparation and motivation was really there.
To get a beating like that inside their own building is bad.
#1 Ohio State 56 @ #13 Michigan 27 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 26-18

PAUL BUNYAN'S AXE
#12 Wisconsin @ #8 Minnesota
I thought the Gophers would win here with heart and passion, but their momentum went down and Wisconsin won this one easily.
At halftime it was still OK, but after that it was all Wisconsin.
So goodbye to the conference championship spot, all what's left of the season is a dream and a tied division title.
The Gophers will play in a good bowl, while Wisconsin will try to make it better than Michigan.
#12 Wisconsin 38 @ #8 Minnesota 17 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 26-19


Other interesting games:

Thur. Nov. 28 THE EGG BOWL
Ole Miss @ Mississippi State
Imagine you did just hit the TD with seconds left to play to tie the game up, but all what is missing is the extra-point.
Your WR, getting that TD, does the celebration in form of a peeing dog and gets a 15-yard-penalty for that.
The 20-yard extra-point becomes a 35-yarder and you miss the extra-point and lose the rivalry game against the Bulldogs 20-21.
Bye bye Matt Luke, your service is no longer needed!
Jacks interesting games Score: 31-12

Fri. Nov. 29 THE APPLE CUP
Washington State @ Washington
I'm sure the world was not all good after this game for the Huskies fans after that bad season compared to last years great one, but beating the instate-rival is likely a good finish.
The Huskies won 31-13.
I guess the step down of the HC is a much bigger shock than the 7-5 record so far.
Jacks interesting games Score: 32-12

Sat. Nov. 30 THE PALMETTO BOWL
#3 Clemson @ South Carolina
Clemson won 38-3, so it's clear who is the team to beat inside the South Carolina borders.
For Clemson this means they can play easily the conference championship game now, while the Gamecocks season is over.
Jacks interesting games Score: 33-12

CLEAN, OLD-FASHIONED HATE
#4 Georgia @ Georgia Tech
The Bulldogs won 52-7, on the road.
I hope Georgia Tech will get things done under their new coach, so far the impression is not so good.
But think about the fact they had to chance EVERYTHING.
Take time.
Georgia will face LSU for the SEC next week.
Jacks interesting games Score: 34-12

THE GOVERNORS'S CUP
Louisville @ Kentucky
I think Louisville needs some time to get into the dimension the Wildcats do have right now.
Kentucky won 45-13.
Both teams will play a bowl next.
Jacks interesting games Score: 35-12

THE IRON BOWL
#5 Alabama @ #15 Auburn
Nice game and a bit of a laugh.
The game went back and forth, really great football.
Saban was after the game upset because they got an 'unfair' penalty which allowed a FG for Auburn.
The penalty was because Alabama had 12 man on the field.
Saban did call it unfair, because Auburn did some substitution trickery (or did quickly change their mind, who knows) and Alabama did not send their best package on the field fast enough. A man extra was not fast enough to leave and the team got a penalty.
Bama lost 48-45 and is now officially out of the playoffs.
Jacks interesting games Score: 36-12

THE CIVIL WAR
Oregon State @ #14 Oregon
Oregon won 24-10, which is not the dominance which was expected.
Especially at home.
The PAC12 has to hope for Utah, since of Oregon wins the PAC12, I think the conference will not participate in the playoffs.
Jacks interesting games Score: 37-12

THE JEWELED SHILLELAGH
#16 Notre Dame @ Stanford
Notre Dame did dominate the game against a weak playing Cardinals team, won 45-24.
It will be interesting to see, how Shaw, the HC of Stanford will adjust for next season.
This was a BAD season for the Cardinals, in fact the worst since Harbaugh took over in 2007, where they had the same record and Shaw never had such a season before.
I don't think the Irish will change something after the bowl, but you never know.
My 2 cents are, Brian Kelly is NOT a coach the Irish need to get back into the National Championship ranks.
He is good one, for sure, but the team is NOT on the level the TOP10 teams have.
Jacks interesting games Score: 38-12

THE BEDLAM
#7 Oklahoma @ #21 Oklahoma State
The Sooners won 34-16 and did once again sink the Cowboys into the middle field of the BIG12.
Of cause that makes every win every now and than for Cowboys fans even bigger, but honestly, I would get angry with that kind of dominance.
Not sure what will happen, since 2 or 3 seasons there are always rumors of a coaching chance in Stillwater, but it never happens.
This season there was no chatter at all, so maybe they can concentrate on football?
Jacks interesting games Score: 39-12

Other stunning results of week 14:
Ohio won against Akron 52-3, which gives Ohio 6 wins and Akron has the honor to be the only team with ZERO wins.
Iowa won the rivalry game against Nebraska 27-24 and has now a 5 game winning streak on the Heroes Trophy.
Kent State won 34-26 against Eastern Michigan to get also a 6th win.
West Virginia won against TCU on the road 20-17. Both teams do finish with 5 wins only.
South Alabama did upset Arkansas State 34-30. That was the 1st win for the Jaguars inside the Sun Belt this season.
Northwestern won against Illinois 29-10. The Wildcats got that way their 1st BIG10 win of the season, but finish 3-9.
Syracuse won against Wake Forest 39-30. The Orange still only have 5 wins.
Liberty won against New Mexico State 49-28 and got that way their 7th win, but since they had 2 FCS wins, by the 7th win they got bowl eligible.
UNLV won the rivalry game 'Battle for Nevada' against Nevada 33-30 in OT. The Rebels will send their HC packing, but he does leave now with 4 wins this season.
Boston College win against Pitt 26-19 and got their bowl game ticket that way, but still send their coach packing, now.
Duke won the game against Miami 27-17, but finishes only with 5 wins.
Michigan State got also the bowl ticket with a win over Maryland 19-16.
UAB Blazers win their division with a win over North Texas 26-21. UAB will play FAU for the Championship.
North Carolina got also the bowl spot with a win over rival NC State 41-10. NC State lost 6 game in a row at the end of this season.

Let's move on and focus on the Championship weekend.

If you exclude the Navy-Army game, all other teams did already finish or will finish their regular season this weekend.
Then the bowl season will start and will end beginning of January with the National Championship game.

The bowls matchups will be determined after this weekends game result.

The Army-Navy is not relevant for that. Army is ineligible and Navy is already eligible.

Current Playoff standings are:

1 Ohio State 12-0
2 LSU 12-0
3 Clemson 12-0
4 Georgia 11-1
5 Utah 11-1
6 Oklahoma 11-1
7 Baylor 11-1
8 Wisconsin 10-2
9 Florida 10-2
10 Penn State 10-2
11 Auburn 9-3
12 Alabama 10-2
13 Oregon 10-2
14 Michigan 9-3
15 Notre Dame 10-2
16 Iowa 9-3
17 Memphis 11-1
18 Minnesota 10-2
19 Boise State 11-1
20 Cincinnati 10-2
21 Appalachian State 11-1
22 USC 8-4
23 Virginia 9-3
24 Navy 9-2
25 Oklahoma State 8-4

Now let's see:

LSU will play Georgia for the SEC. The winner is of cause TOP4, the loser ... if LSU loses, they might stay in, if Georgia loses, they are likely out, except some major shifts happen.
Ohio State will play Wisconsin for the BIG10. The winner is likely in, Ohio State for sure, Wisconsin, not 100% sure I guess, but very likely.
Clemson will play Virginia for the ACC and that is a major do or die game. If Clemson wins, they are in, sure. If they lose, both are out, for sure. Clemsons schedule is so soft that they can't afford 1 loss. And Virginia is now #23, that will not get to TOP4 with a win.
Utah will play Oregon for the PAC12, which means of Utah wins, they are likely in, but only if Georgia loses I guess. If LSU loses, they Utes might be not good enough. If Oregon wins, they are not in, I think.
Oklahoma play against Baylor for the BIG12 and I think they can only get into TOP 4 with some major shifts. I think Clemson has to lose and also Utah, LSU has to win and Ohio State also.
Best Non-Power5 is Memphis. If they win, they get the BIG BOWL spot, if they lose, this comes down between Cincinnati and Boise State.

Let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 14

Sat. Dec. 7
DR PEPPER BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
#7 Baylor vs. #6 Oklahoma

This shows again how stupid the idea of #1 vs. #2 is.
We get not only a rematch, no we get a rematch in short time (fine this can also happen with division, but that happens not THAT often), which will not only be quite unmotivating, but also will bring nothing new on the table regarding strength of a team.
Assuming Oklahoma wins again, they did only prove they are stronger than Baylor for sure.
Will this elevate them to TOP4? I don't think so, if not Oregon and Virginia wins.
Assuming Baylor wins, it only proves both teams are more or less on the same level and deserve a spot close, but not in the TOP4.
Oklahoma won the Conference since 2015, since 2017 as winner of the Championship game.
Baylor won the Conference last 2014.
The Sooners are 9.0 point favorite and right now I don't see them losing this.
Baylor did play good this season for sure, but I think they lack the last bit of strength to win against Oklahoma.
The regular season game was lost by 3 points, I think this time they will lose with a higher margin.
Sooners win.

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
#4 Georgia vs. #2 LSU

LSU is favored by 7.0 points and for sure they deserve this.
They won every game and did win against all big opponents with a lot of points, except Texas (by 7), Alabama (by 5) and Auburn (by 3).
Now they meet Georgia in a semi-road-game, since this is in Atlanta, Georgia.
Georgia did drop 1 game, against South Carolina, at home.
Why that happened ... I don't know, but it did not help them.
Still they won all other big games, including Auburn and Florida.
I think both do have a fair chance to win this, but Georgia is a bit tarnished, not only because of the Gamecocks game, but also because they did not dominate the weaker opponents as other teams did.
They win against Notre Dame only by 7 and Texas A&M only by 6.
Fine that might be picky, but if you want to be the best ...
For me, LSU is the favorite, and I give them a 60% chance to win this.
But this is football and some stupid stuff can happen.
Expect a great game, I expect not so many points, and I expect LSU to take this.
Tigers win.

ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
#23 Virginia vs. #3 Clemson

They did not meet so far during the season but that doesn't matter.
Last season was Clemson favored by 27.5, this season they are favored by 28.5!
There is a big gap in quality inside the ACC and even if I would like to see Virginia winning this, the chances are slim.
Clemson did start slow, did almost lose, but since 4 to 6 weeks they do look like their last season self.
Virginia needs everything they have to stay in the game and the Tigers did show they are prepared for games like this.
Tiger win.

BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
#1 Ohio State @ #8 Wisconsin

Ohio State did play a fantastic season.
It was so dominant, that they did push the normally dominating SEC teams from the top spot, under a new HC and with a perfect LSU team playing also a great season.
Now they play Wisconsin for the title.
They are favored by 16.5.
That's a lot, but they did win basically every game with a high margin.
Closed game was against Penn State with 11 points and the regular season game against Wisconsin was 38-7.
I think Wisconsin will play better than that now, but they can only win, if Ohio State does something stupid.
So far they did not do such stuff, so I guess the Buckeyes will get this.
Buckeyes win.

Other interesting games:

Fri. Dec. 6
PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
#5 Utah vs. #13 Oregon

Last season Utah did enter the game for the 1st time and lost to Washington.
This season they do face Oregon, who had a great season and the have a 10-2 record with losses to Auburn and Arizona State.
Utah on the other hand has 11-1 record with the only loss against USC.
The Utes schedule was a tiny bit softer than the Oregon one but are 6.0 points favorite.
Both teams did play great football lately, with Oregon having their booboo against the Sun Devils.
I'm sure the team would have been the favorite if the have won against the Sun Devils on a close one, but they lost and that way Utah looks like the team to beat.
The key factors will be each defense front.
If Oregon can play their defense as in mid season, Utah will lose, of the play like on the past 2 games, they will lose.
If Oregon wins, the team will have a hard time getting into the playoffs, while Utah has a good chance to get into the playoffs with a win.
Maybe they need some help, but it's not that much. Worst case for Utah (beside a loss) would be a Ohio State loss OR a LSU loss.
Both teams are strong enough to stay in the TOP4, so they might block an addition spot.
Best case would be a Buckeyes AND LSU win. Likely Georgia and Wisconsin will be ranked below Utah then.
Utah is a great team, and right now they have the momentum.
I'm willing to pick them as the winner, but I think it will be close one.
Utes win.

Sat. Dec. 7
MARATHON MAC FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Miami (OH) vs. Central Michigan

Miami is 7-5, CMU is 8-4.
Central Michigan is favored by 6.5 points, which is quite OK from my point of view, since Miami did not really convince me of a dominant team.
Their last game was against the (now) 5-7 Ball State Cardinals on the road and they lost, big time.
Not the best bridge to the Championship game.
The Chippewas won their last 3 (including a close one against Ball State on the road) and did get a good turnaround under new HC Jim McElwain (former Florida Gators HC) with 1-11 last season.
Remarkable is, they won 6 of the last 7 games, so the tendency is going up.
That loss was on the road against Buffalo.
So I guess this will be quite 1-dimensional, which CMU dominating the game and winning by more than the spread suggest.
Chippewas win.

SUN BELT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Louisiana @ #21 Appalachian State

This is the exact matchup we had last season when the Championship game was played for the 1st time.
The Mountaineers did win.
The only difference this season is, that Appalachian State is ranked, but not so high favored as last season.
The Mountaineers are 11-1, Louisiana 10-2.
The betting line is in favor of Appalachian State at -6.5.
I think the Mountaineers will destroy the Ragin' Cajuns for good.
Louisiana was barely able to win against their rival last week, the 5-7 ULM, will Appalachian State did win by 45 points. Sure you should not compare results that way, but that's not the only difference.
There is a reason why the Mountaineers are ranked and Louisiana not.
Appalachian State won against UNC and they did also win the regular season match against Louisiana by 10 points on the road.
Now they play at home against Louisiana again, who might have their biggest win against a Sun Belt team from Georgia.
Mountaineers win.

AMERICAN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
#20 Cincinnati @ #17 Memphis

So Memphis won last week and play the same game again.
They won by 10 and are now 9.5 point favorites.
Sure it is harder to play the same team again, since they know some of the tricks you have now, but Memphis is (I think) the better team, so barring some bad plays, Memphis will grind the Bearcats down, again, and will win.
Tigers win.

CONFERENCE USA FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
UAB @ Florida Atlantic

FAU is a 7.5 point favorite and while UAB does for sure deserve to be in the game, FAU did their best to be there.
UAB is 9-3 and lost 2 conference games, FAU is 9-3 and lost only 1 game inside the conference.
FAU lost only 1 game against Marshall mid season and won basically all games after staring 0-2 at season start against Ohio State and UCF.
UAB did play a good season and got the ticket here with a win over Louisiana Tech, but lost to WKU which FAU did win against on the road.
It will be interesting, whether some universities will try to get Lane Kiffin away from FAU if he wins out.
He did show on that level he can coach and can turn things around, but for sure did the teams also remember his stunts of the past.
Maybe he did mature and is now ready to take over a high-level team, but we will see.
UAB, by the way, won last year the championship game and is really a special program after their re-ignition, and their HC Clark does deserve to get a shot elsewhere, if he would like to do that.
But this season ...
I think they will lose.
Owls win.

MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Hawai'i @ #19 Boise State

I make this quick.
Boise State is favored by 14.0 points.
What counts here is, that this is a home game, against Hawaii, who had a shorter time for preparations (they played a late game against Army at home), who had to fly the many miles to Idaho and who do face a great playing team.
Hawaii did have a great season and of cause winning this would be even greater, but all odds do count against them.
Broncos win.

Don't forget your Pick'em picks.

'Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

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