Blog, tagged with Block of Granite
2023-12-05 09:06

And the Championship Week is over, resulting in a big mess on the playoff spot race.

Let's jump right into the reviews and then I tell you about the problems in more details.


Fri. Dec 2
Pac-12 Football Championship Game
#5 Oregon vs #3 Washington

The start of the week, I had picked actually the underdog, even I always saw them as the favorite.
And Washington did start like a favorite, leading at the half 20:10.
Then came the 3rd quarter and the Ducks did turn the game around with great long drive and a score, followed by some wild drives, involving turnovers by both sides and a short Ducks drive and another score.
Now Ducks ahead by 4 did Washington answer with ... a long drive and a Touchdown to take the lead back.
Oregon had to punt on their drive and then came the drive, which did give Washington the game, the trophy, everything.
With 12 plays and over 80 yards, Washington did eat away the clock, scored and lead now by 10.
Oregon had less than 3 minutes to get back into the game and did score with a monster play to cut down the lead to 3.
Still 2 minutes left, Oregon now needed to stop the Huskies and failed big time. They did not even force them to play a 4th down, they allowed one 1st down after another and did by that lose the game.
Washington is the last PAC-12 Champ.
The future of the conference is in limbo, if all comes together as planned, only Washington State and Oregon State stay in the PAC-12 and as far as I know, a conference cannot exist with just 2 members.
So, either they do recruit new members fast (which is tough, given the fact they are still fighting for the control of the conference) and they need to move also.
Regardless, this season the teams did play good football and Washington was clearly the best team.
#5 Oregon 31 vs #3 Washington 34 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 29-14

Sat. Dec 2
SEC Championship Game
#1 Georgia vs #8 Alabama

The game, which did create to many problems in the aftermath.
Overall, the fans did get an entertaining game here, on a high level.
At the start did Georgia play great, scored early, limited Alabama to a field goal a bit later and looked like they have this.
But Alabama did turn this around in the 2nd, did force some Georgia errors and scored twice to get into the locker room with a 17:7 lead.
The 3rd quarter was all defense, both teams did only manage to score a field goal, maybe a small advantage by Alabama, since they did force a fumble.
In the 4th did then the playbook opens a bit up and that did help Georgia to get back into the game.
They did score, Alabama did score, and Georgia did again score.
Trailing by 3 did then Georgia gives Alabama the ball, less than 3 minutes to go, to stop them and score again.
But Alabama did get 1st downs after 1st downs and at the end, Georgia did not get the ball and the Crimson Tide did snap the 29-game-winning-streak of Georgia, they did dethrone Georgia as SEC Champ and, only revealed later, did also prevent the three-peat-quest of Georgia for a National Championship.
That result, and another one, did then lead into a big mess in the playoff race.
#1 Georgia 24 vs #8 Alabama 27 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 29-15

Big Ten Football Championship Game
#2 Michigan vs #16 Iowa

Man, that went as expected and beyond.
Iowa was just shit, sorry to say.
Their defense did allow too many points, actually the second most points for all season (only Penn State did score more).
Their offense ... did not play ... nothing.
It's still a wonder they did qualify for THIS game, but they did, and they got their ass handed to them and then some.
Michigan did win big time, won the BIG10 and did rise in the ranked by that.
#2 Michigan 26 vs #16 Iowa 0 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 30-15

Other interesting games:

Fri. Dec 1
Conference USA Football Championship Game
New Mexico State @ #24 Liberty

New Mexico State did play great, kept the game open, until they did not in the 4th quarter.
Liberty did score in the 4th to take the lead, again, and the Aggies did run down the field, only to be intercepted.
The Flames then did need only 4 plays to cross the field and score again.
New Mexico State did then need way too long to march over the field again and in need for a Touchdown they finally were stopped on a 4th down try.
Flames won the Conference USA Championship in their 1st year inside the conference, 49:35.
Jacks interesting games Score: 39-18

Sat. Dec 2
Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship Game
#18 Oklahoma State vs #7 Texas

That game was shown in Germany, but it was so dull, I did not watch it.
Texas did outplay OSU already in the 1st quarter, did extended it in the 2nd and lead by that 35:14 at the half.
Sure, the Cowboys offense could get back, even on that kind of deficit, but they were just incapable to find holes in the Longhorns defense and score fast or score at least at some point.
The 2nd half was more or less a managed running down the clock by Texas, while controlling the OSU offense.
At the end did Texas, on their last season inside the BIG-12, win the Championship 49:21 against a team, which shouldn't have been there.
But that's not their fault, that’s Oklahomas fault, when they did lose against the Cowboys for whatever reason.
With this win, the Longhorns did cause some interesting constellations, I will explain a bit later, regarding the playoffs.
Jacks interesting games Score: 40-18

MAC Football Championship Game
Miami (OH) vs Toledo

Man, this game went totally different than I did expect it.
First of all, I did expect a lot of points.
Second, of course, I expected the Rockets to win.
But Toledo did commit a fumble early and was scoreless in the 1st quarter, while Miami did score 10 points.
Then it did look like Toledo got into the game, their defense did keep the RedHawks in check, while Toledo missed a field goal and score a 8-point-TD.
At the half, 10:8 Miami.
In the 3rd quarter it seemed Toledo did slowly gain control over the game, got the lead and kept Miami to just 3 points.
And then the 4th quarter came, and Miami did score a TD for the lead and Toledo did miss a field goal, throw an INT a l t e r and lost the game.
Miami wins the MAC Championship with a score of 23:14.
Jacks interesting games Score: 40-19

Mountain West Conference Football Championship Game
Boise State @ UNLV

What a strange season for Boise State, favored at the start of the season to win it all, struggling to 5-5, firing the HC after that win for the 5th W, then winning 2 more with the interim HC, getting the spot in the Championship game by a computer and then winning the Championship by a dominating win 44:20 by outscoring UNLV in every quarter on the road.
As consequence did Boise sign the interim HC, Spencer Danielson, as permanent solution.
Jacks interesting games Score: 40-20

American Athletic Conference Football Championship Game
SMU @ #22 Tulane

SMU did win the American Athletic by having a good 4th quarter in which they did score 3 Field Goals and kept Tulane scoreless.
Final score is 26:14.
It's always hard to judge the outcome, but it's strange that Tulane lost this, at home, and a bit later they lost also their HC.
Was the negotiation with Houston so distracting, that the HC did underperform?
You never know,
At the end it counts, SMU won.
Jacks interesting games Score: 40-21

Hercules Tires Sun Belt Conference Football Championship Game
Appalachian State @ Troy

Ok, this went almost as expected, except I did not expect Troy to win this big.
Appalachian State looked like they could eventually turn things around in the 3rd, but did not score enough to overcome the deficit fast enough.
Then in the 4th did the Mountaineers collapse and Troy won that quarter 28:6, winning the Championship with a final score of 49:23.
Jacks interesting games Score: 41-21

ACC Championship Game
#14 Louisville vs #4 Florida State

And the last title went to Florida State, winning against Louisville 16:6 in a boring game.
Both teams needed a lot of time to score something.
At the half it was FSU leading 3:0, then the Cardinals did score a FG in the 3rd, but the Seminoles did score a TD afterwards.
Then a lot of nothing, followed by nothing, highlighted by 2 FGs by FSU to win it.
Afterwards the hell went lose, when the playoff spots were announced, but that's another story.
Florida State won the ACC Championship after 9 seasons again.
Jacks interesting games Score: 41-22

And that caps the weekend results.
Not my best picks, but that's how it can go.

As a result of those games, we have now
- Alabama as SEC Champ with a record of 12-1.
- Washington as PAC-12 Champ with a record of 13-0
- Michigan as BIG10 Champ with a record of 13-0
- Florida State as ACC-Champ with a record of 13-0
- Texas as BIG-12 Champ with a record of 12-1
- Georgia as SEC Division Champ with a record of 12-1
- Ohio State as previously high ranked team and a record of 11-1

Let's start with Ohio State, which would have benefit from a chaos result championship game weekend, but most teams favored or highly ranked did win, so even they were ranked at #6 prior the weekend, their chance for a TOP4 spot with no game played AFTER the results came in was zero.
The losing teams from the Championship games, except Georgia, which was at #1 prior the weekend, are all gone. Highest ranked team was Oregon at #5 and they lost, so they are bound to drop in the ranks.
Michigan did win and was at #2, so it was expected they would be fine.
Washington was #3 and won against #5, so they should be fine also, right?
Now comes the messy part. Alabama as #8 did win against #1 Georgia. Alabama was only at #8 because they did lose to #7 Texas at the start of the season.
Texas won the BIG-12 (but lost to Oklahoma during the season) and Alabama the SEC against #1.
Georgia did lose only once by 3 points against the SEC Champ. Is that TOP4 Quality? How do you handle that mess?
Alabama did lose against the BIG-12 Champ by 10 points on day 2, besides that, did win against all ranked teams and won the SEC, the strongest Conference of all.
And Texas did win against the SEC-Champ at some point and won the BIG-12 but has a different loss on the record against a ranked team.
On top comes, there is Florida State, which did win the ACC against a ranked team and is perfect.

Logic might dictate to have Washington, Michigan and FSU in, plus Texas OR Alabama as Conference Champs.
But are those the 4 strongest teams, or best teams?

The committee did think sharp and tried to solve the impossible equation they have this season.
This is how they did list the TOP6:

College Football Playoff Rankings

#1Michigan13-0Will play in the Semi-Finales against #4 Alabama.
#2Washington13-0Will play in the Semi-Finales against #3 Texas.
#3Texas12-1Will play in the Semi-Finales against #2 Washington.
#4Alabama12-1Will play in the Semi-Finales against #1 Michigan.
#5Florida State13-0Will play #6 Georgia in the Orange Bowl.
#6Georgia12-1Will play #5 Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

As you can see, the committee tried to value the Championships, the record and the direct compare, with the negative that they did value the strength of schedule of FSU as too weak to make them TOP4 and they did also put Georgia out of contention as none-champion, even they are not really weaker than teams in the TOP4.

But the decision is there and the TOP4 teams will play for the National Championship.
It's from my point of view time to open the field up, but that will of course not happen this season. According to plans, next season they will do a playoff with more teams.

The bowl games are also final, and it came as suggested, James Madison and Jacksonville State did get a waiver on the not-eligible-for-post-season-status and will play in a bowl game, plus Minnesota did get a bowl game spot as 5-7 team, because they had the best Academic Progress Rate.

Surprising for me, but likely because of the bowl matchup conclusion needed prior the last game weekend, Navy will not play in a bowl, even if they win against Army next week.
It's a matter of 'bad luck'. They should have had their 6 wins together prior the weekend and has them not.

Before I do get to the preview of the last regular season game, Army-Navy, I give you the coaches change summery, so far.

As already spoilered, did Boise State love their interims-HC so much, they did name Spencer Danielson as permanent HC. He was the DC of Boise for some time and is now bound to get better results than his predecessor. OK, he has already a Championship under his belt with under a season in charge, so not a bad start.

Another spoiler was, that Tulane has lost his HC, Willie Fritz, since he accepted the spot at Houston. Fritz is a longtime HC, who worked his way up from Junior College, Div II, to FCS and up to FBS level, where he did coach Georgia Southern for 2 years and Tulane for 8 years. Now, already 63, he did get a Power-5-job at Houston. His work at Tulane was really great, he elevated the team from a losing team to a Conference Champion went to 4 bowls and won 3 of them. The team will also play a bowl this season, but he won't be with the team at that time, or course. At Houston he will take over a job, which is challenging, since expectations are the Cougars will be a top team inside the conference and so far the team is mid-level at best.

Next news on the coaches’ front, Curt Cignetti of James Madison did except the job at Indiana. Cignetti is also 60+, did also work his way up from Div II to FCS to FBS. The last step was done while he was already the HC of James Madison and he did that transition in a great way. Only the transition rules did likely prevent the team to win the Sun Belt in the last 2 seasons. At Indiana he will have a hard piece of work ahead of him. The 'Basketball-U' is not big in football, is located inside a tough division and is historically a losing team. It would be a big success if the team would go to a bowl regularly. Anything else would be crazy.

And Nevada has fired their HC, Ken Wilson, after 2 seasons. In both seasons did Wilson only get 2 wins each. That's strange, since he had taken over a bowl-strength team, so no wonder the administration did hit the eject-button fast. A new HC was found quickly. They did hire Jeff Choate, right now the Co-DC of Texas. Choate did play HC already once for 4 seasons on FCS level, but then became the DC of Texas.

And that's that. There is only 1 game left for the season, prior the bowls.


Sat. Dec 9
Army @ Navy
This year they play in the homefield of the New England Patriots, as always, neutral site.
Both teams had some strange setting this season, they are both 5-6.
On paper, this game could lead to 1 more team having 6 wins, so being bowl eligible.
But it's too late to setup a bowl spot, so they are left out.
On top comes, that Army did play, for whatever reason, Delaware State and Holy Cross, both on FCS-Level.
By rule only 1 FCS win is counted for a bowl spot, so technically Army is for bowl 4-6 and could not even get to a bowl, if they win here.
Too much?
OK, let's move on. Bottom line, no bowls on the line.
That leave the Commander-In-Chief-Trophy, a price awarded to the best team inside the trio Army, Navy and Air Force.
Air Force has won the trophy last year, and they won against Navy.
Army has won against Air Force.
Now, if Army wins against Navy, Army has 2 wins and get the trophy. If Navy wins, all have 1 win and Air Force retains the trophy in that case.
So Navy can only spoil the fun for Army, but can't get a finger on the trophy itself.
The series Army-Navy has so far 123 games and Navy leads, 62–54–7, including losing last year.
Army is favored by 2.5 points this year.
Both teams did show mixed results so far.
Biggest win for Army was likely against at that time ranked Air Force, worst loss was likely against Louisiana-Monroe at season start. But the team did get their thing together and has right now 3 games winning-streak, including an impressive win against Coastal Carolina.
Navy on the other hand had their worst loss against Temple, while their best win was against UAB, which is not much.
So, no wonder, the line is close and Navy is not the favorite.
The community is at 60%+ on Army side, which I can relate.
Since the game setting will be unique, all analysis can be thrown away, both teams will play their heart out.
It will be intense and there will be as much distraction and loudness on and off the field as possible.
Likely a close game, I do lean this season towards Army.
Black Knights win.

That's it for this week.

'Til next time

Rating (1 users):

Tags: Block of Granite

 Share on Facebook  Share on Twitter
2023-11-29 09:44

Wow, a wild rivalry week!

I will start with the recaps, since some stuff would spoil the results.


Fri. Nov 24
#16 Oregon State @ #6 Oregon
Well, this game was likely one of the more disappointing games of the week.
I mean, rivalry, 2 ranked teams, you would expect a closer game, right?
And then Oregon did start with 2 scores, the Beavers scored once and then only the Ducks did score a bit more.
No fire, no comeback attempt, at least not notable.
The Ducks won the game, clearly, they wanted the spot in the PAC-12 Championship game.
The Beavers have lost the game, and later actually also their HC, who, despite the Beavers had a much better season last year than this year, did elevate the Beavers to top level and who will now leave the team after 6 seasons to become the new HC of the Michigan State Spartans. More to that later.
#16 Oregon State 7 @ #6 Oregon 31 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 28-12

Sat. Nov 25
#2 Ohio State @ #3 Michigan
This on the hand, did fulfil the hype, I think.
Michigan without the HC, but at home, Ohio State lost twice in a row in the past 2 years and have it in their hands to change that.
The price, beside the win, the BIG 10 Championship game, a much better position in the playoff ranks and the bragging rights for at least a year.
It started very defense driven, a lot of 3-and-outs, then an OSU INT, which did give Michigan their 1st TD after a few plays later.
That did start some scoring drives, which did put at halftime Michigan on top 14:10, because the Buckeyes did miss a field goal with time running out.
Then in the 3rd quarter did Michigan get a bit more on their side, which did put Ohio State into a bit of a bad position.
Behind 7 points they did not get a drive going, Michigan did hit a field goal.
Then Ohio State DID score a TD and Michigan did hit another field goal.
Only 1 minute left, down by 6, Ohio State got the ball back. Perfect story start for a comeback, but the Buckeyes got into Michigans half and did throw a pick, which gave the Wolverines the chance to run the clock down.
Michigan did win, again.
They will play Iowa for the BIG 10 crown and have now a big push into the playoffs.
Ohio State can dream of some chaos results in the championship games so they might slip into the playoffs, regardless they did not even win a division.
#2 Ohio State 24 @ #3 Michigan 30 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 28-13

San José State @ UNLV
Oh man, if I would be San Jose fan, I would be mad.
Imagine you have the Championship game spot on the line in this game here.
Imagine you do start the game fast, you lead at halftime 20:10, you extend the lead in the 3rd and hold off the comeback try in the 4th.
Imagine you win!
Imagine - spoiler alert - Boise State does also win and you end up in a 3-team-tie and 4 COMPUTER-RANLINGS do decide which 2 of the 3 teams are selected to play for the MWC-Championship game and those do rank your team as 3rd.
Season over, except the bowl game, because 4 computers find your results worse than those of the 2 others, while you did BEAT one of the participants (but has a better overall record) and the other has the same record as your team, but you did not play each other.
San José State 37 @ UNLV 31 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 28-14

And some other interesting games (monster XXL):

Thur. Nov 23
#12 Ole Miss @ Mississippi State
The 1st rivalry game of that week and for me a surprising low scoring, and quite close, game.
Ole Miss won 17:7 and will play in a BIG bowl, while the Bulldogs missed out on a bowl eligibility.
Jacks interesting games Score: 27-15

Fri. Nov 24
UTSA @ #23 Tulane
Tulane had at home a big 2nd quarter, which led to a 29:16 win for the Green Wave.
They will play for the AAC-Championship, while UTSA did drop out and waits for the bowl game.
Jacks interesting games Score: 28-15

Air Force @ Boise State
This is the 2nd game of the Mountain West, which did lead to the strange selection process.
Air Force did look like the clear loser early, did try a comeback in the 3rd quarter, but lost stream in the 4th and also the game.
Boise won 27:19.
A quite strange situation for Boise anyway this season, firing the HC after a win, winning then the last 2 games, including this here to end up in the Championship game on interim basis.
A bitter end for Air Force, who did lead for a long time the MWC, but lost now 4 in a row.
They will play in a bowl, but this could have gone better.
Jacks interesting games Score: 29-15

Sat. Nov 25
Kentucky @ #10 Louisville
One of those game, which did fit the rivalry hype.
The 1st half was quite slow and low scoring, with Louisville leading 10:7 and I think they did really play a bit better than Kentucky.
The 3rd quarter then started with the Cardinals scoring twice in a row, which looked like they would pull away, but Kentucky came back.
The Wildcats did score also twice in a row afterwards and tied the game starting the 4th with a field goal, after Louisville did commit a critical fumble.
Then it became wild, Cardinals fumbled again, Kentucky TD as result, Louisville stopped, but Wildcats intercepted.
Louisville tied the game but were unable to prevent another Wildcats TD and the last Cards INT did seal the deal with Kentucky winning 38:31 for the 5th time in a row.
The game has no consequences on the Louisvilles ACC-Championship spot, only the playoff ranking will drop heavily.
Jacks interesting games Score: 29-16

UL Monroe @ Louisiana
Louisiana had a monster 2nd quarter and overall, a big game against their rival to win this 52:21.
The Cajuns did get bowl eligible by that, while ULM did fire their HC afterwards to end the season.
Jacks interesting games Score: 30-16

#8 Alabama @ Auburn
The game with the most stunning ending of the whole weekend.
Nobody did expect the Tigers to play on the level of the Crimson Tide, but they did.
Alabama did lead 17:14 at the half and trailed 20:21 at the end of the 3rd quarter, after Bama did miss a field goal try.
Then ... did Auburn score a field goal to lead 24:20 and Alabama got nothing, Auburn also and Bama again nothing, but recovered a fumble on the punt return with 4 mins to play.
It came down to 4th and 1 on the Auburn 10, which was converted to a new set of down. Less than 2 mins to play.
A bad snap did cause a loss of 18 yards, a penalty did shift the ball even more back and lost them a down.
Now on 4th and goal on the 31-yard line the ball was passed into the deepest left corner of the endzone and CAUGHT!
Auburn had 2 plays left but was unable to anything and lost the Iron Bowl with that improbable play at home.
Alabama can still dream on a playoff seat and will play Georgia for the SEC next.
Auburn will play in a bowl, but who cares after that loss?
Jacks interesting games Score: 31-16

#17 Arizona @ Arizona State
When this game was played, it was clear that the outsider chance for Arizona to get into the PAC-12 Championship game was already gone, since Oregon had won their game.
But still there was this thing on winning against the hated rival, so let's play.
Arizona did play and won 59:23, extended the winning streak to 2 games.
Jacks interesting games Score: 32-16

Wisconsin @ Minnesota
Here I had picked the home team, but they played only on 1st half, afterward Wisconsin did dominate and got the Axe back after 2 years with a 28:14 win.
By that did Minnesota not only miss to keep the Axe, but they did also miss the bowl eligibility status. They might still get into a bowl thanks to too few teams eligible and they having the best Academic Progress Rate.
Jacks interesting games Score: 32-17

Virginia Tech @ Virginia
Well, it looks like the Cavaliers did leave it all on the field against Duke and hand nothing left against the hated rival Virginia Tech.
A bowl spot in the line did the Hokies play like hell and won 55:17.
Now the Hokies can plan for a bowl, for Virginia the season is over.
Jacks interesting games Score: 32-18

James Madison @ Coastal Carolina
James Madison did what they did best this season, playing tough and winning.
They won in a landslide win 56:14, won the division, are not allowed to play for the Championship, but might sneak into a bowl, since too few teams did qualify for the massive amount of bowl spots and the Dukes are basically good enough and might get into as hole-plugger, while they were officially denied to play in a bowl for this season.
That's like Germany bureaucracy, maybe we have send some of those guy to the NCAA in the past.
By that loss did CCU drop too deep, since App State won their game. No Championship game for them, but also a bowl spot.
Jacks interesting games Score: 33-18

Washington State @ #4 Washington
Much closer than expected did Washington win this game against the Cougars by a last second field goal 24:21.
A quite chaotic game with lots of missed field goals, turnovers and surprised.
Washington does now go undefeated into the PAC-12 Championship game against Oregon, while Washington State did by losing end their season, since they would have needed that win to play in a bowl.
Jacks interesting games Score: 34-18

#5 Florida State @ Florida
Also here, Florida did not used their chances to get into a bowl.
I mean, at home, bowl game on the line, hated rival, who lost their starting QB. How many chances do you need?
Looks like you need more, the Seminoles won 24:15 with a strong 4th quarter, which did shift the game to their favor.
FSU will play Louisville for the ACC Championship next week; Florida can drown in alligator tears for the whole off-season.
Jacks interesting games Score: 35-18

#1 Georgia @ Georgia Tech
The Bulldogs did lead 31:13, when the 4th quarter started.
Somehow did GT then score a Field Goal and later a TD, while defending Georgia to no-scoring.
Unfortune for GT did they then NOT stop the Bulldogs from getting 2 more 1st downs, which led to the end of the game.
Georgia won undefeated 31:23 and will play Alabama for the SEC Championship next weekend.
Georgia Tech was already bowl eligible, so they can prepare for that.
Jacks interesting games Score: 36-18

#24 Clemson @ South Carolina
Oh man, what a bad game, at least from my point of view.
The 1st quarter was OK, Clemson did lead 10:7, just the how-to was already a good sign for Gamecocks fans that this day will be a pool of shit.
On 2nd play did Clemson return a fumble for a score. Bam.
Next play, after the kickoff, a South Carolina INT.
Clemson was too dumb to do something with it, but with 2 drives ending that way, you get nervous as Gamecocks fan, right?
Just to spoil the fun did then South Carolina score a TD and Clemson did hit that field goal for those 10:7 lead.
After that ... punt, Clemson FG, punt, punt, punt .... When Clemson did throw an INT, the chance was there for the Gamecocks to turn things around, but deep in their own half, it meant punt and another punt and while you were waiting, punt.
Clemson did hit another FG and won the game finally 16:7, but man ...
At home, bowl game on the line, hated rival and SC did suck, big time.
I expected a Clemson win, so no harm for me, but with THAT chances ... shame on you.
Jacks interesting games Score: 37-18

North Carolina @ #22 NC State
UNC needed almost 1 half to get on the scoreboard, but trailed already 7:23, at the half 7:26.
The 2nd half was equal, 13:13, so NC State did win the rivalry 39:20 and extended the winning-streak to 3.
Both teams will go to a bowl.
Jacks interesting games Score: 38-18

And beside that, more results:
Eastern Michigan did win against Buffalo 24:11 to get to a bowl. Buffalos season is over.
Texas–Texas Tech with the Battle for The Chancellor's Spurs did end with a big win for Texas, 57:7. Texas did by that get the ticket for the BIG-12 Championship game.
The Battle Line Rivalry between Arkansas and Missouri did end with a clear win by Missouri 48:14. This has no big consequences, and the HC of Arkansas did also keep his job, which was announced prior the game.
The Land Grant Trophy played between Michigan State–Penn State was granted Penn State, winning 42:0. Michigan State did already find their new HC to bring out the trash in Oregon States (now former) HC.
In THE HEROS GAME between Iowa and Nebraska did both team their best to NOT score. Iowa did kick the game winning field goal with time running out to win 13:10. By that Nebraska did miss on a bowl spot and Iowas record does look more impressive than their results do suggest.
Oklahoma knew they need to win to get into the BIG-12-Championship game and they did against TCU, 69:45. A big dive by the Horned Frogs against ast season big success. TCU did miss by that also a bowl game spot. Oklahoma got their win, but thanks to the Cowboys, who also won their game, NO championship game spot for the Sooners.
Oklahoma State won against BYU 40:34 in 2OT. BYU had tied the game with a field goal to send it to OT, both teams did score a TD in the 1st OT and then did the Cowboys score in again in the 2nd OT and forced a lost fumble on the BYU drive to win the game and a spot in the Championship game. BYU missed the chance on a bowl spot with that loss.
Utah State won against New Mexico, 44:41 in 2OT. By that win did Utah State get a bowl spot, whole New Mexicos season is over, and their HC needs a new job after 4 seasons.
The LSU–Texas A&M football rivalry game was quite open, until LSU did hit 2nd gear and went on to win the game with a big 4th quarter, 42:30. A&M has found their next HC already, hired Dukes HC away, but normally that means he will take over AFTER the bowl game.
Notre Dame did destroy Stanford for the Legend trophy, 56:23. No big deal for both teams, since the Irish were already bowl bound and Stanford had no chance anyway. So, season over for Stanford.
The Farmageddon between Iowa State and Kansas State did end with a close 42:35 win. Both teams will play in a bowl.
Tennessee did beat Vanderbilt in their rivalry game, 48:24. Vanderbilt really with a season to forget, this year.
The Old Oaken Bucket between Purdue and Indiana was decided by a huge Purdue comeback in the 4th quarter to seal the Purdue win, 35:31. For both teams the season is now over, Indiana did clear the house already and fired their HC and did already settle the compensation money (which is roughly 5 mio less than expected, still at 15 million , pffffff).
Another meaningless game, except for pride and honor, between UConn and UMass. UConn won the rivalry game, 31:18, which ends the season for both teams.
UCF did win against Houston, 27:13, which did seal the fate of the Cougars HC. He was fired after the game.
SMU was able to win their game against Navy, 59:14. That did earn the Mustangs a spot in the AAC-Championship game, did cost them their starting QB and brought Navy into some sort of strange situation, since they lack the 6th win for a bowl spot, COULD win against Army in 2 weeks, but at that point the bowl spots are already set! Not sure what will happen now.
Northern Illinois got their 6th win of the season against Kent State, 37:27. They will play in a bowl that way.
The Red Bird Rivalry between Miami (OH) and Ball State ended with a close win by Miami, 17:15. Miami will play for the MAC-Championship next week.
Rice won against Florida Atlantic, 24:21 to get bowl eligible. FAUs season is over.
Under interims coaching did Syracuse win their last game against Wake Forest, 35:31 and will play in a bowl.
Old Dominion did beat Georgia State, 25:24 for a bowl bid. Georgia State did lose 5 games in a row, but were bowl eligible already.
The Rumble in the Rockies between Utah and Colorado ended with the 6th loss by the Buffalos in a row, losing 17:23. After starting fast and string did Colorado lose those games most of the time within a score, ending their interesting season. Utah will of course play in a bowl.
The Illinois–Northwestern-game with the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk did end with a Northwestern win, 45:43. Illinois misses by that loss a bowl spot.
The Appalachian State–Georgia Southern rivalry game did decide the fate of the Sun Belt Championship participation for the Mountaineers. They won 55:27 and by that will play Troy for the Championship. It did turn out that win against JMU last week did give them the most deciding push.
Cal did win The Bear Bowl between California and UCLA, 33:7. By that did Cal reach the 6th win of the season for a bowl spot and UCLA was already eligible, but had now lost 3 out of the 4 last games.
On his last game with their retiring HC did San Diego State win against Fresno State for the Oil Can, 33:18. Season over for the Aztecs, Bulldogs will play in a bowl.
And last game, Hawaii did win against Colorado State, 27:24. Hawaii did play a bit better than last year, but I'm not sure the progress is good and fast enough.

That's that.
By those results, the amount of bowl eligible teams are set, only Army-Navy would give the winner a 6th win, but both team have problems with that late game.
As said, Navy could get the 6th win, but it's way too late after the bowl spots are filled.
And Army is in the same situation, but has on top 2 FCS games this season, which they won, so technically they would need more than the win against Navy to be even eligible.
But there are too few teams for all the bowls, even with Minnesota, and it's unclear, how this is solved.
Right now, it seems James Madison and Jacksonville State, both having enough wins to play in a bowl, but not allowed because of the FCS transition, might get a waiver and a spot to fill the open matchup spots.

The Championship game matchups are also set, the last one was the Mountain West participants, who had to wait for the computers to spit out their rankings and then the 2 teams with the highest average of those rankings were taken, UNLV and Boise State.

Now let's get quickly through the coaches changes already known so far.

As already mentioned, Oregon State will need a new HC, since their HC of the past 6 seasons, Jonathan Smith, was hired by Michigan State to become their new HC.
Smith has lifted the program from a clear losing team to a ranked contender inside the PAC-12. Especially in his past 3 seasons the program prospered and went from 7 wins to 10 and has right now 8 wins. A few days later came in the message that the program did already find their new HC, Trent Bray, the DC of the Beavers since 2 seasons, is named the new HC. It's his 1st job as HC.
Michigan State on the other hand can now look into a new period of coaching, after the period with Mel Tucker was financially a disaster and regarding public relation also a mess. I guess nobody wants a HC who ... well let's say his sexual behavior did not match the programs expectations.

Another program, which needs a new HC, since the current one was hired away, is Duke. Mike Elko was only 2 seasons at Duke, but did lift the program from 3 wins with his predecessor to 9 wins in his 1st season and so far 7 wins this season. He made the team instantly a winner and that's likely the reason Texas A&M did hire him as replacement for Jimbo Fisher.
For Duke that's quite sad news, but I think the program is one of those, where you either have a winner as HC, for a short period until he leaves for more money and better chances to win it all, or you have that other guy, most of the time a HC who had already several jobs and who just wants to stay until retirement. The problem with the latter type is, most of those are no winners. Texas A&M does get a guy, who wants to win and who had so far the talent to get the most out of the roster. It will be interesting to see with A&M, since the talent level is high, so eventually the already loaded division will get even more loaded.

Mississippi State has found their guy, hiring Jeff Lebby, the so far OC of Oklahoma the last 2 seasons. Lebby will take over a team in transition. They lost their HC last year by a heart attack, got that interims HC promoted to real HC, only to lose that guy after 1 season. The last HC had before firing a 4-6 record. It's the 1st gig as HC for the coach, so hard to tell, he will do it good or bad. Most think, it will be challenging, but that does not mean, he will fail.

Syracuse has already found their next guy, selecting Fran Brown, the DB-coach of Georgia. Brown has served as DB coach for several schools in the past, for some he had the title as Assistant-HC on top. He is known as recruiter at the east coast and is well regarded as such. It's his 1st gig as HC.

Now, the fired guys. Starting with New Mexico, Danny Gonzales. He had 4 seasons with the team, and his best record was this season with 4 wins. That's of course not the level the programs wants to have. But to be fair, his predecessor was not much better did produce only 2 winning seasons in 8 years and had max 3 wins in the last 3 seasons. It will be interesting to see, who will be the next guy, but the problems might be deeper than just better coaching.

Then there is Tom Allen, now former HC of Indiana. He had 7 full seasons with the team, lifted the team from 5 wins in his 1st 2 seasons to a whooping 8 wins in 2019, which was the 1st time for the school since 1993 and brought him a raise and an extension. Well, that did bite the school this season. Because the team dropped to 6 in 2020 (corona season), but then to 2, 4 and this season 3 wins. Now the school did hit the eject button, which did cost them 15 million compensation, instead of estimated 20 million. Wohoooo! Well, I guess, that's the business now.
Indiana will look for a new guy, but that 'Basketball' university will not look too pretty for the top prospects.

Houston had enough of the Dana Holgorsen experiment and did fire him, which likely did also cost the school a lot of money. He was hired away from West Virginia 2019 and at 1st it did look like an instant fail, since the production did drop to 4 and 3 wins. But in 2021 the team did win 12 games and played for the AAC Championship, but lost to Cincinnati. in 2022 did the team drop to 8 wins and it was expected the team would at least challenge the teams in the new conference a bit more, but 4 wins in total and only 2 BIG-12 wins were just not enough. The school has the ambition to conquer the BIG-12 and obviously the team is not ready for that, so they will look for a new guy.

The next on the chop block is Dana Dimmel, the former HC of UTEP. Dimmel took over a team in decline, made it worse 1st (1, 1 and 3 wins) but got the team to a bowl in his 4th season, which they lost, but still 7 wins. Last year the team did drop to 5 and this season to 3, which was the end of the line. UTEP is traditionally not a winning team, their overall record is negative, the program won a conference only twice in 100+ seasons and won last time in bowl in the 60s. Not sure the administration is looking for, but I guess they just wish to find that guy who lift the team to a bowl regularly. The problem with that is, such a guy would be hired away fast, and then they can look for the next unicorn.

And the next school with failed ambitions, Louisiana-Monroe, which did fire their HC after 3 seasons. Terry Bowden is one of those coaches who goes where they are wanted, not a winner, just decent, but with no ambition to win the national championship. He likely had that dream, when he was coaching Auburn in the 90s, but since then, just coaching. He went to Akron and did lift that losing team to 2 bowl in his 7 seasons, but that program wanted more and has since then won in 4 seasons just 1 more game (total 5 with 2 coaches) than Bowden won in his last season there (4). I'm telling this, to get a view on Bowden. Now let's face ULM. The best season the program had in a long time was 2012 with 8 wins. Then it did decline again. The coach prior Bowden had his best season 2018 with 6 wins. When Bowden took over the team had a season before (2020, corona season) ZERO wins. Bowden got 4, 4 and 2. Sure, that's not fun, and maybe it was time to change something, but this program will likely never get a constant winning coach. So, the betting is on, the NEXT coach might get worse.

And the firing of the so far last guy on the list is really sad, at least I think it is. Rick Stockstill was fired after 18 seasons with Middle Tennessee. He has won the Sun Belt in 2006 (his 1st season), went to the CUSA Championship game in 2018 (but lost) and went to a bow in 10 times of the 18 seasons and won 4 (The program did win 5 bowls, ever). His record with MTSU is 113–111. Just my point of view, but such a coach you do NOT fire. You find a solution fitting all interests, but you do not fire him. Well, good luck with the next guy, finding a better one.

With the conference championship games set, the Bubblewatch is over.
I can proceed right to the previews of the Championship Games ....
But before that the playoff rankings prior the Championship games were names.
Here the TOP 10:

College Football Playoff Rankings

#1Georgia12-0Will play #8 Alabama in the SEC Championship game.
#2Michigan12-0Will play #16 Iowa in the BIG10 Championship game.
#3Washington12-0Will play #5 Oregon in the PAC-12 Championship game.
#4Florida State12-0Will play #14 Louisville in the ACC Championship game.
#5Oregon11-1Will play #3 Washington in the PAC-12 Championship game.
#6Ohio State11-1No game.
#7Texas11-1Will play #18 Oklahoma State in the BIG 12 Championship game.
#8Alabama11-1Will play #1 Georgia in the SEC Championship game.
#9Missouri10-2No game.
#10Penn State10-2No game.

Now, we don't know how the committee will react for sure, but some stuff can be approximated from the past seasons.
First, if the top 4 teams do all win, they are in. No team, regardless the results in details, would drop a place or more by winning.
The fun starts, if one to four teams in the list do lose.
It actually starts already with the SEC Championship game. If Alabama wins, you should assume that the SEC Champ would jump right to te top 4, but if all others do win (and the PAC-12 game is even irrelevant, since either Oregon or Washington would be top 4 then) and Texas wins, Alabama, who lost against Texas during the season, could be outside the playoffs.
If Iowa wins, the real fun starts, since then the BIG10-Champ would not gain enough steam to jump into the playoffs Michigan would drop a few places and eventually Ohio State will get into the mix.
Same for a Louisville win, the ACC would be dead, and Ohio State would be in, maybe.
Texas is also important; they need some upset(s) and of course they need to win their game. Alabama as SEC champ and all others win? Texas has good chances, since that Alabama win will be much more worth in Texas schedule. A Louisville-upset? Texas will likely jump as BIG-12 Champ Ohio State. Likely, as BIG-12 Champ, Texas would be in line to get the next open seat, if one gets open by the ACC, the BIG10 or SEC.
And Ohio State at sixth place seems to be the only No-game-team, with a realistic chance to jump into the playoffs. Missouri and Penn State have no chance.
And the 'other' Championship participants did lose too often to make an impact on the final TOP 4 standings.

With that in mind ....


Fri. Dec 2
Pac-12 Football Championship Game
#5 Oregon vs #3 Washington

This is played in Las Vegas, so neutral site.
The matchup was expected since start of the season, but of course it could have gone completely different.
Both teams have met during the season once, mid-October in Seattle, where Washington did beat the Ducks 36:33.
That loss was the only one for Oregon, which ended the season with a 11-1 record, while Washington did stay undefeated at 12-0.
Both teams are led by 2-years-Headcoaches facing the situation of a Championship game on FBS-level for the 1st time.
Surpringly, at least for me, is Oregon the Vegas favorite by 9.5 points.
I could understand a few points, but that betting line means that Washington has almost no chance, which from my point of view is not true.
It will come down to the QB play and the defense of Washington.
I think Oregon has great tools to drive up the score, but if that Washington defense can stop the Ducks often enough and the Washington QB can do his thing, then is Oregon playing catchup the whole day.
Overall, I have problems with disregarding the Huskies, but the truth is, they were not as dominant as they were in the summer.
Will they lose?
I don't know.
But I think both teams are absolutely able to win here, it will depend on their defenses and who will make big plays.
I do believe in Washington, so ...
Huskies win.

Sat. Dec 2
SEC Championship Game
#1 Georgia vs #8 Alabama

This game is played on the home field of the Atlanta Falcons, neutral site.
UGA is favored by 6.0 points here, having not lost a single game since .... December 4th, 2021 in the SEC Championship game, later then avenged by winning the National Championship game, against Alabama. That's a 29-game winning streak since that loss. 12-0 of course this season.
Georgia did not look like they would three-peat their titles at the start of the season.
They won, but not really in a convincing way against mid-level teams.
But they did become better and are now in good shape.
Alabama on the other hand is 11-1 this season and that 1 loss might hurt them dealy later, as I did explain prior the previews.
They lost to Texas on 2nd gameday, at home, but did since them defend off all challenges, including that improbable win against Auburn last weekend.
I lean towards Georgia, since they did not look that valuable in the past few weeks, but I respect Saban and his team.
I expect a close match, can only pick one team, so ...
Bulldogs win.

Big Ten Football Championship Game
#2 Michigan vs #16 Iowa

Played in the Indianapolis Colts home dome, this is on neutral site.
The game itself is the most lopsided Championship game of all games this season, at least according to the betting line.
Michigan is favored ... take a deep breath ... by 23.5 points!
Some cupcake games had better lines then this between the 2 division winners.
LAST year, Michigan was favored by 16.5 points against Purdue ...
Let's make this short.
Iowa has a good defense, as it seems, since they did allow not so many points, but also a bad, bad, bad offense.
So any scoring by Michigan will be the doom of Iowa.
Iowa can only win, of they shut down Michigan, totally, and the Iowa defense carries the ball into the endzone.
Not gonna happen.
Wolverines win.

Other interesting games:

Fri. Dec 1
Conference USA Football Championship Game
New Mexico State @ #24 Liberty

Live did look like shit for the New Mexico State not long ago.
They were more or less forced to become an independent college in football and had bad seasons, 1 win, 2 wins, you name it.
Then Jerry Kill was hired, and he did transform the team to a winner within 1 season, the team got invited to join the CUSA and this season they can play for the Championship, the 1st season inside the CUSA and the 2nd season with Kill, with a 10-3 record.
Unfortune is, that Liberty did also join the CUSA and did respond to the HC change end of last season with a smile and ended the regular season perfect, 12-0.
The Aggies did lose only once inside the conference, against Liberty on the road in September by 2 scores.
The major question is now whether some stuff did change over the season that it's to expect a different outcome.
Well, at least the betting industry sees Liberty ahead, by 10.0 points.
I think New Mexico State did mature a bit better over the season, but as visiting team, I think they will have a hard time to win here, on the home field of Liberty.
I hope for a very close game, would not be surprised, if NMSU would pull an upset here, but overall I can't ignore the dominance of the Flames througout the season.
Flames win.

Sat. Dec 2
Dr. Pepper Big 12 Championship Game
#18 Oklahoma State vs #7 Texas

Played in the home of the Dallas Cowboys, this is Texas chance to go out of the BIG 12 with a BANG.
The Longhorns, 11-1 (only loss to Oklahoma) are 14.5-point favorite to win this.
No wonder, from my point of view, since the 9-3 Cowboys did lose to South Alabama, Iowa State and UCF.
Their biggest win was likely the game against Oklahoma, which they won by 3 and did lift the team in direct compare over the Sooners to play here.
Otherwise, the other leaving team, Oklahoma, would have played here.
There is not much in favor of Oklahoma, except, if they klick, they klick fantastic and can score often.
But that did not happen very often this season.
I think Texas will expose their weaknesses fast and will win big.
Longhorns win.

MAC Football Championship Game
Miami (OH) vs Toledo

This is play on the home field of the Detroit Lions in Michigan, neutral site.
Miami (OH) is 10-2 this season and lost only once inside the MAC, against Toledo in October by 4 points.
Toledo is 11-1 so far and lost not a single game inside the MAC and did only lose the season opener against Illinois.
The betting line is Toledo -7.5 and it's very realistic that Toledo will win their 2nd title in 2 years.
Last season I did pick against the Rockets and they won, this season I will pick them and we will see, how that will serve them. Haha.
Rockets win.

Mountain West Conference Football Championship Game
Boise State @ UNLV

This game is played on the home field of UNLV, which is also the home field of the Las Vegas Raiders.
The matchup came to be, because 4 computers did value in average those 2 teams higher than the 3rd place San Jose Spartans.
It will be interesting to see, whether they keep those tie-breaker-rules after this season, but fine, this year it is as it is.
Boise State did play also last year in the finale (as 3.5 favorite) but lost to Fresno State.
This season they are again the favorite, by 2.5 points.
Their record is 7-5 and 3 weeks ago it did not even look like they would make it. But they won against New Mexico, fired their HC, and then won 2 crucial games in a row to get here.
UNLV on the other hand is 9-3 but lost last week against those left-out-Spartans.
Can Boise State really flip the script and win this against the much more successful team? Could be, I say.
That firing of the HC did at least not throw the team in chaos.
But UNLV did so far prove they can play, their only bad spot was really that loss last week.
Was that the start of a decline or just a booboo?
I pick the Rebels for a win in a close game, since they play at home, hopefully know what is at stakes and get into the game highly motivated.
Rebels win.

American Athletic Conference Football Championship Game
SMU @ #22 Tulane

Tulane got the home right by winning all games, expect that one game against Ole Miss in September.
SMU is 10-2 and lost only to TCU and Oklahoma, also in September.
Obviously, both teams did not meet during the season, hence their perfect record inside the conference.
Tulane as ranked defending champion is favored at home by 4.0 points, which shows me, the betting industry does not really trust the Green Wave.
And when you look at all the games of Tulane in the past few weeks, none of them were dominating wins.
So, SMU, which had also some good wins and close wins, really has a chance.
The ESPN community sees SMU 72.5% ahead, which is a bit surprising.
It's not like Tulane has lost some crucial players.
I will pick here the home team, since there is no reason to believe, Tulane will not come out prepared.
Sure, SMU has a chance, and any winner will be no surprise, but Tulane has proven they can win, no reason to not trust them here.
Green Wave win.

Hercules Tires Sun Belt Conference Football Championship Game
Appalachian State @ Troy

Troy earned the home rights with their better conference record of 7-1 (10-2 overall). That's the same record by the way, they had last year, when they won the Championship game.
Appalachian State did get here, since James Madison, the clear division champion, is not allowed to play in the Championship game, thanks to their 2-year transition from FCS to FBS.
Not sure WHY such a rule exists, but it's there.
But the Mountaineers did win against JMU 2 weeks ago, which gave them the 1 win more compared to other contenders and led to that 6-2 conference record (8-4 overall).
Troy lost to James Madison, early in the season, App State did lose to Coastal Carolina and Old Dominion.
The Tojans are favored by 6.5 points and I'm willing to pick them.
The Mountaineers has really some impressive results lately, and I would not be surprised if they win here, but Troy at home is a force.
So, if App State want the title, earn it.
Trojans win.

ACC Championship Game
#14 Louisville vs #4 Florida State

They play inside the Carolina Panthers home stadium, neutral site.
Florida State finally got their team back on a high level, did beat their nemesis of the past decade, Clemson, on the road on OT, did win all other games to have a 12-0 record.
Now they are just this game away from a playoff spot and of course the ACC Championship.
But there is Louisville. They have a 10-2 record and lost only to Pittsburgh (for whatever reason) and Kentucky.
Sure, FSU is favored here, but just by 2.5 points.
Likely, because they lost their starting QB and it's not really clear, how they will go with that backup.
They did win against rival Florida last week, but the Gators have some problems this year, so not sure they are a good compare to Louisville.
With Louisville, I was disappointed by their loss last week against Kentucky.
This game is wide open from my point of view.
FSU is deep talented; Louisville played great games during the season and did stun several favored teams.
I do lean here towards Louisville, since that QB situation is bad for FSU, but I might underestimate the Seminoles.
Cardinals win.

Fun sidenote, the ESPN playoff predictor does say, if all my picks do come to be, Georgia vs Texas and Michigan vs Washington.

That's it for this week.

'Til next time

Rating (2 users):

Tags: Block of Granite

 Share on Facebook  Share on Twitter