2016-10-06 10:37

Well, there something brewing in the state of Texas and it might cost Strong his job.
Charlie Strongs hiring in 2014 was from my point of view an odd move at that time and it looks like his reign will end soon.
His record was in 2014 6-7, including a bowl loss, in 2015 it was 5-7 and 2016 is the team right now at 2-2 with 2 home wins against Notre Dame (in OT) and UTEP and with 2 losses against Cal and Oklahoma State, each on the road.
The offense does look good enough to score points, but the defense does look like a disaster and has given up 40+ points in 3 of the 4 games played so far.
Strong did show his support towards his long time defense coordinator (Strong had him also in that role at Louisville) after the Cal loss 2 weeks ago and after the Cowboys game that support was no longer possible to maintain based on public reactions and the result of the game, so Strong had to demote his coordinator and he will coordinate the defense on his own. A risky move.
They will play Oklahoma for the Red River Rivalry this weekend and a win might save Strong for a game or maybe even for the season, a loss might end his reign fast, even he got the support so far from the school, officially.
But you never know what's behind the scene, right?
Why was Strongs hiring odd at that time?
He was more or less the Anti-Mack-Brown, the opposite of the former Texas coach. Strong was not that kind of coach a media-hyped team as Texas usually needs. Strong does focus on football and on the team, not on the media and the fans.
That would have been accepted, if the results would have been there, but with a team in the mid levels and a bit below or above .500 the fans and boosters would love to see a bit more of Strong, not less.
I always wondered why they took him and not a former NFL coach or some other proven coach from a power5 team. They did NOT get all the hot coaches which were hired in the last 3 seasons by other teams. They got Strong, not Smart, Herman and so on.
Texas has (or at least HAD) that power and the checkbook to ice coaches lose and Charlie Strong did for me never made really sense in Texas.
He might fall hard (as hard as a Texas coach can fall when fired with a salary of 5 mio plus per season) and then Texas will has to take a look for the next coach, who cleans up the mess.

There is only a slim chance Strong will be on the sideline of Texas next season.
I think he would have to win all remaining games for that.
That's unlikely given the current state of the program, so better start thinking about a replacement.

Here is the updated list of the playoff contenders.

Based on last weeks results I 15 teams got the pink slip on my playoff list.
Out are Cincinnati, Duke, Syracuse, Illinois, Rutgers, Ball State, Central Michigan, Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Kansas since last week.
Most surprising name on that list is for sure Oregon, which did lose against Washington State and does have now 3 losses.
They might still be in the mix to win the PAC12 North, but do need a lot of help and even if they win the PAC12, a lot of teams need to lose all over the country to give Oregon a playoff spot.

Here are the 'remaining' teams for the playoffs. I expect the next few weeks to eliminate several more of those, fast.

Clemson Atlantic Coast Conference
Is now leading favorite to win the ACC

Miami Atlantic Coast Conference
Only unbeaten team in the Coastal, might fall soon

Baylor Big 12 Conference
At the moment with West Virginia the only hope for the Big12

West Virginia Big 12 Conference
At the moment with Baylor the only hope for the Big12

Maryland Big Ten Conference
Surprisingly unbeaten, believed to be an outsider

Michigan Big Ten Conference
Believed to be a favorite for the Big10

Nebraska Big Ten Conference
Is now in the driver seat to win their division

Ohio State Big Ten Conference
Believed to be a favorite for the Big10

Washington Pac-12 Conference
Now favorite for the PAC12

Alabama Southeastern Conference
Favorite to win the SEC

Tennessee Southeastern Conference
At the moment the favorite to win the SEC East

Texas A&M Southeastern Conference
Did play themselves into the leading contender against Alabama

Houston American Athletic
Favorite to win the AAC and believed to be the only group of 5 team to really have a chance to get a playoff spot

"In needs of a great goalline stand"
Louisville Atlantic Coast Conference
Needs now some help to win the division or conference, but has a quite easy remaining schedule

NC State Atlantic Coast Conference
So far better than expected, but an outsider

North Carolina Atlantic Coast Conference
Will play for the Coastal division

Virginia Tech Atlantic Coast Conference
Surprisingly good so far, but believed to be an outsider

Wake Forest Atlantic Coast Conference
Got now 1 loss, believed to outsider

Texas Tech Big 12 Conference
Not really a contender, outsider

Indiana Big Ten Conference
Got a major win this weekend, but still outsider

Wisconsin Big Ten Conference
Lost a tough game and needed now some help for the division

Western Michigan Mid-American Conference
Played good so far, could crash the party, at least for the Bowl spot as MAC Champ

Air Force Mountain West Conference
So far not really tested, outsider

Boise State Mountain West Conference
Did win some bigger games, favorite to win the MWC

Arizona State Pac-12 Conference
Got their first loss, still outsider

Colorado Pac-12 Conference
Surprisingly with only 1 loss, will be tested further

Utah Pac-12 Conference
Lost a game and needs help to win the division

Arkansas Southeastern Conference
Lost against Texas A&M, is still in the mix for the SEC West

Florida Southeastern Conference
Did struggle against Tennessee, will contend for the SEC East

Memphis American Athletic
Lost their first game, outsider

Navy American Athletic
Lost their game against Air Force, outsider

South Florida American Athletic
Will compete for the AAC

Tulsa American Athletic
Surprisingly lost so far only 1 time, outsider

"In need of a Hail Mary"
Boston College Atlantic Coast Conference
Is not done yet, but outsider

Florida State Atlantic Coast Conference
Now almost for sure eliminated, only outsider chances left, but can play major spoiler for other teams

Georgia Tech Atlantic Coast Conference
Not really a contender, outsider

Pittsburgh Atlantic Coast Conference
Will challenge UNC and Miami for the coastal division

Kansas State Big 12 Conference
Not really a contender, outsider

Oklahoma Big 12 Conference
Lost 2 crucial games, might be toast sooner than later

Oklahoma State Big 12 Conference
Lost 1 against a MAC team on a bad call, might slip back, but likely outsider

TCU Big 12 Conference
Is now in a worse position than last week, still not done yet

Texas Big 12 Conference
Is an outsider for the BIG12 and the playoffs

Iowa Big Ten Conference
Lost surprisingly and is only an outsider now

Michigan State Big Ten Conference
Lost another crucial game and are only outsider

Minnesota Big Ten Conference
Now lost their first game and might be gone soon

Penn State Big Ten Conference
Lost some close ones, will likely not survive against the favorites

Purdue Big Ten Conference
So far not really tested, outsider

Middle Tennessee Conference USA
Will compete for the CUSA

Southern Mississippi Conference USA
Will compete for the CUSA

Army FBS Independents
Is surprisingly still alive, outsider

Eastern Michigan Mid-American Conference
Is not done yet, but outsider

Toledo Mid-American Conference
So far not really tested, outsider

San Diego State Mountain West Conference
Will challenge Boise for the MWC

California Pac-12 Conference
Lost already 2 games, will likely fall fast

Stanford Pac-12 Conference
Lost against Washington and needs help now

UCLA Pac-12 Conference
Will play for the South division

Washington State Pac-12 Conference
Is not done yet, but outsider

Auburn Southeastern Conference
Is not done yet, but outsider

Georgia Southeastern Conference
Lost a heartbreaker against Tennessee, outsider

LSU Southeastern Conference
Is not done yet, but outsider

Mississippi State Southeastern Conference
Is not done yet, but outsider

Ole Miss Southeastern Conference
Is still in the mix for the SEC West, but only outsider

Georgia Southern Sun Belt Conference
A Sun Belt team as playoff candidate is VERY unlikely, outsider

Troy Sun Belt Conference
A Sun Belt team as playoff candidate is VERY unlikely, outsider

So still 64 teams on that list out of 128 and this will be a lot less in the next 3 to 5 weeks.
Some teams do have very hard schedules over the next few weeks, so they either rise in the rankings of will fall from grace sooner than later.

I had 15 games on my list as preliminary extract out of the upcoming weekend and it was not easy to toss 5 out of that list, so I kept them as XL-version. There are a lot of interesting games coming this weekend.

Let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 6

Sat. Oct 8 - 3:30 PM ET
#9 Tennessee @ #8 Texas A&M
This will be another game where Tennessee can show their maturity level.
After that Hail-Mary-win last week the team is ranked quite high for a team which did win several close games against not-top-level-teams.
But as long as they win, they will stay in the ranks on top.
Texas A&M had so far 2 signature wins, against UCLA and against Arkansas.
The results do just look a bit more convincing than the Volunteers results, which is likely the reason Vegas does see A&M ahead with 6.5 points.
I’m also in for the Aggies, but only for one reason, they did so far play good at home against good teams and this one looks like a sure tough game for Tennessee, where they might run out of luck to win games in the last minute which they better have won much earlier.
I think the real test of strength will come up for the Aggies next week against the Crimson Tide, this week they will hold of the Vols and will beat the spread.
Aggies win.

Sat. Oct 8 - 3:30 PM ET
#25 Virginia Tech @ #17 North Carolina
Very interesting matchup.
Both teams lost once so far, UNC against Georgia on season start and VT against Tennessee on week 2, so both teams are unbeaten in the ACC and will play here for an advantage in the division.
VT under new management is the underdog, even 2.5 points are not much, if you take the home field advantage of UNC into that calculation.
The Hokies were not really tested so far, beside the Vols game, so it’s a bit surprising they are just a few points behind UNC, which did win against Pitt and FSU.
I see the Tar Heels winning here. Virginia Tech has only one chance to win from my point of view, attacking the weak defense on every drive for a score. If UNC can stop them regularly, the UNC offense will take care of the business.
Tar Heels win.

Sat. Oct 8 - 7:00 PM ET
#1 Alabama @ #16 Arkansas
The spread is 13.5 points for Alabama, which is a huge number as favorite on a read game against a quite good Arkansas team.
Granted, Arkansas played only TCU and A&M as real test and won against TCU and lost against A&M, so for sure they look weaker than the perfect Crimson Tide, but 13.5 points on a road game?
I expect the Razorbacks to give the Tide a real test, but honestly I doubt they will win it. I just expect a closer game.
Crimson Tide win.

Sat. Oct 8 - 8:00 PM ET
#23 Florida State @ #10 Miami
This can be effected by the Hurricane which right now hitting Florida. So far the game is not canceled or shifted, so we will likely will see this happening.
But what will be see?
Florida State did start as a contender and has so far lost twice this season, against Louisville and UNC, which did send them to the pit of their division.
Miami on the other side, under new HC, did so far win all games, but was only tested a bit against Georgia Tech so far.
The game is a ‘U’-home game, so FSU will see a quite hostile environment and will have to deal will any side effect they will have to go through in traveling and so one because of the hurricane.
Those two things will be just add-ons to the FSU main problem, which is their weak defense.
Miami will likely be able to exploit those weaknesses and I have doubts FSU can score more than Miami.
Hurricanes win (team, not weather ;-) )

Sat. Oct 8 - 12:00 PM ET
Texas vs #20 Oklahoma
Last season something strange did happen.
Texas was bad, Oklahoma did look quite strong and when both teams did play the last season version of the RED RIVER RIVALRY, the Longhorns had ONE great game and Oklahoma had ONE really bad one. After the game did Texas sink back to mid level and Oklahoma won the Big12 and went to the playoffs.
This season did Oklahoma so far lose twice (Houston and Ohio State) and will have to regain the respect of the other teams, while Texas does look like the old 2015 version, with a bit more offense and less defense.
So what to expect here, RED RIVER RIVALRY 2016?
Vegas does expect a clear Sooners win, 10.5 points for Oklahoma is the spread.
Will the now by Strong managed defense make a difference against the Sooners?
I have big doubts regarding that.
Will both teams almost kill each other? Yes.
Will both teams play tough football? Yes.
Will Texas win against Oklahoma? Hmmm. No.
Because I see a big Oklahoma offense against a weak Texas defense and that will cost the game.
I think the Sooners will be able to keep Texas enough in check to dominate the game on offense and win the game.
Will Strong be coach after a loss? Likely yes. After a big loss? Probably.
Sooners win.

Other interesting games:

Sat. Oct 8 - 12:00 PM ET
LSU @ #18 Florida Gators
Vegas says LSU by 3, I say LSU has two ways it can go from here. Number 1 is a continuation of last weeks big win over Mizzou, Number 2 is a drop of performance because the energy of the new coach is spend. I pick Number 1.
Tigers win.

Sat. Oct 8 - 12:00 PM ET
Maryland @ Penn State
Maryland will have to show that they can win against the bigger teams. This might come back to me, but I think they can beat Penn State, which did not look strong enough on defense to prevent a lot of scoring against that high flying Terrapins team.
Terrapins win.

Sat. Oct 8 - 12:00 PM ET
Iowa @ Minnesota
Some do already question the Iowas HC early contract prolongation, but this is not how the University does work. Iowa is the 1.5 point favorite here and I think they will lose against a good Golden Gophers team.
Golden Gophers win.

Sat. Oct 8 - 12:30 PM ET
Georgia Tech @ Pittsburgh
Big game inside the ACC, Pitt has to take care of business to stay in the hunt. GT will need all they can offer to win here, which I think they won’t be able to deliver.
Panthers win.

Sat. Oct 8 - 3:00 PM ET
#6 Houston @ Navy
This is more an academical-game. Houston is the gazillion point favorite, BUT Navy plays at home and lost against Air Force last week. Houston might meet some angry soldiers this week. Still I don’t see them lose this.
Cougars win.

Sat. Oct 8 - 3:00 PM ET
Toledo @ Eastern Michigan
Toledo is a 17 points favorite here, which might be true based on the Eagles results last season, but this season they are so far quite good, so I can’t understand THAT spread.
I think Toledo will win this, but not with that spread. An Eagles win would be a sensation.
Rockets win.

Sat. Oct 8 - 4:00 PM ET
#21 Colorado @ USC
You know something did went wrong when a ranked opponent is the underdog against an unranked opponent. Colorado won all games so far, except against Michigan, USC did drop 3, still USC is the Vegas darling.
This is hard to pick, but I we might see an upset here.
Buffalos win (never thought to do this).

Sat. Oct 8 - 7:30 PM ET
#5 Washington @ Oregon
Last chance for Oregon to turn the season around. Washington has not won against Oregon since a million years, so we might see something special. My gut feeling says, Oregon has issues and will lose this.
Huskies win.

Sat. Oct 8 - 10:30 PM ET
UCLA @ Arizona State
UCLA looks in a better state than the Sun Devils, but the Devils had some power to win games they are not supposed to win. I’m bad in picking such games, but my gut feeling says, the Sun is shining for Arizona.
Sun Devils win.

Sat. Oct 8 - 10:30 PM ET
Washington State @ #15 Stanford
Stanford is a 1 score favorite here and I back that, but watch out, somehow is Mike Leach able to win such games and Stanford is a bit hurt. Still a home game, so I expect their Heisman hopeful do-it-all to shine.
Cardinals win.

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