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2022-12-07 07:57

And we are almost done and had some surprised even on the last gameday.

Let's start with the review, since those Championship games were basically the (almost) whole gameday.

The BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 14

Fri. Dec 2
Pac-12 Football Championship Game presented by 76
#11 Utah vs #4 USC

This started off the Championship games (with the CUSA game also) on Friday and I did say I would not be surprised by any name, but at the end I was surprised on the score.
Until halftime this was an open game, Utah did trail a bit, but when the 2 teams did split, the game was tied at 17.
Then came the 3rd quarter, in which Utah did score a TD and USC did not score at all.
But only 7 points behind, right?
Well, with the last drive in the 3rd quarter did Utah march over the field and capped the drive with a field goal on the 1st play in the 4th quarter.
Still, only 10 behind, USC can do it, right?
Well, they scored a TD, but were unable to prevent the answering score by Utah and then USC did throw the ball away for an INT.
Utah scored on the ensuing drive and USC did ... fumble the ball away.
Utah did score again, and the game was over, even the Trojans did try to do something in the last 2 minutes.
The Utes defended their Championship title in a big way and the Trojans lost a big chance, since they dropped out of the playoff TOP 4 ranks.
#11 Utah 47 vs #4 USC 24 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 25-12

Sat. Dec 3
Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game
#10 Kansas State vs #3 TCU

Most parts of this games 1st half I did watch but had to skip afterwards.
I did see 2 aggressively playing teams, but TCU did lack the willing to find the targets.
Kansas State did lead 14-10 at the half, thanks to their own faults. The lead could have been higher.
The 3rd qaurter was again filled with missed opportunities by Kansas State, the did force a fumble, but were unable to convert anything out of it on the next drive.
Later they forced an INT and then they scored a TD to have a comfortable lead.
But then TCU got back into the game and with less than 2 minutes to play the games was suddenly tied.
Kansas State got the ball but was unable to do something and the game went to OT.
TCU got the ball and came to the Kansas State 1 yard line.
But the KSU defense did stuff the 2 running tried (the last was 4th down) shorter the goalline and kept the Horned Frogs scoreless!
Kansas could have just kicked a field goal (if they make it) and win, but did try to advance the ball to make the kick easier.
And they did make some yards and at the end, they won the BIG 12 Championship with a 31 yarder.
TCU at that moment down, they could have dropped out of the TOP 4 playoff ranks on top, but thanks to the USC loss and any alternatives, TCU did keep their spot as 1-loss-team.
#10 Kansas State 31 vs #3 TCU 28 (OT) -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 25-13

SEC Championship Game
#14 LSU vs #1 Georgia

This went basically almost as expected.
LSU had shown some spirit and DID beat Alabama, but they did also lose some crucial games, so I expected a well-managed win by Georgia.
I did not expect Georgia to lead 35-10 at the half.
LSU did show a bit in the 2nd half, but WAY too less to get that game turned around, especially because they were unable to prevent additional Georgia scores.
At the end did Georgia win convincingly by 20 points and is of course now as SEC Champ #1 in the playoff rankings.
#14 LSU 30 vs #1 Georgia 50 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 26-13

Big Ten Football Championship Game
Purdue vs #2 Michigan

Until halftime some might have thought Purdue can stay in the game.
At one point they did even lead by 3.
But Michigan came out of the locker room and scored a TD, stuffed Purdue and scored again.
The 2nd score by just 2 plays.
And BOOM Purdue was behind by 15 points, did throw an INT afterwards and did score only field goals after that.
And they were unable to prevent 2 more Michigan TDs.
You don't need to be an expert to know that this is a bad combination.
Michigan won by a mile and is ranked as BIG 10 Champion at #2 in the playoffs.
Purdue 22 vs #2 Michigan 43 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 27-13

Other interesting games:

Fri. Dec 2
Ryan Conference USA Football Championship Game
North Texas @ UTSA

A big 2nd quarter did lift UTSA to a comfortable lead and at the end did the Roadrunners win the CUSA (again) by a score of 48-27.
An unfortune side effect is, that North Texas did fire the HC afterwards, even he did finish inside the Championship game ... Hmmmm.
Jacks interesting games Score: 26-19

Sat. Dec 3
Rocket Mortgage MAC Championship
Toledo vs Ohio

Well, Ohio did let me down.
The game was close, no doubt, but as home team, I would expect more than playing catch up for most of the game.
A score by Toledo late in the game did seal the Championship for the Rockets with a score of 17-7.
Jacks interesting games Score: 26-20

American Athletic Conference Football Championship Game presented by RoofClaim.com
#22 UCF @ #18 Tulane

Tulane did play a good 1st half and a terrific 2nd half to win the American Conference with a great score of 45-28.
BIG win for Tulane and they will play in a BIG Bowl because of that also.
I'm happy for them.
Jacks interesting games Score: 27-20

Hercules Tires Sun Belt Football Championship
Coastal Carolina @ Troy

I would love to know how much the coach contract talks have an impact in the performance on the field.
Coastal Carolina did lose the game, later they lost their winning coach to Liberty.
But they already found a successor. Man, that was fast.
Troy did win the Sun Belt with a big game, 45-26.
Jacks interesting games Score: 28-20

Mountain West Conference Football Championship Game
Fresno State @ Boise State

Oh man, another disappointing result, this time Boise did suck at home.
Quite close, but low scoring, until the end of the 3rd quarter was Boise still playing catch up and did not look good.
Going into the 4th did Fresno State then score a TD and Boise tried to make things happen and did throw an INT afterwards.
The Bulldogs scored again and at the end won the Mountain West 28-16.
Jacks interesting games Score: 28-21

Subway ACC Championship Game
#9 Clemson Tigers vs #23 North Carolina

Funny how far loyalty does go.
The Clemson coach did say prior the game their starting QB will be the starter, after he had shown several bad games and the backup did play better, sometimes even did win on a comeback.
Well ... the starter DID start but did play only a few plays and then the backup came in and won the ACC-Championship game with a great performance, 39-10.
Maybe the team would still be in the playoff mix, if THAT decision would have been made a few weeks ago.
Better luck next time.
Now that former backup guy is set as starter for the bowl, which led the Junior former starter to announce his transfer willingness.
Not sure it will help him, but likely better than sit out the last season, since it is unlikely he will leapfrog the bowl-starter again and if he want to go to the NFL he needs tape material from his senior season.
Jacks interesting games Score: 29-21

Other scores:
There were only 2 other games on that day, New Mexico State had a game against Valparaiso (FCS) and won 65-3. That win does not count against the bowl eligibility, since NMSU did already win against a FCS team during the season, but the team got a waiver from the NCAA, because of the postponed game from San Jose State. And they got a bowl spot at the end.
The 2nd game was Buffalo winning against Akron 23-22, also a postponed a game, but here in original setup. Buffalo by that also at 6 wins, will play a bowl.

What's left is the Army-Navy game, this season also called the pillow fight in uniform, the one-gazillion-bowls and the college football playoffs, featuring the TOP 4 teams named by a committee to play for the National Championship.
We might see a change of format in 2024, but the ink is not on paper yet.

So, how did the playoff teams selection process work out (also known as let's play a season and then let some strange people decide who was best).

The TOP 4 teams on the final list are

#1 Georgia Bulldogs - SEC (13-0, won SEC Championship game)
#2 Michigan Wolverines - BIG10 (13-0, won BIG 10 Championship game)
#3 TCU Horned Frogs - BIG 12 (12-1, lost BIG 12 Championship game)
#4 Ohio State Buckeyes - BIG10 (11-1, had a BYE, did sneak in, since USC did lose and the next option below Ohio State would have been 2-loss-Alabama)

That leave the semi as
Georgia - Ohio State
Michigan - TCU

TCU is the only team which was not rated TOP 10 in week 4, which I said earlier in my blog is a 90%+ chance for the National Champion to emerge from.

Before I start the last preview, some additional coaching news.

Liberty did fill the void on the HC position with Coastal Carolinas Jamey Chadwell. He was 5 years at CCU (1 season as interims HC) and has a record of 39-22.
He won the conference 2020 and made it to the championship game this season.
In the past 3 seasons he was one of the coaches with most wins.

Coastal Carolina did not wait long and hired Tim Beck, a long-time coordinator veteran, serving as OC for many teams, last for NC State since 2020.

As said already did North Texas fire their HC Seth Littrell after 7 seasons, in which he has a record of 44-44, won the conference or got to the championship game twice (2017 and 2022) but failed to win the conference. He lost all bowl games the team was invited to. Sure, not THAT great as summery, still the team did improve over the past 2 seasons. Well, looks like it was not enough.

Florida Atlantic tried their next splash as HC, again hiring a 'failed' HC from power 5 schools, this time Tom Herman, former HC of Houston and Texas.
Not sure how he will perform, but my gut feeling is, he will turn out better than Taggart, his predecessor.

Texas State found their guy in G. J. Kinne, right now still the HC of a FCS program, Incarnate Word, who are right now in the quarterfinals of the FCS Championship playoffs.
He is quite young, 34, and did serve as Coordinator only for 2 seasons and has his 1st HC gig at Incarnate Word, with this season his 1st season, also.
So this could be a gold mine, or a bust.

Tulsa hired Kevin Wilson, the OC of Ohio State, as new HC. he is 60+ and a longtime coordinator and was also a HC once for Indiana for 6 seasons, with a record of 26-47. He had a strange leave there, signed a contract extension in 2015, but left 2016 because of different opinions on, well, something, as it seems. Since then, he was with Ohio State.

UNLV has hired Barry Odom, the Arkansas DC, as HC. He was a HC once, with Missouri, and had a record of 25-25. He was fired after the 2019 season, which was a rollercoaster season, starting with a loss having won 5 straight then, losing 5 straight afterwards and winning the last one (ironically against Arkansas).

A quite known name, but not from coaching, is UABs new HC, Trent Dilfer. The former Superbowl winning QB with the Ravens (who was released afterwards) did coach a high school /college preparatory school team the past 3 seasons. This season they won the state championship in Tennessee. Again, a bold move, since he has no experience in all the processes and so on, but you never know.

And Colorado did make also a splash in the coaching search, hiring former NFL defense standout and the past few seasons HC of Jackson State, Deion Sanders. Sanders won in the past 3 seasons 2 times the conference, 2021 and 2022, and his record is 27-5, not done yet, since the team will play in a FCS bowl also, going in this season undefeated.

In the shock wave of that came the news that Kent State does lose his HC Sean Lewis after 5 seasons to Colorado, where he will serve as OC. Now that's a BAD news for such schools, since it shows that coordinator jobs on some (well, many power 5 schools) become more interesting than being the main man at a small group of 5 school. This trend will likely continue, since the power 5 schools will get a lot of dollars in the future, while many smaller group of 5 schools will not increase their budgets in the same type of speed. Sean Lewis had limited success at Kent State with an overall record of 24-31, but did OK I think, since the school is not known for winning many games since a decade and Lewis did lift the win total at least to the bowl barrier, sometime a bit higher, sometimes lower, like this season.

But on the other hand, it is not all fine and shine for power 5 schools since Louisville lost THEIR HC Scott Satterfield to Cincinnati, where he will be the next HC. The Bearcats might be in a unique position here, since they are top of the class inside the American conference and will also BECOME a power 5 school next season. Still, Satterfield was in a good position, did win with the Cardinals (even not THAT much) and decided to leave. I was surprised, but if you put all stuff on the table, it's not THAT surprising.

And so long the last news is South Florida hiring Tennessee OC Alex Golesh, who severed the Vols the past 2 seasons as OC. He has now experience as HC, is still young, 38, but did see actions as position coach and OC on several schools.

So much for coaches changes until Tuesday.

That brings us to the last playable regular season game.

The BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 15

Sat. Dec 10
Navy @ Army
This season this is a quite even match, on a lower level.
Army has the lowest win total since 2019, where they had also 5, but this season (5-6 so far) they could actually get to 6, if they win here. That would still not be enough to become bowl eligible, since they had 2 wins against FCS teams, and they would have needed in this case 7 wins total minimum.
Navy is since 3 seasons on a bad trip, they had 2019 11 wins, but dropped to 3 in 2020 (COVID-19 season) and did not recover since, posting 4-8 in 2021 and 4-7 in 2022. A win in this game would help to show some progress, but still, no bowl this season for sure.
The Commander-In-Chief-Trophy? Already awarded to Air Force, since both teams here did lose to them, in close games.
So what's left then?
I guess it's pride and the usual marketing the troops stuff.
The series has so far 122 games and Navy leads, 62–53–7, including winning last year.
It's played this season on the home field of the Philadelphia Eagles, on neutral site.
Army is favored by 1.5 points and the community is basically split in half on the results, which did also reflect my thoughts at first.
Both teams did not really show good football the whole season.
Both teams did show inconsistence.
Navy for example did lose to a FCS team at season start and did almost beat Notre Dame late in the season and won a week later against American Championship game participant UCF, but 2 weeks before, against Cincinnati, they did lose.
Army did lose against a lot of weaker teams, like Georgia State, but won against the resurrected UConn (who won against Liberty and Fresno State for example).
Overall, it seems that Navy did lift their level of playing a bit towards the end of the season, even they are still inconsistent, while Army did lose all games against better teams, and won most of the time against pushovers.
So, I'm leaning a bit towards Navy to win the 2nd time in a row here.
The game will be pumped up, it will be loud and intense.
Last season Army was favored by more than a score and lost.
This season it's almost even and we will likely see a close game.
Midshipmen win.

'Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

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2022-11-30 07:52

Oho, that was a nice rivalry week, with some surprising results, which could lead to chaos in the playoff seat selection process, or not, depended on the upcoming Championship games.

Let's start with the reviews of last weekend’s games.

The BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 13
Sat. Nov 26
#3 Michigan @ #2 Ohio State
This was good game, which stayed interesting until the 4th quarter.
Both teams did throw punches and took the lead at some point.
Ohio State did lead 20-17 at the half, which was closer than expected, I think.
Then Michigan came out of the locker room and scored on the 1st drive to take the lead and then the 3rd quarter became a defense battle.
Until Michigan got the ball late in the 3rd quarter and orchestrated a drive, which swapped over into the 4th, and which was sealed with a TD.
Now Ohio State was behind by 11 points.
But they were unable to deliver an answer.
They scored a field goal a bit later, but in the next drive the whole defense of the Buckeyes collapsed, and the star RB of Michigan did score on a 75-yard run.
NOW Ohio State, playing at home, was in deep trouble. They started a drive and got intercepted on the Michigan 8-yard line.
That was basically already the final shot, but Michigan gave the ball on 3rd and 3 on their own 15 again their star RB and he went through the line like being a glowing hot butter knife and that DL of Ohio State being melted butter already.
Untouched for 85 yards.
The Buckeyes lost the most important game, at home.
What brings the future now?
Michigan wins the division, perfect, and plays Purdue for the BIG 10 Championship.
Ohio State has lost 1 game, this game here, and will lurk around in the playoff rankings behind the other unbeaten teams.
If something happens, means the underdogs win in the Championship games, Ohio State could sneak into the TOP 4.
If not, they will play for sure one of the biggest bowls available outside the semis.
#3 Michigan 45 @ #2 Ohio State 23 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 23-11

#12 Oregon @ #23 Oregon State
It must be a great day to be a Beaver.
This program is overlooked most of the time, they were bad for many seasons and this year, they were able to not only win the game, they did also deny the Ducks a spot in the Conference Championship game by that.
At 1st the game was open, both teams did lead at some point.
Halftime score 14-10 Ducks. Not really a surprise.
The did the Beavers made errors, turnovers, which gave the Ducks an extensive lead by 21 points!
But the Beavers did stay in the game, scored a TD on their next drive, held the Ducks for a field goal and scored a TD again.
Now down by 10.
The Beavers defense came up and forced a fumble, Oregon State recover and scored a TD on the next drive.
The Ducks started a drive, and it did look OK, but were stopped after 6 plays with a go for it on 4th and 1 on their own 29.
The Beavers scored AGAIN after 4 plays and took the lead!
Now the Ducks did need a good drive and they did deliver, went down the field and were on 4th and goal on the Beavers 3-yard line.
The pass attempt did fail, and the Platypus Trophy went to the Beavers, including the good feeling as described.
The Ducks had all the bad luck available and fell out of the Conference Championship game by that loss and will play one of the bigger bowls, as will the Beavers.
#12 Oregon 34 @ #23 Oregon State 38 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 24-11

#18 Notre Dame @ #7 USC
The score is not telling the real story, since Notre Dame was able to score in garbage time a bit.
The truth is, USC did outplay Notre Dame from the beginning onwards.
The Irish did not play well in the 1st half, trailing 7-17 at the half, and become worse in the 2nd half.
Turnovers and bad execution did limit them to play catch up the whole game and they failed.
At the end USC won by a great performance, which will give them a boost in the playoff standing.
Next up for USC is a rematch in the Conference Championship game, which will be tough.
And Notre Dame will snack some mid-level to high-level bowl spot, depended on the results next week and which spots are available.
They are still ranked, so likely a bigger one.
#18 Notre Dame 27 @ #7 USC 38 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 25-11

Other interesting games:

Tues. Nov 22
Bowling Green @ Ohio
Ohio made no prisoners and did beat Bowling Green in stile 38-14, which makes them a favorite to win the MAC.
Both teams can hope for bowl spots, even they will be only mid-level to low-level.
Jacks interesting games Score: 24-15

Fri. Nov 25
#21 Tulane @ #25 Cincinnati
What a bad day for Cincinnati.
They had to play with their backup QB in a win or die game and lost after a nice comeback, because their offense was unable to get drives done, when needed most.
The Bearcats lost, 24-27, which gives Tulane the hosting spot for the American Championship game and Cincinnati can wait on a bowl invite.
On top they also lost their very successful HC, who accept a spot on a BIG 10 school.
To be fair, the HC did stay longer than anyone did anticipate, when it became clear he shaped a winning team.
Still, losing such a coach is always sad.
Jacks interesting games Score: 24-16

Nebraska @ Iowa
Well, I can't figure out Iowa this season.
They play at home, they play a losing team under interims management, and they lose the rivalry game 17-24, after trailing 0-24 in the 3rd quarter.
Nebraska did hire now already a new HC, but the season is over.
Iowa waits on a bowl spot.
Jacks interesting games Score: 24-17

Sat. Nov 26
Kansas @ #15 Kansas State
Kansas State wanted the win and the spot in the Conference Championship game, and they got it.
They came out strong, lead 23-7 after the 1st quarter and then did cruise the lead to the end.
In the 2nd quarter it did look like Kansas could eventually turn the game around, but the Wildcats did answer with a 0-point allowed defense in the 3rd and won 47-27.
Kansas State will play TCU for the BIG 12 crown, Kansas will wait for a bowl spot, the 1st since a very long time.
Jacks interesting games Score: 25-17

#17 Washington @ Washington State
Washington had a lot on the line and delivered.
They did beat the Cougars 51-33 in the Apple Cup.
Because of some circumstances I will describe later, the Huskies won and did still not make the PAC 12 Championship game.
Bad luck.
Jacks interesting games Score: 25-18

Minnesota @ Wisconsin
Wel, that could have gone better for the interims HC of Wisconsin.
The Badgers had fired their regular HC after a 2-3 start and the interims HC did then lead the team to a 4-2 record after that.
The interims HC was on everybody’s list to eventually become the permanent one.
Then the Axe was on the line and Wisconsin did lose, 16-23.
That was the game to seal the deal and your team did suck, big time, at home.
Minnesota did score with less than 4 min. left and Wisconsin did throw an INT and almost allowed another FG by Minnesota AND sucked on the final drive.
The team was 1st and goal on the Minnesota 5-yard line.
You want the worst; you GET the worst!
1st play offensive holding -> 1st and goal on the 15.
2nd play false start -> 1st and goal on the 20.
3rd play incomplete pass -> 2nd and goal on the 20.
4th play false start -> 2nd and goal on the 25.
5th play false start -> 2nd and goal on the 30!
6th play incomplete pass -> 3rd and goal on the 30.
7th play complete pass for 5! yards -> 4th and goal on the 25.
8th and final play incomplete pass.
You want the job? You don't GET the job!
Both teams will play in a bowl game, Wisconsin has already selected a new HC, not being an interims HC anywhere.
Jacks interesting games Score: 25-19

Other scores:
Mississippi State won the EGG BOWL against Ole Miss 24-22. The Rebels HC was in the chatter for the Auburn job, but decided to stay at Ole Miss. Maybe the bad finish of 3 consecutive losses had an impact on that.
Florida State won the Sunshine Showdown against Florida in the highest scoring game since ever on that rivalry 45-38. A much-needed progress by the HC of the Seminoles.
NC State won against UNC 30-27 in OT. That had no impact on the ACC, except that UNC now lost 2 in a row before the Championship game.
Eastern Michigan won against Central Michigan 38-19 and won by that the Michigan MAC Trophy, played by CMU, EMU and WMU, for the 1st time since 2012. They also won a tie on the division title, even Toledo will play for the Championship.
Western Michigan did win against Toledo, which did cost the Rockets the unshared division title. They lost the last 2 games before the MAC Championship game.
Arizona won the rivalry game, the Duel in the Desert, against Arizona State, 38-35. They snapped by that a 5-game losing streak against the Sun Devils. For both teams the season is over, Arizona State has already hired a new HC.
Missouri did win the Battle Line Rivalry against Arkansas, 29-27. Missouri got by that bowl eligible. Both teams will play in bowl.
Georgia won the Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate rivalry against Georgia Tech, 37-14. GT did start strong but was toothless in the 2nd half. Georgia now on a 5-game winning streak in that game.
Texas A&M won against LSU 38-23. LSU now with 3 losses, which will end their bid for a playoff spot, even of they win the SEC.
Alabama did beat Auburn in the IRON BOWL 49-27. Auburn in search for a new HC, most chatted candidate is Liberty Hugh Freeze.
South Carolina has beaten Clemson 31-30 in the PALMETTO BOWL. South Carolina has snapped by that a 7-game losing streak and did likely kick Clemson out of the playoff considerations.
Utah did beat Colorado, 63-21 and did at the end win the 2nd spot in the PAC 12 Championship game! How that? I was sure they are out, but there was a slim, very slim, chance to still make it and all pieces came together. They needed to win, check, Oregon needed to lose, check. Washington needed to win, check. Why all this? Now we have a 3-team tie and direct compares are irrelevant. Then the conference opponents record is important (basically the strength of schedule) and here Utah had all the luck they needed, when UCLA did beat Cal on that last weekend, their conference record become higher than of Oregon and Washington (which had the lowest) and Utah sneaked into the 2nd place. Congratulation.
Kentucky did beat Louisville on the Governor's Cup, 26-13, extending their winning streak on the game to 4 in a row.
New Mexico State won against Liberty 49-14. Liberty with the worst game of the season, as it seems. NMSU in a strange position, now 5-6 with a postponed game against San Jose State. That game will not happen, the team will play FCS team Valparaiso. NMSU has already won against a FCS team this season, so technically the win won’t count against the 6-wins needed. But right now there are less teams eligible than bowl spots and the program seeks a waiver to play in a bowl, the team has not played in since ages.
James Madison did win against Coastal Carolina, 47-7. By that did James Madison basically co-win the division, but CCU will play in the Championship game, since JMU is not allowed for post season. Fantastic 1st season for JMU on FBS level.
Purdue did beat as expected Indiana 30-16 and got the Old Oaken Bucket and the division title to play in the BIG 10 Championship game.
Duke did beat Wake Forest 34-31. Duke with a great 1st season under the new HC, will go bowling. Wake Forest had a bad season as defending division title holder.
UNLV won against Nevada the Battle for Nevada, 27-22. They got the Fremont Cannon back after Nevada had is 2 seasons in a row.
Tulsa did beat Houston, 37-30. Houston overall with a disappointing season, but still bowl eligible.

That's that for week 13.

Let's have a look at the playoff contenders.

For the rules on the list, please look at the blog entry for week 5-7.

I did mark the week 4 TOP 10 teams with a ‘*’.

The playoff contenders on the list got slim, still a lot left for TOP 4 spots.

CONTENDERS
#1 * Georgia Bulldogs - SEC (12-0, won against Georgia Tech, next week against LSU in the SEC Championship game)
#2 * Michigan Wolverines - BIG10 (12-0, won against Ohio State, next week against Purdue in the BIG 10 Championship game)
#3 TCU Horned Frogs - BIG 12 (12-0, won against Iowa State, next week against Kansas State in the BIG 12 Championship game)
#4 * USC Trojans - PAC12 (11-1, won against Notre Dame, next week against Utah in the PAC 12 Championship game)

HOPEFULL
#5 (AP) * Ohio State Buckeyes - BIG10 (11-1, lost against Michigan, moved to HOPEFULL because they can't win the conference, but might sneak in as 1-loss team, if something happens, next week BYE)

ELIMINATED this week
Clemson Tigers - ACC (10-2, lost against South Carolina, now a 2-loss-team)

Now let's play some if-thens.
If all of the top 4 teams win, the settings are done, that's the easy case. 2 of the games are very narrow from the betting line point of view, PAC 12 and BIG 12, the others are double digits.
Now, what if USC loses, the rest is OK? I think Ohio State would sneak in, I don't believe that any 2-loss-team, like Alabama lurking at #6 or even Clemson, right now on #9 as potential ACC-Champ would jump Ohio State.
The same would likely happen, of TCU loses and USC wins.
Now, if BOTH lose? Ohio State in, sure, but then? I think TCU could get in, they are unbeaten und would have lost against a strong opponent. Or would the committee make an example and would put in the 1st 2-loss-team, likely NOT even a Champion on any conference, like Alabama?
I don't believe it.
As you can see, the if-then-scenarios do become complicated and even more, if we talk about Georgia or Michigan losing.
The good thing is, it usually does sort out OK, the rest is a problem for next week.

Conference Championship games are set, so the list of the conference standings vanishes here.

Before I start the previews, some coaching news.

Florida Atlantic did fire Willie Taggart after 3 seasons and a 15-18 record, including 5-7 this season. Taggart did rise in the ranks with good results at WKU and South Florida, but failed at Florida State, where he got fired after 2 seasons and now at FAU after 3 seasons, he is also history there. Not sure what his future will be, also open is, whom FAU will offer the HC job now.

Tulsa did fire Philip Montgomery after 8 seasons, with a 5-7 record this season and overall, 43-53. His best season was 2016 with 1o wins and a division title in COVID-19-season 2020.
Last season it did look like the team got a turnaround with 7 wins, but the drop in win total did seal his fate. It was his 1st HC gig.

And Texas State did fire Jake Spavital after 4 seasons with the team. He managed to get 4-8 this season and overall, 13-35. It was the 1st HC job for Spavital.

On Monday did then Western Michigan fire their HC, Tim Lester, after 5 seasons with the team. His record this season was 5-7, overall, 37-32. The problem was likely, that after last season’s 8-5 the drop in production was too much and the programs expectations were much higher, this season.

Also on Monday was Marcus Arroyo let go at UNLV. Honestly, I don't understand it, he took over a program which posted a record of 4-8 under his predecessor, had in 2020, his 1st season, under COVID-19-conditions, zero wins, extended it to 2 wins in 2021 and to 5 wins in 2022. He did even win the rivalry game against Nevada. So, a bad team, had at least a tendence for improvement, but he was let go. Strange.

Then did David Shaw calls it quit at Stanford after 12 years, likely to solve the uncomfortable situation the program was in. Stanford had a 3-9 season this year, and Shaws overall record with the team is 94-54. As you can see, he was successful with the team, in fact, he won 3 time the conference and several times more the division, but since 2019 the program is 10-28, which nobody can ignore. I think all hoped for a turnaround, but it did not happen. Shaw leaves a program, wanting to win, but with a tradition of being a losing team.
He was in discussion for an NFL job often, not sure the results of last few seasons did help.

Now we get to the spots filled, but the 1st one did already open another one.
Luke Fickell leaves Cincinnati, as written above and did accept the job at Wisconsin.
He is a BIG 10 / Norther State guy and did wait until a good position came up.
He left a Cincinnati team which was the 1st to become a playoff team as group of 5 team, his team has won the conference twice and his record overall is 57-18, which is not too bad.
The job at Wisconsin will be demanding, expectations are high and the team did not deliver a conference title since 2012.

That leave Cincinnati right now open, the university had some great hires in the past, so we have to wait, what will come up.

And a second change was also announcing on Monday, Auburn DID hire Hugh Freeze away from Liberty. Freeze was the HC of Ole Miss before his Liberty gig, but had to leave, because ... it was discovered that he often called an escort service, which his described as 'misdialed', unfortunately, he misdialed quite often. Well, that did of cause not affect his hire at Liberty, a quite conservative, christian, school in Virginia, where he did lead Liberty to very successful seasons in their transition to the FBS. Now he can show, what he can do in Alabama.

Which of course leave Liberty’s HC position to be filled.

Charlotte found their guy with Biff Poggi, assistant HC of Michigan. The program will join the American next season, so the team will be in big transition. It's his 1st HC job.

Nebraska made splash hire by getting Matt Rhule as new HC. Rhule was the HC of at Temple and Baylor and then shifted in 2020 to the NFL to become the HC of the Carolina Panthers. He was let go after 5 games this season and everyone was asking whether he will step into any ring this season. Well, he did and has a big challenge ahead of him, since Nebraska did look uncoachable for the past 5+ seasons and the demands are high, and the environment seems to be bad. Rhule might step into this and will turn things around easily, or he will suffer, we have to wait.

And Arizona State did hire Kenny Dillingham, Oregons OC and QB coach. It's his 1st HC gig, so it will be open, how that program with open NCAA investigations will perform.

One great news is, at least I think it is, Brent Key, who was named interims coach at Georgia Tech after a 1-3 start and who guided the team as such to a 4-4 record including 2 upsets against ranked teams, was named the real deal on Tuesday. I think he deserves the position and has shown that interims coaches CAN make a difference.

So much for coaches changes until Tuesday.

Now let's have a look at the games next week, of which the most are Conference Championship games.


The BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 14

Fri. Dec 2
Pac-12 Football Championship Game presented by 76
#11 Utah vs #4 USC

This is played in Las Vegas, so neutral site.
USC is favored by 3.0 points; the community thinks roughly 66% Utah will win.
Utah did play a good season, lost only 3 times, at Florida in week 1, UCLA on the road mid-season and at Oregon 2 weeks ago.
They DID win against USC at home mid-season in a high scoring game by a single point on a bold 2-point-conversion.
USC did therefore lose against Utah once, which was their only loss of the season.
I think everyone knows that rematches are often very tough and hard to predict.
Based on the results and the season I think this will be again a close game and both teams can win.
Since I have to pick a winner, I go with USC in this case, because they have the rematch, it seems the team go better together and Utah did show it can lose, especially on an away game.
Yes, it's neutral site, but it's also NOT at home.
I will not be surprised by any name as a winner but pick USC.
Trojans win.

Sat. Dec 3
Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game
#10 Kansas State vs #3 TCU

I think this is TCUs game to lose.
The majority expects TCU to win, the betting line is TCU -2.5.
So it's not THAT clear TCU will win this.
It's played in the home stadium of the Dallas Cowboys, neutral site.
Kansas State lost 3 games during the season, one against Tulane early in the season, which is still a mystery for me, at TCU by 10 points mid-season and 2 weeks later against Texas at home by 7. They did win 3 straight since then, earning by that the spot in the game with a win more than any other team had.
Beside TCU, which went perfect the whole season.
They were close a defeat against Oklahoma State, but won in 2 OTs, had a nice comeback against Kansas State and had that sensational quick field goal try against Baylor to get the win there.
For me that showed heart and discipline on the team, so TCU will come out focused and Kansas State will need all they have to stay in the game.
Also here, I would not be surprised to see Kansas State actually winning this, but TCU is for me just the better team.
The key will be how the teams will perform on the field on that day (what else of course you ask), meaning you never can anticipate day form and the dynamics of a game.
TCU can win, Kansas State can win, but I believe the Frogs will get away with the title in a not so close one.
Horned Frogs win.

SEC Championship Game
#14 LSU vs #1 Georgia

This game is played on the home field of the Atlanta Falcons, neutral site.
Well, with LSU losing the last game and having now a 9-3 record, 6-2 inside the conference, it's clear that Georgia with 12-0 as perfect team is favored by 17.5 points.
Not the amount, but it's clear they are highly favored.
Georgia was close losing a game only against Missouri, which was roughly in the 1st half of the season.
They rest was not always a 50-burger, but the team did manage their lead carefully and avoided late game comeback attempts.
One thing is clear, if Georgia has to air it out, they will be in trouble, since the QB is OK, but not THAT star you would expect on the #1 team of the country.
The running game is great, the defense wins the games.
LSU did show some toughness and willingness for risks, but did also show weaknesses, especially last week.
No wonder I will pick Georgia here.
IF LSU wins this, they of cause deserve it, but the playoff picture will make a lot of less sense.
Bulldogs win.

Big Ten Football Championship Game
Purdue vs #2 Michigan

I have to admit, I was surprised by the Michigan performance against Ohio State, after I saw them playing Illinois so bad a week before.
But they won, in a convincing way, and are clearly favored as perfect team, 12-0 overall, to win this game here.
Purdue had some struggles during the season, but came out as division champ, thanks to an easy schedule at the end of the season.
The Boilermakers have 8-4 overall and lost 3 games inside the conference, 6-3.
Most notable are end of October / start of November back-to-back-losses against Wisconsin and Iowa.
They saved the season likely with the win over Illinois the next week afterwards and have not lost since.
Vegas has Michigan ahead by 16.5 points and roughly 90% of the community thinks Michigan will win this.
Played in the Indianapolis Colts home dome, this is on neutral site.
Purdue will need to stop the run to win this, if they let the star RB and the o-line have their way, this will be a massacre.
Do I believe in Purdue?
No way.
Wolverines win.

Other interesting games:

Fri. Dec 2
Ryan Conference USA Football Championship Game
North Texas @ UTSA

UTSA is the defending CUSA Champ and did play almost perfect this season.
They lost 2 times in non-conference games, inside the conference they are unbeaten, including a close win against North Texas, mid-season.
North Texas is 7-5 and lost twice inside the CUSA, against UTSA and UAB.
The Roadrunners are favored by 8.5 points and 75% of the community sees them as the winner.
I have a hard time picking against UTSA, playing at home and with North Texas losing against UAB 2 weeks ago on the road.
So ...
Roadrunners win.

Sat. Dec 3
Rocket Mortgage MAC Championship
Toledo vs Ohio

Man, I'm surprised.
This is play on the home field of the Detroit Lions in Michigan, neutral site.
Toledo is 7-5 over the season, 5-3 inside the MAC and lost 2 in a row, did not play Ohio.
Ohio is 9-3, 7-1 inside the MAC and won 7 in a row.
The betting line is Toledo -2.5 and the community also sees Toledo ahead by 55%.
Why?
Sure, things can happen, but on paper did Ohio win against all the teams, Toledo lost to. The only exception is Kent State, which Ohio lost to in their 1st MAC-game, while Toledo did win against them.
Likely the story is that Ohio lost their starting QB 2 weeks ago, who was the leader of the MAC.
But the team did play against Bowling Green in a do or die match and WON, while Bowling Green did beat Toledo a week before to stay in the hunt.
So, I will not pick against Ohio here.
It might come different, but for me, the team did show spirit and strength and Toledo has to prove they can win against tough teams.
Bobcats win.

American Athletic Conference Football Championship Game presented by RoofClaim.com
#22 UCF @ #18 Tulane

Tulane got the home right by winning all games inside the conference except 1, against UCF, at home!
They are 10-2 overall and won the last 2, after that crucial loss against the Knights, which did look at that time, like a shift in momentum and Tulane would actually drop from the TOP 2 spots.
But Tulane did win the last 2 games against good opponents and made it as #1 seat.
UCF on the other side is 9-3 overall and inside the conference is 6-2, with losses against East Carolina on the road and Navy at home 2 weeks ago.
They won against South Florida to get to #2 and play in this game.
Roughly 60% of the community believes in Tulane and the betting line is in their favor by 3.0 points, which is not much.
I do expect a high scoring game and likely the momentum in the last quarter will decide the game.
This is tough for me to pick.
On one hand we have the rematch, which is hard, so Tulane, playing at home, should be in good position.
On the other hand, we have UCF already beaten Tulane, which is still hard to believe to be THAT good.
But I'm willing to pick the Green Wave, since they DID play good against Cincinnati, and they had a close one against UCF.
This time they win a close one.
Green Wave win.

Hercules Tires Sun Belt Football Championship
Coastal Carolina @ Troy

Troy earned the home rights with their better conference record of 7-1 (10-2 overall).
They were in a tie with South Alabama, but since Troy did win over the Jaguars, Troy got the ticket.
Coastal Carolina did also share the division title with a 6-2 (9-3 overall) record with James Madison, but here JMU got the direct compare to their favor, still CCU got the ticket, thanks to the post season ban on JMU, because of their transition to FBS.
Troy is favored by 10.0 points, and it would a bit be surprising seeing Troy losing this.
Coastal Carolina did show some weaknesses and is playing on the road.
Trojans win.

Mountain West Conference Football Championship Game
Fresno State @ Boise State

The game is played at Boise’s home turf, the blue so-called smurf turf.
That will give the 9-3 overall, perfect inside the conference Boise State a big boost for sure.
The Broncos have won against Fresno State this season already at home by 20 points.
So, I'm wondering, why the betting line is only at -3.5 for Boise?
Sure, the Bulldogs are 8-4 and 7-1 inside the conference, did only fall to Boise State inside the conference and did since then win, win, win.
I think we will see a closer game, but also a game where Fresno State will play catch up in Idaho.
Broncos win.

Subway ACC Championship Game
#9 Clemson Tigers vs #23 North Carolina

This feels like a bad matchup this season.
They play inside the Carolina Panthers home stadium, neutral site.
Clemson had all the hopes for playoffs and a great season, but their inconsistency at QB did cost them 2 games, 1 against Notre Dame and 1 against South Carolina.
Both not too bad, but 10-2 as ACC team is not enough to get into the playoffs, even perfect inside the conference.
I think Clemson will not get a spot, even if they win here.
UNC is 9-3 overall, but 6-2 inside the conference and they lost 1 against Notre Dame early in the season and then 2 in the last 2 weeks (Georgia Tech and NC State).
That does not sound too good.
On paper is Clemson much better.
If they find their plays and the QB can shine, this will be a Tigers win, big time.
78% of the community think Clemson and Vegas says Clemson -7.5.
That's fair.
But if UNC can play consistent through the game, and play aggressive to confuse the Clemson QB, they have a chance.
I'm right now not willing to bet against Clemson, but I would not be surprised to see them fall.
Tigers win.

That's it for the upcoming weekend.

'Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

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