2016-10-20 12:15

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Brand new info, the BIG12 did decide to stay at 10 teams for the next few seasons and decided to cancel the expansion talks.
Wow, that's a big news.
It seems they were not satisfied with the candidates and their individual cons.

I'm curious when the real reason will come out.
I'm pretty sure this is about money and I'm pretty sure it does involve Texas and Oklahoma.
That's my personal feeling, there is no real evidence for that, but given the history of the conference and the two mentioned teams, I can't help but have this feeling.

Here is my personal view on the situation.
The BIG12 has a major problem regarding the playoff system, which does only allow 4 teams to participate and in best case the 5 power5 conferences do have legit contenders as champs, so one champ is left out at least, each season. Could be even more if things happen or Notre Dame is very strong that season.
Now comes the BIG12 into play, with just 10 teams they did so far not play a conference championship game at the end of the season since they shrink to 10 teams.
Such a championship game is basically for every other conference a chance to boost the reputation of the champ a bit further, since 2 very good teams usually do face of in that championship game. Most of the time this is a ranked vs ranked game.
So while all other conferences did have a high quality extra game, the BIG12 teams have either a bye week or one game remaining on their schedule, which could be everything, from first vs second to first vs last.
Overall, the chances for the BIG12 to get jumped by the four other conferences champs are quite high. That happened in 2014, while in 2015 Oklahoma went to the playoffs, even after a Bye week, but the PAC12 had a quite bad season that year.
OK, the BIG12 will field a championship game again beginning next season, thanks to that NCAA rule change the conference itself did campaign for last season.
That is likely the reason for the cancelation of the BIG12 expansion progress, since now they can boost the champs reputation also at the end of the season, but whether this will really help the conference in the long run is open debate.
The BIG12 does lean on the TV contract which runs until somewhat 2023 or 2024, so there is no need to rush, but I'm not convinced the product BIG12 will be that good on the time of renewal compared to the other power 5 conferences.
Think about it from marketing point of view, having 10 teams representing the conference compared to 12 or even 14 teams.
Those bigger conferences just do reach more people, in more states and do overall create more drama over the season.
They can recruit better out of more states, making themselves compared to other conferences stronger and therefore more successful.
We now have 2016, so until 2023 there are 8 seasons under such conditions.
That will cost them, especially if the big names do not get into the national picture back fast, so Oklahoma and Texas. There are even rumors that this 2 teams might bold shortly before the renewal of the TV contract and that would mean the end of the BIG12.
Of cause has the conference a problem with expansion, because they can't recruit a power5 team away from the other conferences, they had to look at the non-power5-conference-teams and those do not have the standard as the BIG12 has right now.
My take on that is, CREATE it, BUILD it, PROMOTE it and then EXCEL on it.
But that would mean the conference has to INVEST and there is Oklahoma and Texas again, which so far never were willing to share much of the profits, so an invest is not on the table.
If I would be the BIG12, I would invite Memphis (building great facilities right know and is sponsored by FEDEX), Houston (reclaiming the local community back into BIG12 territory and good football team), UCF (big university and access to the Florida market) and Cincinnati (access to Ohio) and invest in those teams long term to make the BIG12 a powerhouse brand again.
This would also help the conference in traveling and would fit better with West Virginia as East team.
But it would mean a big invest towards those schools and that would cut the profits of Texas and Oklahoma (and some other schools of cause).
In the long run, it would benefit them, I think.
I think, that decision did more or less shut the door close for the BIG12 and we might see some major changes in the next 10 seasons coming, if the playing format and framework does stay as it is.
I think those four mentioned teams (and maybe some more) are too interesting to pass by, so I say, some conference will pick them up.
No conference is at 16 at the moment, the PAC12 is at 12 and lacks a bit, but would need West coast teams to join, so they will not make a play here, but the ACC or the BIG10 might be interested on the long run.
Just my thoughts.

Here are the 'remaining' teams for the playoffs.

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

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

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

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

"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

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

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

Utah Pac-12 Conference
At the moment back on top of their division

Florida Southeastern Conference
Lead their division at the moment

"In need of a Hail Mary"
Houston American Athletic
Lost against Navy, now has to wait for some help to get back on track

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

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

Miami Atlantic Coast Conference
Now lost twice, outsider

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

North Carolina Atlantic Coast Conference
Will play for the Coastal division

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

Virginia Tech Atlantic Coast Conference
Did lose against Syracuse, now in a big tie with all other contenders in their division, outsider

Wake Forest Atlantic Coast Conference
Now 2 losses, 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

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

Maryland Big Ten Conference
Lost now twice, outsider

Minnesota Big Ten Conference
Lost their second game, outsider

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

Wisconsin Big Ten Conference
Lost now two tough games, outsider

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

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

Arizona State Pac-12 Conference
Lost twice in a row, outsider

Colorado Pac-12 Conference
Lost twice now, outsider

Stanford Pac-12 Conference
Lost against Washington State, outsider

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

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

Auburn Southeastern Conference
Is not done yet, but outsider

LSU Southeastern Conference
Is not done yet, but outsider

Tennessee Southeastern Conference
Lost now twice, outsider

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

Added up these are 44 teams, 9 less than last week.
The interesting thing is, we saw a LOT of teams going from "In needs of a great goalline stand" to "In need of a Hail Mary" (from 13 in week 7 to 5 in week 8, so 8 teams out of that group lost last weekend), which makes that second level group of teams smaller than the current top level group.
This will change a bit this week, but overall the trend is so far to either make it unbeaten or break it with more than a one loss.
Inside that group of second level teams are also the two still unbeaten non-power5 teams, Boise State and Western Michigan.
Unfortunate for them so far is, that the 1-loss Houston team is right now higher ranked in the AP-polls than the two unbeaten teams.
Best chance for a playoff spot has from my point of view Boise State right now, ranked only 2 spots behind Houston in the polls, playing in the MWC and does also play BYU this weekend, which might help them to jump Houston at some point, if Boise stays unbeaten.
I think Western Michigan has only a very slim chance with their remaining schedule to get into the playoffs, or at least a spot in the big bowls.
But, I did read some arguments FOR Western Michigan, at least for that Bowl spot. The rule is that the highest rated Champion is selected and that journalist had the opinion that Houston will eventually not become champion and Boise State might drop a game of 2 and will fall in the ranks, while Western Michigan might win the Championship undefeated and then ranked highest get that Bowl spot.

With only around 6 games left to play, each week now will do proper damage to every self-confident contender losing a game.
Some teams will likely be only sorted out or put into the next lower level at season final or a week before, like Ohio State and Michigan playing traditionally on last gameday and also West Virginia and Baylor do meet by coincident only on the last gameday, so if they stay unbeaten, this will be a championship game.
There is a lot of room for possibilities and for sure things will change every week, so I decided to NOT make a conference-contender list at this moment already, since almost every team has the chance to win inside their conference, at least in theory.
But a few gamedays later the field of contenders will be down to a manageable since and such an overview does make sense.

Let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 8

Sat. Oct 22 - 12:00 PM ET
#10 Wisconsin @ Iowa
The Badgers lost last weekend in a very close game against Ohio State and this game against Iowa will be a make-it-or-break-it game for both teams.
Wisconsin can't afford to lose another BIG10 game, in fact they couldn't afford last weeks loss already , but if they lose this weekend again, their chances to win the division will be almost zero.
Same is almost valid for Iowa, with the small difference that Iowa so far only lost 1 BIG10 game.
But I think they are not well equipped to win against Wisconsin AND Nebraska, so if they lose against Wisconsin this weekend, they fate is almost clear, mid field of the division.
To make the game a bit more interesting it is played in Iowa, still the Hawkeyes are a 3.5 point underdog according to Vegas.
I think Iowa can only win, if their defense does score. The Badgers defense is very good and Iowa has so far not shown much offense power against good teams, so they need some help from the defense.
I can't imagine Wisconsin losing a 3rd in a row, so I pick them as the winner in a close game.
Badgers win.

Sat. Oct 22 - 3:30 PM ET
#6 Texas A&M @ #1 Alabama
This is all the rage right now and I can only imagine 3 scenarios happening.
First one is Crimson Tide dominance, which is the Vegas expectation.
Second is a close game, but the Tide wins.
The third is a Texas A&M upset on a perfect day for them.
That's not very innovative, I know, but think about it.
A total dominance is at least likely given the last few weeks of performance of Alabama.
Add a bye week for A&M and we might get a close game.
Still, A&M MIGHT be able to win this, either because Alabama sucks for whatever reason or Texas A&M proves to be stronger than thought.
And beside the Alabama fans, I think most fans would like to see an upset.
My take on that is, that A&M did show some great flashes, but not enough for me to justify an upset pick.
I think Alabama is a league of their own right now and will win this, but in a close game.
At the end, the home field advantage will be enough to win it.
Crimson Tide win.

Sat. Oct 22 - 3:30 PM ET
TCU @ #12 West Virginia
I don't know what to pick here.
West Virginia has so far not really beaten any REAL contender.
They also don't win BIG, they just win.
TCU on the other side has lost twice already, but did also had trouble winning against mid-level or low level teams.
I don't see West Virginia winning all games, but I also don't see them losing this weekend.
Something in my head screams that at some point West Virginia will lose, why not against a well coaches TCU team?
Vegas favors the Mountaineers by 6 points.
I do favor TCU, but the TCU from last season, not this season.
I pick West Virginia in a close game, since both teams will likely score often and West Virginia does right now looks more complete than TCU.
Mountaineers win.

Sat. Oct 22 - 6:00 PM ET
#17 Arkansas @ #21 Auburn
Ranked vs Ranked and overall only small consequences if either team wins.
The difference between both teams is big, at least for me.
Arkansas has already played big shots like A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss and lost twice so far, but even in their losses they did not look to far away from those teams.
Auburn has so far A&M, that Les-Miles-led-LSU team and Clemson and did lose also twice so far.
For me Arkansas is a contender, Auburn more pretender, even if the results do not reflect that too much.
So the question this weekend is, whether my classification is wrong or right?
Vegas favors Auburn with 10 points, which is from my point of view way too much.
My reaction is clear, Arkansas can win this and will win this.
Those Hogs are so stubborn and they will find a way to win in a hostile environment.
That's why.
Razorbacks win.

Sat. Oct 22 - 9:00 PM ET
#23 Ole Miss @ #25 LSU
The Orgeron-led-LSU Tigers are 2-0 and now they face a big test against the best ranked 3-loss team of the season.
I think it is safe to say, given the current ranks of 23 and 25 that the losing team will be out of the TOP 25 for at least a week.
Vegas says -5.5 for LSU, which is a big jump in confidence regarding that LSU team.
Orgeron made that team play, especially on offense.
On the other hand did Ole Miss lose last weekend against Arkansas thanks to their defense.
Great that the Rebels face a running teams, and the LSU starting RB is back from injury and Ole Miss plays on the road.
Maybe they are not THAT confident in Vegas.
I say LSU wins by more.
Tigers win.

Other interesting games:

Sat. Oct 22 - 3:00 PM ET
Colorado @ Stanford
This is also some kind of last chance game. Stanford is behind both Washington teams in the North and can't afford a loss (2 losses behind), otherwise they would lose some contact to the top.
Colorado is on the same level as leading Utah in the South, but the competition in the South is so narrow, that a loss might be exactly THAT additional thing which puts your team out of contention.
Of both teams the game is a bit more important for Stanford, I think, Colorado might be able to rebound later.
Colorado has lost twice this season, both on the road, while Stanford lost 1 on the road and 1 at home.
The Cardinals are 2-point favorite, I see them winning this with a higher margin, especially if their FB does play again, coming back from injury.
Cardinals win.

Sat. Oct 22 - 3:30 PM ET
Memphis @ #24 Navy
Both teams are unbeaten in the American and the winner will have the lead in the race for the West division.
Funny is, Memphis is the favorite by 1.5 points, playing on the road against that team which did upset highest ranked AAC team Houston.
Memphis did not win big in their games, so I would like to know why they are the favorite in this matchup.
Anyway, I pick Navy as home team coming of a bye week (because their ECU game was postponed).
Midshipmen win.

Sat. Oct 22 - 4:00 PM ET
#19 Utah @ UCLA
Utah has to prove they can win on the road.
Lucky them UCLA is not 100% and will likely miss their starting QB Rosen.
UCLA is -7.0 point favorite to win here.
I think Utah has a case for a victory here.
But it will be a close one.
UCLA is better at home and at 100% I would have picked them.
Now, Utah has a good chance to win, if they can score.
Since there is no 60% to 40% in picks ....
Utes win.

Sat. Oct 22 - 8:00 PM ET
#2 Ohio State @ Penn State
Will this be interesting?
Maybe a bit.
Penn State is far from being the team they used to be in the past and Ohio State should be way better, but it's a road game for OSU and it's a week after that clash with the Badgers, so Penn State might face a slightly exhausted Buckeyes team.
Honestly I expect a margin of 15+ points and a Buckeyes win.
Vegas expects even 19.5 points.
Anyway, we are on the same page, Penn State will lose.
Buckeyes win.

Sat. Oct 22 - 10:00 PM ET
Washington State @ Arizona State
Not really a great game, but an interesting one.
The Cougars are on a hot streak, after they started the season in a worst case scenario losing against a FCS team and a week later against Boise on the smurf turf.
Since then all wins, and very impressive ones.
Arizona State did win all games until 3 weeks ago, when they lost against USC and last week against Colorado, letting them sink in the standings like lead.
Now that hot team will face off against that unlucky one, in the desert.
Vegas sees Wazzou 7 points ahead.
I think they can win even better, if all things come together.
Can Arizona stop that high scoring offense?
But I guess not.
Cougars win.

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