2023-11-15 09:41

This weekend did, almost as expected, solve some issues in several conference, but did also leave a lot of stuff open, since some teams just don't get it done.

But before I get to the recaps, I post some news.

After the weekend, the 1st 2 coaches were fired, because the expectations did no longer fit to the results.
A bit surprisingly were the teams and coaches’ names, I admit.

The most prominent is Jimbo Fisher, the now former HC of Texas A&M.
Fisher was hired for the 2018 season, away from Florida State, where he had won a national championship in 2013, but did since 2015 let the Seminoles decline and left the ACC for Clemson to win. 2017 did the team even finish with a 7-6 record, when he left it was 5-6.
He was hired to lift Texas A&M to national championship level, and had good results in the beginning, the team was close to the other contenders, but failed to win the division, every season. They were the closest in 2020, but lost to Alabama, which did then win every title available.
And Alabama did stay the nemesis, the thorn in the A&Ms ambitions. Fishers team did only win once against them, but ironically in that season (2021) did A&M lose against a lot of other teams and at the end Alabama did win the division again, but since that season Georgia is the SEC team to beat.
In 2022 did A&M dive like a iron duck and finished 5-7 and voice were heard, Fisher should be fired.
But his massive, a guaranteed contract, did made that from business point of view almost impossible.
The money that brought Fisher to A&M did now limit the options.
This season A&M did play better, the are 6-4 now, would have ended in regular season 7-5 or (with a win against LSU on last gameday) 8-4 (plus a bowl game), but that is not the vision the administration had, when they hired Fisher for 2018.
Now Fisher is gone, surprisingly fired after a blowout win against Mississippi State (usually you get fired after a loss), he will get almost 77 million dollars as buyout and some new coach has to fulfill the dreams of some guys in Texas.
Of course, speculations on the successors are already going wild, but who cares.
Could be they end in some sort of Bo Pellini situation, who was fired, because his constant 9 to 10 wins and division title were not enough, since he never won the conference, but every coach after his period did finish worse so far.

The other coach, who can now enjoy an extended holiday, is Andy Avalos, the now former HC of Boise State.
Boise State was at least in the line of the top contenders, if not THE top contender for the Mountain West title, and the team has right now a record of 5-5, 4-2 inside the conference and still has a shot for a title game spot. It did not perform as expected, sure, but did win on last gameday to stay in the hunt, so the firing was a big surprise (at least for me).
Avalos was in his 3rd season with the team, did win the division last year (when they still has some), but lost to Fresno State in the Championship game.
It was his 1st HC gig so far, and was quite successful, overall 22-14.
Boise State is a special college, got the reputation to do best with limited recourses, did beat big teams in the past 20 seasons, so finding a replacement will be hard.
An ambitious coach, if winning a lot, would be gone fast, am older coach might stay longer, but whether he will manage to do what in the past was already done is of course then open.

And suddenly the positions do come open quickly. A day after I did read about Fisher and Avalos the news came in that Mississippi State did fire Zach Arnett.
Arnett was the DC of the Bulldogs, when the late Mike Leach was hospitalized, December 2022. He became the interim HC and when Leach died, the school did name Arnett the next HC.
Now after only 10 games in the season 2023, after 3 losses in a row, with the last being a blowout against Texas A&M, the University decided to move on.
That doesn't seem to be fair, but that's the business.
Interesting in that context is, that this last game did result in the firing of both HC, not sure that happened before, but with 100+ years history, likely it did.

And another HC change was announced, even it was not a firing. Brady Hoke, the HC of San Diego State, did announce he will retire after the end of the season.
Hoke had a mixed career, starting at Ball State, jumped after a very successful season there to San Diego State, had only 2 seasons there (the 2nd again very successful) and was named the new HC of Michigan. At Michigan his 'the next big thing' status did vanish fast, since Michigan did crumble to a losing team in the 4 seasons Hoke was there.
After being fired at Michigan he became after some time interims HC of Tennessee and returned to San Diego State for a 2nd era in 2020. He did have a great season with them in 2021, but since then the team did fall apart again. This season, as it seems the last, is so far at 3-7.

Several coordinators were also fired after the weekend, but those are just scapegoats.

And some different news came out on Wednesday, when a judge did decide to give the only 2 remaining teams inside the PAC-12, Oregon State and Washington State, the control over the conference. As it reads, the rules inside the conference were, once a school did decide to leave, it loses immediately the seat on the board of the conference. That was done when USC and UCLA did announce their leave, as also done when Colorado did decide to leave. But when the other schools started moving suddenly it was said all 12 have a seat in the board. The 2 schools staying went to court and as it seems, were right. What that means for the conference and schools is open, but the other schools have no longer a say on the conference rulings, as it seems.


Sat. Nov 11
#3 Michigan @ #10 Penn State
There is so called sign-stealing-scandal ongoing, involving the Wolverines, but slowly it seems several teams are involved.
If I understood right, someone did basically create some sort of translation on signs used for play calling, so that the team 'stealing' the information can adjust their unit better against the coming play.
Officially that seems to be off-campus-scouting violations and a former Michigan staff member is deeply involved.
Shortly before the weekend did then the BIG10 decide to suspend Jim Harbaugh from the past 3 games, which was this game against Penn State, the upcoming game at Maryland and the rivalry game for the division title against Ohio State.
A rather strange move by the conference, since investigations are still ongoing by the NCAA and the timing is strange as well.
Michigan will of course fight this, but had no choice, but to have the HC not at the sideline against Penn State.
But Penn State was no match for the Wolverines, who did use a good 2nd quarter to get the lead and to never give it back.
The Wolverines kept Penn State away with good clock management, longer drives or explosive plays.
The team of Penn State did receive at home several 'boooooo' shouts, so the fan base is not happy with Franklins success at Beaver Stadium, this year and likely also for several seasons.
But that's another story.
#3 Michigan 24 @ #10 Penn State 15 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 24-10

#9 Ole Miss @ #2 Georgia
Sorry to say this, but Ole Miss was rubbish against Georgia.
They were, let's say, still in tough after the 1st half with trailing 14:28, but an almost scoreless 2nd half did make this game very one-sided.
By this game alone did Alabama win the division, and Georgia (who were not 100% sure SEC Championship game participant as it seems) did also win the division.
So, that's that with the SEC until the Championship game.
Ole Miss can concentrate on the Bowl, Georgia can work on their perfect record.
#9 Ole Miss 17 @ #2 Georgia 52 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 25-10

USC @ #6 Oregon
USC did try but failed to contain the Ducks.
And the Ducks did contain quite successful USC.
Hence, the Ducks won at the end.
After the 1st half, this was still an open game. The Ducks did lead by 8 points.
The 3rd quarter was almost scoreless but did help the Ducks to extent the lead.
USC did not look good and had a fumble late on the 3rd, which did setup an early TD in the 4th by Oregon.
At that point, Oregon did lead by 22 points.
Over? Not totally.
USC did score, Oregon did miss a FG and USC did score again.
Now only trailing by 9 had USC only to stop Oregon, less than 4 minutes to go.
But USC was unable to stop the Oregon runs, which did run down the clock.
They had them even on a 4th down but failed to stop that also.
USC is now out of contention, and the Ducks can dream on.
USC 27 @ #6 Oregon 36 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 26-10

And some other interesting games (XXL this week):

Fri. Nov 10
Wyoming @ UNLV
Well, UNLV did win this, 34:14, which is a much higher margin than I expected.
For UNLV the hunt continues, Wyoming can concentrate on a bowl game.
Jacks interesting games Score: 19-15

Sat. Nov 11
#18 Utah @ #5 Washington
Utah had a big 2nd quarter and lead at the half by 4, but the Huskies did score 11 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter, including a Safety, and kept the 4th quarter scoreless to win this 35:28.
Utah had 2 INTs in the 2nd half and was just unable to get the ball moving.
Washington stays unbeaten, while Utah can stop dreaming on another PAC-12 championship I think.
Jacks interesting games Score: 20-15

#17 Tennessee @ #12 Missouri
Tennessee had a small chance to win the division as it seems, but needed 2 things.
Help by Ole Miss, so that Georgia loses (did not happen, so that was gone anyway) and a win here to leapfrog Missouri.
Well, if you only score 7 points, the chances on a win are slim, especially against one of the best scoring teams in the SEC.
Hence, Tennessees dreams got squashed twice this weekend, but the most disappointing was this performance here.
Not worth a championship game, no way.
Missouri won 36:7.
Jacks interesting games Score: 21-15

New Mexico State @ Western Kentucky
New Mexico State did win this 38:29.
WKU did lead at the half by 4, but the Aggies did score 21 unanswered points and WKU was only able to score late in the 4th again.
Big win for the Aggies who did punch the ticket to the CUSA title game by that win.
Jacks interesting games Score: 22-15

West Virginia @ #9 Oklahoma
Oklahoma did CRUSH West Virginia, 59:20.
It seems somebody did finally give the players a lesson on how important every game is and that they still have a chance, if they stop playing like idiots.
Thanks to Oklahoma States idiotic game, both teams are still in the hunt, only West Virginia has a loss more than the Sooners.
Jacks interesting games Score: 23-15

Duke @ North Carolina
This was a thriller.
Closer than I expected, since the Duke starting QB was missing.
But the Blue Devils did play like ... well ... Devils.
UNC did lead 16:14 at the half, did extent the lead a bit in the 3rd, but lost the lead than in the 4th quarter by strong Duke drives.
Then the lead did change again to UNC and back and when UNC got the ball with 43 seconds left, they managed to kick a field goal to tie the game.
In OT did then both team score in 1st OT and then in 2nd OT did UNC score with a 2-point conversion and Duke did fail to get the 2-pointer.
By that UNC won 47:45 (2OT) and is now 1 game behind Louisville in the standings. So they need Louisville to lose to get back into a top 2 spot, but still has a chance, while Duke is 1 more loss behind and from my point of view out of contention.
Jacks interesting games Score: 24-15

Looks like a perfect week this gameday, which does surprise me a bit.
But OK, can happen.

Other results, only the odd one:

Southern Miss did win against Louisiana, 34:31 in OT. This was just a duel for getting a shove deeper into the pit of the Sun Belt, but was big for Southern Miss, since it was an upset and on the road.
UCF did crush Oklahoma State, 45:3. Last week did OSU win against Oklahoma to look like a championship candidate and now they lost against 1-5 inside the conference standing UCF? I don't get that team.
Texas Tech was able to beat Kansas, 16:13. That hurt for Kansas, since TTU was a win behind them, now they are all on the same page and only because Oklahoma State did suck major this gameday both teams are now still in some sort of contention.
Arizona did beat Colorado, 34:31. This is the 4th loss in a row for Colorado, which makes their chances for a bowl spot slim.
Appalachian State won against Georgia State, 42:14. That leaves App State in contention for a championship game spot and Georgia State lost now 3 in row and fell from front runner for such a championship spot to more or less eliminated.
Sam Houston State did win against Louisiana Tech, 42:27. That is the 1st conference win for Sam Houston in this season.
Purdue won against Minnesota, 49:30. This division is really a mess, which shows also the next result.
Northwestern won against Wisconsin, 24:10. I have the feeling the anger in Madison is rising among those season results, losing 3 in a row, 2 of those against absolutely beatable teams. But given the fact that the HC is in his 1st season, there won't be a change coming.
Cincinnati did beat Houston, 24:14. The 1st conference win by the Bearcats this season.
Marshall won against Georgia Southern, 38:33. This upset does kick the Eagles down the steps for contention. Marshall on the other hand did only win the 2nd conference game so far with this.
Colorado State did beat San Diego State, 22:19. One of the worst seasons for San Diego State in a long time.
Arizona State won against UCLA, 17:7. That was on the road and surprisingly was UCLA limited to only 7 points.
San Jose State did beat Fresno State, 42:18. By that Fresno State has a win less than Air Force and UNLV, the 2 leading teams in the MWC.
And that is only, because Hawaii did upset Air Force 27:13. Only the 2nd conference win for Hawaii, but the 1st conference loss for Air Force.

That's that.


Please note, that the standings are prior the next MAC-games, which did already started on Tuesday evening.

American Athletics

Tulane6-09-1#24Again close to a loss. Likely the winner of Tulane-UTSA will get one spot in the finale.
SMU6-08-2They play Memphis next and the winner of that will likely play in the championship game.
UTSA6-07-3So far they managed to win all games. Hardest task will be @Tulane at season finale. Winner will take it all.
Memphis5-18-2 SMU next, if they win that game, they have a big chance to play for the Championship.

No changes this week. It looks like the remaining 4 teams will work it out against each other.
Right now, Tulane looks like the best bet for a BIG new year’s bowl, but they do look beatable, and we might see them fall fast.

Florida State8-010-0#4Will play for the Championship. The only thing they need to do now is keep winning to stay in playoff conversation.
Louisville6-19-1#10Next against Miami for the championship spot. A win secures the spot, a loss will open up the tie breaker mechanics. Not sure who would be on top then.
North Carolina4-28-2#20Right now the Tar Heels are back in business, but the remaining 2 games are against Clemson and NC State, both on the road.
NC State4-27-3They have VT and UNC left on the schedule. Still in contention, but need help from Louisville and have to keep on winning.
Virginia Tech4-25-5They have a quite good chance to keep on winning with NC State and Virginia left on the schedule. But I doubt they will win both games.

This week, Boston College, Duke and Georgia Tech did drop out with losses.
FSU is still the best bet for a Playoff spot, but they need to win the ACC. A 1-loss Louisville champ could maybe make it, but I doubt it right now. Depends on the other conferences.

East Division
Michigan7-010-0#3With the suspension of the HC, this becomes some sort of Lottery. Still THE GAME against Ohio State will decide the division.
Ohio State7-010-0#2THE GAME is likely the only game left on the schedule which will mean something, but that will be big.

West Division
Iowa5-28-2#16They have to play Illinois and Nebraska as remaining games, unlikely the will lose both, but in this division, nothing is for sure.

Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin did lose and got 2 games behind Iowa, which seems to be the only team not too stupid to lose too often.
Whoever wins the East is expected to win the conference and getting a playoff spot. We might see a 2nd team from the BIG10 to emerge, if the only loss was against the later BIG10-Champ in a close game.

BIG 12
Texas6-19-1#7Won a close one against TCU, but now has to face Iowa State on the road and as last game Texas Tech.
Oklahoma State5-27-3#23Lost in an embarrassing way against UCF. But plays only Houston and BYU as last 2 games, so might stay on top.
Oklahoma5-28-2#14They did destroy West Virginia and will face BYU and TCU on the last 2 games. But it looks like they will need additional help.
Iowa State5-26-4With Texas and Kansas State as the last 2 games, it would be a surprise they win both of those.
Kansas State5-27-3#21Did beat Baylor to stay in the hunt. 2 tough games ahead, against Kansas and Iowa State.
West Virginia4-36-4Lost big against Oklahoma, but thanks to OSUs big loss, they did not fall out of contention. Baylor and Cincinnati are left.
Texas Tech4-35-5The win against Kansas and the loss of the Cowboys did lift them back into the list, at least for this week. I doubt they will win both games coming, UCF and Texas.
Kansas4-37-3They did shoot themselves into the foot with that loss against Texas Tech. Now they have to win the last 2 games against Kansas State and Cincinnati and have to hope for a wonder.

Texas Tech got a whatever-chance, when Oklahoma State did lose.
Now it seems Texas has the best chance to sneak into the playoffs, if they win the conference. The rest is under normal conditions already toast.

Conference USA
The Championship game is already set. New Mexico State will play in the game, regardless they win or lose against Jacksonville State on season finale, since JSU is not eligible to play.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: New Mexico State @Liberty

East Division
Miami (OH)5-18-2Buffalo and Ball State are left on the schedule. They can not afford a loss.
Ohio4-27-3They did beat Buffalo and by that kicked them out of contention, more or less. Central Michigan and Akron are left, but they need help.
Bowling Green4-26-4Toledo and Western Michigan are still to come. If they win both, they still need help.

West Division
Toledo6-09-1They did punch the ticket to the Championship game now. Game is on neutral site.

Buffalo did drop out. Toledo is already fixed for the Championship game, the rest could be open until the last gameday.
Toledo could become interesting for a BIG new years bowl, if Tulane suffers a loss at some point.

Mountain West
Air Force5-18-2Air Force can stop dreaming of a ranking, that loss against Hawaii did hurt big time. But they still can win the conference, if they keep on winning. UNLV and Boise State are left to play, both very dangerous.
UNLV5-18-2They need to win against Air Force, San Jose State should be a win anyway.
Fresno State4-28-2Lost to San Jose State and will now face New Mexico and San Diego State, both not very good.
Boise State4-25-5They won against New Mexico, but fired their HC. Utah State and Air Force won't be easy and the team still needs a win for a bowl and both wins to stay in the hunt.
San Jose State4-25-5They won against Fresno State and are suddenly in the contender mix with 4 wins in a row. San Diego State and UNLV are must wins, but I doubt they will win both.

Wyoming lost to UNLV and did fall from the list. The spots for the Championship game might be decided by some tie-breaker-rule beyond direct compare.
I don't think any conference team will get an invite on the new year’s bowl, but season is not over, yet.

Washington7-010-0#5They have Oregon State and Washington State left. They should win this.
Oregon6-19-1#6Oregon State and Arizona State are the team left on the schedule. The CIVIL WAR might determine the Championship spot.
Arizona5-27-3#17Utah and Arizona State are left, one of the easier remaining schedule of all contenders. Still I doubt they will win this all and they still would need help.
Oregon State5-28-2#11If they want to play for a Championship, they need to win the next to 2 games, Washington and Oregon. IF they win this, they deserve a shot 100%.

USC and Utah did both drop out of the list by losing against top contenders.
Right now, Washington is the top contender for a playoff spot, but Oregon has also a good chance. The rest, even with a PAC-12 Championship, would not make it, I think.

The SEC Championship game is set, both favorites did win their divisions the last gameday.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Georgia vs Alabama on neutral site.
Both teams do have a major shot at a playoff spot, if Georgia win the SEC, all fine, but Alabama out, if Alabama wins, nobody knows whether 1 or 2 will make the playoffs.

Sun Belt
East Division
James Madison6-010-0Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina are left to play, which will impact the team send to the Championship game. JMU won at least a share of the division already, but is not eligible to play for the Championship.
Coastal Carolina5-27-3Army and James Madison are left on the schedule. That game against JMU will decide the championship game spot, a win and CCU is in I think, a loss and they are likely out.
Appalachian State4-26-4Have to face JMU and Georgia Southern and better win both to secure a Championship game spot. But I think they need more help.
Georgia Southern3-36-4Will decide the contender status in a game against Old Dominion and then might leapfrog to the Championship game against Appalachian State.
Old Dominion3-34-6Play Georgia Southern and Georgia State as remaining games. They have only a slim chance, likely will fall out of contention fast.

West Division
Troy5-18-2Secured the division title (at least a share) and a spot in the Championship game.

Georgia State, Texas State and Arkansas State did leave the list. Troy is set as Championship game participant.
I think no chance for a playoff spot. New year’s bowl spot is also quite unlikely.

The playoff race has 3 weeks left, 2 regular season gamedays and the championship games a week later, and it all can turn into shit, in that last week.
I think it safe to say, that the SEC Champ will get a spot, likely also the PAC-12-Champ. But then there are a lot uncertainties.
If the more-losses-team of each conference would win the championship game, the rankings will turn upside down and it will be totally unclear, who gains a spot and who deserves a spot.

But it makes no sense to speculate, since those frontrunners still have to win their remaining games and then some, so a lot of stuff can happen.

And we advance to the BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 12

Sat. Nov 18
#5 Washington @ #11 Oregon State
The biggest challenge the Huskies have left on the schedule.
Oregon State has a great season so far, even they did lose some games, which I would have thought they would win.
But they are perfect at home so far and are actually the favorite to win this game, by 2.5 points.
Not sure how both teams will react on the game.
Oregon State was in the past decade far from being a contender, more a secure 'W'.
So will the Huskies players take them too easy?
And the Beavers have nothing to lose but do face 2 top teams in the next 2 weeks, including the hated rival next week.
So is their mind already on next week, or do they face Washington best possible?
We can only hope for the best.
Washington has a good offense, but their defense did show some holes, only the high scoring offense was able to compensate.
And Oregon State has a much more grounded offense, more time controlling, and a better defense.
But which team will prevail is open.
Here I pick the Beavers to win this crucial game, because of the home field advantage and a bit of a wish-thinking I have to admit.
Beavers win.

#21 Kansas State @ #25 Kansas
It's a long time, since this duel did feature ranked vs ranked. In 2007 it was almost ranked vs ranked, but at the time of the game only KSU was ranked (and lost that ranking later), while Kansas become ranked AFTER the game. I only found one in the newer past at 1995, when KSU was ranked #14 and Kansas at #6.
Since 1902 this rivalry, called the 'Sunflower Showdown', is played and Kansas leads 64-51-5.
Kansas State is driving a 14-game winning streak.
Kansas State is favored by 8.0 points, which seems a bit unfair.
Played in Lawrence, Kansas should be motivated to win this, they had in the past decade likely no better chance than this season.
A win would mean a setback for the Wildcats and to keep the dream alive for Kansas.
A loss would mean Kansas is for sure out of contention and KSU has better chances.
I hope for a close game.
Jayhawks win.

#10 Louisville @ Miami
This is the game Louisville needs to win and wants to win.
Miami is favored by 0.5 points, but for real, nobody knows what to do with Miami.
They won against Clemson (now 6-4) at home, a week later needed OT against Virginia (now 2-8), lost then 2 in row against NC State (now 7-3) and Florida State (now 10-0).
ALL of those quite close, the biggest margin was in the loss against NC State with 14 points.
It seems team does adjust to the level of the opponent.
The Hurricanes did only lose once at home this season (against now 5-5 Georgia Tech) and Louisville did lose only 1 game so far at all, but that was on the road against Pitt ( now 2-8).
So what can we expect?
I think if Miami comes out prepared, motivated and want to play, they can beat most teams in FBS.
But it seems something is missing and that does hurt the team almost every game.
They did win some games, but did lose too many.
I expect Louisville to find the weak spots and exploiting those.
Cardinals win.

And some other interesting games:

Sat. Nov 18
SMU @ Memphis
It seems the winner will likely get a spot in the Championship game (after the last gameday) and the loser has to concentrate on a bowl game.
SMU is favored by 8.5 points, on the road.
SMU looks a bit better and sharper, but Memphis did win all games, except one inside the conference and that was against ranked Tulane by only 10 points.
This will likely not be easy for SMU.
Will the homefield give Memphis the edge? Not sure.
Since Memphis did struggle with weaker teams, I expect the strong SMU to win here in a close one.
Mustangs win.

Illinois @ 16 Iowa
Iowa did not lose as many times as the other teams inside their division.
They can secure the Championship game spot by a win here against the Illini and are favored by 3.0 points.
That's almost as much as Iowa is able to score at all in a game (the real value is roughly 19 points per game, while allowing 12).
Seriously, if Iowa’s defense stops the Illinois offense, this will be a secure win.
Expect a tough fought, low scoring game, with Illinois scoring not enough and Iowa scoring a bit more.
Hawkeyes win.

#7 Texas @ Iowa State
I think since a few seasons, nobody likes to play against Iowa State, since they can beat anyone on any day, only to lose against anyone surprisingly at some point.
Usually, they do play better against strong teams, then weaker ones.
And we have here ranked Texas coming to town.
The Longhorns are favored by 7.5 points.
Nobody do expect them to win here, but many do fear they might upset the Longhorns and turn the BIG 12 again upside down.
This season I'm not willing to pick the upset but would not be surprised.
Longhorns win.

That's it for this week.

'Til next time

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