Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hobbitcore's College Football Corner (Week 12)

So, inevitably, I missed yet another week--and a pretty big one at that--but I have a good excuse: I was at DISNEY WORLD!  Yeah, be jealous.  Don't worry though, I haven't forgotten about you, the three or four people who ever read this...







HEADLINES

Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel has catapulted himself into the Heisman conversation

-Well, the biggest headline of the week is a no-brainer: Alabama falls 29-24 to Texas A&M.  I have to admit, I probably saw this coming less than just about anyone.  I was pretty well convinced that Alabama was in a class by themselves and would cruise to an undefeated record, SEC title, and eventual national title.  But what was so much more shocking than the fact that they lost was the way it happened.  After QB A.J. McCarron was intercepted in the end zone on a potential game-winning drive, the Tide would have had one more chance but were...wait for it...drawn offsides.  When was the last time you saw a Nick Saban team commit a penalty that cost them the game?  I have an overwhelming feeling that Nick Saban is going to kick the absolute shit out of his team for that and if they don't win every remaining game by double digits I'd be shocked.  Whether or not that's enough to get them back to the national title game remains to be seen.  Which brings us to our next headline...

-So now the discussion going on across the college football landscape is going on in two parts: 1. Will Kansas State, Oregon, and/or Notre Dame lose a game?  2. Can a one-loss SEC champion jump an undefeated Kansas State, Oregon, and/or Notre Dame?  Let's take it in two parts: 1. Yeeeah, I don't really see it happening.  Then again, when do you ever see it happening?  Kansas State and Notre Dame are relatively new to the spotlight although their remaining schedules aren't as challenging as Oregon's--Kansas State has Baylor on the road and Texas at home, Notre Dame hosts Wake Forest before traveling to USC, while Oregon hosts Stanford and then plays Oregon State in an effective neutral site game.  I'd say these are your undefeated teams in order of most likely to suffer a loss to least likely: 1. Oregon, 2. Notre Dame, 3. Kansas State.  I honestly don't see any of these teams losing--even Oregon, whose remaining opponents are a little overrated if you ask me--but that's the beauty of college football, isn't it? 

When the dust settles, which two of these will be in the national title game?
OK, now, #2.  Can/should a one-loss SEC champion jump one or two of these teams to make it to the championship game?  Well, neither team that will be in the SEC title game has much of a chance to impress anyone with Alabama facing West Carolina and a floundering Auburn and Georgia facing Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech.  I think if none of the current undefeated teams lose, there's basically zero chance of an SEC team in the title game.  If one loses, the chances increase.  The interesting thing about that is that it depends on who it is that loses and here's why: Oregon is still #1 in the Coaches Poll and the Harris Poll right now but remains #2 in the BCS because the computers love Kansas State and Notre Dame.  The computer average actually has Florida #3 so Alabama actually wants Florida to lose another game as well.  Oregon is #4 in the computer average so a Ducks loss doesn't change the computer average too drastically in the Tide's favor but it does change the Coaches Poll and Harris Poll drastically, which are 1/3 of the formula each.  If Kansas State or Notre Dame lose, it would shake up the human polls less than it would shake up the computers--they might not even fall below Bama in the computer rankings with a loss (particularly Notre Dame who are #1 in the computer average).  So Alabama will be (or should be) not only rooting for an Oregon loss but also a Florida loss.  Not only are the human polls more of a factor, they are more volatile after a loss (Oregon would almost definitely fall below Alabama with a loss) and they also have a tendency to be biased--that is, if they want an SEC team in the title game, they're liable to find a way to make it happen (and it will be easier to do if their #1 team loses, causing the biggest possible shake-up).  I'm not prepared to predict anything other than Kansas State v. Oregon in the title game but there are so many factors that it's impossible to say.


CLICK READ MORE FOR PICKS ON OREGON/STANFORD, USC/UCLA, AND MORE...

RB Jonathan Franklin could have a big day against USC's leaky run defense

#18 USC @ #17 UCLA -- FOX -- 3:05pm (UPSET OF THE WEEK)

This could be the most interesting game of the week if you ask me.  In USC's three losses, they gave up 202 yards rushing to Stanford, 219 to Arizona, and (surprise, surprise) a whopping 426 to Oregon (321 of them to Kenjon Barner to go along with 5 TDs).  Now they get to face big Jonathan Franklin who is basically built to keep this USC offense off the field.  Matt Barkley will be able to get his numbers but until USC starts playing some defense, especially on the ground, I can't see them winning this game.  USC may only be a 3 point favorite but they're still a favorite so...

The Upset Hobbit sez: UCLA

#23 Texas Tech @ #24 Oklahoma State -- 3:30pm

I'm not exactly sure why this one isn't gonna be on TV because it's going to be one hell of a shootout.  My instinct is that the Red Raiders play a little more defense although they're not quite as balanced on offense as the Cowboys.  This is a tough call but in a shootout, I gotta go with balance and I gotta go with the home team.
Hobbitcore sez: Oklahoma State

#12 Oklahoma @ West Virginia -- FOX -- 7pm

This one has lost a little bit of luster since the Mountaineers totally collapsed on themselves mid-season but it should still be pretty interesting.  Depending on how much success the Sooners can have slowing down the West Virginia attack, this could either be a shootout or a blowout.  Either way, even in Morgantown, I can't see West Virginia besting the Sooners right now.
Hobbitcore sez: Oklahoma

GAME OF THE WEEK

#13 Stanford @ #2 Oregon -- ABC -- 8pm

I have to admit, I don't think this game is going to be as good as everyone else does but what do I know?  Personally, I've thought Stanford was overrated all year long, ever since they beat an even more overrated USC team.  BUT (a very big but), the Cardinal are #1 in the country in rushing defense--and they're #1 by a wide margin, allowing a ridiculous 58.6 yards per game which is about 16 less yards per game than the #2 team.  This will be the toughest test this Oregon ground game faces--but the opposite is true for Stanford's run defense.  Here's the problem for Stanford: they're ranked 100th in the country in passing defense.  Both these numbers are somewhat symptomatic of playing in the Pac-12.  The other problem is that Oregon has this guy named Marcus Mariota who leads the nation in QB rating.  If Mariota opens things up against Stanford's shaky pass defense, it could open some huge lanes for Kenjon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas.  I think that's exactly what happens.

Hobbitpick: Oregon 31, Stanford 20

RB Kenjon Barner faces his toughest test of the year against a stout Stanford run defense

Keys to the Game:
Oregon:
-Throw to set up the run (as I said above, Stanford is much better against the run than against the pass)
-Get the Stanford offense off the field (Stanford is all about ball control so they're gonna try to keep Mariota and Barner off the field; Oregon's D can't let it happen)
-Don't make any mistakes (This is a game they should win; mistakes change everything)
Stanford:
-Keep Oregon's offense off the field (the opposite of Oregon's second key)
-Keep everything in front of you (you can't key in on the run or the pass because Oregon is so balanced but if you limit big plays, your chances improve drastically)
-Get Mariota on the ground (if you can rattle Mariota early, you may be able to pressure him into mistakes and at the very least it will give you a little leeway to focus on the running game)

Heisman Ballot
1. QB Collin Klein (Kansas State)
2. QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
3. LB Manti Te'o (Notre Dame)
BCS Predictions
ACC: Florida State over Miami
Big XII: Kansas State
Big East: Louisville
Big Ten: Nebraska over Wisconsin
Pac 12: Oregon over USC
SEC: Alabama over Georgia

BCS Championship: Kansas State over Oregon
Fiesta Bowl: Notre Dame over Clemson
Sugar Bowl: Alabama over Louisville
Orange Bowl: Oklahoma over Florida State
Rose Bowl: LSU over Nebraska

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