Saturday, October 31, 2009

Professor's Picks Week 9

2009 Record
Overall: 87-33
Last Week: 13-2

Comment: Best week of the season catapults the 2009 grade up into the A- range. Several tough games this week, a few with national implications.

Best Pick: Arkansas was a trendy choice to whip Ole Miss, but the rejuvenated Rebels ripped the Razorbacks.

Worst Pick (Tie): If you can figure out Clemson or Miami let me know. Canes could have taken control of ACC Coastal, but Tigers tamed them. TCU outclassed overrated BYU.

Here are this week's SEC picks and national games of interest.


SEC Picks

Ole Miss (5-2, 2-2) at Auburn (5-3, 2-3)
11:21 a.m. CT
SEC Network / / ESPN GamePlan
Pat Dye Field/Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
Comment: Two teams headed in different directions play on the Plains. Rebels easily handled Arkansas last week and may be starting to live up to preseason hype, with offense clicking (Dexter McCluster became first Ole Miss player since at least 1965 to gain over 100 yards both rushing and receiving vs. Hogs). Auburn would love to generate that type offensive performance. The Tigers "O" has scored progressively fewer points for four straight games. Reality has come to the Chizik era for 2009.
Professor's Pick: Ole Miss

Florida (7-0, 5-0) vs. Georgia (4-3, 3-2)
3:30 p.m. ET CBS Sports
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium (80,000)
Comment: The cocktail party has gotten a little cranky the past two seasons. First was Georgia's 2007 "celebration" when the Dogs spilled onto the field after an early touchdown, caught the defending national champ Gators off guard, and stomped to a 42-30 win. Urban Meyer and UF did not forget and took a little extra time to savor last season's 49-10 destruction of the Dogs by calling timeouts at the end of the lopsided game. Gators have won nine of twelve in the series, but I do not believe the Florida offense is good enough to blow this game open. Georgia may not be able to score much either, but expect this to be close into the fourth quarter.
Professor's Pick: Florida

Eastern Michigan (0-7) at Arkansas (3-4, 1-4)
6 p.m. CT ESPNU
Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)
Comment: Hogs need three more wins to go bowling in Bobby Petrino's second season, and the 0-7 Eagles from Ypsilanti provide an inviting treat on Halloween. Razorbacks rumble.
Professor's Pick: Arkansas

Mississippi State (3-5, 1-3) at Kentucky (4-3, 1-3)
7 p.m. ET FS South / / ESPN GamePlan
Commonwealth Stadium (67,942)
Comment: Cats can secure a fourth consecutive bowl bid with wins over State this week and Eastern Kentucky or Vandy the next two. The Bullies are no pushover, but a letdown after the emotional Florida loss is to be expected. Wildcats move closer to post-season.
Professor's Pick: Kentucky

Georgia Tech (7-1) at Vanderbilt (2-6, 0-5)
6:30 p.m. CT CSS / ESPN / ESPN GamePlan
Vanderbilt Stadium (39,773)
Comment: The ACC figures to gain bragging rights when the conference's best team plays the cellar-dweller of the SEC. The Johnson boys, Bobby of Vandy and Paul of Tech, have a history of good competition dating to their days leading Furman (Bobby) and Georgia Southern (Paul). The Tech option is a dream to watch, but a nightmare to defend, and one week prep time is not adequate even for the scholars of the gridiron in Nashville.
Professor's Pick: Georgia Tech

South Carolina (6-2, 3-2) at Tennessee (3-4, 1-3)
7:45 p.m. ET ESPN
Shield-Watkins Field/Neyland Stadium (100,011)
Comment: Not sure even massive Neyland Stadium can contain the egos of the two coaches in this one. Lane Kiffin of UT gets another chance to beat somebody he insulted before the season, and Steve Spurrier of SC can prove he still wields the sharpest tongue in town. Offensive coaches aside, this promises to be a terrific defensive struggle between two of the league's most physical and rugged units. The Neyland crowd might help Mr. Brash (young) beat Mr. Brash (old). Keep the mics open for this one.
Professor's Pick: Tennessee

Tulane (2-5) at LSU (6-1, 4-1)
7 p.m. CT TigerVision PPV/ESPN Game Plan
Tiger Stadium (92,400)
Comment: While the Bengal Tigers cannot treat the Green Wave as a Saturday night scrimmage in preparation for the trip to T-Town next week ... well, that's what it should be. LSU fans are seeking an identity (and some consistency) on offense before the Bama brawl.
Professor's Pick: LSU

Selected National Picks

Miami at Wake Forest: Hurricanes need help to reach ACC title, but none in this game. Professor's Pick: Miami

Kansas at Texas Tech: Can a Big 12 North team win a meaningful game? Doubtful. Professor's Pick: Texas Tech

Michigan State at Minnesota: Big Ten bowl bound teams battle for best Florida destination. Professor's Pick: Michigan

Cal at Arizona State: PAC-10 is deeper than most "experts" think. Cal is the best of this duo. Professor's Pick: Cal

West Virginia at South Florida: Mountaineers try to keep Big East hopes alive. They get it done in Tampa. Professor's Pick: West Virginia

Texas at Oklahoma State: The biggest remaining obstacle between Longhorns and title game. Bevo is up to the challenge of fending off the Stillwater Cowboys. Professor's Pick: Texas

USC at Oregon: Winner likely on way to Pasadena ... for granddaddy or BCS title game. The Ducks are hot, but to be the champ you've got to beat the champ. Trojans have earned the respect. Professor's Pick: USC

See you at kickoff!

Friday, October 30, 2009

College Football TV Schedule Week 9

Week 9 Television Schedule

The National Football Foundation has published the television schedule for week 9 of the college football season.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Around SEC Football Week 9

Around the SEC

Who snuck off with the Snickers?

Who confiscated the Candy Corn?

Who jacked the Jack-o-Lantern?

Who made the college football weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving as invisible as the Great Pumpkin Linus waits on every year?

Alabama and Florida that's who.

Nick Saban and Urban Meyer that's who.

Mark Ingram and Tim Tebow, Terrence Cody and Carlos Dunlap, Javier Arenas and Joe Haden ... that's who.

Those guys might as well be ghosts, goblins, and sorcerers because they've cast a spell over the SEC that makes the next month nearly meaningless.

Everybody seems to be simply waiting on the inevitable SEC Championship Game showdown between the nation's top-ranked teams. Shoot ... with the way Southeastern Conference fans show conference loyalty and regional pride, many may actually be pulling for the two super teams to win out and assure another SEC team plays for the national title (a trait that seems to really grate on people from outside the South).

There's only one figure who might botch the witch's brew that has ended the SEC season before Halloween ... the Mad Hatter.

Yes, Les Miles and LSU are about the only scary characters on the league horizon. Should the Bengal Tigers upset Alabama next weekend, the boys from Baton Rouge would leap into the conversation
. If - as most expect - the Tide rolls over the Tigers, the SEC West race will be over.

The SEC East is already done.

Oh, not officially ... but Florida holds a two-game lead and does anyone really believe Florida will lose twice in three games?

Georgia might spook the Gators (or even beat them) this weekend, and the Florida trip to South Carolina on November 14th could raise the pulse ... but even with a Halloween upset in Jacksonville the Dogs would still trail the Gators and have games remaining against Kentucky and Auburn. South Carolina plays at Tennessee and Arkansas the next two weeks, so the Gamecocks showdown with the Gators may mean little from a division-race perspective by mid-November.

Start munching that Halloween candy and let's wait on Thanksgiving.

Alabama and Florida have made a turkey out of this conference race.

The Campus Game SEC Ratings (Week 9)

12. Vanderbilt ... Commodores mediocre on defense and awful on offense.

11. Mississippi State ... Bullies are not really good enough for Dan Mullen to be complaining about officials so strongly. Win a few first.

10. Auburn ... with Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama still on schedule, the Tigers are reeling a bit.

9. Arkansas ... Razorbacks probably better than this ranking, but have lost two in a row.

8. Kentucky ... Wildcats have solid shot for 8 or 9 wins.

7. Georgia ... Bulldogs could upset the SEC applecart with a win over Gators.

6. Tennessee ... Volunteers could win four or five more games as they move into what has traditionally been the easy month of schedule.

5. Ole Miss ... Rebels failed to live up to preseason hype but are rebounding for a solid season.

4. South Carolina ... Gamecocks better enjoy this ranking because the final four games are scary (at Tennessee, at Arkansas, Florida, Clemson).

3. LSU ... this lofty ranking is fragile as a child's teeth after eating too much candy ... not sure the Tigers are this good.

2. Alabama ... The shoddy quarterback play has cost Tide only style points ... so far.

1. Florida ... Gators toughness moves them back to head of TCG class.

Enjoy the games and check back for Professor's Picks!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

College Football Week 9

Crying Time

"Oh, it's crying time again ... I can see that far away look in your eyes"

(Crying Time, Buck Owens)

Haven't heard such whining since the alternator on my 1969 Chevelle went out (in 1978).

Haven't listened to so much criticism of officials since John McEnroe wore short shorts and a headband.

Haven't witnessed so many waterworks since Dick Vermeil hung up his whistle (and handkerchief).

Yes, like the great Buck Owens sang ... it's crying time again.

Especially in the SEC.

Welcome back to The Campus Game, where you can get all the college football news fit for print or comment with nary a complaint (well, I may have one a few paragraphs down).

The Southeastern Conference again admonished coaches this week for critical comments toward game officials.

Bobby Johnson garnered a public rebuke from SEC commissioner Mike Slive after the Vanderbilt coach complained about calls in the Commodore loss to South Carolina.

Then, the usually mild-mannered Dan Mullen drew a reprimand by calling for severe sanctions against the replay booth official in the Mississippi State-Florida game. Mullen's ire resulted from a play in which Gator linebacker Dustin Doe appeared to have the ball slapped from his hand before getting to the end zone with an intercepted pass. Mullen, in a not-so-forgiving mood hoped "he's severely punished ... if he ever works another SEC game."

Finally, the league's favorite bad boy - Lane Kiffin of Tennessee - got summoned to the principal's office yet again. This time Slive threatened to put him in detention - I mean suspend him - when Kiffin blasted officials after his Vols lost to Alabama when a last-second field goal was blocked.

Kiffin not only felt Bama blocker Terrence Cody should have been penalized for taking his helmet off after the block (but before the whistle), he also claimed that he let the clock wind down because he "wasn't going to let the refs lose the game for us ... or wait for some magical flag to appear."

These smackdowns come a week after Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino vented about poor officiating in a Razorback loss to Florida (the SEC admitted a mistake), and in the aftermath of the conference acknowledging another bad call in Georgia's loss to LSU.


While some complaining may be justified, crying time needs to be over.

Scolding officials has darn near become a national sport in America and it's unseemly. Officials are easy targets. The only time they get attention is when something bad happens.

Quick ... how many college football officials can you name?

Just once wouldn't it be funny to hear a ref lay into Kiffin in the papers?

"Gosh, did you see Lane's playcalling on the goal line against UCLA? Daddy's last name didn't help him much then did it?"

Or how about a zebra getting overheard on the loudspeaker saying ... "How many more lies did Kiffin tell today? Let's see, he accused Meyer of cheating, South Carolinians of being dumb career gas-pumpers, and told a big fib about firing a UT staff member who picked him up late from the airport. What a punk."

Maybe the ref in the Miss State game should have queried Mullen on why he blew the fake punt call against the Gators. Ref to Mullen ... "Nice call coach - you should be penalized - if you ever get another job."

Refs are easy targets and moderately compensated.

Coaches are spoiled, rich, and (some of them) are not real bright (my guess is Kiffin's IQ combined with his SAT score is below 1000).

I'll side with the guys in the stripes.

Here are this week's Top Ten Lists.


The Campus Game Top Ten Rankings (Week 9)

10. Oregon ... Ducks have made remarkable turnaround since disastrous week one.

9. Boise State... Broncos bound for a BCS bowl but not the BCS bowl.

8. TCU ... Horned Frogs defense will give anyone fits.

7. Georgia Tech ... have called Jackets ACC best all season and now they are atop the league.

6. USC ... beware the Trojans if they beat Oregon this week.

5. Iowa ... an undefeated Big Ten champ has been left out of title mix before (see Penn State).

4. Cincinnati ... Bearcats a long-shot to reach title game, but have a chance.

3. Texas ... Longhorns in best position to reach title game.

2. Alabama ... Crimson Tide offense is struggling (as mentioned here a week ago).

1. Florida ... Gators move back to top of TCG rankings.

The Campus Game Top Ten Games (Week 9)

10. Miami at Wake Forest: Hurricanes need help to reach ACC title.

9. Kansas at Texas Tech: Can a Big 12 North team win a meaningful game?

8. Ole Miss at Auburn: Rebels try to continue resurgence against tumbling Tigers.

7. Michigan State at Minnesota: Big Ten bowl bound teams battle for best Florida destination.

6. South Carolina at Tennessee: Mr. Brash (old) meet Mr. Brash (young). Only one has ever won anything though.

5. Cal at Arizona State: PAC-10 is deeper than most "experts" think.

4. West Virginia at South Florida: Mountaineers try to keep Big East hopes alive.

3. Georgia vs. Florida (Jacksonville): Can Dogs break Gator grip on the largest outdoor cocktail party?

2. Texas at Oklahoma State: The biggest remaining obstacle between Longhorns and title game.

1. USC at Oregon: Winner likely on way to Pasadena ... for granddaddy or BCS title game.

See you at kickoff.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

College Football TV Schedule Week 8

The National Football Foundation has published this week's college football television schedule.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Professor's Picks Week 8

2009 Record
Overall: 74-31
Last Week: 10-4

Comment: 10-4 good buddy is a phrase those of a certain age will surely recognize, and it was also last week's record. We now move toward the holiday season still hoping to get together a convoy of victories.

Best Pick: Georgia Tech whipped Virginia Tech as predicted, and the Jackets could be on the cusp of an 11-1 regular season.

Worst Pick: (Tie) Wisconsin could not pull out the win over unbeaten Iowa, and Nebraska laid an egg on behalf of the Big 12 North against Texas Tech.

Here are this week's SEC picks and national games of interest.


SEC Picks

Arkansas (3-3, 1-3) at Ole Miss (4-2, 1-2)
SEC Network 11:21 AM CT
Hollingsworth Field/Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580)
Comment: While the Hogs have earned praise for leading the conference in passing and playing Florida tough on the road last week, Ole Miss has been catching some heat for not living up to preseason expectations. I have a feeling the Rebels will pull this one out.

Professor's Pick: Ole Miss

Tennessee (3-3, 1-2) at Alabama (7-0, 4-0)
CBS 2:30 p.m. CT
Bryant-Denny Stadium (92,012)
Comment: Volunteers come to T-Town fresh from both a week off and the first big win of Lane Kiffin's career (45-19 thumping of Georgia two weeks ago). Now that all the national media seemed to have climbed aboard the Bama bandwagon, I'll become more skeptical (my sense is that the Tide offense may have peaked already). Still, this should be another chance for Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer to give em ... well, Tide fans know the rest of it.

Professor's Pick: Alabama

Louisiana Monroe (3-2) at Kentucky (3-3, 1-3)
FS South 7 p.m. ET
C.M. Newton Field/Commonwealth Stadium (67,942)
Comment: With win over Auburn, UK Wildcats suddenly look bowl worthy - even without their starting QB. Warkhawks of ULM can throw it around a bit, but Big Blue too tough.

Professor's Pick: Kentucky

Vanderbilt (2-5, 0-4) at South Carolina (5-2, 2-2)
ESPNU 7 p.m. ET
Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)
Comment: Two pretty good defenses playing against two sporadic, if not mediocre, offenses project to a low scoring game alongside the Cockaboose Railroad. SC a little better on both sides.

Professor's Pick: South Carolina

Auburn (5-2, 2-2) at LSU (5-1, 3-1)
ESPN2 6:30 p.m. CT
Tiger Stadium (92,400)
Comment: These two squads tend to play close and wacky games. If the Bengal Tigers woeful offense (11th in scoring and 12th in total offense in SEC) is ever going to get better, the Auburn defense might provide the tonic (11th vs the run). Watch for a big dose of the LSU running backs ... but most people have been expecting that all season. The team that can block the other wins. Slight edge to boys from the bayou.

Professor's Pick: LSU

Florida (6-0, 4-0) at Mississippi State (3-4, 1-2)
ESPN 6:30 p.m. CT
Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (55,082)
Comment: Much has been made concerning State coach Dan Mullen's knowledge of Florida's calls and system (since he helped implement the offense as Gator coordinator), but one thing he cannot do is switch players. Just as a hunch tells me Alabama might have peaked for a while, another says the Gators start to growl a little louder this week.

Professor's Pick: Florida

OPEN: Georgia (4-3, 3-2)

Selected National Picks

Oklahoma at Kansas ... both teams trying to recover from big losses. Professor's Pick: Oklahoma

Clemson at Miami ... Tigers a major obstacle to Canes title hopes. Professor's Pick: Miami

South Florida at Pitt ... Panthers try to stay atop Big East race. Professor's Pick: Pitt

Boston College at Notre Dame ... do all Irish games go to last-play? ND breaks long losing streak to Eagles. Professor's Pick: Notre Dame

Penn State at Michigan ... two of college football's flagship programs. Professor's Pick: Penn State

Oregon State at USC ... Beavers ended SC title dreams last season; not this time. Professor's Pick: USC

Texas at Missouri ... Longhorns must avoid post-Oklahoma letdown. Close, but they do. Professor's Pick: Texas

TCU at BYU ... winner tries to woo BCS bowls. TCU dream season ends. Professor's Pick: BYU

Iowa at Michigan State ... does Iowa's dream season end in East Lansing? No. Professor's Pick: Iowa

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Around SEC Football Week 8

Around the SEC

Simply the best ...

In case anyone still needed convincing, this week's bickering provided evidence aplenty of the Southeastern Conference's supremacy in college football.

First, Steve Spurrier called out Alabama for breaking rules. Seems Alabama's kicker (Leigh Tiffin) was putting down a small marker to show where the football would be placed down on extra points and field goals. That may be about the most meaningless rule-breaking that has ever gone on in Tuscaloosa (or anywhere else), but the head ball coach picked up on it and turned in the Tide.

Where else but SEC country would so much attention be given to a little square piece of white tape?

Next, word of a suspension broke.

Not a player or coach, but an official. Actually, make that a whole crew of officials.

The same 20-20 gang that potentially cost Georgia an upset of LSU a while back (with a phanton unsportsmanlike conduct call that the league acknowledged as a mistake) was up to its old tricks, this time in Gainesville.

A 15-yard personal foul call against Arkansas aided Florida's comeback (the Gators scored on the play after the call). The conference released a statement saying no video evidence supported the call ... wonder why it got made then?

This time commissioner Mike Slive had seen enough. The group will not be assigned a game together before Nov. 14th. It's the first time the SEC has ever publicly suspended an officiating crew.

Then came Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin (aka Agent Orange).

Possibly bored after not offending anybody during the Vols off week, Kiffin informed the Big Orange nation that UT had requested to wear their home orange jerseys on the road against Bama this weekend, but had been rebuffed by that mean old Nick Saban (who's also a cheater for using white tape on field goals). I don't think Kiffin mentioned that he hired Bama's best recruiter last winter (and went na-na-na-na-na-na while sticking out his tongue) ... but he may have.

Kiffin has quickly become a sportswriter's best friend. After his Vols beat Georgia two weeks ago, he declared Georgia to be Tennessee's biggest rival (something he had neglected to share previously). Do you get the feeling that had the Vols beaten Florida .. or should they roll over the Tide this weekend, that one of those teams might supplant the Bulldogs as his top rival? Me too.

(By the way, UT could wear those orange jerseys anyway, but would face a 15-yard penalty at the start of each half)

One final bit of melodrama played out deep in the heart of Texas with another UT.

Coach Mack Brown apparently got fed up with being asked why his Texas Longhorns only beat Oklahoma (sans Sam Bradford) by three points. At a press conference, Mack got as testy as Bevo during branding season and sputtered that if it was an SEC game everybody would have been bragging on the defenses.

Not sure why Mack was whining because his Longhorns are in the best position of any team to play for a national title, but his performance was just another bit of evidence.

White tape ... suspended officials ... orange jerseys ... surly coaches from rival leagues.

Yep, the SEC reigns supreme right now.

Campus Game SEC Rankings Week 8

12. Vanderbilt: Commodores just not getting it done on either side.

11. Miss State: Bullies and Dan Mullen get Gators in prime time.

10. Auburn: That 5-0 start is getting farther into rearview mirror.

9. Kentucky: Wildcats had nice comeback on Plains.

8. Georgia: Pretty good game together against pretty bad Vandy.

7. Tennessee: Will week off have Vols ready for Bama?

6. Ole Miss: Rebels can regain respect against Arkansas.

5. Arkansas: Razorbacks battled Florida to the wire.

4. South Carolina: No shame in loss to Bama.

3. LSU: Bengal Tigers still in hunt but face wounded Auburn.

2. Florida: Gators getting by with mental toughness.

1. Alabama: Tide stays atop conference and national TCG rankings.

Check back for Professor's Picks on Friday!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

College Football Week 8

"Things are more like they are now than they ever were before."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

President and General Eisenhower wasn't, but might as well have been, speaking of the BCS rankings.

The initial rankings of the 2009 season came out Sunday. We saw them. We'll debate them, curse them, argue over their merits ... same as next year, same as last year, same as the year before.

Welcome back to The Campus Game, where we can all try to make sense of something that makes no sense.

Here are the first BCS rankings for 2009:

1. Florida
2. Alabama
3. Texas
4. Boise
5. Cincinnati
6. Iowa
7. USC
8. TCU
9. LSU
10. Miami
11. Oregon
12. Georgia Tech

Don't get me wrong. For opponents of a college football playoff (such as me), the BCS system works about as well as any such system could. It can be confounding and confusing, but for the most part seems to function pretty well.

Problems arise because ... like in many other areas (schools, government, etc) ... we expect too much.

The system is only supposed to identify the two teams most worthy of playing in a championship game at the end of the season.

Most significant word in that previous sentence? END.

So, if your squad is a serious title game contender, be patient. The rankings can and will fluctuate between now and early December. For proof, check out the initial BCS rankings for the past two seasons (final bowl destination is indicated):

2008 Week 1

1. Texas (Fiesta)
2. Alabama (Sugar)
3. Penn State (Rose)
4. Oklahoma (BCS Title)
5. USC (Rose)
6. OK State (Holiday)
7. Georgia (Capital One)
8. Texas Tech (Cotton)
9. Ohio State (Fiesta)
10. Florida (BCS Title)
11. Utah (Sugar)
12. Boise (Poinsettia)

2007 Week 1

1. Ohio State (BCS Title)
2. South Florida (Sun)
3. Boston College (Champs Sports)
4. LSU (BCS Title)
5. Oklahoma (Fiesta)
6. South Carolina (No Bowl)
7. Kentucky (Music City)
8. Arizona State (Holiday)
9. West Virginia (Fiesta)
10. Oregon (Sun)
11. Virginia Tech (Orange)
12. Cal (Armed Forces)

Around the Nation

South: In the ACC, Virginia hosts Georgia Tech in a Coastal Division contest. Visiting Clemson poses a threat to Miami's division hopes, and Bobby Bowden will get plenty of attention when his FSU team travels to beautiful Chapel Hill for a Thursday night ESPN game with North Carolina.

The SEC offers up the great "third Saturday in October" tradition with Tennessee visiting Alabama. Rejuvenated Arkansas faces former head Hog Houston Nutt at Ole Miss. Top-ranked Florida also squares off on the road against a former coach as Dan Mullen (past UF offensive coordinator) and Miss State welcome the Gators. Auburn at LSU is worth a watch as well.

North/East: The Big East features a trio of nice games. Louisville paddles the Ohio River to face front-running Cincinnati; South Florida plays at Pitt; U Conn tries to carry on against West Virginia in the aftermath of the Jasper Howard tragedy.

Midwest: Big Ten country provides a terrific pairing of two storied programs when Michigan hosts Penn State. Minnesota travels to Columbus to face Ohio State, the Buckeyes reeling from a loss at Purdue. Unbeaten Iowa faces a hurdle at Michigan State. In South Bend, the hard-luck Irish try to stop yet another losing streak, this one a six-game skid against Boston College.

Southwest: Texas travels to Missouri for one of the toughest remaining tests on the Longhorns schedule. Texas Tech travels to Texas A&M in a game that got a little chippy last year when Red Raider coach Mike Leach tacked on a touchdown with just seconds remaining in a game that was already decided.

West: Potential BCS busters TCU and BYU meet in Provo, while fellow threat Boise State plays at Hawaii. USC seeks to pay back Oregon State for last year's loss. Oregon at Washington might be interesting too.

Here are this week's Top Ten Lists ... Enjoy!

Campus Game Top Ten Rankings (Week 8)

10. TCU (tie) ... Horned Frogs make rankings; can they beat BYU?

10. Boise State (tie) ... Broncos in the top ten, but no title game in future.

9. Georgia Tech ... Jackets offense is thing of beauty; defense not so much.

8. LSU ... a ten-point loss to Gators was no shame.

7. Iowa ... undefeated Hawkeyes still still getting little respect from TCG.

6. Miami ... still expect Canes to lose one or two more, but they deserve rank.

5. Cincinnati ... Brian Kelly keeps Bearcats winning regardless of QB it seems.

4. USC ... Trojans escaped Notre Dame upset bid, now jostle for poll position.

3. Texas ... Longhorns won ugly vs. Oklahoma, but ugly wins count.

2. Florida ... Gators hanging tough but need to score more.

1. Alabama ... Tide holds onto top spot in TCG ratings.

Campus Game Top Ten Games (Week 8)

Oklahoma at Kansas ... both teams trying to recover from big losses.

Clemson at Miami ... Tigers a major obstacle to Canes title hopes.

Tennessee at Alabama ... will week off give Vols edge over Tide?

South Florida at Pitt ... Panthers try to stay atop Big East race.

Boston College at Notre Dame ... do all Irish games go to last-play?

Penn State at Michigan ... two of college football's flagship programs.

Oregon State at USC ... Beavers ended SC title dreams last season.

Texas at Missouri ... Longhorns must avoid post-Oklahoma letdown.

TCU at BYU ... winner tries to woo BCS bowls.

Iowa at Michigan State ... does Iowa's dream season end in East Lansing?

See you at kickoff!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Professor's Picks Week 7

Professor's Picks
Week 7

2009 Record
Overall: 64-27
Last Week: 9-4

Comment: Another just above average week brought the professor to the midterm with about a B average.

Best Pick: The Auburn bandwagon was almost full, so avoiding it and siding with Arkansas worked out fine. Runner-up: Stanford gained quite a bit of attention, but Oregon State handled them at home.

Worst Pick: Even in preseason the Georgia-Tennessee seemed a tough one for the Dogs ... so why did I pick them? Runner-up: Michigan battled Iowa but fell just short of the upset.

Here are this week's SEC picks and national games of interest.


(All Times Eastern)

SEC Picks

Georgia at Vanderbilt (SEC Network 12:21): Dogs are struggling mightily, but the Vandy offense might cure Georgia D woes. Professor's Pick: Georgia

Mississippi State at Middle Tennessee (ESPNU 12:30): Blue Raiders have already knocked off Maryland this season, so it may be very close. Professor's Pick: Miss State

Arkansas at Florida (CBS 3:30): Razorbacks have plenty of firepower to test Gators great defense, but will not be this year's Ole Miss. Professor's Pick: Florida

UAB at Ole Miss (FSN 7:00): Blazers should provide nice midterm break to beleagured Rebels. Professor's Pick: Ole Miss

Kentucky at Auburn (ESPNU 7:30): Kentucky was plucky against South Carolina last week, but struggled when QB Mike Hartline went out. Auburn should recover from Arkansas loss and move to 6-1. Professor's Pick: Auburn

South Carolina at Alabama (ESPN 7:45): Two premier coaches square off and do not be surprised if SC gives Bama a tussle because the old head ball coach has quietly gotten the Gamecocks into Top 25. Still, Tide should keep season-ending dream game vs Florida alive another week. Professor's Pick: Alabama

Open: LSU; Tennessee

Selected National Picks

Boise State at Tulsa (Thursday) ... Golden Hurricane could douse Bronco's BCS busting efforts. Professor's Pick: Boise State

Pitt at Rutgers (Friday) ... Scarlet Knights cannot afford another Big East conference loss. Professor's Pick: Rutgers

Texas Tech at Nebraska ... Huskers defense gets chance to prove itself against terrific passing attack of the Red Raiders. Red Raider win would not surprise but will go with Big Red. Professor's Pick: Nebraska

Iowa at Wisconsin ... Will Hawkeyes unblemished record get scratched up in Madison? Yes. Professor's Pick: Wisconsin

Cincinnati at South Florida (Thursday) ... winner will be favorite to win Big East BCS bid. A terrific game between two unbeatens. Professor's Pick: Cincy

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech ... Since preseason, the Yellow Jackets have been my choice to win ACC (and as darkhorse national title contender). They prove their mettle against tough Hokies. Professor's Pick: Georgia Tech

Oklahoma vs. Texas at Dallas ... Longhorns ride shotgun in the national title chase, in great position to challenge SEC champ. Think Sooner fans would like to spoil that potential title run? I want to pick the upset, but cannot pull the trigger against Bevo and Colt. Professor's Pick: Texas

USC at Notre Dame ... Irish have chance to prove whether they belong among Top 25 against greatest rival. Jimmy Clausen and the ND offense can throw it around the field - if they have enough time. Last year the Trojan defensive front dominated. At start of season, I picked Irish to go 10-2 with losses to Michigan and Southern Cal. I'll stick with that. Professor's Pick: USC

Thursday, October 15, 2009

College Football TV Schedule Week 7

The National Football Foundation has released the television schedule for Week 7 of the college football season.

Around SEC Football Week 7

Around the SEC

Ruminations on the Passing Scene ...

Best Since the Bear ...

Arguably the two best coaches to patrol Southeastern Conference sidelines since Bear Bryant growled on the gridiron meet in Tuscaloosa this weekend when Steve Spurrier and South Carolina face Nick Saban and Alabama.

Spurrier earns my vote as the greatest SEC football coach AB (after Bryant), and third greatest in conference history (behind Coach Bryant and General Bob Neyland of Tennessee). Although he is often erroneously credited with bringing the passing game to the SEC (please see a fellow named
Wally Butts to know better), Spurrier certainly modernized the conference and his Florida teams of the 1990s were terrific.

Saban typically garners less respect as a legendary conference figure than Spurrier, in part because he has spent less time in the league (leaving for a brief NFL gig between stints with LSU and Bama). Still, the man won a national championship in Baton Rouge, rolled the Tide to an unbeaten 2008 regular season in only his second year at the Capstone, and currently has arguably the most impressive team in the nation.

At least one other active SEC coach deserves to be in this conversation - Urban Meyer of Florida. With two national titles in four seasons, the youthful head Gator may simply need just a few years longevity to surpass both Spurrier and Saban.

Note: Vince Dooley (Georgia) and Pat Dye (Auburn) would rank fourth and fifth on my post-Bear list, although I consider Dooley more a contemporary of the Bear since their careers overlapped for many years.

Hot Seats and Cold Showers ...

Speaking of top coaches ... so, Georgia's Mark Richt is on the hot seat?

Come again.

The same Mark Richt with two SEC championships, two Sugar Bowl wins, a 6-2 bowl record, and a career record that stands at sixty games over .500?

The same Mark Richt who leads a life off the field that makes Tim Tebow look like a young Hugh Hefner?

The guy who takes mission trips to Central America during the off-season (where I don't remember reading that he ran into Lane Kiffin, Bobby Petrino, or Nick Saban), and has the Bulldogs build Habitat-for-Humanity homes in the spring and summer?

The guy with the pretty wife that serves as the team water girl, the same wife that went to Eastern Europe to adopt a child after she and Mark were moved to do so by their Christian faith ... and ended up bringing two new Richts home?

That guy is on the hot seat?

Because he can't beat Florida (who can)? Because he lost to Georgia Tech last season (for the first time in eight seasons)? Because he won't fire his coaches (the same staff that compiled all those wins and bowl trips)? Because Lane Kiffin and Tennessee threw some bootleg passes that Georgia couldn't stop and thumped the underachieving Dogs last weekend ... and now the Vols might sign a few more recruits from the Peach State?

Excuse me, but a soothing cold shower might be in order for anybody putting that man on the hot seat.

Last time I looked, a season lasts twelve games, not six; talented freshmen and sophomores dot the skill positions on the Georgia roster (including two highly regarded quarterbacks), Tebow reaches sainthood (or graduates) after this season so Florida will come back to the pack some, and Lane Kiffin seems as much Ron Zook as Urban Meyer.

Maybe the sky is not falling in Athens.

Coach in Waiting ...

Beware Kentucky, this coach-in-waiting strategy is turning into a joke (no offense Joker Phillips).

While it might be understandable for a moderately successful program like Kentucky to wrap up a good assistant by promising him the head coaching job, why would any well-established program do so?

Florida State named Jimbo Fisher heir apparent to Bobby Bowden when the Seminoles hired the LSU offensive coordinator a couple years ago, a decision all involved now seem to rue (possibly including Fisher himself). Well-respected though he might be, Fisher has never been a major college head coach, never a head coach at any level, and he will be walking into a minor mess (the Noles still have talent) when Bowden steps down (or is shoved aside).

Had FSU not pre-emptively named Fisher head coach, think Brian Kelly of Cincinnatti, Chris Peterson of Boise, Gary Patterson of TCU, or other young - but proven - head coaches might be intriguing?

At Texas, head Longhorn-to-be Will Muschamp and current head Horn Mack Brown seem to co-exist well ... but let the program skid a bit and see what happens.

Midterm Conference Rankings

12. Vanderbilt ... last season's bowl seems so long ago.

11. Kentucky ... don't count the Wildcats out of a bowl just yet because the schedule softens soon.

10. Mississippi State ... Dan Mullen has the Bullies playing hard and competing ... and that's about as much as can be expected this season.

9. Georgia ... the Bulldogs are inconsistent on offense and defense, have poor turnover margin (-11 worst in SEC), and rank as one of the nation's most penalized teams (9 per game - worst in SEC).

8. Tennessee ... Vols played a solid game on both sides of ball against Georgia and should win at least three of next six (and probably four or five).

7. Auburn ... Tigers season should not come undone because of loss to Arkansas, but I do expect two-three more hiccups along the way.

6. Ole Miss ... Rebels rank in the top tier of the conference is tenuous.

5. Arkansas ... the Razorbacks are probably a little high here, but trending up because the schedule has some winnable games after the visit to Florida.

4. South Carolina ... Gamecocks schedule looks more and more suspect as Georgia and Ole Miss falter, but the defense is sound.

3. LSU ... Tigers squandered great opportunity against Gators at home, and must regroup for a pretty challenging second-half schedule.

2. Florida ... the Gators may be struggling a bit offensively but they have guts and a great defense. Oh yeah, the guy named Tebow is pretty good too.

1. Alabama ... now that everybody has caught up to The Campus Game (this site had Bama ranked first in the nation before anybody else), the concern becomes overconfidence because this is a tough three game stretch for Tide (SC, Tennessee, bye, LSU).

Be sure to check back Friday for Professor's Picks!

Thursday Night Pick: Cincy over South Florida

Monday, October 12, 2009

Around the Nation Week 7


Week seven of the college football season marks the halfway point of the semester, and students across America understand the significance of that course calendar milestone.

Before loading their cars and leaving campus for home, or the mountains, or the beaches, or even for some seasonal work to earn extra money, students must confront a beast more ghastly than any Halloween costume they will face at the end of the month.

The dreaded midterm examinations.

Those first, few exciting and new ice-breaking weeks of school are long gone. Buddies no longer have time to shoot pool or the breeze. Co-eds might still flirt on the steps of the library, though only for a minute. Surly professors, so open and friendly in late August but now bogged down with grading and committee work, no longer seem quite so approachable. Sleep, always at the top of a student's wish list but the bottom of his to-do list, beckons but must wait.

Good old midterms.

Welcome to The Campus Game, where the professor only gets surly when Georgia or Notre Dame loses (so this midterm week may be a tough one for my students!).

For the past several years, midterm grades have been posted here and 2009 continues our grading efforts.

A few reminders ... there is no curve ... there is no extra credit available ... there are no makeup exams ... and if you complain about the grade - study harder!

Here are grades for the six BCS conferences, plus selected independents and potential BCS busters (conference and overall records listed):


Atlantic Division

Wake Forest 2-1 4-2 ... Deacs deserve credit for beating Stanford, but schedule gets a bit tougher next few weeks. Midterm: B+

Maryland 1-1 2-4 ... the heat is warming up for Fridge. Midterm: F

Boston College 2-2 4-2 ... please spare us another BC-VT title game. Midterm: C

Clemson 1-2 2-3 ... too much talent to lose so many close games. Midterm: C-

NC State 0-2 3-3 ... one win of note in 09 (Pitt) for taciturn Tommy O. Midterm: D

Florida State 0-3 2-4 ... hate to see it get so ugly for Bobby Bowden. Midterm: D

Coastal Division

Virginia Tech 3-0 5-1 ... Beamer ball has turned since loss to Tide. Midterm: B+

Virginia 1-0 2-3 ... this team is not a contender and Al Groh may be out of Mr. Jefferson's U before Christmas. Midterm: D

Georgia Tech 3-1 5-1 ... still my pick for ACC champ. Midterm: B+

Miami 2-1 4-1 ... Canes handled difficult early schedule well. Midterm: A

Duke 1-1 3-3 ... Coach Cut gets chicken salad from lemons or something like that. Midterm: B

North Carolina 0-2 4-2 ... Butch Davis is perhaps too well-repected? Midterm: C-

Big 12

North Division

Kansas 1-0 5-0 ... Jayhawks have played nobody. Midterm: Incomplete

Nebraska 1-0 4-1 ... Watch Bo's boys ... should be unbeaten: Midterm: A-

Kansas State 1-1 3-3 ... remember when that guy used to schedule a bunch of cupcakes for K-State? What - he's back! Midterm: C

Missouri 0-1 4-1 ... much will be learned abou Tigers in next two weeks. Loss to Nebraska hurt grade. Midterm: B-

Colorado 0-1 1-4 ... you know things are bad in Buffalo land when the head coach has to bench his son. Midterm: F

Iowa State 0-2 3-3 ... Cyclones have beaten teams they should've and lost two close ones. Should pass the course. Midterm: C

South Division

Texas 2-0 5-0 ... prize pupil has major assignment this week; a win might be valedictory honors. Midterm: A

Oklahoma State 1-0 4-1 ... only one letdown so far, but haven't beaten anybody of note either. Midterm: B-

Oklahoma 1-0 3-2 ... excused absences make this grade a challenge; ace the exam this week to move the grade back up. Midterm: C+

Texas Tech 1-1 4-2 ... class clown is entertaining but failed two biggest exams of semester. Midterm: C

Baylor 0-1 3-2 ... Bears giving it the old college try in a solid effort to this point. Win at Wake offset by loss to U Conn. Midterm: B-

Texas A&M 0-1 3-2 ... Aggies aced early quizzes but fell behind as pace of semester picked up. Midterm: C-

Big East

Pittsburgh 2-0 5-1 ... no great submissions, but results are good. Midterm: B

Cincinnati 1-0 5-0 ... looks like star of class. Midterm: A

South Florida 1-0 5-0 ... a class favorite, but remaining schedule of assignments will be a challenge. Midterm: A

West Virginia 1-0 4-1 ... does not look like a champion, but certainly passing. Midterm: B

Rutgers 0-1 4-1 ... has recovered from early flub, but not against anybody of note. Midterm: C

Connecticut 0-1 3-2 ... one nice win and two close losses equals a decent grade. Midterm: C+

Louisville 0-1 2-3 ... win over Southern Miss salvages some hope. Midterm: C-

Syracuse 0-2 2-4 ... not much expected, so not failing. Midterm: D+

Big Ten

Ohio State 3-0 5-1 ... failed a big assignment, but may be class best. Midterm: B+

Iowa 2-0 6-0 ... aced all tests so far. Midterm: A

Wisconsin 2-1 5-1 ... good start to semester but could not handle big exam. Midterm: B

Minnesota 2-1 4-2 ... beautiful stadium makes me want to grade soft ... tough schedule looms. Midterm: B

Michigan State 2-1 3-3 ... expected more and Sparty may eventually earn a good grade. Midterm: C

Penn State 1-1 5-1 ... high expectations have not been met, but still might earn Dean's List. Midterm: B

Northwestern 1-1 4-2 ... has not passed any major assignment so I find them suspect. Midterm: B-

Michigan 1-2 4-2 ... failed last two tests, but this student has potential. Watch Wolverines. Midterm: B

Indiana 0-2 3-3 ... good early start has been forgotten, especially with embarrassing loss to Virginia last week. Midterm: C-

Purdue 0-2 1-5 ... five straight losses, each progressively uglier. Midterm: D-

Illinois 0-3 1-4 ... this act has run thin. Midterm: F


Oregon 3-0 5-1 ... early discipline issues are fading. Midterm: B+

Stanford 3-1 4-2 ... recent failure does not lessen potential. Midterm: B

USC 2-1 4-1 ... annual snooze through a minor test costs points, but probably still earns valedictory honors for this class. Midterm: B

Oregon State 2-1 4-2 ... solid year after year. Midterm: B

Washington 2-1 3-3 ... low expectations make performance more impressive. Midterm. A-

Arizona 1-1 3-2 ... under radar but not danger of failing at this point. Midterm: C+

Arizona State 1-1 3-2 ... unsure about this pupil with difficult stretch ahead. Midterm: C-

California 0-2 3-2 ... looked like star student early, but 6 points (total) in last two games? Midterm: D

UCLA 0-2 3-2 ... good early start is thing of past for struggling Bruins. Midterm: C

Washington State 0-4 1-5 ... low expectations have been met. Midterm: D-


East Division

Florida 3-0 5-0 ... professor's pet has passed all tests. Midterm: A-

South Carolina 2-1 5-1 ... with a genius for a coach, the Gamecocks should do well. Midterm: B+

Georgia 2-2 3-3 ... alma mater dear - where's the defense (or the offense)? Midterm: C-

Tennessee 1-2 3-3 ... arrogant students irritate me, but must be graded fairly. Midterm: C+

Kentucky 0-3 2-3 ... results look worse than they should because of schedule. Should pass the course. Midterm: C

Vanderbilt 0-3 2-4 ... not sure I find any more wins on this schedule. Could get ugly. Midterm: D

West Division

Alabama 3-0 6-0 ... best of the class so far. Midterm: A+

LSU 3-1 5-1 ... not sure this squad earned some of those high marks; we'll find out. Midterm: B+

Auburn 2-1 5-1 ... again, low expectations make good results look even better. Midterm: B+

Arkansas 1-2 3-2 ... talented but flawed, this squad could spoil somebody's season at some point. Midterm: C

Mississippi 1-2 3-2 ... read too many press clippings and forgot that grades are earned not given. Midterm: C

Mississippi State 1-2 2-4 ... two more wins are feasible (not probable) but Bullies have competed. Midterm: C+

Independents/BCS Busters

Notre Dame 4-1 ... my beloved team of childhood, the Irish have aged the professor this season. Midterm: B+

Boise State 5-0 ... take some upper level courses so we can get a true reading. Midterm: B+

TCU 5-0 ... love this squad, but doubt they will win out to bust BCS. Midterm: A

Here are this week's Top Ten lists.


Campus Game Top Ten Rankings (Week 7)

10. Kansas ... I like undefeated teams from BCS conferences.

9. TCU ... Horned Frogs get nod over Boise as best of BCS busters.

8. Virginia Tech ... I fully expect Georgia Tech to beat the Hokies this weekend.

7. Miami ... Canes may deserve to be ranked higher.

6. Iowa ... not really a believer, but results are there.

5. USC ... Trojans still in driver's seat among 1-loss teams in my opinion.

4. Cincinnati ... Big East is better than usual and the Bearcats deserve some respect.

3. Texas ... Should Longhorns lasso Sooners this weekend, the path is right there for the BCS title trek.

2. Florida ... Gritty Gators will be tough to dethrone, regardless if offense struggles.

1. Alabama ... Crimson Tide look powerful and only concern seems to be peaking too early.

Campus Game Top Ten Games (Week 7)

Arkansas at Florida ... Razorbacks have plenty of firepower to test Gators great defense.

Boise State at Tulsa (Wednesday) ... Golden Hurricane could douse Bronco's BCS busting efforts.

South Carolina at Alabama ... The head ball coach has quietly gotten SC into the Top 25.

Pitt at Rutgers (Friday) ... Scarlet Knights cannot afford another Big East conference loss.

Texas Tech at Nebraska ... Huskers defense gets chance to prove itself against terrific passing attack of the Red Raiders.

Iowa at Wisconsin ... Hawkeyes unblemished record may get scratched up in Madison.

Cincinnati at South Florida (Thursday) ... winner will be favorite to win Big East BCS bid.

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech ... A Yellow Jacket win could mean end of Hokie reign as ACC champ.

Oklahoma vs. Texas at Dallas ... Think Sooner fans would like to spoil another title run for Horns?

USC at Notre Dame ... Irish have chance to prove whether they belong among Top 25 against greatest rival.

Wednesday Night Pick: Boise over Tulsa

Friday, October 9, 2009

Professor's Picks Week 6

Professor's Picks
Week 6

2009 Record
Overall: 55-23
Last Week: 10-4

Comment: This will be a no frills version of Prof's Picks as we head into midterms (please check back for midterm grades next week).

Best Pick: Many people pegged LSU as next in line to fall from the Top Five, but the Tigers prevailed over the Bulldogs in Athens as prognosticated here.

Worst Pick: A toss-up between overrating Oklahoma, thus missing the Sooner loss to Miami ... or underrating Auburn and whiffing on the Tigers taming of Tennessee.

Here are this week's SEC picks and selected national games of interest.


(All Times Eastern)

SEC Picks

Vanderbilt at Army (CBS College Sports Noon): Commodores get thrill of playing at Michie Stadium along the beautiful Hudson. Vandy should have enough defense to contain Cadets.
Professor's Pick: Vanderbilt

Auburn at Arkansas (ESPN Noon): Tigers won on the road for first time last week and remain unbeaten. Hogs cannot stop anybody, so the AU offense figures to score plenty ... still, I'm waiting on Arkansas to put a whole game together and for Auburn to come to earth. Upset special.
Professor's Pick: Arkansas

Georgia at Tennessee (SEC Network 12:21): Two teams struggling to find an identity. Vols cannot score. Dogs can one week, but not the next. Neither team is very good at this point, but Georgia is probably a little better.
Professor's Pick: Georgia

Houston at Miss State (ESPNU 12:30): A week ago, the Cougars would have been a big favorite to whip the MSU Bullies. A blowout loss to previously unimpressive UTEP changed that storyline. Improving Dogs handle C-USA visitors.
Professor's Pick: Miss State

Kentucky at South Carolina (Fox Sport South 12:30): Two middle of the pack teams jousting for potential bowl positions. Gamecocks have looked better, but do not discount the boys in blue.
Professor's Pick: South Carolina

Alabama at Ole Miss (CBS 3:30): Polls projected Ole Miss to be main challenger in West for the Crimson Tide, but Rebels have disappointed. Toughness looks to be biggest difference between the two ... Bama is tough, Ole Miss is flashy. Tough usually wins.
Professor's Pick: Alabama

Florida at LSU (CBS 8:00): Most likely the top game of the conference regular season. With or without Tim Tebow, I like Florida to win the game. Gators have had a week off, and Urban Meyer and staff are usually pretty good game-planners. What factors give LSU an opportunity? Aside from the Tebow saga ... the Gators can be susceptible to a power rushing attack (and LSU has bruisers in Charles Scott and Keiland Williams); the atmosphere of a night game in Baton Rouge (especially with the national attention and ESPN College Game Day there) might become the overriding factor in the game. It's feasible the crowd might just will the Tigers to a win. So, it's no sure thing, but I expect Florida to play with a bit of a chip on the shoulder.
Professor's Pick: Florida

Selected National Picks

Georgia Tech at FSU ... Can Noles slow Jacket option game (and Bobby Bowden's departure)? No. Professor's Pick: Tech

TCU at Air Force ... Horned Frogs remain potential BCS busters, but Air Force is capable of grounding those hopes. Professor's Pick: TCU

Oregon at UCLA ... PAC-10 race is shaping up to be strange (although USC will likely win it again) and the survivor is in good shape. Professor's Pick: Oregon

Wisconsin at Ohio State ... Badgers are undefeated and unloved by pollsters. Buckeyes will probably show us why in the Shoe. Professor's Pick: Ohio State

Michigan at Iowa ... Which Hawkeye team will show up ... vanquishers of Penn State or pretenders barely beating Arkansas State? Doesn't matter, Wolverines win. Professor's Pick: Michigan

Stanford at Oregon State ... Jim Harbaugh's Cardinal sit atop the PAC-10, but Mike Riley and the Beavers always play tough at home. Professor's Pick: Oregon State

Thursday, October 8, 2009

College Football Television Schedule Week 6

The National Football Foundation has provided its television listing of college football games for Week 6.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

College Football 2009 Week 6

Around Campus
Week 6

Football Folly

Remember those hilarious old football television shows called Football Follies?

The ones created by NFL Films legend Ed Sabol and his son Steve that featured wacky plays, embarrassing bloopers, and voiceovers by funnyman Mel Blanc?

The 2009 college football season is showing signs of becoming a Football Folly – only without the laughs in most instances.

Welcome back to The Campus Game, the college football site where the only folly comes when we make our weekly predictions.

The follies can be categorized into three “P”s … Pinstripes, Programs, and Polls.

Pinstripes: Complaining about college football officials is sort of like complaining about getting grains of sand in your swim trunks at the beach. There’s just too much to avoid so live with it.

Still, seems there is a weekly controversy.

The most egregious call of last Saturday’s games came when an SEC crew flagged Georgia’s mild-mannered receiver A.J. Green for excessive celebration. Gosh fellows, he had just snagged a sensational TD pass with just over a minute remaining to put the Bulldogs ahead of 4th-ranked LSU. His teammates swarmed him and that was it. The penalty was costly as the Tigers Trindon Holliday returned the ensuing kickoff into UGA territory and LSU scored a couple plays later.

The conference released a “My Bad” announcement … seems that Green had stumbled coming out of the pileup and one of the 20-20 gang calling the game took that as Green bringing attention to himself. Makes one wonder whether SEC officials are still keeping a close eye on Georgia after that team celebration against Florida a couple years ago.

Programs: Several programs are turning into potential follies before our very eyes … Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, and Louisville come to mind along with several mid-majors. Still, three program follies really deserve our attention this week.

At Florida State, Jim Smith – Chair of the school’s Board of Trustees (as powerful a position as exists in a public institution of higher learning) – called for Bobby Bowden to be replaced. Smith’s blindside was part of an avalanche of bad news for the man who has probably earned FSU more money than any single figure in the past quarter century. Some newspapers called for a coup, and Bowden’s wife even went public to defend her husband.

FSU fans, boosters, and those newspapermen are entitled to their opinions but should be ashamed. Let the man go out on his terms. Smith’s comments are particularly damaging because his leadership position demands a voice of reason … not simply being a fan. Late word by ESPN is that Bowden will not be forced to step down this season (his contract is up after 2010 but it seems doubtful he'll make it that long).

Oregon also deserves a callout for climbing the folly scale. Seems the Ducks are contemplating allowing RB LaGarrette Blount (he of sucker-punching fame) to rejoin the team if he meets certain stipulations (he had been booted off permanently for his post-game behavior at Boise State).

Two aspects of this turnaround are fishier than the rivers in Oregon.

First, the campus newspaper published an apology from Blount. I've been a college professor for sixteen years, and if Blount actually penned that letter he ranks in the top 5% of students I've taught (more likely is that his laywers drafted it for him). So, when a legal team starts visiting with the school administration something is rotten in Eugene.

Secondly, have you noticed the Oregon won-loss record? That's right the men in (too many shades of) green are legitimate Rose Bowl contenders. Coaches, fans, and administrators get selective memories when Tournament of Roses trips dance in their head.

New Mexico: Yes, Mike Locksley is a rookie head coach and deserves time to prove he is up to the task of leading the Lobos. Yes, Locksley is an African American, one of an embarrasingly low number currently leading major college teams.


If any other university employee punched a subordinate (as Locksley may have done with assistant coach J.B. Gerald) during official college work, that person would have been fired (and likely led off campus by security).

If any other university employee was hit with a sexual harrassment and age discrimination complaint by a subordinate, that person would at least be placed on administrative leave until the matter was cleared.

Locksley's 0-5 start to the season does not help him either, but he's gotten off pretty easy from my perspective.

Polls: Longtime readers of The Campus Game know I do not support a college football playoff. I've yet to see a plan that would not harm the bowl system or make the regular season less important.

However, I do believe there should be more consistency in the national polls. Some voters tend to lock in their votes early in the season; the only way someone moves up is when another team loses. This can result in strange circumstances where a team like USC defeats Ohio State on the road, but gets voted behind the Buckeyes by some voters a couple weeks later following a loss (teams with same record and one beat the other on the road ... how could that happen).

Another issue with polls is lack of transparency. We have no idea who casts the votes for some of the coaches out there. Even publishing the votes of coaches does not give us a full picture of the process.

My thought is that the NCAA, the Football Writers Association, or some other knowledgeable body should develop more specific and consistent guidelines for voters to follow. Perhaps more space will be devoted in a later column.

Here are this week's Top Ten lists.


Campus Game Top Ten Rankings (Week 6)

1o. USC ... Trojans are best of the major one-loss teams in my opinion.

9. Auburn ... Plainsmen have feasted on relatively weak schedule (four of five games at home), but trip to Arkansas will be no picnic.

8. Missouri ... Tigers have ripped apart outmanned opponents to this point, but host sound Nebraska Thursday night.

7. Wisconsin ... how is this 5-0 squad not even in the Top 25 of major polls? Ohio State may show us at the Shoe this weekend.

6. Iowa ... I like to stick with undefeated teams from BCS conferences (even after ugly performances) ... Hawks host Michigan.

5. Cincinnati ... Bearcats best be aware of trip to Tampa in two weeks.

4. LSU ... Tigers survived against Georgia, now face Saturday night showdown with Gators on the bayou.

3. Texas ... Longhorns are well-rested and await arrival of struggling Colorado.

2. Florida ... will Tebow play? That's the big question for the date with LSU.

1. Alabama ... Tide faces biggest challenge to date with trip to Oxford.

Campus Game Top Ten Games (Week 6)

10. Nebraska at Missouri ... Big 12 North early leader will be determined on Thursday night.

9. Georgia Tech at FSU ... Can Noles slow down Jackets (and Bowden's exit)?

8. Georgia at Tennessee ... Will Lane Kiffin finally surpass Urban Meyer (Kid has two wins and Meyer two national titles) against hard-luck Dogs?

7. TCU at Air Force ... Horned Frogs remain in BCS-Buster contention.

6. Oregon at UCLA ... 3-1 Bruins are getting little respect but might earn some with a win over Ducks.

5. Michigan at Iowa ... Which Hawkeye team will show up - vanquishers of Penn State or pretenders barely beating Arkansas State?

4. Stanford at Oregon State ... the Cardinal sit atop the PAC-10 and I really like the job Jim Harbaugh is doing. Mike Riley and Beavers will be a fine test.

3. Auburn at Arkansas ... Two high-octane offenses in what could be a shootout.

2. Alabama at Ole Miss ... Rebs represent biggest threat to a second straight undefeated Tide regular season.

1. Florida at LSU ... all eyes will be on Tim Tebow. Gators have looked mortal even with Mr. Touchdown; without him trouble could be brewing on the bayou (along with plenty of other spirits for this night game).

See you at kickoff!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Professor's Picks Week 5

Professor's Picks
Week 5
by Bob Epling
The Campus Game

2009 Record
Overall: 45-19

Last Week: 11-4

Comment: Last week's picks stayed in the solid B+ range, not stellar but above average. Still waiting on a breakout week with only one or two miscues.

Best Pick(s): Many people projected Ole Miss to be overrated, and South Carolina's Thursday night victory over the Rebs justified that skepticism. Virginia Tech slowed Miami's march back to national prominence as predicted in this spot last week.

Worst Pick(s): Florida State's roller coaster season descended quickly when the Noles plunged to a home loss against South Florida. Iowa punctured Penn State's potential Pasadena pilgrimage.

Here are this week's SEC Picks and selected national games.


(All times Eastern)

SEC Picks

Alabama at Kentucky (12:21 SEC Network) ... For a team ranked in the top five nearly all season, the Crimson Tide garnered little national attention for much of September, but expect that to change. Several pundits now call Bama the nation's best team. The game at Lexington is a potential trap for the Tide as a West Division showdown with Ole Miss looms next week. The Red Elephant offense has been balanced (3rd in SEC in both passing and rushing), the play of QB Greg McElroy sound (7 TD-1 INT), and the emergence of freshman RB Trent Richardson gives the Tide one more playmaker. Kentucky is last in the conference against the rush, so expect Bama to pound a bit in this one. Enjoy two of the nation's premier return men in Javier Arenas of UA and Derrick Locke of UK.
Professor's Pick: Alabama

LSU at Georgia (3:30 CBS) ... The Amazing Kreskin would have a tough time figuring out these two squads. Georgia needs to stock defibrillators around Sanford Stadium because the Dogs keep playing heart-stoppers. One week QB Joe Cox and the offense light up Arkansas or South Carolina while the defense provides less resistance than the gentle current of the Oconee River rolling past Athens; other weeks the defense slows down a good Oklahoma State team or repeatedly stifles Arizona State to save the game after a late turnover by the UGA offense. LSU has been similarly confounding. Based on press reviews, we might guess the Tigers were ranked the fourth best team in Louisiana instead of fourth best in the whole of the good ole USA. Rangy receivers Brandon LeFell and Terrance Toliver could pose big issues for Georgia's corners, but the same can be said of Georgia's wideouts who are led by the terrific A.J. Green. The teams rank lower in league statistics than their combined 7-1 record would suggest ... LSU is last in total offense, Georgia next to last in total defense. LSU is ninth in total defense, Georgia is ninth in total offense. Both have outstanding punt and kick teams. Tough call, but LSU has yet to play well ... I think they do in this one and tame the Dogs in Athens.
Professor's Pick: LSU

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (7:00 ESPNU) ... The Rebels are licking wounds after the loss to South Carolina. While Ole Miss should have enough offensive firepower to outscore Vandy, the Commodores cannot be overlooked. The psychological state of the Rebs will be important because their entire season had been pointing to next week's game against Alabama. Perhaps a somewhat risky pick, but let's take Ole Miss.
Professor's Pick: Ole Miss

SC State at South Carolina (7:00 ESPN Classic) ... a nice non-conference game for the Roosters in that the State Bulldogs should provide just enough competition to keep the game interesting for a while. SC State comes in 3-0, but the old ball coach and his Gamecocks should be riding high after handling Ole Miss last Thursday.
Professor's Pick: South Carolina

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (7:30 ESPN2) ... Two quarterbacks putting up huge numbers will play at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Undefeated A&M features Jerrod Johnson who passes for 320 yards a game and adds another 65 on the ground. Johnson is responsible for more points per game than any player in America (26). The 1-2 Hogs counter with big Ryan Mallet. He leads the SEC in passing (292 ypg) and has a 7-1 TD-INT ratio. Should be entertaining, but I like the Razorbacks due to their tougher schedule.
Professor's Pick: Arkansas

Georgia Tech at Miss State (7:30 CSS) ... One of my favorite games of the weekend. MSU head coach Dan Mullen has brought new excitement to Starkville, and the Bully offense features solid running back Anthony Dixon (2nd in SEC rushing at 107 ypg). Tech counters with Paul Johnson's quick-strike option offense and outstanding back Jonathan Dwyer, the ACC preseason player of the year. The Jackets are my pick to win the ACC and I originally liked them as a dark-horse national title contender (tough to swallow for a Georgia grad and SEC man) until they showed too many inconsistencies on both sides of the ball. MSU should know how to defend the option fairly well, but the Rambling Wreck ought to run past the Bulldogs.
Professor's Pick: Georgia Tech

Auburn at Tennessee (7:45 ESPN) ... An intriguing game between two new SEC coaches. The Auburn offense has surprised most everyone (including me) by putting up 45 points per game. QB Chris Todd has an outstanding 11-1 TD-INT ratio, and his passing is complemented by an excellent rush attack featuring Ben Tate and Onterio McCalebb. On Rocky Top, Tennessee has its own nice tailback tandem in Montario Hardesty and Bryce Brown. The big difference is at quarterback. UT's Jonathan Crompton ranks 10th in the SEC in passing yards per game and has not provided any spark for the Vol offense. Both teams are solid on defense, so the only other mismatch might be on the sideline. It will be interesting to see how AU's Gene Chizik fares against the more balleyhooed (and controversial) Lane Kiffin of Tennessee. In some ways, this is the first big game each team could reasonably be expected to win. I've been more impressed with Chizik than Kiffin, but after going back and forth the Neyland Stadium crowd leads me to the Big Orange.
Professor's Pick: Tennessee

Selected National Picks

Air Force at Navy: First round of commander's cup; can AFA break Middie's grip? Professor's Pick: Navy

Pitt at Louisville: Winner moves into contention in Big East race for BCS. Professor's Pick: Pitt

Cincinnati at Miami (Ohio): Upset alert for Bearcats against nearby rival? Nah. Professor's Pick: Cincy

Wisconsin at Minnesota: Two pretty good Big Ten teams scrap for position; Gophers hand Bucky first loss. Professor's Pick: Minnesota

Michigan at Michigan State: Rich Rod and Wolves will be taken seriously with a win ... they get it. Professor's Pick: Michigan

USC at Cal: Much still rides on the outcome ... until someone knocks Tommy Trojan from perch astride PAC 10, I'm sticking with them. Professor's Pick: USC

Oklahoma vs. Miami: Not quite the Barry Switzer-Jimmy Johnson teams of the 80s, but not bad. With or without Sam Bradford, I believe Sooner defensive pressure will prove too much for young Canes. Professor's Pick: Oklahoma

Thursday, October 1, 2009

College Football Television Schedule Week 5

College Football TV Schedule
Week 5
... all times Eastern
... courtesy National Football Foundation
... listed by conference member's home game

Atlantic Coast (ACC)

Saturday, October 3
  • Clemson @ Maryland , ESPNU , 12 noon ; Clay Matvick, David Diaz-Infante
  • Virginia @ North Carolina, Raycom , 12 noon ; Steve Martim, Rick Walker, Mike Hogewood
  • (6)Virginia Tech @ Duke , ESPN360, 12 noon ; Dave Weekley, Danny Kanell
  • Florida State @ Boston College , ABC, 3:30 p.m.; Sean McDonough, Matt Millen, Holly Rowe
  • NC State @ Wake Forest, ESPNU, 3:30 p.m. ; Todd Harris, Charles Arbuckle
  • (8)Oklahoma @ (21)Miami , ABC , 8 p.m.; Brent Musberger, Kirk Herbstreit, Lisa Salters
Big East

Thursday, October 1
  • Colorado @ West Virginia , ESPN, 7:30 p.m.; Chris Fowler, Craig James, Jesse Palmer, Erin Andrews
Friday, October 2
  • Pittsburgh @ Louisville, ESPN2, 8 p.m.; Joe Tessitore, Rod Gilmore
Saturday, October 3
  • South Florida @ Syracuse , Big East Network , 12 noon ; Mike Gleason, John Congemi, Quint Kessenich
  • Texas Southern @ Rutgers , No TV, 12 noon
Big Ten

Saturday, October 3
  • Arkansas State @ (17)Iowa , ESPN2 , 12 noon ; Pam Ward, Ray Bentley
  • (20)Michigan @ Michigan State , Big Ten Network ,12 noon; Wayne Larrivee, Chris Martin, Charissa Thompson
  • Northwestern @ Purdue, Big Ten Network, 12 noon; Ari Wolfe, Anthony Herron, Tony McGee
  • Wisconsin @ Minnesota, ESPN , 12 noon ; Dave Pasch, Bob Griese, Chris Spielman
  • (13)Penn State @ Illinois, ABC , 3:30 p.m.; Mike Patrick, Craig James, Heather Cox
  • (9)Ohio State @ Indiana, Big Ten Network, 7:00 p.m; Craig Coshun, Glen Mason, Rebecca Haarlow
Big 12

Saturday, October 3
  • Kansas State @ Iowa State , FCS Central , 3 p.m.; Dan McLaughlin, Yogi Roth, Samantha Steele
  • New Mexico @ Texas Tech , FSN, 3:30 p.m.; Bill Land, Gary Reasons, Emily Jones
  • Kent State @ Baylor, FSN , 7 p.m. ; Joel Meyers, Dave Lapham, Jim Knox
Conference USA

Thursday, October 1
  • Southern Miss @ UAB, CBS College , 8 p.m.; Dave Ryan, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila
Saturday, October 3
  • East Carolina @ Marshall, CBS College , 12 noon; Tom Hart, Aaron Taylor
  • Memphis @ Central Florida , Bright House Network, 3:30 p.m.; Drew Fellios, Mark Royals, Dave Baumann
  • Tulsa @ Rice , CBS College , 7:30 p.m.; Jason Knapp, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila
  • (15)Houston @ UTEP , No TV , 9 p.m.

Saturday, October 3
  • Toledo @ Ball State, ESPN Plus , 12 noon ; Michael Reghi, Doug Chapman
  • (11)Cincinnati @ Miami(OH) , ESPN360, 1 p.m. ; Jim Barbar, Jerod Cherry
  • Temple @ Eastern Michigan, All-MACcess web stream, 1 p.m.
  • Western Michigan @ Northern Illinois, CSN Chicago, 3:30 p.m.; Dave Kaplan, Bob Chmiel
  • Central Michigan @ Buffalo , Time Warner-NY, 3:30 p.m. ; Howard Simon, Ruben Brown
  • Ohio @ Bowling Green, BCSN , 4 p.m.; Greg Franke, Tom Cole
Mountain West

Friday, October 2
  • Utah State @ (21)BYU, The Mtn. , 9 p.m.; Bill Doleman, Blaine Fowler, Toby Christensen
Saturday, October 3
  • New Mexico State @ San Diego State, No TV , 8 p.m.
  • SMU @ (10)TCU , The Mtn. , 8 p.m.; James Bates, Todd Christensen, Cash Sirois

Saturday, October 3
  • UCLA @ Stanford, ABC, 3:30 p.m. ; Dave Lamont, David Norrie
  • Oregon State @ Arizona State , Versus , 7:00 p.m.; Ron Thulin, Kelly Stouffer, Lewis Johnson
  • (7)USC @ (19)California, ABC , 8 p.m.; Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham
  • Washington State @ (25)Oregon, Oregon Sports Network, 9:15 p.m.; Joe Giansante, Anthony Newman

Saturday, October 3
  • (3)Alabama @ Kentucky , SEC Network , 12:21 p.m.; Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Cara Capuano
  • (4)LSU @ (14)Georgia, CBS , 3:30 p.m.; Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson
  • South Carolina State @ South Carolina , ESPN Classic, 7 p.m. ; Bob Wischusen, Brian Griese
  • (18)Ole Miss @ Vanderbilt , ESPNU, 7 p.m.; Eric Collins, Brock Huard
  • Georgia Tech @ Mississippi State, CSS, 7:30 p.m.; Doug Bell, Chris Doering
  • Arkansas vs. Texas A&M @ Arlington , ESPN2 , 7:30 p.m.; Mark Jones, Bob Davie
  • Auburn @ Tennessee , ESPN , 7:45 p.m.; Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, Erin Andrews
Sun Belt

Saturday, October 3
  • Wyoming @ Florida Atlantic , No TV, 4 p.m.
  • Florida International @ Louisiana-Monroe, Sun Belt Network, 3:30 p.m.; Todd Kalas, Derek Rackley
Tuesday, October 6
  • Middle Tennessee State @ Troy , ESPN2 , 8 p.m. ; Eric Collins, Brock Huard

Saturday, October 3
  • UNLV @ Nevada , No TV, 4p.m.
  • UC Davis @ (5)Boise State , KTVB, 8 p.m.; Mark Johnson, Tom Scott, David Augusto
  • Colorado State @ Idaho, ESPNU, 10:30 p.m. ; Carter Blackburn, Jon Berger

Saturday, October 3
  • Tulane @ Army, CBS College , 12 noon ; Dave Ryan, Jason Sehorn, Cadet Kim Cowan
  • Air Force @ Navy, CBS College , 3:30 p.m.; Craig Bolerjack, Randy Cross
  • Washington @ Notre Dame , NBC, 3:30 p.m.; Tom Hammond, Pat Haden, Alex Flanagan

Saturday, October 3
  • Penn @ Dartmouth, Versus ,12 noon ; Mike Crispino, Ross Tucker
  • Lafayette @ Yale , LSN/MASN , 12 noon ; Gary Laubach, John Leone
  • Rhode Island @ Brown, No TV , 12:30 p.m.
  • Harvard @ Lehigh, Service Electric 2 Sports (live) /FCS Atlantic (delay), 12:30 p.m. ; Matt Kerr, Matt Markus, Tom Fallon
  • Cornell @ Colgate, No TV, 1 p.m.
  • Columbia @ Princeton,Verizion FIOS One, 3 p.m.