Category Archives: Louisville

Fixing College Football, Part I of ?: Doing Away With Divisions


Divisions in Power 5 conferences are stupid. There, I said it.

At a time where revenues are such that all away games, with few exceptions, call for chartered flights, I don’t buy the monetary concern. When preserving the ‘sanctity’ of a Georgia/Kentucky or Mississippi State/LSU rivalry, I don’t care. And following another season similar to the last few, where:

  • The SEC East is a complete dumpster fire, where 5 West teams could have easily won it.
  • Clemson and Florida State carry the crown for the ACC and play in the same division.
  • Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State (and Michigan State, until 2016) play in the same division because of geography, and THAT’S A BETTER SYSTEM THAN THE ONE THEY HAD IN PLACE!

I’m adapting from a model Bill Connelly posited on SBNation this summer, because its a fascinating thought exercise, and it makes too much sense. In it:

  • The Pac-12, with divisions and a 9-game schedule, is fine for now.
  • The Big XII, jumbled mess as it is, has a round-robin (and a conference championship game starting next year, because SPORTS).

For the three fourteen-team conferences, division play doesn’t work. Unless you look forward to Georgia’s FIRST trip to conference rival Texas A&M during the end of Trump’s second term. Or your next trip to the Grove in 2029.

I’m not down for that. I’m not down for watching the Missouris and Floridas of the world get PASTED in the SEC Championship. I (Bill C first) want the following: keep an eight-game schedule, with three annual rivals and a rotation through the other 10 teams on a semiannual basis. Meaning, instead of going Mark Richt’s whole tenure before playing an SEC West opponent twice, you play a home-and-home with everyone every four years.

I’ll workshop this for all 42 teams involved below, but an example of what this would look like for Georgia:

Primary rivals: Auburn, Florida, South Carolina

Year 1: Alabama, at Kentucky, Ole Miss, at Missouri, Vanderbilt
Year 2: at Arkansas, LSU, at Mississippi State, Tennessee, at Texas A&M

Done in four-year cycles, one could even adapt years 3 and 4 from the first two to account for random shifts in competitive balance. Perhaps pair off each team for their non-rivals, so Kentucky doesn’t draw Alabama and Auburn, Mizzou doesn’t draw Georgia and Florida, etc.

This is the best I could come up with from a “PRESERVE OUR RIVALRIES!” perspective (and this may match Connelly verbatim, but I’m not checking):

Team Rival Rival Rival
Alabama Auburn Tennessee Ole Miss
Arkansas Mizzou Texas A&M LSU
Auburn Alabama Georgia Miss State
Florida Georgia Tennessee South Carolina
Georgia Florida Auburn South Carolina
Kentucky Missouri Vanderbilt South Carolina
LSU Texas A&M Miss State Arkansas
Mississippi Miss State Vanderbilt Alabama
Mississippi State Ole Miss LSU Auburn
Missouri Arkansas Kentucky Texas A&M
South Carolina Georgia Florida Kentucky
Tennessee Vanderbilt Florida Alabama
Texas A&M LSU Arkansas Mizzou
Vanderbilt Tennessee Kentucky Ole Miss

Some thoughts: South Carolina and Kentucky were SUPER hard to place. Kentucky gets, from a historical perspective, the easiest three games of anyone. Off the top of my head, there are no major rivalries that go unprotected, with the exception of Alabama/LSU (a more recent one, anyway).

The biggest misses? Tennessee/Kentucky, as Kentucky gets screwed out of the one game they get really worked up about. Bama/LSU, obviously.

I’d give myself a 10/10 for this. A&M, Arkansas, Mizzou, and LSU all preserve their regional rivalries. South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida all keep many of theirs. Vanderbilt/Ole Miss in the Khaki Bowl is still an annual event. Bama maintains history with Tennessee and Ole Miss, in addition to (obviously) Auburn.

If you don’t care about the ACC, you can stop reading now. Tried to draw it up there as well, but it is MUCH harder with the four North Carolina schools and the ‘old vs. new’ mentality that persists behind the scenes:

Team Rival Rival Rival
Boston College Syracuse Pitt Clemson
Clemson Georgia Tech N.C. State BC
Duke North Carolina Wake Forest Louisville
Florida State Miami Wake Forest N.C. State
Georgia Tech Clemson Miami Virginia
Louisville Pitt Virginia Tech Duke
Miami Florida St. Georgia Tech Syracuse
North Carolina Duke N.C. State Virginia
N.C. State North Carolina Clemson Florida State
Pitt Louisville BC Syracuse
Syracuse BC Miami Pitt
Virginia Virginia Tech North Carolina Georgia Tech
Virginia Tech Virginia Louisville Wake Forest
Wake Forest Duke Florida State Virginia Tech

This was friggin’ impossible. So many games that don’t make sense, especially for the Florida schools and the Northern schools, who would indubitably want games in the fertile Florida recruiting grounds.

Competitive balance, as it stands now, is a problem. N.C. State gets hosed, while UNC, Virginia Tech, and Pitt get relatively easy runs. I thought I’d be able to place Miami with more than one old Big East rival, but no dice.

For the B1G, I quit because I don’t care. But they need it worse than anyone else.

What do you think? Should we do away with divisions in order to make the conference feel like a conference again? Did I blow it on any rivalries?

 

 

 

The Playoff Race Is Interesting and Fun Right Now, So Let’s Talk About It


Saturday was a historic day in college football, as two of last week’s playoff teams lost to unranked opponents, and another lost to a left-for-dead-and-revived USC.

We got so much chaos, that…things should hardly change from where we were a week ago. Clemson, Michigan, and Washington’s losses don’t actually HELP the two reasonable teams we could’ve slotted into the playoffs in their stead, because they’re no closer to division championships.

If anything, the race only got more interesting because there’s a lot less room for error. Let’s handicap teams with a shot by conference:

SEC: Alabama.

That’s it. They’ve clinched the West, everyone else has a loss, and they’re unequivocally the best team in college football. Even if you’re dumb enough to think Auburn and Florida can BOTH beat them, that’s too bad because they’re still probably in and coming for your cookies.

ACC: Clemson and Louisville.

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You could’ve come up with a scenario whereby North Carolina and Virginia Tech both had outside shots. North Carolina lost to Duke, and Virginia Tech lost to Georgia Tech. Despite my best efforts in pumping up the ACC Coastal on this website and my Twitter account, the Coastal done Coastal’d.

While the Coastal was doing Coastal things, Clemson reverted back to Clemsoning. Failing to run out the clock needing just a yard on third and fourth down, the Tigers allowed Pitt to drive the field and kick a walkoff field goal, losing 43-42 at home.

And it doesn’t really matter, unless you think Wake Forest is beating Clemson this week. They still hold the tiebreaker over Louisville. Assuming Clemson takes care of Wake, South Carolina, and probably still Virginia Tech (ugh), they’re solidly in.

Louisville is an interesting case study without precedent, as the first two CFP’s were fairly clean with deserving conference champs. Saturday broke perfectly for them, as an 11-1 Louisville probably gets in if Michigan can keep the B1G fairly clean (thus eliminating Ohio State and Wisconsin in the process), and Washington drops one more (suddenly feasible).

So, the ACC still stands as the league with the best case to get two in the playoff for the first time, like we all saw coming three years ago. Clemson is basically 2014 Florida State and will lose the semifinal. Louisville is fascinating.

B1G: Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State

This is where things get wonky, because Barry Alvarez has too much influence. In order of simplicity, this is how these teams make it:

  • Michigan wins out, thus eliminating Ohio State (2 losses), Penn State (head-to-head), and Wisconsin (title game).
  • Wisconsin wins out, and gets in with two close losses to Michigan and Ohio State.
  • Penn State wins out and Ohio State beats Michigan, giving us by FAR the weakest CFP team in its short history. This is a team that got DRUG by Michigan and lost to Pitt (playoff team-killer Pitt, apparently). They hold the tiebreaker over OSU, and the B1G will have a representative.
  • Ohio State beats Michigan, Rutgers or Michigan State beats Penn State (lolyeahright).

I said above that the ACC has a clear path to two teams. The B1G may have a better case. Ohio State is likely #2 in this week’s rankings, so they’ll already have a leg up on Louisville. Win out, don’t participate in a silly 13th game, and set up a Saban/Urban rematch in the 1/4 game.

Pac-12: Washington, Washington State (?), Colorado (?)

Washington’s hold is now tenuous, but a bump from a win over a smoking hot Wazzu and a Pac-12 Championship probably puts them back in the 4 spot. Based on what I saw the other night, I wouldn’t give them even odds to get through the next three weeks alive.

Washington State and Colorado are fascinating. Wazzu lost to Eastern Washington and Boise early on, but has swept the Pac-12. An 11-2 Wazzu is probably Rose Bowl-bound, so they’d need all of the 1-loss non-champs to lose. Same goes for Colorado…but Colorado has super-quality losses to Michigan and USC.

No, Washington State and Colorado don’t have a shot unless we’re looking at UT-Chattanooga starting Alabama on a three-game losing streak and eliminating the SEC. Or Virginia Tech winning the ACC while Louisville drops one to Houston or Kentucky.

XII: West Virginia, Oklahoma

Thank God we don’t have to talk about Baylor anymore (this is a week late, but even more so now).

WVU and Oklahoma conveniently play this Saturday– assuming WVU wins out, their case really is pretty compelling. 11-1, the all-important “scheduling intent” with wins over Mizzou and BYU– there would have to be some committee mental gymnastics taking place, but a 1-loss WVU SHOULD be in over a 2-loss Washington, and probably a one-loss Ohio State or Louisville…right?

Probably not.

But maybe.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, lost to Houston and Ohio State, so their ‘scheduling intent’ game is SKRONG. A 9-0 finish would push them over a 2-loss Washington, I suppose.

I think both would need help from the B1G’s #2 and Louisville, but they’re not dead yet.

My Playoff Ranking Guess, Because I Love Being Wrong

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Louisville
  4. Michigan
  5. Clemson
  6. Washington
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Penn State
  9. Oklahoma
  10. West Virginia
  11. Colorado
  12. Oklahoma State
  13. USC (highest 3-loss team)
  14. Auburn
  15. LSU
  16. Utah
  17. Florida State
  18. Washington State
  19. Nebraska
  20. Western Michigan
  21. Texas A&M (somehow)
  22. Florida
  23. Boise State
  24. San Diego State
  25. Virginia Tech

HOOO BOY WEEK 3 IS LEGIT


Let’s start with this: I hope Penn State loses to Temple, thus rendering the PedoBears 3rd best in Pennsylvania. That game starts at noon, and so do the following:

#2 Florida State at #10 Louisville: Have you heard of Lamar Jackson? Lamar Jackson scored 13 touchdowns in his first 60 minutes of play this year. Lamar Jackson is a sophomore. Lamar Jackson did this:

And that’s just the Louisville side. Can’t think I remember GameDay being a nooner before, but hey. Early season scheduling, man.

#25 Miami at App State: This….is a game that is happening. No words, man.

There’s other football on at noon, but that pair (plus Penn State losing to Temple) should be the CRUNKEST noon slate ever.

#1 Alabama  at #19 Ole Miss: The best of the mid-afternoon bunch, but…

#22 Oregon at Nebraska: The classic “Oregon is garbage against the run, and Nebraska can’t run the ball”; and

Colorado at #6 Michigan: Jim Harbaugh, certified obnoxious sociopath, refuses to publish weekly depth charts. Then he got pissed about Colorado’s for this week:

And hey, if you can get it, Syracuse at South Florida and Pitt at Oklahoma State both stand to be really fun.

The evening features two games between SEC West coaches that need wins to stay off the hotseat, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you don’t have Xfinity’s 8-channel “previous” option, you need to establish a favorites list.

The aforementioned SEC West Anxiety Bowls: Mississippi State at #20 LSU (MSU’s Dan Mullen is the safest of these four coaches but wants out of Starkville) and Texas A&M at Auburn.

Buuuuutttttt….you’re an SEC homer if you jump on those.

(Georgia plays at Mizzou on SEC Network, they start at 7:30)

#3 Ohio State at #14 Oklahoma: I think Ohio State has 13-0 laid out for them if they win at OU. Even if not, they are in good position to win the B1G because the B1G is awful. The Big XII is also awful, and Oklahoma could lose this and become the first two-loss playoff team.

#12 Michigan State at #18 Notre Dame: I guess its interesting.

USC at #7 Stanford: Watch USC win this game just to troll us all.


Do your chores, skip GameDay, and saddle up. Don’t start drinking til around 5 if you want to make it through the marquees and the Dawgs.

Here’s What Mattered in Week 2


Yes, I know this is like five days late. 

As the urgent post stated last night, we had to get the bad taste of the Nicholls embarrassment out of our collective mouths. Let’s talk about it and move on.

What Happened with Georgia

Beat Nicholls 26-24, and it was precisely that ugly. Who said Mark Richt was gone?

Okay, done.

What Happened with the SEC

  • 30 for 30: the Florida/Kentucky rivalry. This is a game played by unpaid 18-22 year-olds and an oblong football. 30 straight wins at ANYTHING is amazing.
    • Sidebar: Kentucky is a straight trash fire.
  • South Carolina’s SEC East lead was short-lived, huh? Mississippi State takes a commanding lead in the SEC West with a 27-14 win over the Cocks.
  • Tennessee beat Va Tech 45-24, but were they any good? Josh Dobbs threw for 91, Kamara and Hurd rushed for a combined 108…Tennessee has recovered 10 of 12 total fumbles in their two games this year. I bet that luck will even out.
  • LSU changed quarterbacks, Nick Saban was mad at a 28-point win over the defending CUSA champ, Ole Miss, A&M, Auburn, Vandy, and Mizzou beat hapless opponents.
  • Arkansas won a wild one against TCU, and it was the best game of the week. When you have a 6’10 O-lineman forcing overtime with a blocked kick, you get giffed.

What Else Was Fun

Got to start with the snark alert: Penn State lost a game to Pitt, who should not be their rival. Setting up the game this coming week in which they…honor Joe Paterno.

Get out of your asses and a little less tonedeaf, Penn State.

Beyond that…gotta be real with y’all. Did not get to watch much non-SEC/UNC football. Oklahoma State got hosed, weird things happened after midnight.

Back in an hour with some analysis on a much more fun week 3.

The Teams that Matter, Ranked

  1. Alabama…go Rebs.
  2. Florida State?? This ish could change by 2:30pm tomorrow.
  3. Ohio State.
  4. Houston. I’m watching them make me regret that pick right now.
  5. Michi…gahhhheffit. I used to like Michigan before Jim Harbaugh got there.
  6. Clemson, with some downward momentum. Like, a lot.
  7. Ole Miss…go Rebs.
  8. Stanford, who could lose 3 games in the next month.

I don’t think Tennessee, Michigan State, Texas, Louisville, Notre Dame, or Georgia merit mention here.

 

 

What We Learned From A Wild Week 1


More rambling thoughts and reactions from Week 1’s stacked slate. 

SEC Thoughts:

It was a pretty strange week in SEC country. Alabama did what it does every year, and asserted its dominance right out of the gate by dominating a name program (beat USC 52-6). One can always hold out hope for the perfect storm of miscues and the Tide loss, but true freshman Jalen Hurts is probably the most talented QB to play at Bama in the Nick Saban era. And he’ll be there for at least the next three years. Yikes. They outgained SC by almost 300 yards, had near-perfect balance on offense, and were dominant on defense.

Outside of that, Georgia and Texas A&M probably tie for the most impressive week 1’s. A&M has a defense for once, but with a questionable offense still likely has a 9-win ceiling at most. Based on what I saw with the Dawgs, they SHOULD be considered the favorites in the SEC East. Here’s hoping they can shore up the rough edges before the big game in Oxford in 17 days.

The rest of the SEC was, quite frankly, trash. Mississippi State literally CLANGA’d the goalpost to lose to South Alabama, 21-20. Florida couldn’t get anything going on offense and beat UMass 24-7. Tennessee should’ve lost to App State. Arkansas should’ve lost to Louisiana Tech.

Among the impressive losers, Ole Miss’ first half against FSU was SCARY good. Second half was typical Ole Miss. Auburn was probably most impressive in forcing an off night from Deshaun Watson and having a couple of chances to win late.

LSU was not an impressive loser. For the first time, I understand the “Fire Les Miles” camp.

The most hilarious things transpired with the remnants of the SEC East. South Carolina and Vandy proved that, while stubborn, are going to have to drag teams into rockfights to compete in-conference this year (they won’t). Mizzou…only gave up 26 to West Virginia? Scoring 11 registers as an improvement over their vs. P5 points per game a year ago. And Kentucky. Oh, Kentucky. The offensive coordinator they fired this offseason put up the final 34 points CONSECUTIVELY in a hilarious 44-35 Southern Miss win.

If Tennessee and Florida don’t get it together, Georgia had freaking better return to Atlanta in December.

Teams I Like Better Than Others, Ranked: 

  1. Alabama– self explanatory.
  2. Florida State– I was ready to bury them as they fell behind 28-6, Deondre Francois looked completely lost, and the defense looked even more lost. A couple of Chad Kelly mistakes let the Noles back in, and the rest was history. Second-half FSU is the second-best team in the country.
  3. Ohio State– drubbed Bowling Green 77-10, which is fine. If they can take advantage of Oklahoma’s unwillingness to run the ball on Sept. 17, I’ll call them a playoff lock.
  4. Houston– not their fault that OU didn’t run the ball.
  5. Clemson– the defense (probably because Auburn) was stout, and Deshaun Watson won’t be that off again all season.
  6. Stanford– Pac-12 is hot garbage.
  7. Ole Miss– yeah, they lost, but the Landsharks were SWARMING and the offense was unstoppable…for a half. If they can put that together consistently (they probably can’t!) they can still be a problem.
  8. Michigan– (begrudgingly)
  9. Louisville– Lamar Jackson had 8 first-half TD’s. Sure, the opponent was Charlotte, but…damn.

Cool Things That Happened:

This is the coolest sports thing I’ve ever seen: Nebraska took a delay of game to honor fallen punter Sam Foltz. And Fresno State declined the penalty.

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Texas and Notre Dame played an amazing game. Shane Buechele and new OC Sterlin Gilbert looked like a possible answer for Texas’ long-running QB problems, and Charlie Strong got carried off the field for the second time in under a year. He doesn’t deserve the criticism he’s gotten for cleaning up Mack Brown’s program, and he may be turning the corner. Or not. You never know with Texas these days.

FCS UPSETS! Virginia’s 37-20 loss to Richmond was too predictable. Washington State lost to Portland State to open last year, and finished 9-4. They followed that template with a loss to Eastern Washington. Northern Iowa ruined Matt Campbell’s debut at Iowa State 25-20 (and makes you wonder if the Big XII expansion rumors can include relegation of ISU and Kansas). EVEN THOUGH KANSAS WON A FOOTBALL GAME, knocking off fellow FCS member Rhode Island.

Back later today as we start looking towards week 2 (which is garbage, by the way).

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