Category Archives: Big 12
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:
— Colorado Football (@RunRalphieRun) September 13, 2016
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.
More rambling thoughts and reactions from Week 1’s stacked slate.
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:
- Alabama– self explanatory.
- 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.
- 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.
- Houston– not their fault that OU didn’t run the ball.
- Clemson– the defense (probably because Auburn) was stout, and Deshaun Watson won’t be that off again all season.
- Stanford– Pac-12 is hot garbage.
- 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.
- Michigan– (begrudgingly)
- 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.
— Tanner Hartman (@t_hartman10) September 4, 2016
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).
And the fun begins.
— FrogDog (@bloneyhuh) July 25, 2016
Conference realignment is the holy grail of offseason college football absurdity. Since about 2011, the Big XII has been the center of that conversation– from Chip Brown reporting the Pac-16 master plan, to Chip Brown reporting FSU and Clemson to the XII, to the formulation of the Longhorn Network. The handwringing is excellent and makes the summer months bearable. After six months of back-and-forth, Bob Bowlsby FINALLY announced that they would expand, depriving us of a summer of speculation.
After the “One True Champion” debacle kept them out of the playoff in 2014, unrest among the natives not named Texas, unrest AT Texas, and
the whole Baylor thing that we’re not discussing in this preview, the Big XII is a beautiful dumpster fire.
There are clear tiers here, which is nice.
10) Kansas. They’re going 1-11, an improvement over 2015. This isn’t football.
9) Iowa State. I think Matt Campbell was a sneaky-good hire. I thought about going all HOT TAKE-y and putting them above the rest of the bottom tier on the strength of home games against the next three teams, but man, its still Iowa State. Back to expansion, I bet they’d love to exile KU and ISU and pick up the four teams in the tweet above for a nice, even…well, 12.
The second tier is a group that could have one team emerge and replace Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU, or Oklahoma in the top tier with a breakout year. There’s precedent for all four.
8) Kansas State. They return only 12 starters from a 6-7 team and add a road game at Stanford in week 1. Unfortunately, I think this is the end of the road for BillSnyderDaGawd.
7) Texas Tech. Average score last year: 45.1-43.6. Average yardage: 579-548. That’s…amazing. Patrick Mahomes returns, so those numbers should hold. Given the leaguewide reputation of chuck and duck, there are a lot of surprisingly coherent running games that should be able to keep the offense off the field. Opponents AVERAGED 280 on the ground last year, with the Red Raiders only holding three teams under 227. Yikes.
6) West Virginia. The ultimate win the games you should, lose the ones you should team in the XII (other conference comps: N.C. State, Tennessee, like 8 B1G teams, Arizona).
5) Texas. So, they’re going spread after fielding a sad offense this whole decade. True freshman Shane Buechele won the job outright in the spring. I like Texas, I LOVE Charlie Strong (like if Texas fired him and hired Larry Fedora, I’d take a straight up trade love), and will cheer for them to turn the corner. The defense returns four true sophomores who were starters last year. They could make the leap…or fall flat and back up a Brinks truck to Nick Saban.
4) TCU. I still can’t buy TCU as a big winner, and I know that’s ridiculous. They just lose too much on offense for me to be a believer. IDK. I don’t have anything else to warrant this low pick. I’m just ready to watch Gary Patterson sweat again.*
*- You may recall their 31-point comeback win in the Alamo Bowl against Oregon, where Gary sweated through his purple shirt, changed into the black one you see above, and sweated right through it too. Indoors.
3) Baylor. Seth Russell returns, and the offense stays the same (read: awesome) with Kendall Briles still in the fold. Problem is, they lose basically their whole line on both sides of the ball. They’ll be 6-0 heading into a Halloween weekend showdown at Texas, and the nation is going to lose its collective shit trying to figure out how to develop a narrative around them.
2) Oklahoma State. In an ode to one of my favorite comedies, “17 starters returning, 42 lettermen. Lookin’ tough.” Mike Gundy and his mullet should be improved over last year’s 10-3 team, but the record may not indicate it. Or, ya know, they could win the league. They won’t because they play at all three of Baylor, TCU, and Oklahoma.
1) Oklahoma. I’m so nervous about this pick, because of the Oklahoma corollary: low expectations, high ceiling, high expectations, disappointment. They’ll probably finish 7-5. On the other hand, this is a team that ran for at least 232 yards in every game after the Texas debacle (until Clemson), made Baker Mayfield a legit Heisman candidate, outscored conference opponents 425-184 (27 point margin per game– making them the only team over 400 scored and the only one under 250 allowed), and did not lose Lincoln Riley to a random head coaching job.
Five Games Worth Watchin’
- TCU at Baylor, Nov. 5: The “we’re not rivals” rivalry, there’s really only one likely combined loss between these two teams if they hold to the form of the past two years. That’s what we call fun.
- Oklahoma vs. Texas, Oct. 8: In the hypothetical where Texas loses to Notre Dame and at either Cal or Ok. State, this is a must-win for Charlie Strong. They won the weirdest game ever last year, and have actually won 2 of 3 vs. OU despite, you know, sucking. Weird dynamic for our generation, who watched Bob Stoops skulldrag Mack Brown for the better part of the 2000’s.
- Oklahoma State at Baylor, Sept. 24: We learn so much about both of these teams early, after we learn nothing about them for three weeks (OSU/Pitt the week before notwithstanding).
- Houston vs. Oklahoma, Sept. 3: Future XII rivalry? I’m sneaky excited about this game, because Houston has everything lined up for a test case (or class action lawsuit) for a G5 team making the playoff. Beat Oklahoma, beat Louisville late, run the table…how do you leave them out?
- Oklahoma at TCU, Oct. 1: This is sandwiched between Ohio State and Texas for the Sooners. Between SMU and Kansas for TCU. One of those things is bad, the other seems manageable.
There are more awesome non-con games to watch: Notre Dame at Texas the Sunday of opening weekend, Ohio St. at Oklahoma and Pitt at Okie State on Sept 17, Arkansas at TCU week 2. El Assico, the annual Iowa/Iowa St. debacle takes place on Sept. 10, Kansas hosts Rhode Island and Ohio the first two weeks in genuinely winnable games, and…okay, I’m done.
Players to See
QB’s on random teams: Mason Rudolph, OSU, Patrick Mahomes, TT, Skylar Howard, WVU: I hate the term ‘video game numbers’, so let’s say these three will put up ‘numbers the average XII quarterback puts up against XII defenses.
Jordan Sterns, S, Oklahoma St: If you follow these previews closely, you know I’m a sucker for an in-the-box safety with some semblance of coverage skills. Sterns fits the bill– 108 tackles and 2 picks last year.
Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas: He was tasked with quarterbacking the defense from game 1, snap 1 last year. While he was a little inconsistent, he was the most electrifying freshman defender (non Derwin James edition) in football last year.
Seth Russell, QB, and K.D. Cannon, WR, Baylor: Cannon is better than Corey Coleman. Russell was en route to a 12-0 season and an easy Heisman** before last year’s neck injury. They’re going to be fun.
James McFarland, DE, TCU: Missed all of last season, but had 7 sacks as a reserve in 2014. If he is back at full speed, the TCU defense will be a problem and I’ll be wrong about picking them fourth.
Baker Mayfield and Samaje Perine, Oklahoma: Either could win the Heisman** and would not shock me.
**- Listen, I think the Heisman is a stupid award. Its a popularity contest of who has the best stats on the best team. I pay a lot more attention to the individual position awards, but hey. It’s the Heisman, and I’m generating web content. Its not hyperbole to mention the three players above in the early conversation. Especially when you consider the “great story” that Russell (recovery from injury,
overcoming program turmoil) or Mayfield (former walk-on) would be. Ugh.
The new rankings come out tonight at 7. Georgia likely won’t be a part of them, but who knows with the committee’s ever-changing criteria? Alabama was ranked 4th last week based on the new metric of ‘wins over teams with winning records’, which is absurd when teams buy 2-3 easy wins every September. The ‘eye test’ is subjective, at best. Listening to Jeff Long discuss the rankings on various programs each week is an exercise in futility of understanding what the committee does in their weekly meetings.
But, its what we’ve got, and what it lacks in transparency is more than made up for in intrigue. What storylines should you follow tonight?
All rankings cited, until the predictions at the bottom, are from last week.
The Big XII Cannibalism Race
With the SEC, ACC*, and Pac-12 North races all but salted up, the focus shifts to the crazy Big XII, where all of the games involving its exciting top 4 all take place in November.
*knocks furiously on wood
#14 Oklahoma State served notice that a little luck and an easy schedule weren’t a problem, as they housed #8 TCU in Stillwater, 49-24. They’ll move up, and deservedly so. They still go to Iowa State (which has been a problem before) this week before closing at home with #6 Baylor and #15 Oklahoma.
Gameday will be in Waco this week, as the Bears host the Sooners in an elimination game. Nothing comes easy for them, as they finish on the road against OSU and TCU, then hosting Texas on December 5. With true freshman QB Jaret Stidham at the helm, odds are they drop at least one.
TCU, despite being behind the eight ball with its loss to Oklahoma State, has the ‘easiest’ road. Kansas this week will be a laugher. At Oklahoma and home against to Baylor? not so much. I’d rank them last among the four contenders due to their 0-1 head-to-head record against the rest, and the fact that they’ve been more than fortunate to escape games against middling K-State and Texas Tech.
The odds that the XII has a team finish undefeated are looking extremely slim. Oklahoma is probably the most balanced, OSU is the biggest mystery, and Baylor is still the most explosive. If Oklahoma wins out, I think they’re in. But I expect chaos to keep the league on the outside looking in for the second straight year.
The Looming Notre Dame/Stanford Showdown
#11 Stanford hosts Oregon this week, and you never know quite what’ll happen. But this is an Oregon team that plays ZERO defense, and a Stanford team showing its most competent offense since the days of Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck. After hosting Cal the following week, #5 Notre Dame comes to town.
Notre Dame plays Wake Forest and BC prior to this. One logically assumes they’ll win those.
What that will set up is likely a 4 vs. 5 or 5 vs. 6 game on The Farm on Thanksgiving Saturday. I don’t particularly care for either of these teams, and neither poses a threat to WIN the CFP…but a 12-1 Stanford or 11-1 Notre Dame is likely as deserving of that #4 spot as anyone.
Go Teams From Michigan
#7 Michigan State took its much-anticipated slide on Saturday in Lincoln. They just never performed relative to their rankings, and got by on an incredibly easy schedule. They, along with #17 Michigan, are no longer real contenders, but could play spoiler for #3 Ohio State.
Both will get their shot. State travels to Columbus on Nov. 21, and the Wolverines host the Bucks in their traditional Nov. 28 nooner.
Please, someone, beat Ohio State.
Extreme Long Shots
First and foremost, piggybacking on the B1G words, #9 Iowa is very much a contender if they somehow win out and take the East winner (sigh. Still likely Ohio State.) down in Indianapolis on Championship Weekend. I just don’t think the committee will be able to justify leaving out a 13-0 power five champ, as garbage as their schedule is.
#13 Memphis lost to Navy on Saturday, effectively ending the hopes of a Group of 5 team making a bid. But #25 Houston still lurks with games against both Memphis and Navy, the latter of which will decide who plays in the New Years Six. Could they make a run at the top 4? No, probably not.
And finally, delusional Carolina fan coming in hot. After (unranked last week, WTF?) North Carolina’s 66-31 dismantling of Duke’s acclaimed defense, the Heels should jump comfortably (given the chaos at the bottom of the top 25, which saw #18 Ole Miss, #19 Texas A&M, and #24 Toledo lose) into the back of the top 20. Were they to beat Miami, Virginia Tech, and N.C. State, it would set up a top 10 matchup vs. Clemson in the ACC Championship game. Is there precedent for a bad early season loss and subsequent dominant performance getting you in the playoff?
Yes. Yes there is.
Now watch them lose to Miami with me in attendance this week.
Projecting the Rankings
This will be useless in 4 hours. Oh well.
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Oklahoma State
- Michigan State
- Mississippi State
- Florida State
- North Carolina
This is a big college football weekend! No, there are no glamorous, beautiful, (I hate this word) epic top-10 matchups that can shatter the playoff picture, but there are a TON of good games that will go a long ways towards shaking down divisions (Pac-12 North, ACC Coastal, SEC East), and even more upset potential in stupid conferences (looking at you, Big Ten). There are weird games, mid-majors against P5 teams, and everything else you could want for a Halloween weekend filled with overtly cheesy ESPN graphics. TO THE GAMES!
Thursday is of interest.
If you follow my work, you know why. North Carolina at #23 Pitt (7, ESPN) is the first of three consecutive weeks of the Coastal’s three undefeated contenders going head-to-head. We pair that with ‘sneaky could still be good but at this point likely aren’t good’ West Virginia at #5 TCU (7:30, FS1). For God’s sake, will someone go ahead and put TCU out of its misery?
Even the nightcap has some intrigue, as disappointing Oregon travels to disappointing Arizona State (10:30, ESPN).
Saturday nooners: I mean…not horrible?
The SEC has two entertaining ones, as #19 Ole Miss at Auburn (ESPN) and South Carolina at Texas A&M (SECN) both tee up early. Ole Miss still controls its destiny in the West, but has (this is amazing) lost 5 straight road games as the favorite. Texas A&M had glow-in-the-dark helmets for Halloween…but won’t be wearing them, because, you know…noon.
Otherwise, there are three B1G games featuring middle-of-the-road teams, and two ACC games doing the same, with one including #17 Florida State hosting Syracuse (ABC). Stick to your SEC roots here.
Cocktail Party Simulcasts: Possible fun, but eh.
If Verne chokes out any chance of a Georgia East title in the first quarter, your contingency plan is as follows:
#12 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 3:30, ESPN: Oklahoma State is probably number 2 in my fraud rankings to this point in this season (Iowa exists). Texas Tech should be able to score with them in Lubbock. If nothing else, the O/U is 79 and the spread is only 3. That’s your typical Big XII football right there!
#3 Clemson at N.C. State, 3:30, ABC: Clemson, by many metrics, has been the best team in college football this year. Dabo Swinney has attacked the ‘Clemsoning’ meme to an almost embarrassing extent. Weird things happen to ACC favorites in Raleigh, although State’s 5 wins (Troy, Presbyterian, Old Dominion, South Alabama, Wake Forest) are about as fraudulent as 5 wins can possibly be.
Maryland at #10 Iowa (ESPN2) and #12 Oklahoma at Kansas (FS1) are also mid-afternooners, but we’re talking some hot garbage by then. Switch back to Georgia/Florida at this point, and curse the injuries, Verne, and, of course, the Florida Gators.
Early evening, pre #PACtion: kinda weak.
A lot more ‘well, this could be fun, but probably won’t be’ games to note.
The headliner for SEC fans is Tennessee at Kentucky (7:30, SECN) in a game that will likely determine third place in the SEC East, project calls for Butch Jones’ head or annoying Tennessee hype heading into November, and Kentucky’s bid for bowl eligibility.
Beyond that? I hate to do it, but #9 Notre Dame is the headliner. They travel to Philly to take on undefeated #21 Temple with GameDay in the house. This at least caused my favorite Hatin’ Ass Spurrier quote of the season.
If GameDay needs help shooting in Philadelphia, they might wanna call Marvin Harrison.
#15 Michigan at Minnesota (7, ESPN): This just feels like a stupid one where Michigan could stumble.
Miami at #22 Duke (7, ESPNU): Hoping for a motivated Miami “it was Al Golden, not us” performance in front of the packed house of 32,000 in Durham.
Vanderbilt at #18 Houston (7, ESPN2): THIS GAME’S IN HOUSTON!?!?! It was bad enough for Vandy when we realized a) Houston was good and b) this more or less represents Vandy’s SoCon Challenge game for the year. Having said that, watch Vandy pull some BS and win.
Nightcaps are my new addiction.
And Washington State is 3-1 in the Pac-12. #8 Stanford at Washington State (10:30, ESPN) probably won’t be a game, but if it is…it decides the Pac-12 North (actually, probably not, because Wazzu has no chance of going 8-1 in that league, right?)
And actually, that’s it! Give me November, where all of the games are meaningful, the weather is cold, and the football is above average.