Top 25 For Thursday, November, 23, 2006 # Team Won Lost Rating 1 Ohio State 12 0 128.2 2 Michigan 11 1 124.4 3 Southern Cal 9 1 122.9 4 B Y U 9 2 119.7 5 West Virginia 9 1 119.3 6 Oklahoma 9 2 119.1 7 Texas 9 2 119.0 8 Hawaii 8 2 118.8 9 Louisville 9 1 118.3 10 Notre Dame 10 1 117.3 11 Arkansas 10 1 117.1 12 California 8 3 116.8 13 Va. Tech 9 2 116.4 14 Wisconsin 11 1 114.9 15 Tennessee 8 3 114.7 16 Florida 10 1 114.2 17 Nebraska 8 3 113.7 18 L S U 9 2 113.6 19 T C U 9 2 113.0 20 South Carolina 6 5 112.6 21 Nevada 9 2 112.4 22 Texas Tech 7 5 112.2 23 Arizona 6 5 111.5 24 Clemson 8 3 111.2 25 Penn State 8 4 111.1 Southeastern Conference East Tennessee 8 3 114.7 Florida 10 1 114.2 South Carolina 6 5 112.6 Georgia 6 5 106.1 Kentucky 7 4 98.3 Vanderbilt 4 8 95.7 West Arkansas 10 1 117.1 L S U 9 2 113.6 Auburn 10 2 110.3 Alabama 6 6 102.8 Ole Miss 3 8 98.7 Miss. State 3 8 98.2
*** A Festive Weekend of Games***
Last Week's Games
The PiRates are stuck at 76% success and are going nowhere, so I'm discontinuing this section. The new P6TR rating picked 19 of 20 games correctly and missed only on UCLA-Arizona State (two of the 6 ratings called for ASU to win by less than one point).
This Week's Schedule
There are several interesting games this week with all the closing rivalry clashes plus other games that carry bowl implications. Nothing rivals the big game last weekend (and what a game that was), but there will be several good choices to sit in your favorite reclining chair and "veg out" after filling your tummy.
SEC games for the week.
Mississippi State @Ole Miss The Egg Bowl
PiRate Predicts: Ole Miss 17 Mississippi State 12
Peiser Predicts: These two teams are ending the season on up-ticks. This game could be played 10 times with each team winning five games, but I'll go with the Rebels to get revenge for last year's blowout loss in Starkville. State out-gained the Rebs 409-189 in 2005!
South Carolina @ Clemson
PiRate Predicts: Clemson 28 South Carolina 24
Peiser Predicts: The Tigers are looking to lock up a Gator Bowl bid and should have enough horsepower to whip the Gamecocks by 7-10 points.
Georgia Tech @ Georgia
PiRate Predicts: Georgia 20 Georgia Tech 17
Peiser Predicts: Matthew Stafford looked like David Greene against Auburn, while Reggie Ball has looked more like Lucille Ball against strong defenses. Give this one to the Bulldogs by a healthy margin.
L S U @ Arkansas
PiRate Predicts: Arkansas 21 L S U 13
Peiser Predicts: The Hogs are already in the SEC Championship Game and they have virtually no shot at going to Glendale to face Ohio State. This game is strictly for braggin' rights. LSU has been limping home at the close and could be inadequately prepared for this game. Look for Arkansas to win without much excitement. Call it a 7-10 point affair.
Florida @ Florida State
PiRate Predicts: Florida 17 Florida State 13
Peiser Predicts: The Seminoles hung on for dear life to edge Western Michigan last week, while the Gators beat Western Carolina 62-0. This sets up a frequent occurrence when one team struggles with a weaker opponent while their next opponent has a breather. The team that had the breather wins about 85% of these games if they are relatively even match-ups. The Gators are more than that, so give Urban's boys the road win. Call it Florida by 10-15 points.
Kentucky @ Tennessee
PiRate Predicts: Tennessee 47 Kentucky 24
Peiser Predicts: Kentucky has enough offense to score three or four times against the Vols, but they should also give up five or more scores. It should be an interesting game, but Tennessee should gain control of if early and hold on to a 14-20 point victory.
Key Local Game
Troy @ Middle Tennessee
PiRate Predicts: MTSU 27 Troy 14
Peiser Predicts: MTSU is on the cusp of advancing to their first Division I-A bowl game. Win or lose, the odds are in their favor, as even if they finish runner-up to Troy, at 7-5, they will have an advantage over all the 6-6 teams when at-large bids are doled out. It is probably a moot point, as the Blue Raiders are going to win and sew up the automatic bid to the New Orleans Bowl.
A Baker's Dozen Other Games of Note
Boston College @ Miami (Thanksgiving)
PiRate Predicts: Boston College 24 Miami 21
Peiser Predicts: Miami has a date in Boise, Idaho, if they can win this game, while Boston College has a shot at the ACC Championship game. Which team do you think has more to play for and will come out firing on all cylinders? It won't be the hometown Hurricanes; the orange and green are falling into the Atlantic Ocean. B.C. is going to win 10 games for the first time since Doug Flutie won the Heisman Trophy. An Eagle win throws the MPC Computers Bowl open for an at-large team.
Texas A&M @ Texas (Black Friday)
PiRate Predicts: Texas 45 Texas A&M 24
Peiser Predicts: This is a must-win game for the Longhorns. If they win, they take the South Division flag and advance to the Big 12 title game. If they lose, an Oklahoma win over Oklahoma State gives the Sooners the title. The Aggies are still well shy of where they used to be, but they can score points. Look for a close game to turn into a rout in the final 20-25 minutes.
Oregon @ Oregon State The Civil War (Black Friday)
PiRate Predicts: Oregon State 30 Oregon 24
Peiser Predicts: To the winner goes the Sun Bowl, unless Southern Cal makes it to the BCS Championship Game. Six weeks ago, this looked like a Duck blowout. A few weeks ago, this looked like a tossup game. Now, it looks like a Beaver bashing the quackers out of Oregon. Oregon State is playing as well as anybody on the Coast, and it looks like they will turn Reser Stadium into a big duck hunt on Friday.
South Florida @ West Virginia
PiRate Predicts: West Virginia 42 South Florida 21
Peiser Predicts: The Mountaineers are two victories away from a BCS at-large bowl bid and possibly an automatic one. USF needs to win this game to guarantee themselves a bowl with seven wins. With six wins, they still have a shot at the new Birmingham Bowl. That's what they should expect, since they have no chance at Mountaineer Field. West Virginia will run up and down the field against the Bulls' smaller defensive line.
P6TR: West Virginia
Wake Forest @ Maryland
PiRate Predicts: PiRates rate this game a draw with Maryland favored by two-tenths of a point.
Peiser Predicts: This game will decide the ACC Atlantic Division champion. If Wake Forest wins, they own the tie-breaker over Boston College. If Maryland wins, they will also need a Miami win over Boston College to be division champs. Both teams' defenses should find success against the offenses they face, and this should come down to one or two big plays. Give the small edge to the home team, and expect to see Boston College playing Georgia Tech for the ACC title. The loser will fall to fourth or fifth choice in the bowl pecking order.
Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State
PiRate Predicts: Oklahoma 35 Oklahoma State 30
Peiser Predicts: Oklahoma has relied on strong defense since Adrian Peterson went out for the year. The Sooners have yielded 12 points a game in their last six contests. Oklahoma State is a one-dimensional team, and that one dimension is offense. The Cowboys average 37 points per game, but they give up 25 points per game (31 per game in B12 play). When this game is in Stillwater, it is usually close. OSU could pull off the upset, and it wouldn't be surprising, but OU could be playing for the South Division title. If that is the case, they will win by more than a touchdown. If Texas has already clinched the title, Oklahoma may win by less than a touchdown. The Sooners are still in the hunt for a BCS at-large bowl bid, competing with the second best SEC team for the final spot should Boise State lose this week.
SMU @ Rice
PiRate Predicts: Rice 31 SMU 28
Peiser Predicts: Big Congratulations go to both of these programs for becoming bowl eligible. Rice hasn't been to a bowl since the 1961 Bluebonnet Bowl, while SMU hasn't been to a bowl since becoming the only team ever to suffer the death penalty. Unfortunately, the way things are shaping up, only the winner of this game will actually get a bowl invitation. Both are on a roll and hot, and this game should be one of the two most exciting games of the week. I think the Owls will come from behind more than once and pull out a squeaker. Todd Graham should get some votes for National Coach of the Year and will jump way up on the short lists of schools trying to fill voids. He took over a 1-10 team that ran the triple option spread offense and won in year one with a balanced, pro-style offense (directed by offensive coordinator Major Applewhite).
Marshall @ Southern Mississippi
PiRate Predicts: Southern Miss 24 Marshall 17
Peiser Predicts: Southern Miss is playing for a spot in the C-USA title game, while Marshall must win to become bowl eligible. The Eagles are the hot team in the East Division right now, and they should hold off the Herd for the win.
P6TR: Southern Miss
Brigham Young @ Utah The Holy War
PiRate Predicts: BYU 41 Utah 28
Peiser Predicts: A three-point loss at Arizona on opening day and a double overtime loss at Boston College are all that's keeping BYU out of a BCS at-large bowl. Since week three, the Cougars have played like a top 10 team. Utah has been a huge disappointment as the 7-4 Utes were expected to contend for a 12-0 regular season. Utah has won the last four games in this series, and BYU is primed to end that string this week. Look for BYU to score points in a hurry at one point in this game and turn a close match into a double-digit win.
Arizona State @ Arizona
PiRate Predicts: Arizona 35 Arizona State 27
Peiser Predicts: Five weeks ago, Arizona coach Mike Stoops was starting to take a little heat, as the then 2-4 Wildcats were expected to win more than they lose and make it to a bowl game. Arizona State was supposed to win eight or nine games this year, and the Sun Devils have fallen short of expectations for the third time in four seasons. Coach Dirk Koetter's seat is more than hot; it is smoldering. A loss here could be the end for the former Boise State wonder boy. Look for the Wildcats to clinch a winning season and knock ASU down to 6-6 with a 5-10 point win. It will more than likely be curtains for Koetter; he could wind up as an assistant at Colorado.
Louisville @ Pittsburgh
PiRate Predicts: Louisville 33 Pittsburgh 21
Peiser Predicts: A month ago, this looked like an ambush game for the Cardinals. Pitt, at 6-1, looked strong enough to threaten UL at Heinz Field. Four consecutive losses later, the Panthers are skating on thin ice at 6-5. Another loss could place them back on the bubble for a bowl. At 6-6, if the Birmingham Bowl were to go for a Northern Illinois, the Panthers could be the odd team out. Louisville can sew up the Big East title with wins over Pitt and Connecticut if Rutgers loses at West Virginia next week. Look for both to happen. The Cards will win by 14 or more points.
Notre Dame @ Southern Cal
PiRate Predicts: Southern Cal 34 Notre Dame 21
Peiser Predicts: This becomes a two-game sprint for the Trojans. They must beat Notre Dame and UCLA back-to-back; they probably must beat both handily, or they won't jump over Michigan. Win or lose these next two games, the Trojans are in the Rose Bowl at worst. Notre Dame doesn't have enough defense to stop the long winning streak at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. It seems like USC has won so many consecutive games there, the Dodgers were playing in the Coliseum the last time the they lost at home. The Irish have two chances in this game, slim and slimmer. Look for USC to win by 7-10.
P6TR: Southern Cal
Boise State @ Nevada
PiRate Predicts: Nevada 34 Boise State 28
Peiser Predicts: I mentioned that the Rice-SMU game was one of two exciting games this week. This is the other one. The Broncos are one win away from sewing up a berth in the Fiesta Bowl. I have been pointing to this game for six weeks. I think the Wolf Pack will pull off the shocker of the week and mess up everybody's bowl predictions. Nevada knocked off Fresno State to close out last year's regular season, and this team is a touchdown better than last year's team. Nevada's defense is much improved since the beginning of the season, and they have what it takes to slow down the Boise Express. Look for Hall of Fame Coach Chris Ault to take a page from Wyoming coach Joe Glenn and throw multiple pass rushes and secondary coverages at BSU QB Jared Zabransky. Last year, Georgia pressures him into more interceptions than completions until the game was out of reach. Wyoming would have upset Boise State back in September if not for a Bronco interception return for a touchdown. Nevada will pull off the upset, and the game may turn out to be not all that close (or BSU will make me look foolish).
P6TR: Boise St. (I'm going against computers that are 95% accurate when they all agree on the winner, so I'm either totally out of my mind, or onto something big.)
Let's take a closer look at the bowls and the conferences since it's almost time for these to become official.
Atlantic Coast Conference
Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest are already bowl eligible. Both Virginia and Miami need one more win to get to 6-6. The Cavaliers must play Virginia Tech, while the Hurricanes face Boston College. There's a strong chance the ACC will come up one team short. That will open an at-large spot for some team to head to Boise and the MPC Bowl.
1. BCS Bowl (Orange)—Georgia Tech
2. Chick-Fil-A—Virginia Tech
4. Emerald—Florida State
5. Champs Sports—Boston College
6. Music City—Wake Forest
7. Meineke Car Care—Maryland
8. MPC Computers—will select at-large team
Big East Conference
Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Florida, and West Virginia are bowl eligible, while Connecticut mathematically still has a chance (would have to beat Cincinnati and Louisville). The Big East is guaranteed a BCS Bowl, either the Gator or Sun Bowl, the International Bowl, and the Texas Bowl. The Birmingham Bowl can select either a Big East or MAC team (I'm not exactly sure if the 7-5 vs. 6-6 rule affects this choice).
1. BCS (Rose)—Louisville
2. BCS (Orange)—West Virginia
5. Texas—South Florida
Note: I spoke with Bo Kerr at the Papa John's Birmingham Bowl Wednesday morning and was told the 6-6/7-5 rule does not apply to the Birmingham Bowl's selection. They will take a Big East team if one is bowl eligible at 6-6, even if the MAC has 7-5 teams available. Since there are already six bowl eligible Big East teams, this conference is guaranteed the spot.
The Big 10 Conference
Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin have clinched bowl bids. The Big 10 has seven allocated bids, but Michigan is a shoo-in to receive an at-large BCS Bowl bid. Thus, the Motor City Bowl will have to search for an at-large team.
1. BCS Bowl (BCS Championship)—Ohio State
2. BCS Bowl (BCS Championship)—Michigan
3. Capital One—*Wisconsin* (has already accepted this bid)
4. Outback—*Penn State* (has already accepted this bid)
5. Champs Sports—*Purdue* (has already accepted this bid)
6. Alamo—*Iowa* (has already accepted this bid)
7. Insight—*Minnesota* (has already accepted this bid)
8. Motor City—Will select at-large team
The Big 12 Conference
Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech are bowl eligible. These nine teams are fighting over eight bowl allotments. One team could be out of contention if they are 6-6.
1. BCS Bowl (Fiesta)—Texas
4. Holiday—Texas A&M
5. Alamo—Texas Tech
7. Independence—Kansas State
8. Texas—Oklahoma State
Kansas 6-6 and hoping enough 6-5 teams lose (sorry, KU, I don't see it happening. You will have to fight it out with KSU and OSU for the last two spots.)
Here's where the selecting gets tricky. East Carolina, Southern Mississippi, Houston, Rice, SMU, and Tulsa are already bowl eligible. UTEP can get there with a win over 1-10 Memphis. Marshall needs an upset at Southern Miss to get to six wins. The Rice-SMU loser will be 6-6, and if ECU loses to North Carolina State, they will be 6-6. There are five bowl bids to be awarded, and there will be six, seven, or eight teams available. If ECU beats NC State, it becomes easy, as five teams will be 7-5 or better and will automatically get the five bids. If the Pirates lose to the Wolfpack, then one 6-6 team will beat out the others for the fifth bid. Chances of a sixth bid would be very slim.
1. Liberty—Southern Mississippi
3. Birmingham—East Carolina
4. Armed Forces—Tulsa
5. New Orleans—Rice
UTEP and SMU 6-6 and dreaming for the phone to ring
There are only four independents, yet there are three bowl agreements. Notre Dame and Navy have qualified for bowls, while Army has not.
1. BCS Bowl (Sugar)—Notre Dame
2. Meineke Car Care—*Navy * (has already accepted this bid)
3. Poinsettia—Will select an at-large team (Army didn't qualify)
Central Michigan, Kent State, Northern Illinois, Ohio, and Western Michigan are bowl eligible. Akron and Bowling Green still can become bowl eligible. Kent State and Northern Illinois are one win away from the magical 7-5 finish which would vault them to the top of the at-large bubble (all 7-5 teams, regardless of conference, must be selected to at-large bowl games before any 6-6 team can be considered)
1. GMAC—Ohio U
2. Motor City—Central Michigan
3. International—Western Michigan
Northern Illinois and Kent State 7-5 and going somewhere as at-large selection
Brigham Young, TCU, Utah, and Wyoming are bowl eligible. New Mexico needs only to defeat 2-8 San Diego State to become bowl eligible, while Air Force must defeat UNLV and TCU to do so. If New Mexico wins Saturday, this will be easy.
1. Las Vegas—*Brigham Young * (Has already accepted this bid)
3. Armed Forces—Utah
4. New Mexico—New Mexico
Wyoming 6-6 and staying home
Pacific 10 Conference
This is a conference with eight bowl eligible teams trying to fill six allotments. Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Southern Cal, UCLA, and Washington State are all bowl eligible. The Arizona-Arizona State loser, UCLA (if it loses to USC), and Washington State will finish 6-6, and two of these teams will miss out unless most of the other 6-5 teams lose as well.
1. BCS Bowl (Rose)—Southern California
3. Sun—Oregon State
4. Las Vegas—Oregon
6. Hawaii—U C L A
Arizona State and Washington State 6-6 and praying
The SEC and Big 12 will be fighting it out for the last BCS at-large bowl bid if Boise State fails to qualify. Since I am going with Nevada to end the Broncos' chances, I am giving the SEC the slight nod to get the extra bowl bid. Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, South Carolina, and Tennessee have qualified for bowl bids. If the SEC doesn't get two BCS bowl bids, then one team will more than likely miss out.
1. BCS Bowl (Sugar)—Florida
2. BCS Bowl (Fiesta)—Arkansas
3. Capital One—Auburn
5. Cotton—L S U
8. Music City—South Carolina
If Boise State beats Nevada, then either South Carolina (if they lose to Clemson) or Alabama will be shut out of the bowls this year due to 7-5/6-6 law.
This weakest league in I-A could possibly wind up with three bowl participants, and that would be plain ridiculous. If Troy beats MTSU and then beats Florida International, then the Trojans would get the automatic bid, while MTSU would be high on the bubble for an at-large bid at 7-5. The winner of the Arkansas State and Louisiana Lafayette game will also be 7-5 (assuming ULL beats 2-8 UL-Monroe).
1. New Orleans—M T S U
Either Louisiana Lafayette or Arkansas State will be 7-5 and stand a good chance of replacing the Big 10 at the Motor City Bowl.
Western Athletic Conference
The Boise State-Nevada game affects about 10-12 bowl games. If Boise State wins, they are headed to the Fiesta Bowl (possibly the Rose Bowl). If Nevada wins, then Boise State plays in their home bowl. Besides those two teams, Hawaii and San Jose State are bowl eligible. The Spartans are 6-4 and with one win in their final two (vs. Idaho and Fresno St.), they would jump to the top of the at-large bubble, thanks to geography.
1. MPC Computers—Boise State
2. Hawaii—*Hawaii * (Has already accepted this bid)
3. New Mexico—Nevada
San Jose State 8-4 and seeing some Poinsettias in their future
At-Large Bowl Predictions
1. Poinsettia—San Jose State
2. MPC Computers—Northern Illinois3. Motor City—Louisiana Lafayette