Monday, October 28, 2013

Week 9 Under Review

Week Nine is now in the books, and we are starting to get a clear look at who is in the running for conference titles and national aspirations moving forward as we head into the final full month of the 2013 College Football schedule.
It hardly seems possible that we have come so far so fast in terms of what's been played, but once again, here we are, getting ready for the final fights for BCS title games and bowl slots. Coming up this week, we will be back on our regular schedule, as we will take a look at our FBS and FCS rankings, renew our weekly look at the Hot Seat and the Dead Pool (there is much movement there), and we will also start looking at skill position player of the year candidates, as well as coach of the year candidates.
One more piece we have coming is a final look at the issues that are plaguing not only Grambling State's football program, but issues taking place in several SWAC schools that could spell trouble for the institutions that make up the HBCU system in general. We are in the process of researching some interesting statistical information that shows how far behind these institutions have fallen in some regards, and what can be done to possibly fix the problems, and possibly save the HBCU institution. This piece goes beyond college football, and digs into the politics and the academics behind the problems that exist and contributed to the debacle that occurred two weeks ago when Grambling State players created a protest that has now gone into legal ramifications for the university.
All of this is coming up this week, so buckle up and take the ride! As for now, here's a look at the week that was...


Bowl Eligible: Houston, UCF, Louisville

Still In Play: Cincinnati, Rutgers, SMU

Bowl Ineligible: UConn, Temple

Winners: Houston, Louisville, UCF, SMU
Houston and UCF sent statement to each other in blow out wins over Rutgers and UConn yesterday, and they are certainly on a showdown collision course set for November 9th in Orlando. Houston is probably the bigger surprise here, but they are in a very good spot to push for a huge bowl birth, and a conference title, with all of this coming after we had Tony Levine on our early season Hot Seat. UCF answered the call with a blowout win of their own, crushing UConn early Saturday 62-17 to continue on in an unlikely AAC title bid. The Knights led UConn 45-10 at the half, further eroding the Huskies' abysmal season.
Louisville stayed alive in the conference race as well, although struggling early to get separation from a struggling USF team. The Cardinals have slithered to a mid-tier bowl status despite just one loss on the season, but they are still alive by the numbers for the conference title. They just need a lot of help to get there, including a Houston win over UCF, and a win over the Cougars themselves a week after UCF and UH meet.
The final winner of the week is SMU, who trailed Temple 28-14 at the half, at home, heading to a come from behind 59-49 shootout win in Dallas. SMU is still only 3-4, but is still 2-1 in AAC play. June Jones could be coaching for his life here, so a bowl is a must. Anything short would likely be followed by his dismissal.

Losers: Rutgers, USF, UConn, Temple
Rutgers is proving more and more just how truly average they are, and they allowed Houston, who was coming off of a road loss to BYU, to just trash them in their building, 49-14. Rutgers is sinking fast, and could very well play their way out of a bowl bid.
USF, UConn, and Temple have been miserable all season long, with Temple and UConn now finalizing the foregone conclusion that they wouldn't be bowl participants. The Owls and Huskies have both hit the 7 loss mark that makes them both irrelevant. USF is just about there in Willie Taggert's first season, but he arrived in Tampa with the cupboard bare.


Bowl Eligible: Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Virginia Tech, Duke

Still In Play: Wake Forest, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh

Bowl Ineligible: None (Virginia with one more loss)

Winners: Georgia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, Duke
Paul Johnson is one win closer to getting Georgia Tech to a bowl game after beating Virginia 35-25 on the road. Tech cannot win the Coastal Division without a bunch of help, but they are now in position to finish hot and secure a solid bowl birth in an up and down season.
Florida State rolled once again against a team that has given the Noles fits in the past in NC State. No such issue this time as FSU rolled out to a 42-0 lead at the half to establish more dominance in conference play.
The biggest winner this week in the ACC is Duke, as they not only held off Virginia Tech for a solid 13-10 win, they also won their 6th game of the season to return to a bowl once again. Worst case I see moving forward is a 2-2 split in their final 4 games that would earn Duke an 8-4 record, a 2 game improvement over 2012. Two weeks ago, we had David Cutliffe on the Hot Seat. Consider that seat cooled.
North Carolina beat Boston College at home, and while mathematically UNC is still in play, the likelihood is that they'll fall out of bowl contention shortly.

Losers: Miami, Wake Forest, Virginia, Pittsburgh, NC State, Clemson, Maryland, Boston College, Virginia Tech
There were two winners that fell to the losers list this weekend. Miami is the first, as they allowed a really subpar Wake Forest team hang around all day long, and this is the second time in as many weeks that the Canes have almost allowed a lower tier conference team take them out and ruin their unbeaten season. Miami looks on the verge of losing any time now.
Clemson is the other winner on the losers list, as they came out flat at times in allowing Maryland to hang around and give them fits. The Tigers eventually put the Terps away 40-27, but it was a sloppy game coming off of their worst game of the season and only loss, and now Clemson looks vulnerable.
In nearly defeating Miami, Wake Forest managed to live another day, but they must soon make a run to get to 6 wins, and there are only 4 games left to do it in. The way I see it, they could lose three of those games easily (Florida State, Duke, Vanderbilt).
Pittsburgh is another team on the brink, having fallen to Navy 24-21. Pitt must also win 2 of their final 4 to gain bowl eligibility, and are in the same boat as Wake Forest. The Panthers needed this win.
NC State has fallen now to 0-4 in ACC play after falling to Florida State, while Boston College leads NC State by just a game at 1-3 in conference play after dropping a winnable game against UNC 34-10.
Virginia is now just one loss away from missing out on bowl season, as they now sit at 2-6 after falling to Georgia Tech at home. Mike London is now feeling the heat, as he has not provided an improvement in play during his tenure at UVA.
The Biggest loser is Virginia Tech, a 13-10 loser to Duke. The Hokies have not been consistent all season, and the play of the offense is largely to blame.

Big 10

Bowl Eligible: Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Minnesota

Still In Play: Nebraska, Northwestern, Iowa

Bowl Ineligible: Penn State (Purdue is one loss away)

Winners: Ohio State, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan State
The Buckeyes put their stamp on the rest of the Big 10 by just destroying Penn State 63-14 in Columbus Saturday night. There looks to be not a single team in the conference that can play with OSU right now, and that's a fact.
Michigan State has been quietly rolling through conference play, and smashed Illinois on the road in a 42-3 beat down. Look for MSU to be the only real competitor left for Ohio State in what will likely be the conference title game matchup, if the Spartans can get by a challenging last four games.
Minnesota is the big winner of the week in the conference, having taken down Nebraska 34-23, and having locked down their bowl eligibility in a season that has been marred by the health of head coach Jerry Kill. The Gophers are getting stronger, and if you look at their schedule, nine wins is not out of consideration. Even then, they could fall flat of appearing in the Big 10 title game.
Iowa stayed alive with a 17-10 OT win over Northwestern that keeps them in bowl contention.

Losers: Penn State, Northwestern, Nebraska, Illinois
Penn State just never got off of the bus in Columbus Saturday night, falling to the Buckeyes by seven touchdowns. Hopefully those additional scholarships come in handy moving forward, because the Nittany Kittens were incredibly outclassed this week.
Northwestern has now lost four straight since opening at 4-0, and the Wildcats are in danger of not qualifying for a bowl bid. The final stretch is all important now.
Nebraska has only lost two games, but the loss to Minnesota may be a stinger that could alter the future of Bo Pelini. Even at 5-2, Husker fans are livid right now.
Illinois is still statistically alive for a bowl, but reality states differently after failing to show up in a 42-3 drubbing at home by Michigan State.

Big 12

Bowl Eligible: Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State

Still In Play: Texas

Bowl Ineligible: None (Iowa State is one loss away)

Winners: Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas
OSU and Baylor officially got into the bowl mix this weekend with huge blowout wins, a favorite by Baylor as it seems. They are hanging in the conference race that includes everyone in the top 5 in the standings.
Oklahoma picked up a huge win against Texas Tech in Norman, and the Sooners sit just a half game back of Texas and Baylor in the race, and removed Texas Tech as a favorite to win it in the process.
Texas is still somehow unbeaten in Big 12 play, but still must play Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Baylor in the final three week gauntlet.
Kansas State picked up a win with a 21 point surge to hold off West Virginia, and must get hot now to retain any chance of bowl eligibility.

Losers: Iowa State, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Kansas, TCU
All of the bottom feeders lost in conference play, with the exception of Texas Tech, who takes their first loss at Oklahoma, knocking them out of national contender status, and putting them outside of the ability to control their own mission. The final part of the schedule is tough, so it's bounce back time for the Red Raiders. Everyone else on this list is essentially toast in what has been a weak season in the Big 12's lower half.

Conference USA

Bowl Eligible: Rice, Tulane

Still In Play: Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas

Bowl Ineligible: Southern Mississippi (FIU, FAU, and UTEP are all one loss away)

Winners: Middle Tennessee, Rice, Tulane, UTSA, Louisiana Tech, North Texas
MTSU kept their season alive with a game ending TD to beat Marshall and remain a game behind in third in the CUSA East. It was a must win game that almost wasn't.
Rice and Tulane are huge winners to get themselves to 6 wins this week, and will each be bowling. For Tulane, it's the first time in a long while that the Green Wave can claim such a feat.
UTSA got a morale building win against UAB, and did so in fine fashion, 52-31. They have yet another potential win this week against Tulsa.
North Texas is also on the verge of turning a corner after a strong 55-14 pounding of Southern Miss, and is now just a game away from joining Rice and Tulane as a bowl team for 2013.
Louisiana Tech stayed on the fringe of alive this week as well, but they have much work left to do.

Losers: Marshall, UTEP, Tulsa, UAB, FIU, FAU, Southern Mississippi
Marshall had MTSU locked down, but gave up the game ending TD to fall to MTSU, and remains a half game behind East Carolina in CUSA East play. Marshall also remains two wins short of a bowl bid that would turn the corner under Doc Holliday.
Every other team on the losers list was a dog this week, and each of those mentioned played like one as well. None of them has a shot to bounce back and reclaim lost seasons at this point.


Bowl Eligible: BYU, Notre Dame

Still In Play: Navy

Bowl Ineligible: Idaho, New Mexico State

Winners: BYU, Notre Dame, Navy
BYU looked solid as can be in ripping Boise State at home this weekend, and also secured a bowl bid to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, their destination by contract.
Notre Dame also locked down a bowl bid, but their destination remains murky at this time. The cruised by Air Force on the road, and look to finish out on a hot streak now.
Navy remained alive in the conversation by virtue of a 24-21 OT win over Pitt at home. Navy still needs two wins to secure the bid, and will likely get one against struggling Army, who was off this week.

Losers: New Mexico State, Idaho
I know that NMSU got their first win of the season, but they struggle to hold off Abilene Christian, a transitioning FCS member that was just playing D2 football a season ago. When you think of it like that, this isn't such a great win for the Aggies.
Idaho was completely blown out of the Grove in a 59-14 loss to Ole Miss on the road, or as Idaho calls it, just another day at the office.


Bowl Eligible: Buffalo, Ohio, Northern Illinois, Ball State

Still In Play: Bowling Green, Toledo

Bowl Ineligible: UMass, Akron, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan

Winners: Ball State, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan, Buffalo, Northern Illinois
The top of the MAC is solid this season and there are still several race changing games coming up. Ball State and Northern Illinois will not meet in the title game, but they have a huge tile upcoming, and both kept pace solidly this weekend. On the other side of the conference, Buffalo is the surprising leader in the East. The Bulls have been red hot, and lead the East by a game after winning yet again. Toledo tilted Bowling Green's chances a bit by beating the Falcons 28-25.
Western Michigan got their first win, a 31-30 tug of war win over UMass, but they are looking towards next season already.

Losers: Akron, Miami (Ohio), Bowling Green, UMass, Kent State, Eastern Michigan
Bowling Green had the worst loss of the group, a 28-25 drop to Toledo, keeping the Falcons out of control of their destiny moving forward. The Falcons can still win their division, but it's going to be tough, and they have been folding in every important game this season that could state their identity.
Every other team on the losers list has fallen out of bowl contention officially in what could be the worst MAC season in years, with half of the teams out of play heading into the final month of the season.

Mountain West

Bowl Eligible: Fresno State

Still In Play: Boise State, Utah State, Colorado State, Wyoming, UNLV, San Jose State

Bowl Ineligible: Air Force, Hawaii

Winners: UNLV, San Jose State, Fresno State, Colorado State
UNLV is now just one win away from being bowl eligible for the first time since 1994 after beating Nevada in Reno for the first time in ten years in what is turning out to be a huge bounce back season for the Rebels. UNLV trailed 16-14 at the half against Nevada, and used a surge in the 4th to get the win.
San Jose State came back from a 9 point half time deficit to take down Wyoming, scoring 22 in the third to win 51-44. The Spartans also remained alive in the bowl chase.
Fresno State survived a flat performance at San Diego State to take a 35-28 win in OT, and remain in position to represent the non-AQ teams in the BCS, with the destination likely being the Fiesta Bowl if the Bulldogs can win out.
Colorado State is making solid gains this season, and got their record to 4-4 in beating Hawaii on the road 35-28. The Rams are now just two wins away from bowling for the first time under coach Jim McElwain.

Losers: Boise State, Air Force, Nevada, San Diego State, Hawaii, Wyoming
Boise State fell on the road at BYU, but they remain in the thick of the conference title race, as they lost out of conference. Still, it's a bit of a rebuilder in Boise this season. Air Force and Hawaii fell out of any kind of contention, and now both schools will look at their coaching situations moving forward. I would be shocked if both Troy Calhoun and norm Chow return, but Calhoun would likely return if either would.
Nevada lost at home to UNLV in the Battle For Nevada, and it was their first home loss in the series in a decade. It's rebuilding time in Reno, even if bowl hopes aren't completely dead yet.
San Diego State had Fresno on the ropes, and let up at the wrong time in OT, keeping Fresno's BCS hopes alive in the process. SDSU had won three straight entering the tilt.
Wyoming is fading fast, and what seemed to be a bowl lock has now become a huge question moving forward. It's going t be a brutal November for the Cowboys.


Bowl Eligible: Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State

Still In Play: Washington, Washington State, Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA, USC, Utah

Bowl Ineligible: California

Winners: USC, Oregon, Arizona, Stanford, Washington
Oregon is now the clear leader in the PAC-12 after dropping UCLA 42-14. The Ducks will maintain their number two ranking behind Alabama in our weekly PRS rankings, but they still have Stanford hovering on the horizon, and the Cardinal would love to spoil the show, as they did for Oregon State by taking out the Beavers in Corvallis, ruining their undefeated run in conference play, and completely removing them as a team that stands in the way of not only Stanford in the North, but Oregon as well.
USC stayed alive in the South race with an impressively physical 19-3 win over Utah, as the Trojans held the Utes well below season averages for both yards and points.
Washington got a bounce back win after two consecutive losses, by beating the Cal Bears, which kept the Huskies alive, and dropped the Bears to 7 losses.
Arizona stayed alive as well, and is right in the thick of the South race after taking down Colorado.

Losers: Utah, UCLA, Colorado, Oregon State, California
Utah looks to be toast after falling apart against USC on the road. The Utes couldn't build up momentum after beating Staford a couple of weeks back, and they looked lost against the Trojans.
UCLA has now lost 2 consecutive games after winning their first five. UCLA averaged over 40 points per game in that winning streak, but they have now been held to 24 total points over the last two weeks, and Brett Hundley has fallen completely off of the grid at QB, passing for just 64 yards and two picks at the Ducks.
Oregon State was the dark horse in the North, but they are now an afterthought after falling to Stanford 20-12 at home.
Colorado hasn't won a conference game dating back to last season, and Cal's loss has the Bears getting ready for 2014, as they are eliminated for any bowl consideration. The only Bear win in 2013? It came against Portland State.


Bowl Eligible: Missouri, South Carolina, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M

Still In Play: Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Mississippi State

Bowl Ineligible: None (Kentucky is one loss away)

Winners: Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Auburn, Ole Miss
Mississippi State has to be happy after holding off a terrible Kentucky team, as it keeps them in the bowl race, and takes a little heat off of Dan Mullen.
Texas A&M finally got a quality win in which they played a complete game, but mistakes were still flying around the field in their win over Vandy.
LSU, Auburn, and Ole miss all won big, but over very weak opponents in Furman, FAU, and Idaho.
Alabama is still the beast of the SEC, and seems to be cruising towards a January showdown with Oregon.
South Carolina woke up this week, and held off Missouri in OT on the road, when Missouri missed a FG (it hit the post). The Gamecocks, strangely enough, are still in the race in the East.

Losers: Vanderbilt, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky
Vandy is really one of the disappointing teams in college football this season, and they really faded against Texas A&M this week. At 4-4, they hardly seem a concern to anyone.
Missouri had the worst loss of the week, and rather than get aggressive and try to hit the end zone in OT, the Tigers settled for a FG try, and it hit the post, causing the Tigers to lose their first game. One more loss in conference play, and SC runs the table, the Tigers would lose the East.
Tennessee could go either way, but were nowhere near in the class of Alabama this week.
Kentucky is almost eliminated, and can still survive, but one more loss, and it's building for 2014.

Sun Belt

Bowl Eligible: None

Still In Play: UL-Lafayette, Troy, UL-Monroe, Texas State, Western Kentucky

Bowl Ineligible: Georgia State

Winners: UL-Lafayette, Troy, UL-Monroe, Texas State
ULL got into the driver's seat with a 23-7 road win at Arkansas State. The Cajuns are a win away from a bowl bid, and will likely win the conference, as they are playing hotter than anyone in the SBC.
Troy stayed alive, and barely trails ULL, but is barely getting by. They have to continue to win to save Larry Blakelney.
ULM and Texas State both picked up solid wins, but it now gets tough for both moving forward. Todd Berry needs to really win out for ULM.

Losers: Arkansas State, Western Kentucky, Georgia State, South Alabama
ASU blew a huge opportunity to turn the conference race around, and lost by 16 at home to ULL. WKU also lost a huge chance to make some noise by falling to Troy. The Toppers are 4-3, but have been terrible in conference play.
USA is as solid as it gets, but they really got pinched out of the big picture in a 2 point loss to Texas State.
Georgia State is still winless, and just has no place playing FBS football.

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