Monday, November 4, 2013

Week 10 Under Review: Countdown to the Postseason (FBS, FCS)

We are now closing in on the final full month of College Football's regular season. It seems like such a short time ago that we were looking at the opening week of the season, but now we are in crunch time. As we get closer to the season's close, we will redirect our focus in the Week under Review pieces to focus on who will be continuing on into the bowl season, and also who will be continuing on in the FCS playoff race and the chase for the national title. Gone will be the Winners and Losers part of the piece, as we start to look at strengths rather than weaknesses. For those who are eliminated from postseason consideration, we leave them for the postseason analysis that will be coming for certain.
Here is our look at who the bowl and FCS playoff teams are shaping up to be by conference. As always, please feel free to tell us what you think about the November format by emailing direct to

Week 10 Under Review: Countdown to the Bowls (FBS)


Bowl Eligible: Houston, UCF, Louisville, Cincinnati

Still Alive: Rutgers, SMU, Memphis

Out of the Running: UConn, Temple

There are plenty of scenarios at the top as to who could represent the conference in the final BCS appearance of the era. Houston remains in front after taking down USF on Halloween night. They have a narrow half game lead over UCF in the standings, and UCF has already beaten Louisville. It's crunch time for the Cougars, who must play at UCF this week, at Louisville on the 16th, and they get Cincinnati at home on the 23rd. It's going to be brutal.
UCF controls the race with a home win over Houston this week, having already taken down Louisville. Cincinnati and Louisville are on the outside looking in as far as the conference title is concerned, but Louisville is currently ranked ahead of both Houston and UCF in our PRS rankings.

Of the teams still alive for bowl bids, only Rutgers seems a logical choice to get there, as SMU would need to go 3-2 just to hit .500 for the season. The Scarlet Knights may have trouble winning the next two weeks against Cincy and UCF, but they are in position for a bowl with just one win. Memphis is just one more loss from being out of play.


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

Still Alive: Syracuse, Boston College, Wake Forest, Maryland, Pittsburgh, NC State, North Carolina

Out of the Running: Virginia

Most everyone is still alive in the bow bid race, but let's be real. Only Florida State is legitimate when it comes to talk about the outright ACC title. The Seminoles have been dominant in conference play, and are the clear favorite to win out and head to the BCS.
Look for Clemson to most likely end up in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl, as they are the second best team in the conference. It's a shame that they couldn't play FSU once again in the ACC title game. That spot is likely to go to Miami barring a complete collapse by the overrated Hurricanes.
Georgia Tech is still in play to knock Miami out of the conference title game, while Virginia Tech is fading fast after falling to Boston College.
The biggest surprise in the group is Duke, who is playing their best football in years and could still win as many as 8 games to close out the regular season, a huge accomplishment.

Maryland has been awful since the start of conference play, but is just one win shy of qualifying for a much needed bowl bid. This season has seen some issues for the Terps, but Randy Edsell has made some improvements, and has saved his job in the process. Syracuse and Boston College are both sitting at 4-4, and could make a run to get to improbable bowl bids by both. Wake Forest is also two wins shy, but only has three games left to get them as they sit at 4-5.

Big 10

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

Still Alive: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Northwestern

Out of the Running: Purdue, Penn State

I am projecting an Ohio State-Michigan State Big 10 final, with Ohio State making their way into the Rose Bowl. Michigan State has been an improbable runner towards a division title, while struggling much on offense most of the season. It has been a grinding defense that has saved the Spartans, and they could give the Buckeyes their toughest challenge.
The biggest surprise of the group comes from Minnesota, that has largely played without coach Jerry Kill for most of the season, and was entering 2013 with incredibly low expectations. '
Wisconsin has been nothing if not consistent, but Nebraska and Michigan will enter a bowl game with serious flaws.

Of the teams that still live, Iowa is the most reasonable team that I see making the turn to get to a bowl, as they currently sit at 5-4. Indiana and Illinois will likely fall short, while Northwestern has been in a complete collapse since the start of conference play, having lost 5 straight.

Big 12

Bowl Eligible: Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech
Half of the conference is now bowl eligible to start November in what has been a stellar season for the Big 12 minus 2. Texas has been a solid story, turning the corner after a solid win over Oklahoma that saved Mack Brown's job. Texas and Baylor are in the driver's seat as of now, but the November slate is brutal in conference play.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are hanging within range of striking for the conference crown, but both need a little help along the way. They get their opportunities this month.
Texas Tech has been fading fast the last couple of weeks, losing two in a row, and is now likely just an observer, but considering that most had the Red Raiders no higher than 6th going into the season, they have cruised well and above where they should have ended up.

Still Alive: Kansas State, West Virginia, TCU, Kansas
Kansas State and West Virginia must now win two games to qualify for bowls, and are in must win mode now. WVU picked up a huge win over TCU on the road in OT this weekend, and they now sit at 4-5. They must win two of three just to qualify at .500 right now. Kansas State must at least finish on a 2-2 run to do the same. TCU and Kansas are one loss away from being home for the Holidays.

Out of the Running: Iowa State

Conference USA

Bowl Eligible: East Carolina, North Texas, Rice, Tulane
ECU has a pretty easy path to their season finale showdown with Marshall, which should be for all the marbles in the East Division. With Tulsa and UAB on the conference slate, and NC State out of conference, there's no reason to believe that the Pirates can't roll off three in a row to get to 9 wins before facing the Herd in Huntington.
In the West, it's a collection of surprises, as North Texas, Rice, and Tulane are all tied at the top heading into November. You couldn't find three more unlikely bowl teams heading into the final month, and it's going to be a race to the championship bid in conference play.

Still Alive: Marshall, Middle Tennessee, FAU, UAB, UTSA, Louisiana Tech, Tulsa
Marshall is just one win away from qualifying for a bowl, and looks likely to get it shortly. MTSU is just barely scraping by, and at 5-4, also looks likely to nab a spot, with a 2-1 finish well within reach to hit 7 wins. Out of the rest of the bunch, only UTSA looks like they could have an outside shot, sitting at 4-5, but playing solid football coming off of a trashing of Tulsa. FAU, UAB, and Tulsa re all one loss away from being knocked out of the postseason.

Out of the Running: FIU, Southern Miss, UTEP


Bowl Eligible: Notre Dame, BYU
The Irish got to their 7th win by barely surviving Navy, who pushed the Irish all day long. Notre Dame is likely to land one of their usual solid bowl bids on New Year's Day with a strong finish, which seems likely.
BYU was idle this weekend, but is already set to play what will likely be a PAC-12 opponent in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.

Still Alive: Navy, Army
Navy has lost a few head scratchers this season, but seems logical to get to yet another bowl. The Middies had Notre Dame on the ropes before falling short 38-34 this week.
Army is on the flip side of the coin, and is out of a bowl with one loss. The loss to Air Force was staggering this week, and Army looks to be bowing out any moment now.

Out of the Running: Idaho, New Mexico State


Bowl Eligible: Buffalo, Ohio, Northern Illinois, Ball State, Toledo
It has been a solid season for the upper half of the MAC, and the conference looks set again to steal some bids from conferences who fail to qualify enough teams for their selected slots.
Buffalo has been a huge surprise over the last month, and is now in for certain. They are also lining themselves up for a run at the conference title game, with a full game lead over Ohio, who still looks to play spoiler.
Northern Illinois and Ball State will have to knock each other out of the race for not only the West title, but Ball State has a shot to knock NIU out of the BCS race. If NIU can win out, and steal the MAC title game, Ball State could win out and possible supplant the East winner in the Motor City Bowl. It doesn't matter right now, because the Cardinals are headed somewhere regardless.
Toledo has made a nice comeback this season, and is still in position to throw a wrench into some plans. They qualified with a win over Eastern Michigan this week.

Still Alive: Central Michigan, Bowling Green
The Chippewas are alive, but just barely at 3-5. Without a strong November run (3-1 at worst) they will fall short of qualifying.
The Falcons get in with one win, but they have flopped in big game opportunities this season. Still, I see them getting their 6th win and heading to a bowl with a strong crop of MAC contenders.

Out of the Running: UMass, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan

Mountain West

Bowl Eligible: Boise State, Fresno State
BSU and Fresno State are still on a collision course for the first Mountain West Title Game in what would be a rematch of Fresno State's win earlier this season in Fresno. Boise State is tied with Utah State for the division lead in the Mountain, but holds the tie breaker by virtue of having beaten the Aggies. Either way, Fresno State is playing for not just a conference title, but a shot at a BCS bid as well. The Bulldogs are currently the highest ranked non-AQ school right now, and could be headed to the Fiesta Bowl if they can hold on. That being said, Fresno State is ranked ahead of Northern Illinois in the BCS, but not in our PRS rankings.

Still Alive: Utah State, Wyoming, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Jose State, San Diego State, UNLV, Nevada
There are a large group of teams still fighting to qualify, but only Utah State, San Jose State, and UNLV could qualify in week 11. UNLV and Utah State play each other in a huge conference game Saturday. San Jose State is currently the hottest of the three, having beaten UNLV 34-24 in week 10.

Out of the Running: Air Force, Hawaii


Bowl Eligible: Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State, Arizona State, Arizona, UCLA, USC
The conference looks like a strong contender to land 7 teams in bowls at a minimum, and Oregon is still more than alive in the BCS title game chase. If the Ducks can survive Stanford this weekend on the Farm, there is nobody else equipped to stop their run. As it stands, Stanford is the favorite to head to the Rose Bowl is Oregon makes the run.
Oregon State has fallen flat as of late, with two consecutive losses. They are strictly an outsider now, but they will still bowl.
Arizona State is in control of their own destiny in a run to the conference title game, as they now lead the South. Arizona, UCLA, and USC are all a game back, so the margin is thin, with games against UCLa and Arizona still on the slate for the Sun Devils.

Still Alive: Washington, Washington State, Utah, Colorado
Washington needs just one win right now to bowl, while WSU and Utah still need two wins. WSU has to win two of three to get there, but like WSU, bowl or not both the Cougars and Buffaloes are far better than they were a year ago, and are rising teams.

Out of the Running: California


Bowl Eligible: Missouri, South Carolina, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M
The top of the SEC is as great as always, but the middle of the conference is severely muddled and losing steam. That said, Alabama is the best team until proven otherwise, and will likely cruise to the SEC title this season, giving them yet another BCS appearance in the final year of the system.
Nobody has surprised in this group more than Missouri, who bounced back from their first loss with a shelling of Tennessee, 31-3.
South Carolina is still hanging around in the East, and is the only other relevant team in the division. Auburn is better than we thought they'd be, while LSU and Texas A&M seem to struggle with identity issues at times.

Still Alive: Georgia, Florida, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas
There is a muddy pool that contains these teams. Georgia is the best of the bunch, winning their 5th game this season, beating Florida 23-20 in a brawl marred game. Kentucky and Arkansas are both one loss away from tapping out for the year. Florida, Vandy, and Tennessee all need two wins in the final month, as does Mississippi State. Ole Miss gets in with one more win.

Out of the Running: None

Sun Belt

Bowl Eligible: UL-Lafayette, Texas State
Mark Hudspeth has done another remarkable job at ULL this season, and the Cajuns could win out to take the Sun Belt title and head off to the New Orleans Bowl.
Texas State is back a bit in the race, but the Bobcats have been a remarkable surprise, as Dennis Franchione has turned the program into a contender in the conference. TSU will go bowling for the first time in 2013.

Still Alive: UL-Monroe, Arkansas State, Troy, Western Kentucky, South Alabama
ULM and Troy could qualify for bowls with one more win each in a year where both teams desperately needed to do so for their coaches. That is a reachable goal with each team only having three games on the schedule a piece. WKU could also qualify for a bowl with one more win, which would get Bobby Petrino to a bowl in his first season.

Out of the Running: Georgia State

FCS Playoffs At a Glance

Big Sky
The league title is up for grabs heading into November, with Montana State and Eastern Washington tied at the top. I can see multiple bids coming out of the league once again, as the league is as strong as ever at the top.
Projected Teams In: Montana State, Eastern Washington, Montana
Bubble: Northern Arizona, Southern Utah

Big South
In one of the strongest seasons ever in Bog South play, this could be the year of dual bids for this conference. Coastal Carolina and Charleston Southern both reside in our PRS top ten, and could both very well take bids.
Projected Teams In: Coastal Carolina, Charleston Southern
Bubble: None

It's been a bumpy ride in the CAA in 2013, and some teams could play their way in or out of the playoffs in the final month, including Towson.
Projected Teams In: Towson, Maine, Delaware
Bubble: William & Mary, James Madison

Missouri Valley
It has not been a quality season top to bottom in 2013 for the Valley, with more teams failing to live up than not. There is supreme quality at the top, however.
Projected In: North Dakota State, Youngstown State
Bubble: None

Oh yes, the MEAC will be back in the hunt this month. There are two teams that I love in the playoffs, but one will likely get in.
Projected In: Bethune-Cookman
Bubble: South Carolina State

There will only be one team in from the NEC this season, but there will be a race to the finish to see who gets it.
Projected In: Duquesne
Bubble: Sacred Heart (Ranked 24th in this week's PRS)

Ohio Valley
As many as five teams enter November with at least an outside shot at stealing the conference title. It's still too cloudy to pick, but here's a look.
Projected In: Eastern Illinois, Jacksonville State
Bubble: Tennessee State, Eastern Kentucky, UT-Martin

Patriot League
It's clearly a one bid league in 2013, and that team is ranked number one in our PRS rankings once again this week, but only by a single point.
Projected In: Fordham
Bubble: None

Pioneer Football
The expansion was set up to get the PFL into an AQ bid this season, but is there really one team that deserves it? Butler, who is in first place, is only ranked 44th in our PRS rankings.
Projected In: Marist (Ranked 31st)
Bubble: Butler, San Diego both tied for first, but only one bid, if any, gets in.

It's hardly been a conventional season, with all new faces likely to represent in the playoffs.
Projected In: Chattanooga, Samford
Bubble: Wofford (In with a strong finish)

Yet another strong run at the top of the SLC this season, however with a new face leading the charge.
Projected In: SE Louisiana, Sam Houston State
Bubble: McNeese State (Could get in with a strong finish to give the SLC three in teams)

No comments:

Post a Comment