Sunday, November 10, 2013

Week 11 Under Review: FBS Bowl and FCS Playoff Countdown

We have now put week 11 into the books officially, and what a strange ride it was. Up was down and down was up once again, and like last weekend, several bowl and playoff spots were up for grabs. There has been some separation in some conferences, while there is just as much confusion and more in others. Here is a look at what transpired, and where the bowl and FCS playoff spots stand.



Bowl Eligible: UCF, Louisville, Cincinnati, Houston
UCF has taken control of the AAC race after beating Houston this weekend. Both teams were fighting for a place in the final BCS spot ever, and UCF edged out the Cougars to take control.
Only Cincinnati has a shot at the AAC title now, but must get a UCF loss or two, and must win out themselves to lock it down. Louisville and Houston are bowl bound, but have both already fallen to UCF this season. As of now, it looks like the AAC will struggle overall to fill their 5 spots, with Rutgers probably skidding in at the last moment.

Still Alive: Rutgers, SMU, USF, Memphis
Rutgers is still one win away from qualifying, but they have 4 games left on the schedule to get it. The Scarlet Knights are a lock in my book to get that 6th win needed. SMU fell to Cincinnati, and is still way back at 3-5, needing 3 wins in their final 4 games, which is highly unlikely at this point. USF and Memphis are both 2-6, and need to win out. One loss, and both the Mustangs and Tigers join UConn and Temple at home for the holidays.

Home For the Holidays: UConn, Temple


Bowl Eligible: Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Duke, Miami
The Seminoles have now officially won the Atlantic Division of the ACC, and will play in the conference title game. There wasn't much drama in doing so, as the Seminoles locked it down with a 59-3 win over hapless Wake Forest. Georgia Tech leads the Coastal Division by a half game over Virginia Tech, but neither team looks to threaten FSU and a conference crown, which would likely send FSU to the BCS title game against Alabama. Clemson looks likely headed to the Chik-Fil-A Bowl, my favorite non-major bowl game.
Of the remaining two teams not mentioned, Duke is streaking (7th win), while Miami is fading fast with their second consecutive loss. Duke's David Cutliffe has gone from our Hot Seat to a contender for our Coach of the Year award in the ACC.

Still Alive: Syracuse, Boston College, Wake Forest, Maryland, NC State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh
Mathematically, several teams are still alive, but let's talk reality. Of this group, most can get there with realistic chances, except for Wake Forest, who is just about as bad as it gets, and NC State, who remains winless in ACC play. Syracuse and BC are improving every week, despite BC's near fatal loss to New Mexico State before pulling away. Syracuse now has a winning streak, and they are playing excellent defense against bad teams. Pitt and UNC got much needed wins this weekend, although Pitt's win over an average Notre Dame team was more impressive. UNC tore up Virginia, which has become the doormat to the rest of the ACC under soon to be probably fired Mike London.
Maryland, who started out 4-0, is now just 1-4 since that time, and I am beginning to wonder if they can just pull out one win in their final 3 to get eligible.

Home For the Holidays: Virginia

Big 10

Bowl Eligible: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan
Congrats to the Iowa Hawkeyes, who became eligible with a win over Purdue this week. They give the Big 10 7 teams that will play in bowls this season. Here's the rub...the Big 10 has 8 bowl slots.
Ohio State is likely headed to the Big 10 title game, having already beaten Wisconsin. NO other team is in range of striking, so the Buckeyes seem a lock right now.
In the Legends Division (they will change these stupid divisional names one day, right?) it's now between Michigan State and Nebraska next Saturday for the likely birth in the conference title game to play the Buckeyes. With a little luck in their pocket, red hot Minnesota could steal the division still, but sits 2 games out.
Michigan is fading out quickly, and is now just 2-3 in Big 10 play, but 6-3 overall. The Wolverines are in collapse mode after falling to Nebraska with just over 2 minutes left on Saturday, 17-13 being the final score.

Still Alive: Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern
Again, we have to look at reality here. None of these teams seem likely to qualify for bowls, leaving the Big 10 one team short in fulfilling their bowl slots. No worries, as the MAC, MWC, and Sun Belt will fill the gap happily. Indiana needs 3 wins, as does Illinois, and Northwestern hasn't won since late September.

Home For the Holidays: Penn State, Purdue

Big 12

Bowl Eligible: Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech
The Big 12 has 7 bowl slots, and right now can only fill 5. We'll get to that below. Texas remained unbeaten in Big 12 play with a well earned OT win over West Virginia. WVU isn't very good, but winning in Morgantown is still an accomplishment not to be tossed aside. The Horns final three games are against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Baylor, all in that order. Brutal!
Baylor should remain unbeaten until the finale against Texas, but their schedule is tough as well. They handled Oklahoma with ease this week, but they still get Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU, and Texas on the schedule. Baylor looks golden to the end, but there are challenges ahead.
Oklahoma State  still looks solid, but they play Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma still.
Texas Tech has faded from view quicker than an 80's fad, with their 3rd consecutive loss at the hands of Kansas State.

Still Alive: Kansas State, TCU, West Virginia
After beating Texas Tech, Kansas State is just one win away from getting to a bowl, and it loks likely that Bill Snyder's Wildcats will make it happen. TCU and WVU on the other hand, don't look likely to help their conference fill that 7th slot.

Home For the Holidays: Kansas, Iowa

Conference USA

Bowl Eligible: East Carolina, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Rice, Tulane
CUSA is primed to fill all of their bowl slots this season, which is great news considering some of the unexpected teams that have come so far this year.
East Carolina has a half game lead over Marshall in the East, and must travel to play the Herd in the season finale for what should be all of the marbles and a birth in the CUSA title game. MTSU isn't out of it, but they will need some help. The Blue Raiders became bow eligible just this weekend.
In the West, North Texas has a full game lead over Rice, but Tulane and UTSA are still very much alive in the hunt.

Still Alive: FAU, Louisiana Tech, UTSA
The amazing UTSA Roadrunners are now 5-5 in only their second full season in FBS play. One more win, and CUSA has 7 bowl eligible teams for only 6 slots. CUSA will take a spot from another conference, and will do so with a smile. UTSA will get that 6th win, and are still on the edge of the hunt for the West Division title.
While technically still in the race for a bowl bid, reality states that FAU and Louisiana Tech are really just in the hunt in name only.

Home For the Holidays: UAB, FIU, Southern Mississippi, Tulsa, UTEP


Bowl Eligible: Notre Dame, BYU
Neither the Irish or the Cougars did themselves any favors with road losses to Pitt and Wisconsin this week. For Notre Dame, they likely played themselves out of a BCS spot. A New Year's Day Bowl is still in range, but BCS is done.
For BYU, it matters not, as they will still play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, their designated bowl spot, against a team from the PAC-12.

Still Alive: Navy
Navy rolled past Hawaii this weekend, 42-28, and is now just one win away from playing in the Armed Forces Bowl in Dallas, their designated bowl slot for 2013.

Home For the Holidays: Army, New Mexico State, Idaho


Bowl Eligible: Buffalo, Bowling Green, Ohio, Ball State, Northern Illinois, Toledo
The MAC has 6 eligible teams for 3 spots, so they will be filling some spots that other conferences will fail to fill.
Buffalo controls their fate in the east, with a one game lead over Bowling Green. The Bulls and Falcons meet in the season finale for what would be a division title and a birth in the MAC title game.
In the East, it's all coming down to an epic battle between Ball State and last week's PRS number one ranked team, Northern Illinois. They meet this Wednesday night with NIU hosting. It's going to be a must watch game to send one of these two teams to a date in the MAC title game.
Ohio fell flat this week in a loss to Buffalo, but will most definitely be making a bowl appearance somewhere. Toledo is just behind two power brokers in the West, but they are bowling as well.

Still Alive: Central Michigan
While still alive by the math, CMU will likely not make a 7th bowl team for the MAC, as they would have to win their 3 remaining games just to qualify as they sit at 3-6 after falling to Ball State.

Home For the Holidays: Akron, UMass, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan

Mountain West

Bowl Eligible: Utah State, Boise State, Fresno State
The MWC has 6 slots to fill, and has only filled half of that so far. Fresno State could be in a BCS game, which would mean that the conference could have to fill a 7th slot. That could still happen, but it's getting late in the game.
Fresno State stayed alive in their BCS quest by hammering Wyoming Saturday, while Utah State squeaked by at UNLV to get eligible. USU also took a half game lead on Boise State, but that's not likely to last. My prediction remains Fresno State playing Boise State in the first ever MWC title game.

Still Alive: Colorado State, Wyoming, New Mexico, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV
4 teams could qualify for bowls with their next win in Colorado State, San Diego State, San Jose State, and UNLV. The first three are locks in my book, but UNLV has been trying for two weeks to get their 6th win, and they keep falling short. That being said, they need one win in their final two games. It's getting tight. If UNLV can get that win, they will give the MWC their 7th eligible team for 6 bowl slots.

Home For the Holidays: Air Force, Nevada, Hawaii


Bowl Eligible: Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Arizona State, UCLA, USC, Arizona
The PAC-12 has 7 bowl slots, and they have 8 teams ready to bowl. It's a great problem to have in what has been a strong showing for the conference.
Stanford is the group villain after knocking Oregon from the BCS title picture this week, even though the Cardinal did everything they could to give the game away late. Stanford remains in the BCS title picture, but with one loss, they'd need a lot of help that is likely not to come. They look targeted for the Rose Bowl.
Oregon could still fit into the BCS bowl picture somehow by winning out, but they really fell flat at Stanford on Thursday, and now they are playing for peanuts compared to a title.
Oregon State and Washington are in spoiler roles, but are going bowling for certain.
In the South, Arizona State barely held onto their edge by rallying to beat Utah. They still have UCLA and Arizona on the schedule, so they are far from a lock to play Stanford in the conference title game.
UCLA decided that what their offense needed was great defense in their 31-26 win at Arizona, so they put in packages containing several defensive players on offense, and it worked brilliantly, with the super talented Myles Jack leading the way with 120 yards and a TD on just 6 carries. He also recorded 8 tackles, 2 defended passes, and a fumble recovery after Arizona fumbled on the UCLA one yard line. Jack also nearly broke free on a fake punt, and was overthrown despite being all by himself in the open field. The loss took Arizona out of the South title chase, but they too will still bowl.
Here's the kicker to the whole mess. USC can still win the South, play in a conference title game, and go to the Rose Bowl. Blocking their way would be games against Stanford on the road, and UCLA at home in the season finale on November 30th. Yeah..not going to happen, but anything is possible.
One thing to note here is that the South is one hell of a lot better now than it was a year ago, and it's getting better.

Still Alive: Washington State, Utah, Colorado
WSU has to win 2 of 3 to finish the season to get that 6th win, and while possible, it's not likely to happen. Utah is in the same boat, and they look more in line with a team that can pull it off, even though they have struggled with consistency. The two play each other on the 23rd in what could decide which team could end up bowling.
Colorado is unlikely to win their final three games, but despite getting hammered 59-7 at Washington yesterday, the Buffaloes are a team that will be much improved in 2014.

Home For the Holidays: California


Bowl Eligible: Missouri, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M, LSU, Ole Miss
I am not a big believer of any conference owning 10 bowl slots, but that's what we have here. Right now, the SEC can fill 8 of the 10.
Missouri cruised to a huge win over Kentucky, which was hardly surprising. Mizzou knocked UK out of bowl consideration in the process. The Tigers still control the SEC East race, but South Carolina is still nipping at their heels. If the Tigers slip up, South Carolina can steal the SEC East crown and would likely play Alabama in the SEC title game.
Georgia is the only other team in the east that has qualified, and they cruised to a 45-6 win over Appalachian State, who is playing their final season as an FCS program.
Alabama dominated LSU, and for a change, someone actually scored points in this game this season. Bama is in control, and nobody has what it takes to beat them.
The only team left on Alabama's schedule that can challenge them would be Auburn, and Auburn made short work of Tennessee, all on the ground and on special teams. The Tigers are the only team left that can steal the west from the Tide.
Texas A&M, LSU, and Ole Miss all picked up wins on Saturday, but none of them are in range to challenge.

Still Alive: Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Mississippi State
If there is one team on this list that I see as a qualifier, it has to be Vanderbilt. They handled the Gators in Gainesville 34-17 this weekend, and perhaps destroyed what's left of Florida's season. The Gators will certainly fall to Florida State in the finale, and that would give them 6 losses. Will Muschamp has lost the faithful, and they may lose him when it's all said and done.
Tennessee and Mississippi State are two teams on downward trends, and the Vols are one loss away from being eliminated. Mississippi State has a grace period of one loss, but two more and it's game over until 2014. Will Dan Mullen be back for more if that's the case?

Home For the Holidays: Kentucky, Arkansas

Sun Belt

Bowl Eligible: UL-Lafayette, Texas State, Western Kentucky
There are only two bids owned by the Sun Belt, and right now there are three teams that are eligible. Here's an issue that I see. While UL-Lafayette is a lock, and leads the league, Texas State and Western Kentucky are further down in the standings, with Texas State 5th, and WKU 6th. I really cannot see those two schools finishing so low in the standings, and still getting bowl invites. Especially if the teams that are above them and are still alive manage to qualify.

Still Alive: Arkansas State, UL-Monroe, Troy, South Alabama
Even though the three teams that are eligible are already there, three of four of these teams are ahead of Texas State and WKU in the standings. Arkansas State, ULM, and Troy are all one win away from qualifying. Any one of these teams manages to get that 6th win, and you can forget about TSU and WKU getting into the postseason.

Home For the Holidays: Georgia State


Big Sky
There was finally some separation at the top this weekend when Eastern Washington took out Montana State. There could be as many as 5 bids out of the Big Sky.
In: Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona, Montana State, Montana
Bubble: Southern Utah

Big South
There was a major shift this weekend, when Charleston Southern defeated Coastal Carolina. The Buccaneers now control the Big South title, but there may be two bids anyway.
In: Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina
Bubble: Liberty

James Madison fell out of contention, but could be on the bubble with a win in their season finale. There could only be 4 bids this season, but there's still an open door for more.
In: Maine, William & Mary, Delaware, Towson
Bubble: New Hampshire, James Madison

Bethune-Cookman's weekend loss didn't stabilize anything, but luckily they've already beaten SC State. One more loss, however...
In: Bethune-Cookman
Bubble: South Carolina State

Sacred Heart has done the unthinkable thing this season, and by beating Duquesne 10-0, they have taken charge in the NEC.
In: Sacred Heart
Bubble: None

Ohio Valley
The conference title is likely headed to Eastern Illinois, as the Panthers now control a two game lead.
In: Eastern Illinois, Tennessee State, Jacksonville State
Bubble: None

Fordham is still hanging on to control, and the number one ranking in out PRS rankings, and will likely be the lone team in the playoffs. That being said, Lehigh is still on the fringe.
In: Fordham
Bubble: Lehigh

Pioneer Football
There is still a 3 way tie at the top of the conference. There are two weeks left to sort it out.
In: Butler
Bubble: San Diego, Marist

Let's face it, it's been a terrible year in the SoCon. It could be a one bid year, two at the most.
In: Chattanooga
Bubble: Samford, Wofford

It's been a tremendous year at the top of the SLC, and SE Louisiana is having their best season since 1982. They will be rewarded.
In: SE Louisiana, Sam Houston State, McNeese State
Bubble: None

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