PiRate Top 25/ SEC; Bowl outlook

Below are the updated PiRatings for top national and SEC teams. Also included is a look at the current bowl scenarios.

PiRate Top 25 For November 8, 2005
  1. Southern California                   9-0       133.2
  2. Texas                                       9-0       133.0
  3. Miami (F)                                 7-1       124.1
  4. Penn State                                9-1       122.6
  5. Alabama                                   9-0       120.5
  6. L S U                                       7-1       118.6
  7. Georgia                                    7-1       117.9
  8. Ohio State                                7-2       116.9
  9. Virginia Tech                            8-1       116.7
  10. Texas Tech                               8-1       116.6
  11. Auburn                                     7-2       116.5
  12. Notre Dame                             6-2       116.0
  13. Fresno State                             7-1       115.2
  14. West Virginia                            7-1       115.0
  15. Colorado                                  7-2       114.8
  16. Florida                                     7-2       114.6
  17. U C L A                                   8-1       113.9
  18. T C U                                      9-1       113.7
  19. Michigan                                  6-3       113.6
  20. Wisconsin                                 8-2       113.4
  21. Minnesota                                6-3       113.2
  22. Louisville                                  6-2       112.7
  23. Florida State                             7-2       112.2
  24. Northwestern                           6-3       111.5
  25. Oklahoma                                5-3       111.0
PiRate SEC Rankings
1.      Georgia                  117.9
2.      Florida                   114.6
3.      South Carolina        106.2
4.      Tennessee              104.1
5.      Vanderbilt                99.8
6.      Kentucky                 92.6
1.      Alabama                 120.5
2.      L S U                     118.6
3.      Auburn                   116.5
4.      Ole Miss                  98.5
5.      Arkansas                  98.1
6.      Mississippi State       96.3
Alabama fell after failing to score an offensive touchdown against lowly Mississippi State.  Miami and Penn State leapfrogged over the Crimson Tide after they both posted impressive wins over top-ranked teams.
With the loss of Tyrone Prothro, Alabama has not been able to punch the ball into the end zone.  Even though the Tide is rated as the top team in the SEC (the ratings are based on comparative scores and wins and cannot deduct points for personnel losses until the intangibles are factored in later in the week), I have them losing both of their final two games if they were played today.
D.J. Shockley's recovery is vital this week.  Auburn can take out Georgia without a healthy Shockley playing close to 100%.  That would give the East title to Florida if the Gators can edge South Carolina.  That's no longer a given.  What it all means is that the SEC Championship Game could have two teams with two losses squaring off. 
LSU could run the table, but their lackluster performance against Appy State is a concern.  They could edge Alabama in a defensive struggle and then lay an egg against either Ole Miss or Arkansas; it wouldn't surprise me if one of the two also-rans pulled off the upset.
That could open the door for Auburn if they could beat Georgia and Alabama.  Auburn is sitting in the catbird seat in the West today.  If Alabama beats LSU, then the War Eagles can take the crown by beating a weakened Georgia team and then getting Alabama at Jordan-Hare Stadium.  It will be an interesting rest of the month.
A Look At The Conference Races
Florida State backed into the Atlantic Division title.  The Seminoles proved once again that they are not up to their standards of the 1990's.  They could lose at Clemson and to Florida to limp into the ACC Title game at 7-4. 
Miami has Wake Forest and Virginia standing in their way of a rematch with Florida State.  Stranger things have happened, but it would be quite a shock for the Hurricanes to even come close to losing either game.  This Miami team is trying to replicate the exploits of the 1983 team.
Virginia Tech still has an outside shot at a BCS at-large bowl bid.  Their main competition should come from Texas Tech, Oregon, and Ohio State.
Georgia Tech and Boston College are already bowl eligible, but the Eagles are dropping like rocks. 
Virginia is 5-3, but the Cavs close with Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Miami.  They basically must beat the Yellow Jackets Saturday when they play in Scott Stadium.
North Carolina, Clemson, Maryland, and North Carolina State all have four losses and can become bowl eligible if the ball bounces their way.  The Tar Heels have games against Duke and Maryland at home, so they have a better than 50-50 chance.  The Wolfpack have MTSU and Maryland at home, and they have a decent shot at getting to six victories.  Clemson must play Florida State and South Carolina.  These games could go either way; they must win one, so, it's even money.  The Terps are definitely the odd-team out. 
BCS Bowl: Miami
BCS At-Large Bowl: Virginia Tech
Gator: Georgia Tech
Peach: Florida State
Champs Sports: Boston College
Meineke Car Care: North Carolina
MPC Computers: Clemson
At-large Availability: North Carolina State
Outside, looking in: Virginia and Maryland
Big East
West Virginia has a clear path to the championship, but they must go to Tampa and beat South Florida in what should be a de facto title game in December.  Cincinnati has a one in a hundred chance of coming out of nowhere if they could upset the Mountaineers at Nippert Stadium tomorrow night, then win at South Florida and at Rutgers to close the season.  Don't count on it; the Bearcats won't even finish bowl eligible if they lose on Wednesday.
BCS Bowl: West Virginia
Gator: Louisville
Insight: Rutgers
Meineke Car Care: South Florida
Big 10
Penn State is one win away from taking their second Big 10 title.  The Nittany Lions have a week off before they play at Michigan State.  The Spartans have the talent to beat them, but they also have the ability to lose to Purdue.  MSU is liable to be playing for bowl eligibility in two weeks.
Ohio State anxiously awaits the Penn State finale.  If the Spartans pull off the upset, the Buckeyes can cop the crown with wins over Northwestern and Michigan, the latter being played at "The Big House."  The Buckeye-Wolverine match-up would once again be for the championship if Penn State were to lose.  If Penn State wins and Ohio State wins, the Buckeyes would be in the hunt for a BCS at-large bid with their two losses coming to Rose Bowl bound Texas and Fiesta Bowl bound Penn State.
Northwestern cannot win the title, but the Wildcats have become bowl eligible.  Ditto that for Minnesota.
BCS Bowl: Penn State
Capital One: Ohio State
Outback: Wisconsin
Alamo: Michigan
Sun: Minnesota
Music City: Northwestern
Motor City: Iowa
Big 12
Texas all of a sudden faces a hot Kansas team this weekend, but the Jayhawks don't have the bullets to fire a hole in the Longhorns' hearts.  Even if they play the game of their lives, I cannot see Texas A&M stopping the Burnt Orange Express.  Mack Brown's bunch is headed for Pasadena.
Texas Tech could earn an at-large BCS Bowl bid with wins over the two Oklahoma schools, and if Texas continues to steamroller their opponents.
Oklahoma has two easy marks in Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, so even if they lose to Texas Tech, the Sooners will have seven wins.
As bad as they have been the last few weeks, Baylor is not out of the picture.  They must beat struggling Missouri in Columbia and weak Oklahoma State to get to 6-5; it's possible.
Texas A&M has Oklahoma and Texas and must win one of these games to avoid a losing season—not this year Coach Fran.
In the North, Colorado would like to derail the ‘Horns in the Big 12 Championship game.  The Buffalos are 7-2, with the two losses coming to Texas and Miami on the road.  Remember 2001?  Colorado was blown out by Texas 41-7 in the regular season, but they beat the ‘Horns in the title game.
Nebraska is now 5-4 and not a lock to win another game.  They must beat an equally inept Kansas State team because they will not win in Boulder on November 25.  As for Kansas State, they must close out the season by defeating Nebraska and Missouri.
Iowa State has come on like gangbusters to clinch a bowl bid.  The Cyclones could very well upset Colorado this week, but they would need the Buffs to lose at home to Nebraska and then have to beat Kansas in Lawrence to sneak into the division title.
Missouri is very much alive in the hunt for six wins.  They need one more and close with Baylor and Kansas State.
Kansas needs one more win to claim a bowl bid, but they have Texas and Iowa State left on their schedule.  They could upset the Cyclones if they play like they did against The Cornhuskers.
BCS Bowl: Texas (everything's coming up Roses)
Cotton: Texas Tech
Holiday: Oklahoma
Alamo: Colorado
Champs Sports: Missouri
Houston: Nebraska
Independence: Iowa State
Ft. Worth: Looks like an at-large team will have to be selected
Outside looking in: Baylor, Kansas State, and Kansas
Not this year: Texas A&M
Conference USA
In the East, Southern Mississippi controls their own destiny, but the Golden Eagles have four games left to play.  They must go to Marshall tonight, then turn around and play at Houston on Sunday.  The final two games are at home against Memphis and Tulane.  USM should fall at least once having to play so many games in som little time.
That opens the door for Central Florida if the Golden Knights can win at UAB and at winless Rice.  UCF is already bowl eligible.
UAB, Marshall, and Memphis are all 4-4.  The Blazers should win their finale at East Carolina, but they must upset either UCF or UTEP (on the road) to get that sixth win.  It looks like it won't happen.  Marshall's hopes rest on an upset tonight against USM.  They still have East Carolina and a season finale at Memphis, so the Thundering Herd have a chance.  Memphis has a difficult road on its journey to six wins.  The Tigers must play at Tennessee and at Southern Miss., and they have to win one of them to give the closing game against Marshall any meaning.
In the West, UTEP needs only to beat UAB or SMU to clinch the division title.  They should run the table to finish 11-1 prior to the Liberty Bowl. 
Tulsa gave the Miners quite a scare but fell short by two seconds.  The Golden Hurricane need one more win and should get it against the likes of East Carolina and Tulane.
Houston is now 4-4 with games remaining against Southern Mississippi, SMU, and Rice.  Figure on at least six wins for the Cougars.
Liberty: U T E P
GMAC: Southern Mississippi
Hawaii: Houston
Ft. Worth: Tulsa
New Orleans: Central Florida
Outside looking in: UAB, Marshall, and Memphis
Miami of Ohio and Bowling Green have not played up to their capabilities this year, but they will face off on November 15 for the MAC East title.  Ohio U. and Akron basically removed themselves from the race this past weekend.  I give the Red Hawks the better chance.  The Falcons could easily lose to Miami and Toledo to finish 5-6.  Whether Omar Jacobs can return for the Miami game is the question.  Bowling Green has been quite ordinary with the superstar out nursing an injured shoulder.
In the West, Central Michigan blew their chances by losing at home to Northern Illinois.  Northern Illinois and Toledo still control their own destiny, and the two teams face off at the Glass Bowl on November 16.  Toledo closes out at Bowling Green, while the Huskies must face hot Western Michigan. 
If Northern Illinois wins the big game, then Western Michigan would have a chance to win the West if the surprising Broncos could knock off the Huskies, while BGU beats Toledo.
Central Michigan's feint hopes rest on upsetting Western Michigan who would beat Northern Illinois, while Toledo lost out.
Motor City: Toledo
GMAC: Miami (O)
Bowl eligible and ready to play anywhere: Northern Illinois and Western Michigan
Outside looking in: Bowling Green, Akron, Central Michigan, and Ohio U.
 Mountain West
TCU clinched the Mountain West title with a win over Colorado State.  An easy win over UNLV will give them 10 wins for the fourth time in the last six years.
Colorado State, Brigham Young, New Mexico, and Utah all have 5-4 records, while Wyoming hangs by a thread at 4-5.  The Rams have the easiest road to seven wins with games against San Diego State and UNLV.  Utah must face New Mexico and BYU, while BYU must face Wyoming and Utah.  New Mexico gets Utah and Air Force., while Wyoming plays BYU and San Diego State.  Colorado State and BYU have the best shots at the other two bowl bids.
Las Vegas: T C U
Emerald: Colorado State
Poinsettia: BYU
At-large hopefuls: New Mexico and Utah
Just missing: Wyoming
Southern California still has quality opposition left to destroy before taking the bus ride a half hour north to Pasadena.  Fresno State might give them a scare for a few minutes.
So long to UCLA's BCS bowl hopes.  While Oregon still holds on to a slight chance at an at-large BCS bowl bid, it doesn't look promising.  California has six wins, while Arizona State, Oregon State, and Stanford are still in the mix.  The Sun Devils must play at UCLA and close with a charging arch-rival Arizona team.  Oregon State hosts Stanford this week with the loser being virtually eliminated.  Stanford would still have to beat Cal or Notre Dame to earn win number six.
BCS Bowl: Southern California (looking for the Yellow Rose of Texas)
Holiday: Oregon
Insight: California
Las Vegas: Oregon State
Emerald: Arizona State
Not only do we know which two teams will face off in the SEC Title game, we still have no clue where any team is headed during bowl season.  Five teams can still become SEC Champion, while three teams still hope to get their sixth win.
LSU appears to have the best shot at winning the league crown.  The Tigers have a better than 50-50 chance of winning at Alabama this weekend.  If they should fall, then there is a chance they could go to Oxford and watch an inspired Ole Miss team give them the business a week later.
Alabama has lost its offensive punch, and the Tide cannot rely solely on its stellar defense to close out the season with victories over three excellent teams.  They could easily lose their last two and miss out on the title game.
Auburn must like the situation they are in.  They face a Georgia team that may still have offensive issues with an ailing quarterback and then close out the season with Alabama at home.
If Ole Miss beats Arkansas at home Saturday, then they are an upset over LSU away from having a good shot at 6-5, as they close against Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.  Chances are only about 10% that will happen.
If Georgia loses to Auburn Saturday, then Florida can clinch the East crown with a victory over South Carolina.  If the Gators play defense like they did against Vanderbilt, then Steve Spurrier could make them pay.  The Gamecocks have no business competing with the Gators, but Stevie Superior has done another masterful job getting his USC squad into a bowl in year one.
Georgia can still beat Auburn and run the table to make it to the Championship Game at 10-1.  If Shockley cannot return to his former self, the Bulldogs can also lose one or even two games prior to the bowls.
Tennessee should win an ugly game over Memphis, while Vanderbilt should have enough fire to exact revenge against Kentucky.  That would make the game in Knoxville between the two rivals as tense as it has been in many years.
BCS Bowl: L S U
Capital One: Georgia
Outback: Florida
Cotton: Alabama
Peach: Auburn
Music City: South Carolina
Independence: Tennessee
Houston: Looks like an at-large team will have to be selected
Outside looking in: Vanderbilt & Ole Miss
Except for the two Florida schools, everybody else still has a chance to win this balanced league.  Current leader Louisiana Monroe must play at MTSU and at North Texas in the next two weeks.  They should have at least two losses after that.  Arkansas State, Louisiana Lafayette, MTSU, North Texas, and Troy also have two losses, so it's a crapshoot trying to figure out which team will get the lone bowl bid.  The November 26 game between Troy and MTSU could decide the title, but then again, North Texas could get hot and win their final three to take the conference with an overall record of 5-6.  Let's hope that does not happen.
New Orleans (played in Lafayette): Troy
The game of the year in the WAC and possibly the most exciting game out West this year takes place this Saturday when Fresno State hosts Boise State for the WAC championship.  Fresno State still must play at Nevada, but the boys in Reno are plainly third best in a two-team race. 
Nevada will get their sixth win this week against New Mexico State.  Louisiana Tech should also become bowl eligible this Saturday.  However, only two bowl bids go automatically to the WAC, and we know which two will get invitations.
MPC Computers, aka The Boise Invitational: Boise State
Hawaii: Fresno State
Standing by the phone hoping it rings: Nevada and Louisiana Tech
Somewhere over the Rainbow: No bowl bid for Hawaii this year
Two of the four Indies will finish up with the necessary wins to accomplish their goals this year.  Notre Dame should beat Navy for the 42nd consecutive time, and then beat Syracuse by 35 points.  A win at Stanford should get them into the top 12 in the BCS ratings at 9-2.
After Navy is sunk by the Irish submarine, they should recover and torpedo Temple and Army to finish with seven wins.  That should be enough to earn a third consecutive bowl bid in Paul Johnson's four year hitch.
With many Nebraska fans ready to give a throat-slashing gesture to Bill Callahan after the ‘Huskers lost to Kansas for the first time since the 1960's, imagine what Paul Johnson's spread option offense would do with Nebraska-quality athletes running it.  The passing game as the chief weapon is not part of the landscape of the Cornhusker State.  The late October and November weather is not favorable for throwing the ball in Lincoln.  In the same manner that Soldier Field and Lambeau Field play a huge part in late season games, it's the running game that must excel at Memorial Stadium when the temperature drops below 40 degrees, there are strong winds, or frozen precipitation is falling.

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