Week 9 PiRate Picks

Last Week's Games: The PiRates went 42-10-3 for the week of October 21, giving them a year-to-date record of 304-92-7 (76.8%) in picking the winning team. A quick glance at about three dozen computer ratings obtainable via the Internet shows that the PiRates are picking the winner with better accuracy than about 80% of those ratings, although most of the ratings differ by no more than . . .

PiRate Ratings For Thursday, October 26, 2006
Note: Ratings rounded to nearest whole number
#	Team	   	W	L	Rating
 1	Ohio State 	8	0	131
 2	Michigan 		8	8	124
 3	Wisconsin 	7	1	124
 4	Texas 		7	1	123
 5	Clemson		7	1	123
 6	U S C		6	0	122
 7	California	7	1	121
 8	L S U		6	2	121
 9	Florida 		6	1	119
10	Oklahoma		5	2	118
11	West Va.		7	0	117
12	Auburn		7	1	117
13	Nebraska  	6	2	117
14	Louisville	7	0	116
15	Oregon		5	2	116
16	Arkansas		6	1	115
17	Tennessee 	6	1	115
18	Notre Dame 	6	1	114
19	B Y U		5	2	114
20	Rutgers		7	0	113
21	Boston Coll	6	1	113
22	Boise St.		8	0	112
23	Missouri 		7	1	112
24	Penn St.		5	3	112
25	Wash. St.		5	3	111
26	Ariz. St.		4	3	111
27	Iowa		5	3	111
28	Va. Tech		5	2	110
29	Pittsburgh	6	2	110
30	Ga. Tech		5	2	110
SEC PiRate Ratings			
Florida			6	1	119
Tennessee			6	1	115
South Carolina		5	2	108
Georgia			6	2	100
Vanderbilt		3	5	 98
Kentucky			3	4	 95 
L S U			6	2	121
Auburn			7	1	117
Arkansas			6	1	115
Alabama			5	3	106
Ole Miss			2	6	 94
Miss. State		2	6	 91

PiRates Show Vandy Now Finishing: 1-7/4-8

.  .  . one or two games a week.


I'm changing things a little this week, as it's time to start looking at bowl possibilities.  Thus, I will only give a brief synopsis of the key games so I can devote more space to who might be going where.


This Week's Schedule


SEC games for the week.


Florida International @ Alabama

PiRate Predicts: Alabama 42  FIU 9

Peiser Predicts: The Crimson Tide will rely on fundamentals and ball-control to win by 25-28 points in a boring game.



Louisiana Monroe @ Arkansas

PiRate Predicts: Arkansas 49  Louisiana Monroe 6

Peiser Predicts: The schedule continues to help the Hogs as they cruise to a 4 TD lead in the first half and win by anything more than that.



Kentucky @ Mississippi State

PiRate Predicts: Kentucky 28  Mississippi State 27

Peiser Predicts: I've played this one over and over again in my head and keep coming up with an exciting, high-scoring game.  I can't go against the PiRates here.  UK is still fighting for six wins and a bowl and had an extra week to prepare.  Cats should win.



Auburn @ Ole Miss

PiRate Predicts: Auburn 26  Ole Miss 7

Peiser Predicts: Turbeville's Tigers hold the Cardinal and Navy to under 250 yards and win by 17-21 in Tommy's return to Oxford.



Florida vs. Georgia at Jacksonville

PiRate Predicts: Florida 35  Georgia 16

Peiser Predicts:  Georgia fans better take an extra cocktail or two before this one.  The Bulldogs are fading into the sunset.  Gators will win by committing fewer mistakes and taking advantage of the mistakes Georgia makes.



Tennessee @ South Carolina

PiRate Predicts: Tennessee 21  South Carolina 19

Peiser Predicts: The Vols get revenge but it won't be easy.  Tennessee will win by single digits after Carolina stays within contention for 60 minutes.



Vanderbilt @ Duke

PiRate Predicts: Vanderbilt 19  Duke 10

Peiser Predicts: Duke will stay in this one until the end but the Commodores should prevail with a big play or two.  It should be closer than expected, and if Vandy doesn't show up at 100%, the Blue Devils could pull off a win that demoralizes Bobby's boys.


10 Other Games of Note


Clemson @ Virginia Tech (Thursday Night)

PiRate Predicts: Clemson 24  Virginia Tech 17

Peiser Predicts: The Hokies will be sky high for this one and possibly throw a monkey wrench into the ACC standings.  This game could go either way and is ripe for an upset.



U T E P @ Tulsa (Friday Night)

PiRate Predicts: Tulsa 45  UTEP 26

Peiser Predicts: Skelly Stadium should be rocking Friday Night as the Golden Hurricane continue their drive to the C-USA West Title and second consecutive C-USA crown with a 14+ point win.



Navy vs. Notre Dame @ Baltimore

PiRate Predicts: Notre Dame 34  Navy 24

Peiser Predicts: No Brian Hampton for the Middies means the Irish could make this one a blowout.  Navy's chances for a huge upset are gone with their star quarterback out for the season.



B Y U @ Air Force

PiRate Predicts: BYU 42  Air Force 31

Peiser Predicts: Cougars have the MWC title in their back pockets with a win in this one.  They prevail by 7 to 12 points in a game that could see 80 or more total points scored.



Texas @ Texas Tech

PiRate Predicts: Texas 28  Texas Tech 17

Peiser Predicts: The Longhorns are rolling toward a BCS bowl, but the Red Raiders will be waiting in ambush.  Tech may lead this game as late as the early stages of the third quarter before Texas comes from behind to win by eight to 14 points.



Texas A&M @ Baylor

PiRate Predicts: Texas A&M 27  Baylor 24

Peiser Predicts: The Bears will put up a great fight and have a chance to win this one and stay in contention for a bowl bid, but A&M might be a tad too strong.  If Baylor can pull off the upset, they are going bowling.



Southern Cal @ Oregon State

PiRate Predicts: USC 24  Oregon State 12

Peiser Predicts: The Trojans take advantage of an extra week's preparation to chew the Beavers at Reser Stadium.  USC wins it by about what the PiRates predict.



Ohio U @ Kent State

PiRate Predicts: Kent State 35  Ohio 27

Peiser Predicts: The Golden Flashes are on course for their first bowl berth since the 1972 Tangerine Bowl.  They take the East crown with a 10-16 point win.



Washington State @ U C L A

PiRate Predicts: UCLA 16  Washington State 14
Peiser Predicts: This should be a great match at the Rose Bowl between the Bruins' offense and the Cougars' defense.  Home team advantage is the deciding factor for the Bruins, as they win by a thin margin in one of the most exciting games of the week.



M T S U @ Louisiana-Lafayette

PiRate Predicts: ULL 27  MTSU 24

Peiser Predicts: The Blue Raiders can pick up a major road win and have just one big hurdle remaining in their attempt at getting to their first I-A Bowl.  I see two scenarios here.  Either MTSU will keep it close and find a way to squeak by at the end, or ULL will cruise to a 10-14 point win.  I'd say it's 50-50, but the PiRates say go with the home team.



Bowl Projecting


Rather than list each bowl and try to predict each match-up, I prefer to list each conference with the possible bowl-eligible teams. 


DISCLAIMER: Just like a publicly traded corporation at quarterly earnings reporting time must say, the information provided herein may include forward-looking statements relating to future events that involve risks and uncertainties.  These statements are based upon a number of assumptions and estimates which are subject to significant uncertainties, many of which are beyond the PiRates' control.


Atlantic Coast Conference


1. BCS Bowl—Orange:  This bowl bid already has the name "Clemson" penciled in.  If the Tigers can take out Virginia Tech, it may be time to change the writing to a gel-filled pen.


2. Chick-fil-a:  Would the former Peach Bowl desire to have home town Georgia Tech, or would they prefer Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, or Miami?  With Reggie Ball and Calvin Johnson, they want the Yellow Jackets.


3. Gator:  Once Ga. Tech is grabbed up, the Gator goes after Boston College if the Eagles are at least 10-2 and beat Miami.  If not, then Miami is their choice.


4. Champ Sports:  This bowl will take the team the Gator Bowl doesn't choose between Miami and Boston College.


5. Meineke Car Care: Wake Forest would be the perfect opponent for Navy.


6. Emerald: Virginia Tech would still be available if they don't pull off some upsets.  Hokies can travel better than what's left.


7. Music City: It will come down to Maryland and Florida State.  The Terps will fill more seats in Nashville, as FSU fans aren't going to travel to see a Seminole team that could be 7-5 or even 6-6.  As Beano Cook once said, "Florida State fans come to bowl games with $20 and a clean shirt and change neither."


8. MPC Computers: Florida State gets the privilege of playing in the snow on the blue field and brings enough fans to fill up a couple of suites in Boise.


Big East


1. BCS Bowl—Orange:  This is now a three-team race between Louisville, West Virginia, and Rutgers.  The schedule is set up for all three teams to lose one game to one of the other two.  Louisville gets an extra week to prepare to host WVU; Rutgers gets an extra week to prepare to host UL; and West Virginia hosts Rutgers on December 2.  I'm going out on a limb and calling for West Virginia to run the table thanks to the running of Steve Slaton.


After the first bowl, there are multiple possibilities with bowls that have a choice of conferences.  The Big East is eligible to receive bids to the Gator, Sun, Texas, and Birmingham Bowls, but these are not guaranteed.  Here's my guess:


2. Gator: Louisville would be very appealing at 11-1.


3. International:  Rutgers deserves better, but it looks like short of 12-0, they will be headed north of the border, although the Sun Bowl could be a possibility.


4. Texas: Pittsburgh has name recognition in the Lone Star State.


5. Birmingham: South Florida will get this bid if they go 7-5.  If not, then Cincinnati could steal it at 6-6.


Big Ten


Unless some major upset occurs, the Michigan and Ohio State game should be a battle of 11-0 teams with the winner headed to the National Championship Bowl, and the loser getting an at-large BCS Bowl.  With seven guaranteed bids, that would mean eight teams would be needed to satisfy the conference's allotment.  It isn't going to happen as only six bowl-eligible teams are assured and at most seven teams will get to six wins.  Thus, the lowest-rated bowl in the tier will have to look elsewhere for an at-large team.


1. BCS Bowl—BCS Title Game: Ohio State gets to play Michigan at the Shoe in Columbus.  These teams faced off in 1970 and 1973 in this similar undefeated situation.  The Buckeyes won in 1970 and the two teams tied in 1973 with Ohio State getting the Rose Bowl bid.  History should repeat and place the Buckeyes in Arizona for the championship.


2. BCS At-large—Rose: Michigan would get this bid as consolation.


3. Capital One:  Wisconsin wasn't supposed to be this good this year, but the Badgers look almost as strong as the two giants ahead of them.


4. Outback: Penn State isn't good enough to be here, but they move up thanks to Michigan and Ohio State.


5. Alamo: Purdue is one half of a really good team.  They will bring their gun-slinging offense to San Antonio.


6. Champs Sports: If Iowa doesn't suffer a total meltdown and quarterback Drew Tate can recover from his hand injury (expected to miss this week), the Hawkeyes will settle in here.


7. Insight: Indiana hosts Michigan State this weekend, and the winner will be 5-4. The winner of this game would then have to beat Minnesota when they play them in November.  Give the edge to the Spartans who are much more talented than where they will end up.


X. Motor City: There won't be an available team, and an at-large team will have to be found.


Big 12


The Gator, Sun, and Texas Bowls have working agreements but no guarantees with the Big 12.  I predict the league will send someone to the Sun and Texas bowls but not the Gator.


1. BCS Bowl—Fiesta: Texas is clearly better than the other 11 members, but they aren't so much better that they can overlook Texas Tech, Texas A&M, or a possible rematch with Nebraska.  Still, the Longhorns look good here.


2. Cotton: Nebraska would be very appealing at 10-3.


3. Holiday: Oklahoma figured to be in a BCS Bowl but with the losses of their one great quarterback and their Heisman Trophy Award-contending tailback, this is the best the Sooners can hope for.


4. Alamo: Dennis Franchione saves his job by guiding the Aggies here if his team doesn't collapse down the stretch facing a brutal schedule (at Baylor, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and at Texas) and drop down three or four notches.


5. Insight: Missouri could move up ahead of A&M if they can beat Oklahoma.  If not, the Tigers go here.


6. Sun: Texas Tech is a little disappointing here, but the Red Raiders will still finish at least 7-5.


7. Independence: Ron Prince has done a great job in his first season at Kansas State, and the Wildcats should become bowl-eligible.


8. Texas: Both Oklahoma State and Baylor have shots to finish 6-6; one of these four-win teams is guaranteed a fifth win when they face off on 11/11.  Chances are about 50-50 that one of them will do it.  If not, then the Big East might benefit by placing a sixth team in a bowl in USF or Cincinnati (at 6-6).


Conference USA


This conference gathers in bowl games like a squirrel gathers nuts in October.  It now has five bids.


1. Liberty: This is Tulsa's spot if nobody can pull off an upset.


2. GMAC: Southern Mississippi hasn't been here, so the Eagles would be a good choice.


3. Armed Forces: Houston would be a great fit and travel strongly to Ft. Worth.


4. Birmingham: Inviting UTEP would give Mike Price a chance to coach in the state he was supposed to coach in before his ill-timed visit to the wrong place.


5. New Orleans: Four teams are in the running for a 6-6 record, and the law of averages says one will succeed.  Those three are East Carolina, SMU, UAB, and Marshall.




Notre Dame, Navy, and Army all have agreements that can automatically place them in bowls.  Army won't be bowl eligible this year, but the other two will.


1. BCS At-Large—Sugar: Notre Dame will win at least 10 games and qualify for a BCS Bowl.


2. Meineke Car Care: Navy earns the bowl that guarantees them a spot here.


X. Poinsettia: Army cannot fulfill its allotment, throwing this open to an at-large bid.




The MAC now has three guaranteed bowl agreements with a stipulation that could bring them a fourth bowl (Birmingham). 


1. GMAC: Kent State has played in one bowl game, the 1972 Tangerine Bowl loss to Tampa.  The Golden Flashes are headed to bowl number two.


2. Motor City: Central Michigan would fit here like a glove.


3. International: Frank Solich and Ohio ride the arm of Austin Everson to Toronto.


4. Available for at-large bowl:  Northern Illinois and Western Michigan will be bowl eligible.  Unfortunately for the MAC, one of the available bowls is the Motor City, which more than likely wouldn't want two MAC teams.  The Poinsettia will have an at-large opening.  NIU with star back Garrett Wolfe could be appealing, but that's a long distance to travel.


Mountain West


The MWC's members usually ensure their bowls an exciting game.  The conference has four guaranteed bids, and a fifth team could become an at-large applicant.


1. Las Vegas: Brigham Young looks like they are on the way back to becoming a western powerhouse.  The Cougars should take the league crown and get this bid.


2. Armed Forces: TCU would be an excellent home-field opponent for an intra-state game if Houston gets the other bid.


At this point, Colorado State, Air Force, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming all look like they could finish 6-6.  What a mess this would create.


3. Poinsettia: Colorado State travels well.  They would be the preferred 6-6 team.


4. New Mexico: The home team would be the obvious choice of a bowl that was created to allow the Lobos to play a 13th game on their home field.


X. Wyoming, Utah, and Air Force would be available as at-large teams.  Air Force would travel and fill up the Motor City Bowl.




1. BCS Bowl—BCS Title Game: Southern California will get this bid if they win out.  Beating Notre Dame, UCLA, and Cal will only improve their ranking in the BCS ratings.  The Trojan defense is starting to look stronger every week, and the offense is still quite good.


2. BCS At-large—Rose: If Cal loses only to USC, at 10-2 they would look rather inviting to come to Pasadena for the first time since Eisenhower was President.


3. Holiday: Oregon looks like the P10's third best in a league where number three to number eight are about equal.


4. Sun: Either Washington or Washington State should get this bid, since UCLA played here last year.  The Apple Cup game will be played in Pullman this year, so go with the Cougars here.


5. Las Vegas: UCLA gets this one.


6. Hawaii: Washington returns to a bowl for the first time in four years.


7. Emerald: Arizona State may fall to 6-6 and get this bid.  It could be curtains for Dirk Koetter.  Mike Leach would be high on the list to replace him.


X. Oregon State would more than likely be bowl eligible if they didn't have to play at Hawaii in a 13th game.  It could mean the difference between 6-7 and 6-6 without having to play that game.  If they pull off an upset and finish 7-6, then they become the leader for the vacant Poinsettia Bowl bid.




The SEC is almost certain to get two BCS teams barring one of those events where the top teams beat up on themselves and all finish with two losses.  Let's go with the idea that two teams will emerge with impressive enough resumes to madden the Big East.


1. BCS Bowl—Sugar: Can Arkansas run the table, including wins over South Carolina,  Tennessee, LSU, and then Florida in the SEC Championship?  I think they will lose at least once more in the regular season, but they will still get the West title.  By then, Mitch Mustain may be able to take advantage of a better running game to out-duel the two-headed Gator offense.


2. BCS At-large—Fiesta: Auburn could finish 11-1, avoid the SEC Championship, and prevent Boise State from getting this bid.  When you read the WAC section below, you will see why I am going with the Tigers here.


3. Capital One: Tennessee or Florida will get this bid, while the other gets the next one.


4. Outback: And here's the next one.  It goes to Florida or Tennessee.


5. Cotton: L S U fans will travel en masse to Dallas.


6. Chick-fil-a: Alabama would be a great fit here.


7. Liberty: Georgia was headed toward a New Year's Day Bowl up until the second half kick against Tennessee.  Now, they have to come to Tennessee for their bowl.


8. Music City: South Carolina returns to Nashville after having such a good time there on 10/21.


9. Independence: This spot is available for Kentucky if they can beat Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Louisiana-Monroe.  Chances are about 50-50 for that to happen.  If not, then one of the MAC or MWC bowl-eligible teams will benefit.




1. New Orleans: Arkansas State, UL-Lafayette, MTSU, and Troy are all undefeated in conference play.  UL-Lafayette looks the strongest; Troy has the most favorable schedule; Arkansas State and MTSU have fewer conference games still to play as they are both 3-0 in the league.  Pick one out of a hat, but if I had to choose, I'd go with Lafayette.


X. There is an oh-so-slim chance that a second bowl-eligible team could sneak into an at-large bowl slot.  For example, if the SEC got two teams into BCS Bowls and Kentucky didn't become bowl eligible, the Independence or even Music City Bowl could find an SBC team worthy.  MTSU at 8-4 might appeal to the Music City Bowl.


Western Athletic


Boise State has a good chance to take away the third at-large BCS bid if they win out.  As you'll see below, I am thinking they won't finish 12-0.


1. MPC Computers: Boise State is going to have to stay home and face an ACC team in the blue field bowl, because I think they are headed for trouble in their season finale at Nevada.  Remember what happened to Fresno St. last year in Reno?


2. Hawaii: The theme of home field invitees continues as the Warriors grab this bid.


3. New Mexico: Nevada gets its second consecutive bowl bid.


X. Idaho and San Jose State have outside shots at becoming bowl eligible.  Their coaches (Dennis Erickson and Dick Tomey) have established great contacts through the years, but would these schools be able to guarantee ticket sales? San Jose State could be a possibility for the Poinsettia Bowl.



Conference Rankings
 1	Big Ten			108.82
 2	Pacific Ten		108.30
 3	Big Twelve		107.00
 4	Southeastern		106.58
 5	Big East			105.75
 6	Atlantic Coast		103.83
 7	Mountain West		 98.44
 8	Independents		 93.50
 9	Conference USA		 94.08
10	Western Athletic		 92.89
11	Mid American		 89.83
12	Sunbelt			 82.63	
And The Rest

Winner		Loser		Margin
Iowa		N. Illinois	  27
Boston Coll.	Buffalo		  49
Wake Forest	N. Carolina	  12
Virginia		N. C. State	   1
Fla. State	Maryland	   	   3
Cincinnati	Syracuse	  	  10
Michigan		N'Western	  	  37
Wisconsin		Illinois	  	  34
Mich. St.		Indiana		   4
B G U		Temple	  	  14
Ball St.		Miami (O)	   	   4
Kansas St.	Iowa St.	   	   6
Tulane		Army		   3
Penn State	Purdue		   2
Ohio State	Minnesota	  	  33
Western Mich.	East. Mich.	  16
Washington	Ariz. St.	   	   2
Utah		U N L V		  23
Nevada		N. M. State	  24
Marshall		Memphis		  11
Colo. St.		N. Mexico	   	   8
San Jose St.	La. Tech	   	   7
Houston		Cent. Fla.	  16
Akron		Toledo		   5
Ga. Tech		Miami (F)	   	   9
Oklahoma		Missouri	   	   1
Colorado		Kansas		   1
Nebraska		Okla. St.	  	  10
T C U		Wyoming		   5
Southern Miss	E C U		   5
Troy		N. Texas	  	  10
Ark. State	Fla. Atl.	  	  11
Hawaii		Idaho		  26
Rutgers		Connecticut	  26

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