Week 10 PiRate Picks

Last Week's Games: The PiRates went 36-15-0 for the week of October 28, giving them a year-to-date record of 340-107-7 (76.1%) in picking the winning team. The total winning percentages have stayed in a narrow range since the third week of the season.

PiRate Ratings For Thursday, November 2, 2006
Note: Ratings rounded to nearest whole number
#	Team	   	W	L	Rating
 1	Ohio State	9	0	133
 2	Texas		8	1	122
 3	California	7	1	121
 4	L S U		6	2	121
 5	Michigan		9	0	120
 6	Wisconsin		8	1	120
 7	Oklahoma		6	2	120
 8	Southern Cal	6	1	119
 9	Clemson		7	2	118
10	West Virginia	7	0	117
10	Florida		7	1	117
12	Oregon		6	2	117
13	Louisville	7	0	116
14	Notre Dame	7	1	116
14	Auburn		8	1	116
16	Tennessee		7	1	116
17	Washington St.	6	3	116
18	Penn State	6	3	115
19	Brigham Young	6	2	115
20	Arkansas		7	1	114
21	Virginia Tech	6	2	114
22	Hawaii		6	2	114
23	Nebraska		6	3	113
24	Rutgers		8	0	112
25	Boise State	8	0	112
								
SEC PiRate Ratings			
East			
Florida			7	1	117
Tennessee			7	1	116
South Carolina		5	3	108
Georgia			6	3	102
Vanderbilt		4	5	100
Kentucky			4	4	 95 
				
West			
L S U			6	2	121
Auburn			8	1	116
Arkansas			7	1	114
Alabama			6	3	105
Ole Miss			2	7	 95
Miss. State		2	7	 91

PiRates Show Vandy Now Finishing: 2-6/5-7


Conference Rankings
 1	Big Ten			108.64
 2	Pacific Ten		108.40
 3	Big Twelve		107.00
 4	Southeastern		106.67
 5	Big East			106.00
 6	Atlantic Coast		103.50
 7	Mountain West		 98.11
 8	Independents		 93.50
 9	Conference USA		 94.25
10	Western Athletic	 	 93.00
11	Mid American		 89.75
12	Sunbelt			 82.75	

 

It's November—Those Nasty Autumn Winds Are Blowing

 

The Autumn Wind is a pirate
Blustering in from sea
With a rollicking song he sweeps along
swaggering boisterously
His face is weather beaten
He wears a hooded sash
With his silver hat about his head
And a bristly black moustache
He growls as he storms the country
A villain big and bold
And the trees all shake and quiver and quake
As he robs them of their gold
The Autumn wind is a Raider
Pillaging just for fun
He'll knock you 'round and upside down
And laugh when he's conquered and won.

 

Written by Steve Sabol of NFL Films

 

 

This Week's Schedule

 

November brings in the autumn winds.  It's time for the raiders of the college football world to begin pillaging in earnest.  The big and bold teams are ready to rob the lesser trees of their gold. 

 

There are several games on tap this week that could be a major factor in the race to Scottsdale, Arizona, in January.  The top game of the week takes place Thursday night when West Virginia visits Louisville.  The winner will maintain a slight chance of going to the BCS Title game, but they will have to get by Rutgers.

 

In the Atlantic Coast Conference, Boston College visits Wake Forest.  The winner will be 4-1 in the Atlantic Division and either in sole possession of first place or tied with Maryland.  Speaking of the Terps, they must win at Clemson to stay tied for first.

 

The Coastal Division of the ACC is one truly wacky race, but mostly for second place.  Georgia Tech is in first place, and the Yellow Jackets would have to lose at North Carolina State and then to either North Carolina or Duke not to finish in first. The Virginia Tech-Miami winner (played at Miami) and, unbelievably, Virginia are in a battle for second.  If Virginia wins at Florida State, they would be 5-5, while the Seminoles would fall to 4-5.

 

In the Big 10, Penn State visits Wisconsin.  The Capital One and Outback Bowl bids should become much clearer when this one ends.  Ohio State and Michigan get softies this week, and it would be on the order of David over Goliath if either Illinois beats the Buckeyes or Ball State beats the Wolverines.

 

The Big 12 North race should be decided in Lincoln, Nebraska, as the Cornhuskers entertain Missouri.  Kansas State could still sneak in as North Champs at 5-3 if they won out.  As always, this division should go down to the 60th minute of the final games.

 

Texas A&M hosts Oklahoma, and if the Aggies can win this one, they could play Texas for the South Division crown.  Texas Tech hosts Baylor in what could be a bowl elimination game.

 

Conference USA's East Division is an exciting race.  East Carolina and Marshall were not expected to contend for the crown, but the two surprise teams are tied with Southern Mississippi with two league losses.  No East teams have an overall winning record right now.  ECU plays at Central Florida; Southern Mississippi goes to Memphis; and Marshall hosts Tulane, so all three co-leaders have excellent chances of winning.

 

In the West Division, Tulsa can begin making plans for the C-USA title game if they can win at Houston.  A Cougar win would put Houston in the driver's seat.  Both SMU and UTEP are fighting to stay in contention for bowl eligibility.

 

In the Mountain West Conference, Brigham Young can just about clinch the title with a win at Colorado State.  The Rams are in dangerous waters and must win two more times to gain bowl eligibility.  TCU should become bowl eligible with a win at UNLV.  Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Air Force are fighting it out to get to six wins.  The Lobos and Utes are both off this week and need one more victory to get to six wins.  Air Force must win at Army Friday night, or they can forget it this year.  Wyoming entertains and must beat lowly San Diego State a week after the Aztecs lost at home to Cal Poly SLO.

 

In the Pac-10, Oregon State hosts Arizona State.  Both are now 5-3 overall.  Can the Beavers avoid a bounce after pulling off the big upset last week?  They must, as they must play a 13th regular season game at Hawaii and will need to win seven games to become bowl eligible.

 

 

 

SEC games for the week.

 

Northwestern State (La.) @ Ole Miss

PiRate Predicts: N/A  (PiRates don't rank non D1-A teams)

Peiser Predicts: The Rebels finally get their third victory of the season after a couple of near misses.

 

 

Arkansas State @ Auburn

PiRate Predicts: Auburn 42  Arkansas State 3

Peiser Predicts: This game won't help the Tigers in their quest to sneak into the second slot in the BCS standings.  Auburn should dominate the game, but they are no guarantee to win by five touchdowns.

 

 

Georgia @ Kentucky  

PiRate Predicts: Georgia 30  Kentucky 27  

Peiser Predicts: Kentucky's defense will make Georgia's offense look rather potent.  Will the Wildcats score enough points to win?  I think not, but not by much.

 

 

Mississippi State @ Alabama

PiRate Predicts: Alabama 37  Mississippi State 17

Peiser Predicts: Alabama had an easy game at home last week while Mississippi State lost a tough, hard-fought game to Kentucky.  The aftereffects should help the Tide win this one by more than the experts expect.

 

 

Arkansas @ South Carolina

PiRate Predicts: Arkansas 21  South Carolina 20

Peiser Predicts: This is a tough test for the Razorbacks.  Mitch Mustain hasn't been asked to win a close one with his arm since the Vanderbilt game.  Arkansas still has this plus two other tough games before they can make plans to play on December 2nd.  

 

 

L S U @ Tennessee

PiRate Predicts: Tennessee 14  L S U 13

Peiser Predicts: The Tigers would love nothing else than to ruin the Vols' chances of making it to a BCS Bowl Game and get revenge for last year's game.  If Erik Ainge cannot go near 100%, throw out this PiRate rating and make it a five to seven-point win for the Bayou Bengals.

 

 

Florida @ Vanderbilt

PiRate Predicts: Florida 28  Vanderbilt 14

Peiser Predicts: These are actually similar teams in both offense and defense.  Florida is just a little better on both offense and defense.  It isn't totally out of the realm of possibility that the score could be close, but Florida could just as easily win by 17 to 28 points.

 

10 Other Games of Note

 

West Virginia @ Louisville (Thursday Night)

PiRate Predicts: Louisville 31  West Virginia 27

Peiser Predicts: This is not just the best Thursday night game of the year, it's the best Thursday night game since ESPN began televising games.  The last time two undefeated, top 10 teams met on a Thursday night in November, it was the game of the century between Nebraska and Oklahoma on Thanksgiving Day of 1971.

 

 

Boston College @ Wake Forest

PiRate Predicts: Boston College 28  Wake Forest 24

Peiser Predicts: The Demon Deacons will be sky high for a chance at redemption from the Clemson loss.  They can win this one and take over control in the Atlantic Division.

 

 

Maryland @ Clemson

PiRate Predicts: Clemson 35  Maryland 12

Peiser Predicts: 6-2 Terrapins have won some ugly games this year, and their ratings have barely increased.  The Tigers have been backed into a corner and are ready to attack and eviscerate a group of turtles.  This one should be ugly for the Terps.

 

 

Oklahoma @ Texas A&M

PiRate Predicts: Oklahoma 27  Texas A&M 22

Peiser Predicts: You're probably looking at the Cotton Bowl representative when you watch this game.  The Sooners proved they can beat a top 20 team on the road without Adrian Peterson when they clobbered Missouri last week.  The Aggies don't have enough defense to stop really good teams, but they can outscore them with a stellar offense.  I think this is their week to see that offense stall.

 

 

Missouri @ Nebraska

PiRate Predicts: Nebraska 30  Missouri 21

Peiser Predicts: This one is for control of the North Division.  Both teams are 3-2 in the league, with Kansas State a game back at 2-3.  Look for the Cornhuskers to end a two-game losing streak and give the Tigers one of their own.

 

 

Oklahoma State @ Texas

PiRate Predicts: Texas 46  Oklahoma State 24

Peiser Predicts: The surprising Cowboys find themselves one win away from bowl eligibility.  They won't get it here, but they could make it an interesting game for a quarter or two.  The Longhorns may not be flashy like last year, but their offensive and defensive lines are still rock solid.  They still have a chance at the BCS title if Ohio State or Michigan lose prior to their season finale.

 

 

Penn State @ Wisconsin

PiRate Predicts: Wisconsin 24  Penn State 14

Peiser Predicts: Joe Pa's got his boys playing Penn State-style defense once again.  This match is for third place in the Big 10 and probable Capital One Bowl berth.  Bret Bielema may have pulled off the best coaching job in the nation and not just from a first year coach.  The Badgers will pull out a close one in Camp Randall and keep alive hopes for a second place tie in the conference.

 

 

Virginia Tech @ Miami

PiRate Predicts: Virginia Tech 21  Miami 17

Peiser Predicts: This won't necessarily decide the Coastal Division crown, but the winners could still find themselves playing in Jacksonville on December 2nd.  The Hokies knocked off Clemson in Blacksburg last week, and playing on the road the following week usually means a slight let down.  I don't think it will happen.

 

 

U C L A @ California

PiRate Predicts: Cal 38  UCLA 13

Peiser Predicts: The Bears can almost smell Roses in their future.  They haven't seen Pasadena in the New Year since Ike was our leader.  UCLA is fading into the western sunset and will offer little resistance.

 

 

Arizona State @ Oregon State

PiRate Predicts: Oregon State 29  Arizona State 28

Peiser Predicts: The Beavers are still sky high after pulling off the biggest West Coast upset this year.  They may bounce a little, but the Sun Devils will not like the climate and will bounce as well.

 

 

Bowl Projecting

 

Last week's upsets threw a monkey wrench into most experts' bowl projections, so you know it made a mess of the not-so-expert projectors like me.  The major problem as a result of those upsets is which team will now grab the 10th and final BCS At-large berth.  If Boise State can run the table, they are going to be the recipient.  If the Broncos lose one game, and you can read below in the WAC section why I think they will, then there will be a catfight for that last bid.  The Big 10, SEC, and Notre Dame figure to get three of the four at-large BCS bids.  No conference is allowed to have more than one at-large bid.  That leaves the Big East and Pac-10 fighting it out.  If Texas were to lose in the Big 12 Championship game, they would more than drop into the low teens in the BCS ratings and still have an outside shot.  If Boston College goes 11-1 and loses in the ACC title game, they would have no shot.  The Eagles are already at 15th in the BCS.

 

Here's how I see it this week.  I'm going with the Big East to get that last at-large bid.

 

Atlantic Coast Conference

 

1. BCS Bowl—Orange:  Clemson was penciled in this spot last week, but the eraser has been used.  Now, it is a wide-open race with Boston College the current leader of the pack.  Their stay could be a short one, and Wake Forest could occupy this spot next week.  You cannot count out Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, or even Maryland today, but the Eagles look to be in the best shape—at least for the next 48 hours.

 

2. Chick-fil-a:  This still looks like a great year for the home town team to get this bid.  Georgia Tech would be the best rivalry game for the SEC opponent I have penciled in here.

 

3. Gator: Clemson fell here after they lost to Virginia Tech last week.  They could be a great choice for Atlanta if Georgia were to be invited to the Chick-fil-a Bowl, but I have other ideas for an even better rivalry game there.

 

4. Champ Sports:  Miami can stay in-state and bring a few thousand fans to Orlando.

 

5. Meineke Car Care: Wake Forest might deserve better and could be 10-2, but this is the most likely spot for the Demon Deacons in a match with Navy.

 

6. Emerald: Virginia Tech can only make it to a BCS Bowl if Georgia Tech loses to North Carolina State AND either North Carolina or Duke.  So, that's why the Hokies will have to travel way out West.

 

7. Music City:  Maryland is the best of what's left.  The Terrapins had a tough time defeating William & Mary and Florida International, but they have won three straight in the ACC (over Virginia, NC State, and Fla St) to jump up three spots.

 

8. MPC Computers: Florida State, Virginia, and North Carolina State are left to try to get to 6-6; none may want to do if they know where they will be spending late December.  At the moment, none of the trio has a winning record.  Virginia and Florida State play this weekend, and the loser can probably start making holiday plans in front of the TV.

 

Big East

 

1. BCS Bowl—Fiesta:  This race will start to become more understandable after tonight's big game.  Louisville has home field advantage, but if the Cardinals win, they would have to follow that up with a win at Rutgers next Thursday night.  Rutgers gets a week off to prepare and will have the advantage when they face UL in New Brunswick.  The Scarlet Knights must still play at West Virginia on December 2nd.  All three could end up 6-1/11-1.  I'm giving the slight edge to Rutgers this week to run the table, as they have the best defense of the troika right now.

 

2. BCS Bowl—Sugar: If Louisville or West Virginia finish 11-1 and don't win the Big East, one of them will sneak in as the final at-large team.  If Rutgers gets the automatic bid, look for the Sugar Bowl to choose the 11-1 runner-up and leave Rutgers to the Fiesta Bowl. 

 

The Big East is coupled with the Big 12 over the Gator and Sun Bowls, with C-USA over the Texas Bowl, and with the MAC over the Birmingham Bowl.  These bowls can select a team from either, but not both, conferences (unless the other guaranteed conference cannot fulfill the allotment).  I'm picking the Big East to supply the Gator, Birmingham, and Texas Bowls, but not the Sun Bowl.

 

The Big East could still send a second team to the BCS as an at-large team, but it will be a stretch.

 

2. Gator: The odd team out from the above (West Virginia this week) will get to go to Jacksonville.

 

3. International:  If Cincinnati finishes 6-6, this could be their reward—a trip to Toronto for the holidays.  If they don't become bowl eligible, then South Florida could be forced to come north if they finish 6-6 or better.  If neither team becomes bowl eligible, then Pittsburgh may be forced to come here, leaving the C-USA to pick up the Texas Bowl bid

 

4. Texas: Pittsburgh looks like a solid pick here if they can finish 8-4 or 7-5.  They could still go 9-3 but that  would mean winning at South Florida and upsetting either West Virginia or Louisville at home.  It could happen.  At 9-3, the Gator Bowl could show some interest.  For now, let's leave them here, meaning one of the two mentioned above fulfill the International Bowl slot.

 

5. Birmingham: Both South Florida and Cincinnati are fighting it out for a 6-6 record.  If both make it, figure on the Bulls getting the bid and the Bearcats going to Toronto.  If both don't qualify, then Pitt may end up in Toronto and someone like SMU could get the Texas Bowl bid.

 

Big Ten

 

Michigan hasn't been winning as impressively as Ohio State, but the Wolverines didn't look strong enough to beat the Buckeyes in early November of 1969 either.  This Ohio State team may be as good as Woody Hayes' great 1968-1970 teams.  The winner is a dead cinch to play for the national title, and the loser could still sneak in as the opponent in a rematch (almost a cinch if they go to overtime or play to a one or two-point game).  Figure on two BCS teams coming from the nation's strongest league.

 

1. BCS Bowl—BCS Title Game: Ohio State is the leader for this spot until Michigan comes to Columbus.  Obviously, the winner will definitely advance to the BCS Title game.  Let's stick with the Buckeyes.

 

2. BCS At-large—BCS Title Game: Michigan at 11-1 could still make the BCS Title game, and they may have a better chance at winning the national title by winning a rematch than by beating the Buckeyes at the Shoe and then having to beat them a second time.  Ohio State would have to drill the Wolverines to drop them to third, especially if West Virginia and Louisville have a loss.

 

3. Capital One:  Wisconsin could be 11-1 and a win in this bowl could move them up to number three in the final ratings if Michigan and Ohio State split in their two games.  The only other time teams from the same conference finished 1-2-3 was in 1971, when Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Colorado pulled off the feat.

 

4. Outback: Penn State's defense is coming around, and it could be a miserable January 1st for their bowl opponent.

 

5. Alamo: Purdue will get this bid or the Champs Sports bid if they can win seven games.  Six wins won't cut it, because the Boilermakers must close the regular season with a 13th game at Hawaii.  Their defense cannot stop the Warriors.

 

6. Champs Sports: Iowa will get either this one or the Alamo Bowl.  Unlike Purdue, the Hawkeyes are already Bowl eligible and could rise to the Outback Bowl if the Nittany Lions fall at Michigan State to close the season.

 

7. Insight: Indiana just about played themselves into a bowl game last week with the crushing defeat of Michigan State.  The Hoosiers need to beat either Minnesota or Purdue to get their sixth win; this was a team picked to finish in last place. 

 

8. Motor City: The John L. Smith farewell tour still has three regular season games to go before someone named Mariucci takes over in East Lansing.  If the 4-5 Spartans can upset Purdue or Penn State and beat Minnesota, they will end up here.  Smith may not be part of the team by then, but someone like offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin could get a chance to audition for a MAC job with a one-game tryout.  If they finish 5-7, then this bid will go to an at-large team.  For right now, I officially pick it to go to an at-large team.

 

Big 12

 

1. BCS Bowl—Fiesta: Texas is closing in on a third consecutive BCS Bowl bid.  The ‘Horns should get by A&M and then win the Big 12 Championship game.

 

2. Cotton: The winner of Saturday's Texas A&M-Oklahoma game will be highly favored to be in Dallas on New Year's Day.  I'll go with the Sooners.

 

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 Bowl.

 

3. Holiday: Nebraska might jump over Texas A&M and grab this spot due to the fact that they will sell out the stadium.

 

4. Alamo: Texas A&M will land here with a possible 9-3 record and no worse than 8-4.

 

5. Sun: Texas Tech and Missouri would split the next two bowl bids.  The Red Raiders might be a bigger draw, but they have already played at the Sun Bowl this year.  Give the Tigers the edge here.

 

6. Insight: Texas Tech will fall here at 7-5.

 

7. Independence: Kansas State should finish 7-5 and return to the post-season after suffering consecutive losing seasons.

 

8. Texas:  Oklahoma State may have earned this bid after upsetting Nebraska last week.  The Cowboys need just one more win and Baylor must visit Stillwater on November 11th.

 

Conference USA

 

This is one of two conferences where half the league could finish 6-6.  C-USA gets five guaranteed bowl bids and a possible sixth if the Big East cannot fill their Texas Bowl allotment.

 

1. Liberty: Tulsa plays at Houston Saturday,  and if they win the game, they are the West Division Champions.  They should win the C-USA title game.  If the Golden Hurricane lose at Houston, then SMU will still be in the hunt for the division crown.  Let's not go there until we have to.

 

2. GMAC: Houston should still get the second bowl if they lose to Tulsa thanks to the rest of the league falling or rising to mediocrity.

 

3. Armed Forces: UTEP at 7-5 would be the most attractive of what's left.

 

4. Birmingham: Southern Mississippi has fallen to the middle and now must win at Memphis and at Tulane to lock up a bowl bid.  The Eagles could still go bowling if they lost either and finished 6-6, but they won't be guaranteed a bid at .500.

 

5. New Orleans: East Carolina controls their own destiny in the East Division race, but potential losses to North Carolina State and to Tulsa or Houston in the C-USA title game could leave them at 7-6, dropping them to the bottom of the list.

 

SMU can gain bowl eligibility with a win at Rice on November 25th.  They may not have anywhere to go unless the Motor City Bowl needs an at-large team and decides the Mustangs would be a good attraction to go bowling for the first time post-death penalty.

 

Independents

 

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—Rose: Notre Dame will finish no worse than 10-2 and could even go 11-1 now that Southern Cal has proven to beat beatable (but not yet at the LA Memorial Coliseum).  With the Rose Bowl getting first dibs thanks to losing Ohio State to the BCS Title game, the Fighting Irish would be the slam dunk pick if Cal is the opponent.  If Southern Cal gets the Rose Bowl bid, then Notre Dame slips to the Sugar 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.

 

Mid-American

 

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

 

1. GMAC:  Ohio head man Frank Solich can't coach, eh Cornhusker fans?  In two years, he's led the Bobcats to the precipice of the MAC title.  Ohio's trouncing of Kent State last week makes them the odds-on favorite to win the MAC title and go bowling for the first time since the undefeated Bobcats went to the 1968 Tangerine Bowl (and lost 49-42 to Richmond).

 

2. Motor City: Central Michigan should get this bid whether or not they win the MAC title.  The Chippewas host Western Michigan on November 10th with the West Division title on the line.

 

3. International: Kent State, Northern Illinois, and Western Michigan are in the hunt for the third bowl bid.  The Broncos (WMU) must still play at CMU, at Florida State, and at Akron, so that could leave them at 7-5 or 6-6.  Northern Illinois is 5-4 with winnable games remaining against Toledo and Eastern Michigan.  They should be 7-5.  Kent State is 5-3 with winnable games remaining against Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, and Ball State.  At 8-4, they should get this bid, leaving Northern Illinois remotely available for an at-large bowl bid.

 

Mountain West

 

Along with Conference USA, this is one of the two toughest leagues to decipher.  Brigham Young and TCU are sure things to go bowling.  After that, five teams are fighting for two bowls. 

 

1. Las Vegas: Brigham Young has a two game lead in the loss column and should cruise to Vegas.  The Cougars must still play Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah, the three teams with remote chances of still dethroning BYU.   

 

2. Armed Forces: TCU should be at least 8-4, and the Horned Frogs will be very attractive to the bowl played in their Amon G. Carter Stadium.

 

3. Poinsettia: There will be multiple 6-6/7-5 teams to choose from here.  The Utah/Air Force winner on November 18th should be the leading candidate to kick off the bowl season in San Diego.

 

4. New Mexico: New Mexico took a giant step toward earning the bowl created especially for them when they won at Colorado State last week.  The Lobos will get this bid with one more win, and they close out the season in Albuquerque with lowly San Diego State.

 

X. Wyoming and either Utah or Air Force would be available as at-large teams.  Colorado State appears to be done for this season.  The Rams would have to pull off an upset over BYU, Utah, and TCU (and maybe two upsets).

 

Pac-10

 

1. BCS Bowl—Rose: Southern Cal and Cal will face off at the Coliseum in Los Angeles on November 18th.  The Trojans have won 30 consecutive home games, so the Bears cannot waltz to their first outright Pac-10 title since 1958 (actually known as the Pacific Coast Conference back then).  For now, consider the Cal band as the favorite to be marching down Orange Grove, Colorado, and Sierra Madre Boulevards on New Year's morning.

 

2. Holiday: Southern Cal could lose one or two more times this year as they must still play Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame, and UCLA.  The Trojans could win out and play in the Rose Bowl again, but for now, let's stick them here.

 

3. Sun: Oregon may or may not be the third best team in the Pac-10, but they are the best bet to travel well to El Paso.  Arizona State might figure here as well, if the Ducks lose two or three more times, which they could.  For now, I'm going with the Quack Attack here.

 

4. Las Vegas: Washington State will get this reward if they win the Apple Cup over their intrastate rivals.  The Cougars may be the best three-loss team in the nation.

 

5. Hawaii: Arizona State could wind up anywhere from the Holiday to the Emerald, but they are the favorite to play here because Oregon State cannot get this bid (The Beavers play at Hawaii on December 2nd).

 

6. Emerald: Oregon State has all but wrapped up bowl eligibility with their big upset of USC.  The Beavers still play winless Stanford and need just one other win to finish 7-6. 

 

X. UCLA appears to be headed to a losing season.  At 4-4, the Bruins still must play Cal, Oregon State, Arizona State, and USC.

 

Southeastern

 

1. BCS Bowl—Sugar: Until somebody actually proves they can beat Arkansas, I'm going with the Razorbacks to run the table and knock out Florida for the SEC title.  The Hogs must close out the season by playing at South Carolina, hosting Tennessee, going to Mississippi State, and hosting LSU in Little Rock.  It won't be easy, but if they continue to play at the same strength, they can win all four and knock off Florida as well.

 

2. BCS At-large—Fiesta: Auburn looks to be on pace to finish 11-1, and they could still miss out on the SEC Championship Game.  The Fiesta Bowl and a game against Texas would be interesting.

 

3. Capital One: Tennessee or Florida should get this bid, while the other gets the next one.  Let's go with the Gators here.

 

4. Outback: And here's the next one.  It goes to Tennessee.  The Vols get another match with Joe Pa.

 

5. Cotton: L S U can lose one or two more times and still get this bid.

 

6. Chick-fil-a: Alabama would be a great fit here, especially if Georgia Tech is their opponent.  There's a lot of history between the two clubs.  Just sing the Crimson Tide Fight Song ("Send the Yellow Jackets to a watery grave").

 

7. Liberty: Georgia is still the favorite here, but if the Bulldogs lose to Kentucky this weekend, the Wildcats could be headed to Memphis.  I'll stick with Richt's rowdies for now.

 

8. Music City: South Carolina returns to Nashville after having such a good time there on 10/21.  The Gamecocks were forced to go to Shreveport last year, so they will get this one this year.

 

9. Independence: Kentucky is 4-4 with games still to be played against Vanderbilt and Louisiana Monroe.  The Georgia game, especially on homecoming, is still a possibility.  If the Wildcats finish 7-5 and get a bowl bid, someone needs to start a www.firekentuckyfanswhowantedrichbrooksfired.com webpage.

 

Sunbelt

 

1. New Orleans: MTSU took a giant step forward winning at Louisiana Lafayette last week.  The Blue Raiders must avoid a letdown against an all-of-a-sudden improved Florida Atlantic team that has given up just two field goals in its last two game and then take care of business against Troy when the Trojans close the season against MTSU at Red Floyd Stadium.

 

Western Athletic

 

Boise State will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl if they finish the season ranked in the top 12 of the BCS standings or finish 16th or better if they best another team getting an automatic bid.  If they remain unbeaten, they will probably qualify.  The Broncos are currently #14, and several teams in front of them must lose because those teams still must play opponents also in the top 13.  Read below to find out why I think it will be a moot point.

 

1. MPC Computers: Boise State must still go on the road to face San Jose State and Nevada.  I don't think they can win both games.  Therefore, I conclude they will stay home as host team on the field of blue.

 

2. Hawaii: The 6-2 Hawaii Warriors should be no worse than 9-4 when they host a Pac-10 team in this bowl.

 

3. New Mexico: Nevada gets its second consecutive bowl bid unless the Wolf Pack loses twice more.  In that case, San Jose State could sneak past them.  With Idaho, Utah State, and Louisiana Tech still to go before closing out the regular campaign against Boise State, I think Nevada is safe.

 

X. San Jose State still looks like a credible at-large team for the vacant Poinsettia Bowl.  Dick Tomey's Spartans were picked to finish last in the WAC, and they could still win a piece of the WAC title.  Figure on an 8-4 or 9-3 record, which should be inviting.  The Spartans last went bowling 16 seasons ago.  They did earn four automatic bowl bids in a decade back when they were members of the now defunct Pacific Coast Athletic Association and later Big West Conference.

 

And The Rest


Predicted			
Winner		Loser		Margin
S M U		U A B		   7
Boise St.		Fresno St.	  26
Air Force		Army		  10
Michigan		Ball St.	  	  34
Iowa		Northwestern	  18
Purdue		Michigan St.	   1
Pittsburgh	South Florida	   6
Kansas		Iowa St.	   	   2
Minnesota		Indiana		   6
Georgia Tech	N. C. State	   6
Ohio St.		Illinois	  	  31
Central Mich.	Temple		  22
Navy		Duke		  13
Ohio U		Eastern Mich.	   7
Kent St.		Buffalo		  24
Akron		Bowling Green	  11
Texas Tech	Baylor		  15
Notre Dame	N. Carolina	  34
T C U		U N L V		  26
Hawaii		Utah St.	  	  35
Wyoming		San Diego St.	  18
Western Mich.	Miami (O)	  	  14
Southern Cal	Stanford	  	  32
Oregon 		Washington	  16
Florida St.	Virginia	  	  14
Colorado		Kansas St.	   8
Tulsa		Houston		   2
East Carolina	Central Fla.	   7
Nevada		Idaho		  19
Washington St.	Arizona		  21
Brigham Young	Colorado St.	  16
Marshall		Tulane		   8
San Jose St.	New Mexico St.	   8
U T E P		Rice		  10
M T S U		Fla. Atlantic	  15
La.-Lafayette	Troy		   3
N. Texas		La. Tech	   	   0
Southern Miss.	Memphis		   9

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