Friday, October 31, 2008

Week 10 Preview: Not a bad game in the bunch

MIAMI (5-3) at VIRGINIA (5-3)
Saturday, 11/1/08, noon ET - Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA
Series Record: Miami leads 3-2; the Cavaliers won last year's meeting 48-0
What May or May Not Happen: Cedric Peerman rampages through a decent but vulnerable Hurricane run defense. The Wahoo Rejuvenation Tour rolls on. Virginia 30, Miami 21

Saturday, 11/1/08, 3:30pm ET - Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Series Record: Florida State leads 12-7-1; the Seminoles won the last meeting 14-13 in 2003
What May or May Not Happen: The Tech defensive line stuffs Antone Smith and the FSU rushing attack, while Josh Nesbitt and Jonathan Dwyer get it together and run past an overpursuing Nole defense. Georgia Tech 24, Florida State 17

Saturday, 11/1/08, 3:30pm ET - Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, MA
Series Record: Boston College leads 8-7-2; the Eagles won last year's meeting 20-17
What May or May Not Happen: Dabo Swinney's chances at removing the "interim" tag take another hit. Chris Crane shocks the football world with a turnover free afternoon. Boston College 20, Clemson 16

DUKE (4-3) at WAKE FOREST (4-3)
Saturday, 11/1/08, 3:30pm ET - BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, NC
Series Record: Duke leads 53-33-2; the Demon Deacons won last year's meeting 41-36
What May or May Not Happen: Wake settles down and returns to 2006-2007 form. The Deac secondary picks off Thaddeus Lewis a few times and the Devils never get going on offense. Wake Forest 26, Duke 10

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

About Last Saturday...

The new job is sucking time right out of the day for me. Please accept these off-the-cuff thoughts on the weekend that was....

--North Carolina.....I really don't know how Butch Davis is doing it. All of the personnel losses (and at times the Everett Withers' defense) point to an inevitable collapse, but we're 75% into the regular season and Carolina is rolling at 6-2. Most pundits I'm reading and listening to are now harping on Al Groh or Paul Johnson for ACC Coach of the Year. As of today, Butch gets my vote.
--Virginia.....In all my years of following college football, I've never seen a midseason team resurrection on par with Virginia '08. It's one thing to have been 1-3, get hot, and vault to 5-3. But the Hoos were on the Syracuse and Washington State level of rot-gut BCS programs a month ago. The Orange and Cougars are still reeling...UVA figured things out and have gone from being one of the 15 worst 1-A teams to a BCS conference title contender in a month.
--Florida State.....I'm getting a little tired of hearing about their "struggle" at NC State two weeks ago. First, Thursday night contests on the road are unbelievably difficult, no matter who you play. Second, the Pack are clearly the best last-place BCS conference team. Maybe that's a backhanded compliment to Tom O'Brien and Co., but it's still true. And yeah, maybe the Seminoles should've beaten the Hokies more emphatically, given the QB decimation last Saturday. Whatever. The 2005-2007 Noles would be 3-4 right now against the same competition. This FSU squad has it together between the ears. Watch the hell out when the offense clicks for an entire game.
--Duke!.....As I expected, their win over Vandy has resulted not in adulation for the Devils, but in deafening silence from the sports media. Which is fine. Scoreboard is really all that needs to be said.

--Miami.....It was a win, but not a statement. The ground game got stuck in neutral, and QB Robert Marve had accuracy issues, but he didn't throw any picks. I would've liked to see a little more Jacory Harris, but it looks like Miami is hitching their wagon to the Marve train for now. And a Harris transfer is likely forthcoming, barring a massive Marve meltdown or injury.
--Virginia Tech
.....Sean Glennon initially looked capable after taking over on the second play following the injury to Tyrod Taylor, which is not surprising in hindsight given that the Noles game-planned for a Taylor-led offense. But once FSU adjusted at the half, the Hokie offense was largely impotent and they only found a spark (briefly, at that) after Glennon went down and in came third-stringer Cory Holt. Still, a 30-20 loss in those circumstances is nothing to be ashamed about. What is concerning is that special teams has directly contributed to one loss already (ECU) and started the momentum-ball rolling in the defeat in Tallahassee.
--Maryland.....I still don't know what to make of the Terps, although last Saturday's escape against NC State was at least predictable; no mysterious shutouts going either way. It's going to take the rest of the year to find out which Turtles are for real.

--Georgia Tech.....Yes, it's time to really start giving UVA credit instead of eviscerating their victims, but what in hellfire happened to the Tech offense in the last three and a half quarters on Saturday? An early 14-3 lead stalled out and a Virginia tide just kept rising and rising throughout the afternoon. That the Jackets only managed to hold onto the ball for 25 minutes against the Hoos is a bad sign with a sturdier FSU coming to town.
--Boston College.....I wasn't too surprised by BC's 5-1 start given their competition, and I fully expected The Chris Crane Turnover Express to derail the Eagles at some point, but not necessarily in such spectacular fashion. How BC responds to their first depantsing of the Jagodzinski Era will be quite interesting.
--Wake Forest.....Call me bumfuzzled over the Deacs' plan to run run run run run run run on Miami when it was obvious by mid-second quarter that they couldn't, at least in any consistent fashion. Limiting Riley Skinner to eight throws against against a good but nowhere near dominating Cane pass defense was just one of many curious calls made by Jim Grobe and OC Steve Lobotzke this season.
--NC State.....My heart goes out to Pack fans. Over the last three weeks, they led FSU in the 4th quarter and they had the Maryland and BC games headed to OT before the defense just melted in crunch time. The Wolfpack mindset over the final third of the season may just make or break the Tom O'Brien regime. 2-10 is not acceptable despite the piss-poor luck this season. 4-8, maybe. 5-7 or 6-6 and State gets taken very, very seriously heading into 2009.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Old BCS Debates Renewed

Tony Barnhart (despite being a nauseating SEC homer) is a primo college football writer, analyst and fan. Well, except in this entry last week from his Mr. College Football blog at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I expect more from ol' Tony than these tired half-assed explanations of BCS controversies of yore:

2000: Miami beats Florida State head to head during the regular season but finishes third behind the Seminoles in the final BCS Standings and gets shut out of the game. Florida State loses to Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl
Every time I read one of these critiques about 2000, I feel like I'm living in bizarro-world. Why is Washington (and Oregon State and Virginia Tech to lesser extents) always left out of this discussion? Yes, Miami beat a nailbiter. Two weeks earlier, Washington had beaten Miami, in a more dominating fashion (not necessarily by the score, but I watched both games). FSU, Miami, Washington, Oregon State and Virginia Tech each finished with one loss. Washington's one loss was on the road to an Oregon team that finished 10-2. Is it provincial bias? Sheer ignorance? How the hell do you distill 2000 to a debate over two teams when five BCS-league squads finished with one defeat, and each of the five teams played at least one of the other five? I actually analyzed the 2000 situation two years ago and I haven't changed my opinion in the slightest.

2001: Nebraska played for the BCS championship but didn’t even win the Big 12. The Cornhuskers were embarrassed by Miami in the Rose Bowl.
I don't recall a lot of "didn't even win the SEC" arguments regarding Georgia last year when many pundits - Barnhart chief among them - exclaimed (inexplicably) that the Dawgs might really deserve to be in the BCS title game. Personally, I don't have an issue if a team gets a BCS title shot without winning their league. It's not uncommon for the champion in NCAA hoops or baseball to not have a conference crown as well. But getting back to the Nebraska argument...I don't recall the main sticking point being that the Huskers didn't win the Big XII. The big problem with Nebraska getting to the Rose Bowl that season was that they got curb-stomped 62-36 by Colorado in the regular season finale.

2003: Southern Cal finishes No. 1 in both of the human polls but No. 3 in the BCS formula. LSU and Oklahoma play for the BCS championship and USC settles for the AP title. This game changed the BCS formula to weight it more heavily towards the human voters.
Tony leaves out half of the cause of the '03 debate...that Oklahoma got violated 35-7 in the Big XII championship to a three-loss Kansas State team, yet still got a BCS title shot. It's still bad that the #1 team in both human polls got left out, but when a team gets drilled by four touchdowns in early December and still gets a BCS championship game bid...that's the real problem.

2004: Auburn wins the SEC championship at 12-0 and gets shut out of the BCS championship game.
Short of an actual playoff, there is no system that would've solved this dilemma. This same situation would've happened under the old pre-BCS bowl system, except worse - USC would've played in the Rose Bowl, Oklahoma in the Orange (or Fiesta), and Auburn in the Sugar. At least the BCS got two of the three to play. And poor little Auburn's case would've been helped greatly if they hadn't nearly blown the Sugar Bowl to Virginia Tech in a 16-13 final, while USC was abusing Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday afternoon Blog Pollin'

"Blog Poll?" Yes, Blog Poll.

This week's ACCFR ballot, for your consideration:
1 Texas --
2 Alabama --
3 Penn State --
4 Oklahoma 1
5 Texas Tech 5
6 Oklahoma State 2
7 Southern Cal 1
8 Utah 1
9 Florida --
10 Georgia 1
11 TCU 1
12 Missouri 1
13 Boise State 1
14 Ohio State 6
15 North Carolina --
16 Florida State 8
17 Minnesota 6
18 Georgia Tech 2
19 Ball State 7
20 Tulsa 6
21 Michigan State 4
22 Notre Dame 4
23 Oregon State 3
24 Virginia Tech 6
25 Connecticut 1
Dropped Out: Boston College (#17), Pittsburgh (#19), South Florida (#20), Kansas (#21), LSU (#22)
Maybe Next Week: California, Maryland, West Virginia, Oregon

I've got nothing to snarky commentary or half-assed insight. But feel free to comment away.

ACC Nation bids farewell

Patrick and Q are hanging it up over at their fine ACC Nation site in the next week or so. Blog, podcast, everything. Sad to see them go, but it's understandable. Check out their site while you still can.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

ESPN Gameday in Durham next week?

Duke 10, Vanderbilt 7.

What's that you say? The Commodores are now on a three-game skid? Funny, I have yet to see a Duke-Vandy highlight today but three weeks ago Chris, Lee and Kirk were ready to perform sinful things upon Bobby Johnson and the entire alumni base of Vanderbilt University. Now that the ACC's 10th best team just marched into Nashville and knocked off the 'Dores, I guess the Gameday Crew has found another crush to pine over.

But really, who are we kidding? Gameday hasn't stopped fellating Tim Tebow, Urban Meyer and the entire city of Gainesville since 2006. The Commodores were clearly just a saucy business trip fling.

What's that you say? LSU coughed up another half-hundy today against Georgia? So perhaps UF's rout of the Tigers two weeks ago may not be all that? SILENCE! Baseball Tonight now presents the story of Tim Tebow's classic 1998 little league season in which he pitched a no-hitter in the league title game, removed his catcher's infected appendix at home plate, and fed the crowd of 72 with nothing more than a stale box of lemon heads.

Forgive me dear readers, for I'm a little punchy tonight. The ACC just had a spectacular day yet Florida and Georgia's routs of inconsequential Kentucky and LSU squads are deemed more noteworthy.

I will not go quietly into the night!

Gameday Recipe - Week 9

Now that the weather is turning a bit cooler, my attention turns to more hearty, kitchen-centered recipes. Today's concoction is my Baked Penne with Italian Sausage dish, and it hasn't killed anyone yet.

12oz. of penne
1lbs of Italian sausage
1 cup chopped onions
2-3tsp olive oil
1 (15oz) can of tomato sauce
1 (14.5oz) can of diced tomatoes
1 (6-8oz) can of tomato paste
1 cup chopped asparagus, zucchini or squash
2 cups shredded mozarella cheese

1- Preheat oven to 350
2- Bring large pot of water to boil
3- Boil penne for 10mins (or according to the package), and drain
4- Brown the sausage (crumbled) and onions in a large and deep skillet with oil
5- Drain skillet of excess fat
6- Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and tomato paste w/the browned sausage and onions and simmer for 10-15 minutes
7- Toss the penne into the skillet, stir, then place everything in a 9x13 baking/casserole dish.
8- Add in the asparagus, zucchini or squash and spread evenly throughout the dish.
9- Top generously with mozarella
10- Bake in oven for 20-25mins
11- You're done

This is just the bare-bones recipe. Ziti could easily substitute for penne, and my wife substituted 1lb of marinated chopped chicken breast for the sausage once and it turned out OK. Sometimes I go lighter on the cheese (down to 1 cup) if the mood strikes. Also, I add fresh chopped basil and oregano into the sauce/tomato/tomato paste mix as well.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Week 9 Preview: Your guess is as good as mine

WAKE FOREST (5-2) at MIAMI (4-3)
Saturday, 10/25/08, 12pm ET - Dolphin Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
Series Record: Miami leads 5-3; the Hurricanes won the last meeting 47-17 in 2005
What May or May Not Happen: Was the Maryland debacle rock bottom for the Deacs this season? Nope. The Canes have been improving in fits and starts since the Florida game and methinks this is where they finally come together. Miami 23, Wake Forest 13

Saturday, 10/25/08, 12pm ET - Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
Series Record: tied 2-2; the Tar Heels won the last meeting 16-14 in 2005
What May or May Not Happen: The Tar Heels have been victorious this season through clutch play from backup skill players and out-of-nowhere individual heroics, but as we saw last week against Virginia, such gallantry has a shelf-life. Unfortunately for the Eagles, winning week after week with a turnover-prone quarterback also has an expiration date. North Carolina 21, Boston College 17

DUKE (3-3) at VANDERBILT (5-2)
Saturday, 10/25/08, 3:30pm ET - Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN
Series Record: Vanderbilt leads 7-3; the Commodores won the last meeting 45-28 in 2006
What May or May Not Happen: The Commodores have been a cute story and all, but reality hits and hits hard eventually; Mississippi State exposed Vandy a few weeks ago and the Blue Devils are plenty talented and smart enough to do the same. Duke 21, Vanderbilt 17

N.C. STATE (2-5) at MARYLAND (5-2)
Saturday, 10/25/08, 3:30pm ET - Byrd Stadium, College Park, MD
Series Record: tied 30-30-4; the Terrapins won last year's meeting 37-0
What May or May Not Happen: After Hulk-smashing Wake last week, Bruce Banner-Maryland will undoubtedly show up this Saturday and manage to not get angry. And sheer probability indicates that the Wolfpack have to knock off someone this year in the parity-infested ACC. N.C. State 28, Maryland 20

Saturday, 10/25/08, 3:30pm ET - Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Series Record: Virginia leads 15-14-1; the Cavaliers won last year's meeting 28-23
What May or May Not Happen: The burly Tech defensive line locks up Cedric Peerman which leads to a few Marc Verica picks. And the refreshed Josh Nesbitt/Jaybo Shaw combo jukes the Cavalier defense out of their jocks a few times. Georgia Tech 31, Virginia 16

Saturday, 10/25/08, 3:30pm ET - Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL
Series Record: Florida State leads 21-11-1; the Hokies won last year's meeting 40-21
What May or May Not Happen: It'll take a turnover pandemic on par with last month's Wake meltdown for the Seminoles to blow this one. I'm not saying it can't happen, just that it likely won't. But count on a Hokie defensive or special teams score sometime Saturday afternoon. Florida State 27, Virginia Tech 19

For what it's worth, I won't be surprised if I go 0-6 with these picks. Such is life in the ACC these days.


Wondering where to find Saturday's games on the tube or the interwebby? See below...

Wake Forest @ Miami, noon ET - ESPNU
Boston College @ North Carolina, noon ET - Raycom, Gameplan, ESPN360
Duke @ Vanderbilt, 3:30pm ET - no TV or web coverage
N.C. State @ Maryland, 3:30pm ET - ESPN360
Virginia @ Georgia Tech, 3:30pm ET - ESPNU
Virginia Tech @ Florida State, 3:30pm ET - ABC, ESPN2, Gameplan, ESPN360

Happy viewing!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Out of Conference Report - Midseason Edition

For those who are new to this blog, I began a feature last season that would attempt to quantify the strength of each BCS league based on the quality of it's non-conference competition. Yes, I realize that football has far too many intangibles and such that can't be broken down into mere numbers. But I'm a stats guy, and if someone is going to tell me that the Big Ten or Big East or whoever is better than the ACC, I'd like to see some justification for that aside from half-informed fanboy drivel.

For better or worse, I've compiled a fairly detailed set of numbers that go a long way in showing where the conferences stack up against each other. One thing some of you may ask is....why not just list how one conference performed against each of the other five leagues last season and leave it at that? For starters, no conference played another league enough times to get an accurate feel. Secondly, even if there were enough games played to make a good determination, that only shows that one conference was better than another, not how one conference stacks up against the other five.

Alrighty then, pesky explanations are now out of the way. Let's get going...

Updated non-conference records among the six BCS leagues through the first month of the season:
Big XII38-10
Big Ten
Big East
Pac 10
At first glance, the SEC looks incredibly dominant, while the Pac 10 looks horrid on a legendary level. But there's a bit more to non-conference play than just the above records, as we will see.

To delve a little deeper, below is the combined record of all 1-A/FBS opposition faced by each BCS league in non-conference play:
Pac 10120-66.645
Big East
Big XII133-130.507
Big Ten115-114.502
Not coincidentally, the overall win-loss standings are almost flipped entirely when it comes to the opposition's record. Earlier in the season, you could argue a direct causal relationship between the overall standings and opposition record...not so much anymore, now that most conferences are 3 or 4 games into intra-league play.

Below illustrates the percentage of games each league has played away from home in non-conference action:
Conf.Road Games/OOC GamesPct.
Pac 10
Big East
Big Ten10/4124.4%

*non-conference neutral site games (i.e. Missouri-Illinois, Alabama-Clemson) are calculated as road games for both leagues.

Again, we see part of the reason for the Pac 10's awful non-conference showing. But the SEC deserves a lot of credit for playing a decent percentage of road games and still looking good in out-of-conference play. In general, up until the last weekend of the year, there appears to be a close correlation between overall non-conference losses and the amount of road games played outside the league.

The following indicates the percentage of non-conference competition played against fellow BCS-league opponents:
Conf.BCS Foes/OOC GamesPct.
Pac 10
Big East
Big Ten13/4131.7%
Big XII15/4831.3%
*For purposes of this analysis, Notre Dame is included as a BCS/power-league team

And each conference's record against other power-league competition:
Big East
Big Ten
Pac 10
Furthermore, the following is the combined record of each league's BCS opposition:
Pac 10
Big East
Big Ten
That's a lot of numbers to look at and absorb. Surprised to see the ACC faring the best in this category? Me neither, but I'll bet a lot of SEC and Big Ten blogs/message boards would be.

Each league's record against other 1-A/FBS foes...that is, the non-conference results against the poor schmoes from Conference USA, the MAC, the WAC, etc.:
Big XII21-2.913
Big Ten17-3.850
Big East
Pac 106-8.429
And, just for kicks, the combined record of the "other 1-A" opponents for each BCS league:
Pac 1065-41.613
Big East
Big Ten
I'll repeat what I said in the last Out of Conference gotta give the SEC credit - they at least know how to drop the hammer on the cupcakes. No inexplicable losses to Navy, Middle Tennessee or Toledo. That said, holy schnikees do they play some crapola Sun Belt and Conference USA dregs, while the Pac 10 is getting knocked around multiple times by BYU, Utah, TCU and Boise State.

The percentage of non-conference games against 1-AA competition...
Conf.1-AA Foes/OOC GamesPct.
Big Ten8/4119.5%
Big East7/3619.4%
Pac 102/287.1%
And again, this is where a lot of the hopeful feelings about the ACC get torn asunder. One third of all out-of-conference competition has come from 1-AA opposition. Unacceptable. Yeah, I get it that some 1-AA teams (Richmond, McNeese State) are better than some bad 1-A teams (North Texas, Idaho, Syracuse) but the principle of scheduling FCS squads over lesser FBS squads was clear - fatten up with guaranteed wins and don't even risk the possibility of disaster.

So what does all of this mean? The Big East and Pac 10 are better than you think, but they're still the bottom of the BCS-league barrel this year. The Big XII looks the best, with the SEC right behind. The ACC and Big Ten are close in overall quality. The biggest movers over the final half of the season will be the ACC and SEC. The ACC has six non-league games left, with five of them coming against the SEC; the SEC has a whopping 15 out-of-conference matchups still to play.

All that said, this is how I'd rank the conferences so far in 2008:

1) Big XII
2) SEC
3) Big Ten
4) ACC
5) Pac 10
6) Big East

I'm still toying around with the idea of creating some type of simple formula that takes into account all of the above numbers and then spits out a numerical rating for each conference, which would then take more of the subjectivity out of the above league rankings. I've tried a few calculations and I'm not happy with any just yet. Suggestions would be most appreciated.

Monday, October 20, 2008

This Week at ACCFR

I just started a new job and it's rapidly taking up a lot of time. I've got a just-sprung-on-me business trip to exotic Birmingham tomorrow and I'll get back home on Wednesday. The newest Out of Conference Report will be up either late tonight, or more likely on Wednesday afternoon. There won't be any weekend recap because I just don't have the time for it this week, and you saw what I saw anyway.

Thankfully, there's no ACC Thursday night game this week so the Week 9 Preview/Wildly Incorrect Predictions Showcase should go off without a hitch by Friday.

Thanks for bearing with me!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I'm not exactly the biggest MLB fan, but I schlepped through many a game (and beer or two or twelve) at the Trop in the early days of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays franchise, mainly because my boss had season tickets yet frequently dumped them on me and co-worker buddies because he couldn't give them away to clients, family, homeless, etc.

There is no explanation for what has just happened. After suffering under the worst ownership and management of any professional sports team for the first eight years of it's existence, by year three of the Sternberg/Friedman/Maddon regime the friggin Rays are in the World Series.

This is stupid crazy good.

Highly Questionable Blog Pollin'

1 Texas --
2 Alabama --
3 Penn State --
4 Oklahoma State --
5 Oklahoma --
6 Southern Cal --
7 Utah 3
8 Ohio State 4
9 Florida 1
10 Texas Tech 3
11 Georgia 4
12 TCU 13
13 Missouri 4
14 Boise State 3
15 North Carolina 1
16 Georgia Tech 10
17 Boston College 9
18 Virginia Tech 5
19 Pittsburgh 5
20 South Florida 2
21 Kansas --
22 LSU 2
23 Minnesota 3
24 Florida State 1
25 Michigan State 6
Dropped Out: Brigham Young (#16), Wake Forest (#17), Ball State (#22)
Maybe Next Week: Kentucky, Oregon State, Northwestern, Arizona, Tulsa

What is the "Blog Poll"? Click here.

Remember, this is not a power poll. The team I rated #1 has the most impressive resume thus far, while team #25 has the twenty-fifth best body of work in my estimation.

Anyway, something about my ballot just doesn't feel quite right. Suggestions, comments, insults are welcome.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Week 8 Preview, Part II: Conference Cannibalization Begins

Full-scale intra-league warfare commences in earnest this weekend - and in fact already began with Florida State's 26-17 triumph at NC State last night. The remaining five games on Saturday certainly promise a bit of the unexpected; all five road teams are conventional (if not necessarily Vegas) favorites and if home-field means anything in this conference, at least two of the host clubs should pull the upset. But which two (or more)...?

Saturday, 10/18/08, noon ET - Byrd Stadium, College Park, MD
Series Record: Maryland leads 40-15-1; the Demon Deacons won last year's meeting 31-24 in overtime
Gut Feeling: I don't have one. Wake has clunked around on offense in three straight games, while the Terps are hopelessly bi-polar. I can see this game going either way, in any possible way. So in that case...Maryland 20, Wake Forest 17

Saturday, 10/18/08, noon ET - Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC
Series Record: Georgia Tech leads 46-24-2; the Yellow Jackets won last year's meeting 13-3
Gut Feeling: New coach, new QB, no Spiller for the Tigers. Not against that Jacket defense, and not against a Tech offense looking to get out of Paul Johnson's doghouse. Georgia Tech 27, Clemson 14

Saturday, 10/18/08, 3:30pm ET - Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA
Series Record: North Carolina leads 57-51-4; the Cavaliers won last year's meeting 22-20
Gut Feeling: The Heels end their 27 year skid in Charlottesville, but in very tense fashion. North Carolina 31, Virginia 27

MIAMI (3-3) at DUKE (3-2)
Saturday, 10/18/08, 3:3opm ET - Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC
Series Record: Miami leads 4-1; the Hurricanes won last year's meeting 24-14
Gut Feeling: This is the most pivotal game in Randy Shannon's short tenure...are you willing to bet on him to come through? I'm not, yet. Duke 23, Miami 21

Saturday, 10/18/08, 8pm ET - Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, MA
Series Record: Virginia Tech leads 10-5; the Eagles won last year's regular season meeting 14-10 while the Hokies won the rematch in the ACC Championship Game 30-16
Gut Feeling: Chris Crane was spoiled against the the Wolfpack defense last week; he won't know what's hitting him on Saturday night. But the Eagle defense keeps this one close until the end. Virginia Tech 17, Boston College 10

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Week 8 Preview, Part I: Head Cold Edition

I'm feeling the beginnings of a damned cold coming on, so this will be short and sweet as I prepare to dope myself up and hit the hay...

FLORIDA STATE (4-1) at N.C. STATE (2-4)
Thursday, 10/16/08, 7:30pm ET - Carter Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC
Series Record: Florida State leads 19-9; the Seminoles won last year's meeting 27-10
My Guess: The Pack give the Noles all they can handle, but the FSU defense is the difference-maker tonight. Florida State 24, N.C. State 20

If I'm not a hopeless case tomorrow, the remaining previews will be up in the late afternoon. Good night.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In case you're wondering

No "Out of Conference Report" this week...I don't have time to compile it and there are a handful non-conference games on the slate in BCS leagues this upcoming weekend. Look for an updated edition next Tuesday.

The FSU-NC State preview will be posted tomorrow, and the remainder of this weekend's previews will be up on Friday.

And in case you weren't wondering, then never mind.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

About Last Saturday (and Thursday)...

Stories, themes, trivia and other minutiae from the weekend that was


Let's survey the damage wrought upon Bobby Bowden's clan by the Demon Deacons over the last several years: they ignited Tommy's perpetual hot seat five years ago following a 45-17 seal-clubbing of the Tigers, they caused Jeff to "resign" following the 30-0 shellacking in 2006, they've now beaten Bobby three straight times (and by a combined score of 42-3 in the last two games in Tallahassee), and they came full circle last week by getting Tommy canned once and for all. God help Terry if some ACC school rolls the dice on him in the near future.

With third string QB Calvin Booker (all 6-4, 235lbs of him) stepping in for injured Josh Nesbitt and Jaybo Shaw, the Paul Johnson Project: Year One nearly fell apart in the most humiliating 1-AA/FCS mediocrity Gardner-Webb. Booker was certainly terrible (19 rushes, 35 yards from your QB in any sort of option attack is certain defeat to just about any 1-A program and many 1-AA teams as well), but the offensive line was shockingly overwhelmed by the G-W rush defense. And nobody seems to have a clear idea why...Booker simply isn't an option QB by any stretch, timing between the QB/OL/RBs was way off, but there's more to it than that. As embarrassing as this near-miss was, it's not often that a team gets a chilling wake-up call and comes away with a win at the same time.

Miami 20, UCF 14. About the only accurate part of that score is Miami's 20...they clunked around on offense for much of the game, mainly because Robert Marve was either throwing incompletions (8 of 19 passing) or interceptions (three). But those 14 Knight points came on a pick-six and a kickoff return. The Hurricane defense held UCF to 78 total yards for the game on 64 offensive plays. That's 1.2 yards per play for those doing the calculations. Yes, games can get away from a team when they turn the ball over too much and/or flub special teams play, no matter how dominating they may be on defense. Nonetheless, the Knights never really threatened to drive the ball at any point that afternoon. Miami still has a long way to go, but making that judgment based on Saturday's score would be lazy.

Stud starting QB gone by the middle of game 3. Stud wide receiver and kick-return deity gone by the middle of game 6. Stud running back mysteriously underwhelming all season. A defense that bends into a pretzel most of the year - but never quite breaks. With Butch Davis leading the charge, that gets you a 5-1 record against one of the better schedules in the country this year. The North Carolina Tar Heels certainly have the excuses to pack it in or to justify a defeat here or there, but they're not biting. Despite the personnel losses, they've blown apart 25% of the Big East (Rutgers and UConn) and they've had to dig deep and come back to beat Miami and Notre Dame. That so many unheralded players have stepped up when called upon is either a testament to substances in the drinking water in Chapel Hill, or in all seriousness the result of superb coaching, development and preparation by Davis and staff. How would Florida look without just Tim Tebow? Texas without just Colt McCoy? Mizzou without just Jeremy Maclin? We'll probably never know, but we do know that Butch rolls with the punches and hits back with whatever he's got left...and hits hard.

Somebody bottle, package, and patent whatever Al Groh and his coaching staff cooked up during the week following the 31-3 defeat at Duke. Anything and everything has vastly improved since the Blue Devil Beatdown - average score (9-32 through Duke, 33-10 post-Duke); QB play (0 TDs/9 INTs before, 3 TDs/2 INTs after), rushing (66yds per game before, 204yds per game after), turnovers (-7 before, +2 after), defense (379yds allowed before, 293yds allowed after), and special teams (no stats, but take my word for it). And there's no rational or logical explanation for the reversal of fortune post-Duke. An attitude adjustment, sure. But it's way more than that. And whatever "it" is, Groh can make a killing by selling it in his retirement years.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"What must be done eventually...

...should be done immediately."

I have no idea where that quote came from or if the wording is exact, I've just heard it bandied about for a few years in various circles. Regardless, the point of the statement is very clear. And that is why Tommy Bowden was canned today at Clemson.

Tigers wide receivers' coach Dabo Swinney takes over as interim boss for the rest of the season. Let me make the bold prediction that Swinney gets the gig full-time if the Tigers go 3-3 or better in the final six games and look competent and energized in the process. With Bowden's huge buyout, the money simply isn't there to go elephant hunting.

Oh, and Swinney's first big action as head coach? Sending OC Rob Spence (who technically was his direct supervisor as of yesterday, right?) packing. Ah, such drama over a silly game.

Peace out

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Down n' Dirty Blog Pollin'

The ACCFR ballot, post-week seven:
1 Texas 4
2 Alabama 2
3 Penn State 3
4 Oklahoma State 17
5 Oklahoma 4
6 Southern Cal 1
7 Texas Tech 3
8 Florida 3
9 Brigham Young 1
10 Missouri 8
11 Utah 1
12 Ohio State 3
13 Virginia Tech 1
14 North Carolina 8
15 Boise State 3
16 Georgia 3
17 Wake Forest 3
18 South Florida 1
19 Michigan State 7
20 LSU 17
21 Kansas 6
22 Ball State 3
23 Florida State 3
24 Pittsburgh 2
25 TCU 1
Dropped Out: Vanderbilt (#16), Georgia Tech (#17), Kentucky (#23), Wisconsin (#24)
Maybe Next Week: California, Minnesota, Connecticut, Oregon, Notre Dame, Boston College

This is my first week of strict "resume ranking". I will no longer rank teams based on who I think is simply better (i.e. I think Oklahoma might still be the best team out there, but they had their chance). My basic criteria is to take each team considered for my Top 25 and run them through this wringer:

1) Who have they beaten?
2) How did they beat them?
3) Where did they beat them?
4) When did they beat them?
-and then-
5) Who did they lose to?
6) How did they lose?
7) Where did they lose?
8) When did they lose?

Take 1 through 4, evaluate with 5 through 8, compare and contrast with other teams, and rank accordingly.

This takes a hell of a lot more time than just power-pollin', but since we're about halfway through the season, I figure that comparing overall resumes is the fairest way to go.

--Gotta love the first week of resume ranking; some teams who won yesterday drop (UGA, Ohio State, Kansas, Ga Tech), some teams go from one end of the poll to the other (LSU, Okie State), some idle squads jump into the poll (FSU, Pitt), and some teams with very impressive wins yesterday don't rise all that much (Penn State, UF).
--About the Bayou Bengals....they suffered the most this week and not just because of their brutal undressing at Florida; the Tigers haven't beaten anyone worth a crap, and they looked so-so in two of those wins (Auburn, Miss. State). All the hype surrounding LSU in '08 was based on last year's "national title" season; a season of inexplicable good fortune in which they lost twice, gave up 50 points at home to an unranked team in the last regular season contest and yet still found a way to play in the BCS title game in their own backyard. And let's not mention the legion of nutty 4th-down calls that somehow just worked throughout '07.
--In contrast, Oklahoma State rockets up the poll; beating current #10 on the road and averaging close to 50 points per game is certainly one of the five best resumes so far this season, no?
--Before you complain about USC's placement, remember that this is where I rank their season resume to date. Yes, they have a loss to an unranked team, but they also obliterated my current #12 and blasted another team I considered for this week's ballot (Oregon). Their remaining slate, however, does not offer much room for them to move up much higher unless the other teams surrounding them go on losing sprees.
--Vanderbilt, as predicted, was due for a fall...they just stumbled a week earlier than I thought. But they get a chance to move back in with their remaining schedule and if South Carolina (their only noteworthy victory) continues to improve.
--I think everything else is fairly self-explanatory if you look at each team's total performance thus far.
Comments and/or questions are most welcome.