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The College Football Czar: Week 8
The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press ^ | October 18, 2012 | Daniel Clark

Posted on 10/18/2012 7:29:30 PM PDT by Daniel Clark

The College Football Czar Week 8

Week seven in review: The College Football Czar missed out on an opportunity to add to his win total by not reiterating his week one prediction of Texas A&M over Louisiana Tech. The Aggies held on to beat LTU 59-57 after bolting out to an early 27-0 lead, in a zany game whose margin of victory was provided by a defensive safety on a blocked extra point return. Because the variables change week to week, the Czar would have had to make his pick over again in week seven, but he neglected to do that. Nevertheless, he bounced back from a rare losing week for a record of 15-5, marred only by a pair of blowout losses in marquee Big XII games. For the season, the Czar is 92-46, for a .667 winning percentage.

If it’s mid-October, that means it’s BCS ratings time, and the first ratings of the season provide the usual fodder for controversies that will be rendered utterly irrelevant in the weeks ahead. Perhaps the biggest point of contention is that Florida is ranked #2, ahead of Oregon. The Czar has little doubt that Oregon is the more dangerous team, but he believes the current ratings are correct, on the basis of schedule strength. If you are going to be ranked ahead of an unbeaten SEC team, you’ll have to face a tougher nonconference lineup than Arkansas State, Fresno State and I-AA Tennessee Tech.

The striped leprechauns sprang into action again, to salvage Notre Dame’s unbeaten record by denying Stanford a tying score in overtime. Cardinal tailback Stepfan Taylor clearly broke into the end zone before being tackled, but the officials said no, and the replay officials took yet another pass on an obvious overrule situation. It was the second time this year the replay officials bailed the Irish out in a close game. Last month against Purdue, they actually invented a rule making any contact with the pylon a touchdown, despite the pylon being located out of bounds. Why even bother having replay officials, when they could have simply hired Candy Crowley instead?

Oct. 19 Uconn at Syracuse

Husky coach Paul Pasqualoni takes on his former team for the second time, having prevailed last year 28-21, in what was a pivotal game in preventing the Orange from returning to the postseason.

The “S” on the home team’s helmets might not exactly stand for ‘sitement, but Doug Marrone’s team has been pretty good at keeping fans tuned in. At 2-4, they have yet to be involved in a game with a greater point spread than in their early 42-29 loss to USC at the Meadowlands. In a return trip to the Garden State last week, they committed the game’s only four turnovers in a 23-15 loss to Rutgers.

The Conn Men have averaged only 19 points over their first seven games, three of which have been meetings with MAC opponents. They don’t have a single rusher averaging as much as four yards per carry, and QB Chandler Whitmer has already been picked off ten times.

Pasqualoni says he won’t have any of his family with him for this return to Syracuse. Therefore, the College Football Czar will be interested to see if Otto the Orange is in attendance. He’s always had his suspicions about the resemblance between the two.

Syracuse 17, Uconn 7

Oct. 20 Pitt at Buffalo

A pair of rookie mistakes by coach Paul Chryst were instrumental in the Panthers’ 45-35 loss to unbeaten Louisville. An ill-timed timeout before a fourth-down play late in the first half allowed the Cardinals plenty of time to drive into field goal range. Then, trailing by ten with five minutes to play, he went for a fourth-and-eight rather than attempt a 39-yard field goal. Granted, kicker Kevin Harper has not fared well this year, but an earlier 50-yard effort had barely missed. How could Chryst have allowed him to attempt that kick, but then lost confidence in him from eleven yards closer?

The 1-5 Bulls had remained competitive through a difficult early schedule that included Georgia, as well as MAC East leaders Kent State and Ohio. They finally wore down last week at Northern Illinois, where they got mushed up by the Huskies, 45-3.

Panther TE Hubie Graham has been playing sparingly due to an ankle injury, but he’s sure to make this road trip whether he plays or not. That’s because he thinks UB Stadium is named after him, so it would be impolite not to show up.

Pitt 38, Buffalo 16

Penn State at Iowa

The Hawkeyes (4-2, 2-0) have been a forgotten team since losing to Central Michigan, but last week’s 19-16 double-overtime win over Michigan State ties them for first place in the Big Ten Legends division. Mark Weisman added another 116 yards to his total, making him the league’s fifth-leading rusher, despite only getting two carries through the first two games of the season. He hobbled off the field late in the game, however, and might not be available to take on PSU.

The Nittany Lions won last year’s meeting 13-3 at Beaver Stadium, but have not fared well in the series overall. They won their first three games against the Hawks upon joining the Big Ten in 1993, but have since gone only 3-9.

Last week may not have been the most opportune time for the Lions to be idle, right after they extended their winning streak to four with a 39-28 upset of Northwestern. With no confidence in his kicking game, Bill O’Brien allowed his offense to march relentlessly on, while going 5-for-6 on fourth-down conversions. That’s a dangerous way to try to win consistently, however, especially if your momentum has been broken.

Iowa famously has a pink visitors’ locker room, as a psychological ploy by Hayden Fry when he was head coach. They won’t be installing one of those at Happy Valley anytime soon. Just an hunch.

Iowa 23, Penn State 21

Kansas State at West Virginia

The Mountaineers finally ran into a formidable defense last week at Texas Tech, and it showed. Coach Holgorsen and QB Geno Smith must find a way to crack K-State, or for the rest of the season they’ll be viewed as a finesse team that can’t handle it when things get tough.

Bill Snyder’s Wildcats have had their two toughest games by far on the road this season, where they’ve edged Oklahoma 24-19, and Iowa State 27-21. They didn’t seal last week’s win over ISU until forcing a turnover on downs with about two minutes to play.

The ever-perceptive College Football Czar believes he has detected a subtle flaw in the WVU defense, in that it has proven susceptible to the pummelin. In three conference games, it has allowed 160 points and 1,780 yards. Numbers like that put pressure on the offense to score almost every time it touches the ball. Last week at Texas Tech, three of their first four drives stalled, causing them to trail by 14 points, and there was no way for them to come back. It was kind of like an arena football game, with spectators.

Do you suppose the WVU Board of Governors decided that they belonged in this conference because their state has “West” in its title?

Kansas State 44, West Virginia 36

South Carolina at Florida

As SC, Bama, LSU and Georgia soak up most of the attention in the SEC, the Gators go about their business with a conference record of 5-0. Last game was another workmanlike effort that won’t impress anyone, 31-17 over Vanderbilt. They were without five injured starters for that game, however, including three offensive linemen. All five are expected to return this week.

Lots of teams occasionally wear camouflage uniforms as a tribute to our military, but something about seeing them on a Steve Spurrier team known as the Cocks gave them more of an obnoxious, 80s Miami Hurricanes look.

The Gamecocks are officially unsure of whether or not RB Marcus Lattimore and his bruised hip will be able to play. Considering that the division lead is on the line, and the team’s second leading running back is a freshman with 117 total yards, the Czar anticipates that Lattimore will make an amazing recovery.

Spurrier, of course, used to be the Gators’ coach, which explains why he must return there every other year. One of these days, they’ll dredge the Swamp, and find the top half of his hat.

South Carolina 20, Florida 16

Michigan State at Michigan

In their state’s most overrated event since the auto bailout, the Wolverines and Spartans enter the game with disappointing records of 4-2 and 4-3, respectively. Defending divisional champ MSU is already virtually eliminated with a Big Ten record of 1-2, while the maize and blue are tied with Iowa atop the division at 2-0.

Now that they’ve thoroughly humiliated themselves during their nonconference schedule, the Wolverines have run away with their first two conference games. No less should have been expected, now that they’re only playing Big Ten teams. Last week’s 45-0 drubbing of Illinois followed a 44-13 pounding of Purdue.

Last year’s 28-14 Spartan victory was marred by a couple ugly incidents involving defensive end William Gholston, who threw a punch against Michigan OT Taylor Lewan, and later twisted Denard Robinson’s helmet halfway around as the quarterback lay on the ground after being tackled. Gholston has been critical of his own play this season, which might mean he’s got something special in store for his cross-state rivals. If so, that could prove to be a bad thing for either team, or both.

If Gholston exhibits the same behavior this time, at least it will be convenient to already have him in The Big House, so that all they’ll have to do is turn the key. Sometimes it’s handy to have a football stadium that doubles as a jailhouse. That’s got to be the best idea to come out of Philadelphia since putting Cheez Whiz on steak.

Michigan 31, Michigan State 18

Florida State at Miami

The Seminoles’ 51-7 bombardment of Boston College doesn’t get them back in the national championship hunt, but it does re-establish them as the dominant force in the ACC. If they can defeat their intrastate rivals this week, they ought to coast into the conference title game – or atl into it, considering which division they’re in.

In two previous games against ranked opponents, the Hurricanes have been blown away by Kansas State (52-13) and Notre Dame (41-3), both of whom dominated them in the trenches. FSU, with its fearsome defensive line, figures to have at least half as big an advantage.

Canes’ QB Stephen Morris scored on a touchdown run in the second half of last week’s 18-14 loss to North Carolina, but he was unable to finish the game due to an ankle injury. If he isn’t ready to play this week, Memphis transfer Ryan Williams will get the start. Williams had started as a freshman for the Tigers in 2010, when they finished 1-11.

For some reason, people make a big deal out of the fact that Miami coach Al Golden wears a tie. Ergo, the Czar hereby officially nicknames him “The Tie.” That’s the great thing about analyzing college football. It makes wittiness come so easily.

Florida State 42, Miami 23

Iowa State at Oklahoma State

Farmageddon was far from the end of the world for 4-2 ISU, despite losing that game to #4 Kansas State, 27-21. Those 27 points are the most they’ve allowed in a single game this year, and they’ve already faced three Big XII opponents, along with Tulsa and Iowa.

The Cowboys suffered their only defeat of the 2011 season against the Cyclones in mid-November, 37-31 in double-overtime. The Pokes turned the ball over five times that night, including an interception in the second OT.

After that win – the biggest in the history of the ISU program – the fans swarmed the field in a thrilling, spontaneous celebration only to have the meddlesome jerk controlling their p.a. system to drown out their enthusiasm with Neil Diamond’s ubiquitous, irrelevant and cloying Sweet Caroline.

That song was actually written about Caroline Kennedy. Until the Czar found that out, he had never been a believer in the “Kennedy Curse.” Smashing into a tree because you’re playing drunken downhill football on skis is not a curse. Becoming the subject of one of the most putrid songs in the world is. Just ask Roseanna Arquette.

Iowa State 26, Oklahoma State 24

Western Michigan at Kent State

At 5-1, the Golden Flashes would become bowl-eligible with one more win. That doesn’t guarantee an invitation, but with four otherwise presumptive bowl teams being ineligible due to probation, there will only be a couple eligible teams left out of the postseason.

The 3-4 Broncos are only 1-2 in MAC play, when they’ve had to rely on backup QB Tyler Van Tubbergen. Starter Alex Carder’s hand was dealt a blow in WMU’s final nonconference game, when he smashed it against a Connecticut defender’s helmet.

It’s a little-known fact that the origin of the Golden Flashes nickname is that their fans invented the practice of going to games painted in their team colors. At least that would account for the “Golden” part. You don’t really want to know the rest.

Kent State 35, Western Michigan 31

Nebraska at Northwestern

In what would have to be considered the biggest upset in the Big Ten last season, the Wildcats’ 28-25 win in Lincoln eliminated the N-men from contention for the conference title.

The Cornhuskers have now lost four in a row away from home, including a poor defensive performance early in the year at UCLA. Two weeks ago in Columbus, they were slammed 63-38 by an Ohio State team that, though undefeated, is nevertheless weenie. In truth, Bo Pelini’s defense is not entirely to blame. The offense now leads the Big Ten in practically every category, including turnovers, and the 15 giveaways have been a major factor in dropping them into fourth place in the Legends division.

The Cats defeated Minnesota 21-13, despite being held to a modest total of 275 yards. Quarterback Kain Colter’s stats from that game illustrate what the Czar means when he advises you to be skeptical about completion percentages. Colter completed 10 of 10, but for only 63 yards. Passes of that length are often about as difficult to complete as backward pitches while running a wishbone offense. What competent QB might possibly have done any worse than 9-for-10 in Cain’s place?

You’re not going to believe this, but Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has scheduled his team for a mandatory pregame nap. The coach says he’d wondered why his players were so lethargic during last month’s 22-13 win over Boston College, and they told him it was because the game started at 2:30 Central Time, and they hadn’t gotten a nap.

No, really.

This Saturday, Fitzgerald will have his team wake up earlier, and then take a scheduled nap after breakfast. “Great, nap time,” says the incredulous coach. “It’s pathetic.” So what made him decide that it was worth a try? Maybe it was watching his team fall into a slumber in the fourth quarter against Penn State in week six. Better to take a nap before the game starts than take a dirt nap before it’s over.

Nebraska 34, Northwestern 27

La.-Monroe at Western Kentucky

A game that will probably end up deciding the Sun Belt Conference championship pits the Warhawks, who have proven themselves repeatedly against big-league competition, against a Hilltopper team that has already dispatched 2011 conference champs Arkansas State, 26-13 in week five.

The towel boys defeated Troy last Thursday, 31-26, to keep them even with ULM atop the league standings. Antonio Andrews, who leads the conference in rushing, added another 147 yards on only nine carries.

It would be a good p.r. move if the folks in Monroe put up a sign at the entrance to their campus that said, “ULM: birthplace of Albert Einstein.” Of course, that would be a reference to the German town of Ulm, and not the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Still, close enough to satisfy modern standards of academic integrity. The one minor flaw in that plan is that nobody would really believe Einstein was from Louisiana. I mean, he didn’t talk anything like Yul Brynner at all.

La.-Monroe 33, Western Kentucky 32

Virginia Tech at Clemson

The Tigers trounced Tech on both occasions last season, 20-3 in the regular season, and 38-10 in the ACC championship game. The Gobblers better get their revenge this week, because they’re not likely to get another chance in Charlotte, having already lost one conference game.

Early this season, it looked like Dabo Swinney’s team had put its Orange Bowl embarrassment behind it, but the defense has been teetering in recent weeks. Following a 49-37 loss to Florida State, they’ve allowed 31 points each to the impotent offenses of Boston College and Georgia Tech.

VT had lost three in a row before defeating Duke 41-20, and even then, they had to rally from a 20-0 deficit. It has gotten to the point where beating Frank Beamer’s team is about as impressive as selling more records than Elvis or the Beatles.

You mean you don’t believe Slim Whitman and Boxcar Willie sold more records than Elvis and the Beatles? Then how do you explain finding Elvis and Beatles CDs in stores, lying around unsold, whereas the Whitman and Willie discs are ALL GONE?

You can’t argue with science.

Clemson 44, Virginia Tech 19

Washington at Arizona

The 3-3 Huskies are already through the toughest part of their schedule, having beaten Stanford, and lost to LSU, Oregon and USC. If their offense is ever going to produce, this week is the time to start. So far, against Division I-A competition, they’re averaging just over 13 points per game.

The Wildcats (3-3, 0-3) are playing their fourth consecutive game against a North division opponent, and to make matters worse, the two teams from that division they don’t play are Cal and Washington State. Next week they open divisional play against USC, before getting a chance for a late-season rally against the also-rans of the Pac 12 South.

Rich Rod’s Cats are faring much better at home than on the road, and it’s no wonder. Opposing players can’t help but become hesitant when they’re running downfield, and see the words “BEAR DOWN” painted on the field. I mean, who wants to step on a wounded bear?

Arizona 37, Washington 24

LSU at Texas A&M

The Tigers’ gritty 23-21 victory over South Carolina thrusts them right back into the national championship picture, at #6 in the BCS standings. If they can derail the Conjunction Boys on the road, then their week ten showdown with Alabama will likely decide a berth in the SEC championship.

The ampersanders were known for their second-half collapses last year, but they almost outdid themselves last week against Louisiana Tech. Until the final play of the first half, A&M led 39-13, but they ended up having to foil a late two-point conversion to hang on, 59-57.

Coach Fewer Miles has a winning career record against the Aggies, but barely. He went 2-2 against them while coaching at Oklahoma State, and has won his only meeting with them since moving to Baton Rouge, a 41-24 victory in the Cotton Bowl two years ago.

Sorry about that misprinting of Miles’ name in the last paragraph, but this confounded MS Word AutoCorrect is so annoying that sometimes it’s easiest to just try to ignore it.

LSU 25, Texas A&M 21

Stanford at California

You’re probably wondering why this traditional year-ending rivalry game is being played so early in the season. Well, they had a chance to schedule it on Thanksgiving weekend, but the schools declined, on the basis that the holiday might interfere with The Big Game. The real reason is that they’re so pompous, they’d be in danger of having their heads lopped off, strutting around with their chests puffed out like that.

The 3-4 Golden Bears have continued to show a great deal of depth in their backfield. Little-utilized senior C.J. Anderson has rushed for 151 and 112 yards, respectively, in wins over UCLA (43-17) and Washington State (31-17).

For the Cardinal to win, their receivers will have to play far better than they did in last week’s 20-13 overtime loss to Notre Dame. Okay, so it was a very rainy day in South Bend, but even a dry ball is difficult to catch with one’s facemask or shoulder pad.

In the Bay Area, they refer to this as “The Big Game.” Too bad it’s no longer The Big Game at the end of the season, because then it would be named after the XFL championship game. Since these are egghead schools, they could have nicknames on their jerseys like “He Anathematize Me.”

California 20, Stanford 19

Purdue at Ohio State

The way the Buckeyes are playing, it’s hard to see how they’re still undefeated, but looking at their remaining schedule, it’s also hard to see who’s going to stop them. Seriously, they could continue to win crappily all the way to Indianapolis. After this week, they’ve got Penn State, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.

The Boilermakers have been a boil on the butt of OSU in recent years, upsetting them in 2009 and 2011. They’ve just been pulverized in consecutive losses to Michigan and Wisconsin, but the same was true leading into last season’s 26-23 overtime shocker.

Last week, RB Carlos Hyde and QB Braxton Miller combined for 305 rushing yards, and still, the lumpy nuts barely outlasted Indiana, 52-49. Their inability to put the Hoosiers away caused coach Urban Meyer to voice concern about his team’s ability to defend against the spread, which they’ll be facing again this week.

The late, great Beano Cook once said, however ungrammatically, “There’s nothing that beats when the Ohio State marching band and the sousaphone player dots the ‘i’ for script Ohio.” Then again, he was known to be a mite sarcastic.

Ohio State 38, Purdue 27

Texas Tech at TCU

Texas Christian took revenge for last year’s opener by trouncing Baylor 49-21, to climb to 2-1 in their first season of Big XII play. Trevone Boykin, making his second start at quarterback since Casey Pachall’s suspension, bombed BU for 261 yards and four TDs, while adding another 56 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The 5-1 Red Raiders ran roughshod over unsuspecting West Virginia, 49-14, rolling up 676 total yards in the process. Earlier wins over New Mexico and Iowa State are looking a lot better in retrospect for Tommy Tuberville’s team, whose only loss has been to Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs have jumped leagues four times (WAC, C-USA, MWC, Big XII) since last being conference rivals with Tech in the Southwest Conference in 1995. They’ve only met twice since then, with the Raiders rolling 70-35 in 2004, and the leaping lizards prevailing in a completely different game two years later, 12-3.

Lizards can’t actually leap, you know, but if it means getting the heck out of Conference USA, they’ll make an exception.

Texas Tech 31, TCU 21

Cincinnati at Toledo

The undefeated Bearcats will be a big fish in the Glass Bowl, but that might make them all the easier to shoot. So far, UC has beaten two lower-division opponents, defeated Pitt at the worst point of the Panthers’ pitiful start, mugged MAC pushover Miami Ohio, and vanquished a Virginia Tech team that has lost at every realistic opportunity.

Last November, the Rockets played consecutive games in which they lost 63-60, and won 66-63, without going to overtime in either one. This year’s games haven’t gotten that carried away, but first-year coach Matt Campbell has got to be concerned about last week’s 52-47 squeaker against winless Eastern Michigan. In the third quarter alone, they were trampled for touchdown runs of 47, 58, 70 and 41 yards.

Cats’ QB Munchie Legaux’s given first name is Benton. Try putting the Munchimania aside for a minute and think about that. If Munchie’s stats, against the same competition, belonged to a guy named Benton Legaux, he’d be just another pretty good player in dire need of a barber.

Toledo 30, Cincinnati 27

TOPICS: Humor; Society; Sports
KEYWORDS: analysis; collegefootball; predictions

1 posted on 10/18/2012 7:29:30 PM PDT by Daniel Clark
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