Sunday, December 04, 2016

2016 Playoff Should Be / Will Be

The die is cast. At around 12:30 this afternoon, we'll learn the fate of our beloved Buckeyes and the other playoff contenders. While you wait, let your favorite predictors from Let's Go Bucks! tell you what what the final four should be, and will be.

SHOULD BE

Let's Go Bucks Index
1. Alabama
2. Ohio State
3. Clemson
4. Washington

Draper
1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Ohio State
4. Washington

Hoying
1. Alabama
2. Ohio State
3. Clemson
4. Washington

Seeberg
1. Alabama
2. Ohio State
3. Clemson
4. Washington


WILL BE

Let's Go Bucks Index
1. Alabama 
2. Clemson
3. Ohio State
4. Washington

Draper:
1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Ohio State
4. Washington

Hoying:
1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Ohio State
4. Washington

Seeberg
1. Alabama
2. Clemson
3. Ohio State
4. Washington

Friday, December 02, 2016

Week 14 - No Rematches This Year!

Standings
1) Hoying              41-15        (4-9 upset)
2) Schweinfurth    36-15        (6-6 upset)
3) Draper               38-18        (4-9 upset)
4) Seeberg             36-20        (4-9 upset)

Normally, Conference Championship weekend is a pile of suck because of pointless rematches essentially invalidating one or more regular season games. This year, it's a pile of suck, not because of the rematches (there are none) but because our beloved Buckeyes are once again stuck at home. 

MAC: Western Michigan Broncos vs. Ohio Bobcats
Draper: I know very little about these teams, but I know that there's been a lot of boat-rowing in Kalamazoo.  This is all about an interview for Mr. Fleck and the hot WMU Broncos.  But wait, Ohio is coached by someone who has been in a real life national championship game (let's ignore the fact that he got blown out).  Ohio has been overlooked much of the year, but they've earned a spot here and could really mess with the Group of 5 (not to mention costing the MAC a lot of money), but the Broncos are 'too hot to handle'.  WMU rows to a MAC Championship, a likely New Year's Six shellacking, and a new coach next year.  WMU: 41--OU: 31
Hoying: Hello, mismatch. The Broncos are clearly the superior team here, and they have the prize of all prizes for a MAC school in front of them: likely win-and-into the Cotton Bowl. They've proven they can handle the pressure so far, but there may be a problem: where is PJ Fleck's head right now? The Oregon job is open, the Purdue job is available, Indiana just fired Kevin Wilson, Brian Kelly is "exploring his options". . . Is PJ going to keep rowing the boat or sail off into deeper waters? The Bobcats have shown up for every game this year, nearly scoring a big upset over Tennessee, but I think the Broncos will still have the focus to take care of business and boost PJ onto the big stage with a chance to prove that the Texas Longhorns hired the wrong young hotshot. WMU: 38--OU: 31
Schweinfurth: Hooray for MACtion! Ok, in all honesty, I really don't care about this game even though this has some serious New Year's Six implications. PJ Fleck has the Broncos believing and playing very well all year. The committee has had them underrated all year. This is WMU's last chance for a statement and OU is just a speed bump. UMU: 42--OU: 24
Seeberg:  Honestly, Frank Solich has done a great job at OU since being unceremoniously canned from Nebraska over a decade ago.  He took a perennial MAC bottom-feeder and turned it into a near-perennial bowl team.  P.J. Fleck, however, is the midwestern Tom Herman, having resurrected the Broncos, putting them on the path for a big payday come January 1st (or 2nd this year since the NFL will take over New Years- so sacrilegious).  My guess is the nerves of the moment keep the Bobcats in it for a half, but too much Bronco offense eventually wins the day.  Enjoy the MACtion!  WMU: 38--OU: 24

Pac-12: Colorado Buffaloes vs. Washington Huskies
Draper: The Pac 12 has been a pillow fight all year with no real dominant team other than the Huskies...until they were blasted at home by USC.  Utah, Colorado, Wazzu, and USC have been nice teams, but there is simply no way to tell if there is any substance here (with 0 good out of conference wins by ANYONE).  The Buffs have had a great season, but I don't think Sefu Liufau has enough juice to keep up with Jake Browning, Pettis, and Ross.  UW heads to the playoff and a likely showdown with Bama....good luck with all that.  CU: 27--UW: 34
Hoying: For the better part of a month, Buckeye Nation has been rooting for these teams to lose in order to avoid this exact matchup. The Pac-12 continues to suck this year but these teams are actually kind of good, both playing stellar defense and getting terrific play out of QBs Sefo Liufau and Jake Browning. Fortunately, the committee still hates them both, barely putting Washington at #4 ahead of Meeeeeechigan and Colorado trailing well behind the rest of the B1G elite. I don't even know who I want to win this game. A Buffalo victory all but locks the Buckeyes into the playoffs, but it also greatly increases the chances that our friends up north get in as well, and I don't want to see them again this year (rematches are dumb, see above). Speaking of the Maize and Blue, Colorado went into Ann Arbor and played them to a standstill for 3 quarters while U-Dub was busy with Rutgers. The Buffs come into this battle tested and score the big upset on their way...to the Rose Bowl. CU: 31--UW: 27
Schweinfurth: Let me say that the PAC-12 has been all over the map this year. There is no "great" team in this conference. Washington was a great story until USC blew their doors off and game Colorado the blue print to beat them. I really want to see this upset just for Colorado's sake. This once proud program has been through a lot of heartache since joining the PAC-12. Washington, you had a great season, but Buffs are going to pound this one out. Last second field goal FTW! CU: 38--UW: 35
Seeberg:  And here is where the potential playoff chaos begins.  A Colorado win puts them at 11-2 (comparable to 10-2 TTUN), and obviously ahead of Washington should it win.  Will the committee put the Buffs ahead of we-are-giving-them-an-inexplicable-pass-for-losing-twice-in-the-last-three-weeks TTUN squad?  Colorado lost to the Wolverines 45-28, but were leading and looking good before Liufau was sidelined with an injury.  Thankfully for the committee (and those of us who would just as soon walk blindfolded into traffic as see TTUN make the playoff), it won't be an issue.  Browning and Co. are just too good offensively to drop this one, especially on a neutral field.  Onto the #4 seed to get pasted by 'Bama for the Huskies.  CU: 27--UW: 42

AAC: Temple Owls @ Navy Midshipmen
Draper: Again, Navy looks to totally mess with bowl season as a win here puts the Group of Five representative into question...and thereby putting all minor bowls into question.  Navy has been on fire lately (I believe they punted TWICE in the month of November) and loves to just drain a game with their running attack. On the other side of the ball, I guess Temple is playing football this year...and that's cool.  I know nothing about them, but Navy is usually fun to watch.  Midshipmen represent Murika well and take down the Owls.  Temple: 20 -- Navy: 41
Hoying: I'm surprised that this one is a noon kickoff on ABC rather than on ESPN 2, 5, and 6. For the second straight season, Temple finds itself in the AAC championship game, and for the second straight season, they're going to lose. In the month of November, Navy's efficiency on offense would put the U.S. fleet to shame, as the Midshipmen took the field 40 times, scored 29 TDs and one FG, and ran out the clock 6 times. Ask Notre Dame what it's like to get ground into paste by 10 minute TD drive after 10 minute TD drive (aaaaagggghhhhh, Juice Williams flashback...). The entire bowl-seeding world may be rooting against Navy, since a win this weekend makes Army-Navy relevant for the first time since about WWII and delays the whole New Year's Six process, but Owl be surprised if the Middies don't take this one. Temple: 17--Navy: 28
Schweinfurth: I always have a soft spot for the armed forces teams (Go Air Force! 2016 Commander-In-Chief Trophy Winner). Navy runs the triple option better than anyone and no coach knows his team better than Coach Ken. Navy could get in trouble if Temple gets up by 2 TDs, but I just don't see that happening. Navy's offense keeps the game short so this won't be a total blowout in numbers terms. Navy makes the Selection Committee's job a bit more difficult (Let them play in a New Year's Six!). Temple: 10--Navy 24
Seeberg:  Hey, remember when this game was going to be Houston vs. who-gives-a-damn?  Oops.  Navy left a lot of opponents in its wake the last month of the season (#seewhatIdidthere?) and Temple is not the defense it was last year that carried the team to the conference title game, dropping a well-contested game to the Houston Hermans.  Watching Navy pulverize the now second-best golden-domer team in Notre Dame was fabulous, and this one will likely be similar.  I'd set the over/under at 9 pass attempts for Navy...and take the under.  More New Year's Six chaos abounds!  Temple: 16--Navy: 38

Big 12: Oklahoma State Cowboys @ Oklahoma Sooners
Draper: Points and points and points.  The Sooners have been rocking since the beatdown by the Bucks but the Pokes look to throw a wrench in their rival's season (which they have done many times before).  Mike Gundy and his fantastic mullet have 2 losses (1 of which really shouldn't have counted...but it does) but they haven't faced the Sooners yet. Dede Westbrook and Baker Mayfield will continue to give opposing defenses nightmares...but the Sooner defense does the same for those in Norman.  Bob Stoops doesn't lose much in Norman, but I think the quota for OSUs beating OU in Norman has been met this year.  BOOMER!!!!  OSU: 45--OU: 55
Hoying: Has any top 10 team gotten less respect or coverage lately than the Cowboys? After a devastating loss to CMU and a disappointing showing against Baylor, the Pokes have run off 7 straight wins (and Mike Gundy's hair has run off 7 straight inches). All the Big 12 love has focused on their hated rivals in Norman, who have been putting up big points (so have the Cowboys), blowing out West Virginia (so did the Cowboys) and racking up crazy numbers at QB (so has...you get the idea). Chris Spielman has moved on to FOX (which is showing this game), but fortunately he's doing the NFL and not college, or he would weep big ol' sad dad tears watching these teams try to play defense. The winner? When in doubt, go with the home team. OSU: 48--OU: 52
Schweinfurth: Hey look, the Big-12 has a championship game a year early! The Sooners have turned it around after the pasting Ohio State put on them (mostly because Big-12 defenses are bad). This game will be a shootout for sure. Neither team really plays much defense. Mixon and Perine are just too much to handle for the Cowboys and we all know Mayfield can make plays. OSU: 49--OU: 56
Seeberg:  Unlike the B1G title game below, this one should be lots of fun to witness.  Of course watching the Sooners rip off a bunch of wins has helped the Buckeyes' cause, and in the title game/bedlam they meet a mirror image:  A team from Oklahoma with a noteworthy offense and technically a defense only because they're required to line up against opposing offenses.  The Sooners may try to outperform their insane first half against West Virginia- and they might manage it.  A turnover or two will go Boomer's way, and they will desperately hope for gargantuan amounts of chaos to sneak into the playoff.  OSU: 44--OU: 52

SEC: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Florida Gators
Draper: Bama/Florida....again.  This time is different...Bama is far superior....so maybe it isn't that different from the recent past.  Saban >> any coach not named Urban so this will likely not be close.  The real question is whether UF will score...or cross the 50.  Bama may not be unbeatable, but the Gators aren't that team. I'll call the shut out because Gators suck.  Bama: 24--UF: 0
Hoying: Oh look, it's Alabama-Florida. Again. For the 9th time. Florida is still the last SEC East team to win this game...in 2008. Hmmm...who coached that team... Corch Irvin Meyers might make an appearance in the Georgia Dome this year, but not until the Peach Bowl on December 31st. In his absence, this will sure be a football game! Ala: 31--UF: 6
Schweinfurth: I'm not going into too much detail here. Florida is a mediocre team playing in a mediocre conference. Alabama has shown that they are the best team in the nation so far. This is going to get ugly quick. Bama: 35--UF: 3
Seeberg:  Alabama hasn't allowed an offensive touchdown in 17 quarters (13 against actual FBS opponents).  Florida's offense can best be described as "only mildly putrid".  This is a lousy combination for anybody sick of Saban (read:  everyone not in Tuscaloosa).  First to ten wins!  Which *sigh* will be *sigh* 'Bama *enormous sigh*.  Ala: 27--UF: 6

ACC: Clemson Tigers vs. Virginia Tech Hokies
Draper: Virginia Tech has been a very interesting team this year with some very nice performances followed by monster clunkers (see Syracuse).  Clemson had the traditional Clemsoning versus Pitt, but I don't expect any more.  Coach Dabo has the team hyperfocused since the Pitt loss.  I just don't see Deshaun Watson and the best WR in the country, Mike Williams, dropping another before the playoffs.  It would be FANTASTIC for #TeamChaos to have a Hokie win, but I just don't see it.  Clemson...Tigers....Clemson....Tigers   Representing the ACC! (worth your time)  Clem: 52--VT: 27
Hoying: Well, Clemson Clemsoned already against Pitt, so we can't count on that being a factor here. Unless, it's the dreaded Double Clemsoning, in which Clemson Clemsons even harder since nobody expects them to Clemson! This isn't like last year, where an explosive UNC offense had the tools to stand eye-to-eye with the Tigers and trade blows (bad calls on onside kicks notwithstanding). Much like the SEC championship, we're only here because the conference wanted another paycheck and a tiny chance of disaster befalling their last playoff hope. Won't happen. Clem: 45--VT: 20
Schweinfurth: Virginia Tech has had a resurgence! Well, okay they have beat up on some meh competition lately. I just can't look past Clemson in this game. This is the time we see Clemson play to their potential this year. the ACC Title and Playoff bid are sooo close they can taste it (which would make a second Clemsoning not surprising). Deshaun Watson just wins. This game will be close because the Hokies are playing good football right now. I just see Watson making one or two big plays late to pull it out. Clem: 35--VT: 31
Seeberg:  This is good...real good.  I'm still angry at Clemson for beating Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes that should've been playing for a national title except for some horrendous play-calling against MSU in the B1G title game that left Urban to eat cold pizza disconsolately.  Va Tech is borderline relevant again, but Clemson managed to not go all Clemson (except for NC State...and Pitt...and Troy, but they won two of those miraculously) and are in prime position for a rematch of the 2014 Orange Bowl.  Deshaun Watson woke up just in time to see himself get invited to New York again, and Clemson rolls into the playoff again.  Clem: 42--VT: 24

B1G: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
Draper: I have no clue who to pick here.  Honestly, I wouldn't be shocked by anything short of a Wisconsin offensive showcase.  There may be some playoff implications but likely not unless Washington or Clemson nosedives.  PSU has been hot as the Sun lately while Wisky keeps plodding along and rolling over their opponents with an oppressive defense.  PSU's signature win over the Buckeyes on a fluke play is one of the top wins in the country, while the Badger's premier win is over an LSU team that now has 4 (albeit good) losses.  With that being said, neither of these teams has another win worth patting themselves on the back (Iowa?...nah.)  They keep living on the 'good loss' narrative, but that's not enough to leapfrog the Buckeyes.  I hate that the Bucks aren't in this game, but the resume is simply better than either of these teams even with a win here.  What will happen? Trace McSorley and Saquan Barkley have been on fire, but the Wisky defense will rise up and do just enough for the Badger faithful to emerge with their 3rd B1G championship title game win (2 of which they were nowhere near the best team in the conference).  Enjoy Pasadena.  UW: 17--PSU: 16
Hoying: A small part of me is actually happy the Buckeyes aren't playing in this game. After such an all-consuming victory over the Crying Harbaughs, I don't know what our Bucks could've mustered on just a week's preparation. But the larger part of me is disgusted because I hate Penn State and the thought of them as Big Ten champions makes me violently ill. QB Trace McSorley and B1G Offensive Player of the Year Saquon Barkley (lolololol) have been shredding their opponents since their get-lucky win over Ohio State, including racking up 45 against a spent Michigan State last weekend. Meanwhile, the once-impenetrable Badger D has looked oddly vulnerable in recent games against Purdue and Minnesota. I've believed all season that Wisconsin is the better team, but PSU keeps picking up steam, and I don't trust the Badgers to slow down one of the nation's best second-half comeback teams without 80,000+ strong at Camp Randall to rally them. Penn State...gets to go to the Rose Bowl to face Colorado, and freaking Michigan goes to the playoffs for a super-sexy matchup against Alabama. UW: 20--PSU:24
Schweinfurth:  So, for the record here, I have picked the Pac-12 Title game upset. That brings us to this game. The winner of this game joins OSU, Bama, and Clemson in the playoffs. Seriously. Despite both teams losing to scUM, this win will catapult the winner over the Wolverines. I have no faith in James Franklin as an in-game coach. Saquon Barkley has a banged up ankle but will play. The Badgers have faith in both QB's so Hornybrook's injury may not be an issue here. Trace McSorley is the second coming of Brady Quinn (chuck the ball as high as you can and pray a WR runs under it). That will not fly against an aggressive Badgers defense. Wisconsin puts Penn State back into their rightful place. Remember Wisconsin lost close ON THE ROAD at scUM. A decisive victory knocks the poor Harbooger back to a New Year's Six game (and yes, the tears will sustain me). UW: 35--PSU: 14
Seeberg:  This is what happens when you separate your divisions geographically and you put easily the three best teams historically (OSU, TTUN, PSU) in the same freakin' division.  Dumb conference decisions aside, this one may not be a pretty watch.  Both teams play solid D, Wiscy may also be out its starting QB, and Penn State has looked downright competent on offense the last few weeks.  Like my colleague Mr. Hoying, I believe Wisconsin is the superior team, but Penn State is the superior team right now.  All the fabulous play-calling in the world from Paul Chryst (who only has one week to prepare and doesn't have a home crowd) still won't be enough.  Lions win the Big Ten title *bleh...sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little*  UW: 17--PSU: 23


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Shut Up and Enjoy This

For the third consecutive year, the Buckeyes did not finish the regular season undefeated. For the fifth year in the last six, Ohio State is not the champion of the Big Ten. For the eighth year in the last nine, there's a chance Ohio State will not play for a national championship.

Boo-frickety-hoo.

All season long the Buckeye faithful have been carping about how Urban has run out of ideas for the offense, how the team has stagnated after a fast start, how he can't develop a quarterback, how the Bucks will never really be special again until we get Tom Herman back. It's startlingly reminiscent of the chatter in the 2013-14 offseason, when, after a 24-game winning streak came to an end, way, way too many Buckeye fans said that Urban left his best years behind him at Florida, and why did he pick up this bum offensive coordinator from Iowa State of all places?

Then Urban won a national championship after he and Herman made a freshman QB into a Heisman candidate and his playoff replacement into an offensive juggernaut. I thought that might buy him the benefit of the doubt. It did. For 11 months. Now the Buckeyes have lost in back-to-back years to top ten and possible playoff teams, and suddenly the sky is falling again.

Urban Meyer is 61-5 at Ohio State. That's a .924 winning percentage. Better than Knute Rockne at Notre Dame. Better than Bear Bryant at Alabama. Better than Barry Switzer at Oklahoma. Better than Fielding Yost at Michigan. Better than Saban. Better than Bo. Better than Woody. Buckeye Nation is truly in a true golden age.

Big deal, you say. This is Ohio State. We win a lot because we should win. That's how it happens at the elite programs around the country.

Is it? Let's take a look at the top 11 programs in the nation and how they've fared in recent years.

Per Winsipedia, the following 11 real programs are the tops in all-time winning percentage (there's a sizable drop-off after #11).

1. Michigan
2. Boise State Ohio State
3. Notre Dame
4. Alabama
5. Oklahoma
6. Texas
7. USC
8. Nebraska
9. Penn State
10. Florida State
11. Tennessee


1. Michigan

I don't need to tell you what happened here, do I? After opening the 2007 season with the most embarrassing loss in program history (App State), the program decided to move on from Lloyd Carr and kicked off a 46-42 stretch from 2008-2014, including six losses to Ohio State, six losses to Michigan State, three losing seasons, and zero conference championships. Jim Harbaugh seems to have righted the ship (still waiting for that win over Ohio State), but the Bucks haven't had such a stretch of futility in about 100 years.

2. Ohio State

More on this later.

3. Notre Dame

On January 1, 1994, Notre Dame beat 10-1 Texas A&M to cap an 11-1 season and a #2 final ranking. The Irish didn't post another double-digit win season until 2002, and they didn't win a bowl game until the 6-6 2008 team beat Hawai'i in the Hawai'i Bowl. The one time Notre Dame sniffed a national title, they got pasted by Alabama 42-14 (and then the rest of their wins from that season got vacated, but who cares). They went 5-7 in 1999, 5-6 in 2001, 5-7 in 2003, 6-6 in 2004, 3-9 in 2007, 6-6 in 2009, and just finished a 4-8 turd this year. Oh, and the Golden Domers have played Ohio State 4 times during that span, and the Silver Bullets have drilled them 4 times. The once - gold standard in college football is no more.

4. Alabama

SEE? you scream. Alabama gets the same level of recruits as Ohio State and they actually do something with them! 4 national titles in 7 years! OK, sure. There's no denying that we've all been living in Alabama's world since Nick Saban took over (except this guy). But do you remember the coaching carousel that preceded this tyranny? After national championship-winning coach Gene Stallings resigned in disgrace in 1996 having crippled the program by falsifying the eligibility of one of the Tide's players, Alabama endured 24-23 under Mike DuBose (including a 3-8 season in 2000 in which the Tide were preseason #3, and more violations and sanctions), 17-8 under Dennis Franchione (before promptly spurning the Tide for Texas A&M of all places), 0-0 under Mike Price (whoops), and 26-23 under Mike Shula (16 of those wins went bye-bye after, you guessed it, more violations). Kinda makes Tatgate, 6-7, and a bowl ban look like no biggie.

5. Oklahoma

Yeah, not much to criticize here. Oklahoma's probably the second steadiest hand in the nation after the Scarlet and Gray. The Sooners have won at least 7 games every year under Big Game Bob and have won at least 10 games 14 times, but before (and after) Ohio State was ESPN's trendy championship choker, it was Oklahoma that was faceplanting on the big stage. The Sooners won the title in 2000, then proceeded to get run out of the building by USC* in 2004* and Clemson in 2015, and lost tough battles to LSU in 2003 and Florida in 2008. And with a couple more upsets next week, the Sooners might get the chance to blow it again. Also, before Stoops's arrival the Sooners did suffer the following five year streak from 1994-1998 while Ohio State fans were whining about top 5 finishes under John Cooper: 6-6, 5-5-1, 3-8, 4-8, and 5-6. Yikes.

6. Texas

Now we're getting into the more obvious tales of failure. The Longhorns haven't been to a bowl since getting backhanded by Oregon in the 2013 Alamo Bowl, and they haven't won 10 games in a season since Colt McCoy was sacrificed to secure Alabama's unholy rise to power in 2009. They just closed the door on an abject failure of a coaching stint (for real, though, Charlie Strong seems like a great guy and I hope he lands on his feet). Texas was as steady as anyone from 2001-2009, but that must feel like an eternity ago to the Burnt Orange faithful. We'll see if Tom Herman is the panacea Buckeye Nation believes him to be.

7. USC

After the death of Da U, and before the rise of the Saban Death Squad, a little private school from Los Angeles ruled college football. Except, no, they really didn't. Their BCS title from 2004 has been vacated along with Reggie Bush's Heisman, leaving the Trojans with a big fat zero consensus championships from the BCS era. (Nice everybody-gets-a-trophy prize from 2003, USC. Have a seat next to 2012 Ohio State.) But vacated titles aside, people forget how bad USC sucked before Pete Carroll showed up. The kings of Pasadena went to a total of one Rose Bowl from 1990-2002 and had two losing seasons and two .500 seasons in that period. And after Carroll bolted to the NFL and his house of cards collapsed on the program he left behind, they've had to endure Lane Kiffin, the drunken antics of Steve Sarkisian (get well soon, Sark), and two interim coaches, one of whom they jerked around and the other they're now pretending to take seriously. Remember when USC was preseason #1 in 2012 and then finished 7-6? Remember when they got drilled by Alabama 52-6 just 3 months ago? We haven't seen a complete season out of this team in 8 years.

8. Nebraska

Now we're starting to get to the teams that may never recapture their former glory. From 1969 until Tom Osborne's retirement in 1997, the Huskers never lost more than 3 games in a season and never finished unranked. Then Frank Solich went 7-7 in 2002 and everybody panicked and fired him after going 10-3 the next year. Since then, the Huskers haven't cracked the top 10 in the final rankings and haven't lost fewer than 4 games in a season (remember to mark your calendars now for a Nebraska bowl loss). I guess you could consider it a kind of consistency; other than last year's transitional debacle, Nebraska has won at least 9 games every year since 2008. But would you be happy with 9-4 as the new normal and no conference titles this millennium?

9. Penn State

Amazing what joining a conference can do to a paper tiger. The Lions entered the B1G (then the B11G) in 1993 and were expected to dominate. Then they won 1 conference title in their first 12 tries. You may recognize that as 2 less than John Cooper over that same period. As the century turned, Penn State enjoyed 4 losing seasons in 5 years before more or less pulling out of the nosedive to close out JoePa's career. And that's about all that needs to be said. For crying out loud, you haven't woken up any day in the last 5 years and said, "Gee, I wish I were a Penn State fan," have you?

10. Florida State

Uhhhhh...hmmmm...well, in the 1990's, when all the teams I talked about above were busy sucking, the Noles finished in the top 5 fourteen years in a row. But since losing to Oklahoma in the 2001 Orange Bowl, they've done so just twice, coinciding with the Famous Jameis era. No losing seasons, no disasters, but FSU did go from 2004 to 2009 without winning 10 games, and there's no guarantee they'll do so this season (I bet they do).

11. Tennessee

Welcome to the real tragedy on this list. In 1998, Tennessee won the national title after finally being rid of Peyton Manning. Since then, they've won zero SEC championships and have endured 6 losing seasons, including 5 of 6 from 2008-2013. Before last year, they hadn't lost fewer than 6 games in a season since Fulmer was still coaching in 2007, which is also still the last time they won 10 games. With the wide-open SEC East title in front of them this season, they crapped the bed hard against South Carolina and Vanderbilt to return to obscurity for yet another season. I'm sure Rocky Top longs for the days when they would always be #2 in the SEC. But now, they're languishing behind Florida, Georgia, and the entire SEC West.

Back to 2. Ohio State

Back to the Buckeyes. Do you feel a little better about your team now? You know, the one that, other than one season where our coach was forced out 3 months before the season started, has lost more than two games exactly once in the last 11 years? The one that closed out Jim Tressel's career with 6 straight Big Ten titles and 7 straight wins over Michigan? And then, after the aforementioned hiccup, did not lose a single game until two full regular seasons had pased? And then won the national championship with a third-string quarterback? And, but for the 2011 blip, hasn't lost to the Wolverines since 2003? The Navy-Notre Dame rivalry isn't even this one-sided anymore!

Ohio State is the most consistently dominant team in the history of college football, and NOW is its greatest era. No, we're not going to win every single game. Yes, we're going to win the vast, vast majority of them. We may even win another national title or two by the time Urban is done. It might even happen this year, which would be nothing short of miraculous after we sent approximately our entire starting lineup from last year's team to the NFL. But good grief, people, on the heels of Thanksgiving weekend, take a step back and be thankful for where we are right now and what this team has accomplished over the last year, or 4, or 16, or 127. Just about every other team in the NCAA has had it much, much worse.

Grading the Bucks: Week 13 -- TTUN

There is nothing better....

Offense: C+
MVP: Curtis Samuel
Well, that wasn't the explosive Buckeye offense we've seen sporadically this year.  First things first, Michigan has a fantastic defense that lived up to the billing.  Much of the Buckeye woes on offense were directly attributable to the Wolverine defense.  JT was clearly not at his peak...in fact, he was downright bad at times, but the Michigan defense was playing at another level.  I am concerned with the lack of improvement in JT's passing (he missed a few throws early on that he should have hit) as he seems to have devolved since his freshman year.  He has also been late on his release too often.  Is that lack of faith in himself, his receivers, or something else?  No matter what, he needs to make his decision to throw quicker and follow through. I'm quite concerned with the offensive line play as well (especially the right side) that didn't protect JT well at all for most of the game.  UM has some fantastic pass rushers, but 8 sacks is unacceptable.  Bang on JT all you want for his passing, but when crunch time hit (and the coaches remembered his legs) he got it done on the ground.  To explain some of JT's woes through the air and his success (and the O-line's positives on the ground) please look at this great film study by Eleven Warriors.  Overall, they got the job done.

Defense: A-
MVP: Raekwon McMillan; Jerome Baker
The defense was an epitome of bend but don't break, but they were fantastic for most of the game.  They were the story of the first half keeping the Bucks alive.  I thought we should have had a bit more of a pass rush against an injured QB because when they got home, Speight made mistakes, but credit the UM coaching staff for an effective gameplan of short passes and getting the ball out quickly (take note Warinner and JT).  Speight was throwing guys open early in the game, but the linebacker play was just phenomenal as the Bullets shut them down in the 2nd half.  Jerome Baker's interception provided the belief and McMillan's play prevented UM's running game from coalescing.  Worley was also all over the field.  Hooker made a few mistakes in overpursuit but still had a great game.  Secondary and linebackers won this game for us...and it wasn't close.

Special Teams: C-
Hmmmmm....2 missed kicks that were easily makeable nearly cost us dearly (with the first setting the momentum for the day), but Durbin came in and got it done late to send us to OT.  The kick coverage was poo as well giving BuckeyeNation a heart attack at the end of regulation.  Oh yeah, the fake punt? What was that?  Had Hubbard held his block, maybe we'd be telling a different tale, but why (potentially) put the fate of the season on a D-lineman blocking?  Once again, the lone bright spot was Cameron Johnston and his punting. His ability to flip the field was an absolute must with the Michigan punter Kenny Allen having a flawless game as well.

Coaching: C+
See above: why hasn't this staff been able to cure Mr. Barrett of his passing woes?  I know he has the ability, but it never seems that he's in a position to succeed.  Why not have more quick reads? Because of the receivers? Because he's regressed?  Why isn't he running more? Look at the huge success on the first drive and the fourth quarter/OT.  For those saying to protect him, I don't get it.  This is the type of quarterback he is.  He's built for this and he knows how to take a hit properly.  Use his skills!  The defense was great...no complaints.  I'm glad they gave Durbin the shot for redemption in regulation and the call to go on 4th in OT was spot on, but the fake punt was baffling.  If you're going to do it, I have no problem with it, but the personnel in the game for the Buckeyes should have been slightly altered to give the play a slightly better chance of success.  Also, running the punter on 4th and 10 is a low probability even if the returning team is clueless about it.

Overall: A
Stop with the whining Buckeye fans.  This was a HUGE win over a very very good team.  I keep hearing "but that won't work against Alabama..." I also recall a lot of "but that won't work against Michigan" two weeks ago and they got it done.  Maybe it wasn't pretty but this was a well fought victory against the best Michigan team since 2006 by a mile.  Let's not forget that this was UM's best shot for a few years with the amount of veteran talent leaving unfulfilled...again...and the extreme youth in Columbus.  Don't care if it was by hook or by crook.  Beating TSUN is always an A in my book.  Who's got it better than us?

Helmets: BUTT!!!!!
STOP IT WITH THE STUPID GIMMICKS!  Give me this any I'll love you forever!
Image result for um osu pre snap

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Week 13 - Beat Blue

Standings
1) Hoying              35-15        (4-8 upset)
2) Schweinfurth    31-14        (5-6 upset)
3) Draper               33-17        (3-9 upset)
4) Seeberg             30-20        (4-8 upset)

Auburn Tigers @ Alaba_a Cri_son Tide
Draper: Iron Bowl always provides an opportunity for Southerners to gloat about hate rivalries, but there is such a talent gap here that I don't expect a whole lot out of the Tigers.  They played the Dabo's Tigers close early on but that was at Jordan-Hare and not vs the Tide.  The Tide is rolling like no other but there was a little lapse vs. Chattanooga (it took way too long to put T.O. University away).  I would be concerned.  Hurts and Co. should take care of business without a lot of trouble on their way to Atlanta.  Aub: 10 -- Ala: 28
Hoying: Don't be fooled, folks. This isn't 2013, when a very good but under-the-radar Auburn group rose up and snakebit a very good but vulnerable Tide. This is a rather lopsided pairing. The Tigers have followed up a convincing roasting of the Hogs with puzzlingly close wins over the Rebels and Vanderbilt and a loss to Georgia. Why? The offense isn't working. Oh, I bet that won't be an issue against the Saban death squad. Just ask USC (6 points), or Tennessee (10 points), or LSU (ZERO points). Just don't try any field goals, Nick. Aub: 10--Ala: 35

Schweinfurth: Auburn is over rated and not very good. The Tide are very good. I don't care if this is a rivalry, the SEC is the Tide and everyone else right now. Beat Blue Aub: 10--Ala: 42
Seeberg:  Is this Auburn squad capable of pulling another crazy upset in the Iron Bowl?  In theory, yes.  Auburn is sitting inside the top 20 with an excellent rushing attack, except Ka_ryn Pettway is still uncertain to play and Auburn doesn't have a lot else going for it.  The Tide feast on one-di_ensional offenses *cough LSU cough* and this one will likely be si_ilar.  Tide win...again.  *sigh* again.  Aub: 6--Ala: 31

Washington Huskies @ Washington State Cougars
Draper: While I whiffed on the Cougs last week, I have decided to not give up the ship.  Coach Leach is still a crazy genius and now they return to the Palouse in the rivalry that surpasses all in the Northwest.  Washington got back on track last week and looks to get to the Pac12 Title, but the Cougs stand in the way.  Jake Browning is fantastic, but he hasn't faced a lot of adversity (except vs. USC).  This should be a nailbiter, but the Cougar Air Raid should give the Huskies fits.  UW is going to crack under the pressure and Wazzu gets another shot at Colorado.  UW: 30 -- WSU: 34
Hoying: Here it is, the final battle for the Pac-12 North, just as we all predicted back in August. Yes, just 8 years after the Crapple Cup, we've skipped back to the early 2000's when these two were regular Rose Bowl contenders. The Cougars are super-duper out of the playoffs at this point, but ruining their rival's chances at a trip to Phoenix or Atlanta would taste just as sweet. So who's the crisp Fuji and who's the grainy Red Delicious this year? Look no further than their recent losses to give you a clue. Both were frustrated by great Pac-12 South defenses. On the other side of the ball, the Husky D was bloodied, but unbowed. Playing against great defense really drags Wazzu out of its groove, and I don't think the Coogs can slow down Washington enough to keep pace. UW: 27--WSU: 24

Schweinfurth: This is actually a decent Apple Cup this year (think back to two 0-11 schools...). Washington had a few issues when faced with a decent offense. WSU has a great offense. I just don't think that the Huskies can control the Pirate Leach's offense. Beat Blue UW: 31--WSU: 35
Seeberg:  The Cougars hadn't beaten anybody with a pulse all season until acquitting the_selves relatively well in Boulder before losing by two TDs.  UW, on the other hand, has even _ore to play for in the first relevant Apple Cup in 15 years with a decent shot at crashing the playoff party with a win here and in the PAC-12 title clash.  Crazy things happen in these rivalries, but until WA-ZOO actually beats a decent foe I can't in good faith expect it to happen.  Huskies win an intriguing one.  UW: 41--WSU: 35


Louisiana State Tigers @ Texas A&_ Aggies
Draper: LSU had a chance to prove they had a little left in the tank and absolutely blew it with a few ridiculous defensive plays allowing the Gators inept offense to actually score.  There was no reason for the Tigers to crap the bed but they did and the season is absolutely donezo.  The Aggies have been in a clear freefall and their season is just as big of a disaster as the Tigers.  Based on straight up ability, I still have faith that the highpowered Aggie offense won't crack the high powered LSU defense while the craptastic LSU offense does just enough.  Another boring SEC fight.  LSU: 13 -- Aggies: 10
Hoying: You know it's approaching season's end when LSU and the Aggies each have about 4 or 5 losses and are still ranked because SEC west (I don't see Indiana or the Terps ranked by that logic...). How did we get here? LSU forgot how to actually advance the ball (better not give the ball to Fournette on the 1-yard line), and the Aggies forgot how to stop anyone. So, just like every year. And, just like every year, I'd be a fool to pick the Aggies after October. LSU: 20--Aggies: 17
Schweinfurth: These two are not good this year. I really believe that both are very overrated and get the SEC benefit of the doubt. With that said, if Fournette touches the ball over 10 snaps, the Tigers will win. Beat Blue. LSU: 28--Aggies: 17
Seeberg:  For the love of all things holy, how are the Aggies still ranked?  I don't know- but playing LSU with a backup quarterback is not exactly a winning recipe.  The Tigers looked dreadful (and foolish) playing Florida in an "away" contest in Baton Rouge and still losing, but they have the best unit in this one (Tigers' D) and the best player (Fournette), and that should be enough to hand the Aggies their, what, 6th loss which could FINALLY knock the Aggies out of the rankings, _ercifully.  LSU: 24--Aggies: 10

Utah Utes @ Colorado Buffaloes
Draper: Utah had everything in front of their eyes...and lost to Oregon.  In a standard year, that wouldn't be a big deal, but the Ducks aren't the as they were.  This one is a really tough one for this picker as I just don't believe in the Buffs.  Crazy stat of the CFP: Utah has been ranked in every playoff ranking since its inception.  Can the Utes continue the trend? Can the Buffs keep their thin playoff hopes alive?  In Boulder, I'll give the edge to the Buffs, but I wouldn't be surprised for the Utes to play the spoiler.  UU: 27 -- CU: 28
Hoying: You thought nearly losing to the Spartans last week was bad, Buckeye Nation? The Utes struggled and fell at the hands of their own conference's fading Incredible Hulk, the Oregon Ducks. Now they're locked out of the Pac-12 title, but they can delay Colorado's return to relevance for another year with a big road win. The Buffs are riding the hot hand in this one, with QB Sefo Liufau (*Paul Keels sneezes* *T-Bone busts out laughing*) lighting up Washington State for 450+ yards and 3 scores last weekend. We'll CU in Santa Clara next Saturday for a chance at the Rose Bowl (or perhaps a bigger prize). UU: 20--CU: 31

Schweinfurth: Colorado has looked like the school to beat this year in their division. Utah looked good earlier in the year, and hit a bit of a rough patch. Colorado should win and advance to the Pac-12 title contest. Beat Blue. UU: 21--CU: 38
Seeberg:  It's hard to believe that Colorado boasts a top 10 squad- particularly due to the fact that their best win is a 10-5 thriller (ha) over Stanford.  The Buffaloes O is rolling after facing a what's-defense-again? _ike Leach WSU.  Utah inexplicably crapped the bed against 4-7 Oregon (feels fabulous to type that record next to the Ducks) and has little to play for as a result.  Despite playing UW tough, any squad that loses to this Ducks' tea_ and Cal cannot be trusted to beat these Buffs on the road.  Liufau FTW.  UU: 24--CU: 35 

Florida Gators @ Florida State Se_inoles
Draper: The Noles have a ton of youth but Francois has progresses significantly as the year went on.  The Gators have the defense....but that's it.  Scoring 16 vs. the Tigers last week was a gift that I can't see repeating.  FSU's D has been up and down this year (chiefly down) but they certainly can get at the quarterback with Walker very studly 13 sacks.  Florida has been very stout defensively, but Luke Del Rio and the offense is a putrid wreck.  In Tally, I just don't see the Gators pulling this off.  FSU has 3 losses with only one that can be considered 'bad' on a last second FG.  Dalvin Cook has turned on the jets as the season has progressed and I expect one last big one vs. the Gators.  FSU won't be going anywhere in the CFP or in the ACC ranks, so the goal is undefeated vs. the state of Florida--and it will happen.   UF: 13 -- FSU: 27
Hoying: Now approaching Sack City. The FSU D-Line has been on a tear, racking up 41 sacks, and Florida has added 28 of their own (in one fewer outing). Florida State QB DeAndre Francois hasn't been cursed with Browns-esque pass protection lately, but there's a big difference between facing the likes of BC and Syracuse and staring down a hungry Gator D. On the other side of the ball, if the FSU front doesn't get to terrible Florida QB Luke Del Rio, they...will still probably be OK, as the Gator O has been woefully inept all year long. Absent a few defensive scores by UF, I don't see a road upset here. UF: 17--FSU: 27

Schweinfurth:  These two are just not good. The 'Noles haven't won against a top 25 squad this year. Florida is overrated and, while the winner of the SEC east, that division if just terrible. Bad QB play will be the difference in this one. Beat Blue UF: 13--FSU: 20
Seeberg:  Well, I thought I had a bead on this contest until the Gators beat LSU in Baton Rouge last week.  I still believe FSU is the superior side here, but again it's rivalry week and anything goes.  Playing in Tallahassee can't hurt FSU's cause, and Florida only has the rivalry pride to play for as their appearance in the SEC title clash is assured.  FSU has little to play for too, but I just don't like the Gators and this victory could help salvage a season once bereft with expectations for Ji_bo Fisher and Co.  UF: 16--FSU: 24

That School Up North @ THE Ohio State University Buckeyes
Draper: No, it's not 1 vs. 2 a la  2006.  Yes, these squads each have a loss. But that doesn't lessen the stakes.  Everything is on the line in Cbus and that's the way it should be.  Stupid PSU has prevented the winner-take-all situation, but it's likely the winner enters the CFP while the loser takes another year of thinking what could have been.  The Bucks have been inconsistent to say the least on offense, butt the horses are certainly there.  The Wolverines can run the ball, but I don't think anyone has faith in O'Korn to run the offense at this point.  The defenses for both squads are fantastic so this contest will likely be decided by one or two plays that shift the balance.  The Shoe should give the Bucks the edge in the big play category.  Let's not forget about Death and Taxes (Curtis and Weber) as well as J. T.  when we look at big play potential.  Urban vs. Harbaugh part 2 ends in the Buckeye's favor again behind a solid balanced attack of the OSU and a stifling defensive showing.  TTUN: 17 -- OSU: 27
Hoying: It doesn't get any bigger than this. No, not because it's #2 vs. #3 (besides the obvious #1 vs. #2 in 2006, the 1968, 1970, 1973, and 1997 showdowns were at least as big), but because it's the Scarlet and Gray vs. the O'Korn and Blue. Our young Bucks have exceeded expectations this season, but the year is never a success without a win over the Wolverines. We appear to have dodged the potential bullet of losing to a guy called "Wilton," and his backup has been a bit too careless with the ball dating back to his days at Houston. I don't know whether to be less afraid of O'Korn or Jabrill Peppers, ESPN's favorite fabricated hype recipient since Fighting Irish LB Te'o was getting blasted backwards by the Tide O-line in 2012. The Wolverine D is plenty nasty despite Peppers, and I don't expect to see JT throwing at star CBs Jourdan Lewis or Channing Stribling. This one will get done on the ground with the triple threat of Barrett, Weber, and Curtis. Jake Butt could sneak into the endzone once or twice, but the Silver Bullets lock down the Scarlet Zone and preserve the victory. Urban advances to 5-0 against That School Up North and sends another one of their senior classes to wander hopelessly for the rest of their lives wondering what it would've been like to steal one win against their rival. TTUN: 20 -- OSU: 28

Schweinfurth: This is the one contest every year that I love to hate. Seriously, this week is all anticipation then four hours of nerves. With that said, TTUN has only been tested once on the road and they lost. To Iowa. Fail. The Wolverines are kind of bad on the road. Yes, thier D is pretty good, but the Horseshoe is going to be rocking all day long. If Speight plays, the Silver Bullets are going to tee off on that shoulder. If O'Korn starts, well he is bad. This is JT's week. Weber is going to truck Peppers and it will be glorious. Go Bucks, BEAT BLUE!!!!!! TTUN: 10--OSU: 42 (because that's Urban's winning number)
Seeberg:  GO SPARTY.  Okay, that's out of the way.  Personally, I think it's irrelevant who starts for TTUN at QB, scoring was going to be a huge issue anyway.  Also, the forecast is not so dreadful as it was in East Lansing last week, so Urban and Co. should recall how to properly call the offense.  It's likely that Peppers will see extra duty to help their struggling offense, which spells disaster for TTUN's D as he tires.  Also, ANOTHER backup QB all but guaranteed a W.  That doesn't play well historically (see:  Oklaho_a).    PLEASE let Weber and Curtis run wild, keep J.T. clean, watch PSU choke, and it's on to Indy.  TTUN: 13--OSU: 31

Upset Special
Draper: Vandy over Tenn
Hoying: South Carolina over Cle_son
Schweinfurth: Air Force over Boise State
Seeberg: Toledo over Western Michigan