Thursday, September 22, 2016

Week 4 - No Bucks, No Problem

Last week brought us a bevy of high powered matchups.  This week...is different, but there may be a few diamonds in the rough.  Let's watch!

Standings
1) Schweinfurth    6-3        (2-0 upset)

2) Hoying              8-5        (1-2 upset)
3) Draper               7-6        (2-1 upset)
4) Seeberg             6-7        (0-3 upset)


Clemson Tigers @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Draper: I'm looking at my watch and I see the time.  Chop-block-o-clock! I'm falling into the horrible trap.  Weird things happen in this game and GT is usually good for one 'huh?' game a year.  Clemson has been quite underwhelming this year (ignore the game vs. SCState), but the Jackets haven't set the world on fire.  I'm just going with the super gut check Clemsoning belief on the weird Thursday night option attack.  The attack....of the Clemsoning.  Clem: 20--GT: 21
Hoying: Preparing for the Georgia Tech triple option is never fun. Having only 5 days to prepare is significantly less so. Has Clemson been looking ahead to this game? They didn't seem to be too squarely focused on preparing for Auburn or Troy.  Clemson's thrashing of Who Cares 1-AA State provided a glimmer of hope, but I don't see the Tigers ramblin' and wreckin' Tech quite so easily. This is an awful trap game for Clemson: short week, on the road, Louisville coming to town next, quirky offense to try to stop. Now is the time to Clemson if ever a Clemsoning there was. And since it's so obvious, of course it won't happen. Clem: 34--GT: 24
Schweinfurth: Triple option football! I always get made fun of for saying this, but I love watching Navy, Georgia Tech, and the few remaining teams that run the triple option, flexbone offense. The only problem with that offense is that it is very difficult to come from behind. Clemson's defense is very good, and I do think Georgia Tech is going to give them some problems (this offense gives everyone problems). There will be a Clemsoning this year, but not this week. Clem: 31--GT: 28
Seeberg:  For those of you unaware, Clemson has lost its last five games at the ramblin' wreck.  However, the last game deserves an asterisk as Deshaun Watson went out early with an injury and Clemson amassed a whopping 6 points.  Clemsoning is a fun word to say, but it won't happen this week.  Tigers big.  Clem: 45--GT: 21

Wisconsin Badgers @ Michigan State Spartans
Draper: Somehow, we never learn.  The Spartans sleepwalk early then go into a game against a quality opponent.  They always seem to explode in those matchups and they did it again vs. the Irish.  The Bagers had a huge win to open the season then crashed back to earth over the last few weeks.  I have far more faith in Dantonio and the Spartans than I do in Chryst and the Badgers.  The Spartans have earned the benefit of the doubt, I will continue to give it to them against Wisky who seems to be given credence as a 'contender' then ends with the traditional 8-9 win season.  MSU has a better QB and LJ Scott is a player. There will be prancing after this one in East Lansing.  UW: 13 --- MSU: 17
Hoying: Stop me if you've heard this one before: Dantonio's Spartans head into a marquee matchup where they're given little chance to win and end up silencing the doubters quite adeptly. These days, Michigan State doesn't lose to a whole lot of ranked teams not named Alabama or Ohio State (and they don't do too badly against the latter), even without a star QB or RB to buoy their offense. Just solid scheme, solid D, and lack of mistakes. Meanwhile Wisconsin has continued to be overrated ever since their rented quarterback Russell Wilson headed west. 3-0 is going to become 3-3 very quickly (seriously, how did the Badgers get hit with MSU, UM, and OSU from the East in the same year, and all in sequence?!?). UW: 17--MSU: 20
Schweinfurth: Michigan State pulled of one of, if not the, biggest surprises last week. Seriously, who saw the Spartans demolishing Notre Dame like that. Then again, if Notre Dame had a defense...but I digress. Wisconsin has already had a shot at this offense (LSU) and did a very good job shutting it down. Now if only the Badgers had a QB. This game is going to be very close and I would love a SPARTY NO!!! early this year. I gotta take Sparty at home. UW: 10--MSU: 16
Seeberg:  Don't look now folks, but the B1G 14 has FOUR teams in the top eleven...and three even deserve to be there!  Then there's Wisconsin.  The Badgers squeaked out a win over hopelessly overrated LSU, then squeaked out a win against I-didn't-even-know-they-weren't-1AA-anymore Georgia State.  Now Michigan State comes calling, fresh off a beatdown of ND, though the final score was respectable.  This won't go well for the visitors as Sparty provides another overrated team some comeuppance.  UW: 10--MSU: 28

Florida Gators @ Tennessee Volunteers
Draper: Tennessee has performed their little yoyo with App State and Virginia Tech.  I don't buy them as a monster contender, but I think they can handle Purdue transfer QB's at Florida.  Jim McElwain may be an offensive guru, but Florida isn't setting any records here.  UT has much more experience and currently leads the Gators in talent.  As long as Josh Dobbs doesn't choke it away (no guarantee), it's Rocky Top over the Gator Chomp.  If the game was in Gainsville, we may be singing a different song, but Knoxville and Vol Nation attempt to resurrect the rivalry that used to be the marquee SEC battle.  UF: 17 -- UT: 27
Hoying: Tennessee is totally back this time, you guys. The Vols have some confidence heading into this year's installment of the only rivalry more one-sided than Ohio State - Michigan over the last 12 years. Florida has no QB, and Tennessee has already survived the spotlight in front of the biggest crowd ever to see be in somewhat close proximity to a football game. Unfortunately for them, the Gator D is a steel trap, and the Vol O has sputtered and threatened to seize up completely when a steady diet of Virginia Tech turnovers don't keep the machine oiled. I have no reason to believe in Butch Jones ever having success on the field at Tennessee. Last season, UT had Oklahoma, Florida, and Alabama on the ropes and couldn't finish any of them. Until the Vols get a real live football coach, they'll be stuck longing for the days of Philip Fulmer. UF: 16--UT: 13
Schweinfurth: I am still not sold on this Volunteers team. There is just something about them...oh yea, they have done absolutely nothing since Fulmer was coaching there. Look, Florida has no offense, but the Volunteers defensive line got pushed around by App State. Florida is going to cram the ball down the Volunteers throat and dare them to stop them. I'm picking Florida, only so the talking heads will shut up about one of the two majorly overrated teams this year. UF: 24--UT: 21
Seeberg:  Well, I keep waiting for my second alma mater to blow it and they haven't...yet.  OU, ahem, Ohio U, took Tennessee deep into the fourth quarter last week while Florida was busy shutting out a no-name opponent.  The Gators, sadly, have also flat had the Vols' number over the past decade.  In this installment, the best unit on the field should be Florida's D, so I'll take the Gators.  UF: 24--UT: 16

Arkansas Razorbacks @ Texas A&M Aggies
Draper: Bert bull rushes his Pigs into Kyle Field with hopes of silencing the 12th Man.  Kevin Sumlin has underperformed in this tenure in College Station and will likely be out soon if things don't turn around in a big way.  Arkansas got a nice win over TCU in OT but 'nice' is about as far as I'd go.  The Aggie OT win over the Bruins is better but not by a whole heck of a lot.  Trevor Knight is the better QB and their at home, so the edge goes to the Aggies.  Arkansas will try to muck up the game and they'll keep it close...really close, but A&M gets the win.  The Aggies won't be a top 10 team in a few weeks, but they can enjoy the early season success under Sumlin (as is tradition) before it comes crashing down (as is tradition). Ark: 24 -- TAMU: 27
Hoying: Remember when the Ohio State - Oklahoma game got pushed back to 9 PM? Well, Arkansas and Texas A&M decided that staying up until 1 AM watching football was too much fun not to try themselves. Woo Pig had a nice little surprise on the road against TCU but their defense didn't exactly shine in that outing. And now Trevor Knight and the high-flying Aggie attack are paying a visit. Could A&M finally make some noise in their new conference (or any conference)? Ark: 20--TAMU: 31
Schweinfurth: Arkansas is still a .500 football team. Bert has really done nothing to build that program up from where John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino left it. The Hogs are good for about one big one a season, and it's usually late in the year (checks calendar). Nope, it's still September. The Aggies should win this. If not, Sumlin's butt is going to be getting pretty warm. Ark: 20--TAMU: 42
Seeberg:  Ah yes, the Razorbacks, item #2 on the SEC bias list.  How they are ranked is beyond me...it's only slightly less baffling than Ole Miss blowing two 21+ point leads in their first three games and still being ranked.  In any case, Barf Bielema is likely to get a healthy dose of Trevor Knight and Co.  Also, Kevin Sumlin is the new John Cooper:  Great recruiter, solid coach, teams peak too early and fizzle late.  Sadly for Arkansas, it's still early.  Ark: 24--TAMU: 41

Upset Special
Draper: UCLA over Stanford
Hoying: Oklahoma State over Baylor
Schweinfurth: Penn State over TTUN
Seeberg:  Auburn over LSU

Monday, September 19, 2016

Grading the Bucks: Week 3 -- Oklahoma

Well, that was a pleasant surprise.

Offense: A
What can you say?  The young Bucks entered the unfriendly confines and simply dominated.  Noah Brown showed the special player that he can be.  Curtis Samuel and Mike Weber continued their 'Death and Taxes' ways of inside out play.  JT was clinical as always.  The O-line kept JT upright for the most part. This was almost as complete a game as you can expect against a top team like the Sooners.  On the road no less? Me likely.

Defense: A
This secondary might be special.  I feared that BG and Tulsa were just aberrations against bad teams, but the defense indeed traveled on the road to Norman.  Malik Hooker continues to impress as due other young studs like Lattimore and Baker.  Perhaps the biggest positive was that the loss of Gareon Conley was not noticed.  Conley has been a spectacular underrated corner since he started last year, but the 'next man up' philosophy worked like a charm.  The Dline has slowly amped up the pressure as they've gelled more as a unit.  Even the DT's replacing Tracy Sprinkle have been impressive.  I don't think it's a stretch to say the hiring of Greg Schiano was a massive homerun.  While they gave up some points this week (only 2 TDs), they have still outscored the opponent offenses over the last 3 games.  That is a MASSIVE achievement with any opponents let alone when one of those opponents is the Sooner squad in Norman.

Special Teams: B-
Everyone who reads this blog knows one of my biggest pet peeves is when a kickoff goes out of bounds and we saw it return here.  I know the thought to kick it in the corner, but Joe Mixon is too much of a threat to mess around with.  Boot it deep and start at the 25 in this situation.  Don't allow a momentum shift.  Which brings me to the kick return.  Mixon is an electric player, but no special teams coach can live with points for the opponent on a kickoff (even if he fumbled before he crossed the goalline).  That being said, every football player from now on should sprint to the ball and dive on it if there is ANY thought that it was dropped before crossing the line.  This epidemic must stop.  The grade given is accounting for all special teams.  The reason it's so high with the monster negative for giving up a kick return is because Cameron Johnston was magnificent.  While Tressel has to hate Urban's bull in a china shop mentality, the glorious punting has to bring a tear to his eye.  Johnston repeated flipped the field and put Mayfield in difficult situations which is worth counter-balancing the poor kick coverage.  Oh year, our kick return unit was pretty good.

Coaching: A
The defense was extremely prepared as was the offense.  The transition from Samuel to Weber and back was flawless.  I though the gameplan was nearly perfect with a nice mix of passes thrown in.  In addition, Urban's decisions to go for it on 4th down in many situations show an understanding of the situational football lacking in our loss-averse society.  Kudos!

Overall: A
Let's be honest, did anyone expect this before the season? The Sooners are nearly unstoppable at home, and the Buckeyes embarrassed them.  This team is so talented, the sky is the limit.  Honestly, the only worries are complacency until the date in East Lansing.  Nothing comes easy, but this team grew up in a BIG way on Sat.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Week 3: Buckeyes' first test

Standings
1) Schweinfurth    4-1        (1-0 upset)

2) Hoying              6-3        (0-2 upset)
3) Draper               5-4        (2-0 upset)
3) Seeberg             5-4        (0-2 upset)


Florida State Seminoles @ Louisville Cardinals
Draper: While I remember the debacle 2 play OT game Mr. Hoying refers to (and continues the pain with Wide Left III), this is a different game.  Louisville is being hyped like no other after their drubbing of Charlotte and Syracuse, but the wins are still only against Charlotte and Syracuse.  Lamar Jackson is the real deal, but he has yet to deal with the likes of Demarcus Walker and company.  To be clear, the loss of All-American Derwin James for this game is huge.  I still believe Deondre Francois, Dalvin Cook, Travis Rudolph and the rest of the Seminole offense will take care of the Cardinals.  Bobby Petrino rides his motorcycle into the sunset.  FSU: 41--Lville: 30
Hoying: Back in the magical fall of 2002, perennial juggernaut Florida State made an unlikely trip to Conference USA's Louisville and lost a thriller in the Kentucky rain (though not as heartbreaking as Wide Left just a few weeks later). The Noles haven't lost to the Cardinals since. To continue that streak, FSU is going to have to stop the young season's most potent dual-threat QB, Lamar Jackson, and the country's top offense. The Noles have put together 3 nice halves of football after pooping the bed for 30 minutes against Ole Miss, but barring an unexpected development, the Cards aren't going to be missing 14 players on Saturday like FSU's last opponent. Seminole RB Dalvin Cook should be able to find some room after a bit of tough sledding to open the season, but I don't see FSU keeping up with Jackson. FSU: 27--L'Ville: 31
Schweinfurth: Unfortunately, I only have week 1 to go off of on all of these games. With that said, Florida State needs better QB play if they are going to make a run at the playoffs. Good news for the 'Noles is that they still have a beast in Dalvin Cook. I'm not sure how I feel about Louisville, but I do believe that Florida State is the better team. The 'Noles should be able to squeak this one out. FSU: 24--L'Ville: 17
Seeberg:  Man was last week rough.  Lots of one-posession games and I whiffed on all of them.  Let's hope for better this week, starting with the game of the week #sarcasm.  College Gameday will be in Louisville for this first relevant regular season game in the history of any football program in the state of Kentucky.  Unfortunately for the home team, it's likely to be the last.  Both teams boast high-powered, balanced offensive attacks, except Louisville's balances on just one person, all-everything QB Lamar Jackson, while FSU has Dalvin Cook to help shoulder the load for their young star QB.  Louisville will test the Seminole D, but the Floridians just have too much offensive firepower.  FSU: 38--L'Ville: 28

Alabama Crimson Tide @ Ole Miss Rebels
Draper: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice.... Well, that's what Ole Miss has done to me.  Let's go for number three.  I can't see any way Bama loses this game.  Saban has his usual reloaded team with an honest to god running threat QB in Jalen Hurts.  Chad Kelly has a lot of talent on the other side as he showed in the first half against FSU, but when the Noles settled down, the Ole Miss attack lost its steam.  Bama has the horses and if they play within themselves (and don't turn it over 5 times), they make easy work of the Rebels.  The Grove will keep hope alive early, but talent wins out as it did on Labor Day.  Bama: 41--Ole Miss: 24
Hoying: Does Ole Miss have the horses to finish a game against a top opponent? The Rebels seemed to be in FSU's head, stymieing Dalvin Cook and the rest of the Noles before utterly collapsing late on both sides of the ball. And both sides of the ball happens to be what Alabama does best, year in and year out. Except against Ole Miss for some reason. The established QB in this matchup may be wearing the home red and blue, but the Landsharks of yesterday are no more. The Tide's superior line play should decide this one. Bama: 38--Ole Miss: 20
Schweinfurth: Ole Miss had a mass talent exodus over the last year. Add in the distractions with the NCAA investigations and Ole Miss is a mess right now. The Rebels beat the Tide last year, but Nick Saban coached teams do not lose to a team two years in a row. Saban is very good at getting the most out of his guys in revenge games (threatening boxes of puppies?) and it will show. As much as I hate to admit it, Bama looks like one of the best teams again this year and should win this one with ease. Bama: 35--Ole Miss: 14
Seeberg:  This one's pretty simple:  If Nick Saban loses three straight to the same team, an aneurysm is distinctly possible.  As amusing as that might be to, well, the entire college football lanscape outside Tuscaloosa, it isn't going to happen.  Bama: 31--Ole Miss: 17

Michigan State Spartans @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Draper: Talk about a team everyone has already forgotten about.  Dantonio and company enter South Bend after returning (in theory) to their little brother status in public perception.  Harbaught and Meyer dominate the Big Ten talk and no one remembers last year's champion Spartans.  I've watch very little MSU this year, but I've been unimpressed with what I've seen.  The Irish look like they have some talent but it was mismanaged in Texas.  I don't think Texas is a good as they're being touted, but playing a tough road game to start the season with the uncertainty at QB give ND a little pass.  Kizer and Equanimeous St. Brown (talk about a name) have looked fantastic and I think they'll open up the 'No Fly Zone'.  Back to number 3 MSU, it was fun while it lasted.  MSU: 17--ND: 31
Hoying: Time for the post-Connor Cook era to start in earnest for the Spartans. Oh, sure, they point up a dazzling 28 points against some D&D players on a Friday night, but the confines of South Bend won't be nearly as friendly. Nobody would be surprised to see MSU take a step backwards after 3 outstanding seasons, but the bigger questions surround the home team. Is Texas really back or did Notre Dame just decide to gag away their opening game? Are the Irish back to putting the ND in No Defense? How about that platooning quarterback system (so near and dear to the hearts of Buckeye Nation)? Sparty always seems to win when it's faced with a lack of respect, but the gap between the offenses will be too much to overcome. MSU: 24--ND: 27
Schweinfurth: We finally get to see what Dantonio has been rebuilding up in East Lansing. Is this one of the B1G's best teams or is it a true rebuild year for Sparty. The Irish already have their backs against the wall after the loss to Texas, and a loss here would end any talk of playoffs around the Golden Dome. I just feel that Michigan State lost too much last year to be able to stop an offense like Notre Dame. MSU: 24--ND: 31
Seeberg:  We've learned two things about the golden domers thus far this season:  1.)  They can score.  A lot.  2.)  They might not be able to stop anyone with a half-legitimate offense.  Texas hung 50 on them (granted it took an OT or two).  Michigan State, meanwhile, looked awful against mighty Furman (?) in week one but have had two weeks to prep for this game.  I don't see the Spartans scoring a ton, but I doubt they'll give up 47 (37 in regulation) like Texas did.  Still, Sparty just won't be able to muster enough offense to pull this one from the fire.  MSU: 17--ND: 23

THE Ohio State Buckeye @ Oklahoma Sooners
Draper: The Bucks get their first test entering the unfriendly confines of Norman, OK, where Bob Stoops and his Sooners have a sizable advantage.  The Bucks haven't missed a step even with all that talent going to the NFL in weeks 1 and 2, but the Sooners are another monster.  Can the young Bucks handle the road pressure against a very good team?  The mystique has been tarnished a bit by the Fighting Tom Hermans of Houston but this OU team is very good led by Baker Mayfield, Samadji Perine, and Joe Mixon.  The Bullets must slow down the vaunted Sooner attack to have a chance, and they should look no further than Houston's gameplan.  Going into the season, I was leaning OU, but Urban has better players than Houston and should work to replicate the result.  It may be more heart than head, but JT takes control and wrecks the Sooner Schooners playoff dreams.  OSU: 35--OU: 31
Hoying: Young Buckeye team gets first big test. In 2014, that was 6-6 Virginia Tech, at home, and OSU looked completely lost. The young Bucks have shown flashes of brilliance in early going, but the offense also sputtered to a halt against a lackluster Tulsa defense. Oklahoma will not be nearly as forgiving on either side of the ball, particularly with Baker Mayfield slinging the rock and Samaje Perine scampering all over the field. I think the Buckeye D will be up to the task, for the most part, and there's no reason to expect JT to be as rattled as he was that horrible night against VT, but what about the line play? The DL got no push against Bowling Green, and the OL is still largely untested. I think Barrett will be running for his life more often than not, which means he'll need to make something special happen downfield in order to keep the Sooners honest. I don't see Devin Smith taking the field for the Scarlet and Gray, so this one could come down to the play of Noah Brown. Unfortunately, I don't think he'll be quite magical enough. A loss this early (and out of conference) isn't a killer, but the fight for the playoffs will be uphill from this point onward. Good. OSU: 28--OU: 31
Schweinfurth: This is the game we have been waiting for since January. Baker Mayfield is the real deal at QB and I am worried about the OSU Defense after last week. Tulsa spread the field and had fairly good success with a "just a guy" at running back. Oklahoma has a beast of a two headed monster in Perine and Mixon. I do believe that the Silver Bullets will get a few stops and maybe even a pick from Hooker (keep the streak) but I don't see another pick 6 in this game. On the other side, the offense has to get a better push from the O-Line to keep the chains moving. JT needs to connect with the receivers as well. A one dimensional OSU squad will get crushed in this game. It's a big game, and we all know how Big Game Bob's teams perform in the spotlight (hint, not well). Bucks win in a thriller. OSU: 38--OU: 35
Seeberg:  We all had this one circled on the calendar...at least until our favorite former offensive coordinator and his Cougars dumptrucked the Sooners in week one.  Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Baker Mayfield and Co. responded by putting nearly 60 on their bye-week-like opponent last week to vent their frustrations.  With just two games under our belt, I've decided I trust this 2016 version of the OSU offense to score reasonably well on just about anyone, barring a biblical rainstorm.  However, I'm not 100% sold on the silver bullets yet.  Malik Hooker looks like a world beater, but receivers have consistently gotten separation, and the opposing quarterback in this game can actually hit them.  The O keeps it close, but the Sooners take it late.  OSU: 35--OU: 41

Upset Special
Draper: Missouri over Georgia
Hoying: North Dakota State over Iowa
Schweinfurth: Nebraska over Oregon (Nebraska is favored)
Seeberg:  DARN YOU HOYING...Fine, Colorado over TTUN  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Grading the Bucks -- Week 2: Tulsa

Before I get to the grades for the this week, I want to make a slight change.  The loyal readers (reader?) of the letsgobucks posts mentioned I was overly harsh last week in grading the statistical record performance of the Buckeyes.  After reviewing the tape and considering the case, I have decided that I did indeed make errors in judgement.  Unlike the MAC officials in Stillwater this weekend, I'm going to change the results after the fact because it's hard to have anywhere to go while grading last week harshly.  The performance wasn't perfect last week but it was darn near perfect.  With that in mind, I am upgrading all units to an A for week one vs. BG.  Offense had one bad play which shouldn't curtail a nearly flawless game, the defense gave up 3 points, special teams was great (careful Dontre), and coaching was fine. 

On to Tulsa, this game started sloppy but still, not a whole lot of beef going into Norman.

Offense: B+ (general), A- (considering conditions)
The first half was brutal.  There was no downfield threat which allowed the box-stuffing by Tulsa and keeping Mike Weber in check.  I'm willing to chalk that up to the conditions and the wind.  Still the first half offense was bland and uninspired.  The second half was a different story.  Once this team starts clicking, there is very little that can stop it. Samuel, Barrett, and Weber all seemed to turn the page when the monsoon stopped and Tulsa had no answer.  The O-line wasn't a solid this week, but still played quite well.

Defense: A
6 turnovers including 2 pick sixes when the offense was held in check? Yes please, more of that.  Not to mention the goalline stand when Tulsa looked to take an early lead.  Malik Hooker bated the QB like crazy on his pick 6 (watch the replay, you can see it coming).  The D-line started to get a push as the game progressed which is always a positive.  Overall, other than the first FG drive, the defense was nearly perfect.  

Special Teams: A
Tyler Durbin hit his first 2 FG attempts which is always nice.  Cameron Johnston got some trash talking in there.  My heart leapt in my chest when a kickoff almost went out of bounds, but disaster was averted.  No issues here.

Coaching: B+
Again, the lack of a down-field passing game was bothersome, but the weather might have been the reason.  Also, there's a chance Urban didn't want to tip his hand to Bob Stoops.  I expect a much more dynamic offensive gameplan next week.  Defensively there is again little to nothing to comment on.  Keep the train rolling.

Overall: A-
Not quite the level of last week, but a blowout none-the-less.  Next week, everything ramps up to 11.  That's when we find out what these young studs are capable of on the field.  BG and Tulsa beatdowns at home are one thing, the Sooners are the first real test.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Week 2: Insert generic phrase for generic terrible week 2

Standings
1) Schweinfurth    4-1        (1-0 upset)

1) Hoying              4-1        (0-1 upset)
1) Seeberg             4-1        (0-1 upset)
4) Draper               3-2        (1-0 upset)


Temper your expectations, Buckeye Nation. In 2011, Ohio State opened by pummeling Akron 42-0 behind the arm of Joe Bauserman. Still, it's better than looking like crap.

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Draper: This...this pile of crap is the best game of the weekend...woof.  Tennessee looked mediocre at best last week in a near upset at home versus App State, but I've seen too many teams flirt with disaster and rebound in a big way.  Tennessee isn't the threat the media thinks they are are every freaking year, but I think they're better than they showed last week.  Va Tech struggled with Liberty early before pulling away so I see the Vols winning handily here.  Despite Josh Dobbs best efforts, Vols get it done and the hype train returns to Knoxville.  VT: 17--UT: 31
Hoying: Look out, Tennessee. Virginia Tech's been known to jump up and snakebite...wait, what's that? Oh, oh, right, they only do that to championship-caliber teams and utter garbage. It is entirely possible that the Vols are garbage, needing a few miracles to put away everybody's favorite Sun Belt stunner, Appalachian (hot hot hot). All those highly touted recruits won't make an impact on the field until the plays are called by someone who actually understands the game. Maybe they could hire away Alabama's offensive coordinator; he seems to be having success. VT: 17--UT: 20
Seeberg:  Is App State that good or is Tennessee that mediocre?  Odds are it's both, but we will start to find out inside the Bristol Speedway Saturday night.  Too bad neither offense can move at anywhere near NASCAR speed.  Va Tech struggled with mighty Liberty (I'm assuming that's 1-AA?  Yeah, I don't know either), down 13-10 until just before halftime, but let's be real here, Butch and Co. should have lost against the Mountaineers, and Va Tech is much more talented.  If the Hokies can avoid the turnover bug (four against Liberty, yikes), they should spring the upset.  VT: 24--UT: 19

Penn State Nittany Lions @ Pittsburgh Panthers

Draper: Is anyone still reading? This powerhouse matchup of Power 5 teams (...) has a bit of intrigue because of the in-state rivalry nature, but do these teams really care about each other.  It will probably be close, but let's not confuse that with "good".  I'll give a slight edge to Penn State as those James Franklin recruits have to be doing something, right?....RIGHT? PSU: 24--Pitt: 21
Hoying: The rivalry of has-beens is renewed. Penn State hasn't been relevant since Bill O'Brien won B1G COY for going 8-4 instead of Urban's 12-0  Buckeyes Joe Paterno was respected by people other than the disgustingly delusional faithful in Happy Valley. Pitt, despite claiming 9 (!) national titles, has been bouncing around second-tier conferences since practically the days when Dan Marino was making Mark May look good. Fortunately for PSU, Hackenberg isn't around any more to take his requisite 10-15 sacks per game, and Saquon Barkley is still around to barely break 100 yards against a MAC opponent. Not much, but it's more than Pitt has going for it. The only real football coming out of the state of Pennsylvania is Jeanette, PA's own Terrelle Pryor, making his starting debut for the Browns on Sunday. PSU: 21--Pitt: 20
Seeberg:  This is possibly the most intriguing game of the week, which demonstrates how horrendous this week's slate is.  Both teams have respectable D's and wobbly offenses.  I just don't think the Panthers can move the ball enough to get out of the teens.  Lions win a putrid one that even a purist's purist wouldn't watch past halftime.  PSU: 23--Pitt: 13

Brigham Young Cougars @ Utah Utes
Draper: The Holy War provides another rivalry game but I would be completely uninterested if the week's slate wasn't awful.  I honestly know (nor care to know) anything about these teams.  Utah was terrible last year and BYU has Taysom Hill.  Lean on the Cougs...(dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb) BYU: 38--Utah: 20
Hoying: Who remembers the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl? Yeah, me neither. It's hard to believe, but these two squared off during bowl season not 9 months ago, with Utah squeaking out the win. The Cougars might be able to turn the tables if they can get out of September with QB Taysom Hill upright. They're certainly going to need all the help they can get passing their final Big XII entrance exam, especially since Houston already passed theirs last week. BYU: 31--Utah: 24
Schweinfurth:
Seeberg:  Ah yes, the Holy War commences again.  Both squads enjoyed relevance somewhat recently but have since slipped back into oblivion.  Neither team was particularly impressive in opening week wins, but BYU did squeak by a power 5 team, edging Arizona 18-16.  Not playing a complete cupcake in week one serves the Cougars well as they slip past the Utes as well.  BYU: 24--Utah: 20

Tulsa Golden Hurricane @ THE Ohio State Buckeyes

Draper: The Bucks looked fantastic in week one (after JT's first throw), but how much was BG being BG and how much was OSU being 'reloaded'.  I don't anticipate Tulsa being much of a speed bump but the high speed attack will provide the Bullets with a new perspective.  The Buckeye defense should capitalize on Tulsa mistakes early and often as the 'little engine that could' type team usually steps on their own face when trying an uptempo offense against a juggernaut.  There is no reason for the offense not to click as much as last week. The defense gives up a late TD to the chagrin of the Buckeye faithful, but JT continues his ridiculous numbers as the eyes of Buckeye nation move to Norman.  Tulsa: 13--OSU: 55
Hoying: This month promises to be an interesting study in exactly where this team's heads are. At first, we figured all eyes were on Oklahoma. Then Saturday happened, showing that the Buckeyes are very much focused on the here and now. One could forgive them for looking ahead to next week as the matchup draws closer, but has some of the air gone out of the matchup after Oklahoma's loss? Tulsa's a baaaaad opponent, so there's a lot of room for error, but I'd love to see this young team continue to climb after an impressive start. Mike Weber breaks a 50+ yard TD run this week and the Bucks win (not quite as) big. OSU: 63--Tulsa: 7
Seeberg:  Okay let's be real here, even the most optimistic Buckeye fan did NOT see that week one performance coming.  The Buckeyes looked nearly flawless in all three phases.  Let's temper those expectations though, a remarkable confluence of circumstances provided that 77-10 thrashing:  BGSU down in talent after 3 straight MAC division titles, BGSU running a base defense that often included no high safeties allowing for big plays (think the 8-yard slant to Samuel that went 79 yards for a TD), BGSU breaking in a new coach, qb, and #1 rb and wideout.  Still, Barrett was on point after that terrifying pick six, the D surrendered less than 90 yards in the second half, and the O-line kept J.T. upright.  Tulsa, meanwhile, was 125th in total defense last year; however, they gave up just 10 in a blowout win over San Jose State.  The Bucks have just a touch more skill than SJSU, however, so a second straight blowout is in the offing.  I'll be in the shade under the press box in D-deck, come say hi!  OSU: 48--Tulsa: 13

Upset Special

Draper: Arkansas over TCU
Hoying: SMU over Baylor
Seeberg:  Kentucky over Florida

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Grading the Bucks: Week 1 -- Bowling Green

It's fun when the team runs the touchdown play....repeatedly.  A fantastic start to the season, but I'm too crotchety to be lenient.

Offense: A-
"77 points?!?! And you give an A- MINUS!?!"  I'm sorry, but I can't go full A when I saw one of (if not the worst) passes I've ever seen in my life.  The pick 6 was underthrown to a blanket receiver with ANOTHER defender sneaking around.  The 4th and 2 through was also bad, but let's focus on the positive.  There was a TON of stuff I loved seeing.  For me, the O-line was the star.  With only two returning starters and immense youth, not giving up a tackle for loss, let alone a sack, is an amazing stat.  JT was upright and firing all game; breaking school records left and right.  The number 2 bright spot was Mike Weber who was fantastic with his vision and power.  I was concerned about running back after Zeke left, but I'm feeling better already.  Finally, the receiver play was solid.  Curtis Samuel was used correctly which leads me to be excited about the future.

Defense: A-
I really wanted to give an A, but the pressure up front was a little lacking for me.  I know the defensive scheme was to prevent the big play which leads to a more conservative approach so I'm not too upset.  The defensive backfield had a few hiccups and miscues, but nothing super problematic.  Malik Hooker made one of the best interceptions you'll see all year, but the underneath slant routes against linebackers is something to improve on.  I feel terrible for Tracy Sprinkle but that line is going to need to step up and fill the gap.  That youthful line will be forced to grow up fast, but Sam Hubbard has already shown plenty of spark.  Again, I'm very happy with what I see thus far.

Special Teams: A-
Nothing special to comment on here.  11/11 on PATs (I like that).  No kickoffs out of bounds (YAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!).  The one downgrade was Wilson attempting to field that punt over the shoulder while running backward....woof.  Bad, Dontre...don't be Jalin Marshall, Ray Small, etc.

Coaching: A-
Coaching is easy in this type of game...usually.  I thought the offensive gameplan was fantastic, with the lone exception being that I'd have liked to see a bit more Mike Weber.  At 4th and 2, I think I'd have preferred Urban kick the field goal, not because it is the correct call, but because I'd like to see the kicker in a live game.  That being said, if you go for it, give it to Weber and let the kid fight for it.  Defensively, the conservative gameplan was a bit boring, but definitely got the job done so kudos.

Overall: A-
Not a ton of holes to work on, but not a perfect game (although very close).  It's nice to start with a game without more answers than questions.  Lots of youth, but no question about the amount of talent.  On to the next one.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Week 1: Return to the Summit

It's the moooost wonderful tiiiiiime of the yeeeeear... with new Maize and Blue fever and Buckeye receivers ruled out for the yeeeeear....yes, I know that I just rhymed year with yeeeeear...

Oklahoma Sooners @ Houston Cougars
Draper: The Fighting Tom Hermans were the toast of the town last year after their Peach Bowl win over a completely uninspired Noles.  Good for them...but they aren't off the radar anymore.  Oh, and by the way, OU should be really really good.  The benefit for the Cougars is avoiding Norman, but I have a feeling incessant chants of BOOMER will be echoing around NRG Stadium even in the Cougar hometown.  Baker Mayfield makes a statement in the tuneup for OSU and the Sooners teach the young upstarts a lesson.  OU: 42--UH: 24
Hoying: This game should serve as a nice aperitif for the biggest OSU-OU matchup outside of Bedlam. After all, according to the fans of Buckeye nation, Tom Herman is like a competent version of that bum Urban Meyer, so if Houston can't knock off the Sooners, then the Bucks have no shot, right? The more interesting storyline: how did Oklahoma, a college football program with a reasonable claim for "greatest of all time" get suckered into playing AT Houston? It's not like they're reliving the glory days of the Southwest Conference (Oklahoma was Big 8 back then). Tom Herman, man. Working miracles already. OU: 45--UH: 27
Schweinfurth: Touchdown Tom Herman is quickly turning Houston into Ohio State South. He has done a great job of installing a high powered offense as well as a perfectionist culture. Unfortunately for the Cougars, attitude doesn't trump talent in this one. Baker Mayfield is the real deal. The only good news here is that Urban will get some good game film for the Week 3 match-up. OU: 42--UH: 30
Seeberg:  MY BRETHREN WE MAY REJOICE.  COLLEGE FOOTBALL HAS RETURNED.  I will do my best to defend my letsgobucks title this year.  That said, what an unbelievable opening week slate.  Maybe the playoff really has influenced teams to beef up their non-conference schedules.  This game is the classic trap game for the perenially underachieving Sooners...except Houston put everybody on notice last season, so Stoops and Co. will be ready.  Don't sleep on Samaje Perine either, I expect his running to be the difference in this one as Oklahoma outlasts the Houston Hermans.  OU: 41--UH: 27

Georgia Bulldogs vs. North Carolina Tarheels
Draper: UNC had a nice cap to last season with an ACC Coastal championship, but that's like saying you won the B1G West...snoooorrrree.  With that being said, we're at that point of the year in which everyone wonders will UGA wake up and return to glory in the SEC East or quietly fart away another 8-4 season.  I honestly have no clue what will happen here.  UNC has the better team but UGA has the best player in Nick Chubb.  I'm more of a subscriber in UGA always failing to meet expectations so I'll lean on the Heels (a team I had no faith in last year).  Close game and flip a coin.  UGA: 31--UNC: 34
Hoying: Would you believe the SEC could go 0-3 against another conference to open a football season? With rediscovered ACC juggernauts Clemson and Florida State taking on substantially weaker opponents Auburn and Ole Miss, respectively, That Conference Down South needs a big win from first-year Georgia head coach Kirby Smart to save face. Do the Dawgs have the horses to do it? Well, RB Nick Chubb is back. And the Heels gave up 645 rushing yards to Baylor the last time they took the field. This could get ugly, quickly, though the UNC offense is nearly as difficult to stop. UGA: 42--UNC: 35
Schweinfurth: It's interesting that no one really knows what Bulldogs team will show up. We are going to find out quickly if Mark Richt was the problem all these years. It helps that Nick Chubb is back and healthy for the Dogs. Chubb-y Time is the difference in this one. UGA: 38--UNC: 35
Seeberg:  As far as opening week games this is as brutal a pick as there could be.  Two teams that manage to achieve just under expectations with remarkable consistency.  Can Kirby Smart continue the Marc Richt  "eh"-ness?  I don't know, but the Bulldogs have Nick Chubb supposedly at 100%, and that should be enough.  UGA: 38--UNC: 28

USC Trojans vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
Draper:  The Tide return to defend their title....again, and there's no real reason to expect them to stumble here.  One thing Nick Saban has been great about is scheduling early season marquee games...via name recognition.  While USC should be decent this year, let's not confuse this team with the juggernaut in the early 2000s.  'Decent' is rarely good enough to hang with the Tide.  The reload is too strong and Bama rolls.  USC: 13--Bama: 27
Hoying: How quickly fortunes change in college football, even among the bluest of the blue bloods. 10 years ago, Alabama bumbled and stumbled to a 6-7 season in its final pre-Saban year. That same fall, USC was one historic gack against UCLA from facing our beloved Buckeyes in a 4th straight national title game. Now the aura of invincibility glows a little darker shade of crimson, as the Tide gear up for another championship run. Losing Derrick Henry hurts, and nobody seems to know who the Tide's QB will be, but a team with the best recruiting class in the country year in and year out isn't likely to face too much adversity. USC's resurgence to national prominence will have to wait. USC: 13--Bama: 24
Schweinfurth: Saban just doesn't lose these games, and it frustrates the hell out of me. This one could be a bit more interesting as the Tide are breaking in a new QB. Everyone has made a huge deal about the amount of talent Ohio State lost after last year, but 'Bama lost quite a bit too. This game will be closer than is probably should be. USC: 17--Bama: 24
Seeberg:  Who will be Bama's starting QB?  Last year that question could've cost the Tide this game.  This year, USC is also asking that question as Cody Kessler will no doubt have his career destroyed by the Browns.  Bama won't score a ton, but they won't have to.  USC: 13--Bama: 24

Florida State Seminoles vs. Ole Miss Rebels
Draper: Hey everyone! Remember Dalvin Cook? One of the best backs last year that was ignored down the stretch due to injury and lack of title aspirations? He's back in Tallahassee surrounded by a bevy of talent that should be among the elite of the year.  Ole Miss is being touted because, well, Ess-Eee-Cee.  I don't see this as the powerhouse matchup but it should be a nice early season game.  Freshman Deondre Francois will start at QB for the Noles over the injured Sean McGuire but I don't think there's any worry because lost in all this is that FSU's defense is a rock.  Cook and the Noles zip-zop-zoo-bidy-bop all over the Rebels and coast to an impressive start.  FSU: 41--Ole Miss: 23
Hoying: Ole Miss may think they have the best team money can buy, but all the cash in the SEC couldn't cover the recruiting gap between Hugh Freeze and Jimbo Fisher. The Rebel fans will want to borrow Tunsil's gas mask to protect themselves from the steaming pile their team is going to produce on Saturday. FSU: 38--Ole Miss: 17
Schweinfurth: Let's keep this short and sweet. Ole Miss lost a lot of talent last year. Florida State still has Dalvin Cook. FSU: 42--Ole Miss: 17
Seeberg:  Is Ole Miss really as good as their nearly top-10 ranking?  Experts say no, but ESECPN says yes.  Thankfully that shouldn't last long at the hands of Florida State, a team returning roughly 57 starters.  Seminoles will take their foot off the gas only to avoid scoring 50 and incurring the wrath of the rest of the deep south.  FSU: 48--Ole Miss: 24

Bowling Green Falcons @ THE Ohio State Buckeyes
Draper: The reason to watch this game (other than the amazing alumnus in the North script) can be summarized in 5 words: Joe Thomas Barrett the IV.  The loss of Torrance Gibson is a blow to the young receiving corps after the mass-exodus to the NFL last year, but it's all about the QB.  If JT can return to the glory of 2014 form, expect great things from this young team.  If the team doesn't rally around him, then it's time for concern.  With only 3 starters returning on both sides of the ball, there's certainly an experience gap, but you know the mantra.  Buckeyes show they've reloaded and make a statement in game one.  No mercy.  OSU: 52 -- BGSU: 10
Hoying: Say goodbye to "the Chase" and "the Grind" and hello to "the Edge." Given the incredible loss of talent to the draft last year, it would seem that this season ought to be one of tempered expectations. Then again, this team doesn't seem to like winning championships when all the pieces are in place (1995, 1998, 2003, 2006, 2010, 2013, 2015), preferring to accumulate a critical mass of doubters and haters before riding to victory (2002, 2014). Unfortunately, once again, our opening season game will tell us nothing. Sure, BGSU might be one of the better MAC teams, capable of beating a Purdue or Rutgers, but Urban isn't one to let Bowling Green walk off the field with a victory. If JT manages not to be a head case like he was against Northern Illinois last year, this one should be over quickly. OSU: 49--BGSU: 20
Schweinfurth: Time to check on the reload. Not that I'm nervous about this game, Ohio State will win going away, but replacing an entire secondary is always an adventure. This defense is going to give up some big plays. It happens with young defenses, but the first two games will give the young Bucks time to learn on the job. The offense will be fine. It helps to have a veteran signal caller under center. Teammates were calling Mike Weber 'Lil Guap last year before he got injured. This offense will still be explosive and, yes, Weber will go for 1000 yards this year. Bucks win this going away, but don't quite get the cover. BGSU: 21--OSU: 42
Seeberg:  Let's see, all we have to do is replace the best RB in the country, the best DE in the country, 80% of an offensive line, two top 10 WRs, a TE, two safeties, a nasty cover corner and a freakishly fast OLB.  Any team not named Ohio State or Alabama wouldn't even garner a preseason ranking in that scenario.  Still, question marks abound on both sides of the ball.  Thankfully, the signal caller has had full reps with the first team and should return close to 2014 form as a result.  Barrett carries the day, Raekwon amasses roughly 35 tackles, and the Bucks wear down BGSUcks in the second half.  OSU: 45--BGSU: 23

Upset Special
Draper: Texas over ND
Hoying: Northwestern State over Baylor
Schweinfurth: Wisconsin over LSU (why not)
Seeberg:  CRAP, Draper took mine.  La Tech over Arkansas

Preseason Outlook/Predictions 2017



ACC
Coastal
Draper: UNC
Hoying: Virginia Tech
Schweinfurth: UNC 
Seeberg:  UNC
Atlantic
Draper: FSU (champ)
Hoying: Clemson (champ)
Schweinfurth: Clemson (Champ)
Seeberg:  FSU (champ)

Big Ten
West:
Draper: Iowa
Hoying: Iowa
Schweinfurth: Nebraska
Seeberg:  Nebraska
East:
Draper: OSU (Champ)
Hoying: OSU (Champ)
Schweinfurth: OSU (Champ)
Seeberg:  OSU (champ)

Big 12
Draper: Oklahoma
Hoying: Oklahoma
Schweinfurth: Oklahoma (Champ)
Seeberg:  Oklahoma

Pac 12
North:
Draper: Stanford (champ)
Hoying: Stanford (champ)
Schweinfurth: Stanford (Champ)
Seeberg:  Stanford
South:
Draper: USC
Hoying: UCLA
Schweinfurth: USC
Seeberg:  UCLA (champ)

SEC
West:
Draper: LSU (champ)
Hoying: Alabama (champ)
Schweinfurth: Alabama (Champ)
Seeberg:  LSU (champ)
East:
Draper: Tennessee
Hoying: Tennessee
Schweinfurth: Georgia
Seeberg:  Georgia


Heisman
Draper
1) Leonard Fournette
2) Deshaun Watson
3) J.T. Barrett
Hoying
1) Deshaun Watson
2) Baker Mayfield
3) Dalvin Cook
Schweinfurth
1) Deshaun Watson
2) Dalvin Cook
3) Leonard Fournette
Seeberg
1) Deshaun Watson
2)  Baker Mayfield
3) Dalvin Cook (darn you Hoying)

Playoff
Draper: LSU, Oklahoma, OSU, FSU
Hoying: Oklahoma, Alabama, Clemson, Stanford
Schweinfurth: Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Stanford
Seeberg:  Oklahoma, FSU, LSU, OSU


Friday, December 11, 2015

Final Heisman Ballots and Predictions

Godspeed, Ezekiel Elliott. You may be the most complete running back we've seen in quite a while, and any of us would rather have you on our team than any of the guys we're going to list, but you'll have to make do with your championship ring and impending early-round draft pick.

Let's Go Bucks Heisman Index
1. Derrick Henry (RB--Bama)
2. Christian McCaffrey (RB--Stan)
3a. Dalvin Cook (RB--FSU)
3b. Ezekiel Elliott (RB--OSU)

Let's Go Bucks Heisman Prediction
1. Derrick Henry (RB--Bama)
2. Christian McCaffrey (RB--Stan)
3. Deshaun Watson (QB--Clem)

Draper Heisman Ballot
1. Derrick Henry (RB--Bama)
2. Dalvin Cook (RB--FSU)
3. Ezekiel Elliot (RB--OSU)

Draper Heisman Prediction
1. Derrick Henry (RB--Bama)
2. Christian McCaffrey (RB--Stan)
3. Deshaun Watson (QB--Clem)

Hoying Heisman Ballot
1. Derrick Henry (RB--Bama)
2. Dalvin Cook (RB--FSU)
3. Ezekiel Elliott (RB--OSU)

Hoying Heisman Prediction (hello 2009)
1. Derrick Henry (RB--Bama)
2. Christian McCaffrey (RB--Stan)
3. Deshaun Watson (QB--Clem)

Schweinfurth Heisman Ballot
1. Christian McCaffrey (RB--Stan)
2. Derrick Henry (RB--Bama)
3. Ezekiel Elliot (RB--OSU)

Schweinfurth Heisman Prediction
1. Derrick Henry (RB--Bama)
2. Deshaun Watson (QB--Clem)
3. Christian McCaffrey (RB--Stan)

Seeberg Heisman Ballot
1. Derrick Henry (RB--Bama)
2. Christian McCaffrey (RB--Stan)
3. Ezekiel Elliott (RB--OSU)

Seeberg Heisman Prediction
1. Derrick Henry (RB--Bama)
2. Christian McCaffrey (RB--Stan)
3. Deshaun Watson (QB-- Clem)

Sunday, December 06, 2015

2015 PLAYOFF RANKINGS - WHO'S IN?

The final PLAYOFF RANKINGS are due sometime around 12:30 P.M. on Sunday. Here's what the playoff would look like if we had a vote, plus what we think will actually happen.

Let's Go Bucks Playoff Field
1. Clemson
2. Michigan State
3. Alabama
4. Oklahoma

Let's Go Bucks Prediction
1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Michigan State
4. Oklahoma

Draper Playoff Field
1. Clemson
2. Michigan State
3. Alabama
4. Oklahoma

Draper Prediction
1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Michigan State
4. Oklahoma

Hoying Playoff Field
1. Clemson
2. Michigan State
3. Alabama
4. Oklahoma

Hoying Prediction
1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Michigan State
4. Oklahoma

Schweinfurth Playoff Field
1. Clemson
2. Michigan State
3. Oklahoma
4. Alabama

Schweinfurth Prediction
1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Michigan State
4. Oklahoma

Seeberg Playoff Field
1. Clemson
2. Oklahoma
3. Michigan State
4. Alabama

Seeberg Prediction
1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Oklahoma
4. Michigan State

Friday, December 04, 2015

Week 14 - Just a Fool's Hope

Standings
1) Seeberg             49-21    (2-11 upset) 

2) Draper               46-24    (5-8 upset)
3) Schweinfurth    45-25    (2-11 upset)
4) Hoying              45-25    (1-12 upset)

The enemy is slain once again, but thanks to the Buckeyes forgetting not to give a damn for the whole STATE of Michigan, they find themselves at home on Championship Weekend for the first time since getting robbed of a berth in 2012. Our playoff hopes are likely not dead yet, but you'd be better off just buckling in and enjoying a weekend of entertaining matchups.

MAC: Bowling Green Falcons vs. Northern Illinois Huskies

Draper: I haven't seen BG at all this year, but I did see NIU hang with the Bucks for 4 quarters.  Yes, that Buckeye team was quite different, but NIU had fairly consistent QB play and a nice defense.  BG had some decent wins as well, but NIU seems to be peaking at the end of the year.  I'll lean to the Huskies for the champ of Maction.  BGSU: 31--NIU:35
Hoying: Do you remember when the 2-0 Huskies took the consensus #1 Ohio State Buckeyes to the wire in Columbus, and everyone wondered if NIU would be back on track toward a major bowl game? Pepperidge Farm remembers...Anyway, Northern Illinois has been pretty "eh" since then, scoring a nice win over Toledo but losing to a few mediocre teams along the way. However, tellingly, none of their losses has been due to a real defensive breakdown, which is good news for them, since the Falcons feature one of the nation's most potent offenses. Look for BG's attack to slow a bit this week, just enough for the MAC West's juggernaut to take another conference title. BGSU: 34--NIU: 35
Schweinfurth: Hey look, Northern Illinois is in another MACtion Championship game. This is the same Huskies team the slowed down Ohio State's (supposedly) high powered attack in week 2. Bowling Green runs much the same offense, so one would assume the Huskies will be ready for the Falcons. A Huskies' win makes OSU look better. BGSU: 17--NIU: 28
Seeberg:  Death, taxes, and NIU in the MAC title game.  The Huskies have been that consistent this year, but they are a bit down by comparison and needed some help to get to the title game this season.  The rest of the MAC (BGSU, Toledo, Western Michigan, etc.) is catching up.  Meanwhile, after a midseason offensive lull, the Falcons are back on stride, showing the form that allowed them to drop 48 on B1G foe Maryland before conference season hit.  I'm going with the hot team.  BGSU: 38--NIU: 31

AAC: #24 Temple Owls @ #17 Houston Cougars

Draper: Hmmmm...Houston took out Navy in surprising fashion last week, and Temple has been floating around after their close loss to ND.  This may be a game for a New Years Six bowl.  While people say defense wins championships, offense generally rules these lower level games.  In that case, Houston is the pick.  Tom Herman keeps the impressive debut rolling and his biggest question is where to go next year.  Tem: 20--Hou: 35
Hoying: OK. Maybe it was unfair for me to call out Tom Herman after Houston lost to mediocre UConn. Their star QB Greg Ward Jr. was injured and while Herman is no stranger to backup magic, there isn't quite the depth deep in the heart of Texas that he enjoyed at Ohio State. But after an impressive bounceback win against Navy, the Cougs' goals are still in front of them, and Kyle Postma's not taking snaps for Houston this time. Temple's had a nice season, and they played the Irish tough, but their D can't run with the Houston attack. Welcome back to the big leagues, boys. Tem: 24--Hou: 34

Schweinfurth: Houston can still make a New Year's 6 bowl and Touchdown Tom Herman will have the Cougars ready for this one. He will no undoubtedly have his team behind him after signing that nice, fat new contract to stay put. I doubt there is much defense in this game, but the Cougars seem to be able to make the adjustments needed in the second half (it's nice to have a MENSA member as a coach). Tem: 28--Hou: 42
Seeberg:  The Houston Hermans grabbed a huge win last Saturday, pummeling Navy after a shocking loss at UConn.  It seems that loss galvanized the troops (Va Tech loss in 2014, anyone)?  Temple plays a bit better defense than the Midshipmen, but it's hard to imagine them amassing a similar number of points.  Greg Ward Jr. looked healthy as can be swimming by the Navy last week, and there's little reason to think it won't continue in the AAC title game.  Onto a second straight New Year's Day bowl for Tom Herman.  Tem: 20--Hou: 35

SEC: #20 Florida Gators vs. #3 Alabama Crimson Tide
Draper: Get REEEEEEEALLLL lucky.  Florida used to be the pride of the SEC but they have completely faceplanted at the end of the 2015 season.  Bama is chugging along as the 'unstoppable juggernaut' without a marquee win on the docket (but lots of good wins).  The Gators don't provide the marquee opportunity, but with the committee's love for all things Saban, win and they're in.  As much as I want to punch myself in the face, I want the Gators to channel their inner Tebow, but I fear this will end like the 2009 SEC championship with Saban dining on Gator tears. UF: 3--Bama: 28
Hoying: Remember the 90's? When the East seemed to win this game every single year? Fortunes have reversed in the last several years, with the West division winner taking the SEC crown on their way to the championship every year since...2008, when Urban Meyer's #2 Gators whomped Saban's #1 Tide on their way to a second national title in 3 years. At least the East champ made it close...once...in 2012. More remarkable statistic: Alabama is attempting to become the first SEC team to win back-to-back conference titles since TENNESSEE in 1997-98. In their way is a Florida team dead-set on emulating the 2014 Virginia Tech - Wake Forest debacle in every game. For Ohio State to have any chance at a playoff, they NEED the Gators to win, but can it be done? The Gator D is certainly tough enough to stop Henry and the Tide, but Treon Harris is still baaaaaaaaaad. Short of a multiple turnover performance by Alabama, I don't see it happening. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Flobi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope. UF: 10--Bama: 20
Schweinfurth: For all the talk about how dominant the Bama defense is, Florida has a pretty damn good defense too. Alabama will have to pass to win this game because the Gator D is going to swarm Derrick Henry. Bama will win this game (even though I am hoping for chaos, see ACC Champ game) but Florida should make it interesting. Lots of field goals and not so many touchdowns. UF: 9--Bama: 15

Seeberg:  The question remains- will Lane Kiffin continue to do nothing more than give the ball to Derrick Henry?  The most overpaid coordinator on earth probably will- but the Gators' offense is so bad it likely won't matter.  I shudder to think what Zeke and the Slobs could've done to Auburn if he had 46 carries.  Nonetheless, not enough SEC chaos to help the Buckeyes' flickering CFP hopes.  Let's just hope Bama loses in the playoff so we can have THREE straight years of no SEC national champion and maybe people will finally shut up about that conference.  Fla: 6--Bama: 24

Pac-12: #23 USC Trojans vs. #7 Stanford Cardinal
Draper:  Stanford just won't die.  They're the team everyone touts without really understanding why.  Ask Northwestern about the love they've gotten with the same record and a win over the Cardinal.  SC has the horses to pull off the upset, but will their head be in the game? We saw this game earlier, but this time, the Trojans have a sober coach (although I don't get the removal of the interim tag, yet).  Christian McCaffrey is a solid all around player as is HOOOOGAN, but it's time for SC to bounce back and take their rightful place.  Kessler and the Trojans end the Pac 12 playoff hopes.  USC: 21--Stan: 20
Hoying: Didn't we do this already? Alternatively, Stanford is 8-1 in conference and USC is 6-3...why is this game necessary? You'd never expect it, but in a league with 12 teams playing 9 conference games each, you see A LOT of pointless rematches. At any rate, this game could have implications for Ohio State's already minuscule playoff hopes, in that a 2-loss Pac-12 Champion Stanford with wins over Notre Dame, UCLA, and USC could jump our beloved Bucks. This season proves that the most miserable part of a loss isn't the actual loss itself, it's having to root for Penn State, Florida, and USC afterwards. Not that rooting for Stanford would have made me any happier. Thank God the Michigan/Michigan State game happened earlier in the year so that we could savor the hilarious ending of that game for a few weeks before we realize it screwed us over in the B1G East standings. Blah blah Christian McCaffrey good blah blah USC defense bad blah blah Clay Helton prrrrrromotion. USC: 20--Stan: 31

Schweinfurth: Christian McCaffery is the real deal. Unfortunately for him and his Heisman hopes, he plays after most people have gone to bed (good job Pac-12 schedulers). USC has looked like a more cohesive team since Sark was let go, but Stanford should still steamroll the Trojans. USC: 17--Stan: 35
Seeberg:  Cardinal vs. Trojans, take two.  Rematches in the postseason in college football often go the opposite way of the initial meeting, but a lot has changed since then.  Oregon exposed Stanford's typically solid defense to hand the Cardinal their only conference loss.  USC has regained its form under interim head coach Clay Helton.  However, the Cardinal have a conceivable back door entrance into the CFP should Clemson or Bama be upset.  It would require a thrashing of a solid opponent in the title game clash, but amazingly, in just year two, there is already a precedent for that (albeit that team had only one loss).  With enough to play for since their kickoffs are just half an hour apart, the Cardinal beat USC again and sprint into the locker room to hope for an upset.  USC: 27--Stan: 38

ACC: #14 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #1 Clemson Tigers

Draper: Clemson in the playhoff....does anyone really buy it? Will the Clemsoning rear it's head in the playoffs or now? The Tigers have avoided the bug all year, but now they're in a period of complacency.  UNC has quietly stormed back after losing to a terrible South Carolina team and beating...no one.  I'm hoping for a little more magic in the tank and a little more Dabo to raise the chaos flag high and give hope to 5 teams: OSU, Stanford, UNC, B1G loser, and Clemson (still) for that last playoff spot.  UNC: 31--Clemson: 28
Hoying: They believed they had put it to rest...Just when they thought it was safe to go back onto the field...It's here, at last...THE CLEMSONING! UNC: -OK, so that wasn't exactly a hot take. Here's something that should stir up the masses a little: after Clemson Clemsons this away to a hot UNC squad, the Tigers will still be IN the playoff ahead of Ohio State (unless Stanford jumps them), and the Tar Heels will still be OUT. Take a look at each team's resume and tell me I'm wrong. UNC: 31--Clem: 27

Schweinfurth: There is something about college football chaos that brings back the warm and fuzzy feelings. We haven't has absolute chaos during Championship week since the infamous "all the teams ranked above Ohio State lose after the Bucks destroyed TUN" of 2007. Ladies and gentlemen, WE. ARE. DUE! Not only are we do for chaos, we are due for a Clemsoning. I don't care if Clemson still gets in over OSU, I just want to watch the crap hit the fan. UNC: 28--Clem: 24
Seeberg:  I gotta be honest here, I am stunned none of my colleagues have this game as high-scoring as I envision it.  UNC has been as dominant offensively as anybody this side of Oklahoma in the last 6 weeks.  Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson & Co. have meandered their way to the title game unscathed, seemingly a bit unfocused after beating their two trickiest oppponents in Notre Dame and Florida State relatively early in the season.  Can Clemson flip the proverbial switch like OSU did last season (or against scUM this season, or MSU against PSU this season, for that matter)?  My answer is...kinda.  I don't trust Dabo to get his team to peak at the proper time *cough COOPER cough*.  However, I do trust Deshaun Watson to simply outscore the Heels.  Clemson will get its comeuppance in the playoff, but it will, sadly for us, make it there.  UNC: 38--Clem: 48

B1G: #5 Michigan State Spartans vs. #2 Iowa Hawkeyes

Draper: This makes me sick.  There is NO reason the Buckeyes aren't here defending the crown other than one of the worst performances in recent memory.  Close your eyes and imagine it...your Undefeated 2015 National Champions: The Iowa Hawkeyes....now that you're done laughing, it could actually happen.  About the X's and O's, MSU has a decided advantage in nearly every aspect of this game.  Better QB, RB, defense, etc. but Iowa can tout the unblemished schedule.  I think it comes to a close Sat as the Spartans end the hopes of the lovable Hawkeyes and head to the playoff in one of the most pedestrian playoffs in sports history.  This is on you Buckeyes.... MSU: 34--Iowa: 20
Hoying: Ughhhhh, this game makes me ill just to write about. Somehow, Iowa is still undefeated, and they haven't looked bad along the way. The win over Northwestern is holding up well, particularly since the Hawkeyes throttled the Wildcats, but Iowa hasn't been tested in quite a while. On the other side of the ball, the Spartans passed their toughest test in November and also fared well in big matchups against Michigan and Oregon, though no win was by more than one score. Wherein lies the edge? Dantonio and the Spartans don't lose many big games like this. 2 straight New Year's bowl wins, two wins over undefeated and top 2 ranked Buckeyes...this isn't a Rutgers or Indiana that Michigan State will struggle to put away. Iowa is legitimately good enough to keep this close, but the Sparty party continues into New Year's Eve (though likely not beyond). MSU: 31--Iowa: 21
Schweinfurth: For the record, I had a talk with my, at the time, 5 month old son about an undefeated Iowa. Thankfully, I don't think I will have to have another conversation like that this year. Yes, Iowa has had the best year in program history and will be in a New Year's 6 bowl, but Michigan State is just the better team. Dantonio has something cooking up there in East Lansing and it will be interesting to see what they do in the playoffs. This game is close in true Sparty fashion. MSU: 21--Iowa: 17
Seeberg:  Let's be real here, does ANYONE think Iowa is really the best in the B1G?  Yeah, me neither.  OSU, scUM and MSU likely run the table in the B1G West if referees figure out what out of bounds means anyways.  Connor Cook looked every bit as healthy as he could be in Sparty's torching of Penn State last week, dropping a double-nickel on a reasonably sound Nittany Lion defense.  Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes literally went 0'fer on 3rd downs (0-9, in fact) yet somehow did something Michigan State couldn't- win in Lincoln.  That 3rd-down conversion rate will be much more at a premium on Saturday as Ferentz will try to use the power run to shorten the game.  No such luck.  Sparty gets punched in the mouth early, but pulls away late.  MSU: 28--Iowa: 17


Upset Special

Draper: Texas over Baylor (why not?)
Hoying: Air Force over San Diego State
Schweinfurth: Southern Miss over WKU (not much to pick from)
Seeberg: Kansas State over West Virginia