Friday, November 21, 2014

Week 13 - Low Pressure System

1) Draper               36-18    (5-7 upset)
2) Hoying               35-19    (3-9 upset)
3) Seeberg              34-20    (1-11 upset)
4) Schweinfurth     33-21    (5-7 upset)

In meteorology, a low pressure system moving into your region of the atmosphere means that a storm will soon be coming.* In this week's college football landscape, the huge number of games that suck creates an atmosphere of very low pressure for the playoff contenders, with a huge storm on the horizon over the following two weeks.

In the meantime, we focus on the Pac-12 South and B1G West races, with 5 and 4 teams still in the running, respectively. 

*Yes, meteorology people, I know, this is a bit of an over-generalization. Please withhold your angry comments.

#22 USC Trojans "@" #10 UCLA Bruins
Draper: UCLA is getting better every week and has wuietly entered the top 10.  SC on the other hand seems to have faded over the season. Hundley is looking pretty good, but more importantly, the line is protecting him...a little.  Kessler is having a nice season, but consistency is an issue.  I'm leaning on the hot hand right now which points to the Bruins.  I don't feel great about it, but Sark hasn't shaken the Earth in LA.  UCLA has too much to play for with a potential rematch with the Ducks in their grasp.  USC: 31--UCLA: 38
Hoying: Five teams vie for the Pac-12 South crown; only UCLA controls its own destiny. First hurdle: its biggest rival, the only conference opponent against whom the Bruins have a losing record. UCLA proudly proclaimed that "the LA monopoly is over" back in 2008, but that prophecy didn't come true until the script flipped 2 years ago. Now it's the Trojans who are struggling, giving up late TDs to Utah and Arizona State and needing a last-second missed FG to get by Arizona. Not that UCLA's been banking style points either, needing 2OTs to get by awful awful Colorado. Astoundingly, it's USC QB Cody Kessler who's been the star of the Pac-12 South this season, not everybody's preseason Heisman darling, Brett Hundley of UCLA. Will he be enough to overcome a lack of run defense and focus? Not this year. Hundley's escapability will make up for the Bruins' suspect pass protection and lead UCLA to their 3rd straight victory over the hated Trojans. USC: 24--UCLA: 27
Schweinfurth: Ahh, the battle for L.A.  It does appear that the So Cal monopoly is over as USC has trailed off in recent years (thanks Lane Kiffin).  This year has been a bit of resurgence for the Trojans.  Steve Sarkesian has that offense humming along pretty well.  UCLA's offensive line has been brutal this year and Brett Hundley has been taking a beating.  The beatings will continue!  USC: 35--UCLA: 31
Seeberg:  Well, UCLA has the home-field advantage this year so...ok maybe not.  In any event, both teams are quietly picking up wins lately, albeit not particularly impressive wins as both teams struggled to put away Cal (USC winning by 8 at home, UCLA by 2 on the road) and UCLA slept through their tilt with Colorado.  These teams are pretty equally matched up, and with home field a non-issue, I always revert to my default position- pick the team with the better defense.  In this case?  The Trojans.  USC: 31--UCLA: 23

#13 Arizona Wildcats @ Utah Utes
Draper: Can the freshman Solomon keep it going in a tough road environment?  The Utes have been really good at home when they actually carry the ball all the way into the endzone before dropping it.  The downside is that I don't expect the same environment for a game vs. Arizona (even though they're a top 15 team).  Anu Solomon has had a great freshman season in RichRod's system that will only improve (assuming Mr. Rod is still in Tuscon next year).  I think this is going to come down to the wire with another last second win for the Cardiac Cats. Zona: 34--Utah: 31
Hoying: Can you win in the Pac-12 without throwing the ball? It's not like the Utes had a terrific aerial assault early in the season, but since the loss of top receiver Dres Anderson, they've really dropped off, falling in 2 of their last 3 games (and winning the third in double overtime). Arizona's Anu Solomon is more of what you'd expect from a west coast offense, leading one of the nation's top 15 pass attacks and easily one of the most exciting, executing incredible comebacks against Cal and Washington and coming a field goal away from stunning USC. This game's not being played against a Los Angeles team, so the Wildcats should be safe, and RichRod should stay in the hunt for his first conference title. Zona: 31--Utah: 20
Schweinfurth: I don't know much about these two teams, so I am going to grandstand a bit.  I feel that the east coast, and the country as a whole, would appreciate the Pac-12 if the games didn't start after the 8:00 games ended.  I like college football and all, but between life and sleep, I can devote a maximum of around 6-10 hours on Saturdays to football.  That means the really late games are off the table for my viewing pleasure.  Start some games before 8:00 and I will gladly watch. Oh, Zona wins.  Zona: 42--Utah: 35
Seeberg:  From the surprisingly-decent-second-tier-conference-matchup file comes this game.  Sadly, the game would have been much more competitive before Utah's one-dimensional offense has cost them two of their last three games.  Arizona is hanging their hat on that head-scratching Oregon win and the Wildcats would have likely struggled in this game against a healthy Utah squad.  A dinged up Ute team, however, means the Wildcats continue their unlikely run to compete for the Pac-12 South.  Zona: 38--Utah: 24

Minnesota Golden Gophers @ #18 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Draper: Let's see...Nebraska is 8-2 with 2 to go.  To reach that non-elusive 9-4 they need 1 win and 2 losses (including the bowl).  All signs point to loss, win, loss...but NO! Bo Pelini gets the troops fired up to defend the home turf against David Cobb.  This is a pride game.  The 'Blackshirts' were embarrassed by a guy named Malvin last week.  Cobb is a great runner, but I don't see the Huskers falling flat on their faces again in their last home game.  Hey Bo, Give. Ameer. the. rock.  Over and over.  Cobb will go for 130 and 2 TDs, but Ameer will hit 200 all-purpose yards and 3 TDs. Minn: 27--Neb: 31
Hoying: Boy, is this game a lot less appealing than it was a week ago. These teams have a ton of wins against a ton of suck and a few losses against some very good teams, but now it's time to see what they'll do during their late-season stretch run. What did we learn from two games in the snow? 1. Minnesota can't move the ball against a good defense, aside from breaking a few good runs. 2. Nebraska doesn't have a good defense, particularly against the run. 3. JT Barrett and Melvin Gordon are really good (sneak preview of a game prediction 2 weeks from now). Since his injury, Nebraska RB Ameer Abdullah has been a non-factor, while his Gopher counterpart David Cobb keeps getting stronger. Can a team that doesn't throw the ball beat the Huskers? DUUUUUUHHHHH. Minn: 30--Neb: 27
Schweinfurth: Holy crap did the Blackshirts get exposed my Melvin Gordon last week.  That was a truly abysmal performance against a team that lines up and practically says, "We are running up the middle...stop it if you can."  This week the Huskers face another team that likes to run.  From what I could see last week, David Cobb is the real deal.  You have to wrap that guy up and Nebraska has gotten into this arm tackle thing.  Not a good combination for Nebraska.  Throw in the fact that Ameer Abdullah hasn't looked right since his injury and it all spells out a Gopher win.  Minn: 35--Neb: 21
Seeberg:  Let's be honest- we need Minnesota to win this one to keep our victory over them looking good in the eyes of the football deities that ultimately decide our postseason fate.  Fortunately, they are playing a team that just gave up 57 kajillion yards on the ground (Note:  Statistic is an estimate...likely an underestmation).  Minnesota's O-line may not be quite as good as Wisconsin's, nor their RB, but Cobb is very solid and should have another highly productive day.  Abdullah still hasn't been himself since tweaking his knee, and without him healthy and confident, Nebraska doesn't have enough answers on offense.  Minnesota, at least for a week, not a disgrace.  Minn: 34--Neb: 24

#14 Wisconsin Badgers @ Iowa Hawkeyes
Draper: Gordon. Bulldozer.  This one could get ugly...but it won't be as disgusting as last week.  Iowa is at home which will help keep it a bit closer.  I expect Gordon to get his, but everyone will be shocked that he doesn't explode.  The Hawkeyes will completely overload the box with all 11 guys...and still give up over 100--but not 400.  I have a weird feeling that this will be closer than the experts think, but not that close all the same.  The Badgers have too much to play for.  Wisc: 31--Iowa: 17
Hoying: Minnesota ran for 291 yards against Iowa. Uh oh. Wis: 45--Iowa: 17
Schweinfurth: See Hoying's stat and add in that Wisconsin ran for 581 against Nebraska.  Yea, uh oh indeed.  Gordon could go for 300+ again.  Wis: 49--Iowa: 14
Seeberg:  The only real question here is how well Melvin Gordon backs up his historic performance last week.  Iowa's enormous collapse against Minnesota two weeks ago, losing by a whopping 37, is unlikely to happen again.  Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, Wisconsin is a lot better than them, mistakes or not.  Gordon needs another 150+, 2 TD+ game to push Mariota off his Heisman pedestal, and he will likely get it at the expense of a porous Hawkeye run D.  Wis: 38--Iowa: 20

Indiana Hoosiers @ #7 THE Ohio State University Buckeyes
Draper: Telvin Coleman is having one of the best years for a running back that no one has heard about.  He went for 300+ last week...and no one cares.  JT and company return to the friendly confines to the acclaim of Buckeye Nation.  I have a feeling this will be very similar to the recent home B1G games in which the Bucks jump out to an early lead, take the game in hand, and sit back and take a nap (which will be disappointing).  Bosa and the front seven need to treat this as an important learning experience to practice for Gordon.  They need to step up and contain Coleman.  IU is on their 15th string QB so just focus on stopping the run.  That should be the goal of the game along with cleaning up the tackling.  Hold Coleman under 100 and I'll be thrilled.  You're either getting better, or you're getting worse.  OSU: 52--IU: 24
Hoying: The Hoosiers are quickly running out of chances to win a conference game, but the news isn't all bad. Sure, they visit one of the hottest teams in the nation this week, but next week they get Purdue! At home! And even if the Hoosiers' dreams don't come true against the B1G's version of Make a Wish, they'll still have that SEC East title to fall back on. Indiana is as good as running the ball as anyone in the country, unless your goal is to make sure the ball goes across the goal line at some point. And they're horrible at everything else. Ohio State is pretty good at everything except tackling running backs and preventing the ghost of Ray Small from possessing their punt returners. Bucks win big and start their streak as the only team to win the B1G East. Ind: 20--OSU: 59
Schweinfurth:  A little #narrative to start off: Indiana beat the SEC East leader.  The Buckeyes have been flat rolling inferior teams (and teams that were "better" than them) since the Va Tech game.  Last week's score was no indication of how dominant the Buckeyes were.  The only concerning thing to me is the defense on quick turnarounds (after turnovers especially).  No matter where they start on the field after a Buckeye turnover, it seems like the other team always gets points.  This is a trend that really needs to stop.  The defense has played very well for the most part but the Bullets need to stop the run.  This will be a good practice for the Buckeyes ahead of TTUN and, most likely, Wisconsin.  Time to shore up the run D and keep that offense sharp.  Barrett keeps putting up his video game numbers as well.  This is a style point game. Ind: 13--OSU: 52
Seeberg:  Ah yes, it's our favorite homecoming team come to town six weeks late.  The Hoosiers actually boast a legitimate NFL-caliber running back in Tevin Coleman, and the Silver Bullets have struggled with the power run game in consecutive weeks.  Thankfully, IU is on their 2nd-string practice squad QB at this point and Coleman is their only competent threat on offense.  The turnovers need to be cleaned up, but even if we lose the ball multiple times again it's just not going to matter.  Onto TTUN.  IND: 17--OSU: 52

Upset Special
Draper: All of the other upsets games are super weak.  Mizzou over Tenn is about as lame
Hoying: North Carolina over Duke
Schweinfurth: Maryland over Michigan 
Seeberg:  Louisville over Notre Dame 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top 25 and Heisman Ballots - After Week 12

Rankings, as always, are based on what teams have done so far, not how we believe they will finish. Leave a comment and tell us which one of us should be on the Playoff Committee.

Let's Go Bucks! Index

1. Florida State (unchanged)
2. Oregon (up 1)
3. Alabama (up 2)
4. TCU (unchanged)
5. Baylor (up 2)
6. Mississippi State (down 5)
7. Ohio State (up 1)
8. Ole Miss (up 2)
9. Michigan State (up 2)
10. UCLA (up 3)
11. Georgia (up 6)
12. Kansas State (up 2)
13. Arizona (up 3)
14. Wisconsin (up 8)
15. Auburn (down 6)
16. Arizona State (down 10)
17. Georgia Tech (unranked)
18a. Nebraska (down 6)
18b. Utah (unranked)
20a. Marshall (unchanged)
20b. Missouri (unranked)
22. USC (unranked)
23. Oklahoma (unchanged)
24. Colorado State (unranked)
25. Clemson (down 4)

Others receiving votes: Duke, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, LSU, Minnesota

Dropped from rankings: #15 Duke, #17 Notre Dame, #19 LSU, #24 Texas A&M, #25 Florida

Let's Go Bucks! Heisman Index
1. Marcus Mariota (QB--Oregon)
2. Melvin Gordon (RB--Wisconsin)
3. JT Barrett (QB--Ohio State)
4. Trevone Boykin (QB--TCU)

Draper Top 25
1. Florida State (unchanged)
2. Alabama (up 4)
3. Oregon (up 1)
4. Baylor (up 3)
5. Mississippi State (down 3)

6. TCU (down 3)
7. Ohio State (up 1)
8. Ole Miss (up 2)
9. Georgia (up 8)
10. Michigan State (up 1)
11. UCLA (up 8)
12. Kansas State (up 2)
13. Wisconsin (up 8)
14. Arizona (up 6)
15. Auburn (down 6)
16. Arizona State (down 10)
17. Nebraska (down 5)
18. Georgia Tech (up 7)
19. Utah (down 3)
20. Missouri (unranked)
21. Oklahoma (unranked)
22. USC (unranked)
23. Marshall (unchanged)
24. Colorado State (unchanged)
25. Duke (down 12)

Dropped from rankings: #15 LSU, #16 Notre Dame, #18 Clemson

Draper Heisman Ballot
1. Marcus Mariota (QB - Oregon)
2. Melvin Gordon (RB - Wisconsin)
3. J.T. Barrett (QB - THE Ohio State University)

Hoying Top 25

1. Florida State (up 1)
2. Oregon (up 1)
3. Alabama (up 2)
4. TCU (unchanged)
5. Mississippi State (down 4)
6. Ohio State (up 4)
7. Baylor (unchanged)
8. UCLA (up 1)
9. Mississippi (up 2)
10. Arizona (up 3)
11. Georgia (up 8)
12. Auburn (down 4)
13. Arizona State (down 7)
14. Michigan State (unchanged)
15. Kansas State (up 5)
16. Wisconsin (unranked)
17. Clemson (up 4)
18. Missouri (unranked)
19. Utah (unranked)
20. USC (unranked)
21. Georgia Tech (unranked)
22. Nebraska (down 7)
23. Colorado State (unchanged)
24. Texas A&M (down 7)
25. LSU (down 13)

Dropped from rankings: #16 Duke, #18 Florida, #22 Miami, #24 Notre Dame, #25 Oklahoma

Hoying Heisman Ballot

1. Marcus Mariota (QB--Oregon)
2. Melvin Gordon (RB--Wisconsin)
3. JT Barrett (QB--Ohio State)

Schweinfurth Top 25
1. Florida State (Unchanged)
2. Oregon (Up 1)
3. Alabama (Up 4)
4. Baylor (Up 1)
5. TCU (Down 1) 
6. Ohio State (Unchanged)
7. Michigan State (Up 4)
8. Mississippi State (Down 6)9. Kansas State (Up 5)
10. Ole Miss (Up 5)
11. Marshall (Down 1)
12. Arizona (Up 4)
13. UCLA (Up 5)
14. Wisconsin (Up 5)
15. Georgia (Up 6)
16. Georgia Tech (Up 6)
17. Auburn (Down 5)
18. Arizona State (Down 10)
19. Nebraska (Down 10)
20. Colorado State (Up 5)
21. Duke (Down 4) 
22. Notre Dame (Down 9)
23. Utah (Unranked)
24. Oklahoma (Down 4)
25. USC (Unranked)  

Dropped from Rankings: Minnesota, Clemson

Schweinfurth Heisman Ballot
1. Marcus Mariota (QB--Oregon)
2. Melvin Gordon (RB--Wisconsin)
3. J.T. Barrett (QB--Ohio State)

Seeberg Top 25
1.) Oregon (up 2)
2.) Alabama (up 3)
3.) Florida State (down 1)
4.) TCU (same)
5.) Mississippi State (down 4)
6.) Ohio State (up 1)
7.) Baylor (up 1)
8.) Ole Miss (up 2)
9.) Michigan State (up 2)
10.) Georgia (up 5)
11.) UCLA (up 2)
12.) Kansas State (up 2)
13.) Wisconsin (up 5)
14.) Arizona State (down 8)
15.) Arizona (up 1)
16.) Auburn (down 7)
17.) Georgia Tech (up 7)
18.) Missouri (unranked)
19.) Oklahoma (up 4)
20.) Utah (unranked)
21.) USC (unranked)
22.) Marshall (same)
23.) Nebraska (down 11)
24.) Colorado State (unranked)
25.) Minnesota (same)

Dropped from rankings :  #17 Duke, #19 Notre Dame, #20 LSU, #21 Clemson, 

Seeberg Heisman Ballot
1.) Marcus Mariota (QB--Oregon)
2.) Melvin Gordon (RB--Wisconsin)
3.) Trevone Boykin (QB--TCU)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Grading the Bucks--Week 12: Minnesota

Offense: B+
JT was phenomenal as always.  The interception was not good obviously, but his running was great.  There were some great passes and some that leave much to be desired (likely due to cold weather--not a good excuse).  Zeke was very good as well, but he still isn't getting enough carries.  Receivers definitely had an off day overall (dropsies for Thomas) but still better from last year.  Here's the big downside that I can't get out of my head...the fumble at the goalline is COMPLETELY INEXCUSABLE! The game is doubt, if Marshall holds the ball (or Spencer recovers it).  The players need to know the situation and know that there's no need to press there.

Defense: B-
I really see some improvement on defense from the last few year; great improvement; except in one area that is an Ohio State staple...TACKLING.  This team's tackling ability went into the crapper and I don't know why.  It's nice having a secondary that doesn't blow chunks (see Buckeyes 2013), but there are still guys going for 'blow up' hits rather than form tackling.  The line is rushing the passer, but there is much to improve on stopping the run.  A Jonathan Hankins would be great to shore up the middle.  Bosa and Bennett are producing in one aspect (sacks) but not the other (tackling the RB consistently)..

Special Teams: BUTT
This is just pathetic.  Every week, they shock me by doing something else stupid.  Every week, a kickoff goes out of bounds...EVERY WEEK.  Every week, someone tries to be a hero and returns a kickoff to the 15.  Every week (it seems), someone muffs a punts or fumbles a kickoff (inside the 10...REALLY!?!?!).  That throwback return by Minnesota almost went the distance because we're way too aggressive.  It's time to kick every kickoff deep, kneel every kickoff, not catch any punt (don't even send someone back), and get better punting (Johnston looked a bit off in the cold).  Butt...that's all I have to say about that.

Coaching: B-
Urban coaching the special teams...that's a problem.  Overall, the game was called ok, but I don't understand this team's predilection to check out early.  That's coaching.  Why is Marshall stretching for the goalline?  Why is Marshall catching (or failing to catch) a punt inside the 6? Why is Herman throwing deep early when it isn't needed and the short game was churning? Why weren't the Bucks running the clock a little more and keeping Barrett out of harm's way?  Where has fundamental tackling go? These are questions for which I'd love to have answers.  This was an odd game that had some enormous mistakes that made a laugher into a 'close game' (I was never worried about losing).

Overall: B
This team is better than a 7 point win at Minnesota.  The Gophers are improved, but OSU is so much better, there is no reason for this to be anything but a 21 point game.  Don't listen to the talking heads, all OSU needs to do is win (the chips will fall as they may).  Blowouts don't really make any difference, but I'd like some more momentum and energy going forward.  The next two weeks should be massacres.  They need to shore up the tackling before Mr. Gordon meets the Bucks.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Week 12 - How the Wests Were Won

1) Draper               34-16    (4-7 upset)
2) Hoying               33-17    (3-8 upset)
3) Schweinfurth     32-18    (4-7 upset)
3) Seeberg              32-18    (1-10 upset)

The natural order has returned to the college football landscape. Our beloved Buckeyes once again reign supreme atop the B1G standings, the playoff contenders dwindle to a mere decade, and...the winds of winter remind us of the waning season before us. But fear not, faithful subscribers. It's a Western theme at Let's Go Bucks! this week, with two Southern-style games on the lineup, one of which should go a long way towards deciding the pecking order in the ALMIGHTY SEC WEST, as well as B1G Championship Part II: Delany Goes West.

#1 Mississippi State Bulldogs @ #5 Alabama Crimson Tide
Draper: MSU was tearing through the SEC for awhile, but teams are starting to get it.  This team is not the layup it used to be.  The Bulldogs led by Dak Prescott are simply begging to get clipped after close calls vs. Kentucky and Arkansas.  Oh yeah, they're rolling into Tuscaloosa this week.  Bama isn't the juggernaut from the last few years, but they're pretty darn good.  Blake Sims should be able to make some noise against the Bulldog secondary.  If this was in CLANGA, I'd be a little skittish picking the Tide...but in Bama...Roll Tide, PAWWWWWLLLL.  MSU: 17--Bama: 27
Hoying: 23-17. 34-28. 29-24. 9-6. 28-27. 24-21. These are the scores of Alabama's last 6 conference losses, spanning 5 seasons. The Tide have built a culture of dominance that's the envy of the college football world. If you want to beat them, you'll need to find a way to solve what's arguably the nation's top defense. Even Dr. Bo at his best was only barely enough to take down the Tide, and that was in Oxford. Dak Prescott has trailed off a bit since MSU's big October, and Blake Sims has managed to play mistake-free ball after his poor showing against Ole Miss. These are two teams headed in two different directions, and the Bulldogs have been BEGGING to get tagged, posting lackluster wins at Kentucky and at home against Arkansas. The Tide roll and keep their title hopes alive. MSU: 20--Bama: 28
Schweinfurth: There is a historical trend with Alabama that says they lose the week after LSU.  I have been all about these trends (see my ND pick last week).  Mississippi State as been proving everyone wrong this year and Dak Prescott is getting some well deserved Heisman hype.  Yes this game is at Alabama, but that matters little to me.  What matters is that I don't think Alabama is that good. MSU: 31--Bama: 17
Seeberg:  I haven't done the research, but this may be the first time in college football history that the #1 team in the country is an 8.5-point underdog.  Frankly, I don't think it will sit well with the Bulldogs.  Bama's escape against LSU was their first win against a ranked opponent in over a year.  It was a game in which even Amari Cooper was neutralized and the offense looked lackluster at best.  Dak plays well enough to stay a Heisman frontrunner, and the Bulldogs leave Tuscaloosa unscathed.  MSU: 24--Bama: 17

#12 Nebraska Cornhuskers @ #22 Wisconsin Badgers
Draper: While last week was the premier matchup of the Big Ten, this is a solid number 2 (....hehehehe).  The West will (may) be won here (don't forget Minnyhaha).  Is Ameer going to go for the Huskers?  That's a huge question.  Let's look on the other side: Melvin Gordon and the Wisky running game has plowed everyone they've faced (Gordon had 259 and a TD in the loss to Northwestern).  And that passing game....well, the running game is really good.  The issue for the Badgers is the 'Blackshirt' defense.  No they aren't the 90s level, but they're better than any team Wisconsin has played sans LSU...and we all saw what happened there.  I thinkNebraska keeps the passing game in Bo Pelini land just enough to pull out the win in Madison.  Neb: 31--Wisc: 28
Hoying: If last week's de facto B1G East championship was a battle of two sledgehammers, this week's de facto B1G West championship is a clash of bulldozers. The conference's two premier running backs will be going head to head, although the shine's off Abdullah's apple a little after being utterly stifled by the Spartan defense (hmmm, perhaps we saw the B1G's premier back in East Lansing in a bit more recent memory). Melvin Gordon, on the other hand, hasn't been stopped by anybody except...Western Illinois...when they completely sold out the run under the theory that Wisconsin couldn't move the ball through the air (which might have worked, except they were...Western Illinois...). Nebraska's defense is improved, but the B1G's Blackshirts reside in Madison, where they're giving up less than 15 points a game. The problem is, Nebraska is good enough to sell out against the run and keep the nation's top RB contained just enough for the one-two punch of  Tommy Armstrong and Ameer Abdullah to squeak out a big road win and put Nebraska's streak of 4-loss seasons in serious jeopardy. Come on, do you really think the Badgers can ride the arm of Joel Stave to a significant victory? Neb: 31--Wis: 24
Schweinfurth: This one is going to look like an old school Big Ten game.  Both teams enjoy smash mouth football and play good defense.  To me this game comes down to which QB/RB tandem is the best.  Right now Tommy Armstrong and Ameer Abdullah is that pair.  Melvin Gordon is good, and he will get his yards, but Wisconsin just doesn't have a good enough playmaker at QB.  Neb: 21--Wis: 14
Seeberg:  This game might feature the two best running backs in the country.  I say that not because there may be better ones out there (aside from the recently unsuspended Todd Gurley- see below), I say it because Ameer Abdullah's dodgy knee may keep him out of action, or at least limit him.  Nebraska's schedule has gotten them to 8-1, not their talent level.  Wisconsin is just a notch better most of the way across the board, and the Badgers will Jump Around to the front of the B1G West.  Neb: 21--Wis: 31

#9 Auburn Tigers @ #17 Georgia Bulldogs
Draper: This one is tough because both of these teams are a bit up and down.  Auburn is the better team and far more consistent, but UGA is getting the best running back in college football back in Todd Gurley.  Much of this will be determined by how the 1-2 punch of Gurley and Chubb run over the Auburn defense.  I have a feeling this will be your standard SEC offensive firework show (what?).  These defenses are not good.  UGA will run at will, and Auburn will mix it up with Sammy Coates and Nick Marshall.  This is going to be a shootout (all of a sudden, shootout means good right ESECPN?) with Auburn coming out on top between the hedges. Aub: 51--UGA: 41
Hoying: Florida attempted 4 passes and blew out Georgia. FLORIDA. Georgia's played a great slate of games against Clemson...and...nobody, managing to lose twice along the way, while Auburn's been playing the heavy sluggers week in and week out, dodging punches and counter-punching (join the Nintendo Fun Club today, Mac!). Auburn runs the ball as well as anyone, and while Gurley is a difference-maker, it's not like the Bulldogs were lacking with Chubb in the backfield. The team around them just isn't that great. An Auburn win just about locks up the SEC East for, to face off against, well, probably not Auburn. But it's important to win your rivalry games, even if they happen every week in the SEC. Aub: 34--UGA: 20
Schweinfurth: I have a hint on how to beat the ball.  Wait, I forgot, Auburn is one of the best at running the football!!  The Bulldogs must still be having nightmares about that Florida game.  Nick Marshall is very good at operating Malzahn's spread option offense.  Georgia will get Todd Gurley back but that's not going to be enough.  Expect lots of rushing yards and a lot of bad passing. Aub: 24--UGA: 17
Seeberg:  Man...I just don't know about this one.  Gurley is back- although his stand-in Mr. Chubb has been more than serviceable in Gurley's absence, averaging over 140 ypg.  Unfortunately for the SEC East Bulldogs, Nick Marshall and Co. come to town as the only team in the conference better equipped to control the game on the ground.  Gurley gives the home team a boost early, but in the end it's just too much Auburn ground game for Georgia to handle.  Aub: 38--UGA: 28

#8 THE Ohio State University Buckeyes @ Minnesota Golden Gophers
Draper: Can the Buckeyes handle the spotlight with success?  Last week, they were the underdog and fighting against the world.  This week, everyone is patting them on the back and saying how great they are.  Can they keep it going against a better than expected team in very cold conditions?  I think one of the best things for the Bucks is that little number 25 by Minnesota's name.  It may be arbitrary, but it's a warning to not look past this team.  JT keeps lighting up the scoreboard, but Minnesota will do their best to take the air out of the football and shorten the game.  Bucks win comfortably, but the score is lower than expected.  Look for another big day for Zeke churning in the cold weather with a few pinpoint passes from Mr. Barrett.  OSU: 41--Minn: 24
Hoying: STAY HUNGRY. After the program's biggest win since knocking off Wisconsin in 2011 and most significant win since the phantom victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, the Bucks are riding high. But there's no rest for the weary, as the Buckeyes now face America's favorite completely one-dimensional team, the Golden Gophers. I'm not sure if there's a bigger mirage in the entire landscape of college football than Minnesota, whose best win is over Iowa and second best win is over...Middle Tennessee...and throws the ball worse than Michigan does. Yeah, yeah, David Cobb is a great running back, but if the Silver Bullets can wake up and remember the tackling that brought them through the early B1G season, this should be a total laugher. This is a colossal mismatch, and the Bucks should keep right on rolling up the rankings towards #4, no matter what my fellow Admiral Ackbars think. OSU: 45--Minn: 17
Schweinfurth: It's a trap (game)!!!  No really, it's a trap.  Everyone has been praising the Buckeyes since the big win last week, and rightfully so.  It was a huge win for Meyer and the program.  However, it won't matter if the Bucks look past Goldy this week.  Minnesota is not a slouch team, but they aren't world beaters either.  There will be plenty of running to go around this week as the weather is going to be cold and snowy.  I trust the Bullets to negate David Cobb. I expect Zeke and the O-line to churn out some big yards on the ground.  This one stays closer than it should be with the weather factor.  OSU: 35--Minn: 10
Seeberg:  I have to be honest, I am moderately worried about this game.  OSU wins the game it has had circled on its schedule for nearly 12 months and then takes on (previously) lowly Minnesota.  Except not anymore.  Minnesota is 7-2, ranked in the 12 Titans poll, and is coming off an absolute shellacking of Iowa.  Oh, and the game is at noon (11 AM local time) and it will be frigid and snowy (because, for reasons FAR BEYOND my comprehension, they got rid of the dome and build multiple outdoor venues).  The only thing that makes me confident is that it is nearly impossible for Minnesota to play that well two weeks in a row.  The Bucks are much more talented across the board, but the lousy weather, early start and surprisingly competent opponent will keep things close for a bit longer than they should be.  In the end though, too much EZ E (see what I did there) running downhill, and a nice, long drive for 7 to close it out midway through the 4th, eerily reminiscent of how we put away the mighty Spartans.  OSU: 38--Minn: 21

Upset Special
Draper: Arkansas over LSU (Derp gets his first SEC win)
Hoying: Miami over Florida State
Schweinfurth: Virginia Tech over Duke
Seeberg:  Georgia Southern over Navy

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Grading the Bucks -- Week 11: Michigan State

See my prediction of the game.  Last week went exactly according to plan.  Early mistakes followed by a fantastic response.

Offense: A
There we go.  Exactly what the Dr. ordered for this young team - a chance to open up and do what they do best.  JT was phenomenal and did things that I haven't seen a QB do since Troy Smith 2006.  This isn't to say that JT is the next Heisman winner, but man he looked great against the 'supposed' immovable Spartan D.  His passes were crisp and on the money and his decisions were on the money.  His moves were great when he chose to run even when we MSU had to know it was coming.  Let's not forget the other aspects of the offense.  The WR were making plays (Smith had his best game and Thomas is going to be star).  The O-line has really come into their own and is in for some great things in the future.  Oh yeah, let's know forget Zeke who was fantastic.  See what happens when we give, uh, Elliot, the ball? Good stuff.  This offense is definitely one that no one wants to face especially with an Oline that can protect and run block effectively against a good defense.

Defense: B
The point total wasn't pretty, but the execution was pretty good.  The downgrade isn't for the number of points given up, but for the missed tackles that sprinkled throughout this game. Conley getting run over was simply embarrassing.  Langford gave the Bucks fits so there's still work to be done.  The linebackers continue to improve in pass coverage (but the MSU O-line controlled the line of scrimmage and the run game).  Overall, I was pleased with the secondary play sans a few plays near the end of the game, but they did what they needed to.  I heard a lot of questions about the disappearance of Bosa, but this is a team sport.  While the commentators questioned where Bosa was, the rest of the line was making a statement...why? Because Bosa was attracting all the attention.  Clean up the (bad) missed tackles and these will be some Bullets.

Special Teams: C
Woof. For all the emphasis Urban puts on special teams, they plain suck.  47 yard FG ends up short (not that big of a deal), but the turnovers on the punts and the fumbles on the kickoff (paging Dontre) are simply unacceptable.  Yes, I saw that Dontre had a broken foot...maybe he shouldn't have been out there if he was hurt...and yes, the coach should know about it and/or the player should have taken himself out.  Oh yeah, Cameron Johnston was good for his two punts.

Coaching: A
This was by far the best coached game I've seen by Tom Herman in his time at OSU.  The run/pass mix was perfect and he finally played to the strengths of JT--he can pass where Braxton couldn't.  Defensively, the calls were good but the execution needs to improve tackling, but offensively, this was about the most perfectly called game ever.  Look at the drive summary for OSU: Missed FG, Punt, TD, TD, TD, TD, TD, TD, TD, Punt.  More of this please!

Overall: A-
More please.  The VT game is a distant memory.  Time to focus on what the Bucks can control.  Keep winning and let the dominoes fall where they may.  Let's enjoy this win and focus on the Gophers.

Top 25 and Heisman Ballots - After Week 11

Rankings, as always, are based on what teams have done so far, not how we believe they will finish. Leave a comment and challenge our experts to defend themselves.

Let's Go Bucks! Index

1a. Florida State (unchanged)
1b. Mississippi State (unchanged)
3. Oregon (unchanged)
4. TCU (up 1)
5. Alabama (up 2)
6. Arizona State (up 3)
7. Baylor (up 4)
8. Ohio State (up 6)
9. Auburn (down 5)
10. Ole Miss (up 3)
11. Michigan State (down 5)
12. Nebraska (up 3)
13. UCLA (up 5)
14. Kansas State (down 6)
15. Duke (up 2)
16. Arizona (up 3)
17a. Georgia (up 4)
17b. Notre Dame (down 7)
19. LSU (down 7)
20. Marshall (unchanged)
21. Clemson (up 3)
22. Wisconsin (up 3)
23. Oklahoma (down 7)
24. Texas A&M (unranked)
25. Florida (unranked)

Others receiving votes: Georgia Tech, Colorado State, Miami, Utah, Minnesota

Dropped from rankings: #22 West Virginia, #22 Utah

Let's Go Bucks! Heisman Index
1. Marcus Mariota (QB--Oregon)
2. Dak Prescott (QB--Mississippi State)
3. Trevone Boykin (QB--TCU)

Draper Top 25
1. Florida State (unchanged)
2. Mississippi State (unchanged)
3. TCU (up 1)
4. Oregon (up 1)
5. Alabama (up 1)

6. Arizona State (up 2)
7. Baylor (up 2)
8. Ohio State (up 6)
9. Auburn (down 6)
10. Ole Miss (up 1)
11. Michigan State (down 4)
12. Nebraska (up 3)
13. Duke (up 3)
14. Kansas State (down 6)
15. LSU (down 4)
16. Notre Dame (down 3)
17. Georgia (up 2)
18. Clemson (up 2)
19. UCLA (up 3)
20. Arizona (up 3)
21. Wisconsin (up 3)
22. Utah (down 1)

23. Marshall (up 2)
24. Colorado State (unranked)
25. Georgia Tech (unranked)

Dropped from rankings: #17 Oklahoma, #18 West Virginia

Draper Heisman Ballot
1. Dak Prescott (QB--Mississippi State)
2. Marcus Mariota (QB--Oregon)
3. J. T. Barrett (QB--Ohio State)

Hoying Top 25

1. Mississippi State (unchanged)
2. Florida State (unchanged)
3. Oregon (unchanged)
4. TCU (up 1)
5. Alabama (up 7)
6. Arizona State (up 2)
7. Baylor (up 6)
8. Auburn (down 4)
9. UCLA (up 1)
10. Ohio State (up 9)
11. Mississippi (unchanged)
12. LSU (down 3)
13. Arizona (up 1)
14. Michigan State (down 8)
15. Nebraska (up 1)
16. Duke (up 2)
17. Texas A&M (unranked)
18. Florida (up 3)
19. Georgia (up 3)
20. Kansas State (down 13)
21. Clemson (up 2)
22. Miami (unranked)
23. Colorado State (up 2)
24. Notre Dame (down 9)
25. Oklahoma (down 8)
Dropped from rankings: #20 West Virginia, #24 Utah

Hoying Heisman Ballot

1. Marcus Mariota (QB--Oregon)
2. Melvin Gordon (RB--Wisconsin)
3. Trevone Boykin (QB--TCU)

Schweinfurth Top 25
1. Florida State (Unchanged)
2. Mississippi State (Unchanged)
3. Oregon (Unchanged)
4. TCU (Unchanged) 
5. Baylor (Up 4)
6. Ohio State (Up 5)
7. Alabama (Up 1)
8. Arizona State (Up 4)
9. Nebraska (Up 6)
10. Marshall (Up 4)
11. Michigan State (Down 5)
12. Auburn (Down 5)
13. Notre Dame (Down 8)
14. Kansas State (Down 4)
15. Ole Miss (Up 2)
16. Arizona (Up 2)
17. Duke (Up 2)
18. UCLA (UP 3)
19. Wisconsin (Up 3)
20. Oklahoma (Down 4)
21. Georgia (Up 2)
22. Georgia Tech (Unranked)
23. Minnesota (Unranked)
24. Clemson (Unranked)
25. Colorado State (Unranked)

Dropped from Rankings: Utah, Stanford, USC, LSU
Schweinfurth Heisman Ballot
1. Marcus Mariota (QB--Oregon)
2. Dak Prescott (QB--Mississippi St.)
3. Trevone Boykin (QB--TCU)

Seeberg Top 25
1.) Mississippi State (same)
2.) Florida State (same)
3.) Oregon (up 1)
4.) TCU (up 1)
5.) Alabama (up 1)
6.) Arizona State (up 6)
7.) Ohio State (up 4)
8.) Baylor (up 6)
9.) Auburn (down 6)
10.) Ole Miss (same)
11.) Michigan State (down 4)
12.) Nebraska (up 1)
13.) UCLA (up 5)
14.) Kansas State (down 6)
15.) Georgia (up 7)
16.) Arizona (up 3)
17.) Duke (same)
18.) Wisconsin (up 3)
19.) Notre Dame (down 10)
20.) LSU (down 4)
21.) Clemson (up 2)
22.) Marshall (down 2)
23.) Oklahoma (down 8)
24.) Georgia Tech (unranked)
25.) Minnesota (unranked)

Dropped from rankings :  #24 Utah, #25 West Virginia

Seeberg Heisman Ballot
1.) Marcus Mariota (QB--Oregon)
2.) Dak Prescott (QB--Miss St)
3.) Trevone Boykin (QB--TCU)