Friday, November 7, 2008

I've Got Your Change Right Here!

All we've been hearing about during the election is change, change, change! You want real change? Put me in charge of college football and you'd see the meaning of the word change!

I hate the rotating schedule, and I hate that Minnesota won't get a chance to play Penn State or Michigan State. I don't care if both of those are potential losses, I'd love to see a TRUE conference champion who had to play everybody else. Since we're now playing 12 games (or even 13 for those with a conference championship game) why not drop two useless non-conference cupcake foes a year so that everybody plays everybody. I know we don't do it because schools make money off of the two extra home games, and they’re two cheap victories that can add to your bowl chances. But as a fan, wouldn’t you rather see a full conference slate than two cupcakes? Wouldn’t it be better to have a TRUE conference champ every year? Say what you want about how bad the Pac 10 has been lately (really, I'm not going to stop you. Come to think of it, I heard an interesting idea this week: what if USC became an independent in football like Notre Dame? The rest of their sports could stay in the Pac 10, but football would get to play whomever they wanted. Knowing Pete Carroll, who has been as aggressive a non-conference scheduler as there is in the country, he'd play anyone, anywhere. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'), but I think it's great that all 10 teams voluntarily gave up basically a guaranteed win against a cupcake at home so that they could have 9 conference games a year and play everybody. It’s not possible for the SEC, Big 12 and ACC, but since the Big 10 insists on being different with refusing to add a 12th team (which I’m fine with, by the way. Notre Dame’s the only team that makes sense, but I don’t see them ever coming over), why not raise the bar and show those “other conferences” who are so down on us what a real conference schedule looks like!

Seriously, when schools are playing not one but TWO FCS teams a year, how hard is it to pick up four more wins along the way to qualify for a bowl? God forbid teams earn a bowl birth anymore instead of rewarding mediocrity and a .500 record.

Head coaches do not fill these out, their grad assistants do. Either way, college coaches do not, and should not, have the time to research and watch enough of everybody else to make an accurate judgment of who the top 25 teams in the country are each week. It's how we end up with things like this week where Oklahoma is ranked ahead of Texas- despite the fact Texas beat Oklahoma. If we’re going to put weight on those polls and have them part of the convoluted formula that determines a national champion, I’d prefer to have it done by people who are paid to follow the game, nation wide, instead of the coaches. But that’s just me.

Look the top 25 polls are great fun and all, but they do much more harm than good by releasing them at the start of the season instead of in mid October. Teams who start the year ranked outside of the top 15 are at a serious disadvantage when trying to play in a major bowl. Just ask Auburn in 2004, or perhaps Penn State in about a month. The only reason I’ve heard for having preseason polls is because “fans love them.” Really? And if we didn’t have polls out until mid October you think fans wouldn’t love debating who the top teams would be? You don’t think that would create MORE fan interest and debate than we already get?

Alrighty, onto the picks. A LOT of big lines this week, which means Vegas thinks they’ve figured out the conference. If only I could say the same!

Wisconsin @ Indiana (+10)
Look I know IU got beaten last week-AT HOME- by Central Michigan. I know this. But the Chippewas did it through the air, whereas the Badgers are a ground team. 10 points is a big number, and the Badgers are winless on the road this year. I like the Hoosiers to cover.

Ohio State (-10.5) @ Northwestern
The Buckeyes are playing for a spot in the Rose Bowl, and their defense is just a wee bit better than the Minnesota squad that Wildcats QB Mike Kafka shredded last week. The Wildcats will have trouble moving the ball all day, and Ohio State’s offense will have plenty to blow out Northwestern.

Purdue (+9.5) @ Michigan State
It may have taken Purdue most of the year to find their quarterback, but it looks they’ve found him. Justin Siller is for real. The 6’4 sophomore shredded a talented Michigan defense for a combined 343 yards and four touchdowns, and should be a handful for the Spartans all day.

Illinois (-7.5) @ Western Michigan
Illinois is 4-3 in their last seven games, and haven’t won two in a row since September 13th. Their pattern says they should get shocked by Western Michigan, but I not only don’t see them getting upset, I see them as at least a touchdown better. Ron Zook better hope so, or all that momentum and good vibes he carried in from last year’s Rose Bowl season goes right out the window.

Penn State (-7.5) @ Iowa
Penn State has to be angry they got passed in the BCS standings by Texas Tech, and they know the only hope they have is to blow out the last three teams on their slate. Kinnick Stadium is a very tough place to play, especially with an Iowa team that can grind it out in what should be cold weather conditions. Still, the Nittany Lions have covered the spread in three of four road games this year. Expect them to make it four of five.

Michigan +8 @ Minnesota
I think/hope/pray the Gophers win this one outright, but for an offense that honestly has struggled since the Big 10 season started, 8 points is too much against a very talented Michigan defense. The teams that have put up points on the Wolverines (Michigan’s given up at least 35 points in five of seven losses) have done it with athletic quarterbacks (Illinois, Penn State and Purdue) and/or through the air (Michigan State threw for a season high 306 in their win. Notre Dame does have a good passing attack, but their win was more because of Michigan’s six turnovers than anything else). Minnesota’s D has to continue to force turnovers, and the Gophers are going to have continue to move the ball well through the air and have Weber’s athletic ability be a factor. Gophers win what should be a dandy at the Metrodome tomorrow.


Anonymous said... much as I hate to admit this because I am not a UT fan...Texas beat Oklahoma, they only have one loss this year and thats to Texas Tech

Jeff said...

Yep you are absolutely right. I got them mixed up. Texas DID beat Oklahoma, but the Sooners are currently ranked ahead of the Longhorns. I'll make that correction.