Conference Boasting Time

There can be only one! And it's not the ACC.

There can be only one! And it’s not the ACC.

Now that non-conference play is over for most teams, we can accurately judge how the leagues stack up. Here is my ranking of the 10 conferences.

1. SEC
Schools in AP Top 25: 8
Schools Receiving Votes: 2
Driver Seat: No. 3 Alabama
Worst team: Vanderbilt, No. 84 Sagarin
Think about it, 10 SEC teams are either in the Top 25 or close to it. Critics point out how LSU should have lost to Wisconsin, Missouri’s lost to Indiana and how flimsy the SEC East looks. But the conference has done damage to the ACC and Big 12. The only weak link is Vanderbilt, as Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas have made strides.

2. PAC-12
Schools in AP Top 25: 4
Schools Receiving Votes: 3
Driver Seat: No. 2 Oregon
Worst team: Colorado, No. 94 Sagarin
The best non-conference win so far has been Oregon over Michigan State. UCLA is a potential playoff team and the only schools with losing records are Washington State and Colorado. The PAC-12 has a decent chance of getting two teams in the four-team playoff. The concern though is that conference may beat each other up leaving no undefeated or even one-loss team left.

3. Big 12
Schools in AP Top 25: 5
Schools Receiving Votes: 1
Driver Seat: No. 4 Oklahoma
Worst team: Kansas, No. 115 Sagarin
Oklahoma State and Kansas State came close but missed great chances to pick up huge non-conference wins in Florida State and Auburn. Iowa State is 1-3 but did beat Iowa, leaving Kansas as the only weak school. The big question is TCU as the Horn Frogs will have a chance to rise up the rankings and help out Oklahoma and Baylor.

4. Big 10
Schools in AP Top 25: 4
Schools Receiving Votes: 1
Driver Seat: No. 10 Michigan State
Worst team: Purdue, No. 112 Sagarin
Nebraska is last remaining unbeaten team in the Big 10 and the Cornhuskers nearly lost to a FCS school. Northwestern, Purdue and Indiana have lost to MAC teams. However it’s not all bad as Nebraska, Iowa and Maryland have defeated an ACC program this year. Rutgers took out Washington State on the road to start the season and Indiana shocked Missouri. It will be tough getting conference frontrunner Michigan State into the playoff but it is more than a possibility.

5. ACC
Schools in AP Top 25: 1
Schools Receiving Votes: 5
Driver Seat: No. 1 Florida State
Worst team: Wake Forest, No. 118 Sagarin
After Florida State there is no one else who can make the playoff. The other schools with just one loss or less are Georgia Tech, Duke, NC State and Louisville. Not exactly a prestigious set of four. North Carolina gave up 70 points to East Carolina and Pittsburgh was non competitive against Akron out of the MAC. Don’t even mention Wake Forest. The Seminoles are in a tough spot as just one loss will probably be enough to keep them out of the playoff.

6. Conference USA
Schools in AP Top 25: 0
Schools Receiving Votes: 1
Driver Seat: Marshall
Worst team: Florida International, No. 155 Sagarin
Now that we have hit the mid-majors it gets tougher to distinguish but Conference USA is having a solid year. Even Southern Mississippi has defeated a Sun Belt school. Marshall though looks poised to go undefeated and snag a bid at a premier bowl. However, Louisiana Tech and FIU have lost to FCS schools. Still, expect Marshall to move up the Top 25 and give C-USA attention.

7. Mountain West
Schools in AP Top 25: 0
Schools Receiving Votes: 0
Driver Seat: Nevada
Worst team: New Mexico, No. 148 Sagarin
The Mountain West has no dominant team right now but does have depth. The league’s best wins have been Nevada over Washington State and Colorado State over Colorado. There have been few bad losses as no one has lost to a FCS school although UNLV escaped Northern Colorado 13-12. The parity will make the Mountain West fun to watch.

8. American Athletic
Schools in AP Top 25: 1
Schools Receiving Votes: 0
Driver Seat: No. 22 East Carolina
Worst team: SMU, No. 116 Sagarin
East Carolina is the real deal and could probably play in the SEC. Defeating Virginia Tech and North Carolina brought plenty of attention to the AAC. After that the conference is a mixed bag but schools like SMU, UConn and Tulane are weighing the league down. Tulsa losing to Texas State at home does not help either. The Mustangs of SMU have been the worst team in FBS so far.

9. MAC
Schools in AP Top 25: 0
Schools Receiving Votes: 0
Driver Seat: Northern Illinois
Worst team: Miami University, No. 116 Sagarin
The MAC has scored wins over the Big 10 and the ACC this season. Just hide the fact that Miami and Ball State lost to FCS teams. Bowling Green being humbled by Western Kentucky hurts. Kent State, UMass and Miami are winless and are looking at a long year. Even Toledo and Northern Illinois have been blown out this season. The MAC will have to make up for it bowl season.

10. Sun Belt
Schools in AP Top 25: 0
Schools Receiving Votes: 0
Driver Seat: Georgia Southern
Worst team: Troy State, No. 157 Sagarin
It’s a year of transition in the Sun Belt as several teams left and several teams joined the conference. Georgia Southern came close to beating ACC teams and UL-Monroe did beat Wake Forest. However, those are the only two schools above .500 in the league. Troy State and Idaho are currently winless and have had bad losses at home. The Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana were a conference favorite but were no match for Louisiana Tech and Boise State.


Texas A&M Saves us from Boredom

When I was looking into journalism in college I read that newspapers were 10 percent actual news and 90 percent filler. This Saturday in college football was filler.

College GameDay was at Missouri vs. South Carolina. Two teams with a loss each and Missouri’s came to lowly Indiana. Yet, Missouri won the game. Go figure.

Heck, Michigan State’s rout of Wyoming somehow made it to ESPN 2. The ABC primetime game involved Syracuse, a school who nearly lost to FCS Villanova and was humbled by Maryland. ESPNU showcased a SWAC duel between Alcorn State and Southern. In other words, quality games were not there.

Next week will be different but today we were left with Texas A&M rallying to beat Arkansas and Florida State surviving NC State on the road. The only bout between ranked teams was No. 11 UCLA lighting up No. 15 Arizona State 62-27 and that game was on… Thursday.

Here are the winners and losers from the week.

Winner: Texas A&M

The Aggies had to deal with “trap game” talk all week and needed two fourth quarter touchdowns to bail them out against the Razorbacks. Arkansas had 484 total yards but only 73 came in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Hogs will also have to question this slow developing run on fourth down in overtime that was quickly stuffed at the line of scrimmage.

What Arkansas fans see in Hades.

What Arkansas fans see in Hades.

Bottom line: Texas A&M players don’t have to worry about trap games anymore. Mainly because they know No. 14 Mississippi State can beat them without anyone in the media telling them so.

Loser: Penn State

Penn State was excited to be eligible for the Big 10 title game this season but not anymore. Losing to 1-2 Northwestern at home takes care of that. The Wildcats had lost to a MAC school and their only win was against a FCS team. Yet, Northwestern never trailed as it scored two touchdowns in the first quarter to win 29-6. PSU quarterback Christian Hackenberg averaged over 300 passing yards per game coming into the contest but had just 216 today to go along with an interception. The only school that stands in Michigan State’s way in the Big 10 East now is … Maryland? Maybe Ohio State? Maybe?

Winner: Air Force

The Falcons went 2-10 in 2013 and a depressing 0-8 in Mountain West action. Not this year, as Air Force took it to perennial Mountain West favorite Boise State and won 28-14. It has to be the school’s biggest win since topping Georgia Tech in the 2010 Independence Bowl. One thing is for sure, the Mountain West is going to be interesting this season.

Loser: Pittsburgh

When you lose to Akron at home 21-10 it’s going to be tough. It was the first win for Akron against a power conference school since defeating NC State six years ago. The Zips kept star Panther running back James Conner in check, holding him to just 92 yards. Coach Paul Chryst has damage control duties to do in Western Pennsylvania.

The Two Sides of Every Hail Mary

A problem of living in the Eastern Time Zone is all the PAC-12 games happen late. Luckily, I’m a night owl and was able to see Twitter explode about a Hail Mary touchdown to propel Arizona to a 49-45 win over California. The Wildcats rallied from a 31-13 deficit at the end of the third quarter to break the hearts of Golden Bears fans everywhere. Three touchdowns came in the final 3 minutes and 30 seconds.

As you can bet, Arizona was excited on social media after the win. Like a comic book geek meeting Stan Lee level of excitement.

Arizona is still unraked but remains one of seven undefeated teams in the PAC-12. This is what the celebration looked like in the locker room. Zona will travel to No. 2 Oregon on Thursday Oct. 2 in a game that will test the team’s resolve even more. But as Coach Rich Rodriguez said, they’ll “enjoy the Hell out of this one.”

That confident crew you saw there is a sharp contrast from the prayer they made before the Hail Mary.

California could only pump out a short final score tweet after the game and rightfully so. It’s easy to say something you shouldn’t after giving up 36 points in a fourth quarter. The Bears did respond brilliantly with this retweet after some breathing time.

It’s a shame too as California was on the brink of tripling its win total from last year. In the competitive PAC-12, the Sensor Scans Golden Bears will need every win to reach bowl eligibility. Colorado comes to Berkely Saturday in what appears to be the easiest game remaining on Cal’s schedule. A rebound against the Buffaloes is a must to avoid a season letdown.

Pirates Own the Tar Heels

It was a surprise when East Carolina defeated Virginia Tech a week ago but the Pirates decided to pummel another ACC school to validate themselves. ECU destroyed North Carolina 70-41 Saturday. SEVENTY!

Phil Steele along with other experts picked North Carolina to win the Coastal Division in the ACC this year. The beatdown was a big black eye for the conference as fellow members Miami, Syracuse and Pittsburgh lost to Big 10 schools too. East Carolina has positioned itself as the best school in the state for recruiting. The only other school that could compete with it is Duke and it’s a basketball school. As for ECU hanging 70 on a team, well it’s been a while since that last occurred.

The American Athletic Conference went 7-1 in non conference play Saturday and is having a great year overall.

Purdue Forgets How to Win

The Boilermakers have had a tough couple of years in football but won its second game of the year against FCS Southern Illinois. The school appears to be out of practice as some newbie in the athletics department hung the “W” flag upside down over Ross-Ade Stadium.

The bright side to all this is how Purdue won’t have to raise another “W” flag this season as the Boilers will be a underdog the rest of the season.Northwestern on November 22, however, will be Purdue’s best chance for a Big 10 win.

Volleyball and the 700 Club

The New Hampshire women’s volleyball team defeated Rhode Island Saturday in five sets (23-25, 25-20, 26-24, 26-28, 15-12). The real story though is it was 700th victory of Coach Jill Hirschinger and the photo-op was on. This tweet shows how the Wildcats used their tall volleyball bodies to spell out 700.

UNH has started the season 6-9 but should do well in conference play as the Wildcats are the defending American East champions.

Minnesota is “Dressed for Kill”

Check out these shirts Minnesota passed out to fans in their game with San Jose State to play with the name of its coach Jerry Kill. The Golden Gophers handled the Spartans 24-7 Saturday to move to 3-1.

Look for Kill and his team to go bowling for a third straight year and perhaps give Wisconsin trouble in the Big Ten West.

Kentucky and Lincoln

Kentucky and Louisville is one of the biggest rivalries in college athletics but the men’s soccer matchup caught my eye this week. The two teams meet tonight and Wildcats are going with a famous historical figure to trash Louisville.

That’s right; Kentucky is saying Abraham Lincoln was a Cats fan. The school will pass out shirts that say exactly that in the soccer game. Fans are encouraged to manufacture a top hat and other 19th century garb to dress up like the 16th president himself.

Better than Vampire Hunter

Better than Vampire Hunter

In a way it’s a cool idea as Lincoln was born in Central Kentucky. Problem is the University of Kentucky was not established until 1865, the year Lincoln was assassinated. Louisville was around when Lincoln was born so I’m sure Cardinal fans are ready to argue. Still, it’s a pretty cool marketing technique connecting sports to history of the Commonwealth in a nerdy way. Hard to beat that. Plus, if Lincoln was born today where he was there is little chance he’ll be pulling for Louisville. You’re on an island Jefferson County.

Popcorn Galore

Every wondered what 200 containers of popcorn looks like? Well East Tennessee State gave away free popcorn to 200 fans at its soccer match this weekend.

That’s 200 reasons why it’s cool to live in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Saturday Reaction: Clemson, Big 10 and Mother Nature

It was a huge night of college football as the defending national champion was tested. While the story is and will continue to be Jameis Winston the real story should be how Clemson blew this game. Missed field goals and a bad fumble kept the Seminoles in it and now we have to listen to Winston talk for the next few months.

Coach Jimbo Fisher’s quote “We know how to win” at the end of the game on ABC is a stretch. Clemson helped FSU with a slow developing play call on fourth and one. The Tigers had a 407-318 lead in yards and still lost.

Florida State is still in the driver seat for the ACC title and a playoff spot. For college football as a whole though, Winston will continue to be a bad distraction. People don’t change this quickly and I’m bracing myself for the next bad report out of Tallahassee.

Winner: Sean Maguire, Florida State quarterback

Congratulations to Maguire for keeping the Seminoles alive for another national title. He did throw more picks (2) than touchdowns (1) but his 305 passing yards were unexpected for a guy who threw just 116 yards last season. That was probably in garbage time too. Florida State fans will always have respect for Maguire for years to come.

Loser: ACC

The conference looks weak outside of Florida State right now. North Carolina was rolled over by East Carolina in embarrassing fashion. Syracuse, Miami and Pittsburgh lost to Big Ten schools. The best win the conference had today was Duke over Tulane. Not going to move the needle with that one.

Winner: Samantha Ponder

Ponder gave a great take on Winston during College Gameday as she explained why his suspension was warranted. It was probably the best I’ve heard and that’s with everyone in the media giving their two cents. Please give her more time than David Pollack ESPN.

Loser: Florida State University

The school originally suspended Winston for just the first half of the Clemson game but changed course to a full game late Friday night. Nothing good is announced on a Friday night. The school came across as suspicious and incompetent. Better to stick to your original decision to than to try and sweep a new choice in past newspaper deadlines. It was bad public relations coming from a school that appears to not have any.

Winner: Mother Nature

Several games have been delayed due to lightning this year and more were impacted this week. Michigan vs. Utah, Illinois vs. Texas State and Toledo vs. Ball State were games that were severely delayed.

Loser: Michigan Athletics

Well this tweet from the Michigan Golf Club sums it up.

Should note that the golf club is not a varsity sport for Michigan but yeah, that’s disrespectful of the athletics department if that’s true.

Winner: Indiana

The Hoosiers got there first win against a Top 25 team under Kevin Wilson today after six unsuccessful tries. IU went into Columbia, Missouri and knocked off the No. 18 Tigers 31-27. This was huge for the Big Ten as the Hoosiers are the only school in the league with a win over an SEC school this year. SEC fans will go back to disowning Missouri on a convenient basis. Today, the Tigers are back in the Big 12.

Tough Day for the Sun Belt

Why is Western Kentucky still here?

Why is Western Kentucky still here?

While the Big 10 has been berated by media folk (rightfully so) one league had an even worse week. The Sun Belt went 0-10 Saturday against schools ranging from LSU to Abilene Christian. Yikes!

It was not completely negative as Georgia Southern gave Georgia Tech a scare losing 42-38 in Atlanta. UL-Monroe was only down 10-0 at LSU after the first half, but the Tigers put the upset to bed with a 30-0 final score. After that… well…
Troy State fell to 0-3 as FCS Abilene Christian shocked it 38-35. That was the probably the most winnable game for the Trojans.

Arkansas State, Louisiana and South Alabama were handled by power conference schools. Idaho was uncompetitive at home against MAC weakling Western Michigan. Texas State surrendered 28 straight points to Navy at home before scoring its first touchdown. UTEP controlled New Mexico State the whole way and Georgia State did what Georgia State does against Air Force. The Panthers even turned to advertising for content on Twitter. Not good.

This doesn’t mean the Sun Belt Conference “sucks” as we like to label struggling leagues. There were disappointing performances to be sure but the Sun Belt is in a bad spot geographically speaking. While the MAC and Conference USA gets to pick at the struggling teams of the Big Ten and Big 12, the Sun Belt is stuck scheduling the SEC. That never ends up well.

The MAC didn’t do great this week either but when a Bowling Green defeats Indiana people tend to forget how badly Central Michigan, Ball State and Kent State played.Sensor Scans

With no big win among the conference other than ULM over Wake Forest in week 1 (not flashy) it’s hard to cover the stinky games up.

Southern Miss Stays Positive

What do you do when you’re getting blown out by No. 2 Alabama? Talk about the field goals your kicker is making and not about the extra points he never tried. The Golden Eagles lost 52-12 but did kick a field goal in each quarter. If that makes Southern Miss fans feel better.

Vanderbilt Hides Football

Forget about “Anchor Down” as Vanderbilt was losing to MAC doormat UMass on Saturday. The Commodores rallied to get their first win but not before reporting on how the school’s cross-country team did on Saturday. This resulted in this awesome exchange.

Vanderbilt might be able to “AnchorDown” against FCS Charleston Southern so fire up that 2-10 season Commodores. You’ll always have cross-country to turn to.

FCS Power Faceplants

No. 15 Sam Houston State was seen as a contender for the FCS playoffs but I’m sure that changed after Colorado State Pueblo destroyed it Saturday. Did I mention that Colorado State Pueblo was Division II? This is like an episode of “Defiance” being better than an episode of “Doctor Who.” It should not happen.

Division II knows how to "Bring the Thunder"

Division II knows how to “Bring the Thunder”

Even more surprising is how this game was never close. The ThunderWolves were up 14-0 after the first quarter and 27-0 at half. The 47-21 final was actually the result of mercy and garbage touchdowns by the Bearkats.

It’s going to be hard for Sam Houston State to come back from this one but maybe it was a learning experience for the Bearkats. One can only hope.

Enjoy the Check Kent State, Southern Miss and Wyoming

This is a soft slate of college football games this week as Georgia vs. South Carolina is the only match-up between Top 25 teams. There is a reason why the College GameDay gang is at North Dakota State tomorrow and that’s because there isn’t a better place to go. So that means it’s time to see what mid-majors are bold enough to get paid and destroyed by the big boys. Welcome to the Budget Games.Budget Games new

Kent State at Ohio State

The Buckeyes will pay the Golden Flashes $850,000 to travel to Columbus and take a beating Saturday. Or will they? Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is trying to fill in for injured Braxton Miller and has thrown 4 picks. Three of which came in its 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech.

Kent State though couldn’t break 300 yards of offense against Ohio and South Alabama so the Ohio State defense will be a mountain. This upset is simply not happening as I give 0-2 Kent State a 2 percent chance.

Southern Mississippi at Alabama

Say hello to a beating Golden Eagles. Southern Mississippi was trashed by Mississippi State 49-0 and No.3 Alabama is better than Mississippi State. Southern Miss barely survived FCS Alcorn State 26-20 so this game is going to get ugly and get ugly fast. This has a zero percent chance of an upset.

Wyoming at Oregon

Just think about this moment when Oregon is up 56-14 Wyoming fans.

Just think about this moment when Oregon is up 56-14 Wyoming fans.

No. 2 Oregon just had a huge win over Michigan State and Wyoming just had a huge win over… Air Force. Wyoming is 2-0 but the average margin of victory is 4.5 points. That includes a tight 17-12 decision over FCS Montana. Oregon had nearly 500 yards of offense against a strong defense in Michigan State while Wyoming had 300 yards against Montana. Not good. Zero percent chance of upset.

Other Budget Games: UL-Monroe at LSU, Miami U at Michigan, UMass at Vanderbilt, Louisiana at Ole Miss

The Pain of Miami University Football

The poor Miami RedHawks had a chance to snap their gargantuan losing streak Saturday to FCS Eastern Kentucky but fell to the Colonels 17-10. It may have been Miami University’s best chance to win on the season and now…  there’s this.

The quote from Coach Martin, “Anybody that doubts us, I would doubt us too” at the three-minute mark speaks to the depression that is Miami University football. Having Office Max as a sponsor shows the depression too. The last time Miami won a game was in October of 2012. Think about where you were 23 months ago. For me, I’ve changed jobs three times since then. The Republicans thought they were going to take down Obama in the 2012 election. Ray Rice was a productive running back leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl. Comic book fans were genuinely optimistic about Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 coming out the following summer. That’s how long it has been since Miami of Ohio beat someone in football.

Saturday’s game led to this depressing tweet.

That’s right, six turnovers. Yet Miami only lost by a touchdown.

Miami’s next four remaining home games all are winnable but road trips to Michigan and Cincinnati come first. Miami will enter MAC play on a 20-game losing streak, the longest streak among FBS teams by a massive margin. If the RedHawks can enter MAC action without any injuries, then maybe Miami can steal a game this year. Otherwise Coach Chuck Martin is going to have several more painful press conferences.

Clemson Runs Up the ScoreSensor Scans

The Clemson Tigers were not happy about their loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the first week and took their frustrations out on FCS South Carolina State Saturday. We’re talking 73-7 frustration. Clemson had a 44-0 lead in the third quarter and were still passing the ball. The Tigers even put the ball in the air in the fourth quarter. Don’t care if you’re second string is in, you don’t pass the football against an inferior opponent when you’re up by six touchdowns in the second half. This is not a video game.

South Carolina State got revenge late when the score was 73-0. The Bulldogs took a fumble and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. Whether it was karma, football Gods, or the Holy Spirit, Clemson was denied their precious 73-0 shutout. They play at Florida State on Sept. 20 and you can bet who I’ll be rooting for. Let’s see them run up the score against FSU.

Appalachian State Loves Cupcakes

Appalachian State earned or should I say received its first win of the year Saturday, smashing Campbell 66-0. Problem is Campbell is a member of the Pioneer League, a FCS conference that does not offer athletic scholarships for football. So basically, the Moutaineers defeated the equivalent of a Division II school. This is App State’s first year in the FBS but come on. Again, the Holy Spirit or Doctor Who interfered with the blowout as the game had a lightning delay after the first half. Few came back to watch the one-sided affair.

Campbell tried to make the most of it, as it featured pictures of Campbell students on a bus traveling to the game.

Congratulations to the Campbell Camels for showing spirit despite the mismatch.

Division II Pride

Congratulations to Division II McMurry for defeating FCS Houston Baptist Saturday 26-17. Sure, it was the first official game in the history of Houston Baptist football but it is always a big deal when a D-2 team knocks off a D-1. Just ask McMurry.

McMurry is referencing how ESPN and other cable outlets only display Division I scores in the bottom ticker. Getting on it as a winner is huge for McMurry. Maybe the school should reconsider dropping down to Division III.

It’s going to be a tough starting out for Houston Baptist as the Southland Conference will not show much mercy on them. Such is life as a football start-up.

Night Life in El-Paso

UTEP wanted to make sure its home game with Texas Tech was televised and went to great lengths to do so. Like having the kickoff at 11 p.m. Eastern Time so Fox Sports 1 would broadcast it. FS1 showed BYU at Texas earlier in the evening as that game took priority. While the game started a 9 p.m. local time it didn’t end until 12:41 a.m. in El-Paso and 2:41 back East. UTEP lost 30-26 so I hope the late night exposure was worth it.