PAC-12 Makes Saturday Night Special

Happy Halloween everyone! Just so you know, with Halloween being on a Friday night don’t expect much in the college sports world tonight and tomorrow at noon. Teams know students and fans will have a hard time attending an early game after a late night. This means that college football doesn’t get juicy until Saturday evening with Auburn and Ole Miss, but TCU at West Virginia is a sneaky good game at 3:30.

The big story will be the PAC-12 with three night games that will have a major impact on the conference race. If you can stay up for it I’m sure you will be glad you did. Here is my navigation solution for the weekend.
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Have College Football Rivalries Become Too Heated?

There were three examples Saturday of in-state rivalry games turning ugly. Two were in unconventional ways I’ve never seen before. Not to mention the fact they were beyond disrespectful.

Michigan at Michigan State

Michigan State is the defending Big Ten champions and are the pride of the conference yet again heading into November at 7-1. Michigan is 3-5 with little hope of making it to a bowl. So when Michigan took the field at East Lansing and planted a stake on the field it did not go over well. While Michigan may have thought it represented unity, the Spartans viewed it as vandalism to its turf.

Michigan’s head coach Brady Hoke apologized after the game but the whole act is tough to excuse. Michigan State fans shouldn’t feel bitter though as the Spartans won 35-11.

Texas Tech at TCU

Over in Fort Worth, TCU showed no mercy to in-state rival Texas Tech. The result was an 82-27 final score in favor of the Horned Frogs. The score was 68-27 at the end of the third quarter but TCU was still trying to tack more on, including putting the ball in the air six times in the quarter. Maybe it was because they were record hunting.

Passing the football late in the game with a huge lead is unacceptable. Just run the clock out and go home. The Horned Frogs had cupcake wins over FCS Samford and SMU and only scored 48 and 56 on those teams. TCU was just trying to embarrass a rival and went to great lengths to do so Saturday. Just because TCU could score 82 doesn’t mean it should.

Georgia Southern at Georgia State

Move over Georgia and Georgia Tech, the Peach State has a new college football rivalry that has more “clean, old fashioned hate” than you. Georgia Southern is tearing through the Sun Belt in its first season as an FBS team and has developed a passionate fan base thanks to decades of success on the FCS level. Georgia State is still an infant in the college football world and is going through the growing pains of just 2 wins in its last 25 games. Despite the contrast this is a heated rivalry. Both programs like to be called GSU, wear blue, and are in the same conference now. Although, the Panthers went into detail as to why they believe GSU is for Georgia State alone.

Georgia Southern wanted to really stick it to the Panther fans by traveling to the game wearing white Eagle’s shirts in a successful white-out in the stadium of its rival. You can see how many Georgia Southern Fans are behind the goal post here.

GA So takeover

Having more fans than the home team is one thing. Bringing a banner to the field after your win is not so innocent. The Eagles posed for a picture with a banner saying “Paulson Stadium North,” claiming the Georgia Dome as an affiliate to its campus venue. This photo is courtesy of Two Cents Radio.

Just think about it, the Eagles had to secretly carry that into the stadium and then take the time to pose for the camera like high school kids at prom. If that’s not enough for you, then what about T-shirts? For almost $17, you can buy a T-shirt of Georgia Southern Eagle holding a Georgia State panther upside down over the Georgia Dome. Oh, and the “GSU” battle comes up again at the bottom.

These types of shirts are common through fan sites, but this shirt is THROUGH THE SCHOOL. This is Georgia Southern merchandise! This rivalry is getting out of hand and it seems to appear that both sides have forgotten it’s just a football game, not a cure to solve trademark dispute. Georgia State does not have the ability to fight back in football today but what will happen if the Panthers become a power five years from now? This could really blow up.

I hope fan bases from all schools who are about to square off in November (looking at you Iron Bowl) don’t turn to blatant disrespect as their weapon of choice. What were once harmless jokes between fan bases got out of hand Saturday, and that’s probably not the last time that will occur this season.

Potential for Shockers This Saturday

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The past two weeks of college football have been incredible but this Saturday it appears things will be coming back down to Earth. Just two games involved top 25 teams and three of those four schools are outside the top 15. Still, the games are important as someone is probably going down. Ohio State is one such candidate as it could falter at Penn State. In terms of conference races, watch USC at Utah as it will make an impact on the PAC-12 South.

A couple of volleyball games to watch includes UC-Davis at Cal State-Northridge Friday night in Big West play. The big one though is Nebraska at Wisconsin on ESPN2 Sunday. The Badgers are currently on top in the Big Ten and it’s rare for ESPN2 to air a regular season game in volleyball.

Conference Races Hit Top Speed

Moving into late October we have a large enough sample size to gauge how the conference races will shake out.

SEC Favorite: Ole Miss
SEC Sleeper: Georgia

While the SEC West is getting all the attention, Georgia can still ruin everything and win the SEC championship game. The only team that can take the East from Georgia is Missouri and that’s only if the Tigers win out and Georgia loses a game. Going against Georgia in Atlanta for the SEC championship is a tough out. Ole Miss gets Mississippi State and Auburn at home so it is currently the favorite in the West.

PAC-12 Favorite: Oregon
PAC-12 Sleeper: Arizona

Oregon is the only team in the North with a winning conference record at 3-1. Stanford is close at 2-2 but still has to play at Oregon. The PAC-12 South is a traffic jam of four teams at one loss, but I like Arizona to come out of it. Arizona State must come to Tucson and traveling to UCLA on Nov. 1 seems less intimidating now for the Wildcats.

Big 12 Favorite: Kansas State
Big 12 Sleeper: West Virginia

The fact that the Big 12 does not have a championship game makes this conference race more interesting. While Kansas State is the last remaining undefeated team in conference play, West Virginia has a favorable schedule. The Mountaineers have just one conference loss and will host both K-State and TCU. If West Virginia can get past Oklahoma State in Stillwater Saturday then Mountaineer fans must like their chances of singing country roads a few more times.

Big Ten Favorites: Michigan State and Ohio State
Big Ten Sleeper: None

The Big Ten is straightforward, whoever wins the Ohio State at Michigan State meeting on Nov. 8 will win the conference. The Big Ten West is too shaky to pull off the upset this year as Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska give different performances each week.

ACC Favorite: Florida State
ACC Sleeper: Duke

Florida State has practically won the ACC Atlantic but Clemson does have a small chance of catching up to it. The story though is in the Coastal where Duke is in the lead to repeat as division champions. The Blue Devils are down to two road games against Pitt and Syracuse (nothing to worry about) with Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest at home. Duke will be favored in all of those games and may sneak up on a napping Florida State in the ACC championship game.

Mountain West Favorite: Boise State
Mountain West Sleeper: Nevada

This conference is still fuzzy but Boise State is always a Mountain West favorite and gets San Diego State at home. The Broncos have already defeated Colorado State and should come out of the Mountain Division as Air Force has a tough schedule. San Diego State is 3-1 in conference play but has a tough slate ahead with Boise, Nevada and Air Force remaining. This opens the door for Nevada to come out of the West. The Wolfpack have defeated Washington State and BYU and should be favored in four of its final five games.

American Athletic Favorite: East Carolina
American Athletic Sleeper: Central Florida

The AAC is a two-team race with East Carolina being the pride of the conference so far at 5-1. UCF is 2-0 in conference play and will give the Pirates a test on Dec. 4. It’s hard to see any other school like Temple, Houston or Cincinnati winning the league but they are long shots.

Conference USA Favorite: Marshall
Conference USA Sleeper: None

It's just too easy for them

It’s just too easy for them

CUSA is all about Marshall and no one else. The last undefeated team among the mid-majors, Marshall is looking at an Orange Bowl bid. Louisiana Tech is 3-0 in CUSA play but has lost to a FCS school so it’s hard to call it a threat.

Mid-American Favorite: Northern Illinois
Mid-American Sleeper: Akron

The MAC is a mess of unpredictability as Northern Illinois lost to Central Michigan at home. Yet I don’t see another team taking them out in the West. Central fell to 2-2 in conference play and Toledo and Western Michigan are unproven. In the East division, Akron’s final five games will be against underdogs as it gets Bowling Green at home. The Zips beat Pittsburgh earlier in the year and is well coached under Terry Bowden.

Sun Belt Favorite: Georgia Southern
Sun Belt Sleeper: Louisiana

Georgia Southern at the top of the Sun Belt at 4-0 in the conference. Louisiana Monroe at home to the end the regular season appears to be its toughest remaining game. Louisiana is 2-0 in Sun Belt play though and will host Arkansas State Tuesday who is also 2-0. The Ragin’ Cajuns are playing well in the Sun Belt after a disappointing non-conference campaign. I’m picking Louisiana to win Tuesday and perhaps grab a share of the Sun Belt with Georgia Southern.

Big 12 Football Steps into Spotlight

Here is your navigation solution for viewing college sports in the next three days.
Navigation Solution Oct 17Big 12 football seems to dominate Saturday as it has half of the games I consider “must see” for passionate college football fans. Baylor will have a hard test at West Virginia. Kansas State has a chance to destroy Oklahoma’s playoff chances at noon as well. TCU looks to rebound from the disappointing Baylor loss at 4 against Oklahoma State.

The sneaky game is Northwestern hosting Nebraska in what could create chaos in the Big Ten West if the Wildcats can defend their home turf. Florida State and Notre Dame has obvious playoff impact.

If you only see one non-football game this week, check out North Carolina going to rival Duke on Sunday in women’s volleyball. Both are ranked in the top 25 and you know that game will be heated.

Fighting Pirates on Vine

Last week a very colorful vine from AAC member South Florida caught my eye. The Bulls were hosting the No. 19 Pirates of East Carolina for Homecoming and pulled out all the animation guns to promote it. The result was a pirate ship being flushed down a whirlpool while a South Florida boat floats in the air.

Does is matter that clipper ship is totally irregular for a team called the Bulls? Guess not as South Florida appears to think it can borrow ideas from its professional neighbor in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As weird as that was, South Florida surprised East Carolina with a 17-7 lead in the third quarter. That didn’t last though as the Pirates would score the next three touchdowns to win 28-17. Sensor Scans
Next time, hopefully, the Bulls will make an animation about… well… a bull.

This Kid Knows PAC-12 Football

Thought you knew a lot about college football when you were a kid? Well Jack and his PAC-12 football knowledge has you beat. While only being 2-years-old he has mastered something that took me to at least the age of 4 or 5 to accomplish. Memorize all the teams in a power conference.

Now if a kid could do this with Conference USA or the American Athletic that would be even more impressive. I didn’t master all the teams in the American Athletic until last month. Mainly because the league is new, changes every year and make no sense in terms of geography.

Marshall in the Top 25

Marshall is the second mid-major school to crack the top 25 this season joining East Carolina. It’s the first time the Thundering Herd has been ranked since 2002 and fans are proudly showing their enthusiasm.

Marshall’s best win of the season may have been Saturday as it jumped on 4-2 Middle Tennessee State for 49-24 victory. Marshall has not beaten a big name team yet but the way the Herd has been tearing up opponents is noteworthy. The Herd is 6-0 and has scored at least 40 points in every game. Anything short of an undefeated season may actually be a disappointment.

1,000 Volleyball Wins for Northern Iowa

The Northern Iowa volleyball team is off to strong year at 12-6 and more importantly, 7-0 in Missouri Valley Conference play. Northern Iowa rolled to a sweep of Southern Illinois Sunday and took to social media to showcase its big milestone.

Over 2,500 fans were there to see the Panthers reach 1K. That is a sharp contrast with our next school.

WCU Volleyball Needs Fans

The Western Carolina women’s volleyball team defeated the Citadel in three sets Sunday at home. Problem is I’m sure if any fans were there to see the Catamounts improve their record to 9-11. Not one fan could be seen in this highlight video.

To be fair, the box score says 156 fans were in attendance, just they were never in front of the camera.

Colorado State’s Great Promotion

Want to get fans to see a 4-9 women’s soccer team. Give away free BBQ.

The Rams would lose the game 3-2 to Colorado College but fans can’t complain with a great a deal like that. Hope the Rams can turn their season around as Mountain West play continues.

Damage Report: Big 12 Refs and Mississippi

Saturday is finished and we learned quite a few things this week in college football. Such as to never go for it on 4th and 3 in a tied game after burning two time-outs to think about it. That was for you Gary Patterson. Here are winners and losers from the past 24 hours.

How UCLA fans felt today.

How UCLA fans felt today.

Winner: Mississippi State and Ole Miss

Honestly, I thought both Mississippi teams would get carried away with their top rankings and have a bad game. That didn’t happen as Mississippi State jumped on No. 2 Auburn with a 21-0 first quarter lead and never looked back. Ole Miss was in control of No. 14 Texas A&M the whole way and led 21-0 at the half. The Egg Bowl has never been so enticing in October.

Loser: Big 12 Referees

The zebras called pass interference on TCU corner Corry O’Meally placing Baylor in field-goal range in the final minute with game tied at 58. Baylor would kick the game-winning three points to end the bout 61-58. Problem is the flag was bogus. Replay showed O’Meally made contact as the ball reached the Baylor receiver and even turned his head to find the ball. It was a shame that a great game ended on the result of a bad call from the refs. Then again, if TCU had simply punted instead failing on 4th and 3 maybe this would not have happened at all.

Winner: Duke

The Blue Devils knocked of the ACC Coastal leading Yellow Jackets on the road 31-25. Duke is now in great shape to repeat as division champions. With Florida State in the news for all the wrong reasons there is a legitimate possibility Duke could win the ACC in football. Yeah, I said in football.

Loser: UCLA

The Bruins went from being a playoff favorite to dropping two-straight at home. Unlike last week’s close game with Utah, UCLA was lifeless against Oregon. Don’t let the 42-30 score fool you. It was 35-10 after the third quarter. UCLA has plenty to fix.

Winner: West Virginia

Trailing Texas Tech on the road 34-20 with less than eight minutes to go it looked bleak for WVU. The Mountaineers would score two touchdowns in drives lasting only 1:37 and 2:37. They even had time to set up a 55-yard field goal for kicker Josh Lambert. The sophomore kicker drilled the field-goal to crush the hearts of Texas Tech fans everywhere. At 4-2, West Virginia has plenty to play for while Texas Tech is going to need a miracle to reach bowl eligibility at 2-4.

Loser: Fresno State

The Bulldogs were a contender to repeat as Mountain West champions but that took a hit Friday night in Vegas. Fresno lost UNLV in overtime 30-27 who was previously 1-4. The Rebels had been torched this season with a minus 131 point-differential. It was Fresno State’s first Mountain West loss who fell to 3-4, and 2-1 in conference. Instead of making a run at the conference crown, the Bulldogs will have to fight to just finish 6-6 after the bad loss.