PAC-12 gets time to shine in week 4

Here is your viewer’s guide or what I call a navigation solution for week 4.

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Big week in the PAC-12 with two games between ranked teams. TCU has a dangerous trip to Texas Tech as Big-12 play revs up as well.

Michigan and Texas have an opportunity to prove they can return to glory Saturday afternoon.


Texas Hate: What Went Wrong For TCU and Baylor

The most depressing set of rankings in college football this year.

The most depressing set of rankings in college football this year.

Under the BCS, people complained that the college football title was being decided by a number crunching computer. Today in 2014, under a selection committee, is the system better?

The committee had to pick four teams, and what we learned on Sunday afternoon is that crunching numbers is still in charge. Just look at the records for the top six teams and you see right away why teams 5 and 6 were left out.

1. Alabama 12-1
2. Oregon 12-1
3. Florida State 13-0
4. Ohio State 12-1

5. Baylor 11-1
6. TCU 11-1

See the problem. The Big 12 schools had one less game. The top four schools all played an extra game against a quality team this week. TCU and Baylor were just finishing up their regular schedule.

SEC fans and coaches thought the Big 12 had an advantage by not having a championship game. It turned out to be a weakness. It’s not easy to put a team that’s 11-1 over a team that’s 12-1. A computer would not have cared about winning a conference championship. Instead it would have just calculated the strength of schedule to figure out how a C-USA regular season game between losing teams impacted the SEC elite. Stuff us humans don’t really care about. That’s how Alabama and LSU played each other again in the title game in 2011.

Humans do care about conference championships. Humans do care about having one more win than another team. The past month we were waiting for Baylor’s victory over TCU to mean something as the committee continued to put TCU ahead of Baylor. Baylor’s weaker strength of schedule, especially in non-conference play was the reason given.

But on Sunday afternoon, strength of schedule didn’t mean squat. Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State all won an extra 13th game that Baylor and TCU didn’t even play. The result was Texas Christian and Baylor splitting the Big 12 title as Co-Champions. The problem though is how do you let one Co-Champion into the playoff without the other?

You can’t.

Instead the committee just doled out bids to the teams that truly won its conference in the order that its conference is perceived as. SEC is first (Alabama), PAC-12 second (Oregon), ACC third (Florida State) and Big Ten fourth (Ohio State). If the committee truly valued strength of schedule then Ohio State would have been out as its home loss to Virginia Tech was worse than TCU’s defeat at Baylor and Baylor’s defeat at West Virginia.

If TCU and Baylor played each other again this past Saturday it’s hard to see the winner of that game missing the playoff. But they didn’t play each other again, and the conference that was all about “One True Champion” is stuck with two champions on the outside looking in.

This doesn’t mean that a Big 12 team can’t make the playoff. Just means it is a little bit tougher. TCU or Baylor would have had to go undefeated like Florida State to secure a spot. For a one loss team from this league to get into the playoff a championship game will go a long way to keep pace with the other leagues. Either apply for a waiver from the NCAA to get a title game with just 10 teams, or steal two more from another league. Seriously, what does Boise State have to do and how many Big 12 teams does North Dakota State have to beat?

SMU Gets a WinSensor Scans

While TCU is wondering what else it has to do get a title chance, nearby SMU is happy to say it won a game. The winless Mustangs traveled to a UConn team that gave up football season for basketball weeks ago. The result was SMU overcoming a 20-6 halftime deficit to score three unanswered touchdowns for a 27-20 win. It was just the third time this season SMU scored over 13 points. You have to start somewhere I suppose. The game was really a three-hour billboard for how the American Athletic Conference is a mess of teams who don’t fit. Memphis, Cincinnati, and Central Florida all share the conference title. Begging the question, when you share a league championship with two other teams did anyone really win it?

FCS Shocker

I predicted Jacksonville State would win the FCS championship before the playoffs started and whoops. The Gamecocks let me down big time losing to Sam Houston State 37-26 in the second round at home. It was the first loss Jacksonville State has had to a FCS team all year. Give credit to the Bearkats for forcing two interceptions and keeping Jacksonville State scoreless in the second half. I wrote off Sam Houston State after it was blown out by a division II team at home back in September but have gone 9-1 since then.

Jacksonville State’s defeat reflects badly on the Ohio Valley Conference as the league went 0-2 in the FCS playoffs.

No Upsets in Volleyball

The first two rounds of women’s volleyball tournament were completed this week and 15 of the top 16 seeds have made it to the Sweet Sixteen. Only Kansas, the 16 seed, failed to make it out of the weekend. The last underdog team left is Oregon State and it’s hard to call a PAC-12 team Cinderella.

The good news is that the best teams from the regular season are going to fight it out the next two weeks. The bad news is that my bracket looks pretty stupid for all the upsets I was hoping for.

Florida State is the Queen of Soccer

In an ACC battle for the Women’s Soccer Cup, congratulations to Florida State on its 1-0 win over Virginia. It was the first national championship in women’s soccer for Florida State and probably couldn’t have come at a better time given all the allegations the school has had to deal with the past year.

If you think this is not a big deal at a football school like Florida State then check out this scene.

Early Title Games for the Big Ten and Big 12?

Navi Sol 11-8The Fall sports season is reaching its climax as conference races are easy to picture now. Ohio State at Michigan State is virtually the Big Ten title game. Kansas State at TCU could be the same with the Big 12. I like Michigan State and Kansas State for those two. Alabama at LSU is always a big game that could go either way. Arizona State has a chance to stop Notre Dame’s playoff hopes in the afternoon. I’m picking the Sun Devils.

If women’s soccer is your sport than this is your weekend with conference tournaments. The Big Ten, ACC and SEC will have their title matches Sunday afternoon but look for smaller conferences on ESPN3.

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.

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.

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.

2014’s doormats of college basketball

We’ve reached the point of the year where some schools are gunning for top seeds. Others just want to reach the tournament or even the NIT. For these programs, however, they just want to win a game in their league.

Hey, it's a living.

Hey, it’s a living.

Here are the five schools (No. 1 being the worse) that have yet to win a conference game this season. Congratulations to Grambling State for just avoiding this list by getting its first SWAC win last week. Now if only you could get a football team that didn’t mutiny.

No. 5 Texas Christian: 9-15, 0-12 Big 12

What’s ironic is TCU had a 9-3 record in non-conference action, but is now associated with the poorest in the nation thanks to its Big-12 neighbors.

The lesson here is if you want to move up a conference for your football team then be prepared to ignore the hardwood if your program has no pedigree. Otherwise, you might end up with the nastiest promotion this season.

Fried pickles? FRIED PICKLES? TCU even followed up on the promotion.

I can’t believe three TCU students agreed to have their photo taken for free fried pickles. Baylor and Texas Tech fans should have this as their wallpaper image.

Can TCU win a Big-12 game? Doubtful

All of the other conference schools have a winning record. Oklahoma State at home on February 24 is probably its best bet.

No. 4 San Jose Stat: 0-13, 6-19 Mountain West

There are rebuilding efforts and then there is San Jose State. The Spartans have 13 players with six of them freshmen. Throw in a first-year head coach and the season can’t end fast enough.

When the school is boasting about having a halftime lead for the first time in a month it’s time to go home. San Jose State only scored nine points in the second half and lost to Wyoming 46-38.

Can San Jose State win a Mountain West game? Yes

Its last three conference games are against teams with losing conference records. Fresno State at home on March 8 looks promising.

No. 3 Illinois-Chicago: 5-21, 0-12 Horizon League

How bad are the UIC Flames? Just take a look at its Twitter account.

These people are on to me. If they don't tweet I can't make fun of them.

These people are on to me. If they don’t tweet I can’t make fun of them.

What’s worse? A division I program being inactive in social media or the fact that 26 people are following said inactive account.

The Flames have come close, losing in the final seconds at Oakland 76-75. UIC has also been blown out by basketball juggernauts Northwestern and Valparaiso at home. So baby steps.

Can UIC win a Horizon League game? Yes

UIC plays three of its final four games at home with two teams with losing records still on the schedule. Look for the first win to come against Oakland or Detroit.

No. 2 Citadel: 4-23, 0-12 Southern

Three of Citadel’s four wins have come against non-division I teams meaning it really is a 1-23 team. Things are so bad for the Bulldogs that it is an achievement to just be remotely competitive in a game.

That’s right, striking distance. Where else is being within striking distance against 8-17 Furman a good thing?

Can the Citadel win a Southern game? Yes

The Bulldogs have taken two teams into overtime so they can do it. At the very least Citadel should stay in “striking distance” of Samford and Georgia Southern.

No. 1 Southern Utah: 1-22, 0-14 Big Sky

Meet the worse team in college basketball, the Thunderbirds. Southern Utah is dead last in the nation in points per game at a measly 56.2, over two points less than the next team. The Thunderbirds are also in the bottom four rebounding. Just look at how exciting they get when they actually score.

When you forget the fact that Southern Utah is down by eight that three-pointer is almost a big deal. Southern Utah has yet to defeat a single division I team and has been blown out by the likes of Northern Arizona.

Can Southern Utah win a Big Sky game? Nope

Sorry, the Thunderbirds can’t score. Portland State at home this Thursday is a long shot and that might be generous.