Not that there won’t be some crazy bounces come bowl time, given that at least three teams with 5-7 records (but excellent academic performances) get an extra game. Because, you know, there are 40 bowl games to honor and recognize the ongoing excellence of every school that won half its games. But only 37 or so at best who will have reached that lofty standard of superiority.
That said, don’t get your hopes up Cats fans, UK fell a few academic points short for admission to the post season.
I enter the final weekend with a 41-23 overall record, after getting Stanford, Iowa and Louisville right last time out, but missing the other two predictions, when the Bruins and Middies let me down.
Championship Week has arrived. Which means all of these battles (between teams that, win or lose, deserve an extra game) have bowl placement repercussions.
So, pay attention, because Winners ‘r’ Us.
Temple vs. Houston (AAC Championship, Houston). There might be something goin’ on in CougarLand and we don’t know what it is. Of all the coaching moves — it’s an epidemic really — the only scenario that is as surprising as Georgia firing Mark Richt is Flavor of the Year Tom Herman’s decision to stay at Houston. Is the guy really that perceptive, that he realizes he can build a contenda there without the overbearing fat cat folderol that would come at, say, South Carolina? Or, more intriguing, is the Big 12 really going to live up to its name and add two schools, and Houston knows it’s going to be one of them? The 11-1 Cougars with just that inexplicable stub of the toe at UConn is a six point fave over the Owls, who had the best performance between them in that close L to Notre Dame. Then again, they were blindsided by South Florida. This game will be contested in the NFL stadium there in Oil City, not Houston’s home field. The Kids from Philly will still be facing a less than neutral crowd. Which, along with Houston’s slightly superior team, is why I say the Cougars will be the non Power 5 school that makes a Big Bowl.
North Carolina vs. Clemson (ACC Championship, Charlotte). If there’s a squad getting less respect for its accomplishments than undefeated Iowa, it’s the Tar Heels. They lost their opener to South Carolina, when the Gamecocks were still mentored by a less than totally immersed Ol’ Ball Coach. There’s been nary a blemish since. Though two Ws are less than impressive, given that the defeated were Delaware, where Joe Flacco no longer resides, and North Carolina A T & T.1 The Baby Blues score a lot. Their foes do not. Larry Fedora not only has a stylin’ name, but he can coach. Clemson’s run the table, but Dabo Swinney’s charges are the least respected #1 in memory. Despite an undefeated slate, including impressive conquests of Florida State and the Fighting Irish. Unfortunately for Carolina, they can’t say “If we win, we’re in.” Because a Tar Heel W would simply deny the ACC a Final Four slot. Not to worry, Clemson prevails.
Southern Cal vs. Stanford (PAC 12 Championship, Santa Clara). A Clemson and/ or Alabama L, along with a big big BIG performance by The Cardinal over the Trojans, and those student athletes from Palo Alto might actually leap frog into the Final Four. In which case, the loser here would have to settle for a Tournament of Roses New Year’s Day in Pasadena. Which is not the most onerous way to bring in 2016. The Trojans have not had the most exemplary of campaigns, what with four losses. One, allow me to remind you, came at the hands and feet of Stanford, 41-31 in Week III. They sure looked good against rival UCLA though, with a spot in this upcoming title game on the line. The Cardinal’s L to Northwestern in the opener comes with an asterisk. It was played in Evanston, with an early kickoff team, 6:00 am PDT or so. The West Coasters had yet to fully awaken. The loss to the Quack came after the return of Vernon Adams, and the Ducks, healthy again, finished the season as arguably the best team in the league. The descendants of Amasa Leland Stanford prevail.
Michigan State vs. Iowa (B1G Championship, Indy). I now realize what an idiot I am. I should have asked for a credential to this one at nearby Lucas Oil, if only for the pastrami on rye and latkes at you know where. Oh well. I do feel compelled to remind you that my preseason pick to win it all was none other than the Michigan State Spartans. And here they are playing the closest thing to an elimination game that the CFP has seen in its short existence. The winner of this baby is in. Period. Sparty lost to the Huskers on a jive hummer, so, truth be revealed, this should be a battle of unbeatens. The Hawkeyes are the Rodney Dangerfield of college pigskin, because their schedule hasn’t be the toughest. Buuuut, Iowa has repelled all who have challenged, with steady if uninspiring play. I believe the Hawkeyes are truly good, meaning better than most think. And are motivated to prove it. But, I picked Michigan State to conquer all before the season began, and it’s too late to stop now.
Southern Mississippi vs. Western Kentucky (C-USA Championship, Bowling Green). So, why aren’t we hearing Todd Monken’s name mentioned for one of the hoity toity jobs that are open? Or, as a candidate for Coach of the Year? The Golden Eagles were skunked in ’12, and finished 1-11 in Monken’s first season, and but minor improvement to 3-9 last year. This year he’s gone all Justin Fuente in Hattiesburg, and Southern Miss went 9-3, winning the league’s Western Division. Two of the loses were to Nebraska and Mississippi State. I’m impressed. On the other sideline, Jeff Brohm continues to prove he’s an offensive savant of sorts, kind of like his mentor Bobby Petrino used to be. The Toppers’ 44 ppg is fourth in the nation. QB Brandon Doughty has tossed 42 TD passes. I’m impressed. Southern Miss averages 41 ppg its ownself. So, keep a calculator handy, pigskin fans, the scoreboard might not be able to keep up. In front of a home crowd, the Uncle Ed Diddle towels will be a wavin’ with joy. WKU.
— Seedy K