Oregon State loses to Oregon – will Boise State get an at-large bid?

Oregon-Oregon StateThe task was simple enough for Oregon State – beat Oregon on Saturday night and they would set up a date with Penn State in the Rose Bowl. But the Ducks crashed the party, beating the Beavers in a wild, 65-38 shootout in Corvallis.

Oregon State still has a shot at the Rose Bowl, but now they must have USC lose to UCLA next week. That would put the Beavers in a three-way tie with Oregon and USC, which would mean all hell breaks loose. If USC beats UCLA, then the Trojans would play Penn State in the Rose Bowl and open up an at-large bid for either Boise State or Ohio State.

Even though Boise is undefeated and the Buckeyes have two losses, the Broncos won’t necessarily get the at-large bid because they don’t play in one of the bigger conferences ala Ohio State. It might not be fair, but it’s the way the system is set up. Essentially the BCS only cares about one thing – figuring out which two teams are the best in the nation. They could care less about the rest of the matchups.

You could essentially make an argument for either team. The only team Boise beat with any substance was Oregon. But they beat the Ducks in Eugene, which happens to be one of the toughest places to play in college football. Ohio State’s most impressive victory was in East Lansing when they beat Michigan State, although how would Boise have done against USC and Penn State (two teams that beat the Buckeyes)?

Personally, I say Boise deserves the at-large bid more. It’s tough to go undefeated – I don’t care who’s on your schedule. But I think Ohio State will get the bid because the folks handing out the at-large invitations are more worried about having two schools from bigger conferences than whether or not the teams are deserving.

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College Football Week 14 Primer

Top 25 vs. Top 25:
Oklahoma State CowboysNo. 3 Oklahoma at. No. 12 Oklahoma State, 8:00 PM ET
The Sooners’ dismantling of Texas Tech last Saturday might have been the most impressive victory of the college football season. Not only did they win 65-21, but they did so in compiling 32 first downs and 625 yards of offense. They finished one yard shy of rushing for 300 yards and threw for 326 threw the air. They didn’t let up for 60 minutes and now have put themselves in striking distance of playing for a national championship. They’ve got a couple of huge hurdles left, however, and one is this Saturday night in Stillwater. The hardest part for Bob Stoops this Saturday will be getting his team back up after playing such an emotionally-charged game last week. The Cowboys are also coming off a week of rest and their offense has been balanced and potent at times this year. Led by quarterback Sam Bradford, Oklahoma has one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. But OK State won’t be a pushover and we can probably expect a tight contest.

No. 4 Florida at No. 20 Florida State, 3:30 PM ET
I know this is a huge rivalry in the sunshine state, but no team is playing better than Florida is right now. FSU’s win over Maryland last week was impressive and they have the fifth best defense in the nation, but can anyone slow down Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin right now? Bobby Bowden will have his team fired up – especially at home. But nobody should be surprised if this is another Florida romp as they get ready for Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. The only thing that might deter the Gators is if they get caught looking ahead, but the chances are slim that Urban Meyer allows that to happen.

No. 22 Georgia Tech at No. 11 Georgia, 12:00 PM ET
The Bulldogs have fallen a long way since being crowned as the top team in the nation in the preseason. Not only have they dropped in the rankings, but their wins over Auburn and Kentucky the past couple weeks left something to be desired. The Jackets have bounced back well after they were awfully mistake-prone in a loss against North Carolina a few weeks ago, and they get a Georgia defense that has struggled of late. Even though Tech hasn’t won against UGA since 2000, the Jackets want to use this game as a stepping-stone to build on next season. Much like most of these rivalry games this weekend, this should be a close one.

Oregon State Beavers
No. 23 Oregon at No. 17 Oregon State, 7:00 PM ET
This is obviously a massive game for the Beavers, as a win would clinch their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1964. The only problem is that they’re facing a better-than-advertised Oregon team and they might not have dynamic underclassmen Jacquizz Rodgers, who injured his shoulder on the final play against Arizona last week. Oregon State has the better overall depth and talent, but the Ducks are balanced and it would make their season to knock off their in-state rivals on their home field – especially with a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line.

Upset Watch:
It’s rivalry week – every game should be considered a possible upset.

Other notable games:
Texas A&M at No. 2 Texas, 8:00 PM ET Friday
The Longhorns can’t afford a slip up, but it’s doubtful Mack Brown’s team falters at home against the Aggies.

Auburn at No. 1 Alabama, 3:30 PM ET
The Tide control their own destiny – beat the Tigers on Saturday and the Gators in the SEC Championship Game and they’ll be playing for a national championship. The idea is simple, but the road is going to be brutal. Auburn might be 2-5 in the SEC, but they still have one of the better defenses in college football.

Fresno State at No. 9 Boise State, 6:00 PM ET
BCS supporters will quietly be rooting for Fresno State so they don’t have to hear about how the Broncos deserve a shot to play for the national championship.

College Football Week 13 Primer

Top 25 vs. Top 25:

Sam Bradford
No. 2 Texas Tech at No. 5 Oklahoma, 8:00 PM ET ABC
Raise your hand if you don’t appreciate what the Big 12 has given us this year and I’ll come over and punch you square in the mouth. The Big 12 has handed us game of the year matchups virtually every week this season and this week is no exception. Many college football pundits have had this Saturday circled on their calendars as the day when Texas Tech finally falls. Oklahoma has stumbled only once this year (vs. previously top ranked Texas on October 11), but outside of that no other team has come close to knocking them off. The Sooners have averaged over 50 points a game, but they’ll take on a much-improved Red Raider defense this week in Norman. OU is going to score points, but can they stop Heisman hopefuls Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree? No defense in the nation (not even Texas) has slowed down the dynamic duo yet and it’s hard to believe that anyone will at this point. Still, the Sooners will be looking to avenge last year’s 34-27 loss to Tech in Lubbock. In that game, No. 4 ranked OU lost Sam Bradford early in the first half and allowed Crabtree to haul in 12 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown. Oddsmakers have established Oklahoma as a 7-point favorite, but one has to believe that this is going to go down to the wire.

No. 14 Brigham Young at No. 7 Utah, 6:00 PM ET
No love for the Mountain West – this one won’t even be shown on national TV despite huge ramifications for the Utes. A MWC title and a possible BCS at-large bid is on the line in this game as Utah has another opportunity to justify their high ranking. Before being upset by TCU, BYU expected to be where Utah currently is – ranked in the top 10. The Cougars will have to overcome a stingy Utes defense that is damn near impossible to run against, yielding just 3.0 yards per carry. The onus for BYU in this game will be on quarterback Max Hall to carry the offense, while the Cougar defense will have its hands full with Brian Johnson. Considering this will be yet another tightly contested game, the Utes should be prepared. They’ve got five wins this year by seven or fewer points, including their nail biting 13-10 win over TCU three weeks ago. Oddsmakers have made BYU a 6.5-point underdog.

No. 15 Michigan State at No. 8 Penn State, 3:30 PM ET ABC
How sad is it that in the same week of Ohio State-Michigan, this is the best matchup in the Big Ten. Penn State’s win over Indiana may have looked like a blowout, but the Lions struggled with Hoosiers in the first half. Truth be told, PSU’s offense hasn’t looked that impressive in weeks. After reaching the end zone 12 times threw the air in their first fives games, the Lions have managed just five touchdown passes in their last six contests. The Spartans struggled in their last Big Ten statement game (a 45-7 drubbing at the hands of Ohio State on October 18), but Brian Hoyer (548 yards, 5 TDs in two games vs. PSU) has really stepped up of late and is putting together a nice season. Of course, all eyes will be on RB Javon Ringer. Ringer is third in the nation in rushing and if MSU’s massive offensive line can open up holes for the small back, Sparty will have an opportunity to keep PSU’s spread offense off the field and possibly walk away with an upset. Penn State is a 14.5-point favorite at home.

No. 20 Pittsburgh at No. 19 Cincinnati, 7:00 PM ET ESPN2
The job head coach Brian Kelly (who I suggested should be a candidate to replace Phillip Fulmer at Tennessee) has done this year in Cincinnati despite losing three quarterbacks has been remarkable. To keep the Bearcats afloat in the Big East is outstanding it speaks volumes about Kelly being a true winner. Speaking of the Big East, first place is on the line in this game as Cincy will try to avenge its 24-17 loss to PITT last year by throwing early and often. The Panthers have struggled against teams with like to attack downfield and Tony Pike has played very well lately in Kelly’s offense. The mission is clear for Cincinnati: Win the next two games at home and claim the Big East title. PITT is a 5-point underdog.

Upset Watch:

Graham HarrellNo. 2 Texas Tech at No. 5 Oklahoma, 8:00 PM ET ABC
As previously mentioned, there’s a ton of folks waiting for the Red Raiders to fall this year, but I’ve already bought into the hype. No defense has even remotely slowed down Harrell or Crabtree and while Bradford and the OU offense can go toe to toe with anyone, I say Tech walks away with a straight up upset. Of course, they may need to score 60 points to win.

Other Notable Games:

Michigan at No. 10 Ohio State, 12:00 PM ET ABC
This could be the worst Michigan-Ohio State matchup in the history of this rivalry. If the Buckeyes don’t beat the Wolverines by more than four touchdowns, Jim Tressel should resign. Michigan has never found a way to stop a mobile quarterback, so Terrelle Pryor should find life pretty easy this week at the Horse Shoe.

Florida State at No. 25 Maryland, 7:45 PM ET
Does any team want to win the ACC? The Terps have provided some great upsets this season, but they don’t seem to fare well when favored. Still, their rushing attack matches up well against a solid Seminole front seven and this is one of the more underrated matchups of the week.

No. 21 Oregon State at Arizona, 7:00 PM ET
The Beavers can still punch a ticket to Pasadena this year, but they’ll need to get past a Wildcat team that gave USC fits a couple weeks ago.

Tennessee’s next head coach: Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly?

Brian KellySince Phillip Fulmer made the decision to step down at the end of the year, speculation has run rampant on who will replace him as the next head coach at the University of Tennessee. While The Oregonian suggests that Oregon State’s Mike Riley could be in line for the position, I’ve got another name to keep your eye on: Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly.

Five years ago, Kelly was a nobody winning multiple Division II championships at little old Grand Valley State in Grand Rapids, Michigan. From there, he was hired at Central Michigan University, which had won more than three games only once in the previous four seasons. After finishing with a 4-7 record in 2004 (his first year in Mt. Pleasant) and 6-5 in 2005, Kelly led the Chippewas to a MAC Championship in 2006 before jetting to Cincinnati before coaching CMU in the 2006 Motor City Bowl.

In his first season at Cincinnati, Kelly led the Bearcats to their second ever 10-win season (first since 1949) and a top 25 ranking. He was named Big East Coach of the Year and currently has the Bearcats ranked 19th in the nation despite having to play a total of four different quarterbacks this season due to injury.

Tennessee needs a confident, offensive-minded leader and Kelly fits the bill. Many in the Mt. Pleasant area hate him for the way he left CMU in the lurch after winning the MAC Championship in 2006, but the fact of the matter is that he made that program relative again (the Chips are going for their third straight MAC title this season). He was the one that converted Joe Staley (who is currently starting for the 49ers right now) from tight end to offensive tackle, and also the one who recruited Heisman candidate Dan LeFevour. And the job Kelly has done at Cincinnati in his two years has been remarkable to say the least.

When talking to people who have worked with him in the past (like Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun columnist and Central Michigan beat writer Drew Ellis, who is a close friend of mine), you get the impression that Kelly is a cocky, but confident coach. The Vols need someone headstrong that can turn the program around in only a few short years. No offense to Riley or any other candidate Tennessee may consider, but Kelly has won everywhere he’s gone and he seems like a coach that can light a fire under that program’s ass.

College Football Week 6 Primer

Time to check out the big games, top matchups and potential upsets as college football heads into Week 6.

Top 25 vs. Top 25:
Terrelle PryorNo. 14 Ohio State at No. 18 Wisconsin, 8:00 PM ET
This was supposed to be a matchup of the best two teams in the Big Ten, but after the Badgers were embarrassed last week in Ann Arbor, this game has lost a lot of it’s luster. Despite Michigan turning the ball over five times and spotting them a 19-0 lead, Wisconsin fell apart in the second half as the Wolverines pulled off a 27-25 upset. For the Buckeyes, they seem to be playing with a chip on their shoulder after losing to USC a few weeks back, especially freshman QB Terrelle Pryor, who is out to use this game as proof that he can play on a big stage. It’ll be interesting to see how the dazzlingly Pryor does in his first road start of his young collegiate career; OSU has not won back-to-back games vs. Wisconsin since 1995/1996. Oddsmakers have established the Buckeyes as 1.5-point favorites.

No. 13 Auburn at No. 19 Vanderbilt, 6:00 PM ET
Vandy is off to a surprising 4-0 start this season, but their record is a bit deceiving. The Commodores rank last in the SEC in total offense and defense, and have been out gained in 3 of their 4 games this season. But they sit undefeated largely due to their plus-nine turnover margin, which leads the nation. They’ll get their first real test of the season against Auburn, who crushed the Commodores 45-7 in their last trip to Vanderbilt Stadium in 2003. The Tigers also handed Vandy a 35-7 beat-down last year and are trying to build some momentum off of last week’s 14-12 win against Tennessee. Still, this is the first time Vanderbilt has been ranked since 1984, so the home crowd will noty doubt be psyched. And it’s not like Tommy Tummerville’s team has been that dominant this season. (See the Tigers’ 3-2 victory over Mississippi State as proof.) Vandy is a 4.5-point home underdog.

No. 23 Oregon at No. 9 USC, 8:00 PM ET
The Trojans try to bounce back from their humiliating 27-21 loss to Oregon State last week – a defeat that dropped them from the top spot in the rankings. When these two teams met last year in Eugene, the Ducks used an electrifying home crowd to knock off the Trojans 24-17 in USC QB Mark Sanchez’s first start. It would be wise for Oregon to borrow the blueprint left by the Beavers and attack the middle of the Trojans’ beat up defense on the ground. Head coach Pete Carroll is dying to use this game to show USC can still compete for a national title this season and will try to flatten the Ducks, but Oregon’s defense is good enough to keep them in the game. The Trojans are currently 17-point favorites.

Chase DanielUpset Watch: No. 4 Missouri at Nebraska, 9:00 PM ET
It’s hard to fathom that the Tigers would stumble this week in Lincoln coming off a bye week and with so much on the line. But Heisman Trophy candidate Chase Daniel has yet to see a decent defense outside of Illinois in the opener. And even though MIZZOU hammered the Huskers last year, Nebraska’s defense is a lot better than the unit that surrendered 41 points to Daniel and the Tigers last year. Missouri has better talent and the better overall team, but one thing to keep in mind is that the home team in this series has won the last six in a row. MIZZOU is an 11-point favorite.

Other notable games:
No. 1 Oklahoma at Baylor, 12:30 PM ET Saturday
The Sooners play their first game since being anointed the top ranked team in the nation. They get a decent opponent in the Bears, who have been a dramatically improved team with scrappy freshman Robert Griffin under center this year.

Kentucky at No. 2 Alabama, 3:30 PM ET Saturday
After crushing the Bulldogs in Athens last week, Nick Saban’s Tide can’t fall victims to the upset themselves this week against the unranked Wildcats.

No. 5 Texas at Colorado, 7:00 PM ET Saturday
Longhorns’ QB Colt McCoy will look to continue his bid to become this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, but he’ll face a decent Colorado team who is 3-0 at home this year.

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