Bourbonstreet’s Championship Series (b-streetC.S.): Week 9

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Bourbonstreet’s
Championship Series: (BstreetC.S.)

(note to reader: this is a BCS game forecast, not an Official Ranking top to
bottom)

#1 Ohio State:

Last week: Demolished Indiana by 41
This week: Home for Kevin McHale’s Alma, the University of Minnesota

Guess who is #1 in most human and CPU polls, perfect on the year, but also
the 2nd best and quite stellar in their own right Against The Spread record, (ATS:
beating the point spread 7 out of their 8 games)??? To answer that question, I
wish we could have embedded Coach Corso’s old ESPN commercial soundbyte of him
yelling “Buckeye!” into this column, because that’s your answer. But what
I want you to gleam from that stat is that even Vegas does not yet have a handle
on jus’ how top-shelf this Ohio State football team is. Then there’s this;
the Buckeye’s have risen from low 60’s to a rock solid and BIG-10
championship caliber 28th in rushing offense over the course of 2006. That is
called improvement, which is really just a synonym for (Jim) Tressel. Last week
Ohio State out gained Indiana by a down right silly 375 total yards! If you
throw out Ohio State’s kickoff return ranking, the Buckeye’s have no unit
ranked lower than 34th out of 119 D-1 teams. That’s better than So.Cal’s
dynamic multi-Heisman winning team of 2005 folks.

This week the Buckeye’s host 3-5 Minnesota. ‘Sota just snapped a 4 game L
streak by beating less than powerful North Dakota State by 1! Both of these
teams run more so than on average, so the game clock will roll, but the Buckeye’s
have out gained the Gophers by a 328 total yardage edge over these teams’ last
three games, and State has won 31 of the last 33 meetings between these two.
Ohio State by 21, maybe a little more.

#2 Vacant: (because Ohio State has now separated themselves from the
rest of the pack)

#3 Southern Cal:

Last week: OPEN (for much needed R&R in La-La-land)
This week: Oregon State up in Corvallis, Oregon

Oregon State averages nine points per game vs. Southern Cal, and checks in at
a nearly perfect 1-30 vs. the Trojans since 1968. OUCH! Guess I won’t be
picking USC to finally get knocked off this week after all. But still, there are
some chinks in the men of Troy’s armor. Among them would be three starters out
for the year, two out till November, and five players in their 2-deep still
listed as day to day. What I’m seeing right now is that USC is the legit 2nd
best team in the land, if they were fully healthy. But they are not. So I’m
still looking at a USC team that can be beaten at some point. Prolly not this
week however, as the Oregon State QB’s combine for a suspect 1:1 passing ratio
(TDs:INTs) on the season. Though it is worth noting that the Oregon State
defense has improved by about 100 yards allowed over their last three games,
they are at home, and they are riding a two game win streak. However, take a
look at the top two teams they played this year: CAL and Boise State both beat
the Beavers by 28 points.

USC will be a little better from the off time to heal up, but this improved
Oregon State defense will hold this margin down a bit, under the obvious margin
of 28 as suggested above. I’ll call for USC by 16, in a ho-hum workman like
effort. Nothing dramatic, nothing dominant, jus’ a good solid PAC-10 road win.

#4 wvu:

Last week: another sloppy win, this time up in Storrs, Connecticut
This week: OPEN (but preparations are under way for wvu’s one game Season)

You tell me if most coaches could stand this kinda night? You go on the road,
play at least an average football team, beat them by 26, hold them to 11, your
QB throws for 63%, he also gets you over a hundred on the ground, your star
tailback gets you a buck24, you average 6.2/carry, you only allow 2.9/carry to
the 9th ranked rushing offense, and no one gets hurt. Now, jus’ how dag-gone
bad can that be??? wvu would have pressed for nearly 50 without their two
turnovers, and very much most of all, QB pat white, and RB steve slaton are
still standing, and wvu is a retro 1973’s Walking Tall at 7-0. Head Coach
double-r would take that in a New York second, and pay you thousands of dollars
if you would have guaranteed him all of that way back in August.

Now the real tough part begins. Louisville will be an all-out scrap. Pitt
will not go quietly into the “Backyard Brawl” Monongalia night. Still
perfect Rutgers will at a minimum put up a fight by running straight ahead,
right up the middle at wvu. Can wvu run the table? George Burns once said: “Time
is the greatest critic of all.”, and time will tell.

#5 Texas:

Last week: barely beat Nebraska in the snow, in Lincoln, on a walk-on’s FG!
This week: on the road to play high flying Texas Tech, up in Lubbock

Texas did win last week. That’s what counts. But they did need a +2
turnover margin, and a chip-shot field goal with only 23 ticks left in the game
to do so. That will prolly be the best game Nebraska plays all year, and that
was not quite the best that Texas has to offer. These two teams will likely meet
again in the BIG-12 championship tilt in Kansas City on December the 2nd. Texas
has one Achilles heel: passing. The Longhorn offense needs just a little bit
more of it out of Pivot Colt McCoy, and the Longhorn defense really needs to
tighten up against it to truly be a B.C.S. caliber football team.

This week Texas and what’s left of Bevo must travel to play the highly
aerial Red Raiders of Texas Tech. So that’s a match-up problem right there
folks. The suspect Texas secondary vs. Red Raider QB Graham Harrell. As a
sophomore, Harrell is not quite yet a household name, but he will be by next
year if he can maintain a 25:7 ratio (TDs:INTs). The last four games between
these two have averaged a whopping 76 combined points scored! Texas has won six
of the last seven, so I’ll ride that streak out to seven of the last eight
after this Saturday. I foresee a TV friendly, 40-30 kinda day, in favor of the
Longhorns.

#6 Michigan:

Last week: slowly took out feisty Iowa at home in the Big-House
This week: Charlton Heston’s favorite school Northwestern comes a callin’

Last week the Red Dawn savvy Wolverines held an Iowa Hawkeye offense nearly
21 points below their seasonal average in Ann Arbor. In case you’re wondering,
the Michigan run defense actually improved by three yards last week. Now only
allowing a D-1 leading 33 on the ground on the year! That’s Liv Tyler in
short-hair stunning by me folks. The Wolverines can go 11-1 with a 47th ranked
total offense. But can they beat Ohio State? They now have 12 quarters of
football vs. teams that combine for a lowly 8-16 record to try improving enough
to be in a position to find out come November the 18th. But Lloyd Carr must
balance 1st-string reps vs. the threat of injury, as he tries to fine-tune his
2006 football squad for Ohio State, in what appears to be three straight very
winnable games.

Going into next Saturday, Michigan has a 250+ total yardage allowed edge for
the last three games these two have played. Northwestern does have a pretty
solid offensive line, as they are 31st in the nation in rushing offense, and 5th
in the overly run oriented BIG-10. The Northwestern season has been all about
defensive line injuries, and QB’s that can not crack the 51% completion
percentage barrier. Michigan by close to 20.

#7 California:

Last week: barely edged Washington State
This week: OPEN (UCLA in 2 weeks @ home)

7-1 with a BYE week in week number nine is not a bad deal, not bad at all.
CAL only has two players out for the season (a starting CB, and a 3rd string
LB), so they will not specifically recover anyone for this OFF week. But CAL
all-PAC-10 RB Marshawn Lynch’s two sprained ankles will no doubt benefit from
some down time. Having an OPEN week this late is analogous to being allowed to
pit late in a NASCAR race, just long enough to top off the tank with enough fuel
to get home, without going a lap down. CAL is only 90th in total defense, and a
lowly 107th defending the pass. But you must score at least 37 points to beat
the Golden Bears. So far this season only one football team has cracked 24 on
CAL. Last week WashingtonU was lucky to even get into overtime, and then was
deservedly beaten after a circus catch got them there in the first place.
Getting Lynch healthy is about all Coach Jeff Tedford needs focus on now, as it
is too late to develop a quality stop unit. Though I’m still quite surprised
that this one is so bad, considering that they returned nine starters when 2006
opened for business.

#8 Boise State:

Last week: trailed pitiful Idaho early, then got it together to win going
away
This week: BYE (next week a Wednesday night prime time game vs. rival Fresno
State)

Talk about a bumper class of super-sophomore rushers…this year’s crop
includes Rutgers’ Ray Rice, wvu’s steve slaton, and Clemson’s James Davis.
Then there is Boise State’s super-soph’ Ian Johnson. Ian currently sits at
5th in all of D-1 in rushing, but unlike several others in the D-1 Top-10,
Johnson is getting better as the season wears on. Johnson is on pace for 28
touchdowns on 2006, and lead a Bronco second-half turnaround with nearly 130
yards rushing last week in the final 30 minutes of play. Senior Bronco QB Jared
Zabransky had his worst game of 2006, and has not been really dialed-in since
September. He needs to regain his A-game, and the Broncs must improve upon their
98th ranked pass defense, not to mention maintaining offensive line health from
here on out is more than critical. That typed, Boise plays a 1-7, a 1-6 team,
and two teams one game above .500 to close out 2006. So I do like their B.C.S.
chances, if/when they run the table.

#9 Louisville:

Last week: finally beat Syracuse on the road
This week: OPEN (EPIC big east show-down game vs. wvu one week from today)

The Cards might have been better off to hold the straight-flush (Hunter
Cantwell at QB) than to have played for the royal-flush via switching to less
than 100% Brain Brohm. Brian has an unsightly 1:2 ratio since he returned two
games ago. His completion percentage is down 8% from last year in his two games
back, that’s bad enough. But the real stinger is that all the magic seems to
have vanished from his previous ability to pull the big-play out of his hat.
Then there’s this … the quicker Larry Csonka clone know as Michael Bush is
still done for the year at RB, and the Cards now seem a bit ‘vinciable at home
in seven days. Another grave concern is the fact that wvu is 68 spots superior
in the all important category of turnover margin. On top of all of that two
Louisville players were suspended indefinitely last Sunday for shooting a woman
with paintball guns outside a per se haunted house in a downtown hotel. This
does not strike me as a team on a roll folks, and at this moment, this does not
strike me as a team that will beat wvu.

#10 SEC jumble:

Arkansas is still perfect and will have their way with Louisiana Monroe
this weekend, Auburn should take care of Ole` Miss on the road, and Florida
gets a bit of a test in the Swamp (at home) playing former Top-10 ranked
Georgia. What I’m seeing here is that Arkansas must take two scratches in the
L column, as they own the head-to-head tie-breaker with Auburn. The War-Eagles
have two games that could see them beaten, same as Arkansas does. So the SEC
West edge goes to Arkansas more and more every week. In the SEC East, Florida
must beat Georgia this weekend, but the rest of their conference docket is
clearly the easiest road to hoe. I like Florida in the East, maybe to win the
whole SEC when it’s all said and done on December the 2nd.

#11 ACC jumble:

Klempson slammed GT, even worse than the scoreboard suggested. But Boston
College
is still in the Atlantic lead, and holds the all important
head-to-head tie-breaker. That will take a couple of weeks to clear up. But
suffice it to type that the Tigers can not afford to be beaten by us this
Thursday night in Lane. That would put them basically three games behind Boston
College in the race for the Atlantic JAX bid. Miami now plays GT
down in the ATL for a likely Coastal bid. Miami will have 3,000 players back
from their donnybrook vs. Florida International two weeks ago, and also fields
the 3rd best run stopping unit in all of D-1. So Reggie Ball will eventually
have to throw to win. He can do that just as easily as he can hand Miami the
Coastal crown. But at least the Coastal part appears to be on the table this
weekend; the Atlantic part could very well go down to the wire.

#12 Rutgers:

Did Rutgers just pull off their biggest win since the 1961 team went
undefeated? Maybe not quite that far back, but back to the 1998 tied for 2nd
place big east team is believable indeed. Last week the Scarlet-Knights beat a
very solid Pitt Panther team on the road up in the Ketchup-bowl in downtown
Pittsburgh. This week Rutgers faces the slumping UConn Huskies at home on the
oddball ESPN Sunday night time slot. UConn does not have enough run defense to
derail the RU perfect express. But how long can Rutgers remain perfect with a
6:7 passing ratio the wrong way? After the Huskies, Rutgers gets to play
Louisville, after Louisville, Rutgers plays wvu. If wvu does beat Louisville,
the Cards will be in the perfect deflated let-down trap for the Scarlet Knights
to pull the upset. Otherwise Louisville will drop Rutgers from this ranking.

NBC ranking:

Notre Dame struggled to beat a depleted U.C.L.A. last week, but did win by
three in the end. This week the Skirmishing Irish must travel to try to sink the
Midshipmen of Navy in Baltimore, Maryland. The reason Notre Dame lives to
skirmish another day is that Navy’s extremely wishbone skillful QB Mike
Hampton is done for the year with three torn knee ligaments. Notre Dame will
then play ACC power-outage UNC, then close with its bid to win the Commander’s
Trophy by playing and likely beating Army and Air Force. Only So.Cal looks to be
able to put ND out of our B.C.S. misery. But even at 10-2, there is a peacock of
a chance that ND gets in.

#33 Virginia Tech:

Last week: beat Southern Miss comfortably in Lane
This week: Thursday night ESPN prime-time ACC game with 7-1 Clemson

We/VT
have been catching 7.33 Flags per
week, bad for a freebie 61 yards per week. But lo and behold, a Big Ten crew
works our game, unawares of our recent bad East-Coast officiating rep’, and
guess what? Only five whistles’ for 40 yards. Coincidence? No chance. Our
second least penalized night of the 2006 season? Indeed.

If Ike
Whitaker were a Japanese entree, he would surely be sushi, because my boy is
raw. (per: Ike not seeing Morgan open by 15 yards for a six on his first throw
Saturday night) But Sean
Glennon is a few hot coals short of well-done himself. So for being such
different QB’s in their respective playing-styles, both are probably capped
for 2006. Sean by road play-calling, and via having the mantra of “Do not make
the big mistake!” drilled over and over into his head, Ike mainly due to his
parsimonious playing-time. So it will now be 2007 before one or both really
advance in my book.

The Clemson
offensive line is four deep by my count in ballers who will merit no
worse than 3rd string all-ACC honors. Five deep if you dare count Honorable
Mention.

29, 25, 17, 30, 27. (16 if we count their TE). That would be the number of
individual starts for this Clemson
offensive line on their careers. That is, they did have that many combined
starts until the guy with 17 went down with a blown out ACL. But his replacement
is even bigger (20 lbs., 1`), he’s a junior, and has over 350 offensive line
snaps. So “yes”, this is not a rise in caliber of play, but rather this is
really just a drop in the Tigers OLine depth. As Clemson got over 320 on the
ground last week with this new guy getting all but the first three snaps, so how
bad can he be?

The Clemson
defensive line is not quite as beefy as the Boston College defensive line was.
About 60 pounds less as defensive tackles go. That should have allowed for Danny
McGrath-fans to rest a little easier last night. Though be fully awares that
this Tigers ground stop unit is 8th best! They do it with quicks, and rotating
depth. Not as physical as Georgia Tech, no where near as bulky as Boston
College, just better statistically.

Crouching stats, hidden outcomes:

We/VT
have averaged 37.5 yards rushing, vs. the two best run-stopping defenses we have
played (GT, BC), which are ranked 25th against the run when averaged together. Clemson
is 9th vs. the run.

Clemson has beat
down on their last three opponents by an average score of: 45-8!

When comparing our last three games, to the Clemson’s last three games, the
Tigers
hold a 204 total yardage margin in their favor. In fact, Clemson has out gained
their last nine opponents by 226 on average.

No one has been within single digits of Clemson
in the last 41 days.

Clemson has won
six of their last eight trips to Blacksburg.

Of the Top-10 Rushers in D-1, only one has gotten their yardage vs. tougher
run defenses than Clemson’s
James Davis.

All of that typed, I expect this Thursday night will see our Hokies
put forth their best game of the year so far, and prolly for all of 2006 tonight
in Lane. I had originally foreseen Clemson
as being jus’ shy of two full plays better (aka a little under 14 points). But
The Tigers are lame, the weather looks to be a limiting factor with regard to
the scoreboard, and I am now expecting our best game. You will be very proud of
our Hokies
(think Miami 2003 effort), but they will come up jus’ a little short. Close,
but no (Punch) Cigar.

Lane Stadium Worsham Field chilly predict:

Virginia Tech 12, Clemson 20.

#80 france #81 N.C. State.

This week paris will host Elton John’s sunglasses, Chubby Checker’s
shoes, and the only member of the ESPN World’s Strongest Man senior circuit
tour, Coach Chuck “chesty” Amato. These teams are dead even since 1992, so
flipping a french franc here to determine the outcome is no bad idea. Current
Stillers Head Coach and former Wolfpac member Bill Cower says he does not
believe in white flags, but loves terrible towels. france by 1 point.

Special Thanks to F4E, CFA Hokie. They sure know how to prepare
then host an EPIC tailgate. Great to meet hokiebred, Brown Water
and at least 30 others. An honor to finally meet Raleigh Hokie and Phil
Martin
, my pleasure, gentlemen.

Official VT fb Prediction Poll results:

Week#1 winner: VT73!
Week#2 winners: Melbourne Hokie, Nat-Lite Hokie!
Week#3 winners: DeBord, collentownhokie!
Week#4 winner: Guy LeDouche!
Week#5 winner: gnosys!
OPEN Week#6 honorary winner: PHNC, for his EPIC design work!
Week#7 winner: st_andrew!
Week#8 winners: H0kieNation Hokie2Miami!

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