Bourbonstreet’s Championship Series (b-streetC.S.): Week 11

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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)

(all odds are neutral field based, if VT were to play these teams)

Bourbonstreet Championship Series Top-10:
#1 Ohio State
#2 Vacant
#3 Michigan
#4 the eventual SEC Champion
#5 the PAC-10 Champion
#6 Texas
#7 Boise State
#8 the eventual ACC Champion
#9 Rutgers/Louisville
#10 NBC’s favorite team

BIG 10 (likely) entrant #1 Ohio State, (VT odds: VT+14.5)

Last week: Visiting the Fighting Illini of Illinois up in Champaign
This week: Charleston Heston’s favorite school, up in Evanston, Illinois for
Northwestern

The Buckeyes were out-gained by a whopping n-i-n-e yards by the Illini last
week. No biggie you say? But it was the first time in 14 games that Ohio State
has been out-gained at all. That’s not good when you are basically everybody’s
#1 ranked football team playing against a two win football team, even for having
played on the road. But do recall that the BIG-10 is a mans-man of a conference,
granting nary an OPEN week during the regular season. So the tip-top BIG-10
teams always struggle late in the year as they attempt to distribute
playing-time in order to rest their weary starters. The Buckeye defense was
solid enough last week, holding Illinois to only 233 total yards. But Troy Smith
finally had a bad day, recording his 2nd lowest passing yardage total in 19
games. But the only real key here was that Jim Tressel’s team emerged
victorious, despite play-time rationing reminiscent of the late 70’s Carter
Administrations gas crunch.

The last time OSU traveled to Evanston, the Northwestern Wildcats pulled the
upset. But that has only happened 4% of the time historically. Northwestern has
major special-teams woes, and even worse turnover-margin ills. That’s no way
to upset the #1 team in the land. Ohio State will have the easier go of it this
week, compared to Michigan’s next game (more on that below). As Wildcat QBs
have a shoddy 1:3 passing ratio to show for 2006. This means a little more rest
for the Buckeye starters compared to their Wolverine counterparts. OSU by 21.

#2 Vacant: OSU is the best team right now.

#3 Michigan, (VT odds: VT+9)

Last week: Struggled mightily to stop Ball State, but did win by 8
This week: Bloomington Indiana, to play the all together decent Hoosiers

Michigan was up 200+ total yards after 24 minutes of play, but only ahead by
five points, vs. lowly Ball State last week, thanks to a veritable plethora of
missed tackles and dropped INTs. Sloppy-play describes the Wolverine’s most
recent effort. Sloppy like a three year-old’s first ice-cream sandwich on a
hot summer day, as a bad case of the look-ahead big-blues (pun intended) had the
Wolverines quarantined in the lack of focus kennel. RBs Mike Hart and Brandon
Minor came to play, but the BIG-Blue defense was M.I.A. Lloyd Carr will have all
the ammo he needs to call, or should I type “YELL”, for a very rough week of
practices. Michigan seems to have regressed, or at least refused to progress
recently, winning by average of 10 and change over their most recent four games,
whereas Ohio State has won by an average of 20 points over the same.

This week the Wolverines travel to face surprising .500 Indiana, who is
questing for that elusive 6th win on 2006, in order that they might skirt bowl
eligibility. So Bobby Knight’s former stomping ground school is coming to
play. Indy is giving up a DOS 1.0 user-friendly 43 points per game in their last
3 outings, and is ranked 116th in Pass Efficiency Defense. Though last week
Michigan QB Chad Henne faced the 105th ranked Pass Efficiency Defense and barely
won by eight points in the final minute of play. Michigan has beaten Indy 85% of
the time historically, I’ll stick with that: Big-Blue by 10 to 14.

#4 SEC jumble, (VT odds: all SEC teams-6)

I’ve had the SEC ranked a bit low all year. Why? Because I still feel there
is a very decent shot for the eventual SEC champion to be a two L team. Even
though the 3rd best D-1 overall team, maybe even the 2nd best overall, likely
lives here in the SEC. But who will that be?

Georgia has dropped four of their last five, so I have to like Auburn‘s
chances this weekend, even down between the fabled hedges in Athens. Auburn was
very solid last week in dropping a goose-egg on Arkansas State. War-Eagle QB
Brandon Cox is still shaky, per his two INTs last week, and all-SEC caliber RB
Kenny Irons sat out last week with a bum ankle. But Auburn did still pitch the
shut-out, and looks well-equipped to finish 11-1 to me.

But Arkansas has the head to head tie-breaker over Auburn, courtesy of
their October 7th victory. So in essence the Razorbacks have a two game lead
with three games to play. Tennessee, Mississippi State and LSU remain. It does
not require a lot of circumspection to foresee Arkansas being beaten at least
once, but will they be beaten twice? While Arkansas was barely beating Visor-Boy’s
Gamecocks on the road, Tennessee was upset by LSU at home as I predicted.
So LSU could prove the role of a 2nd tier bowl team, but a major SEC spoiler
before 2006 is said and done. Eric Ainge is still much hobbled on his hop-along
bad ankle, and overall Tennessee is very beat-up. I’ll give the edge to
Arkansas here for being at home, at night, vs. a lame Volunteer squad.

Florida on the other hand has quite a few health problems of their own,
in particular at WR, and LB. But the Gators do enjoy the largest lead (over
Tennessee) on either side of the SEC’s two divisional standings. That will
allow for some rest after closing out SEC play this weekend vs. USC-East (South
Carolina). As Florida plays out of conference Western Carolina and Florida State
to close 2006. Last week the Gators hung-on to beat a very scrappy Vanderbilt by
six on the road in Nashville, looking rather disinterested in the process.

The SEC West is rather like the Senatorial contest between Allen vs. Webb in
the Commonwealth, i.e too close to call between Arkansas and Auburn. Whereas the
SEC East chase is much like the Byrd vs. Raese U.S. Senate race here in WV, i.e.
a foregone conclusion that Florida will win.

#5 PAC-10 Jumble, (VT odds: CAL+6 USC-4)

This week the Trojans begin the nasty eight quarter PAC-10 gauntlet of
Oregon, followed by CAL. USC may win one, but I doubt they win both. Last
week So.Cal rebounded nicely from their first L of the season by taking the
Stanford Tree and his/her lesser side kick to the 42-zip mulch farm. The Trojans
had a nice offensive day, but it was the men of Troy’s lights-out defense that
stole the show, holding Stanford to barely over 200 yards of total offense, and
producing a fine +3 turnover margin as the visitor. Beating the Quack-attack of
the Oregon Ducks even at home in the Coliseum is another matter. Oregon has the
5th ranked offense and the 23rd ranked defense in all of D-1, but has stumbled
twice on the road already for 2006. If the Ducks just took better care of the
football I might be willing to pick OU in the upset. But I’ll go with So.Cal
at home by 7.

CAL beat U.C.L.A. by two scores in Berkeley last week, scoring 31 or more
points for the 7th time this season. The issue here is that CAL gave up over 20
points for the 5th time this season and has only held one team to single-digits
on the year. CAL has the worst total defense (97th in fact) of any B.C.S.
contender by far. That does not read like a B.C.S. team to me. But the
Golden-Bears’ remaining schedule does. Arizona is a sub .500 football team,
Stanford is a total rout just waiting to happen, and CAL could very well get
some help in the form of an Oregon win Saturday night in L.A. CAL has beaten
Arizona 108-14 over the last three years, I’ll stick with that and call for
the Golden Bears to win comfortably in the desert this weekend.

#6 Texas, (VT odds: VT+5)

Last week: The Cowboys of Oklahoma State visited Austin, and got rounded up
This week: the former VT of the BIG-12, up in Manhattan to play Kansas State

This year on the road, the Texas Longhorns have won by an average of three
points. However, when playing in their own backyard of Austin, the Longhorns
have won by 49, 23, 53, 42, and 26 last week, (when TX has won at home that is).
So clearly the Longhorns are a different football team playing in Austin than on
the road, as everything’s bigger in Texas, including home margin of victory.
We see this manifest in the fact that Texas out-gained an incoming 5-3, and
likely bowl bound Oklahoma State by 307 yards in Austin last week. My boy TX QB
Colt McCoy was a stellar 79% on the day, and that included two drops. How good
was Colt? Good enough that he got to sit most of the 3rd, and all of the 4th
quarter. But not before he connected on his 27th passing TD of the year! Texas
will now be lucky if Colt elects to stay beyond the 2007 season.

This week Texas plays KSU. The Wildcats do nothing bad, but they do nothing
really well either, which leads me to wonder if their 6-4 record is a touch over
inflated? On top of that is the fact that KSU has major RB and DB hurts. I look
for Texas to win for the 8th time under Mack Brown before next week’s very
late season BYE week. As Texas will benefit enormously for catching next week
OFF, to prep for arch-instate-rival aTm.

#7 Boise State, (VT odds: Boise+13.5)

Last week: beat rival Fresno State by 24 on the Smurf-turf
This week: traveling to dangerous 6-2 San Jose State

I’ve touched on most of the FSU-West game in last Thursday’s national
column, so I will spare you a redundant rehash of that here.

Instead let’s focus on this perfect BSU football team. Do the Broncs belong
in the B.C.S. if they finish 12-zlich? “Yes” as there can now only be a
maximum of three perfect NC2A D-1 football teams, if that many do in fact make
it past the finish line unbeaten (barring a major upset I mean). Can the Broncs
beat any of the other nine B.C.S. bowl participants? “Yes”; they could beat
two, maybe three of them on a normal six days of preparation when hosting them
on the zany Smurf-turf. But I’m dubious they could beat any of them on 5-6
weeks of prep’ time, which is what the B.C.S. format would provide, via having
the first B.C.S. bowl played on January 1st 2007 A.D. That much time would
expose all the gimmickry that BSU runs on both offense and defense to any
opposing D/O-coordinators worth their NaCl.

But can Boise State actually get there with an offense that drops by seven
points and 74 total yards when visiting, and a defense that antes up 40 more
yards on the road? The key here is stopping the San Jose State 7th ranked
rushing attack. BSU jus’ so happens to check in at a tight 9th vs. the run in
all of D-1, whereas the 81st ranked SJS run defense must contend with the Bronco’s
5th ranked ground-game. To me that is your difference, as the Broncs slowly gain
control, then win this one in the trenches. Though be aware that these two have
combined for a very TV friendly 74 points on average since 2001.

#8 ACC Entrant:

With a win over UNC or bottom-feeding Duke, Georgia Tech can all but
take care of any remaining ACC Coastal business in the next 2 weeks. As such, I’m
completely comfortable in opining that GT will visit Jacksonville in three
weeks. The Yellow-Jackets looked good enough, though not quite great, in beating
N.C. State last week to give me just cause in believing that the Rambling Wreck
will win out in ACC play. Clearly they will win out if Tashard Choice continues
to rush for 100+ yards, as he has 80% of the time over his last five games.

The ACC Atlantic is has become a fully unexpected two horse race between Maryland
and Wake Forest. Or has it? Last week Wake chalked up their biggest win
in years, beating then 16th ranked B.C. at home by a full play. But look at
these two Atlantic teams remaining schedules: Wake must play FSU away, then they
host VT, then they close at Maryland. Maryland has to play Miami at home this
weekend on the heels of the insanely tragic shooting loss of ‘Cane starting DT
Bryan Pata, then a roadie up to Chestnut Hill to play B.C., then the
aforementioned Atlantic clash with Wake. Ergo, both teams look very vulnerable
to n-o-t winning out by me. So B.C. is not completely out of the Atlantic chase,
though Clemson likely is out of it, having split with Wake and Maryland.

“Whew!” are you still with me? I’m not sure I am, but I am sure that
only Maryland and Wake control their own Atlantic destinies. Maryland will
either face a totally demoralized Miami football team, or one out for terminal
payback. Your take is every bit as good as mine on that. Wake must travel to
play FSU, who has the necessary defensive speed to match-up with the Demon-Deac’s
counter (and therefore cut-back) based rushing attack. So I’ll call for at
least one team out of Wake or Maryland to fall short of making their November
25th game culminate as the ACC’s Atlantic Divisional finale.

Big East entrant:
#9 Louisville, (VT odds: Louisville+3)
#10 Rutgers, (VT odds: Rutgers+7)

This week the Big East’s B.C.S. fate will play out as Rutgers hosts Louisville
in the game that will advance at least one of these teams into B.C.S. play. But
will this game advance the winner to the B.C.S. championship game is the real
question? I don’t enjoy typing this, but my answer is “yes”. As the winner
will receive a B.C.S. tetanus times BALCO shot in the arm for having beaten at
least one perfect team during 2006, which would be two perfects in a row if
Louisville wins. But who will win?

Louisville is coming of a major emotionally charged home game in beating then
3rd ranked wvu down in blue-grass country. Rutgers had last weekend off. Edge to
RU. The Scarlet-Knights have their star RB (Ray Rice) slowed with a twisted
ankle. Edge to Louisville. Rutgers is at home, and has the better total defense
by 47 spots. Edge to RU. But the Cards have the much better passing ratio (TD’s:INT’s)
on the year. Edge to Louisville.

In other words, this is a very even looking football game. While I do view
Louisville as the slightly better overall football team, I’m a huge proponent
of taking “rest” over “rust” in the classical rest vs. rust sporting
argument. This one is a coin-toss, but I’ll take Rutgers, as they are the
sexier pick, and I like the incoming Scarlet-Knights special teams, turnover
margin and rushing defensive advantages to barely win tonight in New Brunswick;
RU by 3 or less.

#10 NBC ranking, (VT Odds: Notre Dame EVEN)

Notre Dame beat the tarnation out of UNC up in South Bend last week, 45-26.
As ND QB Brady Quinn continued his all-American push via chalking-up his 8th
250+ yard passing day on the year, while posting a season high 346 yards through
the air. But what you have to be endeared to if you are a fighting-Irish fan is
the ever improving ND defense, which has not allowed more than 314 total yards
in their last 16 quarters of play. That’s quite an improvement from being
ranked in the high 80’s in total defense to start the year.

Air Force gains 277 per game on the ground, and Notre Dame have been
out-rushed five times in their last 10 games. But even with the momentum of a 36
point win over Army last week behind them, it is tough for me to predict an AFA
victory here, as the Falcons are only 106th in jamming the airways up, and Brady
Quinn loves to throw. ND by only 10 as the visitor.

#17 Virginia Tech:

Last week: Parsimoniously beat Miami down in the O.B. (Orange Bowl)
This week: Hosting our annual MAC team, Kent State

If I ask you who the best football player for VT is right now, your answer
would be: Ore? Hall? X? Maybe a WR? All are perfectly valid. But I have another
name for you, who is habitually overlooked because he is often playing outside
the televised line-of-sight. Brandon Flowers! Plain and simple, dude is the best
VT DB I’ve seen. Because B.Flow’ is very tough vs. the run, and he is pure
super-glue in man-to-man coverage. Brandon “Super-Glue” Flowers? That works.

This week Kent State rolls into Lane at a not too shabby 5-4 mark on the
year, though they were punked by lower than low, and should actually be D-1bb
Buffalo last week, 14-41, the wrong way. When I saw that my boy Phil Steele had
KSU picked to win the MAC East I took notice. When I read the KSU injury report
I felt a sympathy sternum injury coming on, as that is exactly what KSU’s
leading rusher, and starting QB Julian Edelman is suffering from. If Edelman can
not go, back-up QB Michael Machen will start. Machen has exactly o-n-e passing
yard this season, and is coming off of a -7 passing ratio (TDs:INTs) last year.
In other words, no matter who plays QB for Kent State, this one is gonna get
ugly.

Crouching stats, hidden outcomes:

  • VT has won 26 consecutive games when scoring 1st!
  • VT has beaten MAC football teams 89% of the time historically.
  • This is only Kent State‘s 3rd game on
    natural-grass this year.
  • Kent State has only won 12% of their games on the road since 1993.
  • Frank Beamer is 9-1 all-time vs. MAC teams, and beats MAC teams by an
    average of 26.3 points per game.
  • The home team has won every game in this series by an average of 17.5 points.
  • Doug Bell and Mike Tomczak will broadcast this game for ESPNU.

Worsham Field, Lane Stadium mid-afternoon kickoff savvy prediction:

Virginia Tech 36, Kent State 3

#86 france, (current odds: france+21). Last week uva
got smoked by FSU to the tune of a “99 luft-baloon” beat-down down in
Tallahassee, 0-33. france gets a BYE week this weekend, as male Cosmo drinkers
always do. But at least al deGroh can continue prepping for his version of 2010,
a hoo-odyssey.

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!
Week#9 winners: HokieFanAtNCSU, Hokie4lyfe!
Week#10 winner: Suffhokian!

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