Bourbonstreet’s Championship Series (b-streetC.S.): Week 13

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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)

Bourbonstreet Championship Series Top-10:

#1 Ohio State

#2 the eventual SEC Champion (Arkansas or Florida)

#3 Michigan

#4 the SEC runner-up (Arkansas or Florida)

#5 PAC-10 Champion Southern Cal

#6 Likely BIG-12 champion Texas

#7 Boise State

#8 the eventual ACC Champion

#9 NBC’s favorite team

#15 Rutgers (maybe wvu, maybe Louisville)

Glendale Arizona B.C.S. bid:

#1 Ohio State:

Last week: beat arch-rival Michigan by 42-39 in Columbus

Up next: Glendale Arizona and the MNC game

Ohio State overcame a highly emotionally charged Michigan to win at home by 3 points, 42-39. Buckeye QB Troy Smith did exactly what I expected him to do, which is to say he out-played Chad Henne and made the difference in the game, via his 2 extra passing TD’s and nearly 50 extra passing yards when all was said and done. Ohio State RB Antonio Pittman notched his 7th 100 yard rushing day, and the Buckeye defense played good enough to win, in spite of a -3 Ohio State turnover margin the wrong way. Think about that, Ohio State still won on the heels of Bo Schembechler’s death, with a -3 turnover margin vs. the #2 team in the country. So how good is Ohio State with just an even turnover margin, or perhaps a positive turnover margin? Good enough to start designing their 2007 MNC title ring by me.

#2 and #4 SEC Sugar Bowl representative, B.C.S. at large bid:

East Side:

My spy network says that #2 Florida will regain the services of 4 starters this week (1 from his suspension being lifted, 3 from having healed up enough to actually play). That’s great news if you are a Gator fan, but bad news if you are one of the now famous FSU cowgirls. This is an out of conference game for the Gators, but it is an in-State rivalry game and the Gators must win this, in order to make a really healthy argument for booking passage to Glendale, presuming they can beat Arkansas in the SEC title tilt in two weeks. Last week Florida totally annihilated nearly helpless D-1aa Western Carolina by 62 points. The Seminoles will indeed offer some stiffer resistance to the Gators remote MNC hopes, but I do like the health edge that the Gators have, and they also have what I will call a major B.C.S. potential invite incentive edge as well. Florida by 9.

West Side:

All #4 Arkansas does is win. They are not the sexiest team in the B.C.S. running, but running is what they do better than all but 3 D-1 football teams. The Razorbacks have now clinched the SEC Western bid to play in the SEC championship game. Last week Arkansas put forth a workman like effort, to finally put down 3 win Mississippi by 14 points, 28-14. The Razorbacks did something that all great teams do, in all sports; they found a way to win when not playing their best, as the Bulldogs actually out-gained Arkansas by 99 yards on the day. As all-SEC RB Darren McFadden could only put up 3.2 yards per carry in a very pedestrian like 84 yard rushing day. Arkansas must now play LSU at home in what is basically a meaningless game in terms of their post-season destination, that’s always a recipe for getting upset. LSU has won 5 straight, but has struggled against the top-4 teams they have played during 2006. LSU’s defense is a bad speed match-up for Arkansas, so I’m going with the Bayou Bengal’s in the upset here.

#3 Michigan

Last week: scored 25 second-half points to come up 3 points short in
the end

This week: awaiting a possible Ohio State rematch or feeling B.C.S. rosy

Michigan gave up 272 more yards to Ohio State’s offense then they had been allowing all year long! 156 of that was allowed on the ground, as the clearly better team won last week. But not by much on the final scoreboard, as only a field goal of final victory margin separated these two. Is that enough to warrant a second go-round for Michigan and Ohio State? I’m in the minority here, but I just do not see how Michigan can come this close to beating Ohio State again. The Wolverine passing offense (76th in D-1) is just too limited to get into a shoot-out with the Buckeyes and come out on top. Then we saw the former #1 ranked Wolverine run-defense get out-quicked on the line-of-scrimmage and fail to even contain what had been a well below
average Buckeye ground-game for the first half of 2006. Michigan can and should win the Rose Bowl, as they have just enough of a defensive advantage to edge Southern Cal. But they can not and will not beat Ohio State in a potential B.C.S. re-match. But Florida just might have what it takes to beat Ohio State, (i.e. better overall team speed than Michigan).

#5 PAC-10 B.C.S./Rose Bowl team:

Another team with some remote chance to play in Glendale is the 3 consecutive trips to the MNC game, USC Trojans. But So.Cal has to play 2 more games, so while they have already won the PAC-10 championship, and therefore at least a birth the “The granddaddy of them all” Rose bowl, it remains to be seen if USC can finish 11-1 on 2006? That typed…I must say that the Trojans looked very impressive last week in beating down on the CAL Golden Bears by a score of 23-9 at home last weekend. USC won by more than the scoreboard indicated, winning the turnover margin battle by +3 and out-gaining the 93 octane CAL offense by 85 yards on the day. Up next is the always intriguing traditional end of season match-up with Notre Dame. These teams are pretty even, other than in total defense, as the men of Troy hold a 23 spot edge in that category. That’s not a XXL sized advantage, especially when the Fighting Irish are the healthier football team, but it should be just enough for So.Cal to win their second straight at home.

#6 Texas, Big-12 Fiesta bound:

Last week: OPEN

This week: home for Texas A&M

Texas was open last week, and hopes to regain the services of future Sunday pro QB Colt McCoy for it, as they play Lonestar rival aTm this Friday at home in Austin. This one should be v-e-r-y fun to watch. Not only is this a very legitimately heated historic rivalry, which has seen its share of memorable moments in the past…it now features a 280 pound RB for aTm, one Jorvorskie Lane. aTm does rank 6th in rushing offense, but guess who’s coming to dinner ranked #1 at stopping the run? The Longhorns? Bingo that. The Longhorns cheat their Safeties up in run support, as they are 2nd and 3rd in Texas tackles respectively, but they do so at the peril of fielding the 111th ranked pass defense, so aTm must throw to win. The Aggies QB is sophomore Stephen McGee.
Stephen is actually already very close to being a good major conference D-1 pivot to be so young. But he is a couple of notches below Texas QB Colt McCoy, and Colt has returned to practice this
week, and looks to start tomorrow afternoon, having recovered sufficiently from a neck stinger to play.

Texas has won 11 of their last 12 home finales, and 9 of the last 11 vs. the Aggies, while the Aggies themselves have dropped 14 of their last 16 November road games. Those trends plus the discernable
uarterbacking edge has me picking the Longhorns by 10.

#7 Boise State

Last week: abused 1-10 Utah State by a score of 49-10

This week: a B.C.S. at large bid is on the line vs. testy 8-3 Nevada
on the road

2 SEC teams, 3 Big East teams, and the Nevada Wolfpac themselves…all badly wanting to see Boise State beaten and therefore knocked out of B.C.S. at-large contention this weekend in Reno. The Broncos are one of only two remaining perfect D-1 football teams at this point, and 12-zip on the year will make for a strong B.C.S. invite case indeed. But will the Broncos win away from their fabled Smurf-turf? Boise has won 6 straight vs. Nevada, but the Bronco total yardage margin drops by 95 yards per game as the visitor, and their scoring margin moves by 10 points per game the wrong way on the road. Nevada is perfect at home for 2006 as well, and had not scored less than 42 points, while pitching two shut-outs and only allowing 7 points in the other one of last three games. I’m a big fan of the way Boise State plays offense and the Broncos up-start football program in general, so I’m not fond to type this…but Nevada has the look and feel of a team about to pull the upset. I hope I’m wrong, but Nevada by 6 at home as the big-time B.C.S. pressure causes the Bronco’s to have to Heimlich Maneuver themselves, and that will be very painful for all-WAC Boise RB Ian Johnson, who currently sports 2 cracked ribs and a formerly collapsed left lung.

#8 ACC Orange Bowl team:

Jacksonville bound Georgia Tech faces in-state rival Georgia this weekend, on the road between the fabled hedges of Athens, Georgia. Georgia has only won 2 of their last 6 games overall and misses former starting QB Joe Tereshinski III like crazy. As his replacement Matty Stafford has posted a Stephen King Misery looking 5:12 passing ratio (TDs:INTs) the wrong way. That seems a lot more like “the human interception machine”, Georgia Tech’s QB Reggie Ball’s historic kinda
numbers. But Reggie actually sports a very attractive 20:10 ratio on the year. Reggie may still be a sub 50% passer, but he no longer beats the Yellow-Jackets all by himself, and has won at least 3 games this year via nailing the big-play. Georgia has won 5 straight games in the series for the Governor’s Cup under Mark Richt. But Georgia and Georgia Tech seem to be ships sailing in the opposite direction to me. Ergo, I have to call for the upset, the Rambling-Wreck by 4.

Maryland and Wake did exactly what I predicted they would do, both were beaten, and neither broke the 20 point barrier on offense, as this very column said they would not last week. Wake controls their own post-season destiny; win and they are in Jacksonville playing for the ACC championship and B.C.S. auto birth. Likewise, Maryland will go to JAX if they beat Wake, thanks to Miami’s victory over BC last night. I like the BIG-boy to pull one more oversized rabbit out of his hat up in College Park, primarily because he is at home, and because Maryland QB Sam Hollebach and the Terrapin defense are much better in their own backyard.

#9 Nutrasweet (Sugar Bowl) NBC ranking:

Notre Dame won the cost cutter version of the Commander’s Trophy last week, having beaten every single D-1 service-academy during 2006. Fighting Irish head man Charlie Weiss deserves some consideration for coach of the year in my mind, and he will merit serious consideration if he can beat So.Cal this weekend out in L.A. The Irish have improved by nearly 100% on defense in terms of their overall total defense ranking over the course of 2006. Not often do you see that much of an up-grade without a spring practice or maybe even a full August camp to show for it. These two teams are separated by 2 spots in the total offense rankings (ND=21st, USC=23rd), but USC has what I’ll call a mild defensive edge, and the only team to beat ND thus far was 6th in
total defense (the Michigan Wolverines). I can conceivably see ND winning this one, and it will be very close no matter who wins out in the City of Angels. But it’s hard to not take the slightly better
defensive team, in an otherwise nearly even match-up, in particular when the better defensive team is playing at home. USC by 3.

#10 Big East entrant:
#15 Rutgers (or wvu or Louisville?):


wvu will beat South Florida this weekend up in Mo-town. A cool crisp late November afternoon with an 80% chance of battery chucking and a 100% chance of well-done couch will do that to these first time visiting boys from South Florida. You may book that. As playing wvu in their own backyard for a new kid on the Milan Puskar Stadium block is a very tall task indeed. wvu by 25 or more.

Louisville should be able to beat Pitt, but Pitt will shoot it out with the Cards behind QB Tyler Palko’s quiet but stellar 70% passing year, great for a all-conference quality 24:6 passing ratio
(TDs:INTs). But turnover margin has hurt the Cards all year, so if they should fumble this game away, Pitt could possibly snap their 4 game 2006 losing streak up in the Ketchup Bowl of downtown Pittsburgh. Still yet, I do like the Cards here by 7 points, but this one is far from being in the book, as Pitt presents a substantial challenge via their offensive style of play, and better than average defensive mobility.

Rutgers is OFF this weekend, recovering from being badly upset 11-30 the wrong way on the road last week up in Cincinnati. Rutgers was never in the game last week, and the Scarlet Knightweak-link know as QB Mike Teel finally snapped for a lousy 4 INT day.

But what does all of this mean? It is my take that the Big East B.C.S. auto-bid will come down to wvu hosting Rutgers on December the 2nd, as I just somehow sense Louisville will be beaten again before the 2006 regular season closes up shop in 2 weeks time.

#14 Virginia Tech:

Last week: beat 14th ranked Wake Forest down in Winston-Salem by a
27-6 score

This week: Defending the Commonwealth Cup in football for the 6th time
in 7 years

Thus far I’ve nailed three perfect opposing point totals, Cincinnati=13, Miami=10, Wake=6, then barely missed on four others: I missed So.Miss by 3, missed Kent State by 3, missed UNC by 2, missed B.C. by 1. On the VT offensive side, the closest I’ve been to our point total is 4 points (on the Duke game). So I went back and did some four-squares regression analysis. In short, if we throw out the NorthLeastern game as the D-1aa outlier that it is, I’ve been off by 25 aggregate points to the low side offensively on our Hokies for the year, or by 2.27 points per game. As our Hokie’s offensive output has been much more graphically dispersed compared to our defensive
numbers, which have been rather tightly clustered around the words that read: greatness personified.

But that will not be much of a factor this week, as our defense will indeed be great, as Bud Foster’s stop-unit presents a very difficult match-up for the un-athletic and not all together fleet of le’ foot frenchy offense. But our very own Hokie offense will be a bit limited in its own right, sans much in the way of contributions from the all-ACC caliber RB named Branden Ore, who was accounting for 93% of our rushing yardage going into the Wake Forest game.

Here is the duality of concern that I have for Saturday’s game…france has only allowed the following rushing yardage in their last 4 games:

33 rushing attempts, 127 yards allowed vs. UNC

29 rushing attempts, 95 yards allowed vs. N.C. State

32 rushing attempts, 107 yards allowed vs. Florida State

29 rushing attempts, 117 yards allowed vs. Miami last week

That works out to only allowing 111.5 yards rushing per game in the hoos’ last 4 games. I expect a very comparable if not lower number, if B.Ore does sit this Saturday in Lane. france has scored 92% of the time that they have reached an opponents red-zone, while only allowing points in their own red-zone 71% of the time on the year.

But hoo kicker Chris Gould is only 58% on the year, Brandon Pace is money, checking in at a perfect 100% for 2006. That’s the difference to me, as I don’t see a ton of offense out of our Hokies, but I see a good deal less offense coming from the french. Checkmate, crown-me, VT
will win.

Crouching stats, hidden outcomes:

The team, who has won the total yardage margin battle, has won this game, 14 out of the last 15 years. (meaning: there have not been any real fluky outcomes, as the better team on that given Commonwealth Cup day tends to win the game)

Shockingly enough, france holds a 101 total yardage margin edge on the season thus far, when common 2006 VT and french ACC opponents are compared head to head.

Since 1993, the Commonwealth Cup football series has been decided by an average of 14.91 points per game. (i.e. most often this game is not overly competitive, as it is seldom close throughout its course of play)

VT has won 52% of the time when playing france historically.

alvin deGroh is 1-6 in road finales as the french head coach.

Frank has won 8 of his last 11 home finales.

During our recent 5 game win streak, our Hokies are winning by 19.6
points on average.

CBSSportLine lists VT as a whopping 93% favorite to win this game!

france has only won 1 of their last 8 road dates for Chessmaster DeGroh.

Last years 52 point Hokie point total was the most points scored by
either team in the entire history of this Commonwealth series, going
all the way back to the first game between these two schools, which
was played in 1902!

Steve Martin, Rick Walker and Mike Hogewood will call the game for Raycom.

A 1934 redux in this years Commonwealth Cup score:

Virginia Tech 19, france 6

Happy Thanksgiving TSL.com!

: )

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