Saturday, August 23, 2008

College Football Projections: ACC

Since expansion in 2004, the ACC has been a disappointment in football. The league has yet to match its bellcows, Florida State and Miami, in the championship game. The conference has not earned an at-large bid to a BCS bowl. And, the conference has not earned a win in a BCS bowl since expansion. This year has the potential to be different.

Once upon a time, Clemson was the sole football power in the ACC. The Tigers won a national championship in 1981, and dominated the conference before Florida State joined in 1992. Since then, Clemson has not won a conference championship. That could change this season. The Tigers look to have their best team in Tommy Bowden’s nine years at the school. They look to be favored in every game in their schedule, including a road trip to Florida State.

Speaking of Papa Bowden and Florida State, the Seminoles have slipped in recent years. FSU stands to improve on recent years, though, and has a chance to make a BCS bowl. If some things go their way, they could even pass Clemson for the championship of the Atlantic division.

Maryland, Wake Forest, and Boston College will all be pretty good, but not nearly on Clemson’s level. BC is in a rebuilding year after losing QB Matt Ryan to the Atlanta Falcons. North Carolina State looks to have a long season and will finish last in the Atlantic division.

In the Coastal division, Virginia Tech rules the roost. No pun intended, as the Hokies’ other nickname is Gobblers. The Fighting Frank Beamers have a couple of interesting road trips, to Nebraska and Florida State. VT should be good enough to win this division again.

The Hokies will be followed by the Butch Davis teams: his former school at Miami, and his current North Carolina Tar Heels. Georgia Tech will achieve their same usual result: middle of the pack. Duke will make large strides under new coach David Cutcliffe, and win as many as five games, which is more than the Blue Devils have won in the last four years. Virginia will be rebuilding after losing a load from a team that won 8 games last year, many by narrow margins. The Cavaliers will not be as fortunate this year.

Projected Finish:
Clemson 12-0, 8-0
Florida State 10-2, 7-1
Maryland 7-5, 4-4
Wake Forest 7-5, 3-5
Boston College 6-6, 2-6
NC State 3-9, 2-6
Virginia Tech 11-1, 7-1
Miami 8-4, 5-3
North Carolina 7-5, 5-3
Georgia Tech 6-6, 3-5
Duke 5-7, 2-6
Virginia 2-10, 1-7

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Citizens of the World

I’ve been really getting into the Olympics this year. I didn’t expect to care a great deal about them, especially with them being held in Communist China. (By the way, this blog is now blocked in China..there used to be some traffic from Internet cafes over there, but I think I mentioned God once, and the Commie censors blocked this site) The last few Olympics, both winter and summer, are like a blur to me. I don’t remember a great deal about them. It seems like the Los Angeles Olympics were just yesterday, but that was 24 years ago. I’m getting old.

The USA is getting some great performances, none better than that of Michael Phelps and his eight gold medals in swimming. He also helped NBC with TV ratings last week.

A current trend in the Olympics is for athletes to farm themselves out to other countries whenever they do not make the Olympic team of their own country. We see that in basketball with Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Silver Stars (WNBA), who is playing for Russia, where she plays professionally in the winter. Chris Kaman of the Los Angeles Clippers is playing for Germany, as his great-grandparents came from Deutschland, and the Deutsch are letting him play for them. I would have a hard time playing for a country other than the USA, but if this is their ticket to the Olympics, then more power to them.

Late last night, I discovered the ultimate mercenary scenario. An American men’s beach volleyball team was playing a team from the Republic of Georgia. Upon further inspection, the Georgian players were named Geor and Gia. It turns out that they are Brazilians that were invited to play for Georgia after failing to make the Brazilian Olympic team. In Brazilian tradition, they took one-name professional titles, and took the names of Geor and Gia. They made it to the semifinals before losing to an American team. Interestingly enough, the other semifinal matched two Brazilian teams. A Brazilian women’s team also played for Georgia, under the names of Rtevelo and Saka, the Georgian-language name for the country. The Brazilan-Georgian women’s team even eliminated a Russian team from the Olympics. Great stuff!

I still believe there should be some sort of citizenship requirement for the Olympics. And, I believe the United States shouldn’t have to hire athletes from other countries to wear the red, white, and blue. But, if a small nation wants to bring in an athlete that won’t be on the team of their own country, that’s great.

In the meantime, I’ll be cheering for Geor and Gia to bring that bronze medal back home to Brazil. Or Georgia.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

College Football Projections: Big East

Another conference preview while wishing that American football was an Olympic sport…

Not long ago, the Big East was in danger of losing its BCS bid. That is no longer the case. This conference has a legitimate national championship contender and a bunch of pretty good teams. There is really only one dog in this entire conference.

When we last saw the West Virginia Mountaineers, they were steamed about the departure of coach Rich Rodriguez to Michigan. They promptly went out to Glendale and thumped Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. This big win earned the head coaching job for assistant coach Bill Stewart. Fast forward to this fall, when WVU is favored to win the Big East, and has a very good chance to be in Miami for the BCS National Championship Game. Their toughest game looks to be a Thursday night affair at home against Auburn. If they can get past that one, they have a good chance to go undefeated.

If West Virginia somehow slips in conference play, look for South Florida to pick up the slack. The Bulls will be joined by Louisville (last season’s disappointment) and Cincinnati in a fight for second place. Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and Connecticut will be bowl-eligible, as well. Some pick Pittsburgh to be even better than just bowl-eligible.

The only dog in this conference is Syracuse. The Orange has hit hard times, and will most likely fire coach Greg Robinson at the end of the year, barring a miracle.

Projected Finish:
West Virginia 12-0, 7-0
South Florida 9-3, 4-3
Louisville 9-3, 4-3
Cincinnati 9-4, 4-3
Rutgers 8-4, 3-4
Pittsburgh 7-5, 3-4
Connecticut 7-5, 3-4
Syracuse 1-11, 0-7

Sunday, August 17, 2008

College Football Projections: Independents

It’s been a few days, as I’ve been preoccupied with family from out of town and the Olympics. By the way, Michael Phelps is awesome. The next group of projections is a simple group: independents.

Notre Dame won all of three games last year. Count me in as one of many lifelong Irish haters that enjoyed that body of work. The Irish will never be back in the elite of college football as long as they are expecting both Ivy League academics and national championship caliber football. However, if they win 9 games in a year, they’ll be in a BCS bowl long enough to get pasted by a good team from a strong conference. The Irish won’t sniff a BCS bowl this year, but should win six games and steal a bowl bid from a Big East team. Maybe someday Notre Dame will humble itself and join a conference. In the meantime, they’ll lose three September games to Big Ten teams on its way to an up and down season.

Navy has been on a good run for the last several years under departed coach Paul Johnson. Now, new coach Ken Niumatololo is faced with following up that success, including dominance of rivals Army and Air Force and last year’s win over Notre Dame, the Midshipmen’s first since Roger Staubach was their quarterback in 1963. The Middies are quarterbacked by the captain of the All-Time All-Name team, Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. The Midshipmen will struggle a bit more this year, losing the Commander-In-Chief Trophy to Air Force. However, they should once again beat Army and finish 5-7.

Army continues to struggle. The Black Knights of the Hudson look to be underdogs in every game except one. Stranger things could happen, though. West Point is about a lot more than football, though. The men from there and Annapolis will lead others to defend our country before long.

New to the Football Bowl Subdivision is Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers are in an interim period before joining the Sun Belt in 2009. WKU plays several Sun Belt teams this year, but look to only be favored over two FCS (1-AA) teams. It’ll be a long year in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Projected Finish:
Notre Dame 6-6
Navy 5-7
Western Kentucky 2-10
Army 1-11

Next: Big East