Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Oddsmakers: Halftime at the Music City Bowl

Odds Davis has more than one turnover in the second half

Brian: 0%. Davis is getting into a groove now. I wouldn't be surprised if he turns the ball over one more time, but I don't think he commits two or more, giving him 3+ on the day.

Jeff: Davis had one pick and no fumbles in the first half. I can easily see Davis having a fumble since he has had a tendancy to do exactly that and he could easily throw a pick whether its his fault or a tipped ball. 50%

Odds Vanderbilt scores a touchdown

Jeff: Going low here. Vanderbilt probably already blew their best chances. 23%

Brian: 1.5% I am still on track for my 24-6 prediction and an Eagles win.

Odds Haden has more rushing yards than Harris

Brian: Haden hasn't done much in the first half. I don't like his chances. 10%.

Jeff: Harris will likely have more rushing yards but there is certainly the possibility for Haden to break a big run or just to see more touches because Harris has not been having his best game. Its closer to a toss up in this game than it has been in most this season. 48%.

Odds Bob Davie mentions Notre Dame more than 1 more time

Jeff: As the former Notre Dame coach, Bob Davie I believe has already mentioned Notre Dame twice. Considering Notre Dame is our highest profile opponent each year, I say odds are good that Notre Dame gets mentioned a few times. He still needs to talk about Clausen's Hawaii Bowl performance. 70%

Brian: 100%. There will be more than 1 mention of Notre Dame from Bob Davie. 1) will be when the Eagles are ready to win the game and he'll mention the bowl winning streak and then mention both Notre Dame's bowl win and breaking the streak of 8 straight bowl losses and 2) when the defense clamps down in the second half and doesn't let up a point, he'll mention the Eagles 17-0 shutout of the Irish as one of our other dominating defensive performances.

Odds BC wins

Brian: 100%. Davis just needed a quarter to get in the groove. This team was extremely rusty out of the game. The novelty of playing a bowl game for the first time in 26 years has worn off for Vanderbilt. BC will cruise in the second half.

Jeff: Wow, 100%? That's more confidence than I have. Hopefully Davis can build on that TD drive but there are no guarantees. Even if he doesn't play well hopefully the defense wins the game for us. 89%.

Go BC! We need to keep the streak alive, finish in the top 25, and have momentum going into next season.

Headlines: BC Tops Dons

Brian: My boy Joe Trapani - pictured above - put up 22 and 11 in an Eagles rout of the San Francisco Dons Monday night - 84-62. The Eagles have one more non-conference game tomorrow against Sacred Heart before opening up conference play with, umm, No. 1 North Carolina. Ouch. Last season the Eagles started the season with a 9-4 out of conference record, losing to Kansas, Providence, Massachusetts and a WTF loss to Robert Morris. Two seasons ago, the Eagles also notched a 9-4 out of conference record, but managed to get to 19 wins adding 10 ACC victories. Last year, the Eagles sputtered down the stretch, starting 3-0 in conference but finishing on a 1-12 skid to end the ACC regular season.

Long story short, this season the Eagles will likely take a 13-2 record (assuming wins over Sacred Heart and Harvard) into ACC play. So two questions Jeff: is this season's regular season out of conference record a sign of improvement, and what, if anything will be different this season in ACC play?

Jeff: The early out of conference play this season has been a success. We survived with no WTF losses and might have one or two wins against teams that will ultimately make the Dance. As you pointed out we failed to make it through 13 games without any WTF losses so you should be excited about the BC men's basketball team this year. The team's last two games have also shown signs of improvement because they have won both games without the outcome ever being in doubt. Earlier in the season BC was beating teams that we expected them to beat but did not necessarily lead throughout the game.

I have been trying to tell you to get excited about the basketball team this year and now that we are getting to conference play I will soon finally have some concrete evidence to make you believe. Unfortunately, the Eagles opens at North Carolina which will almost certainly be a loss and a bad loss at that. After that the schedule doesn't really ever get easy playing in the ACC with Wake Forest coming to Chestnut Hill for our third conference game. After that we might be almost through January or into February before BC has an above .500 conference record and people start getting excited about BC and talk about them making the dance.

To answer your question, BC is a much, much improved team from last year so you should look for some significant improvement in ACC this season compared to last. Last year, BC wasn't quite as bad as their record but the young team gave up once it was clear that they were not going to have any postseason whatsoever. 8-8 or better in conference is very realistic this season.

Brian: 8-8 might be a bit optimistic at this point considering we have 5 games with this week's ranked ACC teams (North Carolina, Duke, Clemson and Wake Forest x2) and four more against teams getting votes in the AP Poll (Maryland, Florida State and Miami (FL) x2), but I like your enthusiasm. And while I don't think it will happen, the Eagles still have two more opportunities for a WTF loss in Sacred Heart (today at 2pm) and January 7 against Harvard.

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Headlines: Matt Ryan Love

Most of you know by now that Matt Ryan was voted NEXT by ESPN the Magazine. What you probably didn't know is so was our good friend and blog reader Raj. Raj somehow also makes this video (fast foward to 0:32 in) as we celebrated on the field after last year's ACC Atlantic clinching victory at Clemson.

Ryan continues to impress, taking home the 2008 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, the Associated Press announced Tuesday.

Move over, Brett Favre. Has Peter King developed an open love affair with Matt Ryan? (Thanks to Elizabeth for the link).

Keep up the good work, Matt, and we'll see you in the Meadowlands on January 18 in the NFC Championship.

Headlines: And It Begins ...

Brian: Jeff was right on the money.

Let the Great Seminole Spin Machine of 2009 begin, care of Mr. College Football Tony Barnhart ...

2. Florida State is ready to win an ACC championship in 2009: When I visited with the Florida State coaches this summer, I came away thinking that 2008 was the setup year to make a serious run at the ACC championship in 2009. After watching Florida State dominate Wisconsin 42-13 in the Champs Sports Bowl, it looks like the Seminoles are right on schedule. Now Wisconsin was certainly overrated in the preseason but they do have some big time running backs, including P.J. Hill, who had 140 yards against that Seminole defense. Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who turned 79 on Nov. 8, will return next season with 382 career victories. Penn State’s Joe Paterno, who just turned 82, has 383 wins but is not expected to beat Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. Paterno also has a new hip and a three-year commitment from Penn State to keep coaching. It will be interesting watching those two in 2009.


Headlines: Music City Ticket Sales and '09 Media Darlings

Brian: Jeff, The Tennessean reports that Music City ticket sales will be down at least 25 percent from the last two years. Vanderbilt has sold about 12,342 tickets while the Eagles have sold about 2,000. But interestingly, The Tennessean isn't blaming the hometown favorite Vanderbilt Commodores. So who really is to blame?

Jeff: The real answer is probably nobody because they still sold over 50,000 tickets to the game. Ticket sales are down for this game relative to last year but in the past two years the SEC team has been Kentucky which has brought a ton of fans. Kentucky has a much larger fan base than Vanderbilt and is still located in fairly close proximity. When the bowl directors selected Vanderbilt and BC for this game they knew that it was 100% dependent on Vanderbilt fans to sell out this game. BC die hards just made a trip to Tampa and really don't have much motivation to travel to either the city of Nashville on December 31 or to travel to watch BC play a Vanderbilt team that got beat by both Wake Forest and Duke this year. Had the matchup been better, the Eagle fans certainly would've traveled at least a little better to this game. I think last night's Alamo Bowl is going to be a good representation of how BC fans would travel if BC got invited to either the Gator or Chick-fil-A Bowl (the only two ACC non-BCS bowls that BC fans might get excited about). Northwestern is a team ranked similarly to Boston College this year which probably has a similar fan base. The game is not expected to be close to a sellout and once Northwestern releases how many tickets they were able to sell to the game this year I think we'll know about how many tickets BC might sell to a bowl game that features a Top 25 opponent when BC is ranked themselves and is not the Orange Bowl.

Brian: You are correct in saying that the Music City has been spoiled the past few years, but the reason is not because of the back-to-back appearances by Kentucky. The Music City Bowl has been spoiled by its ACC representatives the last two years. This bowl has benefitted greatly from the struggles of programs like Florida State and Clemson - teams with much larger traveling fan bases - who have both landed here the last two years. Back in 2005, the Music City matchup between Minnesota and Virginia only drew a little over 40,000 (40,519). Virginia was replacing a SEC team that year. And when the Eagles last played in the Music City Bowl, the attendance was listed at 46,125. Not bad at all.

I'd also add that this bowl's relationship with the ACC and the SEC is still very young. This is only the third year that the ACC and the SEC have conference tie-ins to this bowl. The ACC replaced the Big Ten in 2006 and the Big Ten was preceeded by the Big East from 1998-2002. I would say 50,000+ for a bowl that has very little history in a struggling economy is pretty good. Perhaps as you suggest the SEC could have fielded a better team than a 6-6 Vanderbilt and ticket sales would be a bit better, but if The Tennessean wants to point fingers, I fail to see why the Commodores shouldn't shoulder at least some of the blame.

Jeff: After Florida State beat up on Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl on Saturday, there is no doubt in my mind that FSU will be the preseason favorite in the Atlantic Division next year. I also think that with a win in the Chick-fil-A Bowl that Georgia Tech will be the preseason favorite in the Coastal. Florida State beat a completely unimpressive Wisconsin team and Georgia Tech would have beaten a struggling LSU team, but FSU is FSU and they will certainly get more press than BC next preseason. Meanwhile, Paul Johnson and his new offense will be the sexy coastal pick rather than picking VT again. Am I overestimating the press's love for Florida State and for Paul Johnson or am I right on the money?

Brian: Well, as you mentioned Jeff, Florida State's win was none too impressive. Wisconsin played terrible football in the second half of the season. And as Dr. Saturday observed, the Seminoles win will probably propel FSU into the 2009 ACC Championship picture early on. But as Florida State's most famous college football TV personality likes to say, "Not so fast my friend!" While a 9-4 season is a slight improvement on the 8-5 season of 2007, the schedule for FSU seems to toughen up in 09 compared to 2008. Florida State gets Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami and NC State at home, but has four tough ACC games on the road in Boston College, Clemson, North Carolina and Wake Forest. Add to this a dicey proposition of going to Provo, Utah in September to play what will likely be a ranked BYU team, and have to go to the Swamp to receive their annual Gator beatdown. Not to mention they will most likely lose some serious talent on the defensive side of the ball (especially in the secondary where they will lose two safeties and a corner) to either graduation or the NFL draft. Finally, it will be interesting to see how the on-going soap opera that is Bobby Bowden's coaching contract plays out and what effect that will have on this year's recruiting class.

Now, of course, these are way too rational explanations to point to why Florida State might not be considered the preseason favorite, probably too rational for the media and the press. And a cursory glance around the division doesn't show many other national title / conference champ calibre teams out there. Wake will likely take a step back, Swinney will have to build back up Clemson, BC is a wild card, NC State should improve if they stay healthy, and you never know what you'll get with Maryland.

On the Coastal side, with a bowl win Georgia Tech will garner some 1st place votes next season, but isn't it always about Virginia Tech? Paul Johnson has the Yellow Jackets offense rolling, but he will have to replace all his big playmakers up front and a couple other defensive starters. If the Jackets are to win the Coastal, they will have to do a tremendous job reloading the defensive front. The schedule seems manageable in 2009, with the toughest ACC teams coming to Atlanta, but Georgia Tech will have to navigate a road trip to Tallahassee as well as 3 games against SEC opponents - Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Georgia - two of those three on the road. But like I said, since 2004, this conference always seems to come back to Virginia Tech. The Hokies don't lose much and will likely be the preseason favorite in the Coastal. I don't think you are far off though, and could be persuaded that the media takes up the Georgia Tech cause in the preseason if the Wramblin' Wreck blow out LSU (which, much like FSU, would get more credit than they deserve for their bowl win) and Virginia Tech again lays an egg in the Orange Bowl. If that happens, then I think you have both the Atlantic and Coastal preseason media picks for 2009.

Jeff: Virginia Tech should be the conference favorite every year until they lose but we know that mainstream media likes sexy, shiny things, and after a victory over LSU in one of the highest profile non-BCS bowl games, there will be a lot of talk about the Yellow Jackets next year before a down is played. Also, as you mentioned, Virginia Tech travels to Atlanta next year.

Brian: The ACC's worst nightmare is a repeat of Clemson's performance against Alabama in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff Classic. If Virginia Tech is the ACC preseason media pick and they get embarrassed by the Tide, it will be another long year for ACC football.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Headlines: Music City Bowl Preview

Brian: Jeff, BC has been quietly preparing for our bowl game and our matchup with the Vanderbilt Commodores. What do you expect to see from the Eagles on Wednesday?

Jeff: I expect to see a performance similar to the Champs Sports Bowl last year. Coming off the ACCCG loss and playing a far inferior team leaves room for a potential upset but I fully expect the Eagles to pull off a victory. BC is probably three touchdowns better than Vanderbilt but I do not expect that type of blowout.

Brian: I expect BC to play smart football and win this game, but do expect this to be a low scoring affair. I believe BC-Vanderbilt has the lowest over/under of any of this year's college football bowl games. However, I don't necessarily think that Vanderbilt will be as tough an opponent as Michigan State was in last year's bowl. Vanderbilt's season has certainly been a head scratcher:

... A road win against Mississippi back in September (the Rebels went on to beat Florida the following week)
... Losses to Mississippi State on the road and Tennessee at home - two of the worst SEC teams this year
... Losses to ACC schools Duke at home (3 point margin) and Wake Forest on the road (13 points)
... A win against a ranked South Carolina team back in September and another bowl bound team - Rice

And the rest of their games this year - with the exception of Florida - have at least been competitive. I'm not sure what team will show up. Regardless, Vanderbilt went into a tailspin to finish the season after starting 5-0, and having used three different quarterbacks this year, the Commodore offense has sputtered in the second half of the season. BC is averaging 25.5 points for per game, and I don't expect this game to be any different, even with Davis under center. I'll say BC wins comfortably in front of the home Vanderbilt crowd, 24-6.

Jeff: As this will be somewhat of an audition for Dominique Davis at quarterback, how do you think he will perform? Do you expect to see the game-manager who limits his mistakes (the Maryland game), or the young kid who showed up under center in the ACC Championship Game?

Brian: While I don't expect Davis to win next year's starting job with jaw-dropping numbers, he will be much better than his 17-of-43, 1 touchdown, 2 INTs, fumble for a Hokie 6 performance in the ACC Championship Game. Davis has had plenty of time to prepare for this game. Even though he looked like a deer in the headlights against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, statistically, the Vanderbilt defense isn't nearly as good as those units. Still, the Commodore defense is much better than that of Maryland's, so I expect to see a performance somewhere in between the Maryland and Virginia Tech games. Unfortunately for Eagles fans though, after this game nothing will be settled for the starting QB position for 2009.

Brian: Our bowl pick'em records have been atrocious, by the way. To date, you have gone 5-7 - picking up a win in last night's Independence Bowl - while I have only managed to have a slightly better record at 6-6. Picks aside, with four ACC teams already having played their bowl game, and NC State slated to face Rutgers this afternoon, what have we learned about the ACC so far?

Jeff: I would like to see the ACC sitting at 3-1 through four games but if you have watched the games or even just looked at the scores, you would know that they have nearly achieved that. North Carolina and Miami both lost because of fourth quarter turnovers resulting in game winning touchdowns for the opponent. Meanwhile, FSU and Wake both won by more than a touchdown. We'll see what happens from here on but right now the ACC could still finish 8-2 or 5-5.

Interestingly enough, every bowl game the ACC has been a part of so far has been a home game for one of the teams. Wake and Miami both played "on the road" while Florida State and UNC played "at home." We all know BC is playing a road game and Georgia Tech has a home game in Atlanta but hopefully we won't see anymore so ridiculously lopsided crowds like we did with Miami going to San Francisco to play California.

Quickly... Vanderbilt is learning about all the perks of being a bowl team ... nice writeup on Eagle in the NHL Chuck Kobasew in the Globe ... the Patriots finish the season 11-5 but fail to make the playoffs: as 11 wins is 2 up on the Eagles with the Eagles only having 1 game to play, I believe I had that one right ... not the type of press Gosder Cherilus was looking for ... performance of the week? Corey Raji's of course ... BC = still not on Mr. Bracketologist's radar ... will UNC football be better in Butch Davis' year three? Short answer is no ...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fortune Teller: 2008 Bowl Predictions Part II

Let's keep things rolling ...

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces - Houston (-2.5) vs. Air Force - ESPN - 12/31 - website

Jeff: We were wrong earlier because this game is another rematch of a regular season game. Houston lost to Air Force by 3 back in September and even though it is tough to be a team twice, I am going to take Air Force here since they are getting a couple of points.

Brian: Putting aside its regular season finale loss to Rice, Houston has played better ball in November, dropping 42, 70, 42 and 42 on Tulane, a ranked Tulsa, UTEP and coming up short against Rice. The flipside is that Air Force has gone 2-2 in November, including losing its last two games to ranked BYU at home and ranked TCU on the road. Not to mention the fact that Air Force's record is terribly misleading. At 8-4, Air Force has lost to all the good teams they have played (Utah, Navy, BYU and TCU) and their best win has come against this Houston team. I watched this team struggle to beat Army at the beginning of the month and was none too impressed. Since AFA-Houston I was back in September, Houston has put together a much better season with quality wins at ECU and at home against 10-3 Tulsa. Long story short, I like Houston getting 2.5 ... playing in the state of Texas, that whole rematch thing, etc. etc.

Brut Sun - Oregon State (-3) vs. Pittsburgh - CBS - 12/31 - website

Brian: This is a rematch of the 2002 Insight Bowl, a game Pittsburgh won 38-13. Since then, however, the Beavers have rattled off 4 straight bowl wins, including wins over Maryland, Notre Dame, Missouri and New Mexico. Oregon State is coming off a devastating loss to UO in the Civil War, while Pittsburgh is riding a two game winning streak (the Backyard Brawl and a 34-10 UConn beat down). This game will be competitive, but I think Oregon State pulls it out and covers.

Jeff: This game is tough to call but I actually like what Pitt is doing and think they are headed in the right direction and will be a key piece to getting the Big East a little more respect in the coming years. I'll take Pitt +3 since I think they have about a 50% chance of winning.

Gaylord Hotels Music City - Boston College vs. Vanderbilt (+4) - ESPN - 12/31 - website

Jeff: Is there any way to build up suspense for my pick here? ....No. BC -4 is a no brainer, but remember last year's game before you bet the farm on BC. Last year BC dominated Michigan State but gave up a TD and a two point conversion late to not cover. Regardless, BC -4 against 6-6 Vandy.

Brian: Agreed, the least suspenseful of our bowl picks.

Insight - Kansas (-10.5) vs. Minnesota - NFL Network - 12/31 - website

Brian: That's a lot of points. Still, while Minnesota has shown progress under second year coach Tim Brewster, Minnesota has gone from 7-1 and ranked in the Top 25 to 7-5, losing their last four games, including Iowa giving the Gophers a 55-0 Metrodome farewell. Minnesota has been outscored 143-55 in the month of November. Rock Chalk Jayhawk covers easily.

Jeff: Another NFL Network game? Big 10 sucks. Big 12 North isn't much better but it is good enough that Kansas can cover here.

Chick-fil-A - LSU vs. Georgia Tech (-4) - ESPN - 12/31 - website

Jeff: My brain tells me Georgia Tech after they beat Georgia to finish off the regular season but I have a little soft spot for LSU and they are the defending national champs. Also, with a month to prepare, Paul Johnson's offense becomes a little easier to defend. Take LSU +4.

Brian: Stop. We've been slurping the Yellow Jackets all year. This is a no-brainer. Georgia Tech going away.

Outback - Iowa vs. South Carolina (+3.5) - ESPN - 1/1 - website

Brian: Upon first glance, this looks like two teams going in opposite directions. South Carolina got manhandled by Florida by a gazillion points and followed that up with a 31-14 loss to in-state rival Clemson. In the other corner is an Iowa team that has put together three straight wins over 11-1 Penn State, Purdue (meh) and a 55-0 Gopher annihilation in the last Minnesota game to be played in the Metrodome. Not too confident with this pick, but I'll go with the hotter team. Take Iowa to cover the 3.5.

Jeff: Wow, 55-0 over Minnesota is pretty strong there. Minnesota is not any good but South Carolina is far from a great team and lost their star on defense, Emanuel Cook, due to his inability to pass 6 credit hours of classes this semester. That means he only passed one or no classes. Take Iowa -3.5.

Konica Minolta Gator - Clemson vs. Nebraska (+2.5) - CBS - 1/1 - website

Jeff: Clemson -2.5. If you believe in the parity of the ACC Clemson is approximately just as good as Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech beat Nebraska by 5 in Lincoln so on a neutral site that has a lot more orange in the stands than red, I like Clemson's chances of winning by more than 5.

Brian: All ACC teams aren't created equal Jeff. While Virginia Tech did beat Nebraska back in September, both the Hokies and Cornhuskers are very different teams now. Both are playing better football in the second half of the season. These two coaches are looking for their first bowl wins as head coach (Pelini won the Alamo Bowl back in 2003 as an "interim" coach). I'll give Clemson the home field advantage and begrudgingly go with Clemson, although I wouldn't be surprised if Nebraska pulls this one out as the Tigers have no business playing in the No. 3 ACC bowl game.

Capital One - Michigan State vs. Georgia (-7.5) - ABC - 1/1 - website

Brian: Both teams are coming off disappointing losses. The Spartans were soundly beat by Penn State 49-18 for the Land Grant trophy, while Georgia was stung by Paul Johnson's Yellow Jackets 45-42. Georgia's record is deceiving. Once a chic National title preseason pick, I can't find one impressive win on the Bulldogs schedule this season. (At South Carolina back in September ... maybe). As much as we rag on the Big 10, Michigan State has been here before - remember, the Capital One Bowl and the Champs Sports Bowl are played in the same stadium - and I definitely see them covering the 7.5 points. Michigan State.

Jeff: Michigan State only played two good teams this year and got throttled by both (Penn State and Ohio State). Georgia is likely to score 40+ just as those teams did and even though they might give up a few more points, they will win by plenty enough to cover the spread. Take Georgia -7.5.

Rose - Southern Cal (-9.5) vs. Penn State - ABC - 1/1 - website

Jeff: USC players and fans have been rumored to have hoped that Oregon State was going to win the Pac-10 just so that USC could go to a different BCS bowl and not beat up on a Big Ten team once again. But this is not Ohio State or Illinois. This is finally a half decent Big Ten team. Take Penn State +9.5.

Brian: What's the difference between Ohio State and Penn State this year? A late fourth quarter turnover that Penn State turned into 7 and won in Columbus. I just don't see how the Rose Bowl is going to be much different from Ohio State's trip to Los Angeles in September. The Trojans will be looking to prove they should have played in the BCS National Title game while JoePa already won the coaching wins record with Bowden given his three year extension that allows him to coach to age 112. Where's the motivation? USC big.

Orange - Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati (-1) - Fox - 1/1 - website

Brian: Fine, blame the BC Eagles if you must, but I don't see the ACC 1-9 BCS bowl record improving this year. I just don't. I like to key in on who's the hotter team come bowl season, and Cincinnati's 6 straight wins definitely trumps the three-game winning streak the Hokies are on (14-3 against Duke, who kept it close, 17-14 over UVA, and 30-12 over the Eagles led by Dominique Davis). For such a strong program, Virginia Tech has a pedestrian 7-14 record overall, and 6-9 under Beamer. The big accomplishment for Beamer and the gang was getting to this game and winning the ACC. I think that's where the magic stops this season. I like Cincinnati to win the Orange Bowl.

Jeff: Cincinnati barely beat Hawaii in their last game this year. This might have been because they already had an Orange Bowl berth locked up but I think that was not the only reason. I really do not think anyone from the Big East is any good this year and I think EVERY ACC bowl bound team could beat the Bearcats. Take Virginia Tech even if the line moves to VT -10!

AT&T Cotton - Texas Tech (-5.5) vs. Mississippi - Fox - 1/2 - website

Jeff: I think Texas Tech's run is completely over. Ole Miss +5.5 is easy money here. Ole Miss is thrilled to be there while Texas Tech still probably thinks they should've gone to a BCS game and/or the Big XII Championship game.

Brian: Ahh, the Cotton Bowl: the fake BCS game. This is also the last Cotton Bowl at, well, the Cotton Bowl. The 2010 version moves to Jerry World. Just like Jeff, I like Mississippi to cover as well. This should be one of the better games to watch. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the Red Raiders run is completely over though, Jeff. If Leach and Crabtree stay (the latter being much more questionable), this team can continue to compete with Texas and Oklahoma in the Big XII South. Remember, BC also had to replace a Golden Arm Award winner last season and everyone wrote off the Eagles as well this year. Seemed to work out OK for Boston College.

AutoZone Liberty - East Carolina vs. Kentucky (+2) - ESPN - 1/2 - website

Brian: Exhibit 45A that there are too many bowl games is Kentucky (6-6, 2-6 SEC) playing in a bowl game. A team so crappy that they sent lame duck coach Phil Fulmer out on a winning note. This team got to 6 wins by beating Louisville (awful), Norfolk State (not the prison), Middle Tennessee State (something Maryland couldn't do), Western Kentucky (toothless 2-10 I-A independent), Arkansas and Mississippi State. The Wildcats best win? 21-20 at home against Petrino and the Razorbacks. On the other hand, East Carolina has some quality wins this season, was a September "BCS buster" and beat Tulsa for the C-USA title. Arrgh! Pirates BIG.

Jeff: Middle Tennessee State and Louisville both sound like better wins than any team Boston College beat out-of-conference this season. Take Kentucky here for the simple reason that Brian is probably wrong.

Sugar - Utah vs. Alabama (-11) - Fox - 1/2 - website

Jeff: If you had $100.00 to bet on only one game this bowl season, here is the pick for you. Put your money on Alabama. The Sugar Bowl will soon be far less relevant than the Orange Bowl appears to be this year after another year of an SEC team absolutely man handling a non-BCS conference team. Alabama!

Brian: Yes, Hawaii was an undefeated, non-BCS pushover last year in the Sugar Bowl, but Utah is a MUCH better team than the 2007 version of Hawaii. Utah has a strong defense and a pretty good quarterback, and has been tested with some fairly decent competition (Oregon State, TCU, BYU). While I think the Tide wins, they won't roll. I'm going with Utah +11 simply because I think Jeff is letting his SEC man crush cloud his better judgment on this one ... and I think 'Bama wins by 10, not 11+.

International - Connecticut (-4.5) vs. Buffalo - ESPN2 - 1/3 - website

Brian: I don't know what to make of this game. It's a virtual home game for Turner Gill and the MAC Champion Bulls (Toronto). Both teams have a shared opponent this season in Temple, and, of course, both struggled to put away the Owls. UConn beat Temple in a monsoon in overtime, while Buffalo won on a hail mary as the clock expired. Connecticut has had a terrible December (1-3) but Buffalo was the benefactor of playing in the MAC East this year. If they played in the MAC West, they don't even make it to the conference championship, having lost to two of the three directional Michigan schools. I guess I like Connecticut in this one to steamroll the Bulls behind the rushing game of Donald Brown.

Jeff: It is virtually a home game for Buffalo and Buffalo won the MAC which had several decent teams in is this year. But Buffalo won by winning the weaker division of the MAC and upsetting Ball State in the Championship game. Go with Connecticut here since Turner Gill is probably busy interviewing for new jobs anyway.

Fiesta - Ohio State vs. Texas (-9.5) - Fox - 1/5 - website

Jeff: Ohio State will continue to get beat up in BCS games. Texas -9.5.

Brian: The only reason I tune this game on to watch is in fear of missing the 2006 version of this game. I don't think that will happen, though ... no undefeated mid major team, and neither team is really playing for anything. Texas should beat the Buckeyes by at least 10 pretty easily.

GMAC - Tulsa (+3) vs. Ball State - ESPN - 1/6 - website

Brian: The best teams that Ball State has played this year are Navy, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Buffalo. A 12-1 MAC team is roughly equivalent to a 10-3 Conference USA team, but because Ball State head coach Brady Hoke has already parlayed his success in Muncie for a head coaching job at San Diego State (really?! couldn't you hold out for a slightly better job?), the magic runs out for Ball State. Tulsa to cover, and probably win straight up.

Jeff: I'm with you Brian and I am in fact shocked that Tulsa is not favored here. Take Tulsa +3.

BCS Title Game - Florida vs. Oklahoma (+3.5) - Fox - 1/8 - website

Jeff: The game is played on the field and not on paper so anything can happen. Florida is clearly a better team than Oklahoma though. In fact, I would take four other teams playing in BCS games over Oklahoma on a neutral field. Take Florida here without hesitation but like I said, anything can happen.

Brian: I think this game will be closer than people are giving Oklahoma credit for. This should be a good game where I could see the winning team scoring very late in the fourth quarter. Of course, that score will be a touchdown, as these two teams rank 1 (Oklahoma 54.0) and 3 (Florida 45.2) in points per game. More interesting stats - Oklahoma and Florida rank 1-2 nationally in turnover margin. This game could go either way but I think defense will be the difference in this one. Florida ranks 9th nationally in total defense while Oklahoma ranks in the bottom half of Division I-A (#65). Advantage Gators. Coaching edge? Big game Bob roams the sidelines for the Crimson and Cream, and has lost his last 4 BCS bowl games. Advantage Gators. Take the Gators to cover, but as Jeff said, I wouldn't be shocked if OU takes the gift the Big XII gave them and turns it into a National championship.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sophs Rule, Eagles Dancing? and the Big Finish

First, the forecast: Snow. Lots of it.

Also, a note that we are switching it up this week. Here is the Big Finish submitted for your approval. Tomorrow we'll have the second half of our bowl picks. I know you all are waiting with bated breath regarding our Music City Bowl pick (spoiler alert: no surprise there).

Also, we are entering the second annual "students are home for the holidays, BC news slows, football season essentially over, mild blogger burnout, ACC Championship Game depression, and so on, and so forth" period for the blog. Posting will slow over the last two weeks of December as Jeff and I enjoy the holidays and exchange gifts. I'm thinking of getting Jeff Clemson Tiger paw whale pants (good god! Retail $135.00?! Don't they know we are in a recession?) while Jeff is going to buy me this lovely, collegiate polo shirt of my second favorite college football team.

As always, if you have comments or suggestions on how to make this site better, hit us up with an email.

Brian: Jeff, my boy J.P. Giglio of the Raleigh News & Observer writes that this year is the "Year of the Sophomore" for ACC basketball. Outside of the North Carolina Tar Heels, the league is rife with talented second year players. BC leads the way with four sophomore starters - Sanders, Raji, Southern and Trapani (transfer). Giglio goes on to predict that BC will make the NCAA Tournament behind the play of its sophomores. Are you surprised?

Jeff: I keep on trying to tell people that this basketball team is half decent and can make the tournament but BC fans don't seem to want to listen to me or agree with me. I like the team's chances of making the dance given what I know today and the improvement I expect to see throughout the year. Saying Boston College WILL make the dance instead of saying they will have a chance or will be considered is slightly surprising, but if BC were still in the Big East everyone would be talking about BC as one of the 87 teams from that conference that should make it this year.

Brian: As you said, I think the Eagles CAN make the tournament this year. To pencil them into the tournament right now, however, is a different matter entirely. And ESPN's bracketologist Joe Lunardi seems to agree with me. ACC teams in as of November 12 were North Carolina (1), Duke (2), Miami-FL (5), Wake Forest (7), Virginia Tech (9), Clemson (10). Still, there seems to be something entirely unholy about releasing a bracket in November!

Jeff: That bracket was compiled over a month ago. The Eagles might slip in there the next time Mr. Bracketologist updates.

Big Finish

Brian: From the depths of the truly bizarre, a Michigan football fan auctioned off his fanhood and the high bidder was the Ole Miss program with a bid of $301. Jeff, how much is your BC fandom worth to you? What would it take for you to fully convert to, say, being a Clemson fan? $5?

Jeff: To auction my fanhood off to just the highest bidding school would take more than $301.00. But if I could pick, I'll sell to Clemson for $100.00.

... Duke $250.00
... LSU $275.00
... Georgia $325.00
... Connecticut $4,000.00
... South Carolina $5,000.00
... Rutgers $15,000.00
... Oregon $20,000.00
... Notre Dame $75,0000.00
... Boston University $75,001.00

Brian: It takes a bigger man than myself to admit to everyone your fandom can be bought fairly easily. But Duke $250?! Seriously? Have fun with 4-8 football seasons. You might want to up that number as I could fairly easily raise that capital. And I hear the ACC is in the market for a Duke blogger? It would take an inordinate amount of money to buy my fandom - the highest rates going to Big East programs, Hockey East programs, ACC programs and Notre Dame.

Jeff: College hockey is pretty slow these days but Nancy Marrapese-Burrell of the Globe takes the opportunity to grade the Hockey East teams at the break and gives the Eagles a B-. That cool with you?

Brian: A think it's fair. Muse's play has been inconsistent and aside from Bradford, our other scorers need to step it up. But it's only December and York-led teams seem to find a way of coasting through the first three months only to turn it on in March and April. (Side note: what happened to grading on a curve?! No As?)

Brian: If it feels like the college football season has already flown by, that's because it has. The Wiz of Odds reveals that an average of 12 minutes and 8.69 plays have been lost per game given the new clock rules set down by the Football Rules Committee. Jeff, your thoughts?

Jeff: Adjusting the clock rules was a terrible idea. They should've considered shortening halftime by a few minutes, starting games on time, and shorterning TV timeouts in order to fit games into the allotted TV program times before changing the rules on the field of play.

Jeff: Is Vanderbilt a bowl team?

Brian: After reading that, I would say no. But, as we all know, my first impression is incorrect.

Brian: On the second page of this Globe article, GDF states that he anticipates only using 2,000 of the 10,000 tickets allotted to BC for the Music City bowl. You surprised?

Jeff: I'm not at all surprised that its a low number. If the fact that neither you nor I are going is any indication, there will not be too many BC fans there and consequently I don't want to hear any bitching when we fall to the lowest possible bowl next year also.

Brian: I'll continue to bitch about the bowl system regardless of the BC travel issue. But next year when the H-Bowl is out of the ACC rotation, BC will have softer landing spots come December - Florida, Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington DC, San Francisco or Nashville ... Tennessee probably being the least desirable of all of them.

Brian: Last one, BC squares off with ex-Big East and regional rival Providence on the hardwood Saturday afternoon. BC has won 5 straight while Providence has won 3 straight. Who ya got?

Jeff: BC of course.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Headlines: BCS Academic National Champions

HD continues to show her incompetence ... (emphasis ours)

"Yes, every now and then I read your comments, and thanks to one of the blog readers for providing this educational link from the New America Foundation.

The Higher Ed Watch posted its second annual Academic Bowl Championship Series Rankings, and Boston College won again. Virginia Tech came in 10th. Georgia Tech was the only other ACC team that made the top 25.

What's amazing is that those are also the only three ACC teams ranked in the real BCS Standings. It can be done."

What she fails to realize is that article ONLY re-ranks the programs that are IN the next-to-last BCS Standings. That's why "those are also the only three ACC teams ranked in the real BCS Standings."


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fortune Teller: 2008 Bowl Predictions Part I

Boston College news is - obviously - light this week, so let's talk bowls.

While Jeff might have beat me good in this year's Pick 5 challenge, way back when as part of our humble beginnings, I took him out to the woodshed picking last year's bowl games, racking up a 20-14 victory. This year, however, we are mixing it up. No more straight up bowl picks ... we are going ATS.

Here are our picks for the first 17 bowl games this December. Check back tomorrow for games 18-34.

EagleBank - Wake Forest (-3) vs. Navy - ESPN - 12/20 - website

Brian: As Jeff pointed out earlier, our back of the envelope math tells us there will only be two rematches this season in college football - Boston College-Virginia Tech and Wake Forest-Navy. It's very difficult to beat a team twice in one season (we are painfully aware of this fact), and there's no way Riley Skinner repeats his 4 INT regular season performance in his final game as a Deacon. Wake Forest

Jeff: I like the Deamon Deacons to win here but Navy can hang with them and possibly win as they did earlier this season and it's nearly a home game for Navy. Additionally, I'll be watching the game with a Naval Academy grad Saturday so I'll jump on his bandwagon and hope that if the Midshipmen do lose, they lose by less than 3. Navy +3.

New Mexico - Colorado State (+3) vs. Fresno State - ESPN - 12/20 - website

Jeff: Colorado State played in the more difficult conference this year and whenever I caught a little of some Fresno State games they were rather unimpressive. I'll take the 3 points here and the Rams.

Brian: Colorado State hasn't had a winning season since the Eagles played them in the bowl game back in 2003. That was subsequently the last year that the Rams went bowling, and really, were any good. They haven't won a bowl since 2001. Since then, Fresno State has registered bowl wins against Georgia Tech, UCLA and a ranked Virginia team on the smurf turf. Take Fresno State to cover.

magicJack St. Petersburg - Memphis vs. South Florida (-13) - ESPN2 - 12/20 - website

Brian: I know next to nothing about the Memphis football program. It would appear Memphis is a mediocre-to-bad Conference USA team (6-6, 4-4), while South Florida is THE disappointment in the Big East this season (2-5). This game is in the Bulls backyard, but 13 is a lot of points. I'll take Memphis to cover.

Jeff: A 6-6 team that does not play in a BCS conference is tough to pick. South Florida did play a difficult out of conference schedule this year and is playing a home game. I'll go with the home favorites in South Florida.

Pioneer Las Vegas - BYU vs. Arizona (-3) - ESPN - 12/20 - website

Jeff: Early in the year when BYU shut out UCLA it gave us reason to wonder if BYU was perhaps the best team in the country. After all, UCLA had already beaten Tennessee so that win looked real, real good. But eventually the season played out and now we know BYU is definitely not one of the elite teams this year. Fortunately for them though it doesn't take one of the nation's elite to beat the Wildcats. I'll take BYU +3.

Brian: Remember way back when back in September when the Mountain West went 4-0 against the Pac 10 and everyone was talking about how much of a powerhouse conference the MWC was? Yea, well here is an opportunity for the Pac 10 to redeem itself. I realize Arizona was part of that 0-4 Pac 10 performance back in September, dropping a game against New Mexico, but since then, Arizona has stayed with USC, Oregon State and Oregon and upset a ranked Cal team. I like the Wildcats to pull off the upset (?) and cover. Besides, as EDSBS points out, coach Bronco Mendelhall and the Ys don't look that comfortable in Vegas.

R+L Carriers New Orleans - Southern Miss (+4.5) vs. Troy - ESPN - 12/21 - website

Brian: Southern Miss has won four straight, but they did only squeak by Sun Belt conference member Arkansas State by 3 back in September. Meanwhile, the men of Troy have manhandled Arkansas State 35-9 to capture the Sun Belt conference championship. Troy by at least a touchdown.

Jeff: Troy is best known for leading LSU by 28 points well into the 2nd half this season but losing in the end in Baton Rouge. I know the Tigers are not the same Tigers that won it all last year but it is impressive nonetheless so I'll go with you here and take Troy as well.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia - Boise State (+2.5) vs. TCU - ESPN - 12/23 - website

Jeff: Ball State blew it by declining an invitation to play Boise State in a bowl game which looked like it would've matched the two undefeated teams in the nation that got left out of the BCS, but then, Ball State blew it in their conference championship game and we are left with the two best non-BCS conference schools who didn't make the BCS playing each other in San Diego. TCU is favored for a reason. Boise State went relatively untested this year and will get its first loss of the year right before Christmas. TCU -2.5

Brian: TCU has won its last 3 bowl games, but much like the Eagles, haven't really played the most marquee teams in December, tallying wins against Houston, Northern Illinois and Iowa State. This is actually a rematch of the 2003 Fort Worth Bowl, a game Boise State took 34-31 in TCU's backyard. I think Boise State will be very eager to prove that they were indeed a BCS team this year. This should be one of the best games of bowl season which I think will go down to the wire. Take Boise State +2.5 to cover.

Sheraton Hawaii - Hawaii (-1.5) vs. Notre Dame - ESPN - 12/24 - website

Brian: This seems like a soft landing spot for 6-6 Notre Dame to fall, as they could win their first bowl game since I was 11. Not so fast my friend! The fake Irish have lost 4 of their last 5 while Hawaii gave Big East champion Cincinnati a scare in their final regular season game. Take Hawaii. What better way to spend Christmas Eve by watching Notre Dame lose its 8th straight bowl game.

Jeff: No way I'm picking Notre Dame. Hawaii -1.5!!

Brian: Of course, this pick wasn't biased at all ...

Motor City - Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan (-7) - ESPN - 12/26 - website

Jeff: Central Michigan is one of the best non-BCS programs that no one seems to talk about. Maybe they don't talk about them because they went to Athens earlier this year and got handled by the Bulldogs. But wait, any non-BCS team would've been handled by Georgia this year. Non-BCS schools are overrated these days but Central Michigan is one of the better ones and I'll give the 7 points and take 'em over FAU.

Brian: While Florida Atlantic is an up and coming program, this is a team that is coming off a 57-50 overtime win against Florida International. I don't know much about FIU, other than they seem to show up a lot in ESPN's Bottom 10. While it's commendable for a team to go from 1-5 to start the season to 6-6 and bowl eligible, I think that's where the story ends. Central Michigan BIG.

Meineke Car Care - West Virginia vs. North Carolina (0) - ESPN - 12/27 - website

Brian: This is a pick 'em. Two evenly matched teams. After starting off the season strong (6-2), the Heels got ready for hoops season a little early and had a forgettable November, going 2-2 down the stretch, including getting smoked by in-state rival NC State. Pat White's last game for the Mountaineers lifts WVU over North Carolina in front of the home crowd.

Jeff: All BC fans remember the sea of blue created in the sold out Car Care bowl several years ago when BC beat the Tar Heels in 2004. Since then BC has been unable to beat the Tar Heels in their true home so maybe Brian is on to something that the Charlotte home crowd is not as big of an advantage as the true home field in Chapel Hill. BUT, Brian overestimates Pat White's ability to carry the Mountaineers this year. I'll take UNC to win.

Champs Sports - Wisconsin vs. Florida State (-5) - ESPN - 12/27 - website

Jeff: Wisconsin is not good. Their best win was @Fresno State where they won by 3. You can load up on this game. Take Florida State, playing in Florida -5.

Brian: Agreed. I just can't see the Badgers covering. Take Florida State.

Emerald - Miami (Fla.) vs. California (-7) - ESPN - 12/27 - website

Brian: San Francisco ... that's fun to say. Miami (Fla.) beat Virginia who blanked Maryland who jumped out ahead of California early and held on for a 35-27 victory. I'm thinking that given the home field advantage, Cal wins this game, but it should be a competitive game. Miami.

Jeff: Everyone (and by everyone, I mean ESPN analysts) loved Miami when they creeped into the Top 25 a few weeks ago. Now, everyone seems to be completely off the Miami bandwagon and does not like their chances as they travel all the way to the West Coast. I may have some east coast and ACC bias here but the strength of the ACC and the fact that Miami's lone out of conference loss came against the Gators, I definitely like Miami to cover and probably to win this game.

Independence - Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech (+2) - ESPN - 12/28 - website

Jeff: Don't know much if anything about either one of these teams this year. I'll go with the team that played in the better conference this year. Louisiana Tech +2.

Brian: A complete guess. I'm going with Northern Illinois. - NC State vs. Rutgers (-7) - ESPN - 12/29 - website

Brian: Two of the country's hottest teams in the pizza bowl. Fitting. Rutgers has won 6 straight while the Wolfpack has won 4 straight. This game should be a good one to watch. I wouldn't be surprised if Rutgers wins, however, NC State will keep it close. NC State is something ridiculous like 11-1 against the spread this year, so I'll ride that all the way to the finish line. NC State.

Jeff: How is NC State getting so many points against Rutgers? NC State will not keep it close. They will win outright easily. NC State +7 without question.

Valero Alamo - Missouri (-13.5) vs. Northwestern - ESPN - 12/29 - website

Jeff: Missouri played in the Big 12 this year but don't let their record deceive you. They played in the lowly Big 12 North so giving 13.5 points is simply too much to give here. Take Northwestern because even though they may not win, they can keep it close.

Brian: This spread is too high. I've watched Northwestern play a bunch of times this season, and nothing I've seen leads me to believe that Missouri is going to blow them out. These teams are very similar. Both beat the teams they were supposed to beat and lost to the only good teams they played. Northwestern has a very curious loss at Indiana and Missouri lost a strange one to 7-5 Kansas. Take Northwestern.

Roady's Humanitarian - Maryland (+1.5) vs. Nevada - ESPN - 12/30 - website

Brian: The last year the ACC sends a team to go play on the Smurf Turf. Luckily for the Terrapins, Boise State didn't land here. However, Nevada isn't a pushover WAC replacement. They are averaging 37.8 points per game and Eagles fans are pretty familiar with the mediocre Maryland defense. Maryland will also be without their defensive coordinator for this game. The ACC is 4-2 in the H-Bowl; make it 4-3 as the WAC's Nevada Wolfpack tell the ACC not to let the door hit the Terps on the way out ... in front of 116 fans.

Jeff: 4-2 and they often have to play Boise on their home field. Make it 5-2 after "good Maryland" shows up. Maryland is very good against the spread as an underdog this year. I believe 6-0-1. Look for that trend to continue, I'll take the Terps.

Texas - Western Michigan vs. Rice (-3) - NFL Network - 12/30 - website

Jeff: I want to boycott picking this game because its on the NFL network, but I will do it for the blog. Rice had a surprisingly nice season but since I picked a conference USA team over a MAC team earlier I'm going to go with the MAC team here. Western Michigan is every bit as good as Ball State this year. Take Western Michigan +3.

Brian: Rice is one of the hottest teams in the country, having won 6 straight, scoring over 44 points per game over that 6 game stretch. Rice's only losses this year are to Texas, Vanderbilt and Tulsa - all bowl teams. Western Michigan came up short when they played the two toughest teams in the MAC West - Ball State and Central Michigan. I like Rice to cover in a game no one watches.

Pacific Life Holiday - Oklahoma State (-3.5) vs. Oregon - ESPN - 12/30 - website

Brian: There will probably be a lot of points in this one. I like Zach Robinson and the Cowboy offense to be the difference in this one, though. Plus here's a little history lesson: Oklahoma State bowl record: 12-6. Oregon bowl record: 8-13. Oklahoma State covers and the Cowboys finish with their best record since 1988.

Jeff: This game has a lot of implications as to how good the Big XII South was this year and how not good the Pac 10 was this year after USC. If Oregon can come up with a victory it would say a lot for its conference. However, I do not expect that to happen and think Oklahoma State will win by 2+ touchdowns.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Headlines: A Tale of Two Players

Jeff: The men's basketball team beat whomever they played yesterday by 12 yesterday and created two interesting headlines. First, Tyler Roche came off the bench and scored a career high 17 points. Second, Rice failed to score, going 0-4 from the floor in 25 minutes. Should we be more excited about Roche's performance or more disappointed with Rice's?

Brian: By "whomever they played yesterday," Jeff, you of course mean the South Carolina-Upstate Spartans, who fell to 0-7 in their first year playing Division I-A basketball.

Jeff: Exactly, the names of our recent opponents is not too important. However, our UMass victory looks a lot better now that they knocked off Kansas in Kansas City Saturday.

Brian: I think the more interesting story line is Rice not scoring. He's our senior leader on this team, and while he had 7 assists, he also had 6 turnovers. Sounds like he had a forgettable performance, so much so that Skinner benched him for the last 8 minutes of the first half and again for 7 minutes in the second. We are not going to win many - maybe ANY - ACC games this year if Rice doesn't get into the scoring column.

Rice is certainly off his 21.0 points per game average from last season. While his assist-to-turnover ratio is better this year (2.05) than it has been any other year in his career, we need Rice to be this team's go to scorer. It might make sense for Skinner to move Rice back to the 2 guard spot and get Biko Paris running point. I feel like Rice might be a more natural fit as the scorer and the 2 guard rather than leading this team at point.

Jeff: Agreed. The key stat in the game is that Skinner only played Rice 25 minutes in a game where we only had a small lead at the half and was in doubt until late. Last year, Rice almost played every minute of every game.

Brian: Rice was actually taken out of the game in the first half when BC was trailing and the team responded by taking a 5 point lead into the locker room.

Roche isn't going to enter every game and go 5 of 7 from behind the arc. He said his performance Sunday was a statement of frustration for not getting that much PT this year.
"I was upset because I thought I could have contributed a lot to this team," he said. "But I haven't been as productive as I could. I tried to stay ready."
Roche can contribute, but I don't think he can play a starting role for this team. Roche is better equipped to come off the bench and contribute by hitting the occasional 3 point bucket for Skinner and the Eagles. So while I am happy that Roche was able to contribute, I don't see this as a very significant headline as his career-highs have come in time against inferior opponents (17 points against SC-Update '08, 11 points against Mercer '07 and 12 points against Hartford in '07).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Atlantic-Coastal Comparison and the Big Finish

Brian: Jeff, back in August we gushed about how much stronger the Atlantic Division would be in football vis a vis the Coastal Division. Now that the games have been played, let's take a closer look.

It turns out that after 19 inter-division games, the Atlantic Division won 11-8 and outscored their Coastal Division opponents 447-421. But, for the second straight season, Virginia Tech will represent the Coastal in the FedEx Orange Bowl as ACC Champions. Georgia Tech and NC State were the only teams to sweep their inter-division games, and Duke was the only team to go winless against the other side. As for bowl teams (albeit given that 51.7% of teams make a bowl, this isn't the same distinction it used to be), all 6 Atlantic teams will go bowling and only 4 teams from the Coastal (sans Duke, obviously, and Virginia). So just how much stronger was the Atlantic than the Coastal this year, and what do you expect going into next season?

Jeff: The Atlantic was not much stronger than the Coastal this year based on two key stats you mentioned. First, the Atlantic only outscored the coastal by 26 points, and second, the ACC Champ is from the coastal division. Having all 6 teams from the Atlantic division heading to a bowl game says a lot but I think the Coastal is basically equally strong if you remove Duke from the equation.

Like you said we predicted the Atlantic to be much stronger than the Coastal this year and we were almost correct but the two biggest dissappointments in the ACC both came from the Atlantic side in Wake Forest and Clemson. Going into the year everyone seemingly picked one of these two teams to win the division and in the end both were a non-factor. Both even played UVA and Duke this year on the Coastal side giving them two conference victories against the conference's weakest teams but failed to win their third interdivision game. Meanwhile in out of conference play Clemson laid the big egg by not showing up against Alabama and Wake got beat by Navy on its home field. Had one or both of these teams come closer to meeting expectations, the question of which side of the conference is stronger would be a no-brainer.

Brian: Wake Forest may have been as big a disappointment as Clemson this year. If you look at the above graphic, they had perhaps the easiest schedule of Coastal opponents (Miami, Virginia and Duke), yet lost to Miami and barely escaped Duke. Throw in three losses to Atlantic division teams (BC, NC State and a Maryland shut out), scoring a mere 24 points in two wins against Florida State and (at the time, lifeless) Clemson, and a WTF loss to Navy at home, and it certainly was a disappointment for the Deacons. And now they lose their senior starting quarterback and Butkus Award winning linebacker and have to regroup for the 2009 campaign.

Also worth noting that Boston College and Virginia Tech played the top three teams as per the final standings from the other division. And Duke and Wake Forest played the bottom three teams from the other side. Wake went 2-1 while Duke went 0-3. And while there has been improvements at Duke under first year coach Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils are still a long way away from being an ACC contender.

Jeff: A long way away. A realistic goal for Duke would be 2 ACC wins next year and going 6-6 with a bowl appearance one of the next two years.

Big Finish

Brian: The Heisman Trophy will be presented tomorrow. Graham Harrell = not invited. The pirate Mike Leach = pissed. Biggest Heisman snub? Harrell in 2008, Harrel in 2007 or Ryan in 2007?

Jeff: Ryan in 2007 without question. Harrell had the opportunities to shine against Texas and Oklahoma and after both games the majority of the public would've voted Bradford and McCoy over Harrell. Harrell is great but hardly a snub considering he is only the third best QB in his division and second best player on his own team.

Jeff: As everyone continues to hurt because of the ACCCG loss to VT, some of our underclassmen, Anthony Castonzo, Thomas Claiborne, and Montel Harris, were recognized this week which should make people feel a little better about the future of BC football.

Brian: All three honors are very well deserved.

Brian: Boston College finished 9th this year in total home attendance and 52nd nationally. In the ACC, BC only beat Miami (who had one less home game), Wake Forest and Duke. Jeff, your thoughts?

Jeff: That's probably where we'll finish every year. On a percentage of occupied seats basis we would certainly be ahead UVA, maybe UNC, FSU and some others. We should be happy that BC averages 10,000 more a game than Wake Forest. HD continues to show ignorance in that article. Perhaps Miami's attendance improvement had something to do with playing FSU at home this year. Just a thought.

Jeff: The basketball team coasted to an easy win over Bryant this week where they led by more than 30 points at times and now has another sure W coming up against SC-Upstate on Sunday. When are we going to get interested in BC bball?

Brian: That starts ... now. Jeff, you are down in South Carolina. What can you tell us about SC-Upstate?

Jeff: South Carolina Upstate is the University of South Carolina's upstate satelite campus. So it's somewhere northwest of where I am sitting now.

Brian: Last one, Maryland's starting quarterback Chris Turner thinks the ACC bowl shuffle isn't fair. He should take a number, right?

Jeff: Seriously. What's his gripe anyway? Who should Maryland have been chosen over that they didn't get picked over?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy Time: Silva, BC Hoops and Herzlich

Happy Time, Eagles!

No BC birthdays today, so we wish a Happy early Birthday to Jamie Silva (December 14). The All-American Eagles safety was last spotted playing for the Indianapolis Colts special teams unit. He has recorded 10 tackles (8 solo, 2 assists) on the year. His first tackle came back on September 21 in a game against Jacksonville. Last year for the Eagles, Silva recorded 125 tackles (82 solo, 43 assists), 8 interceptions and was named a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back).

Happy Anniversary to the BC men's hoops team. On this date four years ago, you outlasted our green line rivals Boston University on the hardwood, 80-74. The Eagles were led by their trio of California kids - Craig Smith and Sean Marshall led the way with 19 each and Jared Dudley chipped in 17. The win pushed the Eagles to 7-0 on the year, en route to a record 20-0 start to the 2004-2005 season. The Eagles finished the year at 25-5, exiting the NCAA tournament in the second round after earning a No. 4 seed. They were served up an upset loss to Bruce Pearl's #12 seeded Wisconsin-Milwaukee squad in the Round of 32 83-75. BC Guy Pearl parlayed Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Sweet 16 appearance with a job offer from the Tennessee Volunteers.

Happy Trails to some postseason hardware for BC linebacker Mark Herzlich. While Herzlich was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, he finished 5th in voting for the 2008 Butkus Award. Wake Forest senior Aaron Curry won the award given to the country's top linebacker. Huh?

OK, well at least Herzlich won ACC Defensive Player of the year as part of Gobbler Country's ACC blogger awards, right?

ACC Defensive Player of the Year

Macho Harris, CB, Virginia Tech: In our closest vote, Harris claims the conference's Defensive POY by a single point over Florida State's Everette Brown. All of Harris' points came from the four first-place votes he received. He finished T3rd in the conference in interceptions with six, including two returned for touchdown.

Now I could understand Everett Brown over Herzlich (this is, after all, how we voted), but Macho Harris? I mean, his 6 INTs and 2 touchdowns were cute and all, but he's a cornerback. Isn't that what cornerbacks are supposed to do? Our linebacker matched Harris' 6 INTs and 2 touchdowns and doesn't even play in the secondary. Oh yeah, and he has 61 more tackles. We demand a recount, or at least, a little more Atlantic Division representation!

Also, Happy Trails Jared Dudley, last spotted on a plane to Phoenix. Dudley was traded to the Suns along with Jason Richardson and a 2010 second-round draft for Raja Bell, Boris Diaw and Sean Singletary in a trade that seems to make 0 sense for Charlotte and (unfortunately) 0 sense for Dudley. Here's to hoping Dudley can see some PT in PHX.

A Look Back

Here's a look back at our preseason predictions for the final ACC football standings and the bowl selections.

Atlantic Division

1.ClemsonWake ForestBoston College
2.Wake ForestClemsonFlorida State
3.Boston CollegeBoston CollegeMaryland
4.Florida StateFlorida StateWake Forest
5.MarylandNC StateClemson
6.NC StateMarylandNC State

Coastal Division

1.Virginia TechVirginia TechVirginia Tech
2.VirginiaMiamiGeorgia Tech
3.MiamiNorth CarolinaNorth Carolina
4.North CarolinaVirginiaMiami
5.Georgia TechGeorgia TechVirginia

ACC Bowls

OrangeVirginia TechWake ForestVirginia Tech
BCS At-LargeClemsonN/AN/A
Chick-Fil-AWake ForestClemsonGeorgia Tech
GatorVirginiaVirginia TechClemson
Champs SportsBCMiamiFlorida State
Music CityFlorida StateBCBC
Meineke Car CareUNCUNCUNC
EmeraldMarylandFlorida StateMiami
EagleBankN/AN/AWake Forest
PapaJohns.comN/AN/ANC State

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ACC Power Rankings: Final

  1. Georgia Tech (9-3, 5-3 ACC)
  2. Virginia Tech (9-4, 5-3)
  3. Florida State (8-4, 5-3)
  4. Boston College (9-4, 5-3)
  5. NC State (6-6, 4-4)
  6. Clemson (7-5, 4-4)
  7. North Carolina (8-4, 4-4)
  8. Miami (7-5, 4-4)
  9. Maryland (7-5, 4-4)
  10. Wake Forest (7-5, 4-4)
  11. Virginia (5-7, 3-5)
  12. Duke (4-8, 1-7)


Here is our final version of this year's Power Rankings, which is eerily not too dissimilar to HD's. So it goes. We most likely won't have another power ranking after the bowls because the bowls, after all, are pretty much glorified scrimmages.

With their loss, we drop the Eagles from 2nd to 4th and swap in Virginia Tech. We still think Georgia Tech is the most dangerous team in the conference.

Here is the ACC Football Report's Out of Conference Report after the conclusion of the regular season.

Boston College was HD's biggest surprise of 2008.

Although BC fell out of both major polls, the bloggers though enough of the Eagles 9-4 regular season to keep them at #24 in the next to last blogpoll.

ACC Bowl Schedule

December 20 - Eagle Bank Bowl - Wake Forest vs. Navy
December 27 - Meineke Car Care Bowl - West Virginia vs. North Carolina
December 27 - Champs Sports Bowl - Florida State vs. Wisconsin
December 27 - Emerald Bowl - Miami (Fla.) vs. California
December 29 - Bowl - NC State vs. Rutgers
December 29 - Roady's Humanitarian Bowl - Maryland vs. Nevada
December 31 - Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl - Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
December 31 - Chick-Fil-A Bowl - LSU vs. Georgia Tech
January 1 - Konica Minolta Gator Bowl - Nebraska vs. Clemson
January 1 - FedEx Orange Bowl - Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Our 2008 ACC Awards Ballot

furrer4heisman over at the Virginia Tech blog Gobbler Country is hosting a season-ending ACC awards in which he's compiling a ballot from several of the ACC team bloggers. We'll publish the results when they are compiled later this week.

Our ballot is listed below. And just to miff furrer4heisman, and because the Hokies won the ACC (again), this ballot is 100% Hokie-free. (It's actually just a coincidence there are no turkeys on this list, but it seems fitting).

Three points for a first place vote, two for second, one for first.

Offensive Player of the Year
1. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
- Best offensive weapon on the best ACC team
2. C.J. Spiller, Clemson
- The guy does it all - 612 rushing yards, 430 receiving yards and a 556.0 passer rating
3. Graham Gano, Florida State
- Most valuable offensive player on the Seminoles and the No. 1 ranked PK in the country

Defensive Player of the Year
1. Everett Brown, Florida State
- His 12.5 sacks ranks 3rd nationally and 1st in the ACC
2. Mark Herzlich, Boston College
- Even though he was the real winner, doesn't deserve it given the supporting cast
3. Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech
- This was impressive enough to get some 3rd place love

Offensive Rookie of the Year
1. Russell Wilson, North Carolina State
- Say what? He plays baseball too?
2. Montel Harris, Boston College
- Hard to imagine BC at 9-4 without Montel's 832 yards on the ground
3. Jacory Harris, Miami
- Passed for over 1000 yards in his freshman campaign

Defensive Rookie of the Year
1. Brandon Maye, Clemson
- Led all freshmen with 66 tackles
2. Sean Spence, Miami
- The actual award winner, 2 sacks, 36 solo tackles, 26 assists, and a INT for a TD
3. Marcus Robinson, Miami
- 33 tackles and 4 sacks on the year (including going off on the Hokies and registering 3 sacks)

Coach of the Year
1. Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
- Enjoyed tremendous success implementing a completely new offensive system, unlike, say, Rich Rodriguez
2. Jeff Jagodzinski, Boston College
- Nearly won the conference despite an injury depleted roster
3. Tom O'Brien, North Carolina State
- King of North Carolina football (allegedly)

Beefs with our ballot go to the comments section.

Headlines: The Blame Game, ACCCG Edition

Brian: We seem to be doling out our fair share of blame regarding the ACC Championship Game performance by the Eagles. So I figured, why stop there? Marcus over at ACC Football Report has an interesting post about the failed experiment that is the ACC Championship Game. Jeff, who's to blame for a third straight year of poor attendance in the ACC Championship game? Your suspects include:
  • The Atlantic Coast Conference - for gambling and losing, betting on an annual Florida State vs. Miami rematch in the Championship game and arrogantly placing this game smack in the middle of the two most Southern schools in the conference. For thinking that they could stage a championship game instantly on par with the Big XII and the SEC, when the conference makeup of these conferences vis a vis the ACC is vastly different. The ACC isn't made up of these bohemeth football first State U schools and live and die with college football. Instead, the ACC is made up of four, very small private schools, a handful of basketball-first schools (Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Maryland, Virginia), and a few football first large state universities that largely haven't lived up to the hype since expansion (Clemson, Florida State, NC State)
  • The City of Tampa - these games don't market themselves, for practically giving away tickets to this game and for making this game look even worse than it already does
  • Raymond James Stadium - it's a freaking Big East stadium! I though we expanded to move away from associating ourselves with anything even remotely close to the Big East?
  • Boston College fans - The Eagles reportedly sold only 4,800 tickets for the last two championship games, yet there are upwards of 30,000 Alumni Stadium season ticket holders. The casual BC fan/season ticket holder didn't show up.
  • Virginia Tech fans - For cashing it in and not attending this game and waiting for the bowl game. Yes, Tampa is a further drive than Jacksonville. So what? Were you actually expecting to lose this game? Why didn't you show up?
  • Heather Dinich - for calling out the conference and opening her championship game day post with this:
    "It's hard not to think how much more of a buzz there would be if Miami and Florida State were playing in this game. It's the perfect location for it, and it's just what this championship game needs to inject some excitement into it. By the time the game moves to Charlotte in 2010, Miami and FSU will probably be playing in it, if it doesn't happen next year."
    You are the freaking four-letter network ACC blogger, for crying out loud. And you wonder why the ACC Championship game is being dragged through the mud when one of your conference "representatives" is publicly lamenting the fact that Florida State and Miami aren't playing in the Championship game. Besides, the U doesn't travel that well. They can only get 30k to attend their home games. Besides, if it really was Seminoles-Hurricanes part 2, the city of Tampa would complain about something else (e.g. lack of hotel rooms and restaurant business given it is a day trip for most FSU/Miami fans). It's a no win situation in my opinion.
  • Clemson and Florida State - for letting two of the smallest schools in the ACC Atlantic represent the division the last three years, for failing to live up to ridiculously high expectations set forth at these football-first schools
  • The City of Charlotte - for having scheduling conflicts and not allowing this game to be played in Charlotte this year or next year
  • The Florida Gators - ACC football will always play second-fiddle to SEC football in the state of Florida. Of course, it didn't help that God's conference staged the "Game of the Millennium" at 4:30 in Atlanta the same day
  • Georgia Tech - for losing the turnover battle 3-0 back in September and getting jobbed by the refs in a 20-17 loss in Blacksburg that sent the Hokies to the title game instead of the Jackets
  • ACC parity - the lack of a national championship contender from the ACC, 7 losses between the Hokies and the Eagles going into the ACCCG (the most combined losses ever in the Championship game)
  • The casual ACC fan - non-existent at the ACCCG this year. We saw exactly 1 North Carolina fan, 4 Miami fans clad in green Hurricane uniforms, and a handful of Florida State fans.
  • The rematch factor - Boston College and Virginia Tech are "rivals" according to the ACC schedule such that they play each other every year. The ACC seemed to luck out its first two years given that the first two title games weren't rematches, but when you pair good Atlantic teams with good Coastal teams annually during the regular season, i.e. forcing the Hokies and Eagles to play each other in the regular season, Florida State and Miami, Clemson and Georgia Tech, and so on and so forth, my guess is ACCCG rematches will be the norm rather than the exception going forward.
  • ACC Division alignment - the current Atlantic-Coastal alignment makes no sense and casual fans can't remember which team is in which division based on this arbitrary divide. Plus it would seem that the schools that would heavily attend an ACCCG are more on the Atlantic side (NC State, Florida State, Clemson) than the Coastal side (Virginia Tech and ...? Georgia Tech, maybe, but that's it). The conference has been lucky(?) to have the Hokies in the big game three of the last four years?
Jeff: Wow, that's a lot of choices. I am dismissing the first option you gave me because I think you are wrong in saying the only reason the ACC placed the game in Florida was in hopes of Florida State and/or Miami playing in the game. Instead, I think the ACC placed the game there for the same reason bowl games are played in the sunshine state. It's a December game and Florida is the only place to find decent weather. The Big 12 has north and south divisions, the SEC has east and west so those conference have to place the game somewhere that is close to divisional lines. Meanwhile the ACC has stupid divisions that have nothing to do with geography and therefore they can place the game anywhere on the East coast so they did. Florida made a lot more sense to some guys sitting in a few meetings than DC or Charlotte or any other cities they threw out there. But anyway, here's my top 7 of the remaining choices given.

1. Virginia Tech fans. You are supposed to be one of the best traveling teams in the country let alone the ACC. Where were you in Tampa? Tampa was only 3 hours further than Jacksonville by car and you only brought approximately the same number of fans as BC compared to approximately 4 or 5 times more last year.

2. ACC parity. At no point during the season did either BC or VT fans have confidence that they were going to this game since. Then once their team got there, fans didn't get too excited by playing another team that wasn't even in the top 15.

T-3. Georgia Tech. Regarded by almost everyone to be the best team in the league yet they finished one win away from the game. Georgia Tech fans would've traveled en mass to Tampa after their Georgia win and BC fans would've gotten very excited for the opportunity to avenge the Eagles' early September loss.

T-3. The rematch factor. Having a rematch from the regular season is no big deal but having a rematch from last year's game when attendance was already very poor really put a damper on this game. Everyone who has ever attended a sold out football game and a half full stadium football game will agree that having a packed house makes the game more enjoyable to attend. Both fan bases knew attendance would be similar to 2007 and therefore got less excited about the rematch.

5. Florida-Alabama. This was a dream matchup for the SEC and CBS. It was a national title semifinal just as advertised and ESPN talked about this game almost exclusively leading up to Saturday. Also, casual fans wanted to be in front of a TV at 4:30 and not traveling home from the ACC Championship Game.

6. The City of Charlotte. After the 2006 and 2007 ACCCGs the ACC realized the needed a centrally located Championship game ASAP. Props to the conference for trying but Charlotte why couldn't you have been available?????? Brian and I both had massive hangovers Sunday and a shorter trip home would've benefitted both of us and Virginia Tech might have single handedly sold out the game in Charlotte given its proximity to Blacksburg. Tallahassee is the closest ACC city to Tampa at 275 miles away. Meanwhile Wake Forest, NC State, North Carolina, Duke, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Virginia, and Georgia Tech are all located closer to Charlotte than 275 miles away. That's 8 of 12 ACC are located closer to Charlotte than any teams are located to Tampa. The game in Charlotte won't sell out every year because of the potential of say a BC-Miami matchup but it will sell out a lot more often than it doesn't.

7. BC fans. BC traveled much much much better relative to Virginia Tech considering proximity of the game and the size of their student body and alums. But still, more BC fans should have been in attendance rather than at home commenting on and bitching that we have a reputation for traveling poorly and are therefore dropping to the Music City bowl to play 6-6 Vanderbilt.

Brian: That's a lot of blame to go around, but I find it surprising (dare I say, shocking?!) that the Conference doesn't shoulder any of the blame in your opinion. Yet you put BC fans on the list with an undergrad enrollment of 9,081 and many more casual fans than die-hards.

So how does the conference fix the problem? And what if Charlotte doesn't work out?

Jeff: The conference fixed the problem by moving the game to Charlotte. The game will be a hot ticket there because of proximity to the schools in the game alone. Meanwhile, on average the two teams competing in the game will be ranked higher nationally than they were this year. There won't be the SEC dream game to compete with and the economy hurting ticket sales so the ACC Championship Game will get more hype and will be better attended. Nothing needs to be done beyond moving the game in 2010.