Call this past weekend "Survival Saturday." #1 USC survived a dense fog both literally and figuratively in winning at Oregon State. Oklahoma survived a fake punt and a fake field goal for touchdowns and the ultimate revenge motivation by gigging the Aggies. Texas survived a 35-7 deficit with its biggest comeback ever, a 49-point blitz of Oklahoma State. Iowa survived its 6th lost running back of the season (and 4th ACL) to beat Purdue and remain one game back in the Big 10. In an odd way, Miami survived a fake field goal and an overtime loss by good scheduling; the Canes still would win the ACC if they beat the Hoos and Hokies.
I had the pleasure this weekend of hearing a math talk by Kenneth Massey. He's the Virginia Tech grad student whose rating system has been one of the BCS computer systems since its inception. He's also one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. In one of those odd connections that makes math a fascinating subject (really!), it turns out that Massey's system is conceptually the same as the system that Google uses to order the web sites it returns to you from a search. Very cool. And how cool would it be to be a grad student and be part of the BCS?
If you're at all idealistic about college athletics, you've got to love the academies. John Feinstein's book Civil War: Army vs Navy is an eye-opener. It seems that Air Force has been disappointed with bad finishes to seasons after fast starts. So they have a physiologist studying their players to see how they respond or don't respond to football workouts and (imagine this!) academic stress. And they're actually open to input! "It will be great to learn a little bit, from a science perspective, exactly what's going on," senior linebacker John Rudzinski said. "The way athletics is now, there's a premium on size, there's a premium on covering all your bases, and that's another variable we hope we can get in and control." Maybe he, ya' know, chest-thumped and danced his way out of the interview room.
The experts are always entertaining. In a recent BCS discussion, an ESPN panel unanimously agreed that an unbeaten Auburn team unquestionably should qualify for the Orange Bowl. As should an unbeaten Oklahoma team. And an unbeaten USC team. And if any of them don't, it's because the misguided BCS computers don't understand how hard it is to get through the SEC/Big12/Pac10 unbeaten.
Big game Saturday in Charlottesville! Welcome to the ACC, Miami! Most weeks you need to play all four quarters. Back in the Big East, the championship will probably be decided by West Virginia versus Boston College (#31 vs #48 in my list). Wisconsin and Michigan try to stay unbeaten in the Big 10. Auburn gets old nemesis Georgia, at home. The following predictions are straight from the ratings, with 4 points added for home field.
Virginia over Miami by 3 (three losses in a row for Miami?)
Florida State over NC State by 9 (but NCS has won 2 of the last 3 over FSU, and needs a win)
West Virginia over Boston College by 8 (the Eers qualify for a BCS game with a win)
Michigan over Northwestern by 14 (NW is somehow 4-2 in the Big 10, winning the close ones)
Wisconsin over Michigan State by 11 (the Badgers are still unbeaten, and mostly unloved)
Northern Illinois over Toledo by 9 (Tuesday night football! UNI is unbeaten in the MAC)
Oregon over UCLA by 4 (two good 5-4 teams that need a win)
Oklahoma over Nebraska by 31 (at 3-3 Nebraska is in first in the Big 12 North!)
Auburn over Georgia by 7 (crunch time for War Eagle; can they run on the Dawgs?)
LSU over Alabama by 9 (bowl implications but not much else. Bama may look ahead to Auburn)
|82||San Diego St||35.37|
|85||New Mexico St||34.32|