December 10th, 2012
With former Wisconsin Badgers head coach Bret Bielema leaving to take the open job at Arkansas, the Badgers will have a new coach guiding them to Pasadena for the 2013 Rose Bowl on January 1st. Surprisingly, Wisconsin team captains approached a man who has already won three Rose Bowls: Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez.
Alvarez retired from coaching in 2005 after winning Rose Bowls in 1994, 1999, and 2000. He won 118 games in 16 years, in the process becoming Wisconsin’s all-time winningest coach. As the Badgers’ head man, Alvarez won numerous coaching awards including AFCA Coach of the Year and Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year in 1993 after leading Wisconsin to a 10-1-1 record, a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl victory. He was also named the Big Ten Coach of the Year that season and won it again in 1998.
The Pennsylvania native played football for Bob Devaney at Nebraska from 1966 to 1968 and then began his coaching career as an assistant at Lincoln Northeast HS in Nebraska. After serving on Lou Holtz’s Notre Dame staff, Alvarez got the head coaching job in Madison inheriting one of the Big Ten’s most dismal programs. After consecutive 5-6 seasons, Alvarez led the Badgers to that Big Ten title in ‘93 and proceeded to guide Wisconsin to six seasons of at least nine wins. In his 16 years in Madison, Alvarez took the Badgers to 11 bowls games, going 8-3.
Alvarez stepped down in 2005 but remained an integral part of the program meaning there will be little distraction for the rest of the staff and the players. He will likely allow the staff to operate “business as usual” and offer input, make game-day decisions, and handle the press. There should be little problem since Bielema was on Alvarez’s staff and hand-picked as his successor.
Bielema’s teams were much like Alvarez’s – tough, stingy defenses and big, huge offensive lines that opened holes for 10 straight years of 1,000-yard rushers. Expect the same with Heisman Trophy candidate Montee Ball, who established the NCAA record for career touchdowns with 82 behind another massive Wisconsin offensive line. Alvarez has told his players that he would be honored to coach them, but he has also told them that he will not screw around. Alvarez has made it clear to the Badgers that he is in it to win it. With three Rose Bowl wins under his belt, don’t be surprised if Alvarez adds a fourth this year.
December 2nd, 2012
The Granddaddy of them all features a somewhat surprising Pac-12 champion, the Stanford Cardinals, against a definite surprise in Big Ten champ, Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers, by virtue of both Ohio State’s and Penn State’s bowl bans, represented the Leaders Division in the conference title game where they subsequently handed 12th-ranked Nebraska a 70-31 pounding.
After losing superstar QB Andrew Luck, OG David DeCastro, and TE Coby Fleener to the NFL, Stanford was supposed to be rebuilding while grooming a new QB. After a respectable 6-2 start under Josh Nunes, freshman Kevin Hogan stepped in against Colorado and the Cardinal have not lost since. Coach David Shaw’s squad took care of the UCLA Bruins in the Pac-12 championship game, 27-24. The game was a rematch of the regular season finale in which Stanford had a much easier time with the resurgent Bruins, beating them 35-17.
Besides Hogan, who has thrown for 973 yards and nine touchdowns, the Cardinal look to senior RB Stepfan Taylor who leads Stanford’s powerful running game with 1,442 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Tight end Zach Ertz, who caught the winning TD pass in the upset win over Oregon, leads the passing game with 66 catches for 837 yards and six scores.
What really drives Stanford, though, is defense. The Cardinal defense yields just 88 yards rushing per game and is 21st in the nation in total defense. Defensive coordinator Derek Mason’s front seven is as talented as any in the country with LB Chase Thomas leading the charge. It’s an old-school smash-mouth type defense that features several blitz and pressure packages and is as good as any in the defense-dominant SEC.
Wisconsin returns to the Rose Bowl for the third consecutive year seeking its first win. The Badgers lost to TCU, 21-19, in the 2011 game and 45-38 to Oregon this past January. Head coach Bret Bielema had to replace QB Russell Wilson to begin the season and the task was much harder than expected. Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien looked to continue the transfer-wagon but was replaced by Joel Stave after lackluster performances led to losses to Oregon State (10-7) and Nebraska (30-27). After an injury to Stave, journeyman Curt Phillips has taken over and led the Badgers to their second consecutive league title.
Stave had been efficient throwing for 1104 yards and Phillips, who was 6-for-8 in the championship game, isn’t asked to do much, but the offense revolves around RB Montee Ball, the NCAA career leader in touchdowns (82). Ball rushed for 202 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns to lead the Badgers to the Big Ten championship win over Nebraska. Wisconsin shredded the Huskers’ defense for 640 yards, 539 of them on the ground. Both Ball and RB Melvin Gordon went over 200 yards against Nebraska. Gordon led Wisconsin with 216 yards on just nine carries.
This year’s Rose Bowl should be a march down memory lane as two run-oriented offenses square off against two old-school defenses. The Badgers’ five losses were each by three points, including three of those defeats occurring in overtime. The Cardinal have also played there share of close games losing to top-ranked Notre Dame 20-13 in overtime and dropping a 17-13 defeat to Washington earlier in the season. Remember it was Stanford who held the fast-paced Oregon Ducks to just 14 points and then beat them in overtime 17-14. No question, this year’s Rose Bowl will be a hard-fought, defensive struggle with the team most successful running the football earning the win.
2013 Rose Bowl Tickets are on sale now
November 27th, 2012
Matt Barkley, the USC Trojans QB who decided not to enter the NFL draft and return for his senior season, will not win the Heisman Trophy this year, that much is sure. But, who will accept the Heisman bust this December?
Late in the season it appeared that Kansas State Wildcats do-everything QB Collin Klein might be the guy. However, an ugly 52-24 upset loss to Baylor on Nov. 17 leaves Klein’s possibility as a finalist looming. Mante Te’O, the Notre Dame LB, has had an amazing season (tied for the FBS lead in interceptions with seven) under a fair amount of duress. Te’O lost both his girlfriend and grandmother earlier in the season, not to mention the stress of having to face every opponent’s best shot week in and week out as the Irish finished the season unbeaten.
The front-runner, however, for college football’s top award is Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manzeil. The redshirt freshman has led the Aggies to a remarkable 10-2 record including an upset win over then top-ranked Alabama. Manziel, or “Johnny Football” as he has become known, is one of just a handful of quarterbacks who have thrown for over 3,000 yards and ran for over 1,000 in the same season. He leads the SEC in rushing with 1,181 yards and has run for 19 touchdowns.
When new head coach Kevin Sumlin took over, it appeared that the Aggies would be rebuilding while they entered the mighty SEC. After a season-opening loss to Florida, Texas A&M reeled off five straight wins and the legend of “Johnny Football” began to rise. If anyone needs validation that Manziel is deserving of the Heisman, watch the game film of the Aggies’ win over ‘Bama. Manziel was 24-of-31 passing for 253 yards, two touchdowns, and he did not throw an interception. He also rushed for 92 more yards against arguably the nation’s best defense.
Along with Klein, Te’O, and Manziel, the other finalists may be Oregon Ducks speedy RB Kenjon Barner who has rushed for 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns, and USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, who has hauled in 112 receptions for 1,680 yards and 14 scores. This year’s winner will be announced on Saturday, December 8, live from the Best Buy Theater in Times Square.
November 16th, 2012
2012 Bowl Projections
Texas A&M’s upset of Alabama a week ago has dramatically turned the tables on the 2012-13 bowl picture. With two weeks to go, plus a few conference championship games remaining to play, anything can happen. Nothing is guaranteed as the Tide proved last week, but here is a look at how the BCS bowl scenario may play out.
Discover BCS National Championship
Kansas State vs. Oregon
The Ducks reach the title game by virtue of three impressive season-ending wins over Stanford, rival Oregon State, and UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game. The Wildcats and their Heisman Trophy QB Collin Klein finish the season with Big 12 opponents Baylor and Texas then get a month-long break to prepare for the Ducks.
Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO
Wisconsin vs. Stanford
The Badgers get Nebraska in the Big Ten title game and get revenge for a 30-27 regular season loss. With Oregon going on to the national championship game, the Rose Bowl selects the next best Pac-12 team, the Cardinal, to represent the conference.
Discover Orange Bowl
Florida State vs. Notre Dame
FSU is clearly the best the ACC has to offer and after destroying whoever happens to back into the ACC championship from the Coastal Division will be the conference’s representative in the Orange Bowl. Notre Dame, which will make its case for a berth in the BCS title game after an unbeaten season, finishes the regular season ranked third and wishing it was 2014.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Alabama vs. Louisville
The Tide wraps up the season with one loss and, being shut out of the title game due to the upset loss to the Aggies, wind up as the SEC choice. ‘Bama faces off against the Big East champion, Louisville. The Cardinals, under coach Charlie Strong, win out beating Rutgers in a season-ending Big East championship deciding game.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma vs. Georgia
With Kansas State heading to the national championship, the Sooners are the Big 12 choice to face off in a battle with one of the SEC’s best, Georgia. The Bulldogs struggle with the triple option in their final two games (Georgia Southern & Georgia Tech) but overpower both opponents to receive an at-large berth.
November 12th, 2012
As the 2012 college football season nears its end, talk of what teams will play in what bowl game has started. But where did the bowl games start? Here’s a brief look at the history of bowl games in college football.
The term “bowl” is taken from the earliest of all bowl games, the “granddaddy of them all,” the Rose Bowl, which is also the name of the stadium in which the game is played. In 1902, the Tournament of Roses Association sponsored the East-West football game pitting teams from opposite ends of the country in an end of season event. The first game was played by Michigan and Stanford, a game that Michigan won, 49-0. Beginning in 1916, the game was played annually and was renamed the Rose Bowl in 1923 when the newly finished Rose Bowl stadium became the host.
Other cities throughout the country began to see the promotional value of such games, promoting tourism and industry in their areas. By 1940 there were five major college bowl games: the Sugar Bowl (1935), the Orange Bowl (1935), the Sun Bowl (1935), and the Cotton Bowl Classic (1937). Traditionally, bowl games were played in warm climates such as those in Southern California, Texas, Florida, and Louisiana. When the bowls originated, commercial air travel was non-existent so enough time had to be given for fans and family to travel to the games. Therefore, when football seasons ended in late November and early December, several weeks were given for travel and bowl games were played on or near New Year’s Day.
Bowl Games Increase
Up until the 1950s, all bowl games were played on New Year’s Day. At the time, there were only eight games. By the late 1950s, some of the games began playing in late December. More games began being played in December as more bowl games came into the mix. By 1990 there were 19 different bowl games and only the major bowl games were played on New Year’s Day.
Prior to 1992, bowl games had strict agreements with conferences. For example, the Rose Bowl traditionally had the champions of the Big Ten and the Pac-10 play each other. The Sugar Bowl always had the SEC champion playing the Big 8 winner. The problem with that format was that the top-ranked teams in the country may never meet at the end of the season to determine a champion.
Bowl System Now
Traditionally, committees representing each bowl game would select the teams that would compete in their bowl game. This practice still exists however, it is a little different since the inception of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in 1998. Committees still exist but selecting teams is based upon conference affiliations with the different bowl games. Because of the bowl system and the vested economic interests related to the bowl games and also the longer regular season in Division I compared to lower divisions, there has never been a playoff system instituted to determine a national champion.
There are now 35 bowl games which begin play in mid-December and continue through early January. Teams must win six games during its regular season to be invited to play in a bowl game. The BCS system consists of five games, four “traditional” bowl games (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta) plus the national championship game. The two top-ranked teams in the final BCS poll play in the title game. Opponents for the four other games come first from the six major conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC), Notre Dame (if they qualify), and then other highly ranked teams.
Bowl Game Fun Facts
The University of Alabama has played in the most bowl games, 57, and has won 33 of those games. Nebraska holds the record for the longest consecutive streak of bowl game appearances with 35 straight from 1969 to 2005. Currently, Florida State has appeared in 30 straight bowls and will most likely make it 31 this season. Oklahoma is the only team that has appeared in all five of the BCS bowl games. The Sun Bowl, one of the original bowl games, along with the Cotton Bowl, are the only bowl games that are not televised on the ESPN family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ABC). CBS broadcasts the Sun Bowl while the Cotton Bowl is televised by Fox Sports Network.
November 8th, 2012
Currently ranked third in the latest BCS poll with a record of 8-0, Notre Dame is on the verge of its first unbeaten season since 1988, when QB Tony Rice led the Irish to a national championship. Should Brian Kelly’s squad finish the season unbeaten at 12-0, the Irish will surely be in the BCS title discussion. Also in that discussion will be Kansas State, Oregon, and top-ranked Alabama.
Assuming that, like the Irish, the other three teams in the mix win out to finish the season, Notre Dame will be left wishing that it was 2014. That, of course, is when the new four-team playoff format will begin. Sure, Notre Dame’s schedule is probably good enough to warrant playing the title game, but of the next four opponents only USC has a winning record. Oregon will play three ranked opponents in their last four games and then likely another in the Pac-12 championship. Again assuming the Ducks win out, playing through that schedule will likely move Oregon Ducks ahead of ND in the BCS rankings.
Kansas State, currently ranked second, faces two ranked opponents, Oklahoma State and Texas, in its last four weeks, and also faces dangerous TCU (5-3). At the present, the Wildcats and the Irish are tied in the computer rankings with a composite percentage of .970. With KSU at 12-0 and facing a tougher schedule in the last four weeks, Notre Dame’s score will only decrease leaving the Irish with no chance of overtaking Kansas State.
Almost every likely championship scenario does not include the Irish. If Alabama and Kansas State win their remaining games, there’s no doubt they will play in the BCS title game. It is also likely that Alabama and Oregon could meet should both teams win out and KSU falter. Another scenario has a one-loss SEC team, possibly Georgia or LSU, in the title game as well.
For the Irish to be playing on Jan. 7th all of the cards will have to fall into place. And, yes, there are some key games remaining on the schedule, especially the big LSU-’Bama showdown, which will have a huge impact on the BCS championship. First, Notre Dame must win handily over the teams they should-Pitt, Boston College, and Wake Forest. Then, they will need to put up some serious numbers against USC in the LA Coliseum. A victory is great, but a little cushion on the final score wouldn’t hurt.
With the 12-0 record in the bag, the Irish will then have to hope the teams at the top stumble along the last four weeks. A one-loss Alabama may still make it to Jan. 7th, if that loss is to LSU and not in the SEC championship. A one-loss Oregon might still have a shot if its loss is to USC in the regular season and comes back and destroys its opponent in the Pac-12 title game. A Kansas State loss will likely take them out of the picture since there is no Big 12 title game to count on for redemption. Plus, the Wildcats face Texas and Oklahoma State, each ranked in the lower end of the Top 25. Losing to either won’t be the same as losing to say, a No. 5 LSU. Regardless, Notre Dame’s path the BCS glory is murky at best.
October 28th, 2012
Halfway into the 2012 college football season, let’s take a look at some of the big surprises, some not-so-surprises, and biggest flops yet so far. After winning a national title and losing four players to the first round of the NFL Draft, Alabama was thought by many to have lost just a little too much to continue their dominance. At the midpoint of the season, the Tide is clearly the best team in the country with a bruising running game, solid QB play from A.J. McCarron, and the nation’s best defense.
Surprisingly, the Florida Gators are not far behind and are looking to make a run through the SEC East in order to take the Tide for the SEC title come December. Coach Will Muschamp, in just his second year, has brought the Gators back into the national title picture with a strong dose of RB Mike Gillislee and what may be the nation’s second-best defense. In a 44-11 blowout win over then No. 7-ranked South Carolina, it was the Florida defense and special teams that forced four turnovers. The Gators are already 5-0 in SEC play, with three of those wins coming on the road against ranked opponents.
Notre Dame (6-0) surely has surprised many sweeping Big Ten rivals Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue, then destroying Miami and beating a very good Stanford team in overtime. And the Irish did all of this with some pretty shaky quarterback play. The Irish still have two big tests remaining on their schedule (Oklahoma, USC), but could find themselves in the thick of the BCS championship picture at season’s end.
Maybe the two biggest surprises are Oregon State and Kansas State. Both are unbeaten, but the Beavers are coming off a disastrous 3-0 campaign a year ago. So far, they have beaten Wisconsin, hammered BYU and have destroyed three Pac-12 opponents. Kansas State, which has always been good under Bill Snyder, has just been phenomenal. Quarterback Collin Klein may be the nation’s best player and the Wildcats play great defense and just don’t make many mistakes. KSU still has some big games remaining, but they are another team that could find themselves in that BCS title picture should they win out.
On the other end of the college football stratosphere is Auburn. Just two years removed from a national championship, head coach Gene Chizik finds his Tigers sitting at 1-5 with one of the country’s worst offenses. Their QB play has been horrendous and the Tigers may have trouble winning another game this season.
Right beside Chizik is John L. Smith at Arkansas. The Hogs were ranked in the preseason Top Ten and after former coach Bobby Petrino’s bout with motorcycle mayhem cost him his job, Smith walked in ready to ride Petrino’s wave to an SEC title. Five weeks into the season, Arkansas stood at 1-4 losing to mid-major Louisiana-Monroe, then getting trounced at home by Alabama the following week. The Hogs are now 3-4 with consecutive wins over Auburn and Kentucky, neither of which is very good.
With the recent success of school’s like Michigan State and Wisconsin, and even Michigan’s 11-2 season a year ago, one would have thought that the Big Ten might rival the SEC for college football dominance. Not so. Michigan and Wisconsin each have two losses thus far and Michigan State sits at 4-4 going into the ninth week of the season. Northwestern has been a surprise, rattling off six straight wins to start the season, but from top to bottom, the conference is nowhere near the SEC or even the Big 12.
With another eight weeks to go, there is still plenty of football left. What remains to be seen is how the BCS title picture plays out and, who will move to the forefront in the race for the Heisman Trophy.
October 25th, 2012
LSU football star Tyrann Mathieu — aka the Honey Badger — was arrested earlier today on drug-related charges … this according to the Baton Rouge Police Dept
According to the police report, cops were called to an apartment around 3:30 PM after an alleged confrontation. When officers arrived to the scene, Honey Badger answered the door … and cops say they could smell a strong odor of weed.
Honey Badger was with 3 other guys –Jordan Jefferson, Derrick Bryant and Karnell Hatcher — all former members of the LSU football team. In fact, Jefferson was the starting QB for LSU last season.
Cops say they searched the apartment … and found a marijuana grinder, digital scale and 10 bags of high grade marijuana. Cops say 7 of the bags were found inside Bryant’s booksack
October 23rd, 2012
NCAA College Football Showdown Saturday did not disappoint as the weekend was full of quality match-ups, including a Top Ten battle in Gainesville. The No. 2-ranked Florida Gators proved they are worthy of their lofty BCS ranking clearly outplaying No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks in a 44-11 victory. The Florida defense and special teams forced four Gamecock turnovers, three of which Gator QB Jeff Driskell turned into touchdown passes. Driskell, who continues to improve, threw for four touchdowns. Both Florida and SC played outstanding defense. The Gators managed just 183 total yards, becoming the first FBS team in history to score over 40 points without gaining 200 yards of total offense.
Alabama Crimsontide, ranked No. 1 in the BCS, had little trouble with Tennessee in a 44-13 win. Tide QB A.J. McCarron threw for a career-high 306 yards and four touchdowns. The vaunted ‘Bama defense gave up just 79 yards rushing to the Vols and held Tyler Bray, the highly touted Vols’ QB, to 184 yards on 13-of-27 passing and no touchdowns.
Prior to Saturday’s lineup feast, the No. 2 Oregon Ducks traveled to Arizona State and dismantled any hopes of an upset in the first 15 minutes of play en route to a 43-21 win over the Sun Devils. ASU scored on its first play, a 28-yard pass from Taylor Kelly to Kevin Ozier, to jump out to a 7-0 lead just 49 seconds into the game. The Ducks countered with a Kenjon Barner 71-yard run and two Marcus Mariota touchdown passes to take a 22-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Barner would run for two more scores and Mariota, an 86-yard run, as the Ducks built a 43-7 halftime lead.
In somewhat of a surprise, head coach Bill Snyder’s No.4 Kansas State Wildcats went to Morgantown and made it look easy against Geno Smith and West Virginia as Wildcat QB Collin Klein accounted for seven touchdowns in a 55-14 thrashing of the No. 13 Mountaineers. Klein established himself as a legitimate Heisman favorite with a career-high 323 passing yards, completing 19-of-21 passes, three touchdowns, and added 41 yards on the ground and four scores.
No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish remained unbeaten fighting off a 14-7 halftime deficit to defeat Brigham Young, 17-14. The Irish rolled up 270 yards on the ground and George Atkinson III scored on a two-yard run early in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Running backs Theo Riddick (15 carries, 143 yards) and Cierre Wood (18-114) led the way for ND. Irish QB Tommy Rees, playing in place of the injured Everett Golson, completed six of his first seven passes, then only attempted three in the entire second half. Notre Dame’s defense limited BYU to just 66 yards on the ground.
After falling behind 12-0, No. 6 LSU scored 24 unanswered points and downed No. 18 Texas A&M, 24-19, in College Station. The Tigers started ugly but were able to gain some momentum going into the halftime break when Zach Mettenberger hit Kadron Boone with a 29-yard TD pass with 11 seconds to go to give LSU the lead for good at 14-12. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M’s dynamic freshman QB, was held to just 27 yards rushing on 17 carries and was intercepted three times. LSU RB Jeremy Hill ran for a career-high 127 yards on 18 carries and scored once.
The surprising Oregon State Beavers, ranked No. 8 in last week’s BCS poll, took care of Pac-12 opponent, Utah, 21-7. OSU forced four Utah turnovers and Beavers’ RB Storm Woods rushed for three touchdowns. Oregon State is 6-0 and off to the school’s best start in 105 years after being picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North this preseason.
Oklahoma got ready for its showdown next weekend with Notre Dame by handing Kansas a 52-7 setback. The No. 9 Sooners were hardly challenged by coach Charlie Weis’ Jayhawks. Sooner QB Landry Jones threw for three touchdowns and Penn State transfer Justin Brown returned a punt 90 yards for a TD. OU has now won three consecutive games by at least three touchdowns.
It was a record-breaking day at USC Trojans as QB Matt Barkley threw three touchdown passes in the game’s first six minutes as the Trojans, BCS No. 10, beat Colorado, 50-6. Barkley’s second TD pass, a 39-yarder to Robert Woods, broke former Trojan QB Matt Leinart’s Pac-12 career touchdown passing mark. Barkley finished the day 19-of-20 for 298 yards and six touchdowns, giving him 102 TD passes for his career.
October 17th, 2012
Seven weeks into the 2012 college football season, we finally have our first BCS rankings and, with that, it’s time to project the biggest bowl of them all…The Rose Bowl. This year’s Rose Bowl, to be played on January 1st as usual, will feature the traditional Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup. But, who will represent each conference? Sure, it may be too early to tell, but let’s take a look at the possibilities.
With Ohio State and Penn State out of the Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl pictures this year due to NCAA penalties, the Leaders Division is all Wisconsin’s. Surprisingly, both the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions are unbeaten in league play so far. Take away a poor half and a kicking debacle in week two and PSU might be unbeaten on the season as are the Buckeyes.
The Wisconson Badgers have five league games remaining, the toughest of which may very well be against Ohio State and Penn State. Regardless, the bottom three in the Leaders Division will most likely have at least three losses. Even if Wisconsin ends up with three league losses, they will hold the edge on Purdue and Illinois, and should beat Indiana in week 10.
Play in the Legends Division is much tougher with the Michigan Wolverines and Nebraska Cornhuskers the favorites, although Iowa is currently 2-0 in league play. Don’t forget Northwestern, which ripped off six straight wins to start the season and Michigan State, last year’s Big Ten champ. The way it pans out in the Legends Division, though, is up to the Wolverines and the Cornhuskers. Iowa must play both and also must face Penn State and Northwestern. That doesn’t make it easy for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Michigan and Nebraska play each other in two weeks, but the ‘Huskers have Northwestern, a team they lost to last year, Michigan State, Penn State, and Iowa. Michigan will face pretty much the same road to a division title and cap off the season with the year-end rivalry game at Ohio State.
Look for superior defense and the play of Denard Robinson to propel the Wolverines to the Legends Division championship and look for them to face Wisconsin for the Big Ten title.
The interesting thing with the Pac-12 is the Oregon Ducks. Currently the BCS No. 3 team, Coach Chip Kelly’s squad is projected to be playing in the national championship game and if current No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida win out, they will play each other in the SEC championship game. The loser is likely out of the BCS title game which would pave the way for…the Oregon Ducks, should they too win out.
Oregon still has USC and Stanford remaining on the schedule along with a Thursday night trip to Tempe, AZ, to take on a rejuvenated Arizona State team that is currently 5-1. And don’t forget the Civil War. Oregon must play in-state rival Oregon State, ranked eighth in the BCS, in Corvallis on Thanksgiving weekend.
Should Oregon head to the BCS title game, that leaves USC Trojans, Stanford Cardinals, and Oregon State. Todd Graham’s Sun Devils just won’t cut it this year as they head down the stretch. Of the three remaining teams, the Trojans will have the easiest road as their test will come Nov. 3rd when they face the Ducks. Even if USC loses to Oregon, which will be looking for payback for last year’s 38-35 loss, a two-loss Trojan team wins the South Division and the right to play in the Pac-12 championship. With Oregon winning the North, it’s either the Ducks going to the BCS title game or to the Rose Bowl. If Oregon plays for all the marbles, then USC steps in and represents the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl.
Rose Bowl Projection
Look for the teams with the easiest routes to get to Pasadena and for the Ducks to be playing for a national title… Wisconsin vs. USC