There is some seriously whacky stuff going on in college football right now and I’m not talking about the Tennessee Vols’ new ‘Stick ‘Em Up’ offense.
I’m talking about the number of “are-you-kidding-me?” teams that still control their own destinies to win their conference titles that nobody seems to be noticing. Certainly not in the national media, anyway.
It’s easy to happen in the world of a handicapper, really. You’re studying the head-to-head numbers so hard every week that it’s easy to overlook these teams might actually be in the midst of a conference race despite their overall records.
So let’s take a look at a few of the teams we may have missed that should have plenty of motivation in the weeks to come.
Arizona Wildcats – Everyone is talking about how quacktastic Oregon is and how shocking it is to see USC fall from grace. But quietly a Zona squad has gotten better with every game and the Cats can take the Pac-10 if they win out.
Granted, their schedule is more bottom heavy than Queen Latifah with Cal, Oregon, ASU and USC all remaining. Still, Zona’s Rose Bowl fate is in its own hands. The Cats have also covered three straight spreads and are spotted a field goal this week against a Jahvid Best-less Cal squad.
Nevada Wolf Pack – Yeah, Nevada. Seriously. The team that also happens to be in the same conference as Boise State, to whom so many have already handed a BCS bowl berth this year.
If you’re laughing, you’re not the only one. Most of us dismissed Nevada after it got dismantled on natty TV, 35-0, at Notre Dame and started the season 0-3.
Don’t look now, the Pack are actually the first place team in the WAC and could be playing Boise State in the season finale for the WAC title. First they need to beat Fresno State as 7.5-point home faves Saturday and then beat a horrible New Mexico State squad next week.
Northern Illinois Huskies / Ohio Bobcats – You may have taken notice of the two MAC teams that are undefeated in conference play -Temple (5-0) and Central Michigan (6-0) - but the two teams right behind them in the East and West respectively also control their own fates. Only one will after Saturday though, because the Huskies travel to Ohio this weekend.
Whoever wins will then play a winner-takes-the-division matchup to close out the regular season against Central Michigan (for NIU) or Temple (for Ohio). That’s some nice schedule making by the MAC.
Pittsburgh Panthers / West Virginia Mountaineers – Cincy has been all the talk of the Big East lately, but the truth is that the B-Cats are a long way from donning their BCS bowling shoes. They have to go through two teams who are also currently driving their own rides down the Big East highway, Pitt and WVU.
I’m not handing Cincy a guaranteed win in Friday’s game against West Virginia and even if the Bearcats do win, they have to face No. 9 Pitt on Dec. 5. Should the Mountaineers win Friday, the Backyard Brawl suddenly takes on the feel of a conference championship game next week, which would be fun. (West Virginia would still have to beat Rutgers in the season finale to stay alive, which suddenly doesn’t look so easy.)
If you’ve been missing the Big East this season, I highly suggest you start watching because we could have a three-way tie unfold over the next three weeks.
Duke Blue Devils – I B.S. you not. Duke is the only other team in the ACC Coastal other than Ga. Tech that is still in control of its own fate. The Blue Devils need to start by toppling the Bumble Bees at home on Saturday as 12.5-point dogs and then beat Miami and Wake to close out the year.
Hey, it could happen. This is the conference that could pretty much have the slogan “Where letdowns happen.”
I went 2-2 last week (again) to go 21-18-1 on the season.
On to this week’s picks…
Iowa vs. Ohio State (-17, 38)
I think I called the Big Ten “mediocre” last week. After watching Northwestern beat Iowa, Illinois beat Minnesota, Purdue beat Michigan and Ohio State trample Penn State, all on the road, I changed my mind.
Pick: Iowa +17
Idaho vs. Boise State (-31.5, 64)
This is so cute! Idaho actually thinks it can beat Boise State…on the road.
The Vandals’ AD even refused to board a plane that had a Boise State logo on it. Way to go AD!
I like your fighting spirit, Idaho, that’s what makes it so hard to fade you.
Pick: Boise State -31.5
Auburn vs. Georgia (-4.5, 56.5)
I talked to a guy this week who wrote three books on Georgia football and loves the Dawgs like his own children.
He told me to fade the living hell out of Georgia and to do it on the moneyline.
Pick: Auburn straight up
Arizona vs. Cal (-3, 55.5)
Even if Best was playing for Cal, I think I would have taken the Cats here.
Pick: Arizona +3