Many thanks to Straight Bangin' for hosting this week's roundtable. With no further ado:
1) Coming into the season, many people had October 6th circled on their calendars because it was thought that the LSU-Florida game would be the single match-up that wielded the most influence over the rest of the sport. Now that a singular cataclysm has given way to a weekly series of upheavals, is there a single remaining game that has the greatest potential to deliver on the promise of unique significance foretold in
Well, there are certainly a number of big games left. Cal-USC, Michigan-OSU, and South Carolina-Florida, just to name a few, are all intriguing match-ups that will likely have BCS implications. Still, with all the carnage this season, I just don't see a single game garnering the hype or anticipation that Michigan-OSU did a season ago. With every team seemingly having a flaw, no two titans are on a collision course. I'll admit, I like the change of pace.
2) Bill Callahan's tenure has been so embarrassing for Nebraska fans that the school just fired the athletic director who hired him. Meanwhile, Tom Brady is doing just fine without Charlie Weis, even though he invented offense; Dream Coach Pete Carroll is facing criticism for his team's preparation and attitude; the Urban Meyer Revolution is televised but not as advertised due to an unreliable running game; Mack Brown's players get arrested a lot; and so forth. Don't get me started on Lloyd Carr. All around the country, coaches are under duress, even the beatified ones. Name a coach or two (or three) who most deserves the criticism and explain why.
Are our own school's coaches eligible here? If so, why not Coach Fran? Here's a guy that seemed to have finally turned a corner by winning a game in Austin. Everything was going great, from recruiting to new facilities. Expectations were very high for this season. And you know, sometimes Aggies take flak for their eccentricities, but dammit, this is a loyal fanbase. This team is still technically tied for first place in the Big 12 South. You're telling me that the same fans that like to note that A&M was 6 points from 12-0 last season couldn't stir up a little optimism this week? People call Aggies delusional all the time! But instead of optimism it's doom and gloom, waiting for the inevitable axe to fall on Coach Fran. Why? Because he lost the support of the rank-and-file Aggies with his shady shenanigans. And for what? An extra $14K on top of his 2 million-dollar-a-year contract. Shameful.
3) With few elite teams, a plethora of pretenders, and the aforementioned steady procession of upsets, filling out a ballot each week can be challenging. What is the single hardest decision you'll have to make this week when voting?
I really think that the toughest team to evaluate is Boston College. It seems like their wins keep coming against programs that are down this year (GT, NC St., ND). Hopefully the BC-VT game this weekend will clear things up.
The other area that I always struggle with is the middle of the pack in the SEC. LSU, South Carolina, Florida, Auburn and Kentucky all seem like easy placements right now. I just have no idea what to do with Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama.
4) This one is similar to the last question: many teams have sent voters mixed signals all year. Is BC really a top-five team? What am I supposed to do with South Carolina? Are there even two good teams in the Big Ten? Borrow a page from EDSBS and give me two teams to buy and two teams to sell.
I'm buying Kansas, who doesn't have to play Oklahoma, Texas or Texas Tech this season. If they can sidestep CU in Boulder this weekend and A&M at Kyle Field next week, they could well be undefeated when they play Missouri to close the regular season.
I'm also buying South Carolina. I think that they'll get by Florida in a squeaker and capture the SEC East.
I'm selling Arizona State and in a hurry. They have yet to beat an above average team. Their next four games are: Cal, @Oregon, @UCLA, USC. Tough stretch.
I'd also sell Hawaii, who have been unimpressive at times this season. They close with the four toughest games on thier schedule: Fresno State, @Nevada, Boise State, Washington. If they play like they did against LaTech or SJSU in any of those last four games, an undefeated season is a pipe dream.
5) Now that we know the strengths and weaknesses of many teams, explain to me how your team will make out over the remainder of the regular season.
Well, Nebraska is really struggling to stop the rushing attack right now, and that is one thing that A&M can definitely take advantage of (assuming that the coaching staff doesn't get cute and adjust their way into another disaster). I think that if A&M sticks to the gameplan and focuses on holding the ball and shortening the game, they will probably win. Callahan is already done but Coach Fran still has that glimmer of hope.
With the offensive firepower that Oklahoma and Missouri bring, I'm ready to write those two games off. A win in either would surprise me at this point. A&M just can't defend the intermediate pass when they are in the zone and the Missouri TE's are going to have a field day with that. Oklahoma, on the other hand, should be able to take advantage of the same weaknesses against the run that Oklahoma State exposed earlier this year. Both of these road games could get ugly.
That just leaves the last two home games, against Kansas and Texas. Despite my 'buy' above, I'm not exactly sold on Kansas winning this one, I just like the way that the match-ups fall for A&M. The best Jayhawk is a CB and A&M refuses to acknowledge the forward pass. Score!
Texas seems prone to fits of self destruction this season and it's hard to say which Texas will show up. I bet A&M wins one of the two home games.
So that puts us at 2-3 to close the season, 7-5 overall. Not bad considering, but I'll admit to having dreamt of so much more only a few short months ago...