Sunday, November 25

James' Week 13 Top 25

According to Dr. Nick Bostrom of Oxford University, odds are, we're 'living' inside a computer system simulating the universe. His reasoning is that, if it ever becomes possible for a computer to simulate the universe (or even just human civilization), then the number of simulated beings would vastly outnumber the number of real beings, assuming more than one simulation is run. Therefore, if you are a being and you're not sure which group you belong to, odds are you are in fact a member of the simulated group.

If that is the case, then I'm convinced that the guy running our simulation must have been wondering what the world of college football would have been like if the Nebraska Cornhuskers hadn't pulled off an amazing 100 straight 9+ win seasons from 1969 until the real 2069. The history diverges when the Big 12 adds a conference championship game in 1996 - despite the concept of a single game allowing a 4-loss team to claim the conference title over a 1-loss team being too silly for the real world - allowing Texas to upset Nebraska and prevent the Huskers from winning four consecutive national championships from 1994 to 1997. Without this incredible streak, Tom Osborne retires to serve in the US Congress, and NU struggles the following season. The timeline is further altered by an upset loss to Texas costing the Huskers a spot in the 1999 title game, saving the BCS from a 3-unbeatens controversy in just their second year of existence, which originally had ensured a playoff by 2008. Recruiting falls off a little, and after a blowout loss to Miami in the Rose Bowl in January 2002, Nebraska begins to move away from the power option. Because of this, Pat White goes to West Virginia and out of what can only be called the "Butterfly Effect," Dennis Francione takes over at Texas A&M who never take Chase Daniel to lead west coast offense that they never adopted.

In the real world, Daniel spent Thanksgiving week gutting the Texas Longhorns' defense to lead the Aggies to a 11-1 season and an at-large berth in the final year of the BCS. Unbeaten Nebraska went on to play and utterly destroy a Michigan team controversially chosen to play in the title game despite losing to Appalachian State (it turns out, that did happen).

But in this bizarre simulated universe, we have a situation where Missouri and Kansas are battling for the inside track for a BCS Championship matchup with West Virginia. Nobody knows what'll happen next, and the possibility of Hawaii or a 2-loss BCS team competing for the national championship is very real at this point. What do things look like after Simulated Rivalry Week? Hopefully this won't agree with the media's rankings too much.

1. Missouri - Chase Daniel's actually accounting for 20 more yards per game than Tim Tebow. He doesn't personally score as many TDs, but his team averages just 1 ppg less than Florida. In the Tigers' biggest game of the year, he completed 82% of his passes commanded two long scoring drives to shorten the 4th quarter as the Jayhawks were starting to get on track. This defense is actually pretty good as long as they aren't winning by too much. More on that later...

2. Oklahoma - Told you I'd be departing from the media's rankings. Let's face it, the main reason they lost to Texas Tech was because Sam Bradford was injured. With Bradford... well, you saw what they did to OK State. Oklahoma has knocked off Missouri and if they can do that a second time they'll be the best team in the country; not that it'll matter because unfortunately for them their schedule ranks in the top half of Div I-A schools and we're punishing teams for that this year.

3. West Virginia - I went back and forth on them vs Ohio State. Comparing WVU's three best wins (Cincy, UConn, Miss State) to Ohio State's (Wiscy, Michigan, Penn State), Chris and I gave a very slight edge to the 'Neers. Obviously a loss to Illinois is better than a loss to South Florida. However, WVU did schedule two BCS conference teams on their nonconference slate to OSU's one... signaling more of an intent to try to create a formidable schedule rather than hoping to beat up on creampuffs. But call that a tossup and ask yourself this - Pat White or Todd Boeckman?

4. Ohio State - What, do I have to say something about every team? They held Michigan to 3 points on the road and they have the worst offense of any top 10 team. There. Meanwhile, the possibility of a sexy OSU vs USC Rose Bowl matchup looms large as long as Missouri wins a rematch with OU and Pittsburgh doesn't *snicker* manage to beat *snort, snort* West Virginia. Hey wow I managed to type that last part without laughing!

5. Kansas - The Jayhawks played the first half of this weekend's game like a team intent on dropping out of the top 10. Two turnovers, two missed FGs, 14-0 deficit. Yikes. But Reesing & Co showed resiliency and fought back to make the final score respectable. Yes Missouri's affinity for playing prevent with a 15+ point lead helped that, but KU had already scored two TDs before the Tigers switched from aggressive to passive. They've all but wrapped up an at-large berth and I'm looking forward to seeing this team play in a BCS bowl, hopefully the Fiesta.

6. USC - Thursday night they just annihilated Arizona State on the road to leave no questions about who is #1 in the Pac 10. They've lost by one point to Stanford with basically their entire offense injured and lost by 7 points in Autzen to Oregon when they had Dixon and a top 5 ranking. As for what they accomplished, well destroying ASU in a road game is great for starters. Beating Oregon State is looking better by the week as the Beavers continue their late season rise.

7. Georgia - It took Georgia six and a half games to find their identity. At that point, they were a 4-2 team trailing Vanderbilt 17-7. They allowed just three first downs in the second half to win 20-17, then went on to win their next five games all against bowl-eligible competition including two teams currently ranked by the AP. The defense was a little suspect in three of those victories, but in the last two both sides of the ball have performed quite well. With a 10-2 record, the Dawgs have basically wrapped up an at-large bid and through some gigantic clusterfuck could still face Ohio State for the BCS title.

8. Florida - My only question is - would a healthy Tim Tebow still lose to Georgia? Other than that I'm pretty solid about them having the country's best offense and a very mediocre defense. They'll wind up as either the #3 or #4 team in the SEC, and frankly they're a nightmare matchup for whatever non-BCS bowl they play in.

9. LSU - After surrendering 50 points in a 3OT loss to Arkansas, LSU's defense dropped from #9 to #21. Of course that isn't all that accurate of a ranking, since they've now had to face six OT drives where the other team starts off in makable FG range - and a few times they've gone for it on 4th down since the Tigers' offense had already scored a TD. But this does reveal a telling story: of those six drives, five ended in TDs and one in a FG for 38 points. This unit really cannot stop teams inside the 20! The only consolation for the Tigers is that if they beat Tennessee, OU beats Mizzou, and Pitt beats WVU... then assuming they jump enough other teams and face Ohio State, the Buckeye's offense probably won't come within 30 yards of that dreaded red zone where this defense falls apart.

10. Virginia Tech - Well they're definitely a top 10 team right now... but that whole 48-7 bit makes it hard to rank them above LSU. Process of elimination, eh?

11. Hawaii - In their biggest game of the season, this is the first time I've actually been impressed by the Warriors. Boise State fought hard and even took a 27-26 lead in the 3rd, but then Hawaii responded with a devastating two quick TDs. Congratulations on the WAC title and good luck against Washington.

12. Tennessee - Hard to believe this team started off 1-2. The defense has finally gelled after giving up 104 points in losses to Cal and Florida... talented freshman Eric Berry now leads the nation in INT return yards. (yeah, the only way I know that Jeopardy fact is that my co-blogger went to this school) 8-1 in their last 9 games and, as far as I know, the only team to really shut down McFadden.

13. Arizona State - They had their hands on the Pac 10 trophy! Then it all slipped away against USC. Along with that went their appearance of a top 10 defense and any rumors that this team is more than just a team who wins the games it should win. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

14. Illinois - This team hasn't lost since Oct 20! Yes, in addition to the OSU game that includes wins over Ball State, Minnesota, Northwestern, and a week off.

15. Boston College - They did end a 15 game losing streak to the Canes (how far have they fallen to finish a season 1-6 and miss the bowls?!), but seeing Ryan throw yet another mutliple interception game just doesn't do it for me.

16. Cincinnati - Losses to Louisville and Pittsburgh are bad, but the month of November was a good one for the Bearcats.

17. South Florida - Can we think of Oct 18-Nov 3 as a blip on their radar? A really long blip that was probably just a flock of birds? All 3 losses by 7 points or less does mean that they've been competitive in every game.

18. Texas - So... bad... how the... f*ck... do you lose... to the Franciaggies... two straight years? A&M played an emotional game for one of the worst human beings formerly employed in div I-A coaching and Texas still has no secondary.

19. Wisconsin - We're at the point where I'm justifying rankings by saying "Well, two of the three losses were to ranked teams... and a 38-7 loss to unranked Penn State isn't *that* bad... close wins over UNLV and The Citadel prove they can win late, and..."

20. Boise State - Tough game at Hawaii. If they'd run the ball instead of going for a bomb on 3rd and 2 trailing 39-27... they might have been able to stay in the game.

21. Oregon - It's out of empathy for their situation that they're ranked at all. How exactly does one get shut out by UCLA?

22. Auburn - Thanks to Aubie, Nick "the sAviOr" Saban's team finishes with the same record it had a year ago under Mike Shula. But can he change that with a bowl victory?

23. Arkansas - ie, Team McFadden.

24. Oregon State - They've really turned it around since the beginning of October. Granted, Cal was their only decent win and they were without Longshore.

25. Notre Dame - Finishing the season with back-to-back wins against BCS conference opposition, the Irish will undoubtedly be in next season's preseason top 25. I'm just doing this a few months earlier than everyone else.