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Friday, October 19, 2012

Scrappy no more, can Vanderbilt bowl?, SEC East/Sun Belt in the balance, and a couple amazing, sensational, dramatic, heartrending, exciting, thrilling clips

[In honor of their win over SMU, I am retiring Tulane Watch 2012, at least until they average less than a yard per carry over the course of an entire game. So you can expect a Tulane Watch 2012 update next week.]

I begin with Kansas State to make one point - Kansas State is not scrappy. In 2011, Kansas State was scrappy. They won two more games than their power rating and schedule said they should have. In 2012 they are again taking advantage of good field position (2nd/18th nationally) and turnovers (11th/8th nationally), and they lead the nation in fewest penalty yards per game, but Kansas State also has the nation's top rated offense. Collin Klein is not a scrappy quarterback. He is an uber-talented physical speciman who also happens to be one the nation's most efficient passers. Unlike LSU, Kansas State runs 70% of the time because they can, not because they have to. The Kansas State defense is only adequate for a team competing for a national championship; strong against the run but potentially vulnerable to a dynamic passing offense (like West Virginia?). So, Kansas State is well-coached, disciplined, smart, etc., etc., but they are no more scrappy than Alabama, another smart, well-coached, disciplined team. Kansas State isn't scrappy. Kansas State is good.

Texas demonstrated some quality missed
tackles on Saturday
Texas and Baylor, on the other hand, are not scrappy or good. We found out Saturday that almost beating West Virginia is nothing to write home about. We also learned that these prolific offenses can be slowed if the opponent bothers to play defense. Fortunately for Florence and Ash, Texas and Baylor do not bother to play defense. We might be looking at a new world record for missed tackles in a game.

Vanderbilt gets Auburn this weekend in one of the biggest games of the season (for Vandy). Auburn is terrible, so Vanderbilt is favored by 7 in Vegas and by the model at home. Next week they get UMass, who is even worse than Auburn. That would put them at 4-4 with Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Wake Forest left. Especially with things on the verge of falling apart at the seams in Tennessee, Vanderbilt should be able to get two wins and become bowl eligible. Lose to Auburn, though, and that dream dies. The model gives Vanderbilt a 63% chance of becoming bowl eligible right now.

Two teams that are better than both Auburn and Vanderbilt are Florida and South Carolina. These two teams have something else in common: they will be on the same field at the same time this weekend. This game is all or nothing for South Carolina; a win and they will have the tie breaker over Georgia and Florida with Tennessee and (an improving) Arkansas left in the SEC. Lose and they will have two losses and would lose a tie breaker to Florida. If Florida wins they will still need to either beat Georgia or hope Georgia loses to Kentucky, Auburn or Ole Miss (they probably ought to beat Georgia just to be safe). The model says this one is a coin toss while Vegas like Florida by the home field advantage. Oh, and I heard one of the coaches used to work at the other school. Interesting.

Like SC and Florida, ULM and Western Kentucky have a lot in common. They will also be on the same field at the same time. They each have a win against an SEC opponent (which is more than Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn can say), but they have also lost to an SEC team from the state of Alabama. Combined, these teams have played five BCS conference teams, winning two, losing in overtime in a third and losing a 4th quarter lead in a fourth. But according to the model, ULM and Western Kentucky would now be favored in four of the five games (Alabama would still be favored; Alabama would be favored against any team in Kentucky or Louisiana right now, including the Saints). Sensational at the time, we could now expect wins against Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor and Kentucky. Western Kentucky and ULM are also in a three way battle for the soul of the Sun Belt (with La.-Lafayette). They probably think that's really important, too.

I close with a couple videos to celebrate classic moments in college football that are especially relevant again this weekend.

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