#MLB Division Champion Locks

With tomorrow the trade scenarios will cease. Rosters will be primed and ready for the stretch run, we are officially on the road to October. The 6 divisions in MLB are really starting to give us a picture of who will be in the World Series Tournament. Let us take a look at the up to the minute standings and give a lock (if possible) for each division.

AL East

Toronto, Baltimore, and Boston have been jockeying for position all summer long in the most contested division in all of baseball. All 3 squads have a legit chance of making the postseason. I cannot say any of them is a lock, as all of them are flawed teams. In other news, the Yankees have turned into bonafide sellers with the recent moves of shipping Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs and Andrew Miller to the Indians. There is a possibility that the Yanks are just bolstering the farm to sell it off in a trade for Chris Sale. It would probably take almost the entire haul that the Yankees received for both players in order to convince the White Sox to budge, but I wouldn’t rule out anything if the Yankees are involved. As for the 3 contenders, it really seems like a flavor of the week division. Whoever gets hot in September will be the champ and I expect the other 2 to be playing in a Wild Card game. Both Baltimore and Boston need pitching, I think Toronto has shown they may be just a slight tick above both the Orioles and Red Sox and they may be ready to separate themselves a bit.

AL Central

Print the shirts: Cleveland Indians 2016 AL Central Champs. The Indians have acquired Andrew Miller and pending a waive of his no-trade clause Jonathan Lucroy. This division is set, the Indians have a real chance to keep the Believeland magic going and wind up in the World Series. Jobu is pleased with the moves the Tribe has made to bolster the best record in the AL. What remains to be seen is whether or not the Detroit Tigers can push for a Wild Card. Right now they are only 1 game behind the Red Sox for the second spot. One more story to keep an eye on is the firesale that is about to happen in Kansas City. After 2 years of AL supremacy the Royals have came back to earth and are apparently ready to sell off some veterans to contenders. It was good while it lasted in Kansas City wasn’t it?

AL West

Right now the Rangers have the most wins in the AL, just percentage points behind Cleveland for best overall record. They currently have a 5 game lead over second place Houston and that is the largest division lead of anyone in the AL. If they could get completely healthy they would present the biggest challenge in Cleveland’s path to a World Series appearance. The Rangers have also been in the mix for seemingly every rumored blockbuster, based on their surplus of great prospects just waiting on an opportunity to play everyday. Unless Houston acquires a front line starter to take the ace position away from Dallas Keuchel, who hasn’t been an ace this season, I think it is very safe to crown the Rangers as a lock to win this division. Wouldn’t we all like to see a Divisional rematch between Texas and Toronto?

NL East

The Mets highly touted quintet of aces have turned into injuries and subpar performance this season. The Nationals have taken full advantage of the situation and placed themselves atop the division. Recently acquiring Mark Melancon from the Pirates was a really good move. They should utilize him in the 9th with the ever polarizing Papelbon setting him up. The Nationals have turned games into 7 inning affairs and when you have a 2 headed monster of Scherzer and Strasburg you are really setup to advance in a playoff series. Not to be overlooked, even though they are 5 games behind the Nats, the Marlins appear to be coming under the radar. Does anyone remember 1997 and 2003? Overdue, the Marlins seem to be peaking this season like those two World Championship seasons and I think everyone from Chicago to Cleveland need to be worried about the fish if they get in the postseason. Right now we will say Washington is a lock to win the division, but they may not make it the farthest in the postseason.

NL Central

They have been the class of MLB all season, the Warriors of the MLB. The Cubs are determined to end the World Championship drought. Acquiring Aroldis Chapman, even if it is a rental, was an outstanding move. The prospects they gave up to get him have better players on the active 25 man roster above them and it is foolish to keep hanging on to those players when you can better your chances for a title this year. The Cubs have the largest lead of any division leader and I think it is safe to say this division has been a lock for the Cubs since the first week of spring training. The St. Louis Cardinals are right in the Wild Card mix and they have been quietly been playing good baseball. There is a chance of them getting hot down the stretch but that will only be good enough to get them in a Wild Card game. This is the strongest lock of the six divisions, Cubs will win this division going away.

NL West

It is an even year, San Francisco is doing their thing again. Bumgarner and Cueto have World Series experience and the Shark behind them has improved. Hunter Pence is recovering from the DL and they just bolstered their bench by acquiring Eduardo Nunes from the Twins. They could probably use another big bat in the middle of the lineup or another high velocity arm in the pen, but really we are nitpicking. Even though the Dodgers have picked up the pace and are now withing 2 games of the division lead, I think the Giants still have the upper hand in this division. Speaking of the Dodgers, I think the entire LA metro is hoping Clayton Kershaw can come back soon. I hope he is 100% when he comes back. Kershaw is the best pitcher hands down in MLB. The Dodgers are another team that have been in every rumor, they are alot like the Yankees from the post ’94 strike to the late George Steinbrenner’s passing a few years back. They have all the capital you can ask for but in addition they have one of the strongest farm systems in all of baseball. Can they put all that together and add an impact piece to end their drought (1988) of appearing in a World Series? I’m saying the lock is the Giants, and if Kershaw comes back sooner then the Dodgers are a lock for the postseason.

If the playoffs ended today: Boston @ Baltimore with the winner getting Cleveland in the Divisional round. Toronto and Texas face off in a rematch of last years batflipping extravaganza. St. Louis and Miami are tied so there would be a play-in for the Wild Card game. The winner would travel to LA. Whoever comes out of that scrum would play the Cubs and the Giants and Nationals would rekindle their postseason matchup of two years ago when Bryce Harper really came into his own heading into last season.

Going off of who is in at the moment I am going to say that my World Series pick remains the same since I predicted Giants-Indians at the All-Star break. Bay Area vs Believeland. I don’t see a 49ers-Browns Super Bowl though. I don’t think there is a chance of them going 3 for 3. Having these two markets square off in two consecutive championship situations is fun especially since the Warriors and Cavaliers have made the last 2 NBA Finals so interesting. Follow me on twitter @originaldaveo for sports talk or just to talk about anything.

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Who’s in? #CollegeFootball

Over the course of my last 5 entries, we have gone over each of the power 5 conferences and identified which teams we think could wind up playing in the College Football Playoff. Here is where we get down to some serious (way too early) predictions for the Playoff, as well as all the other bowls games on the slate. There are a lot of bowls to get to, we’ll see if we can figure out who will go where.

AFR Celebration Bowl-(MEAC vs SWAC)

Southern vs Bethune-Cookman

Gildan New Mexico Bowl-(C-USA vs MWC)

Louisiana Tech vs Utah State

Las Vegas Bowl-(MWC vs Pac 12)

Boise State vs Utah

AutoNation Cure Bowl-(American vs Sun Belt)

Memphis vs Georgia Southern

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl-(MAC vs Sun Belt)

Bowling Green vs Troy

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl-(C-USA vs Sun Belt)

Southern Miss vs Arkansas State

Miami Beach Bowl-(American vs MAC)

Temple vs Northern Illinois

Boca Raton Bowl-(American vs C-USA)

East Carolina vs Florida Atlantic

San Diego County CU Poinsettia Bowl-(BYU vs MWC)

BYU vs San Diego State

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl-(MAC vs MWC)

Toledo vs Air Force

Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl-(American/C-USA/MAC)

Marshall vs South Florida

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl-(Navy vs Big 12)

Navy vs Kansas State

GoDaddy Bowl-(MAC vs Sun Belt)

Western Michigan vs Appalachian State

Hawai’i Bowl-(C-USA vs MWC)

Middle Tennessee vs Colorado State

St. Petersburg Bowl-(ACC/ND vs American)

NC State vs UCONN

Quick Lane Bowl-(ACC/ND vs Big 10)

Virginia Tech vs Northwestern

Camping World Independence Bowl-(ACC/ND vs SEC)

Duke vs Auburn

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl-(Big 10 vs C-USA)

Indiana vs Western Kentucky

Military Bowl-(ACC/ND vs American)

Boston College vs Tulsa

Holiday Bowl-(Big 10 vs Pac 12)

Penn State vs Stanford

Cactus Bowl-(Big 12 vs Pac 12)

Texas vs USC

NewEra Pinstripe Bowl-(ACC/ND vs Big 10)

Pittsburgh vs Wisconsin

Russell Athletic Bowl-(ACC/ND vs Big 12)

Georgia Tech vs Oklahoma State

Foster Farms Bowl-(Big 10 vs Pac 12)

Minnesota vs Oregon

AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl-(Big 12 vs SEC)

West Virginia vs Vanderbilt

Birmingham Bowl-(American vs SEC)

Cincinnati vs Kentucky

Belk Bowl-(ACC/ND vs SEC)

North Carolina vs Missouri

Valero Alamo Bowl-(Big 12 vs Pac 12)

Oklahoma vs Washington State

Autozone Liberty Bowl-(Big 12 vs SEC)

Texas Tech vs Texas A&M

Hyundai Sun Bowl-(ACC/ND vs Pac 12)

Louisville vs Arizona State

Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl-(Sun Belt vs MWC)

Georgia State vs New Mexico

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl-(SEC vs Big 10/ACC/ND)

Arkansas vs Iowa

Capital One Orange Bowl-New Year’s 6-(ACC vs Big 10/SEC/ND)

Florida State vs Alabama

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl-(SEC vs Big 10/ACC/ND)

Ole Miss vs Nebraska

TaxSlayer Bowl-(SEC vs Big 10/ACC/ND)

Florida vs Miami

Chick Fil-A Peach Bowl-College Football Playoff Semi-Final

Notre Dame vs Michigan

Fiesta Bowl-College Football Playoff Semi-Final

Washington vs Tennessee

Outback Bowl-(Big 10 vs SEC)

Michigan State vs Georgia

Goodyear Cotton Bowl-New Year’s 6-(At-Large vs At-Large)

Houston vs Clemson

Rose Bowl Game-New Year’s 6-(Big 10 vs Pac 12)

Ohio State vs UCLA

AllState Sugar Bowl-New Year’s 6-(Big 12 vs SEC)

TCU vs LSU

CFP National Championship Game

Michigan vs Washington

 

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#NBA Trade Scenarios

There are players on teams that flat out do not fit. There are also reportedly disgruntled players out there that have no clue what the front office is doing. There is also one player that reportedly does not want to be traded, but may sign elsewhere like a teammate just did. I have not heard any of these trades proposed, honest to goodness I am really just on the trade machine and trying different stuff until I get a match.

Trade proposal #1

Milwaukee Bucks receive Jonas Valanciunas and the Toronto Raptors receive Greg Monroe

If you watched the Eastern Conference Finals last season it was painfully obvious that the Raptors need an offensive presense down low, even though Bismack Biyombo did yeoman’s work on the interior. Valanciunas was injured and could not make it on the court. I think this swap would fix that, Toronto ranked 3rd in points allowed last season but just 13th in points scored. Sometimes you just need a dude that can get you a high percentage attempt on the block. I think Monroe can be that option for the Raptors. It would be a big turnover from Valancuinas and Biyombo to Monroe and Poetl. I do not think Toronto’s defense would suffer greatly though. Monroe has a rep as a terrible defender, and yet Milwaukee was 17th overall in points allowed. Not elite but not terrible. Now adding Valanciunas would improve that. Remember 2 years ago when Milwaukee made the playoffs and gave Chicago fits? Milwaukee has the length to bother everyone in the league and this would only add to that while letting their younger stars in Antetokounmpo, Middleton, and Parker be the offensive vocal points. The trade analysis states I improved Milwaukee’s win total by 1 win, Toronto’s win total remains unchanged. I think that is an indication that this is a win-win.

Trade proposal #2

In a three-team trade the Brooklyn Nets receive Enes Kanter, the Denver Nuggets receive Brook Lopez, and the Oklahoma City Thunder receive Kenneth Faried

Think about this scenario: Russell Westbrook grabs a rebound and pushes the ball up the floor with Victor Oladipo drawing a defender towards the corner 3 position. Out of nowhere Westbrook just lobs a ball in the air, in the directing of Tulsa, Kenneth Faried comes literally out of nowhere to slam it home and the crowd goes wild. Having Westbrook and Faried on the same team would be a lot of fun to watch and the Thunder only have to give up Enes Kanter to do it. Faried would play well with Steven Adams next to him. For Brooklyn, giving up Lopez hurts but Kanter is 4 years younger and they can build around him and the young core developing of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LaVert. Suddenly Brooklyn would have some upside by dealing one of their last trade chips. As for Denver, this is a gamble. Brook Lopez is not Kenneth Faried and never will be, but what he lacks in athleticism he makes up for in being the guy that puts the ball in the bucket. Lopez is a legit 20 ppg guy and that would help Denver get back to crashing the playoff picture and possibly even winning their division for a top 4 seed. The analysis states I increased Brooklyn’s win total by 2, Denver’s was unchanged, and decreased Oklahoma City by 2. I am not sure how unloading a bench piece for a legit starter at the 4 position makes you a worse team but that isn’t for me to decide.

Trade proposal #3

In a 4 team blockbuster the Boston Celtics receive Alec Burks and Kevin Love, the Cleveland Cavaliers receive Derrick Favors and Jonas Jerebko, the Orlando Magic receive Avery Bradley, and the Utah Jazz receive Amir Johnson and Nikola Vucevic

Wow I surprised myself when I got the green light for this one. Next to Al Horford, Kevin Love would have the defensive protection he needs to be the offensive superstar that the Celtics need. The defending champion Cavaliers get better by swapping the underwhelming Love for another rebounding machine in Derrick Favors to put next to Tristan Thompson to form one heck of a physical frontline. In Avery Bradley the Magic get 3 point shooting and an ace wing defender for new head coach Frank Vogel to deploy next to the up and coming Elfrid Payton. Look out for that monster defensive backcourt. Utah gets an offensive big man that they can either play with Rudy Gobert or have him anchor a second unit with Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw. Suddenly the Jazz, if healthy, look like even more legit contenders in the Western Conference. The analysis states I increased Boston, Cleveland, and Utah’s wins by 2 but decreased Orlando’s by 8. I do not know if the analysis has noticed that the Orlando Magic have acquired Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka to deploy as a new frontcourt that should strike fear into the hearts of the Eastern Conference.

3 trades, 9 better teams we feel. How’d we do? Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @originaldaveo or just send a reply to the blog.

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Revisiting #ConferenceExpansion or #ConferenceRealignment

The Big 12 has finally decided to open the door to the possibility of expanding to 12+ teams. There was talk that they had a wishlist of Florida State, Clemson, and Notre Dame. Because the ACC signed a major TV deal this past week then that is likely off the table. I have written at length on who the Big 12 should add and I believe that if they are going to keep all 10 current members then they should add BYU and Cincinnati today. It shouldn’t completely be about football, but that is what it’s mostly about. The only other option I see would be adding Houston. But what if there were major conference programs willing to jump ship BACK to the Big 12? Specifically Colorado and Nebraska? Now I believe those 2 plus BYU and Cincinnati would be an awesome coup for the Big 12. Weakening the Big 10 and Pac 12 in the process. What would happen to those two conferences then? I have read rumors about a possible North Carolina or Virginia entry into the Big 10 and I expect that if Nebraska goes back to the Big 12 one of those two will probably happen. Even though North Carolina has been more successful on the field and court recently there is that academic scandal thing that is still hanging out there. If Nebraska leaves I believe the Big 10 will act by extending an invitation to Virginia. Now what if the BYU & Cincinnati invites are not extended? Say this happens one domino at a time. Nebraska back to the Big 12 and Virginia to the Big 10. If you are the ACC who is a major program in your area that you could offer? West Virginia is the obvious choice. I think they would jump at the chance to rekindle the Backyard Brawl. It could be announced trade style: In a 3 conference trade the ACC receives West Virginia, the Big 10 receives Virginia, and the Big 12 receives Nebraska. We are back to current status. The ACC and Big 10 have 14 (Not counting Notre Dame still being on the fence) and the Big 12 remains at 10. Colorado was the other school mentioned that might be willing to come home to the Big 12. It is not very hard to imagine this happening. I have wrote about Big 12 expansion a few times, if you get Colorado back then invite Colorado State to come with them. This would get you to 12. Now if you are the Big 12 you should definitely do your due diligence and give Arkansas (I blame them for all this by leaving the old SWC in 1990), Missouri, and Texas A&M a call and see if they would be interested. It is hard to imagine any of those 3 leaving the SEC. Out west we weakened the Pac 12 into only having 11 members. You would have to clear this with Utah, but there is a certain institution in the same state that is dying to be a major power. How does BYU to the Pac 12 sound? To me it sounds really good. I think BYU is an overall better situation than having Colorado. The Big 12 gets its championship game, the Pac 12 retains its championship game. Geography is restored. To me that has been the dumbest thing we have witnessed in all of this. West Virginia in a Southwest Conference, Missouri in the SEC East makes no sense to me. The Big 12 courting Florida schools. Let us head down another path: say the Big 12 only takes Colorado to get to 11, they make that due diligence call to the 3 SEC schools I mentioned and they all bite. Where would the SEC go from there? Obviously the network deal for the newly formed (old) Southwest Conference would be on par with the ACC, Big 10, and SEC. The SWC would find itself in prime time negotiating position by weakening the SEC in the process. The SEC would have options, who wouldn’t jump at that chance. I could see 3 to replace the 3 departing: Clemson, Florida State, and Georgia Tech (Georgia Tech was an original SEC member-1932 through 1964). Now the ACC is in serious trouble again. They do have options though: Notre Dame is not a full fledged member yet. You could draw a line in the sand and say in our out. I think that Notre Dame is a few moves like this from joining someone anyway. So the ACC gets back down to 12 members. The Pac 12 has 12 as well and the Big 10 has 14, as well as the SEC and SWC. WE have basically only promoted 1 program up to the big leagues. Since Maryland and Virginia were both original members of the ACC, a return could be likely. Disregarding what we talked about earlier about Virginia leaving to join the Big 10 what if Nebraska was the only school to leave the Big 10? And everything after we discussed happens, the ACC and Big 10 are left with 13 members apiece. Where would each of those conferences be? There are two major programs that could help each conference get back to an even 14. For the ACC they could easily add Connecticut, and the Big 10 could easily add Cincinnati. Poor American Athletic Conference. Then just to makes things seem normal, let us propose a trade. I think Notre Dame should be in the Big 10 and Maryland should be in the ACC. I know this is a lot of information to digest but lets list the conferences according to everything that has happened and see if it’ll make sense.

ACC: Boston College, Connecticut, Duke, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia

Big 10: Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin

Pac 12: Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State

SEC: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

SWC: Arkansas, Baylor, Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech

So now that we have that straight, who would be the strongest conference in terms of negotiating a deal? I think if all of this movement were to take place exactly like we outlined, then all deals would have be renegotiated. A change in conditions would demand that. I think that clearly the ACC and Pac 12 would have some serious ground to make up against the Big 10, SEC, and SWC. The Big 12 could go from being the one that might get left out of a 4 superconference situation to being the Southwest Conference on the brink of adding both Arizona schools and becoming the first superconference. I realize how much of a long shot this proposal is but anything is possible (channel my inner Kevin Garnett). From that point the Pac 12 would be on the brink of destruction, during all of this expansion and realignment talk we haven’t really identified a school that would be worthy of a promotion into a major conference. There is the possibility that the Pac 12 could invite Nevada, UNLV, San Diego State; but are those really markets and schools that move the needle enough for the Pac 12 to get a really good deal? Could you invite those 3 and Boise State and solve this? Given the fact that the Pac 12 as currently constituted gets the same money with their deal as the Big 12 as currently constituted then no I do not see how these schools would add what Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas A&M would to the newly formed SWC. Like we mentioned above, this is a two Arizona school move from being the superconference that we have all heard was coming. The superconference idea is another thing that we must all keep our eyes on. Say that the SWC has all of the good fortune we discussed and then they grab Arizona and Arizona State from the Pac 12. Superconference time. We think that the Big 10 and SEC are the other two possibilities to morph into a superconference. I think the Big 10 would jump to add not only Virginia but Virginia Tech and the ACC would poach both North Carolina and NC State. We would have 3 superconferences and 2 power conferences in shambles. To add on to that they are on opposite sides of the country and would not be able to join up together. The ACC would have basically been turned into the old Big East, who would you try to promote? There are Florida schools Central Florida and South Florida who are top 64 in athletic budgets in the nation, you could start there. On the west coast, there are options as well. Being raided by the SWC would hurt, but you could get back in the market by picking up these 6: Boise State, Hawaii, Houston, San Diego State, UNLV, and Nevada (all of whom are in or near the top 64 athletic budgets in college athletics. This would leave the ACC as the odd man out. Like we mentioned they could add both Florida schools we mentioned. East Carolina would also be a move to consider, since they bring about the same type of institution into the ACC. Another school to consider for the ACC would be Temple. That would get them all the way back up to 14. They still would probably be the odd man out in a world where what we outlined happens and the 4 superconferences form.

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#SEC Football Best/Worst 2016

Well we finally got our act together. After watching Florida State and Ohio State take what is rightfully ours we played our Saban card and got our title back. Get ready for another 6 or 7 in a row College Football, we aren’t giving this title back anytime soon. Isn’t it interesting how this conference pushes its collective chest out when someone does something of note? We can all be friends as long as we aren’t playing one another on Saturday. I believe this is the best conference in all of the land, and the SEC West is the best division hands down in the land. If Alabama wants to defend, they had better be ready to work. There are landmines all over everyone’s schedule. We are going to outline a best and worst case scenario for each school, look back at how we did last season, but not predict bowl games.

Alabama

Last season: 14-1 (Defeated Clemson in the College Football National Championship Game presented by AT&T)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 10

In Saban We Trust. Until he is no longer the Head Coach in T-Town, don’t pick against them. Even if they are down for a year (by losing more than once in a season) they will be back the next. Even though they will again be breaking in a new Quarterback, even though they play in the toughest division in football. We have witnessed this before. We wrote last season the the best case was to be in the Playoff and I see no reason to change that heading into this season. They open with USC on a neutral, head to Oxford on Sep 17. They have lost to Ole Miss each of the last 2 seasons. The worst part of the schedule is Oct 8-Nov 5 when they travel to Arkansas and Tennessee, host A&M, and travel to LSU in that order. Best case: College Football Playoff. Worst case: Can we say College Football Playoff until proven otherwise?

Arkansas

Last season: 8-5 (Defeated Kansas State in the Autozone Liberty Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5

We thought the worst case scenario would be a second tier bowl last season. A 3 game losing streak to Toledo, Texas Tech, and A&M sealed the deal on being worst case. I think the win at Tennessee is what changed the season for the Razorbacks. If it weren’t for Dak Prescott’s heroics (and a some bad defense by Arkansas) the Hogs could be on a 7 game win streak heading into the year. They lost a ton on the offensive side of the ball, but I think the defense will be better than it was. More like it was 2 seasons ago and that will keep them in games. Going to TCU on Sep 10 is the last true road game until Oct 22 when Arkansas goes to Auburn. They finish with 2 very winnable road games at Mississippi State and Missouri. Best case: New Year’s Day (Not New Year’s 6) Bowl. Worst case: missing Vegas’ win prediction.

Auburn

Last season: 7-6 (Defeated Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 6.5

I’d like to take everyone back to the 2013 season, Auburn was coming off a bad 3-9 season. Nobody thought they would be anything. The luster off the 2010 National Championship had gone away. Enter Gus, enter Nick Marshall, enter the Prayer at Jordan Hare, enter Kick 6. This was the year after Alabama won a national championship. Auburn wound up just coming short against a very, very talented Florida State team. The point is every so often crazy things happen on the Plains and I’m just saying to keep your eye on Auburn. They open with Clemson, don’t have a road game until Oct 8 (Mississippi State). There are only 4 total road games and the rest are: Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama (Oct 29, Nov 12, and Nov 26). Best case: The magic returns and Auburn crashes the Playoff party. Worst case: No answers at QB and Gus is fired midway through a 4-8 season.

Florida

Last season: 10-4 (Defeated by Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but I think last seasons success has to be attributed to Will Muschamp for building one of the best defenses in the country. Credit to McElwain for not rocking the boat on that side of the ball. Now we are in Year 2 and we’ll see how he is at replacing NFL players on that side of the ball. They exceeded expectations a year ago, including mine. I think that the East has gotten better the last year and they had better be ready. Florida should start 3-0 then they go on the road to Tennessee and Vanderbilt Sep 24 and Oct 1, remember Vanderbilt played them to a 9-7 game at the Swamp a year ago. I think the Tennessee game will decide the East. Only 2 road games after that: at Arkansas (Nov 5)-Arkansas has only beaten Florida once: 1982-at Florida State (Nov 26). If Florida can score, they will be tough to beat. Best case: Returning to the SEC Championship Game and who knows what could happen from there. Worst case: They struggle to meet raised expectations and find themselves in Shreveport or Birmingham.

Georgia

Last season: 10-3 (Defeated Penn State in the Taxslayer Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 8.5

Another double digit win season for Georgia. But Coach Richt took his talents to South Beach and bring in a Saban understudy in Kirby Smart. Is he ready to be the numero uno? We thought last year might be the year for Georgia to break through but it never happened. I’m still waiting for this program to have a better than expected season. They get half of their road games out of the way in September: at Missouri and Ole Miss on the 17th and 24th. If they can get those 2 that will setup a really favorable schedule going down the stretch. The only 2 other road games are at rebuilding South Carolina on Oct 8 and at perennially bad Kentucky on Nov 5. Maybe this is the year that Georgia can find themselves in the title picture. Best case: SEC Championship game with Playoff on the line. Worst case: They lose to UNC to start and it turns into a 7 win season.

Kentucky

Last season: 5-7

Vegas over/under win prediction: 5

It was another 5-7 campaign for Kentucky. What has to change for them to get to a bowl game? Even getting off to a good 4-1 start last year wasn’t enough to change their bad fortunes. It seems like they are close to getting to bowl. Losing 6 out of the last 7 games is what doomed them. This season they get to travel to Florida (Sep 10); Alabama (Oct 1); Tennessee (Nov 12); and Louisville (Nov 26). Other than those 4 they could be in every other game. I’m not saying they will go 8-4, but it could happen. Best case: 8-4. Worst case: Another 5-7 just missed out on a bowl season.

LSU

Last season: 9-3 (Defeated Texas Tech in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 10

They finished somewhere in the middle of our scenario by getting 9 wins, but it they had to settle for the Texas Bowl. It was a 3 game losing streak in November that almost cost Les Miles his job. LSU has as much talent as anyone in the country and I will agree that they have been subpar. If they can get good enough play from the QB position, then they will be in line to exceed the 10 win expectation and compete for a title. They open with Wisconsin again on a neutral and only have 4 true road games: at Auburn, Florida, Arkansas, and A&M. The game of the century is in Death Valley-Where dreams go to die, on November 5 and I expect that to be the game that decides the West this season. Best case: College Football Playoff. Worst case: not getting to 10 wins.

Ole Miss

Last season: 10-3 (Defeated Oklahoma State in the AllState Sugar Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 8.5

Any year that you win the Sugar Bowl is a really good year. But, Ole Miss was the most talented team in the conference last year, possibly the country. They beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa, but they lost to Florida, Memphis, and Arkansas. The Memphis and Arkansas games had to sting because those losses shouldn’t happen if you are the better team. I think Ole Miss lost an opportunity to play for everything (Then possibly have it stripped but that is another jar of marbles). This season they start 0-0 like everyone else and can still play for everything. That is if Hugh Freeze is on the sidelines for the first game showdown with Florida State. Ole Miss’ road games are combines into 2 back to backs: at Arkansas and LSU in October and at A&M and Vandy in November. They have the best QB in the league returning and if they can keep him upright, it could be a very good season. Best case: Return to the New Year’s 6. Worst case: sanctions take away the postseason for this year and next year.

Mississippi State

Last season: 9-4 (Defeated NC State in the Belk Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 6.5

Dak Prescott is gone and I think the 6.5 win prediction is kind. Last year we thought they would have a major regression, but that didn’t happen. This year I think Mississippi State could miss out on bowl season. The schedule is just plain bad. From Sep 17-Oct 22 Mississippi State goes on the road 4 out of 5 games. They travel to LSU, UMASS, BYU, and Kentucky. Now that may not seem like Murderer’s Row but lets see how many miles that is. LSU is roughly 300, UMASS is roughly 1270, BYU is roughly 1750, and Kentucky is roughly 480. That is almost 4000 miles and 3 time zones in 5 weeks. And we haven’t flipped the calendar to November yet when they travel to Alabama and Ole Miss. Best case: Bowl eligibility. Worst case: Ugly 4-8 or worse season.

Missouri

Last season: 5-7

Vegas over/under win prediction: 5.5

We thought that Missouri would make a bowl game last year, we didn’t know that a major social issue on campus would be the story of the year in Columbia. Gary Pinkel is now out as head coach and Missouri is under new leadership. They discharged enigmatic QB Maty Mauk as well. They open at West Virginia in what I believe will be a tough game to win, overall they are away from their dorms 5 times. They get a week off inbetween back to back roadies with Florida and LSU Oct 1-15, but they finish the season taking a trip to Knoxville Nov 19 and hosting Arkansas the next Friday. Best case: Making a bowl. Worst case: Something worse than a 5-7 season.

South Carolina

Last season: 3-9

Vegas over/under win prediction: 5

Last season was awful for the Gamecocks. They lost to the bleeping Citadel! We stated the worst case scenario would be to finish 3-9 and they nailed that for us. This season whoever made this schedule should be fired. They start off by having 3 conference road games in the first 4 weeks (all in September) the season could be doomed before the weather changes. At Vandy, Miss St, and Kentucky all in September. We could have a 1-3 team by then. It doesn’t get any easier even though the games are mostly home the rest of the way. A&M, Georgia, and Tennessee are foes in October, and they travel to Florida and Clemson in November. Like I stated, whoever made this schedule should be fired. Best case: Being a surprise 5-7 team. Worst case: another 3-9 season.

Tennessee

Last season: 9-4 (Defeated Northwestern in the Outback Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 9.5

We have been waiting on Tennessee for probably 2 years now. Is this the year they not only meet but exceed expectations? They didn’t quite make our best case of the Citrus Bowl, but were better than the worst case by making a New Year’s Day Bowl. They are a very trendy pick to represent the East in Atlanta in the SEC Championship Game. There are back to back roadies with Georgia and A&M Oct 1-8 but after that they only go on the road twice and its lowly South Carolina and Vandy. This should be the season Tennessee gets back to the big time. Best case: College Football Playoff. Worst case: New Year’s 6.

Texas A&M

Last season: 8-5 (Defeated by Louisville in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 6

I read an article that Texas A&M Coach Sumlin was being very confident at media days, well Vegas seems to think that is fools gold. Even though they have had pretty good success since coming to the league, they haven’t really been a major player yet. With the schedule they had last season we thought they could be in a New Year’s 6 Bowl and that didn’t happen. They only had 3 true road games a year ago and they only have 4 this season. 3 of their first 4 will be tough, they get UCLA at home Auburn on the road, and Arkansas in Dallas all in September. Going to South Carolina is the week after Arkansas and that completes 3 straight non home games. At least they get a week off between hosting Tennessee and going to Alabama in October. They alternate Mississippi schools in November as well as host LSU. I think this season Sumlin is on the hottest seat in the country. I think there is a reason that Trevor Knight transferred (He’s just not that good) and I think that Vegas knows something is up in College Station. Best case: getting to the 6 win Vegas prediction. Worst case: not getting there they clean house with the coaching staff.

Vanderbilt

Last season: 4-8

Vegas over/under win prediction: 5

They made improvement by a game from the last season. Vegas thinks they can do that again. They did show the nation they can play with just about anyone in a 9-7 loss at the Swamp. I know no one wants moral victories but when you’re Vandy you take what you get. They exceeded expectations by getting to 4 wins, maybe they can do that again. The problem is they have 6 road games, and it is 3 sets of back to backs: at Georgia Tech and Western Kentucky (Sep 17 & 24); at Kentucky and Georgia (Oct 8 & 15); and at Auburn and Missouri (Nov 5 & 12). If they can get 2, and I think they can, Vandy could find itself in a bowl game. Best case: Birmingham Bowl. Worst case: Losing all the road games and going 2-10.

Until proven otherwise Alabama is the favorite. They have at least 2 legitimate challengers this season in Tennessee and LSU, I think we should all learn from the past and never count out Auburn-especially when no one sees it coming. The thing is, Tennessee and Alabama could meet twice this season. So we may not have a clear picture of who’s going to be in anything until we get to the SEC Championship Game. That should be a play-in game for the College Football Playoff, but we shall see.

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#Pac12 Football Best/Worst 2016

After sending Oregon to the national championship game the year before, the Pac 12 was shut out of the playoff a season ago. It wasn’t because the conference was down, I had Utah ranked #1 in my poll for 3 consecutive weeks. The Utes did not close the season as strong as they started. After an early season loss in a badly scheduled game versus Northwestern, Stanford finished strong and won the Rose Bowl. Can the Pac 12 get back in the Playoff? Can anyone unseat Stanford as Pac 12 champs? Is this the year USC finally gets back to being USC? A lot of things can and will happen. It is Pac 12 after dark after all. We are going to outline a best and worst case scenario for each member, see if we came close last year, but not predict which team will be in which bowl.

Arizona

Last season: 7-6 (Defeated New Mexico in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 6

We thought the worst case scenario would be to not make a bowl game. Arizona narrowly missed that by sliding into and winning a road game at the New Mexico Bowl. Last season they had 6 road games, this season only 4 true road games and they start off with BYU on a neutral. There is reason to believe they could be better than a 6 win team. Because of them being in the 2nd toughest division in college football, I will contain my optimism. Best case: a mid tier bowl better than the New Mexico. Worst case: stumbling to a sub .500 record.

Arizona State

Last season: 6-7 (Defeated by West Virginia in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 5

Coming off a 10 win season, we thought last year that Arizona State was about to jump in the big time and be a player for the Playoff. Well that didn’t happen. Vegas thinks that there is more regression in store for the Sun Devils. In an interesting schedule, they host Texas Tech on Sep 10, then travel to UTSA on Sep 16 for a Friday night game. Can you say letdown game? Overall there are 6 road games on the schedule and having that much time away from home is never a good thing. They also finish the season with the last 2 on the road against Washington and Arizona and that could seal the deal on a subpar season. Best case scenario: 7 regular season wins. Worst case: struggling to a 4-8 season.

California

Last season: 8-5 (Defeated Air Force in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 4

Anytime you lose the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft, and that guy is the QB you can expect regression. Vegas agrees. Last season they did exceed expectations, can they do that again? If they find a new field general to direct the offense they might can stabilize the ship. The good news is the toughest road game all year will be a Thursday night game at the Coliseum on Oct 27. There are a lot of questions but maybe they can exceed expectations again. Best case: Making it back into bowl season. Worst case: hitting the 4 win prediction.

Colorado

Last season: 4-9

Vegas over/under win prediction: 4.5

They almost got to the 5 win best case scenario we outlined. Perhaps a few plays here and there and they could have gotten a huge upset over UCLA. They scrap the 13 game schedule and only have 3 non conference games this season. Starting off against Colorado State is the game that divides family and friends. Back to back road games at Michigan on Sep 17 and Oregon on Sep 24 will be very tough. Then 2 weeks later they travel to USC on Oct 8. 2 more weeks later on Oct 22 they travel to Stanford. Does returning to the Big 12 seem like a nice idea? Best case scenario: exceeding Vegas prediction. Worst case: seeing no progress and going 2-10.

Oregon

Last season: 9-4 (Defeated by TCU in the Valero Alamo Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 8

It took a little while, but Oregon finally got it cooking on all cylinders. We did see the erosion from Chip Kelly leaving, as the Ducks could only manage the Alamo Bowl. They run to the FCS ranks again for a QB. For some reason Oregon is having issues getting a good QB by recruiting. Something is wrong in Eugene. Oregon has 6 road games this season. Starting with a trip to Nebraska Sep 17. There is also a Friday night roadie at Cal on Oct 21. They finish with 3 of 4 on the road: at USC Nov 5; at Utah the 19th; and at Oregon State in the Civil War the 26th. The Ducks have their work cut out for them. Best case: returning to the Alamo Bowl. Worst case: going 6-6.

Oregon State

Last season: 2-10

Vegas over/under win prediction: 3.5

Oregon State had a very bad season. We stated the worst case scenario would be going 3-9 and they were worse than that. They are on a 9 game losing streak. I stated last season that Gary Anderson would right this ship in the not-so-distant future and I still believe in that. They start off at Minnesota and get Boise State at home in the non conference. The conference schedule is difficult with Washington (Oct 22); Stanford (Nov 5); and UCLA (Nov 12) all coming on the road. You have to tear it all the way down before you can build it back up and it seems that the Beavers are in the tearing it down phase still. Best case: exceeding 4 wins. Worst case: only beating Idaho State on Sep 17 and finishing 1-11.

Stanford

Last season: 12-2 (Defeated Iowa in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 8.5

After losing at Northwestern, the Cardinal only lost one more game all season. They got in the New Year’s 6 like we thought the best case scenario would be and won the Rose Bowl. Is it safe to say Stanford is now the Pac 12’s most consistent team? Feel free to argue. They have Heisman favorite Christian McCaffrey still and I expect him to light the world on fire just like he did a year ago. Stanford has 6 games on the road and like we have documented many times, that is not a good thing. Especially when they are: at UCLA (Sep 24); at Washington (Sep 30)-yes Friday night; at Notre Dame (Oct 15); at Arizona (Oct 29); at Oregon (Nov 12); and at Cal (Nov 19). Oh and by the way, they start off by facing Kansas State and USC to open the season at home. Maybe the toughest schedule in the country. Best case: repeating their Rose Bowl appearance. Worst case: regression to a 6 win year.

UCLA

Last season: 8-5 (Defeated by Nebraska in the Foster Farms Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 8.5

It was disappointing to watch UCLA, they did have injuries but they didn’t play with the toughness that they showed 2 years ago. We thought the worst case would be a New Year’s 6 bowl. It was worse than that. They lost to a sub .500 team in a bowl. That is embarrassing, no way around that. They, like so many others in the conference, have 6 road games. Two in the non conference: at Texas A&M and BYU Sep 3 & 17. The good news is the remaining 4 roadies are with Arizona State, Washington State, Colorado, and Cal and those four are predicted to combine for only 20 wins on the season. UCLA could find itself winning the Pac 12 south with a chance to host the Rose Bowl. Best case: hosting the Rose Bowl. Worst case: making it back to the Foster Farms Bowl against a bad Big 10 team.

USC

Last season: 8-6 (Defeated by Wisconsin in the National Funding Holiday Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5

They lost 3 of 4 to finish the season but maybe they finally have some stability on the sidelines. We outlined another Holiday Bowl appearance in our worst case scenario. USC still has all the talent you could ask for and if they can put it all together they could have a really successful season. In a matchup we all would have loved as a national championship game for the last decade, USC faces off with defending champ Alabama as Lane Kiffin faces his old employer. If USC is back then this might be one of the games of the entire season. They have 4 of the toughest road games of anyone with 2 back to backs: at Stanford and Utah Sep 17 and 23; and at Washington and UCLA on Nov 12 and 19. They finish with Notre Dame at the end and if the Trojans can somehow be in position to make noise for the Playoff then that becomes a play-in game. Best case: Getting to 10+ wins. Worst case: another Holiday Bowl appearance.

Utah

Last season: 10-3 (Defeated BYU in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5

Back to back Las Vegas Bowl wins, we stated that was the best case scenario. But it had to feel like an opportunity was lost. Utah made it to #1 in my poll weeks 6-8 because quite frankly they were the best team in America I felt for a 3 week stretch. They started 6-0 but a two game losing streak to Arizona and UCLA doomed what could have been. This season guess what, they have 6 road games. Someone should really do a better job of getting home games in this conference. If Travis Wilson can stay healthy all year they may have a chance of exceeding Vegas’ win prediction. Best case: defending their Las Vegas Bowl title. Worst case: not making it to the postseason.

Washington

Last season: 7-6 (Defeated Southern Miss in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 9

Spoiler alert: This is the Pac 12 favorite. I will get that out right away. Chris Peterson knows what he is doing and the last 3 games they won by a combined score of 141-48. I think this the year Washington makes it to the national scene. They start out with 3 unimpressive non conference games, Rutgers is the best team they face. I think the Friday night game when they host Stanford on Sep 30. Such an early date in the season to decide a conference but I believe that this is how it will be. The last date is a road game against an up and coming Washington State program on Friday Nov 25. Two Fridays will decide the Pac 12 North. Best case: College Football Playoff. Worst case: Rose Bowl.

Washington State

Last season: 9-4 (Defeated Miami in the Hyundai Sun Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7.5

The Cougars got back in the bowl picture last season in a big way. They were even a game against Stanford away from leading the Pac 12 North. We stated the best case scenario was the Sun Bowl and Washington State not only went, they won that bowl. This season expectations are higher and now they must play as the hunted not the hunter. Learning how to cope with this new identity will be huge to their success. An early test at Boise State on Sep 10 will let us know if they are ready for the big stage. The other 2 key games are at Stanford on Oct 8 and hosting Washington on Friday Nov 25. They have a chance to get to the Rose Bowl if things break their way. Best case: New Year’s 6. Worst case: no improvement and back in the Sun Bowl.

Last season we stated the battle of LA would decide the conference and Stanford ended up as the Champ. This season we think the Apple Cup will decide the conference and UCLA and Stanford also should have some attention shown to them. Overall I think Washington has a chance to win the National Championship.

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#Big12 Football Best/Worse 2016

Will they or won’t they? That seems to be the question on everyone’s mind regarding expansion with the conference. Who can they lure back, or lure in that would be new? Those will have to be answered after March Madness at the earliest more than likely. On the gridiron they got a representative in the College Football Playoff after being shut out the previous go around. Oklahoma got by a really bad loss to Texas, even though absolutely anything can and will happen in the Red River Rivalry, to win out and make it to the Final Four (happened in both Football and Basketball, chew on that when discussing school supremacy). This year will they get someone in? If so who would it be? Last season the best defense in the conference was played by a monsoon in Ft. Worth on a late night in November. It will take more than just an explosive offense to advance into a National Title Game this season I believe. We are going to go team by team projecting a best and worst case scenario and along the way we’ll see if any of our scenarios from last season came true. We are not going to project which bowl which team might end up in.

Baylor

Last season: 10-3 (Defeated North Carolina in the Russell Athletic Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 9.5

We thought the worst case scenario might be the Alamo Bowl last season and they slipped to the Russell Athletic Bowl. They did win it, but since that night nothing has went right for this program and the entire institution for that matter. Gone is Head Coach Briles, as well as basically the entire administration. They are losing recruits left and right, poised to return to being a doormat. We have seen how bad things can get by replacing a coach in the spring, just ask Arkansas fans how the John L. Smith era was. There is still probably enough talent to work with, but the distraction that has taken place in Waco is nothing short of insane. Best case scenario: returning to as good of a bowl as last season. Worst case: not making a bowl, perhaps even a bad 3 win season.

Iowa State

Last season: 3-9

Vegas over/under win prediction: 3.5

It was another ugly season for the Cyclones. We stated the best case scenario was getting 3 wins, wow. Another new Head Coach as Paul Rhoads has taken over the secondary for Arkansas (two Hog references in the same Big 12 article, what am I insinuating?). The good news is Kansas will always be on the schedule, the bad news is that is a road game this season on November 12. Worse yet it is after Iowa State hosts Oklahoma, who may pour it on. Best case scenario: avoiding 2-3 wins. Worst case scenario: going winless (it could very well happen don’t laugh at that)

Kansas

Last season: 0-12

Vegas over/under win prediction: 1.5

The closest thing to a victory last season was a 3 point loss to South Dakota State. Iowa State dumptrucked them by 25! We stated that the best case scenario was beating anyone on their schedule and this season it looks like we are in the same exact boat. Other than Iowa State at home I have no idea where a win could even be fathomed. Kansas is on a 15 game losing streak going to back to 2014. Maybe they could have used some of Perry Ellis’ 23 years of eligibility and place him at tight end. Best case scenario: Beating anyone on their schedule. Worst case: continuing the losing streak to 27 games.

Kansas State

Last season: 6-7 (Defeated by Arkansas in the Autozone Liberty Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 5.5

We stated that the worst case scenario would be to barely make it to bowl eligibility. Kansas State won 3, lost 6, won 3 in a row to barely make it to the Liberty Bowl against Arkansas (third time is a charm, fire up the Hogs making the Big 12 the Southwest Conference again). This season they start on the farm against Stanford to open the season. That should be a good game to watch, unless Christian McCaffrey decides the Heisman is his to lose from the outset. They only have 3 tough road games after that: at West Virginia Oct 1; at Oklahoma Oct 15; and at TCU Dec 3. Other than that all the games should be toss/up games they will have a chance in. Best case: getting to an 8-4 record and a better bowl than the Liberty. Worst case: not reaching the Vegas over/under

Oklahoma

Last season: 11-2 (Defeated by Clemson in the Capital One Orange Bowl-College Football Playoff Semifinal)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 10

The last two seasons have witnessed Oklahoma getting bested by Clemson to finish the season. That is not a thing to be ashamed about, Clemson has turned into one of the best programs in the country. Oklahoma has been one of the very best programs in all of the times you can consider. We thought the best case was a New Year’s 6 and they surpassed that expectation. They still are probably the most talented team in the entire conference and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them in the playoff again. But they will have to get by 2 very tough non conference games against Houston (Sep 3) and Ohio State (Sep 17). Can they get both? Best case: College Football Playoff. Worst Case: a 9 win season.

Oklahoma State

Last season: 10-3 (Defeated by Ole Miss in the All State Sugar Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 8.5

We did not think the Pokes could be in the New Year’s 6, best case was the Alamo Bowl for us. They started 10-0 but could not keep that momentum. I think they could easily start the season 10-0 again. The toughest non conference game will be Pitt on Sep 17, they finish with 3 of the last 4 on the road: at Kansas State (Nov 5); at TCU (Nov 19); and Bedlam is in Norman this season on Dec 3. I think that both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State could be 11-0 for that game and what a scene that would be. That would be a defacto play-in game for the Playoff and winner take all. I can see Fowler and Herbstreit or Gus Johnson (depending on who else is highly ranked) and College GameDay there. Best case scenario: College Football Playoff. Worst case scenario: New Year’s 6.

Texas

Last season: 5-7

Vegas over/under win prediction: 6.5

They did not even make our worst case scenario of being in a bowl. But Texas showed signs of life in close losses to Texas Tech and Baylor in the last 2 games of the season. They get the Fighting Irish at home to open, and challenge themselves with a trip to Cal on Sep 17. Following the Cal game, they go to Stillwater on Oct 1. Bad news is the Red River Rivalry is the next week on Oct 8. If they can get some build on some late season signs of life and learn how to finish off games then Texas might be back on the right track. I believe that Coach Strong will eventually get there. Best case: making a bowl game. Worst case: regression to a 4-5 win season.

TCU

Last season: 11-2 (Defeated Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 8

Might be a slightly off year for the Frogs. I thought they would run the table and win the national championship last season. They were my pick to beat USC, one thing about predictions is they are fun to imagine. This season I am not setting such lofty expectations, even though this is a fine football factory. After a visit from Kansas-killer South Dakota State, TCU hosts Arkansas (4th Razorback entry in a Southwest Conference… I mean Big 12 article). This will tell us alot about both schools I believe. The next test is a home game with Oklahoma on Oct 1. The last tough one is a home affair with Oklahoma State on Nov 19. Best case: returning to the Alamo Bowl. Worst case: just making a bowl.

Texas Tech

Last season: 7-6 (Defeated by LSU in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 7

I think Texas Tech got the most pub all season after Coach Kingsbury stated that Arkansas Coach Bielema (another Razorback entry in a Southwest Conference article) “got his ass kicked”. We thought that getting to a bowl was the best case scenario. After watching Patrick Mahomes II light up scoreboards last season I think Texas Tech might be in for a fun season. The good news is there are only 3 really tough looking road games: at Arizona State (Sep 10); at TCU (Oct 29); and at Oklahoma State (Nov 12). If they can learn how to knock passes down at the goal line, then I think Texas Tech can get to 9 victories or beyond. Best case scenario: New Year’s 6. Worst case scenario: a repeat 7-5 regular season.

West Virginia

Last season: 8-5 (Defeated Arizona State in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl)

Vegas over/under win prediction: 6.5

We stated that the worst case scenario would be the Cactus Bowl. Well I guess winning it makes it sting a little less? The 4 game losing streak in the middle of the season damned it and although the weaklings of the conference fell to the Mountaineers, they have yet to take a step into the elite status. This season the schedule shapes up very nicely. There are only 4 true road games. At Texas Tech (Oct 15); at Oklahoma State (Oct 29); at Texas (Nov 12); and at Iowa State (Nov 26). Getting everyone else to make that long trip to Morgantown will help West Virginia I feel. Best case scenario: New Year’s 6. Worst case scenario: back in the Cactus Bowl.

Even though we think West Virginia and Texas Tech have a shot at being a lot better than Vegas thinks they could be, this conference will be decided in Bedlam. I can’t think of a better way to decide it either.

 

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