Wednesday, August 31, 2005

ACC/SEC Comparison

The ACC made a major power move two years ago in football and should see the fruits of that move this season. The addition of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College bring the ACC to a level on par with the SEC. Some SEC people would disagree, but let’s take a closer look at top to bottom where the conferences rank against one another. Below is a ranking 1-12 of where each team falls in its conference. Pit 1 vs. 1 at a neutral site. Winners are in bold.

Head to Head

1. LSU -- Virginia Tech
2. Tennessee -- Miami
3. Florida -- FSU
4. Georgia -- Boston College
5. Auburn -- Georgia Tech
6. Alabama -- Virginia
7. Arkansas -- Clemson
8. SC -- NC State
9. Ole Miss -- Maryland
10. Kentucky -- North Carolina
11. Vanderbilt -- Wake Forest
12. Miss. St -- Duke

SEC is very top heavy, as in most years, and would win at least four of the top five matchups. None of these would be easy though. The gap here is very small, but I have to give the edge to the SEC. Once we get in the middle of the pack teams, the pendulum swings way in the ACC’s favor. Teams 6-10 all have good shots of making it to bowl games this season. One of the most lopsided matchups would be North Carolina vs Kentucky. A great basketball matchup, but not so great in football. UNC went to a ball game last year and beat Miami, but they have trouble winning games against the likes of Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Boston College (who beat the Heels in a bowl game last year convincingly).

Let’s look at another interesting scenario. Place the ACC and SEC in a 24 team tournament. Teams are ranked 1-12 in their conference and then play against the counterpart in the other conference based on rank. The higher ranked team is at home. The championship would be played in Atlanta. It would similar to how the SEC Basketball Tournament works now. Number 3 from one division plays number 6 from the other division in the first round.

8.NC State 1.LSU
9.Ole Miss 8.NC State
5.Auburn 4.BC
12.Duke 5.Auburn 5.Auburn 1.LSU

7.Arkansas 2.Miami
10.UNC 7. Arkansas 2.Miami 2.Miami

6.Virginia 3.Florida 3. Florida 1.LSU
11.Vandy 6.Virginia

8.SC 1.VT
9.Maryland 9.Maryland 1.VT 1.LSU

5.GT 4.Georgia 4.Georgia 1.VT
12.Miss St 5.GT
7.Clemson 2.Tennessee
10. KY 7.Clemson 2. UT 2.UT

6.Alabama 3.FSU 3.FSU
11.Wake 6.Alabama

Wow! There would be some great matchups come the third round and even a few really good ones in the second. The ACC would dominate the first round winning both 8 vs 9 matchups. The second round the SEC should have the upper hand due to its powerhouses at the top. BC and Auburn should be the best matchup of the second round with. Auburn would have to travel up to Boston having played the previous week while BC watched. Georgia-Georgia Tech would not be for the faint of heart either. Got to give the edge to UGA playing at home. The third round presents some matchups I am sure a lot of us want to see on a regular basis; Miami-Florida and Tennessee-FSU. Expect the home teams to prevail with Miami squeaking by the Gators. You might not find more speed on a field at one time in college than with LSU and Miami. The Hurricanes may for once actually be overmatched in terms of speed, depth, and size in this one. Virginia Tech and Tennessee presents an interesting game. Some will the champion will have been decided on the other side of the bracket, but Mr. Vick and Mr. Ainge may have something to say about this. Lane Stadium is one the toughest stadiums in the country, but the Vols will prevail thanks to a balanced attack on offense. So LSU and Tennessee meet in the Georgia Dome for the championship. Turns out the SEC proved to be dominant at the top again. LSU wins this one because they must just be the best team in the country this season.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Tis' the season

College Football is so close I can almost hear the band playing. For those who have made it through the somewhat endless month of August, your suffering is almost over. Central Florida and South Carolina kick off the season on Thursday, September 1 with one the many headlines this season; Steve Spurrier's return to college.

Spurrier takes over a Gamecocks program longing to be one of the elite of the SEC. Central Florida was 0-11 last season under George O'Leary, but won't be a pushover for USC East. Any bets on how long into the game the ol' ball coach throw his visor down in disgust? South Carolina will have too much talent for the Golden Knights to overcome and Gamecock fans will be talking national title as they head to Georgia the following week.

Typically the first weekend does not have any games of real interest, but not this year. Three headliner games dominate the southeast with Boise St traveling to Athens, Auburn and Georgia Tech squaring off on the Plains, and a Miami/FSU showdown.

Boise St is 23-1 the last two seasons; the one loss against Louisville (44-40) in last year's Liberty Bowl. That game caught the eye of alot of people who feel the Bronocs can stay with the Bulldogs and possibly pull of a win. Boise has the athletes and the coaching to hang with UGA, but not the size and strengh. A quick look at the depth chart for each team's lines reveals the truth about where these programs stand when it comes being one of the elite. Georgia looks to have a strong running game this season with three tested tailbacks and the entire offensive line returning. With this being an early season game, look for the Broncos to wilt under the heat and humidity between the hedges come the third quarter.

Auburn is riding high off its 13-0 season last year, but may be in for a rude awakening come this Saturday night. Georgia Tech is a team that can play with best on any given day. Everything clicked last season for Auburn and by the end of the year they looked unstoppable. Auburn is looking to replace it's all star backfield of last season along with some key defensive backs. Tech ended last night season on a high note by trouncing Syracuse in the Champs Sports Bowl 51-14. However, spring was a not a new beginning as the Yellow Jackets lost three defensive starters off of last year's team and the season has not even started. But, Tech should have one of the best defenses in the ACC despite these losses. Auburn has more talent, is deeper, and is at home. If Tech cannot run the ball effectively then look for Auburn to win by two touchdowns as Tech's defense will eventually wear down due to limited depth. If Tech is to win this game, they must be able to run the ball and win the turnover battle. If these two things happen then this game could be very close. In a close game you have to go with the best player on the field to make a great play for the win. That player is Tech's WR, Calvin Johnson.

On Monday Night Football (the college version), two of the best programs in the nation will meet in Tallahassee. FSU and Miami will bring NFL type talent to a college audience. The Hurricanes have one six in a row in this series including a come back win in overtime last season 16-10. On paper, this game looks to be dead-even. Both teams are breaking in new starting quarterbacks. Both teams have strong defenses. Both teams have athletes up and down the rosters. Miami has the slight edge at quarterback due to the fact Kyle Wright played some last season. FSU will be starting a redshirt freshman at QB. Either Xavier Lee or Drew Weatherford will get the nod for the Seminoles. Weatherford looks to have the advantage right now, but expect to see Lee on the field shortly after the game starts. Florida State has had to endure its share of off field distractions (what else is new?) and injuires during the off season, but should be favored in this game. Miami is not the same Miami of 2001 and 2002. This may be the year the Seminoles finally get the monkey off their back.

Other musings on the first weekend of play. Ohio State plays host to Miami of Ohio. Why would this game be close? Texas comes calling next week in Columbus. Urban Meyer begins his reign at the University of Florida against a team that is no pushover. Wyoming finished last season on a high note by beating UCLA in their bowl game and SI has rated Wyoming preseason number 25. NC State and Virginia Tech meet in an early ACC tilt that looks to be dominated by two great defenses. Charlie Weis meets Dave Wannstedt as Notre Dame and Pitt clash in Pittsburgh. The Panthers sport one of the best quarterback and wide receiver tandems in the nation in QB Tyler Palko and WR Greg Lee. Defending National Champions USC (sorry Auburn) open at Hawaii. My upset pick of the week is Clemson over Texas A&M. Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst looks to rebound from an awful junior season and regain his form from two seasons ago.

All in all, the opening week looks to be a great one. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the pagentry of college football.