Bowl Watching

Like so many others, we watch a lot of college football around New Year’s.  This year, our very own Fighting Illini were in the party again, making it to one of those also-ran Bowls:  The Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl.  Illinois lost 35-18 and probably should have won – though you wouldn’t know it by the score.

With all these bowl games, especially in light of the inaugural 4-team playoff, the sports talkers have been discussing bowl viability, money, TV contracts, etc., and as we sit here watching Oregon pound Florida State, we have some thoughts as well.

If you’re among those who think that the major conference re-shuffling and re-jiggering is horrible, look no further than the now-departed BCS system.  Between the BCS contract and the guaranteed conference contracts to various bowls, the Big 10, Pac 12, SEC, and ACC had ample motivation to expand.  More money.  More prestige.  More TV markets.  Now that we’ve finally entered the playoff era, there’s a chance the system could correct itself over time.

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Bowl Playoffs 2013

The lesser bowls have come and gone, and with New Years upon us, it’s time to revisit our annual notional 16-team Bowl Playoff Championship for college football.  Although we will soon see a limited four-team playoff, this FCS-style tourney is still a decade or two away.  Check the bracket…

NCAA BPC 2013

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Here’s how it works:

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Bowl Playoffs 2012

It’s that bowling time of year, and so we dismiss the BCS National Championship in lieu of a superior 16 team playoff scenario that everyone would like to see, the Beemsville Bowl Playoff Championship (BPC; TM still pending).  It’s our third annual BPC, so check out the 2011 and 2010 versions for fun.  Here’s how it works…

  • Six automatic BCS conference qualifiers, The champions  from the six current BCS conferences:  SEC – Alabama, Pac 12 – Stanford, Big 10 – Wisconsin (groan), Big 12 – Kansas State, ACC – Florida State, and Big East (double groan) – Louisville.
  • Two at-large conference qualifiers, the champions of the next two highest rated conferences.  This year that’s the MAC – Northern Illinois(!), and the WAC -Utah State.  This changes every year.  Last year we had Conference USA and the Mountain West in here.
  • Eight at-large teams, selected from the remaining highest rated teams using the BCS formula.  No limits on the number of entries from a conference, and this year the SEC dominates with five.  At-large teams are: Notre Dame, Florida, Oregon, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina, and Oklahoma.
  • Teams are seeded according to BCS formula. #1 to #16 based on relative ranking.  Higher seeds host the first round; highest surviving seeds then host the second round.  Bye week after the second round.
  • Semi-finals and the final rotate between the four BCS bowl sites. Jan. 1 is your semi-final date.  This year the Orange Bowl gets the championship on Jan. 12.

NCAA BPC 2012

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Bowl Playoffs 2011

The fail of college football having provided us with an intra-conference rematch for the so-called BCS National Championship, it’s time again to dust off the ol’ playoff scenario.  Yes, it’s the Beemsville Bowl Playoff Championship (BPC; TM pending).  Our playoff system is a 16 team affair, with the semi-final and final at neutral bowl sites.   Here’s the setup…

  • Six automatic conference qualifiers, your champions  from the six current BCS conferences.  That would be SEC – LSU, Pac 10 – Oregon, Big 10 – Wisconsin, Big 12 – Oklahoma State, ACC – Clemson, and Big East (cough, cough) – West Virginia.
  • Two at-large conference qualifiers, the champions of the next two highest rated conferences.  This year that’s the Mountain West – TCU, and Conference USA – Southern Miss.  Some years you might get a  WAC or MAC team in here.
  • Eight at-large teams, selected from the remaining highest rated teams using the BCS formula.  No limits on the number of entries from a conference.  This year your at-large teams are: Alabama, Stanford, Arkansas, Boise State, Kansas State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Baylor.
  • Teams are seeded according to BCS formula. #1 to #16 based on relative ranking.  Higher seeds host the first round; highest surviving seeds then host the second round.  Bye week over Christmas.
  • Semi-finals and the final rotate between the four BCS bowl sites. Jan. 1 is your semi-final date.  This year the Sugar Bowl gets the championship on Jan. 10.

Have a look at this year’s match-ups (click on the image to view larger):

Some clear winners and losers here and a lot of interesting match-ups.  Think about the sponsorship money this might demand…  Would an equitable split of all that money acquired by the NCAA for this playoff help other schools with their non-revenue sports?  You bet…

Take note, Mr. AD

The Zooker

Illini fans cursing the television Saturday, while Illinois shuffled to another lethargic loss at Purdue, saw a familiar theme of the last decade or so.  It was the inexplicable letdown, the inconsistency, the ability to lose when you should win.  No one would blame said fans for typing a quick email to new Athletic Director, Mike Thomas:  This is why you can’t get a sellout.  This is what you’re up against.  Do something about it.

We’re not going to recount and analyze the game versus Purdue, because it was depressingly similar to the OSU game.  Lack of urgency, defense off-balance, poor scheme and play-calling by the offense (Note to Petrino:  there’s this play called a screen pass – use it), and horrible special teams.  And about those special teams – coming into this game, the Illini were 119th of 120 teams in kickoff returns, 112th in punt returns and 107th in net punting.  Who personally coaches the special teams?  You guessed it, Ron Zook.   Continue reading

Pentagram: Loss #1

Illiniois’ 17-7 loss to Ohio State was the first of the year, but with schedule shifting towards the perilous and the team continuing to make the same kinds of mistakes, it surely won’t be the last.  This game was there for the taking.  The Buckeyes weren’t very good, completing a single pass on the day (albeit for a touchdown), but the Illini were worse.  Coach Luke Fickell seemed to be following the script of earlier foes: play it close and vanilla and wait for Illinois to screw up.  Which is just what happened.

Across the street, Bruce Weber’s basketball team opened practice before the game with an open scrimmage.  Expectations are low to middling, with lots of new players, a transfer point guard who has health issues (Sam Maniscalco), and a highly athletic but inexperience center in Myers Leonard.  Swingman Brandon Paul figures to be the go-to guy on offense, but the team will stress defense first and attempt to ratchet up the pressure.  Hey – they should be an interesting group to watch.  The schedule is soft, and if they can win some close games they could be OK; if not, Bruce already has his excuses ready to go.

Back to the football team.  Five points in your pentagram loss… Continue reading

Unzooker, then Roll

Jenkins

In a flip of the standard script, the Fighting Illini are 6-0 after last weekend’s victory over Indiana, while Ohio State is 3-3 and just completed a disheartening 2nd half collapse at Nebraska.  The Buckeyes are reeling right now, with a new inexperienced coach, quarterback problems, and the still looming but unlikely possibility of more NCAA sanctions.  But, as anyone in the Big 10 can tell you, athlete for athlete, they are still at the top of the conference for talent.  I don’t follow the Vegas lines, but if I did I’d keep a close eye on this one.  Illinois might be favored this game, but not in my book.

OSU will welcome the return of running back Dan Herron after the whole bling-for-tattoos scandal that cost Jim Tressel his job and sent Terrell Pryor to the NFL.  They will also be desperate for a win having dropped two in a row.  For them, it seems to come down to whether or not  and how well freshman quarterback Braxton  Miller can play.  The Bucks looked pretty good before he sprained his ankle, and pretty awful after he went down.  OSU will try to control the line of scrimmage and run as much as possible.  They will sit around and wait for the Orange and Blue to make those trademark mistakes… Continue reading