Well that was fast.
For college football fans, it seems like it takes years to get from the National Championship game in early January to opening weekend in early September. The long, football-less wait is a dark time, and that time frame allows fans of even the most consistently heartbreaking teams to convince themselves “this is our year”.
It feels like just two weeks ago that I woke up at 6:30 am on Saturday morning to prepare for the Boston College opening game that was televised from Dublin, and it feels like two days ago that I watched BC get their heart ripped out and eaten by the Virginia Tech Hokies. But alas, the halfway point of the college football season is upon us.
I want to take this time to review where BC is, and what the national landscape looks like going forward.
Boston College has played six out of its twelve games thus far, and sits at a worse than expected 3-3. Personally, I predicted for the Eagles to be 4-2 so I wasn’t wildly far off; however, I did not think that the losses to Clemson and VT would be nearly as ugly as they were.
BC needs to win three out of its next six games in order to be eligible for a bowl game going forward, something that every fan expected to do this year and that should be accomplished practically every season. The Eagles are (shockingly) favorites against Syracuse this Saturday, and against UConn in November. Personally, I had predicted BC to beat those two in addition to upcoming NC State and Wake Forest.
Looking at the Eagles now, I think there is still hope to make a bowl. This Saturday’s clash with Syracuse will be the deciding force behind that possibility though, and is probably one of the more important October games that BC has played in recent memory. A loss will be yet another failure to capture an elusive ACC win, but will also all but guarantee that the Eagles will be sitting home come bowl season. If BC can’t make a bowl, Addazio is all but assuredly fired.
The Orange haven’t been a great team by any means recently, but they did have a convincing win over the 17th ranked Hokies last weekend. That same team absolutely routed the Eagles in the second week of the season. I think BC will show up to play this week, and I predict a nail-biter that sees the Eagles squeaking out a win. Finally, I do think that BC will close out at 6-6 to make a bowl…but I would still love to see Addazio fired, but that’s a rant for another time.
Now let’s take a look around the country.
Most Disappointing Team:
One answer here is more obvious than any others, and that’s the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Irish started the year ranked 10th in the AP Preseason Poll, but are now an abysmal 2-5 and are in serious danger of missing a bowl. The Irish have lost to a mediocre Texas team, a heavy underdog in Duke (Irish played this at home), a bad Michigan State team (another home loss), an ok Stanford (home again), and a relatively unknown, but probably above average, NC State team.
Fans in South Bend are upset with head coach Brian Kelly, and many wanting him fired at the end of the season for mismanaging the talent on this team. Expectations are always high at ND, and Kelly has often met or exceeded them, but this season is showing Kelly’s fatal flaws. I have a feeling he will be back though, that 2012 undefeated regular season carries a lot of weight.
Michigan State, who started the season 12th and now will likely not make a bowl game, gets honorable mention.
The LSU Tigers (preseason #5, 4-2 record) are also receiving Honorable Mention. Les Miles has already been fired as the head coach, and the #25 team in the land still has five games remaining against ranked teams.
Surprisingly Good Teams:
There are four teams here that I want to mention: Louisville, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.
Only Louisville started the season ranked, at 19th, but now all four of these teams sit inside the top 12. But the team that has overachieved the most still has to be Louisville.
The Louisville Cardinals sit at #7 in the current rankings, their only loss coming to #4 Clemson in an absolute classic in Death Valley. The Cardinals destroyed a highly ranked Florida State (who still sits in the top 13), and have been dismantling lesser opponents throughout the season. A strong showing against #11 Houston and some luck could catapult Louisville into the playoffs, but that’s still unlikely.
The Wisconsin Badgers are one of the most lovable teams in college football right now. After shocking #5 LSU in Lambeau Field on opening day, the previously unranked Badgers started to garner a lot of national attention. They currently are ranked #10, despite having two losses. They lost one score games to #2 Ohio State (in overtime), and to #3 Michigan (in The Big House). The Badgers don’t even control their own destiny in their division, but will likely be favored against #9 Nebraska when that game occurs.
West Virginia has yet to play their best opponents, and the Big 12 looks weak, and Texas A&M has an impressive victory over Tennessee in double overtime, but still faces off against Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss.
In all seriousness, the Heisman is one man’s to lose at this point: Lamar Jackson.
Louisville’s quarterback has 1800 yards and 15 touchdown passes, with just 4 interceptions at the halfway point of the season. But more impressive are Jackson’s 15 rushing touchdowns and 832 yards on the ground. He is fifth in the country in total rushing yards, a mind-blowing accomplishment from a QB. Jackson has been a one-man wrecking crew for the seemingly unstoppable Cardinal offense.
Last season at this point, I was certain Leonard Fournette would win the Heisman…and I was wrong. So it’s fair for me to say who the other possible contenders are too.
I would say Ohio State’s quarterback J.T. Barrett is number two right now on the Heisman watch list, followed closely by Washington’s Jake Browning. Browning’s numbers are spectacular (23 touchdowns, 72% passer rating, only 2 interceptions), but the signal caller doesn’t get quite as much media coverage. That will change as the season progresses though, and Browning is my sleeper pick to win it if Jackson doesn’t.
Michigan’s “Mr. Do-Everything” Jabrill Peppers and Clemson’s QB Deshaun Watson should be finalists as well.
New Years Six Predictions:
I’m just going to throw out my predictions for the major bowl games here.
Orange Bowl (ACC tie-in): Louisville vs. Tennessee
Cotton Bowl (no tie-in’s): Boise State vs. Wisconsin
Sugar Bowl (SEC and Big 12 tie-in): Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M
Rose Bowl (Big 12 and Pac 12 tie-in): Ohio State vs. Washington State
Fiesta Bowl (#2 vs. #3 semi-final): Michigan vs. Clemson
Peach Bowl (#1 vs. #4 semi-final): Alabama vs. Washington
Bonus: National Championship: Alabama over Michigan