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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES - NOV. 29

By Joe Nelson
Posted 11/30/2010 at 12:52 PM

We were so close to chaos in the BCS standings last week but everything looks like it will settle pretty nicely with no team really in position to make a major gripe about being left out of a BCS bowl. Teams like Stanford and Wisconsin could have been left out in some scenarios and with both TCU and Boise State in the mix there was a chance only one would make the cut despite the near identical ratings. If Auburn or Oregon loses this week things can change but it is also possible that the match-up would still hold if the voters fail to bump up TCU. Michigan State will most likely be left out of the picture despite just one loss and a share of the Big Ten championship but week after week the Spartans were unimpressive down the stretch and the blowout loss to Iowa is looking far worse at this point in the season.

 

There will still be drama on the final weekend with Connecticut in the driverís seat for the Big East title despite four losses on the season. The losses came to Michigan, Temple, Rutgers, and Louisville yet the Huskies could be in the Orange or Fiesta Bowl. TCU will join the Big East in 2012 to give a little more credibility to the league but when a Big Ten champion is left out of the BCS field as well as several quality teams in the SEC and Big XII there are some problems. The ACC has been the forgotten conference this season but the two most talented teams will meet in the championship and while the conference has been very mediocre overall the champion will likely get a favorable match-up in the Orange Bowl. In the latest Sagarin ratings the Pac-10 is rated as the strongest conference in the nation but only three teams in the league are bowl eligible. A reason why the Pac-10 rates so well is that each team plays nine conference games, boosting the strength of schedule across the board while most SEC and Big XII teams fill their schedules with FCS foes and Sun Belt teams and the Big Ten takes a heavy dose of the MAC in non-conference play.

 

The NFL schedule may have misfired on the marquee match-ups last week but this week Sunday night and Monday night will feature must-see TV with two incredible AFC match-ups. The Steelers and the Ravens face off Sunday night in a battle between two 8-3 teams on top of the AFC North and the Jets and the Patriots match-up Monday night, both sharing the AFC East lead at 9-2. The shift to late season divisional match-ups could play out well for the NFL this year with every division race very tight at the moment with only five weeks to play. There is currently a tie in five divisions and every other race in within a game. Surprise rising and falling teams happen every year in the NFL but it is still hard to see coming. If the playoffs started today these well regarded teams would be out: Green Bay, Indianapolis, and San Diego, three of the most common Super Bowl picks at the outset of the season. St. Louis, Jacksonville, and Kansas City would win divisions if the playoffs started this week. Underdogs got back on track last week after a big favorite week two weeks ago. This week there will be at least seven games with spreads of six or higher, a rarity in what has been a parity driven league.

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