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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES - NOV. 14

By Joe Nelson
Posted 11/14/2011 at 06:14 PM

Two more undefeated teams went down last week with Stanford getting erased and Boise State’s dreams shattered in a wild finish. Everything is lining up cleanly for a LSU vs. Oklahoma State championship game and a clean resolution in the BCS system but both teams have significant hurdles to pass. It is just as likely that we will have a messy situation with great debate over which one-loss team would deserve the next shot. Many want to see an Alabama/LSU rematch and the computer ratings could support that camp but it would be problematic if Alabama would beat LSU in the title game. Both teams would have just one loss to eachother but LSU won at Alabama while Alabama wins in a neutral site. With LSU’s more impressive non-conference resume including the big win over Oregon, isn’t LSU still the better team? The computer ratings would certainly say so though the votes wouldn’t.         

 

An Oregon/LSU rematch could gain some steam as well but the Ducks have a very tough follow-up game with USC this week. The Pac-12 title game is not looking likely to be a significant challenge but it may be tough for the Ducks to climb to the top. Oklahoma may be the best one-loss team in the country and they will gain a lot of support should they knock off Oklahoma State, with the late timing greatly helping the cause. Can voters really overlook the ugly loss to Texas Tech at home however? It is a loss that keeps on ‘giving’ as Texas Tech has lost its last three games by combined score of 159-33, taking points off Oklahoma’s ratings each week. The Clemson/Virginia Tech winner in the likely ACC championship match-up could also end up a bit higher than most expect as both have slowly climbed into the picture. A lot of help will be needed for either team to get a shot but this year the ACC champion will look much more formidable than in most recent seasons. Houston has no shot at the title game but the Cougars will go to a BCS bowl game if they win out. They will face three difficult games ahead which will boost the ratings and with Boise State out of the picture the Cougars should be rated high enough to qualify. With Houston in the mix and a lame duck Big East winner in the mix we are assured to have two dud BCS bowl game match-ups.

               

In college football last week incredibly four games were decided by exactly one-point. The most notable was TCU’s big win over Boise State, going for the win with a 2-point conversion and holding on as Boise State lost with a missed kick for the second straight season after notable late misses against Nevada last year.

               

The AFC looked quite jumbled last week but it now looks like Houston and New England will be the top seeds in the conference. Both teams have favorable remaining schedules and it seems likely there will be more losses as Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Cincinnati battle out in the AFC North. Wild cards have had a great track record in recent years and the first wild card spot will be a coveted spot as facing the AFC West champion will not be an overly difficult match-up, though we of course said the same thing about the NFC West last year with the Saints ‘lucking out’ by getting to play at Seattle.

               

Chicago has asserted themselves in the NFC race and with a tiebreaker advantage over Atlanta and Tampa Bay as well as evening the series with the Lions the Bears should be in prime wild card position. Even with ugly performances of late Detroit also holds a key tiebreaker edge over Dallas. The Lions still have to play Green Bay twice however so this is a team that could fall back in the race eventually. Detroit gets to play Green Bay in week 17 so they could benefit from a resting Packers squad and if either Detroit or Chicago scores one win over the Packers they will likely own the tiebreaker in the wild card race which could prove to be an extremely critical thing. The team that may be in the most trouble is the Giants as Dallas has a much more favorable schedule ahead even though New York has looked like a high quality team. The Giants and Cowboys still have to play twice so the division will be settled in those games. Best of luck, on to this week’s slate…

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