Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 6:20 PM
The election results are in ...But we still are a long ways off in determining who's gonna play in this year's BCS Championship Game.
Okay, so we've now all had a few days to digest the latest numbers and decimal points:
Alabama continues to sit on top of the pack with Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame all in close pursuit but while the talking heads at ESPN and Fox and where-have-you assaults us all with fancy stats and schedule strengths, the fact of the matter is somebody's gonna be either helped or hurt by these end-of-the-season conference championship games and yet only two of the above-named four squads figure to be a part of these tilts.
Remember the Big 12 (see Kansas State) doesn't play a conference championship game these days and, obviously, independent Notre Dame doesn't play one either and wouldn't it be a hoot if 'Bama sat at #1 for the majority of this season and than failed to get into the BCS Championship Game because it lost a close game to Georgia or maybe the scenario will read Oregon gets hurt by an all-too-close Pac-12 Championship Game win against Arizona State.
The two teams mentioned here that won't be part of the conference championship weekend will be aided by not having to play, so get ready for another major BCS controversy, my friends!
Meanwhile, here are the toughest remaining regular-season games for these four teams:
#1 ALABAMA (9-0) - This Saturday's home tilt against two-TD underdog Texas A&M and its star "Johnny Football" (a/k/a Johnny Manziel) could pose some problems for a Crimson Tide defense that really was gassed late in last Saturday's epic come-from-behind 21-17 non-cover win at LSU.
#2 KANSAS STATE (9-0) - Hey, did you know the Wildcats have covered their last six games in a row while heading into Saturday's big tilt at TCU? Okay, so we just "gave away" K-State's toughest remaining regular-season tilt although we don't mean to hurt the feelings of the Texas Longhorns Nation (see Dec. 1st game in Manhattan).
#3 OREGON (9-0) - The Quack Attack is averaging a silly 54.5 points per game in its six conference games this year (stop laughing!) but will this high-powered attack still be clicking on all cylinders when it comes to that season-ending showdown at Oregon State (see Nov. 24th)? Get the buttered popcorn ready for that one, boys!
#4 NOTRE DAME (9-0) - How about the fact the Fighting Irish has surrendered 17 points or less in eight games this year with only last week's wildly entertaining 29-26 triple-OT win against Pittsburgh snapping that low-scoring streak? Hey, Notre Dame figures to flatten host Boston College and roadster Wake Forest in the next two weekends but will Brian Kelly's crew have enough grit to beat USC at the LA Coliseum? Remember it happened two years ago in a much-less-important 20-16 win.
Final BCS note here: The quartet of Alabama, Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame will enter this weekend's action a combined 23-13 ATS (against the spread) for a spiffy .639 winning rate ... thought you might like to know!
NCAA'S THURSDAY NIGHT TV PREVIEW - THE ACC TAKES CENTER STAGE
Now, here's the Thursday Night NCAA Football TV Preview ...
#10 FLORIDA STATE (8-1, 5-1 ACC) at VIRGINIA TECH (4-5, 2-3 ACC) -- 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Check out the Florida State sked, folks. After this football-on-a-school night tilt in Blacksburg, the FSU Seminoles play at short-handed Maryland and than host archrival Florida before likely grabbing up a spot in the ACC Championship Game.
Okay, so a run-the-table approach probably still doesn't get Jimbo Fisher's team in the mix for the BCS Championship Game but consider that if all the unbeatens above 'em fall, than Florida State - with some hefty lopsided wins - could sneak back into the conversation. Just sayin'!
Long shot? Sure. Impossible? Nope.
Here in this tilt look for Florida State QB E.J. Manuel to try and expose V-Tech's lack of speed on defense - note the Hokies have allowed 30-or-more points in three of their last four games as this Frank Beamer Era looks to be coming to an end - while the still-underrated FSU defense (held seven foes to 17 points or less and five of them to 7 points or less) will pressure QB Logan Thomas at every turn and make him jittery on third-down plays.
Here's the last four Florida State vs. Virginia Tech head-to-head matchups (note all home teams in CAPS and these teams did not play one another last year):
|2010||#Virginia Tech||- 4.5||Florida State||Virginia Tech 44-33|
|2008||FLORIDA STATE||- 6.5||Virginia Tech||FLORIDA STATE 30-20|
|2007||VIRGINIA TECH||- 7||Florida State||VIRGINIA TECH 40-21|
|2005||#Virginia Tech||- 14||Florida State||Florida State 27-22|
# = ACC Championship Game
THE NFL THURSDAY NIGHT PREVIEW
INDIANAPOLIS (5-3) at JACKSONVILLE (1-7) -- 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Told y'all back in the summer that the Indianapolis Colts were gonna be a whole lot better than a 5-win team - the Las Vegas folks settled on Indy's win record at 5 ½ -- and here they are not only two games above .500 and with five wins in the bag already, but if the season ended today the Colts would be the AFC's #5 playoff seed and maybe even play old pal Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos ... not wouldn't that be straight from the theatre of the absurd?
But first things first and the Colts - starring a head coach who hasn't coached in weeks in the cancer-stricken Chuck Pagano (his post-game speech following last weekend's 23-20 win against Miami already is a YouTube sensation) and a rookie quarterback in Andrew Luck who should be piling up some MVP votes to go along with the Rookie of the Year - find themselves in the hard-to-believe role of road favorite for this AFC South battle and that could be tricky when you consider the recent head-to-head history of these two teams (see our Jim Sez chart below that includes Jacksonville's 22-17 win in Week 3).
Not only will this be the first time Luck and Company are betting favorites away from Lucas Oil Stadium but it's the first time the Colts will be playing on a "short week" - so stay tuned.
In last week's aforementioned win against the Dolphins, the oft-overlooked Indianapolis defense held Miami to a mere PK Dan Carpenter 31-yard field goal after intermission and remember that Luck (an NFL rookie-record 433 yards passing) didn't throw a single pick in that tilt and was sacked just once.
Note Jacksonville's gonna be without RB Maurice Jones-Drew here for yet another game and so extra heat's on the shoulders of fragile QB Blaine Gabbert who aired two picks and never had a chance in last Sunday's never-in-doubt 31-14 home loss to 6-point fav Detroit.
If Luck's uniform stays clean here, than the Colts will not only get revenge for that earlier-season setback but they may even get permission to start printing playoff tickets in "Nap City" ... now who would have figured on that six months ago?
Spread Notes - Indianapolis is riding a three-game pointspread winning streak while entering this tilt and did you know the Colts are just 5-9 against the odds when playing divisional games since the start of the 2010 season? On the flip side, Jacksonville's split its first eight pointspread verdicts this year and the Jaguars are a neat 5-1-1 ATS in AFC South play since the start of last year.
Here's the last five head-to-head showdowns between the Colts and the Jaguars (note home teams in CAPS below):
|2012||INDIANAPOLIS||- 3||Jacksonville||Jacksonville 22-17|
|2011||Jacksonville||- 3||INDIANAPOLIS||Jacksonville 17-3|
|2011||JACKSONVILLE||- 3||Indianapolis||JACKSONVILLE 19-13|
|2010||Indianapolis||- 7||JACKSONVILLE||JACKSONVILLE 31-28|
|2010||INDIANAPOLIS||- 4.5||Jacksonville||INDIANAPOLIS 34-24|
Hey, let's wrap up this mid-week edition of Jim Sez with some NFL spread streakers:
- Arizona is 0-5-1 ATS in its last six games
- Cincinnati has failed to cover the Las Vegas price tags in each of its last four games (and all were straight-up losses)
- Denver rides a three-game ATS winning streak into Sunday's game in Carolina
- Don't look now but Detroit's covered its last four games in a row
- Kansas City has slogged through a three-game spread losing skein since mid-October
- Minnesota is a dismal 0-3-1 vig-wise in its last four games
- Philadelphia now has flopped spreadwise in its last three games in a row
- And Pittsburgh is a proud owner of a three-game spread winning streak at this current time.
NOTE: It's time to update our Heisman Trophy Watch list in the next edition of Jim Sez plus get more NCAA Football News/Notes.