Friday, December 10, 2004

I-AA Semifinal Predictions

I Looked It Up
Apparently, there is no law to prevent me from picking the remaining three I-AA playoff games. So, I'll be doing that right now.

James Madison at William & Mary. The Dukes have done it all year with defense and special teams play - evidenced by their blocked FG and extra point being the difference at Furman. William & Mary were getting stomped last week until Delaware inexplicably went away from their rushing game, and gave up 21 points in the 4th quarter to tie and eventually lose to the Tribe.

I don't think the Dukes make the same mistake as the Hens. The Dukes have played with a chip on their shoulders through this whole playoff season, and all that stands in their way to Chattanooga is the matter of revenge against the Tribe (to whom they lost a heartbreaker at home, 27-24, in early November).

Think Giants/Bills, 1990 Super Bowl. JMU 20, W&M 19.

Sam Houston St. at Montana. Sam Houston St. could have the most powerful offense in I-AA, with I-AA superstar Dustin Long. They porved they were no fluke after coming back from a 20 point deficit to upset Eastern Washington at home, 35-34. Montana, on the other hand, has steamrolled past Northwestern St. and New Hampshire in the least competitive games of the postseason. Everything to me points to a shootout.

The problem is, who does this benefit? Montana QB Ochs has been great, but he needs a balanced attack to be effective. Bearkat QB Long has simply shredded every secondary he's faced this year (including Montana's earlier in the year).

This game will come down to how the Montana secondary reacts to their second go-around against the Bearkats. And I think they will find a way to get it done in an absolute thriller. Montana 45, SHS 44.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Playoff Results

A Game-Picking Monkey
This is only one of the people who picked better than me this weekend. Fortunately for me, almost everyone else also only got one game right as well. A quick recap

The One Game I Got Really Right
James Madison/Furman. I hesitate to put my quote here that makes me look like a genius, but I'll do it anyway. "I see a hard-fought defensive battle, coming down to a big kick return or a big turnover. Furman will be the victim, and JMU will shock the Paladins." That turnover was a blocked FG that lead to the winning TD, and I'll gladly take the win.

The Game Which I Should Have Got Right
William & Mary/Delaware. To be fair, I thought this would be a really close game, and it was a thriller. I thought I had the game in the bag with a 21 point lead in the 4th quarter... but then Delaware unravelled like Kevin Brown in Game 7 of the ALCS. First was QB Sonny Riccio's huge mistake which led to a Tribe TD. Then, they let the Tribe's QB Lang Campbell put on a passing clinic to score 2 TDs to tie the game. Then, a second overtime where W&M's kicker misses the extra point, and the powerful Delaware offense getting the ball. Great! Just run the ball off tackle... Um.. All of a sudden it's 4th and 10 and... another "I win" goes to the loss column.

The Games Which I Would Like To Forget I Picked
Sam Houston St./Eastern Washington. Another game where I had a 20 point lead and lost the game (on a missed extra point no less). I've learned that in the I-AA playoffs, no 21 point lead is safe. Here's your funny quote: "Until a Southland team proves to me they can win a big cold-weather game, I'm not a believer. The Eagles in the biggest margin of victory in the first round." Um, yeah, right. Of course, I did look like a genius until the Eagles' epic 20 point collapse. Not as bad as Delaware's collapse, but bad nonetheless. Call it Roger Clemens, 7th inning, NLCS, Astros/Cardinals.

Montana/New Hampshire. The quote says it all: "The fact is that even without Ball the Wildcats are a better team than Montana, and they will prove it once again here." Emphasis added. Boy, I love when I declare that a team which is losing by 41 in the 4th quarter is better than the team which is administering the punishment. Yeah, and the Packers had a chance against the Eagles last week, too.

Look for more updates on the I-A Playoffs this week, and another attempt at I-AA playoff pick redemption.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Fiction: I-A Announces Playoff and Bowl Pairings

Dateline: Kansas City, Missouri. The NCAA made an an official announcement regarding the second straight year of shafting a deserving team for playing for the national championship.

"We are deeply saddened that a terrible, rigged BCS system has prevented 3 deserving undefeated teams to play of the national championship.

"But rather than apologize for an antiquated, rigged system of determining a I-A champion, we've decided to make a bold, visionary decision that will piss off virtually everybody in power, but instead make sportswriters, coaches, and current and former players cheer. We have decided, in our power as the governing body of the NCAA, to institute a playoff system modelled after I-AA.

"Since the inception of the I-AA playoffs, we have watched from afar while I-AA has produced thrilling games, great competition, and an undisputed national champion. We admire their style of football, even if we don't shower them with nearly as much money and recognition as they deserve, and we thought it would be a great way to bail ourselves out of the BCS mess we've put ourselves into these past seven years. It's our way of saying "thanks", and rest assured that all I-AA schools will from now on will receive a cut of the national championship game money pot, as they should have been all along.

"We have talked to all the bowl game directors. With lots of arm-twisting and legal wrangling, they agreed to be a part of this system that will create unprecedented interest in I-A football, a billion-dollar television contract, and Nielsen rating through the roof, not to mention packed stadiums.

"It did cause some teams to be squeezed out of bowls to which they were previously committed. To compensate them for their pain and suffering, we decided to make a one-time payment of $250,000 per school, which will be paid for by the first six ad spots paid by sponsors during the Orange Bowl. Although, if you're 6-5 and not named Notre Dame or UCLA, you have no business being in the postseason anyway, so take your quarter million and be quiet.

"Without any further ado, here are the seedings and pairings:

1st Round Bowls (all times Eastern):
December 15th
Continental Tire Bowl, Charlotte, NC, 3:00PM
Georgia (9-2) vs. #4 Seed Virginia Tech (10-2)
Insight Bowl, Phoenix, AZ, 8:00PM
Miami (Fl) (8-3) vs. California (10-1)
December 16th
Outback Bowl, Tampa, FL, 3:00PM
Pittsburgh (8-3) vs. Iowa (9-2)
Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, TX, 8:00PM
Boise St. (11-0) vs. #1 Seed USC (12-0)
December 17th
Peach Bowl, Atlanta, GA, 3:00PM
Michigan (9-2) vs. Texas (10-1)
Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX, 8:00PM
Louisiana State (9-2) vs. #3 Seed Oklahoma (12-0)
December 18th
Liberty Bowl, Memphis, TN, 3:00PM
Tenessee (9-3) vs. Louisville (10-1)
Holiday Bowl, San Diego, CA, 8:00PM
Utah (11-0) vs. #2 Seed Auburn (11-0)

"Here are the new remaining bowl matchups. The only bowl that needed to be rescheduled was the Hawaii Bowl (to December 31st), so it won't interfere with the second round of the playoffs:

Remaining Bowls (* indicates new team):
New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, Memphis* (8-3) vs. North Texas (7-4)
Champs Sports, Orlando, FL, Boston College* (8-3) vs. Florida* (7-4)
GMAC, Mobile, AL, Bowling Green (8-3) vs. Notre Dame* (6-5)
Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX, Purdue* (7-4) vs. Oklahoma St.* (7-4)
Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, UCLA (6-5) vs. Colorado* (7-5)
MPC Computers, Boise, ID, Virginia (8-3) vs. Fresno St. (8-3)
Motor City, Detroit, MI, UConn (7-4) vs. Toledo (8-3)
Independence, Shreveport, LA, Texas Tech* (7-4) vs. Florida* (7-4)
Silicon Valley, San Jose, CA, West Virgina* (8-3) vs. Ohio St.* (7-4)
Emerald, San Francisco, CA, Northern Illinois* (8-3) vs. Navy (8-2)
Houston, Houston, TX, UTEP (8-3) vs. Texas A&M* (7-4)
Music City, Nashville, TN, Florida St* (8-3) vs. Wisconsin* (9-2)
Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, Hawaii (7-5) vs. Arizona St.* (8-3)

"Lehigh Football Nation, that great unbiased bastion of online I-AA football coverage, will be the official outlet for the results of this years' I-A playoffs. Any questions or comments can be directed there."
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