BCS Bowl Predictions: Can the Wisconsin Badgers Score 70 and Other Key Questions
The BCS continues to be a sore spot among fans across the nation, but a wild weekend in college football made its job in the last week a little easier as fans started to speculate about Bowl Projections.
Boise State's stunning loss at Nevada knocked the Broncos out of the title picture and most likely the BCS, while LSU's loss at Arkansas perhaps opened the door for the Razorbacks to take a spot in one of the BCS bowls. After hanging 70 on Northwestern, Wisconsin took the top spot in the rankings among Big Ten teams while Michigan State and Ohio State now have to wait to see where they will end up.
While the picture was somewhat clarified this weekend about who will be going to the BCS, there still are some burning questions about those teams. Here are some of those burning questions...
Wisconsin Won't Score 70 Points In a Bowl Game
I bet you didn't know that after this week, the Badgers were fourth in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 43.3 points per game. I'll also bet you didn't realize Wisconsin was that potent until you saw them hang 201 points in its last three games. When you think of Wisconsin, offensive powerhouse and run 'n gun don't really come to mind. They're still not a run 'n gun, but offensive powerhouse might be a different story.
But one thing to note is that those 201 points came against three defenses that were 103rd (Indiana), 102nd (Michigan) and 66th (Northwestern) in points allowed. The fact that the Badgers might have been going for style points is a factor as well.
With that in mind, I'm leaning towards no. The defense they'll face in Pasadena probably will be good enough to hold them under 70. But if Wisconsin can get their running backs going, look out.
TCU Will Be Able to Handle The Pressure
There's only one David left in the 2010 College Football Season, and he wears purple.
After Boise State's BCS hopes fluttered over the goalposts Friday night in Reno, TCU sealed up an undefeated season with a big win over New Mexico and probably locked in an at-large birth in the BCS for the second-straight year. And they won't be stuck with playing the Broncos this time, TCU will most likely get a chance to go up against a big boy and prove they are for real.
But what Boise State perhaps proved is that it couldn't handle a close game against a quality opponent after usually blowing them out. TCU has only had two games decided by fewer than 10 points this year, and really one where the outcome was in doubt in the fourth—Oregon State.
One has to wonder if TCU will crack the same way Boise did in a close game. I wouldn't bet on it though. This team is too mentally tough, plus you can bet it'll be playing with that mid-major chip on its shoulder.
Auburn's Defense Can Make a Stop When It Needs To
We all know about Auburn, or at least we think we know.
We know about the offense and we know about the quarterback (for a multitude of reasons). We know the Tigers could score with the best of them and we know they can definitely come back. But the first-half performance on defense was definitely something to be desired, and it's safe to wonder whether Auburn's defense could cost them a game.
Despite the fact that Auburn is 57th in points allowed, the Tigers still shut down the Crimson Tide when it needed to, which can be said for every other Auburn win this season. They may not be pretty (only three times have the Tigers allowed 20 or fewer points), but they've gotten the job done when called upon and there's been no reason so far to suggest anything different.
The Oregon Offense Can't Be Stopped
Despite what you think of the uniforms (and it should be interesting to see what the Ducks will break out for the Bowl Game), the Oregon offense has been fun to watch. They are 42nd in passing yards, fifth in rushing yards, first in points per game. The Ducks haven't just been beating teams, for the most part they've been demolishing teams.
And there's no reason to believe they can be stopped. There's two dangerous running backs, a duel-threat quarterback that no one realizes has more touchdown passes than Cam Newton, a big-play receiver in Jeff Maehl and game breakers all over the field. And even when it looked like the Ducks were slowed down in a half like against Tennessee or Arizona, it was just delaying the inevitable.
There's just no bones about it, Oregon's offense can't be slowed, no matter how much the Cal defense tried.
Oklahoma Will Lose In Its BCS Game
We've been down this road before with the Sooners.
They cruise into a BCS game as heavy favorites, only to be shocked or shellacked (sometimes both) and return to Norman discouraged. Bob Stoops, who once was one of the best big-game coaches in Division I, hasn't won a BCS Game since 2002 and has won two of seven bowl games since.
Now the loss to USC in the National Championship was understandable, as was the loss to LSU and Boise State. But who would've expected a 20-point loss to West Virginia in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl?
Now ESPN's projections are saying Oklahoma will return to the Fiesta, facing either Stanford or Connecticut. They should win those games, considering the Sooners beat Stanford in its bowl game last year. But until Stoops ends his skid in BCS games, I'm not buying in.
Darron Thomas Is The Best Player You Don't Know
Who can name Oregon's quarterback? Anyone? Anyone?
For all the firepower and all the hype, the Ducks themselves aren't getting a lot of love save for LaMichael James. But perhaps the man who makes the Ducks offense run is quarterback Darron Thomas (who also goes by "the guy who replaced Jeremiah Masoli"). All Thomas has done this year is throw for 2,373 yards with 26 passing touchdowns and only seven interceptions, while running for almost 500 yards and five touchdowns.
By comparison, Newton has thrown for 2,254 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Yet Thomas is not getting any Heisman considerations. Instead he'll just have to prove how good he is on the national stage next month.
Terrelle Pryor Will Struggle In Ohio State's BCS Game
Hey, I have nothing against Terrelle Pryor. I know in last year's Rose Bowl, he had a great game passing and throwing and helped Ohio State beat the Ducks. But that Oregon team wasn't as good as this year's team and I'm still not sold on him. He still has tendencies to loft the ball up and put too much air underneath it. It makes him an easy target for picks.
He still has 11 interceptions on the season and against the best pass defense he faced (Iowa), he had fewer than 200 yards and threw two picks.
If the projections from ESPN end up being correct and the Buckeyes face Arkansas, then Pryor could have a big day as a duel threat, and he might not have to be great if Boom Herron can get going. But I'm still not sold on Pryor as a big-game quarterback who performs well.
The Heisman Jinx Won't Affect Cam Newton
Forget everything about Cam Newton right now. Forget about the allegations and the cloud over the program's head and just focus on the field. The guy is a winner. He just wins.
He'll probably win the Heisman Trophy, just like he won every game this year for Auburn. And it's not just that he wins, it's that he's cool under pressure and finds ways to win, like last week at Alabama. Newton has poise and moxie that are critical to any great quarterback, and seems to play better when the pressure's all on him. If he's the Heisman Trophy winner, whatever defense he faces will be focusing on him, trying to shut him down. They've been doing that for weeks against him and he's still beaten those defenses.
If Auburn makes it to Glendale, with all the questions surrounding him and all the doubts, do you expect him to play at a level any lower than where he's been?
I don't either.
Jim Tressel Is The Best Big-Game Coach In The BCS Bowls
Yes, I said Jim Tressel. The Jim Tressel who lost back-to-back BCS National Championship games and is only 4-3 in BCS Bowls.
But there's a reason why Ohio State will probably be heading to the BCS for the sixth consecutive year and the eighth time in 10 years under Tressel. When the chips are down, more times than not, Tressel wins. His record in November and in the postseason proves as much. Yes, he might be 4-3 in the BCS and lost two consecutive title games, but he also has a National Championship ring from 2002.
Not a lot of other coaches in the BCS can say that.
Stanford Will Win Its BCS Game
Stanford just might have arrived at the big table in college football.
Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck just may have led the Cardinal to the school's first BCS birth in more than a decade, depending on what happens in the season's final week, though many believe Stanford is a lock at this point.
The entire team has the feel of a mid-major crashing the party, playing with that chip on its shoulder. Inside and out, this team is brimming with confidence after back-to-back wins against the mighty USC and a half away from an almost perfect season and a chance at a National Championship. Instead, the Cardinal's coming-out party could happen against Virginia Tech or Oklahoma.
Either way, a Cardinal win (and they can win those games) would mean Stanford has made its way back to the top. And as long as Harbaugh's around, Stanford could be the power of the new Pac-12.