This post is dedicated to long-time Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, who will lead his team for the last time in Lane Stadium when his team faces ACC Coastal front runner UNC. Beamer came to the Hokie head job amidst recruiting violations and other NCAA infractions, but has since led the program in a flawless fashion. Before Beamer, Tech had a smattering of success, some of which came during his playing days as a Fighting Gobbler under Jerry Claiborne in the late 60's. Beamer returned to his alma mater and the rest is history. Seven conference championships, a national runner-up finish and a brand of football, "Beamer Ball" named for his focus on special teams and defense, have solidified his legacy not only in Blacksburg, but throughout the college football community. He departs as the winningest active coach, but his legacy extends far beyond the wins he compiled while at Virginia Tech. The success he was able to have on the field impacted all of us that associate ourselves with the university. His integrity, relationships with his players and the class with which he conducted himself will forever be a part of Virginia Tech. God bless you, Frank Beamer and thanks for twenty-nine wonderful years on the Lane Stadium sideline. It just won't be the same come next September and we never know what the future brings, but one thing is certain: Frank Beamer left the program in a lot better place than where he found it, and at the end of the day, that's all anyone can really hope to do.
The playoff committee kept the same five teams at the top of their rankings, but a couple of Big 12 teams are looming. Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, who appear to be on a collision course with conference title on the line in the Bedlam game, have a good shot at overtaking both Iowa and Notre Dame. Of course, there is a good chance that things will change dramatically in the next couple of weeks. Is there a doomsday scenario where the entire process gets thrown into turmoil? Absolutely. All it will take are a couple of key upsets, especially if they are losses by undefeated teams, and we could be looking at a significant controversy.
Last Week: 21 - 5 81%
Overall: 203 - 57 78%
Florida Atlantic (2 – 8) 13 @ (8) Florida (9 – 1) 27: Florida's conference season is over with only a date wit rival Florida State left after a walkover opponent this weekend.
(17) North Carolina (9 – 1) 30 @ Virginia Tech (5 – 5) 20: I believe the Tar Heels are the most underrated team in the country. Their offense is explosive and they can also play tough defense. The Hokies don't have the type of strong rush defense they've had in the past, so it will be difficult for them to slow UNC down. Tech needs to control the ball, limit UNC's number of plays and hope to shorten the game.
Purdue (2 – 8) 17 @ (5) Iowa (10 – 0) 31: The Hawkeyes appear to be a lock for the Big Ten west title, but they still have to go through Lincoln next week when they take on Nebraska. Purdue hasn't shown me anything that would suggest they'll be pulling an upset. Next week, however, could be different for Iowa.
(12) Michigan (8 – 2) 20 @ Penn State (7 – 3) 16: This has the potential to be a good game, but don't look for a lot of points. I like Michigan because I think they have a better chance to score on Penn State than the Nittany Lions lethargis offense does against a tough Wolverine defense.
(21) Memphis (8 – 2) 31 @ Temple (8 – 2) 27: A couple of weeks ago this looked like a game that would have potential national implications. Between them, these teams have lost four of their last five and Temple needs to win to stay ahead of South Florida in the AAC East. I like Memphis to put up some points on the Owls.
Chattanooga (8 – 2) 14 @ (14) Florida State (8 – 2) 27: It's unusual to see so many FBS - FCS match-ups this late in the season but the Seminoles have completed their ACC schedule. They need to avoid looking ahead to Florida next week.
(9) Michigan State (9 – 1) 24 @ (3) Ohio State (10 – 0) 27: Michigan State, despite a good win against Maryland last week, has failed to impress me this season. They face an Ohio State team that is playing very well, and although Spartan QB Connor Cook will play, he's banged up. Can Michigan State win? Sure. Will they? I doubt it.
(20) Northwestern (8 – 2) 20 @ (25) Wisconsin (8 – 2) 27: At the beginning of the season, it would have been reasonable to have expected Wisconsin to be near the top of the Big Ten West. But most fans wouldn't have predicted that Northwestern, while trailing the Badgers in the standings, would be ranked higher by the playoff committee, especially since Wisconsin's losses are in close games to number two Alabama and number 5 Iowa.
(19) Houston (10 – 0) 37 @ Connecticut (5 – 5) 16: Is it still possible for Houston to aspire to a spot in the college football playoffs? If they stay undefeated and some strange things happen, there's a good chance the Cougars could be in the discussion.
(24) USC (7 – 3) 28 @ (23) Oregon (7 – 3) 34: Remember the other team that was in the national championship game last year? You know, the one that didn't win? Well, after an early loss to Michigan State and a mediocre 3 - 3 start, the Ducks have reeled off four straight wins as they prepare to host USC. Can the Trojans stop the Oregon attack?
UCLA (7 – 3) 27 @ (13) Utah (8 – 2) 26: Despite a last minute comeback followed by last second loss, UCLA can still win the Pac-12 South with wins over Utah and USC to end the season. The problem is both games are on the road. Utah's pass defense will be severely tested by the Bruins' Josh Rosen. I look for UCLA to stay alive in the race.
(15) LSU (7 – 2) 27@ (22) Ole Miss (7 – 3) 30: LSU has had a tough couple weeks, losing to Alabama and Arkansas. Ole Miss is coming off a bye week following a heartbreaking overtime defeat by the Hogs as well. Now the Tigers have to line up for the third consecutive week against a defense that is pretty effective against the run. The Rebels throw the ball better than either Arkansas or Alabama, so I think a third loss in a row is likely for LSU.
Wake Forest (3 – 7) 13 @ (1) Clemson (10 – 0) 30: Two more wins against sub-.500 teams and the Tigers will likely meet UNC in the ACC title game with a playoff bid on the line. Wake shouldn't be much of a challenge.
Charleston Southern (9 – 1) 14 @ (2) Alabama (9 – 1) 37: Another late FCS tussle for a top team. I'm sure the Bucanneers will give an inspired effort, but they just don't have the athletes to stay with Alabama, who is hoping to get some rest before the Iron Bowl next week.
(16) Navy (8 – 1) 37 @ Tulsa (5 – 6) 24: The Midshipmen are heading to Tulsa ahead of a big game at undefeated Houston next week. The Golden Hurricane give up over 220 yards a game on the ground. Look for Navy to get close to double that total.
Boston College (3 – 7) 13 vs. (4) Notre Dame (9 – 1) 24(at Fenway Park, Boston, MA):Go West Young Man. Oh, but first the Irish have to go east. It's a tough couple of travel weeks for Notre Dame, having to play BC in Fenway Park and then USC in the LA Coliseum. But first, they have to contend with one of the top ranked defenses in the country. Fortunately for the Irish, the Eagles can't do anything offensively.
(10) Baylor (8 – 1) 34 @ (6) Oklahoma State (10 – 0) 38: With an injured starting quarterback and coming off a drubbing by Oklahoma, things don't look too promising for Baylor. The Cowboys will undoubtedly try to follow the same playbook as the Sooners to stay atop the Big 12. This one should be closer, but I like Oklahoma State to stay undefeated.
(18) TCU (9 – 1) 24 @ (7) Oklahoma (9 – 1) 35 : With their starting QB and Heisman Trophy candidate sidelined, TCU just isn't the same team as they were last year and early this season. Oklahoma is playing terrific football on both sides of the ball and should take care of the Horned Frogs. Bedlam, indeed.
California (6 – 4) 16 @ (11) Stanford (8 – 2) 27: For east coast fans, the "Big Game" has very little significance. But this year, if the Pac-12 is to have any chance at a playoff berth, Stanford needs to defeat the Golden Bears, beat Notre Dame and then beat Utah, USC or UCLA in the conference championship game. No one else in the Pac-12 has a shot at the playoffs.
Louisville (6 – 4) 17 @ Pittsburgh (7 – 3) 27: After a 2 - 4 start, Louisville has quietly won four in a row, but against the bottom feeders of the ACC. On the other hand, Pittsburgh's three losses are all to teams still in contention for the playoffs. Nice rebound by the Cardinals, but they can't match the Panther defense.
Arizona (6 – 5) 34 @ Arizona State (5 – 5) 30: This is a tossup game, but I like Arizona.
Mississippi State (7 – 3) 23 @ Arkansas (6 – 4) 31: Arkansas is on a roll and I don't think they'll lose a again this season, sending coach Bret Bielema into his fourth season with a 9 - 4 record. Everyone has been talking about Dak Prescott, but the top Hog, Brandon Allen looks like the real NFL prospect.
Tennessee (6 – 4) 27 @ Missouri (5 – 5) 13: The Vols had a tough start to the season, but with the exception of a tough 19 - 14 loss to Alabama, Butch Jones has this team playing with a winning attitude. The schedule is an issue, but they should be able to go into Columbia and take care of a Missouri team that can't seem to move the ball on offense.