"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Friday, December 30, 2016

PLAYOFF FOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL GROUP OF FIVE? I DON'T THINK SO

There were reports this week by ESPN and others that the Group of Five college football schools were contemplating staging their own playoff. The reason is that the American, Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mid-American and Mountain West conferences, along with a handful of independents, including Army and BYU, don't believe they'll ever get a fair shot at making the college football playoffs in their current format. We need to look no further than undefeated Western Michigan out of the MAC, who despite defeating two Big Ten teams, couldn't even crack the top ten in the final CFP rankings. Currently, the highest ranked Group of Five conference champion gets a bid to one of the New Year's Day bowls. The last two seasons, the representative from that group has defeated a Power Five team. It's still difficult, however, to use that as justification for inclusion in the playoff. With only four teams qualifying, there's really no way for a Group of Five team to justify getting there, primarily because of the weakness of their conference schedules. Houston, had they remained undefeated this season, might have had about as good a case as anyone in recent memory, with big wins over Oklahoma and Louisville. But losses to Navy, SMU and Memphis illustrated just how far a team like that needs to climb to have a legitimate shot.

While an eight-team Group of Five playoff might seem compelling, it would in effect be creating a new classification within college football. What would it be called? Perhaps the FNGEFTPS, for the Football Not Good Enough For The Playoff Subdivision. Or how about the FOLIS for the Football Outside Looking In Subdivision? In all seriousness, I believe a more likely and realistic approach is simply to expand the current Power Five FBS conferences to include more schools that are serious about their football programs. Schools such as the aforementioned Houston, BYU (the last non-Power Five national champion in 1984), South Florida and East Carolina come to mind. If Rutgers can continually stink up the Big Ten, it's easy to make a case for some expansion, especially by the Big 12, which currently has only ten schools. Another change that should be made, especially since football tends to fund entire athletic programs, is to create football only conferences that don't necessarily impact other sports. One of the issues with expanding the Big 12 is that it makes it very expensive for non-revenue sports teams to travel to far flung conference opponents. The old Big East, which included Virginia Tech, Miami, Syracuse and West Virginia, among others, was an early example of that concept, which might make sense to revisit going forward.

Another approach would be for the NCAA, or another group, to actually develop guidelines and conferences that would more effectively level the playing field (no pun intended) when it comes to scheduling, number of conference games, etc. that currently makes it difficult to adequately compare teams. Some teams had ridiculously bad out of conference schedules. Boston College became bowl eligible with a six win season primarily because they played UMass, Wagner, Buffalo and UConn. Really? What were they playing for, the New England High School championship? Or how about Washington, who made the playoffs by defeating Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State to start the season. I understand the rationale to play a lower subdivision team that can spread the wealth a little bit, but when Oklahoma opened the season with games against Houston and Ohio State and then runs the table in the Big 12 and gets left out of the playoff seems a bit unfair to me. I believe every Power Five team should have to schedule at least one non-conference game with another Power Five team.

I've digressed a bit from the Group of Five playoff discussion, but all of these governance issues actually are related. What if Houston had gone undefeated this season? Is that accomplishment any less significant than Washington playing a bunch of patsies in the non-conference and failing to run the table in the Pac-12? So my solution is actually three-fold,  because I also believe the playoffs should be expanded to at least six teams, which would allow for all Power Five conference champions a spot, along with an at large team that could include another Power Five team or the occasional Group of Five team that has a particularly strong season. So in summary, I think the Power Five conferences should expand (or add a football only conference), there should be more uniformity in scheduling and the playoffs should add at least two more teams. Would that solve all the flaws in the system? Probably not, but it would help get closer to an ideal system.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Wednesday, December 21, 2016

NFL-BOUND COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYERS SITTING OUT BOWL GAMES: OKAY OR NOT?

As an increasing number of potential professional football players are choosing to sit out their teams' bowl games, the question has arisen about whether the practice is acceptable. I'll cut to the chase here and state that "of course it is". Last season, the promising career of Notre Dame's All-American linebacker Jaylon Smith took a serious hit when he suffered a nasty knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State that sent his draft stock plummeting, and with it, a significant amount of potential income. To listen to some analysts, the trend could kill college football and result in a plethora of players opting to stay on the sidelines for their team's bowl game. First of all, let's take a look at the numbers. There are currently 128 FBS teams, with 85 scholarship players on each team. That's a total of 10,880, and it doesn't count any FCS or Division II schools. So if we assume roughly 25% of them are eligible for the draft in any one season, that's 2,720. Thirty-two teams have seven draft picks, totaling 224, meaning that roughly 8% of eligible players will get drafted, and once again, that only includes FBS totals. So my point is that the numbers alone indicate that very few players, realistically no more than a couple per school, would be in a position to benefit from sitting out the bowl game, especially if a good performance could enhance their draft position. Many of these players are looking to take time to prepare for the combine as well, so an additional month of preparation could definitely help. If they're fourth or fifth year players, they will have more than earned their scholarship and helped their team on the field. Besides, many programs would prefer to use the bowl game to prepare for the following season, and having players in the lineup that won't be there doesn't necessarily make a lot of sense.

In the BCS era, preseason rankings were very important because they were used to determine the two best teams. But with a committee that doesn't even meet until mid-season, winning a bowl game to position themselves for the following season's polls isn't necessary. It's probably more important to get practice and game time for the replacements for the departing players, especially for units like the offensive line that thrive on cohesiveness and consistency. Some schools even go as far to excuse seniors from some of the early practices in order to concentrate on the future. Do you believe most schools, especially the ones that are in the lower payout range, want a bowl bid for the money or publicity? Probably not, as many don't have much money left over after paying for transportation, food and lodging for the players, coaches and other staff members. The driving factor is to get those extra 15 practices to get a head start for the following season.

Another key point is that while there seems to be some level of controversy over the student - athletes' decisions to sit out a game, no one seems to be critical of the coaches that take a job at another school between the end of the season and the bowl games. Last season, Justin Fuente of Memphis State committed to the head coaching job at Virginia Tech, while Tom Herman at Houston did the same with Texas this year. I've heard very little criticism of them, while you would think Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffery committed some type of mortal sin. I don't see it as a big deal either way, it's just the way the sport and business works. Besides, I believe there a lot more important issues facing the world than whether current millionaires switch jobs or future ones decide to skip a bowl game.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Thursday, December 15, 2016

A TRIBUTE TO CRAIG SAGER

The NBA reported earlier today that Craig Sager, longtime sports analyst, most notably for Turner Sports'  NBA coverage, has died of leukemia. Sager had been valiantly battling the disease over the past couple of years. His death is of particular interest to me, as my father died of the same disease a little over twenty-two years ago. I was very moved at the news and wish the Sager family my condolences and peace in dealing with their loss.

What was inspirational about Craig Sager during this time was how publicly hopeful and upbeat he was. Despite the grim prognoses and multiple setbacks, he continued to return to the air in his signature colorful sport coats, his preparation and professionalism never wavering. In a Yahoo! article that I've provided a link to below, he demonstrated an immense faith and thankfulness by his words and actions. As a Christian myself, it is truly inspirational to hear someone going through the battle of a terminal disease talk about how they are uplifted by the experience and made more aware of the value of living every day to the fullest.

Just like Jim Valvano twenty three years ago, Craig Sager's was a message of perseverance, grit and inspiration in the face of adversity. As a sports fan, commentator and analyst, my wish is that those involved in athletics, whether it be high school, college or the professional ranks, look at someone like Craig Sager and gain perspective about their place in the entire scheme of human endeavor. While Sager wasn't playing between the lines, he certainly was part of the industry that brings the games to life during broadcasts. What's really important, lasting and eternal? Is it that tantrum that's thrown over a questionable call at a crucial time? How about accepting a playbook from an opposing team's radio analyst? Or maybe it's resting players when kids in an opposing city waited months to see the best in the game compete against your team?

No, I can truly say none of those things is eternal. They last about as long as it takes for the next petty and childish act to get blown out of proportion by a media that's all too willing to dramatize the insignificant instead of praising the multitude of gracious and unselfish acts taking place right in front of them. Craig Sager represented a lot of what was and is good in sports specifically, and in people in general. His presence will surely be missed, but the courage he demonstrated and feelings he inspired will persist forever.

Read more about Sager's battle at Yahoo! Sports https://www.yahoo.com/sports/news/longtime-nba-broadcaster-craig-sager-dies-at-65-after-battle-with-cancer-202559560.html

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

TIGER WOODS: STILL MOVING THE RATINGS NEEDLE

In a tournament with only 18 players and no official money or FedEx Cup points on the line, Time Inc. reported that Tiger Woods' return to competitive golf resulted in the highest opening round television ratings since the British Open in July, excluding the Ryder Cup. Thursday's ratings were 190% higher than last year's and Friday's increased by over 200% over 2015. The higher ratings continued over the weekend, despite Woods falling from contention. For anyone that thinks the 40 year-old former world number one is no longer relevant, those numbers should speak for themselves. Those increases literally mean that Tiger, by himself, can outdraw the rest of the field, one that included Jordan Spieth, U.S. Open champ Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, red hot Hidecki Matsuyama, PGA champion Jimmy Walker and Ricky Fowler, among others. Those ratings are staggering in light of Tiger's 15 month absence from the PGA Tour. And from what I saw of his play, there was nothing other than a little rust and some fatigue by Sunday that indicated he isn't fully ready to compete for tournaments and majors in 2017. Sure, he struggled to a 4-over 76 on Sunday, but he still led the field in birdies for the week, undone by just a few errant shots that resulted in double bogeys.

With the two biggest draws in American golf in their forties, I guess it's both refreshing that 46 year-old Phil Mickelson and Woods are still energizing fans. However, it's also a bit distressing that despite great young stars in the game, it takes those older guys to be in the hunt to generate significant viewership. Perhaps, and I haven't really heard this point of view, although it might have been expressed, we have too many great, young players. Besides the ones I mentioned above, you can add Rory McIlroy and Jason Day to the list. Is it better television when you have just a small handful of players capable of capturing majors and captivating audiences? Arnold Palmer, who we sadly lost earlier this year, was singularly mesmerizing, especially when he was battling the few players that were competing at the top of leaderboard, like Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Billy Casper. In the late 60's and early 70's we saw Nicklaus emerge, taking on Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller and of course Tom Watson and Lee Trevino. Tiger's run from 1997 to 2008 will always be one of the most dominant in golf, or any individual sport, for that matter. Interest in golf skyrocketed, ratings were at all time highs and sponsorship money poured in, creating mammoth purses on the PGA Tour.

The recent Ryder Cup, despite some fan issues and the lack of Tiger Woods, at least as a player, generated a lot of interest. That's probably due more to the format and nationalism, so it will be interesting to see if it translates to ratings and attendance increases on the PGA Tour.  But back to Tiger and his prospects for 2017. I've previously written that a lot will depend on his health, and from what he showed in the Bahamas, that doesn't appear to be an issue at the moment. His swing was impressive, but clearly a little slower and slightly less violent than previous versions. The most impressive aspect of his game was his distance control, something that has always set him apart, and what he had struggled with the last couple of years that he was somewhat active on tour. One reason he made so many birdies, 24 over four rounds, was that he left himself makeable birdie putts. The other reason was that he made the putts.

Can Tiger win again on tour? Absolutely. Will he win another major? From what I saw this week, and if he stays healthy, I don't see any reason why he can't contend, and if he can contend, he can win. He might have finished 15th out of 18 golfers this past weekend, but when you look beyond the scores, there was a lot to like and look forward to.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Tuesday, December 6, 2016

COLEGE FOOTBALL: WHAT'S IN A BOWL GAME NAME?

It's no secret that the college football bowl games are nothing more than programming content for the ESPN family of networks, with a game or two thrown in for Fox and CBS. With 41 games and 82 teams (not counting the national championship game), it's a pretty watered down field of contests. It isn't surprising that the sponsors and the names of the games have gone far beyond  the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta, Peach, Gator, Liberty and Sun, the bowls that started all of this needless frenzy to get into the postseason. There are 128 teams in the FBS, so 64% of them will get to play in a bowl. Really? How does that happen? Most will be played in front of sparse crowds in cold stadiums with very little interest in the outcome, except for those crazy sports addicts that will take the time to enter a bowl pool or bet on meaningless games. Sure, there are the BIG games, like the Rose with Penn State traveling to play USC in UCLA's home stadium, or Auburn taking on an Oklahoma team in the Sugar bowl, with the Sooners looking to let everyone know they should have been in the playoffs, and Michigan playing Florida State in the Orange Bowl, an odd matchup considering the 'Noles were generally thought to be the third best team in the ACC Atlantic for most of the season. Oh wait, Michigan finished third in the Big Ten East. Nevermind!

It all kicks off on December 17, with something called the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. Are we supposed to be reserved in our celebration? That's a pretty difficult task given the energy displayed by Grambling's entertaining marching band. Or later that day, Camping World Stadium is the site for the AutoNation Cure Bowl, and then the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28, and finally the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on New Years Eve. Will people be sleeping in tents in the parking lot until their cars somehow get cured of whatever ails them by the AutoNation? Is that something out of a Cars movie? Or will there be more outdoors lovers at the Camping World Independence Bowl, formerly the Poulan-Weedeater Bowl, the Sanford Bowl, the Mainstay bowl, the PetroSun Bowl, the AdvoCare V100 Bowl and the Duck Commander Bowl. A couple of days later, we get treated to the Miami Beach Bowl, not to be confused with a Miami Beach ball, however it is a bit odd to play a football game in the Marlins' baseball stadium. My biggest disappointment is that they chose not to make the the Famous Idaho Potato and Popeyes Bahamas Bowls a double header, because fried chicken and french fries go together like, well, the aforementioned Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl and the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (but without the fries).

If you can somehow watch, in succession, on Dec. 30, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl and the Capital One Orange Bowl without taking a significant hit to your credit rating, then you deserve that cash back credit card and a new house payment. Leading up to that trio, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl will remind you how many new parts your old car needs, after which the Hyundai Sun Bowl will show you how nice it is to have a shiny new one, which brings us back to getting all the advice you need on where to get the money to pay for it. Thank goodness you had the foresight to tune into the Dollar General Bowl earlier in the week, so it's possible to pay less for everything else, even if it's stacked to the ceiling or kept outside on the sidewalk.

If you'd rather watch what I call the Steve Miller bowls (okay, it's an obscure reference to his Rockin' Me tune), check out the Las Vegas, Miami Beach, Boca Raton, Hawaii, St. Petersburg and Birmingham Bowls. If you decide to take the trip to see the games in person, then Motel 6 is your place to stay, as they have what must be the greatest bowl tie-in of all time for a hotel chain: The Cactus Bowl in Phoenix. Seriously, I can't make this stuff up.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




 




Thursday, December 1, 2016

THURSDAY THOUGHTS: COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL'S LABOR DEAL, SI RECOGNIZES LEBRON JAMES

Are We Looking at Three Big Ten Teams? Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Washington currently sit atop the college football playoff rankings, and deservedly so. Should the three teams in action this weekend win their conference championship games, it would make sense that there will be little change in the final ranking. No problem when it comes to Alabama, Clemson and Washington, which will all be conference titlists in that scenario. But Ohio State, losers to Penn State, didn't even win the Big Ten East. The committee has placed an emphasis on a conference championship as a selection criteria, but clearly indicate the intention to include the Buckeyes anyway. Don't get me wrong, I agree with their inclusion, especially with wins over Tulsa, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan. Their only blemish was a fourth quarter letdown against Penn State, which is the source of whatever controversy exists. If Penn State soundly defeats Wisconsin in the same fashion Ohio State did two years ago, can the Nittany Lions make a case to be the Big Ten representative in the playoffs, especially with their head to head win over the Buckeyes? Apparently not in the eyes of the committee, who have Penn State down in the seventh position, behind Wisconsin at six and Michigan at five, potentially creating a situation where the two teams that finished behind Penn State in the Big Ten East both advance to the playoff. I happen to believe that Wisconsin and Penn State were placed behind the Wolverines because the committee was well aware that only one of those teams can win this weekend and intend to move the winner ahead of Michigan, despite head to head losses for both of them. Or the committee has already determined that the winner, because of that loss to Michigan, and in Penn State's case, in a blowout, trumps the championship criteria in this very special case. But unless Washington or Clemson lose, it really doesn't matter.  Now let's look at the chances of a loss by one of the top four. Washington, with the exception of their loss to USC, was dominant for much of the season. However, a Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State non-conference slate puts the Huskies in a precarious situation. A close win against Colorado coupled with an impressive win by the Big Ten champ could move them out of the top four. Of course a loss and Washington is out. Given the Buffaloes stingy defense, it's a very real possibility. Moving on to Clemson, it's hard to see them surviving a loss to 23rd ranked Virginia Tech. Despite a good schedule that includes two wins over SEC teams, plus close victories over division challengers Louisville and Florida State, the Tigers have looked a bit uneven at times and a second loss would solidify that impression with the committee. Can it happen? The Hokies have outscored their opposition 72 - 17 since trailing Notre Dame by ten at the half in their next to last game. New coach Justin Fuente was named his conference's top coach this week and Tech really has nothing to lose in this game. So of course it can happen. But for the Hokies to pull the upset (they're currently ten point underdogs), they'll need to protect the football and keep Clemson from making some big early plays. Tech can't afford to get down by 17 to the Tigers the way they did to Notre Dame. Pittsburgh showed that Clemson is vulnerable late, so if the Hokies can keep it close into the fourth quarter, the committee might be looking at a chaotic situation. Finally, in a game no one seems to be talking about, Alabama will try to stay undefeated against a Florida team that really only played three potent offenses all season, and lost all three games by giving up more than thirty points to Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida State. I see Alabama as just a grown up version of the Gators, and even with a loss, the Tide is probably a lock for the playoffs. As far as I'm concerned, we need to get to a six or eight team field, which would probably allow for a team like USC to squeak in, but that's the subject for another day. For now, the committee has to chose the top four, and if the past is any indication, it won't be all that easy.

No Baseball Strike: It's pretty obvious that when Rob Manfred took over the Major League Baseball Commissioner reigns from Bud Selig a couple of years ago, that labor peace was at the top of his agenda. In one of the quietest transitions from one labor agreement to another, there were very few substantive changes to the agreement that was set to expire Wednesday at midnight. From the fans' perspective, the biggest change will be that the team with the better record will have home field advantage in the World Series, replacing the over decade-old practice of rewarding that to the league that wins the All Star Game. I applaud the move, particularly with the advent of interleague play, which makes the schedules more comparable. In addition, the season will include four additional off-days, which hopefully will increase the quality of play down the stretch. I would like to have seen a cut in the number of games, but that's a hard sell to owners who don't want to give up that revenue. It's now been 21 years since baseball experienced a work stoppage, and after what was arguably the most captivation World Series in generation, baseball really couldn't have afforded the step back a strike would have risked. I applaud Manfred, the owners and the players' association in recognizing that they have a good thing going and that there is plenty of money to go around.

Sports Illustrated Names Lebron James Sportsperson of the Year: Anyone that reads this blog on a regular basis knows that I have a lot of respect for Cleveland Cavaliers forward and superstar Lebron James. I've never understood the petty hatred for a guy that has pretty much done nothing but put teams on his back since he entered the league at the age of eighteen. Seven NBA Finals appearances and three titles speak for themselves. Now the premier weekly sports magazine has  recognized his accomplishments, and he's completely deserving of the honor. The story that accompanied the announcement at http://www.si.com/sportsperson/2016/12/01/lebron-james-sportsperson-of-the-year-sports-illustrated/?xid=nl_siextra is poignant in the way it gives us a glimpse into what drives Lebron James and portrays him in a balanced, yet favorable light. All I can say is for all of the Lebron haters, after reading the article, and you should definitely take the time to do so, it will be a bit harder to keep that hatred alive.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Saturday, November 19, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 12 PICKS

Thursday Night:

(5) Louisville (9 - 1) 38 @ Houston (8 - 2) 40: While Louisville prematurely whines about being left out of the top four, even though number two Michigan and number three Ohio State still have to play, they have to prepare for a short week against a still dangerous Houston team. Early in the season this game had the potential to be a very big game on the national scene. It still is, at least from Louisville's perspective. Going on the road with a short week is always tough, as evidenced by North Carolina's sluggish loss to Duke last week, and the Tar Heels only had to travel seven miles to a stadium filled primarily with their own fans. But I digress, or perhaps just putting off having to make a pick in this match-up. My record in the ACC has been horrendous this season, so I might as well continue the train wreck by going with what I think will be a very inspired Houston team that could get out early against the Cardinals, who have been slow to get up to speed in recent weeks. If I'm wrong, the committee has made it clear that Louisville will be in the mix come the end of the season, even though they have a very slim chance to win the ACC.

Friday Night:

UNLV (4 - 6) 17 @ (20) Boise State (9 - 1) 30: Boise is still in the running to be the representative from the Group of Five in a New Years Day bowl, ranked just ahead of Western Michigan in the College Football Playoff rankings. UNLV shouldn't pose a big problem for them, especially at home, but crazy things have been happening in college football the last week. I don't expect the Broncos to stumble here, though. The blue turf is their friend!

Saturday:

Texas San Antonio (5 - 5) 27 @ (25) Texas A&M (7 - 3) 41: This is the annual breather weekend for a number of SEC teams. The Aggies need a break, losers of two close games since debuting at number four in the playoff rankings. This game should give them a break before having to face a resurgent LSU team next week. But the Roadrunners can be dangerous, losing by just four points to Arizona State earlier in the season.

(11) Oklahoma State (8 - 2) 38 @ TCU (5 - 4) 34: Despite winning six games in a row and needing just a win over TCU to set up a potential quasi-championship game against Oklahoma in a couple of weeks, the Cowboys haven't been that impressive outside of their win over West Virginia. A forgiving defense has forced quarterback Mason Rudolph to make plays to outscore their opponents. TCU has struggled at times, but they could give Oklahoma State some problems. Could this be a trap game that they can't afford to lose?

(2) Ohio State (9 - 1) 34 @ Michigan State (3 - 7) 20: Ohio State is, in the opinion of the playoff committee the second best team in the country, but unless Penn State somehow loses to Rutgers (no chance) or Michigan State (some chance), they won't even win their division in the Big Ten. There are just too many possibilities to try to project a result, but the committee has made it pretty clear that the Buckeyes will probably be in the playoff mix if they win out. After a pretty poor season, I don't see Michigan State giving up, but despite a 49 - 0 win over Rutgers, I'm not sure they have enough to stay with the team they shocked last year on their way to the playoffs.

Maryland (5 - 5) 27 @ (18) Nebraska (8 - 2) 31: Nebraska still has an outside shot at the Big Ten West crown, but they'll need Minnesota to take down Wisconsin next week while the 'Huskers continue to win. They're coming off a tough stretch of games, and while Maryland isn't the caliber of Wisconsin, Ohio State and Minnesota, the Terps can still be dangerous.

(7) Wisconsin (8 - 2) 27 @ Purdue (3 - 7) 10: Still in the hunt for a playoff spot, Wisconsin's defense should be able to throttle Purdue, who is in the process of looking for a new coach. But the Badgers don't put a lot of points on the board so if Purdue can keep it close, they might be able to make this a game into the fourth quarter.

(23) Florida (7 - 2) 13 @ (16) LSU (6 - 3) 24: Florida is a bit depleted on defense and LSU is coming off a big win over Arkansas. The Gators will have early enthusiasm as they're still miffed at having to cancel a home game and travel to Baton Rouge due to Hurricane Matthew and what they perceive as unwillingness by LSU to work out a different solution to the postponement of the game. Despite that energy, what Florida lacks is offensive firepower.

Oregon (3 - 7) 34 @ (12) Utah (8 - 2) 37: Oregon coach Mark Helfrich is on the hot seat after his team has lost seven of eight games, many of them in blowouts. Utah needs to keep from looking ahead to next week's game at Colorado that could be for the Pac-12 South title. Despite a poor season, Oregon is still dangerous on offense and Utah hadn't really blown anyone out until last week's 23 point win over Arizona State.

Missouri (3 - 7) 20 @ (19) Tennessee (7 - 3) 30: With a Florida loss at LSU, Tennessee can get to the SEC championship game with wins over Missouri and Vanderbilt, which are both pretty likely. Missouri pulled off a pretty good win against Vanderbilt last week, but the Volunteers are probably a cut above.

(22) Washington State (8 - 2) 38 @ (10) Colorado (8 - 2) 34: I've been on the Washington State bandwagon for several weeks now and I'm not abandoning the six point underdogs now. I think the Cougars can overwhelm a team that is the darling of the sports media due to the resurgence of a good football program. This is probably one of the best games to view this weekend.

Indiana (5 - 5) 16 @ (3) Michigan (9 - 1) 20:  Michigan got surprised by Iowa last week, but still stayed in the top four of the playoff rankings. Indiana's a decent team and could give the Wolverines some problems if Michigan can't the offense going behind their backup quarterback.

Buffalo (2 - 8) 13 @ (21) Western Michigan (10 - 0) 38: Western Michigan trails Boise State in the battle for a spot in one of the New Year's six bowl games. This game won't necessarily help them, since Buffalo is pretty bad.

(17) Florida State (7 - 3) 31 @ Syracuse (4 - 6) 20:  Florida State has had a mediocre season by their standards and can eliminate Syracuse from bowl consideration today. After wins over Virginia Tech and Boston College, Syracuse had some momentum that was quickly blunted by two losses by a combined 89 - 20.

(24) Stanford (7 - 3) 34 @ California (4 - 6) 27: Stanford was left for dead after blowout losses to Washington and Washington State, but they're 4 - 1 since, with the only loss by five points to Colorado. California just doesn't have the defense to win consistently, even in a rivalry game.

Chattanooga (8 - 2) 13 @ (1) Alabama (10 - 0) 41: I don't have much to say about this one.

(4) Clemson (9 - 1)  27 @ Wake Forest (6 - 4) 16: In order to stay in the playoff hunt, Clemson has to rebound from an upset loss to Pittsburgh last week. Wake has a pretty good defense, but I don't see the Tigers dropping two in a row.

 Alabama A&M (4 - 6) 10 @ (15) Auburn (7 - 3) 38: See the Alabama pick above.

Arizona State (5 - 5) 20 @ (6) Washington (9 - 1) 31: Arizona State's defense just can't make enough stops to beat quality teams. I'm not sure that Todd Graham isn't on the coaching hot seat. Washington needs to win out to get a playoff spot, but they can't afford to look ahead to next week's Apple Bowl game against Washington State.

(9) Oklahoma (8 - 2) 27 @ (14) West Virginia (8 - 1) 20: Neither of these teams has a win against a ranked team. West Virginia was exposed by Oklahoma State and I think this one will look a lot like that game. The Sooners just have too many weapons.

(8) Penn State (8 - 2) 41 @ Rutgers (2 - 8) 13: Rutgers just isn't very good.

(13) USC (7 - 3) 17 @ UCLA (4 - 6) 31: USC doesn't control their own destiny in the Pac-12 and needs a lot of help, even if they defeat UCLA, which they should in the cross-town rivalry. The Trojans might be playing the best football in the country, but a playoff spot is highly unlikely. UCLA has just had a lot go wrong, ruining a promising season.

Virginia Tech (7 - 3) 34 @ Notre Dame (4 - 6) 27: The Hokies travel to South Bend for the first time and as far as I can tell, so have a lot of Virginia Tech fans. Notre Dame is favored by a couple of points, and this shapes up to be a close game. The weather might be a factor as the Irish try to keep their bowl hopes alive. Tech is one win against Virginia away from the ACC Coastal crown. I like my Hokies to bounce back from the Ga. Tech loss.

Arkansas (6 - 4)  37 @ Mississippi State (4 - 6) 28: The Razorbacks are one the most inconsistent teams in the SEC, with some big wins and a four blowout losses. Mississippi State took down Texas A&M, but Arkansas should be able to shake off the LSU loss.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.





Thursday, November 17, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 12 THURSDAY AND FRIDAY NIGHT PICKS

Thursday Night:

(5) Louisville (9 - 1) 38 @ Houston (8 - 2) 40: While Louisville prematurely whines about being left out of the top four, even though number two Michigan and number three Ohio State still have to play, they have to prepare for a short week against a still dangerous Houston team. Early in the season this game had the potential to be a very big game on the national scene. It still is, at least from Louisville's perspective. Going on the road with a short week is always tough, as evidenced by North Carolina's sluggish loss to Duke last week, and the Tar Heels only had to travel seven miles to a stadium filled primarily with their own fans. But I digress, or perhaps just putting off having to make a pick in this match-up. My record in the ACC has been horrendous this season, so I might as well continue the train wreck by going with what I think will be a very inspired Houston team that could get out early against the Cardinals, who have been slow to get up to speed in recent weeks. If I'm wrong, the committee has made it clear that Louisville will be in the mix come the end of the season, even though they have a very slim chance to win the ACC.

Friday Night:

UNLV (4 - 6) 17 @ (20) Boise State (9 - 1) 30: Boise is still in the running to be the representative from the Group of Five in a New Years Day bowl, ranked just ahead of Western Michigan in the College Football Playoff rankings. UNLV shouldn't pose a big problem for them, especially at home, but crazy things have been happening in college football the last week. I don't expect the Broncos to stumble here, though. The blue turf is their friend!

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Saturday, November 12, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK ELEVEN PICKS

Last Week: 19 - 5      79.2%
Overall:     224 - 71   75.9%

Not much change at the top of the College Football Playoff Committee (CFP) rankings this week. Texas A&M fell out after a loss to Mississippi State, but very few analysts really felt they belonged in the first place. At the top now are the undefeated front runners in four of the five power conferences. Can they win out to create an elite playoff field? History would dictate otherwise, but all four are certainly playing at a level above the rest of the field, barely ahead of the one-loss teams just behind them, Ohio State and Louisville. Top ranked Alabama takes on that Mississippi State team that sent Texas A&M tumbling slightly to number eight, so I'm sure the Bulldogs got the Tide's full attention before a virtual tie week precedes their Iron Bowl game against dangerous Auburn. I would have to agree with the committee's selections with the other top four teams playing dangerous opponents: Washington hosts twentieth ranked USC, Clemson entertains Pittsburgh and Michigan travels to Iowa.

Thursday: (from an earlier post)

(17) North Carolina (7 - 2) 27 @ Duke (3 - 6) 20: Usually a Thursday road game can be a problem for the visitors, but these schools are only a few miles apart. In addition, Duke's home field advantage is non-existent. But the Blue Devils gave now-14th ranked Virginia Tech all they could handle last week and might be able to challenge the Tar Heels.

(15) Utah (7 - 2) 30 @ Arizona State (5 - 4) 24: Utah had a bye week to get over a close loss to Washington and they head to the desert to take on the Sun Devils. Trailing Colorado by a game in the Pac-12 South, they still control their own destiny because of a win over USC and a season-ending clash with Colorado. Arizona State's defense is just too much of a liability against good teams.

Friday: (from an earlier post)

Boston College (4 - 5) 17 @ (18) Florida State (6 - 3) 34: Florida State is hanging on in the rankings because their losses are to number two Clemson, number six Louisville and number seventeen North Carolina, three of the top four teams in the ACC. Boston College finally won a conference game, a close win over NC State before getting mauled by Louisville. I expect more of the same from the Seminoles.

Saturday:

(16) West Virginia (7 - 1) 37 @ Texas (5 - 4) 31: Are the Longhorns playing for coach Charlie Strong's job or is his era at Texas over? West Virginia is an interesting team, as are the Longhorns. The Big 12 is short on defense, and the Longhorns fit right in. I'd like to think Texas could win this one, but I haven't seen any indication that they can stop anyone, especially a team as balanced as the Mountaineers.

Baylor (6 - 2) 27 @ (11) Oklahoma (7 - 2) 38: After a rough start to the season, Oklahoma is on a bit of a roll, whereas Baylor's schedule is starting to catch up with them. It's starting to look like the winner of the Bedlam game will determine the Big 12 champion.

Mississippi State (4 - 5) 24 @ (1) Alabama (9 - 0) 30: Mississippi State jumped all over Texas A&M last week, but Alabama actually plays defense, so this week should be a little different for the Bulldogs.

(10) Penn State (7 - 2) 27 @ Indiana (5 - 4) 24:Both of these teams are improved from last season and they're actually fairly evenly matched. I like Penn State's offense to be able to score a few more points than the Hoosiers, but this could be a close one.

NC State (4 - 5) 27 @ Syracuse (4 - 5) 31: Syracuse has been up and down, while NC State has had problems with quality opponents. Both are attempting to stay in the hunt for a bowl game. I like the Orange in this one if they're able to pass on the Wolfpack.

Rutgers (2 - 7) 20 @ Michigan State (2 - 7) 23 : Someone asked me what I thought of this game and I replied "who cares?"

Northwestern (4 - 5) 27 @ Purdue (3 - 6) 30: After a bad start, Northwestern has made some improvements while Purdue has struggled defensively, giving up almost 38 points a game. This is an interesting match-up because of the Boilermakers' ability to throw the football. I'm picking an upset here.

Iowa State (1 - 8) 24 @ Kansas (1 - 8) 17: In another "who cares" game, I'll take the visitors because someone has to win.

South Carolina (5 - 4) 14 @ Florida (6 - 2) 20: Florida was exposed last week against Arkansas, but South Carolina lacks the offensive playmakers that the Razorbacks have. The Gators can all but wrap up the SEC East with a win and I think they'll be able to stifle the Gamecocks.

Kentucky (5 - 4) 23 @ Tennessee (6 - 3) 30: The Vols had dropped three straight before a win over FCS Tennessee Tech. They need another one today to keep coach Butch Jones off the hot seat after a season where expectations were very high. Kentucky should be able to keep it close, but the Vols have a little more offense than the Wildcats.

Illinois (3 - 6) 10 @ (7) Wisconsin (7 - 2) 24 : I'm not sure how Illinois is going to find a way to score on the Badgers' defense. Wisconsin doesn't put up a lot of points either, but they should be able to move the ball on the ground.

Auburn (7 - 2) 24 @ Georgia (5 - 4) 17: In fifteen seasons at Georgia, former coach Mark Richt lost more than four regular season games twice. If the Bulldogs can't take care of Auburn today, new coach Kirby Smart will have done it in his first season. Both of these teams are good defensively, but Georgia has really struggled on offense.

(5) Ohio State (8 - 1) 35 @ Maryland (5 - 4) 20: Maryland can run the ball, but their defense is not good enough, especially against Ohio State's top ten rushing offense.

Texas Tech (4 - 5) 40 @ (13) Oklahoma State (7 - 2) 49: I have no idea exactly how many points will be scored in this game, but it will be a lot. If Texas Tech can ever get a defense, they could make some noise in the Big 12. The difference here is that even though Oklahoma State stops people occasionally, Texas Tech can't stop anyone.

Pittsburgh (5 - 4) 27 @ (2) Clemson (9 - 0) 41: Clemson is starting to look like the team that challenged Alabama in the national championship game. They're hosting a team that is just a notch below the top teams in the ACC, primarily because they are vulnerable against the pass. This one could get ugly.

Georgia Tech (5 - 4) 21 @ (14) Virginia Tech (7 - 2) 30: The Hokies, with UNC's loss to Duke Thursday night, can clinch the ACC Coastal title with a win. Bud Foster's defense has generally been able to find a way to stop, or at least slow down, Georgia Tech's read option offense. With a balanced attack, Virginia Tech will also challenge the Yellow Jacket defense.

Wake Forest (6 - 3) 14 @ (6) Louisville (8 - 1) 34: Wake Forest has a pretty good defense, but they haven't seen much like Louisville Heisman Trophy frontrunner Lamar Jackson. I find it hard to believe the Deacons can keep up with the Cardinals on the scoreboard.

(22) Boise State (8 - 1) 31 @ Hawaii (4 - 6) 16:The weather in Honolulu will be a lot different than what Boise usually encounters on their blue turf in November. The Broncos have enough offensive balance to run the ball on a porous ground defense.

(24) LSU (5 - 3) 20 @ (25) Arkansas (6 - 3) 27: LSU is coming off a brutal loss to top-ranked Alabama, while the Razorbacks are again looking strong in November. If LSU can't get Leonard Fournette going, it will be a long day for the Tigers.

Ole Miss (4 - 5) 27 @ (8) Texas A&M (7 - 2) 31: After a tough three game stretch, Ole Miss got a little bit of a breather last week, but still struggled a bit against Georgia Southern. A&M got thumped at Mississippi State last week and lost their starting quarterback in the process. After faltering down the stretch the last two seasons, the Aggies are trying to avoid making it three years in a row.

(20) USC (6 - 3) 30 @ (4) Washington (9 - 0) 31: I've thought all season that there would be at least one game for the young Washington team where they would struggle to get a win. With USC, Arizona State and Washington State left on the schedule, time is running out for my prediction to come true. After struggling to open the season, USC has won five in a row, one of those against Colorado, the Pac 12 South leader.

Minnesota (7 - 2) 30 @ (19) Nebraska (7 - 2) 28: Nebraska got run over at Ohio State and now they need to regroup against what is possibly the most underrated team in the country. This doesn't match up well for the 'Huskers as they go up against a very good rushing defense.

(3) Michigan (9 - 0) 27 @ Iowa (5 - 4) 14: At this point in the season, Michigan has been the most complete team in the country. If Iowa's offense was even average, I'd give them a shot against the Wolverines, but that's not the case.

California (4 - 5) 31 @ (23) Washington State (7 - 2) 44: The Cougars are on a collision course with Washington for a season ending clash with the Pac 12 North crown on the line. California's defense is just not good enough to stop Washington State's second ranked pass offense.

(16) Colorado (7 - 2) 35 @ Arizona (2 - 7) 24: There's little doubt in my mind that Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez is on his way out as coach. The Wildcats can't stop anyone and today they face a balanced offense of Colorado.


Stanford (6 - 3) 30 @ Oregon (3 - 6) 27: As badly as Stanford appears to have played this season, they are still a respectable 6 - 3 as they head to a very disappointing Oregon. Their only losses have been to the top three teams in the conference. These two teams are almost mirror images of each other, with Oregon strong offensively, weak on defense and Stanford able to stop people but having trouble scoring.

Army (5 - 4) 24 vs. Notre Dame (3 - 6) 27 at San Antonio, TX: Is it possible for Notre Dame to lose consecutive games to service academies at neutral sites? I'd have to say absolutely, but I don't think Army is as good as Navy and the Irish will probably find a way to eke out a win.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.






Thursday, November 10, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK ELEVEN THURSDAY AND FRIDAY PICKS

Last Week: 19 - 5      79.2%
Overall:     224 - 71   75.9%

Not much change at the top of the College Football Playoff Committee (CFP) rankings this week. Texas A&M fell out after a loss to Mississippi State, but very few analysts really felt they belonged in the first place. At the top now are the undefeated front runners in four of the five power conferences. Can they win out to create an elite playoff field? History would dictate otherwise, but all four are certainly playing at a level above the rest of the field, barely ahead of the one-loss teams just behind them, Ohio State and Louisville. Top ranked Alabama takes on that Mississippi State team that sent Texas A&M tumbling slightly to number eight, so I'm sure the Bulldogs got the Tide's full attention before a virtual tie week precedes their Iron Bowl game against dangerous Auburn. I would have to agree with the committee's selections with the other top four teams playing dangerous opponents: Washington hosts twentieth ranked USC, Clemson entertains Pittsburgh and Michigan travels to Iowa.

Thursday:

(17) North Carolina (7 - 2) 27 @ Duke (3 - 6) 20: Usually a Thursday road game can be a problem for the visitors, but these schools are only a few miles apart. In addition, Duke's home field advantage is non-existent. But the Blue Devils gave now-14th ranked Virginia Tech all they could handle last week and might be able to challenge the Tar Heels.

(15) Utah (7 - 2) 30 @ Arizona State (5 - 4) 24: Utah had a bye week to get over a close loss to Washington and they head to the desert to take on the Sun Devils. Trailing Colorado by a game in the Pac-12 South, they still control their own destiny because of a win over USC and a season-ending clash with Colorado. Arizona State's defense is just too much of a liability against good teams.

Friday:

Boston College (4 - 5) 17 @ (18) Florida State (6 - 3) 34: Florida State is hanging on in the rankings because their losses are to number two Clemson, number six Louisville and number seventeen North Carolina, three of the top four teams in the ACC. Boston College finally won a conference game, a close win over NC State before getting mauled by Louisville. I expect more of the same from the Seminoles.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Monday, November 7, 2016

ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS IMPRESSIVE IN ROMP OVER FLORIDA: IS IT THE BEST WIN IN THE LAST TEN YEARS?

It was the night of October 22, just a little over two weeks ago. The Arkansas Razorbacks had just been embarrassed by a surprising Auburn team, 56 -3, and it could have been worse. After a win over Ole Miss the previous game, the loss was somewhat surprising, the final outcome even more so. How could a team that put up 30 points on the daunting Alabama defense just two weeks before have looked so inept against the Tigers?

As most of you that read my blog regularly are aware, I tend to stay away from posts about the University of Arkansas. However, after watching the incredible turnaround that the team made over the bye week, I was compelled to comment. My time in Northwest Arkansas began in the fall of 2005 on the day Houston Nutt's Hogs lost to Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks 14 - 10, their third loss in a row on their way to a disappointing 4 - 7 season. The following year, the Hogs ratcheted up the program expectations by winning the SEC West, but ended the season with consecutive losses to LSU, Florida and Wisconsin. Sporting three future NFL running backs in Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis, the future looked bright for Arkansas. But despite the success in 2006, the program was mired in drama and despite a 2007 regular season ending overtime win over top-ranked and eventual national champion LSU, head coach Houston Nutt departed for Ole Miss and was replaced by Bobby Petrino, who created his own controversy by leaving the Atlanta Falcons prior to the end of the season. After getting the Hogs to a ranking as high as third nationally, expectations had once again been higher than at any point since that 2007 season as the team prepared for 2012.

However, Petrino had personal and hiring issues and  eventually left the program before the 2012 season, making the way for Bret Bielema to be hired from Wisconsin to replace interim coach John L. Lewis, who had coached a disastrous 2012 campaign. Bielema had success at Wisconsin, primarily with a physical style of play, especially in the trenches on both sides of the ball. But he didn't inherit a team built to play that way and as he retooled, the Hogs fell to 3 - 9, raising some doubt among the fan base as to whether progress was being made in the program. Armed with a commitment from Athletic Director Jeff Long to give Bielema time to rebuild, the coach has gradually made progress in both personnel and results. So as they made the trip to Auburn on October 21, the team stood at 5 - 2 overall with their only losses to top ten teams Alabama and Texas A&M. The Razobacks, on the heels of the Ole Miss victory, were sporting number 17 rankings in the polls and were poised to continue to make some noise in the SEC. But after giving up 56 points and a school record 540 yards of rushing, everything that Bret Bielema had been building for the past four seasons appeared to be in jeopardy.

That's why the game against 11th ranked Florida, a team that boasted the second best defense, at least statistically, and an SEC East leading 6 - 1 record, suddenly became a critical game in the advancement of the Razorbacks. Regardless of the reasons for the Auburn loss, whether it was fatigue after eight straight games, the last two against  physical SEC West foes, poor execution or lack of preparation based on the unexpected resurgence of the Auburn defense, it was important for the Hogs not to fall to 5 - 4, and more importantly to 1 - 4 in the conference. The big question was how would Arkansas respond, not just the players, but the coaching staff? During the bye week, Bielema made some changes, both to the defense and the offensive line. Would they work? Would he be able to sustain his year to year improvement in the record and keep the fans from questioning his success and fitness to lead the program? Coming into the game, most prognosticators, including me, were predicting a close, low scoring game with Florida's vaunted defense a key factor. Could an injured Ausin Allen lead his team to victory against  that squad?

It didn't take long to get the answer, as a pick six by Arkansas set the tone for the game, and the Hogs never looked. back. By showing up, taking care of business and totally overwhelming the Gators, it was evident that there had been major adjustments made following the Auburn loss. Both the players and the coaching staff clearly had a renewed sense of urgency and energy, and it resulted in a lopsided 31 - 10 victory, making the Razorbacks bowl eligible and setting the stage for another big November in Fayetteville. Can they sustain the effort well enough to defeat LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri, finishing the season with a Bielema-best 9 - 3 record? Only the next three weeks will reveal that, but I give them a good chance, starting with an offensively challenged LSU Tiger team, fresh off a tough 10 - 0 loss to Alabama.  Bret Bielema is still making progress, and the Florida win once again made that clear.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.









Saturday, November 5, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK TEN PICKS

Last Week: 21 - 10   67.7 %
Overall:     205 - 66  75.6%

From the way the College Football Playoff committee ranked the teams this week, it's apparent they're sending a message about quality of schedule. Washington's 8 - 0 start got them ranked behind a 6 - 1 Texas A&M because, as I emphasize each season, the Huskies chose to start their season with Rutgers, Portland State and Idaho. But they don't really have anything to worry about except a match-up with USC and a season closing game at Washington State. Among the one-loss teams trying to find a path to the playoffs, Louisville seems to be in a tough position. Their signature win is now against a three loss Florida State and the only real quality opponent left on the schedule is Houston team that seems to have forgotten how to win football games. But it's only the first week of the rankings, and in the first two seasons of the playoffs, only three of the combined top eight have made the field.

Tuesday: (from an earlier post)

(23) Western Michigan (8 - 0) 30 @ Ball State (4 - 4) 24: Western Michigan has been dominant this season with two wins over mid or lower level Big Ten teams. With a recent resurgence, Northwestern is making Western Michigan's resume is better by the week. The Broncos should be able to take care of business against Ball State, but the Cardinals have been competitive in all of their losses and solid in their wins. Tuesday games are an oddity, so the schedule difference as well as the increased pressure on Western Michigan to keep winning and get to a big bowl game could make this game a bit closer than the 17 1/2 point spread out of Vegas. The Broncos really have played well and haven't really been challenged during this eight game run. But we've seen some odd results in the Group of Five going back to last season's upset by UConn over a seemingly invincible Houston team, so strange things have happened on the road to New Year's Day. I'll still stick with Western Michigan, but it could be tougher than many people think.

Thursday: (from an earlier post)

(12) Oklahoma (6 - 2) 37 @ Iowa State (1 - 7) 28: No matter how big a favorite a team is, traveling on a short week can still be an issue. The Sooners have started playing at a higher level than earlier in the season, but they still have some holes on defense. Iowa State has lost four in a row, but only one of those has been by more than seven points. Oklahoma definitely needs to pay attention in a place that has historically yielded at least one big upset in most seasons. The Cyclones took Baylor to the wire earlier in the season and probably should have won the game. All I can say is beware of Ames.

UCLA (3 - 5) 20 @ (21) Colorado (6 - 2) 24: UCLA's sophomore quarterback, Josh Rosen, is out for the season and the Bruins just haven't been able to generate enough offense to win more games than they've lost. Colorado has been a pleasant surprise and like the Bruins, is coming off a bye week so they should be rested after a tough win over Stanford. I don't think UCLA is consistent enough on offense yet to pull off a road upset in a tough environment.

Friday: (from an earlier post)

San Jose State (3 - 6) 17 @ (24) Boise State (7 - 1) 38: Boise got caught looking ahead last week and was beaten by a Wyoming team they probably should have been able to beat easily. I'm thinking they'll have a little more focus at home this week and will take care of business to stay in the hunt for a New Year's Day bowl game as the Group of Five representative. San Jose State is winless on the road, where they give up a lot of points. It probably won't be much different in this one.

Saturday:

(4) Texas A&M (6 - 1) 31 @ Mississippi State (3 - 5) 20: The Aggies snuck into the top four of the Playoff Committee's first rankings despite a loss to Alabama earlier in the season. Is it likely the semifinals will consist of the teams currently there? No, considering that only three of the eight teams in the first rankings the last couple of years made it to the playoffs. For this game, Mississippi State is in a rebuilding mode after losing Dak Prescott and other key performers.

Vanderbilt (4 - 4) 13 @ (9) Auburn (6 - 2) 28: Auburn is on a roll and the committee seems to have recognized it with their ranking. But if they start reading their press clippings and look ahead to the Alabama game, Vanderbilt and Georgia are probably dangerous enough to cause them problems.

(7) Louisville (7 - 1) 37 @ Boston College (4 - 4) 16: The committee seemed to be less impressed with Louisville than much of the rest of the college football community. But with three losses by Florida State, a lackluster performance against Virginia and non-conference wins so far over Charlotte and Marshall clearly affected the ranking. Boston College's lack of offense and the added motivation from the slight should result in a Louisville victory.

(8) Wisconsin (6 - 2) 21 @ Northwestern (4 - 4) 13:Wisconsin has just completed a brutal stretch of games that finds them in the top ten and in contention for the Beg Ten West title. They should be able to handle Northwestern, but the Wildcats have improved over the course of the season. But that Badger defense is pretty tough to move the ball on.

(21) North Carolina (6 - 2) 28 @ Georgia Tech (5 - 3) 30: Georgia Tech opened with three wins, then dropped three in a row, and is now on a two game winning streak. With that logic, it makes sense to go with them to win this week. That aside, though, Carolina is giving up over 200 yards a game on the ground and the Yellow Jackets are averaging almost 250, so this is not shaping up as a very good matchup for the Heels, who can't afford another conference loss if they want to contend for the ACC Coastal title.

Maryland (5 - 3) 21 @ (3) Michigan (8 - 0) 38: Michigan is playing at a very high level, but most teams have a flat outing at some point. If they do, Maryland has enough offense to give the Wolverines some issues. I don't see it happening.

Syracuse (4 - 4) 17 @ (2) Clemson (8 - 0) 31: Syracuse shocked Virginia Tech a couple of weeks ago, but that was at home in the Carrier Dome. Clemson is playing solid football and should be able to prevail.

(19) Virginia Tech (6 - 2) 34 @ Duke (3 - 5) 20: Duke is in a bit of a rebuilding season and will have trouble duplicating last year's four overtime win over the Hokies. New head coach Justin Fuente has Tech playing offense and scoring points at a level not seen in Blacksburg in quite a while. With a tough defense to go with it, the Hokies are looking to run the table to meet Clemson in the ACC Championship game.

(18) Oklahoma State (6 - 2) 27 @ Kansas State (5 - 3) 19: This is a very important game for Oklahoma State if they want to stay in hunt for the Big 12 conference title. Kansas State's defense is very good and could give the Cowboys some problems, but the Wildcats have some trouble putting points on the board.

(11) Florida (6 - 1) 20 @ Arkansas (5 - 3) 23: The Hogs got pasted two weeks ago at Auburn, probably because of some fatigue and lack of preparation for an improving Tigers team. Florida comes in with flashy defensive statistics, but they've been posted against a mediocre schedule. I've been asked all week what I thought about this one and it's a tight one. I expect a game very similar to Arkansas' win over Ole Miss, but with less offense.

Arizona (2 - 6) 24 @ (25) Washington State (6 - 2) 34: Washington State eased into the CFP rankings this week. They could be headed for a season-ending showdown against Washington for the Pac-12 North title. Arizona is having a rough year and coach Rich Rodriguez may be on the hot seat. One more loss and the Wildcats will be eliminated from bowl consideration, probably later today.

TCU (4 - 4) 30 @ (17) Baylor (6 - 1) 27: Baylor entered the meat of their schedule last week with an upset loss to inconsistent Texas. TCU has been a disappointment, but they've faced a much tougher slate. I'm not impressed with Baylor and look for the Horned Frogs to hand the Bears their second consecutive loss.

Kansas (1 - 7) 13 @ (20) West Virginia (6 - 1) 37: The Big 12 two unbeatens last week and appears to be headed to being left out of the playoffs. West Virginia should be able to bounce back nicely from their loss to Oklahoma State.

(22) Florida State (5 - 3) 27 @ NC State (4 - 4) 23: NC State has been competitive, but has struggled against top teams. A loss to Boston College last week was a low point for the season. Florida State will be trying to bounce back on the road after tough loss at home to Clemson, two by less than three points the Seminoles have had to ranked teams.

Iowa (5 - 3) 20 @ (12) Penn State (6 - 2) 31: Penn State was able to consolidate their upset win over Ohio State with a pounding of Purdue. Iowa will present more of a challenge, but the Nittany Lions are on a roll after getting mauled by Michigan. The Hawkeyes are having trouble scoring and that will hurt them today.

(10) Nebraska (7 - 1) 27 @ (6) Ohio State (7 - 1) 24: Its victory over Oregon diminished by the Ducks' disappointing season, Nebraska is still looking for their first signature win in their second season under Mike Riley. They head to the Horseshoe after an overtime loss to Wisconsin, but they still control their own destiny in the Big Ten West. A young Ohio State team that looked invincible earlier in the season has struggled the last three games. I have a feeling it's time for the 'Huskers to breakk through.

(1) Alabama (8 - 0) 26 @ (13) LSU (5 - 2) 17: Last year it was Alabama winning 30 - 16. The Tide is better than last year's team, but this one is at night on the road in Death Valley. LSU is hoping for running back Leonard Fournette to make some big plays, quarterback Danny Etling to avoid mistakes and the defense to limit Alabama's offense. I don't see it happening.


(5) Washington (8 - 0) 37 @ California (4 - 4) 30: This is the first time in a while that Washington faces a big game ranked as high as they are this week. Can a young team go on the road and continue their possible road to a playoff berth? After a big win at Utah, they now take on a high scoring Cal team that plays much better at home than on the road. I'm going to stay with the Huskies. I think they''ll lose one along the way, but it probably won't be this week.

Pittsburgh (5 - 3) 34 @ Miami (4 - 4) 27: After a weak non-conference schedule and a win over Georgia Tech, the Hurricanes found themselves highly ranked and undefeated. They haven't won since and are taking on a Pittsburgh team whose three losses are by a combined 11 points to ranked opponents.

Texas (4 - 4) 37 @ Texas Tech (4 - 4) 35: These are two teams that are difficult to figure out. The Longhorns have looked great at times, and stumbled at others. Texas Tech can really score, but defensively they struggle.

Michigan State (2 - 6) 27 @ Illinois (2 - 6) 21: I'm going to have to stick with the Spartans this week, even though they've had a very disappointing season and dropped six games in a row.

Navy (5 - 2) 24 @ Notre Dame (3 - 5) 28: Notre Dame seems to have righted the ship a little bit and they see the style of offense Navy plays multiple times a season.


Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.







Thursday, November 3, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: WEEK TEN THURSDAY AND FRIDAY PICKS

Thursday:

(12) Oklahoma (6 - 2) 37 @ Iowa State (1 - 7) 28: No matter how big a favorite a team is, traveling on a short week can still be an issue. The Sooners have started playing at a higher level than earlier in the season, but they still have some holes on defense. Iowa State has lost four in a row, but only one of those has been by more than seven points. Oklahoma definitely needs to pay attention in a place that has historically yielded at least one big upset in most seasons. The Cyclones took Baylor to the wire earlier in the season and probably should have won the game. All I can say is beware of Ames.

UCLA (3 - 5) 20 @ (21) Colorado (6 - 2) 24: UCLA's sophomore quarterback, Josh Rosen, is out for the season and the Bruins just haven't been able to generate enough offense to win more games than they've lost. Colorado has been a pleasant surprise and like the Bruins, is coming off a bye week so they should be rested after a tough win over Stanford. I don't think UCLA is consistent enough on offense yet to pull off a road upset in a tough environment.

Friday:

San Jose State (3 - 6) 17 @ (24) Boise State (7 - 1) 38: Boise got caught looking ahead last week and was beaten by a Wyoming team they probably should have been able to beat easily. I'm thinking they'll have a little more focus at home this week and will take care of business to stay in the hunt for a New Year's Day bowl game as the Group of Five representative. San Jose State is winless on the road, where they give up a lot of points. It probably won't be much different in this one.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: RARE RANKED TEAM ON TUESDAY NIGHT

(23) Western Michigan (8 - 0) 30 @ Ball State (4 - 4) 24: Western Michigan has been dominant this season with two wins over mid or lower level Big Ten teams. With a recent resurgence, Northwestern is making Western Michigan's resume is better by the week. The Broncos should be able to take care of business against Ball State, but the Cardinals have been competitive in all of their losses and solid in their wins. Tuesday games are an oddity, so the schedule difference as well as the increased pressure on Western Michigan to keep winning and get to a big bowl game could make this game a bit closer than the 17 1/2 point spread out of Vegas. The Broncos really have played well and haven't really been challenged during this eight game run. But we've seen some odd results in the Group of Five going back to last season's upset by UConn over a seemingly invincible Houston team, so strange things have happened on the road to New Year's Day. I'll still stick with Western Michigan, but it could be tougher than many people think.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Monday, October 31, 2016

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF COMMITTEE RANKINGS OUT TOMORROW: WHERE I WAS RIGHT, WHERE I WAS WRONG IN PRESEASON

When it comes to college football, I'm all about predictions and what happens between the lines of the field. Before the season started, I had some bold ideas on what things would look like at the end of the season. On the eve of the College Football Playoff Committee releasing its first rankings of the season, I thought it would be interesting to see where I was pretty much on target, and where I was way off.

Where I Was Right:

In the ACC, I had Clemson not only winning the Atlantic division and conference, but also the national championship. With wins over Louisville and Florida State, plus a favorable schedule the rest of the way, they are still on track to at least play their way into the playoffs. Can they afford a defeat to rival South Carolina and still get consideration? That remains to be seen. I also was correct on the emergence of Louisville, a close second to Clemson, but they'll need some good fortune to contend. Regarding Florida State, I was right on the mark there as well. On the other side of the league, I went with North Carolina in a close race, but pointed out that Virginia Tech was a bit of a wild card in Justin Fuente's first season heading the Hokies' program. Right now the two teams are tied atop the Coastal division, but Tech owns the tiebreaker and controls their own destiny.

Moving to the Big 12, I correctly predicted the bit of a slump for Oklahoma, but their losses so far have come in non-conference games. However, they have the teeth of their conference schedule remaining, and right now the league is clearly up for grabs. I picked Oklahoma State to emerge, and after a Cowboys win over undefeated West Virginia last week, that final game in Norman against Oklahoma might just decide the champion.

I didn't get much right in the Big Ten, except that my prediction algorithm correctly had Michigan as the team to beat, except I went with Ohio State instead. With the Buckeyes struggling a bit the last three games, Jim Harbaugh has Michigan in excellent position to run the table. Of course, they'll need to get past Ohio State in regular season finale. My prediction that Wisconsin's schedule would doom them is also fairly accurate, as they're easily the best two-loss team in the country.

About the only thing about the Pac-12 that I had even partly correct was that I didn't have Stanford winning the North, and it's a certainty now that they won't, already mathematically eliminated having lost to Washington and Washington State. I wasn't sold yet on Washington, and believe it or not, I'm still not. My pick was Washington State, and I'm not changing it yet. In the South, I thought USC would challenge UCLA and they're still in the hunt.

In the SEC East, I had little confidence in Tennessee and despite a solid start, albeit a little lucky, they've dropped three in a row and will need a miracle of sorts, namely a collapse by Florida, to contend. In the West, I correctly predicted a step back for the Mississippi schools, as they currently stand with two conference wins between them.

Finally, I recognized Notre Dame's demise, due mainly to a lack of quality players to get them even to a bowl game. They still have a chance, but finishing up with Virginia Tech and USC will challenge them to become bowl eligible, especially with their other two opponents, Navy and Army, having solid seasons.

Where I Was Wrong:

In the Big 12, I didn't see the emergence of West Virginia, but I might not be too far off on that, given that my pick for the title, Oklahoma State, just beat them last week. A team that could be very disruptive is Kansas State. My choice in the Big Ten was Iowa, so I whiffed on that, even though they're still in the mix if things get crazy in the West. In the East, I thought Urban Meyer's coaching and recruiting could make up for a lack of returning starters. It still may, but Michigan looks very good right now. Heading out west, I didn't see Colorado making the move they have, but they still have some tough games left to play, and their loss to USC could hurt them in a tiebreaker. My UCLA pick is just dismal, with the Bruins standing at 1 - 4 in the conference. Of course, no one predicted  that the Bruins' potential All-American QB would have to battle injuries that have no doubt diminished Josh Rosen's effectiveness and playing time.

The three things I really missed on in the SEC, at least so far, were Alabama's continued dominance, the emergence of Auburn's defense and the ability of Florida to continue to win primarily with strength on only the defensive side of the ball. I felt the East would be a three team dogfight between Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, but now only the Gators are still in the race.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.