HLS Pre-Snap Read: Conference Championship Edition

Welcome to the Pre-Snap read, now in its new home of Friday mornings.

Although ND doesn’t have a game this week, I will keep the Pre-Snap read going to highlight the other games going on around the nation all the way through the bowl season. Of course, when ND starts up next season, the Pre-Snap read will once again return and stay in the Friday slot to ensure that you will get very little work done. Plan accordingly.

I was close to entitling this week “all the games that don’t matter” but I figured no one would read past the title. Sadly though, that is the situation that we are looking at this week in college football.  LSU and Alabama are all but set for the BCS Championship showdown in New Orleans. Even crazier, this will remain the case even if LSU manages to lose to Georgia according to many BCS experts.

Despite that though, there are a couple teams trying to punch their BCS tickets outside the title game and there is still some slight hope that the inevitable “Game of the Century: The TD Edition (Hopefully)” doesn’t happen.

Outside the Bubble

The national headlines once again have more news in the Penn State scandal. This time around though, things are looking even more bleak for Sandusky. With even more charges being filed against him, his lawyer has actually said that he is may just advise Sandusky to plead guilty. If he does, I hope the DA lays down the hammer.

The other abuse scandal in Syracuse took a crazy turn as well. Last weekend, ESPN’s Outside the Lines released a recorded phone conversation between the alleged victim, Bobby Davis, and Bernie Fine’s wife that all but removed all doubt that the claims were legit. This led to Fine being fired and even some criticism of ESPN for apparently holding on to this tape for years and not releasing it to the public.

As has been alluded to in previous editions of the Pre-Snap read, Urban Meyer has, finally and officially, accepted the Ohio State job. You should definitely check out his contract if you want some laughs of the terms Ohio State agreed to (my personal favorite, a golf membership — Ty must be jealous). Of course, rumors are circulating about who will fill Meyer’s staff. Mike Stoops has reportedly been offered the defensive coordinator position. There have also been rumors that current ND running backs coach Tim Hinton is a potential Meyer target as well.

The coaching carousel is also in full swing. Ron Zook has been Zook’d at Illinois. Rick Neuheisel is out, despite the fact that UCLA will be playing for the PAC 12 title (ok, ok, yes, they are only in because of USC postseason sanctions). The pirate, Mike Leach is finally back in the coaching game, taking over the Washington State Cougars. Former ND Wide Receivers coach, Rob Ianello, was fired at Akron and was informed of this while on his way to his mother’s funeral. And just last night, the Texas A&M Aggies have fired Mike Sherman in a move that makes some ND fans seem like the most patient people on earth.

Of course, there are more coach movements, but those are some of the bigger ones. I may just have to add another category to this post if this keeps up.

You may or may not remember that West Virginia sued the Big East to leave for the Big XII quicker. Well, the Big East will attempt to have that lawsuit dismissed to keep WVU in the Big East for the required waiting period.

Southern Cal QB, Matt Barkley, has requested an evaluation to judge his value in the NFL draft. Dear NFL draft advisory board, tell him he is better than Andrew Luck so he’ll leave, please.

To cap off, everyone should read this piece that appeared in this week’s Sports Illustrated on gangs and college sports/recruits. It was a piece worked on by both SI and CBS Sports and it is fantastic. The majority of the article details the journey of RB/DB Kitam Hamm and how he is attempting to play his way out of Compton. As ND fans, we often talk about how our school loves to do things “the right way”, but often we don’t focus on the athletes that do so as well. If you read only one article from this week’s post, make it this one.

Put These Games on Your Radar

This section is even more important since we have no ND football on tap. Here are the games to help fill the void:

UCLA @ #9 Oregon, PAC 12 Championship, Friday 8pm EST, FOX – I’ll be honest, this game is likely to be just a huge beatdown by Oregon, but hey, if you really have the need for a college football game on Friday night, here you go. And yes, unlike other conference championship games, there is no neutral site as the Ducks will host this. I almost feel sorry for UCLA. Winner earns a Rose Bowl berth.

#24 Southern Miss @ #6 Houston, C-USA Championship, 12pm EST, ABC – Normally the C-USA title game would barely be mentioned, much less on ABC. However, undefeated Houston looks to be this year’s non-AQ BCS buster. That is, should they remain undefeated. Southern Miss is no slouch with their total defense ranking 26th in the nation. They haven’t faced an offense quite like Houston though. This has some good potential to be a great sleeper game, especially in a noon slot that looks rather pedestrian.

UCONN @ Cincinnati, 12pm EST, ESPN/ESPN3 – This is somewhat of a “Big East title” matchup although Cincinnati is more or less out of it. If you have interest in who gets the Big East’s BCS bid, feel free to tune in, and just to be educated, I’ll lay out the scenario. As of right now, West Virginia and Louisville are tied for the Big East title. Should Cincinnati lose, the two-way tie is resolved by a head-to-head tie breaker, giving West Virginia the Big East crown.  Should Cincinnati win, a three-way tie breaker gets more complicated since none of the three teams went 2-0 against each other, meaning this tie is broken by BCS rankings. In this case, West Virginia would once again seem to have the edge in this situation, but you never know what the voters may decide or what the computers will spit out.

#14 Georgia vs #1 LSU, SEC Championship, 4pm EST, CBS – If you are dead set against a rematch you will want LSU to fail in spectacular fashion and get blown out of the water by the Dawgs. On paper though, this seems to be quite the longshot (in fact, they are a 14 point underdog according to Bodog). LSU has easily had the tougher schedule; however, since Georgia stumbled at the beginning of the season, losing to Boise and South Carolina, they have just simply found a way to win. Here’s hoping for a miracle.

#10 Oklahoma @ #3 Oklahoma State, Bedlam/”Big XII Championship”, 8pm EST, ABC – The Big XII title is on the line and these two offenses can simply put up points at will. This is the Cowboys last chance to make a splash in the rankings and hope the voters would see a thrashing of Oklahoma as enough of a reason to give them a shot at LSU. Despite seemingly impossible BCS title odds, this may just be the most fun game to watch all day.

#5 Virginia Tech vs. #20 Clemson, ACC Championship, 8pm EST, ESPN/ESPN 3D/ESPN3 – I expect nothing more than a full on Clemsoning once again in this one. I personally don’t think this game will be much fun; however, this could very well determine ND’s opponent in the Champs Sports Bowl to which all signs point to us going to. Should Clemson avoid their usual brand of late-season fail, they would be BCS bound, leaving the Hookies to the Chick-fil-A (Peach) Bowl as the #2 team in the ACC, landing the Florida State Seminoles at the Champs Sports Bowl. Should the Clemsoning occur, they would be #2 in the ACC; however, this will lead to a rematch against Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Bowl which tends to be avoided, meaning Clemson could slide down to face ND in the Champs Sports Bowl. But then again, the Chick-fil-A Bowl could simply take a different SEC team (CBS for instance, has Florida taking the bid) instead, but I don’t see that. Either way, keep an eye on the scoreboard in this one at the very least.

#15 Wisconsin vs. #13 Michigan State, B1G Championship, 8:17pm EST, FOX – Again, listing mainly because it’ll decide the other Rose Bowl bid. No one, including fans of both schools, seem to have much interest in this game (Edit: The seat filler thing is a hoax, sadly). Your focus should definitely be on Bedlam, but if that game happens to get out of hand, I would keep this as your backup unless a full-on Clemsoning just happens to be your cup of tea.

Predictions

While we have no ND game to pick, here are my projected conference winners in their respective BCS bowls, along with the at-large bids.

BCS Title: Alabama vs. LSU
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford
Sugar Bowl: Michigan vs. Houston
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia
Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Oregon

Bonus pick! ND’s bowl and opponent - Champs Sports Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Clemson

  • kyndfan

    Won’t watch a title game with two sec teams in it. I agree with all your pics, but I really don’t wanna see scUM get a bcs bid. Would like to see ND play FSU, not sure about the chances on that.

    • http://www.ndtex.com NDtex

      Michigan is a lot like ND in the sense that they will be a big draw with a fan base that will travel very well. I honestly couldn’t see any other potential at large that would be picked over them.

      • kyndfan

        Damn you OU! Couldn’t live up to the hype and now scum is going to the bcs. Of course I could also say if Gray would have turned around, this wouldn’t be happening either. Here’s to hoping scum gets embarrased on a national stage.