Cowboys Ambush Horned Frogs
Oklahoma State played a near flawless game in the first half and held on for a stunning 49-29 win over previously unbeaten TCU to take the lead in the Big 12 Conference race. Baylor, which also remains unbeaten, hosts Oklahoma next Saturday in a pivotal conference game. Across the nation, Clemson downed Florida State to take the lead in the ACC race and Alabama used a powerful defensive performance to shut down LSU in the SEC. All 3 Billingsley Rankings are now online. Follow the links to the right of your screen or from the Rankings Tab above.
It’s Cocktail Time in College Football!
Although both school’s had rather NOT have this game called “the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party” anymore, it’s hard not to remember it that way. These two bitter rivals meet in Jacksonville in one of only two neutral site rivalry games left in America. The other belongs to Oklahoma/Texas in Dallas. This will be the 93rd installment of the series which began way back in 1915. Georgia holds a slight 49-41-2 advantage over Florida. Check out the links below for all of Billingsley’s projections. Billingsley Projections Billingsley+ (Margin of Victory) Projections Billingsley’s Pre-Season Projections
Longhorns Stun Sooners 24-17; TCU Climbs to # 1after escaping Kansas State 52-45.
The Texas Longhorns, fresh off of one of the worst losses in program history, a 50-7 drubbing at the hands of TCU, put together a brilliant game plan exploiting Oklahoma’s weak offensive and defensive lines, and upset the highly favored Sooners 24-17. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield played a great game going 20 of 28 passing for 211 yards, but was sacked 6 times and found himself scrambling most of the game with no time to perform the magic that lead to earlier Sooner victories over Tennessee and West Virginia. Oklahoma’s defense was gashed for 313 yards rushing by the Longhorn offense. Texas, which has played the nation’s #1 most difficult schedule to date, is two special team plays away from being 4-2 on the season. As predicted here several weeks ago, the Longhorns were destined to pull an upset over one of the Big 12’s top contending teams. They came through in glorious fashion in Saturday’s Red River Rivalry Game, one of the nation’s premier college football rivalries. Also as expected, TCU needed another brilliant comeback to fend off an upset loss to Kansas State in Manhattan. The Horned Frogs, down 35-17 at the half, fought back furiously in the third quarter to narrow the gap to 35-31, then outscored Kansas State 21-10 in the fourth quarter for a 52-45 win. TCU moved to #1 in this weeks Billingsley Report on the strength of their schedule (#43), higher than Ohio State’s #74 and Michigan State’s # 68. Once again, #11 Baylor is heavily penalized for playing a weak schedule, ranked # 119. However, once margin of victory is factored in, the Bears are considered the #1 team in the Nation this week in the Billingsley+ Report and Michigan State and Ohio State suffer because of poor performances against weaker opposition. Baylor is also #1 in Billingsley’s Personal Top 30, with TCU, Ohio State, and Alabama following respectively. Utah, Florida and Michigan continue their meteoric rise as the nation’s most surprising teams. Florida is up to #4, Utah to #5 and Michigan to #17. The Wolverines have moved all the way into the Top 25 from an initial preseason ranking of #40. Michigan’s only loss is to undefeated Utah in Salt Lake City. In Billingsley’s Margin of Victory Report, the Wolverines are #6 this week and would be considered virtually a toss up with Ohio State on a neutral field. Michigan hosts undefeated rival Michigan State this coming Saturday. Early projections indicate Michigan could be a slight favorite, a shocking development that no one could have seen before the season started. Jim Harbaugh is certainly a leading candidate for coach of the year honors.
Michigan hosts Northwestern in Big 10 Showdown
# 15 Northwestern at # 27 Michigan – At the beginning of the season who could ever imagined a Wolverine Wildcat match up would mean so much, not only to the Big 10 conference race, but nationally as well? But after Northwestern’s opening weekend shocker of Stanford (who has gone on to win 4 straight) and Michigan’s drubbing of Brigham Young, this game is taking on a whole new dimension. The Wildcats are playing some of the best defense in the nation and the Wolverines are clicking both offensively and defensively. What a great game this will be to watch. Picking a winner? Well, your guess is as good as mine, but I always favor the home team in a close one. Michigan 20 Northwestern 17. # 38 Navy at #11 Notre Dame – The Fighting Irish return to South Bend to host the undefeated Midshipmen after a heartbreaking loss to Clemson on a failed two point conversion. Where will the mindset of the Irish players be? This is no time for a laps in preparation, Navy is a good team. Notre Dame may be sluggish to start, but in the end the “echoes” will wake up in time for a win. Notre Dame 27 Navy 17. # 25 California at # 9 Utah – The last two undefeated Pac 12 teams meet in Salt Lake City Saturday with the winner taking a big step towards a shot at the conference title game. The Utes’ win over Michigan is looking better and better each week. Sonny Dykes has done an outstanding job rebuilding the Bear’s program and regardless of the outcome of this game, Cal looks like they are headed towards the best season they’ve had since at least 2009 (8-5). Utah 31 California 27. # 8 Florida at # 33 Missouri – The Gators are one of the biggest surprises of 2015. First, the great comeback win over Tennessee, then the shocking upset of Ole Miss. Now Florida goes on the road to face Mizzou, who’s only loss was at Kentucky, the team Florida barely escaped 14-9. No room for error here by either team, both of whom have visions of an SEC East crown. Florida 29 Missouri 28. # 3 TCU at # 41 Kansas State – As expected, Kansas State almost pulled an upset in Stillwater last week, while the Froggies were humbling Texas 50-7. This is a huge test for TCU. Winning in Lubbock a few weeks ago took a little luck and the Horned Frogs may need to reach in their bag of tricks for another miracle. The Wildcats are solid and hard to beat in Manhattan under Bill Synder, not to mention hungry for a win after the disappointing loss to the Cowboys. I’m tempted to pick an upset, but if I did I’d spoil the believe that TCU will win a National Championship. TCU 35 Kansas State 28. # 13 Oklahoma vs #65 Texas – Why am I even mentioning this game? If you have to ask, you don’t know me very well. For someone born in Oklahoma but raised in Texas, this is always the biggest game of the year, regardless of rankings and won loss records. And it’s true, you can throw them out the window when these two teams take the field at Cotton Bowl Stadium. Think about this, and let it soak in, Texas HAS NEVER in the history of this series entered the game with 4 losses. And this series dates to 1900. This is the second worse ranking for the Longhorns since a # 76 (0-2-0) Texas team took the field against Oklahoma in 1938. This series has a history of huge upsets. Any time one team is favored by more than two touchdowns, look out, the other team plays their best game of the year. Just two years ago Oklahoma took a 16 point favored undefeated team to Dallas and promptly lost 36-20. In 1996 winless Oklahoma (0-4 ) upset Texas as a 17 point underdog 30-27. Texas is a very dangerous team. Don’t be fooled by the blowout loss to TCU. The Horned Frogs were taking out 100 years of frustration on the Horns in front of a delighted home crowd. Two special teams breakdowns separate Texas from being 3-2. Do the Longhorns have a miracle win left in their hearts or does Oklahoma perform another 65-13 Boomer Sooner Beat Down? Pay attention to the first quarter. If Texas comes out inspired this could be quite a game. If Oklahoma jumps out on top early, well, I’m not sure the Longhorns have it in them to crawl out of a big whole. Oklahoma 38 Texas 16. For all this weeks projections follow these links: Billingsley Projections Billingsley+ Margin of Victory Projections Billingsley Pre-Season Game by Game Projections
Bulldog Bama Showdown Highlights Huge College Football Weekend
Every weekend is big in college football, but there is no doubt, some are bigger than others. This weekend is full of games that will reshape the college football playoff landscape. #11 Alabama at #10 Georgia – Alabama visits Athens, Georgia Saturday in one of the most anticipated games in this long storied rivalry. According to Billingsley’s Encyclopedia this will be the 67th meeting between the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs with Alabama holding a 37-25-4 advantage. Since these two are cross divisional rivals in the SEC they do not play every year, in fact, this will only be the 4th regular season meeting in the last 20 years. The two also met in the 2012 SEC Championship game. Both teams being ranked in the Top 15 on game day is a rare occurrence. The Tide and Bulldogs have only been ranked in the AP Top 15 5 times in the series history which dates all the way back to 1895 (2012, 2008, 1976, 1946, 1942). The AP rankings began in 1936. Some believe this is a preview to the upcoming SEC Championship Game as both teams are in contention for their respective division crowns and could meet again in December. Georgia is undefeated at 4-0, Alabama comes in at 3-1 still smarting from that upset loss to Ole Miss two weeks ago. Both of these teams are hungry for the win. Alabama wants to prove they are still the SEC’s best, Georgia fans believe this could be one of the best teams in Bulldog history. Sanford Stadium will be rockin’ in overdrive for the 2:30 (CT) afternoon kickoff. The game will be a national broadcast on CBS. This will be a hard nosed physical contest with both teams giving 100%. As in all big games, it will come down to mistakes, but I can’t help but believe the home town Bulldogs pull out a win. Georgia 31 Alabama 28. #6 Notre Dame at #14 Clemson – It amazes me at times just how accurate my July preseason predictions can be. For this week I predicted Notre Dame to be 4-0 and ranked #6 and Clemson 3-0 #17. I also predicted a Clemson win, but that part of the prediction is making me very nervous. Injuries have hurt the Irish but backups have played much better than could have ever been expected…..and against some very stiff competition. The Irish’s strength of schedule is # 23, Clemson on the other hand, well, a paltry #104. A win here and Notre Dame places themselves front and center for the playoff committee. But Death Valley is one of the toughest venues in the nation. Saturday night, prime time national TV audience, Howard’s Rock, electric crowd, this is already giving me chills. Lordy Lordy I wish both teams could win, but since that’s not possible I’ll stick with my original feeling, by the slimmest of margins. Clemson 31 Notre Dame 30. #56 Texas at #4 TCU – As I wrote earlier this week, Texas is a very dangerous team who could be 3-1 very easily. The Longhorns are moving the ball and scoring enough points to win games and the defense has looked good at times, but is inconsistent. Special teams, well, I won’t go there. I believe Texas could win this game….but they won’t. TCU has played step child to the Longhorns since 1897, but the tables have turned as of late and the Froggies have long, long, long memories. It won’t be easy and it may not be pretty, but if there is any way in, well, you know where, TCU is gonna win this game. TCU 45 Texas 27. #12 Baylor vs #37 Texas Tech – The Red Raiders should have beaten TCU last Saturday but fate smiled on the Frogs. Now Texas Tech jumps from the frying pan into the fire going to Arlington to tackle the red hot Baylor Bears. How much juice does Texas Tech have after that incredible letdown? Games like this are impossible to predict because you never know the mindset of the players till after they get on the field. My suspicion is that the Red Raiders will play with a lot of heart and emotion, but come up short to a superior Baylor offense. Baylor 52 Texas Tech 42. #31 West Virginia at #16 Oklahoma – Bob Stoops is upset about the 11AM kickoff. Sooner fans are gearing up for their annual trek to Dallas next weekend, already thinking about feasting on those poor 1-3 (perhaps 1-4 by then) Longhorns. Is anyone even thinking about West Virginia? Oh my, I have news for Sooner fans, the Mountaineer passing attack will light up the OU secondary like a Christmas tree on December 24th. Tulsa made the OU pass defense look bad, really bad, and this West Virginia passing game is better. Oklahoma had a week off to prepare. I hope they spent their time wisely. This game has upset written all over it. The saving grace may be it’s in Norman and even that may not be enough. Oklahoma 38 West Virginia 35. #42 Kansas State at #26 Oklahoma State – The Cowboys should be 3-1, but Texas was in a giving mood so they are still undefeated. Aw shucks, I don’t want to take anything away from Oklahoma State. Beating Texas in Austin, regardless of the circumstances is impressive. Impressive enough that most likely the Stillwater campus is still celebrating the big win. Now they return home to face an undefeated, well rested Wildcat team coached by a man who just relishes the underdog role. Yep, Bill Snyder is quietly going about his business diagramming a winning defensive strategy for those pesky Cowboys. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with. The only reason I’m picking Oklahoma State is because I live in Oklahoma. Oklahoma State 28 Kansas State 27. #8 Ole Miss at #22 Florida – Speaking of teams being in a giving mood…..Florida could easily be 3-1 as well had Tennessee not had ANOTHER 4th quarter meltdown. But hey, the Gators were good enough to take advantage of the momentum and score those points, and let’s not forget, Florida did beat Kentucky on the road….and they are playing in the Swamp. Forget about it. If the Rebels can beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa, they can beat Florida in Gainesville. It may not be easy, but I expect Ole Miss to come through the Gator’s snare with an unbeaten record still in tow. Mississippi 31 Florida 17. #20 Mississippi State at #9 Texas A&M – After the loss to LSU a lot of people, OK, yes, I was one of them, wrote off Mississippi State as being an “average team”. Now the Bulldogs are 3-1 after going on the road and beating Auburn. Question is, was that really an accomplishment? I don’t know what to think about Auburn. But I do know this, if Mississippi State can beat Texas A&M in College Station….now THAT would make a believer out me. Problem is, I don’t think they can. Something tells me this Aggie team is special, and getting better by the week. Lady Luck smiled on A&M versus Arkansas. I believe they will triumph in front of 100,000+ at home. Texas A&M 37 Mississippi State 24. For all this weeks projections, follow these links: Billingsley Projections Billingsley+ (MOV) Projections Billingsley’s Game by Game Preseason Predictions
TCU Escapes Red Raiders in Miracle Finish; Utah blasts Oregon
Like every other prognosticator, there are many times I miss the close calls. Just last week 4 games came down to the last play of the game and my predicted winner lost all four. That’s football. But it’s rare that I misjudge a game as badly as I did this past weekend by predicting a Brigham Young win over Michigan. Final score, Michigan 31 Brigham Young 0. I’m still trying to figure that one out. There is no way BYU is as bad a team as they showed on Saturday. Yes, I’m sure they suffered some fatigue from playing a hard schedule on the road, and yes, I’m sure they suffered some hangover from the disappointing loss at UCLA, but 31-0? Yikes! The biggest question lingering in my mind now is, could Michigan possibly be THAT good? Shouldn’t take long to find out, #1 Michigan State comes calling October 17. I was right about TCU’s woes in Lubbock though. The Horned Frogs needed a miracle finish to beat Texas Tech 55-52. But my prediction was nothing close to the master, Lee Corso, who boldly predicted on national TV (Gameday on ESPN), that TCU would “win by a safety”, and by George they did. The Horned Frogs recorded a safety earlier in the contest and led by two points back and forth in the game. Later TCU also went for a two point conversion giving an added point to the score for a total winning margin of 3 points. Coach Corso needs to don a fortune teller’s cap next week during predictions. Should I even mention the Longhorn’s woes? I won’t even go there other than to say Texas is a very dangerous team. Two plays separate Texas from being 3-1 with the lone loss at the hands of undefeated Notre Dame. The next two weeks for Texas? TCU in Fort Worth and Oklahoma in Dallas. I would not be surprised if one of those unbeaten teams didn’t fall at the hands of the Horns. The Pac 12 was full of surprises Saturday with one down right shocker as Utah marched into Autzen Stadium and demolished the slightly favored Ducks 62-20. Looks like Oregon’s dominance of the Pac 12 North is in jeopardy for sure. And what about those Bears. California is still undefeated after beating Washington in Seattle. That’s the second big road win in a row after beating Texas in Austin last Saturday. In the Southern Division one thing was clear, it was not a good night for the state of Arizona as both the Wildcats and Sun Devils lost badly to the LA Two. UCLA throttled Arizona 56-30 while USC was thrashing Arizona State 42-14. There are some huge Pac 12 games on the near horizon as Stanford hosts UCLA on October 15 (a Thursday night game), and USC hosts Utah on October 24. Down in the SEC LSU, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M all had their hands full Saturday with Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas. They fared better than Auburn, Missouri, and Tennessee though, all of whom lost close, tight, games they were expected to win against Mississippi State, Kentucky, and Florida. Maybe Texas and Tennessee could play in the “give Away Bowl” this season. OK, that was just plain uncalled for. Boise State is still my highest ranked “group of five” team, but I’m sure noticing some strong performances rumbling from the American conference. Watch out for Houston, Temple, and Memphis. If one of those teams happen to come through undefeated, they could possibly overtake the Broncos of the Mountain West for that coveted “New Year’s Day” Bowl slot. Hmmm……I think Toledo deserves a mention in that conversation too, at this point anyway. Big weekend coming up. Stay tuned for predictions to post Wednesday.
Michigan Hosts Brigham Young in Big House Showdown
#15 Brigham Young at #45 Michigan – BYU fell just short of upsetting UCLA in Pasadena last week, eventually falling to the Bruins 24-23. Now, for the 4th straight week, the Cougars face off with another Top 50 foe, #45 Michigan. BYU has recorded the Nation’s most difficult schedule thus far on the season by playing #48 Nebraska, #20 Boise State and #5 UCLA. Resurgent Michigan has played well under first year head coach Jim Harbaugh, recording a 2-1 record with the lone loss on the road to unbeaten Pac 12 contender Utah. This game will go a long, long way in determining the eventual success of the 2015 season for both teams. A win in Ann Arbor Saturday and BYU could possibly be favored in every remaining game on their schedule. An 11-1 season record for this team would be a tremendous achievement and make the Cougars a very attractive Bowl team. Michigan on the other hand desperately needs to win this game to keep momentum going into a very difficult Big 10 schedule which includes Northwestern, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State and Ohio State. The Cougars are a solid team and have played extremely well in some very hostile environments. They seem to thrive on the energy of big games and I don’t feel this team will be intimidated in the Big House. The Wolverines are better coached and more disciplined this season, but will that be enough to beat the Miracle Man Tanner Mangum? Maybe so, but I believe BYU is on a mission. Brigham Young 29 Michigan 24. #7 TCU at #34 Texas Tech – This game has upset written all over it. The Frogs are finding it difficult to live up to media hype and must go on the road to face a hot Texas Tech team fresh off a big win over the Razorbacks in Fayetville. TCU will face better teams this season for certain, but this may be their most difficult task in terms of preparation and keeping focus. One thing for sure, we’ll find out about the real character of this TCU team. Are they really National Championship Contenders? I’m sticking with the Purple Froggies, but by the skin of their little Horned Frog chins. TCU 35 Texas Tech 34. Pac 12 Shakedown – Conference play starts in high gear this week with multiple high profile games that will shape division titles. Four unbeaten streaks are on the line. #5 UCLA travels to #30 Arizona, the winner taking an early season lead in the Southern Division. Tuscon has traditionally been a tough spot for the Bruins, losing 4 of their last 5 trips there. #16 Oregon hosts #18 Utah, #22 Arizona State hosts #25 USC, and #33 California travels to #44 Washington. Here goes nothing: UCLA 45 Arizona 38 Oregon 31 Utah 24 Arizona State 35 USC 34 Washington 38 California 35 #11 Texas A&M vs #53 Arkansas in Arlington – The Aggies are a surprise 3-0 after handling the Sun Devils in Houston for the season opener. Arkansas is a shocking 1-2 after losing to Toledo and Texas Tech. I’m not sure what has happened to the Hogs, who were projected to be a surprise team in the SEC West by many prognosticators. Well, they are certainly surprising everyone. Looking at the remainder of their schedule, I question whether Arkansas will even be bowl eligible. I expect the Razorbacks to play hard, with a lot of character against their old SWC foe, but I believe the Aggies are a better team. Texas A&M 31 Arkansas 28. #29 Tennessee at #27 Florida – The Vols are still smarting from the overtime home loss to Oklahoma, but a win over hated rival Florida in Gainesville would go a long, long way toward healing that memory. This game could easily ultimately decide the SEC East, depending on how both of these teams fare against Georgia in upcoming games. It’s unbelievable to see this stat, but Tennessee has lost 10 straight to the Gators, not having won since back to back wins in 2003-2004. I think Tennessee wants this one bad, and although they are playing in the Swamp, I believe the Vols will win a close one. Tennessee 35 Florida 27. For All Billingsley Projections follow these links: Preseason game by game Week 4 Billingsley Projections Week 4 Billingsley+ (MOV) Projections
Fighting Irish Sting Yellow Jackets; Ohio State Survives Northern Illinois
Notre Dame’s strong first half defensive performance shut down the Yellow Jacket’s prolific offense and that was enough to preserve a 30-22 win over Georgia Tech in South Bend Saturday. The Fighting Irish remain unbeaten at 3-0 and moved from #5 to #3 in this week’s Billingsley Report. Ohio State remained #1 despite surviving a huge upset bid by MAC front runner Northern Illinois. The Buckeyes were a whopping 33 point favorite in Las Vegas but only favored by 18 in the Billingsley Projection. Ohio State won 20-13. Around the nation, Ole Miss stunned Alabama 43-37, winning for the first time in Tuscaloosa since 1988 and secured a back to back win over Bama for the first time in school history. The two old time rivals have been playing since 1894, with Alabama holding a 52-10-2 record in the series. TCU struggled with cross town rival SMU before pulling away for a 56-37 win in Fort Worth. The Froggies dropped to #7 after being leapfrogged by Notre Dame, Ole Miss, LSU and UCLA all of whom played much superior opposition. Stanford surprised the Trojans in the Coliseum 41-31 striking a severe blow to USC’s quest for a Pac 12 South title. The most impressive performance of the weekend was probably Ole Miss, but LSU certainly put on quite a show in Baton Rouge beating Auburn 45-21. Arkansas is reeling from a second loss of the season, both to teams they were favored to beat, (Toledo and Texas Tech). The Red Raiders used their signature wide open passing game to fly by the Hogs 35-24. With the SEC schedule in front of them, things do not look promising for the Razorbacks. All 3 Billingsley Reports are now posted online under the rankings tab. Stay tuned for week #4 projections Wednesday.
Ole Miss Travels to Tuscaloosa for Early Season SEC Showdown
Highest profile Week 3 Games: While most of the teams in the FBS are still feasting on over matched early season non conference opponents, two teams in the SEC are tackling the tough games first. Often criticized by fans and media for playing a soft game in November, the SEC compensates by playing high profile conference games in September. Try and keep that in mind when you have a desire to bash Bama for playing Charleston Southern on November 21. #23 Mississippi at #3 Alabama – The Ole Miss Rebels roll into Tuscaloosa Saturday to tackle the Tide. Alabama is still smarting from a 23-17 loss to Mississippi last year in the Grove. Ole Miss has been putting on quite an offensive show so far in 2015, rolling off 70+ points against Tennessee-Martin and Fresno State. The defense hasn’t been to shabby either I might add. Alabama has played well, and already has one big win under their belt, a convincing 35-17 shellacking of Wisconsin in Jerry World. Las Vegas opened with the Tide an 8 point favorite, falling much in line with 5 in the Billingsley+ Report, but I’ll tell you, this is anybody’s game. As usual, mistakes and turnovers will tell the tale. I expect both teams to play at their highest level with Alabama squeaking out a very hard earned win. Alabama 27 Ole Miss 24. #10 Auburn at #13 LSU – There is only one way to describe the Auburn win last Saturday….pure luck. Surely the Tigers knew Jacksonville State was worthy of proper preparation, after all, this is the same team that shocked Ole Miss 49-48 in the 2010 season opener.. It’s not like this team should have gone unnoticed. But the Gamecocks literally pushed Auburn around the whole game before bowing in overtime 27-20. History books will show an Auburn win, but the Tigers lost so much more by way of respect and drop in ratings. It will be interesting to see how Auburn responds, and the Tigers certainly have an opportunity in front of them. But it may be an insurmountable opportunity. Going on the road to face a hot LSU team is not the best way to try and rebuild a soiled reputation…..unless you win that is. Don’t over react about Jacksonville State, Auburn is still a very good team. LSU surprised me by playing a very solid opening game on the road against Mississippi State last week, and now playing at home, well, we all know what Death Valley is like. This should be a tight contest, great game, but I have to go with the Tigers…..home Tigers that is. LSU 31 Auburn 28. #16 Georgia Tech at #5 Notre Dame – With the season ending injury to Irish QB Malik Zaire some of the luster has certainly been taken off of this game, and probably the entire season for Notre Dame. With Zaire I projected Notre Dame to go 10-2, without him…..give me another week to answer. Georgia Tech is good enough to beat the Irish even with Malik, but since the game is in South Bend, the edge certainly would have gone to Notre Dame. Now, with a freshman QB making his first start, and against a seasoned Yellow Jacket defense and a high profile prolific Tech offense, I can’t see the Irish pulling this out……but wait, what is this I see? ……Holy Touchdown Jesus…..Notre Dame ALWAYS finds a way. Notre Dame 28 Georgia Tech 27. That one is for you Romeo. #8 Brigham Young at #15 UCLA – If someone had told me BYU would be 2-0 instead of 0-2 this week I would have said they were slap dab crazy. Ranking the Cougars # 8 this week raised a few eyebrows, even mine, but let’s not forget, they are 2-0 playing the #1 most difficult schedule to date. But how many miracles can BYU’s boys possibly have in one bag? Especially 3 weeks in a row. I love a good underdog story, and one of my best friends is a huge Brigham young fan (here is your 30 seconds of fame Royce), but I just can’t see Brigham Young going into the Rose Bowl and beating this UCLA team. But I will say this, way too prematurely I realize, but this team is certainly good enough to finish 11-1. UCLA 34 Brigham Young 24. For all the Billingsley Projections, follow these links: Preseason game by game Week 3 Billingsley Report Week 3 Billingsley+ (MOV) Report
Michigan State Leaps to #1. Sooners Stun Tennessee in Double Overtime.
Michigan State’s defense held the prolific Duck offense in check most of the game and then withstood a late Oregon rally to post a 31-28 win in Saturday’s top college football game. The win vaulted the Spartans from # 4 all the way to #1 in the latest Billingsley Report. Ohio State remains #1 in the Margin of Victory rankings followed by Alabama and TCU. But it was the Sooners who the stole the show Saturday by virtue of the greatest comeback ever witnessed in Neyland Stadium as Oklahoma overcame a 17 point deficit and beat Tennessee 31-24 in double overtime. Bottled up inside their own 20 yard line for three quarters by a stingy Vol defense and multiple Sooner miscues, Oklahoma’s offense caught fire early in the fourth quarter and seemed unstoppable for the remainder of the game. The Sooner defense played well the entire game and their ability to limit Tennessee to 17 first half points then completely shut Tennessee down in the second half proved to be the difference in the game. The raucous overflowing sellout Tennessee crowd was an obvious hindrance to the Sooners in the first half as Oklahoma was plagued with false start penalties which thwarted what few opportunities the Crimson and Cream had, but when the field position changed and Oklahoma started moving the ball, the crowd noise softened and Oklahoma was off to the races. The Sooners moved from #25 to #14 in this week’s report and Tennessee only fell slightly from #24 to #26. The week two rankings are now posted to your right under their respective headlines.
Volunteers Welcome Sooners To Rocky Top, Spartans Entertain Ducks
But first things first, there are a few notables to mention from week one. Northwestern started first Saturday morning by pulling off a mild, but impressive upset of Stanford 16-6. It was a nice win for Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats who have suffered through two disappointing seasons in a row. I’m still convinced Stanford is a good team, which makes the Wildcat win even more impressive. Looking ahead I have Northwestern projected to lose at Duke, at Michigan and at home to Penn State, but based on the first week, all those games now look winnable. With losses only at Nebraska and at Wisconsin, a 10-2 season would look pretty darned rosy in Evanston. The play of the day, and possibly the game of the day has to go to Brigham young and the Hail Mary, (or Hail Joseph Smith if you prefer) in the last play of the Nebraska game. But, the win certainly came at a great price after losing QB Taysom Hill for the season. BYU jumps from the frying pan into the the fire as the Cougars host Boise State late Saturday night. Notre Dame took care of Texas in stunning fashion with a 38-3 whipping of the Longhorns in South Bend. Not sure what to make of Texas. That was one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen by the Horns, and I lived in Texas for 25 years so I’ve seen a lot of Texas games. Are the Irish really that good? Too early to tell. And don’t go South on Texas just yet. It’s just like the Longhorns to regroup and surprise some top teams in the Big 12. Are you listening Oklahoma? The most impressive performance to me however, goes to Texas A&M, whose 38-17 win over nationally ranked Arizona State pushed the Aggies all the way to #8 in this week’s Billingsley Report. The most dramatic drop goes to Central Florida who’s stunning15-14 home loss to Florida International pushed the Golden Knights from #65 to #85 in the latest report. On to Week 2: #25 Oklahoma at #24 Tennessee – Not a ton of big games this week, but the big ones are super big. After a scary bad, bad (and I do mean BAD) first quarter against Akron, Oklahoma settled down and played very well beating the Zips 41-3. Now the Sooners travel to Knoxville to play big boy football with the Volunteers. No room for mistakes here, on either side. This game is a make or break the season type game for both teams. This will probably be the largest crowd Oklahoma has ever played in front of, and I suspect this will be the largest crowd Tennessee has seen in several years. How many times do you think we will hear Rocky Top? Too many times for Oklahoma fans I suspect. Both teams will challenge for their respective conference crowns, but only one will be cleared for a shot at the CFP after Saturday. I was born in Oklahoma and lived 12 years in Tennessee, so this game is a win win for me, but one team’s fans are gonna be mighty disappointed. The Volunteers played a tougher opening opponent, beating Bowling Green 59-30 in Nashville. That experience may be all they need. I’ll go with Tennessee at home in front of about 107,000. Tennessee 31 Oklahoma 28. #12 Oregon at #4 Michigan State – This is the biggest game the Spartans have hosted since the #1 Fighting Irish rolled into East Lansing on November 19, 1966. I remember that game like it was yesterday…..but that’s another story. In a way I wish this game was not being played so early in the season. I think it would be much more dramatic and appealing if both teams were meeting undefeated say, in October. But know this for sure, if both teams win conference crowns, the CFP selection committee will be giving bonus points to the winner of this contest. Michigan State had a very tough opening opponent in Western Michigan, eventually pulling away for a 37-24 win. Oregon opened with FCS opponent Eastern Washington and played well but gave up a lot of points winning 61-42. Oregon won this game last year at home. I think Michigan State will return the favor. Michigan State 35 Oregon 31. #6 Boise State at # 26 Brigham Young – If this game was in Boise, Idaho I would pick the Broncos hands down, but BYU is hard to beat in LaVell Edwards Stadium, not to mention the Cougars are better than I expected (even without Hill). The only thing that concerns me is trying to figure out how BYU will handle the success of winning in Lincoln. Can you say week long celebration? Boise State looked great in the first half last week, but had to hold on and escape with a 16-13 win over Washington. Hmmm…..hard one to figure. Let’s face it, it’s a tossup. I’ll step out on a limb and say BYU will rise up at home and post a shocking 2-0 start to the season. Brigham Young 24 Boise State 21. #23 LSU at #20 Mississippi State – I’m not so sure the Bulldogs were very well prepared to start the season last week against Southern Miss. Then again, maybe the Eagles are really better. They certainly played inspired football. But at least Mississippi State got to play. LSU didn’t get the privilege after bad storms lingered in the area so long the game with McNeese State was canceled. That may have really hurt the Tigers. Playing an opening game on the road against a Bulldog team that had the bejabbers scared out of them in the first half last week is not an ideal scenario. I think Mississippi State will be prepared and focused for the visiting Tigers. Mississippi State 28 LSU 27. For all this week’s projections, follow the links: Billingsley Report Billingsley+ MOV
Major College Football: Week One Projections
The 2015 season is finally here with kickoff less than 72 hours away. Never too soon for me, but these 95 degree+ days in the heartland are worrisome for the players, coaches, and fans in the stands. I know I’m an old timer, but I kind of miss the 1960’s when the first game of the season was not played until the last weekend of September. For the most part, the weather had already cooled enough by then that the stress level on the players bodies was not nearly as great. Heck, the Oklahoma/Texas game was always the third game of the season. Now the season is almost half over before the Red River Rivalry is played! But even I must admit, playing a 12 game schedule presents a ton of opportunities for great non conference games early in the season, and this year is no exception. # 2 TCU at # 48 Minnesota – Thursday night ESPN starts out with a bang as TCU travels to Minnesota in what could be a very dangerous game for the Froggies. The Golden Gophers are a solid team under Jerry Kill with back to back winning seasons, both 8-5. Minnesota took Ohio State and Wisconsin both to the wire last season and although they lost a lot of key players on offense, the defense is solid. Expectations are very high in Fort Worth. TCU starts the season with the highest AP ranking in school history, and right here at the CFRC we’ve picked the Frogs to win it all. Those kind of predictions can spell doom for a team opening on the road against another good team. This will be a great test to see just how hungry and focused this TCU team is. TCU 31 Minnesota 17. # 47 Washington at # 11 Boise State – The Broncos shot at an undefeated season and a berth in the CFP playoff gets off to a stiff challenge as Boise State hosts Washington. This is Chris Peterson’s second season in Seattle after leaving Boise State for Washington. The first season was greeted with high expectations but only moderate success (8-6). This is a better Husky team than 2014…..but it’s a better Broncos team as well. I think Peterson’s return has been circled on the Bronco calendar for awhile now. Boise State 35 Washington 24. # 49 Brigham Young at # 20 Nebraska – This is a very hard game to analyze. I expect both teams to be very improved, and eventually have great season’s, but only one of them can come out on top in Lincoln. Playing at home is certainly an advantage for the Huskers, but with Taysom Hill back at QB for the Cougars, this team could really make some noise. I think it’s a pure tossup, but I’ll stick with the home team by the slightest of margins. Nebraska 35 BYU 34. # 32 Texas at # 17 Notre Dame – If the Longhorns were not struggling this game would be getting National Top Billing….but Texas has fallen on hard times. Charlie Strong has the Horns headed in the right direction, and with some success at QB, this team is capable of surprising some Big 12 opponents. But I don’t think the Irish will be overlooking Texas. Putting a whipping on the Longhorns would be a great way to start what is expected to be a great season in South Bend. It may be close for a half, but I think the Irish will pull away…..maybe way away. Notre Dame 42 Texas 24. # 40 Michigan at # 30 Utah – What a great story line is has been for Harbaugh to return to Michigan. The Wolverines desperately needed that kind of boost, and honestly, I think success at Michigan, as a program, is good for college football. But this is not the kind of scenario with which a coach would choose to open. Utah is very good, and even better at home. Another toss up game. Michigan could easily pull a mild upset here, but I think the Utes may be just a little more than the Wolverines can handle on the road in an opening game. Utah 31 Michigan 27. # 5 Alabama vs # 13 Wisconsin in Arlington – These opening weekend neutral site games have become quite a joy for me. What a great way to start a season, well, at least if you are the winning team. It certainly can make or break a national championship year. The Crimson Tide is breaking in a new QB and must replace a ton of talent on offense with only two starters returning. Alabama appears to be some what vulnerable and Wisconsin is expected to contend for the Big 10 title…..but is Alabama ever really vulnerable? The amount of talent flowing through Tuscaloosa is almost unbelievable, and as long as Saban is leading the troops, the Tide will always be prepared. It may be a great game to watch, but in the end Alabama will prevail. Alabama 31 Wisconsin 24. # 10 Arizona State vs # 23 Texas A&M in Houston – This is one of my most anticipated games. Basically a home game for the Aggies, Arizona State will be in a very hostile environment. A lot is expected out of the Sun Devils in 2015. In some circles Arizona State is predicted to win the Pac 12. But if there is any hope to rise beyond a conference championship and compete for a spot in the Four Team Playoff, it absolutely starts here. ASU needs this game desperately and the Aggies are a slight 3 point favorite. I believe the Sun Devils have what it takes. Arizona State 38 Texas A&M 31. # 15 Auburn vs # 27 Louisville in Atlanta – Most prognosticators agree, if you’re good enough to win the SEC West, you’re good enough to win a national championship and for a time last season, the West Division looked more powerful than ever with the emergence of Ole Miss and Mississippi State, but the Bowl season was not kind to the SEC West. Granted, they were playing the best competition of the bowl season, but still, a dismal 2-5 record is not what was expected. But there is another way to look at those games. Texas A&M and Arkansas won their bowl games, Alabama lost to eventual National Champ Ohio State, and LSU and Auburn lost heart breakers to Notre Dame and Wisconsin. With only a slight reversal of fortune the SEC West would have been 5-2 which is more in line with what was expected. Only Ole Miss looked really bad, and that was against a TCU team hell bent to prove they deserved that 4th playoff spot. I’ve said all that to say this, Auburn is a very good team, certainly capable of contending for a National Championship. Louisville is good, and well coached, but probably a year away from contending for the ACC crown. I believe Auburn is hungry and focused, a great combination for a big win. Auburn 45 Louisville 21. Watch for Weekly Projections to be posted every Wednesday afternoon. For all the FBS vs FBS projections, follow the links below: Billingsley Report Billingsley+ (MOV)
Billingsley Wins Two National Awards
Recently released awards from the Prediction Tracker.com reveal two national awards for Richard Billingsley, owner of the College Football Research Center (CFRC.COM) and publisher of the Billingsley Report on Major College Football. The Prediction Tracker, owned by Todd Beck, is an independent organization that monitors the success of participating computer ranking systems across America. In operation since 2000, the list of monitored systems has grown from a handful to 72, and this coming season (2015) has been expanded to include the new FPI Rating system developed and published by ESPN. Richard Billingsley’s Billingsley+ Report, which utilizes margin of victory in calculations, took home the awards top prize of “BEST PREDICTIVE SYSTEM of 2014” along with “Smallest Average Game Bias” won by the the original Billingsley Report (which does not use margin of victory). The original Billingsley Report was used by the Bowl Championship Series for many years to assist in determining participating teams in the National Championship Game. The best predictive system is chosen from being the overall leader in several major categories. Billingsley finished only 6 games behind in another category, “Straight Up Wins” won by Ted Thompson’s Computer Adjusted Line. Billingsley has been ranking college football teams since 1970 and was the first pollster to run the entire history of college football (from 1869) through a mathematical formula. From 2001-2004 Richard collaborated in the development of the ESPN College Football Encyclopedia, spearheaded by renowned editor and author Michael MacCambridge. Richard supplied the All Time Scores, Conference Standings and Poll Progressions for the Encyclopedia. His rankings were chosen by MacCambridge and published by ESPN in the encyclopedia as “computer national champions” and printed right next to the Associated Press and Coaches Polls in the Poll Progression section. Later, in a 2009 interview with the Fort Worth Star Telegram MacCambridge was quoted ” I don’t know what his hidden ingredient is, I don’t know what the secret sauce is in Richard’s formula. But whatever it is it works very well and is very reliable. And that is a credit to, not his fandom, but to his professionalism and his intellect“. When informed of the awards Billingsley was somewhat shocked and very humbled. “Just to have my work out there in the same conversation with the great one’s, ESPN, USA Today, Dunkel, and Sagarin along with my other former BCS counterparts, Anderson/Hester, Massey, Wolfe and Colley was always enough for me. But this feels great. I’m very honored.” Often criticized by mathematicians for his lack of educational credentials (Billingsley has only a high school education and no formal mathematical training) the awards are some what a vindication for his 45+ years work in college football. In the book Death to the BCS, the authors quoted Billingsley as a “Hillbilly”. When asked to comment on the awards, CFRC Vice President Steve Billingsley said with a laugh, “score one for the “hillbilly”.