What to watch, Week 5

There’s some interesting stuff happening on the weeknight games, so I have to get this out a day early.

(All times ET)

Thursday

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech – 7:30 – ESPN

Frank Beamer vs. Paul Johnson? The dean of cut block complainers vs. a man who cut blocked his own mother as he was being born? No I certainly do not have anything better to do on a Thursday night.

Friday

Utah State at San Jose State – 9:00 – ESPN

This game should feature enough offense that it won’t end until sometime around around 6. Chuckie Keeton vs. David Fales? That will be a lot of fun, at least until sometime in the second quarter when you realize that the Mids have to play the latter at the end of the season.

Saturday

South Alabama at Tennessee – Noonish – SEC Network/ESPN3

The appetizer for the Navy game will be another look at future opponent South Alabama. It’s not necessarily weird that the Jaguars are 2-1. It is a bit weird that the wins came over Tulane and Western Kentucky while the loss came against Southern Utah.

Virginia at Pittsburgh – 12:30 – FSN affiliates

I need this game to determine whether Duke has a good offense or Pitt has a bad defense.

Army vs. Louisiana Tech – 4:00 – FS1

Another winnable game for Army. Joined in progress after the end of the Navy game. Toledo and Duke are also playing in 3:00 games on ESPN3, but I don’t know if I’ll get to those since there probably won’t be much left by the time the Mids are done playing.

Air Force at Nevada – 8:00 – CBS Sports Network

This game just got a lot more interesting now that Jaleel Awini has been suspended.

Game Week: Penn State

The last time Navy started 0-2 was in 2005. The Mids opened with a heartbreaker in Baltimore against Maryland, then fell just short in a back-and-forth shootout with Stanford at home. The team rebounded to win the next four in a row before finishing at 8-4, blasting Colorado State in the Poinsettia Bowl. Happy times.

When the 2012 schedule was released showing the Mids leading off against Notre Dame and Penn State, a lot of people probably penciled Navy in for another 0-2 start this year. I’m not so sure they can afford one.

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The New Big East Power Rankings – Week 1

While Navy’s move to the Big East might not be happening for another 3 years, it’s never too early to take a look at what our future conference looks like. Taking the 13 teams that are slated to be in the Big East in 2015, we’ll be ranking them against each other based on their current performance on the field.

1. Louisville – W 32-14 vs. Kentucky – Starting your season off with a win over your in-state, in-the-SEC rival has got to feel good. The final score doesn’t tell you that their starting quarterback, Bridgewater, was 19 for 21 passing (a school record for completion percentage) before heading for the bench in the 3rd quarter and getting the backup QB some serious reps. Louisville also had 2 running backs over 100 yards rushing while Kentucky couldn’t break the century mark as a team.

2. Boise State – L 13-17 @ Michigan State – This was Boise’s 4th consecutive season that started on the road against a ranked opponent. This was also the first time Boise lost that game. Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell turned out to be just too much for the Broncos to handle, rushing for 210 yards and 2 TDs. But even with an offense that sputtered most of the game, Boise was in it right to the end. Give credit to Chris Peterson – Boise lost a lot of talent last year to graduation and the NFL, but they were in the lead until the final 8 minutes of the game.

3. UCF – W 56-14 @ Akron – George O’Leary’s team had a lot of preseason hype that was dinged by an NCAA investigation and postseason ban. While they are appealing the ban, it’s unlikely UCF has anything more to play for than the regular season. The team got off on the right foot, beating the Fighting Chuck Amatos of Akron. Really, these guys were a toss-up with USF for the #3/4 spots. UCF beat a “1-A” team, so they get #3.

4. USF – W 34-13 vs. Chattanooga – What can I say about this game? Nothing really. Didn’t see it. It’s a 1-AA team. BJ Daniels (a candidate for the All-“Wait, what? he’s still in college” team) tossed 3 TDs while Chattanooga was held to just 151 yards. Well get to know a little more about the team when they head to Nevada next week. Maybe?

5. UConn – W 37-0 vs. Massachusetts – UConn won. And they shut them out. And this was UMass’ first game as a FBS team. The fact they held UMass to 59 total yards gets them the #5 spot.

6. Rutgers – W 24-12 vs. Tulane – Greg Schiano, the man who gave Rutgers something other than “we were in the first football game” to talk about, is gone. Tulane lost 10 consecutive games to end the season. But hey, a win is a win.

7. Cincinnati – Idle – The good news is you didn’t lose. The bad news is you didn’t win. You get Pitt on Thursday night coming off that embarrassing loss. Do us proud, Bearcats.

8. Temple – W 41-10 vs. Villanova – Congrats to Temple on winning their first game back from Big East exile. You did get out-gained by Villanova, but who cares. Steve Addazio has kept Temple on the upward trend established by Al Golden, delivering the 3rd Mayor’s Cup in this rivalry. Upcoming games vs. Maryland and at Penn State look to be winnable.

9. San Diego State – L 12-21 @ Washington – OK, if there is a team I underrated here, it’s SDSU. They put up yards on Washington. They had a turned it over on downs inside the Washington 10. But when you only score once in the first 47+ minutes, it’s hard to get too psyched up about a close loss on the road.

10. SMU – L 24-59 @ Baylor – You got your doors blown off, but you managed to score a couple of TD in garbage time to make it more respectable than the #11 team on the list. 501 yards of offense is no joke, but you know what June Jones teams do, so it’s not amazing either.

11. Navy – L 10-50 vs. Notre Dame – Hey, Ireland is pretty. Navy’s defense? Not so much. Trey Miller passed pretty damn well. But anyone who woke up early knows it was a beatemdown.

12. Houston – L 13-30 vs. Texas State – Look, your loss was so bad your offensive coordinator resigned after just one week of the season. But hey, at least you’re not Memphis.

13. Memphis – L 17-20 vs. Tennessee-Martin – What more can we say. At least you have very low expectations right now. But losing to a team from the OVC who had a losing record last year? You gotta do better than that.

Links 6/7

- CBS has announced a partial 2012 TV schedule for football. We’ve known for a while now that Navy’s match-ups against Notre Dame and Air Force are going to be on CBS with morning kick-off times. The big news here for Navy fans is that the Army-Navy game will kick-off at 3pm EST.

I have to disagree with Sal here. It’s not a weird time. It puts kickoff at noon PST, making it that much more attractive to viewers west of the Mississippi. We all know the game got a bump by shifting to the weekend after conference championships. Perhaps we can get a few more viewers with this slight adjustment (last year the kickoff was at 2:30pm EST). With the Big East TV deal looming, any boost in Army-Navy ratings now will deliver more TV dollars later.

- Navy Baseball had two players drafted in this year’s MLB draft. The Blue Jays selected outfielder Alex Azor in the 10th round – putting him as the highest drafted Navy player of all time – while the Brewers took pitcher Preston Gainey in the 11th round.

- Navy’s Zack Duncavage, a Youngster, placed 16th in the discus at the NCAA track and field championships this week. His finish nets him 2nd team All-American honors.

- Finally, this one slipped through the cracks at the beginning of the week, but bears mention. The Navy Men’s Lightweight Four won the IRA National Championship this past weekend in Camden, NJ. This was the final feather in the cap of Coach Rick Clothier, who has retired after leading the crew program for 38 years.

Links 6/6

- The Annapolis Capital is reporting that three members of the Navy football team have left the school. They are Center Dale Howard, Fullback Mike Patrick, and linebacker Jarvis Cummings. All three were back-ups on the depth chart, with Howard and Cummings listed as #2 at their positions, while Patrick was 3rd string. While this doesn’t hit the top-line, it certainly undermines depth at those positions.

- Navy Women’s Lacrosse team captain Kierstin King has been selected to play in the IWLCA Senior All-Star Game on June 16th. She joins two other players from the Patriot League, Lehigh’s Leigh Ann Torcivia and Colgate’s Courtney Miller.

- The Big East is looking towards the Poinsettia Bowl for possible western expansion of their bowl game tie-ins starting in 2014. Their current bowl inventory does not reach the Mississippi River, with the westernmost bowl game being the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama. The MWC has an agreement with the Poinsettia Bowl that expires in 2013. With Navy scheduled to play in the bowl game in 2014 (if bowl eligible), such a match-up could give us a preview of league play in 2015.

- The demo for NCAA Football 13 has hit the PS3 and Xbox 360. While this normally wouldn’t be huge news for our blog, there’s a hook. Users who share the demo with friends will unlock Nike Pro Combat uniforms for five teams: Ohio Shate, LSU, Boise State, Stanford and…wait for it…Navy. That’s not bad company to keep.

No word yet if there is a combat coaching mode for Air Force fans.

Playoff Thoughts

I’m pretty sure I’m the only person left that doesn’t want a college football playoff, but it appears I’ll be out of luck once the current BCS contract ends and a four-team playoff is implemented. At this point it seems like the only thing left to decide is the format, a question that’s been creating all kinds of hate and discontent lately. Nick Saban accusing others of being self-serving while making his own self-serving argument? It must be Wednesday.

The two most popular ideas being tossed around are the “four best teams” plan favored by the SEC, and the “conference champion” plan that was offered by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney. The way the latter would work is that the top four conference champions would be selected out of a pool of the top six teams. If there aren’t four conference champions within the top six, the remaining spots would be filled by at-large teams within that group. This is the plan supported by the Big East.

It seems like picking the four best teams is the obvious answer, but it really isn’t. Think about it for a second. The rallying cry of playoff supporters has always been that the national champion should be “determined on the field.” Relying on some BCS ranking system to pick who gets to participate wouldn’t serve that purpose any more with four teams than it does with two. Deciding the “best” is subjective. Deciding conference champions is not. There is going to be a subjective element in the selection process because of who gets ranked in the top six, but the best way to minimize it and have the national champion truly decided on the field is to give selection priority to conference champions.

SOME CHATTER

A few things to discuss:

– The conference expansion gong show continues. Moving on from its failed merger with the Mountain West, Conference USA is adding five teams: North Texas, FIU, Louisiana Tech, UTSA, and UNC-Charlotte. Old Dominion also reportedly has an invite, but is mulling things over. The Sun Belt added Texas State and Georgia State to make up for its losses. In a move that was long anticipated, San Jose State and Utah State made their way to the Mountain West.

The departure of Louisiana Tech, UTSA, Texas State, SJSU, and Utah State on top of those that have already left means that the WAC is pretty much dead as a football conference. Only Idaho and New Mexico State remain, and the future looks pretty bleak for them as those two might be the first casualties of the haves-have nots divide. Even if they intend to find a way to survive in I-A, how on earth will these guys be able to recruit? Who’s going to want to sign on for four years when they can’t be sure that there will even be a program in four years? Expect a lot of JUCO transfers for the Aggies and Vandals in the near future.

Paul Meyerberg sums it up:

As someone who grew up watching Hawaii and epic BYU-San Diego State shootouts, seeing the WAC go is a sad thing, even if those days were already long gone. There was a lot of innovation in that league, from Air Coryell, to the spread option, to the 3-3-5 defense. Even the modern WAC was fun to watch, with Pat Hill’s take-on-all-comers Fresno State teams, Boise State’s rise to the national spotlight, and Hawaii’s run & shoot for those of us who wanted our college football Saturdays to stretch into Sunday morning. Those programs are still around, but having them all in one crazy package made for a good time. Of course, the Mountain West is basically the nuWAC now, so maybe some sense of the spirit of the WAC will live on for a little while longer, just with a stupider logo.

For those of us who have been stationed in Norfolk or have been long-time residents… ODU MIGHT BE PLAYING FOOTBALL IN C-USA. How bonkers is that?

– Speaking of the Mountain West, they released their hodgepodge national television schedule yesterday. Of note is that Navy will be playing Air Force on CBS again (cool), but at 9:30 a.m. local time (lollerskates). Crazy early start times and midweek games were a driving factor for the MWC in leaving ESPN and starting their own network, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers at this point. CBS Sports Network owns the conference’s rights, but “will sub-license games to NBC Sports Network and ESPN” according to the release. Judging by television appearances, the Mountain West is made up of Boise State and the nine dwarves, with the Broncos getting 10 of their games picked up under this arrangement. The announcement includes games like Boise State at Michigan State and Air Force at Army that aren’t part of the Mountain West package, but rather the respective home teams’ TV deal. Not on the list is Air Force’s game at Michigan on Sept. 8, which will definitely be televised. It might end up on ESPN, although looking at the Big Ten schedule that week there’s a chance it’ll be on the Big Ten Network instead. Teams will be forced to look for local TV coverage for the rest of the conference’s games.

– Don’t forget the women’s lax game vs. Oregon on Saturday, which will be streamed live online for free.

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