Tuesday, December 6, 2016

2016 NCAA Football Top 25 Rankings (Week 14) - PLUS BOWL PICKS!

Tell the Associated Press to take a hike ... these are the only college pigskin rankings you ought to pay any attention to.

By: Jimbo X

This Week's Episode:
"The End of the Line"

The A.P.? The USA Today's Coaches Poll? Whatever jibber-jabber is being puked out over at ESPN and Bleacher Report? Puh-leeze, we all know those alleged "Top 25" countdowns are pathetic jokes penned by homers, Power Five loyalists and Notre Dame nuthuggers. That's why I decided to release my own weekly rundown of the best FBS college football squads in the States, completely devoid of all the usual fanboyism and corporate malarkey that makes lists of the like elsewhere so unbelievably annoying.

Throughout the regular season, a new installment will go up every Wednesday morning, so you may want to bookmark this sucker for future reference ... and to show to all of your fellow NCAA football lovin' chums, so they can know that - at least somewhere out in the tangled, endlessly frustrating World Wide Web - there's someone on the Internet with some goddamn horse sense when it comes to ranking college 'ball teams.

Alabama (13-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Washington (Peach Bowl - Dec. 31)

Yeah, it didn't take much for the Tide to blow through Florida, did it? Their New Year's Eve tilt against the Huskies should be a hell of a ball game - with the only real weakness on Bama's defense being it's attack against the longball, Washington's super vertical aerial game might just give 'em some hissy fits down there at the Georgia Dome. 

Western Michigan (13-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Wisconsin (Cotton Bowl - Jan. 02)

Ohio gave WMU arguably their toughest challenge of the entire year, but the Broncos nonetheless prevailed to win the MAC crown. Up next, they get to test their mettle against one of the tougher power-five defenses out there when they go toe-to-toe with the Badgers the day after New Year's Day. 

Ohio State (11-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Clemson (Fiesta Bowl - Dec. 31)

As it turns out, the Buckeyes didn't even need to win the Big 10 to punch their tickets to the four-team playoffs. Alas, the semi-final matchup that awaits them on New Year's Eve will not be an easy one, as OSU squares off against a super-potent Clemson offense. 

Clemson (12-1)
Next Opponent vs. Ohio State (Fiesta Bowl - Dec. 31)

The Hokies posed no real threat to the Tigers in the ACC title game last weekend. Unfortunately for DeShaun Watson and pals, the Ohio State Buckeyes are a much more difficult offensive and defensive hurdle to clear ... that is, if they even have enough wind behind their backs to make the leap in the first place.  

Washington (12-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Alabama (Peach Bowl - Dec. 31)

After crushing Colorado, the Pac-12 title-holders now turn their attention to the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide. Is the Huskies exquisite passing game enough to give them a leg up over the SEC Goliath? Looks like we'll just have to wait until New Year's Eve to find out.

Michigan (10-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Florida State (Orange Bowl - Dec. 30)

Michigan is on the outside looking in on the playoffs, and understandably, the Wolverines are mighty miffed. That said, they better be careful and not underrate the damage FSU can do when they clash at the Orange Bowl. If you think missing the playoffs by *this much* sucks, just imagine how much missing the playoffs by *this much* and then getting your asses kicked by a team that didn't even make it to their conference championship swallows. 

Penn State (11-2)
Next Opponent: vs. USC (Rose Bowl - Jan. 02)

So the Penn State Pedophile Protectors won the Big 10 championship. They also beat Ohio State in the regular season (although they also got their buttholes torn asunder by Michigan), so a lot of Nittany Lions supporters are pissed about all this - and drawing one of the hottest teams in the country for a Rose Bowl hootenanny can hardly be considered a consolation prize

Oklahoma (10-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Auburn (Sugar Bowl - Jan. 02)

By defeating Oklahoma State, the Sooners became sort of the de facto champions of the Big 12. Alas, the playoffs selection committee just wasn't impressed by Baker Mayfield and pals' resume, so they'll be dueling with Auburn at the Sugar Bowl instead of competing for anything that even remotely resembles a National Championship trophy.

West Virginia (10-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Miami (Russell Athletic Bowl - Dec. 28)

The Mountaineers just barely got past Baylor in the last game of the regular season. Following the 24-21 win, West Virginia heads to Orlando for a totally meaningless matchup against Miami. But hey, they might get some nice sporting equipment out of it, considering the sponsor of their post-season shindig.

Boise State (10-2)
Next Opponent: vs. Baylor (Cactus Bowl - Dec. 27)

The Blue Turfers failed to win their own conference this year, but they still closed out the season with a very respectable 10-2 record. They wrap up the '16 campaign with what should be an offense-heavy slugfest with Baylor in that hotbed of college pigskin greatness ... Phoenix.

South Florida (10-2)
Next Opponent: vs. South Carolina (Birmingham Bowl - Dec. 29)

Yes, the Bulls are one of only 11 Division Uno squads in college football to finish their year with just two losses. They are being rewarded for their efforts with a showdown against the Gamecocks in that most beautiful of American metropolises: the middle of goddamn Alabama.

USC (10-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Penn State (Rose Bowl - Jan. 02)

The Trojans are riding a long winning streak heading into their Rose Bowl tilt with Ped State. The Nittany Lions clearly have the better defense, but as explosive as USC's offense is ... well, there could be a pretty big upset in the making on this one. 

Stanford (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. North Carolina (Sun Bowl - Dec. 30)

The always singular Cardinal get a pretty easy postseason finale when they tango with the Tar Heels in El Paso. The game should be worth at least a YouTubing, since it will be Christian McCaffrey's final game before he heads off to the NFL draft.

Florida State (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Michigan (Orange Bowl - Dec. 30)

The Seminoles - expected by many to be a playoffs participant - had a pretty disappointing 2016 season no matter how you slice it. Still, the team has won plenty of games headed down the stretch, and a solid showing against the Wolverines could give them plenty of pep in their step as they make early plans for a "rebound year" in '17.

Wisconsin (10-3)
Next Opponent: vs Western Michigan (Cotton Bowl - Jan. 02)

The Badgers have the unenviable task of drawing one of just two of college football's undefeated teams for the Cotton Bowl. Granted, the Broncos may seem like an easier challenge than 'Bama, WMU is 13-0 for a reason. Stay tuned, folks - this one could get very interesting.

Colorado (10-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Oklahoma State (Alamo Bowl - Dec. 29)

After getting their asses kicked by Washington in the Pac-12 title game, the Buffaloes find themselves with anything but an easy follow-up: in San Antonio, they are set to square off against an Oklahoma State team with an offense so stellar (and a defense so porous) the combined scores of their games are almost always in the triple digits.

Louisville (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. LSU (Citrus Bowl - Dec. 31)

Lamar Jackson is pretty much a lock for the Heisman. Interestingly, his team ... which, unfortunately, slowly but steadily imploded towards season's end ... is scheduled to conclude their year with a tilt against yet another Heisman-caliber player - Leonard Fournette and his LSU Tigers - on New Year's Eve. 

Oklahoma State (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Colorado (Alamo Bowl - Dec. 29)

OSU couldn't hang with OU in the de facto Big 12 title game last weekend; as a result, the Cowboys now find themselves traveling to San Antonio, where they will lock horns with a very dangerous Colorado team looking to redeem themselves following an embarrassing blowout loss in the Pac-12 championship contest.

Temple (10-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Wake Forest (Military Bowl - Dec. 27)

Give the Owls credit: they mercilessly crushed a tough Navy - one with one of the best rushing attacks in the country - en route to taking home the coveted AAC Championship. Strangely enough, the conference title holders find themselves penciled in for a fairly obscure bowl against a fairly obscure opponent to conclude their year: an absolute head scratcher of a game against Wake Forest in, of all things, the freaking Military Bowl.

San Diego State (10-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Houston (Las Vegas Bowl - Dec. 17)

SDSU has one of the earliest games of the bowl season - and it ought to be a hell of a throwdown. Next up for the Aztecs? A road trip to Vegas, where they will trade blows with fellow three-lossers (yes, "three-lossers" is a word, I think) Houston. 

Nebraska (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Tennessee (Music City Bowl - Dec. 30)

The Cornhuskers against the Volunteers sounds like the kind of game you'd get at noon on ABC in week three. But hey, you never know - that postseason skirmish in Nashville might just produce a memorable note or two.

Navy (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Army (Dec. 10)

The Midshipmen are set to duke it out with Louisiana Tech in the Armed Forces Bowl two days before Christmas. But before that? They've got themselves a rivalry game against Army this weekend, which - considering their respective rushing attacks - ought to be fun as all hell to watch.

Houston (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. San Diego State (Las Vegas Bowl - Dec. 17)

The Cougars say goodbye to Tom Herman at the Las Vegas Bowl (take a wild guess where that's held!) and his final game coaching Houston ought to be a memorable one - a scrap against the supremely underrated SDSU Aztecs, who just so happen to have one of the best running backs in college football in Donnel Pumphrey. 

Western Kentucky (10-3)
Next Opponent: vs. Memphis (Boca Raton Bowl - Dec. 20)

The Hilltoppers wrap up 2016 with a contest against the Memphis Tigers a couple days before XMAS. Yeah, it probably won't be a very interesting match-up, but I suppose hanging out in sunny FLA for a week beats hanging out in Bowling Green in December anytime

Air Force (9-3)
Next Opponent: vs. South Alabama (Arizona Bowl - Dec. 30)

It was a tough call, deciding whether the Falcons or Old Dominion should secure the final spot in the final Top 25 rankings of the 2016 season. All in all, I reckon Air Force's wins against the likes of Boise State were a tad more impressive, so they got the final nod. And speaking of nods, you'll probably nod off if your TV gets stuck on the Arizona Bowl, where the high flying Falcons are almost certain to make mincemeat out of South Alabama the day before New Year's Eve.



Jimbo Picks The Big New Year's Six Games (and makes his pick for the eventual National Champions!)

The Orange Bowl
Michigan vs. Florida State (Dec. 30)

Michigan's steel reeling from that double O.T. loss to Ohio State, so they're going to head into this one thinking they've got a lot to prove. I think that mentality plays perfectly into the hands of FSU, who don't have anywhere near the amount of pressure to end the season on a high note. I see the Wolverines trying to do too much, too early, which results in a couple of turnovers giving the Seminoles all they need to eke out a "W."

Final Score: Michigan 17, Florida State 24

The Peach Bowl
Alabama vs. Washington (Dec. 31)

There's no way Washington is going to be able to run the ball against 'Bama, but I do expect them to have a lot of success passing the ball against the Alabama behemoth (much in the same way Ole Miss gave them everything they could handle and then some earlier in the season.) Unfortunately, the Huskies' attempt to turn the game into NFL Blitz 2003 will wind up backfiring, with their QB lobbing some extremely costly picks late in the game to give the Tide a close victory in the shootout.

Final Score: Alabama 42, Washington 35

The Fiesta Bowl
Ohio State vs. Clemson (Dec. 31)

The polar opposite of the Peach Bowl - here, it's all about the run. DeShaun Watson will scramble for a ton of yardage, but I reckon the Buckeyes' standard rushing attack - plus there superior defense - will give them enough of an edge to breeze past the Tigers and skedaddle their way into the national title contest.

Final Score: Ohio State 34, Clemson 18 

The Cotton Bowl (Jan. 02)
Western Michigan vs. Wisconsin

The Badgers really don't have shit to play for, while the Broncos are dead set on "proving" themselves to all of those Power-Five elitist sportswriters that, by golly, they ought to have taken them seriously. The Badgers' defense will hold up pretty well for about two quarters, but once WMU gets their foot on the gas, I'm seeing nothing but Broncos down in Jerry World.

Final Score: Western Michigan 31, Wisconsin 14

The Rose Bowl (Jan. 02)
Penn State vs. USC

This is the most dangerous match-up Penn State could've drawn, and I'm calling the upset - which, considering how well the Trojans have played down the stretch, shouldn't really be considered an "upset" at all. Expect USC to shellshock the Nittany Lions early, en route to what should be a fairly undramatic blowout win.

Final Score: USC 54, Penn State 21

The Sugar Bowl (Jan. 02)
Oklahoma vs. Auburn

You know the SEC sucked dick this year when a team with four losses is picked for the annual shindig in NOLA. Baker Mayfield is one of the most explosive quarterbacks in college ball, while Auburn has ... well, this motherfucker. The end result of this shouldn't be anything short of an offensive bloodbath.

Final Score: Oklahoma 56, Auburn 16

National Championship Game (Jan. 09)
Alabama vs. Ohio State

And this is what it all boils down to - another Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer showdown. Both teams are pretty evenly matched when it comes to the aerial game, and it would give Ohio State the nod when it comes to the running the ball. Still, there's no denying how powerful Alabama's D is, and at the end of the day - as the old adage goes - defense is what wins championship. Expect a lot of Madden ball early, but as the game chugs along, the Tide will put the hammer down and make this a grueling game of inches. And when that happens? This thing is all over and done with ... except, of course, for the crowning of yet another championship Crimson squad.

Final Score: Alabama 30, Ohio State 16


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