I lack the words to accurately describe how I felt walking out of Sun Life Stadium on Saturday night. I imagined scenarios where Miami would struggle at times this season, but I never thought a 6-6 finish was possible. We've now entered the coaching rumor season, which I despise. Everyone is either being fired tonight, hired somewhere else tomorrow, or staying put no matter what. Jon Gruden is probably still a candidate for every job in America. Agents turn people on Twitter into their employees, leveraging fake interest into contract extensions. Planes are tracked and living rooms are photographed. Just wake me up when it's over.
Miami seems to be likely heading to the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl. Most projections have the Canes matching up with UCF, in the ultimate Lose-Lose scenario for Miami. Beat UCF and everyone collectively says: "Well, who cares, it's UCF. Miami should always beat them." Lose to UCF and Miami is mocked throughout the country and UCF creates some billboard saying they are the 2nd best team in the state. Even worse, I'm now going to have to actually figure out what Bitcoins are. I've tried to read about them numerous times, but on every single occasion, I gave up after reading a few sentences. Hopefully the Bitcoin commercials during the game will help me out.
Given my state of football depression, I'm fully focused on Canes basketball. It's refreshing to watch a sport where winning is all that matters. Miami lacked "game control" against UF, but guess what: The Canes found a way to win. Miami is already putting together a nice resume for the NCAA Tournament and has a great chance to compete for a Top 5 finish in the ACC. Regardless of your opinion on Miami's football coaching staff (I'm trying to avoid this topic due to mental fatigue), everyone can agree that Jim Larranaga is a star. I'll be at the game on Saturday against Wisconsin-Green Bay and hope everyone supports this team. Go Canes.
Since this is my last chance to vent publicly before the bowl selections are announced, I feel compelled to talk about the Playoff Committee. Week after week this group flip-flops and Etch-A-Sketch's their way to a set of rankings that make no sense. Winning doesn't matter as long as they like the team you lost to. Head to Head doesn't matter. Based on how the committee has treated TCU's win over Minnesota, every team in the nation should schedule the Gophers in 2015 and beyond. If you host Minnesota and beat them, you stand a good chance of winning a title apparently. Just like we are supposed to believe that Hillary Clinton is still trying to determine whether she should run for president, Jeff Long wants us to believe the committee would actually consider having a team outside the SEC ranked number 1. What teams have done in the past few years doesn't matter...unless we're talking about Alabama. I realize the SEC East is significantly worse than the SEC West, but the ACC still went 4-0 against the SEC this past weekend. I'll be doing what any ACC fan should be doing this weekend: Rooting against Alabama.
So far this season, I've picked 231 games on State of the U. Sitting at just one game above 50% is disappointing and scary, because I'm once again on the edge of bowl eligibility. There are nine picks this week so I need to win at least 4 games to gain the credibility necessary to flip coins during bowl season. Given Miami's 6-6 finish and my consistent focus on "Precise Mediocrity" this year, I fully expect to go exactly 4-5.
EAST CAROLINA -7 vs Central Florida 730pm - THURSDAY - ESPN
ECU is undefeated at home this season and UCF doesn't have enough offense to keep pace. The Knights have been dominant on defense all season, but haven't faced anyone with the playmakers that ECU has at the skill positions since a 38-10 loss to Missouri in September. ECU QB Shane Carden will have a big game in his final start at home.
BOWLING GREEN +7 vs Northern Illinois 7pm - FRIDAY - ESPN2
BGSU has been up and down all year, but the Falcons are back in the MAC Championship game in Detroit in a rematch with Northern Illinois. Bowling Green upset NIU last year and will do it again on Friday night.
ARIZONA +14.5 at Oregon 9pm - FRIDAY - FOX
Arizona beat Oregon in Tucson last year and in Eugene this year. Rich Rod's team isn't afraid of the Ducks. Marcus Mariota has been incredible in 2014 and I expect him to play well on Friday night, but Oregon's defense won't be able to slow down Arizona and RB Nick Wilson. The Wildcats stay close throughout and have a chance to pull a huge upset in the 4th quarter.
CINCINNATI -7 vs Houston 12pm - ESPN
Cincy is my team and I've won with the Bearcats all year. Let the good times roll. Gunner Kiel and company put up 30+ points and finish the season on a seven-game winning streak.
LOUISIANA TECH +11.5 at Marshall 12pm - ESPN
Marshall's goal this season was to finish undefeated and raise the profile of the program. After a devastating loss to Western Kentucky last week, I don't think this team will be ready to play against La Tech. HC Doc Holliday might have his eyes on other jobs as well. Louisiana Tech scored 76 points against Rice last week and enters this game with confidence. Expect a shootout where the last team with the ball wins.
MISSOURI +14.5 vs Alabama 4pm - CBS
Missouri's defense is better than most people think. Alabama is overrated and more vulnerable than Nick Saban's teams have been in recent years. WR Amari Cooper is a star, but I expect QB Blake Sims to be under pressure often on Saturday afternoon. Missouri's front four will make things difficult for Lane Kiffin's offense. Alabama has more talent and will pull away in the 4th quarter, but the margin will be just 7-10 points.
BAYLOR -7.5 vs Kansas State 745pm - ESPN
Baylor needs to win and do it convincingly. I know how good Kansas State has been in recent years in games like this, but I have faith in the Bears to win at home. Baylor has significantly more talent and speed on both sides of the ball. Bryce Petty plays well and gives the Playoff Committee something to think about.
FLORIDA STATE -4 vs Georgia Tech 8pm - ABC
Georgia Tech is a tough matchup for FSU and Jameis Winston can't afford to make the mistakes he's made in recent weeks. In the end though, I have to pick Florida State to win until proven otherwise. The Noles find ways to get the job done in the second half and this week will be no different. FSU played Citadel earlier this year, which gives their defense the advantage of having already game-planned to stop the triple option.
OHIO STATE +4.5 vs Wisconsin 8pm - FOX
Urban Meyer's team was embarrassed in last season's Big Ten Championship Game. Despite the unfortunate injury to J.T. Barrett, Urban's guys will be ready. QB Cardale Jones gets the start and although he doesn't have a ton of experience, he has been in the program long enough to have a good handle of the offense. Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon has a chance to win a Heisman with a huge night, but I'm still not sold on QB Joel Stave's ability to win a close game with his arm. Ohio State wins by a field goal.