Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stadium Rankings 2013

Since I last did my stadium rankings I have added Texas A&M, Notre Dame, and Kansas to my list of places I have visited and I have had an opportunity to re-attend events at a few other venues.  This is the most recent ranking of the stadiums I have been to.  Just as a refresher, I primarily value overall stadium quality and atmosphere but I do give consideration to the location of the venue, tailgating, and other things to do around town. 

1. Michigan Stadium (Michigan)
I still can't think of a negative thing to say about Michigan.  Great atmosphere, a historic (but still comfortable and accessible) stadium, a beautiful setting, and a great place to visit.  Ann Arbor is my gold standard for college football experiences.

2. Ohio Stadium (Ohio State)
I still have to knock Ohio State for their lack of a college town feel but there isn't much else wrong with the stadium.  Access could be worse and the fans make the atmosphere more intense and exciting than anywhere else I have traveled.


3. Notre Dame Stadium (Notre Dame)The campus is gorgeous and the stadium itself is a step back in time.  Yes you will be squished next to everyone on the wooden bleachers and there are no television screens for replays but it is a fantastic atmosphere and a beautiful place to visit for a football game.

4. Kyle Field (Texas A&M)This is one of my all time favorite places to visit and I would gladly make a trip back.  My main complaints are that A&M is basically located in the middle of a bunch of cotton fields and College Station isn't that great of a college town (it isn't terrible, but nothing like Ann Arbor or Madison).  On the other hand, stadium atmosphere rivals Ohio State and the amount of tradition and pageantry could give Notre Dame a run.  Truly a spectacular place to visit.

5. Beaver Stadium (Penn State)
It's a nice little college town nestled in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania.  The stadium atmosphere is great and the fans are the friendliest in sports.  I am not a huge fan of the massive asphalt and grass lots that serve as a tailgating buffer zone between the stadium and campus and I do think this is not a particular accessible of aesthetically pleasing venue, but it is still a fun place to watch a game.

6. Memorial Stadium (Nebraska)
On a return trip to Lincoln I have come to appreciate the sea of red quite a bit more.  The atmosphere was much better and, while it is still a pain in the ass to get to seats in the end zone, the new addition is absolutely gorgeous and provides some awesome views for being so high up.  I have to say I was surprised about how much more I enjoyed this venue on the second visit when sitting in a sideline section rather than the end zones.

7. Camp Randall Stadium (Wisconsin)
Consistency of atmosphere is still a problem at Camp Randall as night games are way more intense than the lethargic day games and the student section is constantly tardy.  Still, Madison is my favorite college town and it is a great place to visit for a long weekend as there is always plenty to due and see.

8. Kinnick Stadium (Iowa)
Iowa City really let me down for my visit to the Michigan game this year.  The student section leaving en masse at halftime and the fans lethargy was incredibly disappointing.  While the football team may be better than it was last season, the atmosphere has significantly depreciated since my last visit.  I still love the venue and the fans are still better than most of the ones below them, but they could keep falling if things don't improve next year.

9. Doak S. Campbell Stadium (Florida State)
Florida State is basically Wisconsin but in a much worse college town.  Tallahassee isn't terrible but it isn't even close to Iowa City or Lincoln, let alone Ann Arbor or Madison.  The Noles fans make night games incredibly special and the stadium can get incredibly loud but it just isn't appreciably better than the venues above it.

10. Ben Hill Griffith Stadium (Florida)
Gainesville is a better college town than Tallahassee but I can only judge on the games I have been to and the Swamp was absolutely devoid of atmosphere when I went.  I don't get why Gator fans, who actually have a decent amount of history and tradition to fall back on, can be so lethargic about their team when they are winning.  I hope to go back in a few years for a night game so I can re-evaluate this.

11. Memorial Stadium (Illinois)
I still have a soft spot in my heart for Illinois.  The stadium is a bit dumpy and the town is just meh but the atmosphere can be fun and it is still a nicer place to visit than Ames or Evanston.  Maybe I am sentimental but I enjoy the atmosphere at Illinois even though it isn't as intense as some of the schools below it.

12. Jack Trice Stadium (Iowa State)
(still no reason to change this entry so I am keeping it the same again) I am just going to copy and paste my previous write up since I don't have anything else to say. 

"First off, Ames sucks.  There are a couple good places to go there but the campus is unspectacular and your options are limited.  This is second only to Evanston in terms of bad bar availability.  The tailgating around Jack Trice is pretty good and, while Cyclones can be particularly hostile to Hawkeyes, their fans tend to be nice enough that you would never feel too threatened.  The stadium itself is a piece of crap, aesthetically my least favorite of all the ones I have been to.  Yet, this is more about atmosphere than anything else and I have to tip my hat to Cyclone fans who generate a very loud, very energized stadium atmosphere.  There are a lot of crappy stadiums at the bottom of this list but ISU passes them for having an extremely higher level of passion both inside and outside the stadium on game day. I wouldn't recommend it, but if you are looking to visit a lot of stadiums you can turn a trip to Jack Trice into a very nice weekend if you try."

13. TCF Bank Stadium (Minnesota)
Nothing to add from my last entry on this stadium so I will just post it again.

"In my original preview I wrote, "Minnesota is the anti-Iowa State.  Good facility, nice city, but a crappy atmosphere around game day".  I stand by that.  I tend to think this stadium is overrated in the media.  Having actually sat in that facility I can say that it was a pretty miserable experience.  The fans are fair weather and the only real atmosphere is the annoyingly loud prodding of their PA guy who is easily the most obnoxious of any stadium I have ever been to.  Minneapolis is alright (Dinkytown blows) but like I said, this is mostly about atmosphere and Minnesota's is just bad."

14. Memorial Stadium (Indiana)
There really isn't much to say about IU.  It is an aesthetically pleasing stadium in a decent college town but the fans are so apathetic about football that the atmosphere really suffers.  Indiana isn't a bad place to visit but there really isn't any one thing about it that makes it special.  Basically everyone is just biding time until football season.

15. Memorial Stadium (Kansas)Take everything I said about Indiana and put it in a slightly dumpier stadium.  That is Kansas.  It isn't a terrible place to watch a game but people just don't care about the football team in Lawrence.  Great place to see a basketball team though. 

16. Ross Ade Stadium (Purdue)
West Lafayette is fine as a college town but the stadium is notable worse than Indiana or Kansas.  Terrible sight lines, a flat crowd, and some bad seats (bleachers? really?).  Ross Ade is basically a Texas high school football stadium with less interested fans and a train whistle.

17. Dyche Stadium (Northwestern)
Still the worst stadium I have ever been to.  Terrible sight lines, dumpy facilities, and fans who have been photographed reading books in the stands.  I used to describe Northwestern as the third nicest high school football venue in the state of Illinois and even that might be generous.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bowl Projections Week 15

The selection order for the BCS is:

1) National Championship
2) National Championship
3) Bowl that lost a representative to the first NC pick
4) Bowl that lost a representative to the second NC pick
5) Orange Bowl
6) Sugar Bowl
7) Fiesta Bowl

BCS National Championship Game: Florida State v. Missouri
I have been picking Sparty to upset the Buckeyes for a few weeks now and I am not switching now.  Auburn is coming off an emotional win against Alabama and Mizzou is a better team than they are getting any credit for right now.  I think the Tigers win the SEC title and end up in the National Championship Game against Florida State.

Rose Bowl: Michigan State v. Stanford
The Spartans end up here after knocking off Ohio State but frankly I think they end up here regardless of what happens in Indy since they will be the most obvious replacement should the Buckeyes go to the National Title game.  The winner of ASU-Stanford will be the opponent here and I believe the Cardinal win the Pac 12 title game.
 
Sugar Bowl: Alabama v. UCF
The Crimson Tide are going to end up in a BCS bowl over the SEC title game loser, so the only question will be whether they are in the Sugar Bowl or Orange Bowl.  If Ohio State wins they are headed to Miami but if the Buckeyes lose Alabama heads here to face AAC champion UCF. 
 
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State v. Northern Illinois
If Northern Illinois wins the MAC title game against Bowling Green this weekend they are going to be locked in to a BCS bowl berth.  They are picked last of the at-large teams and face Big XII champion Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.  If NIU loses then UCF will be the opponent here and Baylor will go to the Sugar Bowl to face Alabama.
 
Orange Bowl: Clemson v. Ohio State
This pick hasn't changed.  With the Buckeyes losing to Michigan State the Orange Bowl has first crack at them in the at large selection order.  Clemson replaces Florida State here for the BCS. 
 
Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin v. Auburn
The Badgers are locked in here unless the Capital One Bowl really wants an 8-4 Iowa or Nebraska team.  They will face the loser of the SEC title game which I believe will be Auburn.
 
 
Outback Bowl: Iowa v. South Carolina
The Outback may be the most interesting bowl game this season.  They have Iowa and Nebraska to choose from on the B1G side and South Carolina or whichever team the Cotton Bowl doesn't take from the SEC West on the other.  The Outback had the Gamecocks last year but Jadeveon Clowney's hit will get replayed over and over so it should hype up the game.  Iowa has head to head wins over Nebraska and Minnesota plus the Hawkeyes have a history with this bowl.  Nebraska could be the choice because of their fan base but I think it will be Iowa in order to create the best match up. 

AT&T Cotton Bowl: Baylor v. Texas A&M
LSU and Texas A&M are the most likely choices here and both are tempting.  However, Baylor and A&M have a longstanding rivalry and the idea of Johnny Football against Art Briles' offense will attract a lot of viewers who love offense.  Baylor is the Big XII representative in this game unless Northern Illinois loses in the MAC title game in which case this game will feature Texas and LSU.
 
 
Valero Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma v. Oregon
The Longhorns were here last year and I think I am going to get on the bandwagon and put the Sooners in this bowl game.  If Texas beats Baylor on Saturday I think there is a chance that they are the pick here but at this point I think it is smart to play the odds and put Oklahoma here.  Arizona State is also a possibility here but the Ducks still have a lot of cache in their brand name and I think they are the pick here to face the Sooners.
 
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Nebraska v. Texas
With Iowa going to the Outback Bowl the BWWs bowl doesn't have to worry about the Hawkeye fans not being excited about making a third trip to Tempe in four years.  The Husker fans will travel and this match up will be huge for television ratings as it features two huge brand names renewing a bitter rivalry.

Chick Fil-A Bowl: LSU v. Virginia Tech
With Texas A&M going to the Cotton Bowl the Tigers fall back here where they will take on the Virginia Tech Hokies.  If LSU is the selection then Duke, the ACC Coastal champion, is not likely going here since the Tiger fans likely won't pack this stadium for two years in a row against a no name opponent.  Meanwhile Virginia Tech is the best available quasi big name out of the ACC and their fans travel well enough to pick up the slack from LSU.
 
Gator Bowl: Minnesota v. Georgia
Georgia might as well accept a bid to this bowl game at this point because unless the Gator breaks with all logic and picks Vanderbilt the Bulldogs are going here.  Michigan could be the selection here but I think the Gophers are a better story than the Wolverines and there may be some bargaining with the Meineke Car Care Bowl who will want to avoid a rematch of last year.
 
Russell Athletics Bowl: Louisville v. Miami
The Athletics Bowl won't be looking to take Duke when Miami is available and so close by.  Louisville makes an intriguing opponent because of how highly regarded they were coming into the season and because of the Cardinal's connection to Florida through the coaching staff and recruiting.
 
Holiday Bowl: Arizona State v. Kansas State
The Sun Devils are chosen to represent the Pac 12 here since UCLA came to this bowl game last year.  The Big XII representative could be either Kansas State or Texas Tech but the Red Raiders have lost five straight and that lack of momentum, plus the fact that K-State typically travels pretty well to bowl games, means that the Wildcats will be the selection here.
  
Meineke Car Care Bowl: Michigan v. Texas Tech
Michigan and Texas Tech are both the last teams selected from their respective conferences so neither is really a surprise.  Obviously if Texas Tech goes to the Holiday Bowl or Michigan goes to the Gator Bowl this game could include either Minnesota or Kansas State (or both), but as of now this looks like the most likely outcome.

Hyundai Sun Bowl: UCLA v. Duke
The Sun Bowl is required to take the ACC title game loser should they fall this far so Duke becomes the selection from the ACC here.  UCLA is still the obvious selection here out of the Pac 12.
 
 Belk Bowl: North Carolina v. Cincinnati
The Belk Bowl has several options out of the ACC for this slot, including UNC, Georgia Tech, Boston College, Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse.  History says they will take the Tar Heels who are close by and can sell out the stadium.  Cincinnati was here last year and Houston has a pretty decent fan base so I think that the Cougars could jump here but Cincinnati has a better overall record and won the head to head so I think they return here.
 
Music City Bowl: Ole Miss v. Georgia Tech
Ole Miss and Vanderbilt are the options here but the Commodores played in this game last season so I think it will be the Rebels this year.  There are several ACC teams available here but I think the Southern connection with the Yellow Jackets would be a nice storyline and would be a solid television draw so I think they are the choice here over Maryland or Boston College.
  
Maaco Bowl Las Vegas: USC v. Fresno State
Fresno State lost to San Jose State this weekend so this is their best bet at a bowl game.  If they lose to Boise State they will drop further but the Broncos have been so mediocre this season I have a hard time seeing Fresno losing that game.  Their opponent will be the USC Trojans from the Pac 12.
 
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Vanderbilt v. Marshall
Vandy is selected here to face Conference USA champion Marshall.  Marshall faces North Texas this weekend in the Conference USA championship game so the winner of that game will get the nod here (obviously I am thinking it will be Marshall).

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Notre Dame v. Rutgers
Rutgers is almost automatically the pick here because of their proximity to Yankee Stadium.  Notre Dame gets this bowl bid in the event a Big XII team is not eligible and that is going to be the case this year. 
 

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU v. Washington
BYU has already accepted their bid to this bowl so the question becomes who will they play.  Washington will have the best remaining record of the available Pac 12 teams and I think their dynamic offense will be the selection here to face the Cougars.
 
GoDaddy.com Bowl: Western Kentucky v. Ball State
With Northern Illinois in the BCS the GoDaddy.com bowl gets the next selection out of the MAC.  I think they go with a 10 win Ball State team to match up with Western Kentucky.  Arkansas State has been to this game the last two years so I think they will get passed up for this game and nobody else available in the Sun Belt has more than six wins.
Advocare V100 Independence Bowl: Mississippi State v. Boston College
Boston College's running back Andre Williams will be the big sell for the Eagles here and I think it gets them a nod over Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse.  Mississippi State knocked off Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl to get to 6-6 this weekend and they are the last SEC team taken.
 
Poinsettia Bowl: Toledo v. San Diego State
The MAC gets a replacement for Army who is not bowl elidgible.  It is too bad, since the Poinsettia Bowl would have had a shot at a Pac 12 team if not for the agreement.  I think they take the home town Aztecs in order to guarantee a full stadium and then grab Toledo as the best available MAC team. 
 
  Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: UNLV v. Rice
There are several Mountain West teams available here but I think UNLV gets the nod because of the fact that they haven't been to a bowl game in a while and have fewer losses than the other teams available.  Rice is still my prognostication from Conference USA but that conference is always a bit of a crap shoot to project in bowl games.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: North Texas v. Navy
Navy has a guaranteed spot here so the only question is who will they play.  North Texas is the closest Conference USA team and the Mean Green have as good a record as anybody else available to this bowl game so they seem like the logical choice.


 
New Mexico Bowl: Utah State v. Arizona
The Wildcats were here last year but their 7-5 record and proximity to the bowl site make them the de facto choice here over 6-6 Oregon State and Washington State squads.  Utah State is here after Boise State elects to save money and stay home for their bowl game rather than travel all the way to New Mexico.
 
BBVA Compass Bowl: Cincinnati v. Syracuse
The Bearcats are selected here where they face the Orange.  Syracuse is 6-6 and will be looking for a spot to land but their proximity, versus a team like Oregon State, and their history with Cincinnati make them the choice here over the Beavers or other at large teams.
 
 
Beef O'Brady's Bowl: East Carolina v. Pittsburgh
  The AAC doesn't have a team here and this bowl game has an alternate system set up with the Sun Belt and the MAC, however those agreements usually don't include 6-6 teams so I think they tab Pittsburgh as the at large team for this bowl game.  East Carolina is a great grab here and having them against an ACC team should make this an interesting game to watch.

Military Bowl: Maryland v. Middle Tennessee State
Conference USA has a weird set up with their bowl games where there is less of a selection order and more of a "who wants who and who wants to go where" sort of setup which is facilitated by the league office.  Because of that, I think Tulane decides to play a bowl game at home in New Orleans leaving the Military Bowl with MTSU.  Meanwhile Maryland seems like the obvious choice here because of their 7-5 record and their proximity to the bowl site.
 
   Heart of Dallas Bowl: Washington State v. Florida Atlantic
There is no B1G team here and no alternate system that I know of so I think Washington State gets the nod here to face Marshall.  Conference USA's bowl selection procedure is a bit wonky but FAU is bowl elidgible and I don't see the administration giving up the opportunity to play here. 
 
 
Little Caeser's Pizza Pizza Bowl: Bowling Green v. Arkansas State
No Big Ten team here so the Sun Belt #3 has an alternate spot which Arkansas State fills.  They are matched up with the Falcons from Bowling Green who have one of the top defenses in the MAC.
 

 
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Tulane v. Louisiana Lafayette
The New Orleans Bowl grabs Tulane out of the AAC and matches them up with ULL for an all Louisiana New Orleans Bowl which should guarantee some pretty good attendance. 
 
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Buffalo v. Boise State
Boise State chooses to go here as it will save them a butt load of money and actually could put them in the black this bowl season.  Buffalo is the best available MAC team and is therefore the chosen opponent to face off against there.

Monday, November 25, 2013

2013 Bowl Projections Week 14

The selection order for the BCS is:

1) National Championship
2) National Championship
3) Bowl that lost a representative to the first NC pick
4) Bowl that lost a representative to the second NC pick
5) Orange Bowl
6) Sugar Bowl
7) Fiesta Bowl



BCS National Championship Game: Florida State v. Alabama
Even if Jameis Winston is suspended I don't see the Seminoles losing to Florida or Duke.  Alabama should have no problem with Auburn this week but that game against Missouri could be a sneaky upset potential game as Mizzou has the tall receivers and fast paced offense which Texas A&M used to put up over 40 points on the Tide.  The Tigers also have a solid defense which the Aggies have lacked all season.

Rose Bowl: Michigan State v. Stanford
I picked MSU to upset Ohio State in this game weeks ago and my pick hasn't changed.  If Jameis Winston is suspended there is a chance Ohio State could jump FSU in the polls should they win out but more than likely this will be the B1G champion vs. the Pac 12 champion like god intended.
Sugar Bowl: Missouri v. UCF
Auburn is a possibility here but I think Mike Slive will pull some strings to get Missouri into this game.  Also, any bowl selection committee member who watched these two teams probably knows Mizzou is the only one of them that can pass worth a damn so there is that.  UCF gets in here as the American Athletic Conference champion.
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State v. Northern Illinois
Le sigh.  The Cowboys have all but cemented this position with their win over Baylor this past weekend and the Huskies jumped Fresno State in the polls this weekend meaning they need to win out to get a guaranteed berth here.
 
 Orange Bowl: Clemson v. Ohio State
This pick hasn't changed.  With the Buckeyes losing to Michigan State the Orange Bowl has first crack at them in the at large selection order.  Clemson replaces Florida State here for the BCS.  If Ohio State were to go to the Rose Bowl I would replace them with Wisconsin here and if they went to the BCS title game this would be Florida State v. Oregon.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

2013 Bowl Projections Week 11

The selection order for the BCS is:

1) National Championship
2) National Championship
3) Bowl that lost a representative to the first NC pick
4) Bowl that lost a representative to the second NC pick
5) Orange Bowl

6) Sugar Bowl
7) Fiesta Bowl



BCS National Championship Game: Florida State v. Alabama
I think Oregon will lose a game somewhere along the way as will Alabama.  The Tide win the SEC title game though and they take on the undefeated Seminoles in the National title game.

Rose Bowl: Michigan State v. Stanford
The Spartans end up winning the Big Ten title, upsetting undefeated Ohio State and keeping the Buckeyes out of the National Title Game.  The Cardinal won in Autzen last season and I think they manage to defeat the Ducks again in Palo Alto this year sending them to Pasadena to face the Spartans.

Sugar Bowl: Auburn v. UCF
The Sugar Bowl could take a Big XII team here like Texas Tech or Texas if those teams remained competitive but I don't think either of those teams will finished ranked high enough to merit a selection over 11-1 Oregon.  Auburn is here for as Alabama's replacement after going 10-2.

Fiesta Bowl: Baylor v. Northern Illinois
Worst. Fiesta Bowl. Ever.  The Bears suffer a loss but still manage to get the Big XII's Fiesta Bowl berth.  Fresno State loses it's rematch with Boise State in the MWC Championship Game to keep the Bulldogs out of the BCS.
 
 Orange Bowl: Clemson v. Ohio State
The Buckeyes have only one loss on the season but they are a national name that travels extremely well and wasn't in a bowl game last year which maeks them the obvious first at large selection.  I have Clemson being taken as Florida State's replacement but don't be surprised if they take Miami, Oregon, or Baylor instead.