Chat with Graham Watson
Watson joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four seasons covering the Missouri Tigers and the Big 12 Conference for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also covered college football recruiting for the Dallas Morning News.
Send your questions now and join Watson in The Show at 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday!
Graham Watson (2:00 PM)
Hey everyone. Welcome to the chat. I'm Graham Watson and I cover the non-BCS and Independents. Let's begin.
Bob (Valpo, IN)
Do you think Ball State can still run the table WITHOUT Dante Love? Also, can they get a BCS bid with such an easy schedule? (Thanks for the Non-BCS Coverage this year!)
Graham Watson (2:02 PM)
I think they can, though it will be difficult. I do want to point out that Nate Davis had 239 yards this week and only 27 of them went to Love before he was injured. TE Darius Miles is a threat as is Myles Trempe. Central Michigan and Western Michigan look tough this year, but things seem to be clicking for Ball State. Plus, you know they'll dedicate this season to Love, which will bring extra emotion.
At this pace, Max Hall has to be in the running for the Heisman. Agree?
Graham Watson (2:02 PM)
Yes. I think if you look at our current Heisman poll, he's receiving votes. However, I think he'll have to be undefeated and some other guys will have to fall off for him to get it.
Shawn (Colorado Springs, CO)
Graham, given the emerging power of the MWC, will it be possible for a 1-loss MWC champion to bust the BCS? Say a TCU (with one loss to Oklahoma), or BYU, Utah, or TCU with one loss to one of the other two. Any chance two MWC teams bust the BCS?
Graham Watson (2:05 PM)
I was talking with a couple people about this the other day. It would be unprecedented for something like that to happen, but with the ACC and Big East down this year, I can't say its impossible. However, I think, out of all those teams, TCU would have the best one-loss shot provided that they beat Oklahoma. Just because that would be a road win at the No. 2 team in the country. That would trump any other BCS win by any other team, any conference. So like if BYU goes undefeated and TCU's only loss is to BYU, I could see a situation - if some other teams fell out and there were no other undefeateds - where TCU could get in.,
With a bye this week, do you think BYU will drop in the polls?
Graham Watson (2:08 PM)
It's possible, but Missouri and Texas have byes this week, too. And there are some pretty tough SEC matchups this weekend. I think there's a strong possibility BYU could move up depending on what happens with Bama-Georgia.
Ritchie Fresno, Ca.
Being that Fresno State is still in the Top 25 even after the loss to Wisconsin, do you think that they still have a shot at the BCS if they win the rest of their games?
Graham Watson (2:09 PM)
Again, depends on what happens with some other teams, but I don't they've been as convincing in their wins as some other teams.
Bill (Dallas, TX)
Does any team want to visit provo right now? I don't want my Horns going anywhere near that buzzsaw.
Graham Watson (2:10 PM)
BYU is one of the hottest teams in the country right now and definitely the hottest team in the non-BCS. BYU fans can only hope this bye week doesn't cool them off because they have a chance to continue their streak of blowing teams out during the next couple games.
Greyson (Hennessey, Ok)
Is Air Force a team that could suprise people this year?
Graham Watson (2:12 PM)
Yes. I said it at the beginning of the season. Air Force might have looked young on paper, but a lot of those kids have grown up fast in that system. I really like AFA's defense. If the passing game can come along and be consistent, I think AFA can make things interesting, but probably won't finish about the big three.
The powers that be in college football pull their heads out and institute a 16-team playoff. Who is in your final four?
Graham Watson (2:14 PM)
Encompassing all teams, BCS and non-BCS? USC, Georgia, Oklahoma, Missouri (or Florida).
Nate (Phoenix, AZ)
Hey, Graham, do you think BYU really has a chance to play in the NC game? I mean, its fun to talk about, but the BCS system was designed to keep BYU from winning another NC (ala 1984). Why would they let them in now?
Graham Watson (2:17 PM)
It is fun to talk about simply as a college football aficionado. A LOT of things would have to happen for that to be the case, though. The SEC would have to implode as would the Big 12 and the Mountain West would have to move up in the overall strength of conference rankings. Harris Poll voters take those into account. BYU won't get many points for beating up the Wyoming's of the nation. So yeah, I threw it out there as a shot. And yes, I believe that an undefeated BYU team would be the best suited to play in it, but the college football world might have to spin backwards for it to happen.
How do you feel about the Georgia and Alabama game?
Graham Watson (2:18 PM)
This is a crazy game. Bama is so much better than I think a lot of people thought they would be and Georgia is just sick. You gotta give the advantage to Georgia because its at home, the blackout, etc. But this will be a really close game. Almost too close to call.
Rick Henderson, KY
I'm a Hilltopper and proud of it. Wouldn't you have to say that they have one of the toughest schedules? The future is bright.
Graham Watson (2:21 PM)
I think the Hilltoppers have a tough schedule considering their FBS inexperience. Kentucky, VT, and Bama are all solid opponents. I think, though, it's a typical SBC schedule when you look at it comparatively. Middle Tennessee played four BCS teams this year. Troy traveled to Ohio State. FAU played at Michigan State and Minnesota. I think WKU will be good in a few years. Like FAU circa 2007 good. It's going to take a bit, but the program is moving in the right direction.
Is Buffalo the team to beat in the MAC East right now?
Graham Watson (2:23 PM)
That's a good question. I think the Bulls are a lot better than expected, but I like Ohio, too. And you can't leave out Bowling Green regardless of how poorly their non-conference has been. League play is a different animal. I will say that after talking with some people at Mizzou this week, they said Buffalo is one of the best non-conference foes they've faced in a long time. A really physically tough opponent.
All this talk about BYU going undefeated....But do you think they really can pull out wins at TCU, or more importantly, at Utah?
Graham Watson (2:24 PM)
I said they'd lose at TCU, so I can't go back on that now and look like a flip-flopper. I'm anxious to see TCU/OU this weekend. I think that will give everyone a good gauge on what to expect from the Horned Frogs. I do think BYU will beat Utah.
David (Provo, UT)
Graham, will you be in Utah for any games this season? If you are, we should hook up!
Graham Watson (2:26 PM)
Ha! I'll probably be there for the BYU game if everything works out. Probably me and one of the columnists.
What if Tulsa goes undefeated, they are very impressive..
Graham Watson (2:27 PM)
Impressive? yes. But they will not have beaten anyone in the process. Arkansas is bad and who knows what ECU, or whoever the East champ is, will be by then. I like Tulsa, but they don't have the credentials for a BCS berth.
What SEC school do you think could hang with USC?
Graham Watson (2:28 PM)
Georgia or Alabama. Both schools are tough on both sides of the ball. In fact, I lean more toward Bama because their defense is so tough. Offense might not be able to keep up, though.
Was Georgia's win over unranked ASU really a big deal or was it just exciting to see an SEC team in the West?
Graham Watson (2:29 PM)
That's pretty much it. The game was really hyped up early, but after ASU's loss to UNLV is lost some luster. It's nice to se the SEC gear up for a team outside of their conference. I think people just wanted some validation that the SEC could play out of the South during the regular season.
Graham Watson (2:30 PM)
Plus... on that last question... there are a lot of high hopes for Georgia and the ASU provided some validation for those hopes. ASU will still be a quality team this year.
I haven't seen a single comment about Notre Dame. I may have missed something, but I don't see how you can deal with Non-BCS and Independents without saying at least 1 word.
Graham Watson (2:31 PM)
Then you must not read the blog because they get at least three stories a week. If you were a fan of say, Western Kentucky, I would regard you beef as legit.
Mark this down... U Minn almost pulls the upset this week at a Ohio State University.
Graham Watson (2:33 PM)
I'm still not sold on OSU, which is disappointing because I liked them to at least be in the Top 5 this season. Minnesota is a lot better than I thought they would be, but that game's in the Horseshoe. A safe place for Prior to continue to get better. I'm not sure Minny has it in them.
Tim (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
How many Bowl bids do you see the MAC Pulling this year?
Graham Watson (2:35 PM)
Four and maybe five with the extra tie-ins this year. Ball State will be one. Buffalo another. Not sure about the third... Western Michigan, perhaps? And, um, maybe CMU if it can get its stuff together.
Will the HOT (right now) Penn State Lions be able to top Ohio State for Big Ten Champs, and if so, will that put them ahead of a 1 lost SEC team for BCS champs?
Graham Watson (2:36 PM)
Penn State has been great, but who has it played? This weekend's game at Illinois will tell us a lot about Penn State.
If Michigan fumbles less than, say, 4 times, can they hang with Wisky? I'd say the Big House would help, but it hasn't seemed to lately. Then again, Wisconsin never seems to really blow teams away...
Graham Watson (2:38 PM)
True, Wisconsin doesn't blow teams away, but they capitalize on mistakes. Wisconsin might be one of the most devious teams in terms of waiting for the other team to screw up. And since Michigan screws up a lot, I don't see this going well for the Wolverines.
How do you rank the conferences right now?
Graham Watson (2:41 PM)
All of the conferences? This is what I think four weeks into the season. It will probably change soon, but as of right now, I like... SEC Big 12 MWC ACC Big Ten Big East Pac-10 WAC C-USA MAC SBC I think that's everyone.
Being a woman, why should be take what you say seriously about football? Can you throw a spiral?
Graham Watson (2:43 PM)
Ha! Nice question. Yes, I can throw a spiral, but only about 30 yards. But I can kick a field goal from about 40 and punt about 45 yards. I was a college goalie.
You cover ND how do you see them finishing the year. Bowl or no? Final record
Graham Watson (2:45 PM)
The schedule is easy enough that they'll make a bowl. It won;t be a hig-level bowl, but any bowl is a good bowl for ND at this point. There aren't a lot of losses remaining o the schedule. USC for sure. Maybe UNC depending on which Tar Heels team shows up. Otherwise, I could form a team from the people in this chat and beat the remaining teams. And I could quarterback with my 30-yard spiral.
Is it possible for UL Lafayette to actually win the sun belt and not share the title like they did 3 years ago?
Graham Watson (2:47 PM)
The Sun belt has gotten a little tougher with Arkansas State and MTSU playing well. I think this might be the most competitive SBC race we've seen for awhile. My money is on Corey Leonard and ASU.
Chad (Savannah, GA)
I love how Rick didn't put his city down. OU and Mizzou have pretty good O's but what is going to happen when they face a decent D?
Graham Watson (2:48 PM)
I think both of those teams proved last year that their offenses were just too powerful mostly because there are few defenses that have enough high-level guys to stop the multitude of weapons both teams have. Now, those team's defenses stopping another potent offense is a huge question mark. Like I said earlier, we'll learn a lot from the TCU/OU game this weekend.
Dan Lefevour (Mt. Pleasant, MI)
Can I get no love? We lost to Georgia and yes... we should have beaten Purdue, but I don't play defense!
Graham Watson (2:50 PM)
You didn't play defense last year either but you still put up better numbers than you have so far this season. You're coming around though and I have no doubt that the numbers will catch up. It's just been a tough go early. Maybe the billboard put a bit of a target on your back.
Gregg (Los Angeles)
Graham, I like your insight each week, and it's nice to see the non-BCS teams getting some pub for a change. Seems like ESPN sends you to a different non-BCS game each week... so which one is it this week?
Graham Watson (2:51 PM)
Not a lot of great games this weekend, unfortunately. Three weeks ago, I would have been heading to UCLA/FSU this weekend, Instead, I draw Notre Dame/Purdue duty. This might be the last time I see Notre Dame until LA, depending on what happens.
I have to admit, I LOL'd that you put the ACC at #4.
Graham Watson (2:53 PM)
I just couldn't figure out where else to put it because I'm not sure its worse than the Big Ten or the Pac-10. I know it's not worse than the Big East. Maybe the Big Ten would get the nod over the ACC, but the last couple weeks the conference has been better than it started.
Talk me down, I know we lost our QB, but Boise State getting 37pts on our Defense, help me to understand? Does Boise State really have that good of an offense?
Graham Watson (2:55 PM)
I think what you saw was a team that was out to prove a point in Boise State. It did. It has everyone's attention now. But I don't think the Oregon offense did the defense any favors. Short fields and a bunch of three-and-outs. The defense was tired. I don't take anything away from Boise State. It was pretty dominant, but the defense wasn't getting a whole lot of help out there.
Tim (Minneapolis, MN)
Graham, Any chance at you getting to a MAC Game? Maybe Bulls Bowling Green which, could be, the game that determines the conference..
Graham Watson (2:56 PM)
I'd love to, but I don't know where I'm headed until the Sunday of the game week. Kinda the perils of having 54 teams from which to choose.
Can TCU shock OU this week?
Graham Watson (2:57 PM)
Yes, but OU having an extra week to prepare doesn't help TCU's cause. TCU will be greatly aided when this year's spy reports back to them on the schematics of Bob Stoops gameplan. :)
Mark (Chicago, IL)
Graham- Illinois plays AT Penn State, not the other way arond. Tents went up early this morning in Paternoville!
Graham Watson (2:59 PM)
Your right. I read the Penn State sked wrong. Still think Penn State will prove something this weekend. Personally, I think they win easily.
Ben (Columbus, OH)
Graham, out of all the games you're seen in person, what's the best football venue you've experienced and why?
Graham Watson (3:00 PM)
Haven;t been to enough yet, but I thought Autzen was pretty cool. The press box it at a weird angle and I think I got a little vertigo, though. Fresno State had a great atmosphere.
Carey, Murrieta, CA.
Graham, Bronco Mendenhall or Gary Patterson... who's the better coach?
Graham Watson (3:01 PM)
Gary Patterson only because he's had a lot longer tradition of winning against big odds. Mendenhall's a close, very close, second with his undefeated streak.
I have a suggestion: Next season, ESPN should split the non-BCS leagues among two of you. You do a great job, but it seems like you're spread too thin with too many teams to cover, especially when there are 6 non-BCS teams ranked right now, which is more than any single league. Thoughts?
Graham Watson (3:03 PM)
Not likely to happen considering this year is such a rarity in non-BCS leagues. If it was like this like three years in a row, maybe. But it's hard to believe this is going to be the non-BCS norm. I could be wrong, though... Besides, I think I do a fine job :)
Graham Watson (3:03 PM)
OK, last one.
Could Boise hang with BYU?
Graham Watson (3:05 PM)
Yes, yes the Broncos could. Although, the Broncos pass defense was a little suspect this weekend. I don't know whether to chalk that up to a prevent-type scheme or what. Hard to tell with the game kinda out of hand. But there's no doubt that Boise State could hang offensively.
Graham Watson (3:06 PM)
All right guys. Talk to you next week. If you have any other pressing questions, go to my blog and submit them in the mailbag. See ya.