Chat with Graham Watson
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com's non-BCS reporter and contributor to the College Football Nation blog Graham Watson will stop by to talk about the 2009 season.
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 Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Graham Watson (3:59 PM)
Hello all. Welcome to chat. Sorry we're doing this a few hours later today. I had a couple interviews to do this afternoon. Let's get started.
Graham, how do you see BSU @ Tulsa unfolding tomorrow night? Any chance the Hurricanes pull the upset?
Graham Watson (4:01 PM)
I think it's going to be very tough for Tulsa to win this game tomorrow. Boise State is really talented, disciplined and opportunistic. Tulsa has to play a perfect game and hope Boise State beats itself, which doesn't usually happen.
First, I think you do a great job covering 5 conferences...that a lot of ground to cover every week. My question may require a little research; I want to know if there is a way for 2 non-AQ to get BCS bids if they both finish within the top 12 of the rankings? Or can only 1 be selected period?
Graham Watson (4:03 PM)
Looked this up last year because Utah, Boise State and TCU all were in the top 12 by bowl selection. What happens is the highest rated team gets the automatic bid and the others are eligible for an at-large bid to a BCS bowl. Usually, the non-AQs are passed over for a sexy AQ pick, but that's the only way to non-AQs could play in BCS bowls.
Aaron W. (SLC)
If BYU wins the rest of their games, will they go to a BCS game even with the FSU debacle?
Graham Watson (4:04 PM)
Not if Boise State stays undefeated.
Hi Graham, assuming both TCU and Boise run the table, how do you see the 2 teams ending up with regards to a BCS bowl?
Graham Watson (4:06 PM)
Well, TCU has the advantage of playing two more ranked teams before the year ends, so that will definitely help the Frogs. And since the two teams aren't that far apart in the coaches and Harris polls, the Frogs could leap (pun totally intended) the Broncos in the standings.
RAY GORDON REID (BRADENTON FLORIDA 32401)
QUESTIONTO GRAHAM WATON AT 4.20PM HI THURSDAY NIGHT BIG EAST WHO DOYOU HAVE BULLS OR BEARCATS
Graham Watson (4:06 PM)
I like the Bearcats. Tony Pike has been pretty awesome this year.
jonn (anderson sc)
do you think that there is a good chance of notre dame beating USC
Graham Watson (4:07 PM)
I don't simply because ND's run defense has struggled all year and that's where USC excels. I think the Irish are going to have a tough time stopping Joe McKnight.
Graham, what are your thoughts on the MWC. Saw the link you posted on a Utah columnist who thinks that MWC is not very good. What are your thoughts and how would you rank the conference.
Graham Watson (4:09 PM)
That's an interesting question. The MWC certainly isn't as strong as it was a year ago or as strong as many thought it would be. But the top three teams - TCU, BYU, and Utah - are still three of the top five non-AQ teams and despite the record, I think Colorado State and Air Force also are good teams.
19 degree weather (not including the wind chill), on the road, against an Air Force team with a winning [conference] record, yet 3 turnovers...and the Frogs drop 2 places in the AP Poll [this week]. According to you, Ms. Watson, WHY???
Graham Watson (4:11 PM)
You know, I don't know why, but after Sunday, the AP poll doesn't really matter. It's not a part of the BCS formula, so it's irrelevant. TCU moved up in the coaches poll and was steady in the Harris Poll. I'm not sure how the computers will treat the Frogs, but I don't think there's much to worry about in terms of TCU's standing.
How can Boise State?s number 5 ranking be justified when only 2 teams from the WAC have a winning record? That?s a 13 ? 23 record combined between the other 7 teams. Where is all this weight coming from?
Graham Watson (4:13 PM)
Boise State started high because of what it's done in the past. It's earned that spot because of consistent performance. Just like USC earns a top spot every year. A lot of it has to do with respect. And it's up to Boise State to hold that spot and the Broncos have. They've done nothing to warrant a slip in the polls. So you can argue fair or not fair forever, the fact is that over time Boise State has warranted respect from the voters.
So how bout them vandals? So who is going to win saturday's game in the dome?
Graham Watson (4:15 PM)
I like Idaho simply because of their rushing offense. I do worry about their defense especially against a very good offensive side in Hawaii. Both teams have to hold on to the ball to give themselves a chance to win, but I like the Vandals at home. They've proven a lot to me.
If oregon wins out the rest of the season, will they be ranked higher than a 13-0 boise?
Graham Watson (4:17 PM)
That's a tough one. I would like to say no because honestly, they shouldn't be. However, voters will look at the schedules and there's no doubt that what's done later in the season carries more weight than what happens in the beginning. They'll definitely get a bump because of their strength of schedule.
patrick (Mobile, AL)
Does Weis have to keep it close against USC to keep his job or is that not enough? Does he actually have to win?
Graham Watson (4:19 PM)
I don't know about keeping his job but he needs to win if Notre Dame wants to get into a BCS bowl. Right now, voters are really standoffish to Notre Dame. There's a lot of doubt there especially with all the close wins. Notre Dame needs this win for credibility. Honestly, if they lose this game, the Irish are out of the rankings and I'm not sure if they get back in for awhile.
Utah's come from behind win @ Colorado St....reason for concern or that's what good teams do, find a way to win?
Graham Watson (4:21 PM)
I think Colorado State is better than what they've showed. Also, it was freezing there. The Utes were dealing with similar conditions to what TCU was dealing with at Air Force. Utah is not the Utah of a year ago, but getting past that game was big step.
austin (Provo, UT)
Do you really think the AP poll "doesn't really matter"? BCS or not, it is THE most influential poll in college football. Because it's always visible in the media, it still indirectly influences the Harris and coaches' poll voters throughout the season.
Graham Watson (4:24 PM)
I meant doesn't really matter in terms of a BCS berth because it's not part of the equation. I used to be a Harris Poll voter and I agree it often stays close the AP poll, but as we've already seen this season, the coaches poll does not. There are some pretty major differences between the Harris and the AP though, especially in the top 10.
Mike (Shelley, ID)
Any chance Idaho is ranked when they go into Boise on November 17th? And does that give Boise the extra *umpf* over TCU-huggers?
Graham Watson (4:25 PM)
I don't think so mostly because of the soft schedule. While I think Idaho's schedule was tough enough for a team that hasn't had a lot of success, it's not tough enough to warrant a spot in the Top 25. However, if the Vandals beat Boise State then, of course, that changes.
Before the season even started everyone was saying that BYU would go to a BCS bowl with a loss to OKLAHOMA and run the rest of the table. Well they beat OK and lost to FSU. What the difference where we beat a better OKLA team and still have one loss. Why not BYU for BCS if they kill opponents??
Graham Watson (4:28 PM)
Well, at that time Florida State was ranked and everyone thought it would challenge for the ACC title. That loss has become a pretty bad loss for the Cougars. Also, everyone thought Oklahoma would play in the national championship. I think that BYU is also getting hit because of Bradford being out of the game. Had Landry Jones done anything against Miami, it would have been a different story. But since he was so ineffective against the Canes' if left some doubt in voters minds about that BYU win.
If a non-AQ makes the National Championship, then another in the top 12 automatically qualifies.
Graham Watson (4:30 PM)
That might be true. Never happened before and I don't believe it specifically states that in the BCS eligibility rules. I know that's the case for AQs, but that's because that provision is in the rules. Again, it's never happened before, so that's an interesting thought.
Will UNLV be a trap game for Utah this week? It seems like a tough game for Utah as they'll need to find elf motivation to play well.
Graham Watson (4:33 PM)
There was a story in one of the Utah papers (I think) about Kyle Whittingham not feeling sorry for Mike Sanford. I don't think that will be the case here. I think Utah will play, the question is whether UNLV cares enough to play to save its coach? A win over Utah would be huge for Sanford, I'm just not sure that team is still playing for him.
If Boise runs the tables, will it be enough for them to play in the National Championship?
Graham Watson (4:35 PM)
That depends on everyone above them and maybe a couple spots below. If you read Brad Edwards mock BCS standings from yesterday he clearly points out that a 11-1 USC team will jump Boise State because of strength of schedule. I think it's totally possible that two 11-1 AQ teams play in the national championship.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
What game(s) are you looking forward to most this weekend?
Graham Watson (4:37 PM)
I guess tomorrow's game between Boise State and Tulsa, though I'm not confident that it's going to be much of a game. Other than that, the USC-ND game is probably the most intriguing.
We share the same name, do we also share the same idea that both Boise AND TCU get into a BCS game? Why cant two great Non-AQ teams make it?
Graham Watson (4:40 PM)
Both Boise State and TCU need ND to lose tomorrow. If ND wins, there's no way two non-AQ's are getting in. Also, I have a tough time believing that voters would put two non-AQ teams in BCS bowls instead of say, Iowa or Miami or even Oregon. While it might be deserving, it's a long shot.
Can Houston still get to a BCS game
Graham Watson (4:40 PM)
Mike (Shelley, ID)
Graham, I'm trying to submit a novel to you via the Mailbag. Is there a character limit, because it's not letting me send. Any other options to send you my thoughts?
Graham Watson (4:41 PM)
I have no idea about a character limit. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm a Longhorn fan but I think any level headed person can see that Bama is the best team in the country so why don't the voters just put them their already
Graham Watson (4:43 PM)
You think Bama is better than Florida? I think those two teams - if undefeated - will stay where they are until the SEC title game.
Central Michigan-Western Michigan ... can the Broncos keep the Chippewas from running the table?
Graham Watson (4:44 PM)
I don't think so. I think CMU is pretty darn good. Not even sure it will be a good game.
Matt (Ft. Polk, LA)
Neither Notre Dame's offense nor USC's defense has faced an opponent like they will this weekend, so why is the USC defense getting the nod in this match-up?
Graham Watson (4:46 PM)
I said the USC running game would be the difference. I don't think the ND offense can stop it.
J.B. (Dunmore, PA)
Can a player from a non-BCS team ever win a Heismann?
Graham Watson (4:47 PM)
Ever? Sure. it's happened several times. Will it happen this year? Probably not, though I think Ryan Mathews should get some love.
Collin (Meridian, ID)
Are you coming to the Idaho / Boise State game in November? Should be a great rilvary matchup!
Graham Watson (4:48 PM)
I usually don't find out where I'm going until the week of the game. However, I think that would be a great game if both teams stay unbeaten from here on out.
Matt (Dallas, Texas)
Why is BYU still being punished for their loss to Florida State while USC's loss to Washington is an afterthought?
Graham Watson (4:52 PM)
I think that's a god question and one of the major flaws of the human polls. USC gets respect because of its reputation. It didn't have its starting QB that game. It also beat a talented Ohio State team. And Washington is 3-3. Florida State is 2-4. It's only other win came against Jacksonville State. And BYU signature win, OU, is losing its luster and will be even worse if the Sooners lose this weekend.
Eric (Fort Worth)
What's your take on TCU's game at Air Force this weekend.
Graham Watson (4:52 PM)
John ((Hopewell, VA))
The AP isn't irrelevant because they award their own national title. That said, do you see a split championship as a distinct possiblity this season.
Graham Watson (4:54 PM)
Again... It doesn't hand out the fun crystal football that teams lust over. That's the difference. The AP poll opted out of the BCS a long time ago, which is what prompted the Harris poll. I guarantee that when it's all said and done, the AP national champion isn't as celebrated as the team with the glass ball.
Mike (Shelley, ID)
Matt (Dallas, Texas),There's a big difference between a 3 point loss to UW, and a landslide loss to FSU.
Graham Watson (4:55 PM)
Also true. You forgot to mention the part that the BYU loss was at home, too...
Wolfie (Reno, NV)
How surprised where you by our game Friday night? Do you think we finally got back on track after stopping ourselves the first three weeks.Mathews won't get any love because his team is 2-3 just like ours. Good player though.
Graham Watson (4:57 PM)
Yeah, guys on struggling teams rarely win Heisman's, but he does deserve some recognition because he put up fat number not only against bad teams, but against so really good one, including two ranked teams. And for Nevada, I;m finally starting to see the team that was hyped up all offseason. I think it's gaining confidence and I'd be surprised to see another ND performance. I think the Pack still has a really good chance of being bowl eligible.
bigboi (haines city ,fl)
if boise state looses 1 game and byu wins out will byu make it to a bcs game?
Graham Watson (4:59 PM)
Honestly, if that happens, I don't think there's a non-AQ representative this year. I think there will be too many other one-loss teams with better wins and schedules.
Graham Watson (5:00 PM)
OK. I'm out. Have a good week and I'll be back here at my regular scheduled time next week.