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Bruin Bites: UCLA Football Bye Week Saturday, SEC Maybe Bye to One Team's Playoff Chances

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UCLA continues to prepare for $C. It is hard to improve strength of schedule when not playing, and SOS seems to be important in the behind closed doors machinations of the College Football Playoff Committee. How this impacts our ranking remains to be seen. In the meantime, there are several very high profile national games on tap in the early portion of the Saturday football schedule.

I assume $C said all the right things about stopping Brett last year also, but here is a touchdown run in last year's game regardless.
I assume $C said all the right things about stopping Brett last year also, but here is a touchdown run in last year's game regardless.
Stephen Dunn

UCLA has no game today, which dampens the news cycle somewhat. Michael Lev at the Press-Enterprise writes about $C's focus on Brett as they prepare for next Saturday. No surprise there. But there was one interesting tidbit- apparently $C did not let one of their players participate in the Berkeley game because of a student-conduct issue. I bet he went to class on Wednesday.

Gary Klein at the LA Times has an article in a similar vein- focus on Brett. He has the same item about the student-conduct issue. And Klein adds that another player was declared academically ineligible before the season started. That is on his advisor- it is hard to imagine that an $C player could be ineligible except for lack of attention to which classes to take.

Turning to the national scene, there is a full slate of games on tap today. Here is the list, courtesy of SB Nation-

Noon ET No. 18 Clemson No. 24 Georgia Tech ESPN WatchESPN
Noon ET No. 8 Ohio State Minnesota ABC abc.go.com/watch-live
Noon ET Virginia Tech No. 19 Duke ESPNU WatchESPN
Noon ET South Carolina Florida SEC Network WatchESPN
Noon ET Iowa Illinois Big Ten Network btn2go.com
Noon ET Temple Penn State ESPN2 WatchESPN
Noon ET Army Western Kentucky CBSSN
Noon ET Brown Dartmouth SNY, CSN
Noon ET Wofford Furman WatchESPN
Noon ET Presbyterian Gardner-Webb
Noon ET Bryant Sacred Heart WatchESPN
12:30 p.m. ET Pittsburgh North Carolina ACC Network
12:30 p.m. ET Cornell Columbia FCS-Atlantic
12:30 p.m. ET Bucknell Holy Cross Charter TV3
12:30 p.m. ET James Madison Richmond NBCSN
1 p.m. ET Miami (Ohio) Central Michigan WatchESPN
2 p.m. ET Nevada Air Force ROOT-RM
2 p.m. ET Eastern Michigan Western Michigan WatchESPN
2:30 p.m. ET Rice No. 21 Marshall FSN foxsports.com/foxsportsgo
3 p.m. ET No. 5 TCU Kansas FS1 foxsports.com/foxsportsgo
3 p.m. ET Appalachian State Arkansas State WatchESPN
3 p.m. ET Wake Forest NC State RSN
3 p.m. ET Monmouth Coastal Carolina WatchESPN
3 p.m. ET Northern Iowa Southern Illinois MVTV WatchESPN
3 p.m. ET William & Mary Towson CSN
3:05 p.m. ET Montana Southern Utah Cowles Montana Media
3:30 p.m. ET No. 1 Mississippi State No. 4 Alabama CBS cbssports.com
3:30 p.m. ET Northwestern No. 15 Notre Dame NBC
3:30 p.m. ET Washington No. 17 Arizona FOX foxsports.com/foxsportsgo
3:30 p.m. ET No. 11 Nebraska No. 22 Wisconsin ABC abc.go.com/watch-live
3:30 p.m. ET Middle Tennessee FIU American Sports Network
3:30 p.m. ET Georgia Southern Navy CBSSN
3:30 p.m. ET Indiana Rutgers Big Ten Network btn2go.com
3:30 p.m. ET Oklahoma Texas Tech ESPN WatchESPN
3:30 p.m. ET Memphis Tulane ESPNU WatchESPN
3:30 p.m. ET Charleston Southern Liberty MyTV, LFSN WatchESPN
3:40 p.m. ET Idaho State Montana State ROOT Sports
4 p.m. ET Kentucky Tennessee SEC Network WatchESPN
4 p.m. ET New Mexico Utah State ESPNews WatchESPN
4 p.m. ET Eastern Illinois Jacksonville State WatchESPN
4 p.m. ET Warner Mercer WatchESPN
4 p.m. ET McNeese State SE Louisiana Southland TV WatchESPN
4:30 p.m. ET Hawaii San Jose State Oceanic
5 p.m. ET Troy Idaho WatchESPN
6 p.m. ET No. 25 Utah Stanford Pac-12 Network pac-12.com/live
7 p.m. ET UNLV BYU ESPNU WatchESPN
7 p.m. ET Louisiana ULM SBC Network WatchESPN
7 p.m. ET Mississippi Valley State Southern COX Sports
7 p.m. ET Albany Villanova American Sports Network
7:15 p.m. ET No. 9 Auburn No. 16 Georgia ESPN WatchESPN
7:30 p.m. ET Texas Oklahoma State FOX foxsports.com/foxsportsgo
7:30 p.m. ET Texas State South Alabama WatchESPN
7:30 p.m. ET Missouri Texas A&M SEC Network WatchESPN
8 p.m. ET No. 20 LSU Arkansas ESPN2 WatchESPN
8 p.m. ET No. 12 Michigan State Maryland Big Ten Network btn2go.com
8 p.m. ET No. 2 Florida State Miami ABC abc.go.com/watch-live
8 p.m. ET South Florida SMU CBSSN
10 p.m. ET North Texas UTEP FS1 foxsports.com/foxsportsgo
10:15 p.m. ET San Diego State Boise State ESPNU WatchESPN
10:45 p.m. ET No. 7 Arizona State Oregon State ESPN WatchESPN

Since UCLA has a bye today, we can focus on other things, like fresh air, sunshine, walks in the park. Who are we kidding? Look at this list. There are some solid games. Time to stock up and camp out on the couch for some serious TV football watching.

The most important game for UCLA on this entire list is the last one- ASU at Oregon State. Everything else pales in comparison.

But on the national scene, the big game is at 12:30 Pacific, as #5 (playoff rankings) Alabama hosts #1 Mississippi State. The game will be televised on CBS. A second loss for Bama would presumably knock them out of contention for a final four spot. A solid win by Alabama could knock Mississippi State out of the top four.

The playoff selection committee operates behind closed doors, using various criteria of unknown weight to determine the rankings. But strength of schedule clearly seems to be very important. So a loss by either team may not be fatal to their chances, but a thumping probably would be. I personally would like to see a thumping by Mississippi State, just to see Lane repeat his facial expression when he was left at the airport parking lot as his $C days ended.

Two top 20 (playoff rankings) meet from the Big 10 face off, also at 12:30 Pacific. #16 Nebraska travels to #20 Wisconsin. The game will be televised on ABC. Nebraska already is out of favor with the committee, as their #16 playoff ranking is five worse than their #11 AP ranking, which is the most negative differential of any team in the rankings. A second loss here would presumably knock them into the ether.

This game is important for the Bruins, as we aim for a prestige bowl slot or higher. There are 12 slots available in prestige bowls. One is reserved for the highest ranked conference champion from a non power conference, and one is reserved this year for a second ACC team if Florida State finishes in the top four. So that means 10 slots for five conferences. Cutting the Big 10 to one team (unlikely in my view, but a Nebraska loss would help) would open up another slot for the other conferences, including the Pac 12.

Another Big 10 game of interest, again because of implications for the number of prestige bowl slots per conference, is #8 Ohio State at #25 Minnesota. Game time is 9 am Pacific on ABC. Ohio State is in the driver's seat for the guaranteed prestige bowl slot for the Big 10. A win in this game would keep them in good stead. But a loss by Ohio State would knock them down, and could also taint #12 Michigan State (losing to a loser team is worse).

For the early risers, there is another decent matchup- #19 (football playoff rankings) Clemson at #22 Georgia Tech, at 9 am Pacific. The game will be televised on ESPN. As mentioned above, there is a wrinkle in the bowl pairings this year with respect to the ACC. The ACC champion normally plays in the Orange Bowl. But if Florida State (or any other ACC team in theory) winds up in the final four, then as a final four team, they would play in either the Sugar Bowl or the Rose Bowl this year. The Orange Bowl then grabs another ACC team (based on committee rankings) to play against an opponent to be determined by the committee. At the moment, there are three ACC teams clustered for the 2nd ACC prestige bowl slot- Clemson, #21 Duke and Georgia Tech. Something will give today.

Should be interesting. Fire away with your comments and observations. This is your bye week early games open thread.