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SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
8/28/2006 12:22:00 PM

Virtual Favorites: Huskers, Hokies

Zac Taylor
Why should Zac Taylor be smiling? Because he appears to be a "virtual" lock to play for the national title.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Pretty much every possible prognosticator has now weighed in with his picks for the 2006 season, including Kirk Herbstreit's bold if bizarre prediction over the weekend that Miami will win the national championship. (One of Kirk's exact quotes was, "I love their offense." He declined to specify which he loved more, the suspended star receiver or the tailback coming off ACL surgery.) But one of the most important voices had yet to chime in until now. That would be my PlayStation.

Ever since my PlayStation became quite possibly the only entity in the country to predict a USC-Auburn national-title game before the 2004 season (no, that matchup didn't actually happen, but it probably should have), I've learned to take its computerized projections with extreme seriousness, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. So here now is your likely matchup for Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz.:

Nebraska vs. Virginia Tech.

Suddenly, I'm both very excited and very nervous. If the Huskers (who went 13-0, beating Texas twice) do in fact reach the championship, it would validate the Wide Open feature we did a few weeks back. On the flip side, the Hokies weren't even on our list of 16 contenders, and if you can't get the national champion right when you have 16 guesses, that's not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Other developments of note in the simulated season: West Virginia and Louisville were Nos. 1 and 2 when they met in their Thursday-night game on Nov. 2 (though the Cardinals wound up falling out of the Top 25 altogether after that), Michigan rebounded from last season's disappointment to go 11-1 and win the Big Ten, and Notre Dame receiver Jeff Samardzija captured the Heisman Trophy (this one I wouldn't put too much stock in -- four of the five finalists were wide receivers).

Bad omen, by the way, for real-life preseason No. 1 Ohio State: The Buckeyes finished 7-5.
posted by Stewart Mandel | View comments |


Posted: 12:51 PM   by Anonymous
This is definitely the best way to predict the national championship!
Posted: 1:06 PM   by Joe in Boulder
That sounds like a typical West Virginia season-- #1 *and* they win their big game vs. Louisville... then lose to someone they should've clobbered. (shakes head)

All hail Stewart's Playstation!
Posted: 1:07 PM   by Anonymous
I know a guy who did that awhile back too and he said not only was Nebraska in the title mix, but Zac Taylor finished second in the Heisman voting by just a couple of points. That's quite a difference from last year, when Taylor was just an average quarterback that was supposed to hold the fort until Harrison Beck was ready to take over.
Posted: 1:10 PM   by Anonymous
Herby is sweet; and by "sweet", I mean "totally cool".
Posted: 1:20 PM   by Anonymous
If either of those team make it I'll be shocked. OSU definitely has the chance to have a crummy year if the offense doesn't pick up where it left off.
Posted: 1:20 PM   by Brad
If either of those team make it I'll be shocked. OSU definitely has the chance to have a crummy year if the offense doesn't pick up where it left off.
Posted: 1:38 PM   by Anonymous
maybe playstation has more respect for a decent defense that the collective sportspundictocracy.
Posted: 1:49 PM   by Eric
Who did Michigan lose too? Who was the starting QB for the Hokies, Sean Glennon or Cory Holt? I could definately see VT going to the NC Game "defense wins championships" right. Who won the NC game, VT or the Black Shirts?
Posted: 1:55 PM   by Pat Smith
Stewart -
As far fetched as this may seem, it still is refreshing to see faith, albeit, PLAYSTATION Incorporated, in two great programs such as the Huskers and Hokies. I feel the Husker Program is flying in under the radar and after September 16th, will explode onto the screen and have the full attention of the College Football World. Keep up the Good Work. GBR
Husker Fan in Colorado -
Pat Smith
Posted: 1:55 PM   by Anonymous
Playstation predicting the national champion is flawed until you correct the rosters to account all the true freshman and transfers they left out, as well as updating the depth charts.
Posted: 1:58 PM   by Anonymous
Great, that is all we need, more high expectations for a Nebraska team that still has a lot of question marks.
I'm telling you, a 7-5 record for OSU would not be unrealistic. OSU is overrated! I'm not saying they can end up as mythical national champions or Big 10 champions, but Troy Smith couldn't even win the starting job in last year's preseason, and the defense only has two starters returning. AND, will Teddy Bear Ginn Rummy finally start living up to his REP and the PRE-season, not POST-season, awards he has collected.
Answering a couple of your questions:

Boise State, not Utah, made the BCS

Michigan's one loss was to (I'm not making this up) 8-4 Northwestern.
Posted: 2:33 PM   by Anonymous
Hi Stewart,

I have been following your blog for the past few weeks and all the posts have been sincere and focused on college football. But today, it looks like you did not have anything to write about and so wrote some junk stuff to satisfy your editor and readers! I would suggest that you do not put such posts in the future and spoil your reputation.
Posted: 2:42 PM   by Anonymous
Boy....is there really no real news that's fit to print? Can't wait til Thursday so we can get back to the real world.
Posted: 3:21 PM   by Anonymous
Mine also had VT in the national championship game, only they faced Penn State. Nebraska still went 10-2 and won the Big 12 Championship by beating Texas A&M. I'm skeptical about this years predictions though. It had my Duke Blue Devils finishing 6-6 and playing in a bowl. I'm a huge Duke fan, and even if we still had Asack at QB, I wouldn't be that stupid.
Posted: 3:45 PM   by Dr. Dave
Whoever wins the Big 12, I'll support them in the BCS, but I'm hoping that Stewart is correct and it's a return to glory for the Huskers. As a born-and-bred Husker living in Austin.... well, you know how the Longhorns love their team, and justifiably so.
Posted: 3:52 PM   by Nalow
"Hi Stewart,
I have been following your blog for the past few weeks and all the posts have been sincere and focused on college football. But today, it looks like you did not have anything to write about and so wrote some junk stuff to satisfy your editor and readers! I would suggest that you do not put such posts in the future and spoil your reputation."

Hi, Isn't it about time you got a sense of humour?
Posted: 4:27 PM   by Brian C.
I haven't laughed that hard all afternoon. Thanks, Stewart. Not sure what I found funnier... the fact that Herbstreit (who I find quite credible... usually) likes Miami's offense to win it all, Va Tech & Nebraska meeting on Jan. 8, or 4 of the 5 Heisman finalist being WR. Well, Playstation probably won't do much worse than my own predictions, but I'm afraid I won't be predicting Shark to win the Heisman or OSU to finish 7-5.
Posted: 4:29 PM   by Anonymous
BCS or PS2.......tough one...
Posted: 4:38 PM   by Anonymous
i did my season and nebraska was also in the national championship, but they played west virginia... nebraska ended up winning.

steve slaton won the heisman as well
Posted: 4:53 PM   by Anonymous
I think we're going to need a 2nd opinion....run the simualation on the Xbox360.
Posted: 5:00 PM   by Anonymous
Just hand the Trophy over to Nebraska now...
Posted: 5:01 PM   by Anonymous
What ever, I'm mailing my PS2 game back then. Guess we will find out when Texas goes to Nebraska!
Posted: 5:07 PM   by Anonymous
that is not far off at all when i played my season as west virgina i played 12-0 iowa and boise state and nebraska were in the bcs the computer is pretty good and ohio state sucked and michigan went 11-1 and so did the sun devils
Posted: 5:08 PM   by nick
I had 4 teams go undefeated: Michigan, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Miami. Michigan beat Oklahoma for the national championship and Miami beat West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Texas and Ohio State both went 7-6
Posted: 5:27 PM   by Greg
First off let me say that I'm a HUGE Miami fan. Now, realistically, do I think Miami has a chance this year, even after last year a a rough off-season, and all the suspensions, Yes. I do, not a definite lock, but a chance. What I want to say is that Herbstreit is generally considered one of the bets college football commentators and I find that he's more right than wrong, including National Championship predictions. Anyway, all I have to say is GO CANES!!!!
Posted: 5:29 PM   by Anonymous
So what exactly happened in the Pac-10? Even the Playstation has an anti-West Coast bias...
Posted: 5:31 PM   by Quinn for Heisman!!
Jeff Samardzija could win the Heisman but it would be tough for him to take it from Quinn. How well did ND finish out! I know a lost to Michigan, but don't tell me USC, MSU, and Penn State too!
Posted: 5:37 PM   by Anonymous
don't know if it is the best way but its the most fun way to predict the national champion. Boy a rough job , Mandel.
Posted: 5:55 PM   by Trav
that's a crock of crap!

ohio state will not finish 7-5. nebraska will do well, but will not beat texas twice. not even once.
Posted: 6:21 PM   by Jordy
That's funny, my PS2 has Virginia Tech and Ohio State playing for the national championship. And Samardzjia won the Heisman Trophy, even though Sidney Rice led the nation in receptions, yards, AND touchdowns.
Posted: 7:02 PM   by Neil UK
Anyone who is up in arms about this...

Just chill out and have some fun....

Stewart did...

Posted: 7:13 PM   by JayJayDean
I've used my PS2 to stage playoffs based on the regular season results the past couple of seasons. (That is the real season records plugged into a 20-team bracket simmed on my PS2.) I've got to get my playoffs wish SOMEHOW, right? In 2005 I got to the semifinals of (1) Texas - (4) Ohio State and (6) Virginia Tech - (7) Georgia (who upset #2 USC), but then the ACTUAL Rose Bowl was better than anything the PS2 would've come up with, so I bagged it.

I can totally see the PS2 coming up with Huskers-Hokies. If you believe MY NCAA 06, once we get to 2009 it's ALL Texas A&M all the time. They are obviously Big 12-biased. (No, the Aggies aren't my team.)
Posted: 7:15 PM   by Anonymous
Please consider this variation: run the full season simulation 10 or more times and see which teams keep coming up on top. I noticed, from playing the 2005 season multiple times, that the Vandy QB kept getting into the five Heisman finalists last year --as though his talent meant he was going to be a superstar... now it doesn't seem so far off. I also kept seeing USC and TX in the title game. Try it with this year's edition and see who averages out. If you keep getting VT/Nebraska... then there may be something to this.
-Bobak from Minneapolis
Posted: 7:19 PM   by Jared
My Xbox has the Hokies going all the way!
Posted: 8:14 PM   by Anonymous
i agree with kirk more then playstation, GO MIAMI!!!!!!!
Posted: 8:15 PM   by Anonymous
better go ahead and play it out
So how bout PS2 is the smartest system in the world!!!.....Nebraska will do very well this year but ill be extremely satisfied if they make it into a BCS game let alone the national chamionship...But i do think Nebraska will have one of the top 5 defenses in the country barring any more injuries...i also predict nebraska to beat texas at least once this year although both games should be really close....only a couple more days until college football is underway!!!!!cant wait
Posted: 8:25 PM   by Kristine
You know, with the Northwestern game right after the tough stretch they have (ND, Wis, Minn, MSU, PS, Iowa), it could happen if they let down their guard. Anyways, this method isn't any less accurate than the rest of the methods, so enjoy!
Posted: 8:32 PM   by Anonymous
I am not sure about VA tech, but Nebraska has a solid defense and some very good under the radar recieving talent. They are deep in Iback, the only question mark I see is the O-line, if the O-line is anything like the huskers of the 90's there will be some shocked college football fans when NU beats USC and Texas.
Posted: 8:42 PM   by Anonymous
Excellent! Hey! Did that PS2 game still have Vick as the QB?

As a practical Hokie, I predict that we'll be the ACC champions once again as we're the underdogs...
Posted: 8:52 PM   by Anonymous
Response to the PS2 predicting the 'Virtual Favorites': "okay..."
Posted: 9:28 PM   by Anonymous
hey Stew, dont be mad at Kirk for having a better job than you! its not his fault you work for the 4th biggest sports internet site!
Posted: 9:41 PM   by Anonymous
Yeah... I did it and had Notre Dame over Arizona State. Va tech finished 12-2 (lost orange bowl) cal finished 5-7
Posted: 3:11 PM   by Anonymous
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