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Toss Up: Offseason Football Musings, Outdoor Hockey and Rice's Draft Stock

Jeff and I tackle some of the offseason storylines and other random thoughts on our minds today in a game of Toss Up.

Toss Up - Which school will win more games in football this season - My old school or my new school?

Jeff: Your new school is going to go 5-2 at home and 2-3 on the road. Northwestern misses Ohio State but still has Penn State and Wisconsin at home with Purdue, Michigan State, Iowa and Illinois on the road. Northwestern is an improving program but I see them winning a few less games this year than last year. Your new school is just happy to go to a bowl. BC meanwhile should win 8 games this year.

Brian: Jeff, you have it all backwards. At the risk of instantly sounding like a homer (trust me, there is literally no Northwestern school spirit in the grad programs here so this isn't the case), Northwestern will win more games than BC this year. One team has a much easier schedule, plays in a weaker conference, and has a returning senior quarterback under center. The other team plays in a better conference, has a tougher schedule and has to play arguably the best program in the conference (Virginia Tech) as opposed to missing the best team in the Big Ten (Ohio State). Northwestern will breeze to a 4-0 record out of conference with wins over Towson, Eastern Michigan, at Syracuse, and Miami (OH). Then in conference, the Cats will beat Minnesota and Indiana at home and Purdue and Illinois on the road. They will likely lose to Penn State at home and Iowa and Michigan State on the road. I would chalk the home Wisconsin game up as a toss up. That gets Northwestern to 8-4 or 9-3 on the year.

While I am ever the BC optimist, I think there is just way too much offseason turmoil to overcome for the Eagles to get to 8 or 9 wins. I would be doing cartwheels if we get to 7-5 or 8-4, but I think that a 5-7 or 6-6 season is more in the cards for Boston College this season. Early prediction for wins? Let's say Northeastern, Kent State, Wake Forest, Central Michigan, at Virginia, at Maryland.

Also, Northwestern's HC Pat Fitzgerald just got a contract extension through 2015. The short-term future in Evanston looks bright. And I would never bet against a QB named Kafka.

Toss Up - How do you like your BC vs. BU hockey games? Inside or outside?

Brian: I like the outdoors game as a novelty game to be held once every few years. But if this becomes a yearly event, I'm not too sold on that idea. I will say that I love the idea of an outdoor game for this season - since we've been calling for this for some time - but remember this likely would be a league game and would count in the final Hockey East standings. What would be cooler in my opinion is to have one of the Beanpot tournaments held outdoors since those games don't count towards the regular season Hockey East crown. Either that, or have the City of Boston host a winter tournament outdoors.

Jeff: Outside for sure. It looks like we are getting something that we wanted. BC is going to play at Fenway Park. The truly sad thing would be though is that now we are going to play this marquee hockey game maybe the football team will make a major bowl and Eagles have a conflict of interest and attendance at both the bowl and the hockey game are hurt as a result. You would consider making the trip to Fenway, right?

Brian: Of course.

Toss Up - 2009 Notre Dame Football - BCS bowl bound or Not?

Brian: Not this year for the Irish. Dr. Saturday nicely lays out the case for the Irish's BCS hopes, and I tend to agree with him. I see the Irish going 8-4 or 9-3 this year and missing out on a BCS at-large berth. With the schedule being as light as it is this year, I don't believe 9-3 gets them in. Quick glance at the schedule makes me think the Irish have 5 automatic wins (Nevada, at Michigan, at Purdue, Washington, Washington State), 2 sure losses (USC and Michigan State) and 5 toss up games, including the Eagles matchup with the Irish. Don't sleep on an improving Stanford team, who nearly knocked off the Irish in South Bend last season. I can see the Irish adding 3 more wins to the regular season win total from a season ago, but +4 in the win column will be too much for Irish fans to ask. The Irish will play in a very good bowl - perhaps the Gator Bowl - but will fall short of the BCS this season.

Jeff: Very very sadly, I have to say right now that ND is going to a BCS bowl this year. ND has such a weak schedule that they could lose to BC and USC and still go to a BCS game. BC has beaten the Irish before in years that they have gone to a BCS bowl. If ND beats BC this year I would say almost with certainty that they will be playing in a BCS Bowl and if BC beats Notre Dame, there is still a decent chance that they go on to a BCS Bowl.

Toss Up - Which do you prefer - Playing rivalry games or cupcakes after bye weeks?

Jeff: I hate BC's schedule as far as where the bye weeks fall this year. We know that we open with Northeastern which is probably a good thing considering the uncertainties that have developed with this team. Then our bye week falls after the Central Michigan game (on October 31) and before the Eagles' trip to Charlottesville. Central Michigan is not a bad team but it is still a game we should win and it is a meaningless out of conference game. Then Virginia is possibly the weakest ACC team we play and they are also a Coastal opponent which is far less important than an Atlantic Division game. I would much prefer at least one of our bye weeks lead up to the Florida State, Clemson, Notre Dame or the Virginia Tech games.

Brian: I'm not going to get too worked up about where the bye week falls this season as the college football season only has one bye week for most teams (12 games in a 13 week period). Northwestern doesn't even have the benefit of a bye week this season as they play their 12 regular season games in 12 weeks and end before Thanksgiving.

Going back to 2006, the Eagles have won every game while coming off the bye week. (In 2005, we lost to a nationally ranked Virginia Tech team on a Thursday night after having the previous Saturday off.) I would expect that trend to continue this season with a win at Virginia. If forced to pick though, I would say that I'd rather play a lesser opponent after a bye week rather than a rival or a strong opponent. The Eagles always seem to get up to play teams like Virginia Tech or Notre Dame, and the luxury of having a week off before playing these teams can I think be to the detriment of the team. The team starts to overthink the matchup, etc. In my opinion, I'm happy playing lesser opponents after the bye week instead of a strong opponent.

Last one, Toss Up - Will Rice get drafted tonight?

Brian: Yes. He'll be a mid-to-late second rounder. Even though the draft is heavy on point guard talent this season, Rice is a good enough pure shooter than he will get drafted tonight. The only mark against him is that it's unclear what position he'll play in the pros since he is a bit undersized as a shooting guard. Still, I think a team will take a chance on Rice.

Jeff: I am sticking by my prediction that he will not be drafted but I am hoping that he will or if he goes undrafted that he will be picked up by an NBA team.