Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Rest of the Way

I was wondering this morning what the top 10 teams strength of schedule was the rest of the way. Using the Sagarin predictor rating (not the politically correct BCS scoring), here are the strength of schedules of the top 10 teams in the BCS going into today's games. The parenthetical ranking is the ranking of the remaining strength of schedule:
  1. Auburn 78.35 (3)
  2. Oregon 84.92 (1)
  3. Boise State 73.62 (5)
  4. TCU 67.40 (10)
  5. Michigan State 71.66 (8)
  6. Missouri 73.11 (7)
  7. Alabama 73.32 (6)
  8. Utah 77.31 (4)
  9. Oklahoma 78.56 (2)
  10. Wisconsin 68.38 (9)
When I decided to research this, I thought it would show that Boise didn't play a tough schedule and that they had an easy road the rest of the way. Instead, what I found was their schedule is not unlike others.Some points to highlight:
  • Alabama's remaining SOS would be higher, but the game against Georgia State drags them down.
  • Auburn's remaining SOS would be higher, but the game against Chattanooga drags them down.
  • Auburn's cupcake game against the Mocs of Chattanooga still presents a stronger foe than Boise State conference for Utah State
  • Wisconsin has played their toughest games. Their toughest game remaining is at Michigan, who is  - according to Sagarin's predictor ratings - 4 points worse than Baylor. The Badgers remaining slate is: Purdue, Indiana, Michigan, Northwestern.
  • In comparison, Boise State has two games expected to be tougher than Wisconsin's trip to Michigan: Hawaii and Nevada. Statistically speaking, Michigan and Idaho are similar foes.
  • TCU's remaining SOS is dragged down by Mountain West cellar dwellers UNLV and New Mexico. 1-AA Georgia State has a higher ranking than New Mexico.
  • In conclusion, I guess I think it's less likely that a Big 6 school leapfrog Boise down the stretch due to Boise's "weak schedule". However, the above doesn't factor in human perception (2/3 of the poll) or that Alabama's computer ranking would be boosted by winning out, including the SEC championship game. It does look possible that Oregon could lose, yet still stay up there due to their increasingly difficult schedule down the stretch. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ten Things I think you think I think about the Texas loss to ISU

So yesterday was a lazy day for me, and I got to watch LOTS of college football. I wrote this while watching the end of the Texas -ISU game and part of the Bugeater-Pokes contest. Some might say that writing a post about a rival losing their game before wathcing your own team get drilled is Karma. Not a believer in the Karma thing, but I'd rather had Texas and OU win than both lose.

If I can pare down my thoughts on last night's loss to Missou to ten or twenty, we'll post those later.

  1. First of all, I'm completely blown away by this. The Cyclone looked inept last week against the Sooners. And for most of the Utah game. 
  2. The last time Texas lost two home games in a row they changed head coaches (1997). I don't see that happening.
  3. Iowa State has never beaten Texas.
  4. Coming into this game, the Cyclones were 99th in passing yards, 77th in rushing yards, 85th in points scored and 104th in points allowed.
  5. Today is not one of those flukey wins. Texas kept making critical mistakes in the red zone, and continues to struggle with turnovers. Iowa State protected the ball, ran it well, and completed just enough passes to get the job done. Defensively, they consistently got pressure on the G Spot. And when you get pressure on the G Spot, good things happen.
  6. Texas lacks leadership on both sides of the ball. I've said this before, but leadership and experience are huge. On the offensive side, no one has replaced the leadership of Colt McCoy or Jordan Shipley. On the defensive side, the Horns have not replaced the on the field leadership of Earl Thomas. Teams need someone, when adversity happens, to get in that huddle and say, "this stops here", and have the rest of the unit believe it. No one is doing that for the Horns.
  7. Continuing on that thought, Texas was blessed to have a QB the caliber of Colt McCoy follow Vince Young. That's two of the better QBs in college fb history. Teams often struggle when they lose their leaders. Watch Florida this year. Or the Sooners last year after Bradford went down. Or after Jason White completed this PhD in football in 2005. What Oregon is doing after losing their QB to laptop theft is huge.
  8. I really thought the G spot would be better than his in 2010. And, given time, he may still be. I don't think Greg Davis has figured out what to do with him, when you combine an inexperienced QB with a spotty line and inexperienced receivers.
  9. I don't know when the last time is a team has lost by 50 and then beat a ranked opponent on the road the following week. I'm guessing never.
  10. The other two teams to score less than 24 points against Iowa State? Northern Iowa and Northern Illinois. Texas, thy new name is Northern Mexico.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ten things I think you think I think - Missouri preview

  1. Much is being made this week about Gary Pinkel being winless against Oklahoma. Let's be fair. Pinkel's predecessor, Larry Smith, only beat the Sooners once. Smith benefited from coaching against John Blake. That's like taking candy from a baby. Further back, Bob Stull and Woody Widenhofer weren't able to beat OU either. The last coach to beat the Sooners twice as Missouri coach: Warren Powers.
  2. Before we get too enamored with Missouri and playing them at home, without this play, the Tigers lose to San Diego State, are 5-1 going into this game and it's being played at 1100 am on Fox Sports.
  3. The discussion about Missouri's defense is curious. Missouri has the second best scoring defense in FBS. Of the five FBS teams Missouri has played, three are in the bottom thirty of scoring offenses in FBS.
  4. When reading the above note, do not pay attention to the fact that Oklahoma gave up 24 points to the 90th best scoring offense in the land. Nothing to see here, move along.
  5. Another fun fact: Phil Steele likes to evaluate Points per Yard. Offensively, it speaks to your effectiveness in scoring points. Defensively, it speaks to how hard you make the other team work for points. Field position and turnovers contribute to skewing this stat. The team with the best defensive yards per point so far this year? Missouri, at 30.3 yards per point. Second, TCU with 23.5 yards per point.
  6. Missouri's stat here is helped significantly by the 379 yard, 9 point effort by Cash Machine U last week, and the 311 yards and no points performance against Colorado. So either Mizzou is hitting their stride defensively, or they're playing teams struggling offensively. Personally, I think it's both.
  7. In case you're wondering if Defensive Yards per point is some sort of quirky stat, here's your top ten, in order: Mizzou, TCU, Alabama, Iowa, Arizona, Mississippi State, Oregon, San Diego State, West Virginia and Oklahoma.
  8. I think I'm glad I don't have to channel flip between Game 7 of Rangers / Yankees and Sooners / Tigers tonight.
  9. In researching the Tigers this morning, I've become more concerned about this game than I was previously. Sagarin's predictor ranking system has the Tigers ahead of the Sooners, by about two points, and then you'd give the Tigers three for home field advantage. Missouri is a better unit defensively than I thought, I've always thought Gabbert was a good QB, and Pinkel is an excellent coach.
  10. What I have some level of faith in this year for the Sooners is they a) take care of the ball well; b) the seem to play to the level of competition, which is in the Sooners favor this week. If they keep it up, they can squeak by with another 7 point victory.

Friday, October 22, 2010

LandThieves CFB Poll Week 7

I've done my own computer rankings this year. They're a little late for this week, but here goes for the top 11:

  1. Oklahoma - no, I did not rig the computer to do this. The model takes opponents' winning percentage as a strength of schedule measure, and the Sooners have played one of the tougher schedules this year. And they've played poorly against most of that schedule.
  2. Missouri - this week will mark the first time in recorded history that 1 vs 2 in my poll have paired off. It makes me challenge the validity of my rankings. Conversely, Missouri has exceeded the average performance against it's opponents and has played a reasonably tough schedule.
  3. Auburn - no surprise here. They've played well this year against a tough schedule.
  4. Boise State - BSU's foes have a below 500 winning percentage. That's not going to get better. However, they beat their opponents by more than anyone else that plays them. This is a good team.
  5. Ohio State - they have one loss, to the 25th rated team in my model, (Wisconsin). Wisconsin wins ugly.
  6. Stanford - they should be ranked higher than this on quarterback tackling technique alone.
  7. Michigan State - best fake field goal this year.
  8. TCU - the opponents .500 winning percentage is hurting the Frogs. Upcoming games against Air Force and Utah should solidify this. Now they need to win the games.
  9. Oklahoma State - the offense is surprisingly effective this year. Their defense? middle of the pack.
  10. Oregon - I've watched a few of their games this year. They look awesome, so I think this is low. From a computer model perspective, their foes to date have been mediocre. Stanford is the only team with a winning record and New Mexico, Tennessee and Washington State have combined for three wins. As they go through the Pac 10, this will improve.
  11. LSU - the computer does not factor in luck.

2010 Mid Season Awards

The Sooners are halfway through an undefeated season, so it's time for some midseason awards.

Sooner Offensive Co-MVP: Ryan Broyles and DeMarco Murray. Broyles has been unstoppable, and DeMarco is getting boatloads of TDs.

Defensive MVP: I would have to go with Jonathan Nelson. his first half at Cincinnati practically saved the game for the Sooners. He also had a big game against the Horns.

Special Teams MVP: James Winchester. He's recovered two fumbled punts for the Sooners, both preserving narrow Sooner victories.

Well, he certainly had me calling God a few times award: Landry Jones, who is intending to enter the ministry after college.

The wannabe like you award: Baylor Bears, who seem to have finally embraced the depravity of man in their football team. Coincidentally, they are one win away from being bowl eligible.

Miss me yet award: Mark Mangino

Surprised to see you here. not. OSU and Missouri are undefeated. Knowing how error prone TAMU is now, who did you expect OSU to lose to? Troy? Washington State? Texas Tech in transition? And Missouri? Were they supposed to lose to San Diego State? or Illinois? Granted those teams are solid this year, but Mizzou should win those games. For both teams, it gets harder here on out.

Conference Coach of the mid-year: I have to go with Coach Hair Gel. His decision to bring on Dana Holgorson as OC is paying off. Of course, a healthy Kendall Hunter makes you a better coach also.

Conf Off MVP: Taylor Martinez. The speedy QB has rejuvenated the Huskers. Except for last week.

Conf Def MVP: I've got to go with Nebraska LB Lavonte Weeds, who averages over 11 tackles a game. Plus, his name sounds like a car. Chrysler Lavonte. You know you want one.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Ten Things I think you think I think - Iowa State review

1. First of all, a tip of the cap to DeMarco Murray, who scored his 58th career TD last night, breaking a 40+ year old record held by Steve Owens. The top three TD scorers for OU are now Murray, Owens and Billy Sims. Start praying now that Murray doesn't end up on the Detroit Lions roster next year.

2. It's really a shame Murray has been so dinged up during his career. He's probably missed a season of games outright or severely hampered by ankle, knee and hamstring injuries. He started out as a back with the elusiveness of Roy Finch, and as injuries appear to have robbed him of some of his elusiveness and speed, he has become stronger, and he's a good blocker when he needs to be. Mel Kiper presently has him listed as the #2 RB that's a senior this year. I guess I'm getting old and crotchety, but when I see DeMarco Murray I see opportunity lost, and forget how good he's been.

3. Now, can we give Roy Finch and Mossis Madu more touches? Roy's debut was special. Would love to see him more, but the Head Visor's got to stick w one back and allow a flow to the game...something the Dallas Cowboys could learn.

4. Ronnell Lewis was announced as a starter as OLB, then didn't appear to play except for special teams. An injury of unknown severity kept him out of action the second half.

5. Landry Jones was spectacular Saturday night, completing 30 of 34 passes. Most importantly, he did not have the OMB Landry moment, where he does something amazingly stupid without warning. Granted, this was Iowa State, but still, he managed to have one or two in every game this year, so avoiding those is huge.

6. I thought the game was just boring Saturday night, in spite of history being made. We had the Murray TD milestone, Roy Finch's debut, a shutout and Drew Allen playing the entire 4th quarter, but it was just listless.Conversely, I was glad to see a blowout. I'd had enough close calls against inferior opponents this year.

7. Texas exceeded my expectations in Lincoln Saturday. The teams combined for 450 yards. No QB completed more than four passes. The Bugeater and Buckeye losses should boost the Sooners human poll rankings this week.

8. Mountain West thoughts: Air Force hurt it's rep Saturday night with a narrow loss at San Diego State. The Aztecs seem to have rebounded from the Chuck Long era. Chuck is now offensive coordinator at Kansas, so he's got that going for him. TCU has now allowed three points in it's last three contests. That's impressive even when the foes are Colorado State, Wyoming and graduation depleted BYU. TCU-Utah in a few weeks may be for a BCS championship game bid against Boise State.

9. Boise State's most formidable conference foe lost last night. Nevada fell to Hawaii. But maybe Hawaii is the second best team in the WAC?

10. Ryan Broyles was amazing Sat as well. Perhaps more amazing was the ISU decision to never come up and press the Sooner receivers.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Texas after an OU Loss

As a closet Husker fan and natural rival to the Horns, I have a morbid fascination with today's game between the two, so here it goes:

Read a post online from Doc Saturday's cfb site yesterday quoting Mack Brown on the changes they are making to the offense after the Sooner loss. (We can't run, look! Garrett can sling it around pretty good).

As a personal comment on Mack's revelation, if you spend time "establishing the run" when you can't really run, all you've done is establish that you need to pass. If the defense figures that out at the same time, or earlier, than you do, it spells trouble.

Anywho, back to the post. In my opinion, this spells trouble for the Bugeaters today. The Horns have shown an ability to rebound dramatically after miserable showing against the Sooners.

To demonstrate:
  • In 2000, Texas lost 14-63 to OU, and proceeded to run the table on the rest of the Big 12 (6-0), with their next loss being n the Holiday Bowl to Oregon.
  • In 2001, Texas looked offensively inept against the Sooner D, losing 3-14. They ran the table in the regular season again (6-0), and lost the Big 12 Championship game to Colorado.
  • In 2002, Texas lost 24-35 to OU, then won 4 in a row before falling to Tech in Lubbock.
  • In 2003, Texas lost 13-65, then won 6 in a row before losing the Holiday Bowl.
  • In 2004, Texas lost 0-12, then won their next 6 regular season games.
  • In 2007, Texas lost 21-28, then won 5 in a row before losing to Texas A&M.
So, in a nutshell, the Horns have gone 34-2 in conference play after losing to OU. Under Mack, they've never lost a game immediately after playing the Sooners. Conversely, only once have they had to follow a Sooner loss with a game against a ranked opponent (2002, when the beat 17th ranked KSU 17-14 in Manhattan.

Will an improved Horn offense be enough to overcome the Blackshirts in Lincoln. Hard to imagine. Defensively, however, I'm curious to see how Taylor Martinez fares against the speed and quickness of the Horns.

Prediction: Nebraska 17, Texas 14.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ten Things I think you think I think - Iowa State Preview

This week's thoughts captured during Game 5 of the ALDS, so not all thoughts are relevant to Iowa State - Oklahoma. For that matter, not all thoughts are relevant.

  1. I think Iowa State is better than their 68-27 loss to Mountain West power Utah indicated. Aside from a 18 minute stretch where the Utes outscored Baylor North 48-7, the Cyclones played them even.
  2. Who knew that Gene Chizik's flight from Ames to Auburn would make two football teams better?
  3. The Texas Rangers are playing defense, running the bases and pitching well. This is a franchise that once had Brian Downing play second base. Kevin Reimer would not recognize this team.
  4. There are two Sooner QBs that have thrown more interceptions in a season than Landry Jones total of 14 last year: Josh Heupel, who threw 16 and 15 in his two years, and Cale Gundy, who threw 15 as a junior. Both are assistant coaches for the Sooners.
  5. I think the AP and Harris voters who voted OU number one have not seen much college football this year. Sure, they're undefeated and all, and they've played one of the tougher schedules, but they've really struggled in all but one game, and don't appear to be able to put people away. At least not yet.
  6. Rangers Manager Ron Washington hasn't felt this good since that cocaine binge in Oakland last summer.
  7. When the Rangers drop the antlers to Molina, they are moose antlers.
  8. The Rangers next playoff win in Arlington will be there first since Genesis 1
  9. I am bummed we've got Sooner football at home the same weekend as Rangers baseball in Arlington. I'm still headed to Norman.
  10. DeMarco Murray has more TDs than any Sooner, other than Steve Owens. pretty remarkable considering how many games he's missed due to injuries, plus games he's been struggling due to nagging injuries.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ten Things I think you think I think - Bye week edition

  1. If you're wondering if Baylor is a big time football program, look no further. Celebrating a W over Kansas by smoking some weed and falling asleep in the drive through at Taco Bell is a sure sign of progress. If that's what you call it.
  2. I want to like Landry Jones. I want to be fair, and not hold him up to a standard of Sam Bradford or the like. I'm just having trouble doing that right now. Maybe I'll go watch some Rhett Bomar video. All better now.
  3. I think debating the whether TBS MLB playoff announcers are worse than Fox's BCS announcers is like debating the Sooner QB careers of Jake Sills and Brandon Daniels.
  4. I think Dallas has caught Rangers fever. Normally this time of the week the radio stations are talking about contingency plans if the Cowboys deep snapper gets hurt in the Sunday game. This week? Rangers playoffs.
  5. The weekend TV fare for the WTF Conference are slim pickings. What's your viewing pleasure? A rising Baylor squad vs the fading dust pirates? Iowa State vs Utah? Cash Machine U vs the Boss Hogs? Methzou vs the Dan Hawkins Farewell Tour? Okie State vs UL-Lafayette? It's a sneak peek at the Big 12 next year w/o the Huskers and the Sooners and Horns with a bye. The networks must be thrilled. I'm looking forward to the Bears-Red Raiders, but it's probably not going to be the highest rated game of the season.
  6. I think for once I'm more interested in a Big 10 game (Michigan vs Michigan State) to see how Denard Robinson fares against a more formidable defense. I think Robinson will get his yards, but he doesn't play defense.
  7. I never imagined that BYE would be a tougher foe than BYU.
  8. I think the Sooner D can hold Bugeater QB Taylor Martinez to below 300 yards rushing in the Big 12 championship game. I believe that because I don't think Bo Pelini would run the score up on his lifelong friend. Would he? We really didn't run the score up in that game. No. Really.
  9. I think Greg Davis vs the Pelini Brothers is like Robin Venture vs Nolan Ryan.
  10. I think the devil must have made a Job like deal with God to mess with North Texas coach Todd Dodge. The Mean Green have lost two QBs, and the coach's son converted back to QB to help Dad out. And broke his wrist. A player died in a car accident. They've lost two centers. Former OU WR Tyler Stradford escaped a pit bull to lose a battle with a lawn chair. A pipe punctured his chest and he's out three weeks.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ten Things I think you think I think - Texas victory edition

  1. I was correct about Cameron Kenney dropping a ball today. In my wildest dreams I would not have expected it to be a punt.
  2. OMB (my teenage daughter has demanded his named by change to OMB Landry - OMB stands for Oh my Buddha) Landry did not show up until about 1:30 left in the game.
  3. If Landry Jones were Michigan State's QB, he would have killed Mark Dantonio by now. He can play so well, then do something bad without any warning whatsoever.
  4. DeMarco Murray had an unbelievable game today. He's not the back he was when he was a (mainly b/c the speed just does not appear to be there) freshman, but wow he's still athletic. His tightrope act down the left sideline for a score will go down as an all-time great run in Sooner lore.
  5. The Sooners 124 yards rushing were accumulated on 52 rush attempts. It would have been below average (instead of mediocre) without:  a) missed shotgun snap by Landry Jones; b) fake field goal attempt resulting in 13 yard loss; and c) and the amazing fumble near the end of the game.
  6. The Sooners ran 91 plays today to the Horns 64. That's an amazing disparity. The first half plays were 57 by the Sooners to 27 by the Longhorns.
  7. My father-in-law says games are not won, they're lost. I've no doubt Texas fans are headed back to jail wondering what would have been without penalties that negated a Sooner turnover in deep in OU territory and other penalties that sustained two otherwise faltering drives in the first quarter.
  8. I'm sure I would have thought the fake field goal a genius call had it worked, but it went horribly awry.
  9. I thought the Sooner D played really well today. They tackled well, and avoided some of the horrible blown assignments that had plagued the Sooners three of the first four games. The final box score showed a lot of yards allowed, but D was great on third down and completely throttled the Horns in the first half, allowing the team to build a lead.
  10. In each of the the last two games, the Sooners have not been able to sustain a clock killing drive and punted to the opposition, giving them a chance to win the game outright or tie. In each instance, the opposing punt returner managed to fumble the chance away. Whatever works.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ten Things I think you think I think - Texas preview

  1. Mossis Madu is running with more energy and authority than DeMarco Murray. The injuries Demarco has suffered have taken a toll on a great athlete and hard worker.
  2. OU's offense does not match up well with Texas's defense. The Sooners pass the ball because they can't run (89th in the country), and the Horns defend the pass really well (6th in the country)
  3. OU's defense does not match up well with Texas's offense. The Horns want to run the ball to hide an inexperienced QB and WRs. The Horns don't run that well (76th) , but the Sooners can't stop the run (93rd, just ahead of UCLA and North Texas).
  4. As much as Landry Jones' numbers looked good against Cincy, two maddeningly horrible throws across his body back into the middle of the field don't give me much confidence in him today. I don't foresee Good Landry making a consistent appearance today against the Will Muschamp defense.
  5. Receivers Coach Jay Norvell does not drop the f-bomb at an official today.
  6. There have been 13 times in this series that OU has entered the game looking to break a two-game losing streak to Texas. OU is 4-9 in those contests, with a 1-8 record in those games since 1929. The only win over that 80 year period was in 2007.
  7. I never get tired of watching Roy Williams' "Superman" play in 2001.
  8. Today will be a defensive battle.
  9. Cameron Kenney will drop a pass today.
  10. It's tough to imagine a Stanford-Oregon game overshadowing this game, but it's happening. I blame the Pelosi Congress.
  11. For a bonus, Sooner foes Air Force, Florida State and Utah State have all beaten BYU by double digit margins. BYU has been ravaged by injuries and inexperience this year. Karma sucks.