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Statistically Speaking: October 2005

Monday, October 31, 2005

Blog Poll Week 10

1. Southern Cal (8-0)-- Another week, another blowout. (LW 1)
2. Texas (8-0)-- Didn't bother to show up for the first half at Oklahoma State. Didn't matter. (LW 2)
3. Virginia Tech (8-0)-- Big showdown with The U this weekend. (LW 3)
4. UCLA (8-0)-- Seem to be in trouble every week. (LW 5)
5. Alabama (8-0)-- Offense still only put up 35 against outmanned Utah State. (LW 6)
6. Miami (6-1)-- Another top 10 team that didn't bother showing up in the first half. (LW 7)
7. Notre Dame (5-2)-- Had a bye and now have a chance to ruin Tennessee's season. (LW 8)
8. Penn St. (8-1)-- Game against Purdue closer than most would have liked. (LW 9)
9. Florida St. (7-1)-- Clearly do not intimidate ACC teams like they did in the 90's. (LW 10)
10. Georgia (7-1)-- Having Shockley clearly put this team behind the 8-ball. (LW 4)
11. Ohio St. (6-2)-- Showed some offense against Minnesota. (LW 11)
12. Louisiana St. (6-1)-- Have to be kicking themselves for blowing the game to Tennessee. (LW 12)
13. Oregon (7-1)-- Had a bye and now must face Cal without Kellen Clemons. (LW 13)
14. Wisconsin (8-1)-- Defense is probably gonna cost them the Big 10 title. (LW 16)
15. Florida (6-2)-- Own Georgia like Oklahoma owned Mack Brown before this season. (LW 21)
16. Texas Tech (7-1)-- Up only 14-0 on Baylor in the 4th quarter. (LW 17)
17. Boston College (6-2)-- Can't drop em' too far after losing to VT. (LW 14)
18. West Virginia (6-1)-- Bye week. (LW 18)
19. Auburn (6-2)-- Beating the teams they should. (LW 19)
20. Colorado (6-2)-- Narrowly squeaked by my boyz from Manhattan. (LW 20)
21. TCU (8-1)-- Closer than expected game at San Diego State. (LW 22)
22. Michigan (6-3)-- Have rebounded nicely. (LW NR)
23. Cal (6-2)-- Bye week. (LW 23)
24. Fresno St. (6-1)-- Matchup with Boise in 10 days and then an intriguing game at Southern Cal. (LW 24)
25. Louisville (5-2)-- 3 home games in a row coming up. Time for some 60+ point games. (LW 25)

Creeping around:

Northwestern (5-3): Shouldn't have been ranked so high last week.
Georgia Tech (5-2): It certainly wasn't pretty, but they did notch a win over Clemson.
UTEP (6-1): Conference USA's Western Division will be decided in west Texas this week against Tulsa. I didn't know Conference USA had 2 divisions either.
South Carolina (5-3): Can't afford a letdown against Arkansas.
Oklahoma (5-3): Won 3 in a row since loss to Texas.
Rutgers (6-2): Congrats Scarlet Knights.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

NFL Week Eight Pigskin Pickin'

Last Week: 8-5
Overall: 65-35

Cleveland at Houston: The Bicentenial Bucs (1976) can pop their champaigne corks.
Winner: Houston

Jacksonville at St. Louis: The Rams pull off a minor upset at home.
Winner: St. Louis

Arizona at Dallas
Winner: Dallas

Minnesota at Carolina: My first Panthers game of the year.
Winner: Carolina

Washington at New York Giants
Winner: New York Giants

Chicago at Detroit
Winner: Detroit

Green Bay at Cincinnati: Cincy must win games like this in order to make the playoffs.
Winner: Cincinnati

Oakland at Tennessee
Winner: Tennessee

Miami at New Orleans
Winner: New Orleans

Kansas City at San Diego
Winner: San Diego

Tampa Bay at San Francisco: With Chris Simms at quarterback, this one will probably be a little close.
Winner: Tampa Bay

Philadelphia at Denver
Winner: Denver

Buffalo at New England
Winner: New England

Baltimore at Pittsburgh
Winner: Pittsburgh

Saturday, October 29, 2005

College Weekend Preview

Weekend Six-Pack:

ACC Game: Clemson at Georgia Tech
No this game won't determine who plays in the innagural ACC Championship Game, but it is the most intriguing and likely the best ACC game of the weekend. The Yellow Jackets righted themselves after 2 straight losses with a blowout of Duke 2 weeks ago. Clemson has sandwiched a 3 game losing streak in between a pair of 2 game winning streaks. The Tigers appear to be rounding into typical late-season form, having won 2 games by comfortable margins (although one game was against Temple) after a heart-breaking loss to Wake Forest. Still, I have to go with the home team. Reggie Ball and Tech's tough defense will be the difference.
Winner: Georgia Tech

Big East Game: Navy at Rutgers
2 weeks in a row Rutgers gets game of the week honors. Surely the appocalypse is upon us. The Scarlet Knights need but one victory more to become bowl eligible. To accomplish that task this week, they must beat a Navy team that has gone to 2 straight bowls under coach Paul Johnson. The Midshipmen at 4-2 also have designs on a bowl game. They have won 4 straight since opening the season with close losses to Maryland and Stanford. Navy runs a an option offense and their success is thus predicated on the run. Incidentally, stopping the run is one thing Rutgers does very well (2nd in the Big East in rushing yardage allowed per game). Rutgers will stop Navy's running attack and become bowl eligible in the ealry evening hours on Saturday.
Winner: Rutgers

Big 10 Game: Michigan at Northwestern
Michigan has turned a potential losing season into a likely bowl trip to either San Antonio or El Paso (I'm sure that has the fan base excited) after narrowly beating Penn St. and Iowa in the last 2 weeks. The Wildcats have won 3 in a row and are in contention for the Big 10 title. Their spread offense has been working wonders on Big 10 defenses, while their defense has put up less of a fight than the French in World War II. Fresh off a beat down of plummetting Michigan St., I like the 'Cats to win a shootout at home.
Winner: Northwestern

PS: Northwestern's performance since 1995 has to be the most impressive run of a private academic school in a BCS conference ever. 4 bowl game, 3 shared conference titles, and a 10 win season! Imagine Vandy, Wake, Duke, or Baylor winning 10 games and playing in a BCS bowl game. Pretty hard to wrap your mid around eh?

Big 12 Game: Oklahoma at Nebraska
Just like old times, a battle for Big 12 supremacy. What's that? These teams have combined for 5 losses already. Deespite this fact, this is still a crucial game for both team's seasons. Oklahoma has 4 games remaining: this game, a home game with Texas A&M, a roadie at Texas Tech, and a gimme home finale against Oklahoma St. Assuming the Oklahoma St. game as a win, the Sooners need to take one of the other 3 to finish with a winning record. Nebraska, on the other hand, still has designs on a Big 12 North division title, but must win out and get a little help to make that happen. The Huskers have lost only once at home (to Texas Tech) while the Sooners have won but one game away from home. However, the 3 teams that have beaten the Sooners this season have a combined record of 21-1. I like the Sooners to win a close one in Lincoln.
Winner: Oklahoma

Pac 10 Game: UCLA at Stanford
If I were a UCLA fan, the only thing that would scare me more than this trap game at Stanford would be breaking down in Southwest Texas and encountering this gentleman. Since losing to UC Davis, Stanford has quietly gone 3-1 with their only defeat coming at the hands of 7-1 Oregon. UCLA is 7-0 and has designs on playing in their own backyard for the BCS championship. Before last weeks shellacking of Oregon St., the Bruins had been playing opponents closer than Dave Cowens in the low-block, winning their first 3 conference games by a total of 14 points. This game will also be very close, but Stanford will upset UCLA at home and put an end to their national championship aspirations.
Winner: Stanford

SEC Game: Georgia Vs. Florida in Jacksonville
The game of the week. Gameday is here. Coming to your ci-tay. Georgia and Florida meet in Jacksonville with a lot at stake. Georgia is hoping to finish undefeated and somehow find their way into the Rose Bowl. Florida needs a win in order to avoid a likely Ron Zook-like 7-4 regular season. Against the best 3 defenses they have faced, the Gators with their spread-option attack have scored 3 touchdowns and a total of 36 points. Georgia has been steadily plugging along since taking Boise St. behind the woodshed on labor day weekend. However, they will be without their starting quarterback for this game. That will make all the difference as Florida will win a defensive struggle.
Winner: Florida

Underdog Section:

Close but no Cigar:

Southern Miss at NC St.: The Golden Eagles travel to Raleigh to take on a humbled NC St. team. The Wolfpack sit at 2-4 and are in very real danger of posting their second consecutive losing season under Chuck Amato. Domo arigato Mister Amato? NC St. will get well at home this week, but Southern Miss will make it too close for comfort.

Arizona at Oregon St.: Arizona is seeking their first Pac 10 win while the Beavers are need just 2 more wins to become bowl eligible. They'll get half of what they need this week, but it will be very close.

Upset City:

UCLA at Stanford: See above.

Georgia Vs. Florida: Ditto.

Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Delta Force

In separating the wheat from the chaff in college football, one useful tool is a team's delta points. Determining the delta points for a team is not rocket science. Delta points are simply net points. That is, points scored minus points allowed. If team has positive delta points, they have scored more over the course of a season than their opponents. If they have negative delta points, they have been outscored over this same span. Teams that play for the national championship not only win all their games (most of the time); they also dominate their opponents. To demonstrate this fact lets look at the delta points for each team that played for the BCS national title (plus the co-champion Southern Cal Trojans from 2003), and their average scoring margins per game. All data is before the BCS title game.

1998:
Tennessee: 235 19.58 per game
Florida State: 247 20.58 per game

1999:
Florida State: 238 21.64 per game
Virginia Tech: 339 30.82 per game

2000:
Oklahoma: 276 23 per game
Florida State: 386 32.17 per game

2001:
Miami: 372 33.82 per game
Nebraska: 260 21.67 per game

2002:
Ohio State: 220 16.92 per game
Miami: 286 23.83 per game

2003:
LSU: 314 24.15 per game
Oklahoma: 394 30.31 per game
Southern Cal: 281 23.42 per game

2004:
Southern Cal: 291 24.25 per game
Oklahoma: 269 22.42 per game

First some caveats:
1. Scoring margin is not the end-all statistic. It does not take into account strength of schedule. Therefore, Virginia Tech in 1999 and Miami in 2001, are not as dominant as their 30+ scoring margins would indicate as they dominated a relatively weak Big East.
2. Scoring margin does a very poor job in predicting the head-to-head winner of the BCS championship game. Teams with the higher scoring margin are 2-5 in the 7 BCS title games. Again this likely relates back to schedule strength not being accounted for.

So, what can we conclude from this data? Basically, a team needs to outscore its opponents by at least 16 points per game to earn a shot at the national title. Contrary to popular belief, even Ohio State in 2002 had several blowout wins to add to their scoring total. Although they played 6 games decided by 7 points or less, they still blitzed some good teams (a 24 point win over 9-5 Texas Tech, an 18 point win over 10-3 Washinton State, and a 31 point win over 8-5 Minnesota). Now lets look at 2005 data and see if we can determine which undefeated (and 1-loss) teams are for real, and which are just pretending. It should also be noted, that each teams schedules (with the exception of Texas and possibly Southern Cal) will only get more difficult so their scoring margin per game will likely go down.

Undefeated Contenders:
Texas: 225 32.14 per game
Southern Cal: 192 27.43 per game
Virginia Tech: 201 28.71 per game

The usual suspects here. The consensus Top 3 have been dominating opponents so far.

Undefeated Pretenders:
Georgia: 120 17.14 per game
UCLA: 119 17 per game
Alabama: 96 13.71 per game

Neither of these teams are likely to go undefeated. Aside from their low scoring margin, Georgia also lost their starting quarterback for the 'Cocktail Party'. UCLA has already won 3 conference games in the final minute or OT. That luck is likely to run dry soon (maybe this week against rejuvenated Stanford?) as their defense has yet to stop anyone. Alabama has seen their scoring margin per game drop from 18 per game before Prothro's injury to a little under 14 in only 2 games. They have also only scored one touchdown since their top wide receiver went down. Will surely fall to either LSU or Auburn if not both.

The 1-loss bunch:
Texas Tech: 188 26.86 per game
Miami: 119 19.83 per game
Penn State: 158 19.75 per game
Florida State: 133 19 per game
Wisconsin: 120 15 per game
Boston College: 100 14.29 per game
LSU: 66 11 per game
Oregon: 87 10.88 per game
West Virgina: 51 7.29 per game

Take Texas Tech's numbers with a grain of salt. If we remove their 2 games against non-Division I competition, they drop down to 14.6 per game. Miami is quietly creeping around and may be the 1-loss team in best shape should two of the Big 3 stumble (they will have a say in whether Virginia Tech makes it through unscathed). Penn State and Florida State are also very good and seem to have recovered from their recent road losses. I'm not sure what to make of Wisconsin. I think their schedule has been relatively easy when compared to the other 1-loss teams. Wisconsin's season will be defined by their November 5th date with Penn State. If they win, they are likely to be Big 10 champs in Barry Alvarez's final season. Boston College is likely to drop from this list as they play at Virginia Tech tomorrow night. LSU is another team I am not quite sure of. Auburn did just enough to lose to them this past weekend and their scoring margin is very low. However, LSU has yet to play any non-conference cream puffs as their other NCAA brethren have thanks to Hurrican Katrina. That will change in the next 2 weekends as they host North Texas and Appalachian State. Oregon's return has been a nice story, but with their low scoring margin and injury to starting quarterback Kellen Clemons, they are likely to lose at least once and perhaps twice more before the season is out. West Virginia is obviously the weakest 1-loss team, as their marquee victory is probably 2-loss Louisville.

Delta points and scoring margin seem to back up convential wisdom. There are 3 teams that appear to be head-and-shoulders above the competition. The last 3 undefeated teams are hanging on by the thinnest of margins either because of inept defenses or injuries to key offensive players. One surprising thing is that the best 1-loss team may in fact be Miami or Penn State instead of LSU.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

NFL Week Seven Pigskin Pickin'

Last Week: 11-3
Overall: 57-30

New Orleans at St. Louis: No Jamie Martin and no defense means a Saints victory.
Winner: New Orleans

Green Bay at Minnesota: Favre usually struggles in the Metrodome, but the Vikes seem to have quit on their coach while the Packers have rallied around Favre.
Winner: Green Bay

Indianapolis at Houston
Winner: Indianapolis

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
Winner: Cincinnati

San Diego at Philadelphia
Winner: San Diego

Detroit at Cleveland
Winner: Cleveland

San Francisco at Washington
Winner: Washington

Dallas st Seattle
Winner: Seattle

Buffalo at Oakland: "Machine Gun' Kelly runs out of bullets in the Black Hole.
Winner: Oakland

Baltimore at Chicago
Winner: Chicago

Tennessee at Arizona
Winner: Arizona

Denver at New York Giants
Winner: New York Giants

New York Jets at Atlanta
Winner: Atlanta

Blog Poll Week 9

1. Southern Cal (7-0)-- Two more easy home dates before their next test at Cal on November 12. (LW 1)
2. Texas (7-0)-- 3 road games in their last 4, but they come against Oklahoma St., Baylor, and Texas A&M. (LW 2)
3. Virginia Tech (7-0)-- Won rather handily at Maryland despite their plethora of mistakes. (LW 3)
4. Georgia (7-0)-- May struggle in the 'Cocktail Party' without Shockley. (LW 4)
5. UCLA (7-0)-- Finally a win by a comfortable margin. Their lack of defense will be their undoing. (LW 7)
6. Alabama (7-0)-- 1 touchdown in their last 2 games. Destined to lose to either LSU or Auburn (or both). (LW 5)
7. Miami (5-1)-- Game versus Georgia Tech postponed. (LW 6)
8. Notre Dame (5-2)-- Brady Quinn and Maurice Stovall had a game for the ages. (LW 8)
9. Penn St. (7-1)-- I'm a firm believer now. (LW 11)
10. Florida St. (6-1)-- Had a bye week against Duke. (LW 10)
11. Ohio St. (5-2)-- Never challenged against improving Indiana. (LW 12)
12. Louisiana St. (5-1)-- Survived another close game. (LW 13)
13. Oregon (7-1)-- Lost quarterback Kellen Clemons at least until the bowl game with a broken ankle. (LW 14)
14. Boston College (6-1)-- Big Thursday night clash at Virginia Tech coming up. (LW 15)
15. Northwestern (5-2)-- When Penn St. barely squeaked by them a few weeks ago I thought it was an indication of the mediocrity of both teams. Now, I think its an indication of the superiority of the 2 teams. (LW NR)
16. Wisconsin (7-1)-- Still alive in the Big 10 race. (LW 17)
17. Texas Tech (6-1)-- The Texas game proved one of two things: They either were exposed as frauds, or simply outmanned by the number 2 team in the country. If they keep winning, I'll consider them legit. If not, they're just a gimmick offense that picks on the little guys and can't beat the big boys (think Houston in the late 80's/early 90's). (LW 9)
18. West Virginia (6-1)-- Game against South Florida postponed. (LW 19)
19. Auburn (5-2)-- Kicker missed about 80 field goas against LSU. (LW 16)
20. Colorado (5-2)-- Rebounded nicley after the Texas loss. (LW 21)
21. Florida (5-2)-- The 'Cocktail Party' is a game Urban desperately needs. (LW 22)
22. TCU (7-1)-- Plugging along since the loss to the Pony Express. (LW NR)
23. Cal (6-2)-- Got a much-needed comback win against Wazzou. (LW 25)
24. Fresno St. (5-1)-- Rolling along in the WAC. (LW NR)
25. Louisville (5-2)-- Congrats on the first Big East win. (LW NR)

Creeping around:

Georgia Tech (4-2): Big game at home against Clemson this weekend.
UTEP (5-1): Say hello to your Conference USA champs.
Missouri (5-2): Colorado's biggest challenger in the Big 12 North.
Texas A&M (5-2): Beating up on the soft under-belly of the Big 12.
Stanford (4-2): Rebounding nicely from the loss to UC Davis.

Friday, October 21, 2005

College Weekend Preview

Weekend Six-Pack:

ACC Game: Virginia at North Carolina
With the Virginia Tech/Maryland game being played on Thursday, this is the ACC's biggest game of the weekend. Actually, aside from this game, the rest are stinkers to put it mildly (Clemson/Temple, Florida St./Duke, NC St./Wake). Virginia hopes to build on some of the momentum they garnered with their upset of Florida St. last weekend, while the Tarheels try to regroup from a shellacking at the hands of Louisville 2 weeks ago. Virginia is only 1-2 on the road, with their only victory a squeaker over a bad Syracuse team. That trend will continue here as Virginia will fail to build on the Florida St. triumph.
Winner: North Carolina

Big East Game: Rutgers at Connecticut
Yep thats right. With the cancellation of West Virginia at South Florida this game becomes the marquee Big East matchup. It's like going to Thanksgiving dinner where the main dish is Caesar Salad, only to have that be devoured by the time you make it through the line and being forced to eat crackers while you watch the Lions and Cowboys play. I'm so apathetic towards this game, that my analysis is as follows: I picked Rutgers to upset West Virginia 2 weeks ago at home. They didn't.
Winner: Connecticut

Big 10 Game: Northwestern at Michigan St.
Michigan St. has found a way to lose 2 very winnable games against Michigan and Ohio St. In the process, they have given up almost any chance of winning the Big 10 and grabbing a BCS bid. Northwestern on the other hand, has quietly put together a 4-2 record highlighted by an upset of then undefeated Wisconsin 2 weeks ago. Although they did squeak by Purdue last week, Northwestern has not been the same team away from Evanston. This will be a high-scoring affair that Sparticus puts away in the second half.
Winner: Michigan St.

Big 12 Game: Texas Tech at Texas
For all intents and purposes, this game is for the Big 12 South title. Mike Leach brings his undefeated Red Raiders into Austin to face the number 2 ranked Longhorns. In his 5+ years at the school(including this season), Leach is 13-23 against teams with winning records and 2-14 against teams with winning records on the road. Expect more of the same this week as the Longhorns rout the Red Raiders.
Winner: Texas

Pac 10 Game: Oregon St. at UCLA
UCLA is currently 6-0, and if they can get by the Beavers stand a good chance of being 9-0 when Arizona St. comes calling in mid-November. However, their last 3 games have all been decided in the final minutes or OT. Statistics and history say their luck has to run out sometime. Oregon St. has bounced back from early-season setbacks to Louisville and Arizona St. to win 2 in a row and become contenders in the fight for 2nd in the Pac 10. I'll give the nod to the Bruins who are playing at home as they find a way to win another close game.
Winner: UCLA

SEC Game: Auburn at LSU
Auburn has been low-key since their early-season loss to Georgia Tech. They have won 5 in a row over what can best be described as low-level competition. LSU has rebounded nicely from the second-half choke job against Tennessee. It's Saturday night in Baton Rouge so you know what that means: You get down the fiddle, you get down the bow, kick off your shoes and throw em' on the floor, dance in the kitchen til' morning light, louisiana saturday night. LSU has a very good defense, but something about them troubles me. Auburn admittedly has had a cupcake schedule, but look at LSU's wins: 35-31 over Arizona St. (3-3), 37-7 over Mississippi St. (2-4), 34-6, although the game was 12-6 in the late in the 3rd quarter over Vandy (4-3), and 21-17 over an overrated Florida (5-2) team. I think Auburn pulls off the upset.
Winner: Auburn

Underdog Section:

Close but no Cigar:

Ohio St. at Indiana: The Buckeyes are too talented to lose this game, but Indiana is playing much better under new coach Terry Hoeppner. Ohio St. has only played 1 road game (the loss to Penn St.) so they are relatively untested away from the Horseshoe. Ohio St. is not built for comebacks so a few early scores by the Hoosiers could have Mr. Sweatervest feeling the heat.

Penn St. at Illinois: Another relatively road untested Big 10 team (Penn St. is 1-1 away from Happy Valley) plays away from home. Ron Zook will have his boys playing hard, but Joe Pa has his sights set on a BCS bid and won't let it slip away to some smucks from Champaign.

Upset City:

Vanderbilt at South Carolina: V-bilt this city on ball-control. Vandy's passing game will control the clock and upset the Gamecocks on Homecoming in Columbia.

NC St. at Wake Forest: The last time NC St. howled into hostile Groves Stadium, the Deacs hung an L on them and ended Phillip Rivers Heisman campaign before it got started. This time, the Pack will commit roughly 400 penalties and Wake will finally win a close game.

Enjoy the weekend.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Blog Poll Week 8

1. Southern Cal (6-0)-- One of the rare games that actually lived up to the hype. (LW 1)
2. Texas (6-0)-- Overwhelmed Colorado, and now get probably their toughest remaining game at home this week. (LW 2)
3. Virginia Tech (6-0)-- 2 consecutive Thursday night tilts. (LW 3)
4. Georgia (6-0)-- Dawgs took care of business against Vandy. (LW 6)
5. Alabama (6-0)-- The loss of Tyrone Prothro seems to have had a severe impact on the 'Bama offense. (LW 4)
6. Miami (5-1)-- Beat Temple by only 31. (LW 7)
7. UCLA (6-0)-- 3 straight nail-biter wins. Will lose before the Southern Cal showdown. (LW 10)
8. Notre Dame (4-2)-- Showed more in defeat than most teams did in victories this weekend. (LW 9)
9. Texas Tech (6-0)-- Prepping for a beat down in Austin this weekend. (LW 15)
10. Florida St. (5-1)-- Like clockwork, every 10 years they go down in Charlottesville. (LW 5)
11. Penn St. (6-1)-- Still have the inside track to the Big 10 title. (LW 8)
12. Ohio St. (4-2)-- Tressel has a knack for winning games he shouldn't. (LW 14)
13. Louisiana St. (4-1)-- Reduced Urban Meyer to tears in Baton Rouge. (LW 20)
14. Oregon (6-1)-- Seem to have put the Southern Cal loss behind them. (LW 18)
15. Boston College (6-1)-- Finally exorcised the Wake Forest curse. (LW 16)
16. Auburn (5-1)-- Won their first road contest. (LW 17)
17. Wisconsin (6-1)-- An improbable win at Minnesota. (LW 22)
18. Nebraska (5-1)-- The win at Baylor is better than it sounds. (LW 23)
19. West Virginia (6-1)-- The 'Ville committed a Cardinal sin in letting West Virginia come from 17 down in the 4th. (LW 24)
20. Michigan St. (4-2)-- Has any coach ever come closer to swearing on live TV and not closed the deal? (LW 12)
21. Colorado (4-2)-- Still the best of the Big 12 North. (LW 19)
22. Florida (5-2)-- Is Urban Meyer still a genius? (LW 11)
23. Tennessee (3-2)-- Desperately need a win over 'Bama this weekend. (LW 21)
24. Iowa (5-2)-- Welcome back. (LW 24)
25. Cal (5-2)-- Still have a lot to play for. (LW 13)

Creeping around:

Maryland (4-2): Big chance for a marquee victory this Thursday against Virginia Tech.
Fresno St. (4-1): Close loss at Oregon looks better and better.
Oregon St. (4-2): Big game at UCLA this weekend.
Arizona St. (3-3): Pac 10 is straing this year.
UTEP (4-1): Mike Price as good as gone?

Friday, October 14, 2005

NFL Week Six Pigskin Pickin'

Last Week: 11-3
Overall: 46-27

Atlanta at New Orleans: No matter who is playing quarterback, the Falcons run away with this game.
Winner: Atlanta

Carolina at Detroit
Winner: Carolina

Cincinnati at Tennessee: Who dey? Only time will tell. This is am important game. Playoff contenders win road games against flawed teams.
Winner: Cincinnati

Cleveland at Baltimore
Winner: Baltimore

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh: Pitssburgh only loses at Heinz Field to New England.
Winner: Pittsburgh

Miami at Tampa Bay
Winner: Tampa Bay

Minnesota at Chicago
Winner: Minnesota

New York Giants at Dallas
Winner: Dallas

Washington at Kansas City
Winner: Kansas City

New England at Denver
Winner: New England

New York Jets at Buffalo
Winner: Buffalo

San Diego at Oakland: Bet the over.
Winner: San Diego

Houston at Seattle
Winner: Seattle

St. Louis at Indianapolis
Winner: Indianapolis

College Weekend Preview

Weekend Six-Pack:

ACC Game: Florida St. at Virginia
Its been 10 years since the Cavs upset the 'Noles on that Thursday night in Charlottesville. In the decade that has passed, that win has turned out to be more of a random upset than a program-definer. Since that time, Florida St. has played in 4 national championship bowl games (winning 1 in 1999) and is undefeated so far this season. Virginia on the other hand has continued their stretch of 7-4, 8-5, 7-5 seasons (first under George Welsh and now under Al Groh). Virginia's best season in that same span was 1998, when they went 9-3 and lost the Peach Bowl to Georgia. Florida St. has made Virginia pay for that game back in 1995 as well. The Cavs have come no closer than 5 points (a 19-14 loss at home in 2003) in the 9 games against the 'Noles since that monumental upset, andFlorida St. has won 4 of the contests by 30 or more points. In the preseason, this looked like a game Florida St. would struggle to win and possibly even lose. However, the 'Noles have proven themselves to be national title contenders while Virginia has yet to prove they are bowl contenders.
Winner: Florida St.

Big East Game: Louisville at West Virginia
The 'Ville is a hard team to get a handle on. In three games at home, they have scored over 60 points and blown out decent BCS teams Oregon St. and North Carolina as well as Florida Atlantic. However, on the road, they have struggled. They scored 31 against against a bad Kentucky team, but only won by 7. In their most recent road game against unknown quantity South Florida, they managed only 14 points and lost by 31. West Virginia is a better team than Kentucky and South Florida, so i foresee more road struggles for the 'Ville this week.
Winner: West Virginia

Big 10 Game: Michigan St. at Ohio St.
This game trumps Penn St. at Michigan and Wisconsin at Minnesota in a loaded Big 10 weekend. Its strength versus strength as the Buckeyes and their stout defense host Sparticus and their high-octane offense. The loser here is out of the Big 10 race and should prepare for a postseason trip to San Antonio, El Paso, or Orlando. Ohio St. has lost only once at home all season (a 2 point loss to Texas). However, Michigan St. is no stranger to hostile environments as they have beaten Notre Dame in South Bend. Michigan St. has not scored less than 31 points this season. If they get to that number, Ohio St. has no chance.
Winner: Michigan St.

Big 12 Game: Colorado at Texas
Very quietly, the Buffs are 4-1, with their only blemish a 23-3 defeat at the hands of The U in the Orange Bowl. Texas on the other hand, is eyeing a possible undefeated season and a shot at the national championship. Texas is better than Miami, and is playing at home. The upset won't happen this week.
Winner: Texas

Pac 10 Game: Southern Cal at Notre Dame
The Trojans have been tested in their last 2 road games against Oregon and Arizona St. Is Notre Dame better thna those 2 squads? On the one hand, the best team they have beaten is either Michigan (3-3) or Purdue (2-3). However, all 4 of their wins have come on the road. Road games are never easy in college football or any sport. We'll find out how good the Irish are after this game. After all the hype and pomp, this game has a lot to live up to. It won't.
Winner: Southern Cal

SEC Game: Florida at LSU
Florida's last road game was a 31-3 whipping at the hands of Alabama. LSU's last home game was an OT choke job against Tennesee. This is easily the hardest game on the docket to prognosticate. I haven't been impressed with LSU's performance against either Mississippi St. or Vandy in their 2 games since the Tennessee debacle. I haven't been impressed with Florida's performance against real NCAA defenses in games against Tennessee and Alabama (19 combined points). In situations like this, take the home team.
Winner: LSU

Underdog Section:

Close but no Cigar:

Penn St. at Michigan: Michigan is actually the favorite playing at home against the undefeated Nits. They should be. In their only road game, Penn St. struggled to beat Northwestern. This is a step up in talent.

Wake Forest at Boston College: Surprisingly, my alma mater has won the last 2 games in this contest. Our running game will keep it close, but Boston College will prove too much.

Upset City:

Nebraska at Baylor: The Bears have played extremely well this season under Guy Moriss. Their only loss was an OT defeat at Texas A&M. Nebraska is coming off a tough home loss to Texas Tech, and will get ambushed in Waco.

Kansas St. at Texas Tech: The Red Raiders needed a miracle to get by Nebraska last week in the first tough game they played all year. The Wildcats will get back in the Big 12 North race with a win here.

Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

College/Pro Weekend Wrap-Up

College: 3-3 record in the Six-Pack this week. I learned a valuable lesson though. Never pick Rutgers. Losing is a part of their idenity. Like William Jennings Bryan.

Winners:
Baylor: Much like Steve Carell, the Baylor Bears ended many years of tantalizing frustration and general ineptness against Iowa St. as they won their first Big 12 road game since the conference was founded. Now standing at 4-1, and having played just one home game, Baylor has a decent shot at making their first bowl trip since 1994.

Penn St.: Showed they can beat a Top-20 team... at home. This week is the real test. In only their second road game the Nits must go to the Big House to face a Michigan team coming off their first loss to Minnesota since 1986.

Northwestern: Dropped 51 points on previously unbeaten Wisconsin. Could the 'spread offense' be this generations version of the option? Remember good teams (Nebraska) used the option to have great seasons, and teams with inferior talent (the service academies) used the option to stay competitive when they were outmanned. Similarly, Southern Cal uses their spread offense to bludgeon opponents with their superior athletes and schools like Utah and Northwestern use the spread to conceal their talent deficiencies.

Losers:
Kevin Smith: The Nebraska defensive linemen intercepted a pass against Texas Tech with 1:30 to go that iced the game. Instead of going down, he proceeded to run with the ball and promptly fumbled it back to the Red Raiders who would go on to score a touchdown with 12 seconds left to win the game. His biggest flop since Jersey Girl.

Arizona St.: The Southern Cal loss was forgivable, but if the Sun Devils want to be a player in the Pac 10 race, they must win their home games.

Travis Bell: The Georgia Tech kicker missed not one, but two short field goals (24 and 27 yards) last Thursday. The Yellow Jackets lost to NC St. 17-14. Maybe Tony Danza has some eligibility left?

NFL: Random Thoughts

1. Vinny Testaverde's return to the Jets played a very negligible role in their win. This is contrary to what Don Banks would have you believe. For starters, the Jets scored all of 14 points on Sunday. So their offensive struggles are definitely not behind them. Couple that with the fact that one of their touchdown drives started at the Tampa Bay 8 yard line after a Ty Law interception return and well, these ain't the Colts by a long shot. The Jets still have a long way to go, especially with Curtis Martin running this season like an exhumed Red Grange. Vinny Testaverde was no quarterback savior at 21, so a revival of Cotton Mather-esque proportions is extremely unlikely at 41.

2. Another New York team changed quarterbacks this weekend. Buffalo replaced J.P. Losman with 'Machine Gun' Kelly Holcomb. On the surface Holcomb had a nice game. 20-26 for 169 yards with 1 touchdown and no interceptions for a QB rating of 106.1. However, he fumbled thrice and the Bills managed only 20 points despite the fact that Dolphins' quarterback Gus Frerotte was treating the football like The Gideons treat copies of the New Testament. Why start Holcomb? What's the best that could happen? Buffalo sneaks into the playoffs with a 9-7 record and gets waxed in the first round. If this happens, you have learned nothing about your 'quarterback of the future'.

Final Thought: Was Green Bay's curb-stomping of New Orleans a glimpse of their potential for the remainder season, or merely a high note in a season of woe? Both sides have a legitimate argument. The optimist sees a 2 point loss to the 2-2 Browns, a 1 point loss to the 4-1 Bucs, and a 3 point loss to the 3-2 Panthers as evidence that the Packers are a few plays from a 4-1 start and control of the NFC North. A pessimist sees the victory over the Saints as a beat down of a nomadic team that even if they were able to play home games, would be at best mediocre. The answer will not be known for sometime, but there is this fact: the Packers at 1-4, are merely 1.5 games out of first place.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Nuthin' But a B Thang

I'm too lazy to write a post previewing the ALCS. But I will ask the one question that will determine this series.

Who is Dr. Dre rooting for?















Back in Nineteen Naughty Three, Dre was repping the South Side Sluggers. I hear he was a huge Ron Karkovice fan. Since then though, hes's been low key with the Chi Sox gear. I bet he still has some Sox digs though. What, you think he sold em' all? Have 12 years and the relative success of all 5 California baseball teams shifted his allegiances back to his home state? Only time will tell. Stay tuned 'til the next episode.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Blog Poll Ballot Week 7

1. Southern Cal (5-0)-- Let Arizona hang around, but took care of business. Now on to a week of hype leading up the Notre Dame game. (LW 1)
2. Texas (5-0)-- Beat Oklahoma rather handily. Still not even half-way to an undefeated season.
3. Virginia Tech (6-0)-- Now the schedule gets tough. We'll see if they can avoid the second-half swoons that plagued the 2001-03 VT teams. (LW 3)
4. Alabama (5-0)-- Maybe Dennis 'Century 21' Franchione's departure wasn't all that bad. (LW 5)
5. Florida St. (5-0)-- 4 road contests in their final 6 games. (LW 6)
6. Georgia (5-0)-- Heading towards an SEC title game showdown with 'Bama? (LW 8)
7. Miami (4-1)-- The Colorado win is looking better and better. (LW 7)
8. Penn St. (6-0)-- Still have only played one road game, and it was a struggle at Northwestern. (LW 19)
9. Notre Dame (4-1)-- Their 4 wins (Pitt, Michigan, Washington, and Purdue) don't look that great. But, they were all on the road. (LW 10)
10. UCLA (5-0)-- Dreams of playing a bowl game in their back yard. (LW 17)
11. Florida (5-1)-- Must beat LSU to keep BCS hopes alive. (LW 12)
12. Michigan St. (4-1)-- Must travel to the wounded Buckeyes this week. (LW 14)
13. Cal (5-1)-- The fake punt by UCLA in the 4th was a bold call that turned momentum 180 degrees. (LW 9)
14. Ohio St. (3-2)-- Defense still top notch, but where is the offensive explosion they demonstrated at the end of last season? (LW 4)
15. Texas Tech (5-0)-- The win should not overshadow the fact that they blew a 21-0 lead to Nebraska and should have lost if not for one of the flukiest plays in NCAA history. (LW 16)
16. Boston College (5-1)-- Welcome to the ACC's upper tier. (LW 18)
17. Auburn (4-1)-- Still hanging around. (LW 21)
18. Oregon (5-1)-- Big road win at Arizona St. (LW 24)
19. Colorado (4-1)-- Maybe the class of the Big 12 North? (LW NR)
20. Louisiana St. (3-1)-- Struggled for 3 quarters at Vandy. (LW 22)
21. Tennessee (3-2)-- If not for the 2nd half against LSU, would be 1-3 in the SEC aka Gamecock territory. (LW 13)
22. Wisconsin (5-1)-- The schedule was set up nicely as they avoided Ohio St. and Michigan St. (LW 15)
23. Nebraska (4-1)-- Can't drop them after the Texas Tech game. (LW 23)
24. West Virginia (5-1)-- Somebody from the Big East... (LW NR)
25. Louisville (4-1)-- ... has to be ranked. (LW NR)

Creeping around:

Baylor(4-1): Host Nebraska this week.
Arizona St. (3-3): Need to win a game sometime.
Fresno St. (3-1): On to the WAC schedule.
Maryland (4-2): Is your refrigerator running?
Iowa (4-2): Another late-season surge?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

NFL Week Five Pigskin Pickin'

Last Week: 9-5
Overall: 35-24

Chicago at Cleveland: Can Kyle Orton win on the road against an improving Browns team? No way.
Winner: Cleveland

New Orleans at Green Bay: The Pack gets off the sneid.
Winner: Green Bay

Tampa Bay at New York Jets: Tampa is 4-0, but their opponents are a combined 3-12. Vinny wins his homecoming game with the Jets.
Winner: New York

Seattle at St. Louis: Time for Seattle to start playing like the Super Bowl contender they are.
Winner: Seattle

New England at Atlanta
Winner: New England

Miami at Buffalo
Winner: Buffalo

Baltimore at Detroit
Winner: Detroit

Tennessee at Houston: If two nancy boys get in a fight, one of them still has to win.
Winner: Tennessee

Indianapolis at San Francisco
Winner: Indianapolis

Carolina at Arizona: The Panthers are coming off a Monday night game and now must travel cross-country to play Arizona in the desert. I have a bad feeling about this.
Winner: Arizona

Philadelphia at Dallas
Winner: Philadelphia

Washington at Denver: The masquerade ends this week for the 'Skins.
Winner: Denver

Cincinnati at Jacksonville: Cincinnati is playoff-bound, but their opponents are a combined 3-10. They face the best team on their schedule so far in a road game at night. The Jaguars handle their business at home.
Winner: Jacksonville

Pittsburgh at San Diego
Winner: San Diego

Friday, October 07, 2005

College Weekend Preview

Weekend Six-Pack:

ACC Game: Virginia at Boston College
Al Groh's boys got exposed as pretenders last week against Maryland. With all the great NFL-caliber talent he has brought in since his arrival prior to the 2001 season, one would think they would be an upper-echelon ACC team by now. As it is, in road games against winning teams under Groh (including last weeks loss) the Cavaliers are 3-13. Those wins came against Clemson (7-5) in 2001, Wake Forest (7-6) in 2002, and Georgia Tech (7-5) in 2004. As the records indicate, those were winning teams, but they were hardly dominant. Expect more of the same from the 'Hoos this weekend in Chesnut Hill. Boston College is not a great team, but they are well coached and play well at home. The Eagles DE Mathias Kiwanuka will spend so much time in the UVA backfield that he may have to pay property taxes.
Winner: Boston College

Big East Game: West Virginia at Rutgers
Rutgers is in position to take early control of the Big East race. I'll give you a moment to regain consciousness after reading that statement. This is both a testament to how far Rutgers has come and how far the Big East has fallen. If not for an Illini comeback in Champaign, the Scarlet Knights would be unbeaten heading into this game. As it is, they are 3-1 and in good position for their first bowl bid since 1978. West Virginia is coming off a home loss to Virginia Tech. The Mountaineers have been very inconsistent. They beat East Carolina (1-3) by only 5 points at home, but won by 12 at Maryland (3-2). Their offense is still a work in progress, so it will be up to the defense to win this game. Rutgers offense has come out strong in the early going, scoring 30 points or more in 3 of 4 games. Rutgers offense will prove too much for the Mountaineers and the Scarlet Knights will improve to 2-0 in the Big East.
Winner: Rutgers

Big 10 Game: Ohio St. at Penn St.
There is a buzz again in Happy Valley as the Nits are off to their best start since 1999. However, their Rose Bowl dreams will end on Saturday afternoon. Even though the offense put up 44 points against Minnesota, the passing game is still not up to par. Michael Robinson completed only 13 of 32 passes for 175 yards against the Gophers. He did not throw any interceptions, but that completion percentage is terrible. He did most of his damage on the ground running for 112 yards on 18 attempts. The Buckeyes with their talented linebackers will not let Robinson beat them with his legs. Penn St. will have to throw to win the game, and they won't be able to. Ohio St. held Vince Young of Texas to 18 completions in 29 attempts for 270 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He also only rushed for 76 yards on 20 carries (3.6 average) against the Buckeye defense. To borrow a line from Lloyd Benson, 'I've watched Vince Young. I've rooted for Vince Young. And you sir, are no Vince Young.' Ohio St. will win rather easily, with only Tressel's conservative nature (field goals instead of touchdowns) holding down the final margin.
Winner: Ohio St.

Big 12 Game: Texas vs. Oklahoma at Dallas
Can Texas and Mack Brown exorcise their demons and take out Stoops and the Sooners? Oklahoma's offense has been rounding into fine form in their last two games, but the key to their 5 consecutive victories in this series has been their defense. Game by game, Oklahoma has held Texas to 14, 3, 24, 13, and 0 points. Even in games where their offense has struggled (in 2002 they won 14-3 with one score being a defensive touchdown and last season they won 12-0) the defense has been there to bail them out. That won't be the case this year. So far this season, Oklahoma has given up 23.5 points per game. Texas will get at least 30 and win a game in this series for the first time since 1999.
Winner: Texas

Pac 10 Game: California at UCLA
Two undefeated teams battle for what they hope is the Pac 10 silver medal in southern california. UCLA struggled with a bad Washington team at home last week, needing a last minute touchdown to come from behind. Cal has beaten everyone they have played. Unfortunately, their best win is probably over Illinois. The schedule gets tougher starting with this game as they play Oregon St., Washington St., Oregon, and Southern Cal in their next 4 games. In analyzing this game, I'll go with the better coach as my winner. Jeff Tedford trumps Karl Dorrell.
Winner: California

SEC Game: Georgia at Tennessee
With Florida's loss at Alabama last week, Tennessee is right back in the SEC East race. Georgia is undefeated, but hasn't really shown what they can do as two of their primary scalps (Boise St. and South Carolina) have struggled in recent weeks. Tennessee has played about 2 quarters of good football (the second half and OT against LSU) so I'll go with the road dogs.
Winner: Georgia

Underdog Section:

Close but no Cigar:

LSU at Vanderbilt: No I don't think Vandy can win, but they will come out inspired with a chance to upset a top 15 team at home. Emotion can only carry you so far, and LSU will pull away in the second half.

North Carolina at Louisville: Very quietly, North Carolina has won two in a row (at NC St. and at home against Utah). They won't win this game, but Louisville is not the juggernaut they seemed to be in the early going.

Upset City:

Minnesota at Michigan: Michigan comes out flat after their big road win over Sparticus and falls at home to the Gophers.

Texas Tech at Nebraska: Nebraska remembers the horror last season when the Red Raiders hung 70 on them, Nebraska's offense has been pretty horrible so far, but their defense has been superb. Texas Tech has beaten no one of note yet, and that will continue as Nebraska extracts some revenge for last season's debacle.

Enjoy the weekend.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

College/Pro Weekend Wrap-Up

College: Another 4-2 week in picking games bringing me to 18-12 on the year.

Winners:
Rutgers: Nearly blew a 27 point lead against Pitt on Friday but held on for a 3-1 start. If not for an overtime loss to Illinois in the first game, the Knights would be 4-0. As it is, they are in position for their first bowl trip since 1978. They face West Virginia at home this week in a game with big (relatively) conference championship implications.

Penn St.: Joe Pa's boys are 5-0 for the first time this century.

Notre Dame: Win moved the Irish to 4-0 on the road with an average margin of victory of 17 points in those games.

Losers:
Big East: The Big East has a seat reserved in this section. South Florida, Syracuse, and West Virginia lost to ACC foes by a combined score of 38 to 99.

Vanderbilt: Missed a golden opportunity to start 5-0 by losing at home to previously winless Middle Tennessee St. on a blocked field goal

Minnesota: Same ol' rodents away from home.

NFL: This weeks NFL section will focus on my observations from the Panthers first 4 games.

1. Let's face facts, the Panthers beat a bad Packers team at home on Monday night by 3 points in a game they controlled from the outset. The Packers lost about 300 guys to injuries during the game including starting running back Ahman Green and starting tackle Chad Clifton. Thank goodness the Panthers did hold on lest I have to commit hara-kiri.

2. Through 4 games the Panthers have allowed 96 points. Only the Mike Tice coached Vikings, every NFC West team except Seattle, and the New York Giants have allowed more in the NFC. Whatever happened to John Fox coached teams being strong in the running game (more on this later) and on defense? Through 4 games, the Panthers have 3 sacks. Whatever happened to the vaunted front four? Sure Kris Jenkins is out, but he is being replaced. The Panthers are not lining up with 10 guys. After the initial drive where Mike Rucker sacked Favre and forced a fumble that was subsequently recovered by Carolina, the Panthers were hardly ever in the Packers backfield for the rest of the game. To their credit, the defense has been able to stop the run, but even when Carolina knew a pass play was coming (every play of the 4th quarter), they were not able to generate a consistent pass rush. Perhaps the Teal Curtain should be renamed the Run-of-the-Mill Curtain.

3. The addition of guard Mike Wahle in the offseason along with the continued development of tackle Jordan Gross was supposed to improve the Panthers running game. Through 4 games the Panthers boast a rushing average of 3.3 yards per attempt good for 25th in the league. The line has opened very few holes for the decrepit Stephen Davis and the ever-injured Deshaun Foster. Some may point to Carolina's 6 rushing touchdowns as evidence that the running game is working. However, of the 6 rushing touchdowns (all scored by Stephen Davis) 5 have been from 1 yard out. Any NFL running back with a warm body will score from 1 yard out most of the time.

4. Jake Delhomme is a fumbler. He always has been. His first year in Carolina he fumbled 15 times. Last season he fumbled 12 times. So far this season he has fumbled 3 times. He has played in 36 games for Carolina and he has fumbled 30 times for an average of .83 per game. To a Panthers fan it should be as expected as a Todd Steusie false start. Whether it is a result of Jake not feeling the rush, holding the ball too long, not holding the ball correctly or some combination of the above reasons, I do not know. However, what I do know is that a Delhomme fumble this week against Arizona is as inevitable as the swear words that will flow from my mouth when it happens (ryhmes with Duckett).

5. That's all i got right now. Oh well, I guess it beats the heck out of the George Seifert era.

Quick Baseball Playoff Thoughts

The baseball playoffs are here. October sure got here fast. Here are my thoughts on the Division Series. First off, in the American League, the best team in the league did not make the playoffs. Using run differential and the pythagorean record, the best team in the American League was the Cleveland Indians. While this fact bodes well for a young team going forward, it does nothing for them now.

American League:

Boston Red Sox vs Chicago White Sox:
I can say without a doubt that the Sox will win. The Red Sox score runs, and the White Sox prevent them. However, for all the talk of Chicago playing 'small ball' and 'smart ball' they actually outhomered the Red Sox 200-199. Chicago's starting pitchers all had good seasons, but they don't strike a lot of people out. If you don't miss bats against the Red Sox you are in trouble.
Prediction: Red Sox in 4

New York Yankees vs Los Angeles Angels:
Don't confuse these Angels with the 2002 version. That team could put runs on the board and this team struggles to score. However, the pitching is on par with the 2002 version. The Yanks do not struggle to score, but did have trouble preventing runs. I'm not buying Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon continuing their hot streak into the playoffs. These are two average pitchers who got hot once they arrived in New York. Scioscia will use his bench and bullpen to take advantage of the Yanks weaknesses.
Prediction: Angels in 4

National League:

Houston Astros vs Atlanta Braves:
Houston's Big 3 of Clemens, Pettite, and Oswalt pose a significant challenge to this young Braves team. Surprisingly Atlanta finished 4th in the National League in runs scored so these are not the same Braves teams of the past that struggled to score (they finished 5th in runs allowed so they are balanced). The Braves haven't won a Division Series since 2001, losing 3 in a row. The laws of probability say they are due.
Prediction: Atlanta in 5

San Diego Padres vs St. Louis Cardinals:
The baseball playoffs are a crap shoot. You play 162 games, only to then try your luck by rolling the dice in the postseason. In a 162 game season, having a bad 5 game stretch is not that unusual. However, if you have a bad 5 game stretch at the end of the season, you go home. St. Louis will have a tougher time than expected, but will advance.
Prediction: St. Louis in 5

Monday, October 03, 2005

Blog Poll Ballot Week 6

1. Southern Cal (4-0)-- Matt Leinart didn't throw a touchdown and they still won on the road after being down 18. (LW 1)
2. Texas (4-0)-- Missouri was never in the game. Can exorcise some demons this weekend. (LW 2)
3. Virginia Tech (5-0)-- Winning in Morgantown is never easy. (LW 3)
4. Ohio St. (3-1)-- Road test at Penn St. this week. (LW 5)
5. Alabama (5-0)-- They seem to play up or down to their competition every week. But spanking Florida warrants the jump. (LW 12)
6. Florida St. (4-0)-- The Orange are not the same team away from that dang ol' dome. (LW 6)
7. Miami (3-1)-- Rounding into fine form. (LW 7)
8. Georgia (4-0)-- Big road game this week at Tennessee. (LW 9)
9. Cal (5-0)-- Shut out lesser Stoops on Saturday. (LW 10)
10. Notre Dame (4-1)-- Offense was really clicking against Purdue. (LW 13)
11. Arizona St. (3-2)-- Can't drop them far after their performance Saturday. Keller threw 5 picks and they only lost by 10. (LW 11)
12. Florida (4-1)-- Meyer's boys held without a touchdown. (LW 4)
13. Tennessee (3-1)-- Handled Mississippi relatively easy. (LW 14)
14. Michigan St. (4-1)-- OT loss in a rivalry game. (LW 8)
15. Wisconsin (5-0)-- Quietly going undefeated. (LW 15)
16. Texas Tech (4-0)-- Struggles to beat Kansas at home. (LW 17)
17. UCLA (4-0)-- Really struggles to beat a bad Washington team. (LW 18)
18. Boston College (4-1)-- Handled their business at home against a bad team. (LW 19)
19. Penn St. (5-0)-- The Gophers away from home are a different team. (LW 25)
20. Georgia Tech (3-1)-- Still here based on the Auburn win. (LW 23)
21. Auburn (4-1)-- Embarrassed the ol' ball coach. (LW 24)
22. Louisiana St. (2-1)-- Good road win in Starkeville. (LW 21)
23. Nebraska (4-0)-- Play a road game. Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap*Clap (LW NR)
24. Oregon (4-1)-- Pac 10 is very deep. (LW NR)
25. Oklahoma (2-2)-- Offense has come around the last 2 games (and just in time). Would have looked better against UCLA if they didn't fumble 7000 times. (LW NR)

Creeping Around:

Texas A&M (3-1): Needed OT, terrible execution by Baylor, and a bad call to beat the Bears at home.
Baylor (3-1): Any redzone productivity and they are 4-0.
Fresno St. (2-1): Waxed Toledo last Tuesday.
Rutgers (3-1): BCS bid?
Colorado (3-1): Ended the Big 12 North's losing skid against the South.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

NFL Week Four Pigskin Pickin'

Last Week: 8-6
Overall: 26-19

Detroit at Tampa Bay
Winner: Tampa Bay

Indianapolis at Tennessee: Will the Colts injure another quarterback?
Winner: Indianapolis

San Diego at New England: The last time the Pats lost at home was Week 16 of the 2002 season. 50 Cent had not blown up, Maurice Clarrett was still a 'student', and Matt Leinart was riding the pine in So Cal.
Winner: New England

Seattle at Washngton
Winner: Seattle

Buffalo at New Orleans
Winner: Buffalo

Denver at Jacksonville
Winner: Jacksonville

St. Louis at New York Giants: St. Louis struggles on the road.
Winner: New York Giants

Houston at Cincinnati
Winner: Cincinnati

New York Jets at Baltimore: Brooks Bollinger versus Anthony Wright. Not exactly Graham versus Tittle. I suppose I'll go with the home team.
Winner: Baltimore

Philadelphia at Kansas City: The Chiefs looked bad without Willie Roaf last week. Arrowhead is a tough place to play, McNabb's hurt, and their ace kicker is out, but I'll go with the defending NFC champs.
Winner: Philadelphia

Dallas at Oakland: The Cowboys specialize in playing close games (all 3 decided 4 points or less), and this one will be no different. And they gave up 31 to San Francisco, so I gotta go with Moss and Co.
Winner: Oakland

Minnesota at Atlanta: I'll continue my season-long trend of picking against the Falcons.
Winner: Minnesota

San Francisco at Arizona: If two teams play, and no one watches, does it actually happen?
Winner: Arizona

Green Bay at Carolina
Winner: Carolina

Saturday, October 01, 2005

College Weekend Preview

Weekend Six-Pack:

ACC Game: Virginia Tech at West Virginia
An interconference clash between former Big East rivals should make for some entertaining noon-day football. It's a shame this game won't be played at 7:30 or 8 to give the Mountaineer fans time to get all jacked up. Nothing says college football like overturning cars and setting things on fire. But I digress. This is Virginia Tech's first road game since their opener with NC St. Tech struggled in that game winning by only 4 points. That same NC St. team lost at home last week to North Carolina, so maybe Tech's victory isn't all that impressive. However, Tech did dominate a very good Georgia Tech team at home last week. As for the Mountaineers, they are 4-0 with solid road wins at Syracuse and Maryland, a home blowout over Wofford, and a squeaker win at home against East Carolina. I have no doubt Virginia Tech is the better team, but road games are always tough in college football. This will be a game for 4 quarters, but the Hokies will come out on top.
Winner: Virginia Tech

Big East Game: South Florida at Miami
Another intriguing interconference clash between the Big East and ACC. In this case it's the old Big East dynasty against a team hoping to become the new Big East dynasty. South Florida got everyone's attention with their thrashing of Louisville last week, so they definitely won't sneak up on the Canes. In their 3 home games, the Bulls have been an offensive machine scoring 37, 31, and 45 points. But in their lone road contest, they managed only 13. The Miami defense will certainly be much faster than any defense they have faced thus far. However, in regulation games, the Miami offense has only managed 7, 20, and 23 points. Two touchdowns may keep South Florida in this game despite the fact that it is in the Orange Bowl. South Florida keeps it close but falls to the Canes.
Winner: Miami

Big 10 Game: Minnesota at Penn St.
This matchup of undefeated teams takes precedent over the Michigan/Michigan St. affair. Both teams won nailbiters last week as the Gophers defeated Purdue 42-35 in overtime and Joe Pa's boys won at Northwestern on a last second touchdown 34-29. Purdue's win came in the comphy confines of the Metrodome while the Nits won in hostile territory at Northwestern. Or as hostile as a road game at Northwestern can be. Northwestern would not have been in the game if it wasn't for 4! Penn St. turnovers. Although Penn St. quarterback Michael Robinson overcame the turnovers and made several big plays, he still completed less than half his passes (17-36) against a Northwestern defense that was shredded by Arizona St. quarterback Sam Keller (20-31 for 409 yards) the week before. While no one will confuse Minnesota's defense with the Steel Curtain, and despite the fact that the game is on the road, I am going against my better judgement and picking the rodents to take out the Lions on the strength of their running game.
Winner: Minnesota

Big 12 Game: Texas at Missouri
This game had 'trap' written all over it for the Longhorns. Next week is their annual showdown with Oklahoma at the state fair, so they may be looking past a Missouri team that lost to New Mexico. Since quarterback Brad Smith has been at Missouri, the Tigers are 4-11 against teams with winning records. Texas is more than just a team with a winning record, they are championship contenders. Even though Missouri kept things interesting in a 28-20 loss in Austin last season, they won't be able to hang with the Horns. Texas wins in rather easy fashion.
Winner: Texas

Pac 10 Game: Southern Cal at Arizona St.
So much for my prediction of a close game last week. Southern Cal spotted Oregon 13 early points and then scored 45 unanswered to cruise to the win. However, Arizona St. is a much better team than Oregon. If not for 2 fluky special teams' plays against LSU, they would be undefeated. I'll stick with last weeks prediction of a close game that Southern Cal wins.
Winner: Southern Cal

SEC Game: Florida at Alabama
Alabama has been less than impressive in their 3 home games this season winning by an average of only 13 points against teams with a combined record of 2-7. In fact, their only impressive performance was the road victory over South Carolina. Florida on the other hand, has beaten Tennessee, and clobbered 3 patsies. This will be their first road test (last weeks win at Kentucky does not qualify as a 'test'). Alabama will contain Urban Meyer's offense to an extent and Florida will be forced to rely on their defense to win this game. This will be a low-scoring affair reminiscent of Gene Stallings games when he coached the Tide (Riddle left, Riddle right, then take Riddle up the middle). Florida's defense bails out the offense and the Gators improve to 5-0.
Winner: Florida

Underdog Section:

Close but no Cigar:

Michigan at Michigan St.: The Wolverines have something to prove in this rivalry game having started the season 2-2, while their neighbors are the toast of the state with a quick 4-0 start highlighted by a win over Notre Dame. I've come around and reserved my seat on Sparticus' band wagon so they better not suffer a letdown this week. This will be a close, heated affair as more rivaly games are, but Sparticus will remain unbeaten.

Indiana at Wisconsin: You'd be forgiven if you didn't know the Hossiers were unbeaten (3-0) as they haven't been relevant in college football since the Taft administration. Wisconsin is also off to an undefeated start, including a minor home upset over Michigan last week (Barry Alvarez's first win over Lloyd Carr). Wisconsin is likely to be looking toward their road showdown with Northwestern next week, and may sleep walk through portions of this game.

Upset City:

Virginia at Maryland: Who knows how good Virginia really is? Their resume is highlighted with wins over Western Michigan, Syracuse, and Duke. The Terps knock them of and Ralph Friedgen gets to enjoy the postgame spread.

LSU at Mississippi St.: Les Miles need only ask Ron Zook if Mississippi St. is dangerous at home. With a short week to prepare, and coming off a crushing defeat at home, the Tigers are ripe for the taking. If I was an LSU fan I would be worried, not just about this game, but about the direction of the program. My mom knows not to call a time out during change of possession because the clock stops.

Enjoy the Weekend.
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