Archives for October 2011

Poll Dancing: Week Nine, or Another Two Bite The Dust

When previously unbeaten Clemson and Kansas State went down this week, you have to think that whoever still likes the BCS system got a little more comfortable and started imagining how everything was going to work out just fine yet again.  Virtually a given is that the winner of this weekend’s LSU/Alabama showdown will cruise through to the big game, joined by…

…oh, wait…

There are two other undefeated teams remaining from automatic-qualifying conferences, and the BCS needs one (and only one) of them to stay perfect along with the LSU/Alabama winner to ensure that the defense of their system isn’t completely laughable.  Those two teams are Oklahoma State and Stanford, not exactly traditional powers used to dealing with heightened expectations.  As the unfamiliar media spotlight (and pressure to perform) increases, so does the difficulty of the schedule.

Both teams face a much tougher road ahead than the one they’ve already traveled and this is where things could get ugly for the BCS.  Oklahoma State’s opponents so far have won just 54% of their games.  The opponents they’ll need to beat to make the title game have won 72% of theirs.  Similarly, Stanford’s first 8 victims won 43% of the time, while their next 5 (including the Pac-12 championship game, almost certainly against Arizona State) have won 60%.

This weekend, Oklahoma State faces Kansas State, fresh off their first loss.  They’ll close out the year against the team that beat KSU (Oklahoma), the team that beat Oklahoma (Texas Tech), and the team that just beat Texas Tech (Iowa State).

Stanford will travel to Oregon State for their second straight road game and may be a bit worn out from the triple-overtime thriller against USC.  The real test will come next weekend though, when the Cardinal hosts Oregon.  Admittedly this isn’t last year’s Duck team that averaged 47 points a game and lost only to Auburn in the national championship.  No, this year’s version is averaging 47.5 points a game and has lost only to potential national champion LSU.

So, of the six undefeated teams still out there, one is guaranteed to lose this week, two will be facing significantly tougher challenges from here on out than they have yet, and the other two are Boise State and Houston.  We know that Houston, regardless of how they finish, is not going to make the championship game, but Boise presents an interesting dilemma for the BCS.  What if we end up with unbeaten LSU, unbeaten Boise, and everyone else with at least one loss?  Can the Broncos, whose schedule features just one AQ-conference team (albeit the respectable Georgia), be a viable #2 over potential one-lossers Alabama, South Carolina, Arkansas, Stanford, Oregon, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, or even Cincinnati?  As much as I support the opportunity for any undefeated team to earn a championship in a playoff system, I can’t see a justification to give Boise State a shot under the BCS format (probably the main reason I hate the system to begin with).

If Boise does get the spot, and gets murdered by LSU/Bama (which is what would happen), then the outcry from the one-loss AQ teams will be just a shade less deafening than the one from Idaho if Boise doesn’t get the spot, especially if the game is still a blow-out (again, very likely) and the Broncos win their bowl.

Of course, maybe I’m wrong, maybe the Cowboys or the Cardinal will navigate the gauntlet and come out with a goose-egg in the L column.  Hell, maybe they both will.  Oops, that would be a totally different kind of BCS disaster…

Stepping into manhood

We’ll have the Wisconsin game recap (Spoilers: we won!) up soon but for now:

Blogpoll Ballot, Week #10

Big win helps OSU land Big Recruit

The huge exciting win on Saturday against Wisconsin is already starting to pay off big time on the recruiting trail. Ohio State was hosting several top football recruits and they all have been very vocal about the experience and atmosphere. Some going so far to brag about rushing the field with the team and fans after the victory.

It didn’t take long for one of those recruits to give his verbal. Michael Thomas a 6’4″ 203 lb WR from Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia gave his verbal today after his father gave his endorsement of the young mans decision last night after the game. Thomas is a 4 star player according to rivals. Thomas played High School football at California Taft and enrolled at Fork Union due to grades after being an Under Armor game player last year. He just happens to be the roommate of Cardale Jones an OSU QB recruit who will be enrolling in January with Thomas as well. Thomas is also the nephew of Keyshawn Johnson. Fork Union also should be well known to OSU fans as they once upon a time gave us a player named EDDIE GEORGE.

Another update on the game and recruits Bri’onte Dunn the highest ranked recruit in this years class who has been rumored to be questioning his verbal to OSU by a lot of the pundits continues to show his love and support for OSU. He wears a Go Bucks wristband in every game and was fully decked out in all OSU gear for the game on Saturday. He always says he is 100% committed and his actions have backed that up to this point no matter what those pundits say.

The 2 biggest recruits OSU are chasing HS teammates Dwayne Stanford and Adolphus Washington from Cincinnati were at the game and they are scheduled to announce their verbals after Stanford visits Oregon on Nov. 10th. All signs seem to point to the tandem signing with OSU this year.

Lastly, Se’Von Pittman the no. 1 recruit in Ohio this year who has verballed to MSU earlier this summer was at the game and refused to say his commitment to MSU is solid and that he loves Ohio State. Causing many to wonder if Fickell can steal the recruit back since Pittman was always a heavy OSU lean before verbally committing to Dantonio and Co.

It is amazing how playing good football and winning a big game can do to help heal some wounds and get things going in the positive. OSU still awaits their fate from the NCAA before some of the better recruits will make a final decision but for now kicking some Badger Butt and making Bret Bielema cry on Barry Alvarez’s shoulder all night has gotten everyone excited about OSU football especially the future recruits.

Wisconsin Live Game Chat

Week 9 Open Thread

We’ll be in and out during the day, killing time waiting for the 8 PM kick-off of the Ohio State/Wisconsin game. That doesn’t mean we still can’t discuss football happening in other parts of the country. Join us during the day, chime in on whatever strikes your fancy, give us your best College Game Day sign ideas, whatever. (Any other year, ESPN is in Columbus this week, right? I guess an LSU/Alabama matchup is pretty exciting, too).

Look for updates throughout the day.

Ohio State vs Wisconsin Preview

The Essentials
What: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin
Where: Daaaaaaaaa Shoe
When: 8:00 PM, Oct. 29th, 2011
The Line: Wisconsin -7.5
Television: ESPN
Weather: Upper 30s to low 40s, 20% chance of rain

OSU and Wisconsin have brewed themselves a strong rivalry in recent years. Of the past ten matchups between Wisconsin and Ohio State, half have ended in upsets. The other half have contributed to the outcome of the Big10 championship race, in one form or another. This includes last year’s game, when the top-ranked Buckeyes suffered a special teams meltdown that gave 18th-ranked Wisconsin the victory.

The Buckeyes have been very clear: This date has been circled on their calendar for an entire year. Wisconsin. Payback. Night game. Script Ohio under the lights. Homecoming. Old school Big10 pro-style power. Nike Pro Combat uniforms.

Adventures in Optimism
Fans of both teams well know that, in recent years, schedule and ranking are meaningless. Overconfidence in this game invites psychological pain. Concerned about Wisconsin ranking in the top six nationally in both offense and defense? Well, OSU was ranked there last year and it didn’t give them an advantage.

Of course, the comparisons to past years can only go so far. Ohio State is under new management, and predicting what a Fickell-led, full-of-freshmen team is capable of when we only have Tressel senior-led teams against which to compare is tenuous at best.

But, for a moment, let’s allow ourselves some room for optimism. Bollman aside, Ohio State’s offense may very well be better than we all think. Until the injury to Miller caused a team-wide meltdown, they were moving the ball at will against Nebraska.

The rushing performance against Illinois has not gotten the attention it deserves. Sportswriters, bloggers, and armchair quarterbacks have focused on the poor passing game and ignored the more impressive issue: that Ohio State ran where it wanted, when it wanted, against a solid Big 10 defense, that knew what was coming and had put ten – TEN – defenders in the box in a futile attempt to stop it. Excluding the sacks (which were passing downs), OSU only had two negative plays rushing the ball all afternoon.

I don’t care if OSU was rushing against JoeBob’s Tire and Lube University – it’s almost impossible to run against a box stacked with ten defenders. And yet OSU did it for the entire afternoon… with no magic, no trickery.

OSU is 19-1 when Boom Herron gets 55 yards. Do you think Boom will get 55 yards this week? I’m betting he can.

The bye week came at the perfect time. Coaches have been reporting that OSU will unveil a new short-passing game to better complement Miller’s strengths. Against Illinois, Bollman called 12 passing plays; that number is expected to rise significantly.

For all of Wisco’s success over recent years, it should be noted that Bret Bielema’s success in “big” games is really poor. He’s 1-5 against top 10 teams (the lone win courtesy of OSU’s special teams meltdown last year), and more often than not tends to cave when the stakes are high.

Have I mentioned that the Badgers’ special teams belong in special class? Wisco is ranked 98th in field goal accuracy and 118th in covering punt returns.

Adventures in Reality
If ever a beatdown looked better on paper, this is it. The stars aligned for Wisconsin this year. They have a team full of veteran leaders and star skill players, who get to play the (statistically) worst offensive OSU team in history for what should be a cakewalk to the B1G East title (no I’m not using that other term).

By this point it’s a broken record: OSU’s defense is good enough to keep the team within reach of any game this year. The poor offensive coaching, combined with a team full of first-year starters and #3 backups, is maddeningly unpredictable and what will determine a close OSU win or a humiliating blowout.

Jump for joy if:

  • OSU’s special teams and/or defense score
  • Miller completes double-digit passes
  • Two OSU RBs get 100+ yards

Doom is nigh if:

  • Wisconsin gets up big early
  • OSU’s offense is pulling three-and-outs in the second half, leaving the defense on the field for Wisconsin to wear down

I think I’d rather predict an upset and be wrong than predict a Wisco annihilation and be right. Therefore, based on matchup potential and rivalry issues only, I’m going for the upset: OSU 27-24.

Wisconsin By The Numbers

Statistically Speaking

Ohio State
Value (Rank)
Value (Rank)
Rushing Offense (ypg) 175.0 (42) 120.9 (35) Rushing Defense (ypg) Push
Passing Offense (ypg) 127.9 (115) 165.6 (4) Passing Defense (ypg) Wisconsin+++
Pass Efficiency 121.9 (82) 116.8 (32) Pass Efficiency Defense Wisconsin+
Total Offense (ypg) 302.9 (110) 286.4 (17) Total Defense (ypg) Wisconsin++
Scoring Offense (ppg) 23.3 (88) 13.6 (6) Scoring Defense (ppg) Wisconsin++
Rushing Defense (ypg) 116.6 (27) 252.1 (8) Rushing Offense (ypg) Push
Passing Defense (ypg) 188.3 (23) 259.6 (36) Passing Offense (ypg) Push
Pass Efficiency Defense 117.4 (34) 193.7 (2) Pass Efficiency Offense Wisconsin
Total Defense (ypg) 304.9 (17) 511.7 (8) Total Offense (ypg) Push
Scoring Defense (ppg) 16.3 (12) 47.4 (5) Scoring Offense (ppg) Push
Turnover margin 0.86 (16) 0.71 (22) Turnover margin Push
Penalty Yards/game 50.4 (61) 50.3 (59) Penalty Yards/game Push
Sacks (/game) 2.00 (50) 1.57 (44) Sacks Allowed (/game) Push
Sacks Allowed (/game) 2.71 (96) 2.57 (25) Sacks (/game) Wisconsin+
3rd Down Conv. (%) 35.5 (95) 34.7 (32) 3rd Down Conv. Def (%) Wisconsin+
3rd Down Conv. Def (%) 32.7 (21) 58.5 (2) 3rd Down Conv. (%) Push
Redzone Offense (%) 85.7 (41) 71.4 (12) Redzone Defense (%) Wisconsin
Redzone Defense (%) 75.0 (23) 96.3 (5) Redzone Offense (%) Push
  Difference <25 in National Rank = Push
  Difference >25 in National Rank = Ohio State
  Difference >50 in National Rank = Ohio State+
  Difference >75 in National Rank = Ohio State++
  Differences >100 in National Rank = Ohio State+++

Presented, always, without comment. But not without emoticons: :/

As always, stats are grabbed from

Typo or Coming Out Party?

The incomparable Phil Steele has posted his predictions for this week’s Top 25 contests and one particular stat jumps right off the screen:

That’s right, either one of the North Coast keyboards needs an airblast in the numberpad or the world’s foremost college football analyst thinks the Buckeyes are going to drop bombs on the Badgers like the Gap Band.  (Don’t hold the Points column against him, Phil is actually picking a 24-23 OSU upset.)

Poll Dancing: Week Eight, or Two Tickets To Paradise

BCS supporters–both of them–breathed a little sigh of near-relief this weekend as Oklahoma and Wisconsin joined the ranks of the beaten, inching the system that much closer to “getting it right” another season.  If you’re a BCS-hater like me, it’s tough to decide what to cheer for right now, as there are two options to get the most anti-system vitriol spewing next offseason.

Option One: Too Much Awesome

The Badgers and Sooners were supposed to help us out here, but there’s still hope.  The ACC’s Clemson remains perfect and has a reasonable schedule leading up to the conference championship, probably against Virginia Tech.  The Big 12 has no title game and two lossless teams remaining in Oklahoma State and Kansas State (they play November 5).  The Pac-12’s Stanford has challenges in USC and Oregon, but will have a relatively easy conference championship game if they can get there unblemished.  The SEC will almost certainly produce a undefeated champ as perfect divison-mates LSU and Alabama (also facing off November 5) probably aren’t sweating the eventual East champ too much.  On top of that, mid-majors Boise State and Houston will try to make their case should they continue their winning ways.  Expect the Broncos to gain some popular support.

The bottom line here is that 6 undefeated teams, including 4 from AQ conferences, would be too much for even the most devout BCS apologists to spin.  At the very least this situation would demand a four-team playoff or Plus-One style setup.  And that’s if you leave out the mid-majors again.

There really is no best outcome for the BCS here.  No matter who gets left out, they’re going to be livid and they’ll have a good point.  Whoever loses the game will be considered unworthy of their spot (as usual), and no matter how the other teams are matched up, the season will likely end with multiple unbeaten non-champions.  That will be ugly for BCS PR.

Option Two: Too Much Mediocrity

Let’s keep this scenario realistic (even though no unbeaten AQ teams and an unbeaten Boise is probably the worst thing for the BCS) and say that either LSU or Alabama wins the SEC at 13-0.  Sure, there could be a misstep elsewhere but it’s pretty unlikely with these two.  Next, Boise is probably going undefeated, but that’s not even necessary for things to get messy.  Aside from those two, every other unbeaten with a chance (sorry, Houston, no one cares about you… yet) could easily lose a game or two down the stretch.  Clemson visits Georgia Tech this week and South Carolina to finish the season, but their best shot at losing is an ACC title matchup with the Hokies.  Oklahoma State still has the season-ender against the Sooners, and Kansas State has Texas A&M still upcoming.  Also, of course, those two have to play each other.  Stanford has their aforementioned tilts vs. the Trojans and the Ducks.

In this scenario, we finish with the 13-0 SEC champ, 12-0 Boise State and a whole bunch of one-loss teams like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, any one of five Big Ten teams with big ticket-selling names, and whichever of LSU/Alabama doesn’t win the SEC.  This would be similar to 2007 with its mess of one- and two-loss teams clogging the top of the rankings but with the added Boise State argument.

At least this scenario can end with just one unbeaten national champion, but only if the BCS system allows Boise to play in the big game, something that will bother fans/coaches/administrators of AQ conferences who will cite the Broncos’ easier path to perfection.  Expect the volume on that argument to hit new levels if Boise gets blown out in that contest.

Either of these options would at least be damaging for the BCS and I have to think that Option One would be the worst.  There just aren’t a lot of legitimate arguments for why an undefeated team doesn’t deserve to play for a championship, and there have to be even fewer for why FOUR undefeated teams aren’t good enough.

FraudWatch Update

Here’s how my projected fraud teams are faring so far this year:

Projected Losses: 5+

1. Kansas State (currently 7-0)

The Wildcats will need to lose all but one of their final 6 games (including the bowl) to achieve full fraud status.  It’s not impossible with consecutive games against Big 12 heavyweights Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas up next.  If they lose all of those then a loss to Iowa State becomes viable while the bowl opponent gets a lot easier.  However, chances are that Kansas State avoids the 5-loss tier.

2. Texas Tech (currently 5-2)

A surprise win over Oklahoma has boosted the Red Raiders’ hopes, but the season still ends with 3 road games in 4 weeks, with the lone home date in that stretch against Oklahoma State.

Projected Losses: 3-4

3. Illinois (currently 6-2)

With unexpected losses to Ohio State and especially Purdue, the Illini are now likely to jump up to the 5-loss tier with a road trip to Penn State this week followed by home games against Michigan and Wisconsin.  A visit to Minnesota should end the regular season on the right note.

4. Georgia Tech (currently 6-2)

The Yellow Jackets are also on a two-game skid and have visits from Clemson and Virginia Tech ahead, as well as the season-ender against Georgia.

5. Oklahoma State (currently 7-0)

The Cowboys are in good shape, but games against Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma could trip them up.

Projected Losses: 1-3

6. Texas (currently 4-2)

7. Oklahoma (currently 6-1)

8. Wisconsin (currently 6-1)

Other Teams (0-2 Projected Losses)

LSU (8-0), Alabama (8-0), Stanford (7-0), Boise State (7-0), Clemson (8-0), Michigan (6-1), Houston (7-0)