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» Impact of the NFL's Kickoff Rule Change

After three NFL seasons of kicking off from the 35-yard line, what has been the impact on touchbacks, returns, field position, scoring and injuries? Also, is this rule responsible for a record number of big comebacks?

03 Nov 2005

Seventh Day Adventure: Hokie Pokie

by Vinny Gauri and Russell Levine

Russell: Well Vin, looks who's coming off a winning week? And just in time for a Vegas trip. Looks like I might be spending some time at the sports book after all.

Vinny: Russ, it was nice knowing you. I can already see your wife's expression when you tell her that your kids' college fund went down the tubes on a Temple/TCU/San Jose State parlay. And uh, she's not happy.

Iowa (-2.5) at Northwestern, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: Call this the Michigan hangover bowl. Both schools are coming off disappointing losses to the Wolverines in recent weeks. And, no, that really doesn't have much to do with my pick, but I just felt like pointing it out.

Vinny: This game will arguably feature the two quickest running backs in the Big Ten, Albert Young (Iowa) and Tyrell Sutton (Northwestern). Of course, Wisconsin RB Brian Calhoun still gets my vote for Big Ten Player of the Year. Wait, I don't have a vote...

Russell: You'd have to call Iowa one of that nation's more disappointing teams this season, though the line for that distinction forms behind Tennessee. Northwestern wasn't expected to be a factor in the conference race, so I think they might handle the letdown from the Michigan loss a little better. Plus, they're playing at home where the offense is usually close to unstoppable.

Vinny: The Wildcats certainly helped stop themselves last week with all the holding penalties they racked up. Still, Northwestern's defense (ranked 117th nationally) can't stop anyone either. Iowa's defense (57th nationally) is at least serviceable.

Russell: Iowa doesn't really have the running game to pound the Northwestern front the way Michigan did on its way to a win last week. Instead, Kirk Ferentz will put this game in the hands of QB Drew Tate, not a bad option. Still, I think Brett Basanez will be the best QB on the field in this one. I'll take Northwestern and the points.

Vinny: I think Iowa will serve up a steady diet of Young and TE Scott Chandler to the Northwestern defense, which should be plenty effective. The Hawkeyes win this one going away.

Tennessee (+8.5) at #14 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC

Russell: Wow, things are getting ugly in a hurry for Tennessee, which comes in with a 3-4 record after a shocking home loss to Darth Visor and South Carolina last week. Late in the game, the TV cameras even caught some UT fans with bags over their heads.

Vinny: Tennessee offensive coordinator Randy Sanders took the fall this week, announcing that he will step down at the end of the season. With DB Jason Allen and now RB Gerald Riggs out for the season, and neither Rick Clausen nor Erik Ainge finding any rhythm at quarterback, the Volunteer Navy is taking on water. If Tennessee loses in South Bend, they'll have to win out against Memphis, Vanderbilt and Kentucky to go bowling. Not a sure thing with this team.

Russell: Notre Dame is coming off a bye during which Charlie Weis picked up $30-$40 million, guaranteed, over the next 10 years. Weis has done a great job at ND, and nobody's higher on the Irish than I am (I have them #4 in my BlogPoll ballot), but what exactly has Weis done to deserve being made the highest paid college coach by a good 50 percent?

Vinny: Well, it's not guaranteed money if he returns to the NFL, which I still think he will at some point (maybe after he wins a national title). In fact, I think the main motivation for the contract was to help quell the negative recruiting many coaches will be doing ("Aw, you don't want to go to Notre Dame -- Charlie Weis will be back in the NFL before you're a sophomore over there.") this winter. Still, you know Pete Carroll is happy, and not just because he's staging mock suicides by his star players.

Russell: Notre Dame shocked Tennessee late last season, so there's a potential revenge factor in play here, but I don't see the UT players rallying around Sanders and Phil Fulmer this week. I think they're ready to pack it in. I like Notre Dame, big. I'm making this my Fred Edelstein lock.

Vinny: This is definitely a Tennessee team backed against the proverbial wall. I would usually like their chances to come out swinging, as they did against LSU. But with the momentum going in opposite directions for both teams, I have to go with the Irish here.

Missouri (+11.5) at #22 Colorado, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: Well, well, look who's in position to win the Big XII North -- the beleaguered Colorado Buffaloes, who sit at 6-2, one game ahead of Missouri in the race to be the sacrificial lamb for Texas in the title game in Houston Dec. 3. Personally, I'm shocked Gary Barnett kept his job after everything that's gone on at CU, but I have to give him credit for keeping his team playing hard despite some adverse circumstances.

Vinny: Maybe it's time the Big XII switched to East and West divisions, because lately the North-South draw in the conference title game has proven to be a bigger mismatch than the Falklands War.

Russell: Missouri is schizophrenic, which is an improvement over 2004, when the Tigers were just awful. Two weeks ago, they were unstoppable on offense in a rout of Nebraska, but last week managed just 180 yards in losing to Kansas.

Vinny: The Tigers will probably have to attack the Buffs through the air, as Colorado has one of the better run defenses in the country, allowing only 84 rushing yards per game. Colorado LBs Brian Iwuh and Thaddeus Washington can really lay the lumber on opposing ballcarriers.

Russell: Mizzou QB Brad Smith is just five yards rushing away from becoming the all-time leading runner among college QBs (passing Antwaan Randle El). He'll get the record, but I don't think he can do enough to keep Missouri in the game on the road. The line's a little high, but I'm still going to take my chances with Colorado.

Vinny: Missouri hasn't proven that it can hang with a quality opponent, but then neither has Colorado. Still, I think Joel Klatt and Colorado's offense will prove too much for the Tigers' mediocre defense. The Buffs are the pick.

Army (+11.5) at Air Force, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Classic

Russell: We'll take a look at an all-academy battle for the Regional Special this week as Army visits an Air Force team that is reeling both on and off the field.

Vinny: Russ, I'll let you handle the Air Force controversy.

Russell: I don't even have a Fisher DeBerry joke, but I will say this. The debate over whether what he said about "Afro-American" players is racist, insensitive, or deadly accurate is a waste of time. Whether or not DeBerry is a victim of the PC police, any coach should know that to make a statement like that is at best going to invite negative attention and at worst, colossally stupid.

Vinny: As for Army, they notched their first win at not-so-awful Akron two weeks ago. In fact, the Knights beat the Zips 20-0 for Army's first shutout over a Division I-A team since 1991. Army's extra week of preparation can only help against the Air Force wishbone attack.

Russell: Air Force turns to former starter Adam Fitch at QB this week. He came off the bench to toss a school-record five TD passes in a loss to BYU last week. I think he'll put some points on the board, but the line's too high for my taste. Bobby Ross will have Army ready to play, and the Black Knights will cover the number.

Vinny: I think Air Force will rally around DeBerry and take Army to the woodshed. The Falcons roll.

#23 California (+1.5) at #13 Oregon, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: Oregon is quietly having an excellent season, but suffered a tough break when QB Kellen Clemens and his 19 TDs were lost for the season in a win over Arizona two weeks ago. Dennis Dixon gets the call in this game, and he'll be backed up by Brady Leaf, who happens to be Ryan's little brother. So I know I join all Oregon fans in hoping Dixon can stay healthy.

Vinny: Come on, Ryan was unstoppable in college -- still the best college QB I've ever seen live. I was convinced he was better than Peyton Manning and I was ... uh ... wrong. Dixon is a much greater running threat than Clemens, and has shown some accuracy in limited action this year.

Russell: At least you didn't have that Ryan Leaf prediction published, as I did, in the Wall Street Journal no less. Cal has its own issues at QB, where Joe Ayoob has really struggled with his accuracy. The Bears are averaging 38 points per game, but a lot of that has to do with a pathetic non-conference schedule.

Vinny: Cal's best performance to date this year was a 47-40 loss at UCLA last month. Maybe Ayoob can get untracked against a bad Oregon pass defense. Otherwise, RBs Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch will have to carry the load against the Ducks and DE Devan Long and DT Haloti Ngata.

Russell: Cal comes in to this game having lost two straight, and hasn't won at Autzen stadium since 1987. Yet the line, which opened with Cal as the favorite, has moved three points to give Oregon the slight edge. Does somebody know something? I know I don't -- but I'm still picking Oregon.

Vinny: It's been raining in Eugene for the past week or two, and it should be wet again on Saturday. I have no idea why that matters. Give me the Ducks as well.

#12 Wisconsin (+10.5) at #7 Penn State, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: Raise your hand if you knew that this would be the game of the year in the Big Ten ... Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Both teams control their own destiny in the conference race.

Vinny: There is no question Michael Robinson is vastly improved as a passer for JoePa this year. And when everything breaks down, or Galen Hall wants to call a quarterback draw or even a sweep, Robinson can still do his thing with his feet. That, combined with the impact of the freshmen receiving corps, has breathed life into Penn State this year.

Russell: The formula for stopping Wisconsin isn't rocket science -- load up against the run and Brian Calhoun, and try to force John Stocco to beat you through the air. The Nits' defense would seem to be up to the task, as it is one of the nation's best against the run.

Vinny: Calhoun is solid receiver too. And Stocco has improved just as much as Robinson has. We'll see how much he can take advantage of Calhoun, Brandon Williams, Jonathan Orr, and Owen Daniels in the passing game.

Russell: Calhoun is too good a back to be shut down completely, but Penn State will eliminate the big plays. Can Stocco do enough to keep Wisconsin in it? I don't think so. Penn State's offense hasn't exactly withered on the vine since losing freshman receiver Derrick Williams to injury. I like the Lions at home.

Vinny: You know the Beaver Stadium crowd will be a factor, even with that cheesy Lion roar that Northwestern has ripped off in recent years. And don't get me started on the most obvious cheer in all of college sports ("We are Penn State" -- no, really?). Still, there's no better road trip in the Big Ten than State College, and no better bar on the planet than the Phyrst (is Ernie still alive?). But I am surprised to see the line this high against a solid Badger club. I think Wisconsin will at least cover here.

#5 UCLA (-9) at Arizona, 6:30 p.m. ET, FSN

Russell: Vin, you and I like to complain about the coronary-inducing nature of your average Michigan game. The Wolverines did have four straight pretty much decided on the final play, but they've got nothing on UCLA, which has won after trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter four times in the past five weeks. Will the trend continue this week?

Vinny: No. Arizona just isn't any good. Until last week, their only win was against the Northern Arizona Hitchhikers, or whatever they're called (fine, I'll look it up: Lumberjacks).

Russell: Mike Stoops has brought some defensive attitude to Tucson, but the Wildcats don't have the offense to match. But they're coming off a road win at Oregon State, their first conference win of the season, in which freshman QB Willie Tuitama passed for 336 yards and the defense picked off six passes. UCLA is as careful as any team in America with the ball, however. I don't think Drew Olson will turn it over this week -- he's only thrown three INTs all year (to go along with 23 TD passes).

Vinny: Arizona stinks. If I'm Karl Dorrell, I'm already turning my attention to hosting the Sun Devils next week. The Bruins then wait three weeks before the much anticipated trip to the Coliseum to face USC.

Russell: This line seems a little low to me. Arizona doesn't have the offensive firepower to exploit the UCLA defense. I think this is the week the Bruins come out and take care of business from the opening kick. I like UCLA to win big.

Vinny: The Bruins win in a rout. I'm even going to make this my Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week. In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the UCLA Athletic Scholarship Fund.

#6 Miami (Florida) (+6.5) at #3 Virginia Tech, 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: I'm going to try and get through these comments without talking about the uniforms, though as a service to our readers, I feel compelled to mention that Miami is slated to wear the court-jester unis in an upcoming game.

Vinny: I loved the old-school uniforms Miami was sporting last Saturday, especially the helmets. I could almost hear an old NFL Films disco soundtrack from the 70's playing in the background while I watched their 34-16 win over North Carolina.

Russell: The Hokies certainly know what's at stake this week. They've had a few weeks to digest the state of the BCS standings, and everything points towards a Texas-USC Rose Bowl unless Virginia Tech can make a major statement this week. The Hokies must blow out Miami. A narrow win is unlikely to help their case against Texas with the polls or the computers.

Vinny: First team to 20 points should win this contest. Miami is 1st and 3rd nationally in total defense and scoring defense, respectively. Virginia Tech is 1st and 2nd nationally in scoring defense and total defense, respectively. But Virginia Tech is the team with the big defensive names in DE Darryl Tapp and CB Jimmy Williams.

Russell: It's going to be crazy in Blacksburg Saturday. Miami has experience playing in hostile environments -- they opened in Tallahassee against FSU this year -- but the noise is still likely to cause some problems, especially with a young QB in Kyle Wright. For Virginia Tech, Marcus Vick is really coming into his own as a pocket passer, but I worry about his mental state in this game. He's a very hyper guy, and if he can't control his emotions, he'll make some early mistakes. Over/under for number of personal fouls in this game is around 11.

Vinny: With a virtual offensive stalemate, I have to assume the Hokies will make their usual play or two in special teams to pull this out. And while I think Wright will develop into at least Ken Dorsey's equal by the time he's done, he may get rattled by a good pass rush like he was in the opener against FSU. The Hokies are the pick.

Russell: Virginia Tech will start pressing if it doesn't get off to a fast start. That could keep things close, but I see the Hokies pulling away late to win by a touchdown.

The Picks
(�Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week� in bold)
Game Vinny says Russell says
Iowa (-2.5) at Northwestern Iowa Northwestern
Tennessee (+8.5) at #14 Notre Dame Notre Dame Notre Dame
Missouri (+11.5) at #22 Colorado Colorado Colorado
Army (+11.5) at Air Force Air Force Army
#12 Wisconsin (+10.5) at #7 Penn State Wisconsin Penn State
#23 California (+1.5) at #13 Oregon Oregon Oregon
#5 UCLA (-9) at Arizona UCLA UCLA
#6 Miami (Florida) (+6.5) at #3 Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
Season-long Results
(�Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week� record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
Vinny 4-4 (1-0) 29-40-2 (3-6)
Russell 5-3 (1-0) 24-45-2 (5-4)

Posted by: on 03 Nov 2005

172 comments, Last at 09 Nov 2005, 3:07pm by Vinny

Comments

1
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 3:38pm

For the record, "We Are... Penn State" is about a thousand times better than "O-H-I-O". (Then again, spelling is probably an achievement for those around here...).

And, for further amusement, the "We Are"/"Penn State" challenge/response is supposed to be ended with "Thank You"/"You're Welcome". Beat that. We're polite in our cheer.

What's Michigan's cheer? I don't recall ever hearing it.

2
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:01pm

They’ve had a few weeks to digest the state of the BCS standings, and everything points towards a Texas-USC Rose Bowl unless Virginia Tech can make a major statement this week.

Also, I mentioned this before, but I don't agree here. Texas's position in the BCS standings right now mainly comes from the fact that it has a stranglehold on the #1 spot in the computer rankings. All six of the computer rankings have Texas first. This will not stay the same, as USC and Virginia Tech's schedules are ridiculously harder than Texas's (sorry Baylor, Kansas, and Texas A&M). Texas will likely finish a unanimous #3 in the computer polls. If Virginia Tech is #1, and USC is #2, with the human polls exactly the same way they are now, it's a USC/Virginia Tech Rose Bowl.

That being said, I don't think Virginia Tech will grab a stranglehold on the #1 spot unless UCLA loses a few games before USC plays them (along with Cal losing as well), and if Virginia Tech and USC split a few #1/#2 votes, that's probably enough to pull Texas into the top.

This isn't me just making numbers up, either - the Colley matrix website allows you to add/remove games, so you can estimate who's going to finish on top of the rankings, etc. Based on that, I think Texas should really be pushing for UCLA to finish out the season unbeaten until they go into USC.

One of the annoying things about the BCS standings is that people think the rankings have "inertia" - kind of like human polls do. That is, you don't drop unless you do something to make you drop. They don't - Texas has to maintain its spot, and it won't, given its competition compared to the others.

3
by DaveW (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:04pm

Huge game in Happy Valley, gentlemen. I like how my Lions matchup with the Badgers - give me a very good PSU defense over the Badgers' seive any day, and I'll take my chances. Potential here for a decisive win for JoePa...however, Barry generally has his guys play really well against PSU in general, and at State College in particular (I can still remember all too well the perfect game his team played against PSU in '95 to end a 19 or 20 game PSU win streak), so I think you're right about Wisky covering Vin, but I think PSU comes out on top, and ends up having everything riding on a trip to Sparty in a couple weeks.

And Vin, perhaps your most articulate analysis of the season with your reference to the Phyrst....I need to get back there soon - next fall, we'll have to book it. where the hell is table 5?!

4
by Tom (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:18pm

Ahhh, the good old Peyton Manning vs. Ryan Leaf debate. As a Charger fan I wasn't too upset when the Colts drafted Manning (although the Chargers trading up to #2 to get Leaf seemed a little stupid). Leaf was one of the best college QB's I'd seen, taking a mediocre at best Washington State team to the Rose Bowl for a chance at the national title. Of course, you need to try to be a successful NFL QB, or anything for that matter, so it didn't work out for us too well.

5
by mistamaxwell (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:22pm

Pythagoras agrees with you Russell that the PSU defense looks to be the key. This game could either be the Big 10 game of the year or just another footnote. If the winner drops their last game, and Michigan beats OSU, it's olly-olly-oxenfree for the BCS spot. What's the tie-breaker these days? Didn't it used to be longest time since Rose Bowl bid?

6
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:28pm

Some possible Michigan cheers:

"Nice decision, Carr. Hey, what are the odds this'll come back and bite us in the ass?"

"Michigan - we beat Tressell a quarter of the time!"

"Would someone please tackle the quarterback?"

"Just a half game behind Rutgers!"

"We're a good school! So we can get good jobs and afford to move the hell out of Michigan!"

"When does the pot festival start?"

"Where have you gone, John Cooper?"

"We may suck, but at least we don't cheat (that you know of, and basketball doesn't count)."

"Screw Notre Dame." (one we can all agree on)

"Michigan - our hundred thousand are almost as loud as your thirty thousand."

"Hail Satan!" (Sorry, I'm sure not all Michigan fans are evil. Russell has shown his big heart by helping degenerate gamblers win big and possibly get their lives back together, after all.)

7
by David S. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:31pm

Huzzah! Already Cal takes an early lead!

8
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:33pm

mistamaxwell:

One of the tiebreakers (the last one) is in fact last time since a BCS bowl berth. That is, the team who hasn't gone to a BCS bowl in a while wins.

9
by Vinny (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:49pm

Trogdor, I never liked you...

10
by Scott C (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:57pm

Go Ducks! Maybe I'll actually be able to find them on TV around here (NC)...thanks for including a coupla Pac-10 games guys.

11
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:58pm

Psst, Vinny:

Note the difference between the polite Penn State fan, asking what the Michigan cheer is, and the Ohio State fan, insulting all the way.

Just sayin'. :)

12
by Vinny (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:00pm

Click below to see the Big Ten's BCS tiebreakers.

13
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:16pm

Thanks for the tiebreaker link. I love how they allow for "if there is a tie game between two of the three teams." Huh? I'm sure these rules were written after 1995 when overtime first came to division 1-A, so is it still possible for there to be a tie? Maybe if the game is called due to lightning or tornado or something? Otherwise I don't see how it's possible. Of course, this is the conference that can't count, so who knows.

14
by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:31pm

Why would you do that to my Ducks? What did I do to you, run over your dog?

I could care less if Brady Leaf wants to flame out in the NFL after raking in millions. That's his perrogative. But if he gets called in, he needs to remind me of his brother back in the day. That's all I care about.

I haven't heard if the Duck's game will be televised on the eastcoast, I'm hoping though.

15
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:34pm

Hey guys, I'm counting on you both to pick Georgia over Auburn next weekend. Please don't let me down.

16
by jim\'s apple pie (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 5:48pm

I was just thinking about good ol' Ryan Leaf this morning (something on talk radio triggered it perhaps?). Anyway, people seem to forget that Leaf was doing just fine (for a rookie QB) until that disasterous game in KC. The Chargers won all five of their preseason games in 1998, plus their first two regular season games. His stats for the first two games were not great, but basically what you'd expect from a rookie QB on a horrible offensive team:

OPP-CMP-ATT--PYD--TD--INT--RSH--YD--TD
buf-16---31--192---1---2----2...-1--0
ten-13---24--179---0---0----7---31--0

This team had absolutely no talent on offense. It had an aging Natrone Means in his last semi-effective season at RB. Their top receivers were Charlie Jones, Mikael Ricks, Freddir Jones, and Bryan Still(!). They were coached by the horrendously awful Kevin Gilbride.

After the infamous KC game, he never got back on track. He lashed out to the media. His immaturity became evident. He was a jerk. Nobody liked him. He had all of the physical skills necessary to play NFL QB, but none of the mental skills. He was the anti-Brees.

I still argue that if Leaf had stayed in college one more year, and went to a team with an iron-willed disciplinarian as a head coach, and he didn't have to start right away, he would have had time to mature into a successful NFL QB. San Diego's team, under Gilbride, starting right away, was not a situation that he was capable of handling.

The dumbest part of the whole affair was that Beathard mortaged the San Diego's draft future to move up .... one spot. And Arizona wasn't even going to pick Leaf anyway.

17
by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 6:31pm

I'll never get tired of talking about that draft, mostly because it gives me a chance to crow about how adamant I was that Manning was the best player in that draft. (It's funny to remember that Manning-Leaf was a huge debate, but there were also people who had Charles Woodson and Andre Wadsworth rated ahead of Manning.) But I agree, I've never understood why the Chargers gave up so much to move up one spot. Not many teams have gotten fleeced in a trade with the Cardinals before or since.

18
by James Gibson (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 6:46pm

I think the reason Chargers moved up wasn't because they thought Arizona would pick Leaf - it was that they were worrying that other teams would come in and trade with Arizona and that new team would pick Leaf. I'm not sure what they might have been bidding against, however.

Means sure aged fast. He was a rookie the same year Jerome Bettis was, and he's long gone. He helped carry me to a 1994 fantasy football championship and was basically never the same again, save for that pounding he gave Denver in the playoffs when he was playing for the Jaguars.

19
by Murr (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 6:54pm

The Phyrst is a good bar, but I'll take Zeno's any day of the week, and twice during Friday happy hour. That back pool room was my second home in 1994.

If PSU ends the year with one loss, I swear I'm going to be waking up in a cold sweat for months, with visions of that last second touchdown pass flashing in my head.

20
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:04pm

I actually preferred the Big Easy, back when it didn't have a cover (still doesn't sometimes now). One of the very few bars in town that didn't have a cover, which was great for me, considering I can't drink. Plus I'm people-claustrophobic, so, the Phyrst kindof, uh, made me ill.

21
by Joon (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:05pm

Re: #18

i think means is probably more of the norm, and bettis is the exception. RB is a brutal position, and it's uncommon to have somebody stick around past 30. bettis is just ridiculous, to still be productive at his age (and with all the miles and hits that he's got on him).

22
by James Gibson (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:14pm

I was never a big fan of the Phyrst or Zeno's due to their Clautrophobic tendencies, either. Then again, I was a grad student there, not a hip undergrad. Big Easy was good - a little less compact, no cover, and for some reason I always liked the Crowbar.

I'm glad they seem back from my ruination of them. After I went to high school and undergrad school with a combined football record of 10-69-1, I showed up at Penn State the year after they won the Rose Bowl and didn't leave until they had back-to-back losing seasons. After that, it was off to Washington to start their decline after their Rose Bowl trip. Watch out next school I associate with! Still, it has been fun watching Penn State this year, although for the first time in 3 years, I didn't get GamePlan.

23
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:22pm

You think this year's fun? Wait till next year, for Penn State. Honestly, any preseason ranking of them should have them in the top 10, easily. Next year, they'll likely keep Poz and Connor, so the linebackers stay strong, they keep the Fab Four, so the WR corps is strong, they keep Tony Hunt, so they're strong at RB. Their main loss is Michael Robinson.

Who is still the most criticized player on the team.

And his replacement is a pro-style QB. Jeez. A pro-style QB, at Penn State, with a spread offense, four speedy receivers, a good running game, and a good defense? My God, I think Paterno did know what he was doing.

Penn State's main problems for next year are the offensive and defensive lines, and the secondary, but I think they've got the depth there to handle it. The few times they've had to plug in backups in the offensive/defensive line they've done good jobs this year.

24
by Nate (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:24pm

Most big backs do have short careers. Remember the Chiefs guys, Word and Okoye?
Most likely Michigan cheer:
"Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.........." [Never have 110k people been so quiet as at a Michigan game.]
And please, it's the "Hash Bash," not the "pot festival."

25
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:34pm

Question for Vin and Russ concerning your records...last week the Fla-UGa line was Georgia +4. The final score was Florida 14, Georgia 10, so according to the line, a push. So why, in your "last week" records, do you not account for this, as there aren't any ties listed?

I'm not a gambler, so am I missing something?

26
by buddha (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:34pm

"What’s Michigan’s cheer? I don’t recall ever hearing it."

"We Beat....Penn State!"
"Lloyd Carr: making Joe Pa his bytch for the last decade."
"Future bosses of Ohio State graduates"
"Smart enough to realize that sweater vests are ugly"
"Permanently allergic to winning in January"
"What's a little cash under the table between friends, Chris?"
"Proudly not playing in an arena named after a discount store"
"It could be worse, you could be cheering for a nut"

27
by Vinny (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:36pm

So Arizona traded the second overall pick in the 1998 draft to the Chargers (Ryan Leaf) *IN EXCHANGE FOR* first-round picks in 1998 (Andre Wadsworth) and 1999 (David Boston), a 1998 second-round pick (Corey Chavous), wide receiver Eric Metcalf and linebacker Patrick Sapp.

28
by Vinny (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 7:42pm

Griff, we had the line at UGa +5.5 when we made the picks last Thursday, so Russ correctly picked Georgia and I incorrectly picked Florida.

29
by Vinny (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 8:30pm

Upon further review Griff, you may be right. We have the UF-UGa game as a 4 point line in the column and 5.5 (probably incorrectly) in the matrix.

30
by David S. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 8:33pm

I guess that was a steal for the Cardinals. The Bust to Which Other Busts are Measured

31
by David S. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 8:39pm

I guess because I put the "less than" symbol in my comment it cut the rest of my comment off. But I ended with: The Bust to Which Other Busts are Measured "less than symbol" A Pro Bowl season from a handful of players.

32
by jack (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 8:40pm

Maybe Charlie Weiss will win a national championship. But isn't his first year very much like the first years of the past two coaches at Notre Dame?

And yes, the Big XII championship looks like a mismatch. But wasn't it just year before last that the Big XII north champion won the championship game?

33
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 8:50pm

So wait, does Michigan have a cheer? Like, a standard challenge/response cheer?

34
by jim's apple pie (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 9:07pm

Re: 18

You're probably right. It's hard to remember the details of a draft that occurred 7 years ago. I wonder if there really was a team bidding with Arizona to move into that slot, and which one it was? How relieved do you think they are that they "lost out"?

In retrospect, it almost never seems worth it to trade a bunch of high picks to get THE GUY. Football teams rarely need just that one special player to be great. Look at the Manning trade. Sure, Eli looks like he's developing just fine, but the picks the Giants gave up turned into the following players for the Chargers: Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman, Nate Kaeding, Roman Oben. Doesn't really look worth it. What about the Herschel Walker trade? Ricky Williams? Leaf?

Can someone name an NFL trade where a team gave a bunch of draft picks for a great player and no one of note was drafted with those picks?

35
by Nate (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 9:13pm

Pat:
GO!
BLUE!

36
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 9:51pm

Anyone watching Pittsburgh at Louisville? Louisville scores a TD on the opening kickoff then Pitt scores on the ensuing kickoff. 7-7, 25 seconds in.

37
by Mark locatelli (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 10:18pm

Hi Guys,

I know it's just a nit-pick, but Cal's last game was a victory over Washington State. (People seem to forget that the OSU game was three weeks ago.)

Cheers,
Mark

38
by Vinny (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 10:37pm

Thanks for the catch, Mark.

39
by Fnor (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 10:57pm

#1: You've got to be kidding me! Did we mention that we used to have a real student at quarterback?

We did, huh? Oh.

Since you already know OSU's, I'll treat you to Cornell's. Sure, there's a "Let's go Big Red" deal, but that's crap. The real cheer-like tradition is fish. Lots of fish. Though I've only been to hockey games and can only guess that they throw them on the football field too. Or at least onto the Harvard sideline.

40
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 11:29pm

Except Owen Daniels isn't likely to play. Nor the "Jewish Jackhammer" for the Badgers, Matt Bernstein. Bernstein is the battering ram of a fullback who normally clears the road for Calhoun. No Matt means lesser folks who whiffed on WAY too many blocks the last few weeks against mediocre defenses.

Penn State returned nine starters on defense anchored by an outstanding D-line, four seniors in the seconday and junior Paul Posluszny might be the best linebacker in the nation. The only reason this team lost so much last year was because the offense was so dysfunctional.

Even their punter is solid. Only 13 of his punts have been returned and 15 have been placed inside the opponents 20 yard line.

Wisconsin also has good special teams play. Brandon Williams is excellent on punt returns.

If Penn State stacks up against Calhoun, which would be sensible, then it is up to Stocco to hit his receivers. It's vets against vets and has the potential to be a hellacious matchup. Orr is a legit deep threat for UW.

Penn State's running game is very good and could easily chew the bejeezus out of Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin defense is deplorable because of defensive backs who cannot seem to figure out that you run WITH the receivers as opposed to standing around watching guys run by. If you watch the game keep on eye on freshman DE Matt Shaughnessy for the Badgers. He's light in the pants at only 225 but has the potential to be awesome. Penn State has the crew to overwhelm him at the point, but he might also knife through for some big plays.

Pat will huff in indignation but the key to a Wisconsin upset is Robinson. If the UW D can generate mulitiple turnovers from the PSU quarterback position then Wisconsin has a chance.

While the Lions have the teeming throngs as their 12th man don't underestimate the WI kids desire to win one for their coach. These kids have been on a mission all season to send Alvarez out on top. Time and again players interviewed mention the team goal of winning the conference title for Barry.

Can inspired play cannot compensate for stupidity? The UW defensive backs are a box of rocks with legs.

What the heck, Wisconsin has cost me money all season might as well bet FOR them and lose some more cash.

UW 23 PSU 20

41
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Thu, 11/03/2005 - 11:35pm

Pat:

Why is anyone at Penn State, particularly Joe Paterno, STILL commenting on the hit Robinson took from Erasmus James? It was YEAR ago for heaven's sake.

And Robinson ducked his head INTO James. It was nothing more than an accident.

Robinson's mother sounds off about being happy Erasmus getting hurt against Purdue (last season) and now Paterno states it was an illegal hit?

What is going ON up there?

42
by Tom (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 1:40am

Re #36

The beginning of that game was just nuts... I wonder when the last time was that the same team made the first two kickoffs of the game without there being any plays from scrimmage in between. I missed a lot of the rest of the game, but (1) Louisville still seems too enamored of the dink-and-dunk, which a team with enough semi-competent DBs can clamp down and force you to go deep, (2) Michael Bush is on a different level than the other Louisville RBs, and (3) Pitt should pay me not to watch any of their games, as they're now 0-3 in games I've seen part of (ND, Ohio, Louisville) and 4-2 otherwise.

43
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 1:41am

Well, emotions ran really high last year. Paterno really doesn't pay much attention to media junk like this - his opinion of the hit probably came from seeing it on the field, where it looked pretty bad.

Where did you see this, by the way? It isn't in State College's paper, nor in Penn State's. I haven't seen it anywhere, actually.

Pat will huff in indignation but the key to a Wisconsin upset is Robinson. If the UW D can generate mulitiple turnovers from the PSU quarterback position then Wisconsin has a chance.

No, I agree. But at what point does it become a trend? He's thrown one interception now in five games. He did fumble during the Purdue game, but that's 2 times in 5 games. You can point to the Northwestern game all day, but that doesn't change that since then, he's protected the ball extremely well.

Penn State’s running game is very good and could easily chew the bejeezus out of Wisconsin.

And there's the key - Robinson won't throw an interception against Wisconsin, because he won't have to.

These kids have been on a mission all season to send Alvarez out on top. Time and again players interviewed mention the team goal of winning the conference title for Barry.

Yah, to be honest, in some sense I feel bad, because this isn't the end for Paterno, and as I said above, really, they're not getting worse next year. But in some sense, this year, in my mind, is for Robinson. Paterno's one fault is that he's ridiculously loyal. Mills was a bad quarterback who showed flashes of brilliance, which is the worst possible thing for a Paterno coach, because as long as you're practicing well, and show signs of competence in games, you'll play. (I place all the blame for Penn State's troubles over the past few years on Mills. All of it. Brilliant first year. Worse second year, but still good, and then his confidence completely fell apart.)

I know you love to bash Robinson, but he is a rapidly improving quarterback. I wish he had more years left. He deserved it. But a Big Ten title, and a BCS bowl? Good way to end a too-short career. And it should land him in the NFL as a wide receiver, where I think he'll do well.

44
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 1:42am

You’ve got to be kidding me! Did we mention that we used to have a real student at quarterback?

Funniest thing I heard at OSU was someone telling me that Bobby Hoying was the best college QB he had ever seen.

Remember, I'm an Eagles fan.

45
by James Gibson (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 9:25am

I don't put all of it on Mills. When Robinson came in and replaced Mills, he was even worse. Mills didn't have any competent receivers to throw to after Bryant Johnson went into the NFL. If he had this year's receivers, he would have been better. Who can forget Robinson's 5-28 game against Minnesota? Mills had the elbow tendinitis thing and likely shouldn't have played, but it's hard for me to swallow the idea that he's to blame for all of it. Granted, his most brilliant game was as a freshman against tOSU, and he only seemed to decline from there, but he really had nobody to throw to at all.

46
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 9:59am

Pat:

Paterno made the comments on the radio interview with the Wisconsin media.

You completely misunderstand me which I believe is the core of our disagreements.

I do not "love" to bash Michael Robinson. He's a young man doing the best he can with the skills he has available.

What I TRY to do is consider players, coaches, and teams objectively. And Robinson, for all his positives, is simply not a quarterback. He plays the position. Period.

I am sure my objectivity comment will cause you to snort in derision thinking of the various Favre-related posts. So be it.

College players, with few exceptions, should not be subjected to direct criticism. They are kids.

So I will write that the UW secondary is a box of rocks with legs but I won't write that John Stocco stinks.

Maybe I am splitting hairs to some but it's an important distinction to me.

Pro players? All bets are off. These guys get paid for a living.

47
by DaveW (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 10:35am

Re: #43

Pat: You're not serious about pinning ALL of PSU's problems the past couple years on Mills, are you??? Were you watching the same games I was? Believe me, I'm right there with you in terms of frustration with Mills....halfway through the '02 season I thought he was on track to be hands down the best PSU QB ever, and we all know that despite the records he holds, that's simply not the case. There are many, many places to place blame for the '03 and '04 debacles....I'd give Mills some, sure, but the lion's share in my mind has to go the lack of playmakers, the O-line and the coaching staff.

Anyway, I think we both agree on Robinson. He has become one of my top 3 favorite Nittany Lions of all time. I happen to disagree with NFL Central Freak on his assessment of Robinson as a college QB...I think that was a fair analysis at the beginning of the season, but I don't think it holds water any more.

48
by Kunk (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 11:38am

The UW defensive backs are a box of rocks with legs.

Ah, box of rocks. Takes me back to my favorite claustrophobia inducing bar, the Rathskellar. Alas, the fine folks at the 'Skellar have removed the 18-pack of Rolling Rock ponies from the menu. You have to stick to the $3 draft pitchers, a joy to any drinking-aged college student's wallet.

Seriously though, I think the game hinges on Robinson being able to take advantage of said 'box of rocks' secondary in the red zone. Against the Big Ten, he's completed only 84 of 169 of his passes, for just a shade under 50%. Sure, the running game will be there, but can MRob make the passing plays work in the red zone? Against Purdue last week, he couldn't. Luckily, Purdue's offense wasn't much of a threat to PSU's defense. This week, he won't be so fortunate.

MRob has become a fan favorite basically because he's been able to find a way to win, which has been refreshing for most PSU fans. But to insist that he's become a real quarterback is still a bit of a stretch. I think if the FO staff broke down his plays, you'd find he's similar to Mike Vick for the Falcons. Very low passing PAR, but a solid rushing PAR.

49
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 11:57am

And Robinson, for all his positives, is simply not a quarterback.

What do you mean by quarterback? He's not an NFL quarterback. But he's a darn good college option quarterback. Maybe I should switch to say "I know you love to bash college option QBs"? It's not like there's not enough of them in college football - Vince Young and Troy Smith, for two.

Robinson's first two starts looked like an RB playing QB. He doesn't look like that anymore. He's making good decisions, which is the main thing that separates a QB from a running back or a wide receiver.

Pat: You’re not serious about pinning ALL of PSU’s problems the past couple years on Mills, are you??? Were you watching the same games I was?

Yah, I knew this one was going to be responded to. Yes, actually, I do. And yes, I did see the same games you saw. All of them. Several in person. And a few practices, mind you. The main problem I have with Mills isn't his skills, it's the fact that he had no confidence. He was indecisive as a QB, and that's going to kill you whether you have receivers or not.

One of the main reason I started to blame Mills is because I don't believe that the offensive line could've possibly improved that much in a year. I think having a quarterback who actually has confidence and actually makes decisions does a lot to help an offensive line.

As for when they brought Robinson in: trust me, I remember. But that offense wasn't really an offense that would work for Robinson, which is why they went down to Texas to figure out how to utilize him better.

50
by TD (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 12:18pm

i love the site, don't get me wrong, but the idea that the midwest or the northeast have an accurate perspective on what constitutes quality college football is friggin ridiculous. long time lurker, first time poster. this is mainly in response to Pat, who makes a reasonable post that suggests that Virginia Tech has a pretty good chance at sneaking into the Rose Bowl. I have no doubt this is true, given the BCS's track record. it would be a travesty. i live in ACC country. FSU and Miami are both having down years. It's funny how so many of the VT backers present the scenario as if VT winning out were a foregone conclusion. the hokies are rated behind Texas and USC because they haven't had an impressive win yet. seems to me that VT has had well-regarded seasons heading into the Miami game before. I forget. How did those seasons turn out? We'll see Saturday

51
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 12:31pm

Pat:

I don't recall having posted any messages regarding Troy Smith or Vince Young.

Michael Robinson is an improved version of Steve Bellisari (pronounced BellaSORRY--that's a joke people) or a taller, sleeker version of Mike Samuel. (Trying to use Big Ten QBs of the past as reference)

A guy who doesn't make half the throws a QB typically makes isn't a QB, college or otherwise. CORRECT, Penn State doesn't ASK HIM to make those throws. Why? Because he CAN'T. As in if he TRIES it will likely be BAD. Is that his FAULT? No. His skill set lies elsewhere.

So again, and again, and again, and again I will reiterate I am not BASHING ANYONE. I am simply stating, for the umpteenth time, that this individual is NOT a quarterback. He is a running back being asked to play the position of quarterback and doing a good job of it.

He has leadership skills, he is tough, and his tremendous athleticism allows him to be a passing threat.

Doesn't make him a quarterback.

You could put on a spacesuit, get a ride around the earth 10 times. Does that make you an astronaut?

If your answer is yes then fine, Robinson's a quarterback.

Are you happy now?

Enjoy the game.

52
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 12:32pm

Uh, the entire point of saying "Virginia Tech has a good chance of sneaking into the Rose Bowl" was because many reporters are saying that Texas is "too far ahead of them" in the polls for them to make up room.

In other words, they're saying if they win out, they won't make the Rose Bowl. I don't believe that's true.

As for some other crap about not understanding college football - strange, I seem to have gone to a college, and they played football there. Maybe it's a different sport I'm watching. I seem to recall them inventing the sport up in the northeast, too. Hmm.

53
by TD (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 12:39pm

didn't mean it to be a personal affront. meant to say that if you're right the system is crap. which surprizes no one.

54
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 12:45pm

I mentioned Troy Smith and Vince Young, because they're both other option QBs.

A guy who doesn’t make half the throws a QB typically makes isn’t a QB, college or otherwise. Penn State doesn’t ASK HIM to make those throws. Why? Because he CAN’T. As in if he TRIES it will likely be BAD. Is that his FAULT? No. His skill set lies elsewhere.

I think the problem here (again) is that you're requiring an NFL standard for a college QB. If Robinson isn't a QB, what is he? A running back? You couldn't plug a running back into QB and expect him to do just as well.

Accuracy isn't nearly as important as decision making in college, because you're never going to face a defense that's so good that you can't run at all, and you have to throw into tight coverage. Receivers will get open. You just need to put it near them, not exactly to them.

So again, and again, and again, and again I will reiterate I am not BASHING ANYONE.

True, good point. I just don't think you have a good idea what a college football team needs in a quarterback.

55
by TD (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 12:46pm

other point was, sure, VT has a legit claim to the title if they win out, including their bowl game.
i just think they've been in this situation, several weeks in, too many times for anyone to get too excited yet.

56
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 12:57pm

Oh, sure, absolutely. It's just that a lot of reporters are claiming that Virginia Tech is too far behind in the BCS polls to catch up, and that's just completely untrue. For some reason, very few people have realized that Texas's current high BCS ranking is due to their "1.000" ranking from computers, which is guaranteed to drop significantly over the next few weeks.

57
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 12:58pm

Pat:

I weary of your need to include subtle personal insults with every post.

"True, good point. I just don’t think you have a good idea what a college football team needs in a quarterback."

Tell you what, I will ignore your posts in the future.

Enjoy the game.

58
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 1:09pm

That's a personal insult? Wow, it wasn't meant to be. Let me try to rephrase: "I don't think you and I agree on what a college football team needs in a quarterback."

The main argument between you and I seems to be that you don't think he throws well enough to be a QB. I think you're setting the standard too high, as his accuracy is only marginally worse than, say, Troy Smith or Vince Young.

59
by James Gibson (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 1:22pm

To put all the blame on Mills seems to be a stretch, considering he didn't even play in some of their debacles. Maybe the system wasn't right for Robinson. I'm not sure it was right for Mills, who was a pretty decent runner, too. Now, I know even in Mill's good years, he had a few games where I was really disappointed in him - the 2001 game against Virginia that would have put them in a bowl game after starting 0-4, and the bowl game the following year against Auburn, in particular. And I know in the second half of 2002, all he had to do was hand it to Larry Johnson. But I don't think that you can give him all the blame in 2003 and 2004, considering the state of the WR corps. There's a reason that all top 4 WRs this year are freshmen - they haven't any good ones since B.Johnson left. Robinson was their best one last year.

As for sudden O-line improvments, I've seen it before: PSU had horrible lines in '99, '00 and '01, and then all of a sudden with fewer injuries and a lot of stability, they had a good O-line opening holes for L.Johnson in '02.

60
by Sonya (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 1:41pm

#22, James

I am helping to counteract your "bad mojo." When I was at Penn State as an undergrad, they went to the Rose Bowl. Then, I went to FSU, where they played for the national championship. I moved back to Penn State in August, and now they are experiencing a resurgence.
:)

61
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 1:46pm

James:

When a players loses confidence I doubt it's the fault of the player alone.

The last few years have been tough for Penn State. It's possible that Mills needed more encouragement then the coaching staff was able to provide as they were under intense pressure themselves.

A few years ago Ohio State fans rejoiced when Bellisari graduated thinking that his absence would be a positive for the program. I thought that was shameful.

As a counter, Robinson should be commended for being able to endure the tough times. He is clearly seeing that effort being rewarded.

I will reference my earlier post where I try and avoid directing personal criticism at a college player with respect to their play on the field.

They are kids.

62
by Joey (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 3:48pm

Ignoring the DeBerry situation, the real problem Air Force has is that their defense is just about non-existent. Service academy games tend to be hard-fought and close. That adds up to Army hanging around.

63
by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 4:34pm

Russ checked in and said he's finding good fortune at the blackjack tables. He claims he's not going to push his luck at the sports book this weekend. In the words of the immortal Bill Cosby doing his Noah imitation: "Right."

64
by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 4:35pm

OK, that's only one word.

65
by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 4:43pm

As for the PSU debate, there's no question Zach Mills was disappointing his last couple years but I was always under the impression he was banged up (shoulder issues?) during that stretch.

PSU has definitely had some QB issues since the '94 season (e.g., Richardson, McQuery, Thompson, Mills, Robinson, and there's another senior I'm forgetting whom Mills replaced his freshman year after a stellar performance at Northwestern). To my untrained eye, it seemed like PSU also wasn't nearly as imaginative with its playcalling as it's been the last year or so (even in '94, it seemed like it was incredible, well-coached talent with a very vanilla gameplan). But maybe that was just a lack of trust in the talent at WR, but I think some guys (Eddie Drummond, Chaffie Fields, etc.) could have been utilized more creatively.

66
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 5:02pm

Vinny:

Mills did battle injury problems which I believe had a more serious impact on his ability to perform than the coaching staff let on. For one thing, Mills was a classic "touch" guy. He had no zip to lose. So when he got hurt he tried to compensate by being even MORE accurate which was nigh unto impossible.

He began holding onto the ball more creating more sacks. And when he did throw too often defenders had time to adjust to passes that now just floated in the air like hot air balloons.

It was clear then that the coaching staff lost faith in Mills and around the same time the team itself.

In an earlier thread I had questioned Mills being pulled against Wisconsin last year as Zack had thrown a single pass which was intercepted. While he was hit on the play it didn't look like much but during the telecast it was stated that he was injured. Meanwhile, Mills is stomping up and down the sideline looking like he was mad as h*ll for being yanked. But then when Robinson got reamed by James it was the third-stringer coming in.

Mills didn't play for a while after that so by all accounts the injury was real. But some folks around the Big Ten wondered if Joe hadn't finally thrown in the towel on the kid.

See, what nobody talks about in the press is that between racing after officials, losing his temper in press conferences, and playing QB musical chairs there were more than a few folks who though Paterno was just plain going off the deep end.

Winning has caused all of these behaviors to vanish so it would appear that stress was the instigator for this out of character behavior.

While I understand that Paterno was frustrated what bugged ME was that a KID was being dumped on for the team's failures. Maybe not OUTRIGHT in the press but all you had to do was follow the team, see the disasterous QB rotation, and figure out that the coaching staff took issue with "somebody".

But it's over with. Zack Mills has moved on and the Lions are back amongst the nation's best.

I just wonder what Mills thinks about this year's team?

67
by James Gibson (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 5:02pm

I think Mill's big problem wasn't his shoulder, which he hurt later, but elbow tendinitis which he kept trying to play through. I didn't McQueary was that bad, although clearly a senior Jurevicius helped him as a WR. The one you don't have listed that you are asking about Vinny, is Matt Senneca. He was really bad and started all of the games in PSU's 0-4 start in 2001 before being replaced by Mills as they finsihed 5-6. The other QB you don't have is Rashard Casey, who played after Thompson but before Senneca in PSU's first poor season. A ton of people thought PSU's problems in 1999 in not going undefeated were that Paterno stuck with Thompson instead of Casey, but I was never that big a Casey fan. The O-line in '99 was atrocious. Neither Thompson nor Casey could really do anything behind it.

68
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 5:07pm

On Fisher DeBerry:

What he said was accurate, and I'm fed up with the PC police. I know you're supposed to know not to say these things, but big friggin' deal. It's a sad state of affairs when telling you the truth gets you fired or reprimanded.

Here's a good article on it:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/cfootball/246380_miller29.html

I'm not going to blame DeBerry. I'm going to blame the s that make a big fuss over this.

69
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 5:20pm

It would look like Cal is a lock based on the column, but I am staying away from that game for sure. Same thing for Arizona.

I'm 7-6 so far. Here are some games I like:

Miami (+7) - tough, but I don't think Va. Tech is going to blow out Miami by any means. Don't be surprised to see an upset here.
Nebraska (-1)

I'd love to pick more games, but I don't have any time to think. I have to run.

70
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 6:03pm

Incidentally, Paterno said something similar recently as well. What was funny was that the media completely and utterly twisted the hell out of it. He was asked about the increased scoring in the Big Ten, and he then responded by saying that it basically had to do with being able to expand your recruiting base by having indoor practice facilities. He then continued on saying that black athletes had done a lot, as athletes and as people, in turning the game around.

The media then turned this into "Paterno said that black athletes are linked to increased scoring", whereas I read that as "adding diversity improved the sport."

I have to agree with Sid. The funny thing is that it doesn't even have to be racially related - it could easily be a geographic effect, since the country isn't racially uniform geographically. I just don't really see how it's offensive. It's not any different than saying "those Japanese cooks have done a lot for seafood cooking."

71
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 6:18pm

I should point out that the standard lightning rod for QB performance at Penn State isn't Joe Paterno, it's Jay, his son, the QB coach.

I also don't know why people think that the coaching staff lost faith in Mills. They never expressed any doubt in him publicly whatsoever, and the only games he missed were due to injury.

He began holding onto the ball more creating more sacks. And when he did throw too often defenders had time to adjust to passes that now just floated in the air like hot air balloons.

Yup, exactly. And this is why I pin most of the blame on Mills, although again I feel real bad doing it. He was just supremely indecisive. One of the things I've always thought about college QBs is that the worst thing you can do is overthink a decision. The longer you wait, the more wrong the decision becomes, because you're just giving defensive backs more time to react, and in college, that's exactly what they need - more time. I swear, the number of times I yelled at the TV "Just throw the damn ball!"...

Drop back, make a read, make a throw. If it's wrong, it's wrong, but at least you made it and at least you can learn from that.

That's why I was scared at the beginning of the year, because Robinson was doing the same thing - taking too long. For him, though, he'd skitter a bit, be jumpy, and then take off running, and I thought "oh god, here we go again." But thankfully as the year's gone on, he's gotten more confident and much, much quicker at his decisions. And those decisions have gotten better as well.

His throwing motion and accuracy still sucks, but hey, I'd rather have confidence any day.

Meanwhile, Mills is stomping up and down the sideline looking like he was mad as h*ll for being yanked.

According to interviews later, Mills claimed that he was mad at himself, not mad at Paterno.

72
by Tom W (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 7:05pm

Wisconsin Def. Coordinator (and future Head Coach) Bret Bielema has taken a lot of flak for Wisconsin's defensive performance, with some nitwits even suggesting he should resign as HC before actually having the job. But Wis. is extremely inexperienced in the secondary with their only returning starter coming off ACL surgery. And they have more offensive coordinators (2) than projected D-line starters left standing. But the other point I wanted to make is that NOBODY in the Big Ten plays any defense. If I'm not mistaken, OSU and PSU are the only conference teams in the top 50 in total defense, and Ohio State gave up almost 400 yds. passing to Brian Cupito last week. Brian Cupito!!! Anyway, I think this game will be lower scoring than people think, and while I'm not sure Wis. can win, I think they're a pretty solid play as double-digit dog.

73
by Tom W (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 7:53pm

Re #46:
Very generous of you not to write that "John Stocco stinks". Especially since he ranks in the top 20 nationally in passing efficiency, averaging just under 9 yds./pass. Also, Wis. is 11-3 in Big Ten games in Stocco's not quite 2 yrs. as the starting QB. That's 2 more conference wins than they had in Brooks Bollinger's last 3 yrs. If Stocco played for Michigan instead of Wisconsin, people would be comparing him to Tom Brady.

74
by Vinny (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 8:47pm

Like I said above, I think Stocco has improved, and by that I mean he has reduced the number of really bad reads he makes in a game. But he still make some real headscratchers against good defenses. And Stocco will be playing the best defense he's played all season on Saturday. (And I don't think PSU's defense is dominant -- it's very good, but my point is that Wisconsin just hasn't played many good defenses). His good stats have come against some really bad defenses. I don't think anyone would ever confuse him with Tom Brady (or Drew Tate, Brett Basanez, the list goes on and on). If W/L records were the be all and all of QBs, Craig Krenzel would still be the starting QB for the Bears this year.

75
by real freddie eddelstein (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 10:56pm

real locks of the week

Army
UCLA
NC St.

look for the other games to be low scoring except cal oregon which should be around 28-27 just like last year

76
by Tom W (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 11:13pm

But, my point in my previous comment was that there aren't very many good defenses in the Big Ten, so you could say the same thing about any of the conference's QB's. Granted, the next 2 games for Wis. will be the big test, but if you compare Stocco's stats with the guys you mentioned, I think you'd be surprised. I mentioned Brady because when he was at the same point in his college career as Stocco, I don't recall anyone thinking he was going to be an NFL star (and I'm not saying Stocco is). In fact, most Michigan fans were demanding that Drew Henson be the full-time starter. It just irritates me when I hear people (including Wisc. fans) say Stocco sucks, when they obviously haven't seen him play much this year. And while I'm at it, I might as well address that "rocks with legs" comment directed toward the Badger secondary. I don't know if the NFC Central Freak ever started at cornerback in the Big Ten as a redshirt freshman (my guess would be no), but it's not as easy as it looks, especially against teams like Northwestern and Purdue that run multiple formation spread offenses. But, I wouldn't be surprised if some of those "rocks" were pretty good players in a couple years.

77
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 11:14pm

Re:#27

It's funny reading some of the SI articles about that draft, especially Dr. Z's opinion of Randy Moss...

78
by Tom W (not verified) :: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 11:29pm

Vinny #74:
Just to clarify, I wasn't addressing my comments toward you guys, but toward a couple of previous posts.

79
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 12:16am

Sigh.....

TomW:

I was using John Stocco as an example of something I would NOT write about any player as it is a personal comment.

I do NOT think nor do I believe that John Stocco stinks.

My gosh, doesn't anyone have reading comprehension skills any more? Is everyone SO eager to find fault with a post that they leap to the worst possible conclusion??

I will now withdraw from this thread and focus on the games. Maybe a weekend of good football will help me become better able to cope with this level of nonsense.

80
by Requiem (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 12:41am

Woohoo! Vinny and Russell make the Bears a lock to win!...

Besides with this type of analysis, maybe you can see why they seem to have a problem picking the team that will beat the spread and even causing the favorite to lose.

Russell: Oregon is quietly having an excellent season, but suffered a tough break when QB Kellen Clemens and his 19 TDs were lost for the season in a win over Arizona two weeks ago. Dennis Dixon gets the call in this game, and he’ll be backed up by Brady Leaf, who happens to be Ryan’s little brother. So I know I join all Oregon fans in hoping Dixon can stay healthy.

Vinny: Come on, Ryan was unstoppable in college — still the best college QB I’ve ever seen live. I was convinced he was better than Peyton Manning and I was … uh … wrong. Dixon is a much greater running threat than Clemens, and has shown some accuracy in limited action this year.

Russell: At least you didn’t have that Ryan Leaf prediction published, as I did, in the Wall Street Journal no less. Cal has its own issues at QB, where Joe Ayoob has really struggled with his accuracy. The Bears are averaging 38 points per game, but a lot of that has to do with a pathetic non-conference schedule.

And if you check what the Bears are averaging in points during a conference game, you'll see they're averaging a tiny 37.2 points per conference game.

Vinny: Cal’s best performance to date this year was a 47-40 loss at UCLA last month. Maybe Ayoob can get untracked against a bad Oregon pass defense. Otherwise, RBs Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch will have to carry the load against the Ducks and DE Devan Long and DT Haloti Ngata.

As they've been doing all year. Ayoob has been the Achilles' heel of the Bears all season long. If Longshore had managed to be healthy all season, there's a really good chance the Bears would be undefeated despite all the injuries they've sustained. But then, injuries are part of the game.

Russell: Cal comes in to this game having lost two straight, and hasn’t won at Autzen stadium since 1987. Yet the line, which opened with Cal as the favorite, has moved three points to give Oregon the slight edge. Does somebody know something? I know I don’t — but I’m still picking Oregon.

Yup, Cal comes in losing two straight.... Oh wait, wasn't there a game two weeks ago vs. Washington State?

Vinny: It’s been raining in Eugene for the past week or two, and it should be wet again on Saturday. I have no idea why that matters. Give me the Ducks as well.

It's important because if it's raining that will (hopefully) make the Cal ground game more important, instead of trying to keep the offense as balanced as Tedford usually tries to which gives more chance for Ayoob to botch things up.

Also, it will make a possibly unreliable Oregon passing offense more unreliable and having to depend on its not that good rushing game.

Plus, if you look at the teams that Cal had trouble with, they all could establish the run and therefore open up the passing game. Oregon does not seem quite good enough to do that (though that could be more the defenses they played).

I'll admit that I'm biased (Go Bears!), but all the signs look ripe for a Cal upset (if Clemens were healthy, I'd probably pick the Ducks).

But my problem isn't that you didn't pick the Bears (in fact, that's better with the RussVin Universe Modifiying Power (RUMP)), but that you guys (mainly Russell couldn't even get the facts right. Thus, your analysis (if there's any) is already on a loose base. Maybe that's why you guys are on the losing side of the stick so much and why RUMP is so powerful.

If you can't even get the facts right, how are you supposed to analyze with any degree of accuracy?

BTW, a question for other readers, have Russell and Vinny been as factually incorrect as they were with the Oregon/Cal pick? Maybe there's a reason for the RUMP existing....

Req

81
by Tom W (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 1:30am

Re #79:
Sorry if I misunderstood your comment about Stocco. I thought you were trying to be ironic. In any case, it's a statement that's frequently made by not only internet posters, but fans, newspaper columnists, etc., and it's not only tiresome, but unwarranted. And by the way, I agree that quarterbacks shouldn't be judged by their "won-loss" records like pitchers in baseball. I was just trying to contrast Stocco's performance with that of a certain previous UW QB, who, through the magic of selective memory, has attained near legendary status with some members of the Madison and Milwaukee media, but since nobody else probably picked up on that, I shouldn't have brought it up. OK, I'm done.

82
by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 4:13am

Req - Thanks for the invite to the mutual admiration society. The Wazzu win was an oversight, as we noted above. As for our other "mistakes" (besides our picks, that is):

We pointed out Cal's poor non-conference slate. If anything, we failed to point out how Cal has also had a favorable conference slate to date. Oregon will be the first Pac-10 team Cal will face that has a defense ranked among the top 85 in the country. We know, Jeff Tedford doesn't schedule his Pac-10 games, so save your breath with that witty retort.

If Lynch and Forsett have carried the load all year, does that mean we're wrong that they may have to do it again against Oregon?

And this just in: the comment about not knowing if the rain will be a factor was an opinion, not a fact. Mike Bellotti thinks it will help the Ducks b/c Oregon has been practicing outside all week. I guess he has his facts wrong too, since his opinion doesn't jive with yours...

83
by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 4:15am

Why is everyone so testy this week? Switching to decaf???

84
by Requiem (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 7:26am

Why is everyone so testy this week? Switching to decaf???

I don't know. Did you just switch?

Req - Thanks for the invite to the mutual admiration society. The Wazzu win was an oversight, as we noted above. As for our other “mistakes� (besides our picks, that is):

Sheesh, I didn't know that a couple of constructive criticisms were an invitation into a mutual "admiration" society. But seriously, that's a pretty big oversight to have.... Especially if you're basing your analysis on part of it.

We pointed out Cal’s poor non-conference slate. If anything, we failed to point out how Cal has also had a favorable conference slate to date. Oregon will be the first Pac-10 team Cal will face that has a defense ranked among the top 85 in the country. We know, Jeff Tedford doesn’t schedule his Pac-10 games, so save your breath with that witty retort.

Cal's poor conference opponents are a legitimate concern, but then, if we knew how Cal did amongst the best of the Pac-10, then we'd probably have a better idea of how they stack against Oregon, no?

Also, how do you "rank" these defenses? Yards allowed? Point allowed? Isn't this biased AGAINST Pac-10 teams since the offenses they face are almost all Bill Walsh West Coast. Also, if you use those criteria, does that really mean that Connecticut and Toledo have a top 25 defense?

If Lynch and Forsett have carried the load all year, does that mean we’re wrong that they may have to do it again against Oregon?

Of course not. But that's not the point. By picking Oregon, you're implying they can't do it when they've been pretty much doing it all year (aside from the Oregon St. game). Either that or this piece of data was just thrown in for no reason. Which is it?

And this just in: the comment about not knowing if the rain will be a factor was an opinion, not a fact. Mike Bellotti thinks it will help the Ducks b/c Oregon has been practicing outside all week. I guess he has his facts wrong too, since his opinion doesn’t jive with yours…

I guess that's one problem when one does not separate out parts of one's argument. I thought that it was rather obvious that what I was stating was an opinion, but I guess I need to spell it out. My apologies, I'll have to remember to do that in the future.

If I were doing really poorly in predicting something and some people came to me and showed where I might be going wrong, I'd probably be happy to have that pointed out. But then, I must be weird or something.

One thing this reminds me of was when I was trying to start a blog and then realized how much editing it required to actually publish that blog. Since I didn't really think I had the time available, I thought that I'd rather not put up a half-edited, incomplete work than to put up something out there which though it might have some usefulness be betrayed by its incompleteness or lack of pertinence.

Good luck with the rest of your season.

Req

85
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:34am

Anyone wagering on the UW-PSU Game:

Tackle Jason Chapman of Wisconsin will NOT play.

Wisconsin is down to five healthy defensive linemen and Ostroski who might play 15-20 snaps.

86
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 2:08pm

Does anyone have thoughts about whether it's better to receive or defer when winning the coin toss? Most teams defer, but I've never heard a convincing explanation for why that's the superior strategy. Kirk Frerentz always chooses to receive.

87
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 2:39pm

MDS:

Why it is better to defer:

--the coach has options based on the game status coming out of halftime.

--nervous energy is better suited to defense than offense

--if you defer now it is likely you will WANT the ball to begin the second half. So the opposing coach, knowing this, is almost forced to take the ball to begin the game. Which of course places your defense on the field first. Which is what many coaches prefer.

--many coaches believe that to defuse a raucous crowd the better chance lies on having your defense out there stopping the home team's offense. If YOUR offense gets stymied the crowd is whipped into an even greater frenzy.

Just a few half-baked notions I have been told multiple times by coaches, etc.

88
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 3:43pm

Is Purdue cursed or what? Fumble return for a touchdown after getting down to the MSU 8.

Of course, NW did that same thing to MSU a few weeks back.

And MSU did it to Michigan.

Wild, weird stuff......

89
by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 5:30pm

I was watching ND-UT and missed the Northwestern comeback. Can someone tell me how the Wilcats rallied? All I heard was the announcers mention a late by Chad Greenway that set up the go-ahed TD.

90
by seven year lion (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 5:38pm

NW comeback was a drive by NW that started with about 4 minutes or so left I think. A bunch of 6-10 yard passes mainly. Touchdown came with about 2:00 left. NW recovers the onside kick. Basenez runs for a first down, slides, and gets a helmet to helmet hit, that penalty puts NW on the 11 or 12. Another TD, with less than a minute left, and then NW holds well enough for Iowa to miss a 4th down conversion with 9 seconds left. Game over.

91
by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 6:04pm

Thanks. Wow, some heartbreaking losses for Iowa sandwiched around its bye week.

Meanwhile, Steve Spurrier somehow has his team as bowl eligible, and John L. Smith's club is in grave danger of missing another bowl game. Some things never change.

92
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 6:30pm

Stocco had to play well today for WI to have a chance.

That throw is unacceptable.

You have to wonder how the WI coaching staff can have their best offensive player on the sideline when you are at the opponents 5 down by 14.

93
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 6:39pm

PSU would have to be majorly stupid to lose this game now. Keep running the ball, attack Stocco, and this is over.

94
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 6:55pm

You really have to wonder if the D-coordinator for WI has a clue. He can't tell his guys that when Robinson goes into the shotgun it's likely a draw play.

Why are the Lions passing? They are asking WI to stay in the game.

Of course, Stocco has decided to lay down so it won't matter.

95
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 7:05pm

WI has to be counting their blessings this hasn't already turned into a runaway.

UW needs to stick with the running game. Asking Stocco to win the game outright would be more of the same, sacks and interceptions.

As I have stated, Robinson will make mistakes throwing the ball. Penn State should grind away the second half. There is no need to take chances.

96
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 7:09pm

OK, home from the Rutgers-USF game. Now I realize it's ridiculous to say after a game where you were down 21-0 in the 1st quarter and had a turnover ratio of -6 that you should have won, but damnit...

Anyway, I wanted to share this bizarre sequence of coaching decisions, that would have made TMQ's head explode.

2 minutes to go in the 1st half, USF up 28-14, has 4th and 1 at the Rutgers 33.

1) USF sends in the punting unit and takes a delay-of-game penalty. (In addition to comitting to the mincing, fraidy-cat punt, as someone who's watched Rutgers all year, they're always good for giving up a year or two on a run play.) Dumb call.
2) Rutgers declines the penalty. (I can only assume Schiano was saying to himself, "Well, if I was on offense, I'd want the penalty, so they can't have it.") Incredibly dumb call.
3) USF calls a timeout, and decides to go for it. Utterly inexplicable call, because you already made this decision once, and NOTHING CHANGED. (Yes, it was the right call, but what in God's name is the thought process here?)

Of course, they convert the fourth down, and wind up getting a field goal out of it. It didn't really matter in the end, but still a ridiculous series of decisions.

97
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 7:34pm

Good grief. Penn State should be winning this game 38-0.

I wonder if Barry is going to grab control from both is coordinators. I continue to watch in amazement as the Lions go in shotgun, run the ball, and Wisconsin is caught utterly off guard.

And the D-Coordinator is the new head coach next season? Yowsa.

98
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 7:43pm

NBC just does a disgraceful job on Notre Dame games. ND just scored a touchdown, but the cameraman couldn't be bothered to focus on the guy with the ball. A couple of plays earlier, Tennessee gets a key sack, but there's an offside, which NBC waits a full minute to bother telling us about.

99
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 7:44pm

Alvarez has to be sick at how everyone but Calhoun is laying down. Even the punter is playing poorly. Yes, Penn State is a good team. But Wisconsin has executed better than this throughout the season. But here it is halfway through the third quarter and almost everyone is out there shaking in their Nikes.

By the way, spare me the notion that Penn State "shut down" Calhoun. If he gets any support today the kid shows his stuff. He has been excellent when someone has decided to get him the ball and block.

But down 21-0 his impact is limited.

100
by DMP (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 8:04pm

Hey, NBC, 1992 called and wants its graphics back. Super thanks.

101
by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 8:33pm

Whew, for a minute there I thought the Vinny/Russell Vortex of Suck would catch the Irish too.

102
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 8:33pm

Yup, that's a highly sophisticated offense Penn State is running. Hey, let's throw the ball down the field if number 6 for WI is in coverage!

You wonder why the coaching staff would put that kid in that position if he can't run.

But then the WI defensive scheme this whole game has been a puzzler.

Congrats to Penn State. Now they just need to finish it off against MSU.

103
by DMP (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 8:48pm

Ok, number 52 for Cal just hugged Ayoob (carrying the ball) and pushed him forward for a long time to try to get another yard on 3rd and 4 after Oregon had stopped him. The refs were right there, no flags, and he got the extra yard. So leave Reggie Bush alone.

104
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 8:56pm

So apparently UCLA figured not showing up for the first half worked so well for USC that they wanted to try it, too. Arizona is kicking their asses, but we've seen that before. Also, nice work by the cameraman on the second Arizona touchdown. I mean, it's one thing to fall for a play fake. It's quite another to keep focusing on the running back long after he stopped pretending to run because the quarterback had already thrown the ball.

105
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 9:09pm

FSU loses. And Weatherford still sucks.

106
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 9:09pm

Overtime in Autzen. Missed 54 yarder for Cal.

107
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 9:16pm

Florida State losing and Colorado winning just about assures that if both are undefeated, Texas will finish ahead of Virginia Tech in the BCS rankings. Virginia Tech's only hope was having a big win against a highly ranked Florida State in the ACC title game while Texas struggled against a low-ranked team in the Big 12 title game. Now it's looking like Texas will face a higher-ranked opponent than Virginia Tech.

108
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 9:20pm

Hey Req -- win or loss, calm down.

One another note, unlike the Hokies, at least Florida ditched their awful unis.

109
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 9:24pm

The Russell-Vinny hex has already worked on Oregon. It's working on UCLA. We'll see if they can pull off another huge comeback.
Hopefully it works on Va. Tech as well.

110
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 9:31pm

What do you mean, Sid? Oregon won, and covered. Yes, in overtime, but shrug :)

FSU losing is just funny.

Oh, and UCLA? I know you like living on the edge, but down 28-0 in the second quarter? Note - USC is likely better than you and even they didn't play that dangerously.

I wonder what one is thinking now if you bet on Arizona +9. I mean, you're right now ahead by 37 points, but you also know UCLA has been able to come back from any deficit (although not always to cover...).

T.

111
by Tom W (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 9:35pm

I thought the biggest concern for Wisconsin going into today's game was whether their offensive line (which, with the exception of Lombardi nominee Joe Thomas at LT has been average at best) could handle PSU's front four. I think that question was answered midway thru the 1st quarter. Stocco made a few bad throws, but for the most part he had no time (8 sacks and less than 40 gross yds. rushing -- yikes). PSU would be well-advised to be careful with MSU, though -- they're unpredictable enough to come off the deck and play their best game of the season.

112
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 9:38pm

MDS: I agree, though Virginia Tech might have the lead over Texas going into the conference playoff, especially if UCLA loses to Arizona, because in most computer polls that would put Virginia Tech #1, USC #2, and Texas #3 going into the final game. That, with the human polls the way they are now, is enough to push Virginia Tech over Texas.

But I think if Texas plays Colorado, that's enough to juggle a few of the polls (especially Billingsley's, since Billingsley gives bonus weight to holding teams to under a touchdown for some reason, so Texas has an advantage in the next few games anyway), which should push Texas ahead.

113
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 9:39pm

Oh, and major kudos to Stocco for continuing to play as confidently as he did with Penn State's defensive line in his face the entire day. That takes moxie.

114
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 9:59pm

I've got two TVs going, one on ESPN and one on ESPNU, since they're showing ESPNU on SkyCam. I like it. I think the SkyCam is better for watching the pre-snap and about the first second of each play, and then after the ball crosses the line of scrimmage, it's better to watch the standard camera angle. But I'm definitely getting a look at the game I don't usually get. I think DirecTV's next Sunday Ticket innovation ought to be one game on multiple channels so you can choose your own camera angle.

115
by Bill (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:02pm

The UCLA defense has, in one half:

a) given up more than Arizona's *season* average for points and yards

b) allowed their offense to be outgained by 200 yards

c) given up 19 first downs on 36 plays.

That's an impressive (lack of) effort.

116
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:14pm

RE: 16

I agree. The trade was what really killed them. Obviously it hurts to pay a guy that much and have him be a bust, but the trade made no sense. They gave up a lot, and they might've had him anyway!

117
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:15pm

One almost starts to wonder if it's gone to UCLA players' heads that they'll always manage to come back, so they simply don't take the early parts of games as seriously as they should.

Of course, at some point, that could come and bite them in the ass, and they'll lose a game they should have won. Everyone figured that was going to happen last week - could that be this week? I'm not willing to say so since it's been made clear that no lead is safe, regardless of how late it the game it happens to be.

T.

118
by peachy (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:28pm

If anybody is watching UF-Vandy, could you tell me how Vandy has 7 plays so far of over 10 yards? Is it a coverage problem, or lack of pass rush, or what?

119
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:30pm

Weird play in Miami-VT. They called a foul on Miami on the play, and a dead ball late hit foul on VT. So it was half the distance to Miami's goal line, but then 15 yards and a first down because of the late hit.

120
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:31pm

UCLA is going down. You won't be seeing a comeback victory today from the Bruins.

121
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:37pm

45-7 Arizona right now over the Bruins.

If they came back on this, we'd be talking about the greatest comeback in history by a longshot. Not gonna happen.

One figures that when the Arizona QB comes back from injury...he ain't getting his starting job back. They've been a completely different team.

T.

122
by Vinny (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:42pm

I hope Russ didn't listen to his head and bet the games he picked while he's in Vegas -- he's 6-0 right now!

122
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:42pm

Tyrone Moss has a sprained left knee. Not sure if he can come back.

Roughing the passer on VT, but Wright is injured.

124
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:43pm

Freeman in there, after the vicious helmet to helmet hit on Wright. That should've been an ejection.

125
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 10:45pm

RE: 110

Not sure what I was saying there. But the hex worked to perfection on UCLA.

RE: Vinny

6-1 after Arizona finishes trashing the Bruins.

Kyle Wright and Tyrone Moss both out. I thought Miami could win, but not without those two.

126
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 11:03pm

Moss is done for the rest of the game.

127
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 11:08pm

So Wright and Moss are out of the game, and now Hester is injured.

128
by peachy (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 11:31pm

Has an undefeated team ever been crushed so thoroughly by a bad-to-mediocre team this late in the season?

129
by Tom W (not verified) :: Sat, 11/05/2005 - 11:47pm

RE #113
Pat: Not sure if that was sarcasm or not, but I agree whole-heartedly. I mean, I'm not saying this to be confrontational or anything, but anyone who watched that game and thought John Stocco was the reason Wisconsin lost is an idiot.

130
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 12:06am

Man, UCLA really knows how to lose with style. They came out figuring, if we're gonna lose, we're gonna lose. It's not going to be a comeback that barely falls short. We're going to get our butts whipped until they're red.

The only unfortunate thing for them is that if after this they go and lose to USC badly, everything they did up to this point is going to be forgotten in favor of a feeling of "This is just UCLA's typical annual collapse, just a game or two later than usual." And that's unfortunate because I thought Dorrell made some strides this year.

T.

131
by Vinny (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 12:11am

Kyle Wright can look very good when he gets time to throw. I still think he's got 1st round ability (and I think he's only a sophomore). But Marcus Vick is having a long night.

I've never seen a defensive player celebrate what he thought was an incompletion, and then jump on the ball in the end zone at the urging of his teammates, but that's what happened on that UCLA lateral that Arizona recovered for a touchdown.

132
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 12:14am

Miami is going to win this one. Orien Harris has been huge

133
by Vinny (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 12:30am

Pat/TomW/DaveW - I was surprised to see PSU's pass rush be that dominant against Wisconsin. I didn't see anything like that against a banged up Michigan offensive line a few weeks ago. Either Wisconsin's O-line totally quit, they're just not as good as I thought, or PSU's just a completely different team at home. Or all three?

134
by Paul (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 12:30am

Well Vick goes down for VT and loses the ball to Miami. And as I write this, VT gets the ball back on an interception. Horrible pass by Miami. Even with that, Miami is dominating the game 27-0 with only 42 seconds left in the 3rd quarter.

135
by peachy (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 12:37am

What in God's name is going with the Florida defense? Two TD's in the past three minutes? Argh!

136
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 12:46am

Tom W: (#129) No, I was definitely serious. The reason Wisconsin lost that game is because their offensive line couldn't deal with Penn State's defensive front - just that simple.

137
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 1:04am

Wow, Florida barely survived a scare from Vanderbilt. What the heck happened there?

138
by peachy (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 1:13am

Well, Vandy's actually a pretty decent team for a change - preseason, the SEC coaches voted Cutler best QB in the league, after all. And I believe CB Vernell Brown broke an ankle during the game (me caveman - me no have cable, me follow game through gamecast and message boards. Ugh!)

Still, that was a Zooker-type game for the D... shudder. My little stuffed alligator learned some new words tonight, ahem.

139
by Tom W (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 1:18am

I think Wisconsin's OL will be a major area of concern in the off-season. They lose 4 starters (though thankfully not their best one). Their defense should be dramatically improved and they'll have Stocco and Calhoun back, but for whatever reasons, they just haven't been able to recruit and develop offensive linemen lately like they used to.

140
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 1:24am

peachy: Fool, that's what sports bars are for!

141
by Tom W (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 1:26am

In the interest of accuracy, UW only loses 3 OL starters, come to think of it, though that doesn't change the point.

142
by peachy (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 1:45am

Caveman feel like fool now!

There must be some very relieved people at BCS HQ tonight - this now looks like a season the system will escape without controversy. Whoulda thunk it?

143
by peachy (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 2:08am

I have to take issue with a line in the AP recap of the UF-Vandy game - "But Cutler was clearly the better quarterback Saturday night."

Sure, he had 104 more yards passing (and a higher QB rating.) But Leak had a better completion percentage, five TDs to four, 67 rushing yards to -2... and most important, zero turnovers to three (a pick and fumble in regulation, both followed by UF touchdowns, and the clinching pick in OT.)

144
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 8:03am

TomW:

Since it is likely your comment was directed at me I was merely pointing out that in a game where Wisconsin had no margin of error Stocco's throw into the end zone was ill-advised. The second post was immediately after J.S. had thrown another interception soon after the first and in NEITHER case did he have people in his face. (A rarity on the afternoon) He simply threw it up for grabs.

If you read the remainder of my posts they focus on the Wisconsin defense, and its inability to recognize the same plays that were gashing them repeatedly for huge chunks of yardage.

I did not feel compelled to comment on the incredibly obvious fact that the PSU D-line destroyed the Wisconsin offensive line.

But I erred in mentioning his name directly in the second post. I try and avoid specific criticism and in that instance I failed.

145
by Michael David Smith :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 9:41am

I don't think I've ever felt this way about a 9-0 team before, but I honestly think that in two months, Alabama is more likely to be 9-4 than 13-0. (Or 9-3 if the two losses knock them out of the SEC title game.) That offense is atrocious.

I want you all to remember that I was down on Marcus Vick before being down on Marcus Vick was cool. I have a feeling we're going to hear all the geniuses out there talking about how they knew all along that he was no good.

146
by peachy (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 10:32am

I totally agree about 'Bama; it will take a certifiable miracle for them to win out. Tyrone Prothro might be the most indispensable non-QB in the country; with him in the lineup 'Bama was a legit national title contender, but without him they're top 15, no more. (In the three SEC games since his injury, 'Bama has scored one offensive TD.)

I said it at the time, and I'll say it again - Shula should have pulled him (and Croyle, who of course has his own injury history) in the fourth quarter. If my boys started a rally (haha!), they could always have gone back in. My personal feeling is that he simply got caught up in the excitement of the big game and forgot about the rest of the season... (someone - I'm thinking Simmons or Dr Z, though I can't find the citation - recently suggested that head coaches should move to the press box for exactly that reason... there's simply too many distractions on the sideline.)

147
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 1:17pm

At least we know the apocalypse isn't here quite yet.

Russell and Vinny both agree on Va. Tech and UCLA giving 7 and 9 points, respectively, and both teams get blown out.
I nailed the Miami pick. Too bad I didn't go with Arizona. :D
The sad thing is, they did cover with Notre Dame and Oregon. Weird.

148
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 1:33pm

Anyone hear about Rutgers declining a penalty that would've forced South Florida to punt. Instead, it stayed 4th and 1, South Florida went for it, made it, and got a free FG before the half. Schiano is crazy.

149
by Joey (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 1:43pm

#86 & 87
Question about deferring at the coin toss...I don't recall ever seeing this happen, but it is possible to end up receiving (or kicking off) at the start of both halves, correct? (Like if I defer and the other team decides to play defense. Then I choose to receive at the start of the second half.)

150
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 2:10pm

Joey:

Correct.

151
by LTA (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 2:19pm

#145: Actually, I felt that way about UCLA going into the Stanford game. I mean, has there been a worse undefeated team from a major conference? I watched UCLA's games up to that point, and they were not the games of a title contender.

152
by Vinny (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 3:01pm

I'm no expert (just see my picks) but I am still a believer in Marcus Vick. He was atrocious last night, no doubt (and looked like the 3rd best QB on the field), but I'm chalking that up to a bad night against a great defense. I think he will continue to improve, and if he's smart, he'll come back to school for another year and be a 1st round choice in the 2007 Draft. As I've said, he's a much better passer than his brother ever was in college, and he's still quicker than 95% of NFL QBs (but not his brother).

153
by TC (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 5:46pm

#149
2003 Stagg Bowl, St. John's kicked to Mount Union to start both halves. I believe it is the only time I have seen it done.

154
by Dan L (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 6:21pm

Do me a favor, guys, and don't pick Virginia Tech any more. As soon as I read your article on Thursday I knew my beloved hokies were doomed.

155
by CoreyG (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 6:38pm

Re #152:
On what basis are you deciding that Marcus is way better than Michael ever was? Michael led the nation in passing efficiency in 1999 and did it as a redshirt freshman, even setting the record for a freshman. The highest Marcus ever got this year was 2nd and after yesterday has dropped to 16th. I don't think Michael ever had a 6 turn-over game either but I haven't verified that. Michael didn't have the WR talent that Marcus has either. It's fine to think of Michael as a poor passer in the NFL but I think you're letting that cloud what he did in college.

156
by R.J. (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 10:39pm

#142
I'm not so sure the BCS stooges are out of the woods yet. 'Bama looks certain to lose. If so, just one upset in six games: for UT (Kansas, A&M, Buffs) or USC (Cal, Fresno, UCLA) and the BCS will have to pick one out of the many 1-loss good teams. 2 upsets and it gets even more muddled. Those of us hoping each year for a BCS meltdown still have a lot to root for.

157
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sun, 11/06/2005 - 10:42pm

Even if Alabama doesn't lose, it seems that the "powers that be" have already decided that Alabama does not deserve to be there, and that the gap in "worthiness" between USC/Texas and Alabama is so large that the fact that Alabama could be left out is of no consequence.

T.

158
by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 1:00am

Could back to back undefeated teams from the SEC being snubbed by the BCS be enough to trigger another civil war? I don't see bama skating through with no losses for the remainder of the year. You don't have to score TDs in the SEC this year to win, but it does improve your chances somewhat.

159
by peachy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 3:59am

Well, here's the fewest points scored by 'Bama's future opponents this season (for comparison, 'Bama's fewest was 6 against UT) :
- UF (possible title game) : 3, against 'Bama
- UGA (ditto) : 10, against UF
- Auburn : 14, against Ga-Tech
- LSU : 20, against Auburn (won by LSU)

All four rank ahead of the Tide in scoring offense, and all but UF in total offense (the Gators trail by ~3 ypg.) 'Bama leads the SEC in total defense (the others are 2-5), and scoring defense (2-4 & 6), though they're third in turnover margin (Auburn and LSU have been surprisingly bad at holding on to the ball, and neither's a whiz at taking it away either.)

Can 'Bama win out? Yep. Will they? Nope.

160
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 1:21pm

Its not like Alabama was that great on offense with Tyrone Protho to begin with...of course D.J. Hall steps up and has 21 catches for 296 yards in 2 games, but no one is replacing Protho's production...

The problem is not missing Protho, the problem is an offensive line that has actually gotten worse over the season. Brodie takes too many hits, Chris Capps cannot stop a speed-rusher to save his life it looks like. We have a good pass-catching TE, but we can never use him because he has to stay into block. Having Tyrone on the field would help some, it will take away another defender in the box-but the OL is average and now we lost our best guy on it with Closner.

Though I still think Alabama goes into the SEC championship game undefeated. LSU is bad enough on defense to allow Alabama to score at least 2 TDs and thats all they need to win right now with the way the defense is playing. And last season Alabama almost beat Auburn with a 3rd string QB, 3rd string RB, 4th string FB, and walk-ons at TE.

161
by Wes M (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 1:50pm

Late to the party here, but no one (anywhere on the web/tv/paper I've noticed at least,) has mentioned something I was blown away by.

At the end of regulation duriing the Oregon/Cal game, with no time-outs remaining and very little time remaining, Cal was able to get the kicking unit on the field and make the (unsuccessful) atempt. (And the try was close!) Best special teams coordination I've seen this year.

162
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 2:10pm

Those of us hoping each year for a BCS meltdown still have a lot to root for.

The BCS selecting between a bunch of 1-loss teams is not a BCS meltdown.

Why? Because those 1-loss teams had a way to make the national championship - they shouldn't've lost.

Selecting between several unbeaten teams is the only way that the BCS melts down, because then the unbeaten teams never had a chance to make the championship.

You can try to claim "they could've won better" but that's a crappy statement, as a win is a win, no matter how it happens. The only reason we talk about bad wins or good wins is because those might be predictive, but you shouldn't ever be penalized in standings for winning a game.

163
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 2:21pm

Pat:

That is not necessarily true.

Last year there wasn't much of a meltdown. Besides the AP withdrawing, it was one of the few years since the inception of the BCS that they didn't tweak the formula in some way. They simply said "Sorry Auburn you're out" and went on their merry way.

2003, with 3 1-loss teams, is when the BCS really melted down, to the point that they got rid of the formula structure they'd used for 6 years, and threw away numerous components, just to ensure it could not happen again.

T.

164
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 3:12pm

Tarrant:

OK, let me clarify a bit. The way the BCS melts down is if one of the following happens:

1) More than 2 unbeatens at the end of the year before the NC. Especially bad if the computers push a #3 to a #2, shoving the poll consensus #2 out of the championship, and then the #1 loses. Even worse if the #3 plays a bad team (like this year's Big East rep) and demolishes them.

2) No unbeatens at the end of the year after the NC, and multiple highly ranked 1-loss teams.

I actually think the first one is more fundamentally bad, and engenders more people to hate the BCS, because you have an unbeaten team at the end of the year who didn't have a chance to prove themselves. In other words, I consider 2004 to be the meltdown, not 2003. Think of it this way - if 2004 happens again, and the USA Today/Coaches' Poll backs out of the BCS... who's going to take it seriously?

165
by R.J. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 7:00pm

If Cal beats USC and Texas loses to Colorado in the Big 12 championship game, there are now 7 or 8 "good" one loss teams (USC, Texas, Miami, Penn St, VaTech, Georgia, LSU, Alabama) who is the BCS going to pick to play in a "national championsip" game? You're telling me there won't be several large fan bases that won't be loudly aggrieved? That there won't be a large controversy generated, followed by a legitimate outcry for a better system to determine a true champion? That's what I'm rooting for. (Just for fun, let's imagine another scenario where Notre Dame destroys the rest of their opponents so that the polls have them ahead of all but one of the 1-loss teams. You think the BCS can handle that?)

166
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 7:14pm

RJ: You need Alabama to lose too.

I'd virtually bet Penn State will play in the BCS championship game if USC, Texas, and Alabama all lose. They'd be an absolute lock for #1 in all of the computer polls, which gives them a huge boost.

Heck, Penn State right now is #2 in a bunch of the computer rankings already. Yes, above USC.

167
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 7:53pm

Actually, I take that back. It depends who loses to who, and what happens in the polls.

If LSU beats Alabama, USC loses to UCLA, Texas loses to Texas A&M, the computer polls would likely end up

PSU
Va. Tech (assuming they win out)
Texas
USC
Miami

as the top 5. The main reason this happens is because Texas has a pretty impressive slate of games, and so losing one isn't an awful loss. Alabama would fall pretty far.

I have no idea what the human polls would look like. Texas would probably drop down to 6 or 7, as Texas A&M is a sucky loss. Miami would probably be #1. USC would probably be 4 or 5. LSU would probably be #2.

So, say, Miami/LSU/Va Tech/PSU/USC/Texas. With that ordering, and the ordering at the top for the computer polls, that'd probably be a Miami/Va Tech Rose Bowl.

Don't ask me why LSU would be ranked #2. I don't know why LSU is ranked #5 over Penn State right now, but "poll inertia" doesn't really let them drop until they lose, and beating Alabama is more impressive than beating Michigan State.

168
by R.J. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 8:05pm

Yeah, I'm assuming Alabama loses once. But more to the point, that whole exercise is to point out that a full-fledged BCS mess is still quite possible, no matter what the apologists want you to believe.

169
by Brandon (not verified) :: Mon, 11/07/2005 - 11:59pm

Why would you choose LSU No.2, Pat? That loss to Tennessee looks lamer and lamer as the Vols continue to plummet to the SEC slag heap.

The Tigers can run the table, but if your scenario plays out, then I can't envision LSU being a player. If they are sitting at home and a couple of one-loss teams are playing at the Rose Bowl, then Les Miles has no one but himself to blame for that banal lapse of conservatism that would make Sean Hannity blush.

170
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 12:36am

Brandon:

Keep in mind that's assuming LSU beats Alabama. LSU is currently ranked 5th (God knows why) and if they beat Alabama (ranked 4th) they'll have to move up by bizarro-poll logic ("We were wrong once, we'll be wrong forever!"). Texas A&M is a bad team, so Texas will move down significantly, and USC losing to UCLA will probably drop them to #4. LSU hits #2 basically due to inertia.

LSU right now shouldn't be ranked higher than 9th by any sane poll, behind PSU, Georgia, Va Tech, and Ohio State. No offense to LSU fans - winning against Alabama would justify a ranking somewhere near there, but they absolutely, 100%, do not deserve that ranking right now.

171
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/08/2005 - 12:37am

Hey, wait, you asked me why I would rank LSU #2! I told you not to do that!

172
by Vinny (not verified) :: Wed, 11/09/2005 - 3:07pm

CoreyG - Sorry for the tardy reply. How did Michael Vick lead the nation in passing efficiency as a redshirt freshman when he only completed 59% of his passes? In fact, he only threw 152 passes that regular season, an average of 14 per game. Not much of a measuring stick. (I'm getting these stats from VaTech's official site.) His younger brother has already thrown 180+ this year, and frankly just looks like a better passer (and more accurate) than his brother did at this point.