Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

KhanSha1.jpg

» Futures: My Expansion Franchise

You've just been awarded an NFL expansion team and must build your personnel department. How would you do it? Matt Waldman takes on the exercise.

21 Oct 2005

Seventh Day Adventure: Lucky Seven

by Vinny Gauri and Russell Levine

Vinny: After maybe the most exciting Saturday of the season, none of these games really gets my pulse going. But then, I'm so out of shape these days, I'm sure I can induce a massive coronary event by just walking back and forth to my fridge three or four times this weekend.

Russell: Well, I'll try not to tax you too much in this column. With West Virginia-South Florida postponed by Hurricane Wilma, we're only doing seven games this week. I don't know about you, but I'm counting that one as a win.

Vinny: You could use it.

Russell: No more jokes about the record. I'm treating it like the seventh inning of a no-hitter. If I don't talk about it, it'll go away.

Northwestern (+12) at #24 Michigan State, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Russell: Has anybody ever actually seen John L. Smith and Judd Heathcote in the same room? I kept waiting for JLS to start slapping himself in the forehead a la Judd during that halftime interview for the ages last Saturday.

Vinny: John L. seems like part cowboy and part wacko. Kind of Robert Duvall meets Crispin Glover. But he is who he is and isn't afraid to speak his mind. Pretty refreshing in a conference that has given us the personality vacuums of Paranoid Lloyd and Senator Sweatervest.

Russell: You'll get no argument from me, I love having him in the conference.

Vinny: The Spartans had all kinds of problems against Ohio State, including allowing Drew Stanton to be sacked 12 times. The Buckeyes have a very good defense, but it was surprising to see them get through a veteran offensive line to a mobile guy like Stanton.

Russell: Michigan State won't see that type of defense this week. In fact, I don't think we'll see much defense played at all. Both teams are horrendous against the pass.

Vinny: Nobody wants to play the Wildcats in Evanston, where they seem to be unstoppable on offense. But they don't seem to have enough confidence on the road. Still, Brett Basanez might be playing quarterback better than anyone else in the Big Ten right now. These teams are very similar on offense, and comparably vulnerable on defense. But I like the Spartans' superior personnel to cover the spread in East Lansing.

Russell: It's too tall an order for Northwestern on the road. I like MSU by a couple of touchdowns.

Virginia (+1.5) at North Carolina, 12 p.m. ET, JP

Russell: Strange line of the week here. All Virginia did last week was beat then No. 4 Florida State, 26-21, as QB Marques Hagans enjoyed a huge night. In North Carolina's last outing, the Heels dropped a 69-14 nail-biter to Louisville two weeks ago. Yet the Tar Heels are favored. Since I clearly know a lot about point spreads, I feel obligated to point out that this line might be too good to be true.

Vinny: Ahmad Brooks and the Virginia defense also came up big when it mattered against the Seminoles. Of course, it helps when Drew Weatherford is playing catch with your defense.

Russell: On offense, Hagans was simply outstanding, but Virginia rushed for only 20 yards. I have a feeling the Cavs might have spent the past week basking in the glow of that win, while North Carolina has had two weeks to recover from a beatdown by Louisville.

Vinny: Diminutive WR Jarwarski Pollack was under the weather and had to sit out the Louisville game for the Tar Heels, but he's back this week as one of Matt Baker's favorite targets.

Russell: North Carolina is capable of pulling the upset -- they knocked off Miami last year -- and is catching Virginia at the right time. With that line, somebody knows something, and to quote Lee Corso, I'm going with the somebody. North Carolina wins by a field goal.

Vinny: The Miami win saved John Bunting's job last year and enabled the Heels to go bowling for the first time in a while. Getting back to a bowl game this year doesn't look promising with Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech still on the schedule after the Cavaliers visit Chapel Hill. I like Virginia to cover, and I'll make the Cavs my Fred Edelstein Lock (after making FSU my Lock against them last week).

Ball State (+8) at Ohio, 2 p.m. ET

Russell: This week's Regional Special takes place in Athens, Ohio, as Peter King's alma mater battles the school my brother, a Purdue grad, used to refer to as "Testicle Tech."

Vinny: Nothing but class, your family. Nothing but class. Of course, your brother was also in AGR – the agricultural fraternity at Purdue. I don't even want to think about what happened at their rush parties. (Shudder).

Russell: That makes two of us. The Fighting Frank Soliches have had an up-and-down year, beating Pitt in overtime on national TV, but sitting at 2-4 overall. Ohio is 2-0 at home, however, while Ball State is 1-3 on the road.

Vinny: Solich has been rotating his quarterbacks (junior Austin Everson and freshman Brandon Jones). That's always my pet peeve, but this is such a mismatch that Solich might have a chance to play four or five signal-callers.

Russell: A series of suspensions to starting players has turned Ball State into a mere stepping stone for most opponents this season. They're giving up 48 points per game. I was all set to take the Bobcats, but then I decided to log some time on a few degenerate gambling sites (are there any other kind?) this week. Did you know that Ball State is 4-2 against the number this year, while Ohio U. is 2-4? Works for me. Plus, David Letterman is a lot funnier than Peter King. I'm going with Ball State.

Vinny: Ball State should have just about everybody back. But it shouldn't matter. The Bobcats win going away.

#19 Tennessee (+3) at #5 Alabama, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Russell: So, if you're an Alabama fan, you have to be thrilled with the last-play win over Ole Miss. After all, your team is undefeated and atop the SEC. But at the same time, you have to be a little bit worried that the offense looked stuck in the mud without the injured Tyrone Prothro.

Vinny: Kenneth Darby may find it tougher to break loose without Prothro to stretch the defense. Tennessee has a solid run defense again this year, so the Vols will force Brodie Croyle to find another weapon (Keth Brown?) to beat them.

Russell: Expect a few extra marshals to surround Phil "Deep Throat" Fulmer on the sidelines this week, and you know the 'Bama fans are just dying to send the Vols off the field with a few Rammer Jammer chants. Tennessee has had a week off since dropping its second game of the season. I'm not sure the Vols are going to come in with any confidence, and in a very hostile atmosphere, things could snowball on them.

Vinny: The Vols have faced Top 10 opponents on the road 9 times in the last 8 seasons, coming away with 6 wins. Like Michigan though, Tennessee is a real Jekyll and Hyde team week to week.

Russell: I'm willing to give 'Bama a mulligan for the subpar effort last week. The Tide had two weeks to hear about how great they were after thrashing Florida and came out a bit flat. The crowd won't let them do that this week. Alabama is the pick.

Vinny: With Darby and Gerald Riggs Jr., two of the best backs in the country will be showcased for scouts in this one. I'm going with Tennessee to win another dog fight on the road.

#7 Texas Tech (+16) at #2 Texas, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: How many coaches across America do you think are hoping to see Texas up by 40 at the end of this game and still throwing the ball?

Vinny: Texas Tech has certainly demolished the likes of Florida International, Sam Houston State, Indiana State, and Kansas State. What, the San Antonion School of Culinary Arts was unavailable?

Russell: Texas Tech coach Mike Leach makes no apologies for running up the score. Tech smacked K-State 59-20 last week, as Cody Hodges threw for about 1,000 yards on 134 attempts. I'm not wasting time looking up the exact stats because they don't matter until Tech beats an actual team with a pulse.

Vinny: The Red Raiders were congratulating themselves coming off a similar rout last year (a 70-10 whipping of Nebraska) before running into the Texas buzzsaw. The 'Horns destroyed the Red Raiders 51-21 in Lubbock, amassing 351 rushing yards in the rout. But Leach claims to have learned his lesson and is not allowing his players to revel in their victories this year.

Russell: It was lost among all the incredible finishes last week, but Texas stomped Colorado as Vince Young enjoyed one of the best days of his career. If it weren't for Reggie Bush, the Heisman would be a one-man race. I can't see Tech keeping things close against UT. The Red Raiders are likely to get dominated at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, giving Hodges little time to throw, and Texas plenty of room to run. Texas will serve up to Tech a bit of its own medicine, and cover the big number.

Vinny: Tech is nationally ranked in the top 20 in scoring defense, total defense and turnover margin. Granted, that's against a parade of patsies that would make the military industrial complex mighty proud. Still, I'm feeling especially gullible this week. I think Tech has the toughness to stay within a couple touchdowns. Give me the Red Raiders and the points.

Oregon State (+9) at #9 UCLA, 7 p.m. ET, TBS

Vinny: Good win for Mike Reilly's crew last week over Cal (23-20), although I suspect the Bears were masquerading as a good team.

Russell: UCLA is definitely a good team, although I suspect they're masquerading as a great one. QB Drew Olson and RB Maurice Drew led a dramatic comebck against Washington State last week, twice rallying from 21 down to win in OT at the Palouse. Not that any of that matters, I just really enjoy saying "Palouse."

Vinny: The Bruins' offense has been extremely entertaining, especially with the great second half adjustments the coaching staff and Olson have been making. UCLA has outscored is opponents 88-17 in the fourth quarter.

Russell: Oregon State is a very quiet 4-2 on the year. Tailback Yvenson Bernard had to be smiling while watching tape of the UCLA-Wazzu game, as the Bruins gave up 330 yards on the ground. Bernard is coming off a 194-yard performance against Cal.

Vinny: These squads haven't met since 2002, when UCLA prevailed 43-35 in Corvallis. The Beavers still don't have a defense capable of slowing down an offense as potent as the Bruins'. UCLA covers in another Pac-10 track meet.

Russell: I agree with you about the track-meet part, but UCLA is ripe for an upset. They've been courting trouble for weeks, and it will finally catch up with them Saturday. I like Oregon State to win outright, as Matt Moore finds the best receiver you've never heard of, Mike Hass (51 catches, 848 yards) for two scores.

#18 Auburn (+6.5) at #6 LSU, 7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN

Vinny: Auburn has been flying under the radar since losing its opener 23-14 to Georgia Tech. But Auburn leads the SEC in third-down conversions at 50.7 percent. Then again, Auburn has had a very favorable schedule since the opener. Now things get interesting with Georgia and Alabama looming after LSU.

Russell: Favorable? That's one way to put it. The only team Auburn has beaten during the winning streak is Division I-AA Western Kentucky.

Vinny: Kenny Irons will shoulder the load in the backfield for Auburn with Brad Lester out with a groin injury (cue the Sam Malone rap). Shouldn't be a problem though, as Irons will be seeking his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game.

Russell: Neither Irons nor QB Brandon Cox has seen a real defense since that opening loss to Georgia Tech. That changes Saturday. The LSU defense has been good enough to overcome a barrelful of mistakes by the offense (five turnovers in a win over Florida last week). They'll create some havoc in the Auburn backfield.

Vinny: I think LSU is starting to show a nasty streak after the loss at home to Tennessee last month. I like LSU to cover, as this one should be over by halftime.

Russell: As long as JaMarcus Russell doesn't treat the football like a live grenade, LSU will be fine. I'm making the (LSU) Tigers my Fred Edelstein Lock this week.

The Picks
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" in bold)
Game Vinny says Russell says
Northwestern (+12) at #24 Michigan State Michigan State Michigan State
Virginia (+1.5) at North Carolina Virginia North Carolina
Ball State (+8) at Ohio Ohio Ball State
#19 Tennessee (+3) at #5 Alabama Tennessee Alabama
#7 Texas Tech (+16) at #2 Texas Texas Tech Texas
Oregon State (+9) at #9 UCLA UCLA Oregon State
#18 Auburn (+6.5) at #6 LSU LSU LSU
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
Vinny 4-4 (0-1) 23-32-1 (2-5)
Russell 2-6 (0-1) 17-38-1 (4-3)

Posted by: on 21 Oct 2005

85 comments, Last at 27 Oct 2005, 11:28am by Sid

Comments

1
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 1:42pm

I'm treating it like the seventh inning of a no-hitter. If I don’t talk about it, it’ll go away.

I thought the point was that you don't talk about it so it won't go away?

2
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 1:49pm

RE: 1

Yeah.

Needless to say, I love Auburn (+6.5) this week.

3
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 1:54pm

Is SDA going to be a Friday column now? (I'm not criticizing, just checking so I know not to expect it Thursdays). I notice that the "Friday" Too Deep Zone is now Thursdays, so I figured the two switched.

The one thing I learned over the past week was how completely clueless a lot of people, including supposed "experts," are about the rules of college football. The USC/Notre Dame game showed that in all its glory.

You first have Leinart's fumble - some people said the clock should run on the ready, some on the snap, some said it shouldn't have stopped. Some said the ball should be spotted at the point of the fumble, some where it went out of bounds (regardless of where one thinks it should be spotted, it probably shouldn't have been spotted at the 1 foot line). Even the experts disagreed, despite (one hopes) having easy access to the rulebook (which, unlike the NFL, is a handy fully detailed .pdf file on the NCAA web site).

And then you have the 'timeout call' by a USC assistant coach (Carroll's son, actually). Ignoring the fact that only the head coach or a player can call timeout, it's amazing how many times in the past week I've seen people claim that calling a timeout you don't have is a penalty. Sometimes they say it's 15 yards, sometimes 5. Almost always, if you say it isn't, they say something like "But I saw it called (sometime long ago enough that they don't have to give a definite date)."

Worse, however, is how many "experts"/columnists thought it was a penalty! Dennis Dodd of CBS called it a 5-yarder. An ESPN talking head on Saturday night said it was a 15-yarder. A local paper here said that it was a penalty - why? - because they remembered Chris Webber (in basketball) being called for the same thing.

Amazing.

T.

4
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 1:56pm

One thing I know for sure is that the Matt Leinart touchdown should've been a 5 yard penalty on USC.

5
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 2:10pm

That rule is not in dispute, but it's been a long time since that's been called, and IMO it'll be a lot longer before it's called as well - at least for pushing. A few "directors of officiating" for various conferences interviewed said they would never call it for pushing, nor would they tell any of their referees to start doing so (despite last weekend's events), but WOULD call it for pulling. Except pulling is so rare compared to pushing, that it's a non-factor.

T.

6
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 2:11pm

Well, the Northwestern pick is an easy one. That line is way too big. I think Michigan State will win, but by 12? No way. Northwestern's got too good of an offense for that.

7
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 2:28pm

Tarrant -- I agree wholeheartedly. And let me just state for the record that I am neither a Domer, or an ND-Hater, I'm very neutral.

ND folks honestly believe they got jobbed. There is no penalty for calling a TO when you have none left. (NCAA Football rule book, sec 3, Article 1b).

As for the spot, maybe it should have been the .5 yard line, maybe the 1 yard line, maybe the 1.5 yard line. Does it really make a difference? That spot did not lose the game for ND. The 4th and 9 play lost the game for ND. If that ND cornerback turns around, the ball hits him in the facemask and the game is over.

Further, a fumble out of bounds is a dead ball. The clock does not start on a dead ball until it is snapped. As to this point, I've heard some Domers claim that Leinart fumbled on purpose to stop the clock. For those who think that, go back and look at the play -- the ND defensive player's helmet knocked the ball straight out of Leinart's hands. No way no chance Leinart did that on purpose.

As for the Bush Push, sure, he pushed him, but far less than Domer fan cares to believe. If anyone gets Sports Illustrated, check out the picture of the play at the beginning of the artice: The picture is as Leinart is crossing the goal line, and Bush's hands are not even on Leinart. One of Bush's hands is on an ND guy, and the other is on the helmet of USC player # 83.

Also, thenext time that play is called a penalty, will someone please wake me up? I've seen it called once or twice in the NFL, but in my 29 years of watching college football, I've never seen it called.

ND -- you played a heluva of a game. Don't diminsh it by crying foul. You lost fair and square.

8
by MDS (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 2:37pm

Tarrant, great point. The only thing I'd add is how stupid it is that people keep saying Leinart was lucky he fumbled because otherwise he would have been tackled in bounds and the game would have been over. No. Look at the replay. Leinart's upper body crosses the goal line. If the ball had still been in his hands, he would have scored.

9
by Aaron (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 2:41pm

Yo, Tarrant -- the Friday thing was just this week. Since SDA wouldn't be ready until today, we figured we would run TDZ early. Mike usually has that done at least a day early.

10
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 2:56pm

I've pointed that out to people too - Leinart lands halfway into the end zone. Why would he "intentionally" fumble out of bounds to stop the clock when, absent the great hit (and it was a great hit!) from the defender, he scores and there's no Bush Push (although the game certainly has become more legendary with the push than without it).

On a side note, this whole issue is really a case of one of those things that is in the rules, but has become so ingrained in the game that the rule no longer is looked at the same way, but for which the rule will never get changed. In the NBA, things like traveling are this way. The NBA traveling rule hasn't changed in decades, but right now half a dozen steps or more before taking a shot is commonplace, and no referee calls it - and in fact when it IS called, everyone is up in arms, because of all the times (i.e. 99.9% of them) it isn't.

Possession of fumbles is there too. How often does someone have clear possession of a fumble, but then 47 different players all jump on top of them, and after the pile is taken apart, someone else has the ball? You'd think with replay this would have been solved, but no - the "scramble in the pile" has become an accepted part of the game.

"Pushing" a player just isn't called. It's an accepted part of the game and happens all the time. "Pulling" or "carrying" would still get called, but pushing just "is".

It really is just "one of those things". Odd, really.

T.

11
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 3:50pm

I would have thought of Farmhouse as more likely to accept non-human rush candidates than AGR ... then again, when I went to Purdue, dry rush hadn't yet been instituted ...

Good comment on the NCAA rule book. In fact, pretty much every publication they have is available via PDF. I download the current rules for football and basketball and keep them on my laptop; I also get the Final Four book for the tournament.

Also a good point about "experts" and rules. Heck, I probably know more than half the NCAA announcers, and I didn't realize that defensive holding is a 10-yard penalty in college until I saw it called a couple of times ... and how hard it is to get a guy in the truck to look up something in the rules? For that matter, shouldn't these guys have copies of the rules available so they can look something up at the break?

Wouldn't it be funny if Texas Tech finished the season with only 6 wins and missed a bowl game? I suppose that won't happen, but still ... two I-AA teams? Was Stephen F. Austin already booked for 2005?

12
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 4:22pm

I have never been able to hear the term "groin injury" without thinking of that clip. At first it can be embarassing to start rapping it when it's mentioned during a game and the people you're watching it with aren't familiar with it. But then I realize, why should I be embarassed because they don't know their Cheers?

I think the column is coming out on Friday to give them more time to research their picks. I'm surprised they didn't throw some Thursday games in there to see if we'd catch it. Of course, they could print this column on Sundays and Russell still might not crack 40%.

13
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 4:51pm

ND folks honestly believe they got jobbed. There is no penalty for calling a TO when you have none left. (NCAA Football rule book, sec 3, Article 1b).

Moreover, I don't think the assistant was trying to call a timeout -- I think he was just trying to signal to the official that the clock should have stopped after the fumble.

14
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 4:52pm

Texas Tech's schedule is an example of why I wish the pollsters would base the rankings on the games. Texas Tech was beating up on garbage teams, and they were ranked. Nebraska played a few real teams, was undefeated, and was unranked. They then lost to TT in a game that they should have won, if not for an abysmally stupid play. Also, the Harris poll has no credibility if idiots were voting for Idaho when they were 0-4.

15
by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 5:04pm

Here are a few games I like (using current lines on bodog.com):

Auburn (+6.5)
Washington (+30)
Texas Tech (+17)- I love taking the points here, but Texas might really show up and blow them out here. I'll take my chances.
Cal (-12)

Weird games. I'm 3-0 so far. Let's see how I do this week.

16
by MDS (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 5:10pm

I guess googling NCAA football rule book 2005 is too much work for all the people who make their living "analyzing" college football. It really is that simple to find out any rule that you're not sure of, but obviously many of the TV announcers haven't done it.

Time to rap about a controversy
Gonna take a stand, won't show no mercy
Lotta folks says jocks shouldn't be
Doing the sports news on TV
I don't wanna hear the latest scores
From a bunch broadcast school boys
So get your scores from a guy like me
Who knows what it's like to have a groin injury.
G-g-groin, g-g-groin injury.

17
by Domer (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 11:24pm

Gator - don't presume to speak for what most ND fans think about that game. Are there some nutjob fans for every team in the country that will blame refs for a loss? Sure. Do they tend to inhabit message boards? Yep. But you must admit that the events at the end of the game were fodder for some rules discussions. Just look at your post - I agree with all of your positions, but the confluence of all of those events within the last two minutes, on a national stage, against the top-ranked team, certainly makes for interesting talk. And can you blame fans when, as Tarrant points out, sportswriters are passing along misinformation? I needed to ask about the timeout rule (ignoring the coach way the hell out of the coaching box rule), but I found the answer here on FO.

Would some Southern Cal fans be griping if the Bush Push penalty had been called? Would you blame them?

Most of the ND fans and fellow alums I've talked with are prouder this week than ever. Not much griping, more like a bunch of

18
by Domer (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 11:26pm

more like a bunch of

19
by Domer (not verified) :: Fri, 10/21/2005 - 11:28pm

a bunch of what ifs, was what I was trying to say.

20
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 12:34am

I agree with Domer there - note I didn't say that ND fans were griping. In fact, I would say that the true ND fans aren't the

21
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 12:35am

OK the new code is making posts really strange, and they aren't working. I had a much longer post there, but I'm not going to try it again until the site is working properly.

T.

22
by MDS (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 9:02am

Quotation marks are screwing everything up, Tarrant, so try without.

23
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 3:19pm

Worst call of the weekend so far - opening kickoff in the second half, Indiana-Ohio State. OSU signals for a fair catch, muffs the kick, Indiana recovers.

But wait. An official blew his whistle while the kick was being muffed. No recovery.

The funny thing is now they're kicking off again. I've never seen a do-over that I can recall in college.

Big Ten officials, well, sometimes leave a bit to be desired.

24
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 3:20pm

P.S. Paragraphs do not seem to be automatic any more. I had to put in <p> and </p> to get paragraph breaks.

25
by Fnor (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 3:36pm

And this is why you don't use tivo for replay.

26
by MDS (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 4:09pm

The ABC announcers are explaining exactly why instant replay sucks, and yet they're not saying that instant replay sucks. They're saying things like Right on cue the crowd goes silent when a play is reviewed, not seeming to understand that excited crowds are one of the great things about college football. They also acknowledge that when they look at plays they don't know what the reason would be for the overturned call. I hate replay.

So, looks like the people who set that UNC-UVa point spread knew what they were doing, huh?

27
by Fnor (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 4:15pm

Yay! Time for bizzaro-overtime.

28
by MDS (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 4:16pm

Nice clock management, Lloyd Carr. You could have used your timeouts to give your team a minute to try to set up for the winning field goal. Instead you used them to ice the kicker, my least-favorite strategy in all of sports. For that, I'm rooting against you in OT.

Northwestern 49, Michigan State 14. When was the last time a two-touchdown underdog won by five touchdowns?

29
by Fnor (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 4:32pm

Don't quite get the lack of kickoffs in overtime. Speeds it up, perhaps. Seems to penalize big-play offenses and good special teams, though.
Missing question marks badly.

30
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 4:50pm

Well, the Russell and Vinny curse continues for another week, causing Northwestern to completely splatter Michigan State. Glad to see Michigan win two, as well. They're a better team than their record.

31
by Fnor (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 6:14pm

Wow, that was the most condescending halftime show ever. I can see the argument for not having the BCS computerized, but sitting there making nerd jokes isn't really one.
Do people think that numbers threaten their manhood, or something?

32
by Dan (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 7:01pm

re: #31

Fnor, talking heads think that numbers threaten their employement.

33
by Dan (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 7:03pm

re: #31

Fnor, one more thing. I saw that halftime show. One of the hosts said that the computer can't predict winners. Well Sagarin's ratings have been effective against NFL spreads for one.

34
by MDS (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 7:33pm

I usually turn the channel at halftime, since it's always better to watch live action than talking heads, but from what you guys are saying I wish I had seen this one. Could you elaborate on what happened?

I spent all day sitting around waiting for the delivery guys to bring my couch. They gave me a four-hour window, then arrived more than two hours after the end of that window. It makes me mad, but on the other hand, there are worse things than just sitting around watching football on a Saturday.

I'm really enjoying Alabama-Tennessee. If you tell me it's not a good game just because it's 3-3 late in the fourth, I'm going to take you off my Christmas card list.

35
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 7:36pm

I'm also watching Alabama-Tennessee, and it's been a great game. Tennessee timeout right now, they're on the 10 yard line, with roughly 5:30 to go.

I was supposed to go pick up a couch today, actually, but it's been raining on and off all day, so we canceled it. Maybe tomorrow.

T.

36
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 7:38pm

TOUCHBACK.

3rd and goal for Tennessee, screen pass complete, steaming towards the end zone, tackled at the 3, ball goes flying with such momentum that it goes out the BACK of the end zone.

What a game.

T.

37
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 7:54pm

6-3 Alabama with 8 seconds left.

It's been a good football game, and while there's been some good defense, a lot of the problems have been inept offense, especially on the part of Alabama. Brodie Croyle has been overthrowing wide open receivers all day.

I'm sure if you go to the messageboards you're going to see hundreds of posts about how no team west of the Mississippi could compete with these two SEC powers because of their defenses. But in reality, it isn't defense that made this game 6-3, it's lousy offense (a problem Tennessee has been plagued with since he start of the season, and Alabama has been plagued with since that receiver went down two weeks ago).

However, it was still a good game to watch.

T.

38
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 8:17pm

#26 I've been a big proponent of instant replay, but I'm starting to have second thoughts after watching Michigan/Iowa. The one play looked to me like the ball carrier was down, with control of the ball before his hand with the ball in it touched the ground. But the officials saw something to overturn it? Is there a rule covering this that I'm not aware of? (I thought the ground couldn't cause a fumble.)

39
by MDS (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 8:21pm

I don't know if Illinois has the slowest damn defense in college football or if their players just don't hustle. And I don't know which is worse. And I don't know why I even watch my alma mater's football games anymore.

40
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 8:27pm

The commentators for UT/Alabama were mentioning the Vanderbilt/South Carolina game. Some case where a player was very clearly down at the 1 yard line, but the referees called it a touchdown, and for some reason the replay official decided not to review.

There's been some real bad calls made using replay so far this year - more incorrect overturns than I've ever seen in the NFL, but even worse, far too many cases of "Why did they not review that?", and for some reason I don't see them doing anything about it in the offseason (giving each coach a challenge would be a good start).

T.

41
by Fnor (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 8:42pm

MDS:
There was a halftime interview with one of the guys who does the BCS computer deal. They asked him how it worked, he explained it. Near the end they asked the (perfectly reasonable) question about how he responds to people complaining about how an "MIT guy picks the national champion" and he gave the equally reasonable response that "they're objective, and no one can watch every single game." So far, so good.
Then they go back to the studio, and the commentators just tee off on the guy, complaining about how football should be decided by football guys and not "pocket-protector nerdies." And generally just making asses of themselves at the guy's expense. And then they went on to talk about stats from the games already played. Generally the sort of stuff you guys get in your mailbag each week.
So, today I learned that ABC's crew:
1) Is full of jerks.
2) Doesn't understand where stats come from.
3) Hates the BCS.
Pretty interesting.

42
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 8:50pm

Fnor,

One wonders if this is at all somehow connected to the fact that ABC loses the rights to the BCS after this season.

ABC has always been the biggest proponent of the BCS system, from Day One, continuing to prop it up and act like there was no controversy even in years where there was swirling controversy. In 2003, the year of the ultimate "#1 left out" debacle, ABC continued for weeks after the bowl pairings came out with the assertion that there was no controversy at all, only as it neared New Year's Day and the hype for the Rose Bowl with "#1" USC started did they acknowledge any potential problems.

However, since Fox owns the BCS rights (except for the Rose Bowl) starting next year, only now (and not in 2003?) are they suddenly discussing what they think are problems with the system. My guess is that up to now, there has been a mandatory moritorium on all anti-BCS talk from On High at ABC, but now, even though they have the BCS games this year, they don't care anymore.

I just saw on a stat that rolled by that Brady Quinn now has the new Notre Dame season record for TD passes by a quarterback - with 20. 20? That's nothing. It's amazing to me that with all the great teams they've had, that they never managed a quarterback that had 20 touchdown passes before.

T.

43
by Fnor (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 8:53pm

T:
That's a really, really good point. As I recall, the trivial question today was "How many time have the top two BCS teams at the start met in the championship game... and of course the answer was zero. The announcers just kind of let it drop like a dead duck. Definitely not something they wanted to discuss.
So yeah, if it was a dictum, that would explain a heck of a lot. The halftime crew was still vicious, though.
Now to see how bad Fox can screw up the fall classic!

44
by peachy (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 9:19pm

It really is astounding what a different team 'Bama is without Prothro - the difference, perhaps, between top 5 and top 15.

45
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 9:28pm

OK I'm going to ask what might be an obvious question.

Exactly what does a runner have to do before teams realize that it's better not to punt the ball to them? Even if your punts end up averaging 5-10 yards less apiece?

Maurice Drew has gashed teams for weeks on kick returns. Oregon State early-on punts it right to him, he returns it 56 yards, two plays later, UCLA touchdown, and a game that was close is now broken open.

Washington punts the ball to Reggie Bush, who somehow manages to get away from being surrounded by 5 Washington players, runs all the way across the field, and returns it for a TD (a highlight reel play if I've ever seen one, as many of his plays seem to be).

Now I'm watching LSU/Auburn, and the announcers were commenting at how amazing the LSU return man has been, and wondering whether Auburn will dare to kick it to him. It's away, right to him, returned for a touchdown, and a scoreless tie is 7-0 LSU in the blink of an eye.

I recognize that the team feels almost cowardly to punt out of bounds, but you're there to win the football game, and you don't do it by letting Mr. Amazing Kick Returner get double-digit yards on you every time.

And Auburn just punted again, and they immediately punted it out of bounds. The LSU crowd booed, but you know what? Good play.

T.

46
by Russell (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 9:28pm

Re: 28

MDS, I have to disagree with you on Carr's TO strategy at the end of regulation. If he calls timeouts while Iowa is driving, and they convert that third-and-short before the kick, he'd have given them more time to score a touchdown.

I don't think you can stop the clock on an opponent in that situation.

About all the replay discussion, I think they desperately need to go to a challenge system, and I'd also like to see the referee going under the hood to make the call. As someone pointed out a few weeks ago when I suggested that system might be too expensive, if they can afford it in the Mountain West, they can afford it everyhwere. Somehow, the Big 10's replay supervisors have gotten a lot worse since last year.

Re: MSU/Northwestern:
Trust me, neither Vin nor I is ever going to be upset when MSU goes out an embarrasses itself.

47
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 9:52pm

Anyone watching LSU/Auburn see the reincarnation of the Bush Push? Now that it had such a huge effect, announcers are starting to point it out...

T.

48
by MDS (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 9:56pm

Yep, I was going to comment on that, too, Tarrant. And then we got to see that there's no penalty for calling a timeout when you don't have one, which some suggested should have been called on Leinart. Also, I love how I'm only half-watching Auburn-LSU, and I knew Auburn was out of timeouts. But neither the Auburn QB nor the ESPN announcers knew that.

49
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 9:59pm

I guarantee you at least one columnist in the next week that only halfheartedly is watching the game is going to take that delay of game penalty and say it was a penalty for calling a timeout when they were out of them. Since so many in the past week were clueless as to it not being a penalty, someone, somewhere, is going to use that as "evidence" that their position is correct (NCAA football rulebook notwithstanding).

T.

50
by Russell (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 10:01pm

MDS- Did you give up on Illinois already?

What the heck is going on there?

51
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 10:03pm

52-3 at halftime? Yeah, I think it's OK to give up.

52
by MDS (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 10:14pm

Tarrant, you're far too kind to Illinois. It's 56-3. What's going on? They took the opening kickoff, marched right down the field, and kicked a field goal for a 3-0 lead. Then they allowed four TDs in the first quarter and another four in the second. That's all. Just another Champaign game. My favorite thing about the Ron Zook hiring was how we got to hear what a great recruiter he is. Yeah, OK. I really don't care how many Dale Carnegie courses he took. I can't wait to see how fine a job he'll do of convincing high school players watching this game that they want to attend U of I.

53
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 10:50pm

MDS:

The great thing was his comment after halftime. -We had our guys in position to make a few plays, and we didn't.- No, Mr. Zook. You didn't have players in a position to make plays. Not when you're down 56-3, and most of those touchdowns came from passes where the guy was wide, wide open.

54
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 11:17pm

Anyone just see that mention during the LSU/Auburn game?

Florida Atlantic vs. Arkansas State just ended 3-0 (in favor of Arkansas State)...in overtime.

First game since the inception of overtime in 1996 to be tied 0-0 at the end of regulation (and first game to be tied 0-0 at the end of regulation at all since I think they said 1984).

T.

55
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 11:56pm

Aannnd... that makes it 0-2 for the Russell-Vinny combination. LSU could still win, but barring a miracle, they're not covering the 6.5 point spread.

Why don't I trust you guys? (well - in the sort of 'backwards trust' way, that is) I'd be what, a healthy $1300 richer if I did or so.

Jeez. That's amazing.

56
by MDS (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 11:57pm

I can't believe how long the replay delay was at the end of Oklahoma-Baylor. It only took one look to show conclusively that the official got it right on the field, but it delayed the game at least a full two minutes.

57
by Sid (not verified) :: Sat, 10/22/2005 - 11:58pm

The Vinny-Russell curse worked again, this time in spectacular fashion. Michigan State favored by 12, and picked by both Russell and Vinny to win big. The result?

49-14 Northwestern. That becomes the 7th game in 3 weeks where Russell and Vinny picked the favorite, and caused them to lose. Unfortunately, they only agreed on 2 games this week, both favorites. We'll see what happens in Auburn-LSU.

So far:

Vinny- 2-3-1
Russell- 2-3-1

I'm 1-1, if anyone cares.

58
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 12:00am

Oh, and speaking on behalf of all college football fans everywhere...

Russell, Vinny, you absolutely have to both pick USC and both Fred Edelstein lock it. USC has to be brought down, and only the RVDFEL (Russell-Vinny Dual Fred Edelstein Lock) power can do it.

59
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 12:12am

Yup, that's a lock for Russell-Vinny being 0-2 now. LSU can't win by more than 6.5 now (maximum 6). We'll have to see who wins outright.

60
by MDS (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 12:14am

Oklahoma-Baylor announcer: "Baylor called timeout. They don't have any timeouts. That's an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty." I want to know how I get a job where I don't have to do the slightest bit of preparation, and I can make factually incorrect statements with no consequence.

61
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 12:18am

Whoops, my bad. They could still win by 7. Forgot the possibility of them going first.

62
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 12:20am

MDS:

Run for president?

Sorry, that was too easy.

63
by MDS (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 12:20am

Bless his heart, he's got to be the sickest man in America!

64
by MDS (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 12:25am

I'm not sure exactly what the call was, but a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Baylor when Oklahoma scored in overtime pretty much sealed the win for OU. Baylor would've had to score a TD from their 40, and they looked out of sorts just attempting it.

65
by C (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 1:01am

Re: 61

Actually, 8. Don't forget about the "have-to-go-for-two" kicker on the rules.

College overtime is awesome.

66
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 1:48am

Whoa. Washington State has made a huge comeback. My pick of Cal is in jeopardy.

67
by DMP (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 4:12am

Re: #46, MSU

Since there is absolutely nothing to say in MSU's defense, I'm going to hope that TMQ points to this rout as the Football Gods getting back at MSU for throwing for TDs well after the outcome was decided in their game vs Illinois. Then he'll compare that to praise Joe Pa for playing his second team and running the entire second half today.

68
by Russell (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 8:25am

Re: 65

Actually, a team could win by 14 in college OT. If they went first, scored a TD, went for two and made it (say on a botched snap a la Penn State vs. Michigan last week), then intercepted a ball and returned it for a touchdown on defense. That would be a 14-point overtime win.

I like the college OT the way I like the NHL's shootout. It's exciting as can be, but somehow leaves something lacking. What if you're a team that wins with defense and by playing field position? The OT rules are unfair in that case.

69
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 10:21am

The Oklahoma/Baylor announcer's comment is all the more asinine after last week. It's like they didn't pay attention at all. I guess they don't have to, they just have to show up on Saturday with a few stupid stories about various players and say whatever's on their mind, right or wrong. I at least give credit to the LSU/Auburn announcers for pointing out a big "push" and saying, essentially "It wasn't called this time either."

Auburn missed five field goals in the game, including the one in overtime that cost them the game. Their kicker is not going to be a popular fellow on the way home.

Hands up if you bet that Virginia, fresh off beating Florida State, was going to score five points. I guess the oddsmakers had it right, but five points? And it was 7 to 2 for at least half the game.

Poor Oregon, losing Clemens for the season, and down to its 3rd-string quarterback...Brady Leaf. Yes, that Leaf. Of course, Ryan was good in college. Brady, however, ended with a 50.0 QB rating in the game. Oregon's been playing very well since the USC game, this is unfortunate for them.

Re: #68, sometimes in overtime if the first team is ahead and gets a turnover in the second half of OT, the referees blow it dead and don't allow the return. Other times, they allow it and award the points. Woe be to the referees that choose to blow it dead if an otherwise-would-have-happened return would have changed the outcome for bettors.

T.

70
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 10:46am

Readers of TMQ know about that, as he has written about it 2 or 3 times this season.

71
by MDS (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 11:14am

Oh, I forgot to mention, my Jim Donnan Upset of the Week was Florida State over Duke. I'm 2-0!

72
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 1:10pm

re: #60 & 64

you beat me to it--the idiot who kept insisting that there should have been an unsportmanlike was the color commentator--didn't catch his name because I was flipping back & forth to the game

the play-by-play announcer did nothing to correct him, even when the idiot KEPT insisting that a penalty was called for

73
by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 1:34pm

Re: Penn State-Illinois:

What a bizarre game. The Illini easily moved the ball down the field on the first drive, by throwing screen after screen after screen, and running a moderately quick offense. Worked well - they drove down the field until a holding penalty pushed them back to 1st and 20, and you're not getting 20 yards in 3 plays with simple screens.

I think the quick offense prevented Penn State from changing the defense around - when the second drive came along, those same plays caused losses of yardage, and that was all she wrote for the Illini offense, until the third-string Penn State defense started to tire from being on the field for half a game.

PSU vs the Illini defense was fairly boring. Even without Derrick Williams, Penn State's got serious speed at wide receiver, and they just used it against them, over and over. Crossing routes, deep throws, options, etc. After the first touchdown Penn State scored it was fairly obvious what they were going to do.

The one thing that's surprised me about this game was Michael Robinson. Yes, Illinois isn't a real defense, but he's looked extremely good for three games in a row now. In the Michigan game, at one point he had completed 12 passes in a row. I think by the end of the year he's going to look like a very solid quarterback.

74
by Erasmush (not verified) :: Sun, 10/23/2005 - 8:32pm

I was at the Alabama-UT game. Great game-Bama needs to take these next 2 weeks and get the offense on track again. Losing Protho hurt us, but I did not think that it was that bad. The OL was not giving Brodie anytime and a couple of stupid penalties on 3rd down hurt as well.

and Foster is a better RB then Riggs-who is perhaps the most overrated RB in all of college football.

75
by BHW (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:32am

Tarrant is absolutely right about the punt return issue. There should not be one returnable punt on December 3 in Los Angeles.

76
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 1:49pm

I prefer the NFL overtime, in that it more closely approximates what football is during the game that preceded it. Lose the toss? Well, then execute competent kick coverage, and then play some defense. None of this half-court business.

77
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:10pm

I don't like college overtime because I don't actually believe that it evens the odds. The advantage you get when winning the toss is huge - it completely changes the way you play the game.

I'm still mainly in favor of having tie games end in ties, and sudden death in playoffs. In my mind there's no easy way to even the odds without lengthening the game noticeably.

78
by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 2:27pm

RE #75:
Darn you, I was expecting Tom Malone's tendency to outkick his coverage to be one of UCLA's great hidden advantages in that game. Then again, if Tom Zbikowski can run one back, you'd expect them to be aware someone as dangerous as Jones-Drew (yeah, yeah) can do it.

Afraid the only game I saw much of Saturday was OSU-Indiana, and there's not that much you can learn from a 31-point blowout. I caught some of Alabama-Tennessee and LSU-Auburn, the former of which may have convinced me that FSU-Miami wasn't the worst bad offense/good defense pairing this year, and the latter of which only served to reinforce my odd fascination with Joseph Addai, who may be a poor man's Warrick Dunn.

79
by James (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 3:21pm

Its uncanny how the two of you can jinx a team.

I like the replay system. It's better than the NFL's. Every play is reviewed. No red flags. No hurrying up to snap before a red flag can be thrown. The official upstairs has to say that play was right after every meaningful play. I don't know if anyone saw the ESPN special where the reference their use of pretending to still be reviewing the play even though they know it was called right just to make sure the crowd isnt pissed.

Their are strict rules for interpretation that not all fans understand. The tuck rule is the most famous but there are many rules like this for possession of the ball while running or catching etc. The refs get it right by the letter of the law even if the law is "silly".

Anyone else starting to notice that whenever Vin and Rus disagree the favorite wins. Whenever they agree on a game the dog covers.

Its just an example of how the psychology of the game works. When the fav feels challenged they cover. When they think it will be too easy the dog takes care of it. Vin and Rus's feeling about how the game should go are mirrors of how many players on the big fav feel going into a game.

Don't change how you cap games fellas. Record might not look good but you demonstrate an innate ability to predict outcomes that is consistent. There's nothing wrong with that. Record's be damned we all get plenty out of your work.

80
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 3:31pm

When Russell and Vinny agree, they are 8-26-1 so far this year.

To put it another way, if you put up the -110 to bet against every one of the picks they've agreed on this season, you'd be up $1,720.

That said, I disagree to a small extent on replay - there have been way too many blown college replay calls this year, and plays that should have been reviewed that weren't, and conferences have had to go through the trouble of admitting multiple times that replay officials erred. The point of replay is to get it right - when you have plays that a conference official has to say "Yeah that should have been reviewed, we don't know why it wasn't," or "That was incorrectly overturned," it makes the college system look WORSE than the NFL system.

T.

81
by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 4:10pm

RE: 77

That's the way I'd prefer it as well. I don't like the NFL system or the college system.
In the Splitting the Overtime Pizza article of a while ago, a lot of different options were discussed.

82
by buddha (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 4:47pm

The thing that bothers me about the replay is that they still get so many calls wrong. Obviously wrong.

83
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/24/2005 - 4:47pm

No red flags.

Instead, a team calls a timeout to try to encourage the review official to take another look.

No hurrying up to snap before a red flag can be thrown.

Instead, they hurry to the snap before the review official can call down. How is this different again?

Sid:
Yah, I remember them, but I disagree that any of the solutions there definitely unbias overtime (especially as they haven't been tried yet - at first glance, the college overtime looks unbiased, but I don't believe it is. I think certain types of teams get significant advantages from winning the toss), and I simply don't see a disadvantage to a simple tie. The best I could see would be "first by 4", but I'd bet this disadvantages certain team styles that I can't think of.

84
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/25/2005 - 12:11pm

When Russell and Vinny agree, they are 8-26-1 so far this year.

we have to get the probability police after these guys

Russell is 19-42-2

that's amazing

85
by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 10/27/2005 - 11:28am

Pat:

I agree the current college system is biased. That's why I agree with the idea of a simple tie (I even posted that in the Splitting the OT Pizza thread several times). That doesn't solve the playoffs problem, though. I would not be happy with a simple sudden death.