Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Varsity Numbers: Honing in

Bill Connelly again looks at which college football teams the F/+ ratings are sure about, and which teams remain a mystery (led by Appalachian State).

01 Jan 2007

Seventh Day Adventure: The BCS Bowls

by Vinny Gauri and Russell Levine

Russell: The readers have spoken, Vin. Looks like it's back to the good, old-fashioned printed word after a couple weeks of dabbling in these new-fangled podcasts. (You can still listen below)

Vinny: Come on, really? Just when I was refining my impressions of Gushberger ("alllriiiiggghhtttt!"), Dick Vermeil ("Nice job, young man!") and Jim Donnan ("uhhhh...."). I was going to be the new audio-only college version of Frank Caliendo. It's a niche market. But lucrative.

Russell: After 27 mostly meaningless bowls, we've gotten down to the good stuff. We'll cover the first four BCS games here, and then do a special edition of SDA next week on the championship game between Florida and some other team.

Vinny: Ooph. I still haven't sorted out my emotional baggage (about the size of the Tumi catalog) for that one. In the meantime, I've been trying to solve the mystery of whether BC interim coach Frank Spaziani is really just former NYC police commish Bernie Kerik in disguise.

Russell: Tumi? Wow, I knew I should have gone to law school. Vin, I understand you'll be in the Arroyo Seco Monday afternoon. Hopefully you've secured better accommodations then the last time we were there together. I don't know about you, but that might be the only time I've ever stayed at a hotel that advertised "Free Playboy" on the marquee.

Vinny: It was the Regal Inn Motel! It had "regal" in its name -- it had to be a nice place. You just can't argue with that logic. Well, maybe you can. The extra charge for the telephone and the hourly room option were somewhat disconcerting at check-in. And I still wake up with nightmares that I contracted the Andromeda Strain from the beds in that place.

Russell: Oooh, a one-star rating! Nice pick, Vin.

Rose Bowl, Monday, Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET, ABC
#3 Michigan (+1) vs. #7 USC

Russell: Let's get one thing straight off the bat. I don't buy for a second that either team in this game is going to be flat because they're disappointed to be in Pasadena instead of Glendale. Maybe on December 3, but not on January 1. The significance of the Rose Bowl to the Big Ten and Pac-10 is such that it could never be viewed as a consolation prize.

Vinny: Indeed. And USC is hearing the whispers (or shouts) about the end of its dynasty. The Trojans want to prove that they're still a force to be reckoned with and that they're not on some downward spiral back to mediocrity. Before the season, I was convinced that they would lose at least three games trying to replace Leinart, Bush and White. Halfway through the season, I looked dead wrong (per usual). Now, it's a possibility. Meanwhile, USC's total offense has gone from an insane 580 yards per game last year to a mortal 388 yards per game this year.

Russell: For Michigan, a win over USC means the chance to finish second in the polls behind the only team it lost to. I also think the winner here could be ranked first in the preseason polls next year, particularly if Ohio State beats Florida (the young Gators would be the likely No. 1 team coming off a national championship).

Vinny: That is certainly the talk. Michigan also got handled 28-14 by USC in their last Rose Bowl matchup in 2003. And it wasn't as close as the score. Only a few senior players on the current squads were involved in that one, but the coaching staffs and fans remember it well. Of course, USC claimed a share of its first national championship under Pete Carroll with that convincing win.

Russell: Michigan has to be licking its chops after watching the USC-UCLA film. UCLA got after John David Booty with their speed-rushing defensive ends and completely stifled the USC passing game. The Trojans have struggled with good pass-rushing teams all year, and Michigan's front seven is the best they've faced, because they bring pressure with not just the ends, but with pocket-collapsing tackle Alan Branch as well.

Vinny: This may be Branch's finale for Michigan before he bolts for the NFL, and he probably should as a projected top-ten pick. He'll be going up against a solid interior line for USC led by senior center Ryan Kalil. Tailback Chauncey Washington is healthy, but he and C.J. Gable don't exactly strike fear in the hearts of defensive coordinators. Certainly not Ron English, with the best run defense in the country. But Michigan wasn't focused on Antonio Pittman or Chris Wells and they both had long touchdown scampers that proved decisive in Ohio State's victory. The Wolverines definitely need better safety play against USC. (Ryan Mundy, http://www.infosports.com/football/arch/2674.htm " target="_blank">please click here).

Russell: Brian from mgoblog doesn't refer to it as "Yards after Mundy" for nothing, Vin. After Ohio State torched Michigan, I have some nightmares about Dwayne Jarrett and Co. running free through the Michigan secondary. But I think Leon Hall's play will improve -- his performance against the Buckeyes might have cost him several million dollars in signing bonus money. And it wasn't so much the Ohio State receivers that hurt Michigan as it was Troy Smith, who took whatever the defense gave him and killed Michigan 10 yards at a time. Booty is more of a downfield thrower, and he tends to look at the pass rush if it gets to him. Advantage, Michigan.

Vinny: Jarrett grabs the headlines with his freakish ability, but Steve Smith is just as dangerous. He reminds me of Ohio State's Anthony Gonazlez with his route-running, sure hands and underrated speed. I doubt USC's offensive braintrust (Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian) will adopt the five-wide approach that Jim Tressel used against Michigan, but they know Michigan's Achilles' heel is the secondary. I don't expect the Trojans to be as passive with their gameplan as they were against the Bruins.

Russell: On offense, Michigan can't afford to become one-dimensional. Mike Hart needs to have some success, but that doesn't mean the Wolverines look to establish the run early. They might come out throwing as they did against Ohio State. Either way, I think Michigan wins this one on defense. Booty will toss a few picks after the rush gets to him, and Michigan wins it going away for both Bo and former team MVP Gerald Ford. RIP, Mr. President, and kudos to you, sir, for making "Hail to the Victors" a part of your funeral service.

Vinny: Caroll has called this Trojan defense the quickest and best he's coached, but I don't buy it. There's no way this unit is equal to the Kenechi Udeze, Mike Patterson, Lofa Tatupu defenses of 2003-04. Sedrick Ellis can wreak havoc on the interior but end Lawrence Jackson is a little over-hyped if you ask me. And as Oregon State's Matt Moore showed, USC's secondary can be had. I expect Chad Henne to find Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington and Steve Breaston early and often as coordinator Mike DeBord unleashes a pass-happy attack. I think this will be an instant classic that Michigan actually wins.

Fiesta Bowl, Monday, Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET, FOX
#8 Boise State (+7) vs. #10 Oklahoma

Russell: I'm actually looking forward to watching this game, and I'm glad that this time around, the "mid-major" BCS party-crasher is facing top competition, unlike Utah which crushed overmatched Pittsburgh in the Fiesta two years ago. Boise State has a lot to prove taking on an Oklahoma team that, as it turned out, would have been in the thick of the national-title chase if not for some brutal replay calls in their early-season loss at Oregon.

Vinny: The Broncos are undefeated thanks to their WAC schedule and another home rout of Oregon State back in September. In previous years, they were a different team away from home. But other than a close scare at San Jose State, they took care of business off the Smurf Turf. We'll see if that holds true against the Sooners.

Russell: Boise doesn't have to win this game to prove it belongs. The Broncos just have to be able to compete -- unlike their ill-fated trip to Georgia to begin the 2005 season. Jared Zabransky committed six first-half turnovers in a 48-13 loss. But I'm less worried about Zabransky -- who I think has grown from that experience -- than I am about the Boise defense that must cope with Adrian Peterson and his talented backups in the Oklahoma backfield.

Vinny: True enough. With the exception of the Big XII title game against Nebraska, the Sooners did just fine on the ground without Peterson. Both Allen Patrick and Chris Brown (4.4 and 4.9 yards per carry, respectively) showed what they could do.

Russell: I don't see Boise slowing down the Oklahoma offense much -- not with Peterson back, and not with Paul Thompson playing as well as he has all year. Thompson has been one of my favorite players this season, stepping in from receiver to save the Sooners after Rhett Bomar was kicked off the team. I do have some concerns about the Oklahoma defense, which has been vulnerable to the big play this year. I can see Ian Johnson ripping off some big runs in this one.

Vinny: He'll have to, because Zabransky won't be able to do much otherwise. Everything for Boise State depends on the success of their smashmouth approach. Center Jadon Dailey is confident that the Broncos can get to the second level against the Sooners. Oklahoma is already somewhat acquainted with Boise State's offense after having played Colorado (coached by former Broncos' coach Dan Hawkins) this year.

Russell: I think Boise will give a good account of itself, and I can see this being a game at halftime. It's important that Boise play well. The addition of a fifth BCS game means that most years, a mid-major team will qualify. But I still think the BCS has designs on turning that fifth game into a championship of a four-team playoff, and it will be easier to take away the new access from the non-BCS leagues if they get killed in these games.

Vinny: Take it easy, Russ. I think you've had too many conversations with Robert Ericsson.

Russell: I think the seven-point line shows great respect for Boise, but Oklahoma has too much talent, and Peterson's return is the icing on the cake. Although I think he's crazy to risk injury in this game when he'd be a top NFL pick either way, I expect Peterson to have an impact as Oklahoma puts away the stubborn Broncos in the second half and covers the spread.

Vinny: I expect both offenses to have a big day. I want to pick the Broncos, but ... screw it: give me Boise State and the points.

Orange Bowl, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 8 p.m. ET, FOX
#6 Louisville (-10) vs. #14 Wake Forest

Russell: Welcome to the FedEx Orange Bowl! Winning coach gets to tell Mal Moore he'll coach Alabama for $5 million a year. This game would have been more appealing had Rutgers topped West Virginia, but we've still got Wake Forest, the most overachieving team in the nation this year behind head coach Jim Grobe.

Vinny: Well, it's the day after New Year's Day and a Tuesday night. So I'll watch. But then, I'm home right now on a Saturday night and I'm watching Ronin on Telemundo ("Seppu... seppu... ¿que?"). So what else do I have to do?

Russell: Umm, you need to get out more. Wake is great story. You watch them play and you think, "this team isn't very good." They don't do one thing particularly well and they often looked like they were getting outplayed, no matter the caliber of the opposition -- they needed a blocked field goal in the final seconds to hang on against Duke, for example. But add it up, and this team is somehow 11-2 and ACC champs -- although I'm not sure if that says more about Wake Forest or the ACC.

Vinny: I'm thinking the latter, especially after watching Clemson lay down against Kentucky. The Deacons aren't terribly exciting. They rank fourth nationally in turnover margin and play solid special teams. Cinemax star Sam Swank has netted 21-of-28 field goals this season, including three of over 50 yards to beat N.C. State.

Russell: I give Wake Forest a puncher's chance in this game. Alright, maybe it's a George Foreman vs. Michael Moorer puncher's chance, but it's a chance. Unfortunately for Wake, this is an awful matchup against Louisville's big-play, pass-happy offense. Wake's smallish corners, Alphonso Smith and Riley Swanson, must contend with 6-foot-6 receiver Mario Urrutia, whose name may sound like a scary medical procedure but whose game is just play scary. Louisville also has a 6-foot-6 tight end, Gary Barnidge, whom Wake's 72nd-ranked pass defense must contend with. They better get after Brian Brohm or this could be a very long day.

Vinny: I don't like their chances of doing that against another solid offensive line for Louisville. Brohm has only struggled once this season, and that was the road ambush in Piscataway against a very good Rutgers defense. Wake has forced 22 interceptions, but that's probably as much a function of playing lousy quarterbacks in the ACC as anything. Louisville has some great youngsters in freshman Anthony Allen (12 touchdowns) and 19-year old senior defensive tackle Amobi Okoye (six sacks, 12 tackles for loss).

Russell: Yeah, Louisville just has too much talent. They'll be plenty motivated despite backing into this game; after all, it's not like BCS bids are old hat for the Louisville program. Riley Skinner will string some drives together and Wake will have some success with a bend-don't-break defense, but it'll be too much Brohm in the end. I like Louisville big, and I'll make this my Freddy lock of the BCS games. After it's over, Bobby Petrino and Grobe can trade real-estate agents' cards at midfield.

Vinny: Agreed. It's been a great year for Wake, but the Cardinals have too much firepower. Louisville coasts to an easy win. I'll make this my Fred Edelstein Lock as well.

Sugar Bowl, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 8 p.m. ET, FOX
#4 LSU (-9) vs. #11 Notre Dame

Russell: Question for you, Vin. If you took all Notre Dame's players and even uber-genius coach Charlie Weis and put them in Washington State garb and gave them the same exact results this season, what do you think the line would be on this game? 16? 20?

Vinny: I'm guessing at least two touchdowns.

Russell: My point is, the line reflects a great respect for the size of Notre Dame's fan base. Everyone knows that Notre Dame got killed against the only two really good teams it played this year -- Michigan (47-21!!!! Pwnd!!!), and USC -- but it's more than that. The secondary was torched by UCLA, Purdue, and Michigan State. Brady Quinn's numbers were terrific at the end of the year, but he was beyond bad until garbage time against the Wolverines and Trojans, and his performance against Michigan State was nothing to be too proud of either. LSU has every bit as much talent as Michigan and USC, maybe more. Notre Dame hasn't won a bowl game since the 1993 season. Should I go on?

Vinny: Point taken. The Tigers have one of the best defenses in the country (third in passing efficiency and total defense, fifth in scoring defense). This is a quick, relentless group that can easily overwhelm the Irish offensive line. Senior free safety LaRon Landry has 16 tackles for loss, including eight sacks. And junior defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey could make the jump to the NFL after Wednesday night.

Russell: I'll concede that Weis is an excellent coach and the program is in better shape than it has been at any time since Holtz last cared (circa 1993). In the coaching matchup against Les "I need to bend my brim" Miles, Weis gets a healthy nod. But coaching can only do so much. LSU's D-line will be all over Quinn, and we all know what happens to BQ's game when he starts to get hit (Yakety Sax). Notre Dame receivers need to start preparing for balls in the dirt or 10 feet over their heads. Lets hope the FOX announcers can avoid a 15-minute testament to Quinn's courage as he's going 2-for-11 for seven yards while LSU builds a three-score lead. Sure, it takes courage to take a beating and keep getting up, but it doesn't take skill to stink up the joint while doing so.

Vinny: LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell may join Dorsey in declaring for the draft after this game. Most have Russell and Quinn as the top two quarterbacks on the board (I would still trade down and take Troy Smith). Russell has had a terrific year, completing 68.5 percent of his passes and tossing 26 touchdowns to only seven interceptions. He had a couple rough games against two very good defenses (Florida, Tennessee) but has carved up everyone else. The running game hasn't been great, but LSU still had the ninth-ranked scoring offense in the country. Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher interviewed for the UAB job (nixed by Alabama boosters?) and now is being linked to the FSU offensive coordinator gig. Too many distractions for the Tigers?

Russell: That's not just "Alabama boosters," that's Paul Bryant, Jr. You gotta love football in the South. Anyway, I don't think LSU will be too distracted. It's probably no secret which way I'm leaning. LSU should win huge in this one, and they're my pick to cover. I should probably make them my Freddy, but it's only my fear that the whole world seems to share my opinion on this one that prevents me from doing so.

Vinny: I'm rooting for an entertaining game so hopefully Quinn can connect with Jeff Samardzija often enough. And maybe Rhema McKnight got some hands for Christmas. But yes, I'm going with the Tigers to cover.

SDA Bowl Podcast #2

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The Picks
(* - "Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week")
Favorite Spread Underdog Vinny Says Russell Says
Outback Bowl (Tampa), Monday, January 1, 11 a.m. ET ESPN
Tennessee -4 Penn State Tennessee Tennessee
 
AT&T Cotton Bowl (Dallas), Monday, January 1, 11:30 a.m. ET FOX
Auburn -2 Nebraska Nebraska Nebraska
 
Capital One Bowl (Orlando), Monday, January 1, 1 p.m. ET ABC
Arkansas -1.5 Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin
 
Toyota Gator Bowl (Jacksonville), Monday, January 1, 1 p.m. ET CBS
West Virginia -10 Georgia Tech West Virginia West Virginia
 
Rose Bowl (Pasadena), Monday, January 2, 5 p.m. ET ABC
Michigan +1 USC Michigan Michigan
 
Fiesta Bowl (Glendale), Monday, January 1, 8:30 p.m. ET FOX
Boise State +7 Oklahoma Boise State Oklahoma
 
Orange Bowl (Miami), Tuesday, January 2, 8 p.m. ET FOX
Louisville -10 Wake Forest Louisville* Louisville*
 
Sugar Bowl (New Orleans), Wednesday, January 3, 8 p.m. ET FOX
LSU -9 Notre Dame LSU LSU
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
Note: Numbers will be updated following the completion of all the non-BCS games.
  Last Week Season Total
Vinny 8-4-0 (1-0-0) 66-57-1 (10-5-0)
Russell 7-5-0 (0-1-0) 72-51-1 (9-6-0)

Posted by: Russell Levine on 01 Jan 2007

333 comments, Last at 06 Jan 2007, 3:50pm by Trogdor

Comments

301
by Vinny (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:05am

Nope, nobody gave Rhema any hands for Xmas.

302
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:06am

Oh, and just to point out how much fun Bradshaw and Long've been: that comment of "corners tilted, there's your Cover 2, have fun JaMarcus..." followed by a deep pass to the 5 yard line was fantastic. As well as Howie's "they've brought in (ND reserve corner) - it'll be interesting to see if LSU tests that" followed by a touchdown pass by LSU against that exact corner.

Just spot on.

303
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:07am

and who Jonathan Smith at QB....

I mean LSU and Ohio State were at least talent powerhouses....but Oregon State beat the hell out of them as well-yes the team had talent (a 3rd round and a 7th round WR.) but Notre Dame will win their 10 games and play in a BCS game they do not deserve....

304
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:09am

Justin Vincent sighting...a guy who was huge in the LSU National Championship run as a freshman...and then disappeared-and now in his last collegiate game gets to beat up on Notre Dame...

305
by oljb (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:14am

Notre Dame crushed. Who wants to bet they'll be back in the BCS next year and get crushed again?

306
by Kurt (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:14am

ND should have just gone for it on 4th and 8 from their own 20. At this rate they’re going to lose anyway.

Yeah, I bet Easterbrook had his notebook out for that one.

307
by navin (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:14am

That Oregon State was chock full of talent that Dennis Erickson cobbled together through jucos and whatever shady recruiting practices he had. I just looked up the Sagarin ratings from that year--OSU was 7th and only had one loss the whole year.

The worst about it is that it got Dennis Erickson hired on as San Fran's head coach.

308
by navin (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:16am

So where would Notre Dame finish in the major conferences? I'm guessing between 6th and 8th in the SEC in the Georgia/Kentucky/South Carolina range.

Maybe not, at least those teams can give the dominant teams a decent game.

309
by David (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:16am

Actually, it is.

It'd be more fun if there was any chance the BCS would learn something from it. One beatdown of an undeserving bowl team is amusing. When it keeps happening and they keep getting berths, it turns into a waste of a potentially good game.

310
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:20am

Notre Dame is what Gator Bowl bound next season. I have no idea what their schedule looks like, but they are losing a lot of talent on offense and the defense...it looks like it would still be a work in progress...

311
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:22am

Congratulations, Notre Dame.

You are now in sole possession of the NCAA record in bowl futility. That's right, 9 bowl losses in a row, something no other team in the history of college football has managed to do.

Please, step up to the podium and accept your trophy.

Speech, speech!

"I'd just like to thank all the media and coaches that have ranked us way too high all these years, and a schedule that we make sure has all the service academies, for getting us into bowl games a team of our talent level has no business being in. It's been tough, losing nine in a row - after all, we were in a three-way tie with South Carolina and West Virginia for eight, but we never gave up. Our alumni never stopped being delusional. We did it, boys! We're the kings of the...um...bowl loss world!"

312
by Mike W (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:25am

Ahh, schadenfreude.

313
by Kurt (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:26am

Notre Dame crushed. Who wants to bet they’ll be back in the BCS next year and get crushed again?

I'm not sure what I would enjoy more - continued BCS blowouts, or Notre Dame having to break their streak against, say, South Florida in some mid-December bowl. Maybe a few more BCS debacles, and South Florida in 2010 or so.

I complained last night about the announcers overplaying the underdog status of Wake and Boise. Well, tonight we finally had a completely overmatched team and there was not one word about it from anyone, not even on the fake punt on the first possession.

314
by Mike W (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:27am

To review, ND played three good teams this year, and got taken to the woodshed all three times. Should be good for about a #15 ranking.

LSU could have played 'Name the Score' tonight.

315
by Kurt (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:28am

whoops - the last two paragraphs in 313 were mine. Sorry.

316
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:33am

so is Jimmy Clausen starting right away for Notre Dame next season?

317
by Vinny (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:34am

Holy crap. Tim Brown calling out Rick Minter as someone who should get fired? What a clown. Minter doesn't have much talent to work with on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the back seven.

318
by peachy (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:35am

The clearest proof that ND is thoroughly mediocre is that Russell only had two turnovers against them - he's routinely good for three, even four, against top-level opponents.

319
by G (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:37am

I bet will ND will continue to get sacrificed in the name of ratings for years to come.

But why exactly can't they compete anymore? Too high admission standards?

320
by . (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 4:01am

308: I'd say Notre Dame are good for fourth in the PAC-10. They're a lock for second place in the Mountain West or WAC.

Okay, tied for second in the WAC.

321
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 10:15am

I was too busy enjoying the *ss-whuppin' to post last night. What a beautiful site to behold.

Somebody explain to me again why Brady Quinn will be the first QB taken in the draft?

I do think folks here have RIDICULOUSLY high standards when it comes to quarterback play. Russell did about ten things last night that you will rarely see in a pro game and made 2 or 3 dumb decisions. That's a GREAT ratio. The ONLY quarterback in the NFL who does NOT make an absurdly dumb throw once per half is Manning. Brady makes bad throws. Palmer makes bad throws. Manning is the sole exception.

So when folks rant about how some kid in college needs to get a clue I shake my head. Because the big boys do the same thing just a TAD less frequently.

The other thing I try to consider is what looks like a moronic decision from our vantage point most certainly looked very different from their perspective. Toss in the speed of the game, which none of us can really appreciate, and it's just not that fair to cast stones every single time a qb gacks.

322
by joe football (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 11:14am

Quinn is looking more like an Eli Manning then a Carson Palmer to me

323
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 11:35am

To review, ND played three good teams this year, and got taken to the woodshed all three times.

What's a good team? A top 10 team? Sure, you're right there.

They also lynched a Penn State team that just beat Tennessee. Penn State was a borderline top 25 team before, so that should put them in the bottom of the top 25.

Tacking in the relevant results in Colley's site - hey, whaddyou know, Notre Dame does end up with a #15 ranking.

324
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 11:36am

(er, #13, actually)

325
by Mike W (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 2:42pm

Anyone here think ND is the 13th or 15th best team in the country?

PSU has a terrible offense, and only beat a listless Tennessee team (thenks, Mr. Fullmer!) on a big turnover play. They'll be ranked 22nd or so because someone has to be.

ND is one of a huge number of above average teams that are hard to differentiate. They were much closer to losing some games they won than winning any games they lost. Lots of other 'good' teams were at least competitive against top teams throughout the year, and some pulled upsets. ND had three opportunities to show well against very good teams, and failed all three times. 13 or 15 is too high.

326
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 6:29pm

In my opinion, ND is on par with Tennessee, Penn St (yes, I know they crushed Penn St back in Sept, but I'm looking at their body of work as a whole), Texas A&M, UCLA, Maryland...in other words, on par with the 4th or 5th best teams in the power conferences, and those teams will be ranked somewhere between 16 & 25...so anywhere between 16 & 25 is where they should be.

327
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 6:35pm

Let's see. Notre Dame destroys the horrible teams they play. They win against the respectable ones (PSU, Georgia Tech, UCLA), sometimes close, sometimes going away. They get destroyed by teams in the top 5. Yep, I'd say that sounds like exactly what you'd expect from a team in the 12-16 range.

328
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 01/04/2007 - 7:58pm

PSU has a terrible offense, and only beat a listless Tennessee team (thenks, Mr. Fullmer!) on a big turnover play. They’ll be ranked 22nd or so because someone has to be.

Really? See, here I am confused and thought Penn State won 20-10, and unless they added a 10-point play into college football, it certainly seems like Penn State would've won without that big turnover play (well, without the return for a touchdown - obviously the fumble still stopped a drive that would've scored).

Yes, Penn State's offense was pretty mediocre throughout the year (although their rushing offense got better) but that doesn't make them a bad team, especially considering their defense was one of the best in the country.

329
by Mike W (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 12:45am

Teams in the 12-16 range always get destroyed by the top 5 (are USC, UM and LSU all top FIVE?)? Is ND better than all those respectable teams in every conference? All of them? Because even if they are, they're more like 16, and if they're not . . . What you're asking for is the benefit of the doubt that is exactly what people are talking about when they say ND gets gifted a few spots in the polls. They're deemed to be better than every team they're not definitely worse than.

Pat, you answered your own question.

Look, I think ND is decent, but even those of us who root against them are subject to the insidious effects of constant hype. And it's pretty interesting that they've lost 9 bowls in a row, and gotten killed inmany of them, and that they've gotten killed in all three big games this year. Props to them for winning the close ones, and I imagine Weis will prove to be an excellent guy in South Bend. But it's hard to look at them and see a reason why we should assume they'd beat everyone but the 2-3 best teams in the big conferences (plus Boise St of course).

330
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 1:42am

(are USC, UM and LSU all top FIVE?)

Um.

Yes.

331
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 1:43am

(well, #7, #5, close enough)

332
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Fri, 01/05/2007 - 1:18pm

I'm not too certain Michigan will make the top 5 in the AP. I think the AP will be, in order: Ohio St, Florida, LSU, USC/Louisville (not sure who will be higher, but those two will be 4/5).

Michigan might be # 5 in the coaches poll b/c Wisconsin is ahead of Louisville, and it's hard to put Wisconsin ahead of Michigan, so the coaches will probably be: OhioSt, Florida, LSU, USC, Michigan, although Louisville might jump to 5th.

333
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Sat, 01/06/2007 - 3:50pm

Anyone watching the International Bowl? Just me?

OK, for anyone who cares, Cincy jumped out to a huge lead, just completely dominated early, but they're doing everything in their power to blow the lead. It's 24-17 at halftime now, after Cincy threw an interception deep in their own territory with a minute left to set up a field goal as time expired.

WMU's first touchdown came on an end-around option pass. And that's what I love about bowl season - the trick plays. Any team that goes into its bowl without some trick plays ready should seriously consider firing its coach. What better time is there to break out the kitchen sink? I mean, everyone's seen the end of Boise/Oklahoma by now, but think of how insane it was - Boise broke out three once-a-year type plays in about a five-minute span. And watch Oklahoma on the last 2-pointer; they're all just standing around, like they know something's coming but they have no idea what it could be, and by the time they figure it out it's way too late. Why wouldn't you be ready to run a sequence like that, plus maybe five plays more if needed? Screw it, what do you have to lose? Oh, and teams should really be ready to defend stuff like that too.