Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Film Room: Chris Harris

Is Harris one of the league's top cover corners, or a product of the system in which he plays? Cian Fahey says the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

07 Oct 2010

SDA: Defending the Home Field

by Bill Connelly, Brian Fremeau, and Robert Weintraub

Week 6 of the college football season provides some interesting challenges and opportunities. Nebraska and Alabama, which have stout defenses but have shown vulnerability to the run, must go on the road to face hostile crowds and run-heavy offenses. Meanwhile, teams looking for redemption (USC, Texas A&M, Clemson, LSU) take to the road as underdogs, and Dallas pulls double duty, hosting two neutral-site matchups of former and current rivals. Join us for a look at what should be another entertaining Saturday (and Thursday) of college football.

Podcast

In this week's podcast, Bill Connelly welcomes Kyle from TheOnlyColors.com, a great Michigan State site, to talk Michigan-Michigan State. Is this game destined to be a shootout? What can Michigan State do to contain Denard Robinson?


Direct mp3 download here.

We should also give a shout out to Brian and Brett from MGoBlog.com, who were slated to participate in this week's podcast but were denied by an awful Internet connection at Connelly's house. After similar technological struggles during an attempted podcast with the good folks at ElevenWarriors.com (an Ohio State site) a few weeks ago, we have no choice but to attempt to bring them back in for a podcast the week of the Michigan-Ohio State game. Mark it on your calendars now.

Previews

No. 7 Nebraska -12 at Kansas State (Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When Nebraska
Has the Ball...
When KSU
Has the Ball...
Category Nebraska
(4-0)
KSU
(4-0)
Nebraska
Off
KSU
Def
Nebraska
Def
KSU
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 13 44
2010 FEI Rk 13 60
2010 S&P+ Rk 12 33 49 39 13 28
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 43 19 68 52
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 69 67 1 30
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 25 28 20 20
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
76.8% Run
(7th)
71.0% Run
(16th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 101 119 1 83
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
47.7% Run
(9th)
44.6% Run
(15th)

Nebraska's Big 12 farewell tour begins in the Little Apple tonight. Kansas State will be hoping for a 1998 repeat, when the Wildcats knocked off Nebraska for the first time in 30 years on their way to their first Big 12 North title. While the KSU defense is not anywhere close to that of the 1998 squad, the offense can do a reasonable impersonation thanks to the punishing running of back Daniel Thomas. He will attempt to poke holes in what has been a reasonably unsteady Nebraska rushing defense. If the Wildcats have to pass, though, it could be a long night. Meanwhile, young Huskers quarterback Taylor Martinez gets his second road test of his young career. He will have to shake off his first poor performance, in which he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in a ho-hum, 14-point Nebraska win over South Dakota State. Strength of schedule has hurt Nebraska's offensive numbers, but if they are truly as explosive as they have shown at times, the rankings will begin to improve with a solid performance tonight.

Baylor +2 vs. Texas Tech (12 p.m. ET, FSN)

OVERALL When Baylor
Has the Ball...
When Texas Tech
Has the Ball...
Category Baylor
(4-1)
Tex. Tech
(2-2)
Baylor
Off
Tex. Tech
Def
Baylor
Def
Tex. Tech
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 56 49
2010 FEI Rk 74 35
2010 S&P+ Rk 46 62 28 97 113 62
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 56 52 103 101
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 13 114 112 42
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 27 96 97 67
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
57.3% Run
(76th)
38.0% Run
(119th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 52 97 72 49
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
29.6% Run
(82nd)
24.4% Run
(103rd)

In this world of instant reaction and over-analysis, one could make a decent case that Baylor is the third- or fourth-best team in the always brutal Big 12 South. The Bears' 55-7 obliteration of Kansas showed their extreme athletic potential, and they have another chance to put it on display late Saturday morning, when they make a rare trip to the Cotton Bowl to battle Texas Tech. Their short passing game and Robert "Hot Tub" Griffin III's run-pass threat will test a Tech defense that is lacking in confidence after a 52-38 loss at Iowa State last weekend. Tech fans loved Mike Leach for the most part, but they embraced the high-ceiling potential of a Tommy Tuberville era. If the Red Raiders were to start 0-3 in conference play, however, Tuberville would likely lose any benefit of the doubt that he may have brought to town. Kansas State-Nebraska might see 60 percent runs, and Baylor-Tech might see 70 percent passes. The Big 12 welcomes offenses of all shapes and sizes.

No. 1 Alabama -7 at South Carolina (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

OVERALL When Alabama
Has the Ball...
When S. Carolina
Has the Ball...
Category Alabama
(5-0)
S. Caro.
(3-1)
Alabama
Off
S. Caro.
Def
Alabama
Def
S. Caro.
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 1 12
2010 FEI Rk 1 14
2010 S&P+ Rk 1 11 1 8 18 11
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 1 20 91 8
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 1 16 7 18
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 2 43 7 14
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
62.5% Run
(45th)
65.4% Run
(32nd)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 1 20 15 15
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
36.5% Run
(49th)
31.0% Run
(79th)

One supposedly monster challenge has been tidily disposed of -- Alabama demolished Florida with extreme prejudice on Saturday. Next up is a trip to Columbia and a date with the feisty Gamecocks, who are still trying to figure out their loss to the other Yellowhammer State power, Auburn, two weeks back. One easy answer for Steve Spurrier was the 334 yards the Tigers churned up on the ground. Deficiency in rush defense is not the sort of weakness a team can afford when playing Alabama. Last season's game against South Carolina was Mark Ingram's coming out party -- he seized Heisman front-runner status with a 246-yard effort. Can freshman Gamecocks tailback Marcus Lattimore, who is reminiscent of Ingram in his powerful running style, emulate the master enough to spring an upset? Can physical wideout Alshon Jeffrey make plays against a young and beatable Tide secondary? Not having to pull quarterback Steven Garcia would help South Carolina's cause greatly. His fumbles led directly to the loss at Auburn, a game SC led 20-7. The Tide are ninth in the nation in turnover differential (+6), and ruthlessly punish opponents for mistakes -- just ask Florida. Williams-Brice Stadium will be rocking, hoping for the first win by their boys over an opponent ranked in the top three since 1981.

No. 11 Arkansas -7 vs. Texas A&M (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

OVERALL When Arkansas
Has the Ball...
When Texas A&M
Has the Ball...
Category Arkansas
(3-1)
Tex. A&M
(3-1)
Arkansas
Off
Tex. A&M
Def
Arkansas
Def
Tex. A&M
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 20 46
2010 FEI Rk 17 48
2010 S&P+ Rk 24 42 40 63 15 31
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 102 30 56 42
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 22 34 8 83
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 11 19 52 61
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
45.0% Run
(113th)
56.9% Run
(77th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 36 46 19 76
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
27.9% Run
(86th)
25.2% Run
(97th)

Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson is a case study in the different ways one can put together a given passing efficiency rating. Last year, Johnson threw for almost 3,600 yards, 30 touchdowns and just eight interceptions in compiling a 136.7 rating. This season, his rating has actually improved to 137.2, but he has become a turnover machine. He has already matched last season's eight picks, and he has struggled with fumbles as well. The Aggies' offense, as a result, is a high-risk, high-reward unit. At the moment, Arkansas matches the high reward with much lower risk. Quarterback Ryan Mallett had a forgettable fourth quarter against Alabama a couple of weeks ago, but he has otherwise been outstanding, putting together a passing efficiency rating of 173.0 and completing at least 63 percent of his passes for at least 300 yards in every game this season. The Hogs can stake their claim to being the SEC's second-best team with a strong performance at Jerry World Saturday afternoon, but they will face a unique test from the A&M defense. New coordinator Tim DeRuyter brought his 3-4 scheme to town from Air Force, and thus far the Aggies' defense has improved as much as their passing offense has regressed.

No. 17 Michigan State +4.5 at No. 18 Michigan (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

OVERALL When Michigan St.
Has the Ball...
When Michigan
Has the Ball...
Category Mich. St.
(5-0)
Michigan
(5-0)
Mich. St.
Off
Michigan
Def
Mich. St.
Def
Michigan
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 26 22
2010 FEI Rk 31 16
2010 S&P+ Rk 23 31 21 62 49 7
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 20 83 64 13
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 28 48 43 9
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 22 103 44 1
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
64.1% Run
(41st)
73.8% Run
(10th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 16 47 107 6
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
36.8% Run
(46th)
36.7% Run
(47th)

Judging by some of the comments we've received earlier in the week, are there two fan bases less confident about their undefeated teams than Michigan and Michigan State? Neither team feels as though it can stop the other, so at least this ought to be one of the more entertaining games in what is a somewhat underrated rivalry. Denard Robinson's incredible season hasn't hit a speed bump yet, but there is always a lingering anxiety about his health and durability. Michigan State can be physical defensively, holding Wisconsin's balanced attack under 300 yards in last week's Big Ten opener. But the Spartans offense was even more effective, controlling clock and converting third downs to grab and maintain a lead throughout the second half. Quarterback Kirk Cousins isn't particularly prolific in the pocket, but his 68 percent completion percentage will keep the chains moving.

Clemson +1.5 at North Carolina (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN)

OVERALL When Clemson
Has the Ball...
When N. Carolina
Has the Ball...
Category Clemson
(2-2)
UNC
(2-2)
Clemson
Off
UNC
Def
Clemson
Def
UNC
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 21 37
2010 FEI Rk 30 23
2010 S&P+ Rk 18 49 25 72 26 42
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 9 53 44 35
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 36 102 21 49
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 12 72 38 19
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
66.9% Run
(26th)
55.6% Run
(85th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 84 13 62 55
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
32.9% Run
(67th)
34.6% Run
(59th)

Two teams with eyes on an ACC championship and BCS bowl contention to start the season are facing an 0-1 start to the conference season. Neither believed it would have three losses through Week 6 and an 0-2 conference start, but that's what the loser will face. Clemson was burned by the Hurricanes at home last week on the heels of an overtime loss to Auburn in September. Quarterback Kyle Parker was supposed to be a bright spot, but two excellent defenses have him licking his wounds. North Carolina has been mired in agent-gate controversy for weeks, but at least things are heading in the right direction on the field. The Tarheels whipped East Carolina on the strength of a stellar one-two punch out of the backfield. Johnny White and Shaun Draughn each ran for more than 130 yards a week ago. The Clemson defense has been victimized on the ground lately.

Oregon State +8.5 at No. 9 Arizona (Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET, Versus)

OVERALL When Oregon St.
Has the Ball...
When Arizona
Has the Ball...
Category Ore. St.
(2-2)
Arizona
(4-0)
Ore. St.
Off
Arizona
Def
Ore. St.
Def
Arizona
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 25 4
2010 FEI Rk 29 20
2010 S&P+ Rk 28 3 13 1 20 17
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 17 2 14 11
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 12 5 33 24
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 18 3 12 10
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
62.0% Run
(52nd)
50.3% Run
(108th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 5 31 55 8
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
27.2% Run
(91st)
15.2% Run
(119th)

We've been trumpeting Oregon's accomplishments so much lately, it's easy to forget about the other undefeated Pac-10 team, the Arizona Wildcats. Arizona put up big numbers on weak opponents to start the year, then got past Iowa and California mostly on the strength of its defense. The Wildcats defense is surrendering the third-fewest points per possession in college football to date and have given up only three touchdowns on the season, and just one in the first half. Oregon State has been effective at times, but is in the toughest phase of the schedule -- road games against Boise State, TCU, Arizona, Stanford, plus a home game against Oregon in December. Running back Jacquizz Rodgers hasn't been able to get much of anything going against the strong defenses the Beavers have faced. Quarterback Ryan Katz has been inconsistent, but he hasn't thrown an interception yet this season.

No. 12 LSU +7 at No. 14 Florida (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When LSU
Has the Ball...
When Florida
Has the Ball...
Category LSU
(5-0)
Florida
(4-1)
LSU
Off
Florida
Def
LSU
Def
Florida
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 17 6
2010 FEI Rk 11 18
2010 S&P+ Rk 19 5 37 4 25 22
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 14 8 11 39
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 82 6 36 10
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 23 9 13 40
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
69.6% Run
(23rd)
62.4% Run
(46th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 91 2 16 9
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
41.7% Run
(24th)
38.1% Run
(40th)

One week after the Master of the Endgame, Les Miles, found a creative method to out-stupid Tennessee, the Bayou Bengals make a trip to the Swamp to play an angry Florida team that was on the receiving end of a rare beatdown in Tuscaloosa. More worrying for LSU fans is the continued ineptitude of quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who was bad enough against Tennessee to be lifted in favor of Jarrett "Pick Six" Lee. It's been more than a month since Jefferson last threw a touchdown pass or surpassed 100 yards through the air. Jefferson's run threat (he did have an 83-yard touchdown run Saturday) and Lee's inconsistency means the two will split time against Florida, who will come at LSU with a dual quarterback threat of its own. John Brantley isn't quite at Jefferson's level of incompetence, but he has struggled to stamp his dropback style on Urban Meyer's spread attack. He bruised his ribs on a fourth-quarter run last weekend, and despite the identity crisis in Gainesville, needs to be healthy for Florida to reach the SEC title game and a hoped-for rematch with Alabama. Freshman burner Trey Burton has only thrown two passes all season, one of which was intercepted in the end zone by Alabama. LSU's ability to tackle either Brantley or Burton took a hit on Saturday. Disruptive defensive end Sam Montgomery tore ligaments in his knee against the Vols, and is done for the year.

USC +8.5 at No. 16 Stanford (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC)

OVERALL When USC
Has the Ball...
When Stanford
Has the Ball...
Category USC
(4-1)
Stanford
(4-1)
USC
Off
Stanford
Def
USC
Def
Stanford
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 18 9
2010 FEI Rk 9 3
2010 S&P+ Rk 27 14 35 34 19 2
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 29 31 42 21
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 41 53 20 5
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 13 49 32 9
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
60.0% Run
(61st)
64.1% Run
(39th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 88 98 34 2
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
43.7% Run
(18th)
32.6% Run
(71st)

Stanford staged an epic upset in 2007. The end of the 2008 game, a USC blowout, featured timeouts and a late Stanford touchdown for spite. The Cardinal crushed the Trojans in 2009 and went for two late in the fourth quarter, prompting an perplexed "What's your deal? What's your deal?" post-game exchange between Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh. When Carroll suddenly bolted for the NFL last winter, the must-see future of this burgeoning rivalry was cast in doubt. Thankfully, USC hired the most reviled coach in college football, Lane Kiffin, who might be able to up the ante on this hate-fest. Unfortunately for USC, that's probably their only edge in the game. Despite Stanford's setback against Oregon last week, the Cardinal remain one of the most productive and efficient offenses and defenses in the nation. The Trojans last-minute loss to Washington seemed somewhat inevitable after USC merely sneaked past weak opponents over the first few weeks. The once-vaunted Trojans defense has had trouble this year shutting down offenses, and Stanford's second-ranked S&P+ offense will be thrilled to take advantage.

No. 23 Florida State +6.5 at No. 13 Miami (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC)

OVERALL When Florida St.
Has the Ball...
When Miami
Has the Ball...
Category Fla. St.
(4-1)
Miami
(3-1)
Fla. St.
Off
Miami
Def
Fla. St.
Def
Miami
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 24 3
2010 FEI Rk 26 6
2010 S&P+ Rk 29 4 24 2 60 12
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 5 4 41 41
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 57 2 72 7
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 16 1 48 26
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
59.7% Run
(63rd)
59.2% Run
(67th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 41 28 70 70
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
30.9% Run
(80th)
32.3% Run
(74th)

Reports of Jacory Harris' torn labrum appear to have been greatly exaggerated -- a source no less reliable than his own father says the Miami quarterback is healthy and ready to play against ACC and in-state rival Florida State. Miami has won eight of the last 11 in the series, and another win would go a long way toward officially putting the early loss at Ohio State in the backseat. Perhaps standing in the way of a win over FSU is Harris' 10-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio. As we say before every big game Miami plays, he simply has to avoid mistakes. Last Saturday, Miami harassed Clemson into making more mistakes than they did, but that cannot be a weekly recipe for victory. Jimbo Fisher has rallied his team's defense since the unit's epic pratfall at Oklahoma in Week 2. The 'Noles lead the nation in sacks (five per game), are second in tackles for loss (9.4 per game), and fourth in the nation defending the run (74.8 YPG). Corner Greg Reid was scorched by the Sooners but has played well since. He faces his biggest test to date in Miami's Leonard Hankerson, a burgeoning elite receiver who had three touchdown catches a week ago at Clemson. Might this be the first of two clashes between Ehhhfff--Esssss-Youuuuuu and The U this season? The two teams were thought to be meeting annually in the ACC title game, but the all-Sunshine State matchup has yet to materialize.

Picks

Can you call it a surge if the F/+ picks managed to sneak ahead of Rob and back to the .500 mark for the season? If so, then the F/+ surged ahead with a lovely Week 5, and they look to build momentum with another interesting slate of games. If Nebraska and Alabama truly to have concerns in run defense, they will be severely tested this weekend before an evening slate of games featuring solid home favorites. Meanwhile, seven of this week's 10 games have spreads within 3.5 points of the results projected by F/+, meaning another winning record this week will be difficult.

The Picks
(* - "Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week")
Visitor Spread Home Rob F/+
Nebraska -12 Kansas St. Kansas St. Kansas St.
Baylor +2 Texas Tech Baylor Baylor
Alabama -7 S. Carolina Alabama* Alabama
Arkansas -7 Texas A&M Texas A&M Arkansas
Michigan St. +4.5 Michigan Michigan St. Michigan
Clemson +1.5 N. Carolina N. Carolina Clemson
Oregon St. +8.5 Arizona Arizona Arizona
LSU +7 Florida Florida Florida
USC +8.5 Stanford Stanford Stanford
Florida St. +6.5 Miami Florida St. Miami*
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
Week Five Season Total
F/+: 6-4 (1-0) 24-24-2 (1-4)
Rob: 3-7 (0-1) 23-25-2 (4-1)

Posted by: Bill Connelly on 07 Oct 2010

20 comments, Last at 09 Oct 2010, 7:03pm by Flounder

Comments

1
by Anon (not verified) :: Thu, 10/07/2010 - 4:57pm

Baylor has played in the Cotton Bowl (the stadium) several times since 1981. It was SMU's home field for a while in the early 1990s.

2
by Bill Connelly :: Thu, 10/07/2010 - 5:03pm

Fixed. I looked into that claim before making it but found nothing about SMU. Good to know.

3
by mm (not verified) :: Thu, 10/07/2010 - 7:23pm

The FSU-Miami matchup might be the biggest game of the weekend. It could have a big effect on how the top of the Big 10 (though OSU) and Big 12 (through OU) are compared in both the human and computer polls for the rest of the year.

4
by mm (not verified) :: Thu, 10/07/2010 - 7:27pm

Oh, and if the spreads are closer to projections than they have been in the past, that may be a hint that Vegas has adapted some of your numbers in their calculations.

6
by Bill Connelly :: Thu, 10/07/2010 - 8:25pm

I'll pretend you're right on that one (no idea whether you are or not), as they've been sickeningly close the last three weeks. Each week in the last three, 20%-40% of the spreads have been within two points of the projections.

7
by Bill Connelly :: Thu, 10/07/2010 - 9:23pm

Case in point: I just finished this week's projections, and 22 of 55 projections (40%) are within two points of the spread. 31 of 55 are within 3.5 points. Not fair.

11
by Jetspete :: Fri, 10/08/2010 - 11:20am

wouldnt you expect this though? i mean you are talking about experts in vegas setting a line on 55 games. those opulent hotels dont build themselves, these people know how to make money. I'd be happier with 24 games actually having some value over having 31 games that are too close to call.

5
by Tom Gower :: Thu, 10/07/2010 - 7:51pm

Picks in before checking the game: Nebraska, Baylor, Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan, Clemson, Arizona, LSU, Stanford, Miami. Counter-consensus picks are Nebraska and LSU, and I'll go with the Huskers. Will add in records and the like later.

17
by Tom Gower :: Sat, 10/09/2010 - 4:53pm

6-4 (0-1) for the second consecutive week, as I once again picked the wrong Edelstein from among my choices, so I'm 28-20-2 (1-4). Humbug to my "not changing my preseason predictions" strategy, as I'd never have picked the Gators to even cover without it. My counter-consensus picks are 7-5 through last week, and all consensus picks are 13-14. Yes, that means my counter-consensus non-Edelstein picks are 6-1.

8
by parking_god :: Fri, 10/08/2010 - 7:57am

Your MGoBlog link actually goes to theonlycolors.com

9
by Bill Connelly :: Fri, 10/08/2010 - 9:30am

Fixed.

10
by MattD (not verified) :: Fri, 10/08/2010 - 10:44am

Michigan can't stop anyone. At all. Plus, they can't kick field goals. If Denard fails on even one possession to score a TD, Michigan State wins.

And I'm a Michigan fan.

12
by Flounder :: Fri, 10/08/2010 - 1:42pm

Seriously, everyone I've spoken to this week (including myself!) thinks the team they support is going to loose.

My prediction: After being ahead at halftime, MSU suffers their normal 2nd half defensive malaise, and Cousins throws one or two crucial INTs, leading to an MSU loss.

15
by Yinka Double Dare :: Fri, 10/08/2010 - 6:17pm

It's a pretty funny thing, everyone having so little confidence except for only the biggest homers (who invariably think their team will beat everyone).

I think the biggest matchup is the MSU offensive line vs. Michigan's defensive front. Michigan has been passable at run D other than the UMass game, and if they can be OK to good there and also get some pressure on Cousins (which is when he tends to make his mistakes), Michigan's D can get enough stops.

But I have no real confidence that it will happen. I really have no clue what's going to happen, other than this game will not be 20-20 after regulation this time around -- both teams are definitely scoring more than that. Michigan's offensive line is MUCH better than the one in that game last year, and the difference between "bum shoulder Forcier" and "Denard Robinson, now with passing accuracy and the whole playbook available" is large as well. Likewise, MSU's running back situation is better than last year and Cousins has another year of experience. Should be a fun one to watch.

13
by Evan (not verified) :: Fri, 10/08/2010 - 2:30pm

Hey, folks--

How exactly do you use F/+ to project outcomes? I assume that you have something like (average home score)*(f/+ factor A) and (average away score)*(f/+ factor B), but I don't know if I've seen the methodology documented anywhere.

I blog my picks against the spread every week and I'd like to compare my (non-mathematical) projections to something more scientific in terms of magnitude as well as spread. Any chance you could add the actual projected score to this column?

Also, I see that's Rob's lock of the week is regressing to the mean after unbelievalbly bad luck last year. Did you go like 1-11 or 2-10 on LOCKS?

14
by zlionsfan :: Fri, 10/08/2010 - 3:21pm

forgot Thursday's game again. sigh. It's becoming a habit.

Bad week last week: 4-5 (0-1), overall 27-19-2 (3-1). Maybe I'm just not forgetting the right games, lol.

Baylor, Alabama (lock), Arkansas, Michigan, Clemson, Oregon State, Florida, Stanford, Miami. If it were like last year, I'd be happy to see Rob picking Michigan State ...

16
by cfn_ms :: Sat, 10/09/2010 - 2:36am

REALLY like that one. Not much of a feel for any of the others.

18
by Flounder :: Sat, 10/09/2010 - 5:10pm

Well, my halftime prediction is correct: MSU is ahead. I'm going to hope my second-half prediction is wrong, and the MSU defense doesn't get tired. If the middle of the MSU offensive line could stop getting completely collapsed on every other pass play, that would be helpful.

19
by Flounder :: Sat, 10/09/2010 - 6:25pm

Well, I guess Robinson isn't so good when he faces a moderately competent defense.

20
by Flounder :: Sat, 10/09/2010 - 7:03pm

Nice game for MSU. They tackled really well. The formula is pretty clear: keep Robinson from breaking big plays with his feet, and wait for him to screw up throwing the ball.