Right: yesterday was a bad day. I felt like the guy from Flowers for Algernon when he realized that at one time he was like smart and stuff but no longer. Today I'm still kind of bleah but I am recognizably human. Double-barreled UFR coming ASAP. Expect the D in an hour or two.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Fallers: Oregon and Georgia Tech are your main fallers after getting waxed this weekend.
Risers: I'm not sure exactly what caused Boston College to shoot upwards into the mid-teens. Could SMQB's impassioned case for the Eagles have had a widespread effect on the voting? (Although apparently not that impassioned: SMQB then predicted an FSU victory over BC). Surely it wasn't the Eagles' confirmation that yes, Florida State is a long way from its glory days.
Clemson managed to hop past Cal and Notre Dame on the strength of their 31-7 throat-crushing of Georgia Tech. I wonder if Charlie Weis will bitch out blogpoll voters now.
Rutgers and Wisconsin continue to crawl up the poll, as well.
Wack Ballot Watchdog: Wack ballots are given a pass this week due to illness.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Mr. Bold is Dawg Sports. Unusual ballot features: Clemson #4, Wisconsin #6, Arkansas #7, Boston College #10. South Carolina? #23? Okay. Note that the ballots are falling in line as more and more of the season passes.
Mr. Numb Existence goes to the Sports Frog. Congratulations and stuff; your ballot is as per usual difficult to talk about.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award remains in the hands of Badger Sports for placing the Badgers #11. Too bad Wisconsin doesn't play anyone with a pulse, like, ever. Otherwise the dark power of this award could be brought to bear once more.
Straight Bangin' Award is Boi From Troy's for a second week. He bumped USC to #8, passing a plummetting Oregon and static WVU, but is still pessimistic about the Trojan's chances to remain undefeated.
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic-Depressive is also Dawg Sports. Kyle's ballot is either the work of deep reconsideration or general jumpiness, moving just about everyone around some.
Mr. Stubborn is Conquest Chronicles; top nine unchanged and only gradual movement afterwards.
Right: instead of a throat I have a pain and coughing factory. Blogging today will be light; UFR is Wed/Thurs again (sorry). In lieu of intelligent commentary in this space I present it from elsewhere.
Arrington's troubles are not over. More @ The Fanhouse.
FO's "Too Deep Zone" has a look at the increasing prevalence of two tight end sets in the NFL. Interesting reading since Michigan uses a lot of these sets, though TEs are getting mighty scarce these days.
Side note: with Bass and Manningham's knees messed up and Arrington's legal issues, to say nothing of the TE injuries, it's time to acknowledge that Angry Michigan Safety Hating God has morphed into Angry Michigan Receiver Hating God.
Tate joins the chorus. Unless everyone who's played us is just puffing us up, we have the best defense in the Big Ten... and it isn't close:
Q: How tough was their defense out there today?
TATE: They were pretty tough. With out a question, the best defense we have played all year. With how physical they are, their size, their speed, we haven't seen anything like that. That's for them. For us, I thought we did an unbelievable job going against them. It probably could have been a lot worse. They made it hard on us on a lot of things, with routes and things like that because their DB's are pretty quick. I think they scouted us pretty well. They were at the right depth and everything like that like they are supposed to be. A lot of credit goes to them, I mean they played really well and our defense played extremely well. You couldn't ask for more than that. They made it hard on us moving the ball. We had our chances also, we just missed them.
The MZone highlights the back of a recent Reader's Digest -- something that I admit I don't read religiously:
I love that the foremost Buckeye fan might have graduated from middle school and definitely has some Skoal in his pocket. Maybe he's the guy who left a comment claiming that "Troy alluded two defenders."
If you'll excuse me, I'm going to crawl into a hole and try to keep my lungs inside my body.
Remember: no looky at last week's ballot. Now that I see the finished product I have my reservations. Hell, I had reservations about the ballot as submitted.
- I've reconsidered a couple ACC teams. Clemson obliterated a Georgia Tech team that is actually kind of good. Sure, they were aided heavily by Reggie Ball's essential Reggie-Ball-ness, but CJ Spiller is fast. They kind of fluked their way into the Wake win but that still ended up a ten-point victory over a decent team. The BC loss was by literally the thinnest of margins -- one point -- and was pretty fluky overall, with a KO return for a touchdown and a missed extra point providing the difference. Clemson outgained BC by over 150 yards. They move up quite a bit. I hear SMQB's plea on BC, as well. Though the win over Clemson was, as discussed, fluky, but so was the NC State loss. The four wins over other actual teams -- Central Michigan, undefeated in the MAC, TCU-beating BYU, FSU, and Va Tech -- warrant a ranking in the solid teens. Up they go.
- I think I was unfair to Louisville, but the teams in front of them are beginning to roll up actual resumes and Louisville has no one of stature on theirs -- and how I love being able to say that about a schedule that contains Miami.
- Of course, neither does West Virginia and I haven't punished them nearly as badly, though they do slip behind Clemson. This is probably unjustified.
- I have a feeling that Pitt's run defense is just atrocious. Anyone who remembers Darius Walker blowing up for a billion yards in last year's opener could tell you that. Walker's a nice back but when he's streaking past your secondary, you have problems. Earlier this year, Pitt was cut to ribbons by Michigan State. Now it's Rutgers turn to shred the Panther run defense. What I'm saying: Rutgers probably not that good against a team that can stop the run.
Hate this week's ballot and expect the revision to have major changes. Fire away.
10/21/2006 - Michigan 20-6 Iowa - 8-0 (4-0)
These pictures of battered and confused quarterbacks groggily pondering what their names are and how this whole "standing up" business is supposed to go are coming fast and furious these days. The latest features a Hawkeye in the crosshairs and has a pleasing religious aspect:
Sorry, Steve Tate, but praying to Mecca isn't going to help you. Allah is busy telling CJ Spiller to go to Clemson (good call, Allah) and pulling Charlie Weis' ass out of the fire. You, like all the others, are at the mercy of large, impossibly fast men with evil intent.
Five sacks and some hilarious anger when a fourth-quarter quarterback scramble doubles your opponent's rushing yards, Michigan has hurdled its last reasonable obstacle in the runup to Football Armageddon. After Notre Dame there was still a five-game minefield of potential upsets. Each week we remained steadfastly fixated on the upcoming opponent, refusing to believe we would ever reach this point seemingly decades in the future, but it's here: an opportunity to rest the wounded, tune up, and come out flat a couple weeks in a row.
Oh, there will be "flat," I promise you that. Next week against Northwestern there will be a comedy of errors large and small that panic everyone. I feel it even now: as soon as Mike Hart cut upfield to make it 20-6, the nervous tension that had slowly worked its way into my spine disappeared and I sat, pondering the road to this point and the end on November 18th. There were a bunch of disturbing things in this game; we'll talk about those later. All I can think right now is: win, you bastards. Win.
Bothersome things about the offense:
- Henne's internal clock went off several times. That's fine. If your first couple reads aren't open it's time to start wondering about pressure. But instead of coming down to a checkdown, which is usually Hart, Henne starts scrambling ineffectively. Against PSU he found a couple receivers, but against Iowa there was a lot of getting tracked down by linebackers or DL when another moment or two scanning the field could have yielded a completion.
- Alex Mitchell was not so good. At all.
- The struggles in the first half with the run game were against seven guys in the box. We loaded one side of the line and zoned out there; every time we did Iowa slanted heavily towards the strong side.
- I hope Good Zoltan shows up against OSU. Against PSU, he was terrible. Against Iowa, great. Go figure.
- Why is no one talking about the ridiculously bad spot? No, not that ridiculously bad spot, the one on Michigan's second drive where Steve Breaston caught the ball right at the sticks and was marked two yards shy.
- No review on the second and goal Arrington incompletion? Personally, I think he was in on third down but it was close enough that whichever way it was called on the field was going to stand.
- The fumble call encapsulated everything right and wrong with replay: they got a critical call correct, but it took an army of incompetent monkeys and ten minutes to do it.
- Five sacks against a slippery quarterback like Tate is reassuring going into the OSU game, especially with Jamison and Crable -- our two fastest pass rushers -- stepping up big time. We are doing a better job of getting out on rollouts, too. One major advantage we have that OSU's opponents to date haven't is a second player coming when the quarterback avoids the first.
- Butler still makes a ton of mental mistakes but has the look of a future star.
- Internet rumors were generally right: Arrington did have a legal issue, though it wasn't one that got him suspended. Massey was out. The Hart one was never credible, IMO.
Look: I know with the BCS standings coming out and so forth and suchlike that it's the time of year cranky people who don't know an algorithm from their ass (Attention Dennis Dodd: an "algorithm" is the one you don't write your columns with) to go "blah blah blah computers blah blah hate blah blah Injustice In One Particular Poll blah blah prune juice blah where's my adult diaper." It is traditional column fodder for the lazy, an opportunity to get some easy whacks in on a much-loathed institution. It's like a Miami brawl that comes only once a year.
But I know computers. I whisper in their ear and get them to whinny out poll results every week. I feed them sugar cubes and they make graphs for me. I have a vague idea of the difficulty in measuring teams when given all the nuances my pretty little head can handle and can't imagine trying to sort things out if all I was given was a set of wins and losses. And I say this to you, crabby BCS-bashers of the world: the seemingly nonsensical arrangements of numbers that purport to be polls from Sagarin or Massey or Colley and his matrix are not the fault of computers. Computers are good people.
Who is at fault then? As any good Bloom County fan knows: this is... THE MEDIA'S FAULT!
And so it is. Back in the old days when the BCS formula was a hilariously overwrought thing that included two human polls, computer polls, strength of schedule, quality victories, a loss column, and everything short of an "artistic merit" score for the uniforms*, the computers were allowed to take margin of victory into account. This caused no end of bitching. Coaches whose teams ended up on the wrong side of late touchdowns complained that opponents would run up the score despite the fact that computer margin of victory was capped at 21. Sensing a good opportunity to rattle off 600 research-free words, columnists everywhere leapt on the bandwagon. Think of the children. Kill MOV. Nonsensically, this was done, and the yearly columns pointing out the various OUTRAGES perpetrated by the computers got a little more ammunition as the rankings got a little less reasonable.
This is, of course, completely mad. The BCS found itself faced with a problem: the computers could not distinguish meaningful scores from cosmetic points scored after the game was decided. The powers that be decided that the solution to this problem was to take information away from the computers instead of providing enough information to judge which scores had an effect on the game. Now we have the half-measure of relying on crippled computer rankings that aren't allowed to take even the simplest facts about a game into account. This is bound to lead to ludicrous results. Could you rank the top 25 if you had no idea that Clemson waxed Georgia Tech and ND scraped by? Or that Tennessee stomped Cal? I can't make sense of my weekly BlogPoll ballot and I know not only the final scores of all the game but how accurately they reflect the flow of the game. If I were given only a sheet of wins and losses, my ballots would be as inane as Sagarin, et al.
I must reluctantly agree with the general opinion of computer rankings as a communist plot designed to undermine college football. As they stand they are useless and should be excised. But put the blame in the right place: with the people who decided to give computers the bare minimum amount of information. There is another way. Feed them as much information as they can handle. Let them take into account scoring margin, the time at which the scores occurred, and how they came about. Give them reams of historical data and let them judge what attributes a winning team has and let them project the past into the future without having to resort to the logo on the helmet.
Then when they rank six different I-AA teams over Miami you can take them seriously and bet on Duke to cover. And lo, it will be good.
*(though the secret inclusion of such might help explain that whole Nebraska-over-Oregon thing.)