Welcome to week 4, and the season has started taking shape. There's still a number of 0-fers going out there, including surprises like Boston College and Oregon State. Not as surprising is the fact that about half of the Sun Belt conference doesn't have a win yet. Lucky for them there's always conference play.
This week we highlight three games. Is highlight the right term for this column? Maybe "Spotlight of Shame" is a better term. We start in the SEC with Georgia versus Ole Miss. Georgia is 1-2, but the two losses are to Boise State and South Carolina, while Ole Miss has losses to Vandy and BYU. Ole Miss is sporting offensive numbers near the 100's, so look for Coach Giggity's Rebels to take sole possession of the SEC - West basement. Sidenote: I love that the divisions are South Eastern Conference - East and South Eastern Conference - West. Maybe the Big East will use that naming scheme if they split into the Big East - East and Big East - West. As a personal note, I will always cheer against any team named for or referencing the South in the Civil War.
Next we have San Jose State versus New Mexico State. Over the last three years, the two teams have combined for 10 wins. If there was ever an argument against regression to the mean, this is it. Or maybe their mean is just bad. Bear in mind that New Mexico State's win this season came against Minnesota, while NMSU is near the 100s in most offensive categories.
Finally, the big game this week is the Dan Hawkins Memorial Buyout Bowl, featuring Colorado and Ohio State. Oh how it does my heart good to be able to put OSU in here. First, this game is on ABC/ESPN, so the nation gets to watch. Second, Ohio eked out a win against Toledo in week 2. Third, they're coming of an impotent loss to Miami last week. Ohio's QB job is a pick-'em, and CU looked reasonably good last week against CSU and against Cal. I still can't cheer for CU after '94, but I will still happily wish for OSU to lose. So it's this:
Conference realignment: Of course you're so freakin' excited to see another post breaking it down. Luckily for you, I've lost interest in how it ends up and would rather look backwards at what has transpired. So WTF has happened?
In a nutshell: Professional reporters turn into self-proclaimed Nostradami. People that don't even like college football argue about whose conference has a better USNWR ranking. ND and Texas act like ND and Texas. Basically, everyone looks like dickheads. IT'S AWESOME.
A majority of the most exciting news has happened in the last few weeks so I put together a conversational timeline (or a one act play, I suppose) to help you follow along. Warning: some rough language
Texas A&M, deep in it's own basement, stews over the indignities it has suffered at the horns of their evil overlord, Texas. The Longhorn Network has recently proposed to add high school games to their schedule...
Texas: We'll do anything we want to on the LHN, including your mom. And never call her back.
Oklahoma: Obvi, we're with Texas - though Gloria Oklahoma is a saint. A SAINT.
A&M: FUUUUUUU UT. A-heading to the SEC. Chig-ga-roo-gar-em! Chig-ga-roo-gar-em! Rough! Tough! That's the stuff. Men in uniform: can't get enough!
SEC: Nice man-cheerleaders.
A&M: They're yell leaders.
SEC: Whatever, feed me rednecks to satisfy PAWLLLL.
Big 12: That's my girl, dog. Not cool.
SEC: Who, me? I never talked to your girlfriend.
A&M: Sorry Big 12, it's you not me. Sign here.
Baylor: F that noise. Get rich or die tryin'.
A&M: You're a dirty whore Baylor.
SEC: So not saying we even want A&M because we are totally stoked at 12 because it is basically perfect but like, you know if something happens and in the course of changes to the landscape we have a situation where we have to look at more schools, that may happen, just saying. Les, can you come clarify this for us?
Les Miles: The play that we are getting from our defense is specific in my mind to the play that we are getting from the participants.
SEC: Yeah, talk to Les. Heh.
Oklahoma: We're sick of you too Texass. Oklahoma out.
Texas: Say what?
T.BoonePickens: Blah blah windfarm /pretend I'm not senile/ derpty derp.
Larry Scott: Muahaha my evil plan to get schools where the fans care is almost complete. ULTRA-PAC-ATRON ASSSSEEEEMMMMBBBBBBBBBLLLLLLEEEE!!!!!1
BEast: ZOMG we're going to make it.
Colorado: I thought I left the Big 12? Where am I?
Texas: Anyone interested - $10 for an HJ, $20 for a BJ, $40 for a ZJ, $300mil for an LHN. If you have to ask about the ZJ, you don't want it. Anyone?
Mizzou: We so want the B12 to survive COUGH ess eee see COUGH big ten COUGH COUGH
Jim Delany: Harumph and so forth. Big Ten likes twelve members. You will receive my condescension and be grateful, peasants.
Fake Dan Beebe: Follow me Dan Beebe on twitter at @danbeebe #Beebeliever #DannyDanJuice
Oklahoma: Our regents say peace out - B12 down.
Jr. State: Twinsies.
Big 12: What the hell guys?
Texas: Fine...Pac...whatever...but we're keeping this network.
TTech: Hi I'm here, too, fellas.
ACC: Swoop. Hello Pitt. Hello Cuse.
BEast: What the what?
ACC: Hey Delany, Slive, Scott - check out how big mine is. (beams proudly)
WVU: What does a horseshoe do? Are there horsesocks? Is anyone listening to me?
DennisDodd/RandomCrappyReporter: Publish token shame article. Rabble rabble.
DanWetzel/OtherAnnoyingReporter: Publish ND + PSU + ACC > rustbelt meme. Rabble rabble.
Oklahoma: So Larry, uh, this is all a formality, right?
Larry Scott: Psha, no doubt bro. Cool as a cucumber.
Mizzou: Helloooo ess eee s....
Stanford: Lemme stop you right there, Larry, it's turning into fucking grapes of wrath up in here. OK State? Might as well take Boise if we're looking for community colleges with good wrestling teams and overrated football teams.
Cal: And Lubbock man, so harsh.
USC: You guys are such pussies.
Semi-Pac-atron: Input: 2/3 Big 12 South. Semi-Pac-atron: Error. Output: screw. that.
Larry Scott: The funny thing is we were always really happy with 12 members. Don't know where these 'expansion' rumors came from.
Oklahoma: The funny thing is, we always loved you Texas. Maybe we can keep the Big 12 together after all...
Fake Dan Beebe: DAN! DAN! DAN! DAN! DAN! DAN! DAN! Dan Beebe Big 12 Survival Plan 2011: 1. Retain Dan 2. ? 3. Profit.
Oklahoma: ...As long as we get rid of Dan...
Fake Dan Beebe: Fuuuuuuuuuuu.....
Utah: God this is awesome...
[ed-M: bump. always bump.]
Do we have any Pinnacle Studio 12 experts among us? I seem to have lost the ability to have my titles display lower-case letters properly (compare this MPP to my previous ones).
Setup: EMU will run power right against Will Heininger (left DT).
Wha'hoppon: Roh stands up the TE on the edge but Heininger gets blown out of the hole, leaving three blockers coming out against three linebackers going in. Roh's positioning against the TE forces the FB to 'finish him,' Hawthorne stands up to the pulling guard, and the RB dives into the pile, which poops him out six yards downfield.
Full YouTube page is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaJI_5GgNDc
Original PP is http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-emu-runnin-us-i
Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek cornerback Shaquille (Shaq) Wiggins is a quickly-rising prospect in the class of 2013, earning ESPNU 150 Watch List and Future Top247 honors. He has a high interest in Michigan, and even had a visit planned for the Notre Dame game that unfortunately fell through, though as you'll see, that had no impact on his desire to come to Ann Arbor.
After an outstanding performance at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp this past summer, he earned a scholarship offer from the Wolverines ($, info in header) to go along with offers from Ohio State, Cincinnati, Ball State, Ohio, and Toledo. Wiggins has already taken visits to Auburn and Florida this season, and also has interest from Clemson, Georgia, Illinois, and Mississippi State, among others. I caught up to Wiggins on the phone after his practice today to talk about his recruitment:
ACE: First of all, you've got an offer from Michigan. Are they an early favorite in your recruitment, and what other teams are recruiting you right now?
SHAQ: There's a lot of schools, including Indiana, Miami, LSU, Notre Dame, Florida State, Tennessee, Oklahoma - there's a few I could name.
ACE: Do you have an early favorites list? Where does Michigan stand with those schools?
SHAQ: Once my other offers stop coming in, I'll probably end up making a top ten or a favorites list then. But yeah, Michigan is one of my favorite teams.
ACE: I know you tried to come up for the Notre Dame game and that didn't end up working out, but have you had a chance to watch the Wolverines at all this season?
SHAQ: Yes, I watched the Notre Dame game, and I liked the way they played defense. I'm 100% sure I'm coming to the game, I think it's November 26th, when they play Ohio State. [Ed-Ace: He nailed the date off the top of his head after a football practice. Impressive.]
ACE: Who have you been in contact with on the coaching staff at Michigan?
SHAQ: Coach Mallory.
ACE: Have you been talking to any of the recruits who are currently committed?
SHAQ: Yeah, I talk to T-Rich [Terry Richardson] now and then. He congratulated me on making the ESPN Watch List, the top 150 watch list. That's about the only Michigan recruit I've talked to.
ACE: Focusing on your high school season, your team is 3-0 right now. What are your stats so far, and what are your goals for this season?
SHAQ: Well I'm trying to get at least eight [more interceptions] so I can get 13 picks. Right now I have five picks this season after the third game.
ACE: I know it's early on in the process, but do you have any idea about a timeline for your recruitment?
SHAQ: I would probably want to commit to a school during my senior [season] so I can get the recruiting process over with.
ACE: For people who may not be familiar with your game, how would you describe how you play on the field?
SHAQ: I would say I'm quick, with good man coverage, and I'm very physical at the line.
ACE: Are there any areas where you're looking to improve right now to get ready for the next level?
SHAQ: Yes. My overall cornerback coverage and just my overall technique, staying with the receiver and turning my hips.
Ohio lost, Michigan won. Depending on your thoughts on Notre Dame and Michigan State, either the stars perfectly aligned, or a two-for-three weekend isn’t something to complain about. Michigan enters the AP Top 25 this week, moving to #22, slightly in front of USC and slightly behind Clemson in voting. The Wolverines need to be aware they are facing a dangerous Aztec team, with veteran QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ronnie Hillman. Fortunate for Michigan, Coach Hoke knows the San Diego State team, and, fortunate for the Michigan secondary, speedster WR Dominique Sandifer is lost for the season with a knee injury.
As typical with the Watch, we’ll review the picks from last week, noting the bad picks, and point out a few games to give the underdog some credit in, even if it is only in Vegas. We’ll also look at a sure-fire favorite and attempt to preview the Michigan game.
@ Vanderbilt (3-0) +1.5 Mississippi (1-2). Result: Vanderbilt 30 Mississippi 7.
@ Temple (2-1) +7.5 Penn State (2-1). Result: Penn State 14 Temple 10 [Props to Picktown GoBlue].
@ Cincinnati -34.5 Akron. Result: Cincinnati 59 Akron 14.
@ Toledo (1-2) +19.5 Boise State (2-0). Result: Boise State 40 Toledo 15 [Props to mfan_in_ohio for correctly predicting Boise State would cover].
Colorado State (2-1) +7.5 Colorado (1-2). Result: Colorado 28 Colorado State 14 [Props to PurpleStuff for correctly predicting Colorado to cover].
Washington State (2-1) +5.5 @ San Diego State (3-0). Result: San Diego State 42 Washington State 24.
@ Michigan (3-0) -29.5 Eastern Michigan (2-1). Result: Michigan 31 Eastern Michigan 3 [Props to Number 7 on correctly predicting Michigan would not cover].
Brightside correctly picked Duke (+8) at Boston College (Duke won 20-19). mfan_in_ohio correctly picked Miami (YTM) (-2.5) at home to Ohio (Miami won 24-6). M-Glow-Blue correctly picked Clemson (-3.5) to win at home to Auburn (Clemson won 38-24).
Number 7 had a pretty good week, correctly picking (1) USC (-17) at home to Syracuse (USC won 38-17); (2) Navy (+17) at South Carolina (South Carolina won 24-21); and (3) Clemson to win at home to Auburn.
I know the Watch is fired up to kick off college football this week with a trip to Daytona Beach for Hampton and Bethune-Cookman on Thursday night (7:30 PM EST/ESPNU).
Oklahoma State (#7) visits College Station and the 12th Man for a showdown against Texas A&M (#8) (3:30 PM EST/ABC). Arkansas and Coach Bobby Petrino are looking for revenge as the Crimson Tide escaped with a victory last year; Arkansas (#14) visits Alabama (#3) (3:30 PM EST). Florida State (#11) looks to rebound (and get healthy) but must first get by Clemson (#21) (3:30 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN 3). Top tier games will conclude with LSU (#2) and the Hatter visiting Morgantown for a matchup with West Virginia (#16) (8:00 PM EST/ABC).
Bowling Green (2-1) +6.0 @ Miami Ohio (0-2). Bowling Green has the 10th ranked offense (45th rushing, 10th in passing) in the country, having beaten Idaho and Morgan State, but losing on a missed extra point to Wyoming. Miami has the 12th ranked pass defense (54th overall, 100th rushing defense); should be an interesting matchup. Further, Miami’s offense is ranked 90th (108th rushing, 38th passing); Bowling Green’s defense is ranked 25th (30th passing, 43rd rushing). The home team is 1-5 in this series, since 2005, including three straight losses. Bowling Green had four losses by a touchdown or less last year; Miami had six wins by a touchdown or less last year (only Auburn had more). Stats say that Bowling Green should win more this year, and Miami win less. That trend should be proven with a Falcon victory in Oxford.
New Mexico State (1-2) +10.5 @ San Jose State (0-3).Can you believe the Aggies are 24th in passing offense? It helps having a quality WR like Taveon Rogers (249 yards 17.8/catch and 4 TD). San Jose State Coach Mike MacIntyre is 1-15 overall, but 7-9 against the spread. New Mexico State Coach DeWayne Walker is 6-23, but 10-16-2 against the spread. New Mexico State has won on the spread the past two meeting, both of which were decided by three points or less. Taking out the lopsided 2007 game (SJSU won 51-17), the average margin of victory in the series is SJSU by 9. I think SJSU gets the win, but I like NMST to keep this one close.
Missouri (2-1) +21.5 @ Oklahoma (2-0). Oklahoma has won 7 of the last 9 in this series, dating back to 1998, with an average margin of 14 (23 if looking solely at the Oklahoma wins). Coach Gary Pinkel is 7-9 against the spread against ranked teams since 2006 (5-11 straight up), having beaten (and covered as a dog) last against Oklahoma (36-27). Coach Bob Stoops is 13-11-1 against the spread against ranked teams since 2006 (18-7 straight up), but only 3-4 against the spread when playing a second ranked team back-to-back. Oklahoma has the 44th ranked defense (20th rushing, 87th passing); Missouri the 16th ranked defense (11th rushing, 54th passing). Oklahoma the 19th ranked offense (44th rushing, 20th passing); Missouri the 12th ranked offense (10th rushing, 40th passing). The matchup of Missouri’s pass defense and Oklahoma’s pass offense concerns me a bit, but I think Missouri should keep this within 3 TDs.
Southern Miss (2-1) +3.0 @ Virginia (2-1).Virginia and Southern Miss last met in 2009, with Southern Miss winning 37-34, but failing to cover the 14-point spread. Virginia Coach Mike London is 3-2-1 as a favorite against the spread, and 6-8-1 overall against the spread. Southern Miss Coach Larry Fedora is 15-13 as an underdog against the spread, and 20-18-1 overall against the spread. This is an improved Virginia (38th rushing offense, 45th passing) team with solid RBs in Perry Jones (173 yards 4.1/carry and 1 TD) and Kevin Parks (249 yards 6.1/carry and 5 TD). Michael Rocco (652 yards 61.1% completion, but 4 INT to 1 TD) will need to improve his play at QB before the Cavaliers have a truly balanced offense. Southern Miss is 14th against the run. Take the Golden Eagles to cover and win.
@ Pittsburgh (2-1) +7.0 Notre Dame (1-2).The Watch stayed away from the Notre Dame/Michigan State game last week, with good reason. The Irish bring in the 36th offense (27th passing, 61st rushing); the Panthers bring the 61st offense (52nd passing, 52nd rushing). Neither defense is much to write home about, as the Pittsburgh defense is ranked 96th (119th passing, 23rd rushing) and Notre Dame is ranked 58th (97th passing, 30th rushing). Pittsburgh is transitioning to a spread offense under Todd Graham, from the previous pro-style offense under Dave Wannstedt. Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly is 9-7 at Notre Dame (6-6-4 against the spread, 4-5-2 as a favorite against the spread). Coach Todd Graham is 0-3 against the spread at Pittsburgh (26-24-3 at Tulsa against the spread and 6-6-1 at Tulsa as an underdog against the spread). As long as Turnover Tommy Rees (5 INT, 2 Fumbles, 2 Fumbles lost) is addicted to turning the ball over for the Irish, opponents have a shot at winning. Irish should pick up their second win of the season, but Ray Graham (419 yards 5.3/carry and 6 TD), Devin Street (236 yards 15.7/catch and 1 TD), and Tino Sunseri (658 yards 62.5% completion and 3 TD, but 4 INT) should keep it closer than the 7-point spread.
Army (1-2) -4.0 @ Ball State (2-1).Ball State’s record is deceiving, in that they have beaten two teams that very well could be ranked 100 or greater at the end of the season (Indiana, 27-20 and Buffalo 28-25). They also got smoked by South Florida, 37-7. Army has played a pretty representative scheduling, losing at Northern Illinois (49-26), a close one at home to San Diego State (23-20), and a surprise win against Northwestern (21-14). Ball State is ranked 95th on defense (72nd against the run, 104th against the pass); Army is ranked 70th on defense (92nd against the run, 38th against the pass). Ball State is ranked 91st on offense (55th rushing; 91st passing) Army is ranked 55th on offense (2nd rushing; 120th passing). Trent Steelman has attempted a mere 22 passes this year (roughly 7 per game). Look for him to attempt more than 7 passes against a poor pass defense. Where Army does their damage is on the ground, with QB Trent Steelman (302 yards 4.6/carry and 7 TD), SB Malcolm Brown (248 yards 9.9/carry and 1 TD), RB Raymond Maples (157 yards 4.9/carry), and FB Jared Hassin (115 yards 3.7/carry). Look for Army to cause big damage to Ball State in the run game and easily cover in Muncie.
Rocky Long is 3-0 straight up at San Diego State (65-69 at New Mexico, from 1998-2008). Coach Long is 27-37 on the road, 6-14 against BCS teams, and 1-8 against the top 25. Since 2006, Coach Long is 21-18-2 against the spread and 10-9-1 as an underdog against the spread.
Brady Hoke is 50-50 straight up (13-12 at San Diego State, 34-38 at Ball State). Coach Hoke is 25-15-2 against the spread as a favorite and 40-23-2 overall since 2006.
San Diego State’s defense is ranked 80th (36th passing [186 yards/game], 98th rushing [197 yards/game]). Michigan’s offense is ranked 62nd (93rd passing [177 yards/game], 19th rushing [226.7 yards/game])
San Diego State’s offense is ranked 41st (77th passing [207.3 yards/game], 24th rushing [220.7 yards/game]). Michigan’s defense is ranked 76th (26th passing [172 yards/game], 103rd rushing [202.5 yards/game]).
San Diego State and Michigan have met once, with Michigan winning 24-21, but failing to cover the 20-point spread.
On paper, Michigan and San Diego State look awful similar, both having good run offenses and suspect run defenses. San Diego State was gashed by Army’s run offense (403 yards 5.3/carry and 3 TD), but had Ronnie Hillman bail them out (117 yards 6.9/carry and 2 TD). San Diego State did hold Washington State to just 51 yards on the ground (82 without sacks), for a 1.8/carry average, while Ronnie Hillman pounded it out on the ground again (191 yards 6.0/carry and 4 TD). Michigan gave up 198 yards on the ground to Notre Dame, for a 6.0/carry average and 1 TD; the Wolverines followed that up with another subpar performance giving up 207 on the ground to Eastern Michigan for a 4.5/carry average.
Assuming Michigan can get the passing game going and step up on defense against the run, they should cover. I’m going out on a limb, saying Denard should be able to spread the ball around more, topping 200 yards passing, but the Michigan run defense will again struggle against a good RB in Ronnie Hillman.
San Diego State +10.0 @ Michigan.
Michigan 31 San Diego State 28
Synopsis for Turnovers: For the third week in a row, M had a positive turnover margin. The game had a total of 3 turnovers. Michigan lost 1 but gained 2 from EMU, leaving M with a TOM of +1 for the game and +6 for the year.
Interestingly, all the TOs occurred within the first 17 minutes of the game.
For the first time in 3 games, turnovers did not impact which team won the game.
|Adjust for TOs||-3.4||0.0|
|Score Without TOs||27.6||3|
(See the Section on Gory Details below for how the adjustment for Expected Points (EP) is calculated.)
National Rankings: Remember the table below includes the WMU game and will NOT be the same as the (incorrect) NCAA Rankings. DRob continued his TO problems with an interception and a fumble (the fumble was recovered by M). Interceptions are ranked #94 Nationally a slight improvement over the #100 ranking last week. Overall, M remains at Numero Uno in turnover margin (for the second week in a row).
|TO Lost||TO Gained|
|M Natl Rank||N/A||1||94||44||N/A||3||18||5||1|
The Gory Details
Expected Point (EP) Analysis: Basically, the probability of scoring depends on the yard line that the offense is at (which seems fairly obvious in retrospect). Therefore, the impact of a TO also depends on the yard line where the TO is lost and the yard line where the TO is gained.
Here are the details for the EMU game.
|Qtr||Time||Down||LOS||TO Lost By||EP Lost||TO Gain By||Spot||EP Gain||EP Gain W/O TO||Net EP Gain||Total EP Diff|
EP Differential: + is M advantage, – is M disadvantage
The analysis is a bit tricky because: (A) the TO directly results in lost EP for the offense but (B) only modifies the EP for the team gaining the TO because the team gaining the TO would have gotten another possession even without the TO (due to a punt, KO after a TD, KO after a field goal, etc.). The Net EP Gain must take into account the potential EP gain without the TO. The EP gain without the turnover is based on where the field position would have been for the next possession if the TO had not occurred.
Here is a summary chart of Yard Line vs. Expected Points:
|Yard Line||M 0-5||M10||M20||M30||M40||50||V40||V30||V20||V10||V5||V1|
Details for Turnovers: Here is overall summary for all games by player (data in yellow was affected by this week's game).
|TO Lost||TO Gained|