It's hard to believe that the 2010 season is almost over. It feels like yesterday that I was designing the season's first wallpaper to share with my wife and one other friend. That first wallpaper, entitled "Husky Puppy Piddles in Fear," was a simple image of a dog that required very little Photoshop work; I added some snow and some yellow spots and got an excellent response from my kids. I like the symmetry in ending the season with another simple image of a dog.
The Mississippi State University official athletic web site provides some background on the bulldog mascot: "The official school mascot is an American Kennel Club registered English Bulldog, given the inherited title of 'Bully'...references to school teams and athletes as Bulldogs actually go back to early in the century, and this nickname was used almost interchangeably with both Aggies and Maroons, since at least 1905."
I like that you can read expectation, submission and awe in the dog's posture; he's looking up at the Block M with what my oldest child referred to as "crying eyes." All that was missing from the original image was an owner's tag so I added one in Photoshop. I wanted the tag to indicate that this dog was owned by Michigan football and (by extension of the metaphor) that Michigan is going to own Mississippi State on January 1; the simplest way to convey that was to etch the Block M on the tag.
Thanks for taking an interest in my art; your feedback and encouragement have helped me through quite a few long nights and creative blocks. I'm hoping to find time to produce a few more wallpapers this off-season, and then use the summer to get a head start on next year's opponent wallpapers.
The image below is a preview only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
All of the 2010 Wallpapers
As usual, new commit means we hit the front page. Action since last rankings:
12-19-10 Iowa loses commitment from Mika'il McCall (false alarm from the recruiting sites).
12-20-10 Illinois gains commitments from Dondi Kirby and Kenny Nelson. Minnesota gains commitments from Grayson Levine and Marcus Jones. Nebraska loses commitment from Tevin Mitchell. Wisconsin gains commitment from Devin Gaulden.
12-22-10 Illinois loses commitment from Tyler Marcordes.
12-24 Michigan gains commitment from Matt Goudis. Minnesota gains commitment from Drayquan Crawford.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn 1 star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45, except JuCo players, who aren't included in the average).
Full data after the jump.
This is my first time using Windows Live Writer to post something, so if something looks weird, that’s why. I’m making some changes to my database to allow me to rank past and future seasons, other sports, etc. I wanted to get these ranking out there before I make these changes and before most of the bowls get underway.
There are a few tweaks that I made to the algorithm. The major thing is that I took out FCS teams. Imagine you have Team A that plays 12 FBS teams and Team B that plays 11 FBS teams and 1 FCS team. In graph theory, playing that FCS team gives Team B shorter pathways to the 120ish teams in the FCS. I felt this was an unfair advantage for teams playing weaker schedules.
I also experimented with how to factor in Win-Loss (long story short, nothing changed with this, so you can skip to the next paragraph if you would like). Think about MSU, Wisconsin, and Iowa. MSU beat Wisconsin by 10, which gave them a path of .5 (1 / 2 scores). Iowa beat MSU by 31, which gave them a path of .25 (1 / 4 scores). When multiplied by the Win-Loss factor at the end, Wisconsin would receive a lower path score for Iowa’s win over MSU because they had the better record. I didn’t like the idea that Wisconsin could get more credit for Iowa’s win over MSU than Iowa would. I messed around with applying the winning team’s overall record to each game, then the same with the losing team’s record. I tried lots of different things, but none of them looked right. I didn’t like the idea of doing something just because it looked right, though. I decided that the additional path length that Wisconsin accrues by having to beat Iowa (they only beat Iowa by a point, so the path to Iowa is 1 and the path to MSU is 1.25) was enough of a penalty on Wisconsin.
The last main change since I last posted is that I am now factoring in homefield advantage. I have calculated homefield advantage to be worth 3.77 points in FBS games this year. In the Big Ten games it was roughly 6 or 7 points. When I did the power ranking for the Big Ten, I experimented using the two values and decided that 3.77 was the better number to use. One, it’s closer to the value that is usually associated with homefield advantage, and two, it would change from conference to conference. Mostly, though, it would change the path lengths between teams when going from the NCAA ranking to the conference power rankings, which is something that I didn’t want.
Without further ado, here are your top 25 and conference power rankings to start out the post-season. Keep in mind that because the conference power rankings only take into account the games that are played within the conference, teams might not be in the same order in the conference and in the top 25.
|FBS Top 25|
|North Carolina State|
|San Diego State|
|Troy Trojans of Troy (We’re from Troy!)|
|New Mexico State|
|San Jose State|
I have an idea for game predictions, so I’ll probably post another poll along with bowl game predictions and comparisons to actual results. Sometime in January I’ll post polls for Basketball and Hockey.
Game 9 (no torrent, but Brian looked at their offense)
Game 6 (couldn't find a torrent)
Other than this being a Rivalry game, there's not much new to learn from it. Although Ole Miss does have a run first QB in Oregon transfer Masoli. Ole Miss was 1-7 in the SEC, only beating Kentucky and also lost to I-AA Jacksonville St.. They gave up nearly as many points as we did this year.
- #34 was being used to spy on Masoli. We can expect either #34 or #50 to be keying on Denard on just about every play.
- #8 was stripped of the ball for a turnover. Might be reproducible.
- Ole Miss gets the first TD immediate after with an inside counter
- #19 is getting more passes thrown his way this week.
- Every week, MSU's OC introduces a new series or a new wrinkle that they use 3 or 4 times that game that they hadn't used before. This week's addition is the screen to the RB which worked for big yardage.
- Relf gets a 70 yarder on that inverted option up the middle. Same play that I dissected from last week, except they ran it to the right. Didn't have the speed to take it to the endzone.
- #8 gets the TD against pretty soft man coverage. It's imperative our DB's shade inside the wide man, make relf throw the outside routes.
- Masoli has the Tebow wind-up on deep balls, I doubt he's a QB at the next level, not that anyone was thinking that.
- Aha, that's where Bumphis broke his collarbone. Relf threw a nice deep ball down the middle for about 40 yards and he came down on it wrong.
- Perkins scores on the "wheel of doom" play. Somehow I imagine this play spread across the college football world after everyone watched the highlights from our game against Illinois.
- #15 is playing some at CB. Haven't seen him on defense in a while. #42 is another new face as MSU is playing a lot of bodies on D.
- Relf threw up a duck when the RG got pushed back into him and he couldn't step up into the throw. Bad read too, throwing into double coverage
- Perkins gets a TD on the screen from about 35 yards out, just before halftime.
- 21-9 at the half.
- RT # 62 gives up yet another bad sack when he just let the DE go by untouched as he's focused on the delayed blitz from the LB. He's the weakest link on that line on pass plays.
- Perkins takes over punt return duty for bumphis (heh, "doody")
- #3 getting more PT with bumphis injured
- Perkins takes the sweep for about 30
- A bad mesh between perkins and relf results in a lost fumble
- Perkins takes another screen for about 70. Relf's passing yards from this game are going to be inflated since Perkins has nearly 140 yards receiving.
- Ballard has a slightly higher tendency to bounce outside when near the goaline. Like 10% instead of 1%
- 31-9 at the start of the 4th
- MSU's FG kicker missed from about 45, but he's been pretty consistent all year.
- Ole Miss gets a TD on the fake bubble slant. This bodes well for us.
- Ballard has been bottled up this week. Ole miss was cheating towards him. I agree with that philosophy. But they let perkins do too much damage
- #3 took the sweep that bumphis would normally do, but he doesn't have nearly the same speed. Couldn't get to the corner and had to cut up too early.
- Ole Miss got the ball with a chance to drive for a TD and tying 2pt conversion, but a chop block penalty snuffed that.
'Twas the week before the Gator Bowl, and back in A-squared,
The game plan to beat MSU, had been already prepared;
A dangerous opponent that southern MSU,
Not our little brother whose team has a felon or two;
The players were all healthy back in Schembechler Hall,
Ordered to play well and to “hold on to the damn ball”;
And GERG with his beaver, and I my pimp hand,
Had just completed a discussion about his last stand,
When out on the practice turf arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my office to see what was the matter.
I set down my phone after reading my tweets,
Grabbed my new overcoat and headed down State Street.
Past Yost where Red and the boys were out on the ice,
A championship in hockey this year would surely be nice.
This football discussion had become quite a huge show,
As I had a plan that no one else can know
Entering the field, to my wandering eyes did appear,
A motivated coach Rodriguez, and all his players in gear,
Running precise passing plays, so lively and quick,
The offense we all know does really click.
These real Michigan Men he recruited and they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Shoelace! now, Lewan! now, Roundtree and Stonum!
On, Martin! on Mouton! on, Kovacs and Demens!
“You made it to 7 and 5 at the end of this fall!
If we win one more time, my firing you may forestall!”
They were led by Schilling and Moundros in a chorus or two,
Of “The Victors” they sang finishing with a big “Let’s Go Blue!
So back to the locker and weight rooms they flew,
With the speed, strength, and force ready to beat MSU.
And then, he approached me, this West Virginia man,
He shared with enthusiasm, his forward thinking plan.
“I have kept working, with all of this media stuff around,
Writers, pundits, and bloggers wishing I would leave town.”
“But I have kept recruiting, adjustments I will make,
New talent I can get, from almost any state.”
“I have Dee Hart, Countess, and a kid with a great foot,
With your word I can get Zettel, Frost and Watkins to boot.”
“I am finally ready to come up with a new defensive attack,
Just find me a new DC and I will allow him his own staff.”
His eyes -- how they twinkled! This game he does love!
It is my decision now, as I am the man up above!
I said “Coach you are not like the old man Bo,
But there are things about football you surely do know.”
I thought a moment more and I gritted my teeth,
I let him know of my plan but it must stay discrete;
I said I would keep him, but we needed a week,
So I would still look good to the fans on the street.
He was relieved with the news, and promised me stealth,
Filled with pride and integrity, he smiled to himself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And looking at his playbook; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, his confidence greatly rose;
He sprang to his feet, to his team gave a whistle,
Ready to destroy Mississippi State, like a heat seeking missile.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he ran out of sight,
"A Michigan Man I am, and as your coach we will be alright."
Game 9 (no torrent, but Brian looked at their offense)
Game 6 (couldn't find a torrent)
This game is probably the most representative of what we'll be seeing. Arkansas is about on par with us in terms of talent, but they run a passing spread instead of a running spread. This is also MSU's most recent game against real competition since their final game was against ole miss. Onto the bullets:
- Nothing against emotional tributes but what does it say if you go into the game with signs that read "win it for ***" and you end up losing?
- #7 gets the start over #5 at FS
- They're nominally listed as a 4-3, but you only see that on short yardage, most of the game is 4-2-5 or 3-3-5.
- Ballard has a pretty good burst accelerating through the hole, but he's not real comfortable keeping a good pitch relationship on the option play, Relf had to eat one because he was too close to pitch it.
- Relf is just deadly on that "inverted" option QB choice play. (below)
- Ark. #7 takes it to the house on a 60+ yarder on a student body left type play. Again, these DB's will give up big plays against real speed. Thankfully we've got a lot of that at WR. (not so much at RB, this would be a great team for Carlos Brown to play against). MSU's #7 let himself get blocked on the play when he didn't need to and could've saved the TD (14 yards downfield, but that's still better than a TD)
- When Ballard runs off-tackle he has a hesitation cut that will usually go back inside or upfield instead of outside.
- Relf is about 50-50 on those deep out passes, but that's an improvement from earlier in the year. His WR and TE are fairly tall, giving him nice targets to aim for. Still throws that intermediate slant pretty well.
- Ark #7 looks like a big guy, easily shedding the tackle attempt from #13
- I'm a fan of the stickers on the helmets. It's college, gold stars for everyone. I do think that the ones we used to have were a bit big and distracting, but that can be fixed by using smaller ones or ones that have more blue and less maize.
- Ark gets their 2nd TD on a really well executed delayed screen. MSU is in pretty good position but Ark gets some great blocks and some pretty nifty running, going all the way across the field. #50 got shaken up, looks okay.
- #2 with a pretty weak fumble on a flare pass.
- But MSU gets it back on a nice strip from #34 on the very next play.
- on 4th and 2, MSU tries a fake punt, nothing special, just a straight run left by the punter. MSU motioned two guys to the far right giving an unbalanced look (ball was on left hash) but had the three up men close to the punter with two on the left side.
- Relf isn't the fasted guy (he's not vince young) but he's got really good vision for picking out the holes even if it isn't where the play was designed to go. Plus, his O-line is getting good movement on ark's front 7. Makes him dangerous on QB draws and scrambles up the middle. We're gonna need a big game from our DT's to not get moved out of the middle.
- nice diving catch by #8 on a ball that should've been batted down.
- Solid hit by #25 on Kickoff coverage, but he didn't wrap up.
- #10 not seeing much PT this week. He's nominally a backup but maybe he's dinged up.
- #90 got a good sack playing from a 2 point stance. Great speed for a guy his size, hadn't gotten many sacks this year, but a lot of pressure. This was a bit of a twist having him line up in a MLB position
- Ark is having their DE's pushing upfield, blew up one of those jet sweep plays.
- MSU's O-line looks much better. #70 is at center instead of #55 who shifted over. #61 is not in the game, and #62 is over at right tackle where he's not as much of a liability. My suspicion is that there's a sizeable dropoff once subs have to come in. #62 and #61 seem fine in run blocking, but not as good in pass blocking.
- Seems like #8 will be the primary receiver with Bumbphis out for the bowl, Relf hasn't been looking at #19 much even though he's in the game a lot.
- Relf nearly scored again on that inverted option. Different lead blocker this time.
- Ballard takes it to the pylon for a short TD, fumbled snap might have allowed him to get outside on the pitch.
- Late hit by #5
- Jebus, enough talk about cam newton. Yes, auburn probably paid his dad. When a paper trail is discovered years down the line, maybe we'll get a reggie bush type rebuke of them then, but not until there's proof.
- Pretty entertaining game MSU 21-17 at the half.
- Ark's DB's are playing inside leverage. Makes sense against relf.
- When Relf is pressured he usually misses high.
- #5 gets an INT on the sideline up. Misread by Mallet, the safety was playing pretty far over. I doubt we'll see much of #7
- FB in the flat again. Only his 3rd catch of the year, converting 4th and 3.
- Relf fumbled. He wasn't careless on this one, just a really good hit by the defender putting his helmet on the ball.
- #5 beaten for an 88 yard passing TD on playaction. Too aggressive on that play. Amazing to see #50 being the guy who never gives up on the play again. He's been impressive from game 1. He's got a great motor.
- #62 gave up a sack, blocked the wrong guy, maybe he thought the back was supposed to pick up the DE. No, that's just a mistake by him.
- Missed tackle by #25. looks like he slipped on the turf.
- Nice hit by #34. He hasn't been lining up at DE as much lately. He's more like a Fritz middle backer, even though he's listed at OLB.
- Ark #3 shows some speed on the bubble screen getting about 20 yards
- Haven't seen much of Perkins this week. Heavy doses of Ballard and Relf up the middle.
- Exciting finish, MSU recovers a fumble with Ark trying to run out the clock with a 3 point lead.
- #19 gets a big catch.
- Ballard chewing up yards on the counter run
- 31-31 going to OT
- Ballard fumbles, Ark misses a FG.
- 2nd OT MSU doesn't cover the back out of the backfield for an easy TD.
- And #62 gives up a sack on 4th down to end the game. Actually it was the speed rush against the left tackle, but they both got there pretty quick.
The dreaded "inverted option":
We'll be seeing a lot of this play or some variation of it. Although this one isn't really part of their option series, it is third play of their sweep series. (The first 2 being the sweep and the counter sweep.) You can tell that this play is a designed QB keeper by the blocking assignments. It doesn't matter what you call it, Relf will have the ball, and he will be running between the tackles with 1, 2, or even 3 lead blockers.
MSU is in a split back slot right. Ark responds with a 4-3 and a late shift into an outside blitz. The safety moves up into man coverage and the MLB fakes a blitz.
The MLB has responsibility for a pretty big bubble in the d-line. MSU takes advantage of that by pulling the right tackle all the way into the 5 hole. Arkansas's blitzer is going way upfield to cut off any bubble screen, flare pass, or sweep. (This was the LSU blue-print).
The running backs show sweep motion to the right and both the playside guard and tackle have gotten great leverage on their men, so there's a pretty big hole for the pulling tackle to lead through.
The MSU linebacker goes for the fake, Relf keeps the ball and sees what is now a huge hole in front of him.
Looking at it from behind we can see how Arkansas should have defended it. The RT takes a pull step right at the snap. But the DE doesn't even notice it. With the blitzer to his side going upfield, he doesn't have contain responsibility and his path should be directly towards the QB/RB mesh point. If you follow a pulling linemen, you'll almost always be taken right to the play.
One of the MLB goes with the fake and the DE is in no man's land about to tackle a guy who doesn't have the ball. The MSU O-line is getting great movement on their guys.
Relf actually makes the wrong cut here, the outside corner is in man and should be blocked. But because he's a big guy, going north and south is never a bad choice for Relf. The FS is in good position to make a tackle, but he gets juked out of his shorts and then Relf is too strong to get taken down by the guys in pursuit. He bounces around into the endzone getting about 10 yards of YAC.