"(I) think about 'The Lion King,' Simba gets hit over the head and (he's told) 'the past can hurt,' " Harbaugh said Monday afternoon. "'You can either run from it or embrace it and learn from it.'
Welcome to week five, in which I go out of my way not to pick on the MAC, even knowing full well there's an EMU v Ohio game, as well as a BGSU v Buffalo matchup.
Last Week's Recap
The state of New Mexico continues to look for its first win, as both New Mexico and New Mexico State lost. New Mexico actually had more time of possession than UNLV in a 45-10 loss, further evidence as to how useless that stat is. New Mexico managed to shoot themselves in the foot with 9 penalties and 3 turnovers, helping to make up for UNLV's 1/11 third down conversion rate. Anybody know how you score 45 points, have 19 first downs, and still go 1 for 11 on third down?
Moving on, Kansas went on to prove there's bad teams, then there's really bad teams, by beating New Mexico State in a game where Kansas only punted twice and returned a kickoff 96 yards for a TD.
Highlighting "Big Ten Cupcake Blowout Week" was OSU and EMU. The Buckeyes refused to call off the dogs in a futile attempt to get the national #1 and scored 21 in the fourth quarter. You stay classy, Ohio.
Starting off is the "Tang Presents: The Really Orange Bowl" featuring Miami versus Clemson. Not that this is a bad game, but it will feature more orange than the first week of hunting season. Virginia Tech and Tennessee will play to see who plays for the title.
The "How The Mighty Have Fallen" game is Colorado versus Georgia. No telling if both teams will swap coaches at half-time and tell the fans "There, happy now?" Georgia lost to Mississippi State last week, and Colorado took a week off after the road-trip to Hawaii. At least they beat Hawaii, I guess. It's in Boulder as well, so maybe the altitude (and weed) will have some effect on Georgia; it's not the "Mile High City" for nothing. And yes, since I'm in Denver, I'm well aware that Boulder's actual altitude is 5,430 feet. We put altitude on our city signs in place of population.
The "Travelocity Pointless Road Trip" game is Idaho visiting scenic Kalamazoo to play Western Michigan. Let's hope it's a home-and-home so the Broncos get to see Moscow, Idaho. Western has beaten Nicholls State, and Idaho is coming off a loss to CSU. At least take them to Bell's for a beer for making the trip. Unless they're Mormon, in which case never mind.
Looking through Sagarin's rankings to get any insights into the coming match-ups, I noticed something interesting about SoS of BigTen teams. Several BigTen teams have really abysmal SoS and that may be making them look better than they are. Cases in point (figures in parantheses are the current SoS ranking followed by current national rank) :
- OSU (118, 6): Easily the worst SoS in top 20. It has been easy for them to win against easy competition - will they be able to elevate their game agaist sterner tests?
- Iowa (128, 27): Second worst SoS in top 30 after Nebraska. I am picking Iowa for this year's second most disappointing team compared to pre-season expectations. The first choice is of course Penn State.
- Wisconsin (133, 31): Second worst SoS for FBS teams in top 40 after Nebraska. Although has had trouble putting away teams (except the last one) convincingly - it is also their style. The low variance run oriented approach fives you Ws without too much drama. So I expect them to rise up to stronger schedule coming up.
- MSU (157, 41): Worst SoS among all top 50 teams. I doubt they will hold up to better scrutiny. I bet they will fold against Wisconsin this Sat because like last year, they will be totally working for next week's Michigan game. Sparty does not mind a loss if it gives them the Michigan win.
- Indiana (200, 85): Worst SoS among all top 100 teams. I think their 3-0 is a product of the ridiculous schedule. Their defense will soon get exposed and their high variance pass oriented offense will stall enough for not being able to make up for the defense's shortcomings.
The four teams above are notable for having the worst SoS in the country for their national rank. I had some idea that Big Ten's SoS is weak but I had not thought it to be this bad.
Michigan's (77, 26) has had a decent scheule for its rank. Penn State has a better SoS at 66 because of the Alabama game but since they lost that game convincingly, I don't think the current rank of 22 is justified for them. Illinois (113, 61) seems to have an okay SoS for its rank.
Well - what I am concluding from the above is that we have a decent shot against even apparently well ranked teams like OSU, Iowa and Wisconsin - and surely a very very good shot against teams that have hardly played anybody like Indiana and MSU. I am a little more calm in my head for next two weeks after looking through the data. Of course, the next two weeks of Big Ten matchups will give us much more information to have a better idea about Big Ten teams.
Sagarin's rankings are available here: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin/fbt10.htm?loc=interstitialskip
PS> My very first diary. Yay!
Right before the UConn game, I made some incendiary remarks about this coaching staff’s ability to coach. Clearly, my emotional state contributed to much hyperbole.
Now, with the standard disclaimers in place (the Big 10 season hasn’t begun, we started 4-0 last year, etc.), I offer an interesting development on Rich Rodriguez’s coaching ability.
In three years, RR has transformed an ungainly, Benny Hill offense into one of the best in the country. Some perspective on this is useful. He inherited offensive personnel as mismatched to his system as…well…words fail me:
The Borens, Malletts, Threets and Arringtons fled at the prospect of playground, Chinese fire drill ball that required a level of fitness beyond their experience and surely would destroy NFL aspirations like Taylor Lewan destroys donkeys. Three years later, it is safe to say that there is not a defense in the land that wouldn’t be gibbering in fear at the thought of playing Michigan this coming Saturday. Project yourself into the film room in Bloomington and imagine the discussion they are having.
Given his exploits at WVU, all of us wondered what RR would do with a higher level of talent. I think we are getting a sense of that. Yet, would anyone have said, after Tressel pulled in this class…
…and after Threetsheridammit debuted that RR would have passed Tressel two years later?
I touched upon the tantalizing potential of RR finding diamonds in the rough like Denard, Omameh and Odoms in my McBean series (to be continued in the off-season), and it appears that, both as a unit and player by player, Michigan has a superior offense to Ohio State. (For comparison, I am using Rivals Ratings [RR] for a finer comparison.)
Is the blossoming of the Michigan personnel heredity or environment? If the former, RR knows talent. If the latter, RR makes talent. If a combo, even better.
Some might say that more than one offensive line position would be up for debate. However, living in Ohio as I do, I had the pleasure of listening to some Buckeye postmortem radio show about three hours ago, and several callers complained that Ohio State's offensive line could not get a push against Eastern Michigan. Complaining about underperformance of offensive lines is an October ritual in Columbus. As a unit and especially considering backups, I wouldn't even look twice at Ohio State's offensive line, pedigree or no.
Quarterback? In my opinion only, I think Pryor is a very good quarterback with enormous potential to implode. Their backs? Eh. Their receivers; yes, a couple are very nice, but how can one be discontented with Roy and Clark Kent and the Billy goat?
What's the point of all this? Besides being stunned at how deep RR's reclamation project runs on the offensive side of the ball, it has not translated to the defensive side of the ball, which is why OSU would be a double digit favorite if we played THE game tomorrow. Our purpose is not the rehash the trail of tears that has been the defense, but to ask a more pointed question (and I ask sharik directly):
- How is it possible for a coach with such a sophisticated understanding of offensive schemes to not have an equally sophisticated understanding of the defenses most effective at stopping those schemes? In other words, can he do for our defense what he has already done for our offense, or is he a half of a coach?
With some talk about how the conferences compare, and the recent article disparaging the Big Ten, I thought it would be helpful to have a look at how the Big Ten is faring against the other "Big Six" conferences (and Notre Dame). I have the chart broken down into the Big Ten vs. each other conference, and included the scores for each game. Obviously I included the total record versus the conference and the total conference record versus BCS level competition. I have also included the Sagarin Rankings for each team in each matchup (Big Ten teams are listed first, regardless of outcome). Note that these rankings are updated weekly, and will be reflected as such in the charts.
|Big Ten records vs. BCS Conferences|
|vs SEC||Win||Loss||Sagarin Rankings|
|NW 23 Vanderbilt 21||x||35 vs 59|
|PSU 3 Alabama 24||x||22 vs 1|
|OSU 36 Miami 24||x||6 vs 11|
|Iowa 35 Iowa St 7||x||27 vs 65|
|Illinois 13 Missouri 23||x||61 vs 30|
|Michigan 30 Uconn 10||x||26 vs 69|
|Wisconsin 20 ASU 19||x||31 vs 45|
|Minnesota 21 USC 32||x||102 vs 10|
|Iowa 27 Arizona 34||x||27 vs 12|
|Michigan 28 ND 24||x||26 vs 64|
|MSU 34 ND 31||x||41 vs 64|
|Purdue 12 ND 23||x||96 vs 64|
I included the Sagarin Rankings if only to give an idea of whether the Big Ten was supposed to win, compete, or lose each game. I feel that this is important for perspective, especially in the small sample sizes. I understand that the sample size is STILL small, so this should be taken with a grain of salt (a big loss to a team could be a contributor to the disparity in rankings with so few games played, instead of solely the other way around).
It seems that the Big Ten is very competitive with all the other conferences. The losses the Big Ten incurred are somewhat understandable to this point. We may revisit this chart later in the year to see how these wins and losses hold up throughout the year. Thoughts?
Note: I thought this might be diary worthy since it has a chart and might be of interest to people for more than a couple hours, and yea this is my first one. If it needs to be bumped down, do it to it. I know there are a lot of amazing diaries on here that I don't like to push back a page.
We've all seen our offense's ridiculous red zone numbers (for a quick refresher, Michigan is 18/19 in the red zone with 17 touchdowns) and I wanted to see how that stacks up against the rest of the NCAA. I started here:
According to that, Michigan is 11th in red zone efficiency. But for anybody who knows football, we know that simply scoring when in the red zone is not the ultimate goal. If team A got 20 red zone chances and kicked 20 field goals while team B got 20 red zone chances and scored 15 touchdowns, I think we all realize that we'd rather be team B. Yet according to the above link, team A did better.
Those of you who pay attention to basketball eFG% know where I'm going with this, and I believe Brian has also touched on something along these lines. [Ed: Aye.]
Here's how things play out if you weight red zone scores (7 for a TD and 3 for a FG). Weighted Efficiency is (7*TD + 3*FG)/(7*RZ):
|Rank||Name||Gm||Red Zone||Scores||FG||TD||Weighted Efficiency|
Shown are the top 20 teams along with the Big Ten (including Nebraska) and Notre Dame. I find this pretty interesting because not only can we hit the home run w/ Denard breaking a long run or hitting a receiver deep, but we're also extremely efficient when we get near the goal line.
Disclaimer: I have to admit to a bit of subjective criteria -- if you weight a TD as six points rather than seven, Michigan comes in second behind East Carolina.
I just went to a talk by David Pahl, ESPN's general counsel and VP (and a Michigan Law alum!), and thought I'd share a few of the highlights.
The most interesting stuff to me was about online video. They're working with YouTube and Justin.tv to take down highlights and broadcasts, which from a consumer's perspective kind of sucks - I'm not always in front of a TV, but I want to be able to catch the game. They really want to get more material online, though - they're working on setting up a website to do a live simulcast of everything that's on ESPN. Sometime this fall, Time Warner customers - no deal with Comcast yet, what a shock - will be able to go to espnlivebroadcast.com (or something like that) and watch whatever's on at the time.
They're also trying to get more material on ESPN3, but the problem is that with a lot of their contracts it's not entirely clear whether they're allowed to broadcast stuff online. Older contracts didn't even mention web stuff, and newer ones are inconsistent. Their NFL contract, for example, says that they can put stuff online only if it's simulcast with what's on TV. Their contract for Olympics broadcasting, on the other hand, explicitly says that they aren't allowed to put video online - so when you're watching ESPN online in 2012, you'll just get a black screen when they're showing Olympic highlights. Fun.
One other thing that people kept coming back to was the Erin Andrews videotape. Apparently this guy was the one who acknowledged that it was actually her in the tape. He admitted that wasn't his brightest move. ESPN provided all of her legal counsel during that time because they were petrified that it was an ESPN employee who had made the tape. It seems Erin doesn't really understand how the internet works - she kept insisting that they take down every copy of it everywhere. But once it's out there, it's too late - it'll never die.
What else... there was some interesting talk about gambling. ESPN has to walk a fine line, trying to phrase things as "predictions" rather than "the spread" or "the over/under." Somebody brought up a pick-em feature on their website, and David's response was a gentle "shhhhhhhhh." They're especially in a tight spot since they're owned by Disney, who probably doesn't want to be associated with gambling.
He mentioned that there was some real soul-searching at ESPN about whether to air LeBron and "the Decision" because they didn't want to establish a precedent, but in the end it came down to money (surprise!). It wound up getting great ratings, unfortunately, and ESPN's president said he'd probably do it again.
Oh, and apparently Chris Berman isn't nearly as annoying in person as he is on TV. FYI.