I'm happy to see I'm not the only one who thinks the 2nd tier SEC contenders are softer than advertised. Arkansas was dangerously close to the NCG last year strictly on SEC reputation. The thought makes me shudder.
spoiler alert: i linked this
One I’m buying in 2012, the other I’m selling
After digesting a couple dozen previews, preseason rankings and countless team articles, there are still a handful of teams that my numbers just don’t mesh with the hive mind. For an overview of my numbers used to predict team success, open up your HTTV to the Technical Dossier (no, not about Cass Tech recruiting). The overview is that factors such as returning experience, returning coaching and level of recruits still on the roster are all weighted based on historical significance. The formula is driven by which factors have been most important over the years, not which ones best suit a given (Michigan) team.
CLICK THROUGH for the Mathlete's post.
Texas-Lost in all of the shootouts of the Big 12 last season was a quietly strong Texas defense after adjusting for the quality of offenses faced. Texas is always loaded and they have over 80% percent production returning from their defensive line and backfield. If the offense can take advantage of half of its talent and the defense can maintain its success, look for the Longhorns to return to the title chase for the first time since Colt McCoy went down. The ongoing quarterback confusion is the only thing from going all in on Texas.
Ohio St-It pains me to admit it but this Buckeye team could be very dangerous. The defense should make major strides to an elite level this season with tons of talent and experience. Obviously a first adjustment under Urban Meyer could derail their aspirations, but unlike Rich Rodriguez’s spread entry, Meyer enters with both a quarterback and a potentially elite defense to help him hit the ground running. New coaches often provide big swings in year one for good or bad. The Buckeyes are set up for Urban to get credit for an upswing they probably would have had anyway, but it will probably take some significant first year growing pains to keep Ohio from a great theoretical bowl game.
Notre Dame-For once in their football life the Domers could actually be underrated heading into this season. Last year’s squad lost five games they had good chances to win. If the bounces go Notre Dame’s way this season they have a shot to be a top-10 team. Their biggest hurdle is going to be a schedule that entering the season looks to be far and away the nation’s toughest. Not an easy task with a Never Forget secondary, but there are plenty of other reasons to be optimistic on the Irish roster.
Missouri-The Tigers are unproven against SEC speed, but have the advantage of playing in the slightly less speedy East division. If Missouri’s prior success can translate into success in their new conference, I am predicting the Tigers can crack the top 20 at the end of the year. The level of competition is the major concern, but the middle of the SEC is not an impenetrable fortress.
Tennessee-Quarterbacks, receivers, defensive line and defensive backs are the key positions to have experience, according to my numbers and Tennessee is strong on all fronts. The offseason coaching exodus is cause for concern, but if the program can stay together Tennessee could end up as surprise second tier SEC team. Two elite receivers can go a long way.
LSU-Last year I sold LSU as a potential contender and got burned. This year I am going right back to the fire. Les Miles’ team should be a very good, top tier SEC team, but I see the Tigers as more of fringe title contender as opposed to the favorite that they have been pegged by many.
Michigan St-I have no doubts the Spartan defense is going to be good. I just don’t think they are going to be great and I have major questions about the offense. With a new quarterback and nearly 90% of their receiving production gone, there is little history on their side that they can have a productive offense. Breaking in that many new players at skill positions has Sparty projected to be one of the worst offenses in the country this year, Le’Veon Bell or not. Their defense will keep them afloat but unless Michigan St breaks in a new crew on offense at an unprecedented rate, the offense will be this team’s limiting reagent.
South Carolina-With possibly the best offensive (Lattimore) and defensive (Clowney) player in the SEC back there are plenty of reasons to be high on South Carolina this year. I just don’t think they have enough depth and experience across the board contend at the top of the SEC. I think a lot of voters/prognosticators don’t know what to after the big 5 (USC, Bama, LSU, Oklahoma and Oregon). South Carolina seems like one of the next shiniest things but I don’t see them having the team across the board to make it happen.
West Virginia-There is a serious case of Orange Bowl fever around the Mountaineer program. West Virginia will be a good fit stylistically in the Big 12 but I don’t think their offense can maintain the pace set in Miami (who could) and I don’t think their defense is going to give their offense any room to spare. West Virginia will be good and their offense will likely be great, but I don’t think they have a complete enough team to crack the Top 10 or so. With Casteel gone and facing the Big 12 offensive gauntlet, the Mountaineers are not going to be able to outscore everyone.
Arkansas-While I agree with the consensus on the first tier of the SEC (Alabama, LSU, Georgia) I have a completely different take on the second tier. Arkansas was one of those teams last year whose record was probably a bit overstated relative to performance. That’s goal for every team, but when predicting the next season you’re always better off going with performance versus record. The offense should still be solid but I have their defense predicted as 13th in the SEC and that just doesn’t cut it for a team with title aspirations.
Kansas St-Like their Cotton Bowl opponent Arkansas, Kansas State was a team whose record far exceeded their performance last year. I am predicting the Wildcats to be on par performance wise with last season but even an improvement could be a 2-3 win setback from last year with some of the games Kansas State pulled out in 2011. Arkansas and Kansas St are the two teams I have the biggest spread with versus the consensus, both ranked 20 spots or so worse by me than by most preseason rankings. Bill Snyder built something out of nothing, but even when he was at his peak, they weren’t nearly as lucky as they were last year. Just an unsustainable level of luck last year in Manhattan.
Boise St-What to do with Boise. The program consistency has been unstoppable from class to class and coach to coach. This year will certainly be their biggest test. 9% of DL production returns, 18% of LB returns, 33% of DB. They lost the winningest quarterback in NCAA history and nearly half of their receiving production. I am typically not big on underestimating Chris Petersen and company but if there is a year to do it, this is it.
Anyone not listed here is within the same ball park for my numbers and pollster consensus. I have Michigan right in line at the bottom of the top 10. Its easy to pick flaws on any college team because turnover is such a major player, but adding up all the factors says that Michigan may be flawed, but there is a reasonable case to pick them around #10 heading into the season. Even though I have Wisconsin in the same area, they are a question mark for me. Danny O’Brien may be a grad year transfer like Russell Wilson was a grad year transfer, but Danny O’Brien is not a quarterback like Russell Wilson was. My numbers have an adjustment built in, but I think Montee Ball and company could struggle a bit more than expected.
I'm happy to see I'm not the only one who thinks the 2nd tier SEC contenders are softer than advertised. Arkansas was dangerously close to the NCG last year strictly on SEC reputation. The thought makes me shudder.
I was feeling the same.. Notre Dame threw me off the list, the quarterback carousel has not stopped revolving, they lost their "go to" receiver and they have a pretty tough schedule. I'm selling. Notre Dame is always over-rated and haven't proven me wrong yet.
The only one who believes in them is the peacock.
Depleted secondary, unsettled QB situation, and a coach who is a raving lunatic. Not buying a resurgent ND this year, unless "resurgent" means only 4 losses.
Especially after they lost DE phenom Aaron Lynch. That dude is scary, but ND isn't without him.
They also have Stephon Tuitt and Isaq Williams who were both rated higher than Lynch. Lets just hope they were overrated.
I thought I read the other day that ND has TWO scholarship CB's on the roster that are not injured. Uhhhh...
sorry, but it's time to face reality - notre dame has a really talented team. there's a chance that they play beneath that talent level, but nothing in brian kelly's history suggests that they should. they have issues in the secondary, but this is college, every team has those issues somewhere.
Unless by "history" you're talking about the past 2 years. The biggest question marks for them are their DB's and QB. I've seen this episode before, but I won't spoil the ending for you.
For the sake of a friend who is on Kellys staff, I hope that they pull out an ok year. Otherwise, if Kelly posts another 4-5-6 loss season (or say getting beat by Navy) then he is going to be out of a job.
I don't think they would pull the plug on him at the end of this year, even if it isn't all that great. I think they would give him at least one more year.
he was referring to his friend being out of a job. They might not pull the plug on Kelly, but I'd assume no position under the hc is even remotely safe.
Their schedule is loaded with blue chip names. I'm not any kind of ND fan, but its really incredible and at some at great venues.
The 1/2 purple-ish blue, 1/2 golden domers are tough to get a handle on, but I think their season comes down to two main questions...
1. Can a solid front seven on defense compensate for what will be an adventure in the back four?
2. Can Everett Golson manage to not give the ball to the opposing defense as often as Rees did last year?
I think the answer has to be yes to both for ND to reach (or surpass) the eight win season Brian Kelly has stated as the goal and if the answer to even one is no, then they're looking down the barrel of 6-6.
That said, the night game in South Bend still terrifies me. I still have nightmares of lousy teams coached by Davie or Willingham inexplicably beating good Michigan teams there. /shakes fist at Carlyle Holiday's phantom touchdown
Even if Michigan is playing UTL in South Bend, they still have Denard Robinson. Denard has been a Golden Domer killer in his two years at the helm, so with a depleted secondary and a strong O-line for Michigan I can see much more of the same from Robinson and company heading into this contest. I can also Notre Dame winning just for the simple fact, that it is Notre Dame and you really can't count them out of any game especially against Michigan.
of how Michigan State does this year, and regardless of what happens when Michigan plays them, they are a program on the decline again. The way Hoke has been recruiting in state must be starving MSU of commitments. They don't have the national pedigree to count on getting enough quality prospects from aronud the country. Every commit we get is one they don't. In a few years, they'll be back to the little brother
to wait to see how they, you know, actually play on the field until you say that they're on the decline.
I completely disagree that they are a program on the decline. If you look at their roster right now, there are very few on it who Michigan would probably have recruited or added in their class if they were recruiting like they are now. Just a quick look showed that their RB Bell was a 2-star as well as their CB Dennard. think a lot of people want to think that MSU was on some recruiting tear the past few years, but that hasn't really been the case. MSU has taken some low quality players and been able to mold them into quality players. Also, if you look at the past few classes they have gone from taking classes full of 2 and 3 star players to almost enitrely 3 star players with a couple 4 star players sprinkled in.
Also, I read that all but one of their incoming freshmen last year were able to redshirt. So while MSU may be taking less heralded recruits, they are getting the benefit of a year or two of strength training and coaching before seeing the field. Right now, Michigan doesn't have that luxury and it will be a few years before they are able to do this.
This is not to say that Michigan can't beat MSU this year or that they aren't going to beat them with more regularity because I think this will be the case. I just think the issue is that Michigan is rising very fast with the recruits they are getting. This doesn't necessarily translate to MSU doing worse and in fact it looks like that program is also on the rise, just not on the same page as Michigan.
While I agree that they aren't on the decline, and they have pieces in place and momentum to continue to be competitive, one factor that I really think can't be ignored is that their success and Michigan's struggle were correlated. I believe this extends beyond just recruiting battles.
The Michigan game is and always will be MSU's season. Michigan's struggles made that game significantly easier, and that meant their seasons took a different path. Don't think for a second that every kid in that program, both by virtue of not being recruited by Michigan and through the tutelage of the raging dickhead (who has the attitude of the ultimate "MSU fan who was a Michigan fan until they got rejected") doesn't rest their entire hopes and dreams on beating Michigan. When they fail at that, which they most assuredly will do in the coming years, they will crumble like the Sparty of old.
Let's not forget that, during the past 2 years (during which they've reached their *gasp* historic heights of beating Georgia in a non BCS game and getting physically and mentally abused by Alabama) they played games like this:
2010 Iowa woodshedding
2010 Purdue narrow victory
2011 Nebraska beat down
2011 Minnesota narrow victory
2011 Narrow victory of OSU minus Tatgate players aka the worst football game of all time
The bottom line is, Michigan's ascension back to its rightful places means a step back for them. Maybe they can still win 7 or 8 games and occasionally have a good run, but they will definitely take a step back.
It's all pretty irrelevant though, as I firmly believe that Brady Hoke is taking this team to a point where even a peak MSU team is not going to give them much of a problem.
Using the HTTV methodology, who are your top 10 to hoist the crystal football? (In order.....)
My Top10: 1.Oklahoma 2.Oregon 3.Texas 4.Alabama 5.Georgia 6.USC 7.Ohio 8.Michigan 9.ND 10.LSU
Why did you bump Ohio so high? I think they'll be a competitive team year one under Meyer, but not top 10.
Ohios passing offense is one of the biggest question marks in the country. It has no place to go but up, but they lost their best (only) deep threat and Miller was a worse freshman passer than Denard was. Just for those reasons I'd put Michigan over them.
Is 14/31, 188 yards, 2 TDs, and 4 interceptions better than 85/157, 1159 yards, 13 TDs, and 4 interceptions?
In a world where one kid starts for 10 games and the other gets thrown in for a play or 2, then yanked off the field without starting. I was referring to his accuracy, though. That's something you have to watch in a game to assess. Denard was also a better runner, imo. It's worth noting that even with 10 starts under his belt and Posey returning before seasons end, Ohio's passing offense was 3rd from last in all of FBS heading in to The Game in 2011. If Posey hadn't come back Ohio would've likely been 2nd from last place in passing offense.
Now you know
Picking apart Ohio is one thing...starting with Braxton Miller is another. That guy would be THE reason Ohio could play like a top 10 team this season.
No love for the ACC? I know the conference is weak, but you have to figure whoever wins between VT and FSU has a probable shot at a top ten finish. I don't mind your list but I would switch Georgia and LSU. Also, I'd put OSU around 9 or 10 and kick ND to the teens or twenties. ND will at least lose three out of MSU, Michigan, Miami, Stanford, Oklahoma, and USC.
That is assuming FSU doesn't FSU themselves and lose to Wake Forest or something.
Ohio won't even win the MAC much less be hoisting the chrystal ball this year.
Yeah, except OHIO probably will win the MAC cause they return almost everyone from their bowl-winning team save for LaVon Brazill, and have quite the easy schedule with their toughest contest being the opener against Penn St. They should basically be able to run through the MAC with two conference losses tops. By the way, Ohio = OSU; OHIO = OU.
Man you seem to know your way around Ohio, you either much be from there or live there. I was thinking that NIU would roll through the MAC this year, and not OU.
NIU should be decent, but they lost virtually their entire offense (they return WR Moore and Ashford), including their record-setting QB Chandler Harnish. They get most of their defense back minus the leading tackler Pat Schiller, but they still gave up 60 points to Toledo last year. Even if NIU pans out, they aren't on OHIO's schedule and would only face them if they both reach the MAC championship game. And for some reason I have a special fondness for the MAC and enjoy following the conference second to the Big Ten.
It is interesting because it is very different than the polls. Thanks again. Great post.
It is too bad that Boise St. is in a reloading year this year when they face off vs. Sparty.
I think it's going to be an embarassment if they lose. Even moderately informed college footbal fans understand that Boise lost almost all of their starters. With the hype Sparty has been receiving (for them, anyway), a loss at home at night would be devestating. Lose again to Notre Dame and they get tossed right back onto the pile of dimiss-ables.
Boise always fields tough, physical teams (despite their rep as offensive innovators), and they won't be intimidated with the atmosphere given the places and teams they've played recently. And if anyone can take advantage of crazy-risky-blitzy LBs and CBs, it's Petersen.
I think you might be underestimating how big Kellen Moore was to their success. Will the new QB be able to preform on the road for his first start? Maybe it was mostly play calling from Petersen. I guess we will find out.
Michigan State just lost the winningest quarterback in their history who was a 3rd round draft pick and leader in the locker room. I think that is bigger to MSU's success this year than losing Moore will be to Boise.
One thing that many people overlook with regard to BSU is the number of players that are not "returning starters" but which still have a lot of experience. Because they played in so many blowout games over the last few years, the backups got a lot more playing time than backups anywhere else. That might somewhat offset the losses of seven(!) drafted players and Kellen Moore.
If MSU happens to lose to a team with "almost no returning starters" it could be seen as a pretty bad loss. Also, since they are ranked somewhere in the top 15 and BSU is in the 20's, they can't really spin it as not being an upset either.
Every Sparty is going to consider this a quality win even though Boise is losing 75% of their starters. However, that I did see one analyst say that if Boise happens to wins, they may run the table after that because of how weak their schedule is. Then Sparty is going to be able to say they lost to an undefeated team (or at least one that has a great record). Bottom line is UM needs to take care of business and they won't have to worry about what Sparty says anymore.
Let's try to be honest for a minute...you wouldn't consider it a "quality" win if it was us beating BSU? Even if you wouldn't, does it really matter WTF they think or consider a quality win? Honestly, I find it somewhat humiliating that I am a fan of a team whose other fans call a school "little brother" yet often are the ones acting like they have an inferiority complex. There is more griping on this blog about "sparty" as you call them than there is content about UM most of the time.
Can't we just try to act like the "older brother" if we insist on calling them little brother. As a big brother you don't give two shits about what little brother is up to, how he thinks, what his plans are or anything else....it's little brothers who concern themsleves with that crap.
Also, your last line doesn't negate all the attention you paid them in the previous 10 lines of your post.
You said that "During the dark years, MSU was able to bring in some better-than-MSU-normal recruits and Michigan's recruiting" and "Now, MSU is back to picking at crumbs (and hugging legacies) while Michigan is back to plucking (and hopefully keeping) high value recruits."
Here's Dantonio's recruiting classes on average star per basis.. where exactly is the decline?
2013 (to date): 3.10
Doesnt seem to support a decline. Although, will the 2013 class decline as I believe they need to add quite a few more players?
Maybe the bigger difference was our decline due to recruiting and transfers for a period (which seems to be past us).
Not a decline, but clearly pretty stagnant since 2010. I'm guessing you are a MSU fan, so my question is why hasn't your recruiting seen a larger uptick after back to back 10+ win seasons?
He may have been referring to individual blue chip prospects that Dantonio brags about instead of entire class averages. He's been touting that for successive years Sparty has been landing the top in-state recruit. Kids like Max Bullough, 5star Will Ghoulston, and Lawrence Thomas will be a lot harder to come by now that Michigan is locking down the home state.
I disagree with the notion that Michigan is poaching recruits -- at least, in any way that affects MSU adversely. Hoke is primarily going after players that fit his game, and there are millions of kids in the country. College is more about finding and developing talent; in some cases Hoke's crew discovered talent before the scouts did.
The difference maker isn't that MSU's recruiting will be affected by Michigan, but that Michigan's recruiting has dramatically improved. MSU could be right where they've been and things still don't look good for them, because -- despite their recent dominance -- MSU still has an insane inferiority complex. When Michigan does well they don't and it has little to do with in-state poaching. It's about not setting your own standard. If I sell Dragonchild (TM) brand chum with the pitch "dogs prefer it over Acme chum" and then some TV show does a blind taste test and my product LOSES, I'm in a lot more trouble than if I just sold my product straight-up. By making their season all about Beating Michigan, their coach is playing a risky emotional game. It's a subtle difference, but while Hoke emphasizes beating Ohio, every time he's asked what the team's goal is he's adamantly insisted it's winning the conference. He wants to beat MSU and Ohio, but he never measures the team based on those results. On the other hand, MSU went after Denard with a savageness I didn't see in any other game -- not even the conference championship (where that vaunted defense was as leaky as the Titanic) or their bowl game. In fact, after the Michigan game, their defense allowed 24ppg. That's a team that doesn't know what it's like to lose to Michigan. I could be wrong, but by making his team all about this inferiority complex I wonder if he's setting himself up for a disaster come the day Michigan reclaims the Paul Bunyan trophy.
Since the trophy existed, MSU has never beaten Michigan five years in a row.
but here is an Imgur album of 30 HD Michigan wallpapers I have put together. I have rescaled and cropped all of them to be 1920x1200. Hope everyone likes them. (I would make a post but not enough points)
Edit: Also, you can download the album by using the download link at the bottom of the page.
Love them. Thanks
I'd put W's chances of winning the Leaders at around 50%, with the other 25% about evenly split b/n Purdue and Illinois. That's for 4 reasons:
1. I don't think Wisconsin is that good w/ weaker O-line, QB, and WR. I don't think the defense is all that great. Like Michigan, Wisconsin has a hole at guard that it's trying to fill. Thus, there's a decent chance that they lose to MSU, OSU and Nebraska.
2. Purdue is better than people think. And, Wisconsin plays at Purdue.
3. Illinois has an easy schedule that is worth a win versus Wisconsin and Purdue, so even though I don't think they're as good as Wisconsin and Purdue, they get in the convo.
4. I think Iowa and Northwestern aren't good at all --- with Iowa the tougher call of the two. This reduces the chances that Purdue and/or Illinois have a loss that Wisconin doesn't.
The BTN crew kept talking up their D, but I don't see it. The LBs are tough as hell, sure, but they're not great athletes. I don't see any impact players on their D, no disruptive forces. Their coaching was horrible at times, too. They were absolutely running in circles at times against Sparty last year, though you have to give credit to STAEE for some of that.
And there's simply no way they replace the production of Wilson. And I also think Purdue is going to scare some people.
Second the questions about Wisconsin's defense. Oregon put up 670 yards in the Rose Bowl, and sure, they're Oregon, but MSU put up almost 500 yards in the Big 10 championship game. Those LBs put up huge tackle stats but they struggle against any type of speed. Add in the struggles they have when they play away from Camp Randall and I see them losing to Nebraska and Purdue this year.
Edit: Add in that most of their coaching staff left in the off season. They've got 6 new assistant coaches.
I think you have to give Borland his proper respect given the hughe amount of TFLs he had last year. Taylor has a ton of tackles but not the other things, though geeze, that's a lot of tackles anyway. But the DL and DBs might be worse than Indiana's.
The 2 units that Purdue has that are relatively stinky are: the OL (admitedly important) and the LBs. Everythin else I'd put at about average (QB, receivers) or above average (RB, DL, DB).