Let’s start out with a shout out to the ‘Cats. Nobody thought they were going to be worth a shit back in August. Everyone thought the Stanford win was a fluke. Nobody thought they would beat Duke. People are starting to come around on them, but it’s still more of a “how’s this one going to fall apart?” kind of situation. Based on our track record, it’s hard to disagree with that, but our merry group of tailgaters is going to enjoy the shit out of the national attention we’re getting. Even if it’s just for a point in time.
Godspeed ‘Cats. Remember ’95 at the Big House (20 years ago today).
Now, to something that really has my ass chapped this week – Advanced Stats. More specifically, the use of advanced stats in football this early in a season. From my perspective, the use of advanced stats for sports is only legitimate in baseball where you have a sample size as big as a SKU count at a grocery store. We don’t have that in football. Most importantly, we sure as shit don’t have that through 5 games in football. But, what we do have are blowhards using rankings like the S&P+ to try to prove a point. Let’s take a look at these rankings and discuss the absolute f*cking stupidity with them. As you’ll see, Michigan is ranked #2…. ahead of the undefeated team to whom they lost. Nice reasoning. But, from a ‘Cats fan’s perspective, that’s not the most egregious bastardization of “stats” that we have here. 5-0 Northwestern is ranked #28 just behind Western Kentucky. Fine. Whatever. Nobody wants to give us any credit. But, which noteworthy teams are ranked ahead of us? Let’s see…… Stanford at 10. Beat them 16-6. Duke at 11. Beat them on the road 19-10. And even Minnesota at 24! Just waxed that ass 27-0. So…. what have we learned here? Well, for one, we’ve learned that the S&P+ ratings are a giant crock of shit and don’t appear close to sorting themselves out. But, we’ve also learned that results, elementary logic and a simple eye test should trump all. Maybe stats really are for losers….
So…. what happened in Week 5?
Brian Kelly happened…. again. Oh, Brian Kelly. When will you learn that the PAT is not the time to play video game football? For those who don’t remember, Brian pretty much lost a game for the Irish last season (against the ‘Cats no less) by inexplicably going for 2 when Notre Dame scored to take an 11 point lead (take a look at the box score). The conversion failed. What did that do? Well, it allowed the ‘Cats to tie the game with a TD, a 2 point conversion and a last second FG rather than having to score 2 TD’s. Nice move, Brian.
What happened this week for Brian and team? He pulled a similar move in the deluge that was Death Valley (maybe he was singin’ in the rain and not paying attention to the score). At the beginning of the 4th quarter, the Irish scored to get within 12 (check the box score). Conventional, rational and intelligent wisdom would tell you to kick the PAT and continue to eat away at the margin with the safe bet. Why? Because there were still 14 minutes left and maybe, just maybe, Clemson might get a field goal somewhere along the way making that PAT ever so important. Well, Brian didn’t take the sure points. Brian went for 2. The result? Fail. Clemson subsequently kicked a field goal to take a 15 point lead rather than a 14 point lead. The rest is history. The failed and unnecessarily attempted 2 point conversion cost ND the game (or at least a shot in OT). We’ll be sending an abacus to the football offices at ND.
Let’s move out west. Apparently I spoke too soon last week when writing off the state of Arizona. That was definitely accurate for Rich Rod’s team (way to keep plugging away Stanford), who got throttled at Stanford on Saturday night, but the Sun Devils pulled off a big surprise at the Rose Bowl. ASU raced out to a big lead early, but presumably out of the blue, things got interesting in the 4th quarter with ASU up 19 and cruising. The funny thing is that this wasn’t out of the blue. This was the law of Gus Johnson. Gus was on the call Saturday night and when Gus and UCLA get together, truly great things are bound to happen. This one got wild as UCLA narrowed the gap to 6 before ASU hung on for dear life. As always, thanks for the entertainment Gus.
Now that we’re 5 weeks deep into this glorious season, let’s circle the wagon and point out 5 things we know:
- Advanced Stats Are Horseshit
See above for more details….
- Ohio State IS NOT Unbeatable
In fact, Ohio State is looking very beatable. When we started the season, several columnists were asking whether OSU had a chance to be the greatest team ever this year. Going undefeated and securing the #1 seed for the playoffs was an afterthought. Well, I would suggest that now there’s a greater likelihood that they won’t be in the playoffs come New Year’s Eve. They still have a very favorable schedule, but the loss of 2014 OC Tom Herman to Houston is impacting the BuckNut offense more than people expected.
- The Big8/10/12 Doesn’t Play Defense
A week after 105 points were scored in TCU’s miracle win over Texas Tech, we saw a 90.5 point O/U (the highest in a quarter century) in the Baylor v. Texas Tech game. Guess what? Baylor and Tech hit the over in that one…. by more than one score. Some of the ridiculous scores in this conference are due to the pace of play (the average team in the Big8/10/12 runs more plays per game than the average team in any other conference), but at some point it would be nice to see at least some semblance of defense. It’s hard to win a national title without an above average defense. It just doesn’t happen. So, I won’t be taking anyone from the Big8/10/12 to win one this year.
- The Transitive Property Still Doesn’t Apply
If A beats B and B beats C, then A will beat C, right? No. Why? Pretty simple….. just because A beat B doesn’t mean they are consistently better than B. Also, shit happens…. like injuries. This has already played out several times this season, but are you excited to see a great example of it this Saturday? Look no further than Georgia Tech’s game @ Clemson. Let’s recap. Clemson beat ND. ND beat Georgia Tech. But, Georgia Tech WILL beat Clemson. Remember… don’t ever use the transitive property when comparing teams. It’s almost as dumb as the S&P+ rankings.
- There’s A Good Chance A QB Doesn’t Win the Heisman
The last time a non-QB won the Heisman was 2009 (Mark Ingram). For the most part, the rise of dynamite offenses have been anchored by stellar QB play. That doesn’t apply this year. QB play in the SEC is a well documented hot mess. Meanwhile, we have absolutely garbage QB play in the B1G as well, where a combo of Barrett/Jones and Cook were supposed to carry the conference. Out west, we’ve seen really inconsistent QB play (on paper, Cody Kessler still has remarkable numbers). Then, we have the Big 8/10/12 where it’s hard to truly assess what’s going on because of #3 above. My money is on a running back this year (shout out to Josh Doctson who gets no respect in the race).
Let’s go back to last week’s wild predictions and see how we did…..
- Notre Dame (-1) @ Clemson – Because this is becoming an unavoidable trend, ND loses another starter for the season. TBD. ND had a lineman go down, but I’m not sure of his status and I don’t care enough to look it up.
- Mississippi State @ Texas A&M (-7) – A&M by 3 scores. CLOSE. A&M by 2 scores. Mississippi State has been feisty thus far. Just feisty enough to get beat.
- Oregon (-7.5) @ Colorado – Oregon covers by a lot (20+). They may be fragile now, but Colorado is a joke. (note to the gamblers: this is one of the more bizarre lines I’ve seen recently) DING DING! Oregon won easily…. covered that spread. What was going on in Vegas with this one?
- Hawaii @ Boise State (-24.5) – Excited to finally kick off after 5am Hawaii time, Hawaii leads this one deep into the 2nd half. UH…… NOT EVEN CLOSE. 49-0 Boise State at halftime. This is the worst miss of the year.
- Ole Miss (-7) @ Florida – Florida wins. Go gata! oh…. take the under here too (50.5). WINNER X2. Gata won and we hit the under…. just barely (48).
For the record, we’re pacing pretty well on the season with these wild predictions. We’re definitely under .500, but the predictions are always wild so .500 would be a home run (Go Cubs).
For the week ahead, here are some wild and crazy predictions:
- LSU (-13.5) @ South Carolina – Fournette is held under 100. SC wins.
- Indiana @ Penn State (-8) – IU wins in State College for the first time in ages. Franklin is really feeling the heat under his ass.
- Wake Forest @ BC (O/U 37) – Less than 20 points scored cumulatively in this game. BC wins.
- Cubs (-128) @ Pirates – NL Wild Card Game – Cubs by 3+. Arrieta has a no-no going past 5.
- USA vs. Mexico – Confederations Cup Playoff Game (Saturday night in the Rose Bowl) – USA 2 Mexico 1. Goals from Deuce and Altidore in this one. Klinsmann keeps his job.