Predictions -- Week 9

4-6 last week.

Season vs. spread 19-22 (.463)

All picks vs ESPN's Betus.com line as of tonight:

Duke @ Florida State -17.5
A shaky 4-3 Florida State has beaten precisely nobody by 17 pts or more this season. Zilch. Two of those were at home, vs UAB and NC St.
Duke, getting 17.5

Cal @ Arizona State -3
Arizona State in the national championship game. Stare cross-eyed at that and assume that they must lose at least two games before this is over. This is probably one of them.
Cal, getting 3

Ohio State @ Penn State +3.5
Masked Avenger's psychic cat says Ohio State goes down. Who am I to argue?
Penn State, getting 3.5

Kansas @ Texas A&M +3
Texas A&M is a 6-2 team, from the Big 12 South, playing at home. Nice record, Kansas. But you haven't played anybody... until now.
Texas A&M, getting 3

Iowa State @ Missouri -29
It seems hard to believe that anybody in the Big 12 Norris is reliably 29 points better than anybody else. This year, ANY 29 point advantage is fishy.
Iowa State, getting 29

West Virginia @ Rutgers +6
The 5-2 team (Rutgers) that beat the good team (South Florida) that beat West Virginia is getting six -- AT HOME -- against West Virginia? Remember when everybody thought Rutgers was good? They didn't go from good to awful. I'm not six points sure that either of these teams is a favorite.
Rutgers, getting 6

Pitt @ Louisville -10
This game should come with a viewer discretion advisory. Somebody might win this after being down by 20. Again, nobody is ten points certain...
Pitt, getting 10


FIRE THE COACH! (just sayin')

Thus far this season, Nebraska, Pitt and Notre Dame have racked up a combined 7-13 record. A .350 winning percentage after -- for two of them -- the easy part of their schedule is over.

What do these teams have in common?

Nebraska and Pitt changed coaching horses in 2004, Notre Dame in 2003, and all three thought they were bringing in the man to "take them to the next level."

Where were they at?

Nebrasaka, with Frank Solich, finished 2003 with a 10-3 record and a win over Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl. No Big 12 title, no national championship run. Sorry Frank! Forget about that 11-2 season and a Rose Bowl vs #1 Miami two years earlier. C'YA!!!!

The year after changing coaches, Nebraska had its first losing season since 1961.

Pitt had Walt Harris. 8-4 season in 2004, Big East co-champs, BCS appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. BCS? Pitt???? Not enough. C'YA, Walt!

Notre Dame with Tyrone Willingham. 6-6 record, and a loss to Oregon State in the Insight Bowl. Notre Dame lose a bowl game? Who'd have thought it? Willingham had them 10-3 two years earlier? Not enough. BYE-YA!

Not one of those teams is playing anywhere nearly as healthy a few years later than they were doing the year they changed coaches or even two years before they changed coaches. In all cases, a glass half full (or nearly dry, in Notre Dame's situation).

All told, a lesson for those looking to ditch their coach for success not fulfilling their expectations. Experienced haters of Lloyd Carr, Kirk Ferentz and others... take note. There's a reward for sticking with a coach who has shown some knowledge of what he's doing. Ask Rutgers, Kentucky, Kansas, Penn State and others whose fan bases have rashly rioted for change over the last few years.


Predictions -- Week 8

A 1-1 split last week with a meager two selections.

Crawling slowly back to respectability...

Season vs spread: 15-16 (.484)

Lots of interesting spreads this week. So I'm going long with ten selections -- all dogs -- and all from Betus.com posted by ESPN today:

Auburn @ LSU -10.5
Nothing in the SEC is ten points safe this year.
Auburn, getting 10.5

Michigan @ Illinois +3
Michigan on the road -- at night -- against a running QB? Seen this movie before. This thing goes to overtime.
Illinois, getting 3

Southern Cal @ Notre Dame +18.5
It goes against my DNA to take Notre Dame against any spread. But the question comes down to which team deflates expectations more? Based on previous weeks, there isn't an 18.5 pt difference in that answer. So, against my better judgment...
Notre Dame, getting 18.5

Kansas @ Colorado +4
Kansas has played nobody, Colorado has beaten a somebody. The game's at Colorado. This is the ever wild Big 12 Norris Division.
Colorado, getting 4

Michigan State @ Ohio State -17
I don't normally comment on the Spartans vs the spread, but this one is just to gaudy. It's as if Art Schliester is spending too much time on the phone to his bookie again.
Michigan State, getting 17

Florida @ Kentucky +6.5
Nobody is this safe on the road in an SEC game this season.
Kentucky, getting 6.5

Texas A&M @ Nebraska -2
Nebraska is a team in turmoil.
Texas A&M, getting 2

Stanford @ Arizona -10.5
The team that went on the road and beat Southern Cal is going to lose by 11 or more to Arizona? Riiiiggght!
Stanford, getting 10.5

Oregon @ Washington +11
Washington is going to get an upset somewhere in their brutal schedule. Here's as good a place as any.
Washington, getting 11

Mississippi State @ West Virginia -23.5
Mississippi State -- a 4-3 team -- has won at Auburn. West Virginia really hasn't beaten anyone. West Virginia's probably the better team -- probably -- but not 24 points better.
Mississippi State, getting 23.5


2007 Top 20 Performers v.6

Grading on what they've done, not who they are or what we think they can do.

No Denny Green Index, this week, as nobody knows much about who anyone is anymore.

1. South Florida (last week = #3)
Now in just about everybody's BCS driver's seat. The "biggest surprise of the season" to some, I have had them ranked in the top 5 since week #2. No losses, and wins over Auburn and West Virginia. Who can beat that?

2. Ohio State (lw = #5)
Why behind USF? Their notable wins have been against Washington and Purdue. That doesn't compare well with beating Auburn and West Virginia. There's also Ohio State's phobia over the word "Florida"

3. Boston College (lw = #6)
Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. That's really better than Ohio State's signature wins thus far. This was a close call. Ohio State's defense is making up my mind.

4. LSU (lw = #1)
Defeated Va Tech, South Carolina and Florida. Lost a tough one on the road against Kentucky. This still might be the best team in the nation.

5. South Carolina (lw = #7)
Defeated Georgia and Kentucky. Lost only to LSU. Seemingly getting better every week, this is not a happy team to see on your schedule.

6. Kentucky (lw = #19)
Beat LSU and Louisville. Lost to South Carolina. Ranked least of the LSU/SCar/KY round-robin tournament, mainly because their other win isn't as good.

7. Cal (lw = #2)
I have this feeling that they aren't going to lose again.

8. Oregon (lw = #20)
The blowout win at Michigan looking better every week. The loss at Cal is hardly a shame.

9. Arizona State (lw = #11)
Unbeaten, but no significant wins. Thus begins the parking spots for the unbeaten, untested...

10. Kansas (lw = same)
Same as above...

11. Hawaii (lw = #13)
Same as above...

12. Virginia Tech (lw = #15)
Lost to LSU. Beat Clemson. Mere social promotion at work here because of the collapse of others.

13. Cincinnati (lw = #8)
Defeating Rutgers notwithstanding, it was tempting to blow them out of the poll entirely because they couldn't tear up the Louisville defense.

14. Oklahoma (lw = same)
Defeated Miami and Texas. But lost to Colorado - it's going to take a while to forget about that.

15. Missouri (lw = #4)
The Big 12 North is starting to look like the "MAC-Plains Division" once again.

16. West Virginia (lw = same)
Lost to South Florida. Otherwise, a thus far unimpressive string of wins. Yawn.

17. Virginia (lw = NR)
Defeated Georgia Tech. Lost to Wyoming. Which team is the real Virginia? Both?

18. Texas Tech (lw = NR)
Texas A&M the only decent win. Oklahoma State a somewhat mediocre loss. Basically, we're running out of one-loss teams and TWO one- loss teams might be in the BCS title game. With Oklahoma and Texas already beatable, it's time to pay attention to these guys.

19. Southern Cal (lw = NR)
I ditched them completely after last week and their weak win over Arizona didn't give any reason to change my mind. They have beaten nobody, but they still have just one loss. So, for the moment, they belong somewhere here.

20. UConn (lw = #12)
No worthwhile wins. Only loss is to Virginia, who isn't looking too shabby.


1. Who's missing? Everybody with two losses or more. We're not yet 2/3 through the season, and everybody who matters has already gone through the cream-puff part of their schedule. To come out with 2 defeats already is a big strike against you and probably evidence that you are going to lose more.

2. Boise State: The only team with one loss not in my top 20. As I write this, they are tied with Nevada -- at home -- in the 4th quarter. If they win, they stay with just one loss, but have yet to beat anyone. Very much looking forward to their Nov. 23 game against Hawaii.

3. Dropped out: Illinois (lw = #9), Wisconsin (lw = #18), Florida State (lw = #17)


Predictions -- Week 7

A 2-2 split last week. Michigan and ... ahem ... Southern Cal both delightfully failed to cover their respective point spreads. South Florida and Wisconsin did not.

Season vs spread: 14-15 (.483)

I've been gone all week and am posting these right before the noon kickoffs (10:40 EST), so here goes. All against ESPN's posting of Betus.com on Saturday morning:

Purdue @ Michigan -5.5
Purdue, getting the 5.5 pts.

LSU @ Kentucky +9.5
Kentucky, getting the 9.5 pts.


2007 Top 20 Performers v.5

Grading them by what they've done, not by what we think they can do.

Well, the Denny Green Index still holds up well in comparison to the rest of the conventional polling universe. Much of my top 5 still "were who we thought they were." I'll even claim a decent moral victory for refusing to recognize Southern Cal in the first poll. If only I'd stuck with my better judgment regarding the value of the Nebraska win...

1. LSU (last week = same)
I've had them in the BCS pole position since they smashed Va Tech in week #1.

2. Cal (lw = same)
Another one that's clung stubbornly to its spot since the first ranking. If this holds up to the BCS title game, the Denny Green Index may need a copyright...

3. South Florida (lw = #4)
Here too, a relative victory. I placed USF 5th in the very first poll and bounced them around 4th and 5th until this week. The conventional polls gave them no top-5 love until the West Virginia win.

4. Missouri (lw = #19)
In a world upside down, these guys from the Big 12 Norris Division are really standing out. Unbeaten, with wins over Nebraska (4-2) and Illinois (5-1). If this seems high, that's only because...

5. Ohio State (lw = same)
...has beaten only one substantive team: Purdue (5-1). And even here, what has Purdue done?

6. Boston College (lw = #7)
Unbeaten, with no standout victories but three decent ones: Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Bowling Green.

7. South Carolina (lw = #15)
A 5-1 team that has beaten Georgia and Kentucky and only lost to LSU. Thus far, their only error is getting tough stuff out of the way early.

8. Cincinnati (lw = #20)
As this season progresses, it becomes very clear that just getting to this point unbeaten is an accomplishment regardless of who you play. Cincinnati has no door-blowing wins, but they did beat Rutgers this week. Being undefeated with at least one mediocre win is all that seperates them from...

9. Illinois (lw = NR)
5-1 Fighting Illini have now downed Wisconsin (5-1), Penn State (4-2) and Indiana (5-1). Finding another team in the country with that kind of resume is very hard. One loss to an undefeated Missouri isn't even a DQ for the national title game. Wild year...

10. Kansas (lw = NR)
Nothing eye-opening to show for themselves yet, except that they've beaten everyone they have played. There's only ten unbeaten teams left. Southern Cal lost to Stanford. Oklahoma lost to Colorado. The world is spinning backwards and one of these quiet unbeatens might run the table. It's time to put them somewhere. So...

11. Arizona State (lw = #17)
See above...

12. UConn (lw = NR)
See above...

13. Hawaii (lw = NR)
I am really looking for a solid reason to eject these frauds. May not get that chance until they play Washington with their home ref... er ... FIELD advantage making even that suspect.

14. Oklahoma (lw = #11)
Not much movement here. They were supposed to beat Texas, given what became of the Red River Retreads last weekend. One loss and another decent win notched over Miami-FL. Hard to accept this, but does the Big 12 North have chance to win the conference championship????

15. Virginia Tech (lw = NR)
Another one that can claim LSU as their only loss. And now they get to notch a decent Clemson in the "good win" part of the balance sheet.

16. West Virginia (lw = #13)
I've had these guys stuck here in the mid-teens since before they lost to South Florida. This demotion was merely to make room for the undefeateds, because being unbeaten looks ever more impressive this season, regardless of schedule. West Virginia -- aside from losing to South Florida -- hasn't beaten anyone of note.

17. Florida State (lw = NR)
Back off the shelf because they've got one acceptable loss to a decent team way back at the beginning of the year (Clemson) and have also beaten a decent team: Alabama

18. Wisconsin (lw = #6)
Like Florida State, except switch Michigan State for Alabama and Illinois for Clemson.

19. Kentucky (lw = #8)
Kentucky's early "upset" of Louisville looks like nothing of the sort anymore, thanks to Louisville's wretched defense. The win over Arkansas has also dulled over time. Losing to South Carolina, on the other hand, looks like nothing to be ashamed about.

20. Oregon (lw = #10)
Michigan and what else? No horrible defeats, either. That all makes them better than...


1. Southern Cal (lw = #3): They just lost, at home, to the worst team in their conference. Their only win is against what is now looking to be the 4th best team in the Big 12 North (Nebraska). Forget the jerseys and look at what they have done on the field: NOT MUCH. There are at least 20 teams with better work against tougher competition. There is every reason to expect Southern Cal to lose to Oregon, Cal and maybe more. In the year of living dangerously, is there even reason for the 'Domers to dream?

2. Florida (lw = # 9): Two losses is two losses. Remember, this is based on what they have done already, not where we expect them to be. But the Tennessee win is noteworthy. They too look better than Southern Cal.

3. Texas (lw = #14): Again, two losses -- see note #2

4. Rutgers (lw = #12): Hmmmm.... maybe Schiano should have taken that Miami job?

5. Purdue (lw = #18): Have beaten nobody noteworthy yet.

6. Clemson (lw = #16): See the two losses from note#2.

7. Indiana: This blog may disappear if I am forced to continue paying attention to this team after next week.


And then there were ten...

Think for a moment that only two BCS conference teams will remain unbeaten to the end of the season, and then look at who is left:

Boston College (ACC)
Missouri / Kansas (Big 12)
Ohio State (Big Ten)
Cincinnati / UConn / South Florida (Big East)
Arizona State / Cal (Pac Ten)

That's it.

Sure, it's easy to figure an LSU vs Ohio State or some such. But what about...

South Florida vs. Missouri?
Boston College vs UConn?
Arizona State vs Cincinnati?

Even a minor weirdness, Cal vs South Florida, is mindblowing when you consider that just six years ago -- 2001 -- Cal was a 1-10 football team and South Florida was in its very first D-1A season.