Monday, November 14
HornsBlog has MOVED
If you run a website or blog that was linking to us previously, we would appreciate it tremendously if you'd update your link to reflect our new URL.
Thanks to everyone who has been visiting us on this site, and we'll look forward to seeing you on the new site. We think you'll like the many improvements as we get everything going on the new site.
Sunday, November 13
Saturday, November 12
Texas 66 Kansas 14
But the biggest news of all for us on this blog is that we're finally beginning our migration over to the Sports Blog Nation. In fact, the brand new site is UP AND RUNNING now over at www.burntorangenation.com. We're still developing a few different things for the new site, but go ahead and take a look and bookmark the new site now. And offer us your feedback on the new look.
Friday, November 11
Hook 'Em Early
Now you can start raising your baby Longhorn the right way, as spelled out in the Baby Longhorn DVD! Because it's never too early to start brainwashing them....
Oh man. I got this in my email inbox and didn't know what to do. This is the price we pay for free markets, I suppose.
I'm not sure which is worse--the video itself, or the 10,000 parents that will buy it.
Hall, a third-year walk-on, was the 2004-05 Big 12 Sportsman of the Year. He is best known for being a former Marine and carrying the American flag out onto the field as the team leaves the tunnel. Last season he carried one time for a 1-yard touchdown, and in 2005 he's got one carry for 10 yards (against Colorado). Here's hoping Mack can get Ahmard into the end zone on Saturday to cap his home career.
This is undoubtedly true. My father had Pinkney in one of his sociology classes back then and said the guy was all party, no school. Hey—live and let live. Fine by us. Though he did squander his chances at a pro career with his lack of seriousness. Still, we’re especially pleased that he had a good time now that it’s helping Rick Barnes land stud recruits.
Let’s just hope the next star recruit isn’t a friend of Chris Simms. The reviews may not be as favorable.
Thursday, November 10
For the fans
While enjoying Texas' romp over Kansas this weekend, be sure to cheer for the following outcomes:
Cal over USC: The sooner we're officially No.1 the better, as far as I am concerned. Then we can be even more arrogant and start talking all kinds of smack. I know this differs from the other members of the blog, but this is the TR rooting guide. As the Snickers commercial says: Hungry? Why wait? Plus, tickets to the Rose Bowl will be easier to come by if USC isn't playing.
LSU over Bama: The 'Tide sucks (or at least their offense does). They discredit the word undefeated. Plus, if both USC and Alabama lose, we might get to play LSU in the Rose Bowl. Then we can spot Les Miles a couple of touchdowns for old time's sake before roaring back in the second half.
Ohio State over Northwestern: I'm tired of people not acknowledging Texas' win over Ohio State as the biggest win of the year. Spare me the USC/ND talk. ND had already lost. I'm convinced that had Ohio State beaten us they would be undefeated and ranked #2.
South Carolina over Florida: I love Steve Spurrier and if he beats Tennessee and Florida in his first year at South Carolina, he'll further prove his awesomeness (at least in college football).
Colorado over Iowa State: So the Big 12 title game can have a better matchup. I don't want the Buffs falling out of the rankings until the Horns beat them for a second time.
Texas A&M over OU: Because I hate OU even worse than the Aggies, who have been downgraded from our little brother to our little sister. Still, at least they're family. OU is and will always be the loser who lives down the street that no one likes.
Big 12 news and notes
• Following Texas A&M’s 52-17 blowout loss to Texas Tech last Saturday, the Aggies experienced a whole new level of humiliation, as raucous Raider fans chanted “Worse than Bay-lor!” at the Aggies as they departed the field.
• Speaking of the unglued Aggies, head coach Dennis Francione has decided his time is better spent complaining about his team’s schedule than doing something, like, improving his team. Franchione recently had a discussion with Big 12 officials in which he complained that the Aggies closing schedule was too tough. The Aggies last three games this year are at Texas Tech, at Oklahoma, and versus Texas. Someone might want to tell Coach Fran that when you lose 42-14 at home against Iowa State, it doesn’t matter who you play, or when.
• Don’t look now, but Texas Tech may be BCS bound. Okay, it’s a long shot, but that it’s a possibility is credit to Mike Leach and the Red Raiders this year. Tech gets hammered with the “overrated” stamp perhaps more than any other team in the country, but close Big 12 watchers know this team is no pushover. Don’t believe me? Ask California how they enjoyed playing Tech in a bowl last year.
• Texas’ 16 game winning streak is the longest since they won 30 in a row during 1968-1970, winning two national titles along the way
• Oklahoma is finally getting healthy, and experienced. Sooner players have combined to miss 31 games because of injuries this season. In the Sooners’ national championship season in 2000, no starter missed a game because of an injury. The Sooners have also played 12 freshmen this season, including five who have started at least one game. They’re re-loading, Horns fans.
• Coach Fran isn’t the only coach saying “I don’t know” when asked what’s wrong with his team. Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, dangerously similar in his ineptitude to his hoops counterpart Quinn Snyder, had no answers for his team’s recent struggles either. Even when Texas plays exceptionally well, I can tell you what we’re doing wrong. Those words should never come out of a coaches mouth.
Week 11 Picks: SEC Showdown Edition
|Name||Texas A&M +13 @ Oklahoma||Pick|
|PB||The Aggies are sad. OU’s offense improving.||OU|
|AW||Another A&M loss towards a losing season. Take the points though.||Texas A&M|
|TR||This much sucking indicates a category 6 hurricane will hit Norman this weekend. As bad as A&M is, OU isn’t blowing anyone out with that offense. Give me the points.||Texas A&M|
|AS||I will quote a comment made by Link on the Blog this week “I want the stadium to implode”||OU|
|JM||Remember when teams tore down goalposts for beating A&M?||OU|
|Name||Auburn +3 @ Georgia||Pick|
|PB||I like the improving Tigers, but Georgia is subtly dominating. They’ll win this game by a TD or more.||Georgia|
|AW||With Shockley back, I have to go with the Dawgs.||Georgia|
|TR||Seems like the spread would be bigger. Since it’s not, I think something’s brewing here.||Auburn|
|AS||Shockley is back||Georgia|
|JM||Shockley is back; Bulldogs would be undefeated if he’d been healthy.||Georgia|
|Name||Northwestern +18 @ Ohio State||Pick|
|PB||Troy Smith is #4 in the country in passing efficiency. Whoa.||Ohio State|
|AW||Tressel has started to teach offense in Columbus and Troy Smith is improving. OSU wins.||Northwestern|
|TR||Northwestern offense is good. It’s season-low in points came at Michigan (17), so I think they can match that here. Add in the 18-point spread, and I see them covering.||Northwestern|
|AS||Brett has a very long day against the OSU defense||Ohio State|
|JM||The NU offense has shown weakness the last two weeks and the Buckeye defense is better than Michigan & Iowa||Ohio State|
|Name||Kansas +34 @ Texas||Pick|
|PB||Senioritis keeps the score under the spread.||Kansas|
|AW||Senior Day. The Horns are 8-1 against the spread. VY keeps rollng.||Texas|
|TR||Senior day = UT big, 52-13.||Horns House|
|AS||I honestly have no idea here. Will we beat them? Of course. The Question is how bad did the fat man piss the Horns off.||Kansas|
|JM||It might be hard to cover the spread when all your sixth string senior walk-ons are playing.||Kansas|
|Name||LSU -3 @ Alabama||Pick|
|PB||Bama defense will suffocate Les Miles. Bama offense gets on the board to win a squeaker, 17-13.||Bama|
|AW||This line looks wrong. Bama is undefeated and at home. Vegas has it right.||LSU|
|TR||LSU rolls the tide by 14+.||Geaux Tigers|
|AS||Not being able to score TD’s catches up this week||LSU|
|JM||Alabama is finally exposed. As long as LSU can score 10 points.||LSU|
|Name||USC -19 @ California||Pick|
|PB||Cal is no match for the Trojans. This line should be higher. Farm bet of the week.||USC|
|AW||Last loss was at Cal two years ago. Won’t happen again but Cal hangs tough.||Cal|
|TR||I’m through rooting for USC to meet us in the Rose Bowl. Their D is a joke. Plus, I’d sure like to avenge the 1991 Cotton Bowl.||Cal|
|AS||As much as I would like to go the other way, USC puts on a clinic. Bet the HOUSE.||USC|
|JM||USC is good. Cal is not. This year won’t be close.||USC|
Will Allen (OL)
Steven Andrade* (DE)
Brian Carter (WR)
Xang Chareunsab* (WR)
Mike Garcia (OL)
Cedric Griffin (CB)
Ahmard Hall (FB)
Eric Hall (DE)
Michael Huff (S)
Kalen Jakes (DE)Braden Johnson (LB)
Matt Logan* (WR)
Richmond McGee (P/PK)
Karim Meijer (DB)
Matt Nordgren (QB)
Jason Perez* (LB)
Kyle Phillips* (PK)
David Pino (PK)
Brad Poronsky* (OL)
Kirby Portley* (TE)
James Ray* (DB)
Nick Schroeder (Deep Snapper)
Jonathan Scott (OL)
Cody Stavig* (DB)
Anthony Strong* (WR)
David Thomas (TE)
William Winston (OL)
Rodrique Wright (DT)
Jerren Wight* (DB)
*Denotes non-scholarship player
-Starters in bold
Texas will sorely miss the departing offensive linemen, Michael Huff, Ced Griffin, Rodrique Wright, and David Thomas. Obviously, the Horns will be featuring some new kickers next year as well, as both David Pino and Richmond McGee are departing.
Why Vince Returns
Here are the top five reasons I think he's coming back.
1. Mack never loses underclassmen (unless they allegedly smoke pot before the Cotton Bowl), and Vince isn't going to buck that trend. Mack has done a lot for Vince in giving him the reins of a top-five program and letting him do his thing. Those of us who have followed Mack his entire time in Austin can see the difference in the way he's handling the team. Of course it's worked out well, but Mack couldn't have known that for sure. It's human nature do things your way so at least if you fail, you failed your way. I imagine Vince feels a lot of loyalty to Mack, and Mack needs Vince next year so whatever high school quarterback phenom they sign this year can have a year to develop. No offense to Colt McCoy, who I am sure is a good player, but I'd feel better if he wasn't the only option to follow in Vince's footsteps. Next year, it's him and whoever comes in as true freshman. In 2007, the options will be far greater.
2. Vince isn't getting drafted ahead of either member of the USC duo in 2006. He can improve his draft status (and bonus money) in the 2007 draft. Plus, he'll have a monster insurance policy if he does come back, just like Leinart has this year at USC.
3. Everyone knows his delivery needs work. Consider the career of Steve McNair. He was the third pick of the 1995 draft despite playing at Division I-AA. He obviously wasn't ready for the NFL, and he didn't become a full-time starter until his third year. If Vince needs two years of practice to develop an NFL-quality throwing motion before he can be a starting QB in the NFL, why not spend one of them at UT and one on the bench in the NFL instead of two on an NFL bench?
4. He will be a GOD in Austin. You think Ricky Williams was popular? People will throw rose petals (or underwear) at Vince's feet everywhere he goes. He'll be on the cover of every preview magazine next year, too, and his hype will be Leinart-esque. Maybe Vince will even sign up for ballroom dance. (Hell, I took it my senior year at UT. It's pretty fun.)
5. And here's a scary thought: Texas should be even better next year. If the Horns win it all this season, they will enter 2006 with a 20-game winning streak. USC's streak will be at 34 if the Trojans reach the Rose Bowl this season, and everyone talks about them as if they are in the NFL. People in Austin have long considered the Horns their NFL team, but next year with Vince back the hype will finally be appropriate.
Getting To Know You: Jayhawk Edition
Rush defense: The Kansas rush defense ranks first in the nation, allowing just 64 yards per game on the year. Seven times this season the KU defense has surrendered less than 100 rushing yards to an opponent (70 vs Florida Atlantic, 38 vs Louisian Tech, 47 at Texas Tech, 35 at Kansas State, 96 vs Oklahoma, 33 vs Missouri, 21 vs Nebraska.
Hmmm… That makes me wonder if those teams are any good at running the ball. Let’s check their national ranks in rushing offense.
Louisiana Tech is ranked 58th in rushing offense, Oklahoma 47th, Texas Tech 98th, Nebraska 110th, Missouri 23rd, Kansas State 94th, and Florida Atlantic 105th. And the Jayhawks played Oklahoma when Peterson was injured—he only had 5 rushes in the game.
I’m certain the Kansas defense is solid, but before we coronate them as rushing defenders of the year, let’s bear in mind that they’ve been facing some pretty miserable rushing teams. The only impressive game is the domination of Missouri and Brad Smith.
First and Ten: Last Saturday the Jayhawks held Nebraska to seven first downs.
This says more about how far Nebraska has fallen than how good the Jayhawks have been. The Cornhuskers now rank 108th in the nation in total offense. Folks, it’s tough to be that inept.
Inside the numbers: In its two consecutive wins, KU averaged 363 total yards while holding opponents to an average of 159 yards per game.
KU’s last two opponents? The aforementioned Division II Cornhuskers and inconsistent Missouri Tigers. Again, while this Jayhawk defensive unit deserves praise, I’m not ready to believe that they have a chance at shutting down Texas.
All five of Kansas’ victories have come in Lawrence this year.
Someone forgot to tell Mark Mangino that this one’s being played in Austin this year.
A Kansas WIN would…
Be the team’s first victory against Texas since the 1938 season, and snap a string of five straight wins by the Longhorns… Be KU’s first-ever win in Texas-Memorial Stadium… Give Mark Mangino his 18th career win as head coach, making his overall record 18-28.
I know I’m pounding on a dead horse here, but whatever. Mangino picked this fight. I can’t believe I’m fired up to beat the crap out of Kansas. You’d think this were a basketball game. Just goes to show what a dumb thing it is for Mangino to be giving the Horns bulletin board material.
Anyway, the whole KU media guide is pretty depressing. It’s mostly filled with neat factoids about the defense and how much better they are than in any previous year, which of course just belies the fact of how miserable they’ve always been. Not that I blame them—that’s what media guides are supposed to do. The Texas media guide reads like a cheerleaders guide to 100+ years of beating the hell out of Rice and Baylor.
I’m on record predicting a 41-10 Horns victory, with Kansas getting some late garbage score while our fourth string seniors get some fourth quarter action in their last game. Time for the readers to weigh in on game predictions. What will be the final score of the game? And how many rushing yards will Texas gain against the “vaunted” Kansas rushing defense? If you predict Texas’ exact rushing yards total, we’ll give you a free t-shirt of your choice from the Co-Op. To be eligible, you must include your full name and email in the comment section when you post your prediction.
Remarkable Vince Young Stat of the Day
And let's not forget that the Horns already won this year's baseball championship.
Texas completes second pre-season rout
This was a total mismatch from the opening tip. Give credit to Barnes and his staff for keeping the players motivated throughout. Lenoir-Rhyne coach John Lentz said after the game, “They are much better than they were last year.” I think so too, but we will find out for sure when Texas opens the regular season on Tuesday in the first round of the Guardians Classic against Southern.
Barnes Inks Top Class
The class is led by Kevin Durant (6’9,200) a perimeter forward with NBA skills from Maryland. Durant is the rated as the second best high school prospect in the country. Before this year, Durant would have likely left for the NBA. Durant picked Texas over Connecticut and North Carolina. Barnes will land DJ Augustin tomorrow. Augustin (6’1”,170) follows in the footsteps of TJ Ford and Daniel Gibson as top point guards to sign for Barnes. Augustin is currently playing in the Houston area after evacuating Louisiana because of Hurricane Katrina. Augustin could be asked to contribute quickly if Gibson bolts to the pros. Also signing on Wednesday were Dexter Pittman (6’10”,320), Matt Hill (6’10”,220), Harrison Smith (6’3”,185), and Justin Mason (6’3”,175). Pittman and Hill will be bangers on the low blocks. Like Augustin, both will grab minutes next season with Buckman and likely Aldridge departing. Smith is a former high school teammate of Daniel Gibson and backcourt starter on their state championship team who uses his strength and athleticism to get to the rim. Mason is known as a gym rat who can play both guard positions.
This is an extremely impressive class. Before Rick Barnes, Texas did not steal recruits from North Carolina and Connecticut. Now, we regularly land McDonald’s All Americans and compete for the best players in the country. High school players watched TJ Ford lead Texas to the Final Four. They watched Gibson and Aldridge star last year as freshman and they see our top 2 pre season rankings. Great things are happening at DKR and our road to the Rose Bowl, but let’s not forget the great things that Rick Barnes and the men’s basketball team are accomplishing. Great coaches can make good teams champions, but the talent has to be there too. Texas is now landing top talent every year. And Barnes has the skills to make us great. Can cutting down the nets be that far away?
Wednesday, November 9
Point, Counterpoint: Saturday's Psychological Edge
Our friendly rivals at the Kansas Phog Blog, not surprisingly, offer a different take on the psychological battle:
The first time in history in which the previous year’s winner is seeking revenge. Vince Young says Mangino disrespected him and his coaches by pointing out that UT was outplayed and out-coached last year. (News flash: the next time Mack Brown out-coaches anyone will be the first time. And a 20+ point favorite having to rely on a dishonest call to defeat a 4-7 team? If that’s not being outplayed, what is?) Young says the Longhorns intend to dominate the game to teach Mangino a lesson.
The good news is that Young’s whining means either that UT (a) is not taking KU seriously and grasping at straws for artificial motivation that will disappear after the first few plays; or (b) is seriously focused on Mangino—which is a distraction—rather than focusing on playing football.
Either way, KU has the psychological advantage.
Okay readers, it's on you now. Offer your own analysis on this topic of debate. Is the Mark Mangino blathering a distraction, or positive motivation, for Texas this Saturday?
From the Mail Bag
I was wondering your thoughts on this, but you guys tend to think Vince is unstoppable. Are there any defenses out there that you could see giving him trouble? I mean, just slowing down his running game. I was wondering after Iowa State completely shut down Smith and McNeal on the ground, if you thought they could hold Young somewhat in check and make him throw the ball more.
Hey Alex – thanks for the question. If you’re wondering whether a team can hold Young’s running in check and force him to throw, the answer is yes. After the first quarter, Ohio State did an excellent job of keying in on Vince Young and making him throw. But that’s the trouble Texas opponents’ have been facing this year. The guy can throw. Young is ranked third in the nation in passing efficiency and has become such a good passer that you really can’t afford to solely key in on stopping his runs. It’s a no-win situation.
Vince Young’s improvements in the passing game are the single biggest reason why Texas is a legitimate national title contender. The offense can beat you so many ways this year.
Got a question for the ATL authors? Send them an email.
How TV ads get made
Watch the clip and then let me know if you’re thinking what I’m thinking… Yeah, thought so. This has Wheaties ad written all over it. “Better eat your Wheaties!”
Kansas @ Texas Preview
So, while Texas was playing for style points last week, focused intently on completely demolishing the Bears, one could argue that Texas is in perfect position for a letdown game. If Texas were playing the improved Jayhawks on the road, I might buy in to that a bit. The reality is, though, that this game is a home game and, more importantly, it’s senior day. Saturday’s game will be the last game in Austin for some thirty Longhorns, and I don’t see Texas being flat for this one at all.
Add in the fact that Kansas gave Texas a serious scare last year, and the likelihood of a letdown decreases further. If we can eliminate the potential letdown factor from the equation, how does this game break down?
It’s a pretty simple one, actually. All Texas has to do is have a solid offensive day and they’ll win. They don’t need to perfect, or even great—just good. Kansas’ biggest problem in this game is that their offense is pretty challenged. They rank 8th in the conference in rushing, 10th in passing, and 11th in total offense. That’s not a recipe for success against Texas. To beat the Longhorns, you’ve got to be able to score a lot. You aren’t going to beat Texas 10-7 any more than anyone’s going to beat USC by that score. The team that hands Texas or USC its first loss is going to do so with a big offensive game. Kansas can’t do that.
With that said, the Jayhawks defense does deserve some praise here. They rank first in the nation in rushing defense, 37th in passing defense, and 5th in total defense. They only allow 18 points per game. Their coach, big Mark Mangino, is an above average defensive coach. Much like Baylor, it’s hard to take Kansas football seriously, but their defense is to be respected. They play hard, they tackle well, they're well coached, and they execute what they’re asked to do. Snicker all you want; it’s not a bad unit.
Still, even with an above average defense, Kansas is totally outmatched here. They haven’t played an offense as diversely dangerous as Texas’s at all. The best offense they’ve faced—that of Texas Tech—put up 30 points on them. Texas may not beat up on the Kansas defense the way they have against some of their opponents this year, but they’re not going to be stopped, either. Kansas needs to win the battle of turnovers by at least two, needs to dominate the field position game, and hope for a defensive or special teams score. Barring that perfect storm, this one won’t be close. I think Texas will keep its focus, build a 20-3 halftime lead, and win by a final margin of 41-10, with most of its starters on the bench in the fourth quarter.
Tuesday, November 8
Random News & Notes
• Nine teams in the Big 12 rank in the top 50 in rushing defense nationally, including three in the top 10 and five in the top 20. Kansas (1), Oklahoma (2), Colorado (5), Iowa State (12), Texas (20), Nebraska (26), Texas A&M (37), Kansas State (39), and Texas Tech (47) have all been successful in keeping opponents’ running games in check. That’s partly a product of the lack of potent rushing attacks in the Big 12, but also indicative of the strong rush defense the conference always plays.
• Remember all the preseason hype about Reggie McNeal? Some even suggested that a McNeal for Vince Young swap might be in Texas’ best interest. Turns out that wouldn’t have been such a hot idea. McNeal is completing a mediocre 54.5% of his passes, with 14 TDs against 8 INTs. It’s been the Aggies rushing game, ranked 11th nationally with 224 yards per game, that’s saved the offense from complete destruction. That pass defense, too, needs a little work.
• Before the Pac 10 bandwagoneers come stampeding through here, we offer you this nugget: this year’s top 14 teams in total defense (in order of 1 to 14)—Miami, Virginia Tech, Alabama, West Virginia, Kansas, Texas, Ohio State, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Connecticut, and Penn State. Recognize any of those teams in the top half of the rankings these days? Before the Trojan flaming begins, let us offer this peace offering: This criticism doesn’t apply to you. Pete Carroll knows how to coach defense. We know that. Relax. Breathe.
• Ohio State has only forced 10 turnovers this year, good for 110th in the nation. Two of those, you may remember, came against the Horns. Bizarre. That stat just surprised me. I really think the Big 10 is this year’s SEC—head and shoulders above the rest. Poor Michigan has faced seven top thirty teams already. It makes me wonder if Penn State, and not Virginia Tech, might have been the best bet to unseat Texas’ Rose Bowl berth had they remained unbeaten.
• Matt Leinart (#1) and Vince Young (#3) are at the top of the passing efficiency leaders for the year. Leinart’s spot at the top surprises none, while Vince Young’s passing critics really are firing blanks. Cocky Trojan fans may not want to admit how good Young and Texas have been this year, but smart college football fans want this matchup. It’s not just narrative: these are your two best teams this year. Sometimes, when we’re lucky, narrative and the truth collide. I think this is one of those “good years” for the BCS. (Hehe—watch us lose to Kansas)
• While that previous bit of information may not have surprised you, I bet this will. Guess who checks in at #4 in the nation in passing efficiency? Troy Smith of Ohio State. The Buckeye-Wolverine game could shape up to be a dandy. (Paging Chad Henne!)
• Other stats USC and Texas excel in: 3rd down conversion percentage (USC 2nd nationally, Texas 5th), rushing defense (USC #19, Texas #20), and total offense (USC #1, Texas #4).
Reluctant Bone Toss To Dogs of the Day
Start your flaming, Horns fans.
Dumb Things Fat People Say
“You know what this is all about, don't you? BCS. That's what made a difference today in the game,” Mangino said. “That's what made the difference in a call in front of their bench. Dollar signs.”
Gotcha, Mark. There’s nothing quite like a grand conspiracy theory to bail your team out for a disappointing loss. Hey, that’s why we got another Yankees-Red Sox ALCS this year. Because that’s what the big dollars wanted, goddamnit!
Big Gut Maggoo, err… Mark Mangino, an offspring of the Bob Stoops program at OU, should be above that. But, rather than pass judgment on Mangino for remarks he made in the heat of the moment, let me just remind our readers that such things are not forgotten.
On Monday Texas coaches passed around newspaper clippings of those quotes to their players to remind them of last year’s game and fire them up. Another week, another outmatched Texas opponent making sure they catch an angry, rather than sleeping, giant.
Hey, who am I to complain?
Barnes Lands Another
ATL Interview: Everyone Should Be This Funny
ATL had the unique opportunity to pose some questions to two of the funniest college football writers you’ll find, Orson Swindle and Stranko Montana, co-authors of Every Day Should Be Saturday. Along with having the coolest named blog around, they’re laugh-out-loud funny, and poignant, to boot. Graduates of the University of Florida, the two authors of EDSBS answered a few questions for ATL. We couldn’t have enjoyed their answers more. We’re sure you will, too.
ATL: Describe Florida's season in one sentence for us.
EDSBS: Florida's season has been a treat for the whole family, a story both adults and children can love featuring the unique vocal talents of Aaron Carter, Tom Waits, and Stephen Hawking.
Seriously? Shit, that's not easy. Try this on: one long scrimmage with mixed results.
ATL: What's up with Chris Leak? He looks like such an impressive quarterback to us, but he doesn't seem to be taking to Urban Meyer's system that well? Help us out: what's up?
EDSBS: Leak's being asked to do two things he's never done prior to this year. First, he's supposed to run an option, which a great number of high school quarterbacks get at least some experience doing along the way. Not so for Leak, who essentially ran the same static spread offense all the way from high school through his first two years of college. It hasn't been pretty, but with the recent tweaks in the run game it's been a little less horrific the past two games.
Second, he's being asked to make calls at the line for the first time in both the run and pass game. Believe it or not, film monster and workaholic Leak--who youthink would have been given a certain amount of trust before--was never given the option to audible at the line.
Finally, remember this: Leak's only a junior. It feels like he's been around forever, but he's only had one season prior to this one as the full-time starter in an entirely different offense. He just had his best game of the season, and Meyer seems to know what to do with him now. He'll probably leave Florida as a disappointment in some people's eyes, but given the banana republic drama of the Zook years, that's a cheap shot, we think.
ATL: How does the next year or two look for Florida? Are you optimistic?
EDSBS: We are. The talent pipeline is wide open and Meyer is texting recruits in their sleep, so recruiting won't be an issue. The mystique-building that took a hitunder Zook (we just kicked our dog again--look what you made us do!!!) is recovering somewhat.
And for most of the year, people can still walk around Gainesville half-naked, which goes a long way when you're dealing with oversexed and indulged 18-year old athletes. Why can't Notre Dame recruit with USC and Miami? Ever tried walking around South Bend in hot pants and a bandana top? We have, and let me tell you, chapped penis does not spell fun in anyone's dictionary.
More important than that is Urban Meyer's ability to win games despite a sputtering offense and first-year kinks in the system. He's won low-scoring grappling matches like the Tennessee and Georgia games. He's won a shootout in the Vandy game. He almost won at LSU. Really, there's only been one game where we had our asses handed to us, and that was against the only undefeated team in the conference.
And he adjusted when he had to, giving Leak a wider comfort zone for the Georgia and Vandy games. If we split the last two games, Florida goes 8-3 per our prediction and lives up to first-year billing. Not bad for someone's first year in a big boy conference.
The only real concern is the weakness of the conference in the bottom five teams and how that will reflect on our strength of schedule. Everyone needs to just hold on to their coaches for a while and let them do some real work, especially over in the West, where for some reason the trigger's a little quicker. Look at Bobby Johnson at Vandy, who's worked miracles with his team given a fair amount of time. Take a deep breath. Have a Fresca, in the words of Judge Smails from Caddyshack.
ATL: Vince Young, Reggie Bush, or Matt Leinart for Heisman?
EDSBS: Vince Young. Even Bevo-haters begin their arguments with "Well, without Young you'd be 3-7, in the C-USA, totally gay and loving it, blah blah blah... " That'sa great testament to how important he really is. The agony for us is imagining the holy terror he'd be in the Florida offense. He embarrasses people in the Mack-attack, but he'd straight burn stadiums to the ground in the spread option and sow salt on the ground when he left. A Halley's comet talent who still doesn't get the pub he deserves because he's closer to Texarkana than New York or Los Angeles. Enjoy him.
ATL: Assume a Texas-USC Rose Bowl. Who wins it?
EDSBS: Hate me now: USC. That's money talking, though--we'd love to see what Gene Chizik would cook up for that game. We have a feeling it would involve chickenblood, the hair of a dead man, six hours of dancing around a bonfire and one picture of Matt Leinart. Texas provides the toughest matchup, we think, but theUSC offense is epochal. They're going a long way down from it next year.
ATL: You hear a lot of SEC-bashing these days. Do you think it's overblown?
EDSBS: Not really, but there's a fair amount of Gomer-pointing involved in it too. We cheat. We lie. We schedule cupcakes. All true, too, but when someone can give a critique without invoking the hayseed angle--as John Walters did in CNNSI--we listen. You don't hear that as often as you hear the evil redneck angle.
It goes to a larger pattern in college football coverage that anything not aligned with the media poles of LA and New York is considered strange or otherwise lesser. Regionality is hard to market, so it's pushed to the side in favor of easy branding. USC and Notre Dame coming back to national prominence means something easy for the big networks to latch on to--historical brands with big name recognition. Texas or Florida's a little harder for them to pitch to thecoasts.
This all explains why living in Atlanta is so, so good for a college football fan: the college game is THE game here, and everything else scrambles for second. Note the huge contingent of bloggers in the Atlanta area--Georgia Sports, Sexy Results, ATL Eagle, The Drizzle, Braves and Birds...there's reasons to be here, and they mostly happen in the fall.
ATL: Do you have a gripe with the BCS system or are you relatively satisfied with the status quo?
EDSBS: Yes. It's fraud and a beauty pageant. But not a Miss America-style pageant; no, it's more like a bad state fair pageant, where two or three qualified contestants keep straight faces while Miss Bucksnort county clogs for the judges with five pounds of makeup on her pockmarked skin before launching into her screeching,country-rap-rock version of "Hollaback Girl." And Miss Bucksnort county's daddy is on the judges' panel, too, so you know she's at least getting into the final round.
Miss Bucksnort couldn't actually compete her way to the crown, though--which is why we need a playoff like we need a drink just thinking about the shambolic BCS scenarios that could still play out this year.
Monday, November 7
In praise of skycam
Skycam has been used before for some replays and on Monday Night Football (Donovan McNabb had a memorable scramble and throw last year against Dallas captured by skycam), but the Miami-VT game was the first to be shown in its entirety this way.
How was it? In a word: fantastic.
Since my living room has three TVs side-by-side, I was able to watch the game simultaneously on ESPN (traditional view) and ESPNU (skycam) to compare the two, and everyone at my house agreed the skycam view was better.
It's like watching a game of Madden on XBOX, as you see what the QB sees. I found myself yelling at the screen telling Marcus Vick to throw deep to the tight end streaking down the middle when I saw the safety creeping up (he didn't listen), while also seeing the holes open for the running backs.
The only downside to skycam is you can't see the outside receivers and the camera doesn't rotate 180 degrees after the punt returner catches the punt, like the camera does in Madden. Still, the view was great and something that should be offered for every big-time telecast.
I also have the NFL Sunday Ticket, and if the NFL is smart (it is), it should start offering two feeds for every game, one with traditional camera views and another shown exclusively from the skycam perspective. Think of it like an alternate commentary on a DVD.
Side note: watching commercials on ESPN and ESPNU at the same time is hilarious, because they obviously target different audiences.
For example, at the same time ESPN's ads were for:
Niva for men
Meanwhile, ESPNU's ads were for:
Bryan Adams Greatest Hits CD (seriously)
Folicare ("Hair loss treatment without the sexual side effects")
RV Trainer (A Joe M
Bowflex (Guy in ad tells how he stays in shape at age 41)
Magicfundamentals.com (Learn basketball from Magic Johnson)
If you watch ESPNU, you're a 40-something, balding Bryan Adams lover hoping to teach your kid how to play sports, with the help of your heroes. If you watch ESPN, you're younger and cooler, becuase you work out, dress up for the ladies, drive a new car (with insurance) and eat fast food.
Street named AL ROY
Congratulations to Huston Street.
USC fans really are dumb
Our latest example of Trojan stupidity comes from Crazy Trojan Musings. It’s just another USC homer site, which we don’t have any problem with, but he picked a fight with us in this post about our Longhorn Fan Rooting Guide.
Writes Crazy Trojan:
Is this serious? Do Longhorns fans really need to be told which teams to root for? They even advocate rooting for the Sooners and the Aggies because it will improve Texas' schedule strength. That's just sad.
As long as polls play a role in determining the national champion of Div. 1 college football, no team is in complete control of its destiny. What's the use in getting worked up over the results of games across the country over which your team has absolutely no influence. It's simple for USC fans; we root for the Trojans . . . and whoever is playing UCLA.
Okay, where to start? What is the goal of the USC football team every year? I would suggest that it is to win a national championship. Certainly, that’s the goal we have here in Texas.
And, as you point out, there are polls involved in determining which teams get to actually play for said national championship. More to the point, there are lots of factors that go into the equation of who gets to play. And a notable chunk of it has to do with how your opponents fare in their other games.
Now, we could take your advice and simply root against Oklahoma and Texas A&M, even if it’s in direct conflict with our stated goal of, you know, playing for the national champsionship. Maybe Auburn fans were delighted last year when their rivals, Alabama, struggled much of the year. More likely, though, they were pissed as hell that their football team was on the outside of the title game looking in.
We’re not brain dead here in Texas (though you appear to be dangerously close). We’ll root for whatever helps Texas get to the title game. You just keep rooting against the Bruins and hope that UCLA doesn't keep USC out of the title game one year.
Horns #2 in latest BCS standings
For those interested, Michigan State, better known as the Notre Dame slayers, did not appear in the Top 25. Weird. I wonder if BFJ took notice... Doubtful.
BFT plagued with penis envy
BFT does a great job of blogging about gay politics. But I won't bother checking his blog for anything related to sports. He's either dumb, misinformed, or excessively biased. Either way, it's beyond justifiable.
Bear in mind that BFT had UCLA at #2 last week. Last week's ballot also had this gem: next to Alabama, who he ranked at #3, he says, "Defense wins championships." Of course, he then puts Texas, with a top 10 defense, at #5 and, this week, behind Notre Dame.
Some of us take our Blog Poll ballots seriously. Others, it turns out, do not.
Barring a turnaround in my sexual preference, I have absolutely no reason to visit that blog anymore. R.I.P.
Under Review: The Colley Matrix
Unlike Sagarin, Colley doesn’t offer two sets of rankings, one with MOV and one without. He only offers one formula, and it does not include margin of victory as a ranking factor.
Colley’s rankings for this week were just released, and the top 10 might surprise you a little bit.
I find it rather bizarre that a computer system in which only winning and losing matters can have a one-loss Penn State team ahead of both Alabama and USC. It’s simply confusing. The Big 10 is clearly ranked as the big time heavyweight conference, which would also explain the bizarre showing of Wisconsin in the top 10. But then again, Oregon at #6 surely means the Pac 10 is ranked pretty decently, too. If so, why is USC not ahead of Penn State? And hey, isn’t the Big 10 0-2 against the Big 12?
I don’t have any profound conclusions to offer here. I’ll just say that it’s a rather wacky top 10. Wisconsin has no business in there, and USC should be no worse than #2. I’m all for objective measurements of teams, but it sure looks like these formulas are producing some wacky results. The human voters, I’m beginning to think, may be the more fair and reliable source for ranking teams.
I don’t want to dismiss computer formulas and conclude they're worthless. But my early, rudimentary examinations of them have left me scratching my head.
Back to Hornsblog Home Page.
100 Percent Dominant
*This year’s Red River Rivalry was the 100th meeting between Texas and Oklahoma, and another stop on the Texas Pasadena-bound train. The victory snapped a five year dry spell for the Horns.
*Since D’Juan Woods deflected TD catch that put Oklahoma State up 28-9, Texas has gone absolutely berserk, outscoring the Cowboys and Bears 100-0. Wow.
*Texas has had six 100+ yard rushing days. Jamaal Charles (3 times), Vince Young (2), and Ramonce Taylor have all broken the century mark in rushing this season.
*Texas has allowed only one opponent to have a 100 yard rushing day—Mike Hamilton of OSU.
*Texas is the only team to score half of a hundred points or more in five games this season.
*The most important 100 of all, of course, is the percent chance that Texas will make the Rose Bowl if they win out.
Texas 62 Cubs 0
62 points and a shutout sends a pretty strong message. Of course, Virginia Tech got demolished by Miami’s defense later that night, making it a moot point, but the message was clear: Texas is one of the two best teams in the country.
There is simply little to criticize about the performance. Combing the game's box score is like reviewing your victory totals in a PlayStation college football game on Rookie level of difficulty. 54 rushes for 347 yards. 298 yards passing. No turnovers. Two interceptions. 201 yards total offense allowed. 645 yards total offense gained. The only mistake was a botched extra point attempt early in the game.
Ramonce Taylor and Jamaal Charles took on the rushing duties in the first half ably. Charles looked about 85 percent of his old form, which was still impressive. Taylor accumulated over 100 yards rushing, and is a nice compliment to Charles, but the difference in the two is noticeable. Taylor, a great athlete and competent rusher, doesn’t quite have the instincts that Charles does. It’s nice that Texas has Taylor as Charles gets healthy, but come the big games, it’s Charles that the offense needs.
Limas Sweed was his usual self, managing to look great and lousy in the same game. He made two spectacular catches, including a one handed grab of a Vince Young bomb that was Sports Center’s play of the day. Billy Pittman continues to impress, and Quan Cosby has started to make himself useful. All in all, Texas didn’t really need to throw much, but they were successful when they did.
Gene Chizik had to be pleased with his defense. After the lackluster performance against OSU in the first half, he had high expectations for the defensive unit this week, and they dismantled the feeble Baylor attack, while forcing two turnovers (both interceptions).
The play of the day belonged to backup quarterback Matt Nordren when he galloped 15 yards on a misdirection quarterback keeper. With a clear path to the end zone, Nordgren’s eyes got wide and he dropped the football on the five yard line. Matt must have been going to church lately—the ball bounced straight off the ground into his arms and he rumbled into the end zone for the final score of the day.
Next up for Texas is an improving Kansas team, which throttled Nebraska 40-15 last week. I’m certain Mack Brown will remind his players of last year’s game in Lawrence, where Texas needed two touchdowns in the final five minutes to pull out the win. Texas is no longer playing for style points, so they needn’t be perfect, but they’ll need to be sharp and take Kansas seriously to avoid any stumbles. We’ll have a full preview of the game later in the week.
There you can learn "Vince Vitals," check the "Vince Wire," and read "Vince Features."
It's on now.
Weekend Picks Review
The consensus pick of Wisconsin was notably awful. Penn State absolutely stifled Wisconsin’s rushing attack; the game was no contest. At ATL, we correctly picked an Arizona win, Texas and Texas Tech blowout wins, and Notre Dame to handle Tennessee comfortably. We were wrong about Wisconsin, we thought USC would cover, and we picked Virgina Tech to win at home. We were especially pleased to be wrong on that last one.
Sunday, September 25
Around the Nation
*I refuse to drink the Virginia Tech Kool-Aid. Yes, they have a good defense and an exciting young quarterback. But let’s tone down the praise, folks. Their only good win is at home versus Georgia Tech. Beat Miami and Florida State and we’ll talk. Marcus Vick will lose them a game before the year is over. Count on it.
Call this a shameless patting myself on the back if you like. I could care less. I'll be that guy: I told ya so...
ATL Top 25
2. Southern Cal (Another 30 point win for Trojans. Fresno State won’t roll over, though)
3. Alabama (Tide keep winning with suffocating defense.)
4. Miami (How about an Alabama-Miami BCS game? Would anyone score?)
5. Penn State (More stifling defense. The top 10 is loaded with great defense.)
6. Georgia (Shockley injury is disappointing. This team is excellent.)
7. Ohio State (Ginn, Jr. is finally playing well, which is a huge boost to offense)
8. Notre Dame (Smardzjidzjzdijaza is a beast.)
9. LSU (Still coached by Les Miles, or would be ranked higher.)
10. Virginia Tech (Still a very strong team, but weaknesses exposed.)
11. Oregon (They just keep getting better.)
12. TCU (Did they have to lose to SMU?)
13. Florida (Fortunate to beat an improved Vandy team.)
14. West Virginia (The Big East shouldn’t get an automatic BCS bid.)
15. Texas Tech (It’s time they get some respect. Rolling all non-Longhorn Big 12 opponents.)
16. UCLA (Oops.)
17. Fresno State (They won’t be a cupcake for Trojans.)
18. Auburn (Another team on the rise.)
19. Colorado (Better than most realize.)
20. Florida State (This team has serious weaknesses.)
21. Michigan (Looking like Ohio State last year; coming on strong—too late)
22. Louisville (See: West Virginia)
23. Wisconsin (Hey, Brooks Bollinger had a decent weekend.
24. South Carolina (Welcome back, Ball Coach)
25. Oklahoma (DNP; Young team showing signs of improvement.)
1. USC 0.9835
2. Texas 0.9765
3. Alabama 0.8948
4. Miami 0.8639
5. Penn St. 0.8036
6. LSU 0.7587
Beyond that my crystal ball goes a little cloudy. My confidence in these are not high but I thought I would take a shot. Feel free to laugh hysterically later today if these are way off.
So, instead of looking at the Rose Bowl favorites, let’s take a look at likely BCS bowl teams by conference.
Penn State (9-1, 6-1)—The Nittany Lions are a victory over Michigan State away from a BCS bowl. The game is in East Lansing in two weeks. The Spartans have lost four of their last five. Penn State is one second away from a perfect season. Alternative: Ohio State would need victories over Northwestern and Michigan and a Penn State loss.
Miami (7-1, 4-1)—The Canes looked like Miami of old on Saturday night, but there is still work to be done. Miami must run the table against Wake Forest, Virginia, and Georgia Tech without star tailback Tyrone Moss to win the Coastal Division. Miami is a botched field goal attempt from an undefeated season. If the defensive dominance continues, a 12-1 season is not out of the question. Alternative: Virginia Tech should beat Virginia and North Carolina to finish 10-1.
Florida State (7-2, 5-2)—FSU has already clinched the Atlantic Division and will play in the inaugural ACC Championship game in Jacksonville. The Seminoles have no offense and probably won’t beat either Miami or Virginia Tech.
Georgia (7-1, 5-1)—The Dawgs have Auburn and Kentucky at home to finish their SEC season. With Shockley back, Georgia should take care of business and head to the Georgia Dome on December 3rd. Alternative: Florida could win the East with a road victory over Steve Spurrier and a Georgia loss.
LSU (7-1, 4-1)—Yeah, I know Alabama is undefeated but the Tigers are the better team. LSU finishes with Bama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The Bayou Bengals are a 4th quarter away from being undefeated. Alternative: Alabama has two tough games left but do control their own destiny. If they can find an offense, they could finish undefeated. Otherwise 9-2 is likely.
West Virginia (7-1, 4-1)—Another Big East representative that no BCS bowl will want. The Mountaineers have Cincinnati, Pitt, and South Florida to end the year. Alternative: South Florida, one of the only teams with four regular season games left.
Texas (9-0, 6-0)—The Horns should wrap up the South with a home victory over Kansas this weekend. Obviously, our last game is with the Aggies in College Station the day after Thanksgiving.
Colorado (7-2, 5-1)—Buffs have two games left and need just a single win. This week they play an improving Iowa State team and then get Nebraska at home. Alternative: Iowa State would need to win out and have Nebraska beat CU in Boulder.
USC (9-0, 6-0)—Trojans have some tough games to end the year: California, Fresno State, and UCLA. ATL expects them to win out and be waiting for us in Pasadena. Alternative: UCLA still has a shot even after getting embarrassed in the desert. The Bruins need to beat Arizona State and then USC.
ATL’s Automatics Berths
Penn State, Miami, Georgia, West Virginia, Texas and USC.
At Large Potential
Notre Dame (6-2)—Irish need only to win out against Navy, Syracuse, and Stanford for an “automatic” berth.
Virginia Tech (8-1), Alabama (9-0), Ohio State (7-2), LSU (7-1), Texas Tech (8-1).
Rose: USC vs. Texas
Fiesta: Penn State vs. Notre Dame
Sugar: Virginia Tech vs. Georgia
Orange: Miami vs. West Virginia
Saturday, November 5
Tonight is a great, great, night. I can't tell you how annoying it is to live in ACC country and hear all the homers suggest that Virginia Tech is as good as Texas. Should Texas win out, we'll find out whether or not we're USC's equal, but at least we can finally say, once and for all, that the Virgina Tech BS Bandwogan is wrecked.
Good guys: 62
Bad guys: 0
Whether or not we beat USC, should we get there, this is a magical team.
Hook 'Em Horns
Friday, November 4
Longhorn Fan Rooting Guide
Group One: Remaining Unbeatens
Root for MIAMI over VIRGINA TECH
Root for ARIZONA over UCLA
Root for MISSISSIPPI STATE over ALABAMA
Root for USC over STANFORD
Again, we’re on record saying we want a piece of USC, so we’ll continue to hope for a Rose Bowl showdown with the Trojans. The big one this week, of course, is the Miami-Virgina Tech game. The Hokies have the only realistic chance of overtaking the Horns, and if they win convincingly over Miami on Saturday night, they could erode the sizable lead the Horns currently hold in the human polls. The UCLA game is largely irrelevant. USC and UCLA will play at the end of the year, and barring some crazy Twilight Zone irregularity in the universe, they can’t both end the season undefeated.
Group Two: The Big 12
Root for COLORADO over MISSOURI
Root for NEBRASKA over KANSAS
Root for TEXAS TECH over TEXAS A&M
Root for KANSAS STATE over IOWA STATE
This gets a little bit complicated, but let’s go over how this works. We want Colorado and Texas Tech to keep on winning. With victories over both those teams, we need them to be ranked as high as possibly at the end of the year. We’ll also (assuming we win out) have victories over Missouri and Texas A&M, but two victories over highly ranked teams add more to us than four wins over medium-ranked teams. We’re going to get dinged by playing A&M no matter what. At this point, we just want Colorado and Tech to keep winning to offset that loss by the increase we’ll add from their continued success.
The same concept applies in a slightly different way in the Nebraska-Kansas and Kansas State-Iowa State games. We want Nebraska to rack up as many victories as possible (except against Colorado at the end of the year) so that Tech, Oklahoma, and Colorado all get boosts from their victories over the Huskers. Likewise, we want Kansas State to win to add punch to Tech, OU, and CU’s victories over the Wildcats.
Group Three: The Rest
Root for OHIO STATE over ILLINOIS
Root for LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE over NORTH TEXAS
Root for RICE over SMU
These are all easy. Keep rooting like crazy for Ohio State. The Rose Bowl race is going to get tighter and tighter if everyone stays unbeaten. Texas’ chances of playing in the title very well may rest on how the Buckeyes finish out. Along with Texas, spend as much of your rooting capital as you can on Ohio State. Sorry, Brian.
Under Review: Margin of Victory
Today we’ll take a look to see the effect MOV has on one particular set of rankings—Jeff Sagarin’s. Sagarin offers his rankings in two data sets; the first does not take into account MOV and the second does. There are many other factors that contribute equally to both sets of rankings, but the difference between the two we’re looking at is MOV. Ideal, for this rudimentary study.
The first data set, which he calls ELO-CHESS, is the one the BCS uses, sans-MOV as a factor. The second, which he calls PURE POINTS, or PREDICTOR, does factor in MOV. Sagarin notes the difference on his website:
“In ELO-CHESS, only winning and losing matters; the score margin is of no consequence, which makes it very ‘politically correct.’ However, it is less accurate in its predictions for upcoming games than is the PURE POINTS, in which the score margin is the only thing that matters. PURE POINTS is also known as PREDICTOR, BALLANTINE, RHEINGOLD, WHITE OWL and is the best single PREDICTOR of future games.”
Now that we’re introduced to the two sets of data, let’s see how they affect the rankings:
What lessons can we draw? (Yes, sample size caveats apply. This is one set of data. It’s not the bible of college football rankings. We know, we know. Shut up.)
*Biggest benefactors of the no margin of victory factor: UCLA, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia
*Most penalized by no margin of victory factor: Notre Dame, Michigan
*A few other teams not in the chart above had huge discrepancies their ELO-CHESS vs PREDICTOR scores: Michigan State (#10 predictor vs #26 ELO), Louisville (#11 predictor vs #28), Iowa (#17 predictor vs #36 ELO).
Okay, now things are starting to shape up a bit. What trends are you noticing? I’ll tell you what jumps out at me. I’m not entirely comfortable with the PREDICTOR rankings. Notre Dame at #3? They’re a very good football team—definitely, in my mind, a Top 10 team. But a home loss to Michigan State? That’s troubling. And Louisville at #11? I’m sorry, but that’s not okay either. And speaking of Michigan State, a system that puts them at #10 makes me uncomfortable. You simply cannot lose 49-14, at home, to Northwestern, and be #10.
My theory? Mr. Sagarin’s PREDICTOR rankings skew too heavily toward teams that can put up a lot of points. Notre Dame, Louisville, and Michigan State, each teams loaded with offense but shaky defense, are rewarded heavily. When your offense is good, if the other team struggles, you’re going to blow a lot of people out. Texas Tech fits this mold, too, and—not surprisingly—checks in at #8 in the PREDICTOR rankings. I actually think Texas Tech gets the “overrated” card too often and that they’re a strong, top 15 team. But #8? I don’t think so.
*On the other hand, the ELO-CHESS rankings look a lot better. Alabama at #4 seems a lot better to me than Alabama at #28. Can you imagine the outrage directed at the BCS if the Tide were actually ranked #28 in a computer that the BCS was using? I’m fairly certain Warren St. John would personally strangle Jeff Sagarin, and then whoever is acting BCS commissioner these days.
I haven’t studied enough data, from enough ranking systems, to make any firm conclusions about margin of victory and its place in these systems. But a quick and dirty look at Sagarin’s rankings certainly makes me very hesitant to endorse any such system. Simply put, they just don’t seem fair. Even if, over the long run and huge sets of data, the margin of victory system comes out with a slightly better average prediction, it’s not fair. It’s simply not fair to penalize Alabama that way. Or to reward Notre Dame that way.
This requires much, much more time and thought than I have right now. But it’s a start.
Thursday, November 3
Remarkable Vince Young Stat of the Day
Inflected Form(s): gazelled /guh-'zeld/; also chiefly dialect gazelle; ga·zelled; ga·zell·ing
Etymology: French, from Middle French, from Arabic ghazAl
: to play masterful and graceful football on one's feet; to daunt and vault over an opposing defense with non-chalant nimbleness.
"Vince Young can gazelle his way to scores on his own."
Courtesy of the Broccoli Landers American Heritage Dictionary
Texas "at" Baylor Game Preview
First, a few fun numbers for you:
1995—the last time the Bears won two conference games in a season (they have one this year, at Iowa State)
300—points scored by Texas in its last six games versus Baylor
28—points scored by Baylor in its last six games versus Texas (C.J. Wilson should take note)
2—overtime losses by Baylor this year (Texas A&M and Oklahoma)
22—average points per game for Baylor this year
47—average points per game for Texas this year
2—Baylor conference rank in pass efficiency defense
1—Texas conference rank in pass efficiency defense
Even in Baylor’s best statistical category, pass efficiency defense, they’re bettered by the Horns. There’s simply no way to sugar coat this—Baylor is completely outmatched here. It’s a nice story that they’ve been competitive this year, but it’s a relative storyline. “Hey, Baylor doesn’t completely suck this year!”
Their defense is certainly improved, but their offense got shutout by a pedestrian Texas Tech defense and managed only 13 points against the woeful Aggies. Their best conference game was a fluky, double overtime game against Oklahoma that they wound up losing, 37-30.
The worst news of all for the Bears is that Texas stumbled a bit last week and has motivation coming out its ears to blow out Baylor. We do plenty of BCS breakdowns here at ATL, and we’re all well aware that these style points are becoming increasingly important. As Texas jostles with Virginia Tech for the #2 BCS spot, they must continue to impress human voters as their strength of schedule dips with their remaining schedule. After losing ground last week due to the bad first half versus OSU, you can bet Mack Brown will be interested in ringing up a big blowout versus Baylor this week. Add in the fact that Virginia Tech is playing a marquee game versus a Top 10 team this week, while all will be watching, and Texas finds itself in a must-blowout game. That’s a weird concept, but hey, the BCS is a weird concept.
The most interesting storyline for Texas will be watching who gets the bulk of the carries in the backfield this week. Mack Brown has expressed frustration with Jamaal Charles inability to stay on the field (he left last week’s game with cramps), Selvin Young is still banged up, and Ramonce Taylor is creeping into the mix. We’ll be watching closely to see if Charles can regain his early season form and to see if Taylor gets additional carries this week.
The other challenge for Baylor is the diversity of the Horns offensive attack this year. If the running backs are faltering, or the pass game isn’t clicking, Vince can gazelle his way to scores on his own. Young’s become such a multi-dimensional threat that it’s virtually impossible to shut him down. Simply put, he can beat you too many ways. Against Colorado, he was passing like John Elway. Against Oklahoma State, he was running like Michael Vick. Against Oklahoma, he did it both ways. The guy has just gotten too good.
Meanwhile, the defense has a lot to prove after the first half stumble last week. Gene Chizik and the defense pride themselves on their dominance, and while they shut OSU down in the second half, they’ll be out to dominate for four quarters this week.
As always, Baylor’s best chance to make a game of this will be to win the battle of turnovers and field position by a wide, wide margin. Field position has actually been one of Baylor’s strengths this year—in seven of eight games, they’ve averaged starting field position at the 30 yard line or beyond—but it would take a Villanova-esque perfect game for the Bears to win this one.
And don’t forget, this is only a half-home game for Baylor. Every year, without fail, the number of Burnt Orange faithful matches or outnumbers the Bear fans in attendance at Floyd Casey Stadium. Texas has a lot to prove this week, and I’m confident they will. Horns rout the Bears early and win convincingly, 51-10.
Baylor Bears: Smack Talkers?
"I'll make this prediction: If our offense gives us between 28 and 35 points, we'll win. We're going to accept this challenge head-on. We're not concerned with the BCS talk or the Heisman talk."
Seriously, this is akin to the Arizona Cardinals talking smack to the Patriots. And seriously, when you're the David of the matchup, do you really want to piss off Goliath? The idea is to catch a sleeping giant. Not an angry, storming giant.
Good luck, Baylor.
Horns Pound St. Mary's
The Horns tipped off the season with a 113-49 pre-season victory over the St. Mary’s Rattlers of San Antonio. The game wasn’t that close. Texas started the game on about a 25-0 run and held the Rattlers scoreless for the first seven plus minutes. While the game was never in doubt, Barnes and the Horns played hard for forty minutes. The stats are telling of how well the Horns played. 57% from the floor. A 44-23 rebounding edge. 25 steals. 22 assists. 26 fast break points. And 54 bench points. Yeah, the Rattlers are a Division II team but the Horns looked good.
Gibson looked NBA quick. Tucker looked like the PJ of old scoring from odd angles and rebounding from all over the court. Aldridge looked like the big time player he was becoming last season and is destined to become this one. LaMarcus has beefed up slightly, but it is tough to notice on such a long frame. He scored with ease in the low post and ran the floor, Scooby Doo style, for easy fast break points. Buckman started solidly as well hitting two threes and pounding the glass. Those are the ones we all know about. I walked away dreaming of the Final Four because of what I saw out of some of the others. Mike Williams has softened his hands. I know that is not saying much but he looks able to contribute valuable frontcourt minutes. Freshman AJ Abrams looked like lightning in a bottle leading the team with five steals and six assists. AJ is small (5’10” 160 lbs) but will be able to spell Gibson at the point. Transfer guards JD Lewis and Craig Winder also looked comfortable. Winder was particularly impressive. He defended on and off the ball well and did all the things that make coaches happy and earn more playing time. Don’t be surprised to see Abrams and Winder earn significant time this season.
Last, the defense was fantastic in both the half court and the full court. 25 steals. That is ridiculous. Texas pressured St. Mary’s constantly in the half court and forced bad shots and turnovers all night long. Texas also experimented in the second half with a full court trap. Barnes had Aldridge at the top of the defense guarding the in-bounds pass and then trapping the first player with the ball in either corner. Aldridge doesn’t have the speed to stay with any guards off the dribble but his length was a huge problem for St. Mary’s. It will be interesting to see how much full court press we see this season.
Barnes is my favorite UT coach by far. He recruits well, develops talent consistently, and excels at the defensive end. If there is a knock on Rick, it has been is development of the offense in the half court. Because this team is so talented and so deep, Barnes may be able to rely more on the fast break than in year’s past and use his defensive prowess to create easy transition buckets. This team is good. Real good. I can’t wait to see Barnes mold them all season long. Hopefully, we can avoid injuries and academic issues and peak in March. This team has a legitimate shot at the national title. Things haven’t looked this promising for the basketball team in a long, long time.