Monday, November 28, 2011

P6 2011: Cruising into Championship Week

It's the end of the regular season, and coaches are getting fired. As of today that list includes Ron Zook (2 Pick Six players have Illinois) and Dennis Erickson (6 players have Arizona State). Of course that doesn't include Joe Pa at Penn State (3 players) or Tressel at Ohio State (7 players). If your team is on that list, it doesn't bode well for your overall score. (Outside the P6 realm, others canned include Rick Neuheisel at UCLA, Turner Gill at Kansas and former Charlie Weis assistant Rob Ainello at Akron.)

In the games last week: I had another 5-for-6 week. Alabama, South Carolina and Florida thumped in-state rivals (over Auburn 42-14, South Carolina 34-13, and Florida 21-7), USC killed cross-town rival UCLA 50-0, and Michigan State glided to a win over no one's rival Northwestern. If Utah had beaten crappy Colorado, they had a chance to go to the Pac-12 Championship. Alas, they did not, and since they are already out of the poll, that didn't hurt me points-wise. So, a big gainer, right?

The problem is that there wasn't much movement generally this week. Even Arkansas, who got outclassed by LSU 41-17, only dropped three points. So Florida State re-enters the poll at No. 25 (yay) and USC gains a point by going from 10th to a tie for 9th, for a two-point gain. Luckily, the two kids ahead of me both had Arkansas, so I move up by default, into a tie with "The Champagne Room" for fifth.

We've finished 13 weeks, which means the regular season (12 games plus a bye week) is over for almost everyone. (Trivial fact: Central Michigan was the only team this year to play 12 games in 12 week, no bye.) Aside from Army-Navy, the game that makes you proud to be an American and sad because the football season is over, the focus is now the conference championship games.

Best player of the week:

As I said, not a lot of movement. Very few teams moved, but "El Duderino" got bumps from West Virginia, Nebraska, TCU and Oregon. A bunch of small jumps equals 8 points and the best improvement of the week. (TMMPF's former bowling team colleagues and fellow Acheivers will want to watch the longer version of this scene.

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning?

No change at the top. Much like last year, we are all looking up at a four-footed family friend: "HORRIBLE Dog" retains the lead for a second straight week. The top ranked human is "Sidney", the top kitty is Franklin "The F-Bomb", and the top child is "The Bobcat". Standings here.

Remember, the regular season is over, but the game is not. The Pick Six goes until the end of the season, after all the bowls are played. So if you're in the running, don't dismay. There's still time ... and a lot can change after the bowls. Keep watching the blog for bowl updates!

Monday, November 21, 2011

P6 2011: Week 12 And The End Is In Sight

Games watched: Ball State-Northern Ill (Tues); Ohio-Bowling Green (Weds); North Carolina-Va Tech (Thurs); Okla State-Iowa St (Fri); Iowa-Purdue; Neb-Mich (backup TV); Kentucky-Georgia (snippets); ND-BC; Penn St-Ohio St (backup TV); Utah-Washington St (snippets); Vandy-Tennessee (ending); USC-Oregon (end, mostly); Cal-Stanford (until falling asleep).

Last week, the average scores went up, but the top five players all lost points. This week the average score was basically flat (52 to 51.7), but the top seven players all improved their scores. Weird game.

For most of the day I thought I was going to finish with another clean sweep for my Pick Sixers. In the morning, Alabama and South Carolina had D-IAA creampuffs, and Michigan State crushed Indiana. In the evening games, Utah pulled out a snowy win at Washington State, and USC dominated Oregon for most of the game, then held on for the upset. Unfortunately, Florida State decided to be stupid and let Virginia pull out a win. They are punished with banishment. Still, five wins is five wins, and USC was rewarded accordingly, as we'll see momentarily. I moved from a tie for 13th to 7th. My closest household competition remains Franklin "The F-Bomb" who is tied for 10th.

Elsewhere in the game: Congrats to The "A" Team, whose Pick Sixth (the Virginia Cavaliers) took a while, but finally made the poll at No. 24, albeit at the expense of my "B" team, Florida State. Note: in this week's poll, Nebraska and Notre Dame are tied for 22nd (four points each); there is no Number 23.

This is not a metaphor for the NBA season, which apparently isn't happening this year, and no one at all gives a shit about*.

Biggest gainer: ohhh it sucks to say, but it was USC. They beat Oregon late at night, as the Pac 12 has finally figured out how to slow down that crazyfast Duck offense. Stanford, last seen losing to said Ducks, unnecessarily climbed four spots for edging mediocre Cal, and nobody else moved up more than three spots.

Biggest losers: Not so much in the poll standings, but Oklahoma State shit the bed on national TV. Granted, their heads were not in the game, as they had learned that morning about the plane crash that killed two women's basketball coaches. But Iowa State should not be able to beat Okla. St. under any circumstances, even a Friday night home game. Trying to keep up with Little Brother, the Sooners went out and lost to Baylor for the first time ever. Okla St drops three, but Oklahoma drops seven.

Nebraska also fell after looking downright pathetic against Michigan (-5, not that Minus 5). What the hell, Nebraska! Have you not watched the Big Ten the last two years? There is a blueprint for beating Denard Robinson. And just because you were technically in the XII last year is no excuse, we know you were watching our games back then.

Trivial fact: the 13 points earned by teams not picked by this year's players (Clemson, Baylor, Georgia Tech) is the lowest since the second week of the season (same three, plus South Florida).

Best week: It's also your overall leader, so sit tight. Honorable mention is Sidney (+14 on the week).

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning?

Finley's awful dog! I met this dog once or twice. I remember thinking that any dog that Quigley could sit on, is not much of a dog. It yipped a lot, as tiny dogs do, and generally contributed nothing to society. However, the back half of the pickset for "HORRIBLE Dog" has come on strong in the past few weeks: Georgia has rebounded from an 0-2 start to make the SEC championship game; USC's only loss since September was in triple overtime to Oregon; and Houston is the only other 11-0 team besides LSU.

Those three teams gained 11 points, plus Boise and Stanford's gains (Wisconsin had no change) adds up to 18 points on the week, 99 points on the season and moving into the lead over "Tressel's Tats." Read 'em and weep.

This is the last full week of the football season. Go out there and enjoy it, and enjoy your holiday, wherever it takes you. Hawkeyes and Huskers at 11am Central!

* -- Grammatically, about which no one gives a shit.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

P6 2011: Week 11 Was a Little Distracted

Games watched: South Florida-Syracuse (pieces, Fri); Michigan State-Iowa; Nebraska-Penn St (backup TV); Georgia-Auburn (snippets); Michigan-Illinois; ND-Maryland; Oregon-Stanford; Washington State-Arizona State (until falling asleep).

The AP poll comes out on Sunday afternoons. Usually that means I've got the rest of the afternoon and evening to update the spreadsheet, see who's winning, and write up a report. But this Sunday, the Bears had a 3:15pm game and then we went to see Paul Simon. I had time to update the googledoc (go ahead and check it now if you don't feel like reading and waiting), but not time for the writeup.

So Monday night, I settled in to write about college football ... and then I saw Jerry Sandusky was going to be on 30 Rock or Rock Plaza or Something About A Rock, a new newsmagazine with Brian Williams.

And that was my week, in a nutshell. The Penn State scandal was an obsessive, consuming story ... and I didn't even go to Penn State. I paid attention to almost nothing else. We saw The Scott Miller on Wednesday night, I had a work event Thursday night, we went out for dinner Friday night, and suddenly I had to figure out the picks for my weekly pick 'em game. The results were what you'd expect from zero preparation: 9 out of 21 right.

As for the games: I had about as good a week as you could hope for, P6-wise. All six teams won: Alabama (hangover win vs. Miss. St), Florida State (thumped whichever ACC team they played, I think it was Real Miami), South Carolina (edged Florida), Michigan State (beat Iowa at Kinnick for the first time since the 1980s--sigh) and Utah (gone, but not forgotten). All that was only good for a plus 6: good, but not great, and I feel I'm going to give most or all of it back next week when USC plays Oregon.

In the Top 25 overall: There weren't a lot of big gainers: TCU was the biggest, re-entering the poll at No. 19. Florida State also re-entered the poll (+3). But losers.... oh yes, there were losers. Penn State (-9), Stanford (-5), Boise (-5), Texas (-5 and out of the poll) paid for their losses. Only Stanford lost via blowout, but the points come off all the same.

Best week:

Welcome back to the Pick Six writeups, Mr. Q! It's been a long time since I wrote about Mr. Q in the context of P6. But here in early November, he gets a mention for  the best week of all 52 players. Oregon, Nebraska, TCU and Notre Dame all had good wins, and Q benefits via a 13-point gain. (He is currently sitting next to me on the couch, wagging in his tail contently in a state of semi-sleep.)

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning?

We have a tie:
"Tressell's Tats", who made a personal appearance at TMMPF headquarters this weekend, and

"HORRIBLE Dog", an incontinent canine in the north suburbs. Will Penn State's downfall hurt Tressel's Tats? Will Houston's first loss send them plummeting in the polls, and HORRIBLE Dog plummeting in the standings? Who is waiting in the wings if they fall? Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

P6 2011: Week 10 Ends on a Low Note

Games watched: Northern Illinois-Toledo (Tues); Temple-Ohio (Weds); USC-Colorado (snippets, Fri); Michigan-Iowa; Minnesota-Michigan State (backup TV); Kansas-Iowa State (snippets); South Carolina-Arkansas (snippets); LSU-Bama; ND-Wake (backup TV); Oregon-Washington (until fell asleep).

Early shift: I finally got to watch a meaningful Iowa game. Between travel and watching games in person, all I'd really seen were blowouts.

So it was nice to see an Iowa victory. The game itself was pretty much what we've seen the last two years: Iowa outplays its opponents for three quarters, then lets the opponent make a game of it late. The exception is that this year, the Hawkeyes toughened up on "D" late, with a goal-line stand and preserving the win. This is the first three-game winning streak over Michigan in Iowa history. Thank you, Rich Rod and Dave Brandon, for your role in our run of success.

Three in a row, Skunkbear. Now get outta my face.
(photo by Des Moines Register)

Late shift: For as long as I can remember (that'd be 2003), Notre Dame has never been bumped off the main TV. Even if there's a timeslot overlap, which is rare, the nature of Notre Dame's scheduling means that the Irish game is usually more interesting.

But Saturday night, we were watching the Game of the Century Week, LSU vs. Alabama, No. 1 vs No. 2. And I gotta say, it lived up to the hype. Every single play mattered, and the athleticism of both teams on both sides of the ball was evident. In the end, it came down to something the blog Roll Bama Roll had predicted:
'Bama remains the narrow favorite in Vegas, though it is hard to say if that is essentially random white noise or if notes a legitimate disparity between the teams. Home field advantage is baked into the point spread, and the actual impact of that advantage is up for debate, especially in a series where road teams have routinely experienced so much success. And in fact, a traditional match-up analysis would have LSU as the favorite, given the near equal offense versus defense match-ups coupled with the Bayou Bengals' decided edge in the kicking game.
Even though it was fun to watch, Bama's loss meant a drop in the polls and the end of national title hopes for the Tide.

Of course, by now it's Tuesday night, and the college football world has spent the last couple days alternately mesmerized and sickened by the Penn State story. The details and facts change by the minute, so anything I write will be obsolete by the time you read it. Suffice to say, in the wake of something this horrible, many more people will lose their jobs, likely including the greatest coach we've ever known.

Last night I didn't get to the Pick Six update because we were watching the Bears in Monday Night Football. Pro football has nothing to do with anything except this picture is CUTE AS SHIT.

The Pick Six: Well, USC blew out Colorado and Florida State blew out Boston College. But South Carolina lost to Arkansas (and probably lost their QB in the process) and of course Bama lost to LSU. (Sparty beat Minnesota unimpressively; Utah won but likely won't sniff the Top 25 the rest of the year.) I fell a couple spots and Franklin moved up a couple spots to solidify his household lead.

Best week:

I have no idea what "HORRIBLE Dog" did to deserve the moniker of "HORRIBLE." Being a cat person who is scared of most dogs, I'm just going to assume it was something pee-related, so this picture is appropriate. But whether Finley likes it or not, HORRIBLE Dog has Georgia and Houston, both of which have made great runs of late. With a +14, Mitzu had the best performance and moves up to second place.

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning?
"Tressel's Tats" is just 16 points off the perfect score, which is remarkable this late in the season. His top four teams all won (Mizzou was out of the poll already, Penn St. bye'd) and so he kept his lead in the standings for a second straight week.