Sunday, December 16, 2012

The TMMPF Pick Six Bowl Viewer's Guide

There are 35 bowls in college football these days, way too many for the average fan to follow. (Way too many for even a die-hard fan, but that's a topic for a different day.)

Because we host the Pick Six game, we realize our readers wonder how the bowls will affect the scores and standings in the game. You'll only want to tune into the games that matter.

You Don't Care:

Of the 44 teams in the Pick Six game, 10 didn't make a bowl. (Arkansas, Ohio State, Auburn, Illinois, Iowa, Mizzou, North Carolina, South Florida, Tennessee, Utah). So with 34 active teams and 70 playing in bowls, you know there's a long list of games that don't matter at all.

None of these teams are in the Pick Six:
Dec. 15 New Mexico (Albuquerque): Arizona vs. Nevada (you especially don't care because it was played yesterday)

Dec. 21 Beef O'Brady's (St. Petersburg): UCF vs. Ball State
Dec. 22 New Orleans: East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette 

Dec. 24 Hawaii (Honolulu): Fresno State vs. SMU
Dec. 26 Pizza (Detroit): Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky 

Dec. 27 Holiday (San Diego): Baylor  vs. UCLA
Dec. 27 Belk (Charlotte): Cincinnati  vs. Duke  
Dec. 27 Military (Washington): San Jose State  vs. Bowling Green   
Dec. 28 Meineke (Houston): Minnesota vs. Texas Tech  
Dec. 29 Armed Forces (Fort Worth): Rice  vs. Air Force  

Dec. 31 Liberty (Memphis): Iowa State vs. Tulsa
Jan. 5 BBVA Compass (Birmingham): Pittsburgh vs. Ole Miss  
Jan. 6 (Mobile): Kent State  vs. Arkansas State 

You Only Care If Your Name Is On This List:

Because these games feature only one team picked by one player. You'll be watching these teams alone:

Dec. 15 Famous Idaho Potato (Boise): Utah State vs. Toledo (NO Bowl Game) (and Toledo lost yesterday, sorry)
Dec. 20 Poinsettia (San Diego): BYU vs. San Diego State (How Pathetic!)

Dec. 31 Music City (Nashville): Vanderbilt vs. N.C. State (Sidney
Jan. 1 Gator (Jacksonville): Mississippi State vs. Northwestern (Daddy's reason to like softball)  

A Lot Of People Picked These Teams: 

I use the term "a lot" liberally, because you'll see one of these has just 2 pickers. Hey, 2 is more than one. The most popular game is the Rose Bowl with 46 picks of Wisky and/or Stanford.  ND/Bama has 31 players, meaning about half the game picked one of the other of the title combatants. (Not exactly because six players picked both teams.) These games will have some P6 eyeballs.

The numbers in parentheses indicate how many P6 players picked that team:
Dec. 22 Las Vegas: Boise State (14) vs. Washington (9)

Dec. 28 Independence (Shreveport): Ohio (4) vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Dec. 28 Russell Athletic (Orlando):  Rutgers (1) vs. Virginia Tech (11) 
Dec. 29 Pinstripe (Bronx): West Virginia (6) vs. Syracuse (1) 
Dec. 29 Fight Hunger (San Francisco): Navy vs. Arizona State (2)  

Dec. 29 Alamo (San Antonio):  Texas (12) vs. Oregon State
Dec. 29 Buffalo Wild Wings (Tempe): TCU (11) vs. Michigan State (7)
Dec. 31 Sun (El Paso): USC (15) vs. Georgia Tech (4) 
Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A (Atlanta):  LSU (9) vs. Clemson (8) 
Jan. 1 Heart of Dallas: Purdue vs. Oklahoma State (9) 
Jan. 1 Outback (Tampa):  South Carolina (8) vs. Michigan (15)
Jan. 1 Capital One (Orlando):  Georgia (10) vs. Nebraska (11)
Jan. 1 Rose (Pasadena):  Stanford (19) vs. Wisconsin (27)
Jan. 1 Orange (Miami): Florida State (14) vs. N. Illinois  
Jan. 2 Sugar (New Orleans):  Florida (9) vs. Louisville (7)
Jan. 3 Fiesta (Glendale):  Oregon (11) vs. Kansas State (11)
Jan. 4 Cotton (Arlington): Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma (7)
Jan. 7 BCS Title (Miami):  Notre Dame (11) vs. Alabama (18)

There are some exciting conflicts and overlaps that affect the players in the Top Ten. We'll get into those scenarios in the next post. 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

P6 2012: Week 14 Is Just Waiting for the Bowls

Last Saturday was the last full week of football. Yesterday was mostly conference championships and the occasional conference without a championship game (Big 12) playing out the schedule.

As a result, nothing much changed in the AP Top 25. Georgia lost and moved down three spots. The three teams in between moved up one notch accordingly. Everything else down to No. 13 stayed the same.

The only notable move was Nebraska (sorry Kelly and Larry) who was punished for getting killed by Wisconsin in the -- oh sorry, looks like Wisconsin just scored again. They fall nine points to No. 23. Also down is Kent State, losers in OT to the MAC champions from DeKalb. Only climbers of significance are Boise (+5) and Big East Champions (snort) Louisville, getting re-ranked at 22 and +4 points.

This week's trivial note: Clemson is the only team from Group "C" remaining that is ranked.

Best week: You needed to have Boise, plus a couple other gainers. That would be "M-I-L" who finished the week +8. Honorable mention to the awesomely named "Mo' Mini, Mo' Problems", who makes me thinking Verne Troyer aka "Mini Me" from the Austin Powers movies.

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning? 

"Flying Cougars" keeps her lead for another week. Heading into bowl season, she's got a one-point lead over "I Hate Caillou". Oh, and by the way, they have five of six teams the same.

Standings. Team points.

Even though the regular season is over (minus the Army-Navy game next Saturday, watch it if you love America), the Pick Six game is not over. The game is decided by the final AP Poll, which is held after the bowls. I'll have more info on the bowls before the games begin. Check out where your teams are playing and enjoy the games!

Monday, November 26, 2012

P6 2012: Week 13 Just Kinda Rubs Its Chin In Wonder

It's Monday night. It's been a little under 48 hours since Notre Dame beat Southern Cal to finish the season 12-0 and cement a spot in the national championship game. The sense of "what the bleepity fuck" really hasn't gone away yet. I wrote to a friend today: "(The season) has been more surreal and dreamlike than chest thumping. All season I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was pretty nervous Sat night. Even when we won, it wasn't a triumphant "YES" moment but more of a 'hunh. whoa. wow.' kind of moment."

There'll be time enough for counting when the dealing's done, so let's move on to the poll: 

Adios: Louisville (was 19, lost to UConn in OT), Rrrrutgers and my Scott Clark references (was 21, killed by Pitt. Pitt!), Mississippi State (was 25, lost to in-state rival Ole Miss, who came in 5-6).

Hello: Northwestern at 22* and Boise at 25. (We had a tie at #25 last week, meaning there were 26 teams in the poll. This week we're back to 25, so three depart and two join.)

Biggest movers: Very little movement in the Top Ten. Stanford is now 10-2 and moves up three spots to No. 8. Congrats to the tree or the bird or the color or the whatever the hell. Kent State and Northern both move up 5 points in advance of what should be an entertaining MAC championship game Friday night. Texas -5 for being schizophrenic. Little yellow pills are available for the 12 of you who took Texas with your "C" pick. (Kegs of cheap Milwaukee-produced beer are available for the 27 of us who took Wisconsin in that slot.) South Carolina and Oklahoma +2 for dispatching in-state rivals. Florida State and Clemson -3 for losing to in-state rivals. Statistical proof that losing really is worse than winning.

Best week: If you want to gain points this late in the season, you better have some red in your game. "Huskers Du" picked Stanford and Nebraska, who collectively got 6 points. Her other four teams were flat, but no matter. Plus-six takes the best of the week and gives her a bump from 14th to 9th.

Enough jibber-jabber, who's winning? 

The top four players all lost points. But "Flying Cougars" had the least bad week, only -1, and retakes the lead with 95 points, one better than "I Hate Caillou" who makes a nice showing at +2. Top kid: "Thomas the Train." Top kitty: Mutchka. Top dog: "Silly Milly."

Gamewide: we collectively dropped a point and a half, down from 55.0 to 53.6.  I'm barely below the Mendoza line with 53 points, still not even leading the household. I guess there's always the bowl season.

Standings. Team points.

There are really only a few games left to whet your whistle before bowl season. As mentioned, there's the MAC championship on Friday night, the Pac-12 championship (UCLA vs. Stanford) also on Friday, then the SEC, Big Ten and ACC championships on Friday. Texas vs. K-State should be a decent game but much less meaningful that two weeks ago.

* -- what are you doing to do. They are 9-3 in a crappy Big Ten. The only other Big Ten team even receiving votes is Penn State. The champion of the East division is 7-5 and received zero votes from any of the 60 voters. This is the Big Ten in 2012.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

P6 2012: Week 11 and 12 OMG-WTF-LOL UBERUPDATE

Last week, real life intervened. I couldn't get the P6 written (although I did update the googledoc, if you checked the standings). So this week, a quick review of the Week 11 action (there wasn't much) and a deeper look at Week 12.

First up, the Week 11 summary, pieced together from some notes I jotted. --MPF004

P6 2012: Week 11 Heard a Thunderous Sound

And that sound was either a "crack" or a "thud." The "crack" was Texas A&M piercing the invincibility of Alabama. After about seven minutes of football, it was 14-0 A&M. Bama could never recover. The "thud" was at the final gun when Bama fell from the ranks of the undefeateds, creating an opening for K-State and Notre Dame to claim one of the two slots in the national championship game.

Big gainers: nobody except Michigan +3, to rejoin the poll as the least deserving in the poll and the most over-rated three-loss team in the country. It was a quiet week.

Big losers: Louisville -9 after getting killed by Syracuse.  Alabama -3 and (at least so we thought at the time) its chances at the national championship. Toledo -3 and out (losing to Ball State will do that to ya).

Best week: Congrats to "Keiimik," "Haskins Mama," and "The Big D" who all had a +7.

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning?

"Thomas the Train" and "Dix Pix Six" both tumbled, leaving an opening for our old friend from Week 7 and 8, "Flying Cougars," who shamefully benefitted from Michigan's win.

Gamewide average: basically flat, from 54.1 to 54.0.

In Week 12, Flying Cougars has a matchup between Ohio State and Wisconsin. But more importantly, what about those losses?

P6 2012: Week 12 Watched It and Still Couldn't Believe It

I think we all figured Notre Dame would cruise past Wake Forest (Jim Grobe: good guy, runs a clean program, has a MAC feather in his cap, but was way overmatched). And I think some were hopeful that stodgy, tough Stanford could hang with the high-flyin' Ducks of Oregon.
But nobody saw Oregon losing AND K-State losing, particularly the way they did. Add it all up and I get email messages like this:

N D # 1

Didn't think this morning this could happen.  Hope you got to watch/listen to the games!!!!!!

And pictures like this (click to embiggen):

Also: Tennessee fired Derek Dooley on Sunday (cue sad Scott Miller).

I was speechless Saturday night and I'm still at a loss for words (mostly because it's late and I want to get this posted so I can go to bed). All I can say is, if Notre Dame can beat USC, featuring a redshirt freshman making his first collegiate start, then they will play for the national championship. Those words are so bizarre and so true.

To the poll:

Adios to Southern Cal, Louisana Tech and Texas Tech. Ahhh, don't pretend to be sad (said with a Michael Corleone "ahhh"). You didn't have either of those Techs, and if you had probation-battered Southern Cal, well, it's your own fault. Welcome to: Oklahoma State (an original Group "D", making 9 players happy), Mississippi State (unloved and unchosen by the Pick Sixers) and Northern Illinois, making this week's Top 25 doubly MAC-tastic since Kent State is still there. Being a Chicago-based game, I'm surprised no one jumped on the Huskies as a Pick Sixth. I guess all that Midwestern love went to the Irish, and rightly so you pickers!

By the way, is Georgia really the third best team in the country? Despite losing in OT, when you look at their body of work, it's not Oregon? Or, you know, 11-0 Ohio State?

Biggest winners: Notre Dame obviously, and I'm not talking about the two points in the poll. But back to the rankings math: Oklahoma State, who beat the former No. 23 Red Raiders of Texas Tech. Stanford, +3 for beating the Ducks and making Saturday historically awesome. Michigan, again, improving 3 points, clearly not based on anything special they did Saturday.

Big losers: Voters did not look kindly on losing to 4-5 Baylor and dropped K-State five spots. USC: dropped five notches (and out) after that pathetic performance against cross-town rival USC. Oregon down 4.

Best week: I still don't know (yet) what Caillou is, and why "I Hate Caillou" hates it so much, although I assume I'm going to find out soon enough. Dislikes aside, my old buddy in North Carolina came through with a mightly +12, benefitting from Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, Stanford and ND, all of whom gained a couple notches apiece. Despite a huge gain, he only moves from 7th to 5th in the game. Who could have possibly topped him?

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning?

"Dix Pix Six" scored a +7 on the week, good enough for 97 points and a one-point lead over last week's leader, "Flying Cougars." I'm way down at 34th, partially because I put my Pick Six "A" faith in this guy:


Top kid: "Thomas the Train." Top cat: Mutchka. Top dog: "Silly Milly." Gamewide: up one point, from 54.0 to 55.0. So I guess it was a good week for our teams, overall.

Standings: read 'em and weep.

We're down to the last full week of the regular season. The last week sees classic rivalries like Alabama-Auburn and Notre Dame-USC, both of which need to dispatch weaker foes to keep their slot in the championship game. There are other exciting rivalries that will move the standings, like South Carolina-Clemson and Ohio State-Michigan. And, uh, Iowa-Nebraska. A game that I planned my Thanksgiving around to make sure I'd be home for. Oh well, at least there's the Iron Bowl too.

Good luck next week. Keep an eye on your teams to see how they finish it out!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

P6 2012: Week 10 Has Found The First Odd Man Out

Games watched: EMU-Ohio (Thurs, parts); Va Tech-Miami (Thurs, somewhere between Ohio and sleep); Wash-Cal (Fri, first half); Mizzou-Fla (snippets); Oklahoma-Iowa State (2nd tv); Michigan-Minnesota; Iowa-Indiana (as little as possible, 2nd tv); Nebraska-Michigan State (snippets); Pitt-ND; Oregon-USC (2nd tv); K-St-Okla St (flip at commercials); Bama-LSU.

Saturday was the rare day when I was able to watch all four of the top teams in action, at least partially. Notre Dame kicked off at 2:30 and didn't end until three overtimes later, around 6:45. Oregon-USC kicked off at 6pm, and the game was out of reach before we could switch over. I will give credit to Southern Cal for hanging in there and occasionally keeping it close, but I don't know what you can say when a team can score 62 points and not really look like they broke a sweat. Meanwhile, K-State dispatched Oklahoma State in a night game. I'm not sure K-State's stadium has ever been that electric at night. As for Bama-LSU: despite my urgings as an ND fan and LSU Pick Six holder, they could not unseat Alabama, who truly looks every bit the Number One team in the country.

After 10 weeks, we basically know the profile of every team (with exceptions like West Virginia and Texas, who seem to flip a coin to decide if they'll be good any given week). And generally, I'm not given to big pronouncements about what can and will happen at the end of the season: remember that Kansas-West Virginia national championship in 2007? Exactly. But having said all that: I don't see anyone on the schedule of Alabama, Oregon or K-State who can or will beat them.

Notre Dame, on the other hand, could easily lose to any of the next three teams, just as they could have (should have) lost to Pitt yesterday. A flat defense, more quarterback roulette, a case of fumble-itis ... any of things could derail the Irish, especially against an opponent who knows that a win would make their season.

So yeah, Notre Dame is Number 4. But I'm looking at a three-man race from now til December 1.

To the poll: Three re-entries. First up:

No one is going to get that joke except TM ("QBKatt") and perhaps the New York City residents/alums in the group. Everytime Scott Clark (former sports anchor for WABC-Channel 7) said the name of the State University of New Jersey, he said it like this:


It was awesome. We moved away in 2007 and still say it like Scott Clark.

Also, Texas (more on them in a second) and MAC token of the week, the Toledo Rockets. Special shout-out to "NO Bowl Game" who visited us here in the suburbs recently, and had the temerity to pick a MAC school as his Pick Sixth. (Yes that's right Pick Sixers, if you come out to the burbs and visit TMMPF HQ, you will probably get a personal shout-out in the blog. This is how bribery works, man.)

Adios: Boise State (losing to Sparty doesn't look as good in November); the other schizophrenia special, West Virginia; and everyone's favorite ex-Michigan coach* and his new Arizona squad. I mean, c'mon, they kept it within 55 points of UCLA!

Big gainers: The previously mentioned walking case of schizophrenia known as the Texas Longhorns re-enters the poll at 19. That's +7 points for a team that lost 63-21 to a team that lost at home, at night, twice in five weeks. (In Oklahoma's defense, they lost to the current No. 3 and No. 4 teams. That's SEC-worthy.) That's also the best jump of the week. Nebraska +3 for beating Sparty in a Cro-Magnon game of pathetic offense. If that's not a "fuck it, I don't care about this Big Ten" from voters, I don't know what is. Also +3 for Toledo (in at No. 23).

Big losers: This, as Richard Nixon would tell you, is the more interesting side of things. Boise went from 19th to gone (-7) for the crime of losing on their blue turf to San Diego State. LSU dropped 4 for the more respectable home loss to Alabama. USC down 3 for losing to the No. 2 team. West Virginia -3 and out for falling in a shootout to TCU. West Virginia currently ranks 116th out of 120 teams in scoring defense (giving up 39.75 points per game). If you add in the four new schools that the NCAA doesn't count for whatever reason, they fall to 119th of 124. For context, ND is second at 11.67 ppg, behind Bama at 9.11 ppg.

Trivial: this week has two ties, at No. 5 (Ohio State/Georgia) and at No. 19 (Texas/La Tech). I don't think I've ever seen that.

Best week: This was the week to have Texas, and a couple other climbers as well. "Dix Pix Six" fits the bill, jumping 11 points with Texas plus Georgia, Ohio State and Florida. That gets him from 5th to ...

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning? 

"Thomas the Train" (or his mommy) had the wisdom to take Ohio State out of Group D, which, by the way, is the only 10-0 team in the country and has climbed up to No. 4. Last week Thomas had a one-point lead, 91-90, and this week he's up to 93. But "Dix Pix Six" joins him at the top of the pile. (I wasn't entirely sure how to illustrate "Dix Pix Six." Then I found six guitar picks with Elvis on them. Now I need to go put "Elvis guitar picks" on my birthday wish list.)

Top adult: "Dix Pix Six." Top kitty: Mutchka. Top dog: the awesomely named "Four Legs and a cloud of dust." Gamewide average falls a half point, from 54.6 to 54.1.

* -- Oh who am I kidding. EVERY ex-Michigan coach is great to make fun of.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

P6 2012: Week 9 Asks Someone To Pinch Me

For a good chunk of Saturday, the football wasn't so good. I figured the Iowa game would be ugly, so I went outside and raked leaves instead. Ohio went into rival Miami and blew their undefeated season with a last-second loss. A loss where all they needed to do was kick a short field goal to go into overtime, by the way. I took beatings in the Pick Six with South Carolina losing RB Lattimore for the season and Florida losing to Georgia.

For a while, the day's only bright spot was seeing the Palatine Pirates win an IHSA playoff game.

And then came the Irish.

At some point, we're going to run out of superlatives to describe this 2012 season. Back in the summer I saw 9-3 as the ceiling for this team, beating a couple teams they shouldn't. Or look at it this way, at this point last year they were 5-3 with final four games of the ACC stretch (Wake, BC, Turtles) followed by the West Coast game (@Stanford). This year they are 8-0 with the ACC stretch (future member Pitt, Wake, BC) and the West Coast game (@Southern Cal) upcoming.

All I know is, I'm loving the run. Even when it's felt like borrowed time, it's been a thrill. At this point even the hardest heart has to admit this Notre Dame team is the real deal. And as a CBS Sports article I saw this morning pointed out, the season sets up a Final Four of sorts, with Bama, Oregon, K-State and ND not playing each other this year. So all four could finish 12-0, with Bama and Oregon potentially going 13-0 with their conference championship game.

To the poll: There wasn't much room to advance at the top, but there sure was room to fall. Rutgers -8 (and out), Southern Cal -8, Michigan -6 (and out), Oklahoma -6, Florida -5, and Ohio -3 (and out). Many of the vanquishers of those teams were rewarded accordingly: Georgia is up +5 after the Cocktail Party win; Arizona enters the poll after beating USC (who do you root for in Arizona vs. USC, personally I was rooting for the thunderstorm rain delay); Nebraska returns to the poll (congrats Husker-themed teams).

Lots of movement among the teams we collectively weren't smart enough to choose for our Pick Sixth. Oregon State falls from the ranks of the unbeatens down to 13; same for Mississippi State, down to 17; Texas A&M continues its Image Rehabilitation Tour with a win and a jump up to 16; Louisiana Tech is still in there for some reason, and Pac-12 riff-raff Arizona and UCLA make their second appearances in the poll. Given their erratic seasons, don't get used to seeing them here.

Trivial fact: the gap between Florida State (preseason #1 by Phil Steele) and Florida has been as high as 18 points this season, with FSU higher. In week 6 it flipped to be +8 Florida, and now with the Gators' loss, it's back to +1 Seminoles.

Biggest gainer: The key would be having some of those climbers I mentioned above, and sure enough, someone did. With Georgia, Nebraska and Stanford (+4 after beating 2-5 Washington State at home? I don't get it), "Huskers Du" climbs 14 points for the best of the week. I'm too lazy to find the umlaut on the Blogger keyboard, but I think that's Huhsk-ers, as in the football team, not HOOSK-ers, as in Bob Mould's old band. Or maybe the umlaut is on the "Du" so it's not "Huskers DUH." TMMPF favorite "Huskers Du" has been around the Pick Six for three years; I am sure this was explained to me at one point and that brain cell was replaced by "how long has it been since the baby ate" during the first few days in the hospital.

Honorable mention to "Liars, Gastropods, Normads, D-bags, Enablers, and Jimbo Fisher". There is no way in hell I was going to type all that in and mess up my spreadsheet, so it shows as "LGNDE & Jimbo Fisher" on the sheet. He had 13 points, and I thought for a minute I was going to have to spend this section trying to dissect who all falls into those five categories. 

Enough jibber-jabber, who's winning?

I knew "Flying Cougars" would eventually pay for the folly of picking Michigan (maybe I should ask for a DNA test?). That week was today, and she had a -1 on the week. Which wouldn't be such a big deal, except ...

...last week's No. 2, "Thomas the Train," eight points behind, scored a plus-8 thanks to gainers including Florida State and Boise State. That puts him back in the lead, 91 to 90.

Top adult: "Flying Cougars." Top kitty: Mutchka, now all the way up to 13th. Top dog: "Silly Milly." The dogs were once all over the leaderboard, now the leader of the pack is down at 22nd. (Not that you'll get any taunting from a guy at 27th, tied with a 9-year-old and a sheepdog that goes for my crotch everytime we see each other.) Gamewide average: up 2.1, from 52.6 to 54.6, making me about a half point below average.

Boards are updated. This Thomas vs. Cougar battle should be fun to watch in the coming weeks. Remember, they share Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame. "Flying Cougars" has a built-in loss with the Michigan-Ohio State game ... but only if Michigan is ranked at the time, which I assume/hope they won't be. Texas (Thomas) can play spoiler to K-State (Cougars) in the last week of the regular season, which is Sat. Dec. 1. Sounds like an exciting day.

The big game this week is Alabama vs. LSU. Remember, this was supposed to be the Game of the Century of the Year, before the Honey Badger got kicked off the team and LSU realized they still don't have an offense, even with Zach Mettenberger at QB. Early line is Bama favored by 10, or approximately the same that Oklahoma was favored over Notre Dame.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

P6 2012: Week 8 Saw the Irish Win (Again)

We were in South Bend on Saturday for our one and only Irish game of the season. Back in June when I got the tickets, I would have never guessed we'd see the 6-0, No.-5-in-the-country Irish.

And while the game wasn't pretty, they remained undefeated, and we remain perfect watching Notre Dame in person during the Brian Kelly Era (4-0 over three seasons).

Top 25: As you can imagine, we only saw a bit of the night games once we got back. Other than Penn State killing Iowa, it was an uneventful day in the Top 25. I figured South Carolina on the road without RB Lattimore was a recipe for disaster, and in fact Florida rolled them. Most everybody else held serve and beat who they were supposed to beat. The only team to lose to a lower-ranked team was Cincinnati, who was upset by Toledo. (They drop out of the Top 25 and are replaced by Louisiana Tech, not that you care since you don't have either team in your Pick Six.) Ohio State struggled with Purdue and dropped a few slots, but that was because their star QB Miller was knocked out for the game. A couple others besides the Gamecocks lost to higher-ranked teams, like West Virginia (falls to No. 25) and Texas A&M, but nothing major.

By the way, West Virginia was No. 4 a couple weeks ago. They've given up 104 points in the two weeks since, and another 108 in the two weeks prior. That's 212 points over four games, or 53 points per game if my late night math is correct. By constrast, the Irish have given up 66 points all year long.

Biggest gainer: In a week when no team moved up more than three spots, it helps to have at least two of those teams. That was the strategy for "The Big D," who had Michigan and Stanford (both +3) and Oklahoma (+2) for a week-best gain of eight points. That moves him into a tie for 29th place with yours truly. With all my college football knowledge and intellect, I am the points equivalent of someone who eats pureed food and poops in a diaper. The Pick Six game is truly the great equalizer.

Enough jibber-jabber, who's winning?

A quiet week at the top of the AP poll usually means a quiet week on the leaderboard. And so "Flying Cougars" stays in first for a second week. "Thomas the Train" cuts the lead down to eight points, from nine last week. If you're looking ahead to a battle royale between these two, take note that they have three teams the same, including Pick Sixth Notre Dame.

Top child: "Thomas the Train". Top kitty: Mutchka. Top dog: "Silly Milly." Average score: up 1, from 51.6 to 52.6. Check the standings (you bookmarked that page, right?) for all the details.  

Big game next week, with ND going to Oklahoma. College Gameday will be there, for their second Irish game in three weeks.

Monday, October 15, 2012

P6 2012: Week 7 Is Full of Win

Games watched: Arizona State-Colorado, Thurs (first half); Navy-Central Michigan, Fri (snippets); Iowa-Michigan State; Iowa State-Kansas State (2nd TV); Texas-Oklahoma (before it got ugly); North Carolina-Miami Fla (look-ins); Illinois-Michigan (snippets, before it got boring); West Virginia-Texas Tech (first half); Stanford-Notre Dame; Southern Cal-Washington (flipping); South Carolina-LSU (flipping); Ohio State-Indiana (look-ins when it got close).

What a day. If you can't tell, I spent all day on the couch. It was a much appreciated day of rest which I spent drinking in the hours and hours of college football. And what a reward: Iowa and Notre Dame both won ... in overtime. Ohio won to move to 7-0. Hell even Drake and Maryland won yesterday. If rivals Southern Cal and Michigan had managed to lose it would have been perfect. But schadenfraude aside, it was great to get "W"s for all our teams.

Just a reminder: you might have seen something called the BCS Standings come out today (Sunday). Do not be fooled by imitators! The one and only poll that matters is the AP Poll, and all references to rankings at will always be to the AP Poll.

General notes: 

Is Alabama the quietest No. 1 in recent memory? Think about all the hype and praise (deserved by the way) heaped on Alabama in the past four years. They are the defending national champions and have been ranked No. 1 since dismantling Michigan in Week 1. Have you heard anything about them all season? All the attention has been on the stat-tastic performances of West Virginia, the sudden emergence of SEC East teams on the national scene, and the echoing thud made by Big Ten teams falling flat on their faces. How is it that Alabama, of all teams, can be such a quiet No. 1?

Part of the answer is their uninteresting schedule. Since that asswhumping of a statement on the first Saturday night of the season, they've played barely Division I-A Western Kentucky, Arkansas without its starting QB, barely Division I-A Florida Atlantic, Ole Miss and Missouri without its starting QB (Franklin, not our Franklin), plus a bye. But the Tide can't fly below the radar forever. (Maybe they've been drafting, like Sammy Sosa to Mark McGuire in 1998?) Next week they play at Tennessee. Stranger things have happened at Rocky Top (like a MAC team leading the Volunteers....)

Raise your hand if you think Clemson is the 12th-best team in the country. Okay, raise your hand if you think they are the best team in the ACC by process of elimination.

Adios: Texas, Louisiana Tech. Hola: Texas Tech (we don't care), Ohio at 25! WOOO finally the only unranked unbeaten has finally joined the poll. Congrats to the four alumni/MAC lovers who picked Ohio with your Pick Sixth!

Biggest gainers: Nobody made a tremendous gain, since the biggest winners of the day either had one loss already (Oklahoma, LSU) or didn't have that much room to move up (Irish). No team moved up more than three spots in the poll, but if you had West Virginia (-12) or Texas (-11): ouch.

So how do you build a winning week in such an environment? What's the secret to this week's biggest improvers, a three-way tie between "Kaitlyn's Crushers," "Pizza Delivery," and "Stanzi City Chiefs"? Well if I knew I'd be doing better than 21st place, but unless Dad helped with the Chiefs, the combined age of these three is about 20. So maybe youthful exuberance?

Enough jibber-jabber, who's winning?

F-9 Cougars.

"Flying Cougars" has flown the coop away from the homeland of the Midwest. But there's still loyalty to flyover country with steady gainers Michigan (bleh), Ohio State, Kansas State and Notre Dame (and unranked but improving Wisconsin to boot). It was good enough (+7) to move into first place for Week 7, with Thomas the Train dropping 8 points into second. Congrats sis!!

Top child: "Thomas the Train." Top dog: "Silly Milly." Top kitty: Mutchka.  Gamewide average: 51.6, down from 54.1.

Picks are updated, you know the link. Have a great week!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

P6 2012: Week 6 Shakes It Up

Man, what a Saturday. We knew that two Top Ten SEC teams would lose, with No. 4 LSU at No. 10 Florida, and No. 6 South Carolina hosting No. 5 Georgia.

But even though Florida's 14-6 win wasn't a huge surprise, the 35-7 beatdown handed down by the Gamecocks stunned most of us. No. 15 TCU lost (to who doesn't matter), Stanford struggled with Arizona (won in OT), and No. 11 Texas took their first loss in a shootout with West Virginia.

And if that wasn't enough, I woke up this morning and read that No. 3 Florida State lost to North Carolina State, 17-16. The same NC State team that last week, gave up 566 yards to a Miami team that scored 3 points last night against Notre Dame.  All told, nine ranked teams lost yesterday: Florida State, LSU, Georgia, Texas, TCU, and a string of the bottom quartile: No. 21 Nebraska (to Ohio State); No. 23 Washington (to Oregon); No. 24 Northwestern (as predicted by me); No. 25 UCLA (I have nothing parenthetical to add about a team that lost to 1-4 Cal).

Assessing the carnage: Florida jumps up 6 to No. 4. Ohio State and Oklahoma moved up 4. Ohio State thumped a conference foe, and Oklahoma just sat on the couch and watched all the teams above them lose. The big losers, as expected, are TCU (-11), Florida State (-9), Georgia (-9), Nebraska (-5) and LSU (-5). TCU and the four from the 20s fall out.

Replacing the five that departed, a new 20-25: Cincy, Texas A&M, Lousiana Tech, Boise, and sigh, Michigan. Michigan has beaten three teams. Which one of their three wins am I supposed to be impressed with: Air Force, Massachusetts or Purdue? Meanwhile you've got a 6-0 MAC team on the outside looking in. I'm calling bullshit on you, AP voters.

Poll weirdness: The second Pac-12 team in the Top Ten behind Oregon isn't Southern Cal or Cal, but Oregon State. If OSU is for real, this year's Civil War is going to be a heck of a game. South Carolina is ranked third in the country. Think about that.

Biggest gainers: When I got a ballot called "Super Why," I had no idea what it meant. Was it a pun, like asking the question "why?" over and over? Then I found out that the team owner of "Kaitlyn's Crushers" is a huge fan of this PBS reading show ... called "Super Why." Given the infusion of kids and kid-influenced team names this year, I should have known.

At any rate, in a week when a lot of schools took a nosedive, "Super Why" had gainers across from Group A to Group E and just missed on her Pick Sixth (Ohio). With an increase of 15 points, she moves from 15th to 4th place. Gamewide, the average score fell about three points, from 57.3 to 54.1

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning?

In the Pick Six game, as in life, change is constant. With this much change, the reign of "Let's do this thing" comes to an end. What blows my mind is that last week's runner up, "Thomas the Train," actually lost points, and still moved up into the top slot. In fact, the top SEVEN players from last week all lost points. I don't think I've ever seen that in three years of the Pick Six.

Top Adult: "Dix Pix Six." (2nd place) Top canine: "Silly Milly." (5th) Top kitty: Tippy (16th)

Congrats to Thomas (and his mom, "Super Why"!). Standings here, team points here.

Next week: College Gameday will be at Notre Dame for the ND-Stanford game!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

P6 2012: Conference Play Starts in Earnest

Did you get outside? As promised, we avoided sitting in front of the TV all morning because Iowa was on at 11am, and, you know, it's Iowa 2012. But after the apple festival (I brought along an orange just to make a comparison), we caught the end of the game including the Iowa players rushing the sideline to reclaim Floyd. Even in this cluster of a season, that was nice to see.

Elsewhere in the house: Notre Dame had a bye. Next week's opponent, Real Miami, had a nice comeback to beat NC State. Should be a fun game next Saturday night. Ohio was sluggish but finally put away Massachusetts, a new member of the MAC. TM was watching online, so I couldn't see what was going on but could hear her reaction. I heard so many "gyahh"s and "aw geeesh"s I thought she was channelling Ron Santo.

Poll action: After Washington took down Stanford on Thursday night, there were close calls Saturday but no real upsets.  West Virginia, Georgia, Ohio State, Boise State, TCU, Texas and Oregon State all won by a single score (8 points or less), and only the Buckeyes and Mountaineers played ranked teams. South Carolina and LSU looked sluggish in eventually beating lesser foes.

TM says that I complain every week that I had a bad week picking games. Week 4 was definitely not the case--I finished 19-9 against the spread. This week I came back down to earth: 9 right, 12 wrong.

Out of the poll: Michigan State (2nd loss); Boise State (won ugly); Baylor (gave up 70 points). Hello, Washington. Welcome back, UCLA (but we don't care).

So with those three dropping out, that makes room for someone new in the poll: Northwestern. Now I've ranted about Northwestern and their schedule before, so I'll make this year's version brief. Yes, they should be applauded for scheduling multiple BCS teams in their non-conference slate.

But Northwestern managed to beat the worst team in the SEC (Vanderbilt), perhaps the worst team in the Big East (Syracuse, but it's so hard to tell with the Big East), the second-worst team in the ACC (Boston College is bad but they're not Duke), the worst team in the Big Ten (Indiana, who lost their starting QB a couple weeks ago and still stayed within a couple touchdowns on the road) and a I-AA cupcake on their way to 5-0. As usual, they've played NO ONE with a pulse. Their only road game was at Syracuse's cavernous Carrier Dome, where Northwestern probably felt at home playing in front of so many empty seats. This week they play at resurgent Penn State, and I'm picking the Nitts no matter how big the spread.  In conclusion: Northwestern still sucks; moving on.

Biggest gainer: When nobody really loses, nobody has a chance to move up. The biggest point gain was a whopping 3, by Washington (unranked to 23) followed by a couple 2s, Ohio State and Clemson. Michigan State and Stanford tanked, so woe to you if that's your C/E groupings.

In such a quiet week, though, "Dix Pix Six" found a way to climb 7 points, since he had two of those three big gainers. Average score game-wide: 57.3, down from 59.5 last week.

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning?

Jack Shepard, I mean, "Let's do this thing" had a 14-point lead last week. Thanks to Stanford's nose dive, his score was cut to 97 points. A not-quite-one-year-old near Cleveland and a high school buddy are hot on his heels with 94 points. Top child: "Thomas the Train." Top dog: "Four legs and a cloud of dust." Top kitty: "Mr. Q." (Currently sitting on the cat pedestal, looking smug and/or sleepy.) As always, standings are here.

Will I need to find a new picture next week? Will something more exciting happen this Saturday? Will Iowa remain undefeated in the Big Ten? Always exciting! (except for Week 5 of course).

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Today's Gamewatch Advice: Go Outside?

A couple weeks ago, I looked at the slate of games, deemed it uninteresting, and then watched as four Top 25'ers took nosedives against lesser competition. Not saying that can't happen again,  but I look at today's slate and can't recommend you scheduling your day around the football action.

First off, seven of the Top 25 teams have a bye: No 7, 10, 11, 13, 16, 21 and 23. In addition, No. 8 played Thursday night (and lost, sorry to the 19 of you with Stanford). Of the 17 remaining, LSU plays a I-AA school, and most of the rest play basketball schools like Kentucky, Connecticut and Kansas or sorry competition like Colorado, Washington State and New Mexico.

The only games of note are Michigan State hosting Ohio State (affects 25 Pick Six teams) and Georgia vs. Tennessee, which isn't ranked, but Georgia represents a good measuring stick for the Vols.

So make sure you're home by 2:30 (and have two TVs) to watch the Big Ten and SEC matchups. Other than that ... it's supposed to be 75 degrees here today. We're going to an apple festival. What are you doing on this lovely fall day besides watching football?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

P6 2012: It's the End of Week 4 and I Feel Fine

Update! The online scoreboard is fixed. See below.

Games watched: Kent State-Buffalo, kinda (Weds); Boise State-BYU (Thurs); Iowa-Central Michigan (2nd half only); Ohio State-UAB (2nd tv); Missouri-South Carolina; UCLA-Oregon State (2nd tv); LSU-Auburn (snippets); Notre Dame-Michigan; Kansas State-Oklahoma (2nd tv); Clemson-Florida State (snippets); Arizona-Oregon (until I fell asleep).

Things mostly went well yesterday. Notre Dame's defense played lights out vs. Michigan, Ohio moved to 4-0 and continues to gain votes in the AP poll, and I did well in my pick 'em game. Five of my Pick Six teams won, but since two of them have already fallen out, only three mattered. (My Pick Sixth has decided to abandon me.) LSU eked out a road win over Auburn, Florida destroyed Kentucky, and South Carolina continued Missouri's "Welcome to the SEC" tour. So yeah, pretty good Saturday. And, ahh, that appears to be all I can think of to talk about...

When in doubt, trust Prevail and Ride. 

What about the Pick Six? After last week's crazy upsets, there was only one major knockout. Oklahoma has a tendency lately to blow a major game here and there, so they got that out of the way early this year. The Sooners (ranked No. 6) were favored by two touchdowns at home over No. 15 Kansas State. The Wildcats have a reputation of playing cupcakes in the preseason and then getting a rude awakening in the conference. But K-State might be for real, because they easily beat Oklahoma, 24-19.

There were three other matchups of ranked vs. ranked: Florida State rallied to beat Clemson, 49-37. Oregon thumped Rich Rod's Arizona team 49-0. And of course, in the Game of the Week, Notre Dame finally decided to defend Denard Robinson for a full game and won, 13-6.

Manti Te'o had another awesome game. Fans wore leis to honor Manti, who is grieving the death of his grandmother and girlfriend, within 24 hours of each other last week. Photo from the South Bend Tribune. 

New teams in the poll: hello, Rutgers (no. 23, three points) and two guys you don't care about (Oregon State, vanquishers of Wisconsin and UCLA; and Baylor, who apparently found someone to play quarterback after RGIII).

Biggest gainer: K-State had the most prominent win, and thus made the biggest move in the poll: +8 points. Nobody else had an impressive win, so nobody else gained more than three points. (Oregon State debuted at No. 18, but like I said, they don't matter, because nobody picked them.) On the downside, though: there was plenty of plummeting. Michigan: took second loss, falling out and forfeiting those 8 points. (good riddance). Oklahoma: lose at home, go down 10 points, do not pass go, do not collect AP votes. Clemson: I warned you that this is the same team that gave up 70 points in their bowl game. Voters wised up, dropped them 7 points.

Three players gained 10 points this week: "The Chaplin Tacklers," "sadandbritish" and Mutchka (who, I have it on good authority, is jealous of all the attention that the houseguests are getting this weekend). Want to guess what they have in common?

I dare you to get through this entire video without laughing.

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning?

"Let's do this thing" gains four points to 105, and widens his lead to 14 points. He's only six points off a perfect pickset. His teams Texas and TCU don't play until Nov. 22 ... will someone overtake him before then?

Top kid: "Thomas the Train." Top dog: "Silly Milly." Top cat: "Mr. Q," the 2010 champion making his move!

Trivial fact: Notre Dame has held two Big Ten teams from the state of Michigan to nine points and zero touchdowns. Iowa, a Big Ten team, has held one MAC team from the state of Michigan to 32 points. (I found this picture on a Michigan blog, of all places.) 

MONDAY NIGHT EDIT!! It was brought to my attention that I failed to update the Googledoc last night. Thanks to astute player Sidney, lying in wait in 13th place, for catching that. 

Scores updated here. Team points updated here. I'll try to remember next week, if I haven't thrown anything heavy through my TV by 2:30 pm Central. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

P6 2012: Week 3 and Things Are Happening

Last week, you could be forgiven for not paying close attention to the Pick Six standings. There were some notable team plummets, but a lot of people stayed where they were in the standings.

But in college football, every week is special. Even though the cumulative score barely changed (59.4 to 59.3), we saw huge swings in fortunes.

Let's start with Saturday night's big winners, Stanford and Notre Dame. Stanford proved they are more than just Harbaugh and Luck (at least for now) by knocking off No. 2 Southern Cal. And the Irish rolled into Spartan Stadium and kept No. 10 Michigan State out of the end zone all night. The Cardinal jumped from 21 to 9; and the Irish from 20 to 11.

Who took advantage of the poll jumpers? 11 players went for Notre Dame and a whopping 19 for Stanford. Six players had both Stanford and Notre Dame, and they all gained a crapload of points. (Look for them with a double-digit green number in the far right column.)

On the down side, Virginia Tech went to hapless Pittsburgh and got killed. (Remember that Pitt lost to I-AA Youngstown State, then got thumped in a Thursday game at Cincinnati.)  The Hokies drop out of the Top 25 and lose 13 points in the process. The Stanford/ND victims were punished accordingly ... 15 players thought Southern Cal (-11 this week) would win the national championship, picking them out of the "A" bracket. 11 players have Virginia Tech, but only 7 have Michigan State (also down 11 this week).

Biggest gainer: It's a double winner. See below.

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning?

This is Jack Shepard from "Lost," getting ready to head out on a mission. If you remember the show, he'd usually end his pre-mission pep talks with "Let's do this" or "Let's do this thing".

With the one-two punch of ND and Stanford, plus additional gains from Georgia and Texas, "Let's do this thing" adds a huge 24 points, best of the week, to climb from ninth to first with an amazing 101 points.  I'm not sure anyone has ever broken 100 points in September. Congrats, man!

Top kid: "Thomas the Train". Top dog: "Silly Milly". Top cat: "Mr. Q" (all the way down at No. 22 ... not a good showing by the kittehs.)

Check out the standings, here as always.

Here's a bonus picture of musician G. Love. Just because.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

P6 2012: MPF004's Picks Explained

Man, what a few weeks it's been. Since I started prepping the Pick Six, all this happened:

* interviewed for a new job with two companies
* accepted a new job
* got laid off (yes, in that order)
* went to Buffalo and Cleveland
* started the new job
* saw Bruuuuce live in concert
* bought a new car
* went to a trade show

Somewhere in there, I found time to make my picks. Now normally, I put a ton of effort into my picks. As the host of the Pick Six, I like to be knowledgeable about teams and players, to make a respectable showing in the standings. Now I don't know if it's being a dad, or all of the stuff above, or the combination of both, but I didn't post my traditional "picks explained" on the opening night of Week 1. Well as they say, better late than never: here are my picks, explained with commentary I wrote before the season but never posted, along with some new analysis based on the first few weeks of the season.

Group A: LSU. Even though Southern Cal is the best team on paper, they still have the 75-scholarship limit. Injuries, when not if they happen, will test their depth. Likewise, I do think Oklahoma has a great chance at the championship game, but any stumble will cost them, without a conference championship game to redeem themselves. Hearing that a redshirt freshman beat out sophomore Brian Bennett for QB wipes out any trust I had in Oregon. Repeating is tough any year, but moreso with Alabama's losses to graduation/eligibility. Plus there's that SEC schedule that includes a trip to LSU.
Upon further review: Bama seemed just fine destroying Michigan and Arkansas. LSU and Oregon haven't been tested yet. Southern Cal lost at Stanford tonight.

Group B: Four teams, really, in this grouping to choose from. Usually, you don't see three teams from the same conference, but that's what we've got here. Can't see Florida State improving on that #7 ranking unless they win a BCS bowl. Knile Davis returns at Arkansas, but with all the turmoil around Bobby Petrino and John L. "Slappy" Smith taking over, do you really expect big things?

That leaves Georgia and South Carolina to choose from. Since I've got LSU in Group A from the SEC West and a promising nominee Group E from the SEC East, I'm going to pass on Georgia given the loss of RB Crowell. Until I've got a reason to go against them, I guess I'll stay with South Carolina. Not that I love picking Connor Shaw and the Gamecocks, as I doubt they can repeat last year's success, but that's what I've got.

(I always thought of it as "That School Up North," but at any rate, Woody Hayes acolytes will hopefully appreciate what I did there.)

So this is my flashpoint. Yes, that makes two SEC teams in the top two picks. For me it boils down to, is Florida State really that good? I've rode them to mediocrity the last two years, I'm trying something else.
Upon further review: Arkansas is indeed bad, with or without Davis (mostly because they are "with" Slappy). Yes, Florida State appears to be that good, and thus my logic is sunk.

Group C: Wisconsin. Damn good team, will probably win the Big Ten. Michigan State lost all their offensive firepower, Texas hasn't found the magic yet, West Virginia moves to a new conference, and even if I liked Clemson, which I don't, they lost their bowl 70-33. Seventy!
Upon further review: Wisconsin strugged with UNI, lost to Oregon State, and barely beat Utah State at home. Ouch. Sparty lost at home to ND; Texas and WVU are so far so good.

Group D: With Florida State out of the "B" spot, I elevated Virginia Tech as my ACC champion. I don't think Nebraska or Ohio State can unseat Wisconsin, and TCU is in a new conference. Oklahoma State was my pick here until I read about all the offense they lose.
Upon further review: Avoiding Okie State was a good idea. Choosing Va. Tech over FSU was not. Ohio State looks like the real deal thus far. I like Braxton Miller's improvement under the tutelage of Meyer.

Group E: I'm unimpressed with this batch so I'm going with Florida which yes, that makes three SEC teams. It's highly risky, I admit. I've already got two guaranteed losses (S.Car @ LSU  and S.Car @ Florida) plus a potential conference championship game of LSU vs the East winner. But Stanford no longer has Harbaugh or Luck, Kansas State is the sixth best team in a 10-team conference; how much higher can they climb? Boise State will recede into a footnote, and Louisville won't win the Big East.
Upon further review: As for K-State, they are up to 15th in the country, so maybe they can actually improve. Stanford beat No. 2 Southern Cal tonight. Boise lost in week 1 to Sparty, and may or may not return to the poll. How the hell would I know who will or won't win the Big East?

Group F: For the first time in a while, both Iowa and Notre Dame were legitimate options for a "F" pick. But Notre Dame has that killer schedule and is at basically USC-level of scholarships after a wave of attrition. Iowa doesn't have a running back, although a very likely 5-0 start makes them a tempting pick. But I poked around the edges of the Phil Steele and found a team that lost a lot of close games, has a senior quarterback, and a coach with a few years under his belt.
Good thing we're talking college football and not geography.

South Florida is underlooked in the Big East, and with B.J. Daniels at the helm, they have the potential to rise up in their conference and into the polls.

Upon further review: Iowa never got off to that 5-0 start. South Florida lost on Thursday, at home. Home teams are NEVER supposed to lose that Thursday game. ND is 3-0 after beating Sparty in East Lansing tonight.

In conclusion, if I could trade FSU for Va. Tech as my leading ACC team, I'd make that trade. Florida is looking nice out of the gate, sitting at 2-0 in the conference after Week 3. As we all know it's a long season, but I've already got buyer's remorse. 

Sunday, September 09, 2012

P6 2012: Boredom? Not So Fast My Friend

Watching College Gameday yesterday morning, host Chris Fowler observed that this week had no ranked vs. ranked games. With the entire Top 25 facing (allegedly) lesser competition, it looked like a quiet week.

It started out quiet, with the only morning game of note being Penn State losing on a last second field goal. Pretty soon their losing won't be news, but the fall really is remarkable. The afternoon games weren't quiet, as Iowa and Notre Dame began the work of re-burning that ulceric hole in my stomach from last year. Notre Dame at least had enough offense to hold off Purdue, even if they had to bring in Tommy Rees as the "closer." As for Iowa, well, yesterday I changed a diaper that looked better than that Hawkeye offense.

The excitement finally came in the night games: Arkansas got upset at home by Louisiana-Monroe, who a few years ago beat Alabama in Saban's first year.

And yet a couple years later, they put up a statue of the old bastard.

If that wasn't enough, Top 25'ers Nebraska, Wisconsin and Oklahoma State all went west for road games, and all came home 1-1.

New to the poll: Tennessee, UCLA, Arizona, BYU. Congrats to  "Mo' Mini, Mo' Problems," Mutchka and Tippy for seeing Rocky Top, their Pick Sixth, enter the poll. No one has the other three teams, but Arizona destroyed Oklahoma State in the desert (59-38), UCLA beat the Huskers in the Rose Bowl, and BYU, uh, BYU has beaten Weber State and Washington State. Mormon favoritism perhaps? Could the voters not be compelled to slide a MAC school in at No. 25?

Biggest increase: I don't know if "Pizza Delivery" has his own source of income to pay for that pie, as his entry form indicated he is 6 years old. However, he was savvy enough to have five teams that jumped a collective 15 points, for the best point improvement of the week (and climbing from 53rd to 14th place).

Pizza Delivery was definitely above average, because the all-player average lost five points, from 64.5 to 59.4. I guess that's what happens when four teams representing 60 total picks are booted in Week 2. This might be the biggest single-week carnage I've seen, reminesecent of "The Ballad of Group D."

The Minus Five, specially dedicated 
this week to you, the Pick Sixer.

 Enough jibber jabber, who's winning? How does this keep happening:

"Sidney" has the perfect pick for the A, B and E groups, and is only one point off perfect in C and D. Luckily NC State sucks this year, or the gloating might get so loud you could hear it in Bowling Green.

Top dog: "Silly Milly". Top child: "Thomas the Train". Top kitty: Tippy.

Standings are here, take a look if you can bear it.

This week: Notre Dame vs. Michigan State. Iowa tries to score double digits against a I-AA school (that just happens to be up I-380 from them). Alabama plays Arkansas in what would have been a Top Ten matchup. Florida and Tennessee find out how good they might be when they play each other in Knoxville.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Pick Six 2012: Off and Running

Welcome back to the Pick Six!

Normally, I write up a quick introductory post when the season kicks off, explaining my picks and why you should've picked like me. However, this year I was really busy, and I think my picks suck. So let's just jump into the Week 1 recap.

In the first week, not a lot usually happens, and this year that's what we got. Most teams cruised by their weaker competition, and so there's little movement in the poll. There were two Top 25 matchups, and as expected both losers tumble. Boise fell out of the Top 25, and -- by the way, Alabama just scored on Michigan's vaunted defense again -- and, sorry, what was I talking about?

There was one new entry to the poll, fresh off an Irish drubbing of the United States Naval Academy:

Biggest gainers: Hard to do when not much changes, but congrats to Mutchka, Super Why and Kaitlyn's Crushers for going +7 on the week.

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning? Aaand, with so many people playing the game, I'm sure I have to go find a new picture to represent this week's winner ... let's see. ...

Oh hell.

Yes, last year's winner "Sidney" jumps out of the gate to lead with a Week 1 score of 76 points. Don't worry football fans, if last year is any indication, we'll see a lot of different names at the top as the season goes on.

Top kitty: Mutchka. Top dog: "Silly Milly". Top child: "Daddy's reason to like softball".

Full standings are here. Bookmark this page! The standings will update each week, and the link will not change all year.

In Week 2, most Pick Six teams take a breather. Washington, one of the top Pick Sixths, plays at LSU, one of the overlooked Group A teams. Iowa plays hated Iowa State, and while that only affects a couple of P6 players, it affects my blood pressure greatly.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Third Annual Pick Six Game

I heard a rumor earlier in the week: the preseason AP poll would be released on Saturday. So Saturday morning I woke up, went to my computer, waited til the 9am release time, checked the teams, and announced:

"The Pick Six is officially ON!" (Oh yeah, there are Viking Kittens.)

For those who played before, welcome back. For newcomers, welcome to the game. Read on:

The rules: The preseason AP poll of teams 1 through 25 is broken up into five quintiles:

A: Southern Cal, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon
B: Georgia, Florida State, Michigan, South Carolina, Arkansas
C: West Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Clemson, Texas
D: Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, TCU
E: Stanford, Kansas State, Florida, Boise State, Louisville

Pick one team from each grouping. Then pick one unranked team (Group F) ... it can be any team not listed above. That's your six. The goal is to have the highest ranked teams at the end of the season (after all bowls are played). The No. 1 team gets 25 points, No. 2 gets 24, down to No. 25 gets one point. The standings will be posted online so you can follow along. (I will update the standings each week, but only the final poll matters.)

My favorite aspect of the game is that it's so easy, your cat or dog can play. Or baby. Hell, last year we had a fetus (who has since turned into an awesome little dude). Feel free to enter a pickset for any member of your household. If you do, please share how your cat/dog/parakeet/infant made his/her picks. It is usually such fun to read the creativity of our contestants.

Is this a MAC-tastic hint for an "F" pick? 

 How easy is it? Here's last year's winner:

and the runner-up:

So even if you are a casual fan, or you are a child having this read to you by your mom or dad, You Can Do This!

The prize: As you can see, last year's theme was kitsch from a prominent football program, in the spirit of the original game hosted by Notre Dame blog The Blue-Gray Sky. I'm hoping to keep that theme going this year. Exact item will be revealed later in the season.

Note: DO NOT WRITE "OSU" for your Group D team! I don't care if you live in Ohio and you think I know which OSU you're talking about (or if you live in the south and you think I know which OSU you're talking about). Anybody who submits "OSU" will be assigned the Oregon State Beavers and get any points they earn (that particular "OSU" went 3-9 last year, the way). Similarly, but less likely, don't write "OU" for Oklahoma or Oregon. I will assume you mean the Ottawa Braves of Ottawa, Kansas. Please be clear.

The field: We had 22 entries in 2010 and 52 in 2011. The goal this year, in the spirit of that Olympics thing we dominated this summer, is to grow international. If you have a friend or relative outside the US borders, who likes college football and/or can select one of five items at random, send along the info! I'd love to make this the "World Famous" Pick Six Game. Can we break 80 in 2012? Can we get world famous?

A subtle reminder that Notre Dame finished just outside the poll as the 26th team, highest among the "others receiving votes."

The deadline: Email your picks and your pickset name (for returning players, you can keep last year's or pick a new one) to at gmail dot com (to ensure your picks aren't seen early). The deadline is Thursday, August 30, at 5:55 pm Central (five minutes before the first game).

The comment field is open for bragging and taunting. Good luck, and have fun!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How Are You Going to Get Better?

In a somewhat summer tradition, I take a look at Iowa and Notre Dame and try to figure out how they can possibly improve upon last year's record. Because every fan wants their team to get better, but it boils down to beating someone you lost to last year (and not losing a game you won last year).

This year, I'm looking back to see if my predictions were even close. Let's start with Iowa.

Last summer I wrote:
How does Iowa get better? It takes a fair amount of optimism. ... I don't see an improvement on 7-5 with a real chance for a backslide.
Now we know that was unfortunately true.

Iowa: 2010 vs. 2011
2010 Opp.Result2011 Opp.Result
E. IllinoisWinTenn. TechWin
Ia. StateWin@Ia. StateLoss (-1)
@ArizonaLossPittWin (even)
Ball St.WinULMWin
Penn St.Win@Penn St.Loss (-1)
WisconsinLossIndianaWin (even) 
Mich. St.Win@MinnesotaLoss (-1)
@N'westernLossMich. St.Loss (-2)
Ohio St.Loss@PurdueWin (-1)

Iowa did not get better, and not surprisingly so. They lost their All-Star uberpatriot QB Ricky Stanzi and All-Everything DL Adrian Clayborn. You don't get better by losing that kind of talent. A 7-5 regular season led to Iowa again being overmatched against a better Big 12 squad in the Insight Bowl, but this time Oklahoma crushed Iowa 31-14.  That bowl loss dropped them to 7-6.  

Going into the final year of the Mandenberg, James Vandenberg, how will Iowa get better?

Iowa: 2011 vs. 2012
2011 Opp.Result2012 Opp.Result
Tenn. Tech Winvs. No. Illinois?
@Ia. StateLossIa. State?
PittWinNorthern Iowa?
ULM WinCentral Mich.?
@Penn St.LossMinnesota?
N'western Win@Mich. St. ?
Indiana WinPenn State ?
@Minnesota Loss@N'western?
Michigan Win@Indiana?
Mich. St. LossPurdue?
@Purdue Win@Michigan?
@Nebraska LossNebraska ?

Improving on 7-6: it's possible. For starters, BEAT IOWA FUCKING STATE. Losing to a guy named Steele Jantz in triple overtime, a guy who couldn't even keep his job midway through the season, leaves a bitter taste. Losing to 3-9 Minnesota, even if it was a home game for them, was pretty awful. They both come to Iowa City, so those two rivalry losses should become wins. You can put Penn State in the same category: home game for Iowa, and who knows where they will be mentally or physically come midseason. Those are three strong candidates to flip.

Michigan State is probably still a loss. Despite their exodus of offensive talent, it will be Iowa's first true road game on Oct. 13, and that almost never goes well when the first road test is that late in the season. And even though Nebraska is a home game this year, I don't see that flipping. So I see two automatic losses here, but only two. I figure that Iowa's luck against Michigan can't hold, and something else (probably Northwestern) will go horribly wrong. So call it 8-4, with a ceiling of 9-3. Given the problems at running back, I would definitely take that.

As for Notre Dame, last summer I wrote:
How does Notre Dame get better? First off, Navy damn well better become a win. No more of this losing to Navy shit; Kelly and Diaco should have learned that.  ... As for retaining wins: Purdue, BC, Wake Forest (replacing Western Michigan if only for the "W" in their name), Maryland (replacing Utah), and Air Force (replacing Army) are all winnable. Pitt SHOULD be winnable but it is a home game for them. ... That's still a net gain of two for a regular season of 9-3, which I would take as solid improvement over 7-5 and 6-6 the year before.
An the results?

Notre Dame: 2010 vs. 2011
2010 Opp.Result2011 Opp.Result
PurdueWinSo. FlaLoss (-1)
@Michigan St. LossMichigan St.Win (even)
StanfordLoss@PittWin (+1)
@BCWin@PurdueWin (+2)
PittWinAir ForceWin
W. MichiganWinSouthern CalLoss (+1)
NavyLossNavyWin (+2)
TulsaLoss@Wake Forest Win (+3)
UtahWinvs. MarylandWin 
Southern CalWin@StanfordLoss (+2)

8-4 in the regular season isn't shabby. They only played two teams ranked at gametime, but that excludes Michigan, who finished with an inexplicable, luckiest bullshittiest BCS victory in the history of ever, and Southern Cal, who got as high as #10 and finished their season 10-2 by trouncing rival UCLA 50-0. At one point they were three games better than the same point in the previous year (7-3 vs. 4-5 after the Tulsa debacle). And not screwing the pooch against either South Florida or Michigan would have delivered that 9-3 I predicted.

Even with the bowl loss to Florida State, ND has a positive trajectory, winning 6 in Charlie Weis' last year, 7 in Brian Kelly's first year, and 8 in 2011.

So can they win 9 in 2012?

No. Too many factors prevent the improvement from continuing. Since this a post about schedule, let's take a look:

Notre Dame: 2011 vs. 2012
2011 Opp.Result2012 Opp.Result
So. Fla Lossvs. Navy?
Michigan St. Win@Michigan St.?
@Pitt WinMichigan?
@Purdue Winvs. Miami?
Air Force WinStanford?
Southern Cal LossBYU?
@Wake Forest Win Pitt?
vs. Maryland WinBC
BC WinWake?
@Stanford Loss@Southern Cal?

That is Phil Steele's #1 hardest schedule for 2012. Yes, his preseason (meaning where he thinks they will finish the season) poll's #2 (@Oklahoma), #4 (@Southern Cal), #18 (Stanford), #19 (@Michigan State) and #22 (Michigan). It also includes a trip to Ireland to face the triple-option offense, an offsite home game against erratic but talented Miami, and two less talented but pain-in-the-ass quasi-rivals (BC and Purdue). Replacing South Florida with Miami and Maryland with Oklahoma are severe challenges. (Air Force for BYU doesn't concern me.)

I see no way Notre Dame gets better in 2012. If they finish 9-3, put them in a top-tier bowl, because it means they won two or three games they shouldn't have while losing none they should have won. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Supreme Court to Stop Written Rulings, Use LOLCats

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Citing the general downturn in the nation's reading comprehension, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would replace its written interpretations of law with captioned photos posted on the Internet.

Supreme Court rulings are often considered the most important texts produced by the country's judiciary system, with observations and precedents that will resonate down through the generations. The photos, known as "LOLcats," are best known for expressing a humorous thought in a single photo and brief text.

The most anticipated case of the current term, the review of the 2010 healthcare act, is expected to be the first ruling issued as a LOLcat. The hearings were in late March, but most court observers now believe the wait for a ruling, coming in late June, was not to write the opinion but to find the perfect photo of a hospital, doctor's office or ambulance.

Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1857.

Legal scholars and observers were split on the court's new direction.

"On the one hand, it creates a new realm of expression and precedent for judicial thought," said Carl Winterborough, the Harold K. Marr Distinguished Professor of Law at Georgetown University. "On the hand, using LOLcats? Lol, whatevs."

Miranda v. Arizona, 1966.

"Citizens used to discuss with each other the impact that Supreme Court rulings had in their lives," noted Deena Bartz, reporter for the Washington Post who covers the Court. "But in an age of reality TV, Twitter and immediate hyper-reaction, this seems like a logical conclusion. Besides, the online judicial commentariat, the so-called 'SCOTUS-bloggers,' will end up making LOLcats about the opinions anyway. The Court is just cutting out the middleman." 

Others felt the move had great potential.

"This is fantastic," said Juan Gonzalez, owner of the fanblog. "No more tedious reading through dozens of pages of yammering text, this case or that case, this law or that squiggle symbol. Just a good ol' straightforward rendering of constitutionality, with pictures and bad spelling. I hope they use lots of kittens."
Roe v. Wade, 1973.

A poll of current law students showed that 92% favored the change, replying via text message that the visual-based issuances would be "OMG gr8 yesss". However, the recently retired John Paul Stevens was said to be weeping softly in his home, upon hearing the news.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010.