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.