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!