Sunday, September 29, 2013

P62013: Week 5's Balloon Gets Deflated

Games watched: Va. Tech-Ga. Tech (Thurs); Utah St.-San Jose St. (Fri); Ohio State-Wisconsin (4th quarter). Radio: A&M-Arkansas.

I spent Saturday afternoon in the 82-degree heat of Notre Dame Stadium. The game was over before it barely started. After an incompletion and a three-yard run by GAIII to open the game, here were the next two plays from scrimmage:

3-7  N28   REES pass intercepted by Nelson, Corey at the ND24, Nelson, Corey return 24 yard to the ND0, TOUCHDOWN.
--------------- 3 plays, 3 yards, TOP 00:49 ---------------

               Hunnicutt, Mike kick attempt good.

                                    OKLAHOMA 7, NOTRE DAME 0

Hodgson, Nick kickoff 60 yards to the ND5, ATKINSON, G. return 29 yards to the ND34 (Colvin, Aaron).
1-10 N34   REES pass intercepted by Shannon, Frank at the ND49, Shannon, Frank return 17 yards to the ND32, out-of-bounds.
--------------- 1 plays, 0 yards, TOP 00:21 ---------------

Four plays later, Oklahoma scored again to make it 14-0. Less than three minutes had expired.

For the final 57 minutes, Notre Dame played Okahoma to a draw. But they never got closer than six points, and it never really felt like the Irish were in the game, because of those two picks by Tommy Turnover.

I'll only say one more thing about this game. I haven't had a ton of time to spend on dissecting Notre Dame football this season (have a busy job and being a dad will do that). But I apparently knew enough to call plays based on formation. For example, on one play I saw WR Daniel Smith come in. I said to TM, "it's gonna be a run." And it was, because Daniel Smith doesn't catch passes, he only blocks. After the play, I said to TM, "if I knew that, you know damn well Bob Stoops knew that." Later on, they brought in running QB Andrew Hendrix and a tight end on the left side. No surprise: ND ran to the left. They play went nowhere.

Notre Dame lost only once in 2012 (and that was in January 2013), to the Nick Saban juggernaut. In five games of September, they lost twice. At least Iowa beat Minnesota and kept Floyd. The day wasn't a total loss.

The poll: Notre Dame and Wisconsin out. Arizona State and Maryland in. Oklahoma and LSU down, Georgia up. No major moves.

Best week: it was "Dirty Diapers." Who, if you are paying attention, is in first place.

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning? There's no suspense here:

Not only did "Dirty Diapers" not lose (five wins and a bye) but he had Oklahoma which bumped him up seven points, widening his lead in the game. It's time we all start rooting against Texas A&M (shouldn't be too hard), Florida State (ditto) and Oklahoma if we want any drama in this year's game. (Of course, "Sidney" and "let's do this thing" dominated the first half of last year's game, and we know how that ended...)

The links:

P62013 Scoreboard
Points for each team
AP Top 25 Poll

Next week: Michigan-Northwestern will have a lot of interest from Pick Sixers (28 total picks). K-State vs. Oklahoma State is it's own special cripple fight. TCU-Oklahoma is a Group D fight that should shake up the poll. Washington at Stanford should be a great game.

I'll be in Dallas, feeling a lot more pessimistic about Notre Dame's chances against the now-ranked Sun Devils. Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

P62013: Week 4 Is a Good Time to Look Back

Listen to this cool, languid song while you read this week's update. It's fitting.

Games watched: Clemson-NC State (Thurs), Boise-Fresno (Fri), Iowa-Western Mitten (2nd half), La Tech-Kansas (the very end, to see if Kansas would lose), Sparty-Notre Dame, Tennessee-Florida (2nd TV), Arizona St.-Stanford, Auburn-LSU, Utah-BYU. 

Last week I looked at the upcoming slate of games and thought, to quote second-year Pick Sixer "LizzieBear":

There was only one game between ranked teams. That was the only loss in the entire Top 25. The top 14 of this week's poll is the same as last week. There are 47 teams active in the game (the top 25 and 22 Pick Sixths), and there were only seven matchups between teams in the game. None of them really mattered.

In short: nothing changed. Arizona State (loser of that Top 25 matchup) is out, Fresno State is in. No teams really moved up or down in the poll, so no players really moved.

So let's take a minute to look back on the first four weeks of the season. The highest ranked team to fall out of the poll is Texas (preseason No. 15). Nebraska, Boise, Oregon State and Southern Cal also have departed.

Poor Texas. (I can say that because I picked them.) After their Week 3 loss to Ole Miss, things were bad. According to a comment on Burnt Orange Nation, this was the first since Texas had back-to-back losses of 19+ points since 1994. Yeouwch. I don't think we'll see the Longhorns in the Top 25 anytime soon. also from the same article: "This is the 8th time in our last 13 games an opponent has set a career high in rushing."

Here's another question: who had the best road win (not neutral site) in the first four weeks? The clear answer is Alabama over then-No. 6 Texas A&M in Week 3. Here are some other nominees:

Week 1: FSU at Pitt. That assumes that Pitt is good enough to brag about beating. Pitt is 2-1, so maybe.
Week 2: Oregon at Virginia. Of course, Oregon should win that game, no matter where it is. 
Week 3: #1 Alabama hangs on to win at #6 Texas A&M 49-42
Week 3: Ole Miss at Texas? On paper that looks good, but there are two weeks of evidence that Texas is awful. The win over K-State is a minor reassurance, but we'll need more evidence. 
Week 3: Ohio State at Cal? Maybe, but Cal lost to a I-AA school and Northwestern. 
Week 3: Notre Dame at Purdue? ND played awful for three quarters and then stole a victory with a furious late comeback. Plus, it's Purdue. That shouldn't be a note-worthy win. 
Week 3: UCLA at Nebraska. If Nebraska gets their defense in order, that might look good by the end of the year. 

Checking in on Iowa: After losing to a MAC school in Week 1, Iowa has rolled off three straight wins. The Missouri State and ISU wins were not impressive. Yesterday's 59-3 win over Western Mitten was impressive.

At the beginning of the year, the math to get a bowl was simple: win the four non-conference games, beat the two weakest conference foes on the slate, Minnesota and Purdue, lose the rest and you're 6-6. Now with that NIU loss, Iowa has to find another potential victory among Michigan State, Northwestern or Nebraska, and still beat the two weaklings. Before Saturday, I would have thought that impossible. But after Iowa scored 59 at home and Michigan State scored 13 on the road, I have a shred of optimism.

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning?

I telegraphed this, but in case you weren't paying attention, "Dirty Diapers" keeps the lead. Until Alabama, A&M or Florida State loses, get used to this picture. Top dog: "SuperPups" in 3rd. Top kid: "Daddy's reason to like softball" in 12th (tie). Top kitty: my furry little friend Franklin "The F Bomb" in 19th (tie).

The links:

P62013 Scoreboard
Points for each team
AP Top 25 Poll

Next week: Much better games on the docket, including Georgia-LSU and Ohio State-Wisconsin.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

P6 2013: Week 3 and Winning Feels Lousy

Games watched: TCU-Texas Tech (Thurs), Boise-Air Force (Fri), Stanford-Army, Akron-Michigan (the end), USC-Boston College (look-ins), Oregon-Tennessee (2nd TV), Alabama-Texas A&M (until Iowa started), Iowa-Iowa St, Auburn-Miss. St (a little), Ohio-Marshall (some), Notre Dame-Purdue, Utah-Oregon State, Arizona St-Wisconsin.

Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day. Today is cold, gray and rainy. It's fitting to reflect on a day where Iowa, Notre Dame and Ohio all won, and yet, for the first two games at least, the wins felt like losses. 

The 11am timeslot saw a bunch of awful games. In fact, player "Lizzie Bear" and I spent more time watching Florence + the Machine's unplugged set on Palladia than we did watching college football. Since Iowa played at 5pm and ND at 7pm, we just surfed around multiple games, including Army hanging with Stanford and the almost-upset of the year, Akron nearly beating Michigan. We had all morning to wait until The Game Of The Century Of The Week, Alabama-Texas A&M. Then the Iowa game, then ND, and a lot of pacing.  

I should say first, we saw some awesome plays. First, the Alabama-Texas A&M game. Now, I'm as sick of John Manziel as the next person. I wish he would go away from Sunday to Friday. I don't want to hear about him off the field. But on the field, it is exciting to watch him do things like this: 

I'm not sure that was even the most athletic play of the game. I was amazed by this interception by Gino (or Tino) Sunseri of Alabama (he didn't really run this fast):

Then the Iowa game started. Iowa jumped out to a 27-7 lead, then let ISU get back into it. I've watched enough Iowa-ISU games to know that the Clones would fight their way back into it (and probably win since it was in Ames). And I've watched Iowa make so many stupid mistakes on special teams recently that I just knew something was going to go wrong. And sure enough, ISU scored to make it 27-14, executed an onside kick that Iowa should have defended, and drove down to make it 27-21. 

And as ISU was driving for the game-winning touchdown ... BJ Lowery made my fricking day.  

Holy shit was that a cool interception. Let's look at that in .gif mode.

The end result was a 27-21 victory and reclaiming whatever ugly trophy goes to the winner of this rivalry. Iowa won, but the fourth quarter was so close to a meltdown, it didn't inspire any confidence in the season.


Meanwhile, the ND game started, and they looked pretty uninspiring too. They ended up beating Purdue by a touchdown, but considering the Irish were favored by 20.5 points, it was a pretty "bleh" performance. Tommy Rees threw way too many times, despite that ND played from behind for most of the game.

The Pick Six: My P6'ers were also pretty blah. Miami had a bye, Texas got killed (again), and UCLA thumped Nebraska. Yes, I violated my own rule by picking teams that play each other. Oops. So between UCLA, Oregon and South Carolina, I only had three wins this week. Surprisingly, I moved from 41st to 33rd (tie) even though I stayed at 61 points.

The poll: Hello to Arizona State (congrats to four of you with the Sun Devils) and Texas Tech, a team no one in the game picked. Adios to Nebraska (ugly loss) and TCU (reasonable loss. They might be back).

Best of the week: Not a ton of people moved up a lot, since there wasn't a lot of movement at the top. It was good to have Arizona St. or UCLA (+3) or one of a handful of +2s. Congrats to "No F'n Clue" and "SuperPups" who were +8 (and on a related note, are currently No. 2 and No. 3 in the game.)

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning?

"Dirty Diapers" lost some ground with A&M but gained with UCLA and Baylor for a +3 on the week and another week at the top. With wife "No F'n Clue" in second place, they are the dominant couple in the early going. Top dog: "SuperPups" in 3rd. Top kid: "Daddy's reason to like softball" in 15th. Top kitty: my furry little friend Franklin "The F Bomb" in 22nd.

The links:

P62013 Scoreboard
Points for each team
AP Top 25 Poll

Next week: There are a couple interesting games, like Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia and Florida vs. Tennessee, but there's only one ranked vs. ranked game, Arizona State at Stanford. So root for your teams, but it'll probably be pretty quiet in the P6 unless we see crazy upsets.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

P62013: Week 2 Finally Sees Some Movement

Games Watched: Sacramento St. at Arizona St. (til I got bored), Wake Forest at Boston College; UCF at FIU (look in), Florida vs. Miami (2nd TV), Iowa vs. Southwest Missouri St., Bowling Green vs. Kent St. (look in), Georgia-South Carolina, Oklahoma-West Va (2nd TV), Michigan-Notre Dame, Texas-BYU (2nd TV), USC-Washington State (intermittent).

It was a bit of a rough week. The hometown high school lost on a field goal in the fourth quarter. Iowa only scored 7 points on a I-AA school in the first half. Notre Dame lost badly. And two of my Pick Sixers tanked on national TV.

Let's start with a stat. Last year in the regular season, Notre Dame gave up 0, 3, 3, 6, 6, and 10 in its six best defensive efforts. That's 28 points. Last  night in the horror show up in Ann Arbor, the defense gave up 41 points. Let's move on.

In the poll: A lot of people had the teams that bit it: Notre Dame and South Carolina and to a lesser extent Texas and Florida. I had two of 'em. So the average score went down, from 68 to 66. Oklahoma beat a bad West Virginia team by single digits, at home, and Oklahoma moves up? Did any voter actually watch that game?

Welcome: Miami, Mississippi State. Adding the 'Canes takes the sting off of losing Texas. And, the balance of power is complete in the What Ever State Mississippi Is Called State. 

Adios: Texas, USC. Boy that 2005 championship game was a long time ago, wasn't it? In Week 1 we lost the first Group E (Oregon State) and Group D (Boise). Now Texas has the honor of being the first Group C to depart.

Best Week: "The A Team" and "Anna" used Michigan to gain nine points this week. I hope you feel dirty.

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning? Speaking of dirty ...

The Pick Six leadership stays in the suburbs of Des Moines for a second week. "No F'n Clue" hands the temporary crown to her husband, "Dirty Diapers." Look for a new champ next week, as Dirty Diapers has both Alabama and A&M, who play each other on Saturday.

The links:

P62013 Scoreboard
Points for each team
AP Top 25 Poll

Looking ahead: In addition to Bama-Aggies, there's Nebraska-UCLA and Wisconsin-Arizona State.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

P62013: Kickoff Weekend

Games watched: N. Carolina-S. Carolina (a little), Ole Miss-Vandy, Miami-FIU, Michigan State-Western Mitten, Kansas State-N. Dakota St., ND-Temple, Iowa-Northern, E. Wash-Ore. St (the end), Georgia-Clemson, LSU-TCU (2nd TV), Northwestern-Cal (until sleepy).

I had kind of a weird Thursday. Normally I like to rush home from work and plop down on the couch to watch that first, glorious game of the season. But this Thursday I had to work late on a project, then attempted to get from the northern suburbs to downtown to attend a party for alumni of a former employer. Traffic sucked, I made it halfway and got a text from a friend saying don't bother coming down here. In my hassled disgust to get home, I took a wrong turn then realized I'd never get home in time to eat.

I was hungry, I was grumpy, I pulled into the first food place I could find, a gyro stand. I ordered and impatiently waited for my food, and paced around the corner into the seating area.

And there .... and there. Was the South Carolina-North Carolina game. Live college football. And then I was okay.

It was also a weird Saturday because Iowa and Notre Dame played at 2:30 pm. In the 11am time slot, we just meandered through a bunch of meaningless games (Villanova-BC, Purdue-Cincy), not really watching any of them. Then I had to juggle attention on both games, then watch Iowa lose as painfully as any of the awful losses of the last three years.

But Georgia-Clemson was pretty cool. Congrats to the nine of you with the guts to pick the Tigers.

It was also weird because of all the I-AA wins over I-A teams. In fact there were eight of them:
  • Towson beat UConn
  • Southern Utah over South Alabama (although So. Ala is a recent Div. I-A joiner)
  • Samford beat Georgia State (although Geo. St. is a recent Div. I-A joiner)
  • Eastern Washington over Oregon State (Beavers were ranked No. 25)
  • McNeese State beat South Florida (like UConn, a member of the former Big East)
  • Northern Iowa beat Iowa State, the most relieving schaudenfraudistic game of the day
  • Eastern Illinois thumped San Diego State, 40-19!
  • North Dakota State beat Kansas State in a game we watched. The Bison used an awesome drive at the end of the game to win it.
If you're a fan of the underdog, you can read more here. If you have no fear of the underdog, here's Spoon.

Right ... how'd my Pick Six do? Yes, back to you. Well, good on you if you had the aforementioned Clemson or Washington. The Huskies beat Boise State 38-6 in the debut of their new home stadium. I don't know if I'd call it an upset. Washington is a good-to-decent team, and this might be the year Boise falls back into mediocrity.

Sucks to be ... Boise, Georgia and TCU. Ranked teams losing on the road is not rewarded, even if you lost to a solid team like Clemson or LSU. Oregon State or K-State: losing at home to lower division teams is bad. Nebraska: edging out Wyoming by 3 points is not cool.

Best of the week: Early congrats to a trio of +7 players: "No F'n Clue," who apparently does have a clue, "Dirty Diapers," and "Bo's Boys," who wisely avoided picking Bo's boys (Nebraska, coached by Bo Pelini).

Enough jibber jabber, who's winning?

I almost ran the Beavis and Butt-Head picture to symbolize Week 1 leader "No F'n Clue" but then realized that those guys actually do have a clue sometimes. Besides, who doesn't love a confused panda. "No F'n Clue" broke the preseason tie with "Nope. I'm a Frayed Knot" (love that name) and is only six points off the perfect set. 

Oh okay I can't tease you guys like that, here's Beavis and Butt-Head. 

Bookmark this link, it won't change all season: P62013 Scoreboard.

Two more links for you: Points for each team (also found on the second tab of the scoreboard) and the AP Top 25 Poll.

Game of the upcoming week: Notre Dame (24 picks) vs. Michigan (17 picks). Good luck to the nine of you who picked the Irish AND the Skunkbears. You better be rooting for the right one on Saturday.