Friday, October 29, 2010

College Football Week 9

Not a good week for this blog.

First of all, Boise just had to play on Tuesday night, didn't they? That's annoying but I'll survive. Occasionally a game will happen way too early in the week, before I'm finished writing everything I have to say about the previous weekend, but generally the teams in that game are of little consequence and I can have all the time I need before any potentially ranked team shows up to play on Thursday night, at the earliest. But no, not Boise St. Fortunately though, Louisiana Tech is not much of a difference maker, ever since this guy left campus, and Boise State's beating them is not really going to add or subtract to their positioning in my rankings...just so long as they don't lose, of course, which they didn't. That said, just for the record, the Boise State/Louisiana Tech game will not be included in this week's accounting; you're just going to have to wait until next week for that game not to matter.

And regrettably, neither will this one. You see, even as I had already completed some of what you are about to read, my Internet connection inexplicably went out last night, and never came back, well, at least not to my knowledge anyway...I kind of got wrapped up in a book and fell asleep after multiple attempts at resuming connection. Now in theory, I could have written the whole thing on my phone, but this would have been most tedious, similar it would seem to working through something like this on an abacus, and is not a journey I want to delve into. The problem this time is that, yeah, Florida State losing really does make something of a difference. But nonetheless, please, just for the sake of giving me some leeway, let's just ignore the fact that these two games have already happened and rightfully assume that they will be considered fully in next week's post.

So many plans for this week too, but given the trials and misfortunes, let's just move on to the rankings and work from there:

1 Auburn (8-0)
2 Michigan State (8-0)
3 Wisconsin (7-1)
4 Missouri (7-0)
5 Oklahoma (6-1)
6 Oregon (7-0)
7 LSU (7-1)
8 Ohio State (7-1)
9 TCU (8-0)
10 Boise State (6-0)
11 Stanford (6-1)
12 Florida State (6-1)
13 Utah (7-0)
14 Miami (FL) (5-2)
15 Mississippi State (6-2)
16 Nebraska (6-1)
17 Oklahoma State (6-1)
18 South Carolina (5-2)
19 Alabama (7-1)
20 Arkansas (5-2)
21 Arizona (6-1)
22 Iowa (5-2)
23 Illinois (4-3)
24 Michigan (5-2)
25 Florida (4-3)

Oh how beautiful my plan this week, I had it all figured out. This was to be the week, the one where I allowed 3 loss teams into my top 25, where I was to explain each team, one by one, and how I come to these numbers that they find themselves. Well, given the mishaps that have occurred, most of no fault but my own, it will have to wait one more blog...but yes it's coming. Not yet however, as I am quite clearly beyond the time one should be allotted for a blog such as this. So instead, let's reveal what was mostly already written, and just get it over with. Behold...this week's teams that have utterly failed this season and shall warrant no credit whatsoever for any team that has beaten them:

Washington State Cougars (1-7)

Grrrrrrrr! Besides the Montana State coach, everybody said they were really, really bad...and they were absolutely right. That said, this article seems to give them hope, coach speak taken way too literally, I suspect, but hey, it's the nicest thing I've read yet about this pathetic, pathetic team.

Bowling Green Falcons (1-7)

Well, not much to say here. They are a bad team, in a bad conference, that has lost very, very badly this season. They did have their one win against the Marshall Thundering Herd...WE ARE MARSHALL...but other than that, not many bright spots to a terrible season that was, and should continue to be.

Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-7)

Check out these scores. The overtime win against Ball State appears to be something of a fluke, given the other results available...and it's not like Ball State won't be soon to find this loser-ville segment either. Eastern Michigan is bad, if not for Western Kentucky and Akron, maybe the worst in all of FBS.

New Mexico Lobos (0-7)

Oh yeah, speaking of teams that may be the worst in all the land, well let us not forget this one. Truly, and I mean really, I wish that we all could have seen this game, if for nothing else, just to enjoy the ineptness that one American State can provide. I heard on the radio before the Kansas/New Mexico State game that my Jayhawks' opponent was not the inferior team in their own State, and while I figured it meant little, I'm not sure I realized how little that statement entailed. Yeah, I get it now.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-7)

Really? After 2 bowl seasons, back to losing everything? Well, yes, but when considering that each of the last two seasons this team was barely bowl eligible, and the season before that, they won exactly this many games that they have now, I guess it's not that surprising. They should continue to lose, I guess, but who knows what is going on up there...maybe Morneau is hurt or something.

San Jose State Spartans (1-7)

Wow, every time I think that I've seen BAD, well, check this out. Need more? No, didn't think so.

Well, if you just happen to be a big fan of one of these teams, let me offer my sincerest apologies. Yet, please understand that, no matter the severity of your team's misfortunes, I insure you that mine is soon to follow so by all means, do not let it drag you down too much. That's it then, easy does it this week. Next week a fresh, more timely presentation that should put some questions you may have to my system to rest. And before that, hopefully something baseball...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

College Football Week 8

The sliding fastener, or as we know it, the "zipper" was invented in 1890 by Whitcomb L. Judson. Did you know that? It's alright if you didn't, neither did I, but I suppose it's good information to know now that we do. Actually, I think from now on, when the zipper jams or breaks on my sweatshirt or jacket, I will react appropriately by raising a clenched fist before me and muttering...damn it, Judson!

Anyway, Whitcomb L. Judson was apparently born in New York City and died in Chicago, but it's the places of residence in between that interest me most. My research has failed me a bit, but I have reason to suspect that Judson at least at one point, maybe even in 1890 when he came up with this most useful invention, resided somewhere in between New York and Chicago, in like...say...Akron, Ohio. Of course, I could be wrong about this, but it would explain how it came to be that when summer turns to fall at the brand new InfoCision Stadium- Summa Field in Akron, a mascot kangaroo named Zippy hops onto the field, followed shortly after by the University of Akron Zips football team. And then, apparently, they get murdered. Damn it, Judson!

Yes, the Akron Zips are officially 2010's first team to lose 7 games, and subsequently bowl consideration as well. And it's with this that I offer to you another standard that I utilize when preparing my weekly rankings: no consideration, none whatsoever, will be given to any team for beating an opponent that zips out 7 or more losses. Of course, it won't count against them either, just as an early victory against an FCS level opponent did not, but in a system such as mine, which is supposed to be objective and offers credit for the difficulty in a team's schedule in terms of actual wins and losses...well, more credit for beating the Akron Zips. Here are my rankings this week:

1 LSU (7-0)
2 Michigan State (7-0)
3 Oklahoma (6-0)
4 Oregon (6-0)
5 Wisconsin (6-1)
6 Auburn (7-0)
7 Ohio State (6-1)
8 Stanford (5-1)
9 TCU (7-0)
10 Boise State (6-0)
11 West Virginia (5-1)
12 Florida State (6-1)
13 Missouri (6-0)
14 Oklahoma State (6-0)
15 Utah (6-0)
16 Miami (FL) (4-2)
17 Mississippi State (5-2)
18 Arizona (5-1)
19 Iowa (5-1)
20 Michigan (5-2)
21 Texas (4-2)
22 Nebraska (5-1)
23 Kansas State (5-1)
24 South Carolina (4-2)
25 Alabama (6-1)

I suppose the team that really needs to be discussed this week is the last team on the list, #25 Alabama. Look, like Boise State, we all know, or at least we think we know that they are very good, far better than this ranking indicates. But the truth is that Alabama's opponents to date haven't really fared all that well in other games played. Their victory last week against Ole Miss appeared to be a sign of Alabama getting back on track, but then there's this. Two weeks ago when Alabama lost to South Carolina, they didn't really drop all that far in my rankings, as South Carolina was looking like not so ugly of a loss, but then this happened. Penn State was Alabama's biggest non-conference opponent and the Tide looked impressive that day...except then ouch. And of course, ever since the biggest game of the season, the one that could decide everything against Florida, a triumphant and impressive victory, things just haven't gone that well for the Gators either. So that pretty much leaves the Tide's biggest win as their thrilling comeback victory over Arkansas, but well, I guess you know what's coming.

Not all is lost for Alabama.Their schedule has failed them so far. So what? They play in the SEC, the best of the best! If they win there against those teams, they will have no problem launching themselves back atop the board, particularly in my rankings which are proving to be very fluid in that teams can move up and down at any rate that their successes, failures and their schedules allow them to. The only thing I'm kind of left wondering about Alabama is whether or not they will actually win all of these remaining games; it does occur to me that maybe this just isn't their year.

And finally, there is one more team to discuss. If you have been keeping up with my blog from the beginning, then you will already know that I have been particularly harsh on Nebraska and the non-conference schedule that they signed up for this season. Well, if you thought that the Huskers' schedule was pathetic, check out this one. That's right, Indiana, a BCS conference school has played this season: FCS Towson, Western Kentucky (0-6), barely beat Arkansas State (2-5) and, oh what do you know? The Akron Zips!!! I know, I know, kicking around the University of Indiana football team is not really worth my time. After all, it's not like they make the kind of claims that Nebraska fans insist on...but still...a Big 10 school...are you kidding me with this schedule? The thing is about Indiana, and why it's pertinent to my rankings, is that their only two losses are to Michigan and Ohio State, two teams that I have ranked, so had Indiana beaten anyone at all of any significance they would file in at #21 behind Michigan for being undefeated against the field of which they are being compared. But my system picks up on this disparity and kicks them out accordingly. We'll at least wait to see what they do against 3 loss, but BCS conference, foe Illinois this weekend and then maybe give them some acknowledgement. Of course though, they will probably lose that one too.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

College Football Week 7

My brothers, myself, and a few friends of ours have a term that we like to refer to as "no credit games." Now, a lot of games can offer very little credential for victory, yet this is not exactly what we mean. Instead, the games that we are referring to are games against teams that our teams very well could lose to, but should we win, no credit whatsoever will be granted for the accomplishment. In other words, these opponents are fairly equipped, yet nobody really recognizes it. Boise State was once one of those teams, as were TCU and Utah. But these teams are examples of programs that have made the leap to absolute acknowledgement. It's all a bit relative, but essentially the more time a team spends atop the national spotlight, the more prestige someone gets for knocking them off, not that anyone ever takes down Boise State or TCU anyway, except for each other.

Thursday night, the spot-light will be on the Sunflower State, as it was multiple times this past basketball season and was this very same time last week for Kansas State in football. It's been well discussed at this point, that the game did not go well for Kitty Cat hopefuls last Thursday. However, their opponant this time around, Kansas, is extraordinarly ugly this season and has no business being profiled in any "spot-light" game. So Kansas State should win this time around, right? One would think, but I've already offered my condolensces on such topics as attempting to project outcomes and I'm not likely to take another stab at it anytime soon. Just for the sake of argument though, let's say the Cats win, it doesn't really matter by how much, a road game against a rival leaves little room for criticism in a resulting victory. But they win. What's interesting is that beating 4 loss (with more to come) Kansas would generate far more credit than their earlier victory against Central Florida ever did. Is this wrong? Absolutely.

A team like Central Florida is exactly what we are talking about when we discuss the concept of "no credit games." They have lost two games, each against 1 loss BCS conference teams, North Carolina State and of course, Kansas State. Each were close, here's what NC State Coach Tom O'Brien had to say about their meeting with this no credit team:  "That was a heck of a win for our team," O'Brien said. "A couple of big, big turnovers were the difference in the game, but it's always that way. Turnovers and penalties decide games." Heck of a win? Yes. All Central Florida has done is blow everyone else out, besides the one near miss at Kansas State. Any credit at all achieved that day? Not likely. But hey, by beating Georgia Tech 2 weeks later, the Wolfpack earned themselves all the credit that they needed! Except...well...Kansas did that. To me, the most damning concern regarding that particular program (NC State) is that they lost to Virginia Tech, a loss that is looking far less disconcerting every week, but nonetheless it did follow a very unfortunate mishap by the Hokies earlier in the season, a loss that I'm not yet ready to disregard and therefore counts against all that they ravage in the mean time.

So I now return to Kansas State. Let's go ahead, proceed inch by inch way out onto that proverbial limb, and actually give them some credit for that "no credit game" against Central Florida. Then combine that with victories against UCLA and Iowa State, two teams that anihilated the only Big 12 Texas teams that we actually respect and suddenly, it's a lot easier to at least slightly overlook the demoralizing beat-down by Nebraska last week, particularly when Nebraska shoots up in my rankings to #6 this week and was already somewhere in that neighborhood by everyone else well before they actually had to play somebody. Is it really that crazy for a team to get blown up by the sixth ranked team in the country? I think not. Now, lose to Kansas on Thursday night and you are not likely to hear much from me for the rest of the season regarding Kansas State. That's fine; I'm not really fond of spending too much time talking about them anyway. My rankings this week:

1 Michigan State (6-0)
2 LSU (6-0)
3 Oklahoma (5-0)
4 Auburn (6-0)
5 Oregon (6-0)
6 Nebraska (5-0)
7 South Carolina (4-1)
8 Alabama (5-1)
9 West Virginia (4-1)
10 Ohio State (6-0)
11 Missouri (5-0)
12 TCU (6-0)
13 Boise State (5-0)
14 Stanford (5-1)
15 Michigan (5-1)
16 Florida State (5-1)
17 Oklahoma State (5-0)
18 Arkansas (4-1)
19 Nevada (6-0)
20 Kansas State (4-1)
21 Utah (5-0)
22 Oregon State (3-2)
23 Arizona (4-1)
24 Florida (4-2)
25 California (3-2)

Ahhh, Michigan State. At #1 no less? I know that Ohio State is the Big 10 team most would expect to see here...if any Big 10 team at all, but consider it a scheduling coincidence. Michigan State has very little to offer in their non-conference offerings, best win being Notre Dame, yet their conference wins to this date have been nails. Ohio State can't claim anywhere close to wins over otherwise undefeated Wisconsin and Michigan. LSU has some nice wins, but most of those are against teams that have compiled at least two losses. Oklahoma has a "no credit game" victory of their own against Air Force and a sold resume building washout of Florida State, but it's still not quite Wisconsin and Michigan. Auburn? Fine, but not quite great. Oregon? Yeah, nice win against Stanford, but that's just about it. No, I'm alright with this selection; Michigan  State can be my number one for at least a week.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

College Football Week 6

In the year 1900, William McKinley was President of the United States. That year, the first electric bus became operational in New York City, Hawaii became an official US territory and Carrie Nation began her ever so uncalled for crusade against drinking establishments. The Wright Brothers were busy fooling around with "gliders" and the first zeppelin flight was launched in Germany. In sports, the American Baseball League was created to compete with the already existing National League and in Texas, a month after a hurricane killed 8,000 people in Galveston, the University of Texas football team hosted and defeated the University of Oklahoma by the score of 28-2, in the first meeting between the two programs. They've played some games since.

Actually, I assume that you already know something of the mirth involved with this rivalry, so I see little reason to expand on it too much, other than to state the obvious that it is one of our nation's any sport. My personal experience with it is of relatively little depth, as I grew up somewhat apathetic to UT and was far more familiar with the Oklahoma/Nebraska rivalry, which has become virtually irrelevant over the last ten years and now tilts on the brink of extinction as Nebraska takes off for the tastier TV contract. Nonetheless, I have both friends that received their educations from Texas, as well as those that experienced the Oklahoma version, thus accelerating my familiarity with the event that is the Red River...uhhhh...Rivalry(Shootout? When did that happen?)

Last year, on kind of a whim, I joined my Texas friend, Emily, for one of the Texas watch parties in our area. Catching wind of the idea, my parents opted to join us and together we had a blast, as Texas celebrated in the end and my ordinarily non-Texas fan family (brothers excluded) jumped right in like it was the biggest win of our lives.

Have you ever done this? Gone to a watch party for an out of town school or team at one of your local bars and celebrated that team as if it were your own? Not a bad time, let me tell you. The only problem with the BIG Texas fun we had that day, was that I had previously, on numerous occasions, been invited (by the way, do you now attempt to spell invite e-nvite, because of e-vite? I do.) to Oklahoma watch parties by my Sooner friends, Paul and Earleen. It's not that I felt guilty for not having attended, but my choice to celebrate their greatest rival's victory over them, after never having accepted one of these invitations...well, I didn't really feel like the friend that they deserved me to be. So this year, I gathered up the parents again, and after watching Kansas get crushed by...ahem...Baylor, we headed over to join our friends at the Oklahoma watch party in town. And the party was on.

We call it watch party crashing. And now it's a tradition that we look to continue. It seems that a lot of schools have them in a lot of cities, and I'm already tossing around some ideas for next year. Let me know if you have a recommendation or would just like to start joining us in the newly founded tradition....the more the merrier...that kind of thing. Oh, and if the concept does appeal to you, allow me to suggest trying either Oklahoma or Texas for the Red River Rivalry. Actually, try both!

As for the game itself, well it's fairly clear that Texas just isn't very good this year. But here's the thing that is getting to me, I'm not hearing about much momentum in the Oklahoma corner as of yet. Look, they are undefeated, and it's not like they've cleaned up on a Husker-ish schedule either. They beat Cincinnati, who is down this year, but they also beat Florida State and Air Force, two teams that do not appear to be down at all. And now Texas on a neutral site, and regardless of the Longhorns' difficulties as of yet, Texas is still Texas, not to mention Oklahoma's greatest rival. Pretty impressive stuff to me, at least so far. Others might disagree because of the margins of victory, but did anyone watch the Alabama/Arkansas game...and then Alabama every other week? Alabama is the best team in the country, regardless of the Arkansas score. And Oklahoma is right up there too, regardless of the Cincinnati score. Points don't play here...and my new rankings reflect that:

1 Alabama (5-0)
2 LSU (5-0)
3 Oklahoma (5-0)
4 Auburn (5-0)
5 Florida (4-1)
6 Michigan (5-0)
7 TCU (5-0)
8 Arizona (4-0)
9 Ohio State (5-0)
10 Oregon (5-0)
11 Michigan State (5-0)
12 Oklahoma State (4-0)
13 West Virginia (3-1)
14 Missouri (4-0)
15 Kansas State (4-0)
16 Boise State (4-0)
17 Iowa (4-1)
18 Miami (FL) (3-1)
19 Stanford (4-1)
20 Florida State (4-1)
21 Nebraska (4-0)
22 South Carolina (3-1)
23 Nevada (5-0)
24 Utah (4-0)
25 Northwestern (5-0)

I am only interested in who a team beats, who a team loses to and how many times those losses have occurred. Because of this, I have been admittedly harsh on Nebraska up until now. This all changes Thursday night as Nebraska plays host to undefeated Kansas State. I think they should probably win. We know that their fans think that they should definitely win. It will be fun, and the winner will inevitably start to look quite attractive in my rankings, and I imagine, everyone else's as well.

Have a great week, and again, thank you much for reading!

(Correction: The Kansas State/Nebraska game will be played in Manhattan tonight. Now I'm even less sure Nebraska wins...where is all this confidence coming from? We'll see I guess. Now that I think of it, I did read something from a K State fan about a "no red" policy...this makes much more sense now. I think that I might enjoy this.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

The 2010 Fantasy Baseball Championship

After a fantasy celebration on the fantasy field of a fantasy ballpark with a fantasy capacity crowd, the fantasy players, in a fantastic manner, exited via the fantasy dugout to head down the fantasy tunnel for a fantasy celebration with lots of fantasy champagne in the fantasy locker room, surrounded by fantasy media and the fantasy players' fantasy families and fantasy friends.

My fantasy is that it was a fantastic time, a wonderful fantasy festivity for a fantastic fantasy season, the kind of thing fantasies are made of. You see, fantasy sports, after all, are kind of like Dungeons and Dragons for sports fans. We mask them deep inside a genre of competitiveness that we like to consider "cool" but in the end, we are not playing the sport, or not actually discussing the real contest at hand, instead qualifying our interests and endless dialogue on the subject as not too much much better than D&D. But instead of "Ha Ha, your Elf Wizard just got triple point blasted by a tree!" I can now claim stuff like, "I just won my 2nd fantasy championship in the 4 years of our fantasy baseball keeper league's existence!" And the difference? Well,  not much, really. What hopefully is not a fantasy, however, is the prize money that should be on it's way. My fantasy players will not be receiving a cut of that, but I should at least recognize them, just like one might gloat if their dwarf ninja cleric successfully mastered the spontaneous combustion spell and took down an entire nation of radio-active trolls.

So, many thanks to:

Robinson Cano
Carlos Carrasco
Shin-Soo Choo
Ryan Dempster
J.A. Happ
Aaron Harang
Corey Hart
Derek Holland
Ubaldo Jimenez
Adam Jones
Garrett Jones
Clayton Kershaw
Hong-Chih Kuo
Brandon League
Colby Lewis
Joe Mauer
Brett Myers
Brayan Pena
Luke Scott
Clayton Richard
Koji Uehara
Juan Uribe
Brian Wilson
Chris R Young
Michael Young

Also a huge fantasy thank you to those fantasy players, that unknowingly helped my team along the way but were not on my final fantasy roster, even though, like you the unfortunate reader of this obnoxious behavior, they could not care any less, even in their wildest fantasies. Or yours. Or mine.

May your fantasies all come true...but until then, I'll be back with more college football soon.