Sunday, October 24, 2010

This Week's Ballot

As I did last week, I decided to make a college football top 25 ballot, as if anyone had--or ever would--ask me to vote for a poll.

A brief recap of my rules: all undefeated teams get ranked higher than all one-loss teams (who get ranked higher than all two-loss teams, etc). If two teams have the same record and have played each other, the team that won head-to-head gets ranked higher (barring three-team "circle of death" situations, which have yet to matter this year). New rule this week: this week's ballot is not based on last week's. One of my biggest complaints about the real polls is their overwhelming reliance on inertia. I still have many of the same opinions, but I didn't move anybody "up" or "down" based on this week's games; I just put them where I thought they should go based on their entire body of work. I didn't even look at last week's ballot before I made this week's.

1. Oregon
They are just frighteningly good.

2. Boise State
They're very good at offense and at defense, and they've done everything they've needed to do.

3. TCU
Their offense, like Boise's, can put up big numbers on weak opponents, but their defense is even more impressive. I would love to see this team play Oregon.

4. Auburn
Fourth may seem to low for the last undefeated SEC team, but almost all of their games have still been in question going into the fourth quarter, and they have yet to be tested on the road. Out of Auburn, Oregon, Boise, and TCU, Auburn has looked the most beatable.

5. Missouri
They looked fantastic against Oklahoma on both (or, considering their kicker, all three) sides of the ball. The question has now been answered: yes, they are the real deal.

6. Utah
It's hard to defend having them lower than TCU and Boise, when their resume is similar, but at least we get to see them play TCU in two weeks and settle some questions.

7. Michigan State
After having to come from behind at Northwestern and, on reflection, struggling to beat a not-very-good Notre Dame team, MSU looks like the weakest of the undefeated teams.

8. Alabama
And maybe it's just habit, but it seems that Alabama is the strongest of the one-loss teams.

9. Wisconsin
Wisconsin has had two top-notch weeks in a row, convincingly thumping Ohio State at home and then winning a thriller at Iowa. Bret Bielema may finally have his team playing up to their potential.

10. Ohio State
Like the non-AQ teams, OSU unquestionably has the ability to throttle the life out of inferior opponents. Unfortunately, we don't get to see how they fare against a good team until they visit Iowa on November 20th.

11. Nebraska
After the (inexplicable?) loss to texas, they've gotten back on track with a win over Oklahoma State. They're no longer favorites to with the Big 12 North, but they can be again if they beat Missouri at home next week.

12. Stanford
Their only loss is to Oregon.

13. LSU
LSU is a deeply, even wildly flawed team, but it's still not easy to beat them.

14. Arizona
Beating up on the teams from Washington doesn't prove much, but their schedule is about to get more interesting.

15. Oklahoma
If the computers got to factor in margin of victory, OU wouldn't have been #1 last week. I had them pretty high because sure, their losses were close, but at least they scheduled hard. Now that they have lost a game, their fragile mystique is gone.

16. Florida State
Still a mystery to me. They're a one-loss team whose loss was to Oklahoma, so that's why they're here.

17. Oklahoma State
Very good offense (which can be shut down for at least short stretches), very little defense. I expect their loss total to go up.

18. Nevada
I really wanted to like Nevada, but I'm finally accepting that they're a bit of a sham. The one thing they've done is kill Cal, but it turns out that every time Cal goes on the road, they get killed.

19. Arkansas
There are three two-loss SEC teams, and while it's South Carolina that has the best win, Arkansas has the best losses. That's right; I'll take the team that lost to Alabama and Auburn over the team that beat Alabama and lost to Auburn and Kentucky. It's a judgment call.

20. Iowa
Despite the time-zone-influenced loss to Arizona, and the atrocious clock management against Wisconsin, I still think Iowa is very good.

21. South Carolina
I don't want to rank them (because I don't like them), but it's the responsible thing to do.

22. Virginia Tech
They keep trying to make people forget about James Madison, although it isn't easy.

23. Miami (you know which one)
I don't think Miami is great by any means, but they're decent, and their two losses are to quality teams.

24. Mississippi State
Oh, why not throw the third two-loss SEC team in here? They certainly don't put up big numbers, but they've won every game except at LSU and against Auburn. I maintain that they are scrappy.

25. East Carolina
They continue to make me smile.

The team I wanted to rank, but couldn't without breaking (or altering) my rules: Navy. I only saw bits and pieces of their game yesterday, but every time I flipped over there, they looked really good. However, they lost to Maryland, who lost to West Virginia, who lost to Syracuse, so I couldn't--within the rules as currently formulated--rank Navy without ranking those three teams in front of them.

The team I'm glad to see that professional voters ranked, but declined to rank myself: Baylor. I'm happy for them that they're bowl-eligible, that they beat K-State, and that they look to have more than a fighting chance against t.u. next week, but they got killed by TCU (as you do), and couldn't get it done against Texas Tech on a neutral field. Sorry, Baylor; maybe next week.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Things I Enjoyed Today

1. Iowa State wins in Austin for the first time ever! Longhorns, you have been Cycl-OWNED!

I watched almost all of that game, and I'll tell you this--it wasn't even close. Iowa State didn't look great, for the most part, and I kept assuming that texas would snap out of it and come back eventually, but that just never happened. Iowa State didn't have great defense, but t.u.'s was worse. ISU was a little spotty on offense, but had way more good spots than texas. They won fair and square, and it was hilarious.

2. Texas A&M beats KU handily, as they absolutely had to.

Also, I guess I should be happy that Sherman was finally willing to give backup QB Ryan Tannehill lots of meaningful snaps . . . but it was weird that he waited to pull Jerrod until Jerrod was having a good game. His plan must have been to give Tannehill practice in a game situation, but not a risky game situation, so Tannehill will be more prepared if he ever has to go in and save a game that's going badly. It was still weird, though.

3. Wisconsin is good, you guys. They really are.

Of course, it helped that Iowa completely fouled up their clock management in the last minute of the game. You can't play fast and loose with your timeouts unless you've made Les Miles' deal with the devil. Anyway, the doubts I had about Wisconsin are pretty much gone after two consecutive impressive wins. They do still need help to win the Big Ten, though.

4. Because Mark Dantonio keeps fake-punting his way into my heart.

I know that, as a Badgers fan ("fan," rounding up from "well-wisher," anyway), I need to be rooting against Michigan State, the one conference team that has beaten Wisconsin. But . . . they're just so loveable! Dantonio calls a fake punt to beat Notre Dame, then he has a heart attack which he perseveres through, and then he fake punts again today to complete the comeback against Northwestern! (And besides, they weren't going to lose to Northwestern, the Big Ten master of the choke-job, even when they did go down 17-0.)

Now if they can just keep beating them consecutively until 2051, they'll finally be even with 'em. Oh, and let's not forget how fun it is to say "Ken Niumatalolo."

And the world makes just a little more sense.

7. Baylor's win over K-State puts them alone at the top of the Big 12 South.

They're probably more stoked about getting bowl-eligible for the first time since 1995, but the standings thing makes me smile. (Well, the Baylor part. Can we all agree to ignore the very bottom of the division standings?)

8. And now Missouri has taken down Oklahoma!

I can't really articulate why I was rooting for Missouri there, but here are some ideas:
a. I like when OU loses.
b. Mizzou was the underdog, and I generally like underdogs.
c. I would like there to be a team in the Big 12 North who can take the division from Nebraska (I don't really harbor any ill-will toward Nebraska for leaving the conference, but I really don't want them to win it on their way out the door).
d. It's comforting that the team that beat A&M 30-9 is legitimately good.
e. As always, it's fun when there are upsets at the top of the polls. It reminds me of good ol', crazy ol' 2007.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The Bengals' DC, Mike Zimmer, is not afraid to call a spade a spade. Or in ex-Atlanta, current Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino's case, to call a spade a coward and an "MF." Yes, he said "MF."

Remember how hiring Gene Chizik seemed like a really, really dumb thing for Auburn to do, but now Auburn is really good? I'm at least as confused about that as everybody else.

If Oklahoma beats Missouri and Oklahoma State beats Nebraska this weekend (which I'd estimate has about a 24% chance of happening, which isn't terrible), both Oklahoma schools will be 6-0 for the first time in the history of time.

Would Texas Tech be better this year if Mike Leach were still there? Probably. (Almost certainly?)

The Big Ten's new division-tastic conference schedules may leave some schools not playing each other for four or even six years. If that happens, it means the people making the Big Ten's schedules are not good at making schedules.

And finally, I have absolutely no idea how I got to this page or even what about a third of it means (although I'm sure it's related to how Bob Stoops or somebody on his staff just stone cold makes up stuff about opposing teams insulting the Sooners), but it made me laugh.

Monday, October 18, 2010

LeachWatch 2010: Gopher Time?

Yesterday, as pretty much everyone was expecting after he lost to an injury-devasted Purdue team, Minnesota's Tim Brewster became the first coaching fire of the season. Congratulations, Tim! I really thought Mike Locksley might beat you, but you prevailed!

So now there's all-out speculation about who will be Minnesota's next coach, and where there's coaching speculation, there's Mike Leach.

He's not the first name that gets thrown out there; that's Tony Dungy. He's not biting, though. (Although, according to this damning article by Sports by Brooks, Minnesota's hack of an AD might hide behind Dungy's recommendations so he will not get fired himself.) There are more names floating around, including the coach Dungy recommended the last time Minnesota needed a head coach, Vikings' defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Also, there's Houston's Kevin Sumlin (who I still kind of wish A&M had hired when we finally ditched Coach Fran).

I don't know how good Leach's chances are. Do I think he'd take it if offered? Very yes. He's been asked about it, and while he was a little noncommittal, it's clear he wants to get back into coaching. (I think we all want him back in coaching, for the comedy.) Surely there will be other job openings by the end of the season, but maybe none as inviting as Minnesota. BCS conference + relatively low expectations = Leach-a-palooza!

Ultimately, I think that--as with all the other jobs Leach has been rumored to be considered for over the years--it's likelier that Leach would want Minnesota than that Minnesota would want Leach. I don't know if Leslie Frazier would be a better choice, because we already know that Head Coach Mike Leach can build a team that's greater than the sum of its parts, but he or almost anybody else on the list would be a safer choice. Minnesota students and fans might get excited about hiring college football's most famous pirate fetishist, but Minnesota brass and big-money alums? Maybe not so much.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Ballot

As you may have heard, the first BCS standings come out tonight. As you may have guessed, no one involved with the BCS in any capacity has asked me to submit a ballot. But why not be prepared?

The Ballot I Would Submit, If Anybody Asked:
1. Boise State
2. Oregon
3. Oklahoma
4. TCU
5. Auburn
6. Utah
7. Michigan State
8. LSU
9. Missouri
10. Oklahoma State
11. Arizona
12. Alabama
13. Iowa
14. Stanford
15. Florida State
16. Wisconsin
17. Ohio State
18. Nebraska
19. West Virginia
20. Nevada
21. K-State
22. Northwestern
23. South Carolina
24. Virginia Tech
25. East Carolina

My Method:
First Principle: Ability to get into the championship game, as determined by number of losses.
Exactly one two-loss team has made it to the BCS championship game, and that was a weird, weird year (LSU, 2007). And I'm still kind of annoyed about it. So I decided to include every unbeaten and one-loss team, regardless of conference. There are only 22 of them, so I did go ahead and try to pick the best three two-loss teams to round the ballot out to 25. (That was possibly the hardest part of the whole thing; more on that later.) I realized as I was ranking the teams that, as a corollary to this principle, all unbeaten teams should be ranked ahead of all one-loss teams. This makes some parts of the poll look a little wonky (do I believe that Oke State would beat Alabama on a neutral field? Not particularly). However, all that an unbeaten team has to do at this point is win all the rest of their games; one-loss teams have to do that and root for unbeatens to lose.

Second Principle: Head-to-head matchups.
If a team has beaten another team on the ballot, they are above the team they beat, end of story. That's the one nice thing about a ballot that comes out this early--there are not yet any "circles of death" where within a group of three or four, each team has beaten one of the others and lost to another one. I know that Wisconsin might not beat Ohio State six times if they played ten times on a neutral field or whatever, but they did win the one time they did play, and that's that. (Again, later in the season, this would get more muddied due to larger bodies of work, but it's still pretty straightforward right now.)

The answer to any complicated research problem: 3X5 notecards!

Third Principle: Body of work, so far
This is where it gets really muddy and subjective. Being a fake pollster isn't easy, y'all. I'll just say this: people like to kill Boise for their weak schedule, but it hasn't gotten weak yet. The combined record of Boise State's opponents is 16-22; Oregon's is 13-23 . . . and they've played an FCS opponent (2-3 Portland State), and Boise hasn't (and won't, ever). Yes, by the end of the season, Oregon will have played higher-quality opponents than Boise gets to, but they haven't yet.

This principle would have been a lot easier if I factored in margin of victory (particularly when comparing the non-AQs), but since that's not kosher, I tried to avoid it.

Fourth Principle: so, um, who would win on a neutral field?
AKA the eyeball test. I've seen West Virginia play, and I don't feel like they'd beat most the other teams on the list. Even though this principle sounds the sketchiest, it's theoretically my favorite--if only I could watch every game. My kingdom for a DVR and a ruinously expensive cable package!

Until then, I'll take comfort in my 'cards.

Fifth Principle: Wait, all these two-loss teams suck . . .
Principles 1-4 got me through the top 22, but then I had to come up with someone, anyone, to round out the 25. And none of them look that great. I was tempted to slap all three two-loss SEC teams in there, but I worried that was the media's pro-SEC bias talking. So I took what I considered the best of the SEC teams, the best of all the others (Va Tech has actually acquitted itself very nicely since the James Madison disaster, have you noticed?), and then East Carolina because they make me smile. I know that's a terrible reason, but that's why nobody asked me to submit a ballot.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Some Picks: NFL Week 6

Chicago (off) over Seattle
No line here yet, since we still don't know if Jay Cutler will be back from the concussion, but a line would have to be really high for me to pick Seattle. One of my personal Football 2010 Picks Rules: pick Seattle at home, pick against them on the road.

Miami (off) over Green Bay
Green Bay also has a quarterback concussion problem. Also . . . they sort of suck.

St. Louis (+8.5) over San Diego
If San Diego can lose to Oakland, they can fail to beat St. Louis by 9.

Baltimore (+2.5) over New England
Serious question: why is New England favored here?

Detroit (+10) over New York Giants
I'm not going to pretend I know how the Giants are going to perform any given week, but I know that Detroit can lose by less than ten. Don't get me wrong; they'll lose. Just maybe by seven or something.

Atlanta (off) over Philadelphia
Vick or Kolb, the Eagles aren't as good as Atlanta.

Pittsburgh (-14) over Cleveland
With their QB back, Pittsburgh will go out of its way to score points. Also, Cleveland is probably starting Colt McCoy? If I were a Browns fan, I'd be horrified. . . . More horrified than usual.

Tampa Bay (+5) over New Orleans
I don't think New Orleans is good, you guys. And Tampa Bay is, at worst, scrappy. Gotta like scrappy.

Kansas City (+4.5) over Houston
This is pretty much a repeat of my last pick, except that I have more evidence that KC is OK and less evidence that Houston is any good. They don't have many strengths, and they can't count on the ones they're supposed to have (e.g. Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub).

New York Jets (-3) over Denver
I went from believing in the Jets to not believing. Then to believing. And after Monday night's game . . . I'd call it ambivalent. Sure, they won, but why didn't they score more during those first three quarters? They can take Denver, though.

Oakland (+6.5) over San Francisco
OK, seriously, why is San Francisco favored? They are 0-5. They are inventing new ways to lose. I refuse to pick the 49ers until after they finally win one. I refuse.

Dallas (+2) over Minnesota
Who can choke this game away harder?

Indianapolis (-3) over Washington
I know the Colts are kind of struggling, but they can pull this out.

Jacksonville (+3) over Tennessee
I told myself I was going to pick the opposite of what should happen for all of the Titans' games . . . but then I thought Dallas would beat them, and I picked Dallas. Never again!

last week's record: 8-6
season to date: 37-35

College Football: Week 6

It was a good one.

The number one story was number one ranked Alabama losing to one-loss South Carolina. And it wasn't close. South Carolina earned it. The best thing about this is that we get to stop hearing and reading ecstatic, breathless praises of how great Alabama is. I also thought they were very good, but that was getting old fast.

So our new #1 team is Ohio State (out with the old guard, in with the old guard). tOSU's win over Indiana was actually its third-biggest triumph of the weekend. Its biggest victory was South Carolina's loss, and its second-biggest victory was Penn State's loss. We all know by now that Penn State is not a good football team this year. However, it is still good on Illinois that they beat Penn State (and that they won in Happy Valley for the first time ever. As in ever), and may mean that they are not terrible, which means that Ohio State's non-blowout of them last week no longer makes tOSU look bad.

Now, as you know, I like Tony Barnhart, but he is a huge, unapologetic SEC homer. Today's evidence: his hand-wringing article "Will the SEC be shut out of the BCS championship game?" And the answer to his question is, if tOSU and Oregon keep winning, yes. And duh. Leave aside potential one-loss championship candidates--I don't think either SEC team that could finish the season undefeated (LSU or Auburn) will jump either tOSU or Oregon. Ohio State is Ohio State--maybe the only team this season with an SEC-like level of clout. (The rest of the Big Ten doesn't have it, the Big 12 South doesn't have it, even Nebraska--which we'll discuss soon--doesn't have it.) As for Oregon, they are crazy, man. That's just the kind of team you want to watch; they're so exciting. If they keep winning, the pollsters will want to see them in the title game.

It was, overall, not a great week for the Big 12. The brightest spot was Nebraska's victory over K-State, because A) people got to see it (since it was nationally broadcast on a Thursday night) and B) they, and specifically their freshman QB Taylor Martinez, looked wicked good. When you start getting tagged as Denard Robinson-esque, and your team can play defense, you're in a good place.

But let us not forget the Aggie loss to Arkansas. OK, here's the thing: that was not a game I expected the Ags to win. They actually kept the score closer than I would have predicted. And the defense continued to look surprisingly good. However. With the troubles that the defense gave Ryan Mallett, just imagine how easy it would have been for the Ags to pull the upset, if only the offense had shown up. I'm glad that this wasn't another five-turnover game, but Jerrod and the Jerrodettes did not do their job. I don't get this team.

It's a good thing for Texas Tech that they beat Baylor, because (as Angela pointed out) Iowa State didn't do anything to help Tech's dignity. I know Utah is good, but giving up 68 points (at home, no less)? What are you doing, Iowa State? What are you doing?

In Big Ten news, Wisconsin continued to keep Paul Bunyan's axe by stepping on Minnesota's throat. Much has been made of the fact that Tim Brewster got all snippy about Bret Bielema going for a two-point conversion when Wisconsin was already up by 25 points. Bielema has been criticized for his explanation that "the card" that tells you when to go for two told him to go for it. Much derision has been heaped on "the card." I seem to be the only person who remembers that this happened before, to card-owner Dennis Franchione. Apparently it's a thing college coaches do, and for reasons unknown to all of us who don't get paid millions of dollars, they think they should go for two when already winning by a whole lot.

Les Miles got super, super lucky again. Again. The unlikeliest thing: think of how a football is shaped. Then think about how likely it is that it would happen to land on a part of its surface that would cause it to bounce up perfectly, like a basketball. Not. Very. Likely.

Florida State murdered Miami. The ACC continues to perplex and confound. We should really just quarantine those guys so their games won't wreak havoc on everybody else's strengths of schedule.

Say what you will, but Auburn keeps winning. I don't know how comfortable I am with Auburn being good (mostly because I have Opinions about Gene Chizik). I do like this quote from their (very good) quarterback, though: "You can't go to Walmart and buy team chemisty." And even if you could, how would you figure out which aisle it was on?

Michigan State OF COURSE beat Michigan. Michigan was favored by Vegas to win that game, which just goes to show you that Vegas doesn't know everything.

Notre Dame beat Pittsburgh, for whatever that's worth. (Read: not much.) In related news, Kirk Herbstreit said on GameDay that he now expects Notre Dame (current record: 3-3) to go 9-3 on the season. To that I say, calm down, Herbie. Calm down.

0-5 New Mexico played 0-4 New Mexico State and one of them managed to win. I suppose that should be obvious, but I thought I should point it out just in case. They're both quite, quite bad. (But now 0-6 New Mexico is worse.)

In a less-sad (but still by no means gleeful) matchup, Georgia finally won a conference game by mercilessly smothering Tennessee. It's going to be a long season in Knoxville. And already has been, really.

Finally, besides there being postseason baseball in town (so I am told), the DFW area also hosted five college football games on Saturday. One crazy dude and his friend went to all of them. Even though he takes shots at Aggie fans, I'm still going to label that awesome.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Texas A&M: Rest-of-the-Season Outlook


Well . . .


Let's start here: I believed in my heart of hearts that A&M was going to beat Oklahoma State. That first half, where A&M looked good on both sides of the ball and Oke State's offense looked like it had been wildly oversold, was what I truly thought--despite trying to keep my expectations realistic--that game was going to look like.

Then the second half . . . I can't call it "a nightmare" because A&M managed to come back after all should have been lost. I can't say that it lived down to my worst expectations, because I never expected, not even after the FIU game, that Jerrod would be this team's problem.

That's where we need to go next: Jerrod Johnson. After watching the OSU game, I now have to retract all the things I said about him being the Big 12's elite quarterback. I think he's a very good QB, but he not a great QB. I don't know if it's his shoulder, or his shoulder affecting his confidence, or what, but a great quarterback doesn't throw eight interceptions in two games. Even more so, a great quarterback doesn't allow a ball to just fall out of his hand where the other team can pick it up. It's hard to emphasize how disgusted I was with that fumble. He wasn't even touched. He just fumbled it.

Jerrod did some great stuff in that game and he did some horrible stuff. Now, the offensive line could have played better, and the defense clearly dropped off quite a bit in the second half. But Jerrod pretty much lost the game. The one person who, coming into the season, looked like the most promising thing about the entire team, now looks to be its biggest liability.

Do you want some good news? That's super easy: coming into this season, I believed that this had to be the year if the Ags wanted to win the division. There were two reasons: that OU and t.u. were going to have down years, and that Jerrod is a senior. Now, since most of the team is looking good and is still, for the most part, very young, it looks like the team ought to be better next year. I'm not saying that Jerrod isn't going to be a loss, but if Ryan Tannehill can do 75% of the good that Jerrod does without the bad that Jerrod has done in the last two games, the Ags would be in good shape. The t.u./OU rebuilding thing is still a concern, but I feel pretty good going forward with a team with several promising players on both sides of the ball and, of course, a coach that might actually know what he's doing.

Oh, were you looking for good news that amounted to something other than "wait 'til next year"? (I don't blame you.) Here's what I've come up with: maybe Oklahoma State is really good. And maybe the Ags will eliminate some of the mistakes. That first half, and flashes of goodness in the second half, make me think that this team could beat anybody left on the schedule. They don't have the ability to run the rest of the table, certainly, but each game is a possible win.

I truly believe that, in my heart of hearts.

Although we know how that can go.

The remaining schedule
10/9, vs. Arkansas: Toughest game on the slate. I think I just lied a few paragraphs ago, because I find it hard to imagine the Ags winning this one, if only because Arky has had a week off (to brood over their loss to Alabama and get super-ready to take it out of somebody). But who knows? I just want the Ags to look OK on TV, basically. Loss.

10/16, Missouri: Mizzou looks pretty similar to A&M so far. They've beaten up a couple weak teams, but almost lost to another weak team. They beat Illinois, but not as badly as they should have. The Ags have home field advantage, but on the other hand, it's going to be shown on TV. It's probably either my hopeless optimism or my contempt for the Big 12 North, but I like the Ags in this one. Win.

10/23, at Kansas: A&M lost last year to Colorado, which was an inferior team. That's the only reason why I might worry about this game against the worst team in the conference. I can't let that worry guide this pick, though. Win.

10/30, Texas Tech: Well, I don't think Tech is very good, do you? Win.

11/6, Oklahoma: This is one of the games I was thinking of, where the Ags could win (with excellent execution, luck, and opponent complacency). And yet, loss.

11/13, at Baylor: If you think I've been too big a Pollyanna in this post, try this prediction on for size: Baylor's not bad this year. They've got a good, exciting quarterback. They might have enough fans show up to the game, for once, so that Floyd Casey Stadium is not Kyle Field North. To top it off, the Ags have been terrible in November for years. Loss.

11/20, Nebraska: I guess Nebraska is pretty good, although it's hard to say since they haven't played anybody. Probably a loss.

11/25, at t.u.: Ew, I don't like that five-day turnaround. (The 'horns technically have one, too, but they'll be playing Florida Atlantic while the Ags take on Nebraska.) But over the last six years except for 2008, the Ags have either beaten t.u. or made them work much harder than expected for a win. This year, they really aren't that good and, if I'm right (as I hope I'm not) about the previous three weeks, the Ags will really need a win here. So, what the hey, win.

That would make the Aggies 7-5 on the season, which will be a disappointment but (depending on how the losses look) not grounds for firing Sherman. I'm still hoping they scrape up eight, but I was kind of counting on them beating Oke State.

A Couple Fantasy Football Weeks

It's all over the map, you guys.

The Bubby Bristers (league with friends), record: 3-1
This is going well--so well, in fact, that I'm starting to get (arrogantly) chafed that I even lost the one game I've lost. I'm leading the league in points and my one loss was to the last undefeated team, so I'm optimistic going forward.

Week 3
helmet sticker: Drew Brees, 24.6 points (in, of course, his only real-life loss.)
helmet un-sticker: Osi Umenyiora, 0 points (which is how he tricked me into dropping him before this week's game, in which he recorded four tackles and three sacks. [insert angry growling noise])
Week 4
helmet sticker: Antonio Gates, 26.4 points. MAN that guy is good.
helmet un-sticker: Jeremy Maclin, 1.4 points. (Mike Sims-Walker scored nothing at all, but that's my fault for taking a flyer and picking him up this week. All on me.)

The Fightin' AJ Hawks (random internet dude league), record: 2-2
This is going way better than it should be. My team is a random collection of guys who perform unpredictably, I have so little depth that most of my bench this week was either on a bye or inactive due to injury, and I can never find anybody promising to pick up because the rest of the league members have already savvily snapped up the good sleepers. So the fact that I'm at .500 is really pretty great. In fact, if I finish the season with just those two wins, I'll consider it a relative victory for my fantasy football dignity.

Week 3
No idea. Can't get ESPN's atrocious fantasy setup to tell me what my players' Week 3 scores were. This interface makes me so angry, you have no idea.
Week 4
helmet sticker: Terrell Owens, 28 points. That performance single-handedly lifted me to victory.
helmet un-sticker: Darren Sproles, -1 point. Yes, he was on my bench, but I can't get over what a hideous, horrible pickup he was for me in the draft.

The Larry Fitzjerries (girl league), record: 0-4
You guys. It's so bad. It's so. bad.

My team is bad. The surprise auto-draft (which, yes, I'm still annoyed about, and no, the commissioner never apologized for) gifted me with the Broncos' third-best WR, Green Bay's injured running back, San Francisco's highly-touted disappointment of a WR, and Buffalo's wildly uneven rookie RB. And in a 12-team league (although, yes, that's a handicap shared by everyone in the league), there aren't a lot of useful free agents to be had.

My decisions are bad. I "won" the Brandon Jackson waiver sweepstakes after Ryan Grant went down, and he hasn't really helped me. I picked up Mike Sims-Walker (yes, in this league, too) on the off-chance he'd have a big week. I picked up Legedu Naanee, probably just because his name is fun. And of course, I dropped Cutler for Kevin Kolb (while making fun of the girl who dropped Kolb for Sanchez, which now seems like a really good idea), then automatically chose Cutler again after Kolb got injured/revealed himself to be a bust. (He's a bust, right? Or are we seeing how he does next week?)

And my luck is bad. I'm leading the league in points against. This week, I needed a big week from Cutler--which he had had the three weeks previously--to win. That didn't happen. The week before, my guys played decently but my opponent got 32 points from Anquan Boldin. In Week 2, my starting WR, Devon Aromashodu, who'd had a great first week, was inexplicably and entirely cut out of his team's game plan. Stuff like that.

So here's my question: at what point should I consider my team so irredeemably bad that I stop even trying to win? Here's my next question: if I'm going to lose on purpose, what's the greatest way to go about it?

Plenty of people, I am told, get disenchanted with fantasy football and just stop paying attention, stop making roster changes, etc. So that's out. Too unoriginal. I've also heard of people purposely trading away or just dropping their best players to create havoc in the league. That's more intriguing from a revenge angle, but does it go far enough?

I'm thinking I could drop all my dudes (except for the ones on the do-not-drop list [boo!], that is Desean Jackson, Frank Gore, and Antonio Gates--although maybe I could trade them?) and replace them with super-terrible dudes. Picture it: starting Tim Tebow at QB. Filling the rest of the roster in with fourth-stringers--maybe A) guys who are known to be terrible B) guys with funny names (I could keep Legedu Naanee) or C) guys all from the same team. For example, if I wanted to run with the Tebow idea, I just pick up every possible Broncos player from the waiver wire, so I'm starting a literal football team as my fantasy team. Of course, this would be funnier if I picked a worse team, like the Bills or the Browns. (The Browns are intriguing because I could implement another phase of the plan by trash-talking uncontrollably, and I could make message board posts saying "CLEVELAND REPRESENT!" and so forth.)

So! I'm mostly joking, of course, but just in case . . . suggestions?

And, oh right, Week 3
helmet sticker: DeSean Jackson, 22.1 points
helmet un-sticker: Brandon Jackson, 3.9 points

Week 4
helmet sticker: because it would be repetitive to give it to Antonio Gates again, Demaryius Thomas, 15.3 points
helmet un-sticker: with one interception, one lost fumble, and a grand total of 42 passing yards, let's give it up for Jay Cutler! -1.32 points! He is who I thought he was!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Some Things I Think about This Week's AP Poll

For reference, here it is.

1. LSU didn't move down?!? At all?!? I don't know why they aren't being punished for having the worst coach in college football.

2. Oregon leapfrogged Boise, which I suppose was inevitable. When that will happen in the coaches' poll, I wonder? I hope this means they'll be able to move past Ohio State if Oregon keeps looking awesome and OSU keeps looking pretty good.

3. There are three non-AQ teams in the top ten. The people who give out BCS bowl bids must be incredibly relieved that Utah and TCU play each other.

4. Notable fall-outs: t.u., USC, and Penn State. Good thing, too, since none of those teams is particularly good at football.

5. When will Michigan hurry up and lose already so we can stop pretending they're a ranking-worthy team? Oh wait, they play Michigan State next week. That should do it.

6. Oke State is in at #22. Beating the Aggies is good enough to get a team ranked! Fig leaf of dignity!!

7. And rounding out the last three spots, we've got Florida State (got beat down by OU), Missouri (almost lost to San Diego State), and Air Force (barely got beat by OU, woo!). Yeah, they totally ran out of good teams to rank.