Friday, August 31, 2007
The Quad blog at the New York Times called it euphemistically "A Sickening Performance" because Woodhead had a badly upset stomach during the game.
For his performance against the Ichabods, Woodhead was named the CollegeSportsReport.com Division II Performer of the Week.
Thayer Evans at the New York Times in For Record-Setting Back, Respect Is Earned a Yard at a Time gives a short synopsis of the Woodhead career and points out some additional NCAA records that Woodhead could potentially break this year - most touchdowns scored (he needs 20 more) and most all-purpose yards gained (he needs 1857 yards).
We posted previously about Woodhead and made the prediction for this season that he would break the all-time rushing record sometime in the middle of the 2007 season. If he maintains his normal rushing average per game for the coming games, he could break the record already on September 22, 2007, in the road game against Colorado Mines in their Hall of Fame game, against whom, however, Woodhead in 2006 "only" had 128 yards on 17 carries.
The coming Chadron game is at home vs. Wayne State, against whom Woodhead had 326 yards on 33 carries in 2006. The game after that is a road game with the Northern Colorado Bears in Greeley, Colorado, who were not on the Chadron schedule last year. The Bears do not have an enviable schedule as Chadron and Woodhead, the rushing phenomenon, will follow the Northern Colorado game against Hawaii and the passing phenomenon in the person of Colt Brennan. Thereafter, Northern Colorado plays San Diego, with new coach Ron Caragher, who are ranked No. 1 in The Sports Network's preseason Mid-Major Top-10 poll.
Of course, Woodhead is now a household name not only in Chadron, but also in the State of Nebraska and beyond, so that his fans would probably prefer that he break the record at the homecoming weekend in Chadron, NE in their September 29, 2007 game against New Mexico Highlands. See the CSC 2007 football schedule. It looks like a good possibility to this observer that this will be the game to watch for the breaking of the record.
Here are the results for this, the first day of FBS and FCS subdivision play (see also Division I).
Boise State 56 Weber State 7 - recap
The score here does not tell the full story. Bronco QB Taylor Tharp was sharp, being taken out of the game early in the 3rd quarter and Ian Johnson only played in the first half, running for 128 yards, as Boise State rolled up a 49-0 first-half lead and then let many of the reserves finish out the game as eleven different players carried the ball for the Broncos. We called this game 61-7 for Boise State. Our Win-Loss Prediction Record for Winners 2006 thus starts out as 1-0. No odds for the game were available but we will keep a separate record of our performance against the spread for games where the odds are available.
Cincinnati 59 Southeast Missouri State 3 - recap
New head coach Brian Kelly from Central Michigan started the Bearcats in the right direction with a good showing against an overmatched Southeast Missouri State. We called this game 48-6 so our win-loss record is 2-0. No odds available.
Kent State 23 Iowa State 14 - recap
Iowa State, under new head coach Gene Chizik, highly sought, was favored by 3.5 points. We commented that the Cyclones had a dismal offense last year and this appears to be continuing, combined with a not very good defense, as the Golden Flashes, who lost to Buffalo last year, pulled off the upset 23-14, beating a BCS team for the first tiime in 20 years. This was not a good debut for Chizik. We had called it for Iowa State 28-21.
Our Record this Season: Win-Loss 2-1. Against the Spread 0-1.
Louisville 73 Murray State 10 - recap
The debut of new head coach Steve Kragthorpe from Tulsa was successful as Louisville led 49-0 at the half. Brian Brohm piled up 375 passing yards on 16 of 21 completions and 4 TDS while Harry Douglas caught 5 passes for 151 yards and 2 TDs. There was understandably no line on this game, which we called 65-7.
Our Record this Season: Win-Loss 3-1. Against the Spread 0-1.
LSU 45 Mississippi State 0 - recap
We called it for LSU 35-7 so we beat the spread of 18.5, but based on this game we still do not know how good LSU is. Although they did shut out the Bulldogs and score 45 points, the Bulldog QB Michael Henig threw six interceptions and should have been replaced by the Mississippi State coach when it was clear early that he was completely off his game. When things go right, stick with them. When things go wrong, change them as fast as possible. Coaches who are unable to make such decisions are in the wrong profession. Coaching is an art, and it takes skill. We already pointed to the weak Bulldog offense in our pregame analysis.
Our Record this Season: Win-Loss 4-1. Against the Spread 1-1.
Miami of Ohio 14 Ball State 13 - recap
When the chips were down, the Cardinals did not have it, permitting a 56-yard punt return in the final two minutes and allowing a 23-yard 4-play drive and an ultimate TD with 17 seconds left in the game. The spread was 6 and we had Ball State beating the Redhawks 34-26. It is hard to believe that the Cardinals lost this game, which was in their grasp with 2 minutes to go. The Cornhuskers need not worry overly about Ball State this year.
Our Record this Season: Win-Loss 4-2. Against the Spread 1-2.
New Mexico State 35 Southeastern Louisiana 14
It is not very often that we predict the final score exactly, but we picked this game 35-14 for the Aggies and that was the actual final score. There was no line available.
Our Record this Season: Win-Loss 5-2. Against the Spread 1-2.
Oregon State 24 Utah 7 - recap
We called it 38-24 for the Beavers, who were favored by 6.5. Yvenson Bernard ran for 165 yards and two TDs. Utah stayed even for the first half but lost their starting QB Sean Canfield to an apparent separated shoulder injury and sophomore running back Matt Asiata was also carried off the field in a cart the first quarter. It looks like a tough season start for the Utes.
Our Record this Season: Win-Loss 6-2 Against the Spread 2-2.
Rutgers 38 Buffalo 3 - recap
Rutgers piled on 21 quick first quarter points as Ray Rice ran for 184 yards, Tiquan Underwood caught 10 passes for 248 yards and QB Mike Teel threw for 328 yards . Buffalo did not seem well prepared in the 1st quarter and the coaching staff under Turner Gill has got to improve on that if the Bulls do not want to get pushed around the entire season again. Rutgers was favored by 32 and won by 35, the same margin of loss that marked on average the Buffalo losses against top opposition last year, so that Buffalo at this point has not improved over 2006. Wc called it 40-14 for Rutgers thinking that Buffalo would manage more scores, but the playcalling at midfield was poor the entire game, and the coaching staff, for example, elected to go for a TD at the start of the 3rd quarter with a 4th down on the Rutgers 12. That is just stupid coaching because the odds that Buffalo will make a TD there are small and the odds that they will score a field goal are good. Take what you can get Bulls at this stage of the game. 3 points is 3 points. Not wishful thinking but hard-nosed reality are what improve any football team.
Our Record this Season: Win-Loss 7-2. Against the Spread 2-3.
UNLV 23 Utah State 16 - recap
UNLV was favored by 6.5 and we called it 24-17, very close. The Rebels won for the first time on the road in 3 years, finally mastering the real world outside of glitzy Las Vegas. The difference in the game were 3 field goals by Sergio Aguayo. Take the 3 when you can.
Our Record this Season: Win-Loss 8-2. Against the Spread 3-3.
Tulsa 35 Louisiana Monroe 17 - recap
Tulsa was favored by only 3 points against Louisiana Monroe but we called it 52-18 for the Golden Hurricane, who disappointed greatly in the first half, trailing 17-14, but ralled for 21 points after half-time. Paul Smith passed for 301 yards and the running duo of Tarrion Adams and Jamad Williams ran for 129 and 88 yards respectively. The Tulsa defense held the Warhawks to a mere 66 yards on 7 of 21 passes, but had considerably more trouble stopping Calvin Dawson, who ran for 150 yards on 24 carries. By comparative scores, Tulsa is still 16 points weaker than Arkansas was at this same time last year. We will keep that in mind in our coming predictions. Graham and Malzahn should improve upon this, but this was the first game of the year under a new system and Tulsa did considerably better than the oddsters predicted.
Our Record this Season: Win-Loss 9-2. Against the Spread 4-3.
Below are scores of games involving teams we picked as conference champions but for which we did not make a prediction this week:
- predicted 2007 Gateway Conference Championship winner - Southern Illinois Salukis
Southern Illinois beat Quincy 59-14
- predicted 2007 Ohio Valley Conference Championship winner - Eastern Illinois Panthers
Eastern Illinois beat Tennessee Tech 45-24
For some interesting background material on this season and individual teams see
Fanhouse - NCAA Football
and Fanhouse blogs about the following teams,which are quite informative:
- Boise State
- Boston College
- Florida State
- Fresno State
- Georgia Tech
- Michigan State
- NC State
- Notre Dame
- Ohio State
- Oklahoma State
- Penn State
- South Carolina
- Texas A&M
- Virginia Tech
- Washington State
- West Virginia
Thursday, August 30, 2007
We herewith open our college football predictions for 2007.
The Wizard of Odds blog writes that Hawaii is favored by 59.5 points over Northern Colorado in the season opener. Northern Colorado is a Division I-AA Team that posted a 1-10 record last year and now plays against the most accurate passer in college football. OK, do you go OVER 60. Yes, you do in our case. We give the nod to Colt Brennan and the high-scoring Rainbow Warriors. With the new time-related and game-extending rule changes in the NCAA, this game could end up with a score at something like 105-0. We call it conservatively : Hawaii 83 Northern Colorado 10.
For subsequent game predictions throughout the season, where possible, we use inter alia
Todd Beck's College Football Prediction Tracker
to obtain the betting line on the upcoming gridiron games
the Jeff Sagarin NCAA football ratings at USA Today
for what we find to be the most reliable rating of the teams using the PREDICTOR system, i.e. pure points (the difference in score between the winner and loser), which has proven time and again to be the most reliable single predictor for future games.
Akron is favored by 5 points over Army. Sagarin puts Akron at 102 and Army at 120 in the ratings.
Army went 3-9 last year and Akron 5-7. We call it 27-20 for Akron.
Arizona State is favored by 15.5 points over San Jose State. Sagarin puts Arizona State at 33 and San Jose State at 101, which we do not understand at all. The Spartans went 9-4 last year, losing to undefeated Boise State by a mere three points and won their bowl game against New Mexico. Arizona State went 7-6 and lost to Hawaii in their bowl game 41-24. We see a much closer game here and call it for the Sun Devils 31-24.
Arkansas is favored over Troy by 23.5 points but we think the Razorbacks had better be careful that they are not upset by these unheralded Trojans. Read one opinion about the Hogs here. We will give Arkansas the edge, but just by a mere field goal 27-24.
Auburn is favored over Kansas State by 13.5 points. The Auburn offense last year was weak and the Tigers won through defensive opportunism. We call it close 17-14 against the Wildcats.
BYU is favored over Arizona by 4.5 points. Arizona beat BYU at home last year and the Wildcats finished quite strongly last year, beating two teams ranked in the top 25. #Top BYU quarterback John Beck is gone. We pick Arizona over the Cougars by 24-21.
Ball State is favored over Miami of Ohio by 6 points. The days of Big Ben are long gone for the Redhawks and we see the Ball State Cardinals taking this battle of the birds, 34-26.
Boston College is favored over Wake Forest by 6.5 points. The Demon Deacons captured the Eagles at home last year, but we think the magic on the road this year will be missing. We favor Boston College by 34-27.
California is favored at home over Tennessee by 6 points. The Volunteers thrashed the Golden Bears soundly at home last year and we think that Tennessee may eke out a win here on the road 40-35.
Clemson is an at home underdog to Florida State by 3 points. Last year the Tigers beat the Seminoles by 7 on the road and we doubt if Florida State is that much better this year to beat Clemson at home, and so we call it Clemson 28 Florida State 27.
Colorado is favored over Colorado State by 2.5 points. The Buffaloes had a disastrous year in 2006, winning only two games. The Rams went 4-8, beating Colorado by 4 at home. We think the Buffaloes will be a different team this year and give them the win by 36-21.
Duke is 4.5 point underdog at home to Connecticut, which had a 4-8 record, struggling in the strong Big East Conference. Small wonder that, since the Blue Devils managed to lose all 12 of their games last year. However, with so many red-shirted players in 2006, this season looks a bit brighter. We call it for Duke in a whisper 31-30.
Florida Atlantic is favored by 2 over Middle Tennessee State, where they lost 35-14 last year. The Blue Raiders may be looking forward to their next games with ranked Louisville and LSU, but we doubt they will lose this one, so we call the game for Middle Tennessee State against the Owls, 40-27.
Georgia is favored by 6 over Oklahoma State. This is a classic match of the strong Bulldog defense against the potent Cowboy offense. Georgia's defense must play well, because their own offense is nothing to shout about. We call if for Georgia in a squeaker 22-21.
Illinois is a 4.5 point underdog to Missouri at home, but some prognosticators see the Tigers to be much stronger this year, as we do too. We call it for Missouri against the good Illini defense 27-20.
Iowa State is favored by 3.5 points over Kent State. The Cyclone offense was terrible last year, about as bad as the Kent State defense was, losing to Buffalo by 27. The Golden Flashes were just momentary sparks last year and mostly embers. We call it for the Cyclones 28-21.
Kansas is favored by 7.5 points over Central Michigan, but the Jayhawks better be very careful with what is probably the best team in the Mid-American Conference. Last year Kansas lost by 6 to MAC's Toledo, who the Chippewas beat by three TDs. Kansas is lucky to be playing at home but we would not give them more than a touchdown edge, 35-28
To our great surprise, Tulsa, ranked 76th by Sagarin is favored on the road only by 3 over Louisiana-Monroe, ranked 133rd. We think that the Golden Hurricane will strike the Warhawks with great force and call this game 52-18 for the high-tech high-speed no-huddle offense of Graham and Malzahn (this is the 34-point margin of victory that Arkansas had last year).
Memphis is the at home underdog by 2.5 points to visiting Mississippi. Memphis was 2-10 last year while the 4-8 Rebels lost by only 3 to a top LSU team. We see a greater margin of victory by Mississippi over the Tigers, 37-26.
Miami of Florida is favored at home over Marshall by 18.5 points . Against teams of this caliber, the Thundering Herd last year lost on the road by 26, 35 and 36 points or an average of about 32 points a game, so we call it for the Hurricanes 49-17.
Michigan State is favored over UAB by 20 points. Sagarin has the Spartans ranked 51st and the Blazers at 96th. Against top teams last year, UAB lost on the road by 7 to Oklahoma and by 34 to Georgia. We split the difference at a spread of 17 and call the game 38-21 for Michigan State.
Minnesota is favored by 14. 5 points over Bowling Green, which lost by 28 points on the road and 21 points at home to Big Ten 2006 powerhouses Ohio State and Wisconsin respectively, while the Golden Gophers lost on the road to both of those teams by 36 and 44 points respectively, due to their weak defense, which will hurt them here against the Falcons. The home field edge may give the game to Minnesota, but not by much, and we see it as very close 44-42 for Minnesota.
Mississippi State is the at home underdog to LSU by 18.5 points. The Bulldogs lost to the Tigers by 31 on the road last year and to Auburn by 34 at home. The main reason for these losses was an inept offense, which was shut out twice in 2006. In theory, LSU should win this one by about 4 touchdowns. This game will give us a good initial idea as to how good this year's LSU team is.
We call it for the Tigers 35-7. If they win by less than that, then they are surely over-rated this year.
North Carolina State us favored over Central Florida by 8 points. The Wolfpack was a riddle last year, beating two ranked teams early in the season and then losing seven straight games to comparatively weaker teams, mostly due to an ineffectual offense. UCF lost 42-0 to Florida. NC State should win this one by about 2 TDs, and our call against the Knights is 31-17.
Nebraska is favored over Nevada by 21 points, although some prognosticators see this as being only a two-touchdown game spread. The Huskers should be much improved this year as Callahan has had plenty of time to get his system rolling and get the Big Red scoring offense on track, which was a sore point last year, especially in the 2nd half. A good Wolf Pack team closed out the last season with an impressive 1-point loss to Miami of Florida but lost on the road earlier in the season by 31 points each to ranked teams. We call this game 51-17 for the Cornhuskers.
Northern Illinois is an at home underdog by 11.5 points to Iowa. The Hawkeyes were a great disappointment in 2006, losing equally to good and to bad teams in compiling a 6-7 record, including a 26-24 loss to a highly-ranked Texas team in the Alamo Bowl. The Huskies are now without record rusher Garrett Wolfe and surely weaker than last season. Last year Iowa beat them by 10 at home so that we find it hard to justify an even greater spread this year on the road. We call it for the Hawkeyes in a defensive battle, 21-14.
Notre Dame is favored by 3 points over Georgia Tech. Last year the Yellow Jackets lost to the Fighting Irish by 4 at home. We make Notre Dame a one-touchdown favorite on its home field 28-21.
Oklahoma is favored over North Texas by 40.5 points. We do not know, however, how good the Sooner offense will be this year. Last year, the Mean Green lost by more than 40 points only once, 56-7 to then No. 3 ranked Texas. We will be sceptical about the rebuilding Sooners until se see what they can do this year and call if for Oklahoma 45-7.
Oregon is favored over Houston by 15.5 points. The Ducks were gifted the game win over Oklahoma last year and lost their last four games for a 7-6 record, losing to BYU 38-8 in their bowl finale, once again showing a very leaky defense. The Cougars were quite strong in a 10-4 season, losing to a very strong SEC South Carolina team 44-36 in the Liberty Bowl to close out their season. The Gamecocks had lost by an average of one TD to 6 rated teams so that we would make Houston 2 TDs weaker than those teams, but no more, meaning that the high spread in favor of Oregon is probably unjustified until proven otherwise. We think that 10 points is enough and call it 37-27 for the Ducks.
Oregon State is favored by 6.5 points over Utah. Urban Meyer is gone and the Utes have weakened since then, whereas the Beavers won 8 of their last 9 games last season, including a 33-31 upset of USC. We find that at least a one-touchdown spread is justified and we see it as a 2-TD advantage, Oregon State 38 Utah 24.
Penn State is favored by 38.5 points over Florida International. The Nittany Lions lost to four strong ranked teams last year and beat ranked Tennessee 20-10 in the Outback Bowl. The Golden Panthers went winless (0-12) last year but had a stingy defense which gave up a maximum of 38 points to Alabama. The Penn State offense is not going to be good enough to put greater numbers on the scoreboard. We call it 35-7 for Penn State.
Pittsburgh is favored over Eastern Michigan by 20 points. The Panthers lost their last five games in the past season, while the Eagles went 1-11, losing by big margins to definitely better tams. We call it for Pittsburgh 44-20.
Rutgers is favored over Buffalo by 32 points. The Scarlet Knights were a superb 11-2 last year with a 2-point loss to West Virginia and a surprise 19-point loss to Cincinnati. The Bills struggled to a 2-10 season but will be constantly improving under head coach Turner Gill. The Bills average loss to top teams last season was by about 35 points. Since we do not know if Rutgers will be as good this year as last and since Buffalo will be better, we predict that the Buffalo loss will be by less than 30 and call it for Rutgers 40-14.
SMU is an underdog at home by 9.5 points to Texas Tech. The Mustangs lost 35-3 on the road to the Red Raiders last year. We call it for Texas Tech 31-17.
South Carolina is favored by 29.5 points over Louisiana-Lafayette. The Ragin' Cajuns lost by 42 points to LSU and 44 points to Texas A&M. South Carolina had an 8-5 record. Against Middle Tennessee State, which finished ahead of Louisiana-Lafayette in the Sun Belt Conference, South Carolina won 52-7. We call it 49-14 for South Carolina.
Stanford is a 17-point underdog at home to UCLA. UCLA has a new offensive coordinator from Nebraska. Stanford has a terrific new head coach from San Diego. As a Stanford alum, we call for an upset here, with the Cardinal celebrating their new-found enthusiasm for football by topping the Bruins 22-21.
Syracuse is an underdog at home by 3 points to visiting Washington. The Orangemen had a rough 4-8 season in 2006 while Washington went 5-7, even losing to Stanford for the Cardinal's only win of the year. We go here for the Orange and the Big East 27-26.
TCU is favored by 21 points over Baylor. The Horned Frogs won 17-7 against the Bears on the road last year. A 21-point spread at home may be too much. We call it TCU 35 Baylor 17.
Temple is an underdog at home by 21 points to visiting Navy. The Midshipmen were an impressive 9-4 last year with a strong 25-24 win over ranked Boston College in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Temple was 1-11. We call it 38-10 for Navy.
Texas is favored by 39 points over Arkansas State. We call it Texas 51 Arkansas State 14. The Indians were blown out 55-9 by SMU last year but lost only 27-0 to Auburn and 35-7 to Oklahoma State. How good is the Texas offense this year? We call it for the Longhorns 47-6.
Toledo is a 6.5 point underdog at home to visiting Purdue. The Rockets went 5-7 last year against varied opposition with widely diverging performances on the field. Purdue was 8-6 against much stronger opposition. We call it by TD 38-31 for the Boilermakers and the Big Ten.
USC is a 46.5-point favorite over Idaho. Oh, my, who put the Vandals on the Trojans schedule. Idaho was 4-8 last year with a 68-10 loss to Hawaii and a 56-10 loss to Washington State. We make the Trojans stronger than the Cougars but Booty is no Brennan. USC 58 Idaho 10.
UTEP is a 3-point home underdog to New Mexico. The Lobos beat UTEP at home last year 26-13. We thus make New Mexico an 8-point favorite on the road 28-20.
Utah State is a 6.5 underdog at home to visiting UNLV. The Aggies were 1-11 last year while UNLV was 2-10. Whoever wins, there will be celebration for sure, but since the Aggies were shut out 4 times in 2006, we think their offense is suspect and go with the Rebels 24-17.
Virginia Tech, 10-3 last year, is favored by 28 points over East Carolina. The Hokies come back with almost their entire nationally top-ranked defense and will not be giving up a lot of points this year. The Pirates were not an offensive powerhouse on their way to a 7-6 record in 2006 but neither were the Hokies, whose maximal point production was 38 points. We look for a score something like 31-6 in favor of Virginia Tech.
West Virginia is favored by 23.5 points over Western Michigan. The Mountaineers have an offensive machine, losing only to the very strong defense of South Florida and to the highly potent offense of Louisville in 2006. The Broncos have neither of these, so that we see West Virginia rolling 42-7.
Wisconsin is favored by 14 points over Washington State. The Badgers had a fantastic year in 2006, losing only to Michigan early in the season and then finishing off with 9 straight wins. It would not surprise us if Wisconsin were in the thick of the national championship race this year. The Cougars fizzled at the end of the 2006 season and lost their last three games to end up 6-6. They should be no match for Wisconsin and we call it 44-17 for the Badgers.
Wyoming is a 4-point underdog at home to visiting Virginia. The Cavaliers were 5-7 against in part strong opposition in 2006, beating Miami of Florida 17-7 and losing to Virginia Tech 17-0, North Carolina 23-0 and Florida State 33-0, which says something about the feebleness of their offense. The Cowboys were 6-6 and also had trouble putting points on the scoreboard. We expect a low-scoring game with the edge going to Wyoming for the home field advantage, 16-14.
Boise State plays Weber State. No odds are available for the game. The Broncos went undefeated last year, the only such team in Division I-A college football, closing out the season in one of the greatest games ever by winning against the Oklahoma Sooners, 43-42. Weber State was 4-7 in the Big Sky Conference. This puts the game in the regions of stratospheric scoring possibilities and we call the game for Boise State 61-7.
No odds are available for the game of Louisville vs. Murray State. The Cardinals were 12-1 last year with only a 3-point loss to Rutgers spoiling a perfect season. The Racers were 1-10 last year in the OVC (Ohio Valley Conference). What can keep Louisville from scoring? We call it for the Cardinals 65-7.
New Mexico State plays Southeastern Louisiana. The Aggies were 4-8 but scored a lot of points. The Lions were 2-9. We call it for New Mexico State 35-14.
Appalachian State, two-time defending Division I-AA (now NCAA Football Championship Subdivision) champion, hoping for a three-peat this year, has to open on the road against the Division I-A (Football Bowl Subdivision) Big 10 powerhouse Michigan Wolverines. We call it for Michigan 44-14.
Ohio State begins the season by hosting Youngstown State. The Penguins lost 49-24 to Appalachian State in the Division I-AA championship, so that this game, together with the Michigan game against the Mountaineers will give us some idea as to the relative strength of these teams early in the season. We call it for the Buckeyes
Florida, last year's national champion, opens its season by hosting Western Kentucky, which was 6-5 last year. We call it for the Gators 49-13.
We found no odds for the Cincinnati game at home against Southeast Missouri State of the OVC (Ohio Valley Conference). New head coach Brian Kelly from Central Michigan makes the Bearcats our "sleeper" team of the year. We call this game 48-6 for Cincinnati against the surely outmanned Redhawks.
Bwin.com, a European-based international sports betting website, has the following longterm odds ,Wednesday, August 29, 2007, ca. 12:00 p.m., for the upcoming NCAA Division I-A college and NFL pro football seasons in North America (for the major conference championships in the NCAA FBS* (see also here) we have revised the original Bwin.com alphabetical order to show the teams here ranked by odds- note also that the odds may have changed since that time):
*As explained on the NCAA pages: "Div. I FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) [was] (formerly Div. I-A) [and] Div. I FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) [was] (formerly Div. I-AA)". This is one the stupidesst changes in nomenclature ever made by the NCAA and it will never stand the test of time.
Odds - 2007 SEC Conference Championship winner (NCAA football)
South Carolina 11.00
Mississippi St 101.00
Odds - 2007 Pacific 10 Conference Championship winner (NCAA football)
Oregon State 9.00
Arizona State 16.00
Arizona U 16.00
Washington St 41.00
Washington U 41.00
Odds - 2007 ACC Conference Championship winner (NCAA football)
(compare the odds below to the Techsideline.com conference rankings, which give a completely different picture)
Florida State 3.00
Virginia Tech 3.25
Miami Florida 4.00
Boston College 11.00
Wake Forest 19.00
NC State 21.00
North Carolina 21.00
Georgia Tech 34.00
Odds - 2007 Big 10 Conference Championship winner(NCAA football)
Ohio State 4.00
Penn State 4.00
Michigan State 21.00
Odds - 2007 Big 12 Conference Championship winner (NCAA football)
Kansas State 9.00
Texas Tech 12.00
Texas A&M 16.00
Oklahoma State 16.00
Iowa State 51.00
Odds - 2008 NFL Super Bowl champion, North America
(note: compare the list below to the Yahoo sports rankings or to the USA Today preseason NFL power rankings - found here)
New England Patriots 4.50
Indianapolis Colts 7.50
San Diego Chargers 7.75
Chicago Bears 13.00
Dallas Cowboys 18.00
New Orleans Saints 19.00
Baltimore Ravens 21.00
Pittsburgh Steelers 23.00
Denver Broncos 23.00
Seattle Seahawks 24.00
Philadelphia Eagles 26.00
Carolina Panthers 26.00
Cincinnati Bengals 28.00
San Francisco 49ers 34.00
Jacksonville Jaguars 41.00
New York Giants 44.00
Arizona Cardinals 51.00
Atlanta Falcons 51.00
Washington Redskins 51.00
St. Louis Rams 51.00
Tennessee Titans 51.00
Green Bay Packers 61.00
Miami Dolphins 67.00
New York Jets 67.00
Kansas City Chiefs 67.00
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 81.00
Buffalo Bills 101.00
Minnesota Vikings 101.00
Oakland Raiders 101.00
Cleveland Browns 126.00
Detroit Lions 141.00
Houston Texans 201.00
There are a number of surprises on those lists for this observer. We think particularly that Oregon and Wake Forest are under-rated.
Here are our own predictions of conference championship winners and the Super Bowl champ for the coming football season 2007-2008, for which we take the strength of schedule into account, figuring that this will take its toll on some of the teams with the toughest schedules in the course of the year (ranked in the SI.com ranking order - Washington, South Carolina, Florida State, Michigan State, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, USC, Stanford, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Georgia, Michigan, Purdue, Illinois, LSU, Boston College, Washington State, West Virginia, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Texas A&M):
- predicted 2007 SEC Conference Championship winner - Alabama Crimson Tide
- predicted 2007 Pacific 10 Conference Championship winner - USC Trojans
- predicted 2007 ACC Conference Championship winner - Virginia Tech Hokies (the nation's number one defense returns, and in our opinion will beat LSU in Week 2)
- predicted 2007 Big 10 Conference Championship winner - Michigan Wolverines
- predicted 2007 Big 12 Conference Championship winner - Nebraska Cornhuskers
- predicted 2007 Big East Conference Championship winner - Louisville Cardinals
- predicted 2007 Conference USA Conference Championship winner - Tulsa Golden Hurricane
- predicted 2007 MAC Conference Championship winner - Central Michigan Chippewas
- predicted 2007 Mountain West Conference Championship winner - TCU Horned Frogs
- predicted 2007 Sun Belt Conference Championship winner - Troy Trojans
- predicted 2007 WAC Conference Championship winner - Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
- predicted 2007 Big Sky Conference Championship winner - Montana Grizzlies
- predicted 2007 Big South Conference Championship winner - Coastal Carolina
- predicted 2007 CAA Conference Championship winner - Massachusetts Minutemen
- predicted 2007 Gateway Conference Championship winner - Southern Illinois Salukis
- predicted 2007 Great West Conference Championship winner - North Dakota State Bison
- predicted 2007 Ivy League Conference Championship winner - Priniceton Tigers
- predicted 2007 MAAC Conference Championship winner - Duquesne Dukes
- predicted 2007 MEAC Conference Championship winner - Hampton Pirates
- predicted 2007 Northeast Conference Championship winner - Monmouth Hawks
- predicted 2007 Ohio Valley Conference Championship winner - Eastern Illinois Panthers
- predicted 2007 Patriot League Conference Championship winner - Lafayette Leopards
- predicted 2007 Pioneer Conference Championship winner -San Diego Toreros
- predicted 2007 Southern Conference Championship winner - Appalachian State Mountaineers
- predicted 2007 Southland Conference Championship winner - McNeese State Cowboys
- predicted 2007 SWAC Conference Championship winner - Alabama A&M Bulldogs
- predicted 2008 NFL Super Bowl champion - San Diego Chargers
Monday, August 27, 2007
Take a look at some of the predictions for this season that we made already last year. Then let us turn to our predictions of a national champion.
PREDICTED NATIONAL CHAMPIONS 2007-2008
Predicted DIVISION I-A (FOOTBALL BOWL SUBDIVISION) - NEBRASKA
In spite of a having a team far better than its record, Nebraska lost a number of games last year because of poor coaching and one must hope that the Cornhusker coaching staff has learned some lessons in the interim. Last year's offensive coordinator for the Huskers, Jay Norvell, has taken a comparable post at UCLA, a team laden with talent, so we will see. Our comments on last year's offense at Nebraska are found here.
NU's new offensive coordinator, Shawn Watson, who comes to Lincoln from the Colorado Buffaloes, is a former colleague of Callahan's who apparently understands the West Coast offense - we hope so for the sake of the Huskers. We do think that Nebraska might have a stronger running game than expected, going back to the physical strengths which make teams dominant in college football and which marked the great Husker teams of the past.
Steven M. Sipple at the Lincoln Journal Star writes in Impressions from Fall Camp: "Pity the cornerback who has to take on Nebraska I-back Quentin Castille in the open field. The 6-foot-1, 245-pound freshman charges upfield like a runaway locomotive."
But really, can Callahan do it? Being a Nebraska alumnus, we see that the chances of Nebraska winning it all are not impossible, so we thought we might predict the improbable - for all you fans out there in Huskerland - Go Big Red.
USC is beatable and the Huskers play them at home on September 15, so if they vanquish the Trojans, the Huskers will surely be ranked in the top 5. But to become national champions, they would still have a long hard road ahead of them.
OK. If the Huskers do not win, who will? Everyone is picking USC, but based on last season, there are question marks. First, USC has to get by Nebraska, and we think the Huskers could win at home in Lincoln.
Or is this finally the year of the "Go Blue" Michigan breakthrough? In addition to the vastly improved defense instituted last year by new defensive coordinator Ron English, their former defensive back coach, Vance Bedford, has returned after nine years - and that may prove to be the critical difference. The Wolverines certainly have the talent this year, with two Heisman Trophy candidates, Chad Henne and Mike Hart and several more All-America caliber players. If Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr - who earned his spurs as a defensive assistant coach - would adapt the Wolverine game plan to the great offensive players he has and not play so conservatively, they might indeed win the national championship this year.
To do so, they would have to beat the Wisconsin Badgers, and that may become increasingly difficult if Bret Bielema picks up where he left off, becoming only the third NCAA coach ever to win 12 games in his first season as a head coach. On Wisconsin in 2007?
We think that the conference which is the most difficult to call in 2007 is the SEC, in spite of the fact that LSU is highly rated by everyone. We find it hard to understand that a team that loses its quarterback, the Nr. 1 pro football draft pick, plus three other players in the NFL first round draft, is then picked to play for the BCS title the next year, even though they did not make it when they had those top players. We think it not likely that LSU will be as good this year as last, and the same can be said for Arkansas and Florida, though Urban Meyer is a top coach and a force to be reckoned with, so that we would not be surprised at all at a Gators repeat. But the SEC is loaded with good teams and we think the conference is up for grabs. Auburn, Alabama (with new top coach Saban), Tennessee (the Rocky Top team is always loaded with top players) and Georgia (potentially the strongest team if they just had a top quarterback) all have a crack at the SEC crown and a national championship.
And what about the Big East? As we wrote about the most recent bowl game results:
"The Big East Conference was the only NCAA Division I-A Conference to win all of its bowl games and yet conference champion, Louisville, previously ranked 5th and 6th in the rankings, after defeating Atlantic Coast Conference champion Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl 24-13, dropped to 6th and 7th in the rankings. Sagarin's Predictor, the most accurate judge of a team's performance against other teams, would rank Louisville 3rd! Really, how good is Louisville? We really don't know because of this year's - in part -very unsatisfactory bowl matchups. The polls definitely do not reflect what went on in all the bowl games."
As Stewart Mandel has written about Louisville, a talented crop of players is returning and the only question is how they will adjust to their new coach Steve Kragthorpe. And then you have West Virginia and Rutgers, not to mention "the sleeper", Cincinnati, under a new coach.
No matter who wins, we think it will be a bit of surprise, since it may not be USC.
Predicted DIVISION I-AA (FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SUBDIVISION) - APPALACHIAN STATE MOUNTAINEERS
Under head coach Jerry Moore, Appalachian State is going for a national championship three-peat, having beaten Northern Iowa and Massachusetts for the title in 2005 and 2006. Unfortunately, Appalachian State will not go undefeated, because their first game is against Divsion I-A Michigan.
Predicted Division II Champion - CHADRON STATE COLLEGE EAGLES
Grand Valley State will also be going for a three-peat, triumphing in their 28th straight win by beating Northwest Missouri State in the finals 17-14, a team which had beaten Chadron State and its record-setting runner Danny Woodhead 28-21 in the semi-final playoffs last year. Grand Valley is ranked Nr. 1 and Chadron State Nr. 5 in the D2 pre-season poll.
As we wrote at SportPundit last year:
"Here are our predictions for the upcoming 2007 football season:
1. Danny Woodhead of Chadron State, the 2006 season's winner of the Harlon Hill Trophy, will break the all-time NCAA career rushing record somewhere around midseason 2007."
Predicted Division III CHAMPION - MOUNT UNION PURPLE RAIDERS
The D3 preseason poll has Mount Union ranked Nr. 1 as the Purple Radiers also head for a three-peat in D3 football. Head coach Larry Kehres of the Purple Raiders, who we regard to be the best coach in college football, returns what may potentially be his best team ever, with seven starters each returning on offense and defense and 48 letter winners total.
"Since 1990, the Raiders have the most wins and best winning percentage in all of college football (216-10-1, .954)."
PREDICTED NAIA CHAMPION- CARROLL (MONTANA)
Sioux Falls (South Dakota) beat St. Francis (Indiana) last year in the final playoff game 23-19 in a game dominated by St. Francis: "St. Francis dominated in total yardage, 349-214, but lost three fumbles. Starting quarterback Eric Hooks was sacked four times." The preseason NAIA poll ranks Sioux Falls Nr. 1. From 2002 to 2005 Carroll (Montana) won the championship four years running. Head coach Mike Van Diest has decided to stay at Carroll, removing his name from the candidates for the post at Montana State, so that this is bound to be a great motivator for the team in 2007.
MOST IMPROVED TEAMS
To start out with, here are some of our opening - speculative - predictions about this 2007-2008 college football season:
1) We predict that one of the Most Improved Teams and Avantgarde Pioneers of the No-Huddle Spread Offense will be the Tulsa Golden Hurricane of Conference USA. ArmySports writes: "Tulsa might be the sexiest name in college football, but the Golden Hurricanes are still a damn good team."
Tulsa was a very good 8-5 last year and we predict a 12-1 season for them this year with their only loss probably going to Oklahoma in their third game on September 21, even though we think Oklahoma will have a tough time beating them if they are not perfectly prepared for high-speed football. Tulsa in our opinion will be ranked in the top 25 by season's end. Coaching is still the most important element in college football and Tulsa hit absolute paydirt due to the coaching changes made since last year. In spite of having lost a very good head coach in Steve Kragthorpe, who went to Louisville to replace Atlanta Falcons bound Bobby Petrino, we think that Tulsa has acquired a great head coach from Rice in Todd Graham and a great offensive coordinator from Arkansas in the person of Gus Malzahn. The result should be gold.
Graham turned a 1-11 team at Rice into a 7-5 bowl team in one year. As we wrote in SportPundit last year about Graham:
"In 2006, their new coach Todd Graham, the newly chosen Conference USA Coach of the Year, led the Owls to a 7-5 record and their first bowl game in 45 years. What a success story that is. There is such a thing as a "track record", at least in the case of Graham, whose Rice turnaround is the best in the NCAA this year. He has helped to do it before:
"At West Virginia University under head coach Rich Rodriguez, Graham helped the Mountaineers improve from a 3-8 mark to a 9-3 record in his second season. At Tulsa under Steve Kragthorpe, the Hurricane jumped from 1-11 in 2002 prior to his arrival, to an 8-4 record in '03. Both the WVU and Tulsa turnarounds were the best in NCAA Division I in those seasons.""
Tulsa will be using Malzahn's no-huddle spread offense and we think that Tulsa's success with this offense this year will change the face of football everywhere, leading to more no-huddle offenses and requiring opposing teams to develop new and better defensive strategies to deal with high-tech high-speed no-huddle football. The two coaches were first connected by video 10 years ago.
2) We think that the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors could go undefeated. Last year under its incomparably accurate-throwing quarterback, Colt Brennan, who proved virtually unstoppable, Hawaii lost only three games, in spite of higher total offense stats than the winners of those games, losing only through turnovers and weaknesses on defense, so that fewer turnovers and an improved defense could be the difference this year.
3) Alabama should surge under new head coach Nick Saban, who signed on for the Crimson Tide for a package making him the highest paid coach in college football. Saban is already exerting strong discipline.
4) Stanford should pick up more than 1 win this year under new coach Jim Harbaugh, but where is not clear, with one of the toughest schedules in the country. The AP writes:
"The players will flock to his personality," Raiders quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo said. "He's the type of coach they'll want to play for."
Harbaugh is a high-energy coach, unlike Teevens and Harris, and brings a level of excitement to Stanford that had been missing in recent years. He's known to join his players in drills and even pulled a muscle trying to outrun the quarterbacks with the Raiders when he was a coach.
"We like what he does offensively and we like what he does defensively," said Stanford quarterback T.C. Ostrander, who advised Bowlsby during the search. "He's enthusiastic. He loves the game. ... He brings a lot of new things to the table. I can't wait."
If the whole team has Ostrander's attitude, it is going to win several games in Stanford's new stadium, in which the Cardinal went winless in its first year in 2006. Indeed, we predict that to start out the season, they will ambush a vastly more talented UCLA Bruins team still struggling with a new west coast offense.
6) Duke and North Carolina should improve. As we wrote last year:
"John Bunting finished his last season as North Carolina head football coach as the Tar Heels cemented Duke's winless 0-12 season with a 45-44 victory. With Butch Davis taking over in 2007, the Tar Heels are sure to improve upon their 3-9 2006 season. Davis has coached or recruited 28 f head irst round NFL draft choices. Dukecoach Ted Roof redshirted two-thirds of his freshman class so look for Duke to pick up a win in 2006."
7) As we wrote about Buffalo to close out last year:
"Buffalo will win more than 2 games under now 2nd-year coach Turner Gill. In 2006 they beat Temple (1-11) in overtime 9-3 and upset 6-6 Kent State 41-14. For reasons previously stated at LawPundit, we expect Buffalo to develop into a football power under Gill's tutelage. One sign of things to come is a new series starting in 2007 with Baylor of the Big 12."
8) As we stated regarding Temple in 2006:
" Temple will win more than 1 game under now 2nd-year coach Al Golden, the former defensive coordinator at Virginia, who bravely took over as head coach in 2006 and whose Owls then snapped a 20-game losing streak with a 28-14 win over Bowling Green in 2006."
Let the Season begin.
Monday, August 13, 2007
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We play in the German golf league regularly and it is standard procedure after every round for each player to compare his own hole-by-hole unofficially marked score with the hole-by-hole results marked down by his official marker, who is always one of the competing players in the respective player group. This score comparison is essential, because it is always possible, and occasionally occurs, that the official marker absent-mindedly, generally while preoccupied with his own game, marks down a wrong score.
Accordingly, in a clear boo to Sergio, we have little sympathy for a professional golfer like Garcia to have signed a wrong scorecoard without having checked it before leaving the scoring tent, as his marker Boo Weekley had inadvertently put down a 4 for a hole on which Sergio had scored a 5. Nor can the fault for Garcia's "BOOt" from the tournament be ascribed to Boo's boo-boo since it is the PLAYER'S own responsibility to make sure that the score he signs is correct. It is much like contract-signing in law - KNOW what you are signing.
Garcia's diqualification also points to one significant difference between the successes of Tiger Woods and the travails of Sergio. Sergio is at his best perhaps an equally gifted golfer as Tiger, but Tiger seems to have a certain equanimity, a command of his self, which in Sergio appears to be lacking some of the time, as one can read in Golf Digest.
At the level of the weekend golfer, golf is a game played primarily for the enjoyment of the golf players themselves. At the level of professional golf, golf is a game played for the enjoyment and appreciation of the spectators, both on the course and through the media. It is a handsomely paid sport at the top level and a wonderful way to make a living, if you are good enough to do it.
When Sergio understands that it is a PRIVILEGE to be out there competing for big money at the top level of pro golf and that he is an integral part of a much bigger show than he is himself, win or lose, then more wins might come his way. The breaks, good and bad, even out in the long run, and in the end, the best player with the best command of himself and of his golf game wins. And not even Tiger has reached perfection yet. Otherwise he would have to retire. But there is still room for improvement, even for Tiger, and that in part must be what keeps him going.
A top player is potentially good enough to birdie every hole, but no one ever does, or has yet. And who is at fault for that. Only each player for himself.
The tragedy of Sergio's wrong scorecard is a good lesson for every golfer. Each player is responsible for his own game and for the correctness of his own scorecard. YOU - not the ball, not the golf clubs, not the course, or anyone else - ARE RESPONSIBLE. The drive that you just put out of bounds by an "unlucky" half a foot, could also have been driven in the middle of the fairway. The putt that just "unluckily" lipped out of the hole, could have been stroked into the middle of the cup. The approach shot that by "some quirk of fate" just caught the edge of the sand trap rather than bounce directly toward the hole could have been hit dead to the flag.
A 90 could have been an 85. An 80 could have been a 75. A 75 could have been a 70. A 70 could have been a 65. A 65 could have been a 60.
A 60 could have been a 55 - but no one has ever had that much "luck" yet. Objectively seen, a player who would hit every drive long into the middle of the fairway, whose approach shots would all stop dead at the flag, and who just had easy short putts to make for birdies, might be "lucky enough" to birdie all 18 holes, but luck would really have nothing to do with it.
Sergio is quoted as follows:
""You know what's the saddest thing about it?" Garcia said. "It's not the first time. It's not the first time, unfortunately. So, I don't know, I'm playing against a lot of guys out there, more than the field.""
That of course is the wrong attitude. Sergio is playing only against an enemy of ONE - the self. When that is mastered, everyone will know it and see it and the wins will start to increase. As long as one thinks the "other guys" are at fault, failure is guaranteed.