I had a couple more LSU thoughts. I never fully process everything the first night. As you may know, LSU has not had an undefeated season since 1958. Now that I’ve seen two national championships, really my long-term hope as a fan is to see another, so the first loss will always be somewhat frustrating.
There has been a game or two every season going back as long as I remember where I get intensely frustrated with the coaches and so forth. I was going to detail several of them, but I decided it would be pointless griping to do so. Hopefully it won’t happen again this season even if there are losses. I think I gave an adequate explanation of why I felt that way in the post-game blog.
I do have some hope that this season can turn out well. Some of the prognosticators have already written LSU off as a contender, but how many one-loss teams have been written off for the two-team playoff (aka BCS) only to come back into the picture or even to play in the title game? There was a one-loss team just about every year.
Of course, in 2007 we had a one-loss team many did write off at #1 (Ohio St.) and a two-loss team at #2 (LSU) going into the championship. If they have to finish with one loss to make the playoff, that means they have to win nine in a row to do so. I certainly wouldn’t put money on that, but I would be less surprised by that than I was by everything that happened in the 2011 calendar year.
Les Miles and LSU after the Tigers won the SEC Championship in 2011.
To paraphrase the Mark Twain quote, the reports of LSU’s long-term demise are greatly exaggerated.
I’m not worried about it yet. The last time I was worried about it was 2009 when LSU lost to Houston Nutt’s unranked Ole Miss Rebels. Disastrous time management and Les Miles’ instructing quarterback Jordan Jefferson to spike the ball had caused time to run out on LSU’s final possession at the Ole Miss 6-yard line (Final score: Ole Miss 25, LSU 23), not that they really deserved to win anyway. That was LSU’s 8th loss in 20 games. Rather than spiraling downward from there, LSU has gone 47-10 since the 2009 season ended. If you’re winning over 80% playing the type of competition LSU typically plays, you’re doing something right.
However, a long-term decline is inevitable. I don’t think a single early-season loss to a veteran dual-threat quarterback is a sign it’s all going to hell in a hand-basket, but at some point LSU is not going to be a serious title threat for a while. It will even happen to Alabama. Saban may have to retire, but it will happen. It wasn’t that long ago that Alabama had no serious national-title-contending teams for a decade or so. When they did win in 1992, it was their first national championship since 1979.
Anyway, if LSU has peaked, it has still been a period of success to be extremely proud of. Compare the Tigers to other top programs from around 2003 (the year of LSU’s first national championship since that 1958 undefeated team I mentioned).
Seasons with losses of four games or more since 2003 (inclusive):
LSU 2, with two BCS championships, one runner-up in the same period.
Ohio St. 2, with two BCS runners-up
Oklahoma 2, with one BCS runner-up
Oregon 4, with one BCS runner-up
USC 4, with one BCS championship, one runner-up (and one AP title)
Texas 4, with one BCS championship, one runner-up
Florida 5, with two BCS championships
Auburn 6, with one BCS championship, one runner-up
Florida St. 7, with one BCS championship
LSU has won two national championships since the last time either Oklahoma or Ohio St. won one, so I wouldn’t switch places with them either.
Tennessee had won a national championship in 1998, just 5 years before LSU won in 2003, but the Vols haven’t had a season with fewer than four losses since 2004. They had a decent run in 2007, but the loss to LSU in the SEC championship game (after Les Miles told everyone to have a great day) was Tennessee’s fourth. That’s certainly an example of a program I hope LSU is not similar to in the foreseeable future.
Alabama wasn’t really a relevant team in the early 2000s, but they’ve had 4 seasons with four losses or more in case you wanted to know, all from 2003 to 2007. Of course, since then the Tide has had three BCS championships and two Sugar Bowl berths.
Tennessee and Alabama were the only programs that won a major national title from 1992 forward that I did not include on the list above. I included Oregon, which hasn’t won any, but they arguably should have made the BCS championship game in 2001 and have been a consistently strong program since, so I thought they deserved inclusion.
(Logos are posted for teams that are new to the rankings for the year.)
1 Auburn 1
2 Oklahoma 3
3 Florida St. 4
4 Oregon 2
5 Alabama 5
6 TX A&M 6
7 BYU 10
8 Ole Miss 9
9 S Carolina 11
10 Miss. St. –
11 Penn St. 12
12 Notre Dame 8
13 LSU 7
14 E. Carolina 15
15 Georgia 13
16 UCLA 17
17 Ga. Tech –
18 Rutgers –
19 Arkansas –
20 Okie St. 25
21 Washington –
22 Arizona 23
23 Nebraska –
24 NC State –
25 Virginia 19
Out of rankings: (14) Pittsburgh, (16) Boston Coll., (18) Va. Tech, (20) USC, (21) Louisville, (22) Ohio St., (24) Missouri
Explanation and future rankings
I’m putting this at the bottom because it’s probably too boring and technical for many of you, but I do get questions about these things often.
Just to get to the point, what I’m going to do is make next week (and possibly the following week) a transitional period. I will compute and publish my computer rankings, but I won’t use those for my official top 25 right away. I’ll try to ease into that. For instance, if I don’t have a team ranked this week, but they’re #10 in the computer ratings after next week, I will put them between #15 and #20, then maybe if they’re still #10 the following week, it won’t be as dramatic to actually rank them #10. Or maybe they’ll lose, and it won’t be a seesaw from unranked to #10 to #20-something.
I’ve already made some changes in anticipation of what may happen in moving toward that system. I gave very little weight to any preseason preconceptions about given teams or their opponents.
I did my best to do the ratings above fairly, but it has gotten difficult, and that’s why I can no longer use a fully subjective system going forward. I continue to second-guess myself and remain unsatisfied.
There are a lot of conflicting motivations at this point. I’m still moving from “Are you going to be a good team?” to “What have you proven?” At the same time, I don’t want to put a team in the top 25 based on an early-season scheduling quirk and have that team get blown out. It will take some time before the teams that look good in games and teams that look good based on objective measures line up.
There is a team like this every year. In 2011, Stanford didn’t really play anyone until October 22, then they played three of the next four against ranked teams and the fourth game was against Oregon St. on the road (which is rarely an easy win). Then the Cardinal still had to play Notre Dame (who was also ranked at the time) later on in November. This was the year they played in the Fiesta Bowl despite losing big to Oregon.
Anyway, getting back to this year, Florida St. is a good example of some of the difficulties. The Seminoles are not even in the top 10 based on wins and losses that have happened so far this season (a loose description of what my computer rankings consider). They beat Clemson, who I really believe is a good team, and Oklahoma St., who might be a good team also, but that doesn’t do it at this point. Clemson doesn’t look any better than Northwestern because the Tigers are winless against FBS competition (but both Clemson and Northwestern have an FCS win). Florida St. doesn’t get credit for beating an unsuccessful (so far against Division I anyway) FCS team, nor do they get credit for a bye week. So that leaves Oklahoma St. The Cowboys have a somewhat respectable win over UTSA, but beating the team who beat UTSA is hardly something to hang your hat on.
Oddly enough, Florida St. has a good chance to improve its rating by beating North Carolina St., who I do not believe is a good team, but three FBS wins at this point over teams with four combined FBS wins makes them look good for the moment. All three of those teams are probably well below average, but that won’t be clear until later.
There is a preliminary step in the process where I get initial ratings of teams between 0 and about 7. So if right now, North Carolina St. is 6 and Clemson is 1, maybe in a couple weeks, they’ll both be 3.5, and at the end of the season Clemson might be about 5 and North Carolina St. about 2. So Florida St. might get similar credit for the two wins combined for the rest of the season even if neither team ends up anything like what has shown up so far.
It helps Florida St. that Clemson will likely get a wins of some quality by playing North Carolina and North Carolina St. in the next two weeks. Oklahoma St. isn’t playing a great team in Texas Tech, but that will be an opportunity for them to add some substance to their resume.
The other major contenders already rate highly. Alabama, Oklahoma, Auburn, and Oregon all rate in the top 7 of the current computer ratings. Florida St. is still in the top 20 though.
So what I’m going to do is release my first computer ratings next week (a week earlier than originally planned), but I’m still going to do subjective ratings for next week and possibly the week after that. They just won’t be purely subjective. Let’s say the winner of Miss. St. and Texas A&M comes out #1. I might move Miss. St. up to #5 or A&M up to #3 or #4, but I wouldn’t rank either #1, at least not for a couple more weeks.
It’s also possible I’ll do another transition week after October 4. In other words, the subjective ratings may overlap with the computer ratings for a couple of weeks, but what I feature here will be the subjective ratings.
Also, sometimes for the first few weeks of the computer rankings, I change the top 5 of what I post here. I always make clear what those changes are, and I never make any subjective changes on my ratings site. I try to keep any subjective preferences off of that site.
Although that Missouri had a good chance to win the SEC for a while in the championship game last year, I’m still glad I didn’t take the leap and make them #1. They should never have been regarded as the top team to beat in the country last year. I also wouldn’t want to take that step early on for A&M, Miss. St., Arizona, N.C. St., or UCLA. On the other hand, if one of those teams is undefeated and rises to the top a month from now or more, I’m not going to alter anything.
New England Patriots - Now I know that the annihilation of the Minnesota Vikings by the Patriots came while the best player on the Vikings (Adrian Peterson) was banned from the game by the team, but a 30-7 victory no matter how it comes is always a good thing. In that respect I'm very pleased with the result. But given that the offense is still mostly out of sync, there is definitely cause for concern.
According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, 34 of the 50 points the Patriots have scored through two games have come after the defense has forced a turnover. And the defense most definitely played a huge role in the game against the Vikings. They grabbed four interceptions off of the arm of Vikings QB Matt Cassel (including the one seen below by Logan Ryan).
The defense also forced a fumble while sacking Cassel (see below) six times.
The defensive line shut down the Vikings run game to just 54 yards.
After a lackluster to poor showing in the first game, the offensive line did a much better job of protecting Tom Brady (gave up one sack) and opening up holes for the run game. Unfortunately for Brady, with the offense unable to fire on all cylinders, he was just 15-22 for 149 yards and a TD (to Julian Edelman, see below). While the win is the thing, given Brady's desire, the fact "his" offense isn't lighting things up at the start of the season has to be galling to him.
Stevan Ridley (see below) had a good day, leading the team in rushing with 101 yards and a touchdown.
The biggest problem for the Patriots is not the offense though. Rather it is the team's impression of the Oakland Raiders. Against Minnesota, they got called for 15 penalties. This includes lineman Nate Solder somehow managing to get called for 3 penalties total on back to back plays. Bill Belichick doesn't like his teams to get even one penalty so fifteen yellow flags no doubt caused a lot of sleepless nights leading up to today's game as the coaching staff figures out how to get the players to stop shooting themselves in the foot.
Cincinnati Bengals - While most of the headlines the last couple of weeks have involved players getting into a bunch of legal trouble, there have actually been some good stories coming out of the league. The best one has to be the story of Devon Still and how the Bengals have helped him deal with his daughter's cancer diagnosis. You can read the article HERE.
BYU - The school announced they will retire Jim McMahon's #9 in a ceremony on October 3rd. I was a big fan of his when he was with the Chicago Bears and I'm happy to see him getting this honor. I know that he's not the guy he once was due to the cumulative effect of his injuries from playing the game but I remain a fan. You can read more on the ceremony and how he completed the course work necessary to finally graduate from BYU HERE.
Florida State - If you needed even further proof that FSU quarterback Jameis Winston is a complete and utter freaking moron with no common sense whatsoever, you should check out this article and have his idiocy confirmed. And if your Heisman Trophy winning QB who has had to dodge shoplifting and a rape investigation already, manages to get into trouble for spouting off a phrase that is likely considered offensive by many who heard it, how does the head of the football program react?
The school originally suspended him for the first half of this weekend's game against Clemson. But late Friday night came the announcement that Winston would be suspended for the entire game. Call me suspicious but I think his benching for the whole game has more to do with the uproar surrounding what he said rather than the statement the school put out that read in part: "Based upon the results of the continuing investigation of Tuesday's incident involving Jameis Winston, we have decided to not play him for the entire game against Clemson on Saturday night."
Additional reporting in this article has the suspension being extended for the whole game after the school's administration discovered Winston hadn't been entirely truthful with them. I would guess you could read that as they found out he outright lied to them.
At this rate, when Winston kills a family of five while out drunk driving, he'll smile for the cameras, pretend that he's sorry, and get drafted in the first round of the NFL. The guy is a ticking time bomb and people should run as far away from him as possible.
Some people might say that this is a major overreaction to a college student acting like a college student. And if it wasn't the Heisman trophy winning starting QB of a major college football team, they'd probably be right. But with the history that Winston has, he has no margin of error and has to wake up, smell the coffee and start acting like an adult and not a bad imitation of any number of characters you could name from the movie Animal House.
Alabama - Last Week: The Crimson Tide rolled to a 3-0 record with their 52-12 shellacking of Southern Mississippi. Bama outgained Southern Miss 547-263, including a 333-56 edge in the rushing attack. Kenyan Drake scored 3 touchdowns on the day. Amari Cooper (pictured below) was the prime target in the passing game for the Tide. He finished with 8 catches for 135 yards and score.
QB Blake Sims (pictured below) was 12-17 for 168 yards and 2 TDs. He also ran for 46 yards and TD.
It is funny that Alabama is 3-0 and yet if you read everything online and listen to the talking heads, they aren't in consideration for the 4 playoff spots. The strength of schedule arguments are definitely going to be used to hurt Bama's chances to get into the playoff.
This Week: The Crimson Tide played host to Florida yesterday and almost in spite of themselves came away with a resounding 42-21 victory. But I can't imagine Nick Saban is going to be overly happy about the win when there is so much that went wrong that he can obsess over.
In the first half, Alabama had 3 fumbles lost and it helped Florida hold a 14-7 lead at one point. The Bama players just couldn't seem to hang on to the ball. And you can add in an interception for a total of four turnovers for the Tide. When you factor in 11 penalties for 80 yards, I'm amazed Saban didn't just lose his mind right there on the sideline.
In between some rather large mistakes though, Alabama did at times manage to look rather amazing. Blake Sims had a pretty good day for himself. He was 23-33 for 445 yards (2nd most in school history) and 4 touchdowns. Two of those scoring strikes were huge plays dialed up by offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and they were beauties. Sims (pictured below 1st) hit running back Kenyan Drake for an 87 yard TD score and then followed that up with a 79 yard pass to Amari Cooper. Cooper (pictured below 2nd) was so wide open on the play, I think the closest defender was at least 20 yards away. He finished the game with 10 receptions for 201 yards and a total of 3 touchdowns.
Derrick Henry led the rushing attack with 111 yards and a TD run.
The defense for Bama held the Gators to just 200 total yards of offense and had 2 interceptions. And while practice this coming week is likely to strongly reinforce the no turnovers, no penalties aspect of the game, it is nice to see Alabama at 4-0.
Boston College - LAST WEEK - Last Saturday, I was on a date while the BC Eagles played on national television against #9 USC. Let's be honest, there's very few people who can truly say they expected to see the Eagles up 20-17 at the half. Especially since they started the game down 10-0. But even fewer could've kept a straight face if they told you they foresaw the Eagles upsetting the Trojans 37-31.
I got to see the end of the game and I'll tell you, it was just so thrilling to see Alumni Stadium filled, the place rocking and the fans storming the field after the game was over. BC is probably always going to see their football team fall under the "Just Another Program" designation in the world of college football but it is always extremely satisfying when they rise up to knock the premiere programs off their perch once in a while.
The school honored 9/11 hero and alumnus Welles Crowther at the game and some of that emotion must've rubbed off on the team. After getting whipped by Pittsburgh last week, the Eagles just dominated USC. Yes the score was close but make no mistake, Boston College owned this game.
It was the offensive and defensive lines that shined brightly in the game. The defensive line held USC to just 20 rushing yards on the night.
And while the secondary gave up 317 passing yards and four TDs to Trojan QB Cody Kessler, it wasn't enough to offset the defense sacking him 5 times.
As for the offensive line, they steamrolled the USC defense and opened up holes all game long. The BC rushers hit those holes and racked up 452 net yards. For those keeping score, that's 452-20 in rushing yards! And if that wasn't enough, Myles Willis, Sherman Allston and John Hilliman (pictured below) along with QB Tyler Murphy racked up 5 TDs on the ground as well.
Speaking of Murphy (pictured below), he didn't have an especially good night throwing the ball. And while he didn't HAVE to do so, I think people are going to expect a bit more than 5-13 for 54 yards with a sack and an INT if BC wants to return to a bowl this year. But on this night, he tossed in a career high 191 rushing yards and all was mostly forgiven (until the first practice after the game, I'm sure).
The surprising win and the effectiveness of the Eagles in the game caught the eye of the ACC because Murphy was named Offensive Back of the Week while Andy Gallick (Offensive Lineman of the Week) and Josh Keyes (Linebacker of the Week) also picked up awards. You can learn more about Gallick (pictured below) HERE.
By the way, if you want to learn more about who Welles Crowther was and why he is a hero of 9/11, you can check out this ESPN Outside the Lines video. I saw it when it premiered on the network and it was pretty amazing.
One final note about the BC Eagles focuses on Barry Gallup. You can learn more about why he is called "The Heart of BC Football" HERE.
THIS WEEK - Fear of a letdown after the emotional win by BC over USC was put to rest relatively early in the game. While Maine scored first to take a 7-0 lead (their first touchdown against BC since 1915 according to one recap article I read), BC just steamrolled the Black Bears on their way to a 40-10 victory. BC improves to 3-1 on the season.
QB Tyler Murphy (pictured below) was leading the nation's quarterbacks with 401 rushing yards coming into the game and he added 99 more yards to that total. He ran for two touchdowns including a big 71 yard scamper. In the passing game he was 11-18 for 130 yards with an interception. He hit Josh Bordner for a 48 yard TD pass.
Once again the rushing attack was the big story of the BC offense. Marcus Outlow led the run game with 107 rushing yards, but it was John Hilliman that really stood out. He had career highs in carries (21) and yards (98) with two touchdowns. In all, BC had 413 rushing yards to help give them a 513-139 edge in total yards.
The BC defense had 2 interceptions and once again stymied their opponent's run game. Maine managed just 16 total yards on the ground because the BC defense (pictured below) just swarmed any runner that carried the ball.
You can see highlights of the game below.
USA Basketball found itself in a bit of a brouhaha this week when an article by Yahoo Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski called out coach Mike Kryzewski for using his position as the national team coach as an unfair recruiting advantage in his "real" job coaching at Duke. Here's that article.
The article prompted Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim (an assistant on the national team) to speak out in defense of Coach K. And on Thursday, Kryzewski himself addressed the situation himself. Click HERE for that story.
I think it is a bit of BS to think being the national team coach is an unfair advantage in the college basketball recruiting wars. It is likely AN advantage, but not an unfair one. Particularly when you consider that Coach K (as Tony Kornheiser said Thursday on ESPN's Pardon The Interruption) can walk into any recruit's living room and say "I've got four national championships, what's your guy got?" And he doesn't even have to bring up the national team to do that. Those titles are just his Duke titles.
New York Liberty assistant coach Katie Smith has posted her second blog where she talks about her downtime. You can check it out HERE.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Do you remember that 1983 TV movie starring Helen Hunt called Quarterback Princess? She played a girl that went out for her high school team as a quarterback and along the way also ended up as the homecoming queen.
Well this week we have another story along those lines. She's a kicker instead of a QB but 17 year old Mary Kate Smith of Mississippi will be crowned homecoming queen and then turn right around to suit up for the football game. You can read about her in this article.
As for the area teams I follow:
Wareham Girls Varsity Soccer - The team lost to Seekonk 8-0 and to Bourne 7-0 to fall to 0-6. They have now lost 42 games in a row. The JV didn't do any better against Bourne. They also lost 7-0.
Upper Cape Girls Soccer - The Rams picked up a 6-0 win over Old Colony, but on Friday night they lost to Norfolk Aggie 5-2. They are 2-3-1 (1-1 in conference) so far this season.
Upper Cape JV Football - The Rams lost to Diman Regional 20-12 to drop to 0-2 on the season.
Wareham Boys Soccer - The boys team dropped games to Seekonk and Bourne by identical 7-0 scores.
Wareham Field Hockey - The girls picked up their first win of the season with a 3-0 win over Case, but closed out their week with a 6-0 loss to ORR to stand at 1-6 on the season.
Wareham Varsity Football - Despite building an 18-0 lead over Seekonk in the second quarter, the Vikings suffered a heartbreaking defeat when the Warriors scored the winning touchdown with 4 seconds left in the game. After building that early lead, Wareham went down 21-18 but scored with to take the lead with 26 seconds left in the game. But two quick long completions by Seekonk stole the game out from under the Vikings.
Five lost fumbles in the game didn't help Wareham either. My ex-player Josh had a great first half as he racked up 103 yards including a 28 yard TD run on offense. He also had 2 sacks on the defensive side of the ball. But in the second half, he was held to just 1 yard on 10 carries as well as a 13 yard reception on the final Wareham drive.
Wareham falls to 0-2 on the season.
Wareham Girls Volleyball - After beating Seekonk 3-2, the Vikings dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker to Bourne. They are 3-4 on the season now. Against Seekonk, Rae-Lyn had 7 kills and 13 digs. In the loss to Bourne she had 8 kills, 17 digs and 8 service aces. Meanwhile, Erica had 5 kills and 12 digs in the Bourne match.
They had a nice bit of coverage in the local paper this week including some more photos from their earlier match this season against GNB Voc-Tech. Rae-Lyn and Erica were featured in a number of shots and here are a couple of them. (All the volleyball photos here are by the Wareham Courier's Adam K. Ellis.)
And this one of her killing the ball was on the front page of the Wareham Courier this week:
I was fully expecting to lose both leagues I'm in during Week 2, but for a change I have to be thankful to a Philadelphia team. The Eagles got a come from behind victory on Monday night and it was thanks to the Foles (Nick) and Sproles (Darren) show. And as luck would have it, I have both of them on one of my teams and picked up a come from behind victory of my own. So once again I split the two leagues.
In last week's column I made mention of the resignation of manager Ron Washington and how I hoped it wasn't due to drugs since he'd been caught using them before. On Thursday it was sort of revealed by Washington that he cheated on his wife. I say sort of because he didn't come out fully and say so but what little he did say seemed to point in that direction. You can check out this article for more.
I made mention earlier in the column that I was out on a date while Boston College was on TV. My girlfriend Julie and I went out to dinner at this restaurant neither of us had eaten at before called Matt's Blackboard. Our meals were really good and we look forward to going back there again soon. The second half of the date ended up being some time at the lanes.
Yes readers, I went BOWLING! Previously, I'd only been bowling once and I was so bad at it that the 5 year old boy in the lane next to me had a better score. This time around it was the small ball (candlepin) type of bowling and while I won't be joining the PBA anytime soon, it ended up being an enjoyable time for the both of us. We rolled three games, and laughed at ourselves when we threw a gutterball, and heckled ourselves when we failed to convert on that one last pin left standing.
But as I said, we had a good time and we'll probably do it again. Oh and yes, we had to do the whole rented shoes thing. Want proof?
Music - The fact that I prefer my music to come in physical form (a CD) instead of digital is something I usually get called a stick in mud for. But it appears Japan is kind of like me, they prefer the CD to digital. You can read more HERE.
The new Robert Plant CD lullaby and...The Ceasless Roar came last week and I added it to my pile of new music to listen to and review at some point.
In the meantime however, you can check out a CD review I was able to do up for the latest disc from the progressive rockers Uriah Heep. The album is called Outsider and I think it is one of the better albums I've heard this year. The review can be read in full via this Pop-topia.com link.
Comic Books - A couple of comics came out last week that I wanted to make mention of. DC Comics released the collected edition Showcase Presents: Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew. Yes it is a funny animals type of book with humor and puns, etc. But it is also one of my most fondly remembered series from the 1980's. When I saw that the book had been schedule to come out, I knew I was going to buy it.
The other comic I wanted to mention is the first issue in the new series called Copperhead. The selling point of the book is "Deadwood in Space". It doesn't quite do justice to the rather superb opening installment. Writer Jay Faerber has usually managed to entertain me in the past on books like Teen Titans, Noble Causes, Dynamo 5 and Firebirds so I was really happy to see he was the creator on this book. And one of the main characters has the best name of the year in comics: Budroxifinicus!
Conventions - I was already looking forward to going to this year's Rhode Island Comic-Con. They had scheduled guests I wanted to see/meet like Walter Koenig (Star Trek/Babylon 5), Mark Sheppard (Firefly/Doctor Who) and Colin Baker (The 6th Doctor on Doctor Who). But this week brought the announcement of Gigi Edgley (Farscape) and I'm pretty much over the moon about the possibility of meeting her!
TV - While a few shows for the new fall season have already started, the real start to the new season gets into full swing starting later tonight. CBS has the new show Madam Secretary and the returning series The Good Wife that will draw my eyeballs tonight.
This week saw the release of the sixth season of Castle on DVD. Being a huge fan of the show, I ordered it promptly and it arrived in my mailbox on Friday. Whoo Hoo! Even more exciting is the fact that I've gotten Julie into watching the show and after the first four episodes she loves it.
Movies - Despite the company effectively going out of business, did you know that there are actually still some Blockbuster stores still in operation? They might be kind of "In Name Only" stores, but this story was pretty interesting.
The official trailer for The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 1 has been released and you can check it out below.
I’ll get my few comments about the LSU/Mississippi St. series out of the way. If you haven’t yet, please check out my Rivalry post about the series, which despite being played annually (in fact, it is LSU’s most-played series) has not resulted in a win for the Bulldogs since 1999. Even in the bad LSU years that preceded that game (such as the 2-9 team in 1992), the Tigers won, usually in convincing fashion. That is my most popular post over the last year. Judging by search teams such as “has mississippi state ever won against lsu” (now that would be a streak if the answer were no), “mississippi state losing streak against lsu”, etc., it’s at least in part due to interest in how well the Tigers have done over the last 20-25 years in the series.
Les Miles isn’t exactly on the hot seat right now, but Glenn Guilbeau had an interesting take on what losing to Mississippi St. has meant for coaching careers at LSU.
Speaking of Les, he mentioned a couple fun facts during his press conference. When the Tigers held ULM scoreless with less than 100 yards of offense, that was the first time since 1941 that the Tigers recorded consecutive shutouts at Tiger Stadium. In 1985, the Tigers had consecutive shut-outs during conference play; but the two games were separated by a bye week, and the second game was on the road. LSU finished in second place in the SEC the latter year (among teams eligible for the title), just a half-game behind Tennessee.
Gerry DiNardo (left) could no longer figure out how to beat anyone in 1999 but nearly upset Jackie Sherrill’s Bulldogs anyway. LSU has not lost to Miss. St. since.
Week 3 College Football Rankings 2014
(Teams new to the rankings have logos posted below. I was in more of a retro mood today, especially given some of the teams below.)
1 Auburn 1
2 Oregon 2
3 Oklahoma 3
4 Florida St. 4
5 Alabama 6
6 TX A&M 8
7 LSU 7
8 Notre Dame 10
9 Ole Miss 12
10 BYU 11
11 S Carolina 18
12 Penn St. 24
13 Georgia 5
14 Pittsburgh –
15 E. Carolina –
16 Boston Coll. –
17 UCLA –
18 Va. Tech 9
19 Virginia –
20 USC 14
21 Louisville 15
22 Ohio St. 19
23 Arizona –
24 Missouri –
25 Okie St. –
Out of rankings: (13) Clemson, (16) Mich. St., (17) Stanford, (20) Arizona St., (21) Baylor, (22) Florida, (23) Duke, (25) N. Illinois
I haven’t become too much of a purist this week (although you can check out my completely objective top 10 here), but I decided you actually have to have beaten somebody of substance to be on this list. I was a little bit liberal with that, especially in the case of Oklahoma St., but UTSA nearly beat Arizona and had a 6-game winning streak going into the Arizona game. This policy will help ease the transition into the computer system.
I also opted against ranking any team ahead of a team that beat them. I think that makes sense this early. The likes of East Carolina, Boston College, and Virginia might be flukes, but if we find that out later, so be it. When teams down the win chain start to beat the higher teams (for instance, maybe Louisville beats Boston College and USC beats UCLA) is when it gets tricky, and that’s when I resort to my objective system.
If you’re a little hazy, I’ll go through the main ones (best wins of the lowest ranked team in parentheses):
Texas A&M > S. Carolina > Georgia (> Clemson)
Pittsburgh > Boston College > USC (> Stanford)
UCLA > Virginia > Louisville (> U. Miami)
East Carolina > Virginia Tech > Ohio St. (> Navy)
As you probably know, I stop doing subjective rankings of the team and replace those with computer ratings starting in October each season. Usually people do not receive my first few computer ratings very well, and they can’t make sense of them until later. Of course, someone can get upset with any list of teams you come up with, but most people who give serious thought to it can at least make peace with my later computer rankings.
Disclaimer: THIS IS NOT MY CURRENT TOP 10. I did a trial run of my computer rankings this week just to make sure it’s set up properly and so forth. I used to have to do a lot of work the first week I went to the computers, but I’m trying to be as prepared as possible this year. Anyway, while normally I would keep this to myself, I wanted to share the top 10 just for the purpose of explanation. It’s easiest to explain with a small number of games.
I am well-aware that a team may be great and have great teams they’re going to play later, but maybe they’ve had a bye week and/or an FCS win and/or another win over a win-less team who’s going to be good (which may be true of Central Florida, for instance). So Missouri (who beat two FBS teams—Toledo, who has only beaten an FCS team, and Central Florida—and one FCS team) might well be one of the best teams in the country, but they’re not even in the top 20 of my computer ratings because Central Florida won’t count as a meaningful win until they beat some teams.
The best my system will consider an FCS team is average. North Dakota St., who went 14-0 and beat FBS bowl team Kansas St., was considered about equivalent to low-level bowl teams like Tulane and North Carolina. Even Kansas St. was considered better because I think 7 FBS wins should count for more than 13 FCS wins (one FBS win for each cancels out). Kansas St. was probably a much better team at the end of the year than it was at the beginning, so maybe had they played each other at the end of the season instead of at the beginning, Kansas St. would have proven my formula accurate. The only two ways the Bison could have been considered better were (1) to beat a better FBS team or (2) to beat more than one FBS team.
Of course it’s impossible to put teams in perfect order of who would (or did) beat whom anyway. There are always circular win chains at the end of the year. It seems like this happens in the SEC West every year. In 2013, LSU beat Auburn, who beat Alabama, who beat LSU. In 2012, LSU beat Texas A&M, who beat Alabama, who beat LSU. That’s actually another good reason for me to do this now. There aren’t so many dilemmas to get hung up on.
So this is my computer top 10. I will release my subjective top 10 later this week. There will be a couple of teams in common, but I will not rely on this by any means.
Oklahoma has gotten out to a fast start by beating 3 FBS teams with a combined 5 FBS wins of their own.
1. Oklahoma – What does it take to be #1 after three weeks? It wasn’t even close, by the way. Being 3-0 by itself puts you pretty close to the top (I don’t count FCS wins in my records, but I give teams credit separately), but I’ll go deeper into this. Oklahoma has beaten two teams who themselves have two wins apiece (Tennessee and Louisiana Tech). The third team, Tulsa, is 1-2. So being 3-0 and having opponents with a combined 5 (FBS) wins right now is why Oklahoma is a clear #1.
2. Ole Miss – Most importantly, the Rebels are also 3-0. Also important is the fact that Boise St. has two wins. Vanderbilt has an FBS win. Ole Miss got zero points for beating UL-Lafayette apart from the influence on its overall strength of schedule. Losing to an undefeated team and a 2-1 team (Louisiana Tech) gives ULL a decent strength of schedule.
3. UCLA – I think luck will catch up to the Bruins like it did to the cross-town rival Trojans, but hear me out. Like Ole Miss, they are 3-0 with a win over an otherwise unbeaten team (although Virginia has one FBS and one FCS win) and a second win over a team with a BCS win. The third team, Memphis, has a good strength of schedule because the only FBS team they’ve played is undefeated. I know that seems like circular logic, but when Memphis has played a few other FBS teams strength of schedule will begin to be more meaningful. This is another reason to wait for time to pass before I officially use these.
4. Notre Dame – The Irish are 3-0, and Michigan is 2-1, so that’s a good start this early. Purdue also has an FBS win. Rice has no wins, but being that they’ve only played Notre Dame and Texas A&M, that gives them a pretty good strength of schedule.
5. Mississippi St. – Two Mississippi schools in the top five. Can you tell yet why we’re still in the preliminary stages? Guess the Bulldogs’ record. The rest will also generally follow the above script. Mississippi St. is the only team to beat UAB, who has an FBS win and an FCS win. South Alabama’s other two weeks are an FBS win (albeit over a winless team) and a bye. Mississippi St. also beat Southern Mississippi, whose only FBS games have been against 3-0 teams.
6. Arizona – A real top 10 team probably would have won by more against Nevada and UTSA, but as a reminder, this does not factor in margin of victory, which I think you need to do after only three weeks. Arizona is also 3-0, that Nevada team I mentioned has an FBS win and no other losses, and Arizona also beat Texas-San Antonio (again by a small margin), who has an FBS win. UNLV, whose only win is over an FCS team, does not really help except for Arizona’s record of course.
7. Oregon – So the next three are all teams you’ll see in the top 10 of pretty much any major rankings at this point. Oregon is the first team on this list that does NOT have 3 FBS wins (one was over an FCS team). Wyoming, whom the Ducks just beat, has one win over an FBS team and one over an FCS team. Michigan St. only has an FCS win, but at least they don’t have any other losses.
8. Texas A&M – Should be no surprise here. Of course, South Carolina has won two games over otherwise-undefeated teams since losing to the Aggies. East Carolina in turn beat Virginia Tech (who had beaten Ohio St.) after losing to the Gamecocks. I mentioned Rice in reference to Notre Dame. The Aggies have also beaten North Texas, who is 1-2, and an otherwise-unbeaten FCS team.
9. Alabama – We’re back to another 3-0 team, but obviously they wouldn’t be behind two 2-0 teams (with FCS wins) if they had great wins. West Virginia does have an FBS win and an FCS win though. Florida Atlantic is 1-2, and Southern Mississippi (common opponent with Mississippi St.) just has an FCS win.
10. Washington – I took the Huskies out of my subjective top 25 afer struggling to beat Hawaii (who was barely able to beat Northern Iowa last night/this morning) and Eastern Washington, an FCS team. Washington does have another FBS win now, over Illinois, who itself has FBS (over Western Kentucky) and FCS wins. Also, Eastern Washington is 1-0 against the FCS.
Hopefully that’s somewhat enlightening about how the system works. The above does not use any reference whatsoever to preseason rankings or prior seasons. It’s as if the entire FBS started from scratch this year. So it’s completely about what you’ve proven, and if a team has played and won every week and their opponents are in the FBS (especially if such opponents also have a number of FBS wins), that team will have a huge advantage whoever they are.
So when you look at other ratings, like Sagarin for instance, they might be more the teams you expect to see, because they do include reference to prior seasons. That said, his top four teams are all in my top 10, and there are 10 teams in common in our respective top 15 teams. The ones in my top 15 that are not in his are all ones that you would rightly be suspicious of due to recent seasons: Mississippi St., Arizona, Pittsburgh, Washington, and Syracuse.
In fact, apart from UCLA, I think I’ll use those teams in common as my top 9 when I make my subjective rankings for this week. I like to start making it largely results-based at this point, although there will still be at least a bit of a subjective and predictive element, which will be true until I rely exclusively on the computer formula.
This was also a good week to at least look at it this way since it’s already getting difficult to try to fairly rank teams without a major overhaul. South Carolina beat East Carolina who beat Virginia Tech who beat Ohio St. They also beat Georgia, who beat Clemson. So how good must that make Texas A&M for annihilating South Carolina? Then you have Pittsburgh, who beat Boston College, who beat USC, who beat Stanford. As I mentioned, it will only get more confusing once teams lower down the chain beat teams higher up.
I thought B.O.B. would want me to explain why there are only four SEC teams in the top 10 list above. LSU's win over Wisconsin counts for very little right now because Wisconsin has yet to record an FBS win. Wisconsin is one of two FBS wins for LSU. Auburn has had a bye week already, and one of their wins was over San Jose St., which is in the same situation as Wisconsin. Obviously, I would expect the Wisconsin win to be worth more later into the season than the San Jose St. win will be worth, but right now they're pretty similar. On the other hand, LSU does not play another apparently competitive non-conference game. Auburn does have a respectable opponent next week in Kansas St.
There ARE a total of six SEC teams in the top 15 (the ones I mentioned above, including LSU and Auburn), seven in the top 20, and ten in the top 30. The West should be interesting this year, by the way. I’ve mentioned everyone but Arkansas, and the Hogs just ran wild all over Texas Tech on the road. So the sixth-best team in the division is 13th and the seventh-best is 34th! I know that will change (It’s impossible not to since they will start playing each other more, and there are bye weeks and FCS opponents coming up later in the season for some SEC teams), but I’ll probably get more into out-of-conference play so far later this week.