Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Five Outlandish Predictions, Take Five

As per tradition, my friend Ben, the irrationally optimistic Georgia/Saints fan, and I will make five loopy predictions for the upcoming college football season. Thanks to the incredibly convenient label that I created for the posts, you can revisit our previous hits and (mostly) misses. In 2008, Ben took the 0-fer and yours truly got two out of five, hitting on Ole Miss's big season and East Carolina beating West Virginia.

Ben's Five

1. Charlie Weis keeps his job this year, but loses it the following year. I think his entire offensive line is composed of seniors. [Three seniors and two juniors, but who's counting? -Ed.] You are looking at a huge drop off the next year. Also, they will have the sexy players back, Tate, Floyd and Clausen, meaning they will be overrated in the pre-season. I don’t think much of that win at Hawaii last year, and remember the total domination by USC as a greater indicator of their progress under “Schemer.” As a side note, what if they lose to Nevada in the opener? Remember, the Wolfpack are coached by a Hall of Famer and have fielded some decent teams recently. Plus ND did lose to the ‘Cuse last year, at home no less. If that happens and he loses to your beloved Wolverines the next week, does Tenuta become the interim coach by week 3?

[I'm not sure what to think about Notre Dame. On the one hand, Weis strikes me as a bully whose teams get punked every time they pick on someone their own size. Notre Dame fans are generally a clever bunch and will figure or have figured this out. On the other hand, so much talent!]

2. BC crashes very very hard. They lost a lot when Jags left and I think the bottom out this year. The ACC is slowly getting better, in large part to Butch Davis getting things going in Chapel Hill, Tom O’Brien implementing his program at State, and Bowden pursing the Paterno model and letting Jimbo run things in Tallahassee. (I do have an issue with the Swinney hiring, but I really like his hiring of Steele to coach the D, so I will give him two years). Firing a dynamic coach who was making chicken soup with… is a huge mistake. Matt Ryan was a talent, but he blossomed under Jags and what BC did last year with all the injuries was very impressive. BC has killed all of that with their principled stance.

[Way to go out on a limb by predicting bad things for BC, a team picked to finish fifth in a six-team division. After last year, this is Ben picking out a streak-breaker at closing time. Let's hope she doesn't order the double pork chop platter at the Waffle House.]

3. UGA far exceeds Vegas’s expectations, which are 8 wins, by winning 10 games. They win at Stillwater and at Knoxville. They also beat LSU at home, South Carolina at home and on the road in Fayetteville. They lose to Florida and possibly Tech. People seem to forget that Richt keeps pumping in these top ten classes while Tennessee has been down and SC has been average. Talent will win out and UGA has it.

[This is not unreasonable. I'm on record as thinking that Georgia will do well in the opener. Hell, with Georgia's record against defending national champions, I'm surprised that Ben doesn't foresee glory in Jacksonville.]

4. Pete Carroll’s tree will not take root yet. (Ask Nick Holt and Ed Orgeron.) Kiffin in Tennessee and Sarkisian in Washington will do horribly this year. Washington may have the hardest schedule in the country and will struggle to win 3 games. Kiffin has no QB in Tennessee and even though he recruited well, those guys are way too green to play in the SEC. They will not win 10 games between the two programs.

[I agree with this, as well. USC's regression on offense after Norm Chow left does not speak well of Kiffin or Sarkisian. Vegas has these two combining for 11 wins, so going nine or fewer is a smidge of a risk.]

5. Michigan will far exceed expectations and will win 9 games. Their schedule is a joke, and they should be 3-1 OOC, at least. If they beat ND in Ann Arbor, than 10 wins is clearly attainable. That means that they only have to go 6-2 in the Big Ten to hit the number. Outside of PSU and Ohio State, who scares you as a Michigan fan? Iowa is in Iowa City and they play Sparty at East Lansing. Color me unafraid. Maybe Illinois, but just look at the coach on the other side. It is cliché by now, but Rich Rod turns things around in year two. He has the schedule to do it.

[From your lips to G-d's ears. As will be clear from my first prediction, I'm high on at least one team on Michigan's schedule...]

Michael's Five

1. Iowa finishes ahead of Penn State and in the top two in the Big Ten. I don't quite understand why Iowa isn't getting more love this preseason. Did they win nine games last year solely because of Shonn Greene? The line in front of him, which returns three starters and plugs two seniors into the open spots, had nothing to do with it? The defense that allowed 16 points per game and 97 yards rushing per game in Big Ten play and returns eight starters had nothing to do with it? Iowa wins in State College and the game of the year in the Big Ten is November 14 when the Hawkeyes travel to Columbus.

2. Arkansas finishes ahead of at least one of Alabama, Ole Miss, and LSU. They have 18 starters back, one of the best coaches in college football on the sideline, two legitimate SEC running backs, and an enormous upgrade at quarterback from Casey Dick to Ryan Mallett.

3. Georgia Tech loses four games and is out of the race in the ACC Coastal by November. I'm banking on Negative Grohmentum here, along with ACC defenses being a little more savvy to Tech's offense. The games against Virginia and Virginia Tech in the second half of October will be the Jackets' Waterloo (or Kursk, if you're Eastern Front inclined like I am). Tech has a dreadful record in Charlottesville and if there's one team you'd trust to slow down the Tech running game, it's the Hokies.

4. Baylor makes a bowl game. If Indiana, Vandy, and Arizona have all made it in recent years, it's time for the Bears to break their duck. After watching their performance in Lubbock at the end of last season, I'm fully on the Robert Griffin bandwagon. How about a trip to El Paso to play Stanford?

5. Steve Spurrier retires at the end of the year and is replaced by Charlie Strong.


Unknown said...

I have a feeling Ben will win out this year.........


chg said...

I don't think Spurrier will go anywhere. If he does, Ellis Johnson might be the frontrunner.

Jesse said...

I feel like you are trying to bait me Michael, with your GT prediction.

I think you are overrating VPI and underrating GT. In case you haven't been following, VPI lost their RB for the year. You know, the same one that averaged almost 150 yds/g over the last seven games, the guy that produced more than half of their entire offense as it realtes to pts/g and yds/g. They have a stought defense, no doubt, but they aren't going to win without scoring some ponts, and having to lean heavily on a very bad passing game led by a mediocre passer in Tyrod Taylor just isn't going to get it done.

As for GT and your applying of the Negative Grohmentum, I disagree. You never responded to my questions concernign GT in your original post. Essentially, according to your own percentage break points, GT passed on all accounts which would lead to the thought that GT should not be affected by negative Grohmentum.

Here's the original comments:

"This is very interesting, especially in the case of Paul Johnson and GT. If net close wins is a FG or less, then GT had four such wins and one such loss (though I'm not sure how much close losses play into this), but if it is a TD or under then that number goes up to five such wins and two loses. Taking the percentages you already posted, combined with what some already consider a more difficult schedule than last year as well as the major losses on defense, and it looks as though Paul Johnson and GT are heading for a regression in wins this year.

However, if my math is correct, GT had 14.28yds/pt offensively and 14.21yds/pt deffensively, both of which exceed the stated break point favorably for them to not regress, or at least the chance for them to not regress. Considering that it was the first year in Paul Johnson's offense, the first year in the new deffensive scheme, with an all new coachng staff, I would think that the chance of GT staying the course or getting better would be a likely outcome.

Obviously, neither of these chances can ever take into account blind luck (turnovers, etc) or injuries, but it does give you a good starting point when making somewhat subjective projections. I would be interested in seeing where these numbers place GT percentage-wise with regards to possibly regressing.

Also, do your numbers account for first year coaches or switches in offensive designs? I was just wondering if there was a mean to regress to if those were the circumstances involved when the coach was selected as COY. I'm not sure it would be correct in assuming the GT would regress to the standard mean that was when Gailey was around. Just a thought though."

You did not use GT's number in your original post, so I would still be interested in seeing how those numbers I calculated stack up in your metric. I'd also be interesting in hearing your thoughts on my questions.

Michael said...


My apologies for not responding to your earlier comment.

1. At this time last year, did you know who Darren Evans was? They have two freshman running backs who are highly touted. Also, I expect Tyrod Taylor to be better at throwing the ball. That program is really an offensive coordinator away from being very good; it's strange to me that Beamer doesn't see that.

2. VT isn't going to win without scoring points? They won the ACC last year without scoring points.

3. I went back and looked at the Negative Grohementum list to see first-year coaches who won conference coach of the year. Here is the list:

Bret Bielema - regressed by three games in year two.

John L. Smith - regressed by 2.5 games in year two.

Ralph Friedgen - unchanged.

Dennis Erickson - 4.5 games worse.

Jeff Tedford - unchanged.

Bill Doba - 4 games worse.

Larry Coker - .5 games worse.

Brian Kelly - .5 games better.

The best comparators would be Smith, Friedgen, Tedford and Kelly, all sharp offensive guys who brought new systems. Three of the four were basically unchanged; the fourth had a sharp regression. The one question would be whether any of those teams had as many returning starters as Tech has this year.

4. Here's my issue with Tech: the offense was outstanding at times last year, but it was inconsistent. It was terrific against Miami and Georgia, but those games were bookended by bad games against UNC and LSU. In order to get beyond 8-4, the offense will need to be consistently good. Maybe that comes in year two, but I'm going to guess that there are still going to be some subpar performances.

5. I'm reticent to believe that Ole Miss and Oklahoma State are going to have great seasons this year because programs like that that get a lot of hype before the season tend to flame out. It's hard to meet expectations when you don't have a lot of talent and are not used to being the hunted. Wouldn't the same reasoning apply to Tech?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ben. Micheal has been drinking too much milk.

Jesse said...

No problem, thanks for responding now. And yay for pointed comments!

1. W/R/T Darren Evans, true enough, but relying on that same scenario to happen twice is a little bold, don't you think? As for Tyrod Taylor, I just don't see it yet. Nothing he has done has led me to believe that he will become an efficient enough passer to compensate for the loss in the rushing game. Plus their WR's are unimpressive and won't help cover for the mistakes that Taylor will undoubtedly make. I do, however, agree with the coordinator aspect.

2. Completely wrong. They won the ACC relying heavily on Darren Evans to account for over 50% of their total offense, scoring just enough to win. Sure, they only averaged roughly 24 pts/g last year, but that was enough considering the strength of their defense. Do you honestly think they will win the ACC scoring half that, or even 3/4's?

3. Also, all of those you mentioned failed your percentage break points whereas GT exceed them. How much weight do you put on those stats versus the arbitrary winning of the COY award? If the numbers mean more than the award, would you agree that GT has a better chance of at least standing pat versus regressing?

4&5. Agreed, GT was inconsistent, but I would say that offensively, that should be less of an issue now that they have a year in the system plus the large number of starters returning. I also don't think that GT is getting anywhere near the same amount of hype that Ole Miss and OK St are getting, at least not nationally. In Atlanta they might be, but that's where they are at and should be expected. And even so, I don't see how any of that would lead you to claim that they are going to flame out and miss being bowl eligible. I'd say that's a reach.

People still doubt Paul Johnson and his system and will look for any reason to claim that GT will fail.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that this comment will be read, seeing as it is on a blog post which is approximately 9 months old, but I just want to highlight that Ben's predictions are uniformly wrong. I congratulate him on this achievement, one even I (someone with tried-and-tested-and-failed predictive abilities) could hardly have managed.