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Archive for October, 2006

Monday, October 30th 2006

Week 9 Quick Hits

Some People Get Happy – Just Not Me

  • Three loses in almost four seasons…
  • …two national championships…
  • …four BCS Bowls…
  • …three Heisman trophies…
  • …that is what Pete Carroll has brough to Southern California
  • JDB is going to have to stop throwing tipped passes (an odd complaint to start out with I know…but…com’n man, just get the ball up)
  • Steve Smith continues to be the brightest spot on this team
  • Can Rey please show up for team meetings on time?
  • Not that he always knows what he’s doing on the field…
  • …maybe Oscar is the better option as we search for some leadership
  • Dagnabit, Brent Schaefer can’t you pull off the upset?!
  • Auburn, Michigan, Louisville, Florida, Texas, and West Virginia all look vulnerable
  • This is going to be chaos in the BCS
  • It looks like DJ is sleepwalking through the game
  • It is hard to be impressed with the heart needed for that comeback considering we lost, but I appreciated the effort
  • For weeks I called for us to blitz more…
  • …because the 3-4 isn’t working and LoJack and Ellis seem lost and playing without passion…
  • …now we do and we see the holes it opens up in our weak, young secondary
  • We have to go to a 4-3
  • We have to hold onto the ball
  • We have to take more shots down field
  • There’s always a chance in a big rivalry game…
  • …but even though they’re both undefeated, with the way they’ve been playing don’t you have to make Ohio State like 2 touchdown favorites on November 8th
  • Is this defense reallly any better than 2004?
  • For all the hype maybe some of these hard hitting linebackers have reached the max of their Football IQ
  • Maybe for all their stars we can’t expect any more out of these players…
  • Chilo? Moala? Cushing? Maualuga?
  • …high school reps aren’t college reps…
  • …and especially the guys on defense, besides making big hits have some of these linebackers shown much else?
  • I thought Pete’s key to the offseason was fixing special teams…
  • …apparently not
  • That was a godawfully easy return for a TD
  • Is Rutgers for real?
  • Because giving a lead to Conneticut doesn’t inspire confidence
  • Can an undefeated Big East team hold off a Florida or Auburn?
  • Wow, Nebraska really isn’t that good…
  • …but maybe the Cowboys will give the Longhorns something to chew on next weekend
  • Tough loss for impressive QB Bell, at Baylor
  • With supreme optimism I have some predictions for the remainder of the season. If I’m right I’ll look like a genius. If I’m wrong, no one will remember.
  • How The Season Will Play Out:
  • USC runs the table and goes 11-1…
  • …including a trouncing of Cal
  • On November 2 Louisville beats West Virginia
  • On November 4 Tennessee loses to LSU
  • On November 18th ‘Bama upsets Auburn, Ohio State crushes Michigan
  • On November 24th Texas struggles with Texas A&M
  • On November 25th Louisville loses to Pitt, Florida struggles against Florida State
  • on December 2 Arkansas beats Florida in the SEC Championship, Texas struggles with Missouri in the Big 12 Championship, Boston College wins the ACC
  • Rutgers finishes the season with one loss and wins the Big East
  • Boise State goes undefeated and qualifies for a BCS bid
  • Cal finishes 10-2, Notre Dame finishes 10-2, Arkansas finishes 11-2 (other loss being to LSU)
  • USC finishes #2 in 5 of the 6 BCS computers, #3 in one BCS human poll and #4 in the other
  • On December 3 USC leapfrogs Texas by the slimest of margains into the #2 spot for the final BCS rankings creating outrage
  • The Rose Bowl passes on several two loss SEC teams to take a two loss BCS eligible Cal
  • The Sugar Bowl does the same, jumping at a chance to take Notre Dame (who despite not being high enough for an automatic bid are still BCS eligible as an at-large)
  • There’s outrage and pandemonium througout the southeast as “the country’s toughest conference” gets only one BCS bid
  • National Championship: Ohio State v. USC
  • Rose Bowl: Cal v. Michigan
  • Sugar Bowl: Arkansas v. Notre Dame
  • Orange Bowl: Rutgers v. Boston College
  • Fiesta Bowl: Texas v. Boise State
Monday, October 30th 2006

Week 9 Poll Challenge

Ranking To Date Rating System Score
1 Sagarin (Predictor) 65*
2 Sagarin 67 (128)
T-3 Wolfe 69 (104)
T-3 Colley Matrix 69 (107)
5 Massey 78
6 Anderson 115
7 Harris 116
8 AP 118
9 Coaches’ 120
10 BCS 122
11 Billingsley 144

Sagarin, Wolfe, Massey, and Colley Matrix benefited mightily as none of those ranking systems had Nebraska in the Top 25. This was especially true for Sagarin’s Elo-Chess which had a 61 point differential between Oklahoma State and Nebraska. Seeing as this was supposed to be a measurement using Top 25 upsets, they didn’t suffer from Oklahoma State’s win and now are clearly running away with the competition.

The numbers in parathensis are their point totals if the Oklahoma State upset counted against them. There are however too many non-top 25 upsets to calculate the points, and so if a rating system doesn’t think enough of a team to rank them in the top 25 it will continue to not count against them.

It should be noted that that doesn’t apply to Sagarin’s predictor model, who although I “theorized” what it might’ve scored last week (remember I didn’t have the numbers for it last week) is still clearly the most accurate ratings system so far. Even though it had Nebraska in its top 25, it trounced the competition especially in terms of its estimation of Virginia Tech (who upset Clemson).

The human polls were devestated, more by their overestimation of Nebraska than the USC loss actually. Billingsley shot himself in the foot with an abysmal ranking of Oregon State and especially of Oklahoma State. It’s going to take something special to recover.

Sunday, October 29th 2006

Sportswriters Write Without Understanding

Titles like “USC Plummets In Polls,” don’t really capture the true spirit of the situation.

The BCS rankings aren’t out, and neither is the Harris poll but USC is #9 in both the AP and Coaches’. We’ll be #9 or 10 in the Harris. As such here are Tellshow’s estimations for the BCS rankings this week, before they come out:

1 Ohio State
2 Michigan
3 West Virginia
4 Florida
5 Auburn
6 Louisville
7 Texas
8 Southern Cal
9 California
10 Notre Dame
11 Tennessee

Significant damage. USC no longer controls its own destiny. Not that it looks like USC could’ve made use of that control with upcoming games against Cal, ND, and Oregon.

BUT it is much less severe than people imagine. In fact, this is just about the best USC could’ve hoped for. If Tellshow is right we will hold off Tennessee if we win out (even though the Volunteers are about to get a boost in their strength of schedule with some upcoming tough games).

2 of the top 6 teams have to lose. We’re hoping that whoever wins the Michigan – Ohio State game does it soundly, so as to attenuate the losers fall in the human polls. The “good” news is that the loser plays no other games to “make up” for the loss.

But we should easily jump the loser of the West Virginia – Louisville game.

As I predicted we need Auburn, Florida and the winner of the Louisville – West Virginia game to lose.

Those are five BIG IFs: Ohio State – Michigan winner wins big, West Virginia – Louisville winner loses, Florida loses, Auburn loses, USC wins out

But if those came to pass I think we possibly could jump Texas and hold off Tennessee and the Michigan – Ohio State loser for the #2 spot. Texas’ computer ranking will improve significantly, but USC’s will as well. If the scenario above played out I don’t think Texas could close to within more than .08 or so of USC in the computer % (especially with the way the Big 12 North is playing right now).

In the chaos that would entail us getting to this scenario there’s almost no chance Texas could expect to hold the huge lead as the #2 team that Michigan currently does over #3 West Virginia (~.05 in both polls).

It isn’t even close to a certainty under such fluid circumstances, but it is a real possibility that would be enough to jump Texas and hold off Tennessee. The margin in the computers between USC and the Michigan – Ohio State loser would be less but hopefully they’ll have fallen a bit in the polls.

I think I’ll go hum the Monkees, seeing as I’m just day dreaming here.

The more realistic question is if an undefeated Big East team can hold off a Florida team that wins out.

Florida’s strength of schedule over the remainder of its season is pretty bad (Vandy, South Carolina, West Carolina, Florida State). The Gators will get a boost from the SEC championship game. As well, they might move up in the computers after November 18th and if USC (or someone else) beats Cal.

Either Big East team can probably hold off Florida. Still it’ll be a contentious argument over that #2 spot.


Tellshow was nearly on the money. Flip Auburn and Louisville in the official standings:

1 Ohio State
2 Michigan
3 West Virginia
4 Florida
5 Louisville
6 Auburn
7 Texas
8 Southern Cal
9 California
10 Notre Dame
11 Tennessee

Sunday, October 29th 2006

Craptacular Doesn't Begin To Describe It

I went .500 last week in my picks. I felt more confident this week and so far I’ve managed an 8 – 9 record. My four “confident” games? I went 2 – 2. We’re talking an implosion the last two weeks on par with The U.

Happier Times

And of course, the Trojans lost (after deciding to stress all of us by making a huge comeback effort).

USC is a historical program, with a swagger. It benefits (and suffers) from that image. Before the Rose Bowl last year we had Kirk Herbstriet calling the Trojans the greatest team ever. Now, looking back the pundits quickly realized how foolish they had sounded. There reaction was to immediately start disparaging this Trojan team. They sat on the edge of their seats “knowing” the Trojans were going to screw up. Nevermind these are the same dumbwits who picked teams like Miami and Notre Dame to play for the national championship.

That won’t matter when the human polls are released. All that pent up hate is going to cause the Trojans to plumnet, disproportionately to being a one loss team.

And the rest of the college football world can smile. But, they’re all morons.

Your Average College Football Fan & Sports Writer

I say that NOT because they’re glad to see USC’s demise. But because they think they’ve witnessed USC’s demise. The subtleties of the BCS are lost on these people. It isn’t a terribly complicated system. And a little understanding of it would show that the Trojan haters should at least wait for another loss.

Why do I say that? Because the computers love USC. And the love is only going to grow if the Trojans win out, because the computer love is based on strength of schedule and the toughest part of the Trojan’s season hasn’t even begun.

At the time of writing only Sagarin’s computer rankings are out but the Trojans are fifth. I wouldn’t expect them to fall farther than eight in any computer rankings (there are six used for the BCS rankings). Ahead of Tennessee, ahead of Louisville, ahead of West Virginia, ahead of Texas in basically every computer.

It is my opinion that there are only three teams “effectively” ahead of USC in the BCS for the #2 spot.

USC is going to get trounced in the human polls, no doubt about that. Hopefully the fall won’t be lower than 11th or 12th. That hurts. But if, and that is a big if, the Trojans win out their strength of schedule may boost them all the way up to the second spot in the computer average. Now they’ll still need a lot of help in terms of other teams losing in the human polls. But there are several teams, who might be in front of USC in the next BCS, who we can ignore because they’ll be effectively jumped.

Let’s have a look at the teams that “might” be in front of USC in the next BCS this afternoon:

  • Ohio State
  • Michigan (Either Ohio State Or Michigan Has To Lose)
  • West Virginia (Either West Virginia Or Louisville Has To Lose)
  • Auburn
  • Florida
  • Texas (Weak Computer Ranking Means Might Be Able To Be Jumped)
  • Louisville
  • Notre Dame (USC Plays, Controls Own Destiny)
  • Cal (USC Plays, Controls Own Destiny)
  • Tennessee (Weak Computer Ranking Means Might Be Able To Be Jumped)

So, if the Trojans win out (if I win the lottery), there is a liklihood that there are only three teams we need to lose a game to make it to the MNC. Auburn, Florida and the winner of Louisville-West Virginia game. Not unreasonable especially for Auburn and the Louisville – West Virginia winner. Auburn has looked weak and defeatable the last few weeks against mediocore opponents (kind’ve like USC before their loss to Oregon State). Louisville and West Virginia both have to play Pitt and Rutgers still.

Florida is a tougher cookie but can we say Arkansas in the SEC championship game?

If we can win out and work our way back to within a spot of say, Texas, in the human polls…there’s no doubt with our computer strength we’ll jump a team like that in the BCS.

Of course, it seems unlikely right now that USC can run the rest of its schedule especially facing Cal, Notre Dame, and Oregon. As well USC may plumnet even lower than predicted in the human polls, making this trip more difficult. So all this day dreaming is probably moot.

But all those haters should note, it is not implausible that USC (despite being ranked lower than these teams in this week’s BCS) will actually be in a better position than one loss teams like Tennessee and Texas and even maybe an undefeated team like Louisville.

Saturday, October 28th 2006

Missed Deadlines

Liestoppers has a write up providing evidence that Nifong has missed a discovery deadline. If you’re interested in the Duke case Liestoppers is a great website.

They also have a link to an effort to recall DA Mike Nifong.

Saturday, October 28th 2006

Tragedy Of The Commons & Medicine

Medrants has a great post on the idea of ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ and how it relates to health care costs and disparities.

The idea is how the very libertarian principle of “everyman for himself” is harmful when it comes to the overexploitation of public finite resources. For example, overgrazing a “common.”

Here is Wikipedia’s article on the thoery. You should however read DB’s post.

Friday, October 27th 2006

I Need Not Know What Happened…

“Conversations”? No. Telepathic Communication Though…He Didn’t Deny That

If you needed MORE evidence the Duke lacrosse rape case was a joke, District Attorney Mike Nifong admitted today, he has not actually talked to the accuser about the case,

“One of the most interesting things to me of course is Mr. Nifong did admit that he in fact has basically never talked to this woman and has absolutely no idea what her story is, and yet he has chosen to continue to go forward with this case,” defense lawyer Joseph Cheshire said.

Nifong said none of his assistants have discussed the case with the woman either and only have spoken with her to monitor her well-being. They have left the investigation of the case to police, he said.

H/T Drudge

Friday, October 27th 2006

Page 10N: Iran Steps Up Uranium Enrichment

When Drudge isn’t posting about Virginia Senatorial candidate Webb writing about a man sticking a boy’s privates in his mouth (which as The Irish Trojan has noted is a stupid point for the media to rally around), he’s linking to stories about Iran’s continued press forward with enrichment,

Iran has doubled its capacity to enrich uranium by successfully executing the process with a second network of centrifuges, a semiofficial news agency reported Friday, sending a defiant new message to the U.N. Security Council.

Council members are working on a draft resolution that would impose limited sanctions on the Islamic republic because of its refusal to cease enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for a civilian nuclear reactor or fissile material for a warhead.

Luckily our beret wearing allies have some strong words,

France’s Foreign Ministry called Iran’s expansion of its nuclear program a “negative signal” that should be taken to account at U.N. talks over possible sanctions.

A spokesman for the ministry, Jean-Baptiste Mattei, said the Iranian announcement was not a great surprise because the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, had said in August that Iran was developing new nuclear capacities.

“The door to negotiations is always open, but at the same time the priority goes to the negotiations for a U.N. Security Council resolution,” Mattei said at a news conference.

French President Jacques Chirac, meanwhile, expressed support for sanctions against Iran but insisted that they be temporary and reversible.

Better than the Russians at present though,

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said he didn’t “share concerns” about the launching of a second network of centrifuges, expressing confidence that the new centrifuges “are under the complete control of the International Atomic Energy Agency, for scientific research purposes.”

He also said the centrifuges were “completely empty, so to talk about enriched uranium or uranium for military use, is at the very least premature.”

The basis of his statement was unclear, however. The IAEA monitors both “cascades” of centrifuges, but they are not under its “complete control,” as Ivanov asserted. And – unlike Ivanov – the Iranian official cited by ISNA said the second network was no longer empty but enriching small amounts of uranium.

Other Russian officials also had shared previously shared the opinion of the United States and its western allies, Britain, France and Germany that even “dry testing” centrifuges was cause for concern.

Friday, October 27th 2006

Preview: Oregon State

Short and sweet. Short and sweet. Such I will have to keep this as I prepare for school related events.

The Trojans are coming off a bye week, in which their previous competition (Nebraska, Washington, Washington State) for which they were questioned for “struggling” against (nevermind the Trojans have trailed 5 minutes ALL season), all performed well and proved their metle.

The Beavers are 4 – 3, including a win over Washington. They’re on a 2 game role.

Plus Their Mascot Is Fearsome

Oregon St. Offense v. USC Defense

Offense isn’t the Beaver’s strong suit. They did lose last year’s Biletnikof winner…a stunner for an Oregon State player to grab an award that prestigous (just kidding).

The Beavers have struggled all season to sustain drives and score touchdowns.

And even though QB Moore has had some success against the Trojans in trash time in the past (as a UCLA player), he has not played particularly well this year.

[I]t has been four years since Moore and the Trojans were on the same football field.

In 2002, when Moore was a true freshman at UCLA, the now-OSU senior appeared as a reserve at quarterback, completing 7-of-11 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Moore’s efforts did little to help, however. The Trojans rolled past the Bruins 55-21 en route to an 11-2 season that was capped by a victory over Iowa at the Orange Bowl.

Moore has been inconsistent at times. For instance he’s at 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions but in his last two games – against Arizona and Washington – the kid has completed over 72% of his passes.

With only one game over 200 yards it speaks to the Beavers reliance on the running game. And the Beavers are lucky it looks like there is a slim possibility the Beaver’s best offensive threat RB Yvenson Bernard might be ready to go from an injury,

“It’s going to be huge if Ev can’t play,” said Roy Schuening, the Beavers’ big right guard. “But Ev’s a fighter, and I’m definitely not counting him out.

“I would be kind of shocked if he didn’t play,” said Schuening. “He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met. … personally, I think he’s going to be ready to play. He’d probably play with a broken leg if he could.”

QB Matt Moore was also convinced that by Saturday, the crutches will be laying around campus somewhere and No. 26 will be attacking the Trojans, trying to end USC’s 27-game Pac-10 winning streak.

“He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever met in my life,” said Moore. “He told me yesterday, ‘I’ll be fine.’ And I truly believe that.”

It would be huge. Even though the Beavers winning record isn’t built on their offense, Moore’s success passing is defintley predecated on establishing the run game first. Playing only a half Bernard netted better than a hundred yards against Arizona before getting injured. He was at a 144 against Washington a week before.

If Bernard (or his backup Polk) can get going early it gives the Beavers the best chance against the Trojans. It will open up the short-intermediate passing game which has plagued the Trojan’s secondary the past several weeks.

Sedrick Ellis shoudl continue to get back into the swing for the Trojans. But it is difficult to know if we’ll see any improvement in the secondary. Or any improvement in getting to the quarterback.

Certainly against Arizona State we saw more pressure coming from blitzes. A nice thing to finally see. The Trojans need to get to Moore, that would certainly help. More importantly however, but along the same lines of getting penetration is stopping the shifty Bernard in the backfield (if he sees significant time on the field come Saturday).

Bernard is a playmaker and if the Trojans have to keep eight men in the box and if the Beavers consistently get into second and medium situations, Moore and his junior recievers (including Sammie Stoughter who is far, far and away Moore’s favorite target) will be helped significantly.

USC Offense v. Oregon St. Defense

As Beaver blogger Building The Dam says,

Defense has been the strong point of our team this year. Most games, when the offense is having a bad day, the defense shows up to play. When the offense is having a good day, the defense still shows up to play. Our weakness is still pass coverage. We allowed Nate Longshore of Cal to throw for 341 yards and four touchdowns. As far as run defense goes, we’re having a good year, that is if you forget about the 240 yard, 5 touchdown performance Ian Johnson had against the Beavers in the Boise State game.

That is a big if (although Johnson has been having a monster year for Boise State). On any given day there are holes to find in the Oregon State defense. It is clear however looking at the stats that they’re more susceptible through the air.

That isn’t exactly the matchup the Trojans will probably end up wanting to exploit. Especially the way Chauncey Washington is coming around. He single handedly scored the game winning touchdown against Arizona State, running hard and often on that final drive.

As should be obvious from their run defense, the front seven is the strength of the Oregon State defense. Scout has this to say about the linebackers,

As good as the Beavers’ defensive line has been this season, the linebackers have played even better. Derrick Doggett and Alan Darlin are tied for the team lead in tackles, with 45 each. Doggett leads the team with nine tackles for loss, including three sacks. He’s also intercepted two passes, forced and recovered a fumble. Darlin ranks second on the team in both tackles for loss, with 8.5, and sacks, with four, to go along with two fumble recoveries.

These three linebackers will offer Chauncey Washington and the rest of the Trojan tailbacks an opportunity to prove themselves against some solid competition. While the front seven of the Beavers probably doesn’t stack up with Nebraska’s defensive front, playing at Reser Stadium may go toward evening that up.

QB Booty continues to stare down recievers, but interceptions aren’t the Beavers specialty. They will get pressure of the Trojan offensive line doesn’t come to play, especially that right side including Chilo and Kyle Williams.

As well, I no longer question Kiffin’s failure to call deep balls having seen Booty miss on some. That will come with time. With the way the running game is developing that can wait.

Hopefully the offensive line continues its development off that Arizona State game. The entire running game isn’t without some controversy. Clearly Moody has some “fumblitis” issues left. He wasn’t happy with the lack of trust from the coaches to him last week after he fumbled,

The elusive freshman had carried the ball on about half of USC’s running plays in the previous three weeks, but he had to watch most of the ASU game from the bench. He had just five carries after the fumble.

“They just really felt like the fumble kind of shook me up, and I wasn’t really focused after that, so they just reduced my carries,” Moody said. “Of course, it bothers me. It bothers any running back to get fewer carries.”

That one mistake could slow down what appeared to be a fast-rising college career. Moody rushed for 130 yards against Arizona three weeks earlier, but he watched from the sideline as Chauncey Washington pounded the ball a season-high 22 times against Arizona State.

“I wasn’t really shaken up. They just thought I was shaken up by the look I had in my face,” Moody said.

“I’m just going to keep on doing what I do, just play my game and really not worry about it. That’s in the past. I’m going to look toward the future.”

It’s been a rough stretch for Moody. He had a bandage over his left eye from where defensive end Brian Cushing inadvertently slugged him during practice.

Carroll said USC was simply riding the hot hand when it kept feeding Washington the ball.

“It was all about Chauncey. That was the right thing to do at the time the way he was going,” Carroll said. “You like going with the big guy; you like the experience and all that.”

Washington is getting healthy and will continue to get the brunt of the carriers. But even after Arizona State I think Moody will continue to play the speed back role. We’ll see.

Other Stuff

This could be a slugfest with both teams trying to establish the run.

I have no doubt Mike Riley will let Moore take some shots down field with the shaky play of the young Trojans secondary at time. Especially if QB Moore is getting protection early. But don’t expect a whole lot of bullets early (or often). He’ll take his shots at oppurtune times.

I’m of the opinion that Washington will have a monster game. If Bernard can’t play then this game could get out of hand and the Trojans could finally have a “break out.”

The Beaver offensive line is a fine unit, but if Holt continues his trend of pressure Moore can be gotten to. This especially if the Beavers are without the shifty running of Bernard and are able to hold up the more “downhill” Polk and force Moore to throw more than he would like.

With pressure the Trojan secondary will do its job. As such, it would be good for the Trojans to see Moore throw the ball 35+ times.

I don’t know we will see an Ian Johnson remix, but expect Chauncey to be effect and Moody to be very complimentary (and hopefully hold onto the ball).

If you thought we relied on the run game in previous games, this one, especially in the beginning will be even more like that.

We lead the entire game and open it up more in the second half. It’s enough of a trouncing that Sanchez gets his turn in the fourth quarter even.

Trojans 38 – Beaver 10

[Coach Carroll Press Conference]
[Tucson Citizen: Young Trojans To Get Better]
[Joe Jares: Second Half Team]
[CFN Week 9 Predictions]

Friday, October 27th 2006

A Bounce Back Week

Week 9 picks are up. After having a week, last week in which a monkey with darts should’ve statistically done as well (my worst week of the year), I feel a little more comfortable with my picks this week.

The one’s I’m “really” confident on? Well, not to anger the Orgeron, but…

Auburn (-19.0) v. Ole Miss

As well, I’d go with…
USC (-10.5) v. Oregon State – Especially if you find it at 10 points
Texas A&M (-4.5) v. Baylor
Tennessee (-3.5) v. South Carolina – Way, way too much credit to the Old Ball Coach’s success versus the Volunteers at Florida

If I had to pick one of my not to cover picks (Northwestern, Bufallo ?!?!, Miami, Georgia), I’d have to go with

Miami (+5.0) v. Georgia Tech

I only give that one because despite always being nervous about picking a team not to cover I’m 80% on the year when I pick the underdog.

Let’s see if I can do better than last week and go 5/5 on my “confident” picks.