Thoughts on the Weekend

Mark Ingram passed his Heisman test against LSU, rushing for 144 yards on 22 carries.  But those had to be the quietest 144 yards I’ve ever seen.  Great sign that the attention isn’t going to Ingram’s head:  He thinks his teammate Rolando McClain deserves the Heisman.

Colt McCoy is ready for the stretch run after throwing for a career-high 470 yards against UCF.  Will Mack Brown do what he can to help get him the Heisman?   McCoy was still throwing well into the fourth quarter against UCF, so it sure looks like he’s going to be given every opportunity.

—Speaking of quiet yardage, Clemson’s C.J. Spiller is on pace to top over 7,000 all-purpose yards in his career.  You have to wonder how much more yardage he would have if he had been the full-time back instead of sharing carries with James Davis his first three seasons.  Here is a link to his Heisman page.

—I wrote it last week and I’ll write it again:  As good as Tony Pike is, Zach Collaros is better right now and should remain as the starter at Cincinnati.  Since taking over three games ago, Collaros has 1,229 passing yards, 10 TDs, one interception, is completing 76 percent of his passes and has also rushed for 288 yards and four scores.  I understand loyalty to a former starter, but those numbers are hard to ignore.

—I still don’t understand how Notre Dame can get over 500 yards of offense and yet lose to Navy by two points.  That’s got to be the last straw for Charlie Weis.  Isn’t it a no-brainer that Brian Kelly would be a great fit in South Bend?   After all, he’s Irish…

—I don’t care if you call me a West Coast homer, a fact is a fact: The Pac-10 is the strongest conference top to bottom so far this year.  If you disagree, sorry, you are just wrong.  Six of the nine toughest schedules in the Sagarin rankings have been played by Pac-10 teams and yet six of the conference’s teams are in the top 25 in Sagarin’s rankings.  We’re likely to see six teams from the conference win at least seven games and a seventh win six–again, against the hands-down toughest schedules in the country.  True, there are no national title contenders, but if you rank a league based on overall quality and fewest weeks off, it’s the best in 2009.  Of course, the chances of a national sports magazine acknowledging this with a cover story are about as likely as the national news media admitting that Nidal Hasan is an Islamic terrorist.

—Who’s to say TCU isn’t the best team in the country this year?  In my book, no other team has looked as dominant.  And what about that schedule?  Well, according to Sagarin, the Horned Frogs have played the 47th toughest slate.   That’s better than Texas (52nd), Cincinnati (67th) and Boise State (82nd) and not far off from Florida’s (42nd).   So TCU has a case, right?  Now watch them lose to Utah…..

—Questions are abounding in the comments section regarding the double standard of holding Houston’s Case Keenum accountable for playing a weak schedule while not doing the same for Colt McCoy.  Again, Texas’ schedule to date is ranked 52nd by Sagarin, while Houston’s is ranked 94th (please don’t tell me about the NCAA’s strength of schedule rankings, which has major flaws).   And besides, McCoy already showed last season that he can play well against top competition.  Voters remember that and that’s why they are not caring that much about McCoy’s level of competition in 2009.  I’m not endorsing this position;  I am merely pointing out the reality of it.

—More schedules:  Can someone explain to me why/how Furman, Northern Arizona, Chattanooga, Florida International, Tennessee Tech, Eastern Kentucky and Troy manage to appear on so many SEC schedules this late in the season and all at about the same time? 

—The regression of the USC offense continues.  The Trojans have scored one offensive touchdown in the last six quarters and just three in the last two games.  All the talk of Matt Barkley being an ‘outlier’ has vanished and one wonders if Aaron Corp couldn’t have also gone 7 for 22 against ASU. 

—Meanwhile, across town, UCLA freshman QB Kevin Prince is starting to heat up.  After a slow start due to a broken jaw, he has two 300-yard passing efforts in his last four games and was on his way to a third before being knocked out of the game against Washington.  Is Norm Chow starting to work his magic yet again?

—BCS Bowl Projections:

Title Game: Alabama vs. Texas

Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Boise State

Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Cincinnati

Fiesta Bowl: TCU vs. Miami

Rose Bowl: Oregon vs. Ohio State

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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22 Responses to Thoughts on the Weekend

  1. Andy November 9, 2009 at 5:29 pm #

    OK, HP the “PAC 10 homer”, you’re learning! What conference has won the last three BCS Championships? What conference has won 7 BCS Championships in the last 18 or 19 years? What conference has the most BCS appearences with the best winning % (12-5) except the 2 hit wonder MWC? What conference has the most players on NFL rosters by a significant margin? What conference has two teams in the top 5 with a 3rd that would be except for 2 hard fought losses to the other 2? What conferenc has a winning record in non-conference BCS play this year?

    On the other hand: what conference had a 2-6 record against the MWC last year? What conference has had the same champion 8 years running? What conference doesn’t have a conference championship game? What conference boosts its BCS scheudule be feasting on the soft and slow BIG 10 (tough game against Illinois in the Rose Bowl last year) and Notre Dame every year(at least 4 games against Notre Dame this year)? What conference doesn’t have a winning record in BCS non-conference games this year?

    HP – the PAC 10 is a good conference, the BIG 12 is a good conference. At the moment they are battling for #2. Over the past 5 years, the SEC is better than the PAC 10 and BIG 12. Its not that big a deal which makes me so curious why you fight it so hard. I read your blog this year and last because I’m interested in the Heisman race these two years and you’re really the only option (Gene Menes at SI is a poor commetator on the heisman), and now I’m drawn by amusement at your PAC 10 bias. But, for solid commentary on CFB outside the Heisman trophy I go elsewhere…even in the Heisman Troph, your record is sketchy…2 sophomores in a row (there goes that heismandate). Another example to hopefully help you improve: if you weren’t so PAC 10 biased you wouldn’t have had USC ranked so highly after the Oregon State game, where they were outgained by OSU at USC I believe. If you had been a somewhat objective (no one is ever truly objective) sports writer you would have been smart enough to see that and then you would have looked really good because your commentary would have expressed skepticism of USC BEFORE the Oregon beat-down. If you want to get more people to read your blog…you have to discipline your love for the PAC 10.

  2. Biondo November 9, 2009 at 6:17 pm #

    Yes, HP, the Pac 10 is a good conference. But please, exhibit some sense.

    The Pac 10 is 7-7 against BCS opponents this season, and 20-9 overall. Those are decent numbers but they are not earth-shattering.

    The idea that everyone should just bow down and proclaim them the best conference in the nation after amassing such an average record of achievement seems a little ridiculous.

    And, come on, “they have 6 of the Top 25 in the Sagarin Ratings”? So what? They also ‘only’ have 6 of the Top 40, while the SEC has 8 of the Top 40 (Pac 10 has 6) and 11 of the Top 49 (Pac 10 has 8). So big deal, I can cherry-pick numbers too, it doesn’t prove anything.

  3. Andy November 9, 2009 at 7:36 pm #

    Another interesting fact about the best conference discussion: the SEC is the only conference with a winning % in BCS national championship games 5-0. PAC 10 is 1-1 for next closest %, and Big 12 is only conference with more teams in that game with 6 and a 2-4 record.

  4. Perry November 9, 2009 at 8:07 pm #

    Just start stacking it up:

    Florida – USC
    Alabama – Oregon
    LSU – Arizona
    Auburn – Stanford
    Tennessee – Oregon St.
    Mississippi – California
    South Carolina – Arizona St.

    How in the world do you see the Pac 10 as the clear winner??? Additionally, the SEC always comes on strong at the end and typically out performs in bowl games (see Ole Miss over Texas Tech and Kentucky over Clemson).

  5. Jonsi November 9, 2009 at 8:11 pm #

    What conference doesn’t have a conference championship game?

    Are you seriously using this one to denigrate the Pac 10? Really? This is the most absurd, most easily debunked argument in the history of conference debates.

    A round robin schedule, even with tie breakers, is superior in determining a true conference champion than a format where you have not even played 3/11 available teams in your conference.

  6. Perry November 9, 2009 at 8:40 pm #

    How about how two of Washington’s three wins came against two of the top teams in the league. This would be equivalent to Vandy beating both Florida and LSU…and don’t say this means Washington is good b/c they’re not.

    Other notable wins, a 4-6 Wake Forest over Stanford, Boise State over Oregon, Cincinnati over Oregon State, and Georgia over Arizona State.

  7. Andy November 9, 2009 at 8:46 pm #

    To Jonsi,

    So, you don’t understand how having your two best teams play each other in a 13th game (more than the PAC 10s two best teams play each year) and thus having an additional loss for one of them and additional injuries is a bad thing? Humm…can’t help you then.

  8. Jonsi November 9, 2009 at 9:11 pm #

    @Andy,

    I won’t dispute that a 13th game is a resume builder and a significant challenge, but it does not make a conference more tough, and it certainly does not do a better job of conferring a true conference champion. Also, the two best teams sometimes don’t face each other. Last year in the Big 12, the 3 best teams were in the South Division, playing against arguably the 5th best team in the conference in Missouri, and sometimes in the SEC, a first place team in one division does not play 2/3 of the toughest in the other division whereas the second place team did. It is not equitable.

    A round robin schedule better determines a “true” conference champion than having an unbalanced schedule and playing a championship game. It makes a conference more tough because you actually have to play those difficult teams in the other division you’d otherwise avoid in order to be crowned champion.

    All the credit for playing one and winning one, but it has no bearing on the overall strength of a conference, does not do a better job of crowning a champion, and it’s absence is not an indication of a conference being subpar.

  9. Chris November 9, 2009 at 11:17 pm #

    Okay kind of a fruitless discussion here with all the chest pounding.

    Let’s agree on SOMETHING: College football is a regional game. By this I mean that folks are fiercely defensive of their home turf. As such, it may be impossible for us to think things through without emotion.

    I will remind people that 49 states participate in college football not just the 12 or so that seceded nearly 150 years ago.

    Secondly, networks and magazines will sell you whatever idea sets that are profitable for them. Feeding the emotions that feed the money stream is necessarily a part of this system.

    So lets consider these realities even before we start to spew college football “facts” all over everybody.

    Here’s a question: If the SEC kicks so much ass, why did the Utah smoke Alabama in the Sugar last year? Just something to ponder.

    Chris
    Reno, NV

  10. gamedaytribe November 10, 2009 at 1:58 am #

    To the SEC homers defending the SEC by pointing out their teams won the BCS – yes, that’s a sign of *lack* of depth in your league – you’re simply helping HP make his point (a point I completely agree with – that the Pac 10 is the best conference – deepest, for sure).

    If you didn’t play patsies and had tough games week in, week out, your win-loss might look a little more like the Pac 10.

    And don’t even get me started about those pollsters who week after week after week give these teams a pass after their pisspoor performances against mediocre teams.

    HP is dead right but nobody will admit it because we don’t have the numbers and media markets (excepting USC) behind us. Once the SEC and NotreDame TV contracts expire (if they ever do), perhaps we might enter a level playing field. Until then, I have slim hope.

  11. gamedaytribe November 10, 2009 at 2:02 am #

    Perry:

    Your post does you credit, but only reveals how little you know about the Pac 10 and proves HP’s point.

    USC = Florida.

    USC is currently 4th in the Pac 10.

    Now do you understand?

  12. Andy November 10, 2009 at 7:28 am #

    To Jonsi and other PAC 10 and Big 10 folks – ask any one from the BIG 12, SEC or ACC if having a conference championship makes a conference more difficult to win than not having a conference championship game. Take for instance 1999 when UF (ranked #5) played Bama (ranked #7) for the 2nd time that year and lost for the 2nd time, or take 2005 when LSU only had one loss coming into the game and was ranked #3 and loss to #13 UGA and got nocked out of any hope for a BCS Championship.

    By the way Jonsi, you didn’t respond to any of the more important reasons the SEC is currently the best conference which suggests that there isn’t a rebuttal to those points – you picked the most MINOR evidence I provided and went after it. I don’t think the 13th game is a major piece of evidence, but it does make the conference more difficult to win in many years.

    To game day tribe: so the fact that the SEC has a better BCS record means its top-heavy. You’ve provided no evidence of top heaviness at all in your statement. You have to make logical connections for arguments to be valid. Point to the PAC 10s stellar bowl record last year (5-0), to which SEC fans could respond that the SEC had 8 bowl teams, which suggests more depth, to which PAC 10 fans could point out SEC had a 6-2 record which was inferior to the PAC 10.

    To the PAC 10 types: the PAC 10 is a good conference. I’m not disagreeing with that, it just seems hard to make a broad scale convincing argument that its the best conference right now. As for the Sagarin ratings, the one that HP chose weights the middle more than the extremes – which of course hurts the SEC with #1 and #2 in the country. That seems like obvious manipulation of the facts to support a biased and pre-disposed opinion. Moreover, Sagarin is only one measure of SOS and moreover, that is only one part of what makes a conference good, the more important part is their record against other quality opponents!

    Just to illustrate SEC frustration – what was the combined record of Washington and Washington State last year?

  13. Hannah November 10, 2009 at 8:06 am #

    Last three years:

    PAC 10 12-5 and SEC 19-7 in Bowl Games. SEC has 9 more bowl appearances and still has a better winning percentage.

  14. Perry November 10, 2009 at 8:30 am #

    @ Gamedaytribe –

    I’m not saying Florida = USC, I’m saying Florida > USC. And the only reason I stacked them up against each other is because both USC and Florida are the #1 team in their conference based on the AP poll. Let me make this more clear:

    Florida #1 > USC #11 (lost to WASHINGTON)
    Alabama #3 > Oregon #14
    LSU #9 > Arizona #18 (lost to WASHINGTON)
    Auburn ~= Stanford #25 (lost to Wake Forest)
    Tennessee > Oregon St.
    Mississippi ~= California
    South Carolina > Arizona St (lost to WASH…)

  15. gamedaytribe November 10, 2009 at 8:37 am #

    Perry,

    Right. Re: polls. Yes. Well. That’s my point.
    People really don’t know what they’re talking about.

  16. gamedaytribe November 10, 2009 at 9:02 am #

    I should have elaborated more.

    1. I’m not interested in “you suck, no you suck” type
    arguments (principally because I’m not a teenager
    any more). I believe people are trying to really
    evaluate fairly based on what they know, however
    flawed that might be.

    2. I’m not actually even trying to make the case that
    my team is better than your team or that my conf
    is better than your conf either (because I don’t
    have the right data for that).

    3. My real point is to point out the fallacies of the
    system and the arguments people are making to
    prop up the rankings and the system.

    Nobody has the right set of data to establish
    who’s the better team, who’s the more deserving
    team, who’s got the better record, who’s more
    likely to win, or whatever criteria you want to
    choose.

    People pointing out BCS final records should
    realize those teams got to play in the BCS final
    due to a whole lot of flawed polling to begin
    with. So it’s a vicious cycle – flawed data being
    used to further prop up flawed rankings compounded
    by flawed statistical reasoning.

    i.e. not only nobody’s right, they don’t have the
    data or the system right now to get it right.

    The arguing is fun – and generates eyeballs, traffic
    (i.e. money) to websites who survive on that type
    of thing.

    It’s all very frustrating to anybody with an iota
    of common sense, much less a solid grounding in
    logic and mathematics.

  17. Andy November 10, 2009 at 9:40 am #

    to gamedaytribe – that’s something that most fans would agree with more or less and is why so many people want a playoff system with 12 or 16 teams. At least then, you would almost certainly not leave out a team who deserves a shot at #1. But, I think I’ve got an iota of common sense and a solid grounding in logic and mathematics, and all of that tells me that regardless of all the problems with polls and CFB (inlcuding for instance the benefit the PAC 10 receives by being matched against the Big 10 in the “Grand-daddy of them all”) the SEC in the last few years has been the best conference by many statistical measures. So why not acknowledge that while at the same time saying you’d like the system to be improved?

  18. Hannah November 10, 2009 at 9:43 am #

    4 of the PAC 10s top 5 teams have non-conference losses (to BCS teams). Good for them for scheduling these games, but if you’re the best you should win more of these games!

  19. Hannah November 10, 2009 at 10:35 am #

    5 of the SECs top 6 teams have wins against non-conference BCS schools – only one of those teams has a BCS non-conference loss. UGA to Okie State (while Bryant was still on the team, and I think scored two TDs in that game). Top half of SEC is approximately 5-1 in BCS non-conference play, and top half of PAC 10 is approximatetly 2-4. Someone double check those numbers, but the overall picture is generally correct. So, how is the PAC 10 the best conference this year at this point?

  20. gamedaytribe November 10, 2009 at 9:08 pm #

    You can selectively pick data to bolster your arguments, as others have pointed out. You won’t convince people of your views based on that. As I keep saying, it’s insufficient data at this point due to all of the variables we keep talking about.

  21. sandymex November 11, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    It’s funny to hear Pac 10 homers brag about how competitive their conference is when they adamantly oppose playoffs. They further try to rig the system so USC plays home games against the Big 10 rather than real bowls.

    HP focuses on just a few “central mean” weighting methods among the many that are used to compare conferences. Sagarin agrees that the SEC is the strongest conference when he equally weighs the performances of teams.

    The “central mean” method counts Georgia’s performance 6 times as heavily as it does Florida’s! The funny part is that this method has the SEC as #1 if Georgia had beaten Florida two weeks ago. Think how silly it is to penalize the SEC because it has two undefeated teams. The central mean method is so skewed that the performances of Florida, Alabama and LSU together count as much as the performance of Georgia.

    Further evidence of this silliness: USC gets upset by Oregon and the Pac 10 gets a boost. Oregon gets upset by Stanford and the conference gets another boost. UCLA beats Washington and the conference gets a third boost.

    But this is the silly world we live in as long as the Pac 10 cowards oppose playoffs.

  22. Mark November 19, 2009 at 1:49 pm #

    The SEC has boasted the most draft picks since 2000, but the margin is not that significant.

    Since 2000 the average number of draft picks per team by conference is as follows (ex. SEC teams average 3.3 NFL draft picks per team):

    SEC 3.3
    Big 10 3.2
    Pac 10 3.0
    ACC 3.0