theknightswhosay

Posts Tagged ‘2008’

My verdict on #2

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings Commentary on December 3, 2011 at 11:55 PM

When LSU narrowly defeated Alabama, I said that regardless of what my computer ratings said, I would vote Alabama #2 if I were a voter. That continued to be true through last week.

Unlike some, I don’t place a high premium on margin of victory. For example, the Georgia Bulldogs played a hell of a game today, and that was not reflected in the final score.

I do understand the system is set up to allow for some subjectivity though. That subjectivity has favored Alabama thus far. Alabama did not have the borderline victories like Oklahoma St. The Tide’s narrowest win was over Penn St. by 16, and the game wasn’t even that close. The Cowboys appeared lucky that Kansas St. ran out of time (allowing Okie St. to win by 7), and they only beat a mediocre Texas A&M team by a single point.

For Oklahoma St. to lose a game to Iowa St. in similar fashion to the way Alabama lost to LSU was crippling for its BCS-championship-game argument. Obviously, Iowa St. is in a different galaxy from LSU and Alabama as far as depth and talent.

On the other hand, the Cyclones are not much different from Mississippi St., and that was the second-toughest game on the scoreboard for both LSU and Alabama. There wasn’t any late-game drama in either MSU game, and obviously the better teams won, but I question letting approximately one quarter in such a game decide who makes the national-championship game.

I don’t think there should be a uniform rule against a re-match. If the Pokes had lost to Texas A&M or Kansas St., I would be vigorously arguing for Alabama right now over Stanford or Boise St., even though that would be against my interests as an LSU fan.

Back to the resume, looking at the loss gives Alabama a head start once we compare the wins. I’ll put relative wins in major and minor categories. So it’s starts out Alabama 1 and 0, Oklahoma St. 0 and 0, because Alabama has a major win for the better loss.

First win: Alabama beats Kent St., Oklahoma St. beats ULL. Neither was a likely threat for a loss, although ULL is a bowl team that has won 8 games. Slight edge to Oklahoma St. here. Alabama 1 and 0, Oklahoma St. 0 and 1.

Second win: Alabama beats Penn St., Oklahoma St. beats Arizona. Alabama 2 and 0, Oklahoma St. 0 and 1.

Third win: Oklahoma St. beats Tulsa, Alabama beats North Texas. Tulsa has only three more wins than North Texas does, but North Texas lost to much worse teams than Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Boise St., and Houston. If Tulsa played Hawaii’s 2007 schedule, they could very well be undefeated and in a BCS bowl. Alabama 2 and 0, Oklahoma St. 1 and 1.

Fourth win: Alabama beat Arkansas, Oklahoma St. beats Texas A&M. I said I’m not impressed by margin of victory, and even if you do look at that, Texas A&M and Arkansas had a close game when they played one another. Strange to say at this point, but I don’t know how good Arkansas really is either. The Hogs played no one out of conference apart from the Aggies, they lost going away against both LSU and Alabama, and they didn’t play Georgia. Plus, their young quarterback was even younger earlier in the season. I can’t give Alabama a major victory over Oklahoma St. here. Alabama 2 and 1, Oklahoma St. 1 and 1.

Fifth win: Alabama beat Florida, Oklahoma St. beat Kansas. The game was at Florida before all their injury issues, Kansas is really bad. Alabama 3 and 1, Oklahoma St. 1 and 1.

Sixth win: Oklahoma St. beats Texas, Alabama beats Vandy. The Okie St. game was in Austin, and I have the Horns about 30 spots ahead of the ’Dores, so minor win for the Cowboys. Alabama 3 and 1, Oklahoma St. 1 and 2.

Seventh win: Oklahoma St. beats Missouri, Alabama beats Ole Miss. I rate this Okie St. win as decisively better. Alabama 3 and 1, Oklahoma St. 2 and 2.

Eight win: Oklahoma St. beats Baylor, Alabama beats Tennessee. Same thing here.
Oklahoma St. 3 and 2, Alabama 3 and 1.

Ninth win: Oklahoma St. beats Kansas St., Alabama beats Mississippi St. Despite my having K-State 35 spots ahead of the Bulldogs, I’ll count this one as a minor win, only to make up for resolving a couple of the doubts above in favor of Oklahoma St. Oklahoma St. 3 and 3, Alabama 3 and 1.

Tenth win: Oklahoma St. beats Texas Tech, Alabama beats Georgia Southern. Georgia Southern is still alive in the FCS playoffs and could very well win, they only have one other loss. This might seem to cut against Oklahoma St.’s loss, but if Texas Tech can lose to Iowa St. 41-7, they could have easily lost to Georgia Southern. So I’ll just put this down as a minor win for the Pokes. Oklahoma St. 3 and 4, Alabama 3 and 1.

Eleventh win: Oklahoma St. beats Oklahoma, Alabama beats Auburn. This is borderline between major and minor, but I’ll go with minor given that Auburn played Clemson, LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia. Oklahoma St. 3 and 5, Alabama 3 and 1.

So Oklahoma St. has three clear weekly wins, and so does Alabama. But the 5 to 1 in the minor-win category I believe should put Oklahoma St. on top. The SEC supporters (in which I would generally include myself) argue all the time that SEC teams should receive some consideration due to the week-in, week-out play. In this case, that consideration goes in the Cowboys’ favor moreso than it does in the Tide’s favor. Even though there are some second-tier teams, they’re still teams you can’t fall asleep against.

According to ESPN’s numbers, Oklahoma St. has 7 wins against winning teams (this includes ULL and Tulsa to ba fair), and 5 wins against ranked teams. Alabama has 3 wins against winning teams (Arkansas, Auburn, and Penn St….6-6 isn’t “winning”) and 2 wins against ranked teams.

I’m not saying the Big XII is better than the SEC, but because Alabama did not make the SEC championship game, Oklahoma St. played 9 conference games to 8. If LSU loses to Alabama in OT and the Tigers are the ones who don’t make the championship game, and we’re comparing LSU to Oklahoma St., LSU (with wins over the Pac-12’s automatic bid and the Big East’s automatic bid) would win this hands down. So any shortfall between the Big XII and SEC is resolved due to the extra game and the deeper (if not better) non-conference schedule by Oklahoma St. A team putting itself at greater risk of a loss more often should matter more than margin of victory.

The close games could in some weird way be an argument for Oklahoma St. Three games came down to the wire and they won two of them. Alabama is 0-1 in such games.

I also heard Gary Danielson bring up the argument about what type of team is a better match for LSU. He basically argued that the offensive teams were shut down too much by the LSU defense and counteracted too much by the LSU special teams, so it needs to be a defensive team to beat LSU. He might be right, but I don’t think that has any place in the consideratiion of this.

In 2004, USC beat Oklahoma 55-19. Now, I think Auburn should have been in that game, but regardless, if you really wanted to scare USC that year, they should have been forced to play Cal again. The Trojans had only won by 6 at home, and Aaron Rodgers had a first and goal with under 2 minutes left in the game, and the Golden Bears just could not find the end zone. Cal may well have won on a neutral field on that day, not to mention with the benefits a losing team can have in a rematch. That was Cal’s only regular-season loss.

I have another example of a similar argument that was not followed, and the more I looked into it, the more analagous it was to this situation. It’s ironic because the conferences are reversed, but I think the right decision was made that year.

In 2008, Florida lost to an Ole Miss team which would finish with 4 losses. Still, Florida made the championship game over a Texas team who had beaten then-#1 (at the time of choosing) Oklahoma and had lost to one-loss (to Oklahoma) Texas Tech. That Texas team did not win its division. And although Florida would beat Oklahoma, I certainly think a reasoned argument could have been made that Texas was more likely to do so. After all, they had already beaten Oklahoma by 10 on a neutral field. But Florida had better wins overall than Texas did. Florida played 9 conference games to Texas’s 8, and they also faced the better nonconference schedule. Texas’s best nonconference opponent had been Arkansas, who would finish 5-7 (although one could argue Rice, who finished #35 with 8 points in the final AP poll, was better), while Florida’s best nonconference opponent was Florida St., who would finish ranked #21 in the final AP poll.

So my message to the voters would be: don’t pick Oklahoma St. because they finished the year with more of an exclamation point, don’t pick them because you don’t want to see a rematch (or because, as Mike Gundy argued, you want to see a 39-36 game), don’t pick them because you think they’re more likely to beat LSU (if anyone thinks that), pick them because overall they beat better teams and they deserve a shot at LSU.

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Eye of the Tiger: looking into LSU’s chances

In General LSU on October 27, 2010 at 11:17 PM

Bye weeks are useful times for teams of course, but they’re also useful times for fans. For me, I had to try to come up with reasons to still care, since, let’s face it, the deck is stacked against LSU right now. We went into the Alabama game last year with the chance to take the lead in the West. Now, even if Auburn loses to Ole Miss this week and LSU beats Alabama the next week, LSU doesn’t control its own destiny.

I never thought that I would actually have more peace of mind right now had Alabama beaten South Carolina, but I sort of wish they had.

Not only would the possibility of beating an undefeated (and likely still #1) Alabama team allow for LSU to make a speedy rebound in the polls and the computers, it would make a three-way tie atop the West more likely. LSU would simply have to beat Alabama, who would then have to beat Auburn, with the three teams winning the other remaining games. I think the only way to resolve this scenario would be to go to the BCS standings, and since in that case, LSU would have the most remote loss, they would probably be higher at that point in the polls. Also, LSU has a better non-conference schedule according to most computers.

But as it stands, basically for LSU to win the West, Auburn has to lose to Alabama AND to another SEC team (the only possibilities are Ole Miss and Georgia, two rather disappointing teams). Of course Houston Nutt loves to play the spoiler role (and also seems to always have teams who play up to and down to their opponents), and Georgia-Auburn is a good rivalry, but I don’t think either is particularly likely.

But consider another scenario. If LSU goes undefeated the rest of the way (which of course would include a win over Alabama), and then Alabama beats Auburn, it’s quite possible that LSU would be a more highly rated team.

I know the last time a similar scenario happened was in 2007, when LSU stayed ahead of Georgia, who had the same number of losses but the second loss had come earlier than LSU’s second loss. Georgia also had not played in the championship game. But those were teams in different divisions, for one thing. The East was probably the weaker division, or Tennessee (with three losses, one out of conference, before the championship game) would not have won. Also, LSU had the better out-of-conference schedule in 2007 with the big win over Virginia Tech.

Tennessee won the East with a head-to-head tiebreaker, but no one seemed to doubt that Georgia was the more deserving team. I don’t think that would have been different had Tennessee beaten Cal either. And Tennessee beat Georgia by three touchdowns. Unlike LSU-Auburn, that was not a tie game with just over 5 minutes left.

Maybe Clemson (an Auburn opponent this year) finishes strong, but I’m still guessing WVU and North Carolina will look better at the end of the year than Clemson and, well, basically no one (Arkansas St., ULM, and Chattanooga).

Of course there is also the possibility that Auburn loses in the SEC Championship game (against either Florida or South Carolina…rematches can be tough). If LSU beat Alabama and Florida, who beat Auburn in consecutive weeks, LSU looks pretty good coming out of the SEC with one loss.

Also, if we can have our first one-loss season under Les, that’s a huge success to me. As I mentioned in the Auburn wrap-up, 2003 was the only one-loss season that included a bowl win and didn’t include any ties since 1961.

So it is too early to give up, but what about LSU’s chances in this next game?

I have to say that LSU has looked pretty good with extra time to prepare in the Miles/Crowton era.

One notable exception is the bowl game last season, but I don’t think we ever got any degree of swagger back after the Alabama game last year. To be that close to beating what turned out to be the best team in the country and lose out on any real hope of winning the SEC West (I can’t remember if Alabama clinched at that time), I think made it difficult to get up for the other games. We should have beaten Ole Miss, but the players and coaches seemed to just shrug it off. We seemed to be phoning in parts of the Arkansas game too before getting it together at the end. I think the month between that game and the bowl game probably had more extended periods of indifference.

So motivation now on the other hand, I’d think it would be to LSU’s advantage. LSU will be back home after a boring and lackadaisical McNeese St. game and after being on the road the last two conference games against Florida and Auburn. This series has not been the most favorable for the home team, but I think those circumstances will add a little something extra.

I don’t think the bye week favors Alabama as well, and I don’t think the focus is as much on LSU. Alabama wants to win, and they’re going to prepare hard, don’t get me wrong, but this is not the game they want so badly, and it probably never was.

To try to put my feet in the shoes of an Alabama fan…The game they circled was probably Florida, and Auburn always has to be in the top 2 at least. Can’t let Tennessee get away with one, that was a close call last year. Oh yeah, and we better beat those other teams in the West.

LSU had two really close calls against Alabama the last two years, even though Alabama won the West in 2008 and the whole thing in 2009 and LSU didn’t live up to its own standards. Even with the disastrous Jarrett-Lee pick-six mode LSU was in for much of the year in 2008, LSU still took Alabama to overtime.

Despite everything I said about the uphill climb they face, a motivational speech for LSU is not difficult here. Are you going to let this team who barely beat us the last two seasons come into our house and beat us a third year in a row? The last two things our fans have seen is an escape against Tennessee and an altogether unimpressive win over the pride of Lake Charles, and now they’re going to watch us lose to Alabama? Are you going to let that happen? Maybe Nick was right, maybe the place to win championships is Alabama, not LSU. He was the last person to coach this team to a one-loss season, I guess that’s not going to happen again anytime soon.

Maybe there are too many statistics in there. but you get the idea.

I don’t see the angle from Alabama’s perspective. If we win this game and then beat Mississippi St., and then win the Iron Bowl, and then win the SEC, we MIGHT have a chance to get back to where we were last year. Are we going to let two coaches with goofy hats beat us in the same season? Doesn’t exactly get the blood flowing.

Alabama has some great athletes on offense, like Auburn does, but it’s not something revolutionary and creative that we haven’t seen before. It’s also not like the loss to Arkansas in 2007 where we saw bascially the same offense the year before and couldn’t handle it (althouth LSU managed to beat Arkansas in 2006 anyway). LSU’s offense was running better last year, as was Alabama’s defense, but I don’t think LSU is at a relative disadvantage there as compared to last year. Also, like I said, I do think the week off will be a help in the offense department. A fairly big part of the problem, which has been true for years, is that Crowton, LSU’s offensive coordinator, comes up with things that are too complex. Sometimes we can’t even get the personnel on the field, much less execute the play properly. But two weeks is enough time to both come up with a new wrinkle and execute it properly.

On the other side of the ball, Alabama isn’t going to be trying to do that. Playing to their strengths is being more ordinary than they tried to be against South Carolina, for instance, not trying to trick the other side through something fancy. It’s an offense that works when it’s run-first, and it’s not any of this Tim Tebow spread/wildcat stuff. They have a few such things in their playbook, buf if they try to replicate Auburn or Florida (as in Florida in the past couple of years more than this year) all night, that’s going to be a joke. Also, if McElroy tries to air it out all night, I like LSU’s chances there.

LSU can find a way to lose, Alabama can find a way to win, and just maybe Alabama does have the better team, but I think if I were a neutral observer, I would still pick LSU.

I thought about this game when I heard this song. Really gets me pumped up, by the way….

(You’re Going Down by Sick Puppies…It’s not the best song for sensitive viewers/listeners, sorry)

If you don’t want to listen to it, these lyrics in particular:
“I wouldn’t put my money on the other guy
If you know what I know that I know

“It’s been a long time coming
And the tables’ turned around
Cause one of us is goin’
One of us is goin’ down”

Postscript

It’s only been three years since LSU beat Alabama (which they had done in 2007 for the fifth straight year), but it seems like a lot longer. So that’s why “it’s been a long time coming” fit in my mind.

I thought about this blog while I was driving today, so I wanted to get it down, but I don’t have enough time to polish it very well, so apologies if it needs editing. I used to be a copy editor, so I know that can be annoying to some.

Also, as I’ve been doing occasionally, this is going to be the only place this entry will be for at least the first 12 hours. It’s mostly so I can get some sleep, but if it gets people to visit my wordpress blog without my prompting elsewhere more often, so be it.