theknightswhosay

Posts Tagged ‘2010’

Week 12 top 25 and brief commentary

In Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 21, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Full rankings

Since I only have a 3-day work week, I’m going to try to republish/update both the Ole Miss and Arkansas rivalry blogs this week; but I’ve been falling short of my blogging goals lately, so I’m not making any promises.

rank team prev.
1 Auburn 1
2 TCU 2
3 LSU 4
4 Boise St. 6
5 Oregon 3
6 Ohio St. 8
7 Okie St. 5
8 Mich. St. 7
9 Oklahoma 13
10 Missouri 10
11 Stanford 12
12 Arkansas 15
13 Wisconsin 14
14 Alabama 11
15 Nebraska 9
16 Texas A&M 17
17 Nevada 16
18 Utah 19
19 S.Carolina 18
20 NC State 25
21 Va. Tech —
22 Florida St. 22
23 Iowa 20
24 Hawaii —
25 Arizona —

Out of top 25: (21) Miss St., (23) USC, (24) Michigan

Oregon fell two spots, but they had passed up LSU when both had played last week, so with Oregon idle, that shouldn’t be a surprise. I expect LSU to remain ahead if both win next week, but Oregon might still move ahead of the Tigers after the Civil War. Boise St. not only won over a decent team, but prior victims Oregon St. and Virginia Tech had big wins. Oregon of course hasn’t played the Beavers yet, but they have played USC, so they were harmed by that outcome.

The good news for Oregon is they have two games left, unlike LSU and TCU. TCU will probably fall a few spots in the next two weeks. Oregon’s two remaining games (Arizona and Oregon St.) are also better than Boise St.’s two remaining games (Nevada and Utah St.). Ohio St. is not a threat to Oregon since the Buckeyes play only one more game against Michigan. Also, Michigan St. only has the one game left.

Oklahoma St. could be a threat, but only if they beat Oklahoma and (likely) Nebraska. Oklahoma, Missouri, and Nebraska are probably too far back should any of them win the Big XII.

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Week 11 Top 25 and Commentary

In Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 14, 2010 at 3:26 PM

Full ratings

rank team prev.

1 Auburn 1
2 TCU 2
3 Oregon 4
4 LSU 3
5 Okie St. 6
6 Boise St. 7
7 Mich. St. 5
8 Ohio St. 9
9 Nebraska 8
10 Missouri 11
11 Alabama 12
12 Stanford 10
13 Oklahoma 16
14 Wisconsin 13
15 Arkansas 17
16 Nevada 19
17 Texas A&M 23
18 S.Carolina —
19 Utah 14
20 Iowa 15
21 Miss St. 18
22 Florida St. —
23 USC —
24 Michigan —
25 NC State —

Out of top 25: (20) Arizona, (21) Kansas St., (22) Florida, (24) Cent. Fla., (25) N.Carolina

Nos. 1 through 3 weren’t exactly impressive, but I don’t factor in margin of victory, and it’s hard to make up for having a loss.

The discrepancy between TCU and Boise St. is mostly based on scheduling. Boise St. has three games left–two of them against fairly decent teams, Fresno St. and Nevada, and the other against Utah St. TCU has only New Mexico left, which is worse than Utah St. Also, it is certain that Oregon and LSU would more ahead of TCU by continuing to win. It’s harder to speculate about what the order might be among Boise St., TCU, and Oklahoma St., but if Oklahoma St. continues to win that would likely add Nebraska to the schedule, along with Oklahoma, who is already there. My guess would be that Oklahoma St. would move ahead of TCU and stay ahead of Boise St., but it could be close between Boise St. and Oklahoma St.

LSU should move ahead of Oregon if both win out, but it depends on how their opponents do in other games. I didn’t anticipate Oregon moving ahead of LSU this time, but past opponents did well enough (a big win was USC over Arizona, while LSU’s opponents had more mixed results) for Oregon that it happened. Arkansas is still on LSU’s schedule and that will count for more than Arizona. There isn’t as significant a difference between Ole Miss and Oregon St. LSU will move ahead next week though, since Oregon has a bye.

I’ve mentioned this before, but with computer rankings, especially those like mine, week-to-week variations mean different things from what they mean in the polls. So the rankings are not saying LSU was better last week, and now Oregon is better, and next week LSU will be better. It’s based on what has happened so far, not with a view toward who goes ahead by the teams’ winning out.

The carousel has continued at the bottom. USC moved in, knocking Arizona out. South Carolina moved in, knocking Florida out. A couple of the other changes were more indirect. Even though there was some shuffling with ACC teams, it was because North Carolina lost to Virginia Tech while Florida St. and North Carolina St. won (even though Wake Forest doesn’t count for much). Michigan moved up by virtues of others’ losses as well, since Purdue wasn’t worth a lot of points either. Most of the other changes were regular shifts based on schedule. The only currently top-25 teams who lost last week were Utah, Iowa, and Mississippi St., who were all just a little too high to fall out of the rankings.

Rivalry Series: LSU vs. Alabama

In Rivalry on November 14, 2010 at 1:11 AM
Bear-Bryant-Mike-the-Tiger-570x3831

Bear Bryant with Mike the Tiger

Please see the LSU-Alabama page for yearly entries from the past few seasons that will supplement this.

Final scores, 2000 to present (I decided to start when Nick Saban first came to LSU)
2000 – LSU 30, Alabama 28
2001 – LSU 35, Alabama 31
2002 – Alabama 31, LSU 0
2003 – LSU 27, Alabama 3
2004 – LSU 26, Alabama 10
2005 – LSU 16, Alabama 13 (OT)
2006 – LSU 28, Alabama 14
2007 – LSU 41, Alabama 34
2008 – Alabama 27, LSU 21 (OT)
2009 – Alabama 24, LSU 15
2010 – LSU 24, Alabama 21
2011 – LSU 9, Alabama 6 (OT)
2011 BCS – Alabama 21, LSU 0
2012 – Alabama 21, LSU 17
2013 – Alabama 38, LSU 17*
2014 – Alabama 20, LSU 13 (OT)
2015 – Alabama 30, LSU 16
2016 – Alabama 10, LSU 0
2017 – Alabama 24, LSU 10
2018 – Alabama 29, LSU 0

*Game was tied with 4:11 remaining in third quarter.

Series facts (updated after the 2017 game)

Alabama has leads in the series 53-25-5 overall, 23-16-2 in Alabama in general, 13-9 in Tuscaloosa, 28-9-2 in Baton Rouge, and 1-0-1 in New Orleans.

LSU only leads in Mobile (2-1-1, the last meeting in 1958, the first game of Bear Bryant’s career at Alabama and of LSU’s last undefeated season).
Largest win: Alabama, 47-3 in 1922 (largest shutout was 42-0 in Baton Rouge in 1925)
Largest LSU win: 28-0 in 1957

Longest winning streak: Alabama, 11, 1971-1981
Longest unbeaten streak: Alabama, 12 (9-0-3), 1919-1945
Longest LSU winning streak: 5, 2003-2007

Longest road winning streak: Alabama, 7, 1987-1998 and 1971-1983
Longest road unbeaten streak: Alabama, 15 (14-0-1), 1971-1998
Longest LSU road winning streak: 4, 1982-1988 and 2001-2007

Longest home winning streak: Alabama, 5, 1972-80
Longest home unbeaten streak: Alabama, 8 (7-0-1), 1920-1947
(LSU has only won two in a row at home twice, 1946 & 1948 and 2004 & 2006)

Since only winning twice from 1989 to 1999, inclusive, LSU had won 9 of 12 in the series before losing to the Tide in the BCS championship following the 2011 season. That means Alabama once led 42-16-5.

The only periods of time comparable to that for LSU took place from 1946-58 (5-3-1) and 1982-88 (4-2-1). Apart from those time periods, LSU is only 7-40-3 against the Tide (including the three LSU losses since).

Before 2013, LSU had won 5 of 6 and 8 of 12 in Tuscaloosa and 11 of 14 in the state of Alabama in general.

2010 and 2011 were only the third and fourth respective times that LSU beat an eventual 10-win Alabama team (the others being 1986 and 2005).

2017 was the 54th consecutive season LSU played Alabama. Alabama is the fifth-longest streak for LSU and third-longest current streak after only Mississippi St. and Ole Miss. The Kentucky streak was broken by the SEC in 2003, and the Tulane streak was ended by LSU in the 1995 season.

Road teams are 24-10-1 in this series since 1981.

Intro

I know what you might be thinking as far as “rivalry”–Alabama’s biggest rivals are Tennessee and Auburn. While this is true, LSU has had no such rivals in the conference since Tulane left after the 1965 season. LSU started playing Auburn and Arkansas consistently only when the SEC split into two divisions, which coincided with Arkansas’s joining the conference in 1992. (LSU and Arkansas did have a big rivalry before World War II.) Florida and LSU don’t have the same history insofar as battling for #1 in the conference as LSU and Alabama. LSU started playing Florida every year in 1971 and it wasn’t until 1983 that the Gators finished with fewer than 3 losses, and only once in that time period did they finish with 3. As for Ole Miss, that rivalry peaked in the 1960s–only twice since 1974 (1986 and 2003) have both teams finished with winning records in conference in the same season–and the Rebels have a natural rivalry with Miss St. anyway. I’ll start with series facts, transitioning into more narrative about the LSU/Alabama rivalry.

Numbers don’t really prove a rivalry, but it is worth mentioning that Alabama is LSU’s 4th most commonly-played opponent and only one of the three series that were played more (Ole Miss) has been competitive lately (defined as three wins or more by the opponent over the last 10 games). The 2011 game was the 75th between LSU and Alabama. LSU is also fourth on Alabama’s list and the only more-played rivalry that has been competitive for Alabama lately is Tennessee. Alabama has played LSU more than it has played Auburn (at least since 1902).

I had been adding something after each game, but I’m just going to say that even though the 2013 game looks as bad as the Jan. 2012 loss on the scoreboard, LSU was much more in the game. LSU fumbled away what should have been at least 10 points in the first half, and then LSU still had the ball deep in Alabama territory down 14 with about 10 minutes left. (The coaches made the right decision not to kick the field goal, but if the score were a good bit closer, they may have done so.) This is the first time Alabama has won 3 in a row over LSU since 1996.

Timing and presidential coincidence (added after the 2012 game)

The Tigers have made the SEC championship game 5 times, but all were in odd-numbered years. LSU has played @Auburn and @Florida in every even-numbered year since the SEC championship game began. The Tigers have also hosted Alabama in even-numbered years that whole time and have generally fared worse against the Tide at home than on the road.

For the eighth presidential election in a row, the LSU/Alabama game has corresponded with the outcome of the presidential election. It’s simple: LSU beats Alabama in an election year, the Republican wins; Alabama beats LSU, the Democrat wins. So if you don’t like Obama, blame Les Miles for getting him re-elected. The Alabama/LSU game often takes place after the election though.

The game also has had added significance because of when it is played on the calendar. With only a handful of exceptions since this became an annual game in 1964, the game is played between November 3 and November 11 (election day falls between 11/2 and 11/8). From 2002 to 2005, it was played only slightly later in November (the latest being the 16th). In 1973, it was played on November 22; and in 1981, it was the opener for both teams. The 2011 bowl rematch was in January of course.

Mississippi St. has moved around on LSU’s schedule several times, but the traditional order for LSU is Ole Miss (late October, early November), Alabama, Mississippi St., and Tulane (replaced by Arkansas starting about 20 years ago, but a few times it was Tulane followed by Arkansas). Alabama and Mississippi St. are back in their normal spots this season with Arkansas last, but Ole Miss has instead been LSU’s second-to-last regularly-scheduled SEC opponent every year since 2002. Next year, Alabama and Arkansas will remain in their traditional spots, but several teams will be out of order due to the addition of Texas A&M as the second-to-last opponent. LSU was not able to secure a bye week before the Alabama game, but they will be facing an FCS opponent (Furman) that week. (This was later changed when Furman was bumped up a week.)

2011 Post-game narrative:
The last time LSU was in a game where the only scoring was field goal(s), they lost to Alabama, 3-0, in 1979. Alabama won the national championship that year as the only major undefeated and untied team. Going back to 2011, Les Miles moved past Nick Saban in wins against Alabama, 5 to 4 (Miles admittedly leads Saban in losses against Alabama, 2-1). No other coach in LSU history had more than two wins against Alabama, although Bill Arnsparger (1984-86) was an impressive 2-0-1, the tie of course coming in Baton Rouge. If LSU can get past Arkansas, Miles will have a winning record with LSU against every SEC team except for Georgia (1-2). (That would have been true even had LSU lost this game though.) LSU has now won 11 of the last 15 against the Tide in the state of Alabama and 7 of 9 against the Tide overall. It’s just bizarre that LSU has as many wins in Tuscaloosa in this series as in Baton Rouge despite playing about half as many games in Tuscaloosa. The two teams are tied in their last 31 games (15-15-1), their last 29 games (14-14-1), their last 27 games (13-13-1), and their last 22 games (11-11) against one another. One more thing: LSU now leads in overtimes in the series, 2-1. The Tigers had won in 2005 (in Tuscaloosa, of course) and lost in 2008 (in Baton Rouge, of course).

(The remainder of this entry is as it was written in 2010.)

LSU coaches

During the game last week, the trivia question was, “Which LSU coach has the most wins against Alabama,” with the predictable answer, Nick Saban. With the win incidentally, he was tied by Les Miles, who is now 4-2 against the Tide. Saban was 4-1, although to be fair to Miles, Alabama wasn’t as hard to beat back then. For instance, in Saban’s first year, the Tigers lost to Alabama-Birmingham before beating the Tide.

After the trivia question, they then showed the list of LSU coaches and in a tie for third (with two wins) is Charlie McClendon, who coached LSU for 16 seasons.

The most frustrating period of the rivalry for LSU was 1967 to 1977, during which LSU lost 2 games or fewer in conference 8 times. One of the years (1970), the Tigers finished undefeated (although with three non-conference losses, including in the bowl game). In the rest of the years, with one exception (1969, in Baton Rouge), LSU lost to Alabama. In each of the other three years in that time frame, LSU lost to Alabama.

If you were wondering why I mentioned the location of the 1969 game–in every Alabama @ LSU game over the next 30 seasons, LSU lost to Alabama. It wasn’t completely one-sided either, as LSU won @ Alabama 7 times in the interim, about half the time. There was one tie in Baton Rouge, in 1985. (I’ve seen people argue on this basis, so if you were curious, the first 4 of the 7 were in Birmingham.)

In 1972, both teams finished with one loss in the conference, but LSU finished third rather than first because of the loss. In 1973, LSU was one of two teams to finish the SEC with less than 3 conference losses: LSU lost 1, and Bama lost none. In 1979, LSU would have finished in a tie for first had it beaten Bama, to whom the Tigers had lost 3-0 at home. 1979 was McClendon’s last season at LSU.

Had LSU beaten rather than tied Bama in 1985 (Bill Arnsparger was the coach by that time), LSU would have also tied for first. In 1986, the tables turned: the LSU/Bama game proved to be decisive, but LSU won this time. In only three seasons (1984-86), Arnsparger won 2 games against Alabama himself. Arnsparger was the only LSU coach between McClendon and Saban (20 seasons under 5 different coaches who faced the Tide) who beat Alabama more than once.

In 1987, the Tigers’ only loss all season was to Alabama, without which the Tigers of course would have repeated. LSU tied for the championship in 1988 and then didn’t make a bowl game until until 1995. Admittedly that cooled off the rivalry, but those 20 years still weren’t exactly a distant memory. Even when LSU only lost 6 games from 1995 to 1997, two of them were to Alabama.

There were some big games in the 1990s and early 2000s though. LSU was the first team to beat Alabama after the Tide’s 1992 national championship, putting an end to a 30-game undefeated streak. Then in 1996, LSU lost the SEC West due to the head-to-head tie-breaker in favor of Alabama. In 1997, LSU finally beat rivals Alabama and Florida, but losses to Auburn and Ole Miss kept the Tigers out of the SEC championship game. LSU won in Tuscaloosa for their first win against Alabama since 1993 and only their second since 1988. Although otherwise unremarkable, 2000 was a big win for LSU because it was LSU’s first home win against Alabama since 1969. Bama only won 3 games that year and LSU won 7, but the Tigers still only beat the Tide by 2. And of course in 2005, LSU was the first team to beat Bama, who had started 9-0.

I’ll get to comparisons of the recent Alabama coaches, a few of whom coached against LSU at other schools.

Other connections include Curley Hallman, whose biggest win as LSU head coach was over Alabama in 1993 (in terms of winning percentage, he was easily the worst LSU head coach of more than 10 games in history). He was an assistant at Alabama for Bryant after playing at Texas A&M under Gene Stallings, who was Alabama’s coach in 1993. Sylvester Croom and Jackie Sherill, both of whom LSU gave fits at Mississippi St. (Sherill also coached at A&M, where he was 0-3 against LSU), had played for successful Alabama teams. Alabama coaches Ray Perkins and Mike Shula had played for Bryant as well, although neither did particularly well as head coaches against LSU either.

Alabama coaches: Bear Bryant to present (in reverse order)

Nick Saban
Michigan St. vs. LSU (1995-99), 0-1
LSU vs. Alabama (2000-04), 4-1
Alabama vs. LSU, 2-2

His match-up against LSU while he was at Michigan St. consisted of the 1995 Independence Bowl, in the first year of his predecessor Gerry DiNardo. LSU was 6-4-1 entering the game, having finished fourth in the SEC West. Michigan St. was also 6-4-1 and had finished fifth in the Big Ten in Saban’s first year there. LSU won the game, 45-26. Although LSU had the crowd on its side, which may have helped the margin of victory, this probably did not affect the outcome.

In Saban’s first season (2000), LSU beat Alabama in Baton Rouge for the first time since 1969. Although LSU would finish with an 8-4 record and Alabama would finish 3-8, the Tigers only won 30-28. But the Tide was right back to normal in Tiger Stadium in 2002, winning 31-0, Saban’s only loss to the Tide. LSU won the other games against Alabama in Saban’s tenure by at least 14 points each.

Mike Shula
vs. LSU (2003-06), 0-4

His only game of note against the Tigers was a 16-13 overtime loss for the Tide’s first loss in 2005, which so happened to be Les Miles’ first year. The game was Miles’ first win over a top ten opponent at LSU. LSU was 2-1 in overtime games that year (beating Auburn and losing to Tennessee, both at home). The contest was the only time Shula lost to LSU by less than 14.

In the game, Alabama led 10-0 in the second quarter after Brodie Croyle connected with DJ Hall. In the first half, the #3 Tide out-gained the #5 Tigers, 207-72, and only allowed 5 first downs. LSU opened the second half with a nine-play, 80-yard drive and kept the Tide from getting another first down until they tied the game on a 42-yard field goal with 5:46 left in the third quarter. Not much offense ensued, although LSU would miss three subsequent field goal attempts, and the game went to OT tied at 10. After Alabama got the opening possession and kicked a field goal, LSU decided not to rely on kicking anymore, and JaMarcus Russell threw the game-winning, 11-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe. Russell finished at 16-30 for 229 and no interceptions. Alabama out-gained LSU for the game, 284-275, and had more first downs, 20-16. As a side note, Croyle and Bowe are both Kansas City Chiefs now.

Dennis Franchione
vs. LSU (2001-02), 1-1

Franchione’s two seasons at Alabama coincided with Nick Saban’s second and third at LSU. The Tide lost to the eventual SEC Champions, 35-21, at home in 2001. Alabama’s 31-0 win in 2002 took place as the Tide finished the season 10-3 by winning 6 of its last 7. The Tide were ineligible for a bowl game that year, and LSU would lose to Texas in the Cotton Bowl to finish 8-5.

Franchione is the third coach (at least that I know of) to coach both Alabama and A&M; but the LSU/A&M rivalry was discontinued after 1995, so he never coached against LSU while there.

Mike DuBose
vs. LSU (1997-2000), 2-2

DuBose lost his first game against LSU, 27-0, in 1997, when LSU would finish 9-3 and Alabama 4-7. DuBose’s teams then beat LSU by 6 each of the next two years, however, LSU only won a combined 7 games in those two years while the Tide won a combined 17. Those two wins were of course followed by Saban’s first season at LSU, in which the Tigers won. Somewhat dampening the mood surrounding the end of the Tide’s 15-game unbeaten streak in Baton Rouge for Tiger fans was the fact that Bama didn’t win any road games at all that year.

Gene Stallings
@Alabama vs. LSU (1990-96), 6-1
@Texas A&M vs. LSU (1965-71), 1-5-1

I mentioned the 1993 game above.

LSU also came close to a huge upset in 1991. The Tigers would finish with a losing record and Alabama would finish 11-1, but Bama only won 20-17 at Tiger Stadium. The only other game that was close (decided by fewer than eighteen) in the Stallings era was in 1995 when the Tide won 10-3 to avenge the end of its 31-game unbeaten streak in the previous contest in Tuscaloosa.

Stallings’ one win against LSU while at A&M was one of only two wins that season, the other against Wichita St. (which stopped having a football team in 1986), in 1970, a year in which LSU would win the SEC outright. The Tigers have not gone unbeaten in the SEC since. All contests against the Tigers during his time in College Station were played in Baton Rouge. Stallings had only one winning record in his seven seasons with the Aggies, beating Alabama in the Cotton Bowl after the 1967 season (Curley Hallman grabbed two Ken Stabler intereceptions in that game). LSU, who eventually won the Sugar Bowl that year, beat the Aggies, 17-6. The tie took place in 1966, in unremarkable 5-4-1 and 4-5-1 respective seasons, except it was remarkable in the fact that it was LSU’s worst season between 1961 and 1980.

Bill Curry
Alabama vs. LSU (1987-89), 2-1
Kentucky vs. LSU (1990-96), 3-4

In 1987, Curry’s first season, his team defeated LSU, 22-10, in Baton Rouge but did not win another game and finished 7-5. LSU, on the other hand, finished 10-1-1, and as a result of the loss, came in second to Auburn.

In 1988 (also extensively discussed in the LSU/Auburn rivalry blog), the Tigers continued their run to the SEC co-championship (with Auburn) by beating the Tide, 19-18, in Tuscaloosa.

In 1989, Curry’s team beat the Tigers to go 9-0 on the way to a 10-0 start, 32-16. This coincided with only the third losing season for LSU since 1956.

LSU continued its losing ways almost throughout Curry’s tenure at Kentucky, but the Wildcats didn’t fare much better. 1992 and 1994 were probably the sorriest match-ups during that period. 1992 was Curry’s only win with the Cats in Baton Rouge, but LSU would finish 2-9 and Kentucky would finish 4-7. In 1994, Kentucky’s lone win of the season was over Louisville in the opener. They still managed to make it close against LSU, losing 17-13 in Baton Rouge. LSU finished 4-7.

In 1993, Curry’s most successful season at Kentucky (6-6, with a loss to Clemson in the Peach Bowl), Kentucky won 35-17.

Although LSU would finish 7-4-1 in 1995, the Tigers lost to Kentucky, who would finish 4-7, anyway. LSU made the unfortunate decision to wear purple pants for the game. And rather than causing Kentucky to avert its eyes for the entire contest, it seemed to make the Tigers self-conscious. I don’t think LSU has worn purple pants since. The final was 24-16 in Lexington. Curry had another 4-7 campaign in his final year, but LSU, on its way to a 10-2 record, had no problem with the Cats this time, 41-14.

Ray Perkins
vs. LSU (1983-86), 1-2-1

Both home games against the Tigers were played in Birmingham and both were losses. No contest against LSU while Perkins was at Alabama was decided by less than 6 points. Alabama won by 6 in 1983, then LSU won by 2 in 1984 and by 4 in 1986. 1986 was Perkins’ final year, and after a 7-0 start, the Tide lost 3 of its last 5 regular-season games, to Penn St., LSU, and Auburn, before winning the Sun Bowl over Washington. 1986 was LSU’s most recent outright SEC title before Nick Saban came to Baton Rouge.

Bear Bryant
Alabama vs. LSU (1958-82), 16-4
Texas A&M vs. LSU (1954-57), 2-0
Kentucky vs. LSU (1946-53), 2-1-1

For his career, he was 20-5-1 against the Tigers with a total of 6 shutouts.

The head coach of Kentucky the first time the Wildcats played LSU was none other than Bear Bryant, who always seemed to give the Tigers trouble. His teams shut out the Tigers the first two times he faced them, before LSU beat Kentucky in his second-to-last season there and tied them in his last. LSU-Kentucky was a yearly rivalry from that time until 2003, after the SEC decided on one permanent inter-division rivalry per team.

His success in the LSU-Alabama series is despite the fact that he lost to the Tigers, 13-3, at Mobile in 1958, his first season at Alabama. LSU won the national championship that year, and the Tide finished 5-4-1 and only 3-4-1 in conference. Still, it was a vast improvement over the previous three years, in which Bama had only won four games combined.

To go back to LSU coaches for a second, the 1958 win was the second in a row over Alabama for LSU coach Paul Dietzel. The only subsequent LSU coaches to do so have been Charles McClendon (1969 & 1970), Nick Saban (2000 & 2001 and 2003 & 2004), and Les Miles (2005-07). Dietzel did not lose to Alabama, but he did not face the Tide (at least not with LSU) after that 1958 game.

The Tide would win a national championship of its own in 1961 but wouldn’t be able to return the favor against the Tigers until 1964, a 10-1 season in which Alabama won the polls but lost the bowl game. Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss were unofficial national co-champions in 1962, when USC won the major polls as well as the vast majority of other ranking systems for its first national championship. 1962 was LSU’s last claim to a national championship, recognized by the NCAA anyway, until 2003; but Alabama would get several and beat LSU often for the remainder of its contests against them under Bryant. LSU’s only subsequent wins over Bear Bryant were 1969, 1970, and 1982.

Despite his claim that playing at Tiger Stadium was like playing inside a drum, he was 10-1-1 there overall and 8-1 with the Tide. LSU was 3-8 against Bryant in the state of Alabama.

Other Rivalry Series entries

Team List:
Arkansas
Auburn (2010 post-game)
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
Mississippi St.
Ole Miss
(Steve Spurrier and) South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas A&M

Special editions:
Pac-12

Week 10 Top 25 and Comments

In Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 7, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Full ratings

rank team prev.
1 Auburn 1
2 TCU 2
3 LSU 6
4 Oregon 7
5 Mich. St. 4
6 Okie St. 12
7 Boise St. 11
8 Nebraska 10
9 Ohio St. 9
10 Stanford 18
11 Missouri 3
12 Alabama 13
13 Wisconsin 16
14 Utah 8
15 Iowa 15
16 Oklahoma 5
17 Arkansas 20
18 Miss St. 17
19 Nevada 22
20 Arizona 14
21 Kansas St. —
22 Florida —
23 Texas A&M —
24 Cent. Fla. —
25 N.Carolina —

Out of top 25: (19) N.C. State, (21) Baylor, (23) S.Carolina, (24) Florida St., (25) Hawaii

Just to comment briefly on the turnover, the #21+ teams, led by the ACC, keep beating each other up. The second-tier SEC and Big XII teams are keeping the cycle going as well.

As for the top 10, I didn’t get a chance to re-post the Alabama-LSU rivalry post (my personally favorite LSU rivalry), but this way the recent games will end on a positive. I don’t plan to have much to say about the ULM game, so there is no reason not to post about the rivalry in the next week. I’ll also get more into specifics on the last game. I did write a pre-game blog, and I just added some comments (in the “responses” section) as well.

I’ve had LSU higher than Alabama almost all season, and a lot of people thought this was an injection of bias in some way (even when I went to the computers, I was accused of rigging my formula to put LSU higher). But the fact is Nick Saban is not a miracle worker, and once again, inexperience was evident on his defense, particularly in the secondary. One might have been deluded, as ESPN’s Jesse Palmer (an Alabama alumnus) was, into thinking Stephen Garcia went 17-20 because he was just that impossibly good that day and that therefore this was not a reflection on any weakness by Alabama. (Sort of like when a basketball team can’t miss a three-pointer, you can’t always blame the defense.) But maybe that should be re-thought now that Garcia went 14-29 against Arkansas on the same day that Jordan Jefferson went 10-13 for 141 yards (1 TD, no INT) against Alabama, the same Jordan Jefferson who had averaged 51 passing yards and one interception per game over his previous four starts and who had not thrown a touchdown pass since Week 1. This wasn’t one of those one-yard, backfield touchdown passes either: if was for 75 yards.

Not that projections are at all the point of my ratings, but admittedly I’m not confident that LSU would beat Oregon (mostly because there are similar offensive capabilities to Auburn’s). I do know that Oregon hasn’t faced an SEC-quality defense though. Right now, LSU is 4-1 against the top 25 and Oregon is 1-0. I’m not going to apologize for the 4-1 team being higher. Again, if I can draw a basketball analogy, few would doubt having the 4-1 team higher in a debate over seeding in the NCAA tournament (the 4-1 team would be in the ACC or Big East and the 1-0 team would be in a “mid-major,” or in a major conference in a bad year, but there are 30-something games in basketball). But in football, of course, people have this absurd idea of a regular-season playoff. So if Utah had beaten TCU, Auburn had lost one of their 3-point contests, Boise St. had lost to Virginia Tech, Stanford had held on against Oregon, and USC had held on against Stanford, Utah would be the deserving #1 team right now? I don’t think many people outside of Utah would be saying that. To be fair, Oregon’s schedule is slightly better than Utah’s (91 rather than 106), but that doesn’t factor in Oregon’s FCS/I-AA game; Utah had no such game. On the other hand, LSU’s FBS/I-A schedule is 3rd.

Of course, that’s part of my formula, but just looking at opponents’ cumulative record makes my case as well. LSU’s FBS/I-A opponents have won over 61% of their games (this includes their games against LSU), good for 12th, while Oregon’s have won 40.5%, “good” for 103rd.

Oregon does have an opportunity to gain some ground with LSU about to play ULM and Ole Miss, but it may not be enough if both teams go undefeated the rest of the way. Oregon and Boise St. have both made good jumps simply by playing decent teams lately, even though Washington and Hawaii, respectively, are hardly great. Boise St. has only one opponent left (Nevada) that might be of much help though, at least relative to other teams near them.

TCU has San Diego St. next week, but they will gain almost no points afterward. The Horned Frogs have a bye week after that, and then they play New Mexico, one of the 10 worst teams (also a prior opponent of Oregon) to close out their regular season. The Mountain West, of course, does not have a championship game. Last week was probably it.

Michigan St. has only Penn St. and Purdue left. Penn St. has been playing better as of late, but I don’t see the Spartans moving up without some losses by other teams.

I think Oklahoma St., Nebraska, Ohio St., and Stanford are ranked appropriately. I still don’t understand how Nebraska lost to Texas, but they have the wins to make up for it relative to Ohio St. and Stanford, who each have a very respectable loss but lack in quality wins. I know Nebraska beat Oklahoma St., but is a loss to Nebraska more understandable than a loss to Texas? I think so.

If you think Wisconsin, the only other team that seems to still be in the running for a BCS title, should be higher, just consider their out-of-conference schedule: UNLV, San Jose St., Arizona St., Austin Peay. Let’s just say I’m a tad annoyed that the BCS-related polls have the Badgers higher than LSU, although I think the computers will come through for the Tigers.

Week 9 Top 25 and Commentary

In Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 31, 2010 at 2:44 PM

rank team prev.
1 Auburn 1
2 TCU 4
3 Missouri 3
4 Mich. St. 2
5 Oklahoma 6
6 LSU 5
7 Oregon 9
8 Utah 11
9 Ohio St. 7
10 Nebraska 13
11 Boise St. 10
12 Okie St. 15
13 Alabama 8
14 Arizona 14
15 Iowa 22
16 Wisconsin 12
17 Miss St. 17
18 Stanford 18
19 NC State —
20 Arkansas 21
21 Baylor 25
22 Nevada 20
23 S.Carolina 19
24 Florida St. 16
25 Hawaii —

Missouri and Michigan St. didn’t lose much here, but I double-checked the numbers, and they make sense. It doesn’t work like the polls, which tend to dramatically punish the most-recent loss. Oregon and Utah gained some ground, just not enough to get above the best one-loss teams. They have big games ahead though. LSU has been stagnant with a I-AA win, a loss, and a bye week in the last three weeks. I had Alabama with two wins over Ole Miss rather than a win over Tennessee and a win over Ole Miss, so that’s why they moved down more than would make sense for a team with a bye. Alabama will be fine if they beat LSU, Auburn, and Mississippi St. Boise St. has been falling behind, but with Hawaii next week, that’s a chance to move up again.

Not entirely unlike the BCS, this is made so that the best teams finish on top, so I don’t mind that there will be teams like Hawaii that make it in there from time to time, even with a couple of losses.

For the first time since I’ve been doing computerized rankings, there were no Big East teams in the top 40.

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.

Week 8 Top 25

In Rankings on October 24, 2010 at 1:21 PM

Vote for #1

Full rating

My top 25 (previous week):
1 Auburn 1
2 Michigan St. 4
3 Missouri 5
4 TCU 7
5 LSU 2
6 Oklahoma 3
7 Ohio St. 11
8 Alabama 10
9 Oregon 8
10 Boise St. 6
11 Utah 12
12 Wisconsin 16
13 Nebraska 19
14 Arizona 18
15 Oklahoma St. 9
16 Florida St. 17
17 Mississippi St. 20
18 Stanford 15
19 South Carolina —
20 Nevada (Reno) 23
21 Arkansas —
22 Iowa 14
23 U. Miami —
24 Kansas St. 13
25 Baylor —

Out of top 25: (21) WVU, (22) Michigan, (24) N.C. State, (25) N.Carolina

LSU-Auburn post mortem

In Post-game on October 23, 2010 at 8:15 PM

Overall impressions

I know from total yards, it doesn’t look like it should have been close, but LSU really should have won this game. That’s not in any way an attack on Auburn, but I just recognize as an LSU fan that the necessary situations were there for my team (I’m avoiding use of the word “Tigers”).

I’m not saying this out of delusional support of LSU. I honestly didn’t think we would win and would feel better if I believed Auburn was just too good to be beaten, but LSU was more than capable and let the opportunities pass them by.

On each of the Fighting Tigers’ first three possessions, they had the ball at the Auburn 40 or better. Only three points came from those three possessions, however.

More of the same took place in the second half. LSU had the ball at the 50 yardline on the second possession, then on the Auburn 38 in the third possession. No points. LSU also had the ball at their own 47 to start out the next possession. Another punt.

If you had told me there would be that kind of ineptness on so many drives, I would have picked Auburn to win by 3 touchdowns (like 24-3), because I would have expected that the other drives didn’t even get that far, when in fact there were two touchdown drives as well.

On the other hand, Auburn took over on their own 10 yardline or in even worse field position 5 times and got 14 points from those drives. That part is understandable (see below where I discuss the defense), but it doesn’t alter my point that holding that team to 24 points (I know they could have had more, but only because of the ill-fated 4th down for LSU) was more than sufficient for the LSU offense to win the game.

LSU on offense

Jordan Jefferson will get blamed for the interception on the first drive, but Newton threw a couple of balls that were just as off-target. The difference was the Auburn receivers made a play on the ball and came up with it. There were a couple of other similar passes by both Jefferson and Lee.

When the ball hits the receiver in the hands—and when, even if the receiver had made no play at all, it would not have been intercepted—I have a problem with blaming the interception on the quarterback. The incompletion perhaps, but it was a very risk-averse throw. The deflection by the receiver is the only thing that resulted in Auburn catching it.

If you exclude Newton from Auburn, LSU has better pure athletes on offense, but I think there is a failure to take advantage of their talents.

I’m starting to suspect it’s a coaching issue. It’s too much about some abstract ideal of what convoluted play they want to call and not enough about having plays that can and will be executed well. The variation of the halfback pass was nice, but that’s not something that out of the ordinary or inventive to have in a playbook. So I’m not saying we don’t need a few plays like that, but trying to get some complicated formation out there that they can’t even organize through a timeout and a full play clock on fourth down just doesn’t make any sense. The game wasn’t about to end (although it turned out to be LSU’s last possession), but it was pretty much Tennessee all over again.

At the very least, there has to be a simplified playbook in such situations, maybe even plays Les can call from the sidelines, and they have to be plays where everyone knows exactly where to be. It seems like the more urgent or pressure-filled the situation, the more deliberative the play-calling process becomes.

It reminds me of the last time I played a football video game. There were just too many different options of plays to go through. These are the kind of options I was looking for—goal line, draw, off tackle, bootleg, option, play action, quick hitch, quick slant, and a couple of different combinations of short and long passes, and then finally a hail-mary type of play. I wanted there to be a basic menu in case I didn’t have time to be creative (which when the game is new to you, never). I didn’t want to have to pick a basic formation group and then pick how many running backs I wanted and then pick how many wide receivers and tight ends I wanted every time.

I’m not saying that calling plays in a real game is like calling it on a video game. It’s more complicated than that, which means it’s even more true that in some situations, you can’t have everything on the table. People don’t just magically appear on the field where you expect them to be. Also, it wasn’t 4th and 38, it was 4th and 6. There should be a good idea of what play you want to run and whatever option you choose, it should be a pretty comfortable set-up for your team to go out there and execute the play without all the confusion. You don’t want to invent a new play no one has ever seen before. You don’t have the luxury of trying out a play with a 25% chance at a touchdown and a 75% chance of an interception or incompletion, you want a play with a 40-50% chance at a first down even if there is almost no chance at a touchdown. Like even the halfback pass I mentioned, which is hardly groundbreaking, is not the part of your playbook you want to look at, not to mention something that seemed even more complex.

LSU on defense

I wasn’t thrilled with the defense. You can’t give up that many yards, especially when you’re used to dominating and not be frustrated in a few instances. There wasn’t enough of a “safety” approach, which was the recommended solution for Tim Tebow, for instance. If you get 5 guys in the backfield without a tackle being made, then the opposing offense has nothing but open spaces. If you keep the players in front, he might get a couple of yards, but you don’t want to risk giving up 50 for the chance at stopping him (or another player) in the backfield. So it’s not always a good thing to get those defenders back there. When considering Auburn’s strengths and weaknesses rather than the type of game to which I’m accustomed as an LSU fan, the defensive failures were much more understandable than the offensive ones.

Conclusion and looking forward

Although I’m sure LSU will fall in the polls, I hope we did show people that it is not a joke and not “smoke and mirrors,” as John Saunders called it (citing “a lot of people”), that this LSU team started 7-0 against a very good schedule. I just hope that unlike last year, and something like our 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2007 efforts after losses that we keep playing well and continue to show that to people. LSU hasn’t finished with only 1 loss since 2003, so trying to be arguably one of the two best LSU teams since 1958 (LSU’s last undefeated season) or 1961 (the last time apart from 2003 that LSU won a bowl game and finished with one loss and no ties) isn’t a bad goal. We can’t control if Alabama beats Auburn (if it comes to that), but if we beat the remaining teams in front of us, that will be every reason to be very proud.

No team with a prior BCS championship is undefeated right now, and the only other program with two BCS championships is 4-3. The third program with two championships during the BCS era (one an AP trophy) is 5-2 and on probation. So it’s not like it’s like LSU fans have to hang their heads too low right now anyway.

Top 25 and Commentary after Week 7

In Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 17, 2010 at 7:21 PM

Rank Team Last Week
1 Auburn 2
2 LSU 1
3 Oklahoma 3
4 Mich. St. 4
5 Missouri 8
6 Boise St. 5
7 TCU 6
8 Oregon 9
9 Okie St. 12
10 Alabama 11
11 Ohio St. 7
12 Utah 14
13 Kansas St. 20
14 Iowa 25
15 Stanford 17
16 Wisconsin —
17 Florida St. 22
18 Arizona 19
19 Nebraska 10
20 Miss. St. —
21 WVU —
22 Michigan 15
23 Nevada 13
24 NC State 18
25 N.Carolina —
(For full ratings, click here or on the “Ratings Site” tab above.)
Out of top 25: (16) S.Carolina, (21) Air Force, (23) Oregon St., (24) Arkansas

Commentary
Auburn jumped over LSU with the win over Arkansas. The Swamp Tigers (as opposed to the Plains Tigers) played McNeese St., so it was not surprising that they didn’t hold onto the top spot. Not that it really matters, since the battle of the Tigers is next week at Jordan-Hare.

This is the first time LSU has been 7-0 since 1973, when they actually started 9-0 but lost the last three games, including losing to Tulane for the first time since 1948.

The top 3 have all made a living off of ugly wins, but they all have had formidable schedules and all have 0s in the loss column. Michigan St. only needed to eek out a win in one game (like LSU against Florida, with a fake field goal against Notre Dame), but the same basic logic applies.

Ohio St. and Alabama seem appropriately high in consideration of their losses. Certainly, they belong ahead of Utah, who has had one of the worst schedules thus far. It should improve when the Utes play TCU and Air Force and maybe a couple of other teams in the MWC schedule.

Many of big jumps forward are mostly due to losses by other teams, although of course Mississippi St. and Wisconsin had big wins.

After watching the ESPN BCS show, I had to add in a follow-up comment here. I understand that LSU hasn’t necessarily had impressive wins, but how is that so different from Auburn:
AU 17, Mississippi St. 14 (as opposed to LSU beating Miss. St., 29-7)
AU 27, Clemson 24, OT
AU 37, Kentucky 34
…or Oklahoma:
OK 31, Utah St. 24
OK 27, Air Force 24
OK 31, Cincinnati 29

The people on TV and the voters don’t even think about the logic behind what they’re saying. They just get an impression in their head about a team and completely ignore all of the contradictory stances if you actually sit there and look at the results. And then they wonder why there are computers in the BCS rather than having us just trust them.

Unrelated to that, I just realized there are actually two top-5 match-ups next week, with Oklahoma traveling to Columbia for the first time since 2006. The Sooners have won 7 straight in the series and 19 of 20 against Missouri since 1983.