Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Pac-10: Where Football Goes to Die

What a wild, crazy, breathtaking day in the Bowl Pool. After last night's game turned into a carbon copy of the one before (a strong MWC team from the state of Utah beats a mid-level Pac-10 team with no firepower or defense), the league went topsy turvy. Today, in what might be the last post of the week, we're going to check out some highlights and introduce some new features.

Feature 1: The Day's Biggest Winner

This goes, obviously, to the person who gained the most points. Today's honoree is Kevin Francke, who had Utah-23 and vaulted into second place.

Feature 2: The Day's Biggest Loser

For the guy or gal who lost the most: Joe Fisch, with Cal-22.

Feature 3: The Helter Skelter Watch

However we feel about Patricia Curry's coin-flip/paper-draw strategy, we can no longer deny that she's captured the nation's imagination. This feature will track the progress of the woman the papers call 'The Randomizer.' Last night, she (read: her coin and slips of paper) incorrectly chose Cal-8. For the first time, she's now out of the money, slipping to a tie for 5th place.

Feature 4: The Schneid Watch

Here, we keep track of our most tragic characters: the doomed, heroic ranks of the winless. I'm very sad to report that after Utah's victory, we are now down to 4 0-fer entries. Team Forsythe correctly picked Utah-9 to get on the board, and Charles Rosen went wild with Utah-13. We'll miss you both. Happily, Jeff Hawkins, Justin Fisch, Nick Thomason, and Steve Ryan all picked Cal, and will stick around the Schneid for the holiday weekend!

Feature 5: The Brothers Watch

An arbitrary feature to see which set of brothers are faring the best in their pick-ems. Right now, the Mooneys (suspected Mormons) are dominating:

The Mooney Brothers, Dan and Brendan: 2 entries, 68 points, average: 34
The Thomason Brothers, Nick and Eric: 2 entries, 27 points, average: 13.5
The Brothers Forsythe, Jeremy and ?? (fill me in, J): 1 entry, 9 points, average: 9
The Ryan Brothers, Steve and Dan: 2 entries, 11 points, average: 5.5 (yikes, fellas)

Feature 6: Young vs. Old

Another arbitrary feature, where we track who's winning the one-on-one battle of the ages: youngest competitor vs. oldest. Tom Cowell represents the 'wisdom faction' clocking in at 70+ years old. Unfortunately, I don't know who our youngest competitor is. It's either Nate, Noah, Kyle, Brian, Adam, Jake, or Kevin. Let's hear some birthdays, fellas.

Feature 7: The .500 Watch

Where we celebrate those pickers who have gotten more right than wrong, even when it's not reflected in the standings. Today's honor roll, all at 3-2: Dan, Spike, Patricia, Tim, Brendan. Well done, lads and lasses- in the Year of the (under)Dog, that's no easy feat.

Feature 8: The Relative Game

There are 10 entries out of 33 who are either me or related to me ( by blood or by marriage), and in this feature I'll list our current rankings and then evaluate the strength of the gene pool.

Rankings, 12/24: 6, 7, 8, 13, 17, 24, 28, 29, 31, 33
Strength of our genes: Below Average - Poor

Other highlights/opinions:

*Dan Mooney vaulted into the money. He now sits in third with 50 points.

*It's much harder to pick these games beforehand than one by one. After the BYU-Oregon St. result, I knew beyond doubt that Utah would romp over Cal last night. A sure thing, or as close as you can get in sports. Then I looked at my sheet, and read: Utah-1. F#*%!

*Jordan Glickson, he of the fast start, is still our leader with 63 points. But the hounds are starting to yip at his feet.

Here's your updated leaderboard. Have a great weekend, and I will do my best to update sometime before Monday. For a preview/BS-analysis of the games to come, I'll paste some content from my other blog below the standings.

Tonight's Game: Nevada (-13) vs. Southern Methodist, 8pm

Conference trends: C-USA is 0-2 in bowls. The WAC is 0-1. Maybe I should have learned my lesson from Fresno State, the other WAC club who was a huge favorite and lost in OT to Wyoming. On the other hand, Nevada killed Fresno, 52-14, about a month ago. And unlike Fresno, they pass all the time. Almost every game SMU won was close, and they were blown out a few times along the way. Am I still scared of the underdog after what's happened so far? Yes. Absolutely. But the miserable showing by C-USA is enough for me, as is Nevada's strong end-of-year showing against Boise State.

I Like: Nevada straight up and (gulp) with the spread.

Saturday: Ohio (-4) vs. Marshall, 1pm

Here we are again; mid-level C-USA team (they lost to UCF and Southern Miss, who were both blown out in earlier bowl games) with a .500 record against a strong team from the MAC who lost 20-10 against a very good Central Michigan club in the title game. No-brainer here, the spread should be much higher.

I Like: Ohio straight and with the spread.

#17 Pittsburgh (-3) vs. North Carolina, 4:30pm

Three points, really? Pitt came a missed extra point from taking Cincy to overtime in their final game. But looking more closely, the spread does make some sense. UNC is a tough team with a few quality ACC wins, and this should be a really fun game. But can they stop Dion Lewis? Can they put up enough points to keep pace? I'm not sure, but I doubt it. It'd be crazy, in my mind, to take a team that lost to Florida State and NC State semi-recently over one of the strongest teams in the Big East. I think that conference has a lot to prove, and they're going to do so. I don't hate UNC at all, but this is still an easy pick.

I Like: Pitt straight and with points.

#24 USC (-7.5) vs. Boston College, 8pm

The Pac-10 looks miserable, USC is without Joe McKnight and 3 others, they're probably disappointed by a down year and no Rose Bowl, and it might not the biggest deal to them or their fans if they lose. On the other hand, BC lost big this year to UNC and Virginia Tech, and barely squeaked by Maryland in their last game. Plus, the game is being played in San Francisco, and Pete Carroll is pretty great at bowl game preparation. I'm really torn here; I think it could go either way, but I have to ride this Pac-10 trend at least one more game.

I Like: USC straight up, barely, and Boston College against the spread.

Sunday: Clemson (-7.5) vs. Kentucky, 8:30pm

This one is so friggin' tricky. Kentucky ended their year with an OT loss to Tennessee, and they beat Auburn and Georgia along the way. The only games they lost decisively were Florida and Alabama, and, well, so what? Also, there were two results late in the year which gave a good hint about the relative strength of the ACC and SEC: Georgia over Georgia Tech, and South Carolina over Clemson. Neither was expected, both were fairly decisive. I have to roll with the SEC and the underdog on this one, especially with a spread this high. Hopefully CJ Spiller doesn't make a fool of me.

I Like: Kentucky straight up and against the spread.

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