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Catching up on CFB

Didn’t blog championship week, as the Badgers and Ags were out of it.  Stanford is back in the Rose Bowl, after beating Arizona State in Tempe.  The Cardinal will play Michigan State, who thwarted Ohio State’s effort to get to the last BCS championship.

The big new in CFB, however, is the Mack Brown out at Texas saga, and how Nick Saban’s agent seems to have played Bama and Texas off each other for a big raise.

Then there was the Heisman. Everyone is soooo glad this year’s winner doesn’t have off the field issues like like Johnny Manziel, right?

Belated CFB Week 14: War damn eagle, I guess

Didn’t post in a timely way over the Thanksgiving weekend, even though it was an eventful one for College football 2013.  The big news, of course, was Auburn upsetting the Crimson Tide by running back a missed FG attempt at the end of the game, after Nick Saban had argued to get one more second added back to the clock.

In less insane action, the Ags and Badgers lost, while Stanford beat Notre Dame.

The Aggie fans are crushed, but Mizzou was favored and at home. To add insult to injury (for some) Mizzou then hired our President to be their Chancellor.  What made the loss especially frustrating, however, was that the much maligned D held Mizzou to only 28 points. The high-powered Ags could only manage 21, for the second disappointing offensive performance in a row.  Partly this is because Missouri has a very good D, which was under-appreciated due to their injury-riddled 2012 campaign. But there was also the sense that Johnny Manziel was off again, combined with suggestions that other players did not give their best effort.

Speaking of underperforming, the Badgers performance against Penn State was worse than the 31-24 final score.  Penn State scored 24 unanswered points to go from down 14-7 to up 31-14 before the Badgers scored 10 points in the 4th quarter.

Other notable results

  • Fresno State fell from the ranks of the unbeatens and will not be the last BCS buster. Congrats to former Aggie D coordinator Tim DeRuyter on a great season… but giving up 62 points to San Jose State is not like Boise losing to Nevada a few years ago.
  • Arizona State clinched the home field for this weekend’s Pac12 championship. Stanford will travel to Tempe.
  • Duke beat UNC to get the  right to play Florida State in the ACC championship. I would love to see the Blue Devils knock off the Noles.  Unlikely, but it would be great.
  • Michigan State beat Minnesota and Ohio State edged Michigan to set up the Big 10 championship.  The Buckeyes stayed unbeaten thanks to a gift from Michigan coach Brady Hoke who decided to go for 2 instead of kicking a PAT to send the game to OT.

Week 10 cfb: UTEPid win drops Ags in the BCS

Despite grant writing and paper revisions, I managed to get my sports fix this past weekend while my collaborators were taking their turns with the texts.

Stanford was off on Saturday, prepping for next Thursday’s highly hyped game with the Ducks. Badgers won a slugfest with Iowa, pulling away late.  The Ags played UTEP at Kyle in a late game.  This was supposed to be a homecoming for  QB Jamielle Showers, who backed up Johnny Football last year but tranferred to the Miners to get some PT. Showers graduated and thus avoided having to sit for a year.  Showers was back in Kyle but on the sidelines after dislocating his shoulder last week.  The Ags would have been heavily favored anyway, but playing a one-win team with a backup QB pushed the spread to 48 points.  The Ags scored first on a blocked punt for a safety, but when UTEP took a 7-2 lead in the first quarter, there was panic at Texags.com.  But that was the end of the scoring for the Miners, and the Ags ended up covering the spread, 57-7.  This was so unimpressive that the BCS computers dropped A&M from 12th to 15th.

Play of the day elsewhere was the ridiculous Nebraska Hail Mary that kept Northwestern winless in the Big 10.

Between the entertainment value of Johnny Football and my disdain for Brent Musberger, I didn’t watch more than a few minutes of Florida State’s demolition of Miami.  The Canes had been ranked in the top 10 on the basis of an undefeated record that included a win over a Florida team that gifted them the win.

Down goes Stanford

Last week I was at the GO consortium meeting in Bar Harbor, so I didn’t watch much football.  Since it was a bye week for the Badgers and the Aggies, only Stanford was in action of the teams I follow closely.  The Cardinal had a narrow escape in Seattle against the Washington Huskies which I was able to watch in my hotel room.

Today, the Cardinal weren’t as fortunate in Provo, falling to the Utah Utes. Utah looked like the stronger team from the middle of the first half, and I switched to watching the A&M Ole Miss game while watching the scoreboard updates.  I flipped back after Stanford cut it to 6 and began their final drive.  The Cardinal moved from their own 12 down to the Utah 6, where they faced 3rd and 2 with about a minute left and one timeout remaining.  I expected them to run the ball twice if needed, and score the go-ahead TD leaving Utah with no time to counter. Instead, Coach David Shaw inexplicably called two passes, which fell incomplete. Ball game. Ugh.

More after the Ags game is over.

No surprises, but some drama, on this weekend in college football

Yesterday was generally viewed as a less than exciting weekend for college football matchups. A few teams flirted with upsets, but the only top 25 team to lose was Arizona State, who played #5 Stanford. The Ags, Cardinal, and Badgers all won convincingly. A&M and Stanford were on at the same time, so I mostly watched the Aggies and Johnny Football while switching to the Stanford game during commercial breaks. It turned out to be well-timed. There were at least two Stanford TDs that happened moments after clicking over.

Earlier, the Badgers looked strong in demolishing Purdue. Wisconsin shook off their perplexing loss last week to Arizona State and showed off yet another set of exceptional running backs, now that Monte Ball is gone. James White and Melvin Gordon each had 16 carries for 145 and 147 yards respectively.  Gordon scored 3 TDs to White’s one.  Despite the dominating performance on Saturday, Wisconsin’s passing game may not be strong enough to prevent better opponents from packing the box and daring the Badgers to beat them through the air. Next week in Columbus will be a test for new coach Gary Anderson.

Johnny Manziel was pulled from the game after only a half+1 series of the Aggies win over SMU.  That was long enough to get 244 yards passing and 102 yards rushing, with 1 passing TD and 2 running TDs.  Manziel also threw another pick that went off a receiver’s hands. Several of Johnny Football’s runs were of the “how did he do that?” variety.  More than once he just changed directions in ways that made SMU defenders look foolish.  Causes of concern: Center Mike Matthews had several penalties and one bizarre bad snap. Kicker Taylor Bertolet was replaced by walk-on Josh Lambo after a return of Bertolet’s extra point woes from last season. The Ags wound up missing 3 XPs in a row, as Lambo’s first attempt was spoiled by a bad hold.

The struggling defense had a much better game. SMU is no Alabama, but the Aggie D also looked better than it had against Rice and SHSU.  A combination of personnel moves (e.g. a new Middle Linebacker and DeShazor Everett moving from CB to S) and experience seems to be helping. The Ags batted down several Garrett Gilbert passes, and forced 2 fumbles and an INT. One fumble was returned for a score.  Still, the Ags gave up a lot of yards and as DC Snyder said in the post-game presser

We get the quarterback and bounced off… was watching the end of the LSU game. When they hit a quarterback, they don’t go anywhere; they go down.

It will be interesting to see if progress continues as the Ags hit the road for the first time this season at Arkansas.

Former Badgers coach Bret Bielema can’t be happy with what happened in the Pigs game at Rutgers.  The Razorbacks were up 24-7 in the third quarter… and ended up losing 28-24. After going up 24-7, Arkansas possessions reconstructed from the play by play record:

  • 3 plays 9 yards, punt
  • 3 plays 8 yards, punt returned for a TD (24-14)
  • 5 plays, 22 yards, punt from their own 47

4th quarter

  • 3 plays 8 yards, punt (Rutgers scores on their possession 24-21)
  • 5 plays 14 yards, punt (Rutgers scores on their possession 24-28)
  • Now trailing, Arkansas starts at their own 18. They get to their own 45. Sack, loss, incomplete, punt on 4th and 24 (Rutgers runs out the final 2:48)

Coach Bielema may need to get his wife off of Twitter.

Ranked teams that had moments of dread:

  • Georgia was tied with N. Texas after the Mean Green blocked a punt for a TD in the third quarter.  The Dawgs put their fans at ease by scoring 24 unanswered points.
  • Michigan trailed winless UConn going into the final quarter before rallying to win by a FG.  This was the second week in a row where Michigan dropped in the polls after a win.  The Wolverines were #17 in the preseason AP, rose to #11 by virtue of beating Notre Dame, fell to #15 last week, and are now down to #18.

Virginia Tech is unranked, but played well enough against Alabama to be thought of as a pretty good team.  Marshall had several chances to pull the upset in Blacksburg but couldn’t close the deal.  Marshall led most of the game after taking the lead in the second quarter. On VT’s 4th quarter drive to tie the score, the Hokies had to convert two 4th downs. The touchdown came on a 4th down pass that was deflected by a Marshall defender.  On the next drive, Marshall got to the VT 34 but lost 5 yards before taking a shot at the end zone that was intercepted.  On that play a) they only needed to get in FG range and b) the receiver was open but the pass was late.  Having failed to pull off the upset in regulation, the two teams played 3 OTs, with VT ultimately benefiting from a very dubious non-call of pass interference where the defender seemed to commit two fouls on the same play from the replay.  Even then, Marshall had a chance to win on a FG in the first OT. The kick was blocked.

 

So it’s a Ponzi scheme?

The Detroit Free Press defends their home town against mischaracterizations in the national press with the first installment of The Truth About Detroit

What was said: “Government employees and their overbearing unions have been on a decades-long crusade to defraud the taxpayer and unjustly enrich themselves. When everyday Americans are struggling to find job security and save for retirement with defined contribution plans, selfish and greedy public-sector unionists have unparalleled job security and retire with golden parachutes (that) would make any middle American look like a pauper in comparison.”

Reality: The average annual pension for retired Detroit police officers and firefighters is about $34,000, roughly half that of such pensions in Los Angeles and Chicago, 25% less than in Kansas City, Mo., and 36% below benefits for those in Dallas. Retirees from Detroit’s general city pension fund receive, on average, less than $20,000 a year.

“Even by Michigan standards, these are not fat pensions,” said Leon LaBrecque, , managing partner with the financial advisory firm LJPR in Troy. “I see a lot of these people, and their pay is lower and their multipliers are lower than retirees in Grand Rapids or Lansing or Warren or the (Michigan) State Police.”

One factor that has made Detroit’s pension underfunding worse: There are only 3,200 active workers paying into a system that pays benefits to 9,300 retirees. In Chicago, 12,026 actives pay into a fund that supports 9,035 retirees.

This isn’t a problem for defined contribution plans. At Forbes, Jeffrey Dorfman writes about this.