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What Did We Learn About the Big Ten in College Football Week One? 2

Posted on September 10, 2015 by Jim Hurley
Was the performance by Braxton Miller and Ohio State a preview of what to expect throughout 2015?

Was the performance by Braxton Miller and Ohio State a preview of what to expect throughout 2015?

It was towards the tail-end of Ohio State’s 42-24 Labor Day Night win at Virginia Tech that ESPN put up a graphic showing the rest of the Buckeyes’ schedule and the % chance they had of losing each individual game the rest of the season. The worst rating that got was a 77% chance of winning against Michigan State.

There’s been plenty of talk about what that means for the College Football Playoff (e.g., that Ohio State is a lock). What I want to do is look at what this might tell us for handicapping the rest of the Big Ten, particularly with Michigan State being in the spotlight this Saturday night at home against Oregon (8 PM ET, ABC).

Put simply, is the Big Ten still prime “go-against” territory for handicappers in non-conference play? Let’s look at the record. In Week 1, the 13 Big Ten teams not located in Columbus went 7-6 ATS (against the spread). That sounds good enough—in handicapping any number over 52.4% is enough to beat the house advantage and that record clocks in at 53.8%. But digging deeper showed some problems.

Here’s a breakdown of the games in three categories—notable wins, notable losses, and games that we shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from…

NOTABLE WINS

  • Northwestern (+10) Stanford 16-6
  • Illinois (-13) Kent 52-3
  • Minnesota (+16) TCU 17-23

 

NOTABLE LOSSES

  • Penn State (-6) Temple 10-27
  • Nebraska (-5) BYU 28-33—note that even had BYU’s desperation pass to win the game failed, the Cornhuskers would only have won 28-27 and thus failed to cover.
  • Indiana (-20.5) Southern Illinois 48-47
  • Purdue (+7) Marshall 31-41
  • Michigan (+5) Utah 17-24
  • Michigan State (-16.5) Western Michigan 37-24

 

WAIT AND SEE

  • Wisconsin (+12) Alabama 17-35
  • Iowa (-10) Illinois State 31-14
  • Maryland (-21.5) Richmond 50-21
  • Rutgers (-35) Norfolk State 63-13

In these “wait and see” games, the Big Ten went 3-1 against the spread. But the competition faced by Iowa, Maryland and Rutgers is not comparable to what any of these teams would face against even a midlevel opponent from a Power 5 conference. It’s not that there’s anything wrong what the three Big Ten teams did, just that we can’t take anything from it. On the flip side, it’s tough to be too hard on Wisconsin for ending up in Alabama’s way last Saturday night in Dallas. Read the rest of this entry →

College Football Championship Game Preview 2015 28

Posted on January 08, 2015 by Dave Zamzack
Oregon and Ohio State will battle in the first championship game in the new playoff format.

Oregon and Ohio State will battle in the first championship game in the new playoff format.

After what indeed felt like a tremendously long season, the curtain has been drawn; revealing the final stage in what should be an epic showdown for the ages.

The Oregon Ducks will go head-to-head with the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship, with the event taking place on January 12.

In the drama-filled inaugural season of the new playoff system has officially came to its finale when the two showcase semi-final matchups concluded. This game will be something for the memory banks, as two powerhouses collide in a show unlike what any of our eyes have witnessed thus far. That’s a Guarantee.

Which Team Will Keep Rolling?

The Ducks just did what was thought to be the impossible by putting an untimely beat down upon the defending champions, the Florida State Seminoles. Ending the team’s magical win streak of 29 games, with a bewildering loss which resulted in the 59-20, Oregon victory.

Urban Meyer is easily considered one of the greatest coaches in the game, if not all-time. The Ducks however, have one of the most elite groups the sport has ever seen in the entire nation within the last half-decade or so. The team features one of the most skilled and readily utilized quarterbacks in the Heisman winner Marcus Mariota.

It wasn’t until later on in the evening that the heavily favored Alabama Crimson Tide were swiftly cut down by the Buckeyes, when a rather surprising show of heroics was made by quarterback, Cardale Jones, who just so happened to be a third-stringer. Nick Saban’s band of brothers was blindsided as the final result came to a shocking 45-32 close. Read the rest of this entry →

Division I Football Has a Playoff! Now What? 2

Posted on August 10, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Jameis Winston and Florida State seem to be the likely choice to run past the competition and into the first Division I Football Playoff.

Jameis Winston and Florida State seem to be the likely choice to run past the competition and into the first Division I Football Playoff.

After years of waiting and wanting, those who said that Division I college football will be better with a playoff system now have their wish. So, as the first season of the College Football Playoff prepares to get underway, it will be interesting to see if this system calms the critics or creates a new set of detractors.

On the field, the potential candidates for the playoff seem to be many of the same players that have been in the mix over the last few years and you can see the odds at allpro.

Simply by returning their starting quarterback and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston, the Florida State Seminoles are the popular favorites to repeat as national champions. With 13 returning starters and a relatively favorable schedule in which they have only seven challenging games and play four of them at home and one on a neutral site, it seems very likely that Florida State will be among the four teams to earn playoff spots.

It also seems generally safe to pencil Alabama into the playoff mix. However, what is an unknown entering the first year of the playoff is how the SEC, which provides tougher challenges on a weekly basis than many other conferences, will be treated in the likelihood that no-one from the league is undefeated and the conference has multiple teams with just one or two losses.

Besides the Crimson Tide, other SEC teams that certainly have the talent to contend for a playoff spot are Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia and LSU. However, in recent years the conference has also featured a surprise team that wasn’t expected to make a run, but somehow is there at the end. This year that team could possibly be Mississippi, Texas A&M or maybe even the Florida Gators.

With four teams possessing enough talent to contend for the playoffs, the Pac-12 could also be hampered by their top-line depth when looking at getting a team (or two) into the playoff. Oregon and Stanford have been the cream of the conference in recent years, but UCLA and USC both seem to have the talent to contend for the conference title.

While I know this playoff system is supposed to take the politics out of deciding a champion, does anyone really think that is possible? That being said, it would seem extremely unlikely that the Big Ten will not figure a way to get someone into the playoff party.

Ohio State would seem to be the most likely candidate, but after going nearly two seasons undefeated under head coach Urban Meyer they barely defeated Michigan before ending the 2013 season with losses to Michigan State and Clemson. They have only a couple challenging games in 2014, so how they perform in the final weeks of the season could determine whether they are in the playoff.

If the Buckeyes don’t prove worthy, Michigan State could certainly prove to be the Big Ten representative. Wisconsin is a relative long-shot and while Michigan seems highly unlikely to be good enough to reach the playoffs, they could prove to be a spoiler for other Big Ten contenders. Read the rest of this entry →

Zultan’s Fearless Football Forecast for Week 12: Alabama Down 0

Posted on November 14, 2012 by JA Allen

A seismic shift in the gridiron status quo occurred in Week 11. Alabama awoke from football nirvana, their dreams of repeat glory squelched by “Johnny Football” and the Texas A&M Aggies last Saturday.

In the meantime outside SEC Land, the cream of the crop in the Big East, Louisville crashed and burned at Syracuse.

Another undefeated went belly up.

Plus, in Iowa City, the hometown Hawkeyes had their wings clipped by the Purdue Boilermakers 27-24. Can the Hawks get any lower?  No, they are officially in the basement of the Big Ten sitting beside Illinois, waiting for this season to blow over.

Ultimately Zultan went 7-3, losing those three contests last Saturday. Some of you equaled—but none surpassed Zultan in Week 11.

With only two weeks left in the regular season, this week’s contests become exponentially crucial as teams pray for bowl bids. The final BCS standings await the next two rounds of upsets.

Here is your next to last chance to outshine the premiere Pigskin Prognosticator.

Make your picks for Week 12 to try to outguess Zultan and see your name up in lights—figuratively speaking, of course.

Read the rest of this entry →

College Football: BCS Mess Has Us Right Back Where We Started 75

Posted on November 20, 2011 by Dean Hybl

After three crazy college football weeks LSU and Alabama are back on top, but can they stay there?

After three crazy weeks of college football upsets, looks like we are right back where we started the month when trying to determine which college football teams will play for the national title in January.

We began the month excitedly waiting for the matchup of the year between top-ranked LSU and second-ranked Alabama. The general consensus at the time was that they were unquestionably the two best teams in college football.

While the game did need overtime before LSU emerged victorious, few were willing to call the 9-6 defensive struggle a thriller. Granted, both teams had great defenses, but Alabama missed four field goals and neither team played with the offensive confidence you generally expect from a top-ranked team.

Except for a few folks from the SEC, most across the country were not interested in a potential rematch and glad that there were several undefeated teams, including Oklahoma State, Stanford and even Boise State still in-line to serve as LSU’s opponent in a national title game.

However, two of those teams took a tumble the very next week as Stanford was rocked by a suddenly resurgent Oregon (which had been unimpressive in an opening loss to LSU, but had quietly started playing like a national title contender again) and Boise State had its dream of finally making it to the title game snatched away by TCU.

This weekend was expected to be more like a place-holder weekend as most BCS contenders were prohibitive favorites and biding time for big games over the final two weeks of the season.

Instead, it suddenly became the weekend of the big upset. It started on Friday night when Iowa State shocked Oklahoma State in overtime to hand the Cowboys their first loss of the season. Then, just as quickly as they returned to the national conversation, Oregon was gone again as USC (anyone remember them) jumped out early and held on for a 38-35 victory. Read the rest of this entry →

College Football Classic Rewind: Stanford Rallies to Upset Oregon 13

Posted on November 09, 2011 by A.J. Foss

In the era of the Bowl Championship Series, there have several occasions where an unranked team has pulled off an upset of a team that has been in the top-10 of the BCS standings or a serious contender to get the national championship game.

Such was the case on October 20, 2001 when an unranked Stanford Cardinal traveled to Eugene, Oregon and upset the heavily-favored Oregon Ducks.

Entering the 2001 season, expectations were high for Oregon as they were coming off a 10-win season and a Holiday Bowl win from the previous season and earned a top-ten ranking in both the AP and Coaches’ preseason polls.

The Ducks were led by head coach Mike Bellotti, who in his seventh season as the Oregon head coach and had complied a record of 49-22 in his first six seasons, and featured a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Joey Harrington.

Oregon entered the game with Stanford having won their opening six games of the season and had moved up to #5 in both polls, still very much alive in the race for the national championship.

While Oregon had aspirations for a national championship, Stanford was just hoping to have a winning season and get to a bowl game.

Stanford head coach Tyrone Willingham was also in his seventh season as a head coach in the Pac-10 and while he had taken Stanford to the Rose Bowl in 1999, his time in Palo Alto had been average as his record during that span was 35-33-1, including a 5-6 season in 2000. Read the rest of this entry →

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      September 3, 2017 | 6:54 pm
      Gino Cappelletti

      Gino Cappelletti

      In recognition of the start of football season, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is one of the original stars for the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.

      In many ways, Gino Cappelletti epitomized the early years of the American Football League. While the NFL was becoming more specialized and tougher to break into, the AFL provided former college stars with a new place to play and its “wild west” mentality allowed players to contribute in a wide variety of ways.

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