2008 college football bowl contest

Okay. So as many of you know, I like sports. And I also like nerdery. So what better than to combine sports and nerdery??!?

It is the annual bowl contest sponsored by pro-football-reference.com. Here is the contest page (picks due this Saturday before the first game) as well as last year’s contest and their NFL contest from earlier this year (here’s the explanation of my picks to the NFL contest)

I did enter last year’s contest and I thought that I had posted a blog entry with an explanation to my picks, but I could not find it, so apparently I did not. But fear not, gentle reader, I will leave you a detailed explanation this year. I have modeled (read: blatantly copied) my strategy this year off of this post where Chase explained his methodology, and also the #1 comment from JKL (who won last year). I tied for 6th out of 12 teams. I will also note that 3 of the entries were from folks I recruited to join (in addition to my own).

So, the first thing that I did is whip up a handy dandy spreadsheet with all the teams. I got their Sagarin ratings from the pure predictor rankings.

First let’s look at the longshots, with their Sagarin ratings and the point spreads:

87	Alabama 	 Utah 	89.91	-11	-2.91
85.79	USC 	 Penn State 	85.24	-10	0.55
80.78	Missouri Northwestern	77.08	-10.5	3.72
78.02	Kansas 	 Minnesota 	70.7	-10	7.32
93.63	Texas 	 Ohio State 	83.88	-8	9.75
74.84	South Florida 	 Memphis 	62.75	-11.5	12.09

Utah is also rated as a BETTER team than Alabama, and USC and Penn State are close. USC does get some credit for having the game played at the Rose Bowl, but from the analysis seems to indicate that if a team has about a 15% shot of winning it’s better to take them as a longshot, due to the mechanics of the contest heavily favoring the picking of longshots.

So I will take Utah and Penn State, despite the fact that I think the Big 10 stinks.  I will also take Northwestern – Missouri lost to every good team that they played and so I will again go with the longshot. Minnesota was 3-5 in the Big 10 and just lost their last game 55-0 to Iowa. Uh… no thanks. Also I will take a Texas team that probably has a chip on their shoulder. Not sure about USF / Memphis. South Florida beat exactly one good team (which of course is one more than Memphis has beaten…). I’ll come back to them.

Now here’s a list of all the games, sorted by point spread.  Again, longshots in bold, and I italicized teams that are listed as favorites for the contest but are underdogs according to Sagarin.

74.84	South Florida	Memphis	62.75	-11.5	12.09
87	Alabama	Utah	89.91	-11	-2.91
80.8	Missouri	Northwestern	77.08	-10.5	3.72
78.02	Kansas	Minnesota	70.7	-10	7.32
85.79	USC	Penn State	85.24	-10	0.55
77.15	Cal	Miami	80.21	-9	-3.06
82.25	Georgia	Michigan State	79.77	-8.5	2.48
93.63	Texas	Ohio State	83.88	-8	9.75
71.58	Central Michigan	Florida Atlantic	63.36	-7	8.22
69.56	Houston	Air Force	75.55	-5.5	-5.99
75.78	Rutgers	NC State	77.59	-4.5	-1.81
93.04	Texas Tech	Ole Miss	77.52	-4	15.52
82	Boston College	Vanderbilt	73.15	-3.5	8.85
79.42	Georgia Tech	LSU	74.36	-3.5	5.06
72.95	Rice	Western Michigan	74.54	-3.5	-1.59
83.14	Florida State	Wisconsin	73.03	-3	10.11
79.06	Wake Forest	Navy	75.85	-3	3.21
75.89	Connecticut	Buffalo	72.91	-3	2.98
78.73	Oregon State	Pitt	80.74	-3	-2.01
70.52	Arizona	BYU	82.07	-3	-11.55
68.76	Troy	Southern Miss	65.23	-2.5	3.53
75.93	Iowa	South Carolina	76.37	-2.5	-0.44
75.73	East Carolina	Kentucky	69.99	-2.5	5.74
85.2	Oklahoma State	Oregon	79.42	-1.5	5.78
76.2	Ball State	Tulsa	70.43	-1.5	5.77
81.67	North Carolina	West Virginia	77.69	-1.5	3.98
79.74	Clemson	Nebraska	79.63	-1.5	0.11
90.79	Florida	Oklahoma	94.52	-1.5	-3.73
71.69	Hawaii	Notre Dame	72.06	-1	-0.37
72.52	Nevada	Maryland	78.67	1	-6.15
84.16	Cincinnati	Virginia Tech	84.48	0	-0.32
85.32	TCU	Boise State	85.9	0	-0.58
65.59	Northern Illinois	La. Tech	69.2	0	-3.61
66.97	Fresno State	Colorado State	71.28	0	-4.31

So the biggest “Sagarin favorite” is BYU over Arizona. On that vein, I will also take Maryland, Colorado State, Oklahoma and Louisiana Tech. Houston has already lost to Air Force this season, Air Force is rated a 6 point better team, and it is the Armed Forces bowl after all. I’ll bank on one of those 3 things meaning anything and take Air Force as a dog.

Moving on to banking against middling teams from power conferences playing in crappy early bowls. I will use that logic to take Navy over Wake and Hawaii over Notre Dame.

Some favorites I like: Texas Tech (a 15 pt Sagarin favorite) in the Cotton Bowl, BC over Vandy (lost 6 of their last 7), Central Michigan, and I’ll come back and take South Florida as well as Oklahoma State, and Georgia Tech. I’ll also take Cincinnati because I’m a homer.

Some dogs I like: Miami and Pitt (Pac-10 stinks), So. Miss (playing well lately), WVU (conference homerism), Buffalo and Tulsa.

So at this point I have 3 longshots, 13 underdogs, and 11 favorites, with 7 games left to pick. The only way it balances out is if I take 6 of the last 7 favorites. So I need 1 underdog out of NC State, Western Michigan, South Carolina, or Nebraska (I also could take Mich. St, Wisconsin or Kentucky but those 3 are all much bigger dogs). Hard to take NC state against a Rutgers team that has won 6 straight (the last 5 by 18 points or more). I’ll go with Nebraska over Clemson. So with 17 favorites, and 14 underdogs (and 3 longshots), I need just one group of 3 favorites. I’ll go with Chase’s wisdom and take my 3 strongest favorites which are Texas, S. Florida and Kansas.

Now to match up 14 favorites with 14 underdogs. I will try to match strength with strength, while also looking to match up conferences (either in the teams I picked or the teams I picked against). My philosophy there is that if there are teams that are over or under-rated, based on their actual strengths, they are likely to be grouped in conferences. Since say if Oklahoma is overrated, then Texas is somewhat overrated, since their win over Oklahoma counts for more than it should. That at least seems to make sense to me?

That gives me Central Michigan and BYU, Maryland and Boston College, Ok. State and Colorado State, Hawaii and La. Tech, Texas Tech and Oklahoma (double Big 12 over SEC!), Rutgers and WVU (double Big East over ACC), Florida State and Miami, Tulsa and Rice, Air Force and Georgia, Cincinnati and Navy, Pitt and Georgia Tech, TCU and Nebraska, Buffalo and E. Carolina, and Iowa and So. Miss. Lots of guesswork there but hey that’s what it’s all about!

So in nerd-ese (i.e. the official format of the contest) that would be 57,53,24|40|48|61|3,9|6,28|12,43|21,27|44,56|51,66|17,30|59,50|0,20|10,35|49,19|36,55|7,14|23,54|

You can follow along if you want at the official “nerdy web page

Fantasy Football update

So, to all negative 5 people besides me that care about my fantasy football team, I thought I would update you on how things went yesterday after my dilemma .  Addai and Jacobs in fact did not play.  Sproles received 3.38 points, and Morris got 4.30.  Larry Johnson for some odd reason THREW a touchdown pass and ended up with 7.75 points, so for most of the day it looked like I made the right call, as Barber was expected to start in the Sunday night game (meaning my other choice of Choice – ooh a good one! – would not be that great).  But Choice came in and rushed for like 80 yards and a touchdown in the 4th quarter alone, ending up with 13.15 points.  But all in all not a horrible move.  Wish I’d have started Bernard Berrian at WR (2 TDs) though….

My opponent is finished and I have DeSean Jackson playing tonight.  Though somehow between the end of the Sunday night game and this morning, DeMarcus Ware (for my opponent) magically came up with 7 additional points.  So instead of the 5 point deficit I thought I had when I went to bed, I am down 12 (actually 11.77).  So I need a big day from Mr. Jackson (like 120 yards and a TD).  Good thing he’s playing <a href=”http://www.clevelandbrowns.com/”>a really sucky team</a>…

Fantasy football dilemma

So this week begins my fantasy football league’s playoffs.  Now of course almost nobody outside of the 8 of us really cares, but this is MY blog so I’ll write about it if I want.

After losing my first 2 games, I won 9 of the next 10 to go to 9-3 and first place.  I celebrated by losing my last 2 games of the year, leaving me at 9-5 and in 2nd place.

So this week I play another 9-5 team but I have some running back (RB) dilemmas.  We are able to start 2, and I have Maurice Jones-Drew solidly in one spot.  But I have many options for the #2 spot.

  • Joseph Addai.  He’d be a great start against the Lions.  But…. he hurt his wittle shoulder and won’t play
  • Brandon Jacobs.  He’s who I’ve been starting for the year.  But…. he is also not playing.
  • Tashard Choice (DAL).  I picked him up recently but it looks like Marion Barber is going to play.  Plus this game doesn’t happen till 8:15 making it risky.  Of course not that that matters since I have to set my lineup before I leave for church at like 10:30
  • Larry Johnson.  After doing so well last year and being one of my keepers, he has stunk it up all year.
  • Maurice Morris.  Another recent pickup – he plays the Rams who stink, but is stuck in a platoon so he might not get many carries.
  • Darren Sproles.  Plays Larry Johnson and the Chiefs but despite a lot of success, he’s still just the 2nd option behind Tomlinson

I’ve probably had all of these guys in my lineup (except Sproles) at various times during the week but have shifted it around.  I currently have Johnson in.  I just hope that either I win, or I lose by enough that it wouldn’t have mattered who I started.

Fantasy Football shenanigans

So I am in a fantasy football league. This league is with several people that I was on my mission with and is run by my ex-mission president (who runs 3 or 4 such leagues with different ex-missionaries). We have been playing since 2000 and it’s a lot of fun.

We play in Yahoo – and one of the rules is that in order to start someone in a week, he has to be on your roster by 11:59 Pacific time on Sunday night (and his game has to not have started yet). Where this comes into play is if you have someone on Monday night and want to pick someone else up – you have to pick them up on Sunday – if you pick them up on Monday, you can’t put them on your roster (even if the player you are replacing has not played his week game).

So this past week, we had 2 owners who did not replace a few of their players that went on bye week. Naturally, this meant that their teams did not do so well. One guy said he was out all week at some place without Internet, and one guy is the classic trash-talker whose team always stinks.

So on Monday, they logged on and tried to replace the bye-week players with players who were playing in the PIT/BAL Monday night game, but couldn’t, due to the aforementioned rule. So they asked the commissioner to make the change, and he did it! And, even crazier, when I complained about it, the other owners agreed with them?!?! I just cannot fathom how this can possibly be a good thing. Naturally, this reversed the outcome of one game, as one of the bye-week no-changers used several field goals from Pittsburgh kicker Jeff Reed to win his game by a point.

There is a rule, and it should be followed. Leaving it up to the commissioner to do it if he feels like it is a bad thing. What if next time, the commissioner is out of town and can’t do it. And it conveniently involves a team that the commissioner is playing?

Shenanigans!! Shenanigans I tell you!!

FLEM Fantasy Baseball Draft 2008

Last night we had our annual fantasy baseball draft. This league originally started out in 1989 when we were all (mostly) in 7th grade. This would be our 20th year but nobody ran the league while I was on my mission.

The draft went pretty well. We used to run an online fantasy sports site called InsideCorner.com so we have our own custom league with a custom draft program. It works pretty well, though we occasionally have to restart the server because people don’t show up on time or have trouble getting access to it for whatever reason. Last night we had problems getting Dan No R in there.

But wait, you might say – Dan No r – that seems like a strange name? Why yes, gentle reader. It turns out that in addition to myself (Dan Miller), we have a league owner whose name is Dan Mille. Truthfully, I am only about 95% sure that another owner in our league didn’t make him up. I mean it definitely seems like the kind of name that you wouldn’t make up if you were trying to illegally run two teams, but I think that if there was one person I would think would think he could pull it off, it would be this particular owner.

Anyway, the draft didn’t go too long and the following is my team:

1B James Loney LAD
2B Brandon Phillips CIN
3B Garrett Atkins COL
SS Derek Jeter NYY
C Geovany Soto CHC
OF Matt Holliday COL
OF Curtis Granderson DET
OF Alexis Rios TOR
DH Torii Hunter LAA
1B Joey Votto CIN
1B/C Jarrod Saltalamacchia TEX
3B Troy Glaus STL
OF Josh Willingham FLA
SP Jake Peavy SDI
SP Danny Haren OAK
SP James Shields TAM
SP Dustin McGowan TOR
SP Bronson Arroyo CIN
SP Jeremy Accardo TOR
SP John Patterson TEX
SP Zack Greinke KCI
SP Mark Prior SDI
RP Francisco Cordero CIN
RP Matt Capps PIT
RP Rafael Soriano ATL

I’m fairly happy with it and we shall see how we do this year

Fantasy Football 2007 recap

So, you may remember back in September, I decided to not watch TV on Sundays. I joked about how as a “reward”, God should let me win my fantasy football league.

Now, with the season nearly over, I thought I would report. I did not watch TV football on Sundays, though I did watch parts of maybe 3-4 Sunday night games on the Internet. I also watched the last 5 minutes or so of the Browns Bills game a few weeks ago, justified by the fact that I “got to” watch it because I went to 5 hours of church that day :-)

And yes, I did win my fantasy football championship (the Super Bowl was last Sunday in Week 16). I agonized going in as to who to start, at RB particularly. My 2 starters for most of the season had been Joseph Addai and Brandon Jacobs (since Travis Henry started sucking and Larry Johnson was ineffective / injured). Jacobs hadn’t done that great the past few weeks and Fred Taylor had gone nuts, so I decided to start Taylor against Oakland (worst rushing defense in the NFL). With the Colts having clinched their seed, I was worried how much Addai would play so I decided to start Jacobs over Addai.

Then I watched Addai score a 1st quarter touchdown. And Aaron Stecker (also on my bench) score 2 early touchdowns (taking them away from my quarterback Drew Brees who also plays for Stecker’s Saints). Oh and Kevin Curtis (WR on my bench) recovered a fumble in the endzone for 6 points.

In the end though, it didn’t really matter. Jacobs came back with 143 yards and 2 TDs and Taylor had 111 and a score, but I could have started anyone and still won as my opponent came through with the worst performance of any time of the entire year. I won 100.53 to 41.38 for my 2nd Super Bowl win in 3 years.

I know nobody cares but hey, since this is my journal, I’m sure my great-grandchildren who are playing some sort of bionic fantasy football through their earpiece brain implants will want to know how life was back in the DAY.

Madden NFL 06

So, along with various other Christmas presents, I’ve been playing myself some Madden NFL 2006 on my PS2. Now, I realize that nobody besides me cares about the rise and fall of my fantasy sports teams. And so I can imagine that the same would hold true for my Madden seasons. If not more so considering how these aren’t even REAL people. But nevertheless, this is my blog, so I’ll do what I want, thank you very much.

I started my franchise out as the Browns, of course, and on the “Pro” level, which was the default it came with. I went 18-1, destroying everything in my path, and easily won the Super Bowl. In the offseason, I created “Dan Miller” a 6’4″ 240 lb. (cough, cough) middle linebacker who of course has awesome stats and signed with the Browns. Naturally in one of the pre-season games, he breaks his upper arm and is out for the season. I also lose my QB and RB for 9 and 8 weeks respectively. This, combined with the fact I moved up to “All-Pro” has made this season a bit more challenging. There are a few problems, one of which being that, just like in real life, Charlie Frye sucks.

The chief problem however is that the kicking meter moves so fast I can’t reliably get any kicks going. I routinely shank extra points, field goals, punts, kickoffs, whatever. It’s very frustrating. Possibly even MORE annoying though is the fact that on kickoffs after I score, AFTER the kicking meter pops up and says “Press X to start the kickoff” or whatever, a recap graphic of the last drive pops up. This interrupts the kicking meter, and doesn’t let you finish the kick, causing you to boot a “0-accuracy” kick out of bounds, giving the other team awesome field position. Very annoying.

In other facets of the game, my passing is mediocre, my running game is pretty good, and my defense is amazing, and the only reason I’m not 0-16. There was one game, against the hated Bengals, that kind of typifies my season:

I manage to score 2 early TDs. Of course, since I earlier mentioned how much I suck at kicking, I missed both extra points. I know I should probably just go for 2 but I am trying to get better.
I lead 12-3 going into halftime. The Bengals have the ball deep in their own territory and with 1 second left, just hand the ball off to Rudi Johnson to run out the clock. Of course, instead he breaks it for a 75 yard TD.
I get the 2nd half kickoff and drive down for another score. I’m inside the 10, and throw a pass. But instead of it being caught for a score and me going up 19-10, it’s picked off and returned the other way to make it 16-12 (they went for 2 and did not make it).
Despite multiple opportunities, I cannot get anything else going offensively until I stop them again late after using all my timeouts. I string together a few good plays and am inside the 10 again. Because it’s 16-12 I can’t kick a FG (not that I’d make it anyways) but there’s only a few seconds left. Clock is running so I’m trying to spike the ball, but I hit the wrong button and instead call another play. Since I don’t know what play it was, I end up throwing the ball out of the endzone, and lose the game. Very annoying.

Other annoying games were a 0-0 tie in my other game with the Bengals, when I couldn’t get any offense going and missed a 30 yard FG as time ran out in OT, and a 7-6 loss to the Ravens when I missed the XP on my touchdown AND missed a 23 yard FG as time ran out (I considered going for it on 4th and goal from the 5 but wasn’t sure I could get in).

Anyway, that brings me to the question I wanted to pose with this post. After starting out the season 3-7-1, I’ve won 3 straight and now stand at 6-7-1. With 2 games left, the best I can finish is 8-7-1. There are 5 AFC teams already with at least 9 wins, so I’m fighting for the 6th and final playoff spot. Thare are 2 teams (Patriots and Ravens I think) that are 8-6 and 2 teams (Chiefs and Raiders?) that are 7-7. Obviously, I need the Pats and Ravens to lose their last 2 games for me to make the playoffs.

So, is it acceptable for me to (in addition to playing my games as the Browns) play the Patriots game? For example last game, the Patriots played the Jets. I didn’t want to just leave it up to the computer to decide who won, so I played it. But I don’t want to be “cheating”. I think it would be cheating if I played the game as the Patriots, and intentionally lost the game. That seems shady to me. But I played it as the Jets, so I still had to win the game (which I did, barely, because the Jets are even worse than the Browns!) So to me, because I still have to win the game. So in order for me to win the Super Bowl, I have to win 2 more games for the Browns, 2 games vs. the Ravens, 2 games vs. the Patriots, and 1 game vs. both the Chiefs and the Raiders. In addition to the 3 straight I already have won and the 4 playoff games, that’s 15 straight games. If I can do that, then I will crown myself Super Bowl champion! Of my pretend league! With made up players! go me!

Good Diaper deal

Bought 6 packages of diapers at CVS today for free. So I got that going for me, which is nice. In other news, the Red Hot Death seem to be going down to utter defeat, which ain’t so fun.


Did you know that the word forte, when used to mean a strength of someone, should actually be pronounced like fort (as opposed to for-tay, which is how you pronounce the musical term that is spelled the same)

I did not know that till today


So Mark Mulder pitching 10 innings screwed up the gamescorer, which is apparently only built to handle one digit of innings pitched. Personally I blame Mike.