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.

Dear NFL Network: SHOW THE FREAKIN GAME!!!!

So last night I was watching the Browns game on websites of questionable legality. That is one advantage of the fall baby – I take the first turn of the night by having him sleep on my chest while I watch football. Works at least 2 or 3 nights of a week!

So anyways, I am not sure if the feed that I was watching was the same as what is shown on the actual NFL Network, but it SUCKED!

Several times (at least 5) they would cut to studio analysts blathering about whatever. Now that is annoying in and of itself, but okay fine. But then they would continue talking WHILE THE ACTUAL GAME WAS GOING ON!!!

Several times they had the camera on on-field roving reporter Solomon Wilcots and you could (barely) see the game being played behind him.

I’m not sure who the ad wizards are that came up with that one, but it’s quite possibly the most annoying thing this side of basketball “annoyo-cam”