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Friday, September 21, 2012

Previewing Bowden Ball, Montee Ball, Tulane running the ball, and words that rhyme with Waco

Good thing its a road game for Baylor because
nothing good rhymes with Waco; I looked it up.
1) ULM gets one more shot at an AQ team in Baylor today. This game has surprisingly big national championship implications, not because either team is a contender but because it will influence how the contenders in the Big 12 and SEC are viewed after beating them (or beating teams that played them). There is only one first order connection (A plays B) between the Big 12 and and SEC (Ole Miss vs. Texas) and nine second order connections (A and B play C). Two, more than 1/5th of those 2nd order connections, go through ULM. Two more go through SMU. The model actually likes ULM by 1 and Vegas likes Baylor by  a touchdown or so. I say first team to 35 wins, and I'm pretty confident the first team to 35 will be Baylor.

2) You can tell a lot about the prominence of a public university and its football team in that state by googling the state name. Search "Alabama" and the university comes up second and news for the football team fourth. Search "Florida" and the university comes up on the second page and the football team several pages back. Search "New Mexico" and you get three results. Search "New Mexico versus New Mexico State". Really, go, do it. I'll wait. Poor, poor New Mexico. This year they are coming in 119 and 112 in the power rankings. Someone will lose and someone will win, but who really cares?

This really happened, and this guy played
running back at West Virginia (Kegs N' Eggs)
3) In successive weeks Akron has scored 14, 32, and 66. At this rate, Akron will score over 100 in their next game. If they do, Tennessee will be looking for a new coach on Monday. (If they work fast they can catch Terry before he leaves town). The model recognizes that Akron is not a good team, but it does see that they are averaging 378 passing yards per game and that Tennessee has allowed almost 25 points per game against NC State, Georgia State and Florida. Tennessee will win by a lot, but Akron and the end zone will not be strangers.

4) Ole Miss plays Tulane this weekend in the most important game left on their schedule. Why? Because it is the last game this season the Rebels should win. The model has them as 1 point favorites against Auburn right now, but 11 point favorites against Tulane this weekend. Tulane is bad in every way and Ole Miss is 123rd nationally with a 73% completion percentage against (and that was against offensive powerhouses UTEP, Central Arkansas, and Texas). Predictably, the model sees the two teams gaining a lot of yards through the air, and since Tulane is averaging 8 rushing yards per game, the Green Wave better hope there will be a lot of passing yards. (That's not a typo, by the way. They are averaging 8, eight, 7+1 yards per game and 0.3 yards per carry. At that rate, it would take them 333 plays to get from end zone to end zone.)

5) Western Kentucky is a 4 point favorites against Southern Miss in Vegas, and the model likes them by another touchdown. Southern Miss is completing 44% of their passes and getting 3.1 yards per carry. And Western Kentucky just beat an SEC team (which tells you more about the bottom of the SEC than Western Kentucky). The bad news for the Hilltoppers is that this game will be a preview of what happens when a major program steals your head coach.

6) In three games against UNI, Oregon St and Utah St, Wisconsin has a +4 point differential (and they're ranked?). The Wisconsin running game has been abysmal, but UTEP allows 5.6 yards per carry and has the 98th rated run defense in the FBS. If Montee Ball can't get on track this weekend, he won't all season, and it will be a very long, long year in Madison. Win or lose, if Wisconsin gets less than 4 yards per carry this weekend then I'll predict now they won't be bowl eligible.

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