Sunday, September 30, 2012

Reported vs. Reality (College Football Edition)

If you didn't watch any college football yesterday and instead relied on the media to tell you what happened you're probably walking around with a few fallacies in your head this morning.  Let's talk for a minute about what really happened yesterday:

Myth: The Houston Cougars fixed a lot of problems in a 35-14 win over Rice.
Reality: No, they really didn't.  The loss by the Owls of QB McHarge destroyed any chance the Owls had of moving the ball. Freshman QB Driphus Jackson couldn't throw the ball, so UH was allowed to pack 8 or 9 in the box and just come after him.  Yes, it was a win, but it was a win against a team that's more similar to a FCS team in terms of structure and talent than a rel FBS team with aspirations for even a .500 record. Winning this game only means that the Coogs ceiling this year is 4 wins, instead of the 1 win (Tulane) that it would have been had they lost here. If Rice would have been able to play a healthy McHarge I think the results would have been a lot different.

Myth: That Longhorn "shine" is back
Reality: Probably not. The 'Horns will certainly go to a bowl, and it might even be a January bowl.  As a matter of fact, they might even beat West Virginia (a team with no defense to speak of) next week and be in the cat-bird seat for a B(C)S bowl.  I have one big problem with Texas however.  For all of their supposed great play and for all of their talent they still needed a blown call by the officials at the end of the game to eek out a 41-36 win over a team that got blown out by a fairly bad Arizona unit.  The bigger problem, for Big XII teams, is that the conference doesn't seem to be all that good this year.  K-State is fairly salty it appears, and WV is going to be exciting, but there's no one in the conference who seems to be a true contender for the top slot in the land.  The SEC has Alabama, the Pac-12 Oregon, the ACC has Florida St.  the B1G and Big XII have.......

Myth: aTm can win their conference.
Reality: Uh...No. They can't.  This is going to be the age of irrational exuberance in College Station as fans are going to be borderline giddy coming off a 58-10 thrashing of Arkansas.  This would only mean something if this were the Bobby Petrino led Hogs and not the current Arkansas team led by the modern day Dana Dimel.  Yes, Arkansas still has talent but it's very clear that the coaches have no clue what to do with it, and the players are playing something akin to sandlot football.  Good first win for aTm but it came against a team that's not even trying right now.  With this win they might make a bowl.  It will be played in December.

Myth: At this point in the season the polls start to reflect reality
Reality: No, they don't.  Too many voters mail it in, or are still voting by what they think rather than what they see on the field. 1-3 is OK, but after that it really starts to break down.  LSU is a team that could barely beat Towson, at home. Georgia has not looked good, and neither has S. Carolina, all three teams are getting bumps because of their conference.  TCU is way low, as is Louisville. The best one-loss team in the land is not USC it's Clemson.  Since the B(C)S is tied to polls (although not the AP poll) these things still matter.  It's ridiculous and it's improperly punishing some really good teams.

Friday, September 28, 2012

NFL picks: Week 4

Picking NFL games is not my favourite pass-time, I tend to enjoy picking college games more.  However, since Houston is in dire need of some NFL prognostication I've decided to give it a whirl on week 4.

If I end up with a worse record than McClain then I'll retire from NFL prognostication and return quietly to college, with an apology to the General soon to come.  I think I'm going to beat him however.  All picks are straight up, I'm not worried about the betting line, I'm not a handicapper.

Titans 10 @ Texans 27 - Should be a relative walk in the park for Houston's pro football team.  And by walk in the park I mean expect the running game to finally get on track as the Titans fold into a 2-deep shell.

Vikings 24 @ Lions 13  - The Lion's defense has been atrocious this year. Minnesota is better than a lot of experts thought.

Panthers 7 @ Falcons 35 - Anyone who thinks this game is going to be close hasn't been paying much attention to football for the first 3 weeks.

49'ers 27 @ Jets 3 - An angry San Fran team, a beat up and suddenly struggling Jets team that can't run the ball?  Go Niners!

Seahawks 24 @ Rams 20 - This final score is in place provided Sam Bradford stays healthy all game.  Given the nature of the Seahawks D I'd say the odds are 50-50.

Saints 20 @ Packers 41 - The biggest question for this game is whether or not New Orleans remembers how to tackle.

Redskins 13 @ Buccaneers 6 - If, after last week's disaster, you pick Tampa Bay to score more than ten you need to turn in your prognosticator card.  It's not that they can't do it, it's that they're unlikely to unless the play calling changes drastically.

Bears 27 @ Cowboys 24 - Chicago's defense has been pretty stout this year.  Romo and company tend to struggle against physical, ball hawking defenses.  Should be close however because both teams are flawed.

Titans love letters and bad picks....

Put them together and you have the out of touch NFL writer that is John McClain.

Johnson Struggling to get ground game going with Texans on deck. John McClain, Ultimate Texans.

Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame because they were among the greatest blockers in NFL history.  Now they are coaching the worst running game in the NFL.
It is difficult to imagine Munchak, Tennessee’s head coach, and Matthews, the Titans’ offensive line coach, having a running game that ranks last at 39 yards a game and 2.6 yards a carry.
One of the biggest mysteries in Nashville is whatever happened to running back Chris Johnson. From 2,006 yards in 2009 to $30 million guaranteed last season to 45 yards on 33 carries in three games this season.

It's not a mystery, at least, not to anyone who's been watching Johnson run.  The guy has no head for contact any longer.  He moseys into the hole and then, when he sees the safety or line-backer bearing down, he goes into tap-dance mode, tries to bounce outside.....right into the waiting arms of a tackler for a minimal gain or loss.  Yes, the holes aren't as big as they used to be, signs of a Tennessee team that's done a horrible job building an O-line, but they are there.  It's just that Johnson doesn't have the will to hit them hard any longer. 

It's well known that McClain has a soft spot in his heart for K.S. (Bud) Adams and the Titans, it has to pain him to be writing about a team that's this bad.  Fortunately, for him, he's been able to take out that frustration on an average Texans team in years past.  This year however that habit is just making him look sad.

I just have one thing to say about this:

John McClain's picks for week 4, John McClain, Ultimate Texans

McClain’s record last week: 4-12 (.250) straight up; 5-11 (.313) vs. spread
Season: 24-24 (.50) straight up; 17-29-2 (.375) vs. spread


Judging by this week's picks he's not going to improve those numbers much.  Granted, it's been a tough year to pick, with a lot of formerly good teams falling by the wayside, but still.  25% last week?  Yeesh.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

And....they're back

That was fast.

Regular refs to work Thursday game after agreement. Barry Wilner,

The NFL’s regular officiating crews are back. Their return couldn’t have come soon enough for many players, coaches and fans.
After two days of marathon negotiations — and mounting frustration throughout the league — the NFL and the officials’ union announced at midnight Thursday that a tentative eight-year agreement had been reached to end a lockout that began in June.

I will admit to being surprised by the sense of urgency the league displayed in getting this done.  Yes, Monday night's game was a travesty, and people were angry, but now all that's gone and the NFL becomes about football again and...well, fans who tune out when things are on the skids for their team are now out of excuses and are going to start tuning out.

This had to have been a case where public pressure (or perceived public pressure) drove negotiations.  Of course, the replacement (I refuse to call them scabs, that's unprofessional) referees were becoming a distraction bigger than the game.  Perhaps a majority of the owners finally came to the conclusion that their most important product should be game being played on the field?

One can only hope.

Any way, welcome back to the "regular" referees,  you replacement crews can now go back to having your Sunday afternoon's off, and watching the NFL like the rest of us.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What John McClain thinks.

I'm sorry but I find it ludicrous that this type of writing & thinking is taken seriously enough to be given copy inches in what used to be a newspaper of record for America's 4th largest city.

Texans are rising, but they're not number 1 yet. John McClain, UltimateTexans via

After the first three weeks of the season, the Texans are the best team in the AFC, perhaps the best in the NFL.
But in this week’s NFL rankings, they’re second behind the Atlanta Falcons.
And I apologize to the NFL’s other unbeaten team, the Arizona Cardinals. What the Cardinals have done — beating Seattle at home in their opener, winning at New England and mauling unbeaten Philadelphia 27-6 — is more impressive than what the Texans and Falcons have done.
Why not Arizona? Truthfully, I thought the Cardinals might be among the three or four worst teams after preseason, so I rated them low in my first ranking. Even though they were red-hot over the second half of last season, I thought their quarterback issues would contribute to their being among the worst teams.
So McClain's rankings aren't truthfully based on what's happened on the field, but where he sees each team based on pre-conceived notions about what types of teams they're supposed to be, despite not spending much time following in real time.

Part of me wants to tell you that ALL NFL power rankings are worthless, but there are some that are stats based and come just about as close as you can come to objectivity However, even those fall way, way short. There was no power ranking that I saw last year which had the NY Giants anywhere NEAR the top position. I heard some analysts say that the Giants were scary, and a team that could make a deep run, but no one was seriously placing them number 1.

The problem with McClain's ranking system is that it doesn't appear that real-world results mean much to him.  He's decided to base everything on his extensive tenure covering the NFL.  In other words, he's fallen victim to the "longevity equals experience" fallacy, the idea that since someone has been around a long time they know what they're talking about.  You see this a LOT in the media, where reports who have covered an issue for a long time are considered "experts".  They're not, of course, they're just experts on writing about the subject matter.

In some way this could be McClain's desperate attempt to stem the tide of "rah rah" coverage emanating from ChronBlog when it comes to local sports teams.  That's admirable, but misguided when the facts don't back up your assertions.

The fact is that the Texans are currently one of the top three teams in the league.  It appears (to many National observers) that they are number one.  This appearance is entirely based on what's happened on the field, and the analyst's opinions regarding talent, coaching etc.  In some sense they all do what McClain is doing, but most are savvy enough to alter their perceptions when conditions warrant.  To be clear, my beef is not that McClain has the Texans at #2, it's his incredible justification for doing so.

Now's where I tell you that these NFL power rankings are ridiculous.  In College football the Top 25 is a necessary evil to provide some structure for the B(C)S.  In pro football we find out who is the real number one, as decided on the field in February.

As it should be.

As such, I vow to not pay any attention to any NFL power rankings.  It's just an excuse to drive page hits to a media outlet's website to comment on information that has no practical use whatsoever in determining which teams are good or bad.

Of Bad Referees and Bad Football

Unless you're one who avoids any and all mention of football, or possibly you're stationed on the Isle of Gough in which case you're not seeing much anyway, the odds are you've followed the recent kerfuffle surrounding the NFL, it's replacement refs, and the first blown call ever in a League game.

I'm not going to spend much time on that this week except to say this:  The officials didn't give up 8 sacks in the first half to Seattle's D. Yes, the calls at the end of the game were awful, but Green Bay's offensive line was equally awful. The NFL is under no duress right now to change things, even though many self-important "guardians of the game" in the media feel they are.  Right now the NFL is more popular than it's ever been.

Moving on.

When I unleashed my Texans prediction I had them at 2-1 right now, with Denver being the only loss.  That said, after things have played out, Denver is not as good as I thought they might be (although not terrible) and the Texans are playing better.  I still have concerns about the run game and the CB's once you get past Jonathan Joseph, and I've still no faith in Arian Foster, but overall I could see this team going as high as 11-5 this year, but I'm going to stick to my prediction because the tough part of the schedule is still in front of them. (Although with Reavis going down and no run game to speak of the Jets are not going to be as tough as I thought.)

Speaking of bad football:  The Bayou Bucket is going to be contested for this Saturday and the score should easily surpass the betting line of 74.  Neither UH or Rice has a credible FBS defense, and I'm not even sure UH has a credible FBS offense.  Neither school has a credible FBS coaching staff.  Predict we must: Rice 63 UH 62 3 OT

In the college game this is one of those inevitable weeks where conference play means "meh".  That means that you're going to have to dig a little deeper into the schedule to find quality games to watch.  Here are a few suggestions and my picks:

Standford @ Washington: I feel that the Cardinal are overrated due to the USC win and I don't think that Washington is as bad as the LSU game suggested.  SU 24  WU 27

Baylor @ West Virginia: Consider this a preview of the Bayou Bucket but with much, much better talent for both schools. I believe the Mountaineers are the best team in the Big X IX Xii  BU 27 WV 56

Arkansas @ aTm: At the beginning of the year I'd have told you aTm has zero chance in this game. This is why pre-season rankings in college football are stupid.  UA 14  aTm 27

Ohio State @ Michigan State: Many, including me, don't believe the Buckeyes are for real this year.  This game should go a long way in determining that.  OSU 7 MSU 17

Louisiana Tech @ Virginia: Not only are they being ignored by the national press, but they're being snubbed in the rankings as well. La Tech is your B(C)S buster, or should be.  La Tech 50  UVA 13

Minnesota @ Iowa:  Many, including me, don't believe the Golden Gophers are for real this year. That said, I don't think the pink locker room will matter much here. Iowa is terrible.  UM 24 IU 16

Texas @ Oklahoma State: A lot of people talking about the renewed Longhorn "glow" which is odd considering their SOS is pathetic. Still, OSU has issues.  UT 35 OSU 31

And that's just about it.  My guess is there will be some games not on this list that will turn into barn-burners, which is the unique joy of college football.  It's also what makes it so hard to pick each and every week.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Notes from the football weekend that was (09/24/2012)

Going to focus primarily on College Football today since there is still an NFL game to play tonight.....

K-State 24 OU 19  - Here's the thing to take away from this game:  It wasn't as close as the score suggested.  At no time did I feel that OU's offense was ever a serious threat to K-State's defense.  The Wildcats out-muscled OU in every stage of the game, and Landry Jones is just not that good of a QB.  OU has some serious issues, on both sides of the ball, to work out.

ND 13 Michigan 6 - After this game was over I got into a mild Twitter debate with Sean "the Cablinasian" Pendergast.  He was hyping ND linebacker Manti Te'o as a sleeper Heisman candidate (If you follow Notre Dame at all it's not unusual for them to tout ANY good player they have as a potential Heisman candidate) I disagreed, explaining that Te'o has been great against inferior competition this year.  This led Pendergast to term me a "bitter" UM fan who was let down by my team.  If you have to project in an argument you've already lost.  Te'o is a great LB, probably the best in the country.  What he is not is a Heisman contender.  What Michigan is not is a good football team.  Time to help Denard Robinson with his NFL future and move him to WR while letting Redshirt Freshman Russell Bellomy take the keys to the car and try to give the Wolverines a functioning offense.  Notre Dame's schedule, which looked brutal at the beginning of the season, has gotten a lot softer with USC and OU turning out to be paper tigers. I expect they finally get into a B(C)S bowl finally taking advantage of a system that was designed to make it easy for them to do so.

Florida St 49 Clemson 37 - It looked rough for a while, maybe the Seminoles needed some time to adjust to D-1A football speed, but ultimately Florida State proved (to me) that they're contenders who belong in the B(C)S championship conversation.  EJ Manuel is now the Heisman front-runner, along with Geno Smith of WV, and that defense.  It reminds me (a lot) of the defenses FL State brought to the table during their 80's and early 90's hey-days.  Make no mistake, Clemson has a LOT of talent on that offense.  The biggest problem for the Seminoles is that their schedule is pretty dull until November 8th when they have to travel to Blacksburg and face Va Tech.  They then end the season with Florida. Besides those two games?  Meh.  Can they stay focused?

Oregon 49 Arizona 0 - Ranking Arizona in the Top 25 after their home upset over Oklahoma St. was ridiculous.  Again I go back to the idiocy of early season polls.  Now that we're four weeks into the season the picture is starting to get a little bit clearer, as almost all of the top teams have played somebody halfway decent. (The exception being LSU, who still hasn't played a good team in my opinion)  Know this, the Oregon Ducks are for real.  Unless something drastic happens I'll have them at #2 in my first ranking behind Alabama.  The impressive thing is that they have a defense this year to go along with that eye-popping offense.

LSU 12 Auburn 10 - Now might be a good time to get nervous if you're of the Geuax Tigers persuasion.  LSU struggled against a very pedestrian Auburn team and, while it is hard in the SEC to win on the road, showed us that they still have a LONG WAY to go offensively.  That defense is still there, and they have a ton of running backs to throw at you but, if they keep this up they're going to fall down the rankings further than #3, and without losing potentially.  At this point I'd say that the Seminoles are better than LSU, and possibly even Georgia & South Carolina. Fortunately, the Gamecocks are on LSU's schedule in a couple of weeks so we'll find out first hand.


Poor U of H.  Even in an off-week they lose something.  In this case it's the single-game passing record long held by David Klingler.  Beaten by Old Dominion of all people.  The thing is that I have a feeling things are not going get better for the gang on Cullen anytime in the near future.  The Bayou Bucket is next, and I think the Rice Owls have a better offense than UH this year. Given the state of the MadDog Submissive Kitty defense this season I think Rice wins a track meet.  Then the Cougars have the Mean Green coming to town.  On paper UNT were designed to be Cougar patsies, in reality they've hung with some tough teams and have some real talent.  Looking at the Coog's schedule, and given how many teams on it are not as bad as we thought by all appearances, I'm struggling to find a rock-solid win until the Tulane game.  Heck, even UAB looked good against Ohio State.  I think the Cougars ceiling this year is 3 wins.  At this point the University might want to think about clearing out the entire athletic program (including Rhoades) and starting fresh.  UH is regressing in every area.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Quick College Football thoughts....

Heading into a pretty good week 4 schedule......

1. College Game Day is a snoozer this week.  Sorry Game Day, but you heading to Rutgers/Arkansas is pathetic.  Three premier top 25 matchups and you choose this snoozer over all of them?  I realize they're not on your network but get real.  RU 27 Ark 26

2. Michigan has a chance against Notre Dame.  I'm not suggesting it's a big chance but, Shoelace has been much faster than ND in the past and has given them issues.  If Michigan's defense can just rise to the D-1 level they can win this game.  That said. ND 24 UM 21.

3. Clemson has a chance at Fl. St. this week. I'm still not sold on the Seminoles but will be if they beat Clemson.  I've told Fl. State to call me after they've beaten someone.  Clemson is someone. FSU 27 Clem 20

4. K-State has a chance against OU.  That the game is in Norman gives the Sooners an edge but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the Wildcats are the more physical team in this game.  KSU 17 OU 14

5. Arizona has no chance against Oregon.  O 47 AU 15

6.  Alabama and LSU could each score 100 if they decided to.

7. USC/California is the sleeper game of the week.  USC 31 Cal 30  I was wrong by the way, Layne Kiffen could mess up even with THAT much talent.

8. Rice beats Memphis!!! Rice beats Memphis!!!  Rice 28 Memphis 7.....Oh, wait, they play MARSHALL.  Oops.  Marshall 27 Rice 13

9. In the Southern Miss/Western Kentucky tie watch defensive end Dwayne Montgomery. (#99)  He's a redshirt Freshman who looked dominating at times.....against Alabama.  Don't overlook the Hilltoppers here for the mild upset.  SMU 28 WKU 24

And finally.....

10. Breathe easy UH Cougar fans, you have a week off to lick your wounds before the (now annual) beating by Rice at Reliant takes place.  Consider this as well:  UNT hung in there with K-State last week, so they might not be as bad as advertised.  0-5 to start the season anyone?  UAB is terrible, possibly worse than the Cougars, so that should be a win.  Then I struggle to find another win the rest of the season until you get to Tulane.  2-10 should get your coaches fired.  Especially with that talent.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

What did yesterday's upsets prove?

If anything, they proved my point that pre-season rankings in NCAA FBS football are ridiculous.  Do they serve a purpose?  Yes, they provide the lazy MSM sports media with something to talk about, and they over-hype early season matches (Alabama/Michigan) and make it harder for really good teams to make a push toward the B(C)S championship game. (This year: Michigan St looks like an early contender.)

For the most part, early season rankings are based on t he prior season's results, how else do you explain an average Arkansas team being ranked in the top 10, or Oklahoma State (who lost almost every offensive weapon to the NFL) being ranked at all?

Not surprisingly, both teams suffered bad losses and readjusted in the rankings to where they should have been in the first place (outside of the top 25).  The biggest injustice, as I see it, is Kansas St. being ranked at #15.  All they've done is wallop a bad team (after a slow start granted) and then ambush a major-college team in Miami, making the latter look like an FCS program in the process.

I still think Michigan St is ranked too low, and OU, Georgia and South Carolina are ranked way too high.

This is why I don't do any type of ranking until after (at least) week 5, and I don't think the media outlets should either.  Let's get rid of the ridiculous pre-season rankings and just vote with our eyes.  If anything, LSU and Oregon should both be ranked above USC based on results right?  It's not going to happen and, unless USC loses, the major media outlets and the coaches poll will continue to be a joke.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Bad Day for the B1G

Let's see...

Michigan struggles with Air ForcePenn St. loses to VirginiaIowa loses to Iowa St.Purdue loses to Notre DameOhio State struggles with UCF and Wisconsin loses to Oregon State.

All in all a pretty down day for a pretty down conference.  I'm going to have to seriously rethink my Michigan vs. Wisconsin title game prediction.  Depending on how Nebraska looks against UCLA tonight Big Red and Michigan State could be the two best teams in a terrible conference.

Toss them out for "best conference in the land" this year.  It's a two horse race between the SEC and Pac12.

Oh, and Notre Dame is overrated, I don't care that they're 2-0.

UPDATED: Nebraska lost to UCLA.  This conference is horrible.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

College Football: Week 2 Predictions

Piggy-backing off of my "games I'll be watching" list posted earlier this week:

Pittsburgh 3  Cincinnati 42 - Outside of the Houston Cougars, the worst team in major Division college football this year is Pitt. 

Utah 38 Utah St 17 - I'm a believer in the Utes, until they play USC and Oregon that is. 

UCF 10 Ohio State 27  Urban Mayer is ahead of schedule in Columbus.
Kansas St. 17 Miami 16 No matter the final score, it will be close
Air Force 18 Michigan 35  I believe the Wolverines will bounce back.
Texas St. 20 Texas Tech 24  Is UH that BAD, or is Tx St that GOOD?  My guess is UH is that bad, but Tech isn't that good either.
La Tech 45 Houston 10 I really don't think this one is going to be all that close.
OK State 66 Arizona 3  You DID see how bad Rich Rod's defenses were at Michigan right?
Georgia 27 Missouri 3 I'm not a believer in the rebirth of Mizzou. 
Florida 27 aTm 24 I think Sumlin's team will play hard, but I think they've got a long way to go.
Nebraska 27 UCLA 7 Beating Rice is one thing, beating a real football team?  Something else entirely.
Notre Dame 17 Purdue 20 I'm not sold on the Irish. 

Tonight's game is gonig to be terrible, but if you want to point at the screen and laugh at Pitt, I encourage you to tune in.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Taking a long view of Texas St/UH

You know the  short term fall-out, an offensive coordinator fired, a fan-base in turmoil etc.  The upset of the University of Houston Cougars has done all of that, and more.  It's energized a fan base in a school's first year of D1-A FBS competition, its  taken one team off ESPN's bottom 10 and  put another team on. It's moved UH football from potential BCS "buster" to FBS joke.  It's taken all of the momentum and good will that UH developed with the national media over the last couple of years and flushed it right down the toilet walls at Robertson Stadium.

Dark days in Cougar land.  As the Mack Rhoades era has gone forward the schools athletic fortunes have grown darker.  One year after leading the Cougars to an improbable NCAA tournament appearance Tom Penders was gone, replaced by washed-up never was James Dickey.  Raynor Noble, the most successful baseball coach in UH history gone, replaced by Todd Whitting who has so far shown a remarkable inability to recruit and win. In golf, Jonathan Dismuke is not Keith Fergus, women's basketball coach Todd Buchanan hasn't had success (the team only won 4 games last year) at least coach Leroy Burrell is still in charge of track and field.

All of this brings us to football, which upgraded after the Art Briles departure in  the form of Kevin Sumlin, but then seemed utterly rudderless when Sumlin left, promoting the special teams coach, Tony Levine, to the head spot, and going cheap on assistants.  The result of this penny-pinching method of hiring coaches was the disaster you saw last Saturday.  Houston fans have a right to be dismayed. If anything, this season is starting off with a very Dana Dimel feel to it, instead of red-shirting an entire class, Levine has decided offensive coordinators are disposable.

All of this is short term, a speed bump in what is supposed to be the return of the House of Coog to athletic prominence.  In my mind however, the Texas St. loss illustrates some long-term issues that UH faces considering their new competition are newly minted D-1A FBS programs of Bobcats and the Roadrunners.

That's right UH fan, you're now competing with TX St. and UTSA.

Think about it, when the three schools finish their facility plans (you can find Houston'sTexas State's and UTSA's by clicking on the respective links) they're going to be roughly equal, funding and alumni support is going to be on par, and all three Universities' athletic programs have strong administrative support. If anything I'd give the edge to TX St. and UT-SA based on location alone.  Where would you rather go to school?  San Marcos or San Antonio?  Or at the University of Houston?

For a little while, there are going to be four tiers of major college football in Texas.  UT-Austin & aTM are going to be firmly at the top, Baylor, TCU & Texas Tech will make up the second tier, UH, SMU, TX St., UT-SA and UT-El Paso will make up a third tier, and UNT and Rice will, temporarily bring up the rear.

Going forward I see a three tier system developing depending on how the eventual 16-team Super Conferences play out:

Tier One:  UT-Austin, aTm, TCU (let's face it, the Frogs are permanently up there with the big dogs.)
Tier Two: Texas Tech, Baylor & TX State
Tier Three: UH, SMU, UNT, UT-SA (maybe, they have the potential to move up) UTEP, Rice and UNT 

The second tier has a chance to hang on in whatever the FBS eventually turns into, depending on how agile their athletic departments turn out to be.  Texas Tech, for example, will probably never drop into being a second classification football program.  I think eventually however all of the teams on the bottom tier will forever shunted off into what is going to be known as FCS (or whatever it's called) hell.  Of the three schools I'm focusing on I see TX State and UT-SA currently having a better chance of remaining relevant than Houston.

UNT and Rice are already glorified FCS teams, I don't see any way out of the bottom for them.  They'd probably be better served moving down in classification where they can compete. The thing is UH should be immune from this problem, but they're on the cusp of being passed by two Johnny-come-lately's to a party they've napped on for over a decade.  UH had a chance to really build something and make a move to a major conference, they had a chance to matter.  For some reason AD Rhoades decided to penny pinch at just the wrong time and now finds his program playing catch-up to TX St. & UT-SA.

Who would have believed this to be possible 5 years ago?  Not me.

Predicting the 2012 Texans: 9-7

Two caveats to this prediction:

1. I'm assuming the team stays moderately healthy.  If Schaub or Foster or another offensive linemen goes down all bets are off.
2. I'm not a Texans fan, I just follow them because I live in Houston and they're the "local" team.  I'll do a San Fran prediction post later in the year.

With that out of the way, here we go:

1. Miami - Win
The Fins are going to be terrible this year.  If the Texans don't win this game (at home) with a rookie QB starting for the opposition then hold on to your butts.

2. @Jacksonville - Win
See Miami. Even on the road this should be a win.  Although Maurice Jones-Drew will probably be back on the field and the Bulls on Parade has struggled slowing this guy down.

3. @Denver - Loss
It's not that I'm a big believer in Peyton Manning, it's that I'm not that big a believer in the Texans DB's outside of Joseph.  Plus, Denver is a tough road win.

4. Titans - Win
At home, against an average team, the Texans should win. Period.

5. @ NY Jets - Loss
I really think the Jets will have their backs against the wall in this game.  That's my reasoning behind this. Plus, the Texans are not a team (in the Kubiak era) that have gong on long winning streaks against tough teams.

6. Green Bay - Loss
I just think that Green Bay is better.

7. Baltimore - Win
Too many questions for Baltimore.  I think their defense is going to be a shell of its former self this year with all of the injuries.

8. Bills - Win
The top billing for this game is going to be "The revenge of Mario Williams."  Given his past performances that means he'll have two tackles instead of one.  Stupor Mario does not produce against good teams. Plus, the Texans are coming off their bye week which should help.

9. @Chicago - Loss
I'm pretty high on Chicago this year.  I think they're a wildcard team in the NFC.  Plus, the Windy City in November portends an elements game.

10. Jacksonville - Win
I didn't see Jacksonville beating the Texans in Florida, I don't see them doing it in Texas.

11. @Detroit - Loss
This is basically a swing game for me.  I see the Texans and Lions as about equals talent wise.  The difference is I don't see the Lions making the playoffs because their division is much tougher.

12. @Tennessee - Loss
It's very rare (and unheard of for the Texans) to run through your division undefeated.  This is the most likely spot for a loss.

13. @ New England - Loss
I really don't need to explain this one right?

14. Colts - Win
Luck is getting better, but Schaub and the Texans eke one out. Unfortunately they get the Colts late so this could be the difference between the playoffs, and staying home.

15. Vikings - Win
Even as someone who's not that high on the Texans, I can't envision a scenario where the Vikings beat them in Houston.  If the Texans lose this game the season has gone way off the rails.

16. @Colts - Win
Here's the thing, I think the Texans still need this game to make the playoffs.  Unlike last year when the starters took the game off and Indy stunk one out.

Final Result:  9-7  1st place AFC South.

The prevailing thought in Houston is that the Texans are going to be better because of two things:

1. They have Matt Schaub back
2. Andre Johnson is back

Neither of these things is a sure thing and #2 is only likely to be true for 1/2 the season.

These pie-in-the-sky overlook some deep deficiencies in this team that aren't being reported on by the Rah! Rah! group at ChronBlog.  To start, the right side of the offensive line is suspect, with no depth.  If your starting Right Guard is one year removed from being a 7th round draft pick you've got problems.  Add to this a suspension of belief in the greatness of Foster, injury concerns, no faith in the DB's and a "meh" attitude about the coaching staff and you end up with a 9-7 prediction.

On the bright side: I still think that's good enough for the Texans to win the division and make the playoffs.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

College Football round-up: Week 1

Just a few things to say that probably have already been said, possibly some haven't.

I wasn't pleased with how Michigan chose to use Denard Robinson on Saturday, but I'm not sure they have any other choice with him.  Denard is NOT a good passer, against Alabama (Without Touissant) he wasn't much of a running threat either. Maybe it gets better for him against other teams. (Read: Teams without Kirby Smart's defense.)

As bad as it is for Michigan, at least we're not Houston.  Poor Cougars, it's sad that one terrible hire (and then the terrible hires terrible hires) can ruin what was a renaissance for the College on Cullen.  Next week is LaTech, which should, probably, be ranked in the top 25.

Pat Forde forgot to look at last weekend's weather map before writing this terrible column.  Considering most of the SouthEast conference schools were keeping one eye on Isaac I'm surprised they got the turn out they did. Classic case of over thinking and trying to create an issue out of nothing.

Alabama is the new number one team in all the land. Which means absolutely nothing.  There shouldn't be a poll until after the fifth week of the season, which is why I'm not going to put one together until then.

Big loss for the 'Noles. And a big loss for college football fans. Man can play.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Your Heisman front-runner Straight out of central casting.

David Carr younger brother alert. - Has the dad said he's not going to cut his hair until his second son is drafted?

As much grief as some people give week one of the College Schedule. Week 2 is always worse.  This week no top 25 team plays another top 25 team.  Although the aTm/Florida tie has potential.

Other games I'll be watching this weekend:

Pittsburgh - Cincinnati:  It's quite possible that the Panthers are the worst team in major college football this year.

Utah/Utah St.: Utah has the potential to be good, Utah State has the potential to be average.  We'll find out on Friday.

UCF/Ohio State: Urban Mayer is probably ahead of schedule in Columbus.  This should not be news.
Kansas St./Miami: Could be the best game of the weekend.
Air Force/Michigan:  Will the Wolverines let 'Bama beat them twice?  I hope not.
Texas St./Texas Tech:  Is UH that BAD, or is Tx St that GOOD?  We'll find out. (I'm betting on the former)
La Tech/Houston: See the question above, also La Tech is a legit top 25 team. Expect the Coogs to get thrashed.
OK State/Arizona: For no reason other than I'm always glad to see Rich Rod take a beating.
Georgia/Missouri:  Welcome to the SEC Tigers, drink heavy, this one's gonna hurt.
Florida/aTm: Should be a very good game.  Always interested in seeing Sumlin's teams play.

There are various other games that I'll peek at Nebraska/UCLA for one (how good is either team?) and Notre Dame/Purdue because I still believe the Irish are paper tigers this year (again).  I'll have some picks out later this week, before Thursday.

Great opening week. We can only hope the rest of the season is as entertaining as Week 1.