Blog Entry

National notes at the halfway point

Posted on: October 15, 2008 10:56 am

One of the best measures for an improved program is the games ahead/behind method. Look at baseball standings for an example. The NCAA includes a section in its statistics book each year that tracks the most improved teams from one year to the next. In 2007, it was Illinois which went from 2-10 in 2006 to 9-4 last season. That's an improvement of 6 1/2 games.

Hawaii holds the record improving by 8 1/2 games in 1999. Ironically, the Warriors might be on the opposite side of that stat this season.

At the halfway point, I thought it would be a good idea to figure the biggest improvements and biggest declines of the 2008 season. Remember, some of the numbers might be skewed because we've played only half a season. But this might be a good measuring stick for coach of the year candidates and provide a short list of coaches about to be fired.

Most improved

1. Minnesota +7 1/2 games (from 1-11 to 6-1)
2. Duke +5 1/2
3. North Carolina +4
4. Pittsburgh +3 1/2
5. several tied at +3

Biggest decline

1. Hawaii -5 1/2 games (from 12-1 to 3-3)
2. Central Florida, Tennessee -4
4. LSU, Arizona State, Florida Atlantic, Michigan, West Virginia, Rutgers, Kansas - 3 1/2

Most improved by conference: Baylor, +3; ACC, Duke +5 1/2; Big East, Pittsburgh, +3 1/2; Conference USA, Rice/Marshall, +3; Mountain West, Colorado  State/UNLV, +3; MAC, Ball State/Northern Illinois, +3; SEC, Vanderbilt/Ole Miss, +3; WAC, New Mexico State, +3: Independents, Notre Dame, +3; Big Ten,  Minnesota, +7 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida International/Louisiana-Lafayette, +3; Pac-10, Stanford, +2 1/2.

Biggest decline by conference: ACC, Boston College/Clemson/Virginia, -2 1/2; Big 12, Kansas, -3 1/2; Big East, West Virginia/Rutgers, -3 1/2; Big Ten, Michigan, -3 1/2;  Independents, Western Kentucky, -2 1/2; Conference USA, Central Florida -4; MAC, Bowling Green/Ohio/Miami (Ohio), -1 1/2; Mountain West, New Mexico, -3; SEC, Tennessee, -4; Pac-10, Arizona State -3 1/2; WAC, Hawaii -5 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida Atlantic, -3 1/2.

Storylines for the second half

Will anyone go unbeaten?: It looks like the SEC and Big 12 will cannibalize each other. That leaves a bunch of one-loss powers that also could include Ohio State, Penn State, USC and Utah or Brigham Young.

Heisman race: Tim Tebow won't repeat and the Big 12 looks like it has a lock on the 2008 winner. But which player?

JoePa In the Sky With A Headset: Can Penn State's venerable coach win a Big Ten title and national championship without setting foot on the field the rest of  the way? Physical problems continue to keep JoePa in the press box. When asked Tuesday if he needed a hip replacement, Paterno answered cryptically, "I don't  know." It isn't exactly Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds but anything Joe does the rest of the season is going to be followed closely.

The non-BCS challengers: TCU, BYU and Utah are all in the mix. If Tulsa can win at Arkansas on Nov. 1 the Golden Hurricane will be a factor. The MAC is  simply too tough for Ball State (7-0) to go undefeated but you have to root for the Cardinals. Their best receiver's career is over (Dante Love) and their quarterback (Nate Davis) wears gloves.

Biggest looming controversy: If a one-loss team from the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12 is edged out of the BCS title game by an undefeated non-BCS school.

Next coach to be fired: Given the swiftly declining situation at Auburn it might be Tommy Tuberville. Other than that, Washington's Tyrone Willingham and  Syracuse's Greg Robinson are locks. Keep an eye also on San Diego State's Chuck Long and Central Florida's George O'Leary.

Biggest upset looming out there: Not in terms of David and Goliath but watch the Texas at Texas Tech game on Nov. 1. If both teams keep winning you're looking at No. 1 Texas vs. a Red Raiders team that should be in the BCS top five. If Texas Tech wins try to wrap your mind around Mike Leach and his Pirate  Love jumping up to No. 1.

Get out your swords and Johnny Depp movies.

BCS bowl predictions at the halfway point

BCS title game: Penn State* vs. Oklahoma*
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Alabama
Sugar Bowl: Florida* vs. South Florida*
Orange Bowl: BYU^ vs. Virginia Tech*
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC*

*-conference champ
^-non-BCS automatic qualifier

  Remember last week when Washington State held open tryouts to find a scout team quarterback? The winner of that competition, Peter Roberts, suddenly finds himself a viable backup option with the Cougars headed into the USC game.

 Speaking of injuries, it's a shame that two stars at Kentucky and North Carolina recently saw their careers end. Carolina's Brandon Tate, the I-A career  leader in kick return yards, is finished because of a knee injury. Exciting Kentucky receiver Dicky Lyons is done because of a knee ligament tear.


 Don't say I didn't warn you. I know what I said about Texas and Texas Tech above but indulge me: The way things are shaking out, a Kansas-Oklahoma State Big 12 title game isn't out of the question. If Texas beats Missouri on Saturday then it becomes more likely. Kansas is playing better and has Texas at home later in the season. KU and Missouri meet in Kansas City on Nov. 29.


Oklahoma State is playing better than anyone in the conference (that includes Texas). That head-to-head game is Oct. 25.

 Remember this when you watch BYU and TCU on Thursday night. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall allows each special teams unit to name a captain. The captain then  names starters and backups for each unit. Wonder if that ever happens in the SEC?




Since: Oct 15, 2008
Posted on: October 17, 2008 2:57 pm

National notes at the halfway point

Maybe, but probably not.  OU is not going to win out either without Reynolds on defense. 

Saturday had to be pretty painful in Norman.  3 of 4 and Big Game Bob is slippin some more.


Since: Dec 31, 2007
Posted on: October 17, 2008 10:31 am

National notes at the halfway point


How about some Minnesota love?  For the first time since I can remember the Golden Gophers are playing like a legit big 10 team.  Now I know there are still plenty of games left to play but do you think it possible that they could play in a bowl game bigger than the music city?



Since: Oct 7, 2008
Posted on: October 17, 2008 10:27 am

National notes at the halfway point

Will anyone go unbeaten?: It looks like the SEC and Big 12 will cannibalize each other. That leaves a bunch of one-loss powers that also could include Ohio State, Penn State, USC and Utah or Brigham Young.

 Penn State is a one-loss power?  Since when?

Since: Oct 29, 2006
Posted on: October 17, 2008 7:00 am

National notes at the halfway point

Texas does not have to lose twice before it is possible for Oklahoma to be in the Big-12 conference title game.  There could be a three-way tie for the Big-12 South Division with three one-loss teams and then the south's representative would be determined by  tie-breakers other than head-to-head records.    example;  Texas beat Oklahoma,  Oklahoma State beats Texas,  Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State. 

Since: Dec 30, 2006
Posted on: October 17, 2008 2:21 am

National notes at the halfway point

Don't rule out Texas Tech. They are strong this year. I would wait and see what happens in the next two games before I would call it a three-way tie.

Since: Feb 14, 2007
Posted on: October 16, 2008 11:41 pm

National notes at the halfway point

One mention of Ball State and all ready your lining up the BCS bowl games. You got to be kidding. This is a joke!

Since: Jun 17, 2008
Posted on: October 16, 2008 4:44 pm

National notes at the halfway point

Its funny to me that Dodd believes Texas will lose 2 more games, and he wasnt impressed with either team on saturday (OU or Texas) but yet he predicts OU in the tiltle game and Texas BCSing it.  Hmmmm. 

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: October 16, 2008 4:14 pm

Texas can only lose once and miss the Champ game

I like you also thought that the Longhorns had to lose twice, but if the scenerio of Oklahoma State beats Texas and the Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State and they all win out and there is a 3 way tie, the team ranked highest in the BCS (what a joke) would go to Kansas City. All that being said, whoever comes out of that Championship game should deserve a national title game. I, being a Sooner fan and big 12 fan in general think the Longhorns and Sooners are both Championship caliber teams, they still need to run the ball better. And they need to watch out for the spoilers. Going to be a great  month of football coming up.

Since: Mar 10, 2007
Posted on: October 16, 2008 3:29 pm

National notes at the halfway point

There is one more scenario which could drop UT behind OU.

If Texas Tech or Oklahoma St beat Texas, and then loses to Oklahoma, and those three teams (UT, Oklahoma, and either Tech or OSU) are otherwise undefeated, then you have three 1-loss teams.  In that scenario, the Big XII tie-breaker falls through several levels to the team with the highest BCS ranking.  Right now, of course, that would be Texas.  In a situation like I just described, who knows which team would be ranked higher?

Since: Oct 13, 2008
Posted on: October 16, 2008 11:49 am

National notes at the halfway point

I agree with you except one point... Utah will beat BYU. BYU is a good team but they play a bunch of weak panzy teams i.e. :Washington, UCLA, Northern Iowa (1-AA team) When they get to Utah they won't know what a good team is.

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