Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Looking back in embarrassing fashion

Every blogger and sportswriter out there throws out a ton of predictions about everything. I post plenty of my own, some of which are pretty accurate and some of which make me look like an idiot. The problem is that most people don't ever go back and see how good/bad their predictions were (there's probably a good reason for this). How am I, as a reader, supposed to know how much stock to put into your prognostications if I don't know whether you're ever right about anything?

So I'll step up to the plate and review each of my predictions from September 2, the opening day of the college football season. I'll go with the Gene Wojciechowski grading system of one point for a correct prediction, no points for a wrong one and a half-point for a sort-of-right-but-not-totally-accurate one.

A forewarning: It's not pretty. Here we go ...

What I said: Florida will win the national championship. A loss is possible at some point -- it's still college football, after all -- but even a one-loss Gators team has a good shot at getting in the national title game (unless that loss is in the SEC championship game).

Result: 0 points. It was pretty clear by midway through the season that Florida and Alabama were the two best teams in the country, but 'Bama dominated the SEC championship game and went on to win it all. Close but no cigar.

What I said: Tim Tebow will become the second player in history to win the Heisman Trophy twice. Colt McCoy could give him a good run -- Tebow and Sam Bradford each have a Heisman already, so there will be some sentiment that it's McCoy's turn if Texas beats Oklahoma.

Result: 0 points. I was right about the McCoy sentiment, but Tebow missed a game and a half with a concussion, struggled in the passing game for much of the season and finished a distant fifth in the Heisman race. Mark Ingram and Toby Gerhart, neither of whom were mentioned at any point in my predictions, came out of nowhere to dominate the voting.

What I said: USC will lose two games. I'm not sure which two (yay for being specific), but with road games at Ohio State, Cal, Notre Dame and Oregon along with home games against Oregon State and UCLA, I just have a feeling that this is the year the Trojans' ridiculous streak of top-five finishes comes to an end.

Result: 1/2 point. USC obviously lost more than two games, but the point was that USC wouldn't be its usual self with a freshman QB and a particularly tough schedule. I was right about that; USC finished 9-4 and fifth in the Pac-10.

What I said: Oregon will win at least a share of the Pac-10 title. I was shocked when I saw that the Vegas over/under on Oregon's wins was 7.5, because with USC and Cal both coming to Autzen Stadium, I think Oregon wins at least one of those two and finishes no worse than 9-3 overall.

Result: 1 point. Oregon looked horrible in a season-opening loss to Boise State but regrouped quickly, took USC to the woodshed and beat Oregon State to win the Pac-10. Even after a Rose Bowl loss, Oregon finished 10-3. I guess I should have taken the over on 7.5 wins.

What I said: Notre Dame gets to 9-3 and salvages Charlie Weis' job. I think ND is vastly overrated this year, but I just don't see many threats on the schedule. A split against Michigan and Michigan State, a loss to USC and a loss to Pitt (a fairly pessimistic view of their four toughest games) only gives the Irish three losses, and other than that ... UConn? Stanford?

Result: 0 points. Ummm ... yeah. I was actually dead right about the first four games, but ND lived by the sword all year before finishing with an 0-4 collapse -- including losses to UConn AND Stanford (oops) -- and Charlie Weis was fired about seven seconds later. Notre Dame ended up 6-6 and turned down the chance to play in a crappy bowl game.

What I said: Notre Dame won't play in a BCS bowl. The thing that will help the Irish get to nine wins is the same thing that will keep them out of the BCS: a weak schedule.

Result: 1/2 point. Notre Dame definitely DIDN'T play in a BCS bowl, but it wasn't because of a weak schedule. In fact, just the opposite: The schedule turned out to be a lot tougher than I gave it credit for. UConn, Stanford, Pitt, Washington, Boston College, Navy ... a lot of ND's opponents ended up being far better than expected.

What I said: Michigan will finish 7-5. I won't do a game-by-game breakdown, but there are five games on the schedule that should be definite wins for UM and five more that fall into the toss-up category (I'm putting Penn State and Ohio State down as probable losses).

Result: Do I get a half-point for this? No? Damn. I was right about the overall assessment -- there were five should-have-been-guaranteed wins on the schedule and a bunch of toss-ups -- but Michigan lost one of those easy wins (Purdue) and pulled out only one of the toss-ups (Notre Dame). The oh-so-close losses to Michigan State, Iowa, Illinois and Purdue were the difference between bowl eligibility and another painfully long winter.

What I said: If Boise State loses to Oregon tonight (yes, I'm hedging here), there will be no "BCS buster" this year. BYU, TCU and Utah are all ranked in the preseason polls, but BYU plays Oklahoma, TCU goes to Clemson and Utah visits Oregon. Oh, and they all have to play each other in the Mountain West. I don't see any of the three coming out unscathed.

Result: 0 points. In fact, I should probably get negative points for this one. Boise State beat Oregon and finished undefeated en route to a Fiesta Bowl matchup against ... TCU. Both were 12-0 heading into the bowls and finished in the top 10. And while Cincinnati wasn't technically a BCS buster, their pathetic history essentially puts them in the same category as Boise and TCU. Poor effort on that one.

What I said: The winner of the Texas-Oklahoma game will run the table and play Florida for the national championship. And the winner of that game will be ... hold on while I flip a coin ... I'll go with Texas.

Result: 1 point. Woooooo!

What I said: Michigan State will fall short of expectations, but not by much. MSU is kind of in the same boat as Notre Dame: The schedule is favorable enough (missing Ohio State, for example) that it will be difficult to lose more than four games. I'm predicting 8-4.

Result: 0 points. Oh, Sparty. MSU had four losses by the end of October, including an embarrassing home defeat against Central Michigan. A 6-7 finish wasn't exactly what fans were hoping for in a supposed breakout year with Michigan, Iowa and Penn State all at home and Ohio State not on the schedule at all.

What I said: Arizona State, picked as a dark horse in the Pac-10 by such geniuses as Mark May, will struggle to reach a bowl game. The offense could be atrocious -- the running game is nonexistent and Danny Sullivan should not be a Pac-10 starting quarterback -- and while the defense should be pretty good, a late-season stretch against Stanford, Cal, USC, Oregon and UCLA will be a killer. I'll say 6-6.

Result: 1 point. I was off by a couple games -- ASU finished 4-8 -- but everything else was frighteningly accurate. The offense was terrible (the running game was nonexistent and Sullivan got benched) and the defense was very good, although not good enough to save a team that couldn't score. And that killer late-season stretch? ASU went 0-6 after a miraculous win over Washington on October 17.

What I said: If Ohio State beats USC (there's that "if" again), the Buckeyes will finish undefeated. Their only real challenge in the Big Ten is Penn State, so there's a good chance that the winner of the game in Happy Valley on Nov. 7 will run the table against the rest of the conference and finish 12-0.

Result: 0 points. Ohio State obviously didn't beat USC, so the rest of the prediction was moot, but a bizarre and ugly loss to Purdue rendered it wrong anyway.

What I said: Here's my projected top 10 at the end of the regular season (note that this is NOT a preseason ranking or a list of teams I think are the best, just a guess at how the polls will look going into the bowl games):

1. Florida
2. Texas
3. Ohio State
4. Oklahoma
5. Oregon
6. Penn State
7. USC
8. Alabama
9. LSU
10. Boise State

Result: 1/2 point. I had six of the top 10 in the AP poll and seven of ten in the coaches' poll, so I'll give myself a little credit for that. I obviously couldn't foresee Oklahoma's disastrous string of injuries or USC's Pac-10 collapse. Boise and Alabama should have been higher, and it goes without saying that I didn't expect TCU and Cincinnati to end up in the top five.

So that's 13 predictions and a total of 4 1/2 points. I'm not exactly Nostradamus. I don't think I did too badly, though; most of my predictions weren't that far off. Florida ended up being the second-best team rather than the best team, for example, and both Michigan and Notre Dame came out on the wrong end of a few games that could have easily swung the other way.

Still, 0.34 points per prediction won't win any awards. I'll give myself an uninspiring C+.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I kinda have been expecting this in a way...
But I reali dun think da world is going to end...start a new era maybe but the world is not ending.
That's not gonna happen till a thousand years later! Ok, I'm not sure bout that either but that's not the point! The world's not gonna end! Full stop!
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