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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Texas A&M Post Game Analysis: Licking Our Wounds

I woke up Friday hoping it was all a dream. I woke up Saturday hoping for the same thing. It is Sunday now and it has finally set in, Thursday night was not a dream.

Going into the game I was about 95% sure the Gamecocks would win. I was about 50% sure we would play well while doing it.

My rationale was Texas A&M was loaded with talent but very young. I was thankful we had them at home and early. I liked the set up, beat the Aggies by a couple of touchdowns now and then watch those Aggies get better each week and contend for the West title in the SEC. 

My rationale was flawed, the young Aggies were ready to play and our young Gamecocks on defense were not. Understatement of the year. That is on the coaches. I don't want Spurrier or Ward fired and neither should you, but that embarrassing loss needs to be owned by them. 

The question is just how bad was it? Is Texas A&M that good or were we that bad? We don't have the answer to that. My eyes tell me Texas A&M is that good and are only going to get better. If you look at it in that context the loss is a bit easier to take, not easy but easier.

Going forward there is reason to be optimistic. While Ward and Spurrier deserve their share of criticism for Thursday, they also have a great track record for making their teams better as the season goes along. 

Last year we saw this against Georgia, our defense looked bad, not quite as bad as Thursday but it wasn't pretty last year in Athens. The defense got better and by the end was pretty good.

There is a ton of talent on this defense. I know it didn't appear to be the case on Thursday. The talent is there. Going into the season it was their youth that was the question. They will get better each game. Will it be good enough? That is the million dollar question.

The Gamecocks and Spurrier need to do things to protect the defense.  Don't get me wrong, play calling is not why we lost on Thursday. That being said, we abandoned the run right away. This is a Spurrier trait that rears its ugly head every so often. The Gamecocks strength is their offensive line and their talented and deep running backs. The Gamecocks need to get in the Power-I-Formation and pound it on the ground and then use the play action to take shots deep. This is how the Gamecocks will give themselves a chance this year. 

The goals for the season are still there, the margin of error just got smaller. The Georgia game now becomes bigger than ever. The Gamecocks will now be home underdogs, I like that. The Bulldogs were impressive against Clemson but they do have weaknesses we can exploit. It is time to lick our wounds.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Free College Football Picks: Week 1

Welcome to the college football season! Every Wednesday night I will post my five free college football picks for the upcoming weekend. All games picked will involve either an ACC or an SEC team. I will list the picks according to a star ranking. Five stars is the strongest play and one star is the weakest play. I will determine the five picks based on my power rankings and the differential between those rankings and the point spread. You can view my SEC/ACC power rankings here. Let's get started.

One Star Game of the Week

Take Wisconsin +5 over LSU

My projections have this game as a toss up with LSU being one point better in my power rankings. This line keep on going up. It opened at 2.5 and the money keeps pouring in on LSU. Take the Badgers with the points in what should be a great game.

Two Star Game of the Week

Take Wake Forest +1.5 against Louisiana Monroe

Wake goes on the road in this one looking to avenge a loss to ULM last year. ULM in the past has beaten Alabama, Arkansas and almost beat Auburn a couple years back. In my power rankings I have Wake as a 3 point better team on the road than ULM. The line opened with Wake as the favorite but the money has poured in on ULM. This is not the same ULM team that had  those great wins over power conference teams. They are the fourth best team in the Sun Belt Conference. While Wake Forest is the worst in the ACC, they should beat ULM

Three Star Game of the Week

Take South Carolina -10.5 against Texas A&M

The game we have all been waiting for is just a day away. The line opened at 10.5 and has remained strong. At first glance, it looks like an awful big number. My power ratings though show the Gamecocks as 15 points better at home over the Aggies. The Aggies have a ton of talent but they are very young. They have an explosive offense but their front seven on defense is not ready. The Gamecocks should have their way with the Aggies up front. If Spurrier and the Gamecocks pound it on the ground they should pull away in the fourth quarter and cover the 10.5 point spread.

Four Star Game of the Week

Take Auburn -18.5 over Arkansas.

This line opened at 21 and has since dropped with the news that Nick Marshall would not start. There is no word just how long the Auburn QB will be held out of the game. My power ratings have Auburn a 25 point better team than Arkansas at home. Look for Auburn, with or without Marshall, to have their way with Arkansas.

Five Star Game of the Week

Take N.C State -21 over Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern made history last year knocking off the Florida Gators. This year's Georgia Southern team is not anything close to last year's team. They lost many of their key players to graduation, they have a new coach and a brand new offense. Georgia Southern will be battling it out with Georgia State for last place in the Sun Belt conference. This is not a very good team. In my power ratings, I have NC State 39 points better than Georgia Southern yet the point spread keeps dropping. The public obviously remembers Georgia Southern from a year ago. Look for NC State to bury them early and often.

Clemson at Georgia? This is probably the most intriguing game of the weekend but it did not make the list this week. The power ratings show Georgia as a 9 point better team than Clemson between the hedges. The line opened right at 9 points but has since dropped to 7.5 points. Not enough of a differential to make my list this week. 

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

2010 Gamecock Football Simulation

2010 was the year of the SEC East title, taking down #1 Alabama, the craziness of Stephen Garcia and the dominance of a freshman named Lattimore.

It is the perfect season to simulate using the Second and Ten football simulator, the same one we used for our World Cup of College Football.

I was going to simulate the season exactly like the real 2010 season only with a four team playoff at the end. I decided to change it up though. Why? Because it is a simulation game and I can, that's why.

 Seriously though, there is one thing that irks me about college football and that is the inequality of schedules within a conference. It always leaves a sour taste in my mouth wondering if the team that won the conference was really the best team. My proposal would be to get rid of all the out of conference cupcake games and only play within your conference. Every team plays every team in their conference. No conference title games, just a season of nothing but conference games. Will it ever happen? No way. However, it is going to happen here.

Here is the plan:

In 2010 the Big 12, the ACC and the SEC all had 12 teams, a perfect number. Those conferences will remain unchanged. The Big Ten and Pac 10 will have to add some teams. The Pac 10 was truly the Pac 10 in 2010 and had just ten teams. The Big 10 was truly not the Big 10 in 2010 as they had 11 teams. How do we solve this? Take the three best teams from 2010 that were not in the big five power conferences. Those teams were Boise State, TCU and Nevada.

Boise State and Nevada and will join the Pac 10 and TCU will join the Big 10.

We now have five power conferences with 12 teams each. What about Notre Dame? Sorry. What about the Big East? Sorry. Five power conferences battling it out with each other to crown five power conference champions. From there, four teams will be chosen to play in the playoffs.

What about out of conference rivalry games? We can't leave those out. Carolina will play Clemson at the end of the season as will FSU vs Florida and Georgia vs Georgia Tech.

So who will win it all in this new setup? Will Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers still be the best? TCU, Boise State and Nevada are now on an equal playing field. Can they prove they belong? Stay tuned.

Here is how the Gamecock schedule looks. The computer randomly generated all schedules. The Clemson game at the end of the season was added manually. The Gamecocks have an awful tough start to their season.

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College Football Pick 'Em Contest

College football season is here and it is time for the College Pick 'Em Challenge. The contest is real simple. Each week ESPN chooses ten college football games. Your job is to pick a winner for each game and then rank how confident you are in each game you pick. The confidence value you give each pick will be how many points you are awarded if you get that pick correct. Your points will add up each week all season long.

All the games will be Saturday games and you will have until noon on Saturday to get your picks in.

This year we are adding a little more incentive with a $20 buy in. The payouts will go as follows:

1st place: 65% of the pool
2nd place: 25% of the pool
3rd place: 10% of the pool

To enter the contest, click here and create your entry. Once you do that you will then search for the group name. The group name is Otis Day and the Knights. The password is password.

You have until Saturday at noon to get your picks submitted. The $20 is expected to be paid by early October. Don't be that guy....or girl who doesn't pay. Payment information is found within the group or you can email  Good luck!

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Best Teams in School History: South Carolina vs Clemson

I have many Clemson fans who read this blog on a regular basis and I hear from them often with their disagreements about my views on things. Sometimes the truth hurts. That works both ways. This is a post that I think Clemson fans are going to like a lot. Don't worry fellow Gamecocks, I will figure out a way to spin it by the end of the post.

The topic is history, something Clemson fans live and feed off of on a daily basis. One of my all time favorite websites is Baseball Reference. Well, the people that brought you that website now have similar sites for the NFL and College Football. These sites are amazing. For example, this site makes it easy to access stats when you are trying to prove some tater wrong about something dumb they said on a message board.

The site uses the SRS which stands for Simple Rating System. The simple rating system as you can imagine is pretty simple. It rates a team on two things, point differential and strength of schedule. 

I have done a couple of blog posts comparing the rosters of both Carolina and Clemson this year along with their schedules. Carolina came out on top in both. I decided I would now compare the history of their greatest teams. I know Clemson leads the all time series and I know they have a national championship. Clemson fans for some reason tend to mention those things a few times every hour. I was hoping though that our five best teams were better than their five best teams based on the SRS. Unfortunately, the facts did not show this. I thought about destroying my research, never to be seen again, but instead I decided to post it. After all, this is a fair and balanced blog......ok...maybe not but still. Here is the research.

South Carolina
YearSRSWinsAP HighAP FinishScheduleRival Win

Time for some observations, the first is that the 1987 Gamecocks are the best team in school history according to SRS. They went 8-4 and yet get the honors. How is this possible? Well, the 1987 Gamecocks played an unreal schedule and when they lost it was close and when they won it was a blowout. As I mentioned, the SRS is simple but it is interesting how well the 1987 Gamecocks look using this system.

Now for the bad news, the four best Clemson teams are all better than any team we have ever had. The SRS is not only simple but it is stupid. Ok, I actually like the SRS and I liked it a lot more before I did this research.

I also need to be honest about the average win totals, as the chart shows both teams averaged ten wins a season during their five best teams. Since Clemson's best teams were sooooooo long ago, teams played one less game than they do now. 

Our five best teams have never lost to Clemson, their five best teams have never lost to us. Makes sense.

However, let's spin this a bit. Notice the schedule ratings? This is a topic that often comes up in debates. Once again, a Clemson fan can never talk about strength of schedule to a Gamecock fan. We will give you the history debate and all of that but please don't bring up or compare our schedules. They just don't compare now or historically.

I tip my hat to Clemson, they win the history argument just about any way you want to slice it. Trust me, I was looking for a way to slice it in the favor of the Gamecocks. However, I do want to point out that four of our five best teams in history have been the last four seasons. There also seems to be no sign of the Gamecocks getting worse.  The present is good and the future looks bright. Now, let's take a look at Clemson. 1990 is a long time ago. That is the last season they had a team that ranked in their top five historically. This is two years before Bill Clinton became President. The Atlanta Braves were the worst team in baseball and had the first overall draft pick and selected a guy named Chipper Jones. 1990 was a long time ago, a real long time ago, real long. So congrats to Clemson on their history but it is pretty clear the present belongs to the Gamecocks and the future looks awful garnet as well.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Christian Walker Rising Through The Orioles System

Christian Walker will always be remembered by Gamecock fans for the home-run he hit against Coastal Carolina in the Super Regional. The homer ignited the Gamecocks to Omaha and a national championship.

Walker might be hitting homers for the Baltimore Orioles soon. Walker was promoted to AAA less than a month ago after dominating AA. Walker went 3-4 last night with a homer. He is now hitting .286 with 3 HR in 19 games in AAA. He hit .301 with 20 homers in AA this season.

Walker's success has not gone unnoticed by the big club. On the Baltimore Orioles telecast on Wednesday night he was featured as their minor league player of the week.

Buck Showalter is high on him but cautioned the press. Showalter had a conversation with Walker after he was promoted to AAA. He told Walker he didn't care how well he hit in AAA, if his defense at first base did not improve he would not be getting called up. Apparently the conversation hit home with Walker. By all accounts he has been working extremely hard on his defense and it is showing improvement. If he keeps it up he could be joining fellow Gamecock Steve Pearce as the Orioles make a run to the postseason.

Monday, August 4, 2014

South Carolina vs Clemson: Positional Rankings

Debates have already started over which team has more talent for the 2014 season. Both teams have clear strengths and both teams have question marks. We summon the great Phil Steele once again and look at his rankings for each position within their conference. For this exercise we are just going to pretend that both the ACC and SEC are equal, difficult I know. Here are the rankings, remember, low number wins.

UnitSouth CarolinaClemson
Running Back48
Offensive Line212
Defensive Line111
Defensive Back94
Special Teams1011

Assuming that both the SEC and ACC are equal, the Gamecocks and Clemson look to be even on paper with the Gamecocks getting a slight edge.

However, the key as always will be in the trenches. The strength for the Gamecocks is their offensive line. The strength for Clemson is their defensive line. 

What raises my eyebrows is that Clemson's offensive line is ranked as the 12th best in the ACC. Keep in mind there are just 14 teams.

The Gamecocks defensive line is ranked 11th in the SEC. However, the Gamecocks are likely to go to a 3-4 defense this year meaning that linebacker play will be very important. The Gamecocks linebacking corp is ranked fourth in the SEC. In the battle of the trenches the edge has to go to the Gamecocks.

I know I told you to pretend both conferences are even. You can stop that right now. Let us be realistic, the SEC is a deeper conference than the ACC. I posted about this when talking about Phil Steele's Power rankings here. So if the Gamecocks are slightly ranked better in the SEC than Clemson is in the ACC, what does that tell you? Stay tuned.