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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.

Instead of just simulating the season exactly the way things were in 2010, we are going to simulate them the way things should be and perhaps will be in the near future.

The movement of having the five power conferences separate themselves from the NCAA has started to gain momentum. I think it makes sense. The new four team playoff also makes sense, with that in mind here is what this 2010 college football season will look like.

Five power conferences of 12 teams each. The SEC, Big 12, ACC will remain untouched from the 2010 season. The Pac 10 needs to add two teams and the Big Ten needs to add one. I figured the best way to do this was to select the three best teams from 2010 that were not in power conferences. Those teams were Boise State, Nevada and TCU. The conference allignment for the Pac 10 and the Big Ten will now look like this for the 2010 season simulation.

This should make things real interesting. In 2010 there were no playoffs, in this simulation there will be. I really think an eight team playoff would work best, but for this simulation we will do the four team playoff system just like the one debuting this season.

While I love the SEC and feel strongly that in most years the SEC has at least two teams that could be considered in the top four in the nation, I don't think a four team playoff should have more than one team from a conference. I also think the committee this year will make sure that doesn't happen. What I think they will do is take the four best conference champions. I agree with this method. That means one conference champ gets left out.

The one issue I have is that often times the conference champion is not the best team in the conference. How can you crown a champion in a conference when not all the teams in the conference play each other?

In this simulation we have fixed this issue. The schedule is simple. Every team plays every team in their conference. The five champions will then be eligible for the playoffs and the rankings will determine which team gets left out. No more cupcakes, an 11 game conference schedule. How cool is that?

What about the out of conference rivalry games? I have not forgotten. South Carolina will play Clemson, Florida will play Florida State and Georgia will play Georgia Tech. These games will have no impact on the conference champion but the extra game for these teams could shift the rankings to see which conference champ gets left out. So follow along, we will simulate a game a week and post the results usually on Monday. Below is the 2010 Gamecock schedule. Enjoy

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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.

Monday, July 28, 2014

South Carolina vs Clemson: Strength of Schedule

The South Carolina Gamecocks have had a tougher strength of schedule ranking than the Clemson Tigers have had every year since 2003. To be honest, in most of those years the rankings were not close. This is according to Jeff Sagarin. You can check out all these year by year rankings here. Jeff Sagarin doesn't work based on opinion he does it strictly using the numbers.

The funny thing is last year the Gamecocks played a much weaker schedule than they have in a long time. Clemson played a much tougher schedule last year than they have in a long time. This led to Clemson fans actually questioning the schedule of the Gamecocks. It is the equivalent of Oprah Winfrey questioning Kate Upton's diet.

Last year, the Gamecocks schedule ranked 20th in the country and Clemson 54th. That is much worse than Carolina is used to and much better than Clemson is used to, despite that, the Gamecocks still ranked 34 spots better than Clemson. No, Jeff Sagarin is not the adopted son of Paul Finebaum. Clemson fans are always looking for conspiracies.

It is now 2014 and the schedules are out. Once again Clemson fans are questioning the Gamecocks schedule. To be honest, the 2014 Gamecocks schedule might be their easiest schedule since they joined the SEC in 1992. Clemson might have their toughest schedule since 1992. Do you know what is strange? At worst, the Gamecocks schedule is even with Clemson's schedule.

It is hard to judge schedules before the season and much more accurate to do so once the season has been played. However, I went ahead and used Phil Steele's rankings to compare the schedules of both Clemson and Carolina. Here is my post on Phil Steele and his rankings.

Below is each team's schedule and their power rating number. The FCS teams do not have a power ranking number and since both teams play one FCS team each, the numbers cancel each other out. Remember, teams get a boost in their number when they play at home. You will notice that Georgia has a better number on the Clemson schedule because they are home. So even know Georgia is a common opponent between Carolina and Clemson, it is a tougher game for Clemson because it is on the road. We saw the reverse of this last season. Here are the numbers:

ClemsonSouth Carolina
@Georgia136Texas A&M126
SC StateNAEast Carolina116
@FSU149at Vandy122
NC State117@Kentucky114
Georgia State82South Alabama106
South Carolina135@Clemson132

The Gamecocks schedule gets the slight edge. The main differences is between South Alabama and Georgia State. Georgia State is really bad. The other issue Clemson has is the weakness of the bottom ACC teams. I blogged about this here the other day.

Once again this is close and I have stated I like to judge schedules at the end of the season. The point is, this could be the easiest schedule for the Gamecocks in two decades and this could be the toughest schedule for Clemson in two decades, yet they are pretty much even with a slight nod to the Gamecocks. Interesting.