Zag's Frags.. Week 11

This weeks WAC football predictions from the irrepressible, irreverent and sometimes irrational Zagco. From Honolulu to Ruston, Moscow to Las Cruces and beyond, Zagco tells you exactly what you need to know about what is happening this week in the WAC.

Call me Zagco.  Once again, Zagco was PERFECT in his weekly WAC football predictions.  Zagco's run of perfection goes back several weeks and now includes 15 consecutive accurate game predictions.  His overall record now stands at a superlative 48-7—a winning percentage of .873.  By way of comparison, Amos Alonzo Stagg's winning percentage was a mere .620.

 Many fine people ask Zagco:  "What makes you so good at making these predictions?"  Well, rest assured that Zagco is not magic, and he's not using Voodoo or performance enhancing drugs.  Zagco's skills come via the Delphi method of qualitative forecasting, whereby Zagco consults with various experts– his buddy, the BroncoCountry message boards, his youngest daughter (a phenomenal athlete and great student), and the mouse he carries around in his pocket.  Zagco and his round table of experts chew the fat, so to speak, until consensus is reached on these and other matters of interest.

SPECIAL BONUS SECTION:  THE ANNUAL POST-BRONCO FUNK FOR THE SATAN WORSHIPPING CHEAT MONKEYS

The cruddy Vandals, who thankfully don't play this weekend (finally!), embarrassed themselves and the state of Idaho once again by snatching humiliation from the jaws of defeat in their home game against Reno .  In this game, the Steven Wichman Cocktail Hour and Interception Show led his drinking buddies to a grand total of 22 net yards of offense in the first half.  Vandal receiver Marlon Haynes even got into the circus act by throwing a punch at a Reno defender, getting booted out of the game and keeping Coach Erickson's reputation as a coach who loves dirty players (especially when they're JC transfers) alive and well in the WAC.  Not to be outdone, however, Nevada defensive back Nick Hawthrone, who picked off two Wichman high balls, reported that the Vandals were apparently "cracking jokes" during the butt whipping:

"I talked to a couple (of Nevada 's) offensive guys and they said their defensive line was out there cracking jokes throughout the game, so they weren't really focused on the game," said Hawthrone.

http://news.rgj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061105/SPORTS06/611050372/1053.  Truth is indeed stranger than fiction!  Wow.  

 Anyhoo, Zagco also really liked the following Dennis Erickson quotes, as reported by Jim Meehan in The Spokesman-Review's après game story entitled "Vandals wonder where good team went—Nevada picks up where Hawaii left off:"

"After the Boise State game, I felt we were a team that had really, really, really improved," Erickson said. "The last two weeks we've gotten worse. I wish I knew why, but we have. We're not executing on offense like we're capable of. On defense, we've had trouble stopping everything.

"That's the most disappointing thing. We had made a lot of progress and now all of a sudden we've stopped and gone sideways."

http://www.spokesmanreview.com/sports/story.asp?ID=158202 (emphasis added).

See?!  EVERYTHING about Idaho is defined by reference to Boise State !  Each season, the Vandals set sail aboard their ship in search of the fabled white whale they might call Bronco Dick.  Alas, just as Melville wrote it, the white whale tears their ship apart and kills them all, save for one pour soul, Ishmael, left afloat to tell the tail.  It's a sort of Groundhogs Day/Moby Dick mixed metaphor, but it works, and, if you will permit Zagco, he also thinks the following lyrics from a ballad performed by Canadian crooner Gordon Lightfoot—while telling of a tale far weightier than football—also captures the essence of what happens to our red-headed step child from north central Idaho in the wake of the Boise State game:

The wind in the wires made a tattletale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the Captain did, too,
T'was the witch of November come stealing.

Anyhoo, Zagco feels it is important for Bronco fans, especially you whippersnappers, to understand that now that Idaho got their butts kicked by Boise State and went into the tediously predictable post-Bronco tailspin that they've been going into ever since the first time they played us back in the hippie salad days of 1971, most Vandals will want to lash out at us and say really mean things.  That's understandable.  It should not, however, stop us from mercilessly teasing them.  Remember, no matter how bad they suck and how sad they might seem to us, they are devious SOB's who deserve nothing but scorn and a swift kick to the groin.  In your verbal jousts with them, however, just remember the wisdom of Holden Caulfield:  "All morons hate it when you call them morons."

SPECIAL BONUS SECTION:  A FUN PUZZLE!!!

  1. If 1/3 = .3333…
  2. And, if 1/3 * 3 = 1
  3. And, if .3333… * 3 = .9999….
  4. Then, doesn't that mean 1 = .9999….?

 (You must thoroughly explain your answer without reference to French mathematicians.)

 RETURNING SPECIAL BONUS SECTION:  UPDATED WAC STATISTICS FROM THE WAC WEBSITE!!!

 Click on the hyperlink below to see the updated WAC statistics:

 http://www.wacsports.com/fls/10100/stats/football/2006/confldrs.htm?SPSID=45953&SPID=4122&DB_OEM_ID=10100

 MAIN SECTION:  ZAGCO'S WEEK 10 PICKS!!!!

  Utah State Aggies v. Reno Pack o'Wolves
Where:  The Biggest Little City in the World
When:  Saturday, November 11, 2006, at 2:00 p.m. MT (WAC.tv)

This game is a scrimmage for Reno —a mere warm-up for Reno 's upcoming Game of the Century against Boise State . The Pack could care less about Charles Nelson Riley and his fellow Hollywood Squares, if you will.  Zagco, after thinking that maybe Charles Nelson Riley had pumped some life into the Aggies, is now convinced that the new Aggie quarterback is a long way from being the solution to Utah State 's profound problems. 

Reno looked pretty dang good at Moscow .  The offense was sharp, the pass defense looked very good, and they seemed very well prepared for the game.   Even Reno quarterback Jeff "the Schnauz" Rowe looked solid, showing no signs of his recent injury. 

Zagco believes that Reno 's main strengths are twofold:  (1) a solid, efficient offense that executes; and (2) a very good pass defense that stands out on a solid overall defense.  Witness the following:

  • Reno is 3rd in the WAC in scoring defense, 2nd in pass defense, 2nd in pass efficiency defense, 2nd in rushing defense, 1st in red zone defense, and 2nd in overall defense.
  • The Pack leads the WAC in turnover margin at +12, and leads the WAC in sacks with 26.

With respect to the respectable rushing defense ranking, Zagco does find that a bit misleading.  The Pack is giving up 4.5 yards per carry, a mediocre number at best in the WAC.  Zagco believes Reno 's major weakness is defending the run.

The "Pistol Offense" is hardly the high-powered passing offense it was billed to be.  Instead, perhaps for personnel reasons, Chris Ault's boys are running a fairly conservative, safe offense.  The Schnauz does have a nice pass efficiency rating (151.1), but his yards are modest, and the Pack seems to be getting more out of running back Robert Hubbard, who is rushing for 96.6 yards per game and gaining 115.4 all-purpose yards.

Zagco digresses, of course, because all this talk about Reno 's strengths and weaknesses is purely academic.  Utah State is, quite simply, not equipped to exploit any Reno weaknesses.  Once again, this is a scrimmage for Reno .

Reno will get an easy win over Utah State .

 Hal Mumme's Last Place New Mexico State Aggies v. Fresno
Where:  Fresno , Cali
When:  Saturday, November 11, 2006, at 3:00 p.m. MT (WAC.tv)

Hal Mumme, the NCAA-Certified Cheating Snotgobbler, keeps getting weirder and weirder.  Chad Crippe, in his November 6 Bronco Blog, reported the following:

New Mexico State coach Hal Mumme made another odd comment about the Broncos on Monday.

"We had a six-point game with them," Mumme said.

The Broncos beat the Aggies 40-28 last month.

http://www.idahostatesman.com/269/story/59075.html. 

Yikes!  That dude is either really stupid or really bitter, maybe both.

We've seen both of these teams.  The Aggies can get rolling.  Fresno is just reeling—it's reached a point of being sort of ridiculous, because we all know Fresno is better than its record suggests.  Pat Hill has GOT to find a way to get his players to forget about the losses to the BCS schools.  Once they figure out that the thrill of the chase is not what life is all about, the Bulldogs will be fine.

Zagco believes the Bulldogs will break through this week.

Fresno will win against New Mexico State at home.

La Tech Bulldogs v. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Where:  Paradise
When:  Saturday, November 11, 2006, at 10-ish MT

Folks, Zagco is not screwing with you:  Last week, he teased La Tech about its penchant for traveling, especially against strong opposition.  Zagco joked that La Tech would be traveling this week to play Raider legend Otis Sistrunk's listed alma mater, the University of Mars. 

Well, the southern Bulldogs don't travel quite that far—they are traveling to Hawaii instead.  Ha!

The La Tech Murderer's Row travel schedule now includes the following:  (1) Nebraska ; (2) Clemson; (3) Texas A&M; (4) Boise State ; and (5) Hawaii .

They've also played at San Jose Can You See, and for some bizarre reason, the idiot who puts together La Tech's schedule sent them to Denton , Texas last week to play a directional school.  What the HELL is going on at La Tech?!?  Zagco IMPLORES La Tech to fire the guy who made this schedule.  Stop the insanity!!!

Anyhoo, pursuant to its normal practice, La Tech is traveling a long, long ways to receive an inevitable butt kicking.  Make no mistake:  This game is going to be a wipeout.  Hawaii 's offense is relentless, like the Jedi.  It sits atop 5 major offensive categories in the WAC:

  1. The number one scoring offense in the WAC (47.3 ppg);
  2. The number one passing offense in the WAC (429 ypg);
  3. The number one offense in the WAC (534 ypg);
  4. The number one pass efficiency rating in the WAC (187.4); and
  5. The most first downs in the WAC (233).

Moreover, a perusal of defensive numbers shows that Hawaii isn't half bad on defense either.  With its great offense, its great skill players, including its wild-card-like running back Nate Ilaoa—a matchup nightmare for anyone--having any kind of a defense is a blessing.  Zagco has also heard that, for good measure, the Rainbow Warriors' chubby mascot carries around that damn Taboo Tiki that ruined Greg Brady's Hawaiian vacation so many years ago.  Freakin' Hawaii !

Hawaii will win this game by a score so staggering as to defy explanation by reference to our denary numeral system, providing further support for Zagco's theory that we'll all be doing Mayan math within 20 years.

Boise State Broncos v. San Jose Can You See Spartans
Where:  Do You Know The Way To San Jose ?
When:  Saturday, November 11, 2006, at 4:00 p.m. MT (KTVB Channel 7)

As Boise State long ago became the Vandals' white whale, this season's BCS dreams could become, Zagco fears, the Broncos' white whale.  While Zagco prefers to live his life one Boise State game at a time, he acknowledges the reality that all Bronco fans are puckered up so tight right now that a bowel movement is simply out of the question.  If this continues, we'll all have red faces and jowls like over-the-hill politicians.  So, lets not let the whale itself consume our hopes and dreams, falling to the same fate as the Pequod, Captain Ahab and the others, but let's instead see the white whale for what it really is—our fears.

Thus, in the spirit of confronting our fears head on, Zagco would like to make the following observations:

  1. We have 2 very tough games coming up.  The game at Reno and the game at San Jose will present formidable hurdles, as we will be facing good football teams who will be throwing everything and the kitchen sink at us.  Even if we win by comfortable margins, we'll go through two Chuck Wepner-like battles in those games.
  2. Two years ago, during our undefeated season, we were flat lucky to win 3 football games:  (1) BYU; (2) Tulsa ; and (3) San Jose .  While I find it difficult to believe that we'll be able to rely on the same kind of late game heroics/luck (those three games seemingly exhausted our supply of Miracles), I bet we'll face some tough, key moments in the upcoming games that will test our metal.
  3. Don't be afraid.  The BCS is not the Abyss. 

 Anyhoo, back to predictions:  Who is San Jose Can You See?

  • The 2nd best scoring defense in the WAC (behind us)
  • The top passing defense in the WAC
  • The 2nd best net punting in the WAC
  • The 3rd best turnover margin in the WAC at +3 (well behind us and Reno )
  • The 2nd best rushing offense in the WAC
  • The 3rd best total defense
  • The 2nd best punt return average
  • Allowed the lowest number of first downs in the WAC
  • The 2nd lowest number of penalty yards per game
  • The 2nd best at fourth down conversions (behind us)
  • The 2nd lowest number of fourth down conversions allowed
  • The 2nd best red zone defense.
  • The lowest number of sacks allowed (8)

 Individually, the Bay Area Spartans have some notable performers.  Running back Yonus Davis is second in the WAC at 107.6 yards per game, gaining a walloping 7.4 yards per carry, which is more than Ian Johnson.  Receiver James Jones is 4th in the WAC with more than 11 receptions per game, and receiver John Broussard is 3rd in the WAC with 66.8 yards receiving yards per game.  Defensive back Dwight Lowery leads the WAC with 8 interceptions.  Punter Waylon Prather leads the WAC with a 43.9 yard average.  Linebacker Matt Costello leads the WAC with 12.5 tackles per game.  Spartan signal caller Adam Tafralis has fallen a bit from his fast start, but his numbers are solid and efficient.  As you can see, Dick Tomey—a totally decent guy—has the Spartans winning and playing a diverse, balanced game.

Zagco believes Boise State will need to do three things to win this game:  (1) Ian Johnson and Vinnie Peretta need to have very productive running games—San Jose Can You See will not be able to stop our running game unless they really scheme up a run-based defense; (2) our special teams is going to have to have a mistake-free performance—San Jose has solid special teams, and special teams is where these kinds of games are often won or lost; and (3) we need to find a way on defense to disrupt the Spartans balanced attack—they don't give up sacks, so we need to find some way to cause Mr. Tafralis to hesitate or hurry a bit more than normal, and that might mean that our corners and safeties will need to make some plays.

Boise State will pull out a tough win at San Jose .


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