Prognostication Station: Notre Dame, Pt. 2

Can't wait for the 2010 season? Instead of the boring, old opponent previews we've written in years past, we figured why not introduce you to this fall's schedule virtually? Everything that follows is based entirely off video game simulation, but The Bootleg will not be blamed if reality follows the script. In this "bonus" content, we look at the ND stats, and EA's ratings of key Stanford players.

So joyous was your correspondent, our recap of Stanford's (4-0) overtime win at Notre Dame (2-2) ran two-plus pages long. Thus, we're putting the scoring summary and box score of the 30-27 thriller here, along with out-of-town scores. Enjoy!

Wrapping up virtual Week Four

Scoring Summary
1st quarter
TD ND: Shaquelle Evans 25-yd pass from Nate Montana, 2:30 left. ND 7, Stanford 0.
2nd quarter
TD ND: S. Evans returned R. Sherman fumble 14 yds, 10:33 left. ND 14, Stanford 0.
TD ND: E.J. Banks returned J. Nunes interception 50 yds, 4:57 left. ND 21, Stanford 0.
TD Stan: Stepfan Taylor 2-yard run, 0:00 left. Notre Dame 21, Stanford 7.
3rd quarter
TD Stan: Jeremy Stewart 3-yard run (2-pt failed), 11:39 left. ND 21, Stanford 13.
TD Stan: Levine Toilolo 5-yard pass from Andrew Luck (Wilkerson run for two), 1:54 left. Notre Dame 21, Stanford 21.
4th quarter
FG ND: 40, 19-yard field goal, 7:23 left. Notre Dame 24, Stanford 21.
FG Stanford: Nate Whitaker, 26-yard field goal, 0:00 left. Notre Dame 24, Stanford 24.
FG ND: 40, 38-yard field goal. Notre Dame 27, Stanford 24.
TD Stan: Chris Owusu 25-yard pass from Andrew Luck. Stanford 30, Notre Dame 27.

Box score

StatisticStanfordNotre Dame
First downs249
Total offense540356
Passing (Comp-Att-Yards-TD)22-39-424-219-31-343-1
Rushing (Att-Yards-TD)49-116-223-13-0
Third down conversions6-150-12
Fumbles lost11

Key Stanford player stats
QB Andrew Luck: 21-of-37, 374 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
RB Anthony Wilkerson: eight carries, 69 yards
WR Ryan Whalen: three receptions, 112 yards
WR Chris Owusu: three receptions, 78 yards, 1 TD
DT Matt Masafilo: four tackles for loss
DE Thomas Keiser: one interception, 69 return yards

Key out-of-town scores
No. 11 Oklahoma 41, @No. 20 Cincinnati 24
@No. 10 Boise State 45, No. 25 Oregon State 20
No. 1 Alabama 48, @No. 14 Arkansas 38
No. 24 West Virginia, @No. 12 LSU 6
@Arizona State 17, No. 3 Oregon 16

Stanford schedule
@Stanford 35, Sacramento State 6
Stanford 22, @UCLA 16
Stanford 52, @Wake Forest 14
Stanford 30, @Notre Dame 27
Stanford at Oregon
Stanford at USC
Stanford vs. Washington State
Stanford at Washington
Stanford vs. Arizona
Stanford at Arizona State
Stanford at Cal
Stanford vs. Oregon State

EA Sports Player Ratings

Okay, for those of us old enough to be a Senator, here's a little background. The game via which we're simulating Stanford's season, EA Sports' NCAA Football 2011, is the only college football video game to my knowledge, and even if there is some minor competing product out there somewhere, the EA Sports franchise is the definitive college football video game, and has been for a good decade now.

In every year's game, every player in Division I-A is assigned ratings from 0 to 100 in about two dozen categories, e.g. speed, agility, strength, catching, awareness, passing accuracy, passing strength, kicking accuracy and kicking strength. This is how the computer knows how good each player is at any given task, and explains, for example, why your quarterback is way better at passing than your halfback (the quarterback has better passing ratings) or a far worse tailback than your running backs (the quarterback probably has worse speed, agility and catching ratings). For each player, all these individual attribute ratings are averaged into a single rating, with the low-80's the approximate average overall rating of a BCS school starter.

Given this low-80's benchmark, here is how this year's game rates some notable Stanford players:
QB Andrew Luck 94
[Four halfbacks between 75 and 85.]
FB Owen Marecic 88
WR Ryan Whalen 89
WR Chris Owusu 87
OT Jonathan Martin 89
OG Andrew Phillips 83
C Chase Beeler 89
OG David DeCastro 84
DE Thomas Keiser 87
DE Chase Thomas 85
DT Sione Fua 88
LB Shayne Skov 92
LB Chike Amajoyi 88
CB Johnson Bademosi 85
SS Delano Howell 86
KOR: Chris Owusu 99
[Note, while the average for your 22 starters is in the low-80's, returners' averages are set well north of 90 in this game for whatever reason. Still, it's an obviously impressive score for Owusu.]

Would love to hear what Stanford fans think about some of these numbers, but here are my snap judgments:
• Given that the overall rating is derived by averaging ratings of mostly tangible qualities (speed, agility, strength), it's hard to see how Whalen rates more highly than Owusu.
• Most underrated? Our offensive guards. DeCastro in particular will be playing on Sundays. I also think our defensive ends deserve better (and, if they play like they're capable, will see a big boost in their scores for next year's edition.) Finally, I realize this is hard to project, but of all the stud halfbacks we have, and the fact that halfback is probably the single position on the field least dependent on coaching, I'd be surprised if someone doesn't play at a upper-80's level -- or above.
• Most overrated? Shayne Skov isn't yet Stanford's second-best player on the team, though I understand that these ratings are projections for the 2010 season, when it's quite possible that a sophomore Skov will lead on defense. (Though why not give Delano Howell the same benefit of the doubt, if we're making projections?) By contrast, it would be quite the pleasant surprise for Stanford fans if Chike Amajoyi, who could well find himself out of a starting job once the incoming freshman make their mark, ends up a significantly above-average player, and second only to Skov on the Stanford defense.
• Generally, I think the offense is given too little respect and the defense is given too much. Among BCS schools last year, the offense was a top-10 unit, and the defense quite possibly a bottom-10 unit, but players' rankings look relatively similar.

Admittedly, it's easy for all of us to gripe about these ratings, so how about a challenge for fans out there? Say 83 is average. How do you rank our starting 22?

Okay, one month until the real season starts, and we've got nine more games in Stanford's virtual season – including Oregon and USC up next. Stay tuned for all the best in coverage of Stanford football, both real and virtual!

Inspired by reading stories like this as a kid in the Michigan student newspaper on game days, the author hopes you enjoy reading this series every bit as much as he enjoys writing it. The 2010 season is being simulated on EA Sports NCAA 2011, with the author playing all Stanford games and simulating the rest in a dynasty mode.
All statistics, game summary, rankings, player news and out-of-town scores are reported unchanged from game simulation. (I.e. Don't call the author pessimistic if Stanford struggles. Call him bad at video games.)
Got any idea for future weeks, especially if they're funny? PM dannovi.

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