PiRate Ratings for Thursday, November 16, 2006 Ratings in tenths of a point starting today # Team Won Lost Rating 1 Ohio State 11 0 131.2 2 Southern Cal 8 1 123.4 3 B Y U 8 2 121.7 4 Michigan 11 0 120.3 5 Wisconsin 10 1 118.9 6 Oklahoma 8 2 118.8 7 Texas 9 2 118.7 8 L S U 8 2 118.5 9 Notre Dame 9 1 118.2 10 Arkansas 9 1 118.0 11 West Virginia 8 1 117.3 12 Hawaii 8 2 117.1 13 California 8 2 116.9 14 Louisville 8 1 115.8 15 Penn State 7 4 115.3 16 Oregon 7 3 115.2 17 Florida 9 1 114.4 18 Nebraska 8 3 113.7 19 Rutgers 9 0 113.4 20 Va. Tech 8 2 111.8 21 Arizona St. 6 4 111.7 21 Tennessee 7 3 111.7 23 Texas Tech 6 5 111.5 24 Wake Forest 9 1 111.4 25 Clemson 8 3 111.1 SEC PiRate Ratings East 1. Florida 9 1 114.4 2. Tennessee 7 3 111.7 3. South Carolina 5 5 109.1 4. Georgia 7 4 106.0 5. Kentucky 6 4 100.3 6. Vanderbilt 4 7 98.8 West 1. L S U 8 2 118.5 2. Arkansas 9 1 118.0 3. Auburn 9 2 109.3 4. Alabama 6 5 103.8 5. Miss. State 3 7 96.2 6. Ole Miss 3 7 95.3
This Week's Schedule
So, you think The South is where college football is king, eh? You say that this is Alabama-Auburn week, and there is no better way to spend a Saturday in November?
Guess again! Ye, who have only lived south of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River need to venture north to the 4oth parallel this week and see the college football equivalent of the Brooklyn Dodgers vs. the New York Yankees.
This is the week for the most important regular season football game since Nebraska and Oklahoma hooked up on Thanksgiving Day in 1971 and Notre Dame and Michigan State hooked up on this very weekend 40 years ago.
11-0 and number one Ohio State hosts 11-0 and number two Michigan in Columbus on Saturday afternoon. In years where these two teams face off with 8-2 records, it is an epic game. When they face off with the Big 10 title and Rose Bowl bid on the line it is one-for-the-ages. When they face off in what could possibly be the first of two games for the national title, there are no words left in the vocabulary to describe it.
These two teams have faced each in other when both have been undefeated and untied twice; I saw both games. In 1970, Michigan and Ohio State were both 9-0, but both trailed Texas in the ratings. Michigan entered the game outscoring opponents 31-8, while Ohio State had outscored opponents 28-9. The Buckeyes were led by perhaps the finest senior class ever assembled on a college football team, and as a group they had been 26-1 so far in their three seasons. The Buckeyes' defense stuffed the line of scrimmage and stopped Michigan's running game, holding them to less than 50 yards rushing. The Wolverines were not much of a passing team in those days, while Ohio State could both run and throw the ball (but only threw it about 10-15 times per game) with excellent passer Rex Kern. Ohio State lengthened a 10-3 halftime lead and won 20-9 to get revenge for Michigan beating what many people in 1969 thought was the best college football team since Army in 1945.
In 1973, Ohio State was 9-0, outscoring opponents 40-4, and Michigan was 10-0, outscoring opponents 32-6, as they met in Ann Arbor. Ohio State jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first half and Michigan slowly took command in the fourth quarter. The Wolverines tied the score at 10-10 and appeared to be headed to the winning score in the final minutes. They drove the ball down inside the Buckeye 30-yard line and their place kicker missed a 44-yard field goal that sailed wide at the last moment; the game ended tied at 10. Even though the Wolverines looked like the more complete team (Ohio State had absolutely no passing attack that year), Ohio State was selected to represent the Big 10 in the Rose Bowl because Michigan's quarterback Dennis Franklin had been injured in the game and wouldn't be able to play in the bowl. The Buckeyes methodically slaughtered Southern Cal in Pasadena by a 42-21 score, while Michigan stayed home for the holidays. The Wolverines became the last team (not on probation) to finish the season with no losses and not be able to go to a bowl. This game, and a similar one the following year between these rivals forced the Big 10 and Pac-10 (then known as the Pac-8) to remove the restriction that they would allow their teams to play only in the Rose Bowl.
So, here we are in 2006. Ohio State enters this game 11-0, outscoring opponents 36-8. They have the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. Michigan ventures to the Horseshoe with an identical 11-0 record, outscoring opponents 29-12. Ohio State clearly has the better statistics.
This may be the only game in history where you will find Alabama and Auburn fans choosing to stay home and watch another game on television rather than go to Tuscaloosa. To buy tickets on the street today, you will need the same amount of cash it would take to buy a scalped Super Bowl ticket.
This is more than just a game folks. These two states have been adversaries for more than 170 years. In 1835, a heated border dispute over an east-west strip of territory that included Toledo threatened to get ugly and led to the stabbing of a sheriff. President Andrew Jackson had to negotiate a settlement that eventually led to Michigan being granted statehood. Can you imagine Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur as a Michigander? I could just see her imploding every time one of the major auto companies sent jobs overseas.
Since this is a special week, I am abandoning the regular format to expand the coverage of the big game. It is the game that you will want to tell the grandkids all about 25 years down the road. I imagine there will be at least 250,000 video recordings of this game still around in 2020.
Note: Last week in my Vanderbilt-Kentucky preview, I wrote about six computer ratings (not the PiRates) that have been picking games more accurately than most of the other ratings. I back-tested these ratings to August and discovered when all six agreed on the winner, they were correct more than 95% of the time. I also discovered that when the point spread was less than 10, these computers were picking the actual winner of the game better than 85% of the time. This week, I am incorporating the Pick 6 Technical Rating (P6TR) into this column. If the six computers agree, you will see their choice. If they don't, you will see the number of computers going with the favorite to win outright.
The Game For The Ages
Michigan @ Ohio State
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Ohio Stadium (102,329)
3:30 PM EST (kickoff at 3:45)
ABC National Television
Michigan leads the series 57-39-6
Michigan leads the series in Columbus 27-21-2
PiRate Predicts: Ohio State 38 Michigan 21
Peiser Predicts: This game will live up to its billing. Michigan will have a chance to win it in the fourth quarter.
P6TR: None (OSU 5-1)
When Michigan runs the ball
Tailback Mike Hart has gained at least 90 yards rushing in every game this year, and the Wolverines average almost 200 yards rushing per game with a 4.5 yard average. Fullback Obi Oluigbo is one of the most valuable blockers and having him team up with either left guard Adam Kraus and left tackle Jake Long or right guard Alex Mitchell and right tackle Rueben Riley is a combination that will find some success against any defense in college football.
The Buckeyes have one of the top run defenses in the land. Defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock leads the line. Tackle David Patterson and ends Jay Richardson and Vernon Gholston make this a top-flight interior. The Buckeyes hold opponents to 90 rushing yards per game, but the DL is really better at pass defense than run defense.
Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis is a Butkus Award finalist. He leads OSU with 91 tackles, 8.5 for losses. Linebackers Marcus Freeman and John Kerr are much better pass defenders than run stoppers.
Michigan has a chance to rush for more than 150 yards in this game. If they top 150, they will have a chance to pull off the upset if the passing game is just average.
When Ohio State runs the ball
The Buckeyes average 180 rushing yards per game with a 4.6 average per carry. Starting tailback Antonio Pittman has rushed for 1,032 yards and 12 scores. The Buckeyes are stronger running to the right side behind right tackle Kirk Barton, right guard T. J. Downing, and center Doug Datish. Spectacular speed by the wideouts and the lead blocking of fullback Stan White help create running room for Pittman.
Michigan's run stoppers may be more talented than the group at North Carolina State last year. LaMarr Woodley, Terrance Taylor, Alan Branch, and Rondell Biggs are marginally better stopping the run than the Ohio State quartet.
Ohio State will have to find a way to move the ball on the ground if they are to remain number one. Michigan will not give up much ground, especially on 3rd and short and in the red zone. If the Buckeyes establish a running game, I don't think Michigan can stop Ohio State enough times to win. The Wolverines must be able to contain the run without taxing their safeties. If safeties Jamar Adams, Brandent Englemon, and Ryan Mundy have to concentrate their efforts on run support, they are not going to be available to cheat a little bit in their pass coverage.
When Michigan passes the ball
Chad Henne has completed 62% of his passes this season for 7.7 yards per attempt. Tom Brady, he is not, but then again he isn't Dennis Franklin either. He can be rattled, and if the Buckeye pass rush is on its game, he could make crucial mistakes that cost his team the ball game.
One player who can turn the tide for the Wolverines is receiver Mario Manningham. He averages better than 20 yards per catch with a better than one touchdown per game average. Since he has returned from an injury, he hasn't been the same. He needs to be his old self Saturday or else it will be a long day for the guys with striped helmets.
The Buckeyes have a ferocious pass rush. They have 33 sacks and have forced most opponents to throw quickly to avoid more. That has led to many passes being thrown just a couple of yards over the line or behind it, yielding a microscopic 5.5 yards per attempt. That won't get it done in this game.
If Michigan is forced to win this game via the air, and Ohio State's pass rush is typical of the 2006 season, it will be a long day for the maize and blue.
When Ohio State passes the ball
This is where the game is most likely to be decided. Troy Smith is the runaway choice for the Heisman Trophy if he performs up to standards. The Buckeye quarterback has completed 66% of his passes for 8.6 yards per attempt. As methodical as Woody Hayes' teams ran the ball, Jim Tressel's teams pass the ball. Imagine nine yards and a cloud of rocket vapor! When Smith drops back to pass, he has the perfect combination of receivers in which to throw the ball. Ted Ginn, Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez have enough speed to force defenses to give them extra cushion. It allows them to fake deep and cut sharply past the sticks. When they catch a pass, the referee must get ready to signal first down.
Michigan may be the only team capable of stopping this outstanding passing game. The Wolverines have introduced enemy quarterbacks to the ground 41 times in 11 games! Quarterbacks have to be on the move and pass quickly to avoid feeling some pain. As a result, like with Ohio State, Michigan's opponents have been forced to pass short; the Wolverines also yield just 5.5 yards per pass attempt. The fearsome foursome of LaMarr Woodley, Terrance Taylor, Alan Branch, and Rondell Biggs will give Smith some trouble. Woodley is the key player. If the Buckeyes can stop him, Smith should pass for 200 yards and lead his team to victory. If Woodley looks like Reggie White Saturday, then Michigan could slow down Smith and the Buckeyes like they did against Brady Quinn and Notre Dame.
The key stat in this game will be: If Ohio State passes for more than 180 yards at 7 or more yards per attempt, they should be able to do everything else needed to win the game. If the Wolverines hold the Buckeyes under these parameters, then Michigan will have a chance to win the game.
This should be a wash. Both teams rate an A++ in special teams and both teams have no real weaknesses here. Punters A. J. Trapasso (OSU) and Ross Ryan (Mich) both average about 41 yards per punt. They get excellent protection; Ohio State is a little better at covering their punts but not enough to call it an edge.
Kickers Aaron Pettrey (OSU) and Garrett Rivas (Mich) have strong, accurate legs. Pettrey has a little longer range, while Rivas is a little more consistent (again not enough to make much difference).
Ginn (OSU) and Steve Breaston (Mich) are the two best punt and kick returners in the Big 10. Both can take a punt back all the way if given a little room. Ginn is the better punt returner, while Breaston is the better kick returner. If either has a big play here, it could be the difference in the game. However, I don't expect either one to get a breakaway in this game.
Raise your hands if you know how to fill in this blank. "Blank" wins championships. If you said, "Defense," I'm sorry to inform you that you answered erroneously. More often than not, in big games, offense decides the outcome. One team should score 25 or more points, and both teams could top that mark.
The game should come down to which team's offensive line has a better day protecting their quarterback. I think Ohio State will get to Henne enough times to force him to throw a pass to the wrong jersey and lead to Buckeye points. That should be enough to allow the home team to win by a 7-12 points. If Ohio State wins by seven or less, the Wolverines deserve to play Ohio State again in January; The Shoe is worth seven points.
Final Score: Ohio State 27 Michigan 21
SEC games for the week.
Ole Miss @ LSU
PiRate Predicts: L S U 30 Ole Miss 0
Peiser Predicts: LSU should win by 21-24 points but won't shut out the Rebels.
Louisiana-Monroe @ Kentucky
PiRate Predicts: Kentucky 41 UL-Monroe 21
Peiser Predicts: Kentucky by 24-30 points.
Middle Tennessee @ South Carolina
PiRate Predicts: South Carolina 35 MTSU 19
Peiser Predicts: South Carolina is in a must-win situation and will do so by 20 points. MTSU will actually overlook the Gamecocks for Troy.
P6TR: South Carolina
Arkansas @ Mississippi State
PiRate Predicts: Arkansas 29 Mississippi State 10
Peiser Predicts: I might be loony, but I think this game will be a lot closer than expected. State got an extra week to prepare, while the Hogs had a tough opponent and now must go on the road. Arkansas should win by only 10-13 points.
Auburn @ Alabama
PiRate Predicts: Alabama 20 Auburn 19
Peiser Predicts: Methinks the PiRates have been hitting the rum a little this week. Bryant-Denny Stadium isn't that much of a home field advantage this year. I'll go with the Tigers by 7-10 points.
P6TR: NO (4-2 Aub)
Tennessee @ Vanderbilt
PiRate Predicts: Tennessee 24 Vanderbilt 14
Peiser Predicts: The Vols are out for revenge and respect. If Erik Ainge is close to 100%, he will exploit the ailing Commodore secondary for 200-300 yards. Tennessee last lost two in a row to Vandy in 1925 and 1926, when Calvin Coolidge was President and Ty Cobb was still hitting .378 and .339 for the Detroit Tigers.
Other Games of Note
West Virginia @ Pittsburgh (Thursday Night)
PiRate Predicts: West Virginia 34 Pittsburgh 25
Peiser Predicts: West Virginia will meet some resistance from backyard rival. The Mountaineers should win but by 5-9 points.
P6TR: West Virginia
Virginia Tech @ Wake Forest
PiRate Predicts: Wake Forest 20 Virginia Tech 17
Peiser Predicts: Wake Forest has become a monster, but the Hokies are coming around. I think the Deacons will make one costly mistake and lose by a field goal.
P6TR: NO (a split decision 3-3)
Iowa @ Minnesota (The battle for Floyd of Rosedale)
PiRate Predicts: Minnesota 38 Iowa 30
Peiser Predicts: Not only will the Gophers get the pig trophy, they will get a letter in the mail from the Insight Bowl after winning this one by 7-14 points.
P6TR: No (Minnesota 4-2)
Indiana @ Purdue (The Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket)
PiRate Predicts: Purdue 38 Indiana 21
Peiser Predicts: Add a "P" to that bucket. The Boilermakers will win a high-scoring game and force the Motor City Bowl to look for an at-large team (maybe a chance for a 9th SEC bowl team).
Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech
PiRate Predicts: Texas Tech 38 Oklahoma State 31
Peiser Predicts: This should be one of the most exciting games of the year, and the loser could score 35 points. The Red Raiders have a little more defense and will win by 10 points.
P6TR: No (Texas Tech 4-2)
East Carolina @ Rice
PiRate Predicts: ECU 27 Rice 24
Peiser Predicts: The Owls are one win away from bowl eligibility. They will pull off the mild upset and wait for the phone to ring in a few weeks. Rice will win a close, down-to-the-wire game.
P6TR: No (A 3-3 split)
Tulsa @ SMU
PiRate Predicts: Tulsa 24 SMU 20
Peiser Predicts: SMU is also one win away from bowl eligibility and facing a swooning Tulsa team. This game should be close, but I'll go with Tulsa to pull out of the nosedive.
P6TR: No (Tulsa 5-1)
Washington @ Washington State (The Apple Cup)
PiRate Predicts: Washington State 31 Washington 21
Peiser Predicts: The Cougars should make applesauce out of the Huskies, but UW has always saved their best for this game. I think it will be closer than expected. WSU should win by only 3-6 points.
P6TR: No (Washington St. 5-1)
Kansas State @ Kansas
PiRate Predicts: Kansas 21 Kansas State 19
Peiser Predicts: Kansas must win one more game to become bowl eligible, while Kansas State is already there. KSU will bounce a little after last week's big upset. Give KU a slight edge by 3-5 points in a lower scoring than expected game.
P6TR: No (3-3 split)
Maryland @ Boston College
PiRate Predicts: Boston College 25 Maryland 17
Peiser Predicts: Can Maryland win another game by one, two, or three points? The 1967 Indiana Hoosiers won the Big 10 title this same way, but they suffered a blowout loss to Minnesota in their second to last game. The Terps should avoid that fate and win again—by 2-5 points.
P6TR: Boston College (one rating has BC favored by less than one point)
Utah @ Air Force
PiRate Predicts: Air Force 24 Utah 20
Peiser Predicts: A toss-up if there ever was one, I do not feel comfortable picking a winner. So uncomfortably, I'll take the Academy in a close one.
P6TR: No (Air Force 4-2)
California @ Southern Cal
PiRate Predicts: Southern Cal 33 California 20
Peiser Predicts: The Trojans think they can win out and play the Ohio State-Michigan winner for the title. They first must win the Pac-10 Championship. I feel good about this one. USC will win by double digits and stay in contention for the BCS title game.
P6TR: Southern Cal
UCLA @ Arizona State
PiRate Predicts: Arizona State 27 UCLA 17
Peiser Predicts: The 5-5 Bruins are fighting for their bowl lives. They won't beat USC, so they must win this road game. Arizona State is already bowl eligible but a loss to UCLA accompanied with a loss to Arizona could find them on the outside looking in at 6-6. I'll take ASU by 6-10.
P6TR: Arizona State (2 of 6 ratings pick ASU by less than 1 point)
Arkansas State @ Troy
PiRate Predicts: Troy 27 Arkansas State 18
Peiser Predicts: Troy remains unbeaten in the Sunbelt Conference and sets up a big game against MTSU. Give this one to the Trojans by 10+ points.
Atlantic Coast Conference
1. BCS Bowl—Orange: Wake Forest
2. Chick-fil-a: Georgia Tech
3. Gator: Clemson
4. Champ Sports: Maryland
5. Meineke Car Care: Boston College
6. Emerald: Virginia Tech
7. Music City: Miami
8. MPC Computers: Florida State
1. BCS Bowl—Rose: Rutgers
2. BCS Bowl—Sugar: Louisville
3. Gator: West Virginia
4. International: Cincinnati
5. Texas: Pittsburgh
6. Birmingham: South Florida
1. BCS Bowl—BCS Title Game: Ohio State
2. BCS At-large—BCS Title Game: Michigan
3. Capital One: Wisconsin
4. Outback: Penn State
5. Alamo: Purdue
6. Champs Sports: Iowa
7. Insight: Minnesota
8. Motor City: South Carolina fills an at-large spot
1. BCS Bowl—Fiesta: Texas
2. Cotton: Oklahoma
3. Holiday: Nebraska
4. Alamo: Texas A&M
5. Sun: Texas Tech
6. Insight: Missouri
7. Independence: Kansas State
8. Texas: Oklahoma State
9. Poinsettia: Kansas serves as fill-in at-large team
1. Liberty: Houston
2. GMAC: Tulsa
3. Armed Forces: SMU
4. Birmingham: East Carolina
5. New Orleans: Southern Mississippi
1. BCS At-Large—Orange: Notre Dame
2. Meineke Car Care: Navy (already accepted bid)
1. GMAC: Ohio U
2. Motor City: Central Michigan
3. International: Western Michigan
1. Las Vegas: Brigham Young
2. Armed Forces: TCU
3. Poinsettia: Air Force
4. New Mexico: New Mexico
1. BCS Bowl—Rose: Southern California
2. Holiday: California
3. Sun: Oregon
4. Las Vegas: Oregon State
5. Hawaii: Arizona State
6. Emerald: Washington State
1. BCS Bowl—Sugar: Arkansas
2. Capital One: Florida
3. Outback: Auburn
4. Cotton: L S U
5. Chick-fil-a: Tennessee
6. Liberty: Georgia
7. Music City: Kentucky
8. Independence: Alabama
Note: South Carolina to the Motor City Bowl as fill-in at-large
1. New Orleans: MTSU
1. BCS At-Large—Fiesta: Boise State
2. MPC Computers: San Jose St.
2. Hawaii: Hawaii (already accepted bid)
3. New Mexico: Nevada
And The Rest Predicted Winner Loser Margin Ohio U Akron 9 West Virginia Pittsburgh 9 Kent St. Eastern Mich. 10 Central Mich. N. Illinois 8 Wisconsin Buffalo 50 Florida St. Western Mich. 21 Louisville S. Florida 16 Syrcause Connecticut 4 Rutgers Cincinnati 6 Ga. Tech Duke 30 Northwestern Illinois 3 Missouri Iowa St. 17 N.C. State North Carolina 4 Navy Temple 35 Houston Memphis 20 Central Fla. Tulane 3 Notre Dame Army 45 Boise State Utah St. 42 East Carolina Rice 3 Oklahoma Baylor 24 Oregon State Stanford 20 Oregon Arizona 14 B Y U New Mexico 32 T C U San Diego St. 21 Wyoming U N L V 9 Marshall U T E P 3 Fresno State Idaho 14 Penn State Michigan St. 25 Miami (FL) Virginia 5 Southern Miss U A B 24 Nevada La. Tech 27 Hawaii San Jose St. 26 UL-Lafayette Fla. Int'l 6 N. Texas Fla. Atlantis 3