Archive for October, 2006

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Thursday, October 19th, 2006

See my latest article on Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Updated sports links/how I pick my blogroll

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

I updated my sports links on the sidebar to reflect the since I’m writing there now and while I was at it, I added the blogs I thought were worth of adding at this time.

If you’re asking yourself, “why am I not on the list?” this is where you’re going to get your answer.  See, I’m very picky about what sites I will link to because I don’t want to end up with a huge blogroll that is meaningless.  Here are the criteria I use for my blogroll:

  1. No vulgarity – I’m very picky about this.  My brother’s blog doesn’t make the cut for this reason.  That’s how picky I am.
  2. No over the top comments.  Although I sometimes enjoy the ridiculously over the top put downs of others (political opponents, sports opponents, etc.), I generally prefer a more rational discussion with charity towards others.
  3. Regular posting.  While I’ll accept sites that don’t post in the slow times of the year, I want the site to have at least one post a week during the peak periods/season.
  4. Meaningful content.  Only blogs that are adding their own meaningful content/commentary (or doing a meaningful job of being a collector of articles) are worth the time to read.
  5. Optional: Cross links to me.  Although I don’t require this (there’s kind of a chicken and an egg problem here if everyone had this as a strict policy), I definitely appreciate those who appreciate me.
  6. Stood the test of time.  There are a number of blogs out there that I’m reading and  might later make the cut.  I have a fairly long evaluation period and any slip-ups in vulgarity and the such require a long probation before being added/re-added.

That’s it.  If you have a blog you’d like to promote, this is the post in which to make a comment about your blog.  I’ll add it to my daily reading list.  I’m always looking for good material to read.

Expanding my Bears commentary

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

If you take a look at (The Cal site for you’ll see from the top article titled 10 reasons to ignore the BCS that I’m not the only one who wants to ignore the BCS… wait a minute… who’s the author of that piece?

Is that the SAME Ken Crawford who runs!?!

Yes.  Yes it is.  I’m now going to be a regular contributor on  But never fear, the blog will still be here and run strong.  In fact it’s going to get better because I’ll have much better access to Cal information.

I will as well put a link here everytime I’ve got a new article over there.

Banished from Consideration or diScussion

Monday, October 16th, 2006

OK, that’s a stretch of way to get BCS in my title, but if you’ve got a better suggestion leave it in the comment box.

The point however remains:  The discussion of the BCS standings are now officially banished from this blog until December 3rd, 2006.  There will be no posts on the subject and all future comments that mention it will be edited to reflect the ban.

I know this sounds a little out of the blue from the guy who just last week had a lengthy post about Cal’s chances of going to the National Title game but I’ve had a change of heart.

I found myself listening to the WaZoo game being disappointed and thinking “this is not going to impress the pollsters”.  I don’t want to listen to games thinking about whether the pollsters will be impressed or whether Cal is covering the spread (another mark of “impressive” wins).  I don’t want to spend every Sunday arguing about recently released BCS standings and whether Cal got the shaft and what kind of respect Cal and and the Pac-10 are or are not  gettting.

Nope, I just want to focus on the game and the wins.  As such BCS discussion is henceforth banned from this blog.

Updated Pac-10 metrics

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

Well, another week in the Pac-10 is over and the picture gets clearer by the week.  Cal continues to look to be the class act of the league, ahead of Oregon with USC still having enough mojo to keep pace with the those two for the top 3.  The middle of November will be very interesting with both Cal and Oregon headed for LA to take on the yet to be really tested USC.

Clearly weaker than the top teams is ASU but since they haven’t played a Pac-10 team not on in the top group, ASU is the wildcard of the Pac.  They might be part of the middle, they might be on their own, they might just stink.  In any case, after getting blown out by Cal and Oregon, their ability to play USC close in LA suggests that Oregon and Cal have the upper hand on USC.

The middle of the Pac seems to be made up of fairly equal teams including Washington, OSU, WSU and UCLA.  WSU may be the best of those 4 teams and UCLA the weakest but they’re all fairly equally matched.

Arizona and Stanford make up the bottom of the Pac and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this past weekend’s head to head matchup be the only game in which either of them pulls out a conference win.

OK, onto the statistics.  My unbeaten streak ends after two weeks with the upset of OSU over Washington, but I still won the rest.  Overall I did really well with the statistics except for two games where I completely blew one of the two metrics.  The first was the OSU game where whenever one picks a decisive victory and the other team decisively wins, it’s going to be a bad margin of victory metric.  The other was the over-under for the Cal game was WAY off, 38 points to be exact.  Luckily for me, the rest of my predictions were good enough to continue to improve my metrics.

Here are the numbers:

  • MVD: 13.8 (down from 14.3 with new scores of 10, 8, 8, 25 and 1)
  • TPD: 13.1 (down from 13.4 with new scores of 38, 8, 2, 3 and 1)
  • Winning Percentage: 84.1% (down slightly from 84.6% after going 4-1)

Tune in later in the week for the Cal game preview and new Pac-10 predictions.

Bears game wrapup

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

Well I’m curious to hear from anyone who went to Memorial Stadium how valuable the video screen was because this game was utterly mystifying on the radio.  While the post-game recaps illuminated some (like WaZoo was often dropping 8 men into coverage) it was still unclear what was keeping the Bears out of sync.

What was clear however is that the Bears defense is downright scary-good in the redzone.  While they continue to give up a fair number of yards in the middle of the field, when the opposition is threatening to put up some points, the Bears defense stiffens.  WaZoo should feel downright disgraced that they only got 3 points.  Unfortunately the stats available online are messed up so I can’t veryify this but I think WSU was in the redzone 6 or 7 times and only managed 3 points.  While clearly the impotency of the WSU offense bears some of the blame for that, it is also clear that the Cal defense is for real.

The other aspect of the Cal defense that continues to be outstanding is the run defense.  Sans one late game play, the WSU offense only managed 18 running yards.  After holding Oregon’s back to 25 yards, OSU to 85 yards and the potent Minnesota rushing game to 116, it’s clear that the rushing defense is the strength of the defense.  This bodes well for later in the season against a USC team that seems to keep in control of games by rushing.

I’m willing to give the Cal offense a pass for their weak performance.  Apparently Longshore had the flu and played through it.  An offense can’t click every single week.  Particularly considering they did a fairly good job of ball control overall, I’ll let Tedford be the only one demanding more.

Finally it bears noting that Cal won by 18 points and the first reaction of everyone is “what went wrong?”

Looking forward, the upset of Washington at home by the OSU team that Cal abused a couple weeks ago should give everyone confidence that Washington doesn’t have what it takes to win in Berkeley.  After a bye the next team up is UCLA which continues to look weak after losing soundly to Oregon (and lost to Washington previously).  After that is the pathetic Arizona before the big daddy of the season, USC.  I’m pretty sure Cal will make it to that game undefeated in the Pac-10.  Will USC?

Pac-10 Picks

Friday, October 13th, 2006

OK, onto the Pac-10 picks for this week.

Cal 45, WaZoo 17: See here for details.

UCLA 20, Oregon 38: I think most people make too much of a tough loss for a team.  There are those who will question whether Oregon has what it takes to beat UCLA when a week ago they would have been sure they would destroy UCLA.  Oregon had a bad game in Berkeley, but there is still plenty of talent on that team and they’ll be happy to play in front of their home crowd.  UCLA on the other hand hasn’t beaten even a remotely good team and has not played a team with Oregon’s skill level.  The only thing going in UCLA’s favor is the game tape of the Cal vs. Oregon game.  If they can figure out how to duplicate the way Cal confused Dixon, they might just have a hope, but I think their defensive won’t have the combination of speed and power that Cal had.

Arizona 12, Stanford 10: The best comment I have seen about this game was from a columnist who said “How many overtimes have to be played Saturday before the Arizona-Stanford game officially can be declared a scoreless tie?”  I really couldn’t decide who I wanted to pick for this game even though my heart said that Stanford is in for a 0-12 season.  But while thinking about it I remembered my new rule for Stanford games: add a safety to the opponents score for good measure.  Well, that broke the 10-10 tie.

Oregon St. 13, Washington 28: Washington is the real deal, particularly at home.  They got a tough break last week and their shot for being the first to dethrown USC was stolen from them by the clock manager.  I would have loved to see that game in Washington.  In any case, OSU’s offense seems to be sputtering and I don’t expect them to be able to get beyond that in their trip to Washington.

ASU 20, USC 28: I soooo want to call for the “upset” here.  USC is a flawed team and I can’t wait for Cal’s shot at them in November.  But yet again USC has that schedule of gold that gives them the even marginally challenging teams at home and saves the toughest teams for the end of the season when USC will have had a chance to gel their young team.  So I just can’t call for the upset.

That’s it for this week’s Pac-10 games.  It’s the first week of the season where all 10 teams are playing conference games and nobody has a bye.  Tune in on Monday for the updated metrics and the Bears game wrap up.

Cal vs WSU preview

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Anybody ever have Deja Vu?  This week feels to me a great deal like the ASU week.  “Oh watch out for that dangerous opponent.  They’re soooo tough.”  Are you kidding me!?!

I think this week it makes the most sense to do the preview based on the list of reasons that WaZoo might challenge Cal:

  1. WSU has a shout defense, better than anything Cal has seen.
  2. Cal hasn’t won in Pullman, WA since 1979.
  3. The only teams WSU has lost to are Auburn and USC.

One at a time, shall we?

#1. WSU has a stout defense… yeah, and my brother and I can fit in two seats in Memorial stadium.

The big number everyone brings up in defense of this argument is the 18.2 points per game they’re holding their opponents to.  But those same teams are only scoring 20.5 points in the rest of their games.  The best example of this is Auburn.  WSU gave up 40 points to Auburn while Auburn has scored an aveage of 22.6 points in the remainder of their games.  Cal’s offense is so superior to Idaho, Baylor, Stanford and Oregon St. (the teams that are responsible for WSU’s 18.2 number) that it isn’t even funny.  Particularly when one considers that Cal’s points allowed is only 21.0 when their opponents are scoring an average of 30.0 points per game, somehow I don’t seen any defensive advantage for WaZoo.

#2 Cal hasn’t won in Pullman since 1979…  well good for Tom Holmoe, Steve Mariucci, Keith Gilbertson,  Bruce Snyder, Joe Kapp and Roger Theder.

Tedford has never played in Pullman.  He’s 1-1 against WSU, the first game (the loss) being his very first Pac-10 game in his first year and the more recent win being at the height of the Joe Ayoob debacle.  To tie this Cal team to the Bears of the past is an injustice to this team.  There were so many bad teams in those years.  While I’ll admit that it is a little baffling that Cal went 0-3 in the Snyder and Mariucci years, that’s so long ago that it isn’t even worth considering.

#3 The only teams WSU has lost to is Auburn and USC… and Cal’s only loss is to Tennessee.

This argument is the height of stretching for so many reasons.  Cal and Auburn are ranked about the same.  I don’t know about you but a 40-14 victory would be fairly satisfying.  USC, while ranked in the top 5, also has had a fairly weak schedule to date with meat of their schedule not coming to November.  Their ranking is based entirely on past history.  Or said another way the argument is “WSU is good enough to beat everyone but the really good teams.”  Who after seeing Cal play the last few weeks doesn’t think they’re a really good team?

Now that we’ve debunked the reasons why WSU might win, onto the reasons Cal is going to destroy WaZoo.

The most obvious is the direct comparison of the OSU game.  WSU beat OSU 13-6.  Cal beat OSU 41-13.  Said another way, OSU held WSU to 13 points while the Bears put up 41.  On the defensive side of the ball, WSU held OSU to 6 points while Cal gave up 13.  While that suggests a slight advantage to the WSU defense, it’s important to note that the 7 extra points that OSU scored against the Bears were scored in the 4th quarter when the game was long since over and many 2nd string Bears players were getting playing time.

The next comparision is what I’m going to call the plus-one comparision.  I realized how valuable this comparision is after the Cal vs. Oregon game.  Cal is basically the same team they were last year plus Longshore.  Longshore has taken this team to the next level.  The question is, how has the opponent changed since last year.  With Oregon, they’re basically the same team as last year so when you have the same matchup with the plus-one, the Bear roll in Berkeley.  OK, so how about WSU.  If anything they’ve taken a step back from last year having lost their marque running back and now having their best WR hampered by an injury.  So, Bears are vastly improved, WSU takes a step back, and Cal won last year… hmmm. 

Then there are just the raw numbers: Cal is putting up 39.5 points per game, WaZoo only 26.3.  Cal is gaining 455 yards a game, WSU only 427.  And while all of that is happening WSU seems to be a bit more fumble happy, putting the ball on the ground 2.7 times per game.  We saw last week how a turnover susceptible team is in trouble against the Bears.

On the other side of the ball, while I’ll give WSU some credit for being a fairly good defense, I don’t see anything remarkable that the Bears don’t have.  Of particular note is the run defense, that just like the points scored is not as impressive as it seems.  While WSU is holding their opponents to just under 100 yards per game, their opponents are only rushing for 105 yards per game.  The Bears, on the other hand, while giving up 128 yards per game are doing it against teams that have been putting up 160 yards per game.

So, vastly superior offense meets up against possibly equally matched defenses… who do you think is going to win?

For me Cal 45, WSU 17.

Lack of TV coverage gets national attention

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

Well, my favorite national columnist Stewart Mandel has brought the plight of Cal (and the Pac-10’s) TV coverage into the national spotlight by answering a question about it in his weekly Q&A column:

Why is Cal the only top-10 team that won’t be on TV this weekend when it plays Washington State? –Chris, Lincoln, Cal

When I first saw this, I assumed Chris was complaining that Cal wasn’t on national TV. But no. Believe it or not, in an age of 700 cable channels, many of whom are foaming at the mouth to show even the most obscure live sporting event, a college football game between two Pac-10 schools, one of them 5-1, the other 4-2, will have not a single television camera present. And for that, Bears and Cougars fans can thank their fine conference leaders.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. As a sports entity, the Pac-10 is right up there with the Big Ten, SEC and everyone else. As businesses, however, the Big Ten and SEC are Wal-Mart and Target; the Pac-10 is the mom-and-pop shop down the street. The Pac-10’s bizarre loyalty to Fox Sports Net over ESPN (supposedly because of the better time slots) kills the conference’s exposure. This coming weekend, you’ll be able to watch as many as five Big Ten games from anywhere in the country. You’ll be able to watch three SEC games. You’ll even be able to watch Louisiana Monroe at Troy. Depending on your satellite package, you could theoretically watch 28 college football games. But you will not be able to watch the No. 10 team in the country play an important conference contest.

Thank you Stewart!  We need to get this issue brought up in the press more often. That’s the only type of pressure that’s going to get the Pac-10 to re-think their TV licensing.

Cal vs. WaZoo statistics

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

When I did the statistics for the Cal vs. Oregon game last week I was smart and did it in a programatic fashion so that it was easy to redo with added Cal statistics and against a new opponent.  In fact, I’m 90% of the way to having a webpage available where you can compare whatever teams you want to one another.  It would be completely done if it weren’t for the fact that I’m getting this information from another website which shall go un-named and blocked me when I ran this script with too many teams assumably because of the amount of traffic I was generating.  I’ll need to start caching the information on my server to prevent that before I can release it to the general public.

In any case, I give you the result of that labor for your own analysis for the upcoming Cal vs. WaZoo game:

California California
Washington St. Washington St.
Points per game: 39.5 23.7 26.3 22.6
Yards per game: 455.5 368.8 427.7 360.3
Passing Yards per game: 274.2 192.3 245.2 183.0
Rushing Yards per game: 173.7 162.9 168.0 165.0
Yards per play: 6.8 5.7 5.8 5.4
Passing Yards per play: 8.3 6.9 6.7 6.0
Rushing Yards per play: 5.4 4.9 5.0 4.8
Completion Percentage: 62.2 58.5 60.6 57.5
Sacked Per Game: 1.3 2.1 2.0 1.6
Interceptions Per Game: 1.0 1.1 0.8 1.0
Fumbles Per Game: 1.0 1.4 2.7 1.6
Fumbles Lost Per Game: 0.7 0.8 1.2 0.9
Turnovers per game: 2.0 2.0 2.4 2.0
Points Allowed per game: 21.0 30.0 18.2 20.5
Yards Allowed per game: 375.8 411.8 328.5 339.5
Passing Yards Allowed per game: 233.5 240.9 203.0 217.4
Rushing Yards Allowed per game: 128.8 160.3 99.3 105.2
Yards Allowed per play: 5.6 6.1 4.9 5.1
Passing Yards Allowed per play: 7.2 7.5 5.5 6.0
Rushing Yards Allowed per play: 4.1 4.8 4.2 4.0
Completion Percentage: 59.2 62.1 57.2 60.8
Sacked Per Game: 2.2 1.7 4.3 2.7
Interceptions Per Game: 1.8 1.0 1.0 0.9
Fumbles Forced Per Game: 1.5 1.6 1.8 1.7
Fumbles Recovered Per Game: 0.8 1.0 1.3 1.0
Turnovers Forced per game: 3.2 2.1 2.8 2.0
Penalties per game: 6.2 5.9 5.5 5.7
Penalty Yards per game: 58.7 47.1 51.3 50.0

A reminder that the Opponents fields are flipped so that you see a comparison of what they were giving up, not accomplishing.  See this post for details.