Saturday, October 16, 2010

Week 7: Saturday Matchups

Last week's Game of the Week ended up coming down to a desperate Pitt drive that came up short against Notre Dame, with a similar situation in the Clemson/UNC game. Both ended up coming down to the favorite making a late drive that burned just enough clock to prevent a potential comeback. This week's GOTW should, by all metrics, be a better game than any of the ones we saw last week.

Arkansas Razorbacks at Auburn Tigers.
GUGS Score: 70.6

Justin: TFG has the (17) Tigers and (18) Razorbacks only three ten-thousandths apart in EWP, with the Tigers being 0.1 PPH better on offense and 0.1 PPH worse on offense. Given how close their EWPs are, those are each probably a rounding error. This is one of those games where there's really not much to be gained, but everything to be lost. A Razorback loss will plunge them effectively out of the SEC title race, whereas an Auburn loss will drop them to one loss, but with Arkansas holding the tiebreaker and the Alabama game on the horizon. These teams are each in the top 20 on both sides of the ball, so expect a close and hard-fought game. TFG says home field advantage tips this one to the Tigers, though, in a 35-31 victory.
Eddie:  RBA also thinks this one is going to be an incredibly tight game between two top 25 teams.  (19) Arkansas actually has the advantage on both sides of the ball because they have demonstrated consistency against a variety of opponent strengths.  The Razorbacks hold a 0.6 PPH offensive advantage and a 0.6 PPH defensive advantage.  (22) Auburn has home field on their side, which makes all the difference.  RBA predicts an Auburn victory, 28-24, with only 51.3% confidence.  This Hog fan is hoping for a mistake here.

BCS Game of the Week
Oklahoma State Cowboys at Texas Tech Red Raiders.
GUGS Score: 66.3

Eddie: (33) Texas Tech is the toughest test to date for (32) Oklahoma State.  This game will certainly be exciting because Oklahoma State's 17.0 PPH is only marginally better than Texas Tech's 16.9 PPH.  However, it's tricky to figure out the accuracy of the Cowboy's offensive efficiency.  The defensive efficiency of their opponents are 26.3 PPH, 23.3 PPH, 26.3 PPH, 18.1 PPH, and 28.4 PPH.  On one hand, this could be due to the butt whoopin' the Cowboys offense laid on them.  On the other hand, the Cowboy offense could be a total fraud by laying the law down on terrible defenses.  Texas Tech is a bit easier to estimate because they played at least one good opponent.  We're about to find out if the Cowboys really mean business.  RBA isn't optimistic, picking the Red Raiders 34-28 with 53.6% confidence.
Justin: The (32) Cowboys visit the (39) Red Raiders in a game that will have north of 190 plays and nearly 80 points of offense. Neither team has a particularly excellent offense -- 23.4 PPH and 22.4 PPH, respectively -- or an atrocious defense -- 17.4 PPH and 17.2 PPH -- but both teams play at lightning speed and have just enough advantage on offense to make this one interesting. The Cowboys are undefeated but haven't played anyone of note. The Red Raiders have a loss to a floundering (13) Texas squad and an inexplicable loss to (72) Iowa State. They'll need a good showing against Oklahoma State in order to show that they can succeed without Mike Leach, and TFG says they'll get it in the form of a 39-36 victory.

BCS Upset Watch of the Week
North Carolina State Wolfpack at East Carolina Pirates.
GUGS Score: 56.4

Justin: Unfortunately we're in the part of the season where the AQ teams have given up on playing good non-AQ teams, so the pickings are slim. The next best BCS Upset Watch game after this one is (88) Army at (49) Rutgers, which TFG says breaks 3-to-1 in Rutgers' favor. No, instead we have (37) North Carolina State visiting the (64) Pirates. The Wolfpack have a top-25 offense that rings up 23.1 PPH, but a middle-50 defense that allows 18.1 PPH. ECU, on the other hand, is close to the very definition of a middle-of-the-road team; 19.5 PPH on offense, and 19.9 PPH on defense. They'll get a slight boost from playing at home, but TFG expects this close game to shake out in favor of the Wolfpack in the form of a 37-35 win.
Eddie: Another week, another ACC upset watch. RBA isn't sure why this game is here because it doesn't look that interesting.  (38) NC State has a consistent offense that varies only 13.2 PPH and a respectable defense that should hold the line at 14.9 PPH. (67) East Carolina has home field advantage, but a 4.7 PPH disadvantage.  RBA says this one isn't really that close with the Wolfpack pulling of a 34-28 victory with 67.2% probability.

Kids Table Game of the Week
Idaho Vandals at Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
GUGS Score: 48.0

Eddie:  This is going to be the closest game that nobody watches.  (86) Idaho holds a 2.8 PPH offensive advantage over (85) Louisiana Tech, but the Bulldogs have a whopping 5.4 PPH defensive advantage.  The game is being played over 2,000 miles away from Moscow, so that only emphasizes the difference between the two teams' efficiencies.  RBA isn't very confident about it (51.7%), but if things fall according to plan, the Bulldogs should have themselves a 31-24 victory.
Justin: The (82) Vandals visit the (83) Bulldogs in a display of contrasting styles. The Idaho has managed to stay out of the cellar thanks to an offense that rings up 19.0 PPH, but can't climb any higher thanks to a defense that allows 23.7 PPH. Louisiana Tech, however, sports a respectable defense that only allows 17.6 PPH -- compare that to (32) Oklahoma State and their 17.4 PPH defense -- but an absolutely horrendous offense that only manages 13.9 PPH. The real question that will decide this game will be how the Bulldogs' offense manages against Idaho's porous defense. TFG says just well enough to give the Bulldogs a 35-31 victory at home.

Games you probably wanted us to preview:

South Carolina Gamecocks at Kentucky Wildcats
GUGS Score: 59.8

Both TFG and RBA like this game, but just not enough. Both give South Carolina a 60-ish percent chance of winning, which is actually much lower than what the press (and Vegas) predicts. Beating the (1) team has that effect on your rankings and your perceptions, even if one game ultimately doesn't mean that much, rankings-wise.

California Golden Bears at Southern California Trojans.
GUGS Score: 59.5

Both of our systems are relatively certain that USC is going to take this one, but expect it to be somewhat low-scoring. Under GUGS:TNG, this combination of relative certainty and low score means it doesn't make the cut.

Texas Longhorns at Nebraska Cornhuskers.
GUGS Score: 53.5

Up until a few weeks ago this was slated to be one of the games of the year. As it stands now, though, Texas has fallen too far and Nebraska has gotten too good to make this enough of a contest to catch our attention. Besides, doesn't ESPN have this one pretty well-covered?