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2022-09-21 07:07

Before I start the reviews and previews I have to correct some stuff I did write for week 2.

There I did check the week 4 theory regarding National Championship candidates and found only 1 exception during 2012 to today in addition to the 1.5 examples in the 10 years prior to that.

I did a mistake there, because I did look up the data in the past on a different source then for the week 2 article.

In the 2012 article I did check on the week 4 poll list, which are given PRIOR week 4.
On the 2022 article I did check in wikipedia and they do list the week 4 polls for whatever reason as week 3 polls, so I did basically check for the official week 5 polls.

I did reevaluate the data and found the case Ohio State being a bit stranger, but not much.
They won it all in 2014 and were ranked in preseason at #5/#6 (AP/Coaches). But they lost a game in week 2 against Virginia Tech and dropped to #22/#18 afterwards and in the Week 4 poll (so prior week 4) they were still at #23/#18.
They kept winning and did make the playoffs as 4th seat by leapfrogging Baylor in the final regular season week, by winning the BIG10 (Baylor won the Big12 as Co-Champ without a Championship game in that week, which led to the change that you don't need divisions for such a game).
The Buckeyes did win the National Championship game and finished #1.

And one case did slip through, the Alabama Crimson Tide did win it all 2015 and were preseason #3. After the 3rd week in the week 4 polls, they dropped to #12/#12, dropped even a place to #13/#13 a week later (so that case should have been there also in the week 2 article) and recovered slowly until they did make the playoffs and won it all.

So that's then 2 cases in 10 years in addition, making it 3.5 cases in 20 years where the champion was NOT in the TOP 10 prior week 4.

So now let's look at the AP-polls of week 4. (Top 10 of coaches poll does differ only in the sorting)

RankTeamRecordPoints
1Georgia(59)3-01569
2Alabama(3)3-01492
3Ohio State(1)3-01473
4Michigan3-01364
5Clemson3-01268
6Oklahoma3-01257
7USC3-01197
8Kentucky3-01096
9Oklahoma State3-01071
10Arkansas3-0920
11Tennessee3-0866
12NC State3-0781
13Utah2-1684
14Penn State3-0666
15Oregon2-1593
16Ole Miss3-0585
17Baylor2-1494
18Washington3-0485
19BYU2-1381
20Florida2-1360
21Wake Forest3-0345
22Texas2-1339
23Texas A&M2-1309
24Pittsburgh2-1181
25Miami2-1123


So, inside the TOP 10 are 4 SEC teams, 2 from the West, 2 from the East, 2 BIG10 teams, both from the East, 1 Team from the ACC, 2 from the Big 12 and 1 from the PAC 12.

Potential exceptions are there a lot in the list, but as said in the week 2 article, there are always a lot POTENTIAL spoilers, but to punch it all in seems to be so hard that only a few cases in 20 years do happen.
And since 2016 onward none did happen.
Can be luck, just small data sample or a trend that the preseason polls and week 4 polls are quite OK to circle in the strongest teams.

Let's have a short look.

Inside the SEC there are Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and Arkansas. That's a wild mix, not sure prior the season someone would have put that group together. And seasons ago, that list would be just unrealistic. Of all teams, Georgia does look right now as the strongest candidate, they will battle it out with Kentucky mid-season and then likely the SEC Championship game, if they make it, will determine the winner of the whole group. Alabama had their scare against Texas and will play Arkansas also mid-season. Kentucky does look strong, but they could stumble somewhere on the road I think, and Arkansas will have a lot of tough games during the season.

The BIG10 does only feature Ohio State and Michigan and they will play against each other in THE GAME on last gameday, maybe that will solve the case or maybe it's already done at that point. It's right now quite likely that one of the teams will play for the Championship game and is favored to win it.

Clemson from the ACC does face basically the challenge that they need to stay perfect and to win the ACC, if they want to play in the playoffs. Any stumble will likely cost them too many spots. Maybe a loss against a higher ranked team, like NC State, would not automatically make them fail, if they still win the ACC.

The Big 12 is a bit of a far fetch. A perfect Big 12 Winner, if that's Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, will get a spot, but whether they will stay perfect is open. The two teams from Oklahoma will play their rivalry game, so that will set the stage, but in worst case / best case they will meet again in the Championship game and if then someone else wins, it's chaos and both teams get eliminated.

At last, there is USC, with a lot of hope and a 3-0 record they are ranked that high, thanks to Oregon and Utah already losing a game. But the season is far from over and the USC is in the same situation as Clemson. Perfect, they can make it, but a single stumble will cost them heavily. They have some tough road games, including Utah.

OK, next topic before the reviews and previews are another coaching change.
Arizona State did push the button and fired Herman Edwards after a 1-2 start, including a loss last weekend against Eastern Michigan.
The RB-coach Shaun Aguano will serve as interims HC, which will be a tough job.
That change was always expected, it was even rumored to happen prior the season, but of cause a loss against EMU did not help to boost the last inch of confidence Edwards did get prior the season.

Overall, the weekend was quite boring, not many upsets, some almost-upsets and a lot of cupcake games, some closer than expected, some as clear as expected, but with limited overall impact.

Biggest setback for a team was likely the game MSU at Washington, see below.
Sure, Auburn did stumble, Purdue did stumble, and Kansas State did also, but most teams got their 'W' as expected.

The BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 3

Sat. Sep 17
#12 BYU @ #25 Oregon
This can be told in a short way.
The big hopes of BYU to field a GOOD COMPETITIVE PLAYOFF WORTH TEAM got shattered by Oregon.
The Ducks did dominate for 3 quarters and did then lose a bit up, when the score was already 38-7.
No hope here for BYU, of course they still can make a bigger Bowl, but I think the dream of a playoff seat is done.
Oregon did recover a bit their reputation, but still needs likely a perfect record from now onwards to eventually making the playoffs (which would make them to a potential exception then).
#12 BYU 20 @ #25 Oregon 41 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 5-5

#13 Miami @ #24 Texas A&M
Well, looks like Miami is not ready to make it to the big boys table.
Besides being a quite defense driven game, Miami and Texas had several errors, Miami a few more than Texas.
The Hurricanes missed 2 FGs in the 1st half, and had a fumble later in the game and overall a few more penalties.
Summed up, the Aggies did score a few more points and won.
Right now, everyone is wondering, on which level the games was played, so whether two good teams did clash, or 2 mediocre teams did clash.
I guess the final verdict will come AFTER the season and then the game will be an exception or a sign of something.
Both teams need a lot more to crash the top teams circle, if you ask me.
#13 Miami 9 @ #24 Texas A&M 17 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 6-5

Texas Tech @ #16 NC State
Ok, Texas Tech is NOT ready to storm the BIG 12.
NC State lead early in the 4th quarter 27-7 when they gave TTU again a chance to score and then that was that.
In total did the Red Raiders not look like the storming teams of the past few weeks, and still managed to produce a lot of yardage, only accompanied by several turnovers.
I'm looking forward to the clash of NC State with Clemson, and Texas Tech has the potential to at least annoy a lot of BIG 12 teams this season.
Texas Tech 14 @ #16 NC State 27 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 7-5

Other interesting games:

Sat. Sep 17
Liberty @ #19 Wake Forest
We got a very close one here and at the end did Wake Forest win by 1 point, 37-36.
At half they lead 20-8, but Liberty was able to play a strong 3rd quarter and took the lead.
Then both teams did play serious and punched in score after score.
The Flames did score last with about a minute to play and decided to play for 2 points and failed.
The onside kick did fail and that's that.
Jacks interesting games Score: 9-3

UTSA @ #21 Texas
UTSA was in the match for almost 3 quarters, but then did Texas close the field and did not allow any scoring afterwards, winning 41-20.
Texas has made good progress, no doubts, still I'm curious to see a) how UTSA will play in their own conference this season and b) how they will play under the new conference after a few seasons have passed. The Roadrunners have a great potential.
Jacks interesting games Score: 10-3

#11 Michigan State @ Washington
And the last game of the preview, which ended with, according to Vegas, no upset, but with a MSU loss.
Washington won 39-28 and MSU had almost no chance.
They trailed 29-8 at the half and were at that point almost unable to gain yardage.
The 2nd half started better, but since Washington was able to counter the MSU-score, it did ran out of steam fast and when MSU did throw an INT on top later, the game was over.
The Spartans did try their best but were unable to score enough.
Great turn around so far for the Huskies, MSU has some question marks for the upcoming BIG10 games.
Jacks interesting games Score: 10-4

Other scores:
Florida State did win against Louisville 36-31 and is 3-0 the first time since years. I'm not convinced the team is BACK, but likely they will not finish with a negative record.
The battle between Arkansas and Missouri State (FCS) was boosted by the fact that at Missouri State a former Razorback HC is now the HC there (the last really successful one) and everyone did hope for an upset (except Razorback fans of course). Arkansas needed a strong 4th quarter turn the game around from 17 points behind and win 38-27. Based on the so far played games I think Arkansas will drop a few games during the season.
Florida won against USF just by 3 points, 31-28. I don't think Florida will make big splashes during the season, but likely they will play better than in the past few seasons.
Penn State did win against Auburn, 41-12 on the road. That's important, since Auburn fans don't like to lose, especially not at home. My guess is, their HC will not survive the season.
Southern Illinois (FCS) did upset Northwestern 31-24. Right now, this Wildcats season looks like one of the worst since ages.
Syracuse won against Purdue 32-29. That's a big concern, since Purdue was supposed to challenge the teams inside their division and do now lose at home against a mid-level ACC team at best?
Indiana needed OT to win against WKU 33-30 (OT). Indiana does not really look convincing here, but a win is a win, I guess.
UCLA won by just 1 point at home against South Alabama 32-31. I'm really curious to see USAs performance inside their division. If they play that strong further, they have a chance to win the conference. And UCLA needs to get better, period.
Tulane won against Kansas State 17-10, on the road. That's a huge blow for KSU, since they did show upwards trend and that would usually mean, beating a team from the American regularly. But Tulane is right now 3-0 and off a very good start.
Appalachian State needed a Hail Mary to win against Troy 32-28. With time running out they did fire a bomb from their own 45 and it was caught inside the 10 and by some miracle confusion of the Troy players the Mountaineers receiver did carry it into the endzone. Bad luck for the Trojans I guess.
Kansas won against Houston, on the road, 48-30. I don't want to jinx the Jayhawks here, but a 3-0 start is really a miracle. Did not happen since 2009, the last season the best period of Kansas in recent history. I hope they win a few more.
Bowling Green did win in OT against Marshall 34-32 (OT). Marshall did beat Notre Dame a week before, so this is a bit of a downer.
Charlotte got their 1st win of the season against winless Georgia State 42-41. They needed the last drive to win this from behind.
Rice won against Louisiana, 33-21. It looks like the Louisiana fans have to be patient this season under a new HC.
Eastern Michigan did upset Arizona State 30-21. It did cost the Sun Devils HC his job. Big win for EMU.
And Hawaii got their 1st win against Duquesne (FCS) 24-14. I think it will be a long season for Rainbow fans.

That's it for now.

Let's get into the week 4 previews.

The BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 4

Sat. Sep 14
#5 Clemson @ #21 Wake Forest
This is THE test for both teams. Clemson thinks and says they are back, and Wake Forest is the (please don't cry) defending division champion, which LOST last season against Clemson, but since Clemson and all other teams in the division did lose more games, that did not matter much.
Now both teams are 3-0 and we have a clash of the titans here.
Or maybe just a wanna-be-clash?
Clemson has shown so far great games against not-so-good teams, while Wake Forest hast shown OK games against hard to judge teams. They did escape a loss against indy team Liberty by a single point, while they were rated a 17.5-point favorite.
In this game here, Clemson is favored by 7.0 points as visiting team, that's how the expectations are set.
I think Clemson is better than last season, no doubt.
But Wake Forest did grow also.
Is that enough to finally beating Clemson the first time since 2008?
If they can beat them, the house will burn.
I just don't think they will.
I expect a closer game, but with the offense power Clemson now finally seems to have again, I expect the Demon Deacons to score not enough to keep up.
Tigers win.

#20 Florida @ #11 Tennessee
I have the feeling Florida will get their next SEC-loss handed here.
Tennessee is favored by 10.5 points and that's for a reason beyond the fact that Florida already lost a game (against Kentucky), while Tennessee is flawless so far (with a notable win against ranked Pitt).
Florida did not play well in the past several years, which lead to the next HC chance, and the new one will need more than just a few months to fix the team.
The talent might be there, whether the team chemistry is there, is open.
That season opener win against Utah was for sure a big thing, but the game against Kentucky did show that the Gators need some more time.
And Tennessee is already in year 2 of such a rebuilding and gaining steam.
Now we have them facing off against each other IN Tennessee.
Everything can happen, but it would be nuts to bet against the Vols.
Volunteers win.

#10 Arkansas @ #23 Texas A&M
This is in short, the game between hopeful and desperate, regarding programs expectations and visions.
Arkansas is more a school of conference losses than wins, at least in the past say 30 years. If you look for back-to-back winning seasons in conference games, you find 2010 and 2011 under Bobby Petrino and then 1988 and 1989 under Ken Hatfield. In between some single winning seasons in conference plays and some tied ones with 4-4. The rest is negative.
Even last year, when the team did finish overall with a winning record, they had 4-4.
so the HOPE is, they will finish better this (and the coming seasons).
Texas A&M is desperate, from my point of view. The program had a vision to overcome the big shadow of TEXAS and to become a player again.
They did bold to the SEC (which now Texas did also, so much for escaping) and hired for a lot of money the national championship coach away from Florida State.
The result is ... well, let's say the team is playing well, much better in the years before, but that final punch, that TITLE, did not come, so far.
And this season was supposed to be one of the UP-seasons, when all things click and you get (maybe with a bit of luck) to the next step (in terms of SEC West that means BEAT ALABAMA).
But what did the team do?
They lost against Appalachian State and the reputation you need to be highly ranked to cruise into the playoffs, is gone.
The win against Miami did help, a bit. The ranking did rise from 24 to 23. Yeah.
Now the 2 teams do meet and lucky for A&M this is at home.
My feeling is, that the 12th-man will help the 1.5-point favorite Texas A&M to win this, somehow.
Aggies win.

Other interesting games:

Sat. Sep 24
#17 Baylor @ Iowa State
This I will make short.
Baylor is the defending champ but did show not much so far.
They lost even a game (against BYU).
Iowa State did not show much also but won all games and did show some effort to win close games.
They do play on the field of the Cyclones, so this won't be easy for Baylor. ISU is favored by 3.0 points.
I see 2 scenarios.
Baylor finally finds their offense and Iowa State can't match the offense production.
Or, more likely, Iowa State will win this by scoring just enough and keeping Baylor down.
Cyclones win.

Wisconsin @ #3 Ohio State
Wisconsin was supposed to challenge all teams in their division and then hopefully play it tough for the title.
Right now, they don't play tough and likely never this season for the title.
Ohio State does look great so far and are favored by 18.5 points.
That's a lot!
Buckeyes win.

#7 USC @ Oregon State
The 1st great test for the offense shooting on high cylinders USC Trojans.
The Beavers have gone from laughingstock to competitive in the past few seasons.
In a normal season, this would be a 40-something to 7 win for the Trojans, but this year ....
USC is favored by 6.5 points, which is for me a sign of respect on the Beavers.
They did destroy so far all opponents, including Stanford, so under a score as betting line means they expect a much closer game.
And that might happen, as a road game, against a strong Oregon State team.
Both teams have played Fresno State already, and USC had much less problems, hence the favorite status, I think.
But if they take the Beavers to lightly, they will fall.
I'm torn between the hope for an upset, and the more realistic chance that USC will win by their offense.
Well ...
Trojans win.

That's that for now. Not sure I can do the blog entry in the next 2 weeks, I will have limited access and limited writing equipment.
Might make it, might get shorted, might get shifted.

'Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

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2022-09-18 10:30

Season 49


Yep, Season 49 arrived, and with it RedZoneAction faces some changes.

In a try to make elder players (aged 30 years or older) more usable, we lowered their weekly salary. For those managers running the HR department, it might be a good idea to renegotiate your contracts immediately. All other managers take advantage of this change without the need of doing anything.

At the same time, the transfer asking price for such players was lowered as well.

Please find more information about the changes in the manual.

Another plan for this season rollover was to close D2 leagues, finally. However, after some checks it is still not possible to do this without causing some issues. Region Dragons has too many managers, and over all there would be a very small number of free slots available for new managers. Therefore, we delay this part to the next season rollover.

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