How close are we to the college football season? Close enough that we’re starting to see some week one predictions roll out.
Ed Feng of ThePowerRank.com, one of my favorite sites, wrote an interesting post on the accuracy of college football preseason predictions. At the Power Rank his system has correctly predicted the winner in 70.5 percent of FBS games since 2005, which is important to note because Feng’s week one predictions are also out.
It’s not a bad way to while away a Friday morning if you’re football-starved. Let me highlight a few that jumped out at me:
–Wyoming has a 14 percent chance of beating Nebraska at home. The Cowboys were terrible at stopping the run in 2012, while the Huskers were quite good at running the football. There’s more to this game than that, but maybe not much more.
–North Dakota State has a 32 percent chance of upsetting Kansas State in Manhattan. Pretty good for an FCS team, particularly when you consider that Kansas State is on the cusp of the preseason top-25 and the Wildcats are 22-4 at home since Bill Snyder took over (again) in 2009.
–Cal has a 47 percent chance of beating Northwestern. Strange things happen when teams from the East have to go West and play a late night game.
–Illinois has a 47 percent chance of beating Southern Illinois. That’s right, the Salukis are actually favored on the road against Illinois.
We’ll post some of our own staff predictions for the upcoming season later today on HailVarsity.com.
Is Taylor Martinez the “nation’s most divisive quarterback?” He is according to Matt Hinton, who has written a terrific piece for Football Study Hall on Martinez and his legacy heading into 2013.
It’s such a strange thing now, a fleeting footnote in the genre of mass hysteria, like the dot-com bubble or the Dutch tulip craze. But let the record show that, yes, in fact, there was a period in October 2010 when Taylor Martinez, unheralded freshman, was briefly anointed the next big thing in college football, the dynamic heir to Nebraska’s lineage of prolific rushing quarterbacks and a burgeoning Heisman candidate with the numbers, the hype and the regrettable YouTube tributes to prove it. Before there was Johnny Football, a buoyant, freewheeling freshman phenom to whom the game came so easily it might as well be his name, there was T-Magic. It’s all true.
As Nebraska fans know better than anyone else, however, that’s only half the story.
Part of the disconnect between Martinez’s stat sheet and his reputation is purely aesthetic. But the skeptics have a few numbers, too. Excluding his gaudy afternoons against non-conference patsies, Martinez’s efficiency against opponents from the “Big Six” BCS conferences has actually declined each of the last two years from his rating as a redshirt freshman. In the same span, he’s been responsible for 29 fumbles, six more than any other FBS player, bringing his career total to 47; as a team, Nebraska finished dead last in the Big Ten last year with 35 giveaways, nearly half of which led directly to opponent touchdowns. (Nationally, the only team that turned it over more often was Idaho.) On the rare occasions Martinez was asked to throw beyond 15 yards downfield in 2012, his completion percentage – well above 75 percent on shorter throws – plummeted below 20 percent. All true.
All of which leads to perhaps the best summation of Martinez I’ve ever read: “At any given moment Martinez is the most heart-stopping player on the field, for both sides.”
If you read only one thing today, make it this.
The Grab Bag
Scott Dochterman, an excellent reporter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, has sort of carved out a space for himself as the guy to go to for news on the Heroes Game and its Friday time slot … Sam McKewon takes you on a verbal tour of the new East Stadium … Wisconsin has new red helmets, Northwestern has new white helmets … Lee Barfknecht writes that Michigan State should seriously consider making the bold move at quarterback by starting true freshman Damion Terry. Mark Dantonio expects to announce his starter on Monday … Meanwhile, Oklahoma announced it’s starting quarterback yesterday and it wasn’t the guy everyone thought it would be … And, finally, ESPN’s Big Ten blog looks at the three quarterbacks who were sure-fire starters at the start of fall camp. The rest of the Big Ten is either playing two guys (Northwestern) or still deciding (everybody else).