Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Conventional Wisdom vs. Colin Cowherd vs. Reality

Happy New Year!

There have been a lot of boring games this bowl season. So, if you've been watching the bowls, you've been only too glad to watch the scrolling numbers on the bottom of the screen. ESPN thoughtfully provided a set of numbers on America Voting - showing us the percentage of net-users who picked each team to win in their Bowl Mania. Thoughtfully, Colin Cowherd listed his predictions with a short one-sentence blurb about each game right next to SportsNation's readers (different from the Bowl Mania numbers). Which is amusing, because reading Colin's one-sentence blurbs just makes me snicker - though he's actually been quite successful - 22-5 so far. Impressive, Colin. Here's a few of the more interesting breakdowns:

Bowl #1: San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Colin says: Paul Johnson's built a solid defensive-first football team that'll carry with them in the bowl game."

What, Colin? In three of its last five games, Navy gave up 59, 44, and 62 points- but managed to win two of those games because their offense wasn't stoppable. In the North Texas game, they gave up over SIX HUNDRED YARDS of total offense!

Both Colin and the SportsNation readers are wrong on this one - Utah takes Navy by a nose. Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Cincinnati
Colin says: Cincinnati is the most underrated team in the country with double-digit wins.

Well, seeing as they didn't get double-digit wins until they *won* this game, that seems like a stupid thing to say, Colin. Since no team with double-digit wins is outside the top 12, it's hard to contest this stupid claim.

Colin and the SN readers take an easy win when they can get it. Bearcats roll.

Sheraton Hawaii: Boise State vs. East Carolina
Colin says: Could East Carolina travel any further?

Dan-bob says: Could you select a more irrelevant factor in predicting the outcome of the game?

Conventional wisdom and Cowherd wisdom get thrown for a loop - ECU pulls it out. Over 90% of people picked BSU - probably because they didn't know anything about the game but figured the karma from the statue-of-liberty-and-cheerleader proposal was enough to carry BSU through this year. Actually, that's about as useful as Colin's theory about travel.

Pacific Life Holiday : Arizona State vs. Texas
Colin says: I'll go with the better QB and the better big-game coach. (he picked ASU).

Dan-bob says: Why have the other 21 players even play the game? Let's just have a punt-pass-and-kick game between the two coaches and the quarterbacks! Also, two years ago, Mack Brown won the biggest game - the national title game over a pretty good USC team. I guess Dennis Erickson has won some big games too, but this seems like a draw to me. The actual difference in the game was Texas outrushing ASU to the sweet tune of 300-24. Maybe Colin should've considered that.

This is the first time the Bowl Mania crowd picked differently - they and Colin lost out on ASU's throttling. SportsNation readers were right this time, but only by a small margin.

Champs Sports : Boston College vs. Michigan State
Colin says: Boston College was once the second-best team in the country. Matt Ryan is this difference in the game.

I like how Colin says that since BC was ranked #2 at one point, they were *actually* the second-best team in the country. It's almost as though Colin believes that the rankings create reality - by virtue of ascending to #2, the Eagles actually became the second-best team! Unfortunately, Colin, the rankings actually reflect a distorted reality - and BC was never the second best team around.

Ryan had an average game and the Eagles barely beat the overmatched Spartans.

PetroSun Independence : Alabama vs. Colorado
Colin says: The desperate Tide just need this baby more.

Colin was right. Too bad you didn't need it more, Colorado. I don't know what you could've done to win this game, but Colin was pretty sure your lack of need doomed you. Bama 30 - Rough-Em-Up-Buffs 24.

Roady's Humanitarian : Georgia Tech vs. Fresno State
Colin says: This is a tough, physical matchup. Georgia Tech's defense is the difference.

Fresno State piles up 571 yard of offense and the lack of a GT defense is indeed the difference. Good thing GT hired "defense first" Paul Johnson to bring his "defense first" mode to Atlanta. Everyone has egg on their face here: GT gets smoked.

Brut Sun : South Florida vs. Oregon
Colin says: Oregon's running game will pound away at the Bulls.

Colin beats SportsNation/Bowl Mania pickers - who inexplicably picked USF by a pretty big margin - perhaps remembering USF's one-time #2 ranking. Colin is actually right on - the Ducks' Jonathan Stewart ran for 253 and Oregon rolled 56-21. Though it's worth noting that Oregon's fifth-string qb also threw five TDs.

But Colin, wasn't South Florida once the second-best team in the country too?

Cotton Bowl: Missouri vs. Arkansas
Colin says: A couple of Heisman hopefuls shine.

McFadden had a solid 105 yards and Daniel completed only 12 of 29 passes for 136 yards and no touchdowns and had one interception. Actually, neither of them shined. I think Colin just wanted to mention the only two players in this game that he'd actually heard of. The actual differece in this game was Missouri's Tony Temple, who ran for 281. But everyone was right about the winner: Missouri in a rout.

Capital One: Michigan vs. Florida
Colin says: Tim Tebow will give the Wolverines' defense headaches.The Lloyd Carr era is finally over.

Actually, the UM defense held Tebow pretty much in check - particularly on the last drive, where UF's offense pretty much handed him the ball and told him to go win it, and he threw six straight incompletes. The real difference in this game was the incredible Chad Henne - who utterly outplayed the Heisman winner.

I never thought I'd write that sentence.

The Lloyd Carr era is over, and so is the conventional wisdom of Florida being a great team. Unranked Michigan takes down the Gators - Colin and both sets of pickers are proven wrong. An amazing 91% of people picked Florida - this, along with the BSU whiff, makes me think that people assume that a bowl win one year means a bowl win the next year. It certainly shouldn't have to do with the teams actually playing!

Needless to say, conventional wisdom and Cowherd wisdom proved accurate on the first two BCS games. Overall, Colin and the mass of interwebbers were accurate - though with some hilarious whiffs like the UM-Florida game. Stay tuned for the rest of the bowl breakdowns!


Spencer said...

But all we're going to here about is how good his picks were. You think he'll actually talk about his bad picks? He'll just give some lame excuse about why he was wrong and not own up to it.

Rich L. said...

I dont know, 22-5 is pretty impressive. Although he constantly talks about the LV Poll on his show so I was suprised to see the B.C. comment. I bet .com asked for the sentances and either he didnt write them or just came up with something in 5 seconds. Unless you are a die-hard UM fan you didnt see them winning either so I cant give him that much crap about that whiff.

larry b said...

Punt, pass, and kick competitions are awesome. I love how they place equal values on all three of these activities, which in reality have drastically different values. It gives little kids that want to grow up as punters hope that they'll be appreciated if and when their skills develop.

pnoles said...

Cowherd's always a fine source of WRONG.....