Wednesday Skull Session

By Chad Peltier on January 9, 2013 at 6:00a

Good morning readers – hope you're doing OK with one full day of no college football. 

Try not to worry too much though. The basketball Buckeyes rebounded against Purdue last night but could still use your support, spring football practice will be here soon enough, and National Signing Day for recruits is right around the corner. Sigh

If you're like me, now is the time to look back and absorb as much information about the season as humanly possible – kind of like a bear binge eating before going into hibernation. 

In that spirit, Chip Patterson already has his best and worst moments of bowl season. It's only right that he begins his review of bowl season with Michigan getting clobbered

I've decided to add a few of my own to the mix of awards, focusing on the good ol' Big Ten: 

Best B1G Game: Northwestern over Mississippi State

Worst B1G Game: Purdue getting hammered by Oklahoma State

Most Embarrassing B1G Defense... besides Purdue: Nebraska. Jeez guys, get those Blackshirts together. 

National Championship if Ohio State isn't in it: SEC Championship Game

Worst Thing about Bowl Season: Ohio State didn't play in a bowl game. *Tear* 

 HOOPS IN REVIEW. For those of you just checking in with basketball now that football is over, no, college basketball isn't over yet, but it's a good time for a mid-season review from Jeff Goodman.  

Goodman's review is pretty comprehensive and should get those of you who primarily watch football up to speed. He has this to say about the Buckeyes: 

Ohio State is a one-man offensive team with Deshaun Thomas. The Buckyes haven't beaten anyone yet -- and it's because there's just too much on Thomas' shoulders. With the loss of Jared Sullinger and William Buford, Aaron Craft has to be more of an offensive threat -- and he's been unable to do so. Thad Matta needs one of the young sophomores (i.e. LaQuinton Ross or Sam Thompson) to emerge -- and quickly.

It's certainly a fair criticism. While the Buckeyes were in no way fit for a preseason #4 ranking, this team will undoubtedly be better come tourney time. 

Think Sully would mind coming back for a game or ten? Deshaun can't carry it all for the Buckeyes

Here are some other notable trends for the 2012-13 hoops season: 

  • "The top six teams that should be the favorites to win it all: Louisville, Indiana, Michigan, Duke, Kansas and Syracuse."
  • Illinois is one of his top surprise teams, with victories over Gonzaga, Butler, "and they pounded Ohio State in Champaign."
  • The SEC is terrible, with the 8th-ranked conference RPI – behind Mountain West and ACC!
  • The Badgers have been a little disappointing too, with four losses and no significant win so far (sounds familiar). 
  • The Big Ten is still the best league in America, with six teams Goodman predicts could go deep in the tournament: "Michigan, Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota and maybe even Ohio State."

 ON TO THE NEXT ONE. If you're not a fan of preseason polls (or Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving is over, for that matter) then you're going to hate the onslaught of 2013-14 power rankings that are just beginning to pop up. 

I guess these are useful because they take into account a significant number of early departures to the NFL, but they miss out on an entire offseason's worth of arrests! Your Buckeyes are sitting comfortably on top of the Big Ten: 

1. Ohio State: The Buckeyes made the most of their sanctioned season, running the table to post just the sixth unbeaten, untied season in team history. Urban Meyer's crew now takes aim at a Big Ten title and perhaps even a national title, its first since 2002. Junior quarterback Braxton Miller leads a potentially explosive offense, but Ohio State needs its young defenders to grow up in a hurry as there are depth and experience questions on that side of the ball.

As Eleven Warriors dutifully covered yesterday, next season might be the next installment in the epic Meyer-Saban saga, so it's good to get a refresher on their history: 

Meyer has beaten Saban in a conference title game (in 2008) and lost to him in a conference title game (in 2009). He knows what it takes to beat Alabama. He also understands just how difficult it is to beat Saban's teams...The Buckeyes will have to replace most of their defensive line, but if they improve in Year Two the way Meyer's former teams at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida did, they'll live next season near the top of the polls.

There were a few other notables in the B1G: Northwestern was #2, returning Venric Mark and Kain Colter while only losing a few seniors. Michigan was ranked fifth due to concerns over next year's offensive line that struggled and needs new bodies, potentially putting young recruits into the starting lineup. 

There were also a few notables outside the B1G: USC at #7 in the Pac-12, Kansas State at #7 in the Big 12, and Bret Bielema's Arkansas at #12 in the SEC.  

NEWS FOR STATS LOVERS. Football Outsiders just released their final FEI rankings for the 2012-13 season, which closely approximates the also recently released AP poll results. The FEI, for those who don't remember, is: 

A scoring rate analysis of the remaining possessions then determines the baseline possession efficiency expectations against which each team is measured. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams, win or lose, and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams.

Overall the human polls and the performance statistics lined up fairly well – both agree that Alabama and Oregon were your top two teams this year, though the rest of the top ten is pretty jumbled. 

I went through quickly and tried to find the biggest discrepancies between the FEI and AP voters, but surprisingly, there weren't very many. The biggest differential was Louisville, which had the 28th-best FEI, but finished 13th in AP voting. Coming in a close second was Clemson, which ended the season at #11, but was just the 25th-best team according to their FEI. 

This also gives some guide to the differences between expectations and perceived under- and overperformance. Oklahoma, thought to be perpetually overrated (how does everyone think this, yet it still happens?) was the sixth-best team according to FEI, while losing three games in a disappointing year. On the flip side, Florida State finished almost exactly as expected, with preseason, postseason, and FEI rankings all slotting them somewhere between seventh and 13th. 

KIFFIN, CAN YOU HEAR ME? As many people have now noticed, things seem to be unraveling under Mr. Kiffin, as a once proud recruiting class is falling apart as we speak. Following the decommitments of four- and five-star recruits Max Redfield, Eldridge Massington, Eddie Vanderdoes and Sebastian LaRue, Kylie Fitts added his name to the list of decommitments, dropping USC's class to seventh according to Rivals. 

 LINKS FOR FOOTBALL-LESS DAYS. If you got a free tattoo, pics or it didn't happen... Nate Silver did an AMA on Reddit, which you should read... Things your university probably doesn't want you to tweet... Urban almost cashed in from his contract... Love this confidence... Not dominated? Hmmmm... Excellent numbers from Monday night's game... Total knowledge growing?... Ratings disappoint.  

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