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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.

Dennis Dixon's knee exploded -- again -- and Oregon's mojo went with it, clearing up what used to be a heated debate about who is #1. There is no debate now: it's LSU. Both Oregon, last week's #2, and Oklahoma, last week's #3, take the pipe and slide down to the edge of the top ten. Everyone else slides up two.

The rest of the poll is fairly rote save for some extra Illinois respek and the odd specter of Boise State above Hawaii. What? More on this later.

Wack Ballot Watchdog:

  • Two guys went for Missouri: Clone Chronicles and Tomahawk Nation.
  • Braves & Birds hates VaTech more than anyone else, placing the Hokies #17. #14 was the worst anyone else could summon forth.
  • Eagle in Atlanta ranks UVA #8, three spots higher than the next most optimistic voter.
  • Losers with Socks drop Oklahoma 16 spots down to #23, four spots worse than Russ Levine of Football Outsiders and six worse than any other voter.
  • People are completely wack on Texas in different ways: Dump Dorrell has UT #6, in front of Oklahoma. OU beat Texas earlier this year and has a (moderately) better nonconference schedule. What? And then, of course, Dawg Sports checks in with UT at #23. There's a bunch of other stuff on the Dawg Sports ballot that's weird. More on that later.
  • Dump Dorrell has 'Bama #21. They'll need to bounce back from this ballot, just like America did after Pearl Harbor.
  • Corn Nation has the worst vote of the week: Ohio State #15. Why is it the worst? Only the aforementioned Dump Dorrell and Losers With Socks are anywhere near the vote (both rank OSU #11); other than those two outliers Corn Nation is a full eight spots off the rest of the poll. And then there's the rank hypocrisy of (apparently) punishing Ohio State for a terribly weak schedule but ranking Kansas #1, Hawaii #11, and -- this is the topper -- Boise State #12. Boise versus last in Pac-10 Washington: lose by two touchdowns. Ohio State versus last in Pac-10 Washington: win by 19.

    Could this be an error? Not so much: last week OSU was #16. Embarrassing.
  • Run Up The Score still has Michigan #16. Must be some sort of post Lloyd Carr traumatic stress disorder.
  • Dan Shanoff has a problem with Arizona State, #14 to him.
  • We can skip the weekly Hawaii bashing -- yes, two voters have the Rainbows in the top five, yes they are still barely worthy of consideration as a I-A team -- for some new hotness: Boise bashing. Boise squeezes ahead of Hawaii in this week's poll, which can only mean several voters are ranking the Broncos above them. Why? Well, in the past two weeks the Broncos have really hammered 1-10 Utah State and 1-10 Idaho. So they've got that going for them. But, again, their only contact with a BCS opponent this year was a two-touchdown loss to the last place team in the Pac-10.

    Is this worthy of votes at #6 (Black Heart, Gold Pants), #8 (Big Red Network), #10 (The Enlightened Spartan) or #12 (the already-pilloried Corn Nation) or #13 (50-Yard Lion)? Or, hell, everyone voting them #15 or #16, most of whom have Boise well ahead of Hawaii? Sagarin has Hawaii's schedule ranked 153rd, and while Boise's is a totally awesome 122nd, most of that is probably because they traded a beatdown against Northern Colorado for a loss against Washington.

    One last time: not competitive against the worst team in the Pac-10. Is Washington in your rankings?

Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.

Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.

Last week:
Sometimes Mr. Bold is just a guy with a kind of weird opinion on a team or two. This is not that, though. Dawg Sports submits an truly awful ballot: Arizona State plummets to #20. Kansas is #22. Cincinnati is #8. Attempted justifications are here and they are rife with contradictions; suffice it to say when you're the only one ranking either ASU or KU outside of the top ten and you put them in the 20s, you are way off base. I mean, look at the distributions: Kansas and Arizona State. When you can be that thrillingly wrong on two separate teams -- one of whom, ASU, has one loss against the nation's 27th-toughest schedule -- you've turned in a terrible ballot.
This week Dawg Sports submits another ballot with some howlers on it. Kansas remains in the 20s. Arizona State leaps back up to #9, which is more in line with reality, but also shoves Boston College up to #5, which is five spots higher than any other voter. Cincinnati drops five spots down to #13, four spots higher than any other.

Dawg Sports often substitutes verbiage for ideas, writing out gargantuan posts that have little meat behind them. For example, this is not a reason to rank BC #5:
Quality road wins over Clemson and Virginia Tech gave Jacksonville-bound Boston College (9-2) the boost that earned the Eagles the No. 5 ranking. Five victories over teams with winning records, including the aforementioned comebacks against the Tigers and the Hokies, helped B.C. overcome an embarrassing loss at Maryland.
This is an ad-hoc justification. If you are going to deviate so wildly from the poll at large you should be able to back it up with not only the particular attributes of the team you have decided to deviate wildly about but the specific reasons you are placing them above other teams in the area.

And this ridiculous fixation on "winning teams" arbitrarily draws a line at .500, declaring Michigan State the equal of Ohio State and Kansas State the equivalent of Idaho. Consider this on OSU:
This gave L.S.U. the edge over second-ranked Ohio State (11-1), as the Buckeyes have faced a Division I-AA opponent (Youngstown State) and have claimed half of their ten wins over Division I-A teams against squads at .500 or below. Although O.S.U.'s lone loss (to Illinois) represents a more respectable blemish than the Bayou Bengals' loss to Kentucky, Jim Tressel's squad has just one quality victory (over Wisconsin), so Louisiana State got the nod over Ohio State.
This is the #2 team; their schedule, 53rd to Sagarin, is explained away. Then this on #8 Missouri, a team ranked no worse than #6 by anyone else:
Despite its stellar won-lost record, Missouri (10-1) fell behind four twice-beaten teams because the Tigers' victories have come against questionable competition. Seven of Mizzou's ten wins came against either Division I-AA teams or Division I-A squads with losing records. Even though the Tigers have beaten only three Division I-A opponents with winning records, though, Missouri has a quality victory (over Illinois at a neutral site) and acquitted itself well in a loss to Oklahoma in Norman.
Sagarin ranks Missouri's schedule #47. Even if you don't believe Sagarin is exactly right, Massey has OSU #53 and Missouri #4, Anderson & Hester #49 and #44.

None of these explanations even approaches rigorousness. Dawg Sports' consistent placement on this list is prima facie evidence of that, especially when combined with the blog's equally consistent placement on the Manic-Depressive list for the most swing from week to week.

Dawg Sports consistently submits weird ballots for the pleasure of being an outlier, then attempts to stun those who would object with a blizzard of words that, honestly, no one has the time to actually read. I am not impressed despite being sort of with him on Kansas -- without his vote I would be the poll's least enthusiastic Jayhawk.

It doesn't have to be like this. For an example of a rigorous approach to deviance, see any of SMQB's fine work on the subject. I spar with SMQB every September about strict resume ranking in the opening weeks of the season but whenever I have a feeling I'm ranking a team strangely it comforts me to see SMQB share my opinion.

Mr. Numb Existence

Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.

Michigan blogs tempted fate earlier this year by winning The CK Award before the Michigan State game, but the foul pundits were appeased by our pleading and released Michigan from its chokehold just in time. They were not kind when we dared win again a mere two weeks later; yea, their wrath was wroth.

This week we have an unusual winner: carpetbaggin' Dan Shanoff, who has the audacity to rank Florida #8 as they prepare to meet Florida State.

Someone's finally taken the Straight Bangin' Award from the Florida and USC voters, and it's Bruce Ciskie, a Wisconsin fan who just watched the Badgers struggle against 1-11 Minnesota. This ain't hockey and the result is the complete omission of the Badgers from his ballot.

Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.

Mr. Manic Depressive goes to Rocky Top Talk, which is boring because it's got an easy explanation: the two proprietors of the site take turns voting.

Mr. Stubborn is relatively sedate Minnesota blog Paging Jim Shikenjanski. 50 points of motion isn't that far off the blog as a whole; no paddling.