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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

When 17-10 is Better Than 28-6

I hate rankings. I think they're a terrible way to determine how good teams are, and are particularly heinous when they decide who plays for the championship. One of the biggest reasons I hate them is that even a hard-working pollster can be deceived.

Let's take two games against the same opponent: Michigan vs. Penn State and Ohio State vs. Penn State.

A few weeks ago tOSU hosted Penn State. The game was rather close. In fact, the Bucks were losing 3-0 at the half and it was still only 14-6 with under three minutes left in the game. But the final score became very deceiving after horrible PSU QB Anthony Morelli threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns in the last couple of minutes.

All in all, that was probably tOSU's worst game of the year - Troy Smith wasn't sharp, Ted Ginn was a non-factor, and the defense allowed a big running game to Tony Hunt. This was hardly a dominating performance, at home, against a middle of the pack team.

Meanwhile, this past weekend in Happy Valley, the Wolverines dominated the Nittany Lions, particularly on defense. They knocked out - literally - two Penn State quarterbacks, had seven sacks, and held Tony Hunt to 33 rushing yards on 13 carries. It was a complete victory in every facet except one: the scoreboard.

The scoreboard shows that Michigan's victory over PSU was much closer than Ohio State's victory over the same team. But was it really? Not to just about anybody who saw the two games - including the Penn State players. Most would say Michigan's performance was stronger.

Now, before you bombard us with nasty comments Buck fans, relax.

This doesn't mean Michigan should be number one over tOSU nor does it mean the Wolverines will win the big matchup on November 18. Heck, we still have tOSU #1 in our Blogpoll. But according to most pollsters who might not have seen both games - and most of them probably didn't - the score in the tOSU game would look more impressive. And nothing could be further from the truth.

And that's one more reason I hate polls to determine who plays for a championship.


Anonymous said...

Voting for the MNC is the same as a beauty contest. I like her singing she twirled her baton better than the other girl. Championships based on who looked better scored the most points on Leper Colony Tech id rediculous we need a playoff for D1 NOW!!!!

Anonymous said...

Good post. I'll be waiting for your assessment of Michigan vs MSU / Ohio State vs MSU.

I'll be waiting a while...

Yost said...

What is there to wait for?

Against MSU, Michigan was up 17-0 at the HALF, 24-0 in the 3rd against MSU and 31-7 in the 4th before MSU got a late TD.

Anonymous said...


Sports on a Schtick said...

It's worth noting that the OSU-PSU game was played under terrible weather conditions, which halted the Buckeye offense yet moved Joe Paterno's bowel.

Yost said...

LOL, SoaS!

matsut said...

I'm not going to make any nasty comments, Benny. This business of comparing games vs. common opponents is virtually useless - it requires the MOST subjective of premises. It's too bad that it's pretty much all we have. That said, and since you started it, I'll say that from an OSU perspective, our game vs. PSU was never really in doubt either, it just took a little longer for that to work itself out (and, as SOAS mentioned, there was weather - I wouldn't agree with those who've called it a "monsoon", but the conditions were definitely adverse).

It could also be said that we more thoroughly dominated the Spartans than you did, on both offense and defense. One might say that we're talking about ineffable degrees of domination, but, then again, one could say the same about each of our games vs. PSU.

We've blown out Iowa at Iowa, and now you're going to blow them out at the Big House, and we'll talk some more about who blew them out better...I kind of feel like the line for Nov. 18 ought to be OSU by one.

Anonymous said...

Polls are a bad way to judge teams, like you said. But you just used shitty logic yourself by trying to judge one win over the other. The conditions were terrible for OSU-PSU, but Michigan was playing in Happy Valley. How can anyone possibly judge that correctly.

It doesn't matter how well or poorly OSU or Michigan played against any teams they both went up against. All that matters is how well they play on Nov. 18th.

OSU and Michigan are about as even as you can get. The only way to figure it out is to play

Anonymous said...


I didn't see your post before I posted. I swear

Dezzi13 said...

I think OSU fans and Michigan fans alike should just keep to their own superstitions and pray that both teams collide on November 18th undefeated...

No comparisons needed because then it can be settled on the field!

I think I will probably sleep about 5 total hours the week before that game if the dream scenario comes true.

Anonymous said...

Meaningless post. Sportswriters know the scores and how each team won or lost. Whining about whose win is better is meaningless. Bottom line, The Ohio State University is #1. I know it, you know it, and your momma knows it. And all your cum-guzzling, newport smoking michigan wenches knows it.

Anonymous said...


Please don't tell me you were in the OSU library while you were posting this.

mhentz said...

Let's see here;

Anthony Morelli: 11/18, 133 yds, 0 TDs, 0 ints, QB rating = 123.18

Chad Henne: 15/30, 196 yds, 1 TD, 0 ints, QB rating = 115.88

If you describe Anthony Morelli as "horrible" what adjective do you use to describe Chad Henne, who is arguably worse?

blue2004 said...

Deceptive score because they had the INT returns yes, but Crable (was it him? hard to see from the top row of Mt. Everest), dropped a good chance at a pick six.

So it could be argued that Ohio State did a better job in their game because they capitalized on turnover opportunities, although obviously the throws were different, Crable's could have been harder to catch.

In the end, I don't necessarily think Michigan dominated PSU more than Ohio State did, but the argument is that Ohio State didn't beat them 3 times as much as we did.

cottoncandy said...

Damn. And I was hoping the Bucks wouldn't actually have to play Michigan, but we could be declared the winner because of the respective scores against Penn State.

Damn you and your logic man.

schiano for president! said...


yeh dont change it. its funnier that way.

Benny Friedman said...

mhentz, I'd call Henne a winner. I think the main reason Michigan's score doesn't look as good as tOSU's against PSU was that tOSU didn't knock Morelli out. If he'd stayed in the game, I'm sure there would have been a couple of Pick Sixes for the Wolverines too.

Benny Friedman said...

Thanks Schiano for Pres, it's been fixed. I'll blame my editor for that one. And thanks for reading through the whole post, as opposed to so many tOSU fans who've taken this as some sort of harangue against their perfect team. It wasn't - it was an attempt to prove a point about the weakness of polls.

js said...

Anonymous said...
Sportswriters know the scores and how each team won or lost.

Even if that is the case (which I doubt), their votes don't count towards the BCS poll. Jim Tressel's vote does count though. PS: He still votes Texas #1.

Anonymous said...

From a source who attended both games in person, I would argue that it is difficult to compare both teams matchup against Penn State. As we all know, OSU has a young defense which allowed Hunt to gain more yards on the ground. OSU also made numerous mistakes on offense which the weather may have caused. Gonzalez dropped 3 passes, one of which had the possibility for 6. Michigan on the other hand was faced with the difficulty of playing on the road. 110,000 will cause any team to play sub-par. Also, Morelli wasn't as sharp as I expected and the Penn State defense managed to keep the game within two scores.

After watching both teams play, and with an unbiased view, I would say Michigan is slightly the better team. Michigan's defense is much better than OSU's and I feel that if Hunt can break through OSU's D, Hart can possibly have a carrer day. Only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

OSU played PSU in a cold driving rain with 30 mph winds. Give PSU a lot of credit because their D played well. Do you really think that LLoyd and crew can win in Columbus?

The King said...

Anonymous 12:26 said: The Ohio State University is #1. I know it, you know it, and your momma knows it.

You know who doesn't know it, nimrod? The 5 out of 6 BCS computers that have USC ranked #1 (and the same 5 that have UM ranked #2).

Anonymous said...

Nimrod? What a geek bringing up computers.(Must have been in the Band) Let's argue about rankings and wins, IT DOESN'T MATTER, it's going down on Nov.18, and all you nimrods and your stats will go down the drain.(along with your title hopes). You can disect it anyway you want, Hart and Henne are average at best. The Ohio State University offense is too good and too fast. Michigan's true side will show soon, you know the 7-5 side. Blog away inbreds!

Pants McPants said...

First of all, margin of victory has been eliminated from the computer polls...This means if OSU beats every opponent 58-7, and USC beats every one of their opponents 28-27, USC would be above OSU provided their opponents had won ONE SINGLE GAME more than OSU's...So the computers have some issues...

Also, regarding the main point of the article, INTs returned for TDs are INTs returned for TDs, regardless of when they occur. Sometimes, like ND-PSU and UM-ND, a team gets these early, then rolls on as the losing team becomes desparate and throws all the time. This makes the game appear more lopsided than it really is, just as the OSU-PSU score looked more lopsided than it was too...Also, it's rare that this occurs, the fact it happened in ONE game for OSU, and OSU hammered every other opponent, makes it the exception, not the rule...

Brad said...

Anon 9:05,

Carr has won in Columbus. Twice. Granted, maybe not against Tre$$el, but we were one bad pass away from beating your 2002 MNC team. Don't try to tell me you weren't crapping your pants on the last UM drive of the game. Better clean those undies before November.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! Did surrounded in Columbus get ahold of your blog? That article sounded straight from his usual Sunday ramblings...

I'm an OSU fan but love this blog. I've come to expect more than this sort of post. Its like 2 eight year olds fighting about who's dad can beat up the other's dad.

Silly arguement...just be glad these 2 can settle it on the field. In the meantime, c'mon yost...try again.

theweiler said...

All of this will be settled on the field. I'm more worried about Iowa this weekend than where Michigan is (or should be) in the polls.

And if I were an Ohio State fan, win or lose on November 18, I would be more concerned about whether my renter's insurance covers couchburning. Probably not, unless you can show that the fire was "inadvertantly set" inside the house (e.g., someone's buckstash caught fire).

Yost said...

Settle down, Buck fans. Benny wasn't blasting OSU one bit here. He was simply saying scores can be misleading and don't necessarily reflect what happened on the field.

Breathe. Breathe.

Anonymous said...

Alright Mich or Buck fans: Can anybody find that picture they showed during the TOSU/Sparty game of Stanton and Smith with their arms around each other, with Stanton looking like the biggest running faggot east of the Mississipi?

If so please provide a link or send it to Yost, as it would make for a terrific caption contest!

matsut said...

Again, I'll just point out the folly of this whole common opponents business - AND the stretches of logic one has to make for the comparison to have any, however specious, meaning. Two PSU players (Shaw and Hunt in the linked article) say things like "probably", and "I think", and this leads Benny to cite "the Penn State players" as a group that thinks Michigan's better. Was Michigan better against PSU than Ohio State was? I think probably, yes, scoreboards notwithstanding. I didn't get to watch Michigan-MSU, but just judging by the stats and the scores, and having watched OSU-MSU twice now, it would seem that we were better against them than the Wolverines were. Also, we knocked Stanton out of our game - something you failed to do, just as we failed to knock Morelli out of our game vs. PSU (although, if you could have seen the look in his eyes after the first INT for a TD, he wasn't all there).

Each of these common opponent games, including yours vs. Iowa, ours vs. Minnesota, and yours and ours vs. Indiana, can really only be viewed by themselves - they take place at different points in the season, there are specific and relevant personnel matchups that affect each game that might or might not affect OSU-UM (though I'm not obsessive enough to delve into what they might be, I know they exist), there are injuries to be taken into account (but how is that to be quantified?), etc., etc...on to infinity.

Do polls suck? Of course, but probably not as bad as this common opponents method. But, Benny, if you're going to go down this road, please don't just cherry-pick the games that support your premise.

Anonymous said...

Why do OSU fans blog here? It seems crazy to me.

I agree with the blogger that it sounds like kids arguing over who's dad is stronger. Let's just agree to disagree, quit referring to other's mothers, girlfiend's kids, etc. as nasty things such as cum-guzzlers (sick-o) and look forward to the greatest game ever to be seen on nov. 18.

Shame on you all, potty mouths.

surrounded in columbus said...

the essence of your post- that most pollsters let very subjective information color their opinions- is an excellent one. given the huge amount of money associated w/ the MNC, it's a poor way of making the decision.

who's to say tosu or michigan are really the best? maybe rutgers/wvu/louisville would beat both of them? i don't think so, but that's MY subjective opinion. however, i'm not sure head to head game comparisons really do much better.

for example, i did think tosu handled moosu very easily. but that could be because of a unlimited number of factors- maybe tosu is better than michigan, maybe moosu attaches more importance to the michigan game than it does tosu and played harder, or maybe after having already lost 3 games in a row, they gave up on the fourth.

it also doesn't consider the effects of different match ups. a running offense and strangling defense will beat one team very differently than a team w/ a spread offense and a "bend don't break" D. you'll get different scores, a different kind of "domination", and no real indication of how the two winning teams would do against each other.

finally, i enjoyed your choice of tosu & michigan vs psu as an example - if for no other reason than the aggravation factor you created amongst tosu nation! no group of fans has a bigger AND more fragile self persona than the buckeye nation.

look at the responses to this post: you have them listed as your #1 pick in your poll, but at the slightest suggestion that someone isn't frightened how good they are, a big chunk of them go to pieces. sometimes it seems they're trying to convince themselves as much as anyone else.

look at the way some of them throw a tantrum when someone (mainly me) pulls out any stat that indicates anything less than abject awe for tosu. it's not enough say you think they're good but not overwelming. anything short of reinforcing their own self view of selfimportance is taken as an affront.

it's particularly funny considering how much time tosu fans spend patting themselves on the back over the stats they like. T Smith's passing efficiecy? see how many times that "stat" gets mentioned by tosu fans. or Pittman's YPC? or their take away ratio? they drool over the numbers they like to hear, don't they?

and for the record, "scores", amazingly, are just another stat- the one that counts the most, but just a stat. 17-16 is no more or less of a win than 77-16. after the "W" is registered, the score, like all another numbers, are just an interesting way of looking at a game and comparing the concrete to the subjective.

Anonymous said...

Is this bizarro universe today? Surrounded....the biggest stat quoter in the history of this board comes on to state that stats are not all that important?

All the guy does is compare OSU stats to UM stats every week to stat why UM is better.

Like the rest of the UM fans in Columbus...attention whoring per usual.

surrounded in columbus said...

you could hurt a guy's feelings talking like that.

and i didn't say stats were or weren't important. only that you can't count some because you like them and then totally discount the use of others you don't like. nothing bizarro about that.

and what's w/ the "attnention seeking whore" routine? is everyone on the planet supposed to root for the school located geographically closest?

i could see if you were some hick who grew up in licking county and never left the farm that it might appear odd that anyone would ever be anything but a tosu fan, but not everyone in columbus who isn't a tosu fan is looking for attention.

some people actually go to school other places. is the marshall fan who lives around the corner or the UK grad & b-ball fan who lives down the street from me supposed to stop being a fan of their alma maters because they took a job w/ the limited or bankone?

and are tosu fans who live somewhere out side Franklin County just looking for attention when they stay buckeye fans??? all the bankone/tosu fans having their jobs moved to NY are supposed to stop being buckeyes when they get to new york?

the world is a little wider than that.

Allaha said...

Well done, SiC.

Anonymous said...

Buckeye fan here!
I've tried to figure out which team is better and I can't.

Maybe we can convince the NCAA that 11/18 is just a scrimmage and move it to 1/8/2007!

I'm in C'Bus and seem to bump into a large number of Michigan fans. They all have the same tune. "The Buckeyes are gonna get smashed in Columbus". "It's gonna be so nice in the desert!"

I like Surrounded's analysis of Buckeye fans as being especially twitchy. Can you understand what 25 years of domination does to your childhood development? Cooper teams? Four wins in 20+ years in Ann Arbor?

It's all good.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should start comparing Lloyd Carr's record vs. Jim Tressel, or maybe we should start talking about how Michigan will never learn how to stop Troy Smith...

Anonymous said...

and after that we can compare tre$$els record against barry alvarez, and what a genius he must be @ 3-1 over tre$$el, and how tosu can never stop 'Sconsin's tailback, no matter who he is?

Anonymous said...

Waiting to see why OSU pounding MSU on the road (MSU scoring against 2nd and 3rd teamers) was not as good of a victory as UM beating MSU in AA.....

All in all... this site is awesome and hilarious in a good way